Black Lives Matter: KFTC member reflections and resources for learning and taking action

Lexington Black Lives Matter Rally. Photo credit: Meta Mendel-Reyes

Back-to-back decisions by grand juries in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City not to press charges against police officers who killed Mike Brown and Eric Garner, two unarmed black men, have sparked massive protests, along with heartache, anger, and calls for accountability and change in communities across Kentucky and the nation. The injustices exposed by these recent cases are sadly not new, and neither is the movement that is growing in response to them. However, recent events have created a moment filled with a sense of urgency, energy and determination. 

KFTC members, along with many other ally organizations, young people, faith and community leaders are part of the active response in Kentucky. Many have helped to organize or take part in on-going and large protests in Berea, Lexington, Louisville and in other Kentucky towns and college campuses. Some members have participated in strategy calls and planning with national organizations, including groups like Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and the Black Youth Project 100. And countless others have had, and continue to have, conversations their families, friends, and co-workers about racism, white privilege, and the injustices these cases exposed in our society and criminal justice system.

Below are a few images and reflections from KFTC members participating in protests and community conversations over the past two weeks:

“I think these movements and these demonstrations are so very important. Everyone should be outraged regarding the police murders of those who are named and unnamed. I am very proud of everyone in Lexington who have rallied around this and hope it will continue.” – Janet Tucker, a former KFTC chairperson from Lexington

“I feel that all of us are affected by the deaths of young black men at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them. I came out because I was inspired by the young people and a little afraid for them. But their courage brought them through safely.” – Meta Mendel-Reyes, a KFTC member from Berea and member of KFTC’s Steering Committee (Meta was reflecting on a student-organized action that took place in Berea on December 8th. A group of students blocked traffic in the center of town fro 4.5 minutes, symbolizing the 4.5 hours that Mike Brown’s body lay in the streets of Ferguson. The Berea students were met by a number of angry and even violent responses.)

"Growing up, I was taught that police officers were the ones that were supposed to protect the public. I was taught that they were the ones who assessed situations and reacted in such a way that everybody was safe and order was being kept. The events with Mike Brown and Eric Garner have shown me that that isn't necessarily true. These officers abused their power and because of it, two people died. Even with video evidence of misconduct in the case of Garner, there was no indictment. That is ridiculous and unacceptable. These incidents show that a portion of our population is not being protected as the rest of us are.” – Megan McKinney, Berea College Student and KFTC Steering Committee alternate from Madison County

“I think its really important that KFTC speaks up and gets involved in this first of all because we have so much capacity to add. We are the largest progressive organization in the state with the largest staff. And secondly because we sort of backed into issues regarding mass incarceration. A lot of our work for voting rights for former felons comes from that, and we've been noticeably stymied. A lot of that has to do with the fact that voting rights is the last thing on the minds of folks who are directly impacted by mass incarceration. (I think this is) an opportunity to pivot and focus on other strategic areas like the war on drugs and the system of mass incarceration.” – Greg Capillo, KFTC member from Lexington

Important reads

Wave of police protests spawns action, reaction across country, December 12, 2014: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/12/12/3590136/wave-of-police-protests-spawns.html

This is your moment, Charles Blow, December 10, 2014: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/11/opinion/charles-blow-this-is-your-moment.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fcharles-m-blow&_r=0

Crime and Punishment, Charles Blow, November 30, 2014: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/27/opinion/charles-blow-fury-after-ferguson.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fcharles-m-blow&_r=0

What’s Exceptional About Ferguson, Missouri?: http://www.thenation.com/blog/180964/whats-exceptional-about-ferguson-missouri#

The White Conversation on Race, ColorLines, December 9, 2014: http://colorlines.com/archives/2014/12/whites_are_seeking_conversations_about_undoing_racism--with_each_other.html

8 Things White People Really Need to Understand about Race, July 23, 2014: http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/07/8-things-white-people-race/

