Working on environmental issues, I’ve seen firsthand the ways that communities of color too often suffer first, and suffer most, from pollution that poisons our waters and air, our communities, and our food.
For people consigned to living on the front lines of environmental degradation—their homes, schools, and places of worship surrounded by factories and refineries, toxic waste sites, and landfills—the consequences are devastating: families ravaged by cancer, asthma attacks, heart ailments, lung disease, and a long list of other illnesses, wildly out of proportion with their genetic risk rates or that of the broader population at large.
Equal treatment under the law means equal protection under the law. And when any American is denied that basic right, it is an affront to every American—everywhere. That belief in equal justice for all is at the very heart of what we do at NRDC. It is inherent in every lawsuit we bring on behalf of citizens seeking to hold polluters accountable, in every law we advocate for to ensure that our air and water are safe, and in every community we seek to protect from the degradation of its precious natural resources.
On this day, there is another injustice afflicting communities of color that we, as an institution, cannot abide.
In recent months, we have witnessed, as a nation, a series of police actions—in New York, in Cleveland, in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere—resulting in the deaths of unarmed people of color. The circumstances of these deaths have raised profound questions about this country’s commitment to provide equal treatment, and equal protection, under the law.
Questions raised by these tragic deaths must be aired in the open and resolved according to the laws that bind this nation as one. That is the only way to ensure equal treatment and equal protection for all people—whether we seek to safeguard the health of our environment, the future of our families, or the sanctity of our lives.
We need our laws and legal system to protect every American. That’s why NRDC stands with all those calling—and peacefully marching—for justice, from Ferguson to New York City, to Cleveland and beyond.