Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

25Nov/140

Today, we stay the course…

We who believe in freedom cannot rest!

We mourn, we cry, we yell and we scream. But most importantly, we continue our collective struggle. The great outcome of this latest tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, and there have absolutely been other tragedies since, is that there are more and more people - young people especially - who are clearer than ever about the racism that permeates the governing and media institutions in this country. And they have the courage, energy and the vision that it takes to advance the struggle. What they don't know about the past, they can and will learn. But that passion and desire for freedom and justice will not fade. And that will carry us forward.

This truism remains consistent for us... We who believe in freedom cannot - and will not - rest until it comes!

Many thanks to Sweet Honey and the Rock for their gift that keeps on giving.

We who believe in freedom cannot rest We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Until the killing of black men, black mothers' sons Is as important as the killing of white men, white mothers' sons

That which touches me most is that I had a chance to work with people
Passing on to others that which was passed on to me

To me young people come first, they have the courage where we fail And if I can but shed some light as they carry us through the gale

The older I get the better I know that the secret of my going on Is when the reins are in the hands of the young, who dare to run against the storm

Not needing to clutch for power, not needing the light just to shine on me
I need to be one in the number as we stand against tyranny

Struggling myself don't mean a whole lot, I've come to realize That teaching others to stand up and fight is the only way my struggle survives

I'm a woman who speaks in a voice and I must be heard At times I can be quite difficult, I'll bow to no man's word

We who believe in freedom cannot rest We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

21Nov/140

Attorney General Eric Holder: Maintaining Public Safety While Safeguarding Constitutional Rights

From the United States Department of Justice...

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) today announced the release of a resource guide intended to help law enforcement officers build stronger community-police relations. The Resource Guide for Enhancing Community Relationships and Protecting Privacy and Constitutional Rights is a collaboration between BJA and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office).

“The Justice Department encourages law enforcement officials, in every jurisdiction, to work with the communities they serve to minimize needless confrontation,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.  “It is vital to engage in planning and preparation, from evaluating protocols and training to choosing the appropriate equipment and uniforms.  This is the hard work that is necessary to preserve the peace and maintain the public trust at all times—particularly in moments of heightened community tension.”

“The role of law enforcement is not only to enforce the law, but to preserve peace, minimize harm, and sustain community trust,” said BJA Director Denise O’Donnell.  “The resources available through this guide will help police departments and sheriffs’ offices maintain order and build effective police-community relationships, while promoting the rights and protecting the civil liberties of the citizens they serve.”

Read the full DOJ Resource Guide press release... here

View and download the new Resource Guide (PDF, 10 pages)... here

Visit the DOJ video library... here

Attorney General's video commentary published on Friday, November 21, 2014

In today’s video, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services are providing a new guide to law enforcement officers that compiles information, tools, and best practices to maintain public safety while safeguarding constitutional rights during First Amendment-protected events.   Attorney General Holder reiterated that the Department of Justice encourages law enforcement officials, in every jurisdiction, to work with the communities they serve to minimize needless confrontation.  And he reminded all individuals that—while demonstrations and protests have the potential to spark a positive national dialog and bring about critical reform—history has shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence.

21Nov/140

War Cry by Tef Poe (Produced By DJ Smitty): Affirming Black Life – and Activism – in Ferguson and Beyond

Voices from Ferguson.  Strong language, and strong message...

Tef Poe is one of the organizers and activists in the St. Louis / Ferguson, Missouri area. I also shared clips of him talking about the life conditions for many African American youth and families in the region, and the underlying point of the struggle in recent previous posts (here and here).

handsupunited.org

20Nov/140

Ten Illegal Police Actions to Watch for in Ferguson (Bill Quigley)

It's been 104 days since the killing of unarmed Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, by a white Ferguson police officer. All who watched the ensuing demonstrations during that August and September period (and since then) likely saw a disproportionate and militarized police response to the rightfully angry members of both the local and national community.

As we all await the grand jury's recommendation about whether Officer Darren Wilson should be indicted, increased attention is being paid to the tone and tenor of government and law enforcement messages. It seems clear to me that the government is expecting to announce a non-indictment recommendation, and is also anticipating a sharp reaction from the community. This is more recently reinforced by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's pronouncement of a State of Emergency in anticipation of the grand jury's recommendation, and the reports of huge amounts of money spent on equipment and training for numerous area law enforcement agencies.

At least one writer has outlined the kinds of policing tactics the community should anticipate, and be on the lookout for. The list follows, as outlined by Bill Quigley, a law professor at the University of New Orleans.

  1. Try to stop people from protesting
  2. Provocateurs
  3. Snatch Squads
  4. False Arrests
  5. Intimidation
  6. Kettling or Encircling
  7. Raids on supportive churches, organizations or homes
  8. Pain Noise Trucks
  9. Arrest reporters
  10. Chemical and other weapons

You can visit Bill Quigley's article at Huffington Post for a fuller description.

