We have to shift this binary narrative the State is trying to push on us about “good protester / bad protester”. It is aligned with the narrative of violent and non-violent, which is just more BS. It is aligned with the “he was unarmed” or “he had a _____” whatever, as if their “Second Amendment” doesn’t protect the right to own and bear arms….
Real talk, even in the abolitionist world, we have difficult conversation about how to manage people who are responsible for things like child molestation and murder, but most agree that prisons as they now exist are not the answer, period. But that is not what we are discussing here.
They want to try to define things in terms of ‘riot’ but that is not accurate. What is happening is REBELLION, plain and simple. And a “rebellion is a natural response to a repressive situation.” These moments do not arise out of thin air, as the State and the media machine would try to have us believe; no they come from generations of oppression.
What is happening in Minneapolis and in other cities around the country can only be defined as rebellion. For certain, there are elements of most direct actions wherein some folx do things that can lead to others being harmed. However, in terms of this conversation, that cannot clearly be stated without setting it into the context of the “MONOPOLY ON VIOLENCE” the State claims. It is the State the creates the violence before the protest, and the State that says the People have no right to choose their response, and the State that uses violence to suppress the people!
“I will not let my oppressor dictate my response to his oppression.” ~MLK
Point is, even when some act and others get hurt, they easy route is to point the finger at those who responded to an oppressive situation. It is much harder to identify the oppressor in the context of the oppression, and to not conflate the response and blame the people who are oppressed.
This is the shift we must get to. We must remember the oppressor and the oppression, and not allow them to skew the truth about where the violence is truly coming from.
The People are standing up and demanding that one of our people, an activist who has dual citizenship that went to Mexico to advocate for the people, to be released from the prison she has been held hostage in for the last two years! The power structures is holding a political prisoner
We are calling on the United States government and officials to step in and intervene. In addition to that, the end of military and financial aid being sent from the U.S, to Mexico because it undermines the social contract that otherwise would exist between government and citizen, as well as, an increased respect for Indigenous People.
The beautiful thing about this movement to end police brutality and by corollary to end the system which buttresses mass incarceration is that it has bridged culture, class, nationality, sex, religion, age, gender identification, race, ethnicity, political ideologies, and color. In the marches here in Seattle and around the United States, at any point that you turn around to look at the people putting their bodies on the line to ensure that Civil Rights are achieved you will see someone from any of innumerable walks of life and backgrounds. The beauty of it is that as different as we all are, we all believe that people should be treated fairly and equally.
The system of laws that have been written and instituted from the end of 19th Century through the beginning of the 21st Century are crafted in such a way to apply to everyone, but are in practice used to target particular groups of individuals. The People, who gather and march and chant and sing in these marches understand this stark reality and have unanimously declared time and again that this system is not a system of justice. The People, regardless of whether they are black, white, First Nations, Asian, Latino, wealthy or homeless have consistently stood shoulder to shoulder risking arrests and violence to their persons to make sure that black men and women are not being killed and incarcerated and atrocious rates.
I have personally witnessed people who could be physically identified as white putting their bodies between the police and the people of color who the police were attempting to arrest and harm. I have also witnessed firsthand, allies being sprayed with mace and arrested—this includes a Legal Observer who was there to ensure that the laws were being followed and was a non-combatant who was sprayed with mace—during our marches.
So, the claims that I have heard distributed that they are not putting their bodies and their liberties on the line, acknowledging their inherent privilege in this system and using that to benefit the cause are simply inaccurate. Even if you do not notice the arrests happening during the protests that does not mean that they are not occurring. In fact, there have been many occurrences of people being arrested after the protests and marches while they are walking home, and often times on trumped up charges that have nothing to do with the demonstrations themselves.
Earlier this December, I went to the King County Jail for one of our people who was scheduled for a bail hearing after the individual was arrested leaving a march alone. The charge was burglary, but there was not even enough evidence to set bail and the individual was released without bail or charges being filed. The individual was, it seems, arrested just because of their involvement in the demonstration.
