Founded by Marxist revolutionaries in 2013, Black Lives Matter (BLM) depicts the United States as a nation awash in racism, sexism, and homophobia, and openly promotes the murder of white police officers. Demonstrators at BLM events routinely: smear white police as trigger-happy bigots who are intent upon killing innocent, unarmed black males; taunt, and direct obscenities at, uniformed police officers who are on duty; throw rocks at police and threaten to kill them; refer to police with obscenities such as "fu**ing pigs" and "fu**ing disgusting animals"; and celebrate in the streets when a police officer is killed. Some examples of BLM's racist and incendiary rhetoric:
At a December 2014 BLM rally in New York City, marchers chanted in unison: "What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want it? Now."
At a BLM march in August 2015, protesters chanted in unison: “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.” (“Pigs” was a reference to police officers, and "blanket" was a reference to body bags.)
On a BLM-affiliated radio program the following month, the hosts laughed at the recent assassination of a white Texas deputy; boasted that blacks were like lions who could prevail in a “race war” against whites; happily predicted that "we will witness more executions and killing of white people and cops than we ever have before"; and declared that "It's open season on killing white people and crackas.”
In November 2015, a group of approximately 150 BLM protesters shouting "Black Lives Matter," stormed Dartmouth University's library, screaming, “Fu** you, you filthy white fu**s!," "Fu** you and your comfort!," and "Fu** you, you racist sh**!”
In July 2016, a BLM activist speaking to a CNN reporter shouted: "The less white babies on this planet, the less of you [white adults] we got! I hope they kill all the white babies! Kill 'em all right now! Kill 'em! Kill your grandkids! Kill yourself! Coffin, bitch! Go lay in a coffin! Kill yourself!"
At all BLM events, demonstrators invoke the words that the former Black Panther, convicted cop-killer, and longtime fugitive Assata Shakur once wrote in a letter titled “To My People”: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” (The fourth line was drawn from the Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.) In Shakur's original letter, she described herself as a “Black revolutionary” who had “declared war on the rich who prosper on our poverty, the politicians who lie to us with smiling faces, and all the mindless, heart-less robots [police] who protect them and their property.”
Another hero of BLM is Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, who in the 1960s was renowned for threatening that blacks would "burn America down," and for urging blacks to murder "honkies." In the spring of 2000, Al-Amin shot two black law-enforcement officers in downtown Atlanta, killing one of them.
The Roots of BLM
BLM was established as an online platform in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. Their objective was to stoke black rage and galvanize a protest movement in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the “white Hispanic” who was tried for murder and manslaughter after he had shot and killed a black Florida teenager named Trayvon Martin in a highly publicized February 2012 altercation. Before long, “Black Lives Matter” became a rallying cry for writers, public speakers, celebrities, demonstrators, and even rioters who took up the cause of demanding an end to what BLM terms the “virulent anti-Black racism” that “permeates our society.” In 2014, BLM also adopted the slogan “Hands Up–Don’t Shoot!,” which was first popularized by Dream Defenders and grew out of that year's death of Michael Brown, a young black man in Ferguson, Missouri who was killed by a white police officer after he had tried to take the officer's handgun during a confrontation. (In the immediate aftermath of that incident, numerous racial agitators circulated the false narrative that Brown had been shot after raising his hands in submission and pleading, "Don't shoot.")
Demanding that Americans “abandon the lie that the deep psychological wounds of slavery, racism and structural oppression are figments of the Black imagination,” BLM aims to force the country to become “uncomfortable about institutional racism.” Emphasizing the permanence and intransigence of American depredations, BLM maintains that the nation's “corrupt democracy” was originally “built on Indigenous genocide and chattel slavery” and “continues to thrive on the brutal exploitation of people of color”; that “the ugly American traditions of patriarchy, classism, racism, and militarism” endure to this day; that “structural oppression” still “prevents so many from realizing their dreams”; and that blacks in the U.S. are routinely “de-humaniz[ed],” rendered “powerless at the hands of the state,” “deprived of [their] basic human rights and dignity,” and targeted for “extrajudicial killings … by police and vigilantes.” In sum, says BLM, black Americans are “collectively” subjected to “inhumane conditions” in a “white supremacist system.”
Though BLM professes to articulate the needs and grievances of black people as a whole, the organization deems it vital to go “beyond the narrow nationalism” that “merely” urges black people to “love Black, live Black, and buy Black.” That is, it focuses an added measure of attention on those blacks who, in the past, “have been marginalized within Black liberation movements.” These include, most notably, black “queer and trans,” who “bear a unique burden from a hetero-patriarchal society that disposes of us like garbage and simultaneously fetishizes us and profits off of us”; black “undocumented immigrants” who are “relegated to the shadows” of American society; black “disabled” people who “bear the burden of state-sponsored Darwinian experiments that attempt to squeeze us into boxes of normality defined by white supremacy”; and blacks who self-identify along non-traditional points of the “gender spectrum.”
To improve the allegedly abysmal condition of blacks in the United States, BLM has issued a series of non-negotiable demands. These include:
“an end to all forms of discrimination and the full recognition of our [Blacks'] human rights”;
“an immediate end to police brutality and [to] the murder of Black people and all oppressed people”;
“full, living-wage employment for our people,” to ensure “our right to a life with dignity”;
the cessation of racially “discriminatory discipline practices” in the schools;
“an end to the school-to-prison pipeline,” a term for the practice of using black students' behavioral problems as an excuse for pushing them out of the classroom and into the juvenile- and criminal-justice systems;
“quality education for all,” including “free or affordable public university” enrollment;
“freedom from mass incarceration and an end to the prison industrial complex,” whose hallmarks include “the over-policing and surveillance of [black] communities,” the enactment of many “racist laws,” and “the warehousing of black people”;
“access to affordable healthy food for our neighborhoods”;
“an aggressive attack against all laws, policies, and entities that disenfranchise any community from expressing themselves at the ballot” (e.g., Voter ID laws);
“a public education system that teaches the rich history of Black people”;
“an end to the military industrial complex that incentivizes private corporations to profit off of the death and destruction of Black and Brown communities across the globe”;
a comprehensive Justice Department review of “systematic abuses by police departments” across the United States;
congressional hearings investigating “the criminalization of communities of color”;
an end to “the use of profiling on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion by law-enforcement agencies”;
the implementation of a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice by the Obama Administration, addressing “persistent and ongoing forms of racial discrimination and disparities that exist in nearly every sphere of life”;
the release, by the office of U.S. attorney general, of “the names of all [police] officers involved in killing black people within the last five years … so they can be brought to justice—if they haven’t already”; and
“a decrease in law-enforcement spending at the local, state and federal levels and a reinvestment [through the federal government] of that budgeted money into the black communities most devastated by poverty in order to create jobs, housing and schools.”
In December 2014, a group of BLM protesters in the San Francisco Bay area rejected efforts by three regional police unions—in Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose—to initiate “constructive dialogue that calls for a common sense approach to very complex issues.”
Ties to the Freedom Road Socialist Organization
BLM is closely allied with numerous groups that are fronts for the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), a Marxist-Leninist entity that calls for the overthrow of capitalism. Economist and investigative journalist James Simpson has identified some of these FRSO fronts that are tied to BLM:
People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER): promotes "social change" by empowering "those people who are most affected by the problems of society"—specifically, "low-income and working class people, people of color, women, queer and transgender people"—to "lead a movement of millions to eradicate those problems"; evolved from the now-defunct revolutionary communist group STORM; has received funding from the Akonadi Foundation, the Ben & Jerry's Foundation, the California Wellness Foundation, the Hill-Snowden Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, and the Tides Foundation.
