Perhaps this no longer needs any introduction. The incidents of police brutality against primarily people of Afrikan Descent has apparently not abated. As of this writing, Chicago, Houston, Baltimore County and Milwaukee have been the most recent flashpoints.
At 7:30 pm, July 28, 2016, Paul O’Neal was driving a Jaguar convertible that was allegedly stolen in the South shore neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. Police encountered him and attempted to apprehend him, but he fled, crashing into police cars as he drove at high speed through the streets. Police shot at the car 15 times, in violation of police procedures that prohibit firing upon a fleeing motorist when the lives of officers and others are not in immediate jeopardy. After ramming one police car, Paul O’Neal left the car and ran. As police officers pursued him, one of them shot him in the back. The fatal shot to the back was not recorded on the body camera of the officer who shot him. As O’Neal was being handcuffed while bleeding to death, police officers asked each other if they had been shot at and speculated about possible 30-day suspensions. The Chicago police chief has stated that the officers violated procedure by firing at the car, but so far no statement has been released pertaining to the fatal shot to the back or the failure to render critical medical aid as their suspect was laying face down in an expanding pool of his own blood.
This summary comes from Wikipedia website:
“The shooting of Laquan McDonald occurred on October 20, 2014, in Chicago, Illinois. McDonald, a 17-year-old boy armed with a 3 inch knife was shot 16 times in 13 seconds by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke. On November 24, 2015, Van Dyke was charged with first degree murder. He turned himself in to authorities and was ordered held without bail.”
Video of the shooting sparked ourtrage across the country. This case currently awaits a trial.
The Sins of Detective Jon Burge
Chicago has an unfortunate and rather long history with regard to police racism, brutality and misconduct. In case some historical context would be helpful, this historical account comes from the Wikipedia website:
“Jon Graham Burge (born December 20, 1947) is a convicted felon and former Chicago Police Department detective and commander who gained notoriety for torturing more than 200 criminal suspects between 1972 and 1991 in order to force confessions. A decorated United States Army veteran, Burge served tours in South Korea and Vietnam and continued as an enlisted United States Army Reserve soldier where he served in the military police. He then returned to the South Side of Chicago and began his career as a police officer. Allegations were made about the methods of Burge and those under his command. Eventually, hundreds of similar reports resulted in a decision by Illinois Governor George Ryan to declare a moratorium on death penalty executions in Illinois in 2000 and to clear the state’s death row in 2003.
“The most controversial arrests began in February 1982, in the midst of a series of shootings of Chicago law enforcement officials in Police Area 2, whose detective squad Burge commanded. Some of the people who confessed to murder were later granted new trials and a few were acquitted or pardoned. Burge was acquitted of police brutality charges in 1989 after a first trial resulted in a hung jury. He was suspended from the Chicago Police Department in 1991 and fired in 1993 after the Police Department Review Board ruled that he had used torture.
“After Burge was fired, there was a groundswell of support to investigate convictions for which he provided evidence. In 2002, a special prosecutor began investigating the accusations. The review, which cost $17 million, revealed improprieties that resulted in no action due to the statute of limitations. Several convictions were reversed, remanded, or overturned. All Illinois death row inmates received reductions in their sentences. Four of Burge’s victims were pardoned by then-Governor Ryan and subsequently filed a consolidated suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the City of Chicago, various police officers, Cook County and various State’s Attorneys. A $19.8 million settlement was reached in December 2007, with the “city defendants”. Cases against Cook County and the other current/former county prosecutors continue as of July 2008. In October 2008, Patrick Fitzgerald had Burge arrested on charges of obstruction of justice and perjury in relation to a civil suit regarding the torture allegations against him. On April 1, 2010, Judge Joan Lefkow postponed the trial, for the fourth time, to May 24, 2010. Burge was convicted on all counts on June 28, 2010. He was sentenced to four-and-one-half years in federal prison on January 21, 2011 and was released in October 2014.”
March 31, 2016
Earledreka White was stopped on March 31 for allegedly crossing a double white line in a parking lot. She called 911 to request additional officers because she feared abuse from the officer. The officer then arrested her, pinning her arms behind her back as she sobbed and begged for him to stop. The Houston police department reviewed the incident and indicated proper procedure was followed.
