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Statement on Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

In our Taekwondo school’s almost 23 year history, we have never taken a public stance on any political or social issue. These are not normal times, and the current national crisis demands that all of us respond and act.

The leadership of River Valley Taekwondo unanimously condemns police brutality and militarization, government apathy to white supremacy in police forces, and to a cruel and racist response to peaceful protestors in many US cities and at the federal level.

Since our founding in 1997, we didn’t take this step:

  • during two presidential impeachments
  • after 9/11
  • in response to a relentless succession of mass shootings, sexual assaults, unjust wars and military actions around the world, and all manner of hate crimes
  • when the gay marriage debate raged in Massachusetts and across the nation
  • while the federal government guts environmental laws and treaties, including those related to climate change
  • in light of racist and classist responses to natural disasters like hurricanes Katrina and Maria

and any number of other issues that were important for reasons of ethics, human rights, and history.

In the past, many of our students and instructors have acted individually on issues that matter to them. Even though there is general agreement on most of the important issues of our time, we’ve avoided speaking as an organization. This is because we want our dojang to be a sanctuary—a haven from the tumult of the outside world, where the only thing permitted is the practice of our martial art.

Here’s why this moment is different:

Armored vehicles have arrived in our streets and Blackhawk helicopters hover in the sky.

An unidentified secret force comparable to Russia’s “little green men” now patrols the nation’s capital.

Police officers across the country have shot at, arrested, and deliberately destroyed the supplies of combat medics. . . fired projectiles at pregnant women . . . attacked elderly protestors and bystanders. . . indiscriminately gassed civilians with a chemical weapon banned by the Geneva convention. . . kicked and trampled defenseless demonstrators with horses. . . used Tasers on witnesses. . . planted weapons to justify their use of force . . . pepper sprayed children. . . stole and destroyed private property. . . all while deliberately concealing their badge numbers to prevent any sort of accountability.

If citizens of another nation were snatched off their knees while peacefully assembling and petitioning the government for the redress of their grievances. . . if journalists covering this kind of civil unrest were arrested, shot, and savagely beaten, it would be cause for international condemnation. When this happens in one’s own country, it becomes the obligation of every organization to use its voice—no matter how big or small—to say: Enough.

We stand firmly with the most marginalized members of our communities and targets of government violence during this terrible and heartbreaking moment in a nation’s history.

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