civil protesting

The Blame Game

Before anyone loses their marbles, this is not regarding the whole American Nightmare (racism, rise of neo-nazism, etc), but a general observation about protesting. Particularly in the UK, where we have a lot of very brave and tolerant people, but also very stupid people.

If you deliberately follow a course of action which is intended to provoke a forceful response from a group of protestors, then are you not partially to blame for any ensuing violence?

Thoughts?

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100 years ago today, black activists took to the streets to protest lynching and anti-black violence

  • In early July 1917, mobs of white workers in East St. Louis, Illinois, inflicted what was arguably the most heinous spate of racial violence in the 20th century. 
  • The unionized workers were whipped into a murderous frenzy after African-Americans replaced them on their jobs while they were on strike for better conditions at a local bauxite factory.
  • Although some historians have asserted that more than 100 blacks were killed, the official death toll was 39. Some of them died by lynching. Hundreds more were burned, beaten or shot at.
  • Ultimately, many black families fled East St. Louis, as National Guardsmen had proven ineffective at stopping the white mobs’ attacks.
  • The violence prompted the NAACP, then a young civil rights organization that would become the nation’s largest, to dispatch sociologist and civil rights icon W.E.B. Du Bois. 
  • His report on the riots came with a call to action for black New Yorkers, who staged the city’s first major protest against lynching and other anti-black violence, 100 years ago Friday. Read more (7/28/17)

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When she joined a “swim-in” in St. Augustine, Florida on June 18, 1964, then 17-year-old Mamie Nell Ford had little idea that her picture would soon be seen around the world – and help spur the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. On that day, seven civil rights activists, including Ford, jumped into the segregated pool at the Monson Motor Lodge to protest its ‘whites-only’ policy. As journalists looked on, the motel owner’s James Brock responded by dumping acid into the pool in an effort to drive them out. Ford recalls that her immediate reaction was “I couldn’t breathe,” and a photo of her with an alarmed expression as Brock pours acid nearby appeared in newspapers around the world. When people learn about the incident today, Ford says, “I’m often asked, ‘How could you have so much courage?’ Courage for me is not ‘the absence of fear,’ but what you do in the face of fear.”

The campaign to challenge segregation in St. Augustine in 1963 and 1964, known as the St. Augustine Movement, is considered one of the bloodiest of the Civil Rights Movement. Students staging “wade-ins” to challenge segregation on the beaches were violently beaten and, after several black children were admitted into white schools due to the Supreme Court’s decision outlawing school segregation, several of the children’s homes were burnt to the ground by local segregationists. Martin Luther King, Jr. was even arrested on the steps of this same motel only a week prior to the pool “swim-in,” after being charged with trespassing when he attempted to dine at the “whites-only” Monson Restaurant.

Prior to the pool “swim-in”, Ford was already an experienced civil rights activist in her hometown of Albany, Georgia. When Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference came to Albany to recruit activists to support the movement in St. Augustine, she immediately signed up. “When they asked for volunteers to participate in the swim-in demonstration, I said, yes, because, despite segregation, I knew how to swim,” she says. While they knew it was likely they would be arrested, no one expected the owner to pour acid into the pool. “It is as fresh in my mind as the morning dew, because when the acid was poured in the pool, the water began to bubble up,” Ford recalls. Although the group was arrested shortly thereafter, their protest had the intended effect: as it made headlines worldwide, President Johnson said in a recorded phone conservation: “Our whole foreign policy will go to hell over this!” Within 24 hours, the civil rights bill that had been introduced a year before and had been stalled in the Senate won approval, leading directly to the passage of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964.

After being released from serving jail time for the swim-in, Ford made a powerful statement urging the people of St. Augustine to keep fighting: “Don’t lose heart now because you’re the ones on whom this movement rests. People will come and go because they live somewhere else, but you live here and you make this thing happen.” She returned home and went on to join five other black girls to lead the desegregation of the formerly all-white Albany High School, where she graduated with honors in 1965. Ford, who later changed her name to Mimi Jones, then went to college in Boston where she spent her career working in the Department of Education.

Although less well known than school segregation, the long legacy of segregation in swimming pools still lives on today. After legal challenges and actions like this one in St. Augustine forced the end of segregated pools, in many towns, especially in the South, ‘white flight’ from public pools to private clubs often led to their closure. The impact of first segregation and later pool closures over generations has led to a major gap between white and black Americans in swimming ability, with whites being twice as likely to know how to swim as blacks. This difference is also reflected in the CDC finding that black children are three times more likely die from drowning than white children. For these reasons and the long legacy of racism at swimming pools, Simone Manuel’s victory at the last Olympic Games took on special meaning for many African Americans – a significance the young swimmer alluded to after she became the first African-American woman to ever win an individual Olympic gold in swimming: “The gold medal wasn’t just for me,“ she said. "It’s for a lot of people who came before me.”

