Category: violence

Aug 28 2014

List of Demands Re: #Ferguson & Ending Police Violence

I have noticed that several organizations have issued lists of demands to address police violence and the events of Ferguson. I thought that it would be useful to compile the lists that I could find in one place. Hopefully, people can look through these lists and decide which demands they want to organize and advocate for in their communities.

The Organization For Black Struggle
The Organization for Black Struggle, in conjunction with the Hands Up, Don’t Shoot Coalition, has issued the following demands:

Immediate Demands

Local

1. Swift and impartial investigation by the Department of Justice into the Michael Brown shooting

2. Immediate arrest of Officer Darren Wilson

3. County Prosecutor Robert McCullough to stand down and allow a Special Prosecutor to be appointed

4. Firing of Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson

5. Immediate de-escalation of militarized policing of peaceful protestors

6. Ensure the protection of the rights of people to assemble and peacefully protest

7. Hold law enforcement officers accountable for excessive use of force on peaceful protests

8. Immediate release of individuals who have participated in their right to assemble and peacefully protest

National

1. Obama to come to Ferguson to meet with the people whose human rights have been violated by aggressive and militarized policing, including the family of the victim–Michael Brown

2. Eric Holder to use the full resources and power of the Department of Justice to implement a nationwide investigation of systemic police brutality and harassment in black and brown communities

3. Ensure transparency, accountability, and safety of our communities by requiring front facing cameras in police departments with records of racial disparities in stops, arrests, killings, and excessive force complaints

4. Immediate suspension without pay of law enforcement officers that have used or approved excessive use of force. Additionally, their personal information and policing history should be made available to the public

NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and 12 other national civil and human rights organizations

In a joint statement issued today, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (“LDF”) joined with 12 other leading national civil and human rights organizations in calling for action and reforms in the wake of the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Nothing will be resolved until there is systemic change throughout this nation in the implicit and explicit bias against people of color and particularly African American youth who are routinely targeted by law enforcement even within their own communities,” said the letter, which was signed by Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of NAACP LDF, as well as leaders from the A. Philip Randolph Institute, Advancement Project, American Civil Liberties Union, Hip Hop Caucus, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Action Network, NAACP, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation Black Women’s Roundtable, National Bar Association, National Urban League, and the Rainbow Push Coalition.

With so much to be done, we cannot begin to provide an all-inclusive list, but in an effort to outline a beginning strategy of reform, we are recommending the following:

1. An independent and comprehensive federal investigation by the Department of Justice of the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri,
2. A comprehensive federal review and reporting of all police killings, accompanied by immediate action to address the unjustified use of lethal and excessive force by police officers in jurisdictions throughout this country against unarmed people of color,
3. A comprehensive federal review and reporting of excessive use of force generally against youth and people of color and the development of national use of force standards,
4. A comprehensive federal review and reporting of racially disproportionate policing, examining rates of
stops, frisks, searches, and arrests by race, including a federal review of police departments’ data collection practices and capabilities,
5. A comprehensive federal review and reporting of police departments’ racial profiling and racially bias
practices, as well as any related policies and trainings,
6. A final update and release of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) June 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of
Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies (hereinafter “Guidance”), with substantive reforms including
updates that would 1) make the Guidance enforceable 2) apply the Guidance to state and local law enforcement who work in partnership with the federal government or receive federal funding; 3) close the loopholes for the border and national security; 4) cover surveillance activities; 5) prohibit profiling based on religion, national origin, and sexual orientation,
7. Required racial bias training and guidance against the use of force for state and local law enforcement that receive grants,
8. The required use of police officer Body-Worn Cameras (BWC) to record every police-civilian encounter in accordance with and policy requiring civilian notification and applicable laws, including during SWAT deployments, along with rigorous standards regarding the retention, use, access, and disclosure of data captured by such systems,
9. The universal use of dash cameras in police vehicles,
10. Concrete steps to ensure that federal military weapons do not end up in the hands of local law enforcement and, if they do, to prevent the misuse of those weapons in communities of color,
11. On the ground community training to educate residents of their rights when dealing with law enforcement,
12. The elimination of the “broken windows” policing policy initiated in the 1980’s which encourages overly
aggressive police encounters for minor offenses and the promotion of community-based policing,
13. Greater and more effective community oversight over the local law enforcement and policing tactics, and
14. The establishment of a law enforcement commission to review policing tactics that would include in its composition leaders/experts from civil rights advocacy groups who represent the most impacted communities.

