Tag Archives: Ferguson

A Beautiful Movement: BlackLivesMatter Seattle


The beautiful thing about this movement to end police brutality and by corollary to end the system which buttresses mass incarceration is that it has bridged culture, class, nationality, sex, religion, age, gender identification, race, ethnicity, political ideologies, and color. In the marches here in Seattle and around the United States, at any point that you turn around to look at the people putting their bodies on the line to ensure that Civil Rights are achieved you will see someone from any of innumerable walks of life and backgrounds. The beauty of it is that as different as we all are, we all believe that people should be treated fairly and equally.

The Collective

The system of laws that have been written and instituted from the end of 19th Century through the beginning of the 21st Century are crafted in such a way to apply to everyone, but are in practice used to target particular groups of individuals. The People, who gather and march and chant and sing in these marches understand this stark reality and have unanimously declared time and again that this system is not a system of justice. The People, regardless of whether they are black, white, First Nations, Asian, Latino, wealthy or homeless have consistently stood shoulder to shoulder risking arrests and violence to their persons to make sure that black men and women are not being killed and incarcerated and atrocious rates.


I have personally witnessed people who could be physically identified as white putting their bodies between the police and the people of color who the police were attempting to arrest and harm. I have also witnessed firsthand, allies being sprayed with mace and arrested—this includes a Legal Observer who was there to ensure that the laws were being followed and was a non-combatant who was sprayed with mace—during our marches.


So, the claims that I have heard distributed that they are not putting their bodies and their liberties on the line, acknowledging their inherent privilege in this system and using that to benefit the cause are simply inaccurate.  Even if you do not notice the arrests happening during the protests that does not mean that they are not occurring. In fact, there have been many occurrences of people being arrested after the protests and marches while they are walking home, and often times on trumped up charges that have nothing to do with the demonstrations themselves.

Earlier this December, I went to the King County Jail for one of our people who was scheduled for a bail hearing after the individual was arrested leaving a march alone. The charge was burglary, but there was not even enough evidence to set bail and the individual was released without bail or charges being filed. The individual was, it seems, arrested just because of their involvement in the demonstration.

This is not meant to be construed to suggest that Black people have not been arrested, maced or flash-bombed because that is not the truth.  In fact, the Seattle Police are notorious for ramming their bikes into people and tackling us to the ground, fighting the whole way as a tactic of arrest and suppression. This has happened to many people of multiple races and ethnicities. My intention in sharing the description of the white people who are being maced and arrested is to show that the people who are standing in solidarity with the Black community are in fact risking their bodies and liberty for us and that needs to be both acknowledged and respected.


This is nonetheless, a Black led movement and it has to be. Frederic Douglass said in his speech West India Emancipation in New York in 1857: “This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” He further said, “The general sentiment of mankind is that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just.” What this reveals, even from as long ago as the 19th Century is that the struggle for justice and freedom rests squarely with the people who are being oppressed. As Douglas mentions, if those who are oppressed do not stand up for themselves, then no one else will, or should either. That the people who are suffering from an unjust system must stand up for themselves and assert their right to life, if they are to have that right to life. “For a man who does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others, or put himself to any inconvenience to gain it for others” says Douglas, before he continues on to say:  “Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.” Douglas was speaking about slavery in the 19th Century and achieving freedom from that servitude, but his words hold just as much weight and pith today as they did then; if the people are not willing to stand up and make sacrifices for our own freedom and right to life, then we are not worth that freedom and right. This is why the movement has to be Black led and why we must stand for ourselves with others by our side. And this is precisely what we have been doing.


Courageous people have been organizing and putting their very lives on the line and making the utmost sacrifices to demand our right to life and for justice.  People have made sacrifices of school and work, of safety and life to demand justice and to fight for an equitable system, but to read the comments on many news or reporting feeds or to listen to the people outside of the marches critiquing the protesters’ motives say things like this comment from a KIRO 7 news feed Protest Planned at Pioneer Square During Seahawks Game (12/19/2014): “How many of these not so intelligent protesters are feeding of our tax dollars. They seem to have a lot of time on their hands to protest. But not enough to check there facts. It’s time for them to shut up and get a job!” To listen to and absorb these types of comments, whether in public, on television, the radio, or on the internet one might think that the people in these demonstrations had nothing to lose because we never had anything.