Right to the City Alliance (RTTC): a nationwide network that opposes inner-city "gentrification" that displaces “low-income people, people of color, marginalized LGBTQ communities, and youths of color from their historic urban neighborhoods”; has received funding from the Akonadi Foundation, the Ben & Jerry's Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Margerite Casey Foundation, the Soros Funds, the Surdna Foundation, and the Tides Foundation.
School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL): strives to "lay the groundwork for a strong social justice movement by supporting the development of a new generation of organizers rooted in a systemic change analysis—especially people of color, young women, queer and transgender youth, and low-income people"; claims to have trained 679 organizers in 2013; has been funded by the Heinz Foundation, the Akonadi Foundation, the Hill-Snowden Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, and the Tides Foundation.
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI): "educates and engages African American and black immigrant communities to organize and advocate for racial, social and economic justice"; has been funded by the Ben & Jerry's Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, and the Soros Funds.
Movement Strategy Center (MSC): dedicated to "transformative movement building" and "equitable distribution of resources"; has been funded by the Akonadi Foundation, the Ben & Jerry's Foundation, the California Endowment, the Ford Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, the Soros Funds, the Surdna Foundation, and the Tides Foundation.
Labor/Community Strategy Center (LCSC): works to "build consciousness, leadership, and organization among those who face discrimination and societal attack—people of color, women, immigrants, workers, LGBT people, youth"; is headed by Eric Mann, a former Weather Underground leader who exhorts followers to become “anti-racist, anti-imperialist” activists.
Black Workers for Justice: "believes that African American workers need self-organization to help empower ourselves at the workplace, in communities and throughout the whole of U.S. society to organize, educate, mobilize and struggle for power, justice, self-determination and human rights for African Americans, other oppressed nationalities, women and all working class people"
Hands Up United: works for the “liberation of oppressed Black, Brown, and poor people through education, art, civil disobedience, advocacy, and agriculture”
Intelligent Mischief: an African-American organization that "design[s] projects that critique the current status quo and re-imagines the possibilities"
Organization for Black Struggle (OBS): seeks to "build a movement that fights for political empowerment, economic justice and the cultural dignity of the African-American community, especially the Black working class"; is affiliated with the Communist Party USA; is allied with Black Workers for Justice and the Advancement Project.
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ): a “national network of groups and individuals organizing White people for racial justice”; quotes BLM co-founder Alicia Garza's assertion that “We need you defecting from White supremacy and changing the narrative of White supremacy by breaking White silence.”
As evidenced by these numerous ties between FRSO and BLM, Black Lives Matter is in essence a project of FRSO. All three of BLM's co-founders have been employed by, or affiliated with, one or more of FRSO's aforementioned front groups at various times. Specifically:
Alicia Garza has served as a special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA); executive director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER); a board member of School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL); and board chair of the Right to the City Alliance (RTTC).
In 2013 and beyond, a number of black criminal suspects who had died in the course of confrontations with police officers joined Trayvon Martin as new, martyred icons of the BLM movement. Prominent among these were Eric Garner (New York), Michael Brown (Ferguson, Missouri), Tamir Rice (Cleveland), Timothy Russell (Cleveland), Malissa Williams (Cleveland), and Freddie Gray (Baltimore). High-profile political leaders such as President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and the mayors of the cities where the aforementioned deaths took place, routinely depicted race as a major underlying factor in those deaths.
In December 2014, for instance, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio—explicitly exhorting New Yorkers to remember that “black lives matter”—lamented the “centuries of racism” whose legacy was still influencing the actions of too many police officers. The mayor called not only for the retraining of police forces “in how to work with [nonwhite] communities differently,” but also for the use of body cameras to bring “a different level of transparency and accountability” to police work.
And in the aftermath of Freddie Gray's death in April 2015, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, citing her desire “to reform my [police] department,” called on the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a civil-rights investigation to determine whether Baltimore police had been engaging in unconstitutional patterns of abuse or discrimination against African Americans. Moreover, when violent riots were overrunning parts of her city following Gray's demise, Rawlings-Blake, by her own admission, “gave those who wished to destroy, space to do that as well.” In other words, the police were in effect sidelined.
In New York, Baltimore, and elsewhere in urban America, law-enforcement officers responded to the newly rising anti-police climate by becoming less proactive in apprehending criminals, particularly for low-level offenses. This, in turn, led to a dramatic rise in crime rates in a number of U.S. cities. For example:
Through the first five months of 2015 in New York, the incidence of murder was 20% higher than for the same period a year earlier, and shooting incidents were up 9%.
During the three months that followed August 2014 (when Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri), homicides in nearby in St. Louis city rose 47%, and robberies in St. Louis County increased by 82%.
After the protests and riots over the April 12, 2015 death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, shootings in that city increased by more than 60% compared to the same period a year earlier. In May 2015, Baltimore recorded 43 murders—the most in any month since August 1972.
From January to mid-May of 2015 in Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% compared to the same period in 2014.
From January through March of 2015 in Houston, murders were up nearly 100% compared to the same period in 2014.
From January 1 through May 24, 2015 in Chicago, shootings were up 25% and homicides were up 18% compared to the same period in 2014.
From January through May of 2015 in Los Angeles, shootings were up 23% and other violent crime was up 25% compared to the same period in 2014.
For 2015 as a whole, America's 56 largest cities experienced a 17% rise in homicides; in 10 heavily black cities, murders increased by more tha 60%.
Moreover, some criminals deliberately made police officers the targets of their violence. Less than three weeks after Mayor de Blasio's December 2014 condemnation of police in New York, for instance, a black gunman named Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and killed two uniformed NYPD officers, execution-style, as they sat in their marked police car. In a Facebook message he had posted just prior to carrying out his double murder, Brinsley made it explicitly clear that his motive was to avenge the recent deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.
And of the nineteen police officers nationwide who were killed in the line of duty (by gunshot, assault, or vehicular assault) during the first five months of 2015, ten were killed in the month of May alone; i.e., the month following the Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore.
The spike in urban violence nationwide continued into 2016. During the first quarter of that year, homicides in the nation's 63 largest cities increased by 9%, while nonfatal shootings were up 21%. For the statistics on rising violence rates in a number of specific cities, click here.
These attacks against police officers, and the aforementioned increases in urban crime, are not at all troubling to BLM, because, notwithstanding the movement's constant professions of deep concern about black lives, the reality is quite different. What matters most to BLM is finding a spark—e.g., allegations of police vigilantism—that can be used to ignite a race war; to take America back to the “long hot summers” of the 1960s, when criminals were seen as radical “heroes,” police had a bull's-eye on their backs, and the streets of America’s inner cities ran red with fantasies of “revolutionary violence.”
More BLM Activities
At a December 2014 BLM rally in New York City, marchers chanted in unison: "What do we want? Dead cops. When do we want it? Now."
On May 28, 2015, BLM held an event at the Center for American Progress titled "Toward a More Perfect Union: Bringing Criminal Justice Reform to Our Communities." At this gathering, writes journalist Matthew Vadum: "[B]lack activists blamed the rising tide of black violence against police and whites on everyone except the perpetrators." They cited such root causes as the evils of capitalism, white privilege, excessive numbers of laws and police officers, corporate malfeasance, and insufficient taxes levied on the wealthy.
