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Category Archives: Black Lives Matter
City of West St. Paul tells resident to paint over Black Lives Matter mural on fence or face fines – FOX 9
Posted: April 11, 2021 at 6:03 am
City officials say the mural painted on the fence doesn't conform with West St. Paul city ordinances. (FOX 9)
WEST ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - The City of West St. Paul says a Black Lives Matter mural painted on a fence in the city has to be painted over, or the homeowners will face a fine.
The Black Lives Matter mural was painted on a fence that's on private property late last summer. Homeowner Ryan Weyandt says the fence turned canvas forces people to take pause at a normally busy West St. Paul intersection and thats the point.
The City of West St. Paul says a Black Lives Matter mural painted on a fence in the city has to be painted over, or the homeowners will face a fine.
"We thought this was an appropriate way to get a visual message out," said Weyandt.
Weyandt and his husband couldnt stay quiet last summer after George Floyds death and unrest in the cities -- so they spoke out through the mural, a Black Lives Matter message painted by two local artists.
"We had hoped if it just made one person who had to pause at this stop sign and think," said Weyandt, "that that would really fulfill what we were trying to do."
Its caught the eye of many in the community, including some neighbors who didnt like the mural and called it into the city.
"Turns out there is both a sign ordinance and a fence ordinance in town," said Weyandt.
Now, Weyandt says they have until April 15 to paint over it or pay a fine.
"We have had other messages on this fence for three years and this is the first time weve ever gotten a citation for it," said Weyandt.
Community activist and former mayoral candidate KaeJae Johnson, whose face is also part of the fence artwork, wants to see it stay.
"This is about my life, this is saying, this is telling my granddaughter that it matters that she lives in West St. Paul," said Johnson. "It's telling her shes welcome here."
Johnson tells us messages like this are needed to make sure the Black community knows they matter and are important in West St. Paul.
"This is what were aiming West St. Paul to be," added Johnson. "Has it changed on so many levels, absolutely, but its not there yet why is it not there yet? Because theyre asking him to take it down."
We did hear back Thursday from the City of West St. Paul, who told us in a statement the fence does not comply with city code which states: "Fences shall not contain pictures or lettering and shall be one uniform color."
Signs also cannot be fixed on fences, adding that: "the City cannot and does not take content or message into account when dealing with infractions of City Code. All City Code, as well as enforcement, is content neutral."
Weyandt tells us if he does not comply, he will face fines of about $250 dollars a day. But he has had offers from lots of people who can come help paint.
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Posted: at 6:03 am
During the tumultuous summer and fall of 2020, a photojournalist needed more than cameras and lenses to cover the news. Kevlar jackets, ballistic helmets, and gas masks were also standard operating equipment.
That was the case for Mason Trinca, a documentary photographer who covered the at-times violent protests in Portland for the New York Times. The city was in the national spotlight repeatedly as activists and protesters clashed with opponents and the police for more than 100 days on issues including Black Lives Matter concerns, the 2020 election, and federal responseto protests.
Against a backdrop in which tear gas and rubber bullets were nightly concerns, Trinca, BS 13 (environmental studies), suited up in body armor and dove into the fray. Relying on tips from sources, real-time guidance from the newspaper, and his own instincts, he strove to capture in pictures all sides of a fast-evolving story with subplots including the seizure of protesters by unidentified federal agents and counter protests by right-wing groups.
A Trinca photograph provided one of the defining images of the summer: a birds-eye view of shooting victim Aaron Danielson, a supporter of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, taken froma rooftop.
Interviewed earlier this year, Trincawho lives in Portland with his wife, designer Myray Reames (BA 14, journalism)was still trying to make sense of last summers events.
Covering the protests had drained him physically and emotionally. Far from enjoying some sort of journalistic immunity, Trinca and fellow reporters received death threats for their coverage.
We were targeted multiple times, for our coverage both on the left and right side, Trinca says. When we do fair and accurate coverage, we get threatened on both sides. People want to exist in their own ecospheres and oftentimes not want to hear the other side of the story, whether its good or bad.
