Posts Tagged ‘police killings of unarmed men’

#BlackLivesMatter is a new kind of movement

September 19, 2015

#BlackLivesMatter is not an organization.   It is a movement inspired by Twitter and Tumbir accounts.   The founders and leaders exercise no power over it.

Its effectiveness—or lack of effectiveness—will be a test of whether decentralized and networked movements, enabled by social media,  will be more effective than the hierarchical, disciplined organizations of the past.

The Twitter and Tumbir accounts were launched by three black women friends in California—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi—after the killing of the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in 2013.

blacklivesmatterB8NekGarza said they wanted to counter the idea that such tragedies were part of the nature of things, that there was nothing that could be done about it, except for black people to try to avoid behavior that would trigger violence by police and others.

A protest movement sprang up around the “Black Lives Matter” slogan, following the killings of Michael Brown, John Crawford III and Eric Garner the following year.  Garza, Cullors and Tometi found themselves the leaders of the movement, which, however, was an informal network they did not control.

This was a very different kind of movement from the NAACP as I knew it in my youth—an organization where you joined, paid membership dues, elected officers in a chapter which in turn elected directors of a national organization.  Or the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was run by black male ministers, who imposed strict standards of behavior on their followers.

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Reflections on the meaning of Ferguson

December 5, 2014

TomTomorrow2014-12-03polliceshootings

The killing of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., was no different from a lot of other cases in which armed white men have shot and killed unarmed black men, or armed police officers have killed unarmed civilians.  If you’re looking for reasons why this incident rather than another was the trigger, the answer probably doesn’t like in a detailed study of the incident itself.

There’s a proverb about how one final straw, added to a load, will break a camel’s back.  The answer as to why the camel’s back was broken probably doesn’t lie in a microscopic examination of that one particular straw.

The significance of Ferguson is less in the facts about Ferguson itself as in the pattern which Ferguson represents.  If you want to know what I mean by the pattern, click on this and this and this and this and this.

If I were black, I think I would see these events in the light of Goldfinger’s Rule – Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.

The linked articles described incidents that differ in circumstances and mitigating factors, but there are a few common themes:

  • The fear that many white people (not just police officers) have of black people.
  • The insistence of many police officers on instant compliance with orders (not just by black people) and their quickness to use force against perceived disobedience and disrespect.
  • Lack of training both in fire discipline and in non-violent means of defusing situations.

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