The Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter activists and allies actively resisting anti-Black racism, white-supremacy, police violence and hyper-incarceration of Black communities in our city and across the nation.
The murders of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others at the hands of police have awakened the world to systematic problems that have plagued Black communities across the nation and in our own backyard for decades. Systemic racism is the root cause of these interrelated injustices that manifest in inequities in disease, death, and indignities.
For nearly 25 years, AHRC has provided vital services and support to people who use drugs, sex workers, members of the LGBTQI community, formerly incarcerated people, unhoused individuals, and families irreparably harmed by intersectional forces of poverty, oppression, discrimination, and racism.
We are an organization committed to ending the HIV and overdose epidemics in Atlanta, and healing and empowering the communities we serve.
Black communities disproportionately carry the brunt of the HIV epidemic in the United States and in Georgia. HIV is a racial justice issue. Black women are 20 times more likely to acquire HIV than white women. Fifty percent of Black gay men will acquire HIV by the time they are 35 (eight percent of white gay men are living with HIV). For Black people living with HIV, racial discrimination diminishes the quality of medical care received. Discrimination and socio-economic factors linked to race create additional obstacles to accessing the quality health care, housing, and education necessary for HIV treatment and prevention. HIV criminal laws also negatively impact communities of Black people living with HIV.
The war on drugs is a war on people. Punitive drug laws, militarized policing, inhumane warehousing of people in jails, and mass incarceration operate as systems of social, economic, and racial oppression against black communities in Atlanta. Black people are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, incarcerated, surveilled, and financially punished by the criminal legal system than white people. The criminalization of blackness engrained in the laws, institutions, and culture of American society is killing people every day and has taken an immeasurably grave toll on the health and vitality of black bodies and lives.
We have witnessed firsthand how fear of arrest, the trauma of incarceration, and stigma of a criminal record causes irreparable damage to the people we love and serve.
The harm reduction movement is built on principles of social justice, compassion, and health equity, which requires challenging structural forces and social norms that perpetuate human suffering, economic inequity, and human indignities.
AHRC supports calls for abolishing and defunding the Atlanta Police Department, closing the city jail permanently, and dismantling draconian drug laws, ending exploitive bail and probation practices, so that we can get to work investing in solutions that support healing, resilience, economic security and racial justice. We must end a failed drug war in our city and abolish systems that fuel police violence and mass imprisonment in Georgia. We must fight for healthcare for all, equitable housing, mental health services, quality education, and social support to repair the damage done and invest in the long-term vitality of Black communities that made Atlanta a beacon for hope and justice for so many.