Pages tagged "black lives matter"
October 26, 2015
Press Contact: Marybeth Onyeukwu, ONE DC Organizer - [email protected]
WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Monday, October 26th, Mount Vernon Plaza Tenant Association, People’s Platform, Justice First and Black Lives Matter DMV held a vigil in support of the Mount Vernon Plaza tenants fighting exorbitant rent increases. The vigil featured tenants, representatives from the Black Lives Matter movement and other community members sharing stories of displacement and making their demands to the Bowser administration. This vigil culminated a week of action demanding the Mayor to shift priorities from policing to reinvestment in Black communities.
After living in their homes for almost twenty years and facing a $600+ per month rent increase, fifteen Mount Vernon Plaza tenants held a sit-in last year at Bowser's office. At the time, Bowser was the Councilmember for Ward 4, running for mayor. As a result, the tenants won a seven-year housing affordability agreement. Since becoming Mayor, however, Bowser has refused to step in on behalf of the tenants. The landlord of the building, Bush Construction Companies, has engaged in numerous intimidation tactics including sending tenants to eviction court and disqualifying tenants from the new affordable housing program. Many tenants have been forced to move.
On the one year anniversary of the demonstration in Bowser’s office, tenants are, once again, demanding the Bowser administration to intervene to ensure more tenants are not displaced from their homes.
“I think it’s ridiculous the Mayor continues to express a commitment to affordable housing while doing nothing to protect the tenants at Mount Vernon Plaza,” said Eugene Puryear, organizer of Stop Police Terror Project DC and Justice First. “How is it that the Bowser administration can find the funding for more policing, but will claim their hands are tied when it comes to Mount Vernon Plaza? Truly affordable housing is simply not a priority for this administration.”
Mount Vernon Plaza is one battle in the fight for truly affordable housing in the District. Mount Vernon Plaza showcases the racial violence that underlies the city’s growing economic inequities.
What: Vigil in Support of Mount Vernon Plaza Tenants
Who: Mount Vernon Plaza Tenant Association, People’s Platform, Justice First, Black Lives Matter DMV
When: Monday, October 26th at 7:30pm
Where: Mount Vernon Plaza Apartments - 10th & M ST NW
Visuals: Signs, banners, candle light
ABOUT ONE DC: ONE DC (formerly Manna CDC) was founded in 1997 in the midst of neighborhood change. From early on, ONE DC's approach to community development addressed structural causes of poverty and injustice, an orientation that stemmed from deep analysis of race, power, and the economic, political, and social forces at work in Shaw and the District. As a result, ONE DC’s organizing work centers on popular education, community organizing, and alternative economic development projects.
When I first learned about the Movement for Black Lives Convening, I was immediately excited. As a mental health clinician, I had been having an internal conversation about the need for Black spaces, a safe space meant for us to heal and just be. This was perfect. Being at the Convening, I got everything I could ask for. I had the opportunity to attend the Emotional Emancipation Circle, a session held by Erika Totten on how to implement and facilitate weekly support groups for Black people for the purposes of processing stress, violence, and aggression related to racism and White supremacy. I also attended a session hosted by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration called Welcome to America: the Black Immigrant Experience of Anti-Black and Anti-Immigrant State Violence in the U.S., which provided a lens on intersectionality and the universality of Black Lives Matter.
It was amazing, being among Black excellence and brilliance, seeing beautiful Black people in all their essence and diversity, and feeling right at home. I came home reinvigorated, with a heightened sense of pride, motivation, inspiration, and a full heart and soul. I went to the M4BL Convening for its healing qualities, but I got so much more out of it. I did not realize how much I would learn and glean from a short weekend.
First, I was reminded to be confident in my strengths and how they contribute to the movement. Each person has their own strengths, resources, and expertise. The movement is not only about what is seen out on the forefront, but about the genius in the background too. Even if you are not on the front lines regularly, you are needed. Secondly, I was encouraged to be confident in the capacity of my own voice. In my advocacy, I have a tendency to be observant and strategic. But, there are times things just need to be said as soon as it comes to mind, and done so unapologetically. Next, I was reminded to be confident in our capacity and adaptability. Our people are strong and resilient, and should never forget that. Though many try to say we are apathetic or "can't get our stuff together," our movement is historical and has been ongoing; we just have to often adjust due to deliberately placed roadblocks. We must never forget that this movement never died, and is just revitalized continuously.
