Black Lives Matter Long-Term Goal: Full Implementation of the NEAR Act

Black Lives Matter activists worked for two years to pass the NEAR Act and get it fully funded.  Now they’re working to see that it’s implemented correctly.   The video above, edited by Malik Thompson, is of a march and rally from April 2017.

By Eugene Puryear
Stop Police Terror Project DC

WHAT IS THE NEAR ACT?

The NEAR (Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results) Act establishes a set of long-term programs and policies to address public safety in DC specifically through a public health lens. These programs and policies have been empirically proven to reduce shootings and violence in cities around the US.

In its fullest form, the NEAR Act would begin to de-emphasize the use of policing and force as the primary tactic for ensuring neighborhood safety in DC. It would protect vulnerable and minority (namely Black and Latino) residents in high-crime areas of our city from further harm. It would support individuals involved in potentially violent situations instead of turning to incarceration or violence to resolve the issue at hand. The policy would thus pave the way for the long-overdue transformation of these vulnerable populations and neighborhoods towards a deeper culture of safety, support, and opportunity.

WHY WE NEED YOU NOW:

After passing the DC Council unanimously in 2016, and being fully-funded in 2017, the NEAR Act is now in its next phase: implementation. Despite being fully-funded, most of the provisions in the NEAR Act have not been implemented. As such, the NEAR Act remains largely unfulfilled as promised in 2016.

In order for the NEAR Act to reach its full potential, it is going to require us as DC residents to make sure our elected officials fully and faithfully implement all of the comprehensive approaches in the NEAR Act. To do so, we want to create a corps of “NEAR Act Ambassadors” to show up to DC Council hearings, community events, ANC meetings, and candidate fundraisers and campaign events. In doing so, we have an opportunity to hold DC Council to their word and to begin the process of protecting the most vulnerable neighborhoods in our city from further violence with a better approach.

We would like to invite you to take part in a training that will equip you with the knowledge and skills to hold our DC elected officials to their word of fully implementing the NEAR Act, to move away from the failed approach of policing and incarceration, and to make DC an example for a better way to prevent and reduce violence while empowering and uplifting all of its residents.

THE TRAININGS:

The Stop Police Terror Project will be running a number of trainings in November for each Ward to provide interested individuals the skills and knowledge they need to be NEAR Act Ambassadors, to let our elected officials know that the NEAR Act is still alive in our minds as a priority for our city. Through these trainings, you will gain the knowledge and skills to mobilize your local neighborhoods/networks to show up to these events prepared to pressure our elected officials towards full implementation of the NEAR Act.

NEAR Act Ambassador Training
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
We Act Radio Station
1918 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue SE

We encourage you to attend the event for your Ward if possible, as there will be some Ward-specific information covered. BUT, everyone is welcome at any of the trainings, so please come to the one that works best for you even if it isn’t your home Ward. If you don’t know what Ward you live in, you can find out here: https://planning.dc.gov/page/wards-district-columbia.

Please share these events with your networks, and let us know if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you at a training, and to working with you to ensure the promise of the NEAR Act becomes reality.

U.S. Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War… Who Knew?

What do the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, the Move Organization and Black Lives Matter have in common?  They have all been denounced and delegitimized by the corporate establishment and mainstream media.

The Civil Rights and Revolutionary Struggles of the ‘60s and 70s challenged American racism, classism and sexism.  They also disrupted our imperialist foreign policy.   Eventually, the United States Government brought down or seriously humbled the Black Panthers, the Anti-Vietnam War Movement, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, the American Indian Movement, etc.  Many leaders were jailed.   Will the current struggle face the same fate?

In the late 1990s, a movement to free all U.S. political prisoners and prisoners of war began to take root.  Several wide scale political actions took place in Washington, DC and Philadelphia.  Filmmakers, Liane Scott, Joan Yoshiwara, Eddie Becker and Jorge Abeledo covered these events.  The result is The Walls of Jericho and the Movement That’s Shaking Them, a two-hour documentary, that includes activists protesting on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier, the Move 9, the Puerto Rican Political Prisoners, Black Panthers Russel Maroon Shoats and Eddie Conway and many more.

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Revolutionary thinkers Kathleen Cleaver, Carl Dix, Chokwe Lumumba, Angela Davis, Ramona Africa all weigh in on the state of the movement and the related issues of police brutality and the prison industrial complex.   Rank and file activists also share their knowledge and opinions. The Walls of Jericho serves as a popular education primer on political prisoners jailed as a result of the civil and human rights uprisings of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

It cannot be denied that in the last half century, racism, heterosexism, xenophobia, etc. have become less overt.   But at the same time, US military misadventures migrated from Central America and Southeast Asia to the oil-rich Middle East.  The planet’s resources continue to be assaulted.  Police brutality and mass incarceration replaced Jim Crow.   The revolutionary work that blossomed in the ‘60s and ‘70s is not finished.  Tactics used to disrupt activism of the past are and will be used again.

