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PA Stands Up chapters in Lancaster, Reading decry latest examples of police brutality, vow to bring change

No matter what we look like or where we live, we all want a fair society where we can go through the day without fearing for our lives or our loved ones, where our families can be whole and our communities vibrant. But once again, the people entrusted to serve and protect are brutalizing and killing us instead.

This time, it happened in Lancaster, where police killed Ricardo Munoz after his sister called for support during a domestic dispute, and in Reading, where police shot and critically wounded a Black trans woman.

Time and again, we have witnessed evidence of horrors committed against Black and brown people by police; in cities and on back roads, in living rooms and on neighborhood streets, in the dark of night and the light of day. These latest tragedies in two of our Pennsylvania communities follow multiple instances of police brutality in Pennsylvania in July.

“Imagine calling the police for support de-escalating a domestic dispute, only to have them kill your brother,” said Eliza Booth of Lancaster Stands Up. “Ricardo Munoz was clearly in crisis yesterday, but instead of sending officers equipped to resolve the situation without violence, a lone officer sent to respond to the call fatally shot Mr. Munoz. We grieve for the Munoz family and the trauma our city has experienced.”

Unconfirmed reports from community members indicate that Munoz was autistic. In Reading, there are also unconfirmed reports that the victim of the police shooting had a history of mental illness.

“We will not allow those entrusted to serve and protect our communities to target, detain and kill the most vulnerable among us. We deserve a full and independent investigation that includes making public the names of all personnel involved, all footage from body cameras, and the Reading Police Department’s unredacted use of force policy,” said Chris Ellis of Berks Stands Up in Reading. “The Black transgender woman who was critically injured on Sunday deserves compassion, mental and physical healthcare, and a society organized to provide those things to everyone, regardless of who they are. She also deserves the respect and dignity of proper identification – not misgendered as she has been by the press.”

It’s time to reimagine public safety as a system that includes social work, crisis intervention, and real community investment in education, housing and healthcare. Loving our country means cherishing life and liberty for every single person in it -- beginning with Black people who have been denied this promise from our very founding.

“Over and over again, communities all over the country are suffering at the hands of police officers who are not equipped to de-escalate conflicts or manage people with different abilities or those who are experiencing mental health crises,” said Hannah Laurison, Executive Director of PA Stands Up. “We all have a stake in creating communities where every person's life counts, where we prioritize safety for all and non-violent conflict resolution, and where we fund services to help those people who are struggling or in crisis. Pennsylvanians of all races have stood together in recent months to say enough is enough, and that's what we saw in Lancaster last night. We know a better future is possible, and by pulling together as we’ve done in the past, we will ensure that every one of us can breathe. At PA Stands Up chapters across the state -- including in Lancaster and in Berks County -- we are doing the work to ensure all of us have our rights respected, and vote in new leaders who reflect the very best of every kind of American.”

For more information about the work Lancaster Stands Up, Berks Stands Up and PA Stands Up are doing to stop police brutality and ensure every person can thrive, please contact us here.

Photo: A community member demonstrating against police brutality in Lancaster this July, Lancaster Stands Up.