Few words sufficiently express the horror and outrage over the murderous suffocation of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin while aided by three other officers. This latest injustice compounds an already long list of names of those killed as a result of police brutality against African Americans, most recently, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Tragically, the list of lives taken continues to grow even in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

The Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California (PINC) grieves these violent deaths and deplores the brutality enacted by law enforcement officials against African Americans.

Over decades, racial minorities have been and continue to be unjustly scrutinized, harassed, and killed at the hands of law enforcement in the United States. Since 1990, over two thousand individuals have been killed by police officers: over 75% were people of color 1. While police departments are presumed to protect the communities they serve, not all members of the community are treated with equal respect and fairness. This brutality must stop, and inherent structural racism embedded within our law enforcement system must be confronted.

The members of PINC call upon state and federal lawmakers, as well as law enforcement agencies, to take needed measures to decrease the entrenched implicit and explicit bias in our government systems that lead to these tragic deaths. PINC recognizes that repeated incidents of police brutality against African Americans have had a profound impact on the emotional and psychological well-being of Black families and communities. Moreover, our broader society is impacted by these horrendous acts, as well as implicated in them.

PINC encourages mental health professionals to commit to cultural awareness and sensitivity in their treatment of all patients. PINC is committed, through our programming, curriculum, and facilitated group work, to understanding and dismantling its own complicity in perpetuating whiteness. By whiteness, we refer to the societal structures, as well as the conscious and unconscious attitudes, that support white privilege, racism, and violence against non-white people. We join with the Bay Area community and organizations in recognizing the pain and the power of this moment to work towards change.

1 National Lawyers Guild, Anthony Baez Foundation, October 22nd Coalition. (1999). Stolen Lives: Killed by Law Enforcement (2nd Edition). New York: Stolen Lives Project.