We invite you to join us at this screening of The Walls of Jericho and the Movement That’s Shaking Them and the follow up discussion.  In the spirit of Sankofa, we will learn from the past and move even more boldly into a future shaped by the people and not the forces of oligarchy.

Below is a segment from the documentary that focuses on police brutality.

Movement for Black Lives Guiding Principles

So, you’ve been horrified by the many murders that we’ve witnessed in the media.  You wonder what you can do?  Here are some events coming up this week that could help to plug you into the movement.

The resurgence of the Movement for Black Lives and the 2016 elections: Which way forward in the movement for real change?

M4BL General Assembly Meeting

March Against Slumlords!

You can also support the movement by supporting the Black Lives Matter Guiding Principles.  Aaron Goggans , an organizer for the Black Lives Movement in the Washington, D.C. area, lays them out below. 

Cross-posted from The Well Examined Life
by Aaron Goggans

Below is a slightly modified version of the guiding principles adapted from the recent Movement for Black Lives Convening. #2 was added in order to contextualize the principles for non-Black people working in solidarity for the movement. They help paint of picture of what the Movement for Black Lives is and should provide and excellent starting point for discussion.

1.    ALL Black Lives Matter: Queer Black Lives, Trans* Black Lives, Formerly Incarcerated Black Lives, Poor/Working Class Black Lives, Differently abled Black Lives, Black Women’s Lives, Immigrant Black Lives, Black Elderly and Children’s Lives. ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER and are creators of this space. We throw no one under the bus. We Rise Together.

2.    All of our work is part of a larger movement for collective liberation. The movement for collective liberation is a movement for liberation every human being on the planet from each and every system of thought, belief or action that oppresses them. This means that none of us are free until all of us are free. This also means that heart of this struggle is those who experience multiple forms of simultaneous oppression. Furthermore, this requires that all allies see their Black liberation work as part of their work towards their own liberation. Women’s Liberation, the overthrowing of capitalism, Asian Liberation, Queer Liberation, Trans*Liberation, Indigenous Liberation, the end of colonialism etc are all connected, vital, and must work together.

3.    Thriving Instead of Surviving: Our vision is based on the world we want, not the one we are currently in. We seek to transform, not simply react. We want our people to thrive, not just exist. Think beyond the possible.

4.    Experimentation and innovation must be built into our work. Embrace the best tools, practices and tactics and leave those behind that no longer serve us.

5.    Evaluation and assessment must be built into our culture. Critical reflection must be part of all our work. We learn from our mistakes and our victories.

6.    Principled Struggle can exist in a positive environment. We must be honest with one another by embracing direct, loving communication.

7.    Love/Self Love is practiced in every element of all we do. Love and Self-Love must be a driver of our work and an indicator of our success. Without this principle and without healing, we will harm each other and undermine our movement.

8.    360 degree vision: We honor past struggles and wisdom from elders. The work we do today builds the foundations of movements of tomorrow. We consider our mark on future generations.

9.    Self-care means we build resilient spaces by budgeting time, energy, and resources for healing. Self-care is a regular, consistent, intentional, and essential practice.

10.    The most Directly Affected People are experts at their own lives and should be in leadership, at the center of our movement, and telling their stories directly.

11.    Training and Leadership Development should be fundamental. Our movement must constantly grow and leadership must constantly multiply.

 

Black Lives Matter Protests Continue in Washington, DC

Cross-posted DC Media Group
by John Zangas

Washington, DC — The Movement for Black Lives continued protests to denounce recent killings of Black men on Saturday night in Washington, DC. The Stop Police Terror in DC Project, BlackLivesMatterDMV, BYP100 (Black Youth Project) and allies met at the African American Civil War Memorial and marched through city streets and into Georgetown. Once there they blocked traffic on the main M Street thoroughfare and then blocked Rock Creek Parkway.

The protest lasted over three hours, walking several miles through the city and resulted in no arrests. Many joined along the way, including activists, youth, and families.

The new protests came as video reports came to light of more killings by police of Black men. Delrawn Small, 38, was killed by an off-duty police officer in a road rage incident in Brooklyn, NY. A video published online countered claims by an off duty police officer that Smalls had allegedly punched the officer in the face. Smalls was shot less than two seconds after approaching the unmarked police vehicle.

Another man, Alva Braziel, 38, was shot 10 times by police in Houston, after he went looking for his horse which had gone missing. In that incident Houston police said that Braziel had brandished a firearm.

28184610386_41f0ee6bfb_zSmalls and Brazeil are the 655th and 671th individuals respectively killed by US police in 2016.

