In response to the recent shootings of unarmed Black men Saheed Vassell and Stephon Clark, Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Dr. Willie Parker issued the following statement:
“Earlier this week, on the same day that we mourned the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we heard the news of another life ended too soon, that of Saheed Vassell. A father, a Black immigrant, and a young man living with mental illness, Vassell was fatally shot by police on a street in Brooklyn, NY. This killing comes just weeks after Stephon Clark was killed by police in his grandmother’s backyard in Sacramento, CA, an event that was itself the latest in an all-too-constant string of Black deaths at the hands of law enforcement.
Decades after the Civil Rights movement, we are still failing to ensure lives of dignity, respect, and basic health care and security for all of our people.
“Each of these individual stories is a tragedy and a source of deep pain that reverberates through generations of families and communities. Together, they are a call to our nation to ask difficult questions of why, decades after the Civil Rights movement, we are still failing to ensure lives of dignity, respect, and basic health care and security for all of our people, and in particular for those of us who live daily with the impact of racism. We are failing to ensure parents’ right to raise families without fear of violence.
“As a medical professional, I am called every day to ensure that the patients and communities I serve are treated with compassion, with concern for the full scope of their well-being, and with a belief that their lives and futures are worth fighting for. Fifty years after Dr. King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, it is clear that we still have difficult days ahead. Our commitment to continuing his work must not falter.”