unity presserCHICAGO – Members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus held a press conference to address divisions between Black and Latino communities. As some protests over the murder of George Floyd have been infiltrated by those hoping to incite violence and racial tension, officials condemned the rioting and emphasized the need for cooperation in their fight for justice.

State Senators Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago), Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood), Omar Aquino (D-Chicago), Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago), Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) and Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) were joined by elected officials from all levels of government.

Officials called for the General Assembly and executive branches to implement policies including community policing, demilitarizing law enforcement agencies, equitable investment in communities of color and accountability for officers who abuse force.

“This fight is against racism, oppression and white supremacy – not against each other. It’s a fight for accountability for the ridiculously long list of lives taken, from George Floyd and back hundreds of years.” State Senator Celina Villanueva

“I will not stand here and watch our two communities fight each other for crumbs. None of us win if we are too busy competing to get our fair share from those who take the majority. I want to acknowledge the young Black and Latino people who showed up in Little Village and Cicero in solidarity with one another. I want to thank them for stepping up and leading during this time. In the spirit of the unity they displayed, I am calling on all Black and Latino people to unite and stand against racism and oppression.” State Senator Kimberly Lightford

“When the Black community hurts, so do we in the Latino community. That’s why we are standing up with you all because you are not just colleagues and friends, but family. When we work together, we can not only be at the table, but setting the agenda. From Washington, to Springfield, to City Hall we must stand together to lead and make real change.” State Senator Omar Aquino

“In memory of the many lives tragically lost and affected by racial violence, I stand in strong support of introducing and enacting meaningful reform to further protect Black and brown lives from police brutality, racial profiling and other discriminatory acts people have grown too accustomed to. In order to condemn racism in its many forms, we must be united to invoke change in our broken economic, health care and criminal justice systems.” State Senator Iris Martinez

"Since my career in public service began, at no time has there been a greater need or opportunity for a pivotal social movement driven by Black and Latino Chicagoans focused on ending police violence and eradicating systemic inequality in all its forms. However, misplaced anger expressed through violence is the biggest threat to our progress because one thing I know for certain is this movement doesn't start at City Hall or in Springfield, it starts on the ground in our communities. The collective voice of the people we serve has the potential to be an all-powerful force for justice and equality, but it's going to take a unified coalition built on grassroots solidarity and mutual respect." State Senator Mattie Hunter

“Black lives matter. It is extremely difficult to be a person of color in America, and I stand strongly and proudly with my Black brothers and sisters in their struggle for justice. As lawmakers, we have not just a duty to fix the problems faced by Black communities on a daily basis, but also the power to personally do the fixing. We must seek a legislative response to these pressing issues.” State Senator Cristina Castro

Black, Latino Caucuses condemn violence, call for unity