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Last week, beginning on what would have been the fourteenth birthday of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was murdered by police in 2010, protesters shut down police stations and unions all across the country. The Movement for Black Lives called for this wave of #FreedomNow actions to “create a future where Black children live in peace and possibility, not under a police state.”
We know you’re watching, Aiyana #FreedomNOW #StoptheCops pic.twitter.com/VXHrHktUUg
— BYP100 (@BYP_100) July 20, 2016
In New York City, Black Youth Project 100 and Million Hoodies blockaded the entrance to the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association to directly challenge the union’s ongoing role in defending officers who end Black lives. The protesters locked themselves together with chains and refused to move until they were arrested.
Young Black Protesters Blockade Police Facilities Across the Country #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/1y68mW8bWn
— Walidah Imarisha (@WalidahImarisha) July 23, 2016
The protest happened just days after the second anniversary of a police officer in Staten Island choking Eric Garner to death. It happened just two weeks after a police officer in Brooklyn murdered Delrawn Small while he drove his girlfriend and children to the park to watch Fourth of July fireworks.
While Black Youth Project 100 and Million Hoodies have called for the immediate firing of Officers Daniel Pantaleo and Wayne Isaacs, these protesters believe that only taking action against individual officers once they kill Black people is not enough. Through signs, shirts, and song they made a broader demand, “Defund Police and Fund Black Futures.”
Dismantle the PBA: it is sanctions police violence. Defund the police and #fundblackfutures #FreedomNow pic.twitter.com/r0fYq6VGoF
— 4C (@KarlRodrigue) July 20, 2016
Police departments are not made up of good and bad cops, but rather are systems of racist violence that cannot bring safety to Black communities. The contemporary police force is the direct descendant of slave patrols. Originating in South Carolina, slave patrols defended the economic order of slavery through returning and punishing those who were forced into bondage and dared to escape to freedom.
Last year, the white Dylann Roof slaughtered nine Black congregants during Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When officers apprehended Roof, they dressed him in a bulletproof vest, demonstrating deeper concern for Roof’s safety than that of the community he just unleashed terror upon.
Meanwhile, the day after police in Brooklyn murdered Delrawn Small, police in Baton Rouge killed Alton Sterling while they pinned him to the ground. The day after police murdered Alton Sterling, police in Minnesota killed Philando Castile while he complied with police during a traffic stop. Lavish Reynolds courageously livestreamed the murder of her boyfriend while her young child watched from the back seat.
Those most impacted by this racist violence are at the forefront of bringing about lasting change. They act from a deep tradition that dates back to and precedes Denmark Vesey, organizer of the 1822 slave rebellion and founder of the same Charleston church where Roof opened fire.
Power to the Women on the front lines.
[Photo: Jonathan Bachman of Reuters from the #BLM protests in #BatonRouge.] pic.twitter.com/kW9fhIOCAl
— The People’s Summit (@pplsummit) July 10, 2016
Those who are not Black still have an important role to play and a tradition from which to act. To demand justice for Philando Castile, white people and non-Black people of color in Minneapolis united together to shut down the city’s largest highway during rush hour and directed press to a Black spokesperson from the local chapter of Black Lives Matter.
#Breaking: Arrests begin after protests block all southbound lanes of I-35W in Minneapolis. https://t.co/OWPjsRERog pic.twitter.com/ZykBlyyFPV
— Star Tribune (@StarTribune) July 13, 2016
In New York City, Regenerative Finance collective members Andrew Meeker and Jay Saper were arrested as part of a #FreedomNow action with Showing Up for Racial Justice that shut down the New York Police Department’s First Precinct. The solidarity action was called for by the Movement for Black Lives, who urged white people to “get your John Brown on.”
Black Lives Matter Protesters Arrested in Front of NYPD Stationhouse https://t.co/is7dNHsCxv
— SURJ NYC (@SURJNYC) July 24, 2016
Just as white people and non-Black people of color are joining Black folks in putting bodies on the line, so too must those with class privilege show up with our full selves for the movement. Digging into our pockets should not be regarded as a substitute for taking to the streets, but very much a necessary complement to doing so. There were twenty two people in John Brown’s army that carried out the raid on Harper’s Ferry. There were also the secret six who funded the courageous act.
Today’s police and putrid economy are the product of yesterday’s plantation. We may not have chosen the hour to which we were born, yet at this hour we may choose how we respond. We can leverage our money for long overdue reparations.
We must stop this racist violence. We must defund police. We must build the world we need. We must fund Black futures.
Please reach out to Regenerative Finance if you are interested in making a non-extractive loan to the Financial Cooperative that houses the Southern Reparations Loan Fund. If you would like to make a gift, we encourage you to support Cooperation Jackson, a Black-led project building Black futures in Mississippi.
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