As protests develop across the United States of America and around the World, Youth RISE affirms its full support for the Black Lives Matter movement and protests against state-sanctioned, racially-motivated violence and police brutality against people of colour. We vehemently condemn the repeated, intentional and senseless killing of people of colour, and in particular black Americans, by law enforcement throughout the country. We encourage our followers and partners to continue to do the same as the protest movement moves into its third week.

In the midst of the protests, we continue to see a worrying trend of an increase in violence being instigated by the police and played out on social media. These scenes are shocking, and the impact of the full force of the militarized American state being unleashed on its citizens is doing untold damage to communities and race relations in the United States of America and worldwide.

The scenes we are witnessing are also the unfortunate reality for many young people of colour, young people who use drugs, and other young key affected populations across America and worldwide. People of colour, particularly black Americans, are disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs when compared to their white counterparts. The War on Drugs is frequently used as an opportunity to intimidate and harass young Black and Indigenous People of Colour (BIPOC), often leading to instances of police brutality and death. Generations of communities have been impacted and civil rights have been stripped away in the name of law and order.

The United States incarcerates more people per capita than any other country in the world. 550,000 of these people are being held in pre-trial detention, having not been convicted of any crime. Every 25 seconds a person is arrested for a drug-related offence and 1 in 5 people incarcerated in America are arrested for drug-related offences. Those incarcerated in the United States are typically people of colour. In fact, 80% of federal inmates are either Black or Latino. Institutionalized and state-sanctioned racism is seen most severely within the US prison system. 

Unfortunately, youth can get caught up in the prison system even from a young age. The school-to-prison pipeline, in which youths are subject to zero-tolerance policies in the school system has led to disproportionate arrests, suspensions, and expulsions once again related to black youths in America. This is in no small part related to the significant amount of police involvement in American schools. In fact, students across the United States often find themselves in situations where they have access to police in schools, but not nurses or counsellors. Around 14 million students are in schools with police but no counsellor, nurse, psychologist, or social worker. 

Prison abolition and defunding the police must be at the core of our values as harm reductionists if we are to truly advocate for the rights of young people who use drugs and an end to the War on Drugs.

As states across America respond to the protests with an increasingly militarized police force and authoritarian emergency measures (such as the Drug Enforcement Agency being granted permission to“conduct covert surveillance” and “enforce any federal crime committed as a result of protests over the death of George Floyd), we would like to use our platform to amplify the voices of people of colour across America, and especially raise awareness for issues and campaigns related to young key populations of colour. 

Youth RISE fully supports the Black Lives Matters movement and its aims; however, we are not the experts in this field. We understand the importance of a community-led response, especially when it comes to issues of discrimination and breaches of human rights. Therefore, we feel it is important we promote and highlight the voice of the BIPOC community experiencing state-sanctioned violence and institutionalized racism, as well as their efforts to resist and end it. We encourage our network and followers to engage with and learn more about the movement. Below is a list of fundraisers, petitions, resources, and other tools related to the Black Lives Matter movement we would like to promote. We commit to doing the necessary work to be effective allies.

Youth RISE pledges to listen to the needs and demands of BIPOC, in particular in their movement towards justice and equity. To improve our organizational sensitivity to racial injustice and to use our platform and our events to work towards ending these injustices. To be receptive to any criticism from BIPOC when it comes to the work we are undertaking. To ensure we continue to take a strong anti-racist stance both within our organization and when we see it in our partner organizations, in our work, or in our daily lives. Youth RISE pledges that we will work towards the stated goals of the Black Lives Matter movement in every way possible.

Fundraisers and Young Key Affected Populations of Colour-led Campaigns:

Petitions: 

The following petitions are to either investigate or reopen cases of black people who have either been killed or wrongfully detained. Please be aware these cases discuss extreme racism and sexual assault.

Recommended readings: 

Recommended podcasts:

Recommended Videos/Shows/Movies/Documentaries:

Twitter Threads: