ALA Condemns Police Violence

In a June 11 statement, the American Library Association condemned police violence against people of color, protesters, and journalists. The full statement reads as follows:

The American Library Association is deeply saddened by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, as well as the killings by police or vigilantes of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and far too many others. We are in solidarity with the statements of BCALA [the Black Council of the American Library Association] and APALA [the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association], and affirm our earlier statement [on June 1] condemning violence and racism toward black people, indigenous people, and all people of color.

We recognize “that institutionalized inequities based on race are embedded into our society and are reinforced through social institutions,” and we condemn the systemic racism and violence that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color experience on a daily basis in our inequitable society.

We also condemn the violence that protesters and journalists across the country are facing while exercising their First Amendment rights. The former raise their voices to demand justice; the latter seek to document and share history as it is being made. Both have been subject to gratuitous attacks from police. The First Amendment promises freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government, all of which are essential freedoms of our democracy and vital components of intellectual freedom.

ALA has long sought to safeguard the rights of library users, libraries, and librarians, in accordance with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and ALA has pledged to “[s]upport antiracism work within the broader society by monitoring, evaluating, and advocating for human rights and equity legislation, regulations, policy, and practice.” Furthermore, as stated in “The Universal Right to Free Expression: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, ALA “opposes any use of governmental prerogative that leads to intimidation of individuals that prevents them from exercising their rights to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas. We urge libraries and librarians everywhere to resist such abuse of governmental power, and to support those against whom such governmental power has been employed.”

As such, ALA calls upon its members to support initiatives to end police violence against Black people, to combat the systemic racism that infects our society, and to speak out against all attempts to restrict First Amendment rights. ALA further calls upon federal, state, and local governments to uphold, preserve, and respect the constitutional rights of protesters, of journalists, and of all people who want to make their voices heard and to share their words and ideas with the rest of the world and future generations.

Approved by the ALA Executive Board June 9, 2020

Original Statement drafted and approved by ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee

Endorsed by the Social Responsibilities Round Table