ISU Indy News: Black Lives Matter BloNo Continues Resistance

Read full article here.

“In December, Black Lives Matter Bloomington-Normal held a mass meeting to voice complaints about policing with Bloomington Police Chief Brendan Heffner. An upcoming vote over a police substation on Jefferson St. in West Bloomington spurred their actions. After the substation was re-named a community house, and the lease modified to address some of the concerns, the Bloomington City Council voted unanimously to accept the lease from Mid Central Community Action. During the vote, members of Black Lives Matter stood with signs, pleading with their elected officials to reject the lease.

Despite their ultimate defeat in the Jefferson Street Community House, the group continues to fight. Chief Heffner and the Bloomington Police are the recipients of the group’s criticism. In a statement published on February 16, Black Lives Matter said, “Despite clear evidence of disproportionate police practices, Chief Brendan Heffner denies any connection between race and enforcement outcomes…”

Read full article here.

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“Black America Again” – Common

I have been posting mostly news articles recently, so this will be a deviation.

On Friday (11/4), Common released his latest album “Black America Again”, with another socially conscious album. He went on RapGenius and annotated some of the album. Similarly to “Faithful” from the album “Be”, Common explores how a patriarchal society could be different in his track “The Day Women Took Over”, which he performed at the Tiny Desk Concert at the White House. Another notable track is the title track, “Black America Again” which includes the quotable below. The album is well worth the listen.

Who stole the soul from black folk?
Same man that stole the land from Chief Black Smoke
And made the whip crackle on our back slow
And made us go through the back door
And raffle black bodies on the slave blocks
Now we slave to the blocks, on ’em we spray shots
Leaving our own to lay in a box
Black mothers’ stomachs stay in a knot
We kill each other, it’s part of the plot
I wish the hating will stop (war!) and the battle with us
I know that Black Lives Matter, and they matter to us
These are the things we gotta discuss

An Assault By All of Us

Hillary Clinton said this week that the attack on police officers in Baton Rouge was “an assault on all of us”.

I don’t disagree with Clinton’s statement. In a civilized society, it is unacceptable for citizens to target those who have taken an oath to serve and protect the community. Police officers come from the communities in which they serve, so we should feel a kinship with them that they do represent all of us. They are officers commissioned by the people, and their authority to do their work of serving and protect comes from a social contract with the citizenry.

Clinton’s statement was perfect in describing the role of police, but it was incomplete. If we are to accept that an assault on the police is an assault on all of us, then we must also accept that the unjust killing of an unarmed black man by the police is not done only by the police but all of us. When that killing goes untried and without persecution, we are implicitly giving it a stamp of approval. By not reprimanding officers who step out of line, we too become guilty. This is even more pertinent today as the highest ranking officer in the Freddie Gray Case has been found not guilty of manslaughter. The problems that have led to these shootings are on the shoulders on the officers in question, but they are also societal problems, that if gone unaddressed with fester.

Let’s take a minute to remember a few police officers who shot and killed that have not been convicted:

Trayvon Martin (Sanford, FL) – Neighborhood Watchman George Zimmerman (acquitted)

Michael Brown (Ferguson, MO) – Officer Darren Wilson (cleared by grand jury)

Eric Gardner (New York, NY) – Officer Daniel Pantaleo (not indicted)

Tamir Rice (Baltimore, MD) – Officer Timothy Loehmann (no charges, settlement with city)

Walter Scott (North Charleston, SC) – Officer Michael Slager (facing trial Oct. 2016)

Jonathan Ferrell (Charlotte, NC) – Officer Randall Kerrick (not indicted, settlement with city)

Samuel DuBose (Cincinnati, OH) – Officer Raymond Tensing (charged, settlement with University of Cincinnati)

Laquan McDonald (Chicago, Il.) – Officer Jason Van Dyke (facing trial)

 

These are just a few of the shootings. It doesn’t include those in St. Paul, MN and Baton Rouge, LA from the last weeks. Every day there is the fear of this happening in our towns, with our family and friends. If we don’t accept these deaths on our behalf, them as a whole society, we better start acting like it.

Policing Skid Row – Embedded (NPR)

If you haven’t listened to “Embedded”, a podcast by NPR, you should listen to their episode about policing Skid Row in LA.

Embedded is a podcast that takes an item from the news and takes your ears inside the situation to gain a greater perspective of the situation. This particular episode of “Embedded” displays two methods of policing and the responses to them by the people living on Skid Row.

Police have been in the news a lot in the last couple of years due to brutality and violence. I know police officers who are great people, but I also know that the United States’ problem with police and criminal justice is a systematic problem. The individual officer’s personal goodness and there being a systematic problem are not mutually exclusive. It is not only ‘crooked’ or ‘bad’ officers who are at fault. I recommend reading Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The book shows how police departments have been incentivized to issue citations and make arrests very clearly at one point.

At the very least, listen to this episode of Embedded, and ask the questions:

  • If I was living on Skid Row, which officer would I want to meet?
  • Which officer would I want to be?
  • Which policing tactic do I think is best for society?

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/474849734/475099352