Trinca hadnt fully processed the protests in part because he hasnt slowed down. He recently returned from Liberia on a shoot for a commercial client and also finished a job for Wired magazine (hes bound by confidentiality agreements from discussing projects prior to release). He was also retained by the state and Portland advertising agency Wieden+Kennedyknown for its work with Niketo provide pictures for a campaign on the importance of masks duringthe pandemic.
What ties Trincas various assignments together, he says, is storytelling. All his clients want it: genuine, revealing, human moments, whether the medium is journalism, advertising, or public service. A class in environmental studies first planted in him the notion of storytelling with a camera, and Trinca developed his skills with Sung Park, senior instructor in the School of Journalism and Communication.
What makes my workand the work of a lot of photojournalists-turned-commercial photographersspecial is that we can pitch the idea, This is a real story; were going to find real people and capture real moments, Trinca says. People want that more and more.
Next up: finding a fresh way to tell the story of this summers inevitable wildfires.
Trinca has photographed Californias sprawling blazes roughly a half-dozen times. The saturation news coverage of these catastrophes forces him to constantly reexamine his approach in hopes of producing an uncommon photograph, a different perspective. Hes already begun preparationsshoring up the camera equipment hell need, working out logistics, girding himself mentally.
How are we going to cover the wildfires differently? he asks. What will resonate with audiences when we are constantly bombarding them with terrible images? How do we bring humanity to that? These are the things I think about for the next disaster.
By Matt Cooper,managing editor for Oregon Quarterly
Posted: at 6:03 am
A Black Lives Matter mural in Pullman, it's been the goal of one local group for nine long months now. Originally, the group went to the Pullman City Council asking for help, but since then the project has been caught up in red tape.
Pullman City Council handed off the public art project to the Pullman Arts Commission. From there the Arts Commission went to the public for mural design submissions.
Before long, the call to artists generated seven submissions, and a couple had a lot of public support on social media. But according to the Pullman City Council, procedurally, there were missteps in the process, so the city council decided to scrap what they had and start over. But many who supported the mural designs that said Black Lives Matter believe the city council was uncomfortable with the phrase Black Lives Matter.
But the waiting seems to be over now, as a new non-profit called the Pullman Arts Foundation has taken the mural project into their own hands. The foundation has been working with a local business in downtown Pullman where the mural will go and has already raised more than $15,000 for the mural.
Now, all there is left to do is to rent the equipment, buy the paint, and paint. The Pullman Arts Foundation plans to have the mural complete by the end of summer 2021.
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Posted: at 6:03 am
Campaigners are calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to withdraw a report into racism, and instead enact recommendations from multiple previous inquiries, to tackle race equality in Britain in 2021.
Groups including Black Lives Matter UK say the Government-commissioned report has provoked national indignation, whilst campaigner Doreen Lawrence called it a green light for racists.
In an open letter to Mr Johnson, organisations said the report whitewashes the daily challenges faced by black and minoritised communities.
The i politics newsletter cut through the noise
The letter said the report fails on even the most basic level, in acknowledging the fundamental rights of Black and minoritised communities, and the impact of hostile environment policies that have threatened the citizenship and status of the Windrush generation and their descendants.
Mr Johnson has said he does not agree with everything in the report, but does want to implement its recommendations.
In June last year, following anti-racism protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd in the US, he announced the setting up of a commission to investigate the state of racial inequalities in the UK.
Last month, its chair Dr Tony Sewell, came back with a258-page reportthat has since sparked a widespread backlash, as it concluded that the country no longer has a system rigged against people from ethnic minorities.
It also said family structure and social class had a bigger impact than race on how peoples lives turned out.
The report acknowledged that overt racism exists, particularly online, but said the UK should be regarded as a model for other white-majority countries for its success in removing race-based disparities in society.
The commission also said there was anecdotal evidence of racism, but no proof of institutional racism in the country.
It lists 24 recommendations, which include extending school days in disadvantaged areas to help pupils catch up on missed learning during the pandemic, and getting rid of the acronym BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic).
The report also warned organisations to stop funding unconscious bias training, with government and experts developing resources to help advance workplace equality.
It also said children from disadvantaged backgrounds should have access to better quality careers advice in schools, funded by university outreach programmes, and that more research is needed to understand why pupils perform well in certain communities, so this can be replicated to help all children succeed.