Picture and text from "A Mighty Girl” on Facebook
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At four years old, the Black Lives Matter network takes stock of its work on the ground

  • The mamas bailout day, the interventions at Pride celebrations, the police precinct occupations and the trips to North Dakota to stand in solidarity with Indigenous activists at Standing Rock: these are among actions the Black Lives Matter Global Network says it took to enlarge its footprint since it was founded four years ago Thursday.
  • In a new report first shared with Mic on Thursday, the BLM network, which consists of more than 40 local chapters in the United States, Canada and the U.K., takes stock of its work at the grassroots level. 
  • The report’s release comes as, in recent weeks, questions have been raised about the movement’s strength and visibility in an increasingly tumultuous national political climate.
  • “The Black Lives Matter Global Network is as powerful as it is because of our membership, our partners, our supporters, our staff and you,” the report’s authors wrote. “Our continued commitment to liberation for all black people means we are continuing the work of our ancestors and fighting for our collective freedom because it is our duty.” Read more (7/13/17)

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“This is not about one man. This is about structural racism in a country built on Black slavery.”

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1960s Civil Rights Era, Bob Adelman

For those unfamiliar, Bob Adelman was the iconic photographer behind many of the thought-provoking, historical photographs of the Civil Rights Movement. 

A photographer and protest marcher, he spent a considerable amount of time fighting for justice and equal rights. His images capture groundbreaking moments, such as student sit-ins, Freedom Riders, the March on Washington and other significant events in Black history.

Instagram.com/wetheurban

It is no longer sufficient to brand Donald Trump as abnormal, a designation that is surely applicable but that falls significantly short in registering the magnitude of the menace.

The standard nomenclature of normal politics must be abandoned. What we are witnessing is nothing less than an assault on the fundamentals of the country itself: on our legacy institutions and our sense of protocol, decency and honesty.

In any other circumstance, we might likely write this off as the trite protestations of a man trapped in a toddler’s temperament, full of meltdowns, magical thinking and make believe. But this man’s vindictiveness and mendacity are undergirded by the unequaled power of the American president, and as such he has graduated on the scale of power from toddler to budding tyrant.

This threat Trump poses — to our morals, ethics, norms and collective sense of propriety — may be without equal from a domestic source.

Everything he is doing is an assault and matters on some level.

[…]

There is an enduring expectation, particularly among American liberals, that progress in this society should move inexorably toward more openness, honesty and equality. But even the historical record doesn’t support that expectation.

In reality, America regularly experiences bouts of regression, but fortunately, it is in those regressive periods that some of our greatest movements and greatest voices had found their footing.

President Andrew Jackson’s atrocious American Indian removal program gave us the powerful Cherokee memorial letters. The standoff at Standing Rock gave us what the BBC called “the largest gathering of Native Americans in more than 100 years.”

Crackdowns on gay bars gave us the Stonewall uprising. America’s inept response to the AIDS epidemic gave us Act Up and Larry Kramer. California’s Proposition 8 breathed new life into the fight for marriage equality and led to a victory in the Supreme Court.

The racial terror that followed the Emancipation Proclamation gave us the anti-lynching movement, the N.A.A.C.P., W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells and James Weldon Johnson.

Jim Crow gave us the civil rights movement, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Congressman John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer and James Baldwin.

The latest rash of extrajudicial killing of black people gave us Black Lives Matter.

The financial crisis and the government’s completely inadequate response to it gave us Occupy Wall Street and the 99 percent.

A renewed assault on women’s rights, particularly a woman’s right to choose, gave us, at least in part, the Women’s March, likely the largest march in American history.

[…]

Multiple populations are being assaulted at once, across race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual identity.

So, in this moment of regression, all the targets of Trump’s ire must push back with a united front, before it is too late.

A reminder of the difference between equally non-violent protests when the protestors are majority black and majority white in terms of the police.

And if you need a reminder of what happens when it’s non-violent Native Americans well…

America. If we look at the founding documents of America — the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights — they paint a picture of a beloved community. But every time throughout American history, when the majority of the people have tried to mold America into a beloved community, there’s always been a group of people who were in opposition.

So when America was founded, it was founded on the backs of enslaved Africans and the genocide of Native Americans. After a while, people got together and said, ‘Well, we’ve eliminated the Native Americas, and pushed them onto reservations, but we still have these African slaves here and we need to free them.’

So a group of people came about called abolitionists who opposed slavery, and other people fought them. The result, ultimately, was the Civil War. And then after the Civil War was the Reconstruction, and there were people who opposed that. That’s how we got domestic terrorist groups and racist laws here in America. And this continued right on down through the centuries until the modern era. And the modern era is what brings us here and now.

Because in the 20th Century, there were two, very important years: 1964 and 1965. In the year 1964, a law was enacted called the Civil Rights Act. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was followed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And then that was followed by the Immigration and Naturalization Act, opening up the doors of America for people from around the world — not just Europeans, but people who were Africans, people who are Arabs, people who are Southern Asians.

As a matter of fact, that 1965 law, and the opening of the doors, is how most of you got here.

So why do I mention this? I mention it because we are now in an era of oppositional designs to those two very important years. Right now, and for the past few years, there are a group of people in America who have been pushing back against Civil Rights Laws, who have been pushing back against the gains made in the area of voting rights, and now they’re pushing back against immigration.

So now we who are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists and people of other faiths in America, we stand in opposition to their opposition. They push back, we fight back. And if the people in power are not careful, they’re going to unleash the greatest demonstration of non-violent resistance in American history. Because the people in America are not going to stand for being taken back.

 Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid of the Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem in a sermon at a protest at JFK airport on Friday. Read his full sermon

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