This is not meant to be construed to suggest that Black people have not been arrested, maced or flash-bombed because that is not the truth. In fact, the Seattle Police are notorious for ramming their bikes into people and tackling us to the ground, fighting the whole way as a tactic of arrest and suppression. This has happened to many people of multiple races and ethnicities. My intention in sharing the description of the white people who are being maced and arrested is to show that the people who are standing in solidarity with the Black community are in fact risking their bodies and liberty for us and that needs to be both acknowledged and respected.
This is nonetheless, a Black led movement and it has to be. Frederic Douglass said in his speech West India Emancipation in New York in 1857: “This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” He further said, “The general sentiment of mankind is that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just.” What this reveals, even from as long ago as the 19th Century is that the struggle for justice and freedom rests squarely with the people who are being oppressed. As Douglas mentions, if those who are oppressed do not stand up for themselves, then no one else will, or should either. That the people who are suffering from an unjust system must stand up for themselves and assert their right to life, if they are to have that right to life. “For a man who does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others, or put himself to any inconvenience to gain it for others” says Douglas, before he continues on to say: “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.” Douglas was speaking about slavery in the 19th Century and achieving freedom from that servitude, but his words hold just as much weight and pith today as they did then; if the people are not willing to stand up and make sacrifices for our own freedom and right to life, then we are not worth that freedom and right. This is why the movement has to be Black led and why we must stand for ourselves with others by our side. And this is precisely what we have been doing.
Courageous people have been organizing and putting their very lives on the line and making the utmost sacrifices to demand our right to life and for justice. People have made sacrifices of school and work, of safety and life to demand justice and to fight for an equitable system, but to read the comments on many news or reporting feeds or to listen to the people outside of the marches critiquing the protesters’ motives say things like this comment from a KIRO 7 news feed Protest Planned at Pioneer Square During Seahawks Game(12/19/2014): “How many of these not so intelligent protesters are feeding of our tax dollars. They seem to have a lot of time on their hands to protest. But not enough to check there facts. It’s time for them to shut up and get a job!” To listen to and absorb these types of comments, whether in public, on television, the radio, or on the internet one might think that the people in these demonstrations had nothing to lose because we never had anything.
I could just as easily speak for others as I can speak of myself, but I will take the heat for this explication. I am a senior at the University of Washington double majoring in History (with a focus on empires and post-colonialism) and Philosophy (with a focus in ethics and justice). After completing my undergraduate studies and earning a Bachelor’s Degree I will be earning a Ph. D. in history and a Jurist Doctorate (Law Degree). With these degrees my plan is to work with the United Nations and to help the organization revise international policy and law so that it is more equitable and just for all. Prior to enrolling at North Seattle Community College, where I was the Treasurer for the Student Government, and earning an Associate of Arts Degree, I was an owner of a construction company in the Pacific Northwest region, which specialized in underground utilities. The contrast the presentation of these facts I am attempting to draw is that the protesters are not ignorant, uneducated and jobless people. My story is not unique. In fact, many if not most people have very similar stories and histories to tell.
My story contains more. Almost twenty years ago, I got into a lot of trouble in and around Seattle. I have a juvenile record that has been closed, though not expunged. When I was an adolescent I was involved with gangs and got hooked on drugs and as a result of both of these things I committed crime. I grew up in varying degrees of poverty, and even though I believe in agency, it cannot be successfully argued that one’s environment does not shape one’s decisions and opportunities. However, that is not the point, the argument that I am making by stating my history is that when I participate in demonstrations for Civil Rights risking arrests and potential charges, I risk everything I have been working on and for. If I am arrested then that juvenile record will be used as evidence of my character and against me. If that occurs, then I also risk losing the funding for my education, which will directly impact my ability to be a servant for our people, not just in the United States, but globally. (I will be happy to debate the morality of Federal Financial Aid, but this is not the place for it or the reason for bringing it up.) The point is that most of us are educated and do have jobs and furthermore, as Frederick Douglas said, we are risking everything to fight for our rights and for justice because that is what the struggle requires for progress.
It is easy to portray the protesters as thugs and criminals, as ignorant and leeches on this society because that makes the message that The People are speaking easier to ignore. It is an attempt to discredit the complaints that The People have with this system and to justify the suppression of the people.