In the letter, organisations including campaigning group Charity So White, Liberty, the National Education Union, The Runnymede Trust and Black Pride, called on Mr Johnson to repudiate the commissions findings immediately and withdraw its report.
They said: From the moment that membership of the ostensibly independent commission was announced, it was clear it would publish a tailored report conforming to a government narrative around racism and class a narrative that whitewashes over the daily challenges faced by Black and minoritised communities in this country.
The letter also said the report was lacking in intellectual rigour and notes that some of those cited in the report have since claimed they were misrepresented.
It urged Mr Johnson to establish a task force to implement the recommendations made by previous investigations into race including inquiries into the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the Windrush scandal.
The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities maintains its work has been misrepresented, adding that it had never said that racism does not exist in society or in institutions.
In a statement, the commission said: We say the contrary: racism is real and we must do more to tackle it.
Robust debate we welcome. But to depict us as racism deniers, slavery apologists or worse is unacceptable.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson said the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report was a very interesting piece of work but he was not going to say the government is going to agree with absolutely everything in it.
He said there are very serious issues that our society faces to do with racism that we need to address and added that the government would be looking at the ideas the commission put forward.
The letter calling on Mr Johnson to withdraw the report gained more than 20,000 signatures in 48 hours, and received support from writer Afua Hirsch and actor Riz Ahmed.
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Healing hikes: How one Oakland organization is making Black lives matter in nature – San Francisco Chronicle
Posted: at 6:03 am
Hopeful. Alive. Connected. Joy.
Those were all words used to describe how a group of Bay Area residents felt during a closing circle after kayaking in Richmonds Marina Bay on a recent Saturday. Some attendees had kayaked before. For others, like Marisa Brown, it was their first time.
The group was part of a local meetup hosted by Outdoor Afro, a national organization founded in Oakland that connects Black people to nature and celebrates the contributions of Black people to the outdoors. The Bay Areas chapter of Trackers Earth, an organization that offers outdoor programs and summer camps for children, provided the kayaks for the event.
Brown, of Oakland, has been hiking and paddling with Outdoor Afro since last year. She said theres a sense of belonging at each meetup that she values.
It makes a difference when you see another person of color, said Brown, who identifies as biracial. You start to build a community, you start to see people at different events, you start bringing your friends.
Its what Rue Mapp envisioned when she first created Outdoor Afro as a blog in 2009. The Oakland native would search for groups to find other outdoor enthusiasts like herself.
I found that, especially as I got out away from the city, Id be the only Black person on those trips, Mapp said.
It was different from the experience she had as a child visiting the redwoods in Oakland with her family and her fathers ranch in Lake County on weekends. Her father, she said, would often invite family and friends from church to their ranch.
I got to experience up close and personal this wonder that people would experience when they were able to see stars at night that they wouldnt otherwise see in a polluted city, Mapp said. Or just remarks about how fresh the air was, or how quiet and peaceful it was.
I had this value of connecting to nature and hospitality that were rooted in my childhood experiences, she added.
Outdoor Afro is open to everyone, she said, but its specifically focused on the Black American experience.
Black people in the U.S. have been systematically excluded from public lands and the outdoors. According to a recent report, Black families are more likely to live in areas with less access to nature than white families.
For Mapp, the court case brought by John Harris in San Francisco in the late 1800s established the importance of access to the outdoors.
Harris, who was Black, was denied entry twice to the newly opened Sutro Baths despite paying the entrance fee in 1897 months after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld racial segregation laws under the separate but equal doctrine in the Plessy vs. Ferguson case.
Harris filed a lawsuit with the San Francisco Superior Court under the Dibble Civil Rights Act, which became the Unruh Civil Rights Act in 1959 and was recognized as Californias first civil rights act, according to the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. The court ruled in Harris favor although he received significantly less in damages than what he sued for.
Its because of his sacrifice, in the similar way that I think about the Harriet Tubmans of our world, that we stand on the shoulders of and that (Outdoor Afro) is honoring, Mapp said.
After the killings last year of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has disproportionately affected Black communities Mapp said Outdoor Afro has provided a space for Black people to heal.
