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

16Nov/140

Five ugly and uncanny parallels between lynchings and police killings in America (Shaun King)

Many of us have long compared the killings - executions in fact - of African American women, men and children at the hands of law enforcement officials and everyday citizens to the realities of lynching in generations past.

A piece at Daily Kos last week, by Shaun King, highlights a basic set of parallel considerations. I encourage folks to check out the full piece.

The following are the major points he unpacks briefly in the article...

1. The universal agreement is that the number of lynchings and police murders have both been seriously underreported.

2. The excuses given to justify lynchings and police killings are tragically bad.

3. The lynchings and police killings of African Americans are outrageously brutal and excessive.

4. Few instances in history exist where people are held truly liable for lynchings or police killings.

5. The character of the men and women who were lynched by mobs or killed by police is assassinated as a sick form of justification for the killing.

shaun king piece on lynchings and police executions

attribution: screenshots for video

15Nov/140

Affirming Black Life in Ferguson and Beyond: Reflections by Tef Poe

I hope you don't underestimate the thoughtfulness of the young people who have sacrificed everything, against the doubts of many, to affirm the dignity and integrity of Black life, in Ferguson and beyond, for the last 99 days.

Tef Poe from HandsUpUnited on Vimeo.

14Nov/140

Does ‘After Ferguson’ Exist?

A video documentary by photojournalist Jon Lowenstein...

FERGUSON from Jon Lowenstein on Vimeo.

7Nov/140

Slavery & The Prison Industrial Complex – A Panel Discussion @ Xavier University

Presented below is a very moving and compelling discussion about the tremendous injustices that permeate this nation's criminal justice system. While some of you may consider this to be a lengthy discussion, it's a really great resource for viewing and discussion among students, professionals, community organizers, as well as everyday citizens concerned about the horrible experiences being forced upon people by this nation's criminal justice system. We all must do more to reverse and undo this extensive web of injustice.

Among the key and critical themes from the discussion:

  • Prison is a big business... Who do you think, among the major players, is actually going to try to undo such a profitable enterprise and operation?
  • For the most part, there is no - as in zero - rehabilitation that goes on in prison. The system actually wants people to return to prison.
  • So-called 'prisoners' are human beings... family members... and need the care and love from relationships while they are incarcerated. We must show them the same human dignity and compassion we are capable of.
  • We have to get to know their stories, and take those stories back out for the world to see, hear and understand.
  • We must come to understand the prison crisis in this country within the broader context of American history, especially the history of slavery and the decades following.
  • We must also understand that the prison populations in other countries tend to mirror the social and demographic patterns as the system in this country... the prisons tend to be filled with society's systematically disconnected and poor citizens.
  • The model of incarceration in this country is one squarely focused on punishment and removal from society, within with incarcerated labor as a profit-making carryover from the capitalist model developed and made efficient during slavery.
  • What's currently happening in Ferguson, Missouri is a tragic but accurate illustration of everything that's wrong with this nation's prison industrial complex. It is one of many that gets public attention, yet that dynamic is more common than not throughout this nation.

Slavery, The Prison Industrial Complex: A Panel Discussion with P.3 Artists Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick.

This round-table discussion, held on Tuesday, November 4th, examines the failed systematic machinery of mass imprisonment and the combined efforts under way to abolish it. The discussion includes prominent activists, artists who have documented the Angola Prison for years, and former prisoners—who provide a first-hand viewpoint. The participants come together to both inform the public and discuss strategies for change while reminding us of the crucial, invigorating and ever-present affinity between activism and art.

Panelists:

  • Angela Davis, Political Activist, Scholar, Author
  • Keith Calhoun, Artist
  • Chandra McCormick, Artist
  • Carmen Demourelle, Former Prisoner
  • Henry James, Exonerated Former Prisoner
  • Norris Henderson, Former Prisoner, Public Defender, Political Activist

Moderator: William P. Quigley, Law Professor and Director of the Law Clinic and the Gillis Long Poverty Law Center at Loyola University, New Orleans

Total Discussion Time = Approx. 2 hours

Xavier University - Slavery: The Prison Industrial Complex from Jason Berry on Vimeo.

6Nov/140

Proposed Rules of Engagement: Anticipating the Ferguson Grand Jury Announcement & Public Demonstrations

In anticipation of what is widely expected to be a recommendation not to indict Ferguson (MO) PD Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, a coalition of concerned residents and organizations have come together and identified 19 "Rules of Engagement" that they hope to get agreement on with St. Louis-area and other federal and Missouri law enforcement agencies.

The rules that are being proposed are shown below, with a brief excerpt from the article at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

A coalition of roughly 50 groups, concerned about issues brought to prominence by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, asked officials Wednesday to agree to “rules of engagement” for protests expected to follow a grand jury decision about whether the killing was justified.

At a news conference here, “Don’t Shoot Coalition” members said police should value safety first, and agree to a “de-militarized response” that would bar the use of armored vehicles, rubber bullets, rifles and tear gas.

The group seeks 48 hours’ advance notice of the public announcement of the decision. And members are asking police to respect safe spaces set up in houses of worship near each anticipated area of protests, and to ensure protesters can reach those spaces.

