A Letter from Linkin' Bridge to the citizens of the United States of America
Watch the full press conference held in Louisville, Kentucky on July 27, 2020.
The following statement was shared with media during a press conference held in Louisville, Kentucky on July 27, 2020. It is intended as a message of unity for our community and every community in our country. It is time to come together and we hope our platform can be used to help achieve this goal.
This letter was written so that it is made very clear what we, (Linkin' Bridge) stand for. Our character and reputation was put into question and we must speak not only in defense of those allegations, but to clear up any misconceptions of our mission. Our mission is to spread peace, love and joy to all who will receive it. We never turned down anyone to sing for Breonna Taylor or Black lives Matter, the truth is we were never asked. Then everyone went into an uproar from a video of us singing for LMPD. First responders, the fire department, EMTs, dispatch and the sheriff's department were in attendance and we spoke of the impact they had on us growing up in bad neighborhoods. We wanted to show our support for the "good" or "great" service workers in our community who want positive change right now. We learned that they want the same things we want but it took us to listen to them to know that. We got their attention and the attention of the community so we can dialogue: take part in a conversation or discussion to solve a problem. We have had conversations with officers and with certain members of the community and we want to display the information from a messenger's standpoint based on the feedback we have gathered and as best as we know how. With that being said...
There shall be a new day in Kentucky! Not only in Kentucky but a new day in America and hopefully all over the world. The truth is, this country's economy was built on the cotton industry and slavery, trading and textiles. Black men and women and white men and women alike have bled and died for the betterment of a nation that needs to give back to the many people who paved a way. Hispanics, Indians, Asians and Natives have contributed to the great wealth of a country that remains divided. When we wake up in the morning we shouldn't have to worry about where our next meal comes from or if we will be met with violence or crime today. If we look at ourselves through the magnifying glass of life and each individual searches his or her own heart shouldn't we want to say to ourselves, "I am a genuinely good person"? Or would we admit, "I have been an utterly evil person and have completely disregarded the lives of others or the feelings of my fellow man"? Am I better than the next man or woman because of the color of my skin? We say no! Not all of us, but so many of us from impoverished neighborhoods especially in the black communities turn to dealing drugs because some feel we don't have a choice but to engage in illegal activities to make a life for ourselves and our families because of the low numbers of minimum wage in our cities and states. That if you're from a certain area or "part of town" you have to become something great to make an honest living. Still, it's about the choices we make. But what about the ones who are not athletic and can't sing or rap or make music or afford to go to college? There are so many of us who do not have the trade skills or money that was passed down from generation to generation, from ancestors to grandparents, to parents and then to them. There are people in this nation who's ancestors were stripped of their freedoms, made to be slaves, and after the Civil War were released from slavery to an America that is supposed to be the "land of the free" and "home of the brave."
If we are truly free then what about financial freedom? What about being free of racism and free of fear? And if this is truly the home of the brave then shouldn't we have the courage to stand up for what is right and speak up about racial injustice without being afraid to lose our jobs or what will happen next? What about the hard working white American that had a dad who worked his fingers to the bone to feed his family working from paycheck to paycheck just to make ends meet? He also knows the value of hard work and has had his share of suffering. America is black, America is white, America is hispanic, America is Indian, America is asian, America is native. Most of all, America is human. We have been a great country and we have been a horrible country, But this is America and we love America. We also have true American Heroes of every race color and gender. If black lives matter then Hispanic lives matter and white lives matter and Indian lives matter and Asian lives matter. Corporations and big businesses could easily solve a lot of our problems by taking the example of the ancient Hebrews who offered 10% of their wealth and riches to the Creator...and we should all know that the 10% went to the widows and fatherless and the poor in the land who lived among them so that none would have lack. So, if the rich gave 10% to the poor, none would have lack. How do you really feel about your fellow man? When we face the Creator, The Most High we will not be asked how much money we have or what color we are. The question may be "Did you love your neighbor?" Because you can't truly say that you love the Creator whom you can't see but hate your neighbor whom you can see. Then you are a hypocrite.