Lastly, we must be confident that we are indeed one family and we have so much love. This weekend only reinforced that. From a passing smile and "how are you doing?" and the short elevator conversations to the deeper discussions about social ills and next steps, I connected with many, because despite being different in many ways, we are all part of the Black experience and understand that all Black lives do matter.
I left the M4BL Convening, with the mission of being intentional, proud, and unapologetic. I look forward to the next year's assembly of Black lives. I want to express extreme gratitude to ONE DC for making my attendance at this convening possible.
Gabrielle Z. Jackson
ONE DC member
Howard University School of Social Work
As the uprising in response to the brutal killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore continues, it brings to the forefront the need for substantive action to address widespread systemic oppression of low-income communities of color by law enforcement across the United States. The DCFerguson Movement calls on the D.C. Council to dedicate the $2.9 million in new funding for police in the FY 2016 budget to community-led security initiatives. Currently, the Bowser Administration is proposing that $2.9 million be dedicated to put 48 new police officers on the streets. This proposal comes in addition to the egregious allocation of $5.1 million for body cameras on police officers, to collect footage that Bowser wants to make exempt from open records law.
Such proposals demonstrate with great clarity that the Bowser Administration and Chief of Police Cathy Lanier have not headed calls for police reform that have reverberated around the country, including here in D.C. Therefore, the DCFerguson Movement is launching a public campaign to demand significant funding, believing that the $2.9 million currently earmarked for new officers should be redirected to initiatives that actually reflect a commitment from the District to empowering communities, rather than continuing the current flawed, racially biased, militarized model of policing that has been so rightfully criticized around the entire world.
DCFerguson has written a letter that has been signed by at least 30 community stakeholders, including Organizing for Neighborhood Equity DC, Empower DC, Justice First, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Workers United-DC, National Black United Front, We Act Radio, Working Families Party, DC Jobs with Justice, NAACP-DC Labor Committee, Alliance of Concerned Men, Cease Fire Don’t Smoke the Brothers and Sisters, National Association for the Advancement of Returning Citizens, Re-Entry Network for Returning Citizens, Employment Justice Center, Restaurant Opportunities Center-DC, American Friends Service Committee-DC, Fair Budget Coalition, American Federation of Government Employees Local 12, Washington Peace Center, Many Languages One Voice, George Washington Roosevelt Institute, Ecolocity Inc, AU Student Worker Alliance (USAS Local 21), Georgetown Solidarity Committee, GWU Progressive Student Union, DC Statehood Green Party, Metro-DC Democratic Socialists of America, Party for Socialism and Liberation, and the ANSWER Coalition. The letter reads as follows:
We, the undersigned, are very concerned that the proposed FY 2016 budget contributes to the forms of policing so widely condemned around the nation by the Black Lives Matter Movement. Specifically, the budget proposes to spend $2.9 million to place 48 new police officers on the street. The strategy of increasing police presence to address social ills is not only ineffective, but highly threatening to our communities, particularly those who already suffer constant harassment and occupation of their neighborhoods by law enforcement.
As such, we believe the time is right to try something new. As close as Baltimore and as far as Brazil communities across the Western Hemisphere are creating new, community-led initiatives, to reduce violence, and ease re-entry. In Baltimore, Maryland the “Safe Streets” program has been widely credited with having a significant impact decreasing community violence. This has been accomplished by employing “violence interrupters” who mediate disputes in “high-crime” areas including many where one or both parties are armed. In one neighborhood, Safe Streets reduced murders by 56%! Unsurprisingly, cities like Richmond, California, and New York City employ similar programs.
We are calling on the D.C. Council to appropriate that $2.9 million dollars for similar initiatives.
In particular, we want the money to be used to establish a council made up of representatives from community organizations, the Council, and the Mayor's office to develop in FY 2016 a working pilot program focusing on institutionalizing community-led peacekeeping efforts and restorative justice initiatives.
Our nation is in the midst of a massive conversation about how to keep citizens safe while respecting the human rights of all and the District needs to become part of this conversation in a real way. More police and tougher laws have been tried for the past 35 years, isn't it time we try something new?
The reactions of the Bowser Administration and Chief Lanier to widespread public concerns have ranged from indifference to outright denial. DCFerguson will be present at the May 4 Committee on the Judiciary FY 2016 Budget Oversight Hearing to protest the ineffective and harmful budget proposals put forth by the Bowser Administration, and to demand that the community’s voice be heard. Is the District of Columbia willing to own up to its own history – and present use of – brutal occupation-style tactics in Black communities? Here is a perfect chance; we hope they take it.