August 13, 2016
Sylville Smith, 23, was shot during an altercation with police during which he reportedly refused to drop the gun he was carrying as he ran away from the officers. Protests broke out in the north side of Milwaukee that resulted in the burning of several businesses and a number of arrests. The protests have illuminated a situation in Milwaukee that City Alderman Khalif Rainey referred to as a “powder keg”; “What happened tonight may not have been right and I am not justifying that but no one can deny the fact that there are problems, racial problems in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that need to be not [just] examined but rectified. … This community of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has become the worst place to live for African-Americans in the entire country. … The Black people of Milwaukee are tired; they are tired of living under this oppression, this is their life.” Details about this case are still coming out as we go to press.
Baltimore County, Maryland
August 1, 2016
This first account is from Post Nation (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/08/02/korryn-gaines-is-the-ninth-black-woman-shot-and-killed-by-police-this-year/?utm_term=.a9a0c95eb443):
Korryn Gaines, cradling child and shotgun, is fatally shot by police
Three officers with the Baltimore County police arrived at Korryn Gaines’s apartment around 9:20 a.m. on Monday to serve warrants to her as well as a man who also resided there.
The man was wanted on an assault charge, while Gaines, 23, had an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court after a traffic violation in March.
According to police, no one responded to 10 minutes of door knocking, even though they could hear several people inside. When officers obtained a key to the apartment, they found Gaines sitting on the floor — her 5-year-old son was wrapped in one of her arms. In her other hand was a shotgun.
Around 3 p.m., after several hours of negotiation, police say Gaines raised the gun at officers and told them that she would kill them if they did not leave. The officers opened fire.
“Perceiving not only her actions, but the words she used, we discharged one round at her, in turn she fired several rounds back at us,” Police Chief Jim Johnson said during a news conference on Monday night. “We fired again at her, striking and killing her. Tragically in this circumstance, the child that was also in the dwelling was struck by a round.”
The man being sought fled the home with a 1-year-old child, but was later taken into custody, police said.
According to Johnson, it is unclear if there is any body camera footage of the incident (the department’s body camera program is just several weeks old).
The shooting of Gaines and her son — who police say had non-life-threatening injuries — quickly prompted national outrage among activists who have protested police killings in recent years.
The recent shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, followed by targeted slayings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, renewed the national discussion of police use of force and community distrust that has for two years been propelled by the national Movement for Black Lives (often referred to as the Black Lives Matter movement).
Protests have also been organized under the “Say Her Name” banner, a subsidiary that seeks to bring attention to black women who have been killed by police, who activists say are less likely to receive the national media attention of black men who have been killed.
On August 5, activist Charlene Carruthers wrote a commentary, In Defense of Korryn Gaines, Black Women and Children [Opinion]:
America’s investment in policing and prisons prevents our ability to create systems of safety and protection for Black families. Given this, we must question the means Black parents have to protect their children.
The execution of Korryn Gaines at the hands of the Baltimore County Police Department (BCoPD) requires a national call-to-action to defend Black women. Gaines’ story shows us the inextricable links between the struggles to secure Black liberation and reproductive justice in America. In this moment, everyone who believes that Black lives do indeed matter is needed to build a defense of Gaines and all Black women (transgender and cisgender) who are victims of state-sanctioned violence.
The full story of what happened to Gaines and her 5-year old son on August 1, 2016 continues to emerge. What we know for sure is that police came to Gaines’ home at about 9:40 a.m. to execute a “failure to appear” bench warrant connected to a March traffic stop, and about five hours later the 23-year-old, who had a legally registered shotgun, was shot dead and her son wounded.
Speculations about Gaines’ mental state based on a possible history of lead poisoning and her behavior in Instagram video footage she took of the traffic stop and another interaction at the police station should lead us to ask more questions—not further pathologize her choices as a person and mother.
After officers kicked down the door to enter Gaines’ apartment, she made the rare choice to take agency over her life and the life of her son in the moments before her death.
The uncomfortable truth is that Gaines was not a passive or perfect victim. And in a society that teaches us that Black motherhood is inherently inferior, it is tempting to pass judgment against her ability to be a good mother and make smart decisions for her child. Black women live with the harsh reality of not having full control over the ability to 1) choose to parent, 2) choose to not parent, and to 3) parent the children they have in safe and well-resourced environments. These three tenets are the core of what reproductive justice must look like. The failure of politics in America to provide leadership on supporting reproductive justice and the dismantling of policing institutions prohibits the protection of human rights for all.