Linkin' Bridge is the bridge that links people together through music and doesn't discriminate because of color, religious beliefs, your preferences, your diseases or gender. We just love. Police officers, firefighters, EMTs, dispatchers, and all first responders are people; American people who oftentimes put their lives on the line so the rest of us can sleep at night or even go home to our families. There are good honest service workers out there who do care and want to make a difference. We have had conversations and experiences with them on different occasions. The problem is that there are racist police in the justice system, there are racist leaders in power, there are protesters protesting but dealing out the same racism that they have been given. We feel that to fight against the injustices we must use our gifts and show love where there is no love shown. It is written, "do good to those that hate you and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you, that men may know that you are children of your father which is in heaven." If we live in a nation under God then we have a duty and a responsibility to portray liberty and justice for all.
All means All! So if someone says "Black lives matter" and they get upset because someone else says, "all lives matter" that anger is stemming from the viewpoint that all lives will never matter until everyone feels that black people's lives matter just as much as white lives matter. And until we can take color out of the hearts and minds of people we cannot and WILL NOT change.
Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote a song called Freebird that was released in 1973 and was a love song brought about by an argument where a man was explaining to a woman why he couldn't settle down and make a commitment. The lyrics were inspired by the question, "If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?" When Linkin' Bridge sings it we think to ourselves, "what kind of legacy do I want to leave for my children and family to be proud of? What difference will I make in life?" We are not concerned whether Lynyrd Skynyrd is a white band or if they had a Confederate flag in the original music video. The song means to us what it means to us and nothing more....with an American flag in our video.
When we sing "My old Kentucky home" we are not concerned with what negative history the song has but how we can portray the song in a brand new light so that now when people hear us sing it it doesn't represent something hateful or racist but something wholesome and pure. Our vision of a Kentucky home is not a particular house or building but a Kentucky where men and women can be free to Express themselves freely without having to be judged, discriminated against or ridiculed.
On February 6th, 1960 Jesse Belvin died at the age of 27 because he performed in front of an integrated audience for the first time. His death prompted great strides in the civil rights movement for black musicians everywhere. This made it possible for us to be able to sing in front of integrated audiences. He had to die in order for progress to be made. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X put their lives on the line so that progress could be made...but we are still fighting.
On February 23rd 2020 in the southern town of Glynn County Georgia ex-police officer Gregory Mcmichael and his son Travis Mcmichael along with William "Roddie" Bryan chased down Ahmaud Arbery and gunned him down after trapping him on the road.
From 1877 to 1950, more than 4,400 black men, women and children were lynched by white mobs, according to the Equal Justice Initiative. Black people were shot, skinned, burned alive bludgeoned and hanged from trees. Lynchings were often conducted within sight of the institutions of justice, or on the lawns of courthouses. Some say that the violence against thousands of black people who were lynched after the civil war is the precursor to the vigilante attacks and abusive police tactics still used against black people today, usually with impunity.
The definition of impunity is exemption from punishment or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action.
Let's take a moment to reflect on the names of only a few of the black men and women involved in police related deaths in America:
Alberta Spruill age 57
Eleanor Bumpers age 66
Aiyana Stanley Jones age 7
Kathryn Johnston age 92
Deborah Danner age 66
Atatiana Jefferson age 28
George Floyd age 46
Aura Rosser age 40
Stephon Clark age 22
Botham Jean 26
Philando Castille age 32
Alton Sterling age 37
Michelle Cusseaux age 50
Freddie Gray age 25
Janisha Fonville age 20
Eric Gardner age 43
Akai Gurley age 28
Gabriella Nevarez age 22
John "Jay" Lewis age 17
Tamir Rice age 12
Michael Brown age 18
Tanisha Anderson age 37
David McAtee age 53
Desmond Rudolph age 18
Breonna Taylor age 26
The list goes on and on. The list also goes on for the deaths of black men and women by other blacks.
We encourage you to read about all their stories in order to get a better understanding.
Martin Luther King Jr. made a statement that "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Let's take time to reflect on a few honorable men and women police officers who lost their jobs for standing up for what is right:
Carole Horne- Fired for stopping an incident of police brutality
Joe Crystal- Fired for reporting fellow officers for police brutality
Laura Schook- Fired for exposing corruption in her department
Sean Gannon- Fired for reporting a fellow officer for rape
Shanna Lopez- Fired for reporting an officer who was a sexual predator
Regina Tasca- Fired for stopping an incident of police brutality
What makes a good police officer?