The organization regularly hosts Healing Hikes, which the group started in 2014 when protests erupted after the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Last year in February, Oprah Winfrey highlighted the group on her wellness tour and joined them for a healing hike at Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland.
For Julius Crowe Hampton, Outdoor Afro is a way of making Black lives matter in nature.
Its just so beautiful to have a refuge and to really do that healing work in nature, said Hampton, who identifies as Black and is a regional leader for Outdoor Afro. I love the fact that we center joy and healing and community.
Abram Jackson, who attended the Saturday meetup, said each event is an opportunity to learn about Black history.
This organization connects us to the history that we have in the outdoors space, said Jackson, who identifies as Black. Its a reminder that we are part of this and not an add-on, he said.
Participants paddled their boats from Marina Bay Yacht Harbor in Richmond Inner Harbor, which is near the historical Richmond Shipyards District. There were moments of stillness and calm when participants just soaked in the cool breeze and skyline view of San Francisco.
Abu Baker, a local leader with Outdoor Afro, gave a brief history lesson on the Kaiser shipyards and the fight to hire Black workers after World War II. Participants also paid respects to the native Ohlone people of Brooks Island, where participants kayaked nearby.
Baker said he enjoys not only teaching participants about the outdoors, but learning from them as well. A woman who is a botanist has joined Bakers hiking meetups and teaches him about plants and ecology, he said.
I like learning from others, especially people of color, said Baker, who identifies as Black. To be able to go outside safely and connect with people in a supportive social and healthy way is just priceless.
After protesters took to the streets last summer to demand justice for Black Americans killed by police, many industries and institutions in the U.S. had a reckoning on race, including environmental groups. In July, the Sierra Club apologized for its substantial role in perpetuating white supremacy, re-examined the organizations racist history and said John Muir, the clubs founder, was racist.
For Mapp, last year made it clear that Outdoor Afros work was more important than ever.
We didnt have to pivot our messaging. We didnt have to redefine who we were, Mapp said. It was a moment that helped us to understand the relevancy that weve always had, but especially in that moment.
Daria McKnight, an instructor at Trackers Earth and participant of Outdoor Afro meetups, said it had been her dream to connect both organizations. When she started working for the organization four summers ago, she said she noticed a lack of diversity.
As a result of the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic, the organization has been working on its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
Theres some companies coming out of COVID and Black Lives Matter [protests] and not making any changes, said McKnight, who identifies as Black. Im really proud of [Trackers Earth] for the growth. I think its better late than never.
For the closing circle Saturday, McKnights words were hopeful and encouraged. She said she hopes the relationship between both organizations will continue.
Jessica Flores is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @jesssmflores
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Posted: March 31, 2021 at 6:18 am
In the summer of 2020, protests erupted across the globe to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matters demonstrations in the U.S., calling for racial justice for Black people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade being killed at the hands of police officers.
Months later, while people were still showing up to support this Black social justice movement, the nation grieved the death of three beloved leaders of the last generations Black justice movement.
The late Rep. John Lewis, the Rev. C.T. Vivian, and the legendary baseball player Hank Aaron were a few of the remaining civil rights pioneers of their time. But what set them apart from the protesters in the streets, was what was at the center of their movement decades ago: the Black church. Thats where ideas for certain acts of protest, like the sit-ins of 1963, the Childrens March the same year, and the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, came to fruition.
In the book, The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song, author and historian Henry Louis Gates Jr. cites the idea of the Black church as a freedom church, as a vehicle for the civil rights struggle and a way of looking at the world.
Some young activists today, are trying to keep that connection between social justice movements and the church. Alexus Cumbie, who attended church service every Sunday pre-pandemic, said she believes the Black church and the Black Lives Matter Movement share some of the same goals of truth seeking and transparency, repentance and reconciliation.
Christian churches, as a whole in the U.S., have been experiencing a decline in attendance. A new Gallup study found the number of Americans who are members of a place of worship has dropped to fewer than 50 percent for the first time since their data collection began in 1940. The Black church has also seen a decline. The study also showed 31 percent of millennials and 33 percent of Generation Z have no religious affiliation.
