Charges Against Portland Black Lives Matter Protesters Dropped

Jake Bleiberg
A protester is led away by police during a Black Lives Matter protest in Portland on July 15, 2016.

By Jake Bleiberg for BDN – PORTLAND, Maine — A year after Portland police ended a Black Lives Matter demonstration with a mass arrest, the resulting legal drama has come to a close with the criminal charges against 17 protesters being dismissed. The charges were expected to be dropped since May, when a court hearing failed to repair a botched settlement agreement between the demonstrators and the Cumberland County District Attorney. The deal, which would have also seen the misdemeanor charges dropped, hinged on police and protesters talking through their differences in a so-called “restorative justice” session. It would have been the first time such a program was used in a civil disobedience case in Maine. But the deal went to pieces in the hall of a Portland church in February, when the protesters and an assistant district attorney couldn’t agree over logistics for the session. In May, a judge blocked the district attorney’s move to again prosecute the charges and ordered protesters and police to try again at the restorative justice session. After the ruling, District Attorney Stephanie Anderson said her office would not make another attempt at the session, thereby leaving the charges in an inactive court docket where they were finally dismissed Wednesday.

100 Years Ago African-Americans Marched Down 5th Ave To Declare: Black Lives Matter

Silent protest parade in New York against the East St. Louis riots, 1917. Library of Congress

By Chad Williams for The Conversation – The only sounds were those of muffled drums, the shuffling of feet and the gentle sobs of some of the estimated 20,000 onlookers. The women and children wore all white. The men dressed in black. On the afternoon of Saturday, July 28, 1917, nearly 10,000 African-Americans marched down Fifth Avenue, in silence, to protest racial violence and white supremacy in the United States. New York City, and the nation, had never before witnessed such a remarkable scene. The “Silent Protest Parade,” as it came to be known, was the first mass African-American demonstration of its kind and marked a watershed moment in the history of the civil rights movement. As I have written in my book “Torchbearers of Democracy,” African-Americans during the World War I era challenged racism both abroad and at home. In taking to the streets to dramatize the brutal treatment of black people, the participants of the “Silent Protest Parade” indicted the United States as an unjust nation. This charge remains true today.

Mumia Abu-Jamal Speaks About Black Lives Matter And Police Violence

We need a deeper, refined analysis for a clear vision of the inherent repression of Black life, says Mumia Abu-Jamal. (Photo: City Lights Books)

By Tasasha Henderson for Truthout – In his new book Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?, author and activist Mumia Abu-Jamal explores this question over 75 essays, spanning from the late 1990s to 2017. Each essay explores the violence of policing and the criminal legal system, whether from a historical perspective or through the stories of people who have died by the hands of police. In the first essay, “Hate Crimes,” Abu-Jamal questions the legitimacy of the idea of hate crimes, pointing out that police are never charged with a hate crime when they brutalize and kill Black and Brown people. Abu-Jamal’s essays discuss the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, the killing of Tamir Rice by Cleveland, Ohio, police officer Timothy Loehmann, and what the aftermath of these slayings reveals about how the United States views Black people. His conclusion is perfectly summed up in the first two lines of his October 2015 essay titled, “Tamir Rice of Cleveland” — “Question: When is a child not a child? Answer: When it’s a Black child.” Abu-Jamal spoke with Truthout about some of the issues he engages with in Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?, including police violence and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

Newsletter - This Juneteenth, End "US Way Of War"

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. We just returned from the weekend-long United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) conference in Richmond, VA. This is the fourth UNAC conference since its founding in 2010 to create a vibrant and active anti-war movement in the United States that opposes all wars. The theme this year was stopping the wars at home and abroad in recognition that we can’t end one without ending the others, that they have common roots and that it will take a large, broad-based and diverse movement of movements to succeed. Speakers at the conference ranged from people who are fighting for domestic issues – such as a $15/hour minimum wage and an end to racist police brutality and ICE raids – to people who traveled from or represented countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Korea, the Philippines, the Congo, Iran, Syria, Colombia and Venezuela, which are some of the many countries under attack by US imperialism.

