Woodbridge, VA - The plastic sign displayed prominently on De’Ana Forbes’ classroom door is especially fitting this week. In big bold letters: “Warning! History Teacher Zone. Your understanding of the past may be corrected at any time.” It’s early in this sleepy suburb 45 minutes outside Washington, D.C., and the sun is still rising over Freedom High School as students jog inside from late-arriving buses, backpacks half-hung over shoulders with winter coats swinging. They push through crowded hallways and hurry to first period. Forbes, 28, who teaches U.S. history and social studies, is one of many teachers across the country participating in the annual Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action, held this year February 6 – 10.
Black Lives Matter
The DC government is deploying COINTELPRO like tactics against organizations and individuals fighting to protect and expand our rights. Of course, this is not news to those who have been engaged in political work here for any amount of time, but now, thanks to one local organizer, there is proof. Suspecting she was being surveilled by the Metro Police Department (MPD), April Goggans of Black Lives Matter DC (BLMDC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the documents the DC government had on her. After years of hiding, stalling and lying by MPD, April took the request to court. The most important hearing to date was scheduled for June 14, 2022 too determine if MPD is required to follow FOIA laws.
Tristan Taylor, a co-founder of Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) and a Left Voice member, is defending himself in court on Monday, May 23, against felony charges for protesting the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020. Taylor is one of the Shelby 5, a group of protestors facing felony charges for demanding that Robert Shellide, the Chief of Police in Shelby Township, Michigan, be fired for posting violently racist remarks about the mass protests. Several additional protestors were charged with misdemeanors. On Taylor’s court date, Monday May 23, Detroit Will Breathe, an organization which was born in the heat of the Black Lives Matter movement, is calling their supporters to mobilize in support of a motion to get the felony charge thrown out.
On January 31, 2022, New York magazine published an article by Sean Campbell, “The BLM Mystery: Where did the money go?” A core demand of the article is one that many have made for many years: Show me the money! People have questions. I have a lot of answers. I am a former, and still supportive organizer in a legacy chapter (my own term) of Black Lives Matter - BLM Philly. I represented the chapter in the national network - the place that BLM Global Foundation in its several formations curated. Up until my separation from the chapter in late 2021, BLMGN was the owner/manager/user of the primary website BlackLivesMatter.com, along with the social media and the newsletter.
On Tuesday, October 26, Black Lives Matter joined fellow civil rights leaders to engage with and discuss tangible policy proposals to transform current approaches to public safety with senior officials from the White House and the Department of Justice. While we appreciate the invitation to speak and discuss solutions, we call on the White House to be courageous as it moves towards Executive Action to move us towards the kind of transformation that this moment demands — the kind of transformation that the spirits of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Dijon Kizzee, Wakiesha Wilson, Andrew Joseph III, and so many others demand. A transformational approach to public safety requires that we not expend energy tinkering around the edges of a fundamentally unjust system, but we upend it and dare to imagine and build new systems that invest deeply in resources: like youth programs, good jobs, mental healthcare, housing…resources that actually make our communities safe.
Washington, DC – After months of fighting for justice in the police murder of Karon Hylton-Brown, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. announced the indictment of Terence Sutton for second-degree murder, one of the DC Police officers involved with this gross negligence of their duties and complete disregard for this young man’s life. He was also indicted with federal charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice, along with his supervisor Andrew Zabavsky. We stand in solidarity and full support of Karon Hylton-Brown’s family as they continue their fight for justice and accountability for all. Since his death on October 23rd, 2020, organizations, volunteers and supporters of his family have pushed for an investigation into his death. Not only demanding MPD exercise their due diligence as required by law to investigate, but to hold the officers accountable for their behaviors that caused his death.
A photo-journalist and activist who was at the Met Gala told Left Voice about the brutal police attack on protesters and gives a perspective on AOC’s participation in the event. The Met Gala, a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute that is also a gathering of celebrities, politicians, and the wealthy and well connected took place on September 13. The bourgeois press coverage focused on the celebrity spectacle, nearly ignoring the horrific police attack on abolitionist activists protesting outside the event, many of whom were arrested. Left Voice spoke with Prince, a photo-journalist and activist who was on the ground.
Havana - “A Black uprising is shaking Cuba’s Communist regime,” read The Washington Post’s headline on the recent unrest on the Caribbean island. “Afro-Cubans Come Out In Droves To Protest Government,” wrote NPR. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal went with “Cuba’s Black Communities Bear the Brunt of Regime’s Crackdown” as a title. These were examples of a slew of coverage in the nation’s top outlets, which presented what amounted to one day of U.S.-backed protests in July as a nationwide insurrection led by the country’s Black population — in effect, Cuba’s Black Lives Matter moment. Apart from dramatically playing up the size and scope of the demonstrations, the coverage tended to rely on Cuban emigres or other similarly biased sources.
The federal government deliberately targeted Black Lives Matter protesters via heavy-handed criminal prosecutions in an attempt to disrupt and discourage the global movement that swept the nation last summer in the wake of the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, according to a new report released Wednesday by The Movement for Black Lives. Movement leaders and experts said the prosecution of protesters over the past year continues a century-long practice by the federal government, rooted in structural racism, to suppress Black social movements via the use of surveillance tactics and other mechanisms. “The empirical data and findings in this report largely corroborate what Black organizers have long known intellectually, intuitively, and from lived experience about the federal government’s disparate policing and prosecution of racial justice protests and related activity,” the report stated.
On Sunday August 1, 2021 we were alerted to a video of a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer brutally punching Kimon Johnson in the head in Southeast D.C. This kind of brutality is not new for MPD, in the District of Columbia, and certainly not near Good Hope Rd. and 16th St. Southeast, but it is always unacceptable. It mirrors the experience of Derrick “Quan” Johnson at almost the same location on December 26, 2019. Quan was also not charged for the original stop or the second retaliatory one. Like Quan, we are so very glad he is still alive. As we predicted, his response to this brutal incident Chief Contee did little more than give a measured response at the August 9, 2021 press conference. As we explained when he was confirmed and have since learned about his complicity in the misconduct by the Gun Recovery Unit (Jumpouts) against almost only Black people, we could hardly expect more from him.
The Movement for Black Lives has an interesting and sometimes contradictory political history. Popularly known as Black Lives Matter (BLM), they gave birth to a now international rallying cry against anti-Black racism. They are identified with the issue of police violence so much that any protest involving Black people is dubbed Black Lives Matter whether there is any connection with that group or not.
This June, a dangerously low-flying helicopter operated by the Department of Homeland Security descended on the largest civil disobedience action yet against the Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota. In an attempt to disperse the crowd, hundreds of demonstrators were pummeled with debris — and misdemeanor trespassing charges. If Minnesota Republican House Members Shane Mekeland and Eric Lucero had their way, demonstrators and anyone involved in the organizing process would have been hit with serious felony charges, a $5,000 fine, and liability for any damages incurred by the multibillion-dollar company Enbridge. Mekeland and Lucero, who introduced these measures in a bill in late February, aren’t alone in their repressive ambitions.
On May 29, local activists in Sedro-Woolley, Washington, (population 11,739) and the greater Skagit County area held a march against racism marking the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. Marchers gathered at Hammer Heritage Square in downtown Sedro-Woolley for sign-waving followed by a march of about 75 people through the business district starting at noon.
On Tuesday, May 18, roughly 200 people gathered to march in front of the Ford Motor Company plant in Dearborn, Michigan where Joe Biden was speaking. Dearborn is home to the largest Arab American and Palestinian populations in the United States. Speaker Jae Bass, a Black Detroiter and a leader of Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) --- a militant, politically independent organization created last year in the midst of the uprising against police brutality --- connected the experiences of the daily fight against police brutality here with the brutality of the Israeli military in Palestine. Noting that both struggles are linked, he asked those present to continue fighting to free Palestine and make sure Black and Brown lives matter in Detroit.
In the late afternoon of 10 February 2015, local police in Chapel Hill responded to a report of fired shots. They entered a Finley Forest condominium to find the lifeless bodies of three young Arabs. The first, Deah Barakat, lay dead in the front doorway. The others, his wife Yusor and her sister Razan Abu-Salha, had been slain in the kitchen. All three had been killed with gunshots to the head in an execution-style murder. Over the coming hours and days, as details emerged on social media, it became clear that these young Muslims had been murdered in a hate crime. Seeing this in the context of state-sponsored islamophobia, which had fueled a growing climate of harassment and hate-crimes against Muslims in the US, as well as the mass slaughter of civilians in drone attacks across the Middle East, activists online started using #MuslimLivesMatter, which was tweeted over one hundred-thousand times, to challenge the lack of coverage.