20Nov/140

Nyle Forte & A New Generation of Youth Activists: Affirming Black Life in Ferguson & Beyond

Nyle Fort recently focused his activism in Ferguson, where officer Darren Wilson killed Mike Brown, an unarmed black teenager, on Aug. 9. Fort was one of thousands of community leaders to descend on the small St. Louis suburb and lend his voice to the protest known as #FergusonOctober. It was an opportunity to deliver a very simple message to the world: “Black Lives Matter.”

Originally Published on You Tube, on Nov 13, 2014, via Fusion

19Nov/140

Ferguson Protesters & Organizers: Bringing attention to persistent injustice

As published in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch...

By Johnetta Elzie, DeRay McKesson and Brittany Packnett

----------

Over the last 103 days, many pundits, outside observers and outright opponents have co-opted our intentions and ignored our purpose, manipulating our cause to fit agendas that are not our own. Now, having been given the unique opportunity to provide clarity, we want to be unequivocally clear about who we are, why we’re here and why we can’t wait.

WHO WE ARE

We are Americans, exercising the democratic voice gifted us by birthright. We have not brought unrest as it has been called, but rather have brought attention to persistent injustice — and that attention causes discomfort. The status quo is comfortable for those privileged not to live our reality, making the discomfort of awareness necessary. This is the epitome of the free American democracy that Patrick Henry proclaimed, that Frederick Douglass professed, that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. practiced.

We are peaceful. We discipline ourselves and remain resolutely confident in the righteousness of our cause, even in the face of weapons of war. We ensure that actions remain peaceful, purposeful, and focused on our message, not on chaos. That we must continually remind and convince the public of our peaceful stance is disheartening. We are so often irresponsibly labeled as thugs by those who would — consciously or not — use our peaceful protests to revive the myth of the violent black savage.

We are activists, young and old, new and experienced, committed to justice for all people. We believe a change in the culture of law enforcement that leaves unarmed children dead is long overdue. We believe that this is a movement that requires allies from all communities, since all communities should proclaim the humanity of all children.

WHY WE ARE HERE

And make no mistake: Our cause is a call for basic human decency. All children deserve to live their lives in a way that allows them to fully achieve their potential. So we protest, we march and we stand because that opportunity was violently taken from Mike.

We are here to demand that human life has profound value, no matter its trappings, skin color, ZIP code or gender. We are here to focus the spotlight on the unnecessary loss of human life. Stories about assumed chaos after the return of the grand jury’s decision ignore the primary and central fact: an unarmed child was killed far, far too young.

We implore those that scorn and dismiss our protest to walk in our shoes. In too many communities, unarmed black youth, particularly males, are stripped of life and liberty by police officers. Many, far too many, of those unarmed children. And in our peaceful grief, we were met with weaponry meant only for times of war, and invective accusing Mike and our movement of thuggery that justified the violence.

The disruption we have therefore intentionally created reflects the disruption of life we will no longer tolerate. So, if we disrupt the status quo now, know that is an intentional choice. We seek to nonviolently mirror this violent, intolerable disruption of life in our communities. If this were your constant reality, we believe you would make the same choice.

WHY WE CAN’T WAIT

In the days since Mike was shot dead, Kajieme Powell and VonDerrit Myers Jr. were killed, too. A host of peaceful protesters were unjustly arrested. Life, liberty and voice have continually been stripped away.

And as we march toward justice for all lives lost, we also potentially march into danger. While we stockpile signs, we are told that others, who are sworn to protect and serve us, instead mean us harm and are stockpiling guns. Already, heavy-handed police responses to peaceful protests make us justifiably worried about what is to come. Though we are peaceful, we fear for our safety. We fear for our lives.

But while we move toward the unknown, we cannot allow fear to dissolve our movement. We cannot wait for justice, since, too often, delay actually means denial. We must see a sustainable community-oriented shift in the policing of our neighborhoods. We must see the truthful reporting of our cause by responsible institutions. We cannot wait for another life to be lost, for more blood to be shed, for more lines of division to be drawn further and deeper across this city before we change course.

The night they sang a requiem for our fallen brother, our allies asked us which side we are on.

We are on the human side. We hope you stand with us.

Johnetta Elzie, 25, of St. Louis, has been documenting the events in Ferguson on Twitter: @nettaaaaaaaa. She is co-editor of the #Ferguson protester newsletter.

DeRay McKesson, 29, is senior director of human capital with Minneapolis Public Schools and is a Teach For America alum. He has been documenting the events of Ferguson via Twitter (@deray) and is the founder and co-editor of the protester newsletter.