In a July 2015 Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix, Arizona, BLM-affiliated protesters disrupted talks by two Democratic presidential candidates—U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley—shouting at both men: “Say that black lives matter! Say that I am not a criminal! Say my name!” O’Malley, for his part, responded by appealing for a sense of unity: “I think all of us have a responsibility to recognize the pain and grief caused by lives lost to violence. Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.” These remarks by O’Malley caused the demonstrators to become enraged, and they proceeded to boo loudly and shout him down.
At that same Netroots Nation conference, BLM activists led much of the crowd in the following chant (click here for video):
"If I die in police custody, don't believe the hype. I was murdered! Protect my family! Indict the system! Shut that sh*t down! If I die in police custody, avenge my death! By any means necessary! If I die in police custody, burn everything down! No building is worth more than my life! And that's the only way motherf***ers like you listen! If I die in police custody, make sure I'm the last person to die in police custody. By any means necessary! If I die in police custody, do not hold a moment of silence for me! Rise the f*** up! Because your silence is killing us!"
On August 29, 2015—just hours after a lone black gunman had murdered a white sheriff’s deputy in Texas while the latter was pumping gasoline into his car—demonstrators affiliated with the St. Paul, Minnesota branch of BLM disrupted traffic as they marched—with police protection—to the gates of the Minnesota State Fair. Carrying signs bearing slogans like "End White Supremacy," they repeatedly chanted in unison: “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon.” “Pigs” was a reference to police officers, and "blanket" was a reference to body bags. The slogan echoed what gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsleyan had posted on the Internet—"Pigs in a blanket smell like bacon"—in December 2014, just before he murdered NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
During the September 1, 2015 airing of a blog-talk-radio program associated with BLM, the hosts laughed at the recent assassination of Texas Deputy Daron Goforth, a husband and father who was shot 15 times at point blank range from behind while he was gassing up his patrol car. One host, a self-described black supremacist known as King Noble, said the execution of that "cracker cop" was an indication that "it's open season on killing whites and police officers and probably killing cops, period." "It’s unavoidable, inescapable," he added. "It’s funny that now we are moving to a time where the predator will become the prey." After claiming that blacks were like lions who could win a “race war” against whites, Noble declared: “Today, we live in a time when the white man will be picked off, and there’s nothing he can do about it. His day is up, his time is up. We will witness more executions and killing of white people and cops than we ever have before. It’s about to go down. It’s open season on killing white people and crackas.”
On September 14, 2015, BLM supporter/demonstrator Joseph Thomas Johnson-Shanks, a 25-year-old convicted felon, shot and killed a rookie Kentucky state trooper named Joseph Cameron Ponder after a high-speed chase. The perpetrator lived in Florissant, Missouri, near the town of Ferguson, and had participated in local demonstrations protesting the 2014 death of Michael Brown, a young black man killed by a white Ferguson police officer after he had tried to take the officer's handgun. (Click here for details of that case.) Johnson-Shanks was so preoccupied with the Brown case, that he even attended Brown's funeral and graveside service in August 2014.
On October 24, 2015, members of the BLM-affiliated Black Youth Project (BYP) took down an American flag during their #StopTheCops street protests in Chicago, replacing it with one that read “Unapologetically Black.” Like BLM, BYP opposes increased spending on law enforcement, as one of its activists, Maria Hadden, explained: "To provide better education, to provide access to basic human needs, housing and healthcare, those are the ways that we address crime. Those are the ways we improve the city, not by spending more money on police. So we believe we need to spend less money on policing, more money on community services.” Some BYP protestors taunted the police by singing, “Stop cops, stop cops, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when we defund you?” to the tune of the Bad Boys theme song from the television show COPS.
On November 12, 2015, a group of approximately 150 BLM protesters shouting "black lives matter" and racial obscenities stormed Dartmouth University's library, shouting, “F*** you, you filthy white f***s!," "F*** you and your comfort!," and "F*** you, you racist s***!” A report in the Dartmouth Reviewsaid:
"Throngs of protesters converged around fellow students who had not joined in their long march. They confronted students who bore 'symbols of oppression': 'gangster hats' and Beats-brand headphones. The flood of demonstrators self-consciously overstepped every boundary, opening the doors of study spaces with students reviewing for exams. Those who tried to close their doors were harassed further. One student abandoned the study room and ran out of the library. The protesters followed her out of the library, shouting obscenities the whole way. Students who refused to listen to or join their outbursts were shouted down. 'Stand the f*** up!' 'You filthy racist white piece of s***!' Men and women alike were pushed and shoved by the group. 'If we can’t have it, shut it down!' they cried. Another woman was pinned to a wall by protesters who unleashed their insults, shouting 'filthy white b****!' in her face."
In mid-November 2015, students gathered at Kean University in New Jersey to stand in solidarity with BLM protests that were taking place at the University of Missouri. One of the participants at the Kean event was 24-year-old Kayla-Simone McKelvey, a Kean alumnus and self-proclaimed black activist who had graduated six months earlier. About midway through the rally, McKelvey slipped away and went to the university library, where she secretly and hastily created an anonymous Twitter account, @keanuagainstblk, and stated in its description that it was an account "against blacks" and "for everyone who hates blacks people."[sic] McKelvey then sent her first "anonymous" tweet: a bomb threat to the campus. She followed that up with tweets that read: (a) "i will kill every black male and female at kean university"; (b) "i will kill all blacks tonight, tomorrow, and any other day if they go to Kean university"; and (c) "tell every black person that you know they will die if they go to #Keanuniversity". According to police, McKelvey then returned to the rally and began spreading the word that she had "discovered" the aforementioned Twitter threats against black students. McKelvey was subsequently charged with third-degree "creating a false public alarm" and was ordered to appear in court on December 14.
In a February 2016 interview with Fox News, the co-founder of BLM's Seattle chapter, Marissa Jenae Johnson, described the phrase “All lives matter” as a “new racial slur.” “White Americans have created the conditions that require a phrase like ‘Black Likes Matter,'” she said. “Do you know how horrific it is to grow up as a child in a world that so hates you? While you’re literally being gunned down in the street, while you’re being rounded up and mass incarcerated and forced into prison slavery.” “Black Lives Matter is not a strong enough statement for me,” she added.
On July 7, 2016, BLM activists held anti-police-brutality rallies in numerous cities across the United States, to protest the recent shootings of two African American men by white police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana. At a rally in Dallas, Texas, demonstrators shouted “Enough is enough!” while they held signs bearing slogans like: “If all lives matter, why are black ones taken so easily?” Then, suddenly, at just before 9 pm, a gunman opened fire on the law-enforcement officers who were on duty at that rally (in Dallas). Four policemen and one transit officer were killed, and six additional police were wounded. The perpetrator, Micah Xavier Johnson, subsequently told a hostage negotiator that he had acted alone, was angry about the recent police shootings of two black men, and was determined to kill white people -- "especially white officers."
In the wake of the carnage in Dallas, a number of BLM activists taunted uniformed police officers who were standing guard in front of a gas station. Some Twitter users posted footage of a local news report that showed approximately 300 to 400 protesters dancing, shouting at police, and raising their middle fingers to them. Moreover, BLM sympathizers posted numerous online tweets to express their approval of the mass shooting. Some examples:
“Y’all pigs got what was coming for y’all.”
"GIVE A FUCK ABOUT DALLAS AND THEM PIGS FUCK EM ALL"
"wtf! Is when whites think their superior than us! Dallas must burn,black lives matter now, got the message pigs!"