There are just as many slurs that are tossed out at The People who stand and march in solidarity with Black people and work for a brighter tomorrow with us. The news and much of the public attempts to character assassinate some of these people by calling them Anarchists. And though some of them may be anarchists, not everyone who is at these demonstrations and that is not Black is an anarchist. In fact, there are plenty of Black Anarchists. Secondly, the media and the public attempt to discredit the demonstrations and the messages being projected from them by arguing that these demonstrations are nothing but white anarchists and who break things and start fights with the police. This may happen, but it is by no means the entire composition of all the demonstrations or any demonstration in particular. On all counts, the reports and accusations against The People participating in these demonstrations is simply inaccurate and often times nothing more than either, misinformation or outright propaganda meant to dilute the messages being disseminated by The People. Furthermore, as was stated above, these people are putting their bodies and their liberties on the line and have because they believe that this system is unjust.
A perfect example of this was at the demonstration at Bellevue Square when a woman with a child who was sitting in the area where The People gathered to sing, joined the demonstration with her young son. The People were singing “Which side are you on my friend, which side are you on? Justice for Mike Brown, is justice for us all” in the center of the mall. After the police, decked out in full riot gear encircled the demonstrators, they made a plea to the white woman from Bellevue, notifying her that they were about to arrest everyone in the demonstration and warning her that she should take her son away before they began. Instead of running away and allowing an unjust action to occur, she grabbed her son and entered into the center of the circle of this peaceful demonstration. It was both heartwarming and inspiring to see that someone who no one knew believed in fighting for justice so much would not conceal even her son from the harsh reality of oppression and suppression.
Regardless of what the uninformed or misinformed people attempt to present as facts about The People and what the people are doing by marching and protesting, or how they attempt to tear the people apart, it is not having the desired affect. In fact, it is having the opposite affect, it is drawing The People closer together and forcing us to become more organized and strategic. Communities which have been disparate are coming together and forming coalitions and networks, learning how to care for and educated each other and creating lasting relationships. We are tearing down the barriers that society has attempted to raise to keep us separate and we are standing in unity.
This is a Black led movement because it must be and it is long overdue, but because it is led by Black people does not mean that the people who are not Black are not valuable and necessary participating people in this movement; quite the opposite. It is a beautiful thing to watch so many people, from so many different backgrounds come together all to fight for justice and equality.
I am sure that you have been watching the news and the posts and you may have even seen me on television or some news report somewhere, somewhen. I have been protesting to end police brutality. I have not been violating any laws, just marching and chanting with our people in an effort to help the laws to change and to help the system to become more just. So, I have been more than just a little busy this month since the Grand Jury decisions of Michael Brown and Eric Garner were made.
I pulled through the quarter okay. I know that I told you that I thought I was going to fail this quarter and that I was struggling at UW, but I did fair. Not as good as I would have liked, but much better than what I expected and I am still alive and in school. I studied Ancient Greece, Ancient Persian Empires, and Ancient Greek Philosophy and I will tell you right now, those people back then were crazy, I mean off the hook crazy. There was not a year that I studied that some war was not going on and that someone was not killing someone else for some religious or political ideology. I do not think that I can say that we have progressed much in this day and age, we are just in the ivory tower here in America.
I have also been making some serious ground for my UW research project about the School-to-Prison Pipeline and Mass-Incarceration. I have been identifying how the laws were written since the 19th Century and how the political debates formed and influenced the public to accept the claims that politicians made to justify the formation of the system. Unfortunately, I will not be done with my research in time to help you out while you are in there, but hopefully, my research will be able to help you regain your Civil Rights once you are returned to your family.
It is crazy to think that the current Penal Industrial Complex that the United States now operates and sustains has its roots in the Reformation Era (1865-1877), the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution that abolished slavery and sought to establish rights for Black people, and the Civil Rights Era (1950-1975). You may be reading this thinking, yeah, I could have told you that the system is rooted in slavery, but I am finding the proof of how the system formed and the ideological justifications for the system.
