Post by Juwaher Yusuf, BAJI Program Associate
“But when they get angry, they bring about a change.” – Malcolm X
On December 13, 2014, tens of thousands of people unified in the name of justice in the streets of New York City. We made history.
It was a sight to see, one that will never escape my memory. Streets flooded with people of all ages and races chanting Black Lives Matter, No Justice No Peace, Hands Up Don’t Shoot…
These words. These raw words harboring truth, pain and passion in our eyes, resonating so deeply to the core of our being. We did this for Sean Bell, Mohammed Bey, Rumaine Brisbon, Michael Brown, John Crawford, Amadou Diallo, Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham, Oscar Grant, Akai Gurley, Trayvon Martin, and Tamir Rice among others. We did this for our people – across generations – continuously afflicted with injustice. Every 28 hours, a black person is killed by someone protected by the US government. The racial bias in policing and the justice system is killing Black people. We are tired. Tired of burying our brothers and sisters persecuted for the color of their skin. Tired of the demonization and mass criminalization of our communities. Tired of the protection of police officers who kill us.
This is our progressive movement and we took to the streets peacefully demanding to be heard.
We must acknowledge the significance of black leadership in our movements. #MillionsMarchNYC was organized by two black women – Synead Nichols and Umaara Elliot – and led in partnership with several black organizers. #BlackLivesMatter was co-founded by three black women – Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi – and continues to maintain black leadership. Black people aren’t just standing around. We are challenging our structurally racist and oppressive systems. We are actively and strategically organizing against injustice. We are leading the political and social transformation that we are in dire need of.
We refuse to be left out of the conversation. On the contrary, we are intentional about shaping that dialogue, building multiracial alliances, and organizing to bring about a change.
Our communities demand an end to the government sanctioned violence that is police brutality. This stops today.
We will get justice.
“I can hear my brother saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’ Now I’m in the struggle singing, ‘I can’t leave.’”
Organizing against state violence in Ferguson, MO and across the country has produced a range of analytical and educational media. Below you will find a general overview highlighting BAJI efforts and relevant work from a range of organizations.
BAJI Bay Area Organizer, Devonté Jackson, in West Oakland BART Demonstration
A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement
“When Black people get free, everybody gets free.” - Founded by 3 women (Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi), Black Lives Matter was created in response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression. Read more about the movement from co-founder Alicia Garza.
Anti-Blackness in Progressive Movements #FergusonFridays
This is a storify of a #FergusonFriday discussion discussing Anti-Blackness in Progressive Movements. BAJI with the support of @so_treu @bad_dominicana @familiesfreedom @DesisRisingUp led the conversation and you can get some of the highlights here.
#BlackLivesMatter Enough to Organize
This article details major themes in the Black Lives Matter work in Ferguson and some of the critical organizing tactics of the campaign.
Black Immigrants & African-Americans Demand End to Police Brutality
It is important to make the connections between the demands of Black immigrants and the needs of African-Americans. This is a detailed overview of this narrative in the context of national movements currently moving forward and place immigration currently has in the popular discussion.
Ain’t This Your Son?
This article details the unique role Black immigrants have to the police brutality they face along with African-Americans. Along with this description, Benjamin Ndugga-Kabuye, BAJI New York City Organizer, makes suggestions of how Black immigrants can leverage international relations to address domestic concerns.
BYP 100 Agenda To Keep Us Safe
The Black Youth Project 100 created a position statement that pointed to focus areas that policy makers and organizers must consider in regards to the criminalization of Black youth. This document represents a step towards inserting the voice of youth in imagining what organizing and policy making on law enforcement should look like.
This site is the home of the NYC Cop Watch organization. As a site it offers community responses and walks through a particular method that Cop Watch can operate.
Every 28 Hours – Operation Ghetto Storm
In 2012, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement wrote “Operation Ghetto Storm” to grasp the quantitative nature of the violence Black communities face from “extra-judicial killing.” This report is central to current national organizing efforts particularly with the initial revelation that a person is killed every 36 hours. This was eventually updated to every 28 hours.