The Conversation White People Aren’t Having About Ferguson and Racism: http://lehamogo.blogspot.com/2014/12/white-people-making-ferguson-all-about.html?spref=fb

Self-segregation: Why it is so hard for whites to understand Ferguson, August 2014: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/08/self-segregation-why-its-hard-for-whites-to-understand-ferguson/378928/

The case for Reparations by Ta-Nahisi Coates, June 2014: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

Happening Yesterday, Happening Today: Teaching the on-going Murders of Black Men, Rethinking Schools, by Renee Watson, Winter 2014-15: http://rethinkingschools.org/static/archive/29_02/RS29_02_watson.pdf

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color-blindness, by Michelle Alexander, 2012: http://zinnedproject.org/materials/the-new-jim-crow/

The Racial Divide In America Is This Elemental: Blacks and Whites Actually o Breathe Different Air, Washington Post, December 4, 2014: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/12/04/asthma-like-so-many-other-factors-in-eric-garners-death-is-correlated-with-race/

Why Environmentalists Should Support Black Lives Matter Protests: http://grist.org/living/why-environmentalists-should-support-the-black-lives-matter-protests/

Understanding Ferguson: A guide to the best essays and journalism, November 24, 2014: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-ferguson-guide-20141113-story.html#page=1

 

Resources for taking action

Resources for taking street action: http://fergusonaction.com/resources/

Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) is a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice. http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/

SURJ Police Brutality Action Kit: http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/archives/2016

SURJ Department of Justice Action Kit: http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/archives/2137


Recent related news stories from Kentucky

Ferguson Protest Rally Moves Through Downtown Louisville, November 25, 2014: http://www.wdrb.com/story/27480563/louisville-protesters-to-rally-outside-lmpd-headquarters-to-protest-ferguson-decision

About 200 protesters march in downtown Lexington in solidarity with protestors in Ferguson, Mo, November 25, 2014: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/11/25/3559914/about-200-protesters-march-in.html

Louisville Ferguson Protest Draws Hundreds, November 26, 2014: http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2014/11/25/crowd-gathers-louisville-ferguson-protest/70112966/

Students bring Ferguson Protests to campus, December 3, 2014: http://kykernel.com/2014/12/03/students-bring-ferguson-protests-to-campus/

Rally held in Downtown Louisville for Racial Justice, December 4, 2014: http://www.whas11.com/story/news/local/community/2014/12/04/rally-held-in-downtown-louisville-for-racial-justice/19916981/

All I want for Christmas is Fairness, December 6, 2014: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/12/06/3579258/merlene-davis-all-i-want-for-christmas.html

UK Students hold die-in, December 9, 2014: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/12/09/3584322_university-of-kentucky-students.html?rh=1

Dying to be heard, December 10, 2014: http://kykernel.com/2014/12/10/dying-to-be-heard/

Silent protest at WKU over court decisions, December 10, 2014: http://www.bgdailynews.com/news/silent-protest-at-wku-over-court-decisions/article_29e91d9b-259d-5c48-968d-5486922a22c8.html

U of L Med Students hold ‘white coat die-in’ on campus December 10, 2014: http://www.wdrb.com/story/27598807/u-of-l-med-students-hold-white-coat-die-in-on-campus

University of Kentucky President condemns ‘hate-filled language’ about die-in protesters, December 11, 2014: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/12/11/3589058/university-of-kentucky-president.html

Racism Concerns prompt protests (Bowling Green), December 11, 2014: http://www.bgdailynews.com/news/racism-concerns-prompt-protests/article_5d4b926d-c79a-5ba5-a035-48ce178cc371.html

Die-in Protest Planned for Outside Covington Police Headquarters, December 12, 2014: http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2014/11/25/crowd-gathers-louisville-ferguson-protest/70112966/

More people dying in LMPD shootings, December 12, 2014: http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/crime/2014/12/12/people-dying-louisville-police-shootings/20262315/

A mother’s fear for her black son, by Attica Scott, August 11, 2014: http://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/08/11/mothers-fear-black-son/13905957/