Read the entire article here (from yesterday, Wednesday, November 5, 2014)

Download the proposed 19 Rules of Engagement (pictured below) here.

Ferguson Grand Jury and Protests - Proposed Rules of Engagement

9Oct/140

Support FERGUSON OCTOBER – Every supportive action you take will help!

Everyone can make a difference! Visit Ferguson October to learn more, and to get updates on activities and steps we can all take to push for change.

Ferguson_October_Poster

6Oct/140

Ferguson Protesters Delay Symphony After Intermission; Polite and Awkward Applause Follows

By now many of you have probably heard about or seen some of the footage from this weekend's St. Louis Symphony protest, highlighting the tragic killing of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri cop Darren Wilson. This occurs amid the relative silence among a great many whites whose primary complaints tend to be focused on the inconvenience of the aftermath and continuing protests to the comfortable (racial) social arrangements they are used to between Black folks and white folks.

In case you haven't seen or heard about this symphony protest, brief video and audio clips are shared just below.

The expressions seen in the faces of the couple at the 1:14 mark are priceless. Many words come to mind as I observe their reactions. Let's just say that "support" and "solidarity' are not among those words - at least not support and solidarity with the family of Michael Brown nor the larger community of African Americans who have to deal with the indignities of Black life in and around Ferguson.

Additional description, and a small amount of commentary, can be found at St. Louis Public Radio.

The St. Louis American reported that the protest was organized by "Sarah Griesbach, 42, a white woman who lives in the Central West End. She said that the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teen who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, has opened her eyes to the inequalities that exist in St. Louis."

Griesbach told the American: “It is my duty and desire to try to reach out and raise that awareness peacefully but also to disrupt the blind state of white St. Louis, particularly among the people who are secure in their blindness."

Click here to read the full write-up, including the audio and commentary.

After watching the video footage, and listening to the audio capture of this protest at St. Louis Public Radio, I can't help but reflect on the distinct contrast between the relatively "warmer" reception to this version of protest, and the horrendously violent response to those protesters on the streets of Ferguson (both in real-time by the police, and also in the equally as brutal aftermath shaped by the media).

If previously disengaged and oblivious whites really want to get out of their comfort zone, it seems they should also join en masse - in support, not as leaders - the protesters that have been braving it out on Ferguson streets day in and day out since the killing of Michael Brown.

The reality is that White people clapping in dignified solidarity, especially as a brief commercial break during their night at the symphony, will not ultimately move the systems and structures of power - especially those that repeatedly refuse to see and affirm the dignity and value of Black life.

Hopefully, however, at least for some of the people involved, this helps to create a pathway to more of that foundational engagement of those power structures.

5Sep/140

Justice for Every Other Michael Brown… Remembering Ramarley Graham

A discussion about the secrecy behind police misconduct investigations, from HuffPost Live...

Two years before Michael Brown's death, Ramarley Graham - another black, unarmed teenager - was shot and killed in his own home by a police officer. His mother Constance Malcolm joins Nancy to discuss her son's life, death and the pursuit of justice.

Originally aired on September 4, 2014

Guests:

  • Constance Malcom (New York, NY) Mother of Ramarley Graham
  • Andy King  (New York, NY) New York City Council Member, District 12
  • Jocelyn Simonson (New York, NY) Acting Assistant Professor of Lawyering, NYU School of Law

21Aug/140

Ms. Lauryn Hill… “Black Rage” & Peace for Missouri

Powerful.  Lyrics available... Visit Ms. Lauryn Hill

21Aug/140

Raw Video from North St. Louis, Missouri – Tuesday’s Public Police Execution of Kaijeme Powell

This is extremely hard to watch, but people have to begin to realize what this pattern looks and sounds like. This is what Black folks are so angry about. There are other ways to "protect and serve", and most other communities experience those other non-lethal policing strategies.

These officers were on the scene no more than 13-16 seconds before they started shooting.  And at least 9 shots were fired - likely more.  Over a butter knife at worst.

And from the brief write-up about the incident (also below), it's clear that these were pretty-much junior officers on the force, with few years of service and obviously very little capacity for discernment in these kinds of situations. I think I can appreciate the perspective of officers who find themselves in crazy situations. But I don't buy that this was one of those situations. Not after watching this extended video clip. There have to be non-lethal strategies used to disable and apprehend individuals who are believed to be a threat to their own and other people's' safety.

This madness has to stop. There are more effective ways of policing, especially when responding to individuals who are obviously suffering from some form of mental illness.

But be clear... This is not only about law enforcement policies and practices. The kind of change that has always been needed is the fundamental shift that allows people in this country - especially white people in this country - to see the essential humanity of Black life. That's what has to inform any policy and practice changes - be it related to law enforcement, education, employment, criminal/juvenile justice, as well as the judicial system.

This here, however, is unconscionable.

Also check out this article that revisits the earlier statements by St. Louis police officials, which is at odds with the video footage.

From the Huffington Post:  St. Louis Police Release Video Of Kajieme Powell Killing That Appears At Odds With Their Story