The connection between policing and reproductive justice is not new. However, this moment tells us that there is more work to be done to protect Black women and children. America’s investment in policing and prisons prevents our ability to create systems of safety and protection for Black families. Given this, we must question the means Black parents have to protect their children. Countless events of Black people attempting to exercise the right to bear arms show us that the right to bear arms is not extended us (regardless of citizenship status).
Gaines legally owned the gun police say she used to threaten the police officers who entered her home. Her right to own and yield her weapon in self defense is not only in question in this moment, it is being completely invalidated by a public jury. Like Gaines, Black women often find themselves trying to defend our bodies and our children—both of which are deemed as indefensible throughout society.
BCoPD officers used Gaines actions to justify their escalation in tactics. Officers behaved as though Gaines held her son hostage, and presented themselves as actors able to keep her son safe. Painfully, Black mothers like Gaines live in a country where the same institutions claiming to create safety and stability show themselves to be the exact opposite in moments when a child is involved. The promise of citizenship, full human rights and safety have never been fully extended to Black people in America. Gaines understood this and decided to bear arms in defense of herself and her son. Her actions demonstrate an aspect of self-defense far too many pontificate about, yet fail to ever do themselves.
Be it Korryn Gaines, CeCe McDonald, or Marissa Alexander – society tells us that Black women have “no selves to defend.” This imperative increases every hour as the media and BCoPD develops its own story about Gaines and the events surrounding her death. In this moment, we are all called to make a choice to defend Gaines, Black womanhood and motherhood. If we choose to not connect our work to end the crisis of police with ending the crisis of reproductive justice, we will fail Gaines, her children and our people.
As we witness the growth of our movement and celebrate the release of the “Vision of Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice,” created by the Movement for Black Lives, we must take stock of our collective responsibility and response to all Black women who experience state-sanctioned violence. Black women consistently place our bodies on the line for our families, communities and this movement. Now is the time for our issues to be placed on the frontlines and not on the margins.
Charlene Carruthers is national director of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) and a writer with over 10 years of experience in feminist, queer and racial-justice organizing work. She currently serves as a board member of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective.
Did Nothing Come from the Freddie Gray Trials?
After the trial of Officer William Porter ended in a mistrial in December of last year, community activists began to smell what was coming in the cases against the six Baltimore Police Officers who had been charged in the April 2015 arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray. Much fanfare had accompanied the announcement last summer by State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby that insisted that the six officers would not escape justice as so many had before, and many citizens of the City, who had their own tales to tell about police abuse, surely felt they were going to be vindicated as individuals and as a community. Meanwhile, the Fraternal Order of Police had, predictably, accused Mosby of initiating a “witch-hunt” in a “rush to judgement”. Mosby was subjected to occasional death threats for prosecuting police from one side and questions concerning her integrity for failing to aggressively pursue prior police-brutality cases from the other.
Still, the trials commenced in late 2015, but the first trial, of Porter, ended in a mistrial in December. The subsequent acquittals of Officer Edward Nero, Officer Caesar Goodson and Lt. Brian Rice, which seemed to occur in rapid-fire frequency in May and June of this year, made it clear that presiding Judge Barry Williams was not convinced by the evidence presented by prosecutors. On Wednesday, July 27, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby concluded that pursuing the trials against Sgt. Alicia White and Officer Garrett Miller and the retrial of Officer Porter would be futile, especially since the presiding judge would be the same one who acquitted Nero, Goodson and Rice.
US Department of Justice Releases Report on Baltimore City Police
Then, on August 9, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) released what was called a “scathing”, “damning” report on the conduct of the Naltimore City Police Department, one that directly charged the Baltimore Police Department with a number of civil rights violations. According to the report’s Execitive Summary, the Baltimore Police Department “engages in a pattern or practice of:
(1) making unconstitutional stops, searches, and arrests;
(2) using enforcement strategies that produce severe and unjustified disparities in the rates of stops, searches and arrests of African Americans;
(3) using excessive force; and
(4) retaliating against people engaging in constitutionally-protected expression.”
The report continued, “This pattern or practice is driven by systemic deficiencies in BPD’s policies, training, supervision, and accountability structures that fail to equip officers with the tools they need to police effectively and within the bounds of the federal law.”
We’ve included the full Executive Summary here. To read the full 164-page report in PDF format, click here.