The desire for institutions to address racial justice and other progressive policies may be the principle reason millennials are currently moving away from the church as an institution, said Bishop Yvette Flunder, senior pastor of City of Refuge, United Church of Christ, and the presiding Prelate of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries.
Theyre trying to find like-minded millennials who are very interested in doing the work of policy, doing the work of justice, and organizing, Flunder said. And theyre feeling that the church, as it is called monolithically, is not really on board.
These policy issues include justice work, like LGBTQ rights, that Christian churches, as a whole, have historically opposed.
Community members from Brave Space Alliance, Broadway Youth Center, and Renaissance Social Services speak during the Pride Without Prejudice march on June 28, 2020 in Chicago. Photo by Natasha Moustache/Getty Images
Dr. Rev. Gardner, the senior pastor at Plum Grove Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said that even while young people move away from the church, it remains an epicenter to Black life.
While young Black people are no longer waiting on the permission of the church to go out and take action, those in political power still look to the Black church for direction in the Black community, said Gardner, who also teaches African American history courses on the Black Church and Black protest at the University of Alabama.
Whenever there is an issue in his Tuscaloosa community, he added, whether its over tornado devastation or COVID-19 concerns, the mayor and the police chief do look to the church to help.
So in that regard, when we think about the word epicenter, we think about entities that do more than just one thing, Gardner said. In this way, the church is the prophetic voice of the Black community.
Garnder said faith is what sustained the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and its what the church has to offer in todays movement.
Flunder said she agrees. We [the Black community] are deeply faith-oriented, hope-oriented, she said.
While the Black church as an institution has not always received openly queer folxs, Black queer folxs have always fought right alongside it, Flunder, who identifies as a lesbian woman, added.
Flunder believes that the faces of the fight for Black social justice look more intersectional now than they did a few decades ago.
I have never seen anything quite like the Black Lives Matter movement, she said. The thing that makes it so incredibly unique to me is not just that there are a wonderful group of Black and brown young people out there fighting alongside white people.
Flunder added while she is learning from young people, she hopes they can also learn from the adversities she faced when she was their age.
I am also encouraging the movement not to forget the wisdom trail, the wisdom path, she said. Take a look at our scars, because we still have them.
A Black Lives Matter flag flies near a church on Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Cumbie, who is a Black queer voice in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, said she understands the importance of the church.
I think that the Black church is pivotal for Black liberation movements, which is why white supremacists target these gathering spaces, she said. And Ive seen it in my home city of Birmingham, Alabama, where four little black girls were killed at the 16th Street Baptist Church.
On her college campus, she leads a Bible study, and said that many students who attend are queer.
I think that a lot of young Black, queer college students find themselves in these more intimate Bible studies because theyre able to have a more individualized and personalized experience with God and their spirituality when theyre able to ask those tough questions without judgment.
Cumbie said thats one of the critiques of the Black church and all churches not being a space that seeks to answer these tough questions on the minds of young queer people.
Wynston Cornelius is the program director of Gender Bender, an LGBTQ support and advocacy group based out of South Carolina. As a Black trans man, he experienced a lack of transparency in the church.
For most of my life, I heard all are welcomed, and Im welcomed conditionally, Cornelius said, as long as I wear a dress, or as long as my hair is a certain way, as long as Im not questioning whats being preached about, even in Sunday school.
Cornelius said in his own experience, it was not a matter of him struggling with who he is, but the church struggling with who he is.
For most of my life, I heard all are welcomed, and Im welcomed conditionally.
He said that if the church continues not to be accepting of the queer community, it may lead to what he called a devolution, what he described as the continuation of even more churchgoers leaving the institution because of its refusal to meet the needs of all the intersections of Black people.
Flunder said she believes the Black church has work to do on its fragile patriarchy to be relevant to the social justice movements. She explained that Black men have been wrongly diminished and emasculated in various ways in America slavery, Jim Crow, and peonage in sharecropping, and todays industrial prison complex.
One of the few places where our men did have power coming along was in the institution that we created, the Black church, Flunder said.
Within the structures of church walls, women and men are very concerned about making sure that the roles of women essentially dont diminish the roles of men, Flunder explained.
Those strict roles erase the Black LGBTQ community, who are also doing the work for the prosperity of Black people, she added.