The #DCFerguson Movement was initiated by the National Black United Front, ANSWER Coalition, We Act Radio as well as organizers affiliated with ONE DC and of no particular affiliation. Our central organizing core is made up of Eugene Puryear, Salim Adofo, Yasmina Mrabet, Sean Blackmon, and a representative of We Act Radio.
On December 16th, the DC Council staff will walk out in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
But if Black lives matter then it means NOT cutting off TANF benefits to struggling Black mothers. If Black lives matter then it means stepping in when racist developers are trying to kick Black people out of the city. If Black lives matter then it means NOT destroying public housing and forcing families to become homeless. Heck, it means NOT shutting down homeless shelters! If Black lives matter then it means NOT funding a $200M soccer stadium that will displace Black residents and usher in low-paying seasonal jobs. If Black lives matter it means not putting only $100M a year into affordable housing, not targeted toward our lower income Black families or making a dent in the crisis. If Black lives matter then it means bringing an immediate end to the use of jump-outs by the police. If Black lives matter then it means NOT looking at poor Black people with disdain!
You can protest when Black life is taken. But what about when we are ALIVE, still living?!
The DCFerguson movement and the residents of Washington, D.C. demand that D.C. City Council immediately pass a resolution taking a stand against the use of "Jump-Out" squads, a racially biased form of policing. "Jump-Outs" are a paramilitary tactic in which unmarked police vehicles carry 3 or more officers not wearing the standard police uniform. Their objective is to stop and intimidate ordinary citizens into submitting to interrogation or an unwarranted search. This kind of militarized tactic that criminalizes entire communities and creates end-runs around our constitutional rights should stop immediately.
By Ben Kabuye
The air isn’t different in St. Louis, but you breathe differently in the show-me-state. It is the tension riding the air after a Black boy’s body breathed its last. Michael Brown’s spirit animates the streets and even the empty night air surrounding United Church of Christ. The Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) has answered the call from Ferguson, MO. Black Lives Matter, at least to the bodies huddled in the shelter offered by Pastor Starsky Wilson. Local and national churches stand at the juxtaposition of another cross road filled with political questions. For United, all roads lead to Ferguson and @LostVoices14, @TefPoe, and @Nettaaaaaaaa; youth on the ground with platforms to chart the path. The “Politics of Jesus” are being resurrected. That is something.
The pews are filled now and we have yelled origins as far as Canada and as near as Ohio and John Crawford’s body. Moments of silence give way to whispers of ancestors and their names tear the heavens with the urgency of the collective demand. Those who have gone before are remembered and present. Near trembling the room hums with whispered anticipation of what this shared space can mean. We are animated by outrage at the public brutality that removed Michael Brown from this plane and laid his body in the street for hours. Somebody near by talks about being unable to listen to Lesley Mcspadden, the mother of Michael Brown, speak. None of us could honestly but despite being unable to hear her pained tones we have responded and the room is filled with many Lesley McSpadden’s. A few hundred organizers from around the country and the overwhelming majority are Black women. So many women, present, doing the necessary work. We are all here for Michael Brown; Patrisse Cullors shares the stage with Darnell Moore and we are told this is not Bayard Rustin 2.0 and no one will have to hide who they are for the sake of the collective. If Black political thought is to mature into a new movement it must mean that all black bodies matter. We know this, we say this; do we do this? This has yet to be seen.
Once we state our shared principles that all Black Lives Matter it is left to discuss the particular demands. These are organizers and the mass is quickly separated into groups, by sections, and skill sets and the days roll by. In there we learn about the way the police displayed the body publicly, disrespected memorials, and showed complete disregard for the community in the initial hours after the murder. The act then is echoed again into the minds of the children who watch us march and stand on their laws in eyesight of where the body rested without peace. We learn how the formally and informally organized community members worked to keep the police out of the neighborhood on the day of the murder. Then as organizers do we discuss demands, legal procedure, power leveraging, and chest-mounted cameras for the police.
There is a disturbing discrepancy between the actions of a grieving community and our policy ideas that we can not yet speak to. Not now at least, not while we are building our campaigns. We have to change the antiblack media narrative, we need to establish police review boards like in New York to curtail state sanctioned violence. However, our thinking there is the understanding that this is only the beginning. With reports on the frequency of police violence, some are charging genocide, and here at BAJI we support those efforts and offer at the very least ideas. What will this next wave of movement become? It can be a new more interesting movement or something all too familiar and we have not yet decided.