Ferguson National Response Network and Ferguson Action
This site holds the collective efforts of local Ferguson organizers. National demonstrations are listed on this site and significant coordination from local organizers help orient the national movement.
The argument central to this article is is how protesters are “leading the next wave of Black liberation struggles into an international movement.”
Know Your Rights
The ACLU is a major force for addressing the legal impact of law enforcement encounters. This site is particularly useful because it also warehouses information on the rights of immigrants with support for multiple languages.
Organizing manual: Let Your Motto Be Resistance
This manual is from MXGM the same organization that created the “Operation Ghetto Storm” report that detailed a Black person is killed every 28 hours by law enforcement. Their manual outlines concrete steps towards organizing around police brutality along with broad educational information.
The Real Crime Paper
On the page hosting our Real Crime video you can find a link to download the accompanying “Real Crime” paper on the right hand side. This paper gives reader further information on the analysis presented in the Real Crimes video.
The Real Crime Video
This media piece makes the central BAJI argument around immigration policy and mass criminalization. Along with a systemic description this video points viewers to important themes BAJI emphasizes for collective action.
State of Emergency
BAJI National Coordinator for the Black Immigration Network and BAJI Arizona Organizer, Tia Oso, explains, “the true state of emergency is in Black communities. A Black person is killed extrajudicially every 28 hours. Since Mike Brown’s killing, at least three other young Black people have been killed by members of law enforcement in St. Louis alone.”
Sexism in the Movement
This article uses personal history to critique the patriarchy embedded in the history of Black social history. This article explains that resisting sexism within our communities must be a central concern as our national movements begin to gain momentum.
Post by Devonté Jackson, BAJI Bay Area Organizer
This past Black Friday I participated in an all black nonviolent civil disobedience at West Oakland BART Station with 13 comrades which caused a transbay shutdown of BART service for approximately 2 hours. Two teams locked down and formed a blockade on both platforms preventing doors from closing and the trains from moving. While we were shutting down West Oakland BART, hundreds of black folks joined us in a healing ceremony down stairs. We set out to hold the blockade for 4.5 hours in acknowledgement of the 4 hours Mike Brown’s body lay in the street after being murdered by Police Officer Darren Wilson. The 28 minutes represented the reality that “every 28 hours a black person is killed by a police officer, security guard, or vigilante in the U.S.”
My role in the action was an anchor position for one of the blockades. I was the connector to the BART train which was accomplished by locking my body to a bar with a chain around my waist and U-Lock around my neck. The symbolism in the act was powerful. Locking myself down with chain and U-Lock reminded me of the bondage black people had to endure in the times of slavery and the oppression we face today with the prison industrial complex and mass criminalization. I did not want to take this act. I worried about my physical safety and the repercussions of taking such action but I felt it was an act that I had to take in order to call attention to the state-sanctioned violence black people face in the U.S. Our #BlackoutBlackFriday Action called for an immediate end to the war on black people. It was important for us to show solidarity with those organizing for justice in Ferguson and that we lift up the multiple ways state sanctioned violence impacts the bay area black community.
This movement was led by black women. The overwhelming majority of those arrested in our Black Friday BART action were black women; only 2 out of the 14 arrested were male identifying. Folks set out to ensure that our message was for all black people. We acknowledged racism and transphobia within law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Additionally, we identified gentrification, criminalization of black immigrants, de-prioritization of black queer youth issues, the miseducation of our youth, the school to prison pipeline, environmental racism, etc. as forms of state sanctioned violence that were being actively deployed as tactics of violence towards our community in the bay area. We wanted to ensure people knew that the violence our people face goes beyond police terror and mass incarceration.
I am reminded that the 2 hours that I spent in jail for this action is 2 hours more than the time Darren Wilson will spend for murdering Mike Brown. Many folks were inconvenienced and angered by our act of civil disobedience but we did this in order to disrupt business as usual to highlight the fundamental injustice in the criminal justice system; we faced more punishment for a nonviolent BART disruption than Darren Wilson will for his act of murder. Folks in Ferguson has called for communities across the country to disrupt business as usual until we get the justice we deserve. Black folks in the Bay Area will continue to escalate our actions until all our people are free!