"These fucking pigs deserve Dallas, and every incident after Dallas until reform. Fucking disgusting animals."
“Next time a group wants to organize a police shoot, do like Dallas tonight, but have extra men/women to flank the Pigs!”
“dude hell yeah someone is shooting pigs in dallas. solidarity”
"Shout out to them Dallas shooters !! rapping pigs in blankets"
“DALLAS keep smoking dem pigs keep up the work.”
On July 9, 2016, activists participating in a BLM protest in Phoenix threw rocks at police officers and threatened to kill them.
In July 2016, a BLM activist speaking to a CNN reporter shouted: "The less white babies on this planet, the less of you [white adults] we got! I hope they kill all the white babies! Kill 'em all right now! Kill 'em! Kill your grandkids! Kill yourself! Coffin, bitch! Go lay in a coffin! Kill yourself!"
On August 13, 2016, BLM activists in Milwaukee engaged in violence after police in that city shot and killed an armed man with a lengthy criminal record who was carrying an illegal gun that had been used in a burglary. One video clip of the violence showed rioters chanting “black power!”, vowing to "beat up every white person," and trying to drag white drivers out of their cars and assault them. The rioters also targeted local reporters for violent assaults, including one Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter who was thrown to the ground and punched. In another video clip, rioters could be seen burning down a gas station while chanting “black power!” This was just one of numerous businesses that were set on fire. In a Facebook post the following day, the Black Lives Matter Coalition For Justice wrote: "What happened last night was not the result of greed or an ignorant display of anger as some have called it, but rather pain and frustration built up from over 400 years of oppression. The rioting and looting that occurred last night in the city of Milwaukee is a demand for justice on every level.... What happened last night was a revolt and an uproar, not just a disturbance.... The people are angry. The people are fed up, and the people are demanding their freedom."
Funding From George Soros
Through his Open Society Foundations, billionaire financier George Soros in 2014 gave at least $33 million to support already-established groups that, as The Washington Times put it, "emboldened the grass-roots, on-the-ground activists in Ferguson," Missouri, where anti-police protests erupted in the aftermath of an incident where a white police officer killed Michael Brown, a black teenaged criminal who was attempting to steal the officer's gun. "The financial tether from Mr. Soros to the activist groups gave rise to a combustible protest movement that transformed a one-day criminal event in Missouri into a 24-hour-a-day national cause celebre," said the Times. The recipients of this $33 million were mostly supporters of BLM, though the money was used for many different purposes, and not just to advance the BLM agenda. In August 2016, Caroline Glick reported that BLM "has received $650,000 from Soros-controlled groups over the past year."
Support for BLM from President Obama and the Democratic Party
In August 2015, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) officially endorsed BLM by approving a resolution that condemned "the unacceptable epidemic of extrajudicial killings of unarmed black men, women, and children at the hands of police"; stated that the American Dream "is a nightmare for too many young people stripped of their dignity under the vestiges of slavery, Jim Crow and White Supremacy"; demanded the "demilitarization of police, ending racial profiling, criminal justice reform, and investments in young people, families, and communities"; and asserted that "without systemic reform this state of [black] unrest jeopardizes the well-being of our democracy and our nation."
On September 16, 2015, BLM activists Brittney Packnett, DeRay McKesson, Johnetta Elzie, Phillip Agnew, and Jamye Wooten met at the White House with President Obama as well as senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and other administration officials. For Packnett, it was her seventh visit to the Obama White House. Afterward, Packnett told reporters that the president personally supported the BLM movement. “He offered us a lot of encouragement with his background as a community organizer, and told us that even incremental changes were progress,” she stated. “He didn’t want us to get discouraged. He said, ‘Keep speaking truth to power.’”
In October 2015, Obama publicly articulated his support for BLM's agenda by saying: “I think the reason that the organizers [of BLM] used the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ was not because they were suggesting nobody else’s lives matter. Rather, what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that’s happening in the African-American community that’s not happening in other communities. And that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.”
In a December 2015 interview on National Public Radio, Obama described Black Lives Matter as a positive force on policing in America, notwithstanding the violence and incendiary rhetoric exhibited by many of its members. Noting that “sometimes progress is a little uncomfortable,” the president claimed that BLM was doing the vital work of shining “sunlight” on the fact that “there’s no black family that hasn’t had a conversation around the kitchen table about driving while black and being profiled or being stopped” by police. “You know,” he elaborated, “during that process there’s going to be some noise and some discomfort, but I m absolutely confident that over the long term, it leads to a fair, more just, healthier America.”
At a Black History Month event at the White House in February 2016, Obama welcomed BLM leaders DeRay McKesson and Brittany Packnett (the latter of whom was one of the key "Hands up, don't shoot" propagandists who in 2014 promoted the lie that a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri had shot black teenager Michael Brown in cold blood as he tried to surrender). Obama also welcomed such notables as activist Al Sharpton, Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson, and NAACP Legal Defense Fund president Sherrilyn Ifill. In the course of his remarks, Obama said: "But we’ve also got some young people here who are making history as we speak. People like Brittany [Packnett], who served on our Police Task Force in the wake of Ferguson, and has led many of the protests that took place there and shined a light on the injustice that was happening. People like DeRay Mckesson, who has done some outstanding work mobilizing in Baltimore around these issues. And to see generations continuing to work on behalf of justice and equality and economic opportunity is greatly encouraging to me.... They are much better organizers than I was at their age. I am confident they are going to take America to new heights."
On July 10, 2016, Obama likened BLM to the abolition and suffrage movements of yesteryear, saying: "The abolition movement was contentious. The effort for women to get the right to vote was contentious and messy. There were times when activists might have engaged in rhetoric that was overheated and occasionally counterproductive. But the point was to raise issues so that we, as a society, could grapple with it. The same was true with the Civil Rights Movement, the union movement, the environmental movement, the antiwar movement during Vietnam. And I think what you're seeing now is part of that longstanding tradition." (Obama also said: "[W]henever those of us who are concerned about fairness in the criminal justice system attack police officers, you are doing a disservice to the cause. First of all, any violence directed at police officers is a reprehensible crime and needs to be prosecuted. But even rhetorically, if we paint police in broad brush, without recognizing that the vast majority of police officers are doing a really good job and are trying to protect people and do so fairly and without racial bias, if our rhetoric does not recognize that, then we're going to lose allies in the reform cause." This assertion, however, was entirely inconsistent with the many statements the president had previously made about the allegedly systemic bias and racism of the entire criminal-justice system.)
On July 13, 2016 -- six days after a BLM supporter in Dallas had shot and killed five police officer and wounded seven others -- President Obama hosted BLM leaders DeRay Mckesson, Brittany Packnett, and Mica Grimmat at a four-and-a-half-hour meeting at the White House. Also invited were Al Sharpton, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D), St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (D), Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), and some police chiefs.
BLM's Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic Orientation
In January 2015, BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors joinedrepresentatives from the Dream Defenders as well as a number of likeminded anti-police-brutality protesters in taking a 10-day trip to the Palestinian Territories in the West Bank. Their objective was to publicly draw a parallel between what they defined as Israeli oppression of the Palestinians in the Middle East, and police violence against blacks in the United States. A complete list of the delegates who made this trip included five Dream Defenders (Phillip Agnew, Ciara Taylor, Steven Pargett, Sherika Shaw, Ahmad Abuznaid); Tef Poe and Tara Thompson from Ferguson/Hands Up United; journalist Marc Lamont Hill; Cherrell Brown and Carmen Perez of the Justice League NYC; Charlene Carruthers from the Black Youth Project; poet and artist Aja Monet; and USC doctoral student Maytha Alhassen.