With the movements for civil rights going on right now and the negotiations with all of the many governmental branches and the several states and their legislatures, it is very likely that we are to see some reforms occurring within the next few years. These are very exciting times and they are also very scary times because as people have exposed the tension that laid just beneath the surface of this colorblind society it has been revealed that racism is alive and flourishing. However, what this is allowing the people to do, is address the implicit biases that people harbor and hopefully we can amend some of these biases and form a new conception of Black people in America.
Needless to say, as stark as the times are ahead of us, I have a lot of hope that we can pull through this and pave the way to a brighter future for the next generations that follow us.
The protests that have been occurring nationally in the United States ignited because of the recent Grand Jury decisions of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, but there is a much longer, older, and deeper system of oppression that tolerates and permits these decisions. These cases were the proverbial straws that “broke the camel’s back,” so to speak, that galvanized the people to action.
The negative responses about these protests are precisely the reason that the protests have continued and why some people decided to protest at the Seahawks game, most people do not know, and or disregard the importance of an unjust Department of Justice and Criminal Justice System in the United States. It is very clear that most people are not aware of the “New Jim Crow” and how the laws of the United States have been crafted not only to be discriminatory towards people of color—McCleskey v. Kemp (1986)—but also fill in the Prison Industrial Complex with people of color at alarming rates, and disenfranchise entire populations. The legal framework that permits this new system of Jim Crow to exist is the same system that is permitting the Grand Juries to make and levy the decisions that they are making in these cases and essentially, allowing police officers to kill with impunity.
The assertion that a “thug” got what he deserved because she or he was a “criminal,” when the label of criminal is almost ubiquitously paired with being a person of color—even though the data shows that white people commit just as much if not more crime as do people of color—what is being presented is a justification for the murder of people of color by an institution established for the protection of the people. The people who are protesting feel that either, they themselves or others are not being treated fairly by the system and are correct in the feeling. We do not feel like we are being granted the full status of People of the United States.
It is unfortunate that these protests have to occur at all and it is also unfortunate that The People had stand outside of a stadium where fans were gathering to make our complaints heard. If the system was fair and just then The People would not be taking the actions they are taking all across the country. Just that fact alone should tell the civilization of the United States something is wrong. However, what we see most are people who are upset that events are being disrupted and are presented with arguments like “get over it” and “the Grand Jury already made their decision and there is nothing you can do about it.” But as was stated earlier, this is a much bigger problem than any two Grand Jury decisions. Many people in the United States either fail to understand the depth of the injustice or choose to ignore that it is unjust and would prefer that these issues not be brought to the surface.
I challenge all of you who think that these protests are a pointless waste of time and that they should stop, to imagine, just for a moment, how you would feel and what you would do if, you were a member of a marginalized group being discriminated against and denied your rights. Then imagine that your marginalized group has also been relegated to this inferior position because of some benign characteristic that has nothing to do with your character or merits and the world tells you to “just get over it,” what would your position on the issues be then?
My head is swirling with both conviction and confusion over the events of the last few days both here in Seattle and around the country. More than ever before, I am against the totalitarian aspects that this nation exhibits and the events of this week have only served to crystallize my resolve to topple this regime’s agenda. At the same time, the utter apathy and even the contempt of many, if not most Americans, who are condemning those taking a stand and demanding justice is confusing.
I expected better. I expected more. Given that fifty years have passed since the Civil Rights movement and race has been an issue the entire time, I expected more people to be informed. But it is as though they are diametrically opposed to conceding the point, that people are being treated unjustly. Strangely though, I don’t believe it is there fault. They have been spoon-fed the same lies and half-truths the rest of us have. They have been inculcated for so long, that even some people of color believe this crap.
This however, does not absolve these people of responsibility. Once you have been exposed to the truth and make an active choice, of your own free will, you are responsible for the decision you make. Therefore, if you are told, read, or experience the reality beyond the spoon-fed fabrications and choose to remain apathetic, then you are responsible for that choice.