BLACK LIFE MATTERS
As a national call to action, the “Black Life Matters Ride” is unifying Black people under the following demands:

1. Justice for the family of Michael Brown and all other victims of law enforcement and vigilante violence.

2. The development of a national policy specifically aimed at redressing the systemic pattern of anti-black law enforcement violence in the US.

3. De-militarization of Law Enforcement – we are demanding that the federal government discontinue its supply of military weaponry and equipment to local law enforcement. Furthermore, law enforcement agencies across the country should liquidate their current military resources, immediately.

4. Release the names of all officers involved in murdering Black people both on patrol, but also inside custody from the last 5 years onward.

5. Decrease law enforcement spending/budget by ½ by 2016, and invest that money into Black communities most devastated by poverty in order to create jobs, housing, and schools.

Change.org Petition by Shaun King
7 Policy Solutions Offered By A Change.org petition by Shaun King. Petition has nearly 225,000 signatures so far.

1. The avoidable shooting and killing or otherwise murdering of an unarmed citizen who does not have an outstanding warrant for a violent crime should be a federal offense.

2. Choke holds and chest compressions by police (what the coroner lists as the official cause of death for Eric Garner) should be federally banned.

3. All police officers must wear forward-facing body cameras while on duty. They cost just $99 and are having a significant, positive impact in several cities around the United States and the world. Turning them off should warrant immediate termination.

4. A trusted 3rd party business should monitor and store all videos from forward facing cameras.

5. Suspensions for violations of any of the above offenses should be UNPAID. If a third party review board clears the officer, the back pay, which could sit in escrow could be given back to the officer. If found guilty, the money in escrow should be given to victims of police violence.

6. All murders by police must be investigated, immediately so, by a trusted and unbiased third party. It is not sufficient for the police, who are like a family, to investigate a murder by one of their own.

7. Convictions for the above offenses should have their own set of mandatory minimum penalties. The men who killed Diallo, Bell, Grant, Carter, Garner, and others all walk free while over 1,000,000 non violent offenders are currently incarcerated in American prisons.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA
Amnesty International USA released three recommendations after their team examined the situation in Ferguson:

• A prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigation into the shooting of Brown must take place. Brown’s family must be kept informed throughout the investigation. Under international law, police officers suspected of having committed unlawful acts must be held to account through effective investigation, and where warranted, prosecuted.
• All police departments involved in policing the ongoing protests in Ferguson in response to Brown’s death must act in accordance with international human rights standards. Any human rights abuses in connection with the policing of protests must be independently and impartially investigated, and those responsible held accountable.
• A thorough review of all trainings, policies, and procedures with regards to the use of force and the policing of protests should be undertaken.

Aug 28 2014

Video: Hands Up #Ferguson

“As a global week of action demands justice for Mike Brown, young people from Ferguson, MO and their activist allies detail what #handsup means to them.”

Aug 26 2014

Hope in the Struggle: Chicago’s Young People Resist…

One of my touchstones, the brilliant scholar-activist Barbara Ransby, tweeted something yesterday that I agree with completely.

I write about the activism and organizing of young people in Chicago a lot. I do so because my work and purpose are focused on supporting young people to make their lives more livable. It’s been a long-term commitment. So when other adults persistently disparage and discount ‘young people these days,’ I can’t relate. The young people who I am privileged to know are some of the most talented, creative, dedicated and intelligent activists I’ve ever encountered in my now-over 25 years of organizing. This is a fact, lost on many to be sure, but true nonetheless.