In August 2015, BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors was one of more than 1,000 black activists, artists, scholars, politicians, students, “political prisoners,” and organizational representatives to signa statement proclaiming their “solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and commitment to the liberation of Palestine’s land and people”; demanding an end to Israel's “occupation” of “Palestine”; condemning “Israel’s brutal war on Gaza and chokehold on the West Bank”; urging the U.S. government to end all aid to Israel; and exhorting black institutions to support the Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions movement against the Jewish state. Key passages from the letter included the following:
“Palestinians on Twitter were among the first to provide international support for protesters in Ferguson, where St. Louis-based Palestinians gave support on the ground. Last November, a delegation of Palestinian students visited Black organizers in St. Louis, Atlanta, Detroit and more, just months before the Dream Defenders took representatives of Black Lives Matter, Ferguson, and other racial justice groups to Palestine. Throughout the year, Palestinians sent multiple letters of solidarity to us throughout protests in Ferguson, New York, and Baltimore. We offer this statement to continue the conversation between our movements.”
“We remain outraged at the brutality Israel unleashed on Gaza through its siege by land, sea and air, and three military offensives in six years. We remain sickened by Israel’s targeting of homes, schools, UN shelters, mosques, ambulances, and hospitals. We remain heartbroken and repulsed by the number of children Israel killed in an operation it called 'defensive.' We reject Israel’s framing of itself as a victim. Anyone who takes an honest look at the destruction to life and property in Gaza can see Israel committed a one-sided slaughter.”
“Israel’s injustice and cruelty toward Palestinians is not limited to Gaza and its problem is not with any particular Palestinian party. The oppression of Palestinians extends throughout the occupied territories, within Israel’s 1948 borders, and into neighboring countries. The Israeli Occupation Forces continue to kill protesters—including children—conduct night raids on civilians, hold hundreds of people under indefinite detention, and demolish homes while expanding illegal Jewish-only settlements.”
“Our support extends to those living under occupation and siege, Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the 7 million Palestinian refugees exiled in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine. The refugees’ right to return to their homeland in present-day Israel is the most important aspect of justice for Palestinians.”
“Palestinian liberation represents an inherent threat to Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid, an apparatus built and sustained on ethnic cleansing, land theft, and the denial of Palestinian humanity and sovereignty. While we acknowledge that the apartheid configuration in Israel/Palestine is unique from the United States (and South Africa), we continue to see connections between the situation of Palestinians and Black people.”
“Israel’s widespread use of detention and imprisonment against Palestinians evokes the mass incarceration of Black people in the US, including thepolitical imprisonment of our own revolutionaries.”
“U.S. and Israeli officials and media criminalize our existence, portray violence against us as 'isolated incidents,' and call our resistance 'illegitimate' or 'terrorism.' These narratives ignore decades and centuries of anti-Palestinian and anti-Black violence that have always been at the core of Israel and the US. We recognize the racism that characterizes Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is also directed against others in the region, including intolerance, police brutality, and violence against Israel’s African population.”
“We know Israel’s violence toward Palestinians would be impossible without the U.S. defending Israel on the world stage and funding its violence with over $3 billion annually. We call on the U.S. government to end economic and diplomatic aid to Israel. We wholeheartedly endorse Palestinian civil society’s 2005 call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel and call on Black and U.S. institutions and organizations to do the same. We urge people of conscience to recognize the struggle for Palestinian liberation as a key matter of our time.”
“[W]e aim to sharpen our practice of joint struggle against capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, and the various racisms embedded in and around our societies.”
In late July 2016, a BLM delegation arrived in Israel to promote “the fight for dignity, justice and freedom” against the Israeli "occupation" and the “genocide” of Palestinian Arabs. In a July 28th Facebook pos, the delegation's members wrote:
"In the fight for dignity, justice and freedom... the Movement for Black Lives is committed to the global shared struggle of oppressed people, namely the people of occupied Palestine and other indigenous communities who for decades have resisted the occupation of their land, the ethnic cleansing of their people, and the erasure of their history and experiences.
"In this violent, political climate, it is urgent that we make clear the connection between violence inflicted on Black people globally that is encouraged and permitted by the state and the profiling, harm, and genocide funded by the United States and perpetrated by Zionist vigilantes and the Israeli Defense Forces on Palestinian people. Our collective oppression mandates that we work together across geography, language and culture to decry and organize an end to capitalistic, imperialist regimes.
"We commit to global struggle, solidarity, and support of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement to fight for freedom, justice and equality for Palestinian people and to end international support of the occupation."
Prominent BLM Activist Arrested on Sex-Trafficking Charges
In May 2016, 33-year-old BLM activist Charles Wade, who had been profiled in several newspapers and had recently been invited to the Obama White House along with others from his organization, was indicted on seven criminal charges including felonious sex trafficking (for pimping out a 17-year-old girl). The charges carried sentences of up to 25 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
BLM Blames "White Supremacy" and the "Conservative Right" for Jihadist's Mass Murder in Florida
On June 21, 2016 — a few days after a self-proclaimed Muslim jihadist used an AR-15 rifle to murder 49 people and wound 53 others in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida — BLM posted an article on its website that blamed "white supremacy, patriarchy and homophobia of the conservative right" for the atrocity. It read, in part, as folows:
"Despite the media’s framing of this as a terrorist attack, we are very clear that this terror is completely homegrown, born from the anti-Black white supremacy, patriarchy and homophobia of the conservative right and of those who would use religious extremism as a weapon to gain power for the few and take power from the rest. Those who seek to profit from our deaths hope we will forget who our real enemy is, and blame Muslim communities instead....
"Homegrown terror is the product of a long history of colonialism, including state and vigilante violence. It is the product of white supremacy and capitalism, which deforms the spirit and fuels interpersonal violence. We especially hold space for our Latinx family now, knowing that the vast majority of those murdered were Latinx, and many were specifically Puerto Rican. From the forced migration of thousands of young people from the island of Puerto Rico to Orlando, to the deadly forced migration throughout Latin America and the Caribbean — we know this is not the first time in history our families have been mowed down with malice, and we stand with you.
"Religious extremism is not new to America and is not unique to Islam. For centuries, religion has been used to subjugate queer people of color and lay the groundwork for our deaths. We live in a society that gasps at mass murder but does little to produce the policies or radical ideological shift needed to keep LGBTQ people and our families alive and safe....
"We will not allow our movement to be dominated by white progressives that still attempt to define our solutions and limit our leadership. We will not allow the vision to be stunted by a gun control agenda with neither racial context nor a clear history of the relationship between white supremacy and guns in the United States.... You cannot decry guns without also decrying how those guns were used to take Native land, to enslave Black bodies, to remake “Latin America”, and to redefine the western hemisphere. We need more than legislation, more than vigils and prayers, more than donations — we need a deep transformation at the cellular levels of this nation....
"We need a world that realizes that the word 'terrorist' is not synonymous with Muslim, any more than 'criminal' is synonymous with Black. The enemy is now and has always been the four threats of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and militarism. These forces and not Islam create terrorism. These forces, and not queerness, create homophobia. These forces unleash destruction primarily on those who are Trans, and queer, and brown and Black, and we are the first to experience its violence.... Until these systems are defeated, until anti-Blackness no longer fuels anti-Muslim and anti-queer and trans bigotry, exploitation, and exclusion — we can never be truly free."