OPAL TOMETI, BLACK ALLIANCE FOR JUST IMMIGRATION’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CONDEMNS GRAND JURY DECISION IN FERGUSON
Statement from Opal Tometi, the Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration condemning grand jury decision in Ferguson
“A grand jury has declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of unarmed teen Michael Brown on August 9th in Ferguson, MO. Unfortunately, this decision was expected. The months since Brown’s shooting revealed a system of structural racism in Ferguson and throughout St. Louis that has led to racialized inequity and this decision has further solidified a culture of disregard for Black residents. We at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) condemn this miscarriage of justice.
The completion of the grand jury process does not equate to justice for our communities. Michael Brown’s death is just one of the far too numerous instances of what amounts to an American epidemic. Every 28 hours someone inside the United States, employed or protected by the U.S. government kills a Black child, woman or man. We demand justice for Mike Brown and all families who’ve lost a family member at the hands of law enforcement, security personnel or vigilantes. We reaffirm our commitment to demand an end to the government-sanctioned violence that is police brutality and an end to law enforcement practices and policies that encourage and incentivize profiling, and its deadly results, with impunity.
Furthermore we call on all black communities and our allies to organize because our future depends on it. . BAJI is committed to continue equipping African American and black immigrant communities to stand up against mass criminalization, systemic racism and social injustice. Victims of police killings are disproportionally young people of color. It is young women and men that lead the movement to defiantly declare that Black Lives Matter in the face of a system that says otherwise.
At the Black Alliance for Just immigration we look at criminalization of our communities as being a crime. We cannot sit idly by while black families suffer with little due process or recourse. We must continue to organize, as the courageous Ferguson community has fought vigilantly for over 100 days, and put an end to the systemic abuse of power that is tearing apart our communities and taking precious lives.”
Protestors Lead the Next Wave of Black Liberation Struggles into an International Movement
Post by Tia Oso, National Coordinator for the Black Immigration Network and BAJI Arizona Organizer
Shrouded in fog, hundreds of marchers walk across a bridge towards St. Louis University at 1am face down dozens of police, beating their batons in rhythm against riot shields; calling to mind images of Martin Luther King and others in Selma on the Edmund Pettis Bridge. It is hard to believe that this is 2014, not 1965 and that the right of civilians to peaceably assemble and petition one’s government for the redress of grievances is still at issue. Family related to both Michael Brown and VonDerrit Myers, their grievance the loss of sons gunned down by police, stood at the front of the crowd demanding that the march proceed. One of the young women in the crowd remarked, “this is why I didn’t tell my parents I was coming to protest. We are Igbo Nigerian and they are very traditional, they would be scared for me right now. But I had to be here for this moment…They [Ferguson protestors] faced this for 64 days, I can be here with them tonight.”
Every police killing sparks outrage, whether or not the news media takes notice. Families mourn every death and communities come together to mourn and cry out for justice. When Michael Brown was killed on August 9, instead of the usual period of mourning, outrage and organizing, the people of St. Louis, particularly the youth, young Black men and women of St. Louis, refused to let the flames of resistance die. For 65 days, against tanks, tear gas and tyranny, their passion, energy and determination have launched an international movement for racial justice and human rights that has compelled people around the world, across age, race and nationality to declare that “Black Lives Matter”. In a historic weekend of mobilization October 10-13, BAJI Organizer, Tia Oso and Black Immigration Network members joined thousands of supporters, marching the streets of St. Louis, occupying the campus of Saint Louis University, Wal-Mart, major intersections, the October 13 St. Louis Rams game and other sites (protests are ongoing and spontaneous) to engage in non-violent civil disobedience for the lost lives of Mike Brown, VonDerrit Myers, John Crawford and countless others demanding accountability and systemic policing reforms nationwide. For some, this is an act of solidarity, or allyship, but for those in the diaspora, Nigerian, Haitian, Liberian, Congolese, Jamaican and more that live in and traveled to Ferguson, the fight is personal. Racial profiling and criminalization affects all Black people, regardless of national origin, and from Dred Scott to Michael Brown, the fight for full citizenship in the U.S. continues for all people of African descent.
