Backyard Talk

One Step Forward, So Many Steps Back

By: Kara Hoisington
In 2019, data of all police killings in the country compiled by Mapping Police Violence, black Americans were nearly three times more likely to die from police than white Americans. The recent murder of George Floyd finally sparked the flame for Congress to address this form of systematic racism police departments impose. Democratic lawmakers in Congress introduced legislation to address the excessive abuse of power used by police officers and make it easier to identify, track, and prosecute police misconduct.
Civil rights activists have been pushing this agenda for decades. If it took our country this long to wake up and see the light – how long will it take to address systematic racism in environmental policies?
On June 4th 2020, President Trump signed in an executive order allowing emergency authorities to circumvent environmental review of major projects. This could fast-track the approval of major highways, pipelines, oil and gas projects, and other polluting industries which disproportionately affect people of color. Erasing requirements in environmental laws including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and National Environmental Policy Act, Trump’s order blocks such communities from fighting back against unwanted projects.
If police brutality doesn’t kill people of color, toxic pollution will. This executive order bars communities first amendment rights to speak up and say no! Here at the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice we serve to amplify your communities voice past the thick wall of pollution.
Written by Kara Hoisington, CHEJ Summer Intern.