We demand an end to the war against Black people. Since this country’s inception there have been named and unnamed wars on our communities. We demand an end to the criminalization, incarceration, and killing of our people. This includes:
An immediate end to the criminalization and dehumanization of Black youth across all areas of society including, but not limited to; our nation’s justice and education systems, social service agencies, and media and pop culture. This includes an end to zero-tolerance school policies and arrests of students, the removal of police from schools, and the reallocation of funds from police and punitive school discipline practices to restorative services.
An end to the war on Black immigrants including the repeal of the 1996 crime and immigration bills, an end to all deportations, immigrant detention, and Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) raids, and mandated legal representation in immigration court.
Until we achieve a world where cages are no longer used against our people we demand an immediate change in conditions and an end to public jails, detention centers, youth facilities and prisons as we know them. This includes the end of solitary confinement, the end of shackling of pregnant people, access to quality healthcare, and effective measures to address the needs of our youth, queer, gender nonconforming and trans families.
What is the problem?
Across the country, Black children attend under-resourced schools where they are often pushed off of an academic track onto a track to prison. Zero-tolerance policies — a combination of exclusionary disciplinary policies and school-based arrests — are often the first stop along the school-to-prison pipeline and play a key role in pushing students out of the school system and funneling them into jails and prisons.
Each year more than three million students are suspended from school — often for vague and subjective infractions such as “willful defiance” and “disrespect” — amounting to countless hours of lost instructional time. As a result, Black students are denied an opportunity to learn and punished for routine child and adolescent behaviors that their white peers are often not disciplined for at all.
For Black youth, the impact of exclusionary school discipline is far reaching – disengaging them from academic and developmental opportunities and increasing the likelihood that they will be incarcerated later in life. In addition, current research emphasizes the need to examine the unique ways in which Black girls are impacted by punitive zero-tolerance policies. There are higher disciplinary disparities between Black girls and white girls than disciplinary disparities between Black boys and white boys; yet, Black girls have historically been overlooked in the national discourse around youth impacted by the school-to-prison pipeline.
Black youth are also more likely to experience higher rates of corporal punishment. According to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education, Black students constitute 17.1 percent of the nationwide student population, but 35.6 percent of those paddled. In addition, while girls are paddled less than boys, Black girls are more than twice as likely to be paddled than white girls. In the 13 states that paddle more than 1,000 students per year, Black girls are 2.07 times as likely as white girls to be beaten.
Outside of schools, young Black people are criminalized in ways that limit their life chances at every point. 2010 data shows that while Black youth comprised 17 percent of all youth, they represented 31 percent of all arrests. These disparities persist even as juvenile “crime” rates have fallen. Among youth arrests, young Black people are more likely to be referred to a juvenile court than their white peers, and are more likely to be processed (and less likely to be diverted). Among those adjudicated delinquent, they are more likely to be sent to solitary confinement. Among those detained, Black youth are more likely to be transferred to adult facilities. The disparities grow at almost every step, stealing the dignity of young Black people and forcing them onto lifelong pathways of criminalization and diminished opportunity.
For Black girls, the U.S.’s failure to address gender-based violence, which they experience at greater levels than any other group, is paramount to the criminalization they experience. In fact, sexual abuse is one of the primary predictors of girls’ entry into the juvenile justice system, with girls often being routed to the system specifically because of their victimization. For instance, girls who are victims of sex trafficking are often arrested on prostitution charges. The punitive nature of this system is ill-equipped to support young girls through the violence and trauma they’ve experienced, which further subjects them to sexual victimization and a lifelong path of criminalization and abuse.
There is a critical need for a coordinated strategy in local communities that addresses rampant racial disparities in the application of zero-tolerance policies and criminalization practices that impact Black boys and girls. Fortunately, a powerful grassroots movement, led primarily by youth and parents of color, has taken shape across the country to address these harmful policies — but much more work remains.
Tens of thousands of youth under the age of 21 are currently incarcerated for offenses ranging from truancy to more serious charges. Every crime bill passed by Congress throughout the 1980s and 1990s included new federal laws against juvenile crimes and increased penalties against children. Similar trends can be seen throughout state legislation. There is mounting research that children under the age of 23 do not have fully-developed brains and that the cheapest, most humane, and most cost-effective way to respond to juvenile crime is not incarceration, but programs and investments that strengthen families, increase stability and provide access to educational and employment opportunities. Prosecuting youth with crimes is not only cruel; but it also permanently disadvantages them with a criminal record, which makes completing their education, getting a job, finding housing and growing up to be contributing members of society unfairly difficult.
What does this solution do?
Advances a grassroots organizing strategy at the local and state level that centers the work of ending the criminalization of Black youth through a racial and gender justice framework — led and informed by youth and parents.
Addresses state-sanctioned violence that stems from over-policed schools and the deprivation of resources to public schools.
Opens resources for alternative practices like restorative justice as a way to train students, parents and staff to deal with interpersonal conflict. Restorative justice practices are used as an alternative to zero-tolerance policies by helping to build stronger school communities through: 1) Developing effective leadership; 2) Building trust, interconnection and deeper relationships amongst students, parents, teachers and staff; 3) Providing methods to address misbehavior in away that gets to the root cause of conflicts and holds individuals accountable; 4) Repairing harm in a way that maintains the integrity of the community and doesn’t further isolate offenders.
By ending the practice of charging youth with misdemeanors and limiting the ability to charge them with felonies we would save hundreds of millions of dollars annually and provide the opportunity for our children to outlive their mistakes.
We demand reparations for past and continuing harms. The government, responsible corporations and other institutions that have profited off of the harm they have inflicted on Black people — from colonialism to slavery through food and housing redlining, mass incarceration, and surveillance — must repair the harm done. This includes:
Reparations for the systemic denial of access to high quality educational opportunities in the form offull and free access for all Black people (including undocumented and currently and formerly incarcerated people) to lifetime education including: free access and open admissions to public community colleges and universities, technical education (technology, trade and agricultural), educational support programs, retroactive forgiveness of student loans, and support for lifetime learning programs.
Reparations for the continued divestment from, discrimination toward and exploitation of our communities in the form of a guaranteed minimum livable income for all Black people, with clearly articulated corporate regulations.
Reparations for the wealth extracted from our communities through environmental racism, slavery, food apartheid, housing discrimination and racialized capitalism in the form of corporate and government reparations focused on healing ongoing physical and mental trauma, and ensuring our access and control of food sources, housing and land.
Legislation at the federal and state level that requires the United States to acknowledge the lasting impacts of slavery, establish and execute a plan to address those impacts. This includes the immediate passage of H.R.40, the “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act” or subsequent versions which call for reparations remedies.
What is the problem?
Education in the U.S. has always been a subversive act for Black people. During enslavement we were legally barred from the most basic forms of education including literacy. Post-Civil War, and even after the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision, Black people have been locked into segregated institutions that are underfunded, under resourced and often face severe health risk because of the decrepit conditions of their school buildings.
The current racial equity gap in education has roots that date back to enslavement. In fact, recent studies suggest that racial educational inequalities may be the most (measurable) enduring legacy of slavery. The same study also verified ongoing income inequality correlated to counties where slavery was prevalent.