The reality is that the system we live in has been built on and is founded upon injustice. The American Dream is a farce because a person’s merit and luck are not all that is requisite to exercise upward social mobility; the system is designed to constrain that mobility and to maintain the status quo.
Furthermore, the claim that is the support structure for much of the system is that minorities have an inherent character flaw that results in poverty; poverty being claimed as the cause for crime and thus, the destitute position of minorities. However, one thing you will not read in your history books is about the “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1920. This was a black city in the south that was a financial center that could have rivaled any on the planet and it was torched to the ground and its citizenry exterminated by the KKK and the police institution. This shows that there is not an inherent flaw in people of color that resigns them to poverty, but rather, reveals that it is a repressive force that subjugates and relegates them to poverty.
Again, I repeat, the American Dream is a farce. This is especially the case if you are a person of color, but even often times the case if you are poor, regardless of color.
The truth is they have turned us on one another and the real culprits behind this mayhem are sitting safely tucked behind their ivory walls. To put it to you straight, the last thing they want is for the classes to unite. So, what they do is drive wedges between the members of these classes to keep us in competition with one another over the fabricated conception of limited resources.
One of the oldest strategies in the book is Divide and Conquer.
The problem is that we do not see we are being divided. The problem is that we do not recognize that it is the wealthiest of our nation and our world who are safely tucked behind their ivory walls, are the culprits dividing us.
The oppression of indigenous peoples all over the planet, climate change, corporations and corporate funding of politics, the financial institution, the Prison Industrial Complex, and police brutality are all part of the same oppressive and repressive superstructure. However, these issues are only addressed in isolation as if they are mutually exclusive of each other, but that is not the case. The people have just been spoon-fed lies and half-truths to blur the lines of reality and fabrication. This is how they set us at odds and in competition with one another.
The tool that is used to accomplish this is something that is understood as something that is harmless and for entertainment, when in reality it is a device for programming, namely, the media and television. In the 1920s advertisers began employing psychologists to direct and target people’s sense of identity, pairing identity with products. In the 1930s, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took over the radio waves with his “Fireside Chats” to inform the public and shape perceptions in a way and to a volume of people never before conceivable. Then in the 1950s and 60s with the advent of the television, politics were paired with advertising. From that point forward, the information we receive via the media and television has sought to target and shape the public’s identity and has effectively programmed millions.
Something as simple as framing a report in terms of a “riot” instead of in terms of a “rebellion” shapes the way an event is conceived. A riot implies a mindless and emotive, chaotic response that lacks direction and objective whereas, a rebellion is the natural response of the people suffering from an unjust situation. If all the media and political advertisers have to do is implant one word to shape your perception of an event, then imagine what they can do with a whole sentence, a paragraph, an episode or a series.
What is not occurring is the questioning of the agenda, the reasons behind why the events and the situations and circumstances of the superstructure are being framed in such a way. The people just accept the information they receive from the media and television as if they are authorities on these matters.
So, it is difficult to blame the people who are exhibiting utter apathy and even contempt of many, if not most Americans who are condemning those taking a stand and demanding justice. But, once you have been exposed to the truth and make an active choice, of your own free will, you are responsible for the decision you make.
We are not as divided and as different as they would like us to believe, they just do not want the classes to unify and to oppose business as usual. The system is spiraling out of control and power is consolidating into the hands of the few. First Amendment rights are already being suppressed. The NSA is already monitoring every transmission and storing them in a massive database to be analyzed. These are characteristics of a Totalitarian state and it will affect everyone, unless the system is reeled in.
Soon it will not just be people all over the planet screaming #BlackLivesMatter because they are the first ones to experience the oppressive nature of this regime. Soon, all kinds of people, from all walks of life and colors will be expressing such contempt at the system, but by that point it may be too late to do anything about it.
Hundreds of people outraged about the Police Brutality that is and has
been a plague upon this nation, and impassioned to fight for Social
Justice took to the streets in Seattle, like many other cities around
the United States.
(The intent of this video is to show what has been going on in Seattle, but because of requests about the music, I am putting the info into this post.)
The background music is titled “Weapon of Voice” by Renaissance the Poet
And the original track is available for both streaming and free download at: