Blatant systemic inequalities have surfaced during the current pandemic. They were recently punctuated by the killing of George Floyd, underscoring a longstanding pattern of violence against Black Americans. We understand the pain, anger, and grief expressed here in our streets and across the United States these past several days and offer our deepest condolences to Mr. Floyd’s family and the lives lost to police violence. We stand in solidarity with the nation’s Black community that has faced a legacy of racial discrimination, inequity, and injustice.

The outrage and pain that we all feel about this senseless and tragic killing also gives us a moment to reflect on the East Bay’s rich history of racial and social justice and tireless advocacy for the rights of underrepresented communities. The Black community here in the East Bay has played a crucial role in many pivotal moments in American and Bay Area history. This spirit of advocacy, reform and unity has made us the inclusive and diverse community we have all come to love and celebrate.

We are also dismayed about recent activities of vandalism across our region. In many cases, this has been incited by people that live outside our communities. These activities exacerbate an already challenging time for East Bay residents and have caused additional strain for our region’s small businesses. We ask you to join us in supporting our efforts to help our economy and workers by frequenting local small businesses, particularly the ones that have been impacted by recent outbreaks of vandalism over the last few evenings.

The past few months have been incredibly challenging for our community. Residents have been sheltering-in-place in response to the coronavirus pandemic, leading to business closures and unprecedented job losses while COVID-19 has afflicted and even claimed lives of our loved ones. As we seek to help those affected by the pandemic, East Bay EDA is committed to act to end behaviors and practices that have caused racial injustice and we stand ready to work with allies and partners to build and reform institutions and systems that offer a new way forward for our region and our nation.

Photo: Mural in Downtown Oakland by Jasmine Quiroga