The cradle-to-college pipeline has been systematically cut off for Black communities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 23 states spend more per pupil in affluent districts than in high-poverty districts that contain a high concentrations of Black students; and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights shows persistent and glaring opportunity gaps and racial inequities for Black students. Black students are less likely to attend schools that offer advanced coursework, less likely to be placed in gifted and talented programs, more likely to attend schools with less qualified educators, and employ law enforcement officers but no counselors.
Public universities, colleges, and technical education remain out of reach for most in the United States and policies to help students cover costs continue to shift towards benefiting more affluent families.
Funding cuts across the country are forcing individual students’ tuition and fees to cover more operating costs than ever at public colleges and universities. At City University of New York (CUNY), the largest city public university system in the U.S.,tuition and fees cover over 50 percent of the operating budget. Since right before the recession, government funding for higher education has significantly fallen. 47 states spent less in 2014-2015 on per student funding than they did at the start of the recession..
Financial aid is not sufficiently covering the basic needs of students attending public universities and colleges, leaving many of them struggling to eat and pay for housing, transportation, daycare and healthcare. A Wisconsin Hope Lab survey showed half of all students surveyed were struggling with food and housing insecurity, 20 percent didn’t have money to eat and 13 percent were homeless.
Access to education — from university, to college, to community schools, to continuing adult education, to agricultural training — is essential to ensure that our communities can thrive. In addition to college age students, the ability to access lifelong education is essential to the political, economic and cultural health of our nation.
The rising costs of higher education and exploitative and predatory lending practices of private and for-profit institutions make Black students more likely to drop-out, and leave them and their families stuck with debilitating and crippling debt. U.S. student loan debt nearly totals $1.3 trillion, with close to $900 billion in federal student loans, and more than 7 million borrowers in default.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities continue to play a critical role in offering Black students, especially from low-income communities, access to higher education in an environment where they are supported and able to thrive. However, federal and state funding systematically underfunds Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) compared to Predominantly White Institutions (PWI). Since the recession, deep state funding cuts have disproportionately affected HBCU’s, putting the future of many in jeopardy, and impairing their ability to offer high-quality educational opportunities to their students.
What does this solution do?
We seek complete open access for all to free public university, college and technical education programs (including technology, trade and agricultural) as well as full-funding for lifelong learning programs that support communities and families. We also seek the forgiveness of all federal student loans. Policies shall apply to all and should focus on outreach to communities historically denied access to education including undocumented, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.
Cover all living costs, including but not limited to housing, transportation, childcare, healthcare, and food for students attending public universities, colleges, and technical educational programs (including technology, trade, and agricultural).
Fully fund and provide open access to K-12, higher education, technical educational programs (including technology, trade, and agricultural), educational support programs and lifelong learning programs to every individual incarcerated in local, state, and federal correctional facilities (juvenile and adult).
Provide full access to all undocumented people to state and federal programs that provide aid to cover the full costs, including living costs, to attend public universities, and colleges, technical educational programs, and lifelong learning programs.
Increased federal and state investments in all Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs).
We demand investments in the education, health and safety of Black people, instead of investments in the criminalizing, caging, and harming of Black people. We want investments in Black communities, determined by Black communities, and divestment from exploitative forces including prisons, fossil fuels, police, surveillance and exploitative corporations. This includes:
Real, meaningful, and equitable universal health care that guarantees: proximity to nearby comprehensive health centers, culturally competent services for all people, specific services for queer, gender nonconforming, and trans people, full bodily autonomy, full reproductive services, mental health services, paid parental leave, and comprehensive quality child and elder care.
A constitutional right at the state and federal level to a fully-funded education which includes a clear articulation of the right to: a free education for all, special protections for queer and trans students, wrap around services, social workers, free health services (including reproductive body autonomy), a curriculum that acknowledges and addresses students’ material and cultural needs, physical activity and recreation, high quality food, free daycare, and freedom from unwarranted search, seizure or arrest.
Reinvestment of federal grants (JAG, COPS and VOCA) to education, employment and restorative justice services in Black communities most impacted by the mass incarceration and crime.
In the last few decades, the federal government has thrown billions of dollars at state and local governments to fund quickly expanding police forces and jails. Since Sept. 11, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) alone has given between $30 billion and $40 billion in direct grants to state and local law enforcement, as well as other first responders. The federal government doled out an additional $376 million to state and local law enforcement in 2013 through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Grant program. That was down from more than $1 billion in 1998. And of course there is the estimated $5 billion worth of surplus military equipment that the has gone to local law enforcement, 20 college campuses and over 20 school districts through the Department of Defense’s (DOD)1033 P These funds are given with little or no oversight and there is no accountability mechanism.
Moreover, there is no evidence that the massive spending on incarceration reduces crime rates or keeps communities safer. Studies do show that jobs and education make communities stronger and keep them safer. Investments in community based drug and mental health treatment, education, universal pre-K, and other social institutions can make communities safer while improving life outcomes for all. Children who do not participate in the preschool programs are 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18. And youth who participate in summer job programs in Chicago saw a 43 percent decrease in arrests over a 16-month period. Studies show that jobs and education do not just make communities stronger — they make them safer.
What does this solution do?
The federal government should reallocate funding currently dedicated to policing and incarceration and instead invest those funds in long-term safety strategies such as educational, community restorative justice and employment programs that have been shown to improve community safety.
Federal and state job programs that specifically target the most economically marginalized Black people, and compensation for those involved in the care economy. Job programs must provide a living wage and encourage support for local workers centers, unions, and Black-owned businesses which are accountable to the community.
Restore the Glass-Steagall Act to break up the large banks, and call for the National Credit Union Administration and the US Department of the Treasury to change policies and practices around regulation, reporting and consolidation to allow for the continuation and creation of black banks, small and community development credit unions, insurance companies and other financial institutions.
Through tax incentives, loans and other government directed resources, support the development of cooperative or social economy networks to help facilitate trade across and in Black communities globally. All aid in the form of grants, loans or contracts to help facilitate this must go to Black led or Black supported networks and organizations as defined by the communities.
Financial support of Black alternative institutions including policy that subsidizes and offers low-interest, interest-free or federally guaranteed low-interest loans to promote the development of cooperatives (food, residential, etc.), land trusts and culturally responsive health infrastructures that serve the collective needs of our communities.
Protections for workers in industries that are not appropriately regulated including domestic workers, farm workers, and tipped workers, and for workers — many of whom are Black women and incarcerated people— who have been exploited and remain unprotected. This includes the immediate passage at the Federal and state level of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights and extension of worker protections to incarcerated people.
What is the problem?
There is a desperate need to replace the current practice of collecting revenue in regressive ways with a more just system for collecting taxes.
Across the United States, there are major political obstacles to raising any kind of revenue.
As with most faults in our economic and political systems, regressive taxation has hit Black people, low-income people, and people of color the hardest.
Many municipalities have resorted to privatization and new taxes and fees in order to save money and generate more revenue. As a result, residents are being forced to pay more for services like trash collection, sewage, public property maintenance, parking meters, and to pay new taxes on a variety of everyday goods.
A recent study conducted by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that when one combines all the state and local income, property, sales and excise taxes that Americans pay, the nationwide average of effective state and local tax rates are 10.9 percent for the poorest fifth of taxpayers, and 5.4 percent for the wealthiest 1 percent.
In the ten states with the most regressive tax structures, the poorest fifth pay up to seven times as much in taxes and fees as the wealthiest residents, as a percentage of their income.
While states sometimes shift the cost of some services onto poorer residents, at other times they simply cut services all together. Many municipalities have had to increase public school class sizes, shorten school days, close vital city offices, and eliminate a huge number of public sector jobs.
