Monday, August 3, 2015

Black Lives Matter: The Movement Speaks (Memphis Grassroots Organizations' Coalition Statement)


Over the past few weeks, several citizens, civic organizations, ministers and other interested parties have rallied, protested, organized and strategized in order to resist forces of oppression that plague the black community from both outside and within.  In lieu of this, we want to affirm the work being done across the city and nation.  We also want to solicit every willing worker of goodwill to join in dismantling the various forms of oppression and injustice amongst us through every adequate and effective form and method of resistance.  This is indeed a peculiar moment in the life of our country as well as our beloved city.  It is a time by which we need all hands on deck to achieve the objectives of freedom and liberation to which we must forever remain devoted.  
One of the aims of our correspondence today is to stand as a grassroots coalition and collective in affirmation of each and every effort to bring truth, justice, peace and love to our city.  We need to produce a concerted effort in response to the State of Emergency whereby we find ourselves.  The catastrophic loss and continual devaluing of black lives has birthed the breath of fresh air and stoked the sacred fire of the #BlackLivesMatter movement nationwide.  This movement, nationally and locally, is a banner and philosophy under which many grassroots groups and sacred communities stand in solidarity.  It is in this vein of unity and hope for better tomorrows that we petition our people, our institutions, and our organizations of goodwill to continue to work towards the freedom and liberty of our people.  Furthermore, those who are familiar with the BLM movement know that the movement never seeks to merely switch the source of oppression from one group to the next.  The Spirit of the movement itself seeks to dismantle, disrupt and destroy every form of oppression and centers on the experiences of the most underprivileged.  To that end, we aim to denounce the shooting and death of Officer Sean Bolton.  We stand in full support of the MPD and other parties that seek to obtain justice for the slain officer and his family.  In that same vein, we cannot allow the tragedy that took place on August 1st to be the cause of us to ignore the tragedy that took place on July 17th. We must remain diligent in and sensitive to the work necessary to bring justice and peace, healing and wholeness to ALL those who are suffering.  
Therefore, we also seek to update the general public with respect to the developments and demands relative to the shooting of Brother Darrius Stewart by Officer Conner Schilling.  Within the past two weeks, with the support of the family, friends, social activist groups and ministerial leaders who have held several vigils, rallies, worship services and other events to raise the social consciousness of the city with respect to this particular incident as well as the issues of police brutality and violence in general. We all remain committed to resisting every form of oppression, exploitation and manipulation that continues to heighten the tensions between civilians, law enforcement and civic and political leadership.  This is not the time to politicize tragedies.  It is the time to respond to them with compassion and commitment to truth, love and justice.  
Therefore, in the name of trust, transparency and progress, we request that the TBI, MPD, and/or DA Amy Weirich provide the general public with relevant, uncompromising, and up to date information with respect to both the shooting of Officer Bolton and the shooting of Darrius Stewart, at least once per week via written statements and/or press conferences until an indictment is handed down or the investigation reaches its legal conclusion.  We have already begun to witness the intensity by which MPD and others are pursuing justice in the shooting of Officer Bolton.  Equal force should be applied in pursuing justice in the shooting of Darrius Stewart.  
To be clear, our aim is not personal but corporate.  Our focus in not merely on an instance or two, but, moreover, towards the broader and longstanding epidemics of police brutality, the culture of violence in our country and the wanton use of guns as weapons of mass destruction.  Therefore, with respect to law enforcement, we also request that the Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board be reestablished immediately and authorized by our city administration to review each use of lethal force since its disbanding (including the Darrius Stewart shooting).  We expect nothing less that equitable measure to be taken in the name of justice for all parties involved.  
We are not anti-police. We are anti-injustice. Again, let us reiterate that it is the collective work of all of our social, civic and ministerial organizations that obtain and sustain freedom, justice, and equal protections under the law. Therefore, we applaud the work of resistance that leads to liberation being carried out by all those who are fighting for freedom and ask them to continue to do so they work to which they are called and compelled.  In the words of Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon (in honor of Dr. Ella Baker), “We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.”  We have been and will continue to do the work of social justice in this city until freedom comes.



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  2. This is totally another phony organization under the control of the police, a front group created by the MidSouth Peace and Justice Center, that has never said one word about police murders of numerous citizens up to this point. Nobody has even seen the bogus proposal for a citizen's review board, other than the politicians and cops to whom it was submitted. There has been no democratic discussion at large by the public, so nobody even knows what is in the proposal for CLERB and the matter is not being subjected to referenda or initiative process, which is what should happen. It is a totally secret process, which the cops can start and start at their whim, which was proven when the Chief of Police was able to come into city council and at a whim delay the proceeding until November, after the 2015 city elections. This entire process is undemocratic, treacherous, and a total sellout to maintain the status quo and police state terror.