You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: #ThisStopsToday.
In the more than 100 days residents of Ferguson waited to find out if justice would be sought for Mike Brown through the prosecution of his killer, across the country, 14 more teenagers were killed by cops:
- Tamir Rice — Ohio
- Cameron Tillman — Louisiana
- VonDerrit Myers Jr. — St. Louis
- Laquan McDonald — Chicago
- Carey Smith-Viramontes — California
- Jeffrey Holden — Missouri
- Qusean Whitten — Ohio
- Miguel Benton — Georgia
- Dillon McGee — Tennessee
- Levi Weaver — Georgia
- Karen Cifuentes — Oklahoma
- Sergio Ramos — Texas
- Roshad McIntosh — Chicago
- Diana Showman — California
Nina Strochlic details each of their deaths at The Daily Beast under the “Hands Up” tag. They were boys and girls from California to Missouri to Chicago to Georgia. The epidemic of a black person being killed extrajudicially every 28 hours clearly affects communities beyond St. Louis and requires all of us everywhere to care more and do better.
On the heels of the decision from Ferguson came word from NYC: Eric Garner’s killer would not be indicted — despite a “homicide” designation from the medical examiner and a video capturing Garner's entire interaction with police.
Any activism call short of “End Racism & Its Structural Power to Kill” will feel unsatisfactory and somewhat hollow. We must do more in our personal lives to call out racism where we see it and temper our fear of reprisal in our networks with an understanding that people of color fear more than reprisal — they fear injury and even death. The hashtag #AliveWhileBlack created by writer Jamilah Lemieux is a must read for white folks to see what ordinary interactions with the police are like for people of color.
So…what do we do? The “Ferguson Response” Tumblr has a listing of ongoing #ThisStopsNow events to protest police injustice. Find or add your city to their list. Amplify the protests on your feeds — all the more important if you fear a backlash from friends and family who don’t see through their privilege to what’s happening.
Next, we can take the artillery out of the hands of our police forces. The ACLU declares that our communities are not war zones — at least, they shouldn’t be. Their petition at ACLU.org/action calls on the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice to redirect the $400 million per year funneled to police departments for military-grade weaponry.
Both Mike Brown’s parents and President Obama are calling for that funding to go instead to outfit all police with body cameras. In their statement following Officer Darren Wilson’s non-indictment, Mike Brown’s family said the following:
"We are profoundly disappointed that the killer of our child will not face the consequence of his actions. While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen. Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.”
You can sign the Brown family’s Change.org petition specifically for the St. Louis force if you support cameras and let the White House know you expect them to follow through on the promises from the president’s recent speeches. As you’ve heard in today’s clips, many law enforcement personnel have had positive experiences with cameras, so this is a campaign that shouldn’t receive much push-back from police unions.
Last and perhaps most importantly, as has happened uncountable times since the Civil Rights era, the only place the families can now turn is to federal authorities. Attorney General Eric Holder has publicly stated intentions to investigate and possibly bring federal Civil Rights charges in both Ferguson and New York. We must demand that the Department of Justice follow through. Sign the petitions in the segment notes, visit Justice.gov to contact the DOJ directly through phone, email, and snail mail.
You can also vote in the Time.com’s annual poll to make the Ferguson protesters “Person of the Year.” It’s a good way to call out media coverage after Time inevitably doesn’t listen to the poll and picks someone else while showing your support for the movement as it grows.
SIGN ACLU petition: "Our communities are not war zones”
SIGN Change.org petition: Require Ferguson and St. Louis County and City police officers to wear body cameras
Demand the Department of Justice Secure Justice For Mike Brown through federal Civil Rights action
Demand the Department of Justice investigate and indict Officer Pantaleo on federal criminal charges for violating Eric Garner’s Civil Rights
#ThisStopsToday events are ongoing. Find/organize one in your city.
VOTE for Ferguson protestors to be Time’s Person of the Year: Tweet the Poll as “Yes”
Bookmark the Justice 4 Mike Brown Tumblr which is aggregating video/pics/posts from around the world in solidarity
"Body cameras for cops could be the biggest change to come out of the Ferguson protests” via The Washington Post
"Federal Ferguson Investigation Will Remain Independent, Holder Insists” via NPR: It's All Politics
"Michael Brown’s family denounces prosecutor, condemns violence” by Elahe Izadi at The Washington Post
"Michael Brown’s family releases statement on grand jury decision” via Fox8 Cleveland
"A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza” by Alicia Garza at The Feminist Wire
Hear the segment in context:
Episode #882 "Breakdowns in the systems (Injustice System)"
Hear previous segments on this topic:
"#JusticeForEricGarner via @ColorOfChange; episode 85
Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich