“From 2006 to 2012, a white police officer killed a black person at least twice a week in this country.”
Imagine your friend getting shot by police, their body left on the ground for four and a half hours. What do you think would happen if a black cop killed an unarmed white child? For people fearing friends and family getting shot and killed each day, protests are a way to communicate that fear, so why don’t more people get involved? Last night in Oakland, there was a fever among the crowds gathered around the city center and Lake Merritt. It was important for us to gather and disrupt the regular flow of infrastructure to call out institutional racism (inequality that is built into power structures like government, health, schools, etc.) on a large scale. When fighting injustice, it’s important to stand in solidarity with our black community, but not speak for them or create more conditions of violence that implicate their bodies.
The stories of civil disobedience are so often not told in the media because of inherent media bias toward tired tropes and stereotypes that place black and brown bodies as agents of violent chaos. Last night we marched in peace, and despite a few angry white kids setting off firecrackers under civilian cars, we turned out in the hundreds to stop the flow of traffic on the highway, to halt the flow of progress for one moment because that’s what a huge part of America has experienced for generations. For all the anger, frustration, and nightmares felt in the past 24 hours, here’s how we can be better allies.
FIRST: Learn up on institutional racism
What is institutional racism? A system of inequality based on race which may include: public government (department of housing), private corporations (like media), or universities (public vs. private).
The criminal justice system’s role in institutional racism explained in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. “[Surveys] frequently suggest that whites, particularly white youth, are more likely to engage in illegal drug dealing than people of color. One study, for example, published in 2000 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that white students use cocaine at seven times the rate of black students, use crack cocaine at eight times the rate of black students, and use heroin at seven times the rate of black students. That same survey revealed that nearly identical percentages of white and black high school seniors use marijuana. The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reported in 2000 that white youth aged 12–17 are more than a third more likely to have sold illegal drugs than African American youth. …. The notion that most illegal drug use and sales happens in the ghetto is pure fiction. Drug trafficking occurs there, but it occurs everywhere else in America as well. Nevertheless, black men have been admitted to state prison on drug charges at a rate that is more than thirteen times higher than white men.19 The racial bias inherent in the drug war is a major reason that 1 in every 14 black men was behind bars in 2006, compared with 1 in 106 white men.”
This letter to the editor about systematic racism speaks specifically to housing inequality, “Housing segregation is a nationwide fact for blacks and many Latinos. This reality was intentionally created by decisions made during the creation of suburbs. Banks (via ‘redlining’), national realty policy, governmental bodies (state, federal and local), ‘urban renewal’ policy (which destroyed more housing than it created) and restrictive housing covenants (upheld by federal court rulings) created this segregation.”
Read this piece by John A. Powell, head of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and professor of Law, African American and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, on systematic problems and solutions. “The attention to those killed remind us that these deaths are not isolated incidents, but part of a larger pattern. Decades of segregation and inequality in Ferguson, as well as most American metropolitan areas, have fostered a racial inequality exacerbated by the criminalization of not just poverty, but the criminalization of black and brown bodies.”
This Op-Ed on White Rage: That states, “For every action of African American advancement, there’s a reaction, a backlash.” For example, after emancipation, “Lawmakers in several states created the Black Codes, which effectively criminalized blackness, sanctioned forced labor and undermined every tenet of democracy.”
“In March 1956, 101members of Congress issued the Southern Manifesto, declaring war on the Brown (v. Board of Education) decision.”
“Look at Connick v. Thompson, a partisan 5-4 Supreme Court decision in 2011 that ruled it was legal for a city prosecutor’s staff to hide evidence that exonerated a black man who was rotting on death row for 14 years. And think of a recent study by Stanford University psychology researchers concluding that, when white people were told that black Americans are incarcerated in numbers far beyond their proportion of the population, “they reported being more afraid of crime and more likely to support the kinds of punitive policies that exacerbate the racial disparities,” such as three-strikes or stop-and-frisk laws.”
If you care specifically about the Mike Brown case and speaking to the facts, here’s the full case evidence report.
This Kansas University Journalism student goes through the entire case report and points out key inconsistencies and debunks a lot of lies circulating about the case. “While Officer Wilson’s story of what happened that day has changed at least three times, six separate eyewitnesses, four of whom have never met each other, all have identical accounts of what happened. Forensic investigators broke protocol by failing to test Officer Wilson’s gun for fingerprints, since Wilson claims that Brown grabbed his gun and caused it to misfire. Page 39, grand jury transcript. They were never interviewed by police. Ferguson Police lied about the distance Mike Brown was from Officer Wilson when he was killed. They reported it was 35 ft. but it was in fact 148 ft.