Fight For $15 And Movement For Black Lives Join Forces On Anniversary Of MLK’s Assassination

According to a report by the National Employment Law Project, Black, Latino, and female workers are overrepresented in the segment of the population that makes less than $15 an hour, with more than half of Black Americans and almost 60 percent of Latinos making less than this amount. (Photo credit: Maha Ahmed)

By Maha Ahmed for In These Times – Protesters rallied at three locations in Chicago: Federal Plaza, a McDonald’s at the intersection of Adams Street and Wells Street, and the Illinois Policy Institute, a right-wing policy research organization, located in the heart of the financial district. At each place, members from Fair Economy Illinois, Black Lives Matter (BLM) Chicago, Fight for $15 and a community advocacy group called ONE Northside spoke about the history and legacy of King’s assassination in the context of current organizing. Among those who shared their stories were fast-food workers and faith leaders. In addition to targeting President Donald Trump, the Chicago action also specifically called out Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.

NYPD Infiltrated Black Lives Matter, Got Access To Messages

People protest after a grand jury decided not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo in the Eric Garner case. Photograph: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

By George Joseph for The Guardian – Undercover officers in the New York police department infiltrated small groups of Black Lives Matter activists and gained access to their text messages, according to newly released NYPD documents obtained by the Guardian. The records, produced in response to a freedom of information lawsuit led by New York law firm Stecklow & Thompson, provide the most detailed picture yet of the sweeping scope of NYPD surveillance during mass protests over the death of Eric Garner in 2014 and 2015. Lawyers said the new documents raised questions about NYPD compliance with city rules. The documents, mostly emails between undercover officers and other NYPD officials, follow other disclosures that the NYPD regularly filmed Black Lives Matter activists and sent undercover personnel to protests.

Police Killings In The US Continue To Rise

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By Rachael Revesz for Independent – More people have died at the hands of law enforcement in the US so far this year than during the same period in 2016, casting a dark shadow over the Donald Trump administration as it invests more power in the police. By 19 March this year, 271 people have already been killed by police, compared with 262 people by the same date in 2016, according to a database called Killedbypolice.net. There were fewer deaths (255) in 2015 and even fewer (209) in 2014 by the same point. The rising numbers do little to reassure critics of Donald Trump, who signed an executive order in February to invest more power in the police and who has all but scrapped the former Justice Department’s investigation into law enforcement violence around the US.

Five Years Ago Today, Trayvon Martin Was Killed

Trayvon Martin Peace Walk in MIami Gardens, 2nd Annual

Staff for #RememberTrayvon. The murder of Trayvon Martin was the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement that accelerated with the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and has grown with the deaths of so many other blacks at the hands of police. Here are several campaigns to remember Trayvon: #TrayvonTaughtMe digital toolkit and campaign:The #TrayvonTaughtMe digital campaign highlights the beginnings of the Black Lives Matter movement, and how Trayvon’s extrajudicial murder and his family’s commitment to ending gun violence and strengthening communities catalyzed a generation of organizers and activists to take action for Black lives. #OurSonTrayvon campaign: In collaboration with Gbenga Akkinagbe, founder of Liberated People, and activist-writer Michaela Angela Davis, BLM is supporting the launch of the #OurSonTrayvon campaign, whose goal is to create a sustainable movement humanizing Black children in the collective imagination. #DearTrayvonsMom letter writing campaign: is soliciting love letters to Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother and #TalkAboutTrayvon digital toolkit and campaign: seeks to launch a conversation among white people about the conditions that led to the extrajudicial murder of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman.

Memphis Police Have A Watchlist Of BLM Protesters

A BLM protest in California. | Photo: Reuters

By Staff of Tele Sur – The Memphis Police Department has a watch list of Black Lives Matter protesters — a fact that has come to light decades after the department was barred from spying on civil rights activists. The list, which includes the names, race, gender, height, weight and corresponding photographs of several well-known activists, bars those listed from entering the Memphis City Hall without an escort. The list infringes on the civil rights of those it profiles. MPD also appears to be in violation of the 1978 federal decree it was handed following revelations the department spied on civil rights activists and other protesters for years, spurring the American Civil Liberties Union to sue them. MPD Director Michael Rallings defended the list Tuesday, saying it was instead related to “security.”