Compassion and empathy
Eagerness to learn
Great decision making skills
Now more than ever we need honorable men and women to stand up for what is right and good in our communities.
On March 12th 2015 Theron Wiggins, a black man who grew up in the west end of Louisville joined the LMPD after being racially profiled. He was "yanked off his bike and searched for no reason" by police. He took a negative and turned it into a positive by joining the police force so that he could make a difference. He became an officer to represent and understand the community he loved. He feels like him becoming a police officer made his family look at policing in a different light.
But as protests continue and there is more tension, a man like officer Wiggins understands what is asked. But to have his own black community talking down to him and degrading him he asks the question, "is it worth it?" Yet and still he has made a vow to continue to do his job to serve the people of his community. Officer Wiggins says that no matter what happens or what people believe, officers have to keep doing their jobs whether or not they feel the same way as you do because crime doesn't stop. He also said that he is not going to violate anyone's rights and he is not going to let anyone's rights be violated in front of him. If this is true then he is a good officer and an honorable man and all officers should take notes of his example. We are all men and women and we must respect one another or else we will fail at the goal of becoming a better city, a better state, a better nation and then a better world. Just as we as people don't want people shouting in our faces to get a point across, the same goes for great men and women of valor who step up to the plate and put their uniforms on every day to protect and serve. First responders, meaning firefighters, EMTs, dispatchers, volunteers, police officers, the sheriff's department and also all healthcare workers are all heroes and have a duty and a responsibility to be good, honest people for society to trust so we as a whole can begin to change.
People can change. If I can change, then everyone else can change. I went to prison not once but twice for selling drugs because I felt at the time I had no other choice because the pregnant mother of my child was put out to be homeless while I was working a minimum wage job at the age of 19 making $4.25 an hour and my job was cutting hours. I had to do something fast. Then I committed arson because someone stole the drugs I was selling, and that was prompted by anger problems from being abused as a child. But after going to prison I changed my life. That's why it's so important to make a difference in our community to show that no matter what our circumstances are, we can overcome.
Let's not erase the progress we've made for decades but embrace our future. We must be held accountable for our actions. Breonna Taylor can't breathe. She will never be able to voice her concerns about the things that are going on in our city. She will never be able to hug and kiss her loved ones on this earth again. George Floyd can't breathe. He can't speak for himself, so we the American people and the citizens of Louisville Kentucky speak for them all. Let us all be the bridge that links people together through love and equality and justice for all mankind.
Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty and we need to hold each and every person accountable for their actions. To the judicial system, to the city of Louisville and the state of Kentucky, to the United States of America and to the entire world...do the right thing. Bring justice and liberty to Breonna Taylor because regardless of circumstance or procedure, she did NOT deserve to die and if the shoe was on the other foot, she would have been arrested and tried for murder of a police officer but instead, she is gone and justice has not been served.
Now our whole city suffers. Good cops and bad cops both suffer, businesses suffer and citizens suffer. If you know something is wrong but won't speak up about it you are also a part of the problem. There are police officers who truly want improvements within our police departments and ones who want to have conversations with the people of the community so that new recruiting can be effective for positive change. We have to be willing to listen and now is the best time to listen to each other.
Please bring out the truth and bring justice to Breonna Taylor so that we as a city can move forward....and then we can trust again. Speak up for what is right and do what is right. If Breonna Taylor can't breathe and George Floyd can't breathe then America can't breathe and Linkin' Bridge can't breathe. And to the black community, please stop killing each other because black lives need to matter to us first as well as matter to all others. Then we all can truly say together that all lives matter, and until that happens...we must matter to one another and whoever is watching our example will begin to feel exactly the same.
Freedom fighter Assata Shakur once said, "It is our duty to fight for our freedom, it is our duty to win." She went on to say that "we must love one another and support one another." So if you see a man down, lift him up! There was a time when men would say it loud...."I'm black and I'm proud" and they meant it. Be proud to be black. Be proud to be white. Be proud to be an American. Be proud to be a human being. Be honest. Be kind. Have integrity. It doesn't matter what color you are to Linkin' Bridge. We love you.