Over the course of this summer, I’ve been engaged with several young people in a group called “We Charge Genocide” and I’ve paid close attention as they have taken the lead in writing a report, in creating workshops and trainings, in using social media to convey the message that oppressive policing must end, and in generously sharing their stories and talents. The source of my hope for the future is rooted in their gifts. We will win because of them.

I call out the young people of BYP 100, We Charge Genocide, Chicago Freedom School, Circles and Ciphers, Fearless Leading By the Youth, VOYCE, Chicago Students Union, Students for Health Equity, Black and Pink Chicago and many, many more that I am leaving out but are doing important work.

In just the past few weeks in Chicago, young people have spearheaded & co-organized a local National Moment of Silence vigil to commemorate the killing of Michael Brown and to stand in solidarity with the Ferguson community.

National Moment of Silence (photo by Kelly Hayes, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Kelly Hayes, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Kelly Hayes, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Kelly Hayes, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Bob Simpson, 8/14/14)

National Moment of Silence (photo by Bob Simpson, 8/14/14)

Read more »

Aug 22 2014

Artistic Interventions About Events in Ferguson…

Wherever there is injustice and protest, you will also find art. That’s the case with respect to the killing of Mike Brown and the Ferguson protests.

Below are a few samples of art that I have seen in various media platforms.

Jasiri X wrote a song called 212 degrees about the events in Ferguson.

Black bodies being fed to the system
Black American dead or in prison
Love for the murderer never the victim
Dead kids cant beg your forgiveness

We are at war
What you telling me to be peaceful for
When they break the peace by firing the piece now the peace gets tore
I don’t give a fuck about Quik Trip’s store

I saw the illustration below on Twitter. It’s by Sandra Khalifa. I’ve begun to curate other visual art related to the events in Ferguson here.

by Sandra Khalifa

by Sandra Khalifa

A few singers/rappers have produced music about Mike Brown and/or the Ferguson protests. Here are some of those:

Aug 22 2014

Erasing Fannie Lou and Other Black Women Victimized By Police…

Another man/boy shot (not again). Unarmed (his black skin is weaponized). Killed by cops (since slavery). The terrible ever-expanding litany of names: Amadou, Sean, Oscar, Rodney, Trayvon, Michael… We’re on a first name basis (excruciatingly familiar). Collective mourning and grief ensue (my tear ducts are dried out; there’s only rage). Calls for justice in the black community (justice is prosecution and prison). #BlackLivesMatter on a social media loop (numbing). We are trying to convince ourselves that it’s true (we don’t fully believe it). Please make it true (it’s a symbolic prayer).

In the background, a faint sound (a whisper). Aiyanna, Tyisha, Renisha, Rekia (background noise). Woman/girls shot (do they shoot black girls & women?). Unarmed (her skin is a bullet magnet). Killed by cops (since slavery). They are not household names (excruciatingly unfamiliar). A few people mourn (silently). Some calls for justice (more prosecutions and prison). #BlackLivesMatter? (But which ones?)

You’re so selfish. This isn’t the right time, the voice intones. Is that voice in my head? I can’t tell. There never seems to be a ‘right’ time to remember the names of murdered black women (never). Sadness and grief threaten to overwhelm (so tired). Stubbornly I remember (an act of defiance).

In 1999, Tyisha Miller was on her way to a party with her cousin when her car got a flat tire. They pulled into a gas station in downtown Riverside, California. Her cousin went to get help and left Tyisha who had been drinking alone in the car. Miller apparently passed out with the doors locked. She had a handgun on her lap.
A few minutes later, four Riverside police officers (all of them white) who had been called to the scene tried to wake Tyisha to no avail.

They smashed the driver’s side window and chaos ensued. At least one of the cops thought that he saw Tyisha reach for her gun. The officers fired 27 shots into the car and Miller was hit 12 times. She died.