But Eugene Puryear, an organizer with The Stop Police Terror In DC Project, recognized that the Black Lives Matter movement had made progress.

“It’s only been a couple of years since we’ve been pushing, and already we’ve brought this issue to the forefront of the country,” said Puryear.

Yet a mass shooting of Dallas police officers during a protest Thursday night, which resulted in five police killed and seven wounded, cast doubt that unrest would end any time soon.

Puryear said that the Dallas incident was an unfortunate tragedy but was “not unexpected.”

“When you have a situation when over a thousand people are killed every year by police and no real resolution in the court system…it’s like putting a pot on boil and eventually it’s going to boil over,” said Puryear.

He said the increased national tension is moving the country towards a boiling stage, and change must now happen both socially and politically.

Reports of Black Lives Matter protests dominated the Sunday morning news. Protests were reported in major cities across the country as tensions rose over the spate of recent killings.

Area groups planned to hold a vigil at the African American Civil War Memorial Sunday night.

Mother of Alonzo Smith and PACA Respond to DC Mayor’s Proposed Regulations on Special Police and Security Officers

In June, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced proposed changes to training requirements for special police officers.  The following is the response by Pan-African Community Action.
WASHINGTON DC: Pan-African Community Action (PACA), the organization of Beverly Smith, mother of Alonzo Smith who was killed by special police November 1, 2015, responded to the announcement of Mayor Muriel Bowser, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier, and Director of the Department of Consumer of Regulatory Affairs Melinda Bolling proposing changes to the training requirements for commissioned special police officers (SPOs) in the District.The proposed changes are said to be in response to the circumstances in the cases of Alonzo Smith and of 74-year-old MedStar patient James McBride, also killed by SPOs Sept. 29, 2015 at Washington Hospital Center.

It is the position of PACA that yesterday’s announcement was public relations ploy clearly timed so that the City could convolute the issue with the unrelated tribute to Stephen T. Johns, a SPO killed in the line of duty at the Holocaust Museum on June 10, 2009. The underlining message: “Regardless of any state of affairs the sanctity of and benevolent regard for police and security officers who protect the system is paramount.”

In Alonzo Smith’s case the fact of the matter is that there appears to be no justifiable reason for arresting him in the first place. Authorities and the press consistently ignore that it was an unarmed Alonzo last heard crying out “Help! Help! They are trying to kill me!” which was the reason the MPD was called to the scene by Marbury Plaza apartment residents where he was killed. Not by the officers in question.

The proposal for new and improved training of special police by the Mayor is yet again more smoke and mirrors from the demand of the Justice 4 Zo campaign for a full account of what happened that night. Video made public by the DC government shows that Alonzo was shirtless and shoeless when the MPD found him laying face down with one of the SPO’s on top of him with the officer’s knee pressed into his back. MPD immediate complicity can be witnessed in the video by their treatment of the SPO’s false claim that Alonzo was “on K2,” a term referring a synthetic drug that causes hallucinations. MPD called in the claim as fact, later to be disproven by the coroner’s report.

To keep tunnel focus on the actions that caused Alonzo’s death, while neglecting the broader circumstances and motive can serve as a cover up of what could well be outright murder by the officers, who for untold reason remain unidentified.

The City’s proposal for training, following the May 17, 2016 DC Superior Court grand jury indictment of SPOs Clifton Montgomery and Charles Brown for involuntary manslaughter of McBride, is suspected of being a political maneuver to prepare the public and the community concerned with the case of Alonzo to accept a similar outcome without question.

Mayor Bowser’s announcement reduces the issue of an epidemic of killings of Black people by police and security guards to a question of inadequate training and ignores the fact that these cases reflect a nationwide practice from which rich white communities are immune. Over the last couple years, local district attorneys and the Department of Justice have demonstrated their

inability to hold violent police officers, security guards and vigilantes accountable for their discriminatory actions.

“Unfortunately we continue to get these inadequate public responses to the homicide of my son,” says mother of Alonzo, Beverly Smith “which is part of a larger crisis of Black people, men, women and children dying at the hands of those put in charge of protecting a system that only respects rich people and their property.”

The weak recommendations for more training of SPOs will not in the least bit alter the pattern and practice of Black people being murdered by guards of the status quo, whether MPD, neighborhood watch, Metro Transit Police or so called “Special” Police Officers. Therefore, we of the Justice 4 Zo campaign reaffirm our call for community control over the police as the only solution for ending this crisis. Additionally the announced proposal is further proof that an independent dual track investigation by the United Nations and/or the Organization of Independent States is necessary.

For interviews with Beverly Smith or any other member of Pan-African Community Action send email to paca@protonmail.com or call Netfa Freeman on 301-938-4628.