Newsletter: Protest Is Working & Growing

Resist banner flies over the Donald Trump White House by Greenpeace.

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. People are recognizing that they have power to protest in a lot of areas. Some see the potential for protest at work, such as the resistance and non-cooperation among federal workers. And, many are planning on building toward a general strike, something unheard of in US history. State officials are even talking about protesting by not paying federal taxes. Early in the Trump era, protest is working and the potential ahead is for an even larger resistance movement. The dysfunctional nature of government will add to protest movements, making the country ungovernable. We can defeat the oligarchy, as currently represented by Trump, but which began long before him, by remaining independent of the corporate parties and fighting for the changes we need.

NYPD Must Release All Files About Undercover Spying On Black Lives Matter Protests

People protest in New York, November 25, 2014 © Eduardo Munoz / Reuters

By Staff of RT – A New York Supreme Court judge has ruled that the New York Police Department must comply with an information request for files and recordings of undercover surveillance of a Black Lives Matter protest that didn’t result in any arrests. The NYPD had sought to withhold its records from activist James Logue, who had attended a Black Lives Matter protest at Grand Central Station in November 2014. Logue filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the files after noticing both uniformed and plainclothes officers “regularly and openly recording events as they were taking place,” court documents said.

Trump Puts Black Lives Matter On Notice

Protesters in Charlotte, North Carolina, in September after the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott.
Brian Blanco/Getty Images

By Leon Neyfakh for Slate – The new White House website went live following Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday, and it contained a bracing message implicitly directed to supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement: Your kind is not welcome in Trump’s America. “The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration,” reads a page on the website titled “Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community.” It continues: “President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.”

Newsletter: The Inauguration Of Protest

From January 21st, 2017 Women's March on Washington. Trump was resusted from Day 1. By Mike Coppola for Getty Images.

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The last few days have seen a series of mass protests against President Trump and his incoming administration. This should be the inauguration of persistent protests, not just against the Trump administration but the system that has consistently put in place governments that represent big business interests and militarism while most people in the US face economic insecurity, and people around the world face US bombings. President Obama broke George W. Bush’s record for bombs deployed creating further hatred for the United States, insecurity and chaos. Trump is a symptom of a failed political system that does not represent the interests of the people or planet. Protests were varied from Black Bloc to the massive Women’s March

“Resist & Reclaim” from MLK To Inauguration Day | January 16-20, 2017

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By Staff of M4BL – No matter where you are in the world, the name Martin Luther King, Jr., is synonymous with freedom, equality, and hope. On January 16, we’ll commemorate his life, legacy and the contributions of other civil rights warriors whose resistance to oppression pushed the country toward equality. But this year will be different. Just four days after MLK Day, we’ll witness the inauguration of a President who is the antithesis of everything Dr. King stood for; a demagogue who galvanized millions by spewing hate and promising to harm the most vulnerable in this nation. The threats of mass deportation, the dismantling of Obamacare, the registration of Muslims and the criminalization of women’s health, are loud and clear.

Movement For Black Lives Call To Action

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By Movement for Black Lives. As we enter 2017 , under an administration motivated by hate and greed, we renew our commitment to you, and to our fight for justice. We know that Black people have always made a way, even when the odds were against us – as they are now. An administration full of racist, sexist, fear mongers are moving into the White House – and we should all be concerned about their potential impact on our lives. We are just beginning to see the effects of the fear and violence they support. In the last 30 days, we’ve seen an increase in hate crimes and hate speech against Black people, the vandalizing of Black churches, and vigilantes taking up arms in our communities to incite violence and fear. In the face of all this, millions of Black folks across the country are asking, “What can we do?”