I could just as easily speak for others as I can speak of myself, but I will take the heat for this explication. I am a senior at the University of Washington double majoring in History (with a focus on empires and post-colonialism) and Philosophy (with a focus in ethics and justice). After completing my undergraduate studies and earning a Bachelor’s Degree I will be earning a Ph. D. in history and a Jurist Doctorate (Law Degree).  With these degrees my plan is to work with the United Nations and to help the organization revise international policy and law so that it is more equitable and just for all. Prior to enrolling at North Seattle Community College, where I was the Treasurer for the Student Government, and earning an Associate of Arts Degree, I was an owner of a construction company in the Pacific Northwest region, which specialized in underground utilities. The contrast the presentation of these facts I am attempting to draw is that the protesters are not ignorant, uneducated and jobless people. My story is not unique. In fact, many if not most people have very similar stories and histories to tell.


My story contains more. Almost twenty years ago, I got into a lot of trouble in and around Seattle. I have a juvenile record that has been closed, though not expunged. When I was an adolescent I was involved with gangs and got hooked on drugs and as a result of both of these things I committed crime. I grew up in varying degrees of poverty, and even though I believe in agency, it cannot be successfully argued that one’s environment does not shape one’s decisions and opportunities. However, that is not the point, the argument that I am making by stating my history is that when I participate in demonstrations for Civil Rights risking arrests and potential charges, I risk everything I have been working on and for. If I am arrested then that juvenile record will be used as evidence of my character and against me. If that occurs, then I also risk losing the funding for my education, which will directly impact my ability to be a servant for our people, not just in the United States, but globally. (I will be happy to debate the morality of Federal Financial Aid, but this is not the place for it or the reason for bringing it up.)  The point is that most of us are educated and do have jobs and furthermore, as Frederick Douglas said, we are risking everything to fight for our rights and for justice because that is what the struggle requires for progress.


It is easy to portray the protesters as thugs and criminals, as ignorant and leeches on this society because that makes the message that The People are speaking easier to ignore. It is an attempt to discredit the complaints that The People have with this system and to justify the suppression of the people.


There are just as many slurs that are tossed out at The People who stand and march in solidarity with Black people and work for a brighter tomorrow with us. The news and much of the public attempts to character assassinate some of these people by calling them Anarchists. And though some of them may be anarchists, not everyone who is at these demonstrations and that is not Black is an anarchist. In fact, there are plenty of Black Anarchists. Secondly, the media and the public attempt to discredit  the demonstrations and the messages being projected from them by arguing that these demonstrations are nothing but white anarchists and who break things and start fights with the police. This may happen, but it is by no means the entire composition of all the demonstrations or any demonstration in particular. On all counts, the reports and accusations against The People participating in these demonstrations is simply inaccurate and often times nothing more than either, misinformation or outright propaganda meant to dilute the messages being disseminated by The People.    Furthermore, as was stated above, these people are putting their bodies and their liberties on the line and have because they believe that this system is unjust.

Alex Garland Photography http://thedignityvirus.com/2014/12/20/demonstrators-bring-black-lives-matter-protest-to-bellevue-square-mall/

A perfect example of this was at the demonstration at Bellevue Square when a woman with a child who was sitting in the area where The People gathered to sing, joined the demonstration with her young son. The People were singing “Which side are you on my friend, which side are you on? Justice for Mike Brown, is justice for us all” in the center of the mall. After the police, decked out in full riot gear encircled the demonstrators, they made a plea to the white woman from Bellevue, notifying her that they were about to arrest everyone in the demonstration and warning her that she should take her son away before they began. Instead of running away and allowing an unjust action to occur, she grabbed her son and entered into the center of the circle of this peaceful demonstration. It was both heartwarming and inspiring to see that someone who no one knew believed in fighting for justice so much would not conceal even her son from the harsh reality of oppression and suppression.