The Black churchs role of serving as a gathering site will always exist, and the conversations with that institution will evolve, Cumbie said.
We have to move towards a more radical pursuit of loving, of loving our neighbors, she said.
READ MORE: Black women were vital to the Black church. Here are 2 stories
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Posted: at 6:18 am
I am wondering if we can put a stop to the violence, police brutality, racism, and murder, so we can just be in peace. There is no reason why Blacks should be treated differently from whites. We all are humans who feel the same and do the same things to stay and be alive on this Earth. Black Lives Matter comes to my attention because I am Black and see how Black men and women are being treated because of a different shade of skin than whites. Where there is justice, there is peace with liberty.
We just want civil rights shown and given because we are citizens of the United States of America. Black people like George Floyd are being killed.
There are many solutions that can solve this issue today. A solution can be something that can make Blacks feel like they dont have to worry about police brutality. More solutions would include having a protest celebrate Blacks, more recognition for Blacks and how they do what they do, more talks about Blacks, and about the deaths of Trayvon, George, etc. Police brutality needs to stop; there shouldnt be police killing Blacks because they are frightened by the color of our skin. Without justice, there is no peace and Blacks will continue to act up, which means we must put a stop to this and put all of our differences to the side and let them be.
This should start happening now and continue on and on for as long as time. There shouldnt be something where people dont know how to feel. Blacks shouldnt have to worry about police brutality when they are getting pulled over by a cop or when a cop asks them to put their hands up. We need to march and make sure that this stops, not now, but forever. We need to come together now and not leave anyone out because everyone is human and has feelings, so leaving someone out because of their race or skin color isnt going to solve anything and wont take us anywhere as a community.
We need to do more that involve the statements and movements of Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter should be something that is celebrated or acknowledged at least on a weekly basis.
Tayshaun Washington, OPRF High School
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Posted: at 6:18 am
In 2013, George Zimmerman was acquitted of the charge of murdering Trayvon Martin, a black teenager. This was the spark that lit the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM). Three self-described radical black organizers responded: Alicia Garza coined the phrase in a love letter to black people, Patrisse Cullors turned the phrase into a hashtag, and Opal Tometi started organizing followers online and building BlackLivesMatter.com.
Tometi, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, was raised in Phoenix, Arizona. She attended the University of Arizona, where she earned her bachelors in history and her masters in communication and advocacy. Before BLM, she served for eight years as executive director at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.
According to her BlackLivesMatter.com biography, Tometi is a student of liberation theology and her practice is in the tradition of Ella Baker, informed by Stuart Hall, bell hooks and Black Feminist thinkers. Furthermore, as a transnational feminist, Tometi supports and helps shape the strategic work of Pan African Network in Defense of Migrant Rights, and the Black Immigration Network.
Patrisse Cullors is now the executive director of the Black Lives Movement Global Network Foundation. This foundation's financial support initially flowed through a nonprofit co-chaired by Susan Rosenberg, a co-founder of the May 19th Communist Organization, a domestic terrorist group active in the 1980s. In a 2011 memoir, An American Radical, Rosenberg stated: I pursued a path that seemed to me a logical step beyond legal protest: the use of political violence. Did that make me a terrorist? In my mind, then and now, the answer is no.
Cullors wrote a 2017 memoir that expresses similar sentiments. She titled it When They Call You a Terrorist. For its epigraph she chose lines penned by Assata Shakur, another domestic terrorist, that echo Marxs Communist Manifesto: It is our duty to fight for our freedom. / It is our duty to win. / We must love each other and support each other. / We have nothing to lose but our chains.
According to When They Call You a Terrorist, Cullors was born in Van Nuys, California, and raised in the San Fernando Valley in a mostly Hispanic neighborhood. Her mother became pregnant at 15 and was thrown out of the house by her family, who were Jehovahs Witnesses. Later, she had several more children, including Patrisse. The father, who worked at a GM plant, was able to support them until the plant closed. When Cullors was six, he ceased to live with the family, though he didnt disappear entirely from our lives. At age 12, Cullors discovered an upsetting truth: Alton is not your father, [mother] says. Hes Pauls and Montes and Jasmines. But in between Monte and Jasmine, we broke up and I fell in love with Gabriel and we had you.