As the wealthiest Americans and most powerful corporations continue to evade their fair share of taxes, many programs and initiatives that could contribute to racial and economic justice go underfunded or unfunded.
What does this solution do?
Raise marginal tax rates for high earners, specifically the top percentile (for equity and revenue generation reasons —they pay more than 40 percent of federal income tax revenue, yet their average rate has been reduced to around 20 percent) and begin by gradually raising the top marginal rate first to 50 percent and then up to 80 percent.
Remove income caps on payroll taxes that fund social security and unemployment insurance.
Raise corporate income taxes, especially on large corporations and end tax deferral for foreign income of multinational corporations.
Increase taxes on capital to the point where they are higher than taxes on labor, as wealth inequality is greater than income inequality. Specifically:
Increase capital gains tax
Create anti-speculation tax on property transfers
Increase estate tax
Have states shift to an income-sensitized property tax that focuses on homes above a certain threshold and second homes
Impose a wealth tax (on tangible and financial assets)
Taxing undesirable activities:
Taxing “bads” not “goods”: shift from sales taxes to taxing externalities such as environmental damage where it is difficult to eliminate the damage through regulation, and make this approach income-sensitized to hold low-income people harmless.
Create a Tobin tax for international financial transactions, especially for currency speculation.
Assess and eliminate tax expenditures such as mortgage reduction, health insurance exemption, etc.
Make low-wage employer fees or payroll tax rate proportional to wage disparity.
Expand the earned income tax credit.
Provide a universal child tax credit.
Create mechanisms for sharing tax revenues between localities.
We demand a world where those most impacted in our communities control the laws, institutions, and policies that are meant to serve us – from our schools to our local budgets, economies, police departments, and our land – while recognizing that the rights and histories of our Indigenous family must also be respected. This includes:
An end to the privatization of education and real community control by parents, students and community members of schools including democratic school boards and community control of curriculum, hiring, firing and discipline policies.
Across the country, there are more 200 entities involved in direct oversight of local law enforcement agencies. However, despite national trends in the disproportionate impact of lethal force, excessive force, sexual assault and misconduct by law enforcement on the Black community — in conjunction with the lack of discipline of officers or effective measures to deter these force incidents — there remains no national standards for powers and features of civilian oversight of law enforcement.
Sexual assault is the second most commonly reported form of police misconduct, but the majority of departments have no policy or measures in place to prevent, detect or ensure accountability for this form of police violence disproportionately affecting Black women, cis and trans, gender nonconforming, and queer people. Accountability for police sexual harassment, assault, and violence is usually solely the responsibility of police departments and prosecutors, preventing many survivors from coming forward or obtaining justice.
In 30 states, state law in fact makes it impossible to change the contractual bargaining power to hire and terminate police.
These functions and powers should apply to civilian oversight entities overseeing law enforcement practices in the both patrol and custody settings including local jails, hold cells, and detention centers.
Lack of empowered civilian oversight with the above features creates significant roadblocks to law enforcement transparency and accountability and prevents any means for communities most impacted by lethal force, excessive force and misconduct to effectively reduce other types of violence .
Federal law enforcement agencies also inflict violence, and have almost no accountability to the most impacted communities.
Restorative justice and other community based safety measures across the country are being used by communities who aspire for real community safety and reject police violence as being capable of ever delivering safety.
What does this solution do?
By requiring all civilian oversight agencies to retain the power to hire and fire officers, determine disciplinary action in cases of misconduct related to excessive and lethal force, determine the funding of agencies, set and enforce policies, and retain concrete means of retrieving information — such as subpoena power — from law enforcement and third parties as it pertains to circumstances involving excessive, sexual and lethal force; communities will be able significantly to reduce the number of Black people impacted by police violence.
We demand independent Black political power and Black self-determination in all areas of society. We envision a remaking of the current U.S. political system in order to create a real democracy where Black people and all marginalized people can effectively exercise full political power. This includes:
Election protection, electoral expansion and the right to vote for all people including: full access, guarantees, and protections of the right to vote for all people through universal voter registration, automatic voter registration, pre-registration for 16-year-olds, same day voter registration, voting day holidays, enfranchisement of formerly and presently incarcerated people, local and state resident voting for undocumented people, and a ban on any disenfranchisement laws.
Full access to technology including net neutrality and universal access to the internet without discrimination and full representation for all.
While the criminal justice system has managed to create a pipeline from schools to prisons for Black and Brown communities, it has also been used as a tool of the state to delegitimize and neutralize people’s movements throughout history.
The criminalization of freedom movements and activists has resulted in the incarceration of hundreds of people, many of whom are recognized as legitimate freedom fighters. Black communities have been disproportionately targeted by the state and have become political prisoners incarcerated in local, state and federal prisons. The FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) outlined the purpose, objectives, methods and tools used to criminalize freedom movements.
Today, direct victims of COINTELPRO (and similar law enforcement initiatives) remain exiled and incarcerated, while indirectly Black communities remain under surveillance by all levels of law enforcement with the intention of preventing the growth of another nationwide movement.
The tradition of surveillance and harassment of activists and freedom movements, has fostered fear, mistrust and suspicion in movement spaces that would otherwise function effectively.
What does this solution do?
We are calling for the release of all political prisoners held in the U.S. and the removal of legitimate freedom fighters from the International Terrorists list. Additionally, we call on Congress to hold hearings on the impact of COINTELPRO as the Church Committee hearings in 1975 did not offer remedies to individuals and communities negatively impacted by this government initiative.
Congressional hearings on COINTELPRO designed to remedy and repair its impact.
Immediate release of all political prisoners in federal custody.
Removal of Assata Shakur from international terrorist lists.
Rescind the bounty on the head of Assata Shakur.
Immediate release of all political prisoners in state custody. Most freedom fighters incarcerated due to COINTELPRO are elderly and currently eligible for parole. Some political prisoners have served more than four decades in prison;they are now grandparents, elderly and prepared to live the remainder of their lives at home in the communities they come from. Although they meet the parole criteria determined by the state, when they go before the parole board, they are repeatedly denied. The parole boards routinely state the reason for their denial as, “the nature of the crime.”
Cease all current investigations and cold cases into former activists. Some cities like NYC, have ongoing “unsolved.” We know of the recent indictments of activists and freedom fighters from the civil and human rights era of the 60s and 70s like;
Imam Jamil Al Amin (formerly known as H Rap Brown), captured in 2000
Kamau Sadiki, captured in 2002 for a case from 1971
San Francisco 8, indicted in 2007 for a case from 1971
Funding from the Ford Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy
In the summer of 2016, the Ford Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy announced the formation of the Black-Led Movement Fund (BLMF), a six-year pooled donor campaign whose goal was to raise $100 million for the aforementioned Movement for Black Lives coalition. According to Borealis, “The BLMF provides grants, movement building resources, and technical assistance to organizations working to advance the leadership and vision of young, Black, queer, feminists and immigrant leaders who are shaping and leading a national conversation about criminalization, policing and race in America.” In a joint statement, Ford and Borealis said that their Fund would “complement the important work” of charities including the Hill-Snowden Foundation, Solidaire, the NoVo Foundation, the Association of Black Foundation Executives, the Neighborhood Funders Group, anonymous donors, and others. In addition to raising $100 million for the Movement for Black Lives, the BLMF planned to collaborate with Benedict Consulting on “the organizational capacity building needs of a rapidly growing movement.”