Initial Response to the DOJ Report
The local chapter of the Fraternal Otfer of Police has stated its support for police reform, but that police officers are being ordered to patrol the streets in such a way as to countermand the reforms that they say must be made. This is a curious statement from a police organization that has routinely sought to cover for violent and racist police, that has called for the execution of any defendant who is charged with killing a police officer – even in cases where evidence was seen to have been fabricated – and has supported the infamous Maryland Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR), which allows for a nine-day period during which a police officer accused of brutality can evade public scrutiny and can even delay reporting to authorities for indictment, a provision that activists say allows officers to “get their story straight” before they are required to account for their actions.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has stated that reforms to policing in Baltimore are already underway with the assistance of Police Commissioner Kevin Davis. These reforms are already expected to cost tens of millions of dollars which will come from the City’s General Fund, this depriving money from other needs such as infrastructure and education. It seems that, once again, the people will be forced to pay for the removal of the onerous vestiges of an institution that has oppressed them, despite the calls of people such as Charlene Carruthers of BYP100 for a restructuring of the budget that would stop funding oppressive institutions and instead funnel that money into life-affirming institutions such as education, jobs and health care. Instead, not only will more money go to the “colonial police force”, it will be taken away from those areas that desperately need funds to help lift people from poverty and struggle, the very issues that would bring real healing to the City and lead to a safer Baltimore, one where such an aggressive police force will not be needed.
Here is Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s statement on the DOJ Report, from August 10, 2016:
“Today marks an important step on our path to reform. With the release of its Findings Report, the Department of Justice is sharing with the community, the City government, and our Police Department the conclusions of its fourteen-month investigation, an inquiry that I asked for last May. The findings are challenging to hear. The report identifies significant problems in the Department. But the transparency the Report offers is crucial if we are going to improve.
Policing issues have taken on a new urgency in the national discussion in light of the tragic shootings in recent weeks as well as recent developments in our own City. It is so very important that we get this right. This Report’s assessment and the follow-up to it will help us heal the relationship between our police and our community.
“We have not been standing by while this inquiry was underway. Indeed, some of these reforms began before I asked the DOJ to investigate the Department. The City has taken the first steps in a long path to reform, and has begun to see real benefits: Our Police Department is already making significant changes. The community is providing valuable insights. Officers and citizens are working together to improve our communities and the policing in them. We have a long journey ahead of us, but I am grateful that we could begin the process for change while I was Mayor.
“In consultation with policing experts and stakeholders in the community, we have revised twenty-six key policies, including the Department’s important Use of Force policy. We are now training all officers on these new policies, and we have held additional trainings on key issues that Justice has identified.
“We are revamping our approach to officer accountability, including the way that the use of force by officers is reviewed and how officers are disciplined. A number of initiatives are underway to improve the Police Department’s transparency and to encourage officers to actively engage with the community. Ways to explore and implement constructive citizen “inclusion” in the Department’s disciplinary process remain under active discussion. Finally, we are investing in technology and infrastructure to modernize the Police Department. The BPD has begun retrofitting transport vans to improve safety for occupants and officers as well as installing recording cameras inside the vans. We have completed a body-worn cameras pilot program and will roll out cameras for all officers within the next two years.
“Much remains to be done. Change will not happen overnight. But our efforts have started the necessary process of change. They re-affirm this City’s commitment to a Police Department that both protects our citizens and respects their rights.
“In this hope and expectation, I know that I am joined by the City Council and particularly its President, Jack Young, who have supported our work with the Department of Justice to improve our Police Department.
“I thank Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta for the Justice Department’s recognition of our reform efforts. And, I appreciate her acknowledgement of our extraordinary cooperation with the Department as it conducted its investigation. We are very pleased that, as a result of our work together, this investigation has been completed in fourteen months, a very rapid pace for these investigations for a police department of this size. We committed ourselves to working collaboratively with the Department of Justice and are grateful to have earned its trust.
“Our Police Commissioner, Kevin Davis, and his command staff and officers at every level, have worked tirelessly to steer the Police Department on the path to reform. I am confident that, with the Findings Report as a blueprint and the partnership of the Department of Justice, the Baltimore City Police Department will become a model Police Department.
“I want to thank the Department of Justice team, the Police Department, my staff, and our counsel for their hard work through this process. We will continue to work together so that Baltimore can move as quickly as possible toward full-scale implementation of the recommended reforms.