In high school, Cullors entered a magnet program with a humanities curriculum rooted in social justice. In this program, the students studied apartheid and communism in China. We study Emma Goldman and read bell hooks, Audre Lorde. . . . We are encouraged to challenge racism, sexism, classism and heteronormativity. She began to question the Jehovahs Witnesses world I had come up in.
I always knew I wasnt heterosexual, she writes, and describes how she came out in high school. By senior year, she and a friend were completely on our own, couch surfing or sleeping in cars. After graduation, an art teacher let the girls live with her. This experience inspired her ideas about intentional families, she says, as opposed to biological ones.
She earned her bachelors in religion and philosophy from UCLA and an MFA from USCs Roski School of Art and Design. She and a boyfriend read together: bell hooks continues to be a North Star but Cornel Wests work, as well, takes center stage. They also loved the feminist anarchist Emma Goldman. Cullors especially admired how the Russian migr was the first American to defend homosexuality publicly, and quotes Goldmans disdain for monogamy.In her memoir, written with Asha Bandele, the acknowledgments praise others on the left:
Cullors asked Angela Davis to write the memoirs foreword, in which Davis scoffs at the fact that Assata Shakur was designated by the FBI one of the worlds ten most dangerous terrorists. Davis applauds the way Black Lives Matter has encouraged us to question the capacity of logicWestern logicto undo the forces of history, especially the history of colonialism and slavery. Davis twice ran for vice president on the Communist Party USA ticket during the days when it was controlled by the Soviet Union. Her short book Are Prisons Obsolete?, which predates BLMs founding by over a decade, is praised in Cullorss memoir.
In an article for the Harvard Law Review, Cullors also praises Franz Fanon, the pan-Africanist who famously advocated violence against colonial rule. Few non-lawyers ever receive space in such elite pages. Her memoir similarly reveals her elite status: It was published because a book editor heard her speak at a panel on Marthas Vineyard with Hollywood stars Danny Glover and Issa Rae. Cullors has also received numerous honors, including a Fulbright Scholarship and an honorary doctorate from Clarkson University. She has been Glamours Woman of the Year and was selected as one of the Worlds Greatest Leaders by Fortune.
There is one more major influence on Cullors worth noting, which began at the social justice camp she attended after high school. There, an activist group, Strategy Center, recruited her for a years training where I read, I study, adding Mao, Marx and Lenin to my knowledge of hooks, Lorde and [Alice] Walker. The Centers founder, Eric Mann, takes me under his wing.
You may have heard his name. In the 1960s Mann joined the Weather Underground, whose members included Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. Arrested for several violent offenses, though often released by authorities, Mann did spend 18 months in prison. His punishment stemmed from a 1969 shooting at a police building, for which he was charged on four counts, including conspiracy to commit murder and assault with intent to commit murder.
Mike Gonzalez of the Heritage Foundation reports that Mann remains a radical who calls America the most dictatorial country in the world and describes his work as training young people who want to be revolutionaries. The sort of revolutionaries he means is clear when he praises the university as the place where Mao Zedong was radicalized, where Lenin and Fidel were radicalized, where Che was radicalized.
Alicia Garza may be the most radical of the BLM founders. When Verso Books decided to publish a third edition of Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao, and Che, they asked Garza to write the foreword. She read the book as a young organizer, she admitted, but couldnt properly grasp it: I hadnt yet studied much of the origins of the Marxist-Leninist tradition that I was loosely trained in.
SFWeekly reports Garza grew up in San Rafael, California. Her parents later moved the family to Tiburon, a tiny and tony Marin County town whose median household income was more than double the states averageone of the whitest places in the Bay Area. Activism began in middle school, when she protested abstinence-only sex education. According to the Weekly, her parents are solid liberals who arent especially political, yet her mother inspired this first activist venture.
Like Cullors, Garza identifies as queer and found her way into a training program for social justice organizers, entitled SOUL (School of Unity and Liberation). There she went well beyond the academic Marxism of todays typical undergraduate leftist into authentic Marxism-Leninism. When I trained in sociology, we would read Marx, and we would read de Tocqueville, and we would read all these economic theorists, but in a void, she says. It never got mentioned in those classes that social movements all over the world have used Marx and Lenin as a foundation to interrupt these systems that are really negatively impacting the majority of people.
