By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
(FinalCall.com) – Across the country people incensed over non-indictments in the police shooting of Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson, Mo. and the chokehold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York expanded demonstrations during a national week of outrage from Dec. 8-14.
Thousands of youth, victims’ families, human rights advocates, faith leaders, and Hip Hop activists and artists, and politicians in major U.S. cities including New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Berkeley and Mississippi walked out of schools and work. Some politicians walked out of Congress. People staged die-ins. They shut down more streets and intersections. They marched and rallied to denounce recent and historical police brutality and racial profiling.
“I believe that at this point what we are witnessing is the boiling over of the frustration that our people have with the consistent disrespect of our very existence. As I heard one person say, we’re not fighting for a cause, we’re fighting for our lives,” said Salih Muhammad, executive director, of the Afrikan Black Coalition, a collective of Black Student Unions throughout California.
The uprisings among youth and elders from all walks of life indicate America’s undergoing a paradigm shift, he added.
“This cannot go on any longer. What we are witnessing as the Minister (Louis Farrakhan) said, the mask of civility of the enemy is coming off everywhere,” said Salih Muhammad. For example, the young activist said, about 400 protestors participated in the Black Student Union at the University of California at Berkeley’s peaceful rally and were walking about 50 blocks to downtown Oakland when a young White woman tried to run them over. There were no repercussions, he said.
“As usual with the police there’s over policing in our communities and then there’s under-policing,” Salih Muhammad continued.
Despite the literal dissipation of all inclinations toward civility by many Whites from rural area trailer parks to the halls of Congress, people’s outrage and actions will continue, activists told The Final Call.
In New York City, thousands participated in the Millions March NYC also called by many activists ‘A Day of Anger,’ and in Washington, D.C., for the national Justice for All March led by the National Action Network’s Reverend Al Sharpton.
Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown, Jr.’s mother and Esaw Garner, Eric Garner’s wife, attended the D.C. march. Michael Brown, Sr. joined the family of Oscar Grant, III. in Oakland for protest activities. And approximately 60 people marched in St. Louis, where mass protests over Michael Brown, Jr.’s killing first erupted.
Approximately 80 protestors participated in a Dec. 12 march organized by Muslim activists Tedarrell Muhammad and Kareem Ali in Mississippi. They included Teresa Carter, the mother of Chavis Carter who was killed while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser.
The protest grew out of the men’s conversation in Tedarrell Muhammad’s barbershop, the former coordinator for the South Haven Study Group told The Final Call.
“It was a great response. Hornlake is a suburb of Mississippi and at first, nobody thought we were going to do anything. It was a shock,” Tedarrell Muhammad said. “But people started seeing the press release and heard the drum beat and came out.”
“Muslims called this march because there was nobody strong enough to do it in Mississippi, because everybody got that love your enemy, turn the other cheek spirit, literally, but slavery still exists in parts of Mississippi right now,” he said.
Mr. Ali felt the biggest impact was the youth, who represented 75 percent of the demonstrators. “Brothers from the street organizations at first didn’t think that the march was going to be successful, but they participated and from that, these young brothers who are gangbangers realized that they had power in being organized and disciplined,” he said.
According to Mr. Ali, the march was peaceful–not in the sense that people were scared–but because they mobilized in a way to shut down the busiest intersection in Desoto County for four and a half minutes in honor of how long police left Michael Brown, Jr.’s dead body in the middle of a Ferguson street.
Protestors also remained peaceful despite the verbal assaults and taunts hurled from passersby, he said.
“People were driving by in cars, calling us n––-s and shouting unfactual information, like ‘95 percent of Blacks kill Blacks’, but at the same time, a lot of supporters were out there honking horns and waving at us,” Mr. Ali stated.
He said he received several calls from White residents and business owners, including one asking if protestors would loot and riot. “I directed him to the videos on YouTube of SWAT teams in Ferguson setting cars on fire and setting an Auto Zone on fire, and he hung up on me,” Mr. Ali continued.
The sustained, national demonstrations signal that people–even Black athletes and entertainers who are speaking out–are longing to see a greater response, a better analysis and a stronger method to end the current problems of police brutality, according to Salih Muhammad.
That would look like institution building, he said but Blacks must commit the time and energy necessary because there’s no other protection, he said.
“It might be our own self-defense, our own schools, our own hospitals, our own everything, because it has become clear that the enemy’s institutions will not provide for us,” he told The Final Call.
Some took note that the national week of outrage over police brutality occurred as the U.N. celebrated Universal Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.
Did America miss the memo?
As the United Nations commemorated the fundamental proposition that every person in the world at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights, its most powerful member nation was in denial of many violations occurring on its own soil, according to Dr. Boyce Watkins, author, activist and former college professor. Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights holds that everyone charged with a crime has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.
But police and vigilantes have assumed the roles of judge, jury and executor, decry mass demonstrators, activists, faith leaders, and legal analysts who called the roll of victims in a recent spate of police killings across the country.
“The treatment of people of color for the last several hundred years has not only caused international outrage, it has also revealed our nation to be hypocritical as it wags its political finger at other nations at the same time,” Dr. Boyce Watkins told The Final Call.
The deaths of Tamir Rice (12), Michael Brown, Jr. (18), Eric Garner (43), Trayvon Martin (17), Ezell Ford (25), Jordan Davis (17), Oscar Grant (22), Renisha McBride (19), Rumain Brisbon (34), Miriam Carey (34), Andy Lopez (13) and countless others are just a fraction of victims denied human rights by people sworn to protect them. Their deaths ignited massive national demonstrations and protests, and global actions in the United Kingdom, Thailand and Brazil.
“The televised disruption in cities across America is a glaring reminder to the world that the United States itself should be charged with crimes against humanity. America is also being revealed as one of the most racist nations on earth,” Dr. Watkins stated.
Will Blacks in America ever realize equal rights under America’s Constitution? Advocates believe they will, but not because any act of benevolence by America.
“It’ll be actualized because we compel. That’s the good thing about the U.S. Constitution for that matter, and that’s the good thing about the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. It is a standard to be achieved,” said Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century.
“Yes. The United States is in violation in many areas, but quite frankly in comparison to some nations, the United States is actually, I mean in some countries, the demonstrations going on in the streets would not be tolerated period. They would be snuffed out,” he told The Final Call.
Dr. Daniels added some perspective is required on the fact that at least the demonstrations are massive, strong, and will push not only the political system, but more importantly the economic system.
He said the power elite of America has to be watching and the importance not only of the international frame, but the international community is that “when you see in other nations demonstrations in Britain, France and all over the world, and people are holding up signs saying ‘Black lives matter,’ or ‘I can’t breathe,’ you better believe that the power structure of this country doesn’t like that. They don’t like this notion of America being hazed in this way,” Dr. Daniels said.
He added, “The question is can we continue to hold up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a measurement and say that this is what the United States of America in all of its fullness must come to represent. It’s very hard for the United States to critique other countries when in fact it is not in compliance fully with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights itself.”