Black people are always reaching for guns…

In the mugshot photo, Fannie Lou Hamer has her arms up in the universal surrender pose (or is it universal?).

fannielou

The photo circulates on social media. Re-purposed and remixed for a new generation to memorialize a 21st century police execution. The sampled track of a new freedom song. “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” the protesters chant.

Fannie Lou stares back at us from behind the lens (hands up, don’t shoot?). What percentage of people who see the mugshot (without the explanatory text) know of Mrs. Hamer, let alone her abuse by police? (15%).

The monster is insatiable and needs to be constantly fed. More images from black struggle, more trafficking in black death (blackness is property; we don’t belong to ourselves). Hungry for more… to consume and exploit. Black suffering erased again. Fannie Lou’s suffering invisible and (un)felt. Mrs. Hamer warned us: “A black woman’s body was never hers alone.” Our bodies are common property still; no boundaries bound to be respected. The cause is bigger than individual pain (right?).

Tell us what happened to you in Winona, Mrs. Hamer? (can the dead talk?). Danielle McGuire tells the story:

After being arrested with other Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activists for desegregating a restaurant, Hamer received a savage and sexually abusive beating by the Winona police. “You bitch,” one officer yelled, “we going to make you wish you was dead.” He ordered two black inmates to beat Hamer with “a long wide blackjack,” while other patrolmen battered “her head and other parts of her body.” As they assaulted her, Hamer felt them repeatedly “pull my dress over my head and try to feel under my clothes.” She attempted to pull her dress down during the brutal attack in order to “preserve some respectability through the horror and disgrace.” Hamer told this story on national television at the Democratic National Convention in 1964 and continued to tell it “until the day she died,” offering her testimony of the sexual and racial injustice of segregation.’”(p.910)

Some say that you purposely underplayed the sexual violence associated with the beating that you received in jail, Mrs Hamer (were you ashamed? you did nothing wrong). Black women are also victims of police violence. The beat goes on. Is it the right time to bring this up yet?

Aug 16 2014

Last Words: A Visual Tribute to Men Killed By Police

Shirin-Banou Barghi created a series of graphics as a tribute to those killed by police officers.

by Shirin-Banou Barghi

by Shirin-Banou Barghi

by Shirin-Banou Barghi

by Shirin-Banou Barghi

by Shirin-Banou Barghi

by Shirin-Banou Barghi

by Shirin-Banou Barghi

by Shirin-Banou Barghi

Read more »

Aug 14 2014

Youth-Created Video: Police Brutality Through The Ages

Last night, my comrade Tommy posted the following video and message on his Facebook Page:

Good evening,
Here is a powerful video a member of We Get Free Media, Joshua Penny Roberts, about Police Brutality. He connects the brutality that happened to a member of Kuumba Lynx outside our space this summer to a long history of it back to the most recent executions of ‪#‎EricGarner‬, ‪#‎MikeBrown‬, and ‪#‎EzellFord‬ at the hands of the police.
Watch and see and please share. Filmers include Tyjuan Reed and Esther Ashaye
‪#‎wegetfree‬ ‪#‎chicopwatch‬

I’m sharing the video below because it is timely.

Also, a reminder that today is the National Moment of Silence in solidarity with Michael Brown and all victims of police violence. Find details about your city here. I’ll be at the Chicago vigil at 6 pm. at Daley Plaza. Hope to see you there too.

nmos14

Aug 13 2014

Poem of the Day: Death in Yorkville by Langston Hughes

Death In Yorkville
(James Powell, Summer, 1964)

by Langston Hughes

How many bullets does it take
To kill a fifteen-year-old kid?
How many bullets does it take
To kill me?

How many centuries does it take
To bind my mind — chain my feet –
Rope my neck — lynch me –
Unfree?

From the slave chain to the lynch rope
To the bullets of Yorkville,
Jamestown, 1619 to 1963:
Emancipation Centennial —
100 years NOT free.

