Pages tagged "police terror"
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.