Today, a family mourns the loss of Andre’ Hill and an entire community mourns the killing of another unarmed Black man at the hands of police on December 22, 2020. He had committed no crime and no weapon was recovered at the scene. This holiday season, a chair sits empty where a husband, a father, a son, a brother should be. Once again, implicit bias manifests itself in explicit violence as the officer’s decision to open fire was made within seconds of his encounter with Mr. Hill.
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center condemns this unnecessary act of violence that is so blatantly and disproportionately directed against the Black community.
A Black man is once again dead for no other reason, evidently, than the fact that he was Black. Holding a cell phone, as an invited guest in the garage of a friend, Mr. Hill was gunned down simply for being Black. But the outcome of this interaction should come as no surprise. The officer involved has a history of complaints against him and has previously been suspended for excessive force, according to news reports. After shooting Mr. Hill, neither of the two officers on the scene made any immediate calls for medical attention nor rendered aid. The officer involved turned off his body camera prior to the interaction. These actions amount to nothing less than another unjustified taking of an innocent life. And the officer must be held accountable.
We refuse to accept inaction. We refuse to settle for a nation that systematically marginalizes 13.4% of its population. We urge communities everywhere, not just those in Columbus or locally, to hold their police forces and their leaders accountable to their oaths to serve and protect their entire community. In a nation founded on the ideals of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, we must not tolerate or excuse those who would actively seek to deny our brothers or sisters their life through targeted violence, their liberty because of discriminatory legislation or their happiness by forcing them to live in fear of those who are sworn to protect them.
To the family, loved ones and those who look like Mr. Hill, we extend our condolences but we pledge ourselves to tirelessly combat systemic racism so there are no more empty chairs, no more shattered hearts, no more broken promises in a nation that declares all men are created equal. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center asks our national and global community to stand up, stand with us and stand for inclusive freedom.