Civil War Centenntial: 1965
How many Centennials does it take
To kill me,
Still alive?

When the long hot summers come
Death ain’t
No jive.

Aug 10 2014

The Man With The Cardboard Sign…

The image is seared in my mind as I type through my tears.

I’ll never forget the man in the picture below holding a cardboard sign that reads “Ferguson Police Just Executed My Unarmed Son!!!” Yesterday, 18 year old Michael Brown was shot at least 10 times by police. He’s dead.

ferguson

The image is a declaration and an affirmation of humanity; a father making a way out of no way to insist that his son’s life mattered. A man standing before us devastated yet stoic holding a screaming sign announcing his son’s execution. Michael had kin. He was loved. The image is a declaration and affirmation of that too.

I’m bone tired and my mind is racing…

I’m thinking of Julian (not his real name) still recovering from being shot in Florida. Julian who talks extra loudly on the EL because as he tells me: “they need to know that I was here.”

I’m thinking of Max (not his real name) who warned me that the cops were out to lock him up and is now serving time in adult prison after cycling in and out of juvenile court for crimes of survival.

I’m thinking of James (not his real name) who tells me that he won’t live to be an old man. James who is 22 years old now and bought me flowers last Valentine’s day with his second paycheck ever. I tell him that he should save his money and he assures me that he won’t be here ‘but for a bit.’

I’m thinking of three young black men living in the in-between. I’m not sure how much longer I can live there too. I need my own sign but I’m so tired and I have lost my words. I’m looking for some cardboard and some hope.

Aug 06 2014

Blogging Break…

I started this blog in late June 2010. I forgot to mark the 4 year anniversary in June because I’ve been so busy. The past few months have been a whirlwind basically. When I first started blogging, I wanted to use this space as a running work journal; a parking lot for the inchoate ideas that I have pertaining to juvenile justice, prisons, and transformative justice.

I honestly never thought that anyone else would be interested. But over the years, this blog has developed a core of regular readers. One of the things that I most appreciate is that readers sometimes reach out to me to offer encouragement, ask questions, and share ideas. I am grateful that you take the time to read and to share your own ideas and struggles. I am particularly moved when currently and formerly incarcerated people reach out to me based on something they read here.

In the past few weeks, I organized and edited an anthology, co-curated and opened an exhibition, co-organized countless events including a major community protest against youth criminalization, helped launch a new coalition to address police violence against young people, wrote grant proposals, wrote and released a couple of data reports, wrote several essays slated for publication, spoke on panels, facilitated workshops, did the day to day administrative work of running an organization, taught two college courses, and tried to live a life where I still interact & engage with my loved ones all while regularly posting on this blog. It’s been a lot to juggle and I need a break.

So for the next few days, I won’t be posting (unless something significant moves me to do so). I should be back to regularly writing here in a couple of weeks. I leave you with an excerpt from a new poem by one of my favorite writers/poets Nikky Finney written about/for Marissa Alexander!

Marissa Alexander has been granted a new trial.
She waits for her new day in court under house arrest.

This time she could go free.
This time she could get 60 years instead of 20.

For defending her life, her life that no one else historically has ever
stepped up to protect, for sending her ruby red flaming pink flamingo flare

into the salty air, her Black woman mama bear warning, that she was alive,
that she would not go missing, her human refusal, to not be

another Black woman legally & immorally abducted from her life.

Please consider making a contribution to Marissa’s legal defense fund here or purchase an item from the Free Marissa store here. The latest items added are these great patches created by Mary Scott Boria and being modeled by me.

#selfiesforselfdefense taken at Community Gathering and Pre-Trial Rally for Marissa Alexander organized by CAFMA on 7/26/14 in Chicago (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee)

#selfiesforselfdefense taken at Community Gathering and Pre-Trial Rally for Marissa Alexander organized by CAFMA on 7/26/14 in Chicago (photo by Sarah Jane Rhee)