With the eyes of the world on Ferguson and the protests around it an array of issues have popped up around police militarization, holding police accountable and police brutality/ terrorism. The response Ferguson youth had to the killing of Michael Brown has resonated with so many because it reflects what many are experiencing and feeling.
With that being said, many are on the ground both in Ferguson and in their respective communities all over the country organizing and strategizing as to what’s the next steps?
Some are organizing patrols, armed with cameras and information about people’s rights when stopped by police. Others are putting together workshops to train people on how to best deal with police. Still others are seeking redress through the Department of justice or civil lawsuits. Others are pushing to have laws in place that require police to wear cameras at all times, while others are pushing to end the Policeman’s Bill of Rights which among other things allow them to keep their names hidden from the public after they kill someone. Still others are demanding that there be a defunding of and removal of all this military hardware the departments are purchasing.
Among the array of responses to this a number of folks who have been working on police accountability issues have decided to pay local and national lawmakers a visit and push them to see what they intend to do about all the police killings. Will they be holding hearings? Will they be crafting laws on behalf of the people most effected? Will they be pushing for independent investigations? Many of us already have sets of demands that have been developed over the years which need to be presented and followed up on..
Last week in California a new law AB 2634 (Bradford) was signed by Governor Jerry Brown. This measure will strengthen legal remedies available when a person is the victim of police abuse and basically allows folks to sue to put an injunction on entire police department where there are patterns of abuse. Formerly incarcerated folks along with a number of forward thinking legislatures and organizations, worked quietly for two years to get that bill passed in a state that has some of the most powerful police unions in the country. Big shout out to George Galvis and the team of folks he worked with to help make this happen.. needless to say there was not a word of this in the press.. George came on Hard Knock Radio – 94.1 to speak on this and all the steps they took to get this accomplished.
Last week a number of us including Cat Brooks, Liz Derias, Mollie Costello, and Ghetto Prophet decided to put a flip on the concept of lobbying and the popular Ice Bucket challenge and have challenged activists, concerned citizens and artists to pay a visit to local lawmakers in their area and put some demands on them..This week members of The Alan Blueford Center for Justice, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and ONYX went to Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office to see what additional steps she has a congress person can take to defund money given to police departments that lead to them buying military equipment..
Its important to note that it was just 3 weeks ago B Lee’s colleague Congressman Mike Honda from San Jose sponsored a bill to make it illegal for non police to wear bullet proof vests. Its H.R. 5344, the Responsible Body Armor Possession Act. http://bit.ly/1qoNwk2
We thought that was interesting Honda and members of Congress could push for a national bill to help police , but in the wake of all these unarmed Black and Brown folks being killed there hasn’t been any sort of movement from the Progressive Caucus or the Congressional Black Caucus.
Lee’s staffers were given copies of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement Report that detail how police are killing Black people every 28 hours… http://bit.ly/1lPcAuC
We wanted to know what steps she is able to take to put an end to this?
Lee’s office was given a number of suggestions including having special prosecutors who only deal with police abuse cases and have no day to day interaction and working relationship with police as we exists now with DAs all over the country.
We also know that the Fraternal order of Police are pushing to nationalize the Policeman’s Bill of Rights.. the delegation who visited Lee laid out all the ways in how the POBR in California has been abused.. Liz Derias of the MXGM noted how difficult it was to get information on police killings from the police departments who use these laws to keep information hidden and out of the hands of the public. In fact the POBR make the new law that Galvis and his folks got passed difficult to be enforced. It was iemphasized that needs to change..
A follow up meeting will be had.. It should be noted when we showed up at Lee’s office the federal guards downstairs tried to redirect us by telling us The office was too small for them to meet with 5 people. That was interesting assertion considering I and others been to office in the past with more than dozen people..
When we got up to the office, one of her staffers said we need to go on the website and make an appointment. We felt that was inappropriate as constituents who live in her district who all came over on their lunch hours to express grievances..We asked to meet with someone now.. They accommodated us..
This is important to note because many are now starting to go see lawmakers in the wake of Ferguson. There are folks saying that other steps need to be taken other then marching.. Well if those steps include meeting with lawmakers, then it will be noted and documented those who make it difficult to visit.
In the spirit of the Ice bucket challenge after our visit a number of other folks and organizations were challenged to go visit lawmakers and lay down demands they wanna see put in place to end police terrorism.. We are calling it the HANDS UP DON’T SHOOT CHALLENGE..
After the meeting there were a number of folks challenged to go see lawmakers including Jasiri Xtra and Paradise Gray of 1 Hood, Josh Healey of Movement Generation, Philadelphia Student Union, Askari of the Black Ryders Liberation Party and Needa Bee of Healthy Hoods and Homefullness