Above photo: Baltimore #AFROMATION march stops in Artscape 2016 to chant. Taken by Margaret Flowers.
NOTE: This is the pres release posted by Baltimore Bloc after the #AFROMATION march in Baltimore on Saturday, July 16, Assata Shakur’s birthday, which ended in mass arrests. Police arrested demonstrators and observers.
Baltimore, MD – “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” – Assata Shakur
It is a chant that has echoed throughout this nation as black bodies have hit the streets, day after day, week after week, calling for an end to systems of injustice, inequity, and violence. In recent weeks, we have seen the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castille in St.Paul result in these black men being transformed from fathers, husbands, and sons into viral hashtags, and nationwide sorrow, rage and grief. The abundance of protest and calls to actions have been responses to this system of injustice, inequity and violence as it continues to reproduce the same outcomes. Hundreds have gathered from across the nation to call for an end to a system that continues to brutalize and murder black bodies, a system that perpetuates a desensitization to black death, and a system that legitimates constant surveillance and policing of black bodies. These protests are a part of a long struggle to affirm what has been systematically denied to black citizens: life.
#Afromation is an affirmation of black life. It is a gathering of persons dedicated to reversing the cycle of brutalization, desensitization, and surveillance. It is black lives affirming the significance of their existence in retaliation to the systems that have continuously sought to deny this affirmation. It is only through a formation of undying will – in the form of resilient love and support – dedicated to affirming the existence of blackness, that we will break the chains that bind us. It is only through constant reclaiming of our lives, against a world that continues to take our lives, that we will win our freedom: freedom from endless cycles of violence, death, struggle and policing. #Afromation is our fight for freedom, and it is our duty to win.
On July 16, 2016, Baltimore Bloc, City Bloc alumni, SURJ Baltimore along with various allies and concerned community members will hit the streets to demand that the City of Baltimore make a concerted effort to affirm the existence of black life and to lead the charge in this nation against the system of unjust police practices. We demand that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Democratic Mayoral Candidate Catherine Pugh, Green Party Mayoral Candidate Joshua Harris, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, and the Fraternal Order of Police do the following:
-Create a civilian review board for police investigations, ensuring that the citizens on the review board are elected through a clear, transparent and fair process that will allow ordinary persons in and from the communities in question to serve on the board. The community has a right to self-determination and a right to have an impact in the process of bringing a sense of justice and safety back into their own community.
-Reallocate 10% of the Policing budget away from militarization of local police forces and mechanisms of community control and surveillance, and towards community programming.
These two demands can begin to reframe the conversation around the relationship between policing and the community. Fulfilling these two demands can be the first step in the right direction to affirming the importance of black lives in this City. Thus, until the City learns to affirm black lives by conceding to the demands of the black protesters chanting across the nation for black freedom and justice, we – Baltimore Bloc, City Bloc alumni, SURJ Baltimore along with various allies and concerned community members – will be in #Afromation.
“The Mandate for black people at this time is to avenge the suffering of our ancestors to earn the respect of future generations and to be willing to be transformed in the service of the work.” –