Brittany Packnett, 30, is executive director of Teach For America in St. Louis. She has been named to the Ferguson Commission.

Five others contributed to this commentary.

19Nov/140

I Believe That We Will Win – Rally Cry for VonDerrit Myers, Jr.

By Katina Parker... #Justice4MikeBrown #Justice4Vonderrit #SpotlightOnFerguson #BlackLivesMatter

At the invitation of the Myers family, Ferguson protestors mount a rally cry outside the funeral of 18-year old VonDerrit Myers, Jr., who was gunned down by an off-duty police officer in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 8th, 2014, just one day before the 2-month anniversary of Mike Brown's murder.

I Believe That We Will Win - Rally Cry for VonDerrit Myers, Jr. from Katina Parker on Vimeo.

18Nov/140

Ferguson Speaks: A Communique From Ferguson

From Hands Up United...

What's happening in Ferguson now, and what has been unfolding for the last 102 days, is not only a moment, but is genuinely developing into a movement with implications and concerns about Ferguson, Missouri and beyond.

#FergusonSpeaks

As law enforcement officials and national media gear up for a St Louis County Grand Jury’s announcement as to whether it will levy charges against Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the August 9th shooting of Michael Brown Jr., activists have issued a 9 minute video communiqué providing an intimate look at the climate on the ground.

The video communiqué displays a cross section of the myriad groups activated in the region and includes exclusive footage of Vonderrit Meyers Sr., Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III, celebrated artist and HandsUpUnited.org cofounder Tef Poe, Taurean Russell, Lost Voices organizer Low Key, Millennial Activists United co-creator Ashley Yates, activist and Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams, Damon Davis -- a volunteer with The Don’t Shoot Coalition, Canfield Watchmen founder David Whitt, as well as local Ferguson business managers.

Viewers are encouraged to tweet, share, and embed the video using the accompanying hashtag #FergusonSpeaks —extended raw clips of each of the video’s subjects are available upon request.

handsupunited.org

Ferguson Speaks: A Communique From Ferguson from FitzGibbon Media on Vimeo.

17Nov/140

Ferguson Preparing For Grand Jury Decision – Discussion With Organizers in Ferguson / St. Louis

The city of Ferguson, MO awaits a grand jury decision on whether the police officer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager Michael Brown will be indicted. We talk to Ferguson residents about how the city is preparing ahead of the ruling.

HuffPost Live - Discussion held on Monday, November 17, 2014

Hosted by:  Marc Lamont Hill

Guests:

  • Danie Rae (Ferguson, MO) Member, Don't Shoot Coalition
  • Bassem Masri (Ferguson, MO) The Ferguson Connection; Ferguson Livestreamer
  • Ryan J. Reilly (Ferguson , MO) HuffPost Justice Reporter
  • Pastor Renita Lamkin (St. Louis, MO) Pastor, St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church

17Nov/140

A Generation On Purpose: Wisdom Monday with Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. “Wright, Jr. & Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III (Standing with #Ferguson)

A couple of weeks ago I stopped by the Howard University Bookstore to see what books some of the professors are using in their classes.  I tend to stop by there at least once every semester, sometimes a little more.

On this most recent visit, one of the books I purchased was Soul Fitness, a 2007 publication of Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes, III.  Soul Fitness is a book of daily meditations intended to help us all reflect and be inspired, both on what makes us special as well as on what makes everyone and everything happening around us special.

This morning, I'd like to share some of the earliest wisdom you'll encounter in the book.  In fact, this first piece I'd like to share is actually from the Foreword, which was written by Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.. As we continue to witness and participate in the unfoldings in Ferguson, Missouri and other places, and especially the discussion about the so-called generation gap with respect to demonstrations and civil disobedience strategies, this passage becomes especially important.

I hope you all find this reminder just as valuable as I did when I read it, and as valuable as I continue to find it each day.

From the Foreword:

In one of the old hymns of the church, "A Charge to Keep I Have," the songwriter says in one of the verses:

"To serve this present age, my calling to fulfill,
May it all my powers engage to do my
Master's Will.

What the hymnodist is saying - or really, praying - is for the grace to use all the gifts God has given him to do God's will and to serve the generation in which he finds himself. What a powerful truth is wrapped up in the words of that hymn.

We cannot serve our parents' generation. We cannot serve our grandparents' generation. We can learn from the rich legacy they leave us. We can drink from the fountains of wisdom that they filled for us, but we cannot equip them to live back in their day or equip them to live in the future. Their day has passed!

The real task in ministry is to find ways to serve the people who are our contemporaries. The difficult challenge in saying yes to God's call upon your life is to find ways to address the realities of life with which those who live around you and those among who you live face everyday of their lives. That is what "serving in the present age" means.  (my emphasis, not the author's)

Soul Fitness Book - Freddie Haynes III