Her summer with SOUL in Oakland taught her community organizing and encouraged analysis around capitalism and imperialism and white supremacy and patriarchy and heteronormativity. She held organizing jobs at such places as the UC Student Association and POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights), and in 2014 joined the National Domestic Workers Alliance, a union front group underwritten by the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) and the Ford, MacArthur, and Open Society foundations. The Alliance sent her to Ferguson after the Michael Brown shooting, which led BLM to the next step in its transformation from a hashtag to an organization by mobilizing 600 black activists from around the country to embark on freedom rides to Ferguson for a weekend of protests, according to the profile in SFWeekly.
She says she wants to ensure that Black Lives Matter doesnt get co-opted by the Democratic Party or by black activists who want to reform policing but balk at more radical action. BLM activists disrupted Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail in 2016 because, Garza explains, he is a social democrat who offers not socialism but only democratic capitalism. In other words, hes too conventional. She wants more voices saying, This is not actually socialism, and socialism is actually possible in our lifetime.
This is the formation of the BLM founders. They envision change far more radical than what their many liberal supporters mean by racial justice. Having more African Americans in the professional ranks doesnt satisfy them, nor does sensitivity training for police officers. They want a transformation of society, including liberal institutions. The stakes are clear for Garza, who has tattooed on her chest six lines from June Jordans Poem about My Rights:
Scott Walter is president of the Capital Research Center.
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Posted: at 6:18 am
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) Black Lives Matter 757 held a protest Saturday night regarding the recent officer-involved shooting at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
The protest began at 19th Street after members of the group attended the Virginia Beach Police press conference.
The march was held to protest the officer-involved shooting and death of Donovon Lynch, who was shot and killed Friday night.
Members of the group chanted Lynchs name at their protest as well as Black Lives Matter. BLM 757 told 10 On Your Side they wanted the officer involved in the shooting to be arrested like the others who were arrested for the shootings that took place Friday evening.
The group also raised concerns about police conducting an internal investigation and want Virginia State Police to take over.
I dont understand how this officer didnt have their body cameras on just conveniently during the time of firing on this young Black king. But we need to make sure that all officers have body cameras functioning at all times, said Japharii Jones, with Black Lives Matter 757.
Jones also said that investigators should also be required to wear body cameras and brought up Virginia Beachs City Councils decision to not allow citizens on their Investigative Review Panel the right to investigate and discipline officers.
The group says they will continue to protest at the Oceanfront most weekends and on major holidays until their is justice.
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Posted: at 6:18 am
by: via Nexstar Media Wire, The Associated Press
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) Atlantic City says it will redo a Black Lives Matter tribute on a street because the original painting of those words across the entire road confused motorists who didnt know where to drive on it.
Instead, the words Black Lives Matter will be painted onto the repaved road in a manner that does not obscure lane divider markings, Mayor Marty Small said Thursday.
The City Council voted Wednesday night to spend $36,000 to repave the road, which police said had become so confusing to motorists that the city blocked it off at either end with barriers to prevent anyone from driving on it.
It was an oversight on our part, and when we realized it, we fixed it, Mayor Marty Small said. The words Black Lives Matter will still be on the street.
The road needs to be repaved because the type of paint used in the display cannot be painted over, officials said.
Last September, the city held an event in which volunteers donated paint, materials and labor to write Black Lives Matter in huge capital letters stretching from curb to curb on a section of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the citys downtown.
But the giant yellow letters obscured the yellow dividing line of the four-lane roadway, as well as the broken white lines on either side marking travel lanes.
Acting Police Chief James Sarkos told the council Wednesday night that the mural violated state Department of Transportation regulations. He also said motorists had become confused while driving on it, to the point that police had to close the road to traffic to prevent accidents.
The road painting was a compromise that averted a potential confrontation between activists who wanted to paint the words Black Lives Matter on the famous Boardwalk, and city officials who would not allow it.
City Council member LaToya Dunston accused the city of wasting taxpayer dollars by painting the road without knowing the rules governing it.
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