“Over the next few months, we will put in place a concrete plan for change and a new culture — for the good of the City, the Police Department and the people it protects.”
Baltimore Activists Respond to the DOJ Report
As the Fraternal Order of Police opened its Convention at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Baltimore on Sunday, August 14, protesters greeted them with pickets and shouts. A dozen people were arrested the first day, apparently for blocking commerce, which is, of course, a sin in today’s society, one which is inexcusable by such trivial things as fighting for justice.
It would seem that the FOP sees nothing wrong in continuing with the status quo, as long as the ones being killed are not police. This seems to be the only explanation for the multitudes of citizens killed by police, usually unarmed, often either complying with orders (Philando Castile, Oscar Grant), harmlessly playing (Tamir Rice), peacefully but verbally protesting (Eric Garner), walking down the street (Laquan McDonald) or running away (Paul O’Neal, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray) evincing not even a tear of sympathy from the FOP, but the actions of the shooters in Dallas and Baton Rouge provoking cries of “Open Season on Cops”, a “War on Cops” and an “escalation on anti-police violence” despite the fact that fewer police have died this year than in any recent year. Meanwhile, the DOJ Report, which has been criticized, predictably, by many in the police community, has begun to inspire comment from journalists, legal practitioners, community activists and ordinary citizens.
Lawyer Billy Murphy, the lead attorney for the Gray Family, spoke on the day of the DOJ Report’s release. His public statement decried the “widespread human cancers” that have been allowed to fester and grow in the city’s police department, and that “these human tumors must be promptly and surgically removed before they spread their human cancer any further,” and that the City of Baltimore faces “a law enforcement emergency that requires prompt and thorough action.”
The Baltimore Sun published a piece titled “Baltimore reacts to searing Justice Department report: ‘The stories were always true’” (Kevin Rector, August 10, 2016, http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/doj-report/bs-md-ci-doj-reaction-20160810-story.html), in which a number of citizens, police officers and City officials were interviewed.
On a more basic level, of course, people have their own private concerns and critiques. Here are just a few. We hope to share more in the days and weeks to follow.
Baba Ademola Ekulona, a Community Elder and Yoruba Spiritual Leader, expressed his concerns:
“I am most concerned about the hidden impact of corrupt policing on the entire community. What about all those men and women who were looped in to the Criminal justice System based on illicit actions by Baltimore City police? The imbalance and unfairness, the pre-programmed advantages given to police actions and testimony became brutally clear in the bench trials of the police persons accused of criminal behavior in the killing of Freddie Gray. An African American judge – doing his duty – was compelled to find the officers not guilty because the system is arranged for them to be found faultless in their actions against citizens.
“This is further proof that the struggle is against a system. They can reform the police but who will correct the consequences of their previous and current illicit behavior? It also points out the futility of Black participation in the System. We can elect people who will go along. We can support appointment of Black judges who will then be compelled to support the System. Who will support the thousands of children whose parents are arrested, locked up, and criminally labeled so that they are economically marginalized for the rest of their lives? Why continue to go along with this system?
“It will be good to get back to Nationalist Organizing here in Tubman City. Peace & Blessings.”
Ademola Ekulona is a father of six and grandfather to four. He has worked in television, education, and human development for nearly fifty years. As a long-time African Cultural community activist in Baltimore, Baba Ademola now works with emerging adult (19 to 25-years old) African American young men in the Kujichagulia Center, an anti-violence-through-Workforce-Readiness program housed at Sinai Hospital.
One friend of mine expressed typical skepticism about the expected response to the DOJ report, as well as with the current state of political activism and its ability to bring real change to the situation:
“What on earth will be done with the findings by the US Department of Justice about the Baltimore City Police Department? Not a damn thing. What also annoys me is the slogan Black Lives Matter because they do not especially because we have no respect for each other. We, also, knew that the police officers in the Freddie Gray would not be found guilty. I often think about my family members who visit here. Whether they are safe.”
So … Once Again, What Do We Do?
Contrary to the sometimes-pessimistic expectations of many of our suffering people in the community, there are groups out there that are working to make a positive difference, and not just in the area of making law-and-order more effective at controlling us or in making them obey the “rules of engagement” when it comes to imposing force against us. There are organized responses to this crisis, and many of them have been ongoing since before Freddie Gray was arrested. Others are new efforts to better unite organizations and activists that have been engaged in this struggle for many years.
Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS) has been at the forefront of efforts to repeal the Law Enforcement Officers Bill Of Rights (LEOBR), which gives police in Maryland near-unprecedented leeway in how they respond to community complaints and seems to shield them from accountability in too many cases. Pastor Heber Brown of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church has also been involved, along with other organizations too numerous to mention without forgetting several of them, in organizing community energy behind this and similar causes.
The coalition organization BlackMen Unifying BlackMen held a press conference at the Historic Judah Worship Center in West Baltimore on the morning of Friday, August 12 to discuss their concerns about the DOJ Report and the ongoing situation in the City between the BPD and the people. They are working to heal the divides between many of the City’s activists and organizations and to begin to build cooperation between them.
Revolutionary Pan-Afrikan Nationalist organizations such as the Pan-Afrikan Liberation Movement (PLM) and Working-Organizing-Making-A-Nation (WOMAN) have been working for years to bui;d Pan-Afrikan awareness in our communities. PLN will be sponsoring their annual Pan-Afrikan Day of Solidarity on September 10 at the Towanda Community Center in Central Baltimore. Watch our Events Calendar for more information on that event as we receive it.
Later this fall, probably in mid-October to early-November, the Pan-Afrikan grassroots organization Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) (http://www.srdcinternational.org) will gold a Pan-Afrikan Community Town Hall to seek to further that work, as well as bring out and galvanize the collective grassroots voice of the Afrikan Descendant populations of Baltimore and the surrounding areas, and not just so they can listen to us, but so we can listen to them. We will certainly announce the date of this Pan-Afrikan Town Hall when it is scheduled.
I share the concern and cynicism of my friends, my fellow activists and the citizens of Baltimore City concerning the likelihood of real on-the-ground solutions coming from the DOJ report. We’ve been here before, after all. There have been settlements in years past in cases where people were maimed or even killed as a result of riding in police vans. According to the DOJ report, there are concerns that the changes that BPD is making to their police vans, including cameras and more secure holding cells, will prove to be inadequate. And all this presupposes that the real cause of Freddie Gray’s grievous injuries was indeed the “rough ride” in the van, an assertion which is not wholly supported by the video footage that shows that Gray was already seriously hurt before he was carried, like a rag doll, crying out in pain, into the police van immediately after his (unwarranted) arrest. The fact that he was suffering from far more graphic injuries by the time he was taken to the Baltimore Shock Trauma Unit is only an indication that the “rough ride” could have resulted in the aggravation of injuries he had already received during his initial chase and apprehension, and those graphic injuries could have simply been the outward manifestation of injuries he could have received prior to the ride. The fact that this possibility was apparently never even seriously considered should be cause for some concern.
As for the insistence that the police will “reform” their procedures, equipment and training, the fact is that any “reforms” will take years, will come at a heavy cost to other important needs (like jobs, education, health care and other community essentials) so police get improved training, equipment and service (the “elite of the elite” as Elijah Cummings put it) and may make no difference in the end because the underlying attitude of law enforcement ( its historic “slave catcher” roots in particular) were never acknowledged, much less addressed.
Meanwhile, my primary concern with Black Lives Matter is not with the slogan or with the organization’s tactics and commitment, all of which I feel are deserving of respect and support, but with the allegation by some BLM critics that they are backed by billionaire George Soros who may have his own intentions; otherwise, they do serve an important purpose by concentrating on and publicly critiquing “official” abuses of Black people by the power of the State, and by getting young people interested in activism and struggle again. They can’t address all of our problems (like “Black-on-Black” crime; why does no one talk about “White-on-White” crime, by the way, since Whites commit 81% of their crime against each other?). There are other Black organizations who do try to address what we do to ourselves (though they don’t always succeed). Hopefully, the current efforts to organize and unify Afrikan people, from Black Lives Matter to BlackMen Unifying BlackMen to Pan-Afrikan organizations such as PLM, WOMAN, SRDC and others, can finally begin to forge a Pan-Afrikan Cooperative Coalition that will foster a spirit of self-respect and cooperation among us so we will begin to organize together. This has been the prescription we have needed for decades, but just like strong medicine, the amount of often-thankless work, unfunded projects and occasionally-dangerous interactions required of this work can sometimes be difficult to swallow. It is, however, the strong medicine that we have for too long refused to take, and it is the medicine that actually does stand a chance of finally healing our suffering and broken community.