On why the non-indictment was a complete joke because of the Prosecutor’s family ties to the SLPD, his father’s death when responding to a dispatch call with a black suspect, and presenting the defense argument in front of the grand jury when it was not his place to do so.
SF Public Defender speaks out: “As San Francisco Public Defender, I am deeply disappointed with the grand jury’s failure to indict Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. A series of questionable, and in my opinion, biased legal and ethical decisions in the investigation and prosecution of the case presented to the grand jury led to this unjust result, most notably allowing a local prosecutor with strong family connections to police supervise the investigation and presentation of the evidence. This ethical failure resulted in the exceedingly rare step of the prosecuting attorney refusing to recommend an indictment against the police officer he was prosecuting.”
National Bar Association President comments that they will be pursuing Federal charges.
Support alternative Media
Be careful what knowledge you’re spreading- whether it’s celebrity gossip, news that strictly uses “looting” and “thug” language, or images and videos strictly of destruction without consideration to human experience. Challenge what the media wants us to think about these events.
Black Girl Dangerous does an amazing job speaking specifically to the different interpretations of violence: “Violence is something that living beings experience. People and animals experience and inflict violence against other people and animals. The violence that’s inflicted on us has an impact on our bodies, minds, spirits. Buildings don’t have bodies, minds, or spirits. Buildings can neither inflict nor experience violence. That’s why stealing a TV from a Walmart isn’t the same as taking a human life. Whatever it is, it isn’t violence.And if you really believed that Black people are fully human, you wouldn’t be equating our lives with your things.”
Para-military police / SWAT caught intentionally setting fire to cars and buildings. Check out this footage and list of buildings set ablaze in Ferguson and try to ignore the lengths police go to to suppress dissent…by resorting to violence and framing protesters.
This article quotes a local liquor store owner in Ferguson, “He said that even though it suffered some damage, people from the community stood guard outside of the store during the unrest. When I asked him about racial tensions between the immigrant store owners and African-American residents, he shrugged it off. There’s some shoplifting and name-calling here and there, he said. ‘But the real problem is with cops who stop African-Americans’ without cause.”
On Looting: “The media’s own warped procedure instructs that riots and looting are more effective at attracting attention to a cause.”
“Robert Kennedy, afraid that the increasingly riotous atmosphere in Birmingham would spread across Alabama and the South, convinced John to deliver the famous speech and begin moving towards civil rights legislation.”
“…how can a chain convenience store or corporate restaurant earnestly be part of anyone’s neighborhood? The same white liberals who inveigh against corporations for destroying local communities are aghast when rioters take their critique to its actual material conclusion.”
“The mystifying ideological claim that looting is violent and non-political is one that has been carefully produced by the ruling class because it is precisely the violent maintenance of property which is both the basis and end of their power. “
“Modern American police forces evolved out of fugitive slave patrols, working to literally keep property from escaping its owners. The history of the police in America is the history of black people being violently prevented from threatening white people’s property rights.”
Property damage sucks, and people love to use this argument as an excuse as to why the ideologies of protest movements are moot, and being on the streets doesn’t work. Rolling Stone did a round-up of historical moments of property damage, first citing the Boston Tea Party and later stating, “To cite just one example, in recent years the largest police reform packages were only adopted after large-scale rioting.” We are not promoting damages to small businesses or property, rather debunking the myth that rioting is not effective.
On Being an Ally
Here’s a list of 12 things we can all do to be better allies, with a specific call out to our white allies.
“The Good Kid narrative might provoke some sympathy but what it really does is support the lie that as a rule black people, black men in particular, have a norm of violence or criminal behavior.”
Black Millennial Musings in conversation with Jamie Utt on how white people can be allies in the socioeconomic advancement of black and brown people.
~Keep Watch, Look Out, and Stay Learning~
We hope the links serve as resources for you to educate and learn, uplift each other and hold accountable those who’s duty it is to protect and serve, whether it’s on the street or in congress, or be provoked into engaging the complexity of it all because this digest is not nearly enough. Be sensitive, hold space, engage in opinions that may not reflect your own cuz we all out here in favor of a posi future. If you have important links, tweet them/email them to us and we’ll consider them for our round-up.
P.S. Tink’s song on police brutality and racism in the wake of Mike Brown gets sharper by the minute:
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