Contrary to depictions in the mainstream media, this is no rogue riot. Organizers operate with a clear analysis that recognizes the intersections of systemic racism, mass criminalization, state violence, capitalism, militarism and white supremacy. The St. Louis municipal government is not a “broken system” that must be corrected, indeed, the multiple municipalities, with lines determined and drawn by white landowners and regulated by largely white Councils and municipal employees, funded by taxes and fines extracted by overpolicing targeting Black citizens through moving violations and other petty offenses, criminalizing them with an average of 3 warrants per year in Ferguson is an apartheid state exposed. State sanctioned terrorism that daily harasses, tortures, and ultimately kills with impunity. As outlined in The State of Our Communities, BAJI’s paper on understanding mass incarceration, mass criminalization is a mechanism of social control, and this movement aims to dismantle it. With Black youth, uncompromising and unrelenting in the lead, it is officially “Not your grandparent’s Civil Rights Movement”. Organizers repeatedly emphasize that young Black women have been the primary organizers and strategists, with young Black men sharing responsibilities, resources and power, creating new models that are challenging patriarchy and repressive structures of traditional leadership.
Rallying solidarity in Palestine, Hong Kong, Brazil and South Africa, Ferguson has emerged into a global struggle. While drawing inspiration from the historic legacy of the Civil Rights movement is routine for progressive activists from immigration reform to climate change and marriage equality, current Black issues and voices are not on always included on their agenda. The escalation of the Ferguson Uprising expands the new era of Black resistance and leadership, shaking the cobwebs off of these pictures of stoic Black men and women in iconic black and white photographs that have framed and defined the fight for Black progress as over and done. With fearless passion, the youth are calling out the respectability politics and complacency of established Black leaders and organizations, the pacification and tokenism of Liberal moderates and the labeling of Black criminality and pathology Conservatives have used to paint the victims of police violence for their own deaths.
BAJI is committed to championing Black leadership in St. Louis and beyond, because it is Black liberation struggles that have led to a more just and equitable society. Cornell West stated at Sunday night’s Mass Meeting at St. Louis University that “every generation of African people in the U.S. has had to fight for justice” and by mounting an organized resistance to police violence in their community, the millennial generation at the forefront of the Ferguson movement has taken the lead in the fight for the human and civil rights of all people.
Opal Tometi, Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, is featured in Essence Magazine’s November 2014 issue, The New Civil Rights Leaders.
By: Lisa Armstrong
Post by Juwaher Yusuf, BAJI Program Associate
Comprised of a group of migrant rights organizations and activists, the Migrant Power Alliance is the anchor behind the ICE-Free NYC campaign urging the Department of Corrections to stop collaborating with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). As a collective, we aim to educate the public and public officials about the current environment as well as share the powerful stories of individuals who are directly affected. We are concerned for the future of our families and are determined to do our part in creating a space to support our community.
ICE detainers are non-binding requests for local police to hold a person beyond the time they otherwise would have been held. Here are the 3 demands of the ICE-Free NYC campaign:
1. The Department of Corrections and New York Police Department to end all collaboration with ICE
2. New Yorkers should feel safe in going to any city agency without the threat of deportation
3. NYC should use resources to strengthen New York families, not tear them apart.
In recent developments, over 100 cities and counties have ended collaboration with ICE in their respective localities. Although New York is made up of one of the highest immigrant populations in the United States, we have yet to make that stride. With local groups such as YAYA and Families for Freedom, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) is advocating to get ICE out of our jails and prisons in New York City.
We hope that you will join us in the fight for racial justice and migrant rights! Check out our open letter to the Department of Corrections here and stay engaged with our campaign on social media through our Facebook and Twitter pages.
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