Regardless of what the uninformed or misinformed people attempt to present as facts about The People and what the people are doing by marching and protesting, or how they attempt to tear the people apart, it is not having the desired affect. In fact, it is having the opposite affect, it is drawing The People closer together and forcing us to become more organized and strategic. Communities which have been disparate are coming together and forming coalitions and networks, learning how to care for and educated each other and creating lasting relationships. We are tearing down the barriers that society has attempted to raise to keep us separate and we are standing in unity.


This is a Black led movement because it must be and it is long overdue, but because it is led by Black people does not mean that the people who are not Black are not valuable and necessary participating people in this movement; quite the opposite. It is a beautiful thing to watch so many people, from so many different backgrounds come together all to fight for justice and equality.


We claim the Right to self-determination.

We claim the Right to define justice.

We claim the Right to liberty.

We claim the Right to live.

The Way It Is, Not the Way It Has to Be

My head is swirling with both conviction and confusion over the events of the last few days both here in Seattle and around the country. More than ever before, I am against the totalitarian aspects that this nation exhibits and the events of this week have only served to crystallize my resolve to topple this regime’s agenda. At the same time, the utter apathy and even the contempt of many, if not most Americans, who are condemning those taking a stand and demanding justice is confusing.


I expected better. I expected more. Given that fifty years have passed since the Civil Rights movement and race has been an issue the entire time, I expected more people to be informed. But it is as though they are diametrically opposed to conceding the point, that people are being treated unjustly.  Strangely though, I don’t believe it is there fault. They have been spoon-fed the same lies and half-truths the rest of us have. They have been inculcated for so long, that even some people of color believe this crap.

This however, does not absolve these people of responsibility. Once you have been exposed to the truth and make an active choice, of your own free will, you are responsible for the decision you make. Therefore, if you are told, read, or experience the reality beyond the spoon-fed fabrications and choose to remain apathetic, then you are responsible for that choice.

The reality is that the system we live in has been built on and is founded upon injustice. The American Dream is a farce because a person’s merit and luck are not all that is requisite to exercise upward social mobility; the system is designed to constrain that mobility and to maintain the status quo.

Furthermore, the claim that is the support structure for much of the system is that minorities have an inherent character flaw that results in poverty; poverty being claimed as the cause for crime and thus, the destitute position of minorities. However, one thing you will not read in your history books is about the “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1920. This was a black city in the south that was a financial center that could have rivaled any on the planet and it was torched to the ground and its citizenry exterminated by the KKK and the police institution. This shows that there is not an inherent flaw in people of color that resigns them to poverty, but rather, reveals that it is a repressive force that subjugates and relegates them to poverty.

Again, I repeat, the American Dream is a farce. This is especially the case if you are a person of color, but even often times the case if you are poor, regardless of color.

The truth is they have turned us on one another and the real culprits behind this mayhem are sitting safely tucked behind their ivory walls. To put it to you straight, the last thing they want is for the classes to unite. So, what they do is drive wedges between the members of these classes to keep us in competition with one another over the fabricated conception of limited resources.

One of the oldest strategies in the book is Divide and Conquer.

The problem is that we do not see we are being divided. The problem is that we do not recognize that it is the wealthiest of our nation and our world who are safely tucked behind their ivory walls, are the culprits dividing us.

The oppression of indigenous peoples all over the planet, climate change, corporations and corporate funding of politics, the financial institution, the Prison Industrial Complex, and police brutality are all part of the same oppressive and repressive superstructure. However, these issues are only addressed in isolation as if they are mutually exclusive of each other, but that is not the case. The people have just been spoon-fed lies and half-truths to blur the lines of reality and fabrication. This is how they set us at odds and in competition with one another.

The tool that is used to accomplish this is something that is understood as something that is harmless and for entertainment, when in reality it is a device for programming, namely, the media and television. In the 1920s advertisers began employing psychologists to direct and target people’s sense of identity, pairing identity with products. In the 1930s, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took over the radio waves with his “Fireside Chats” to inform the public and shape perceptions in a way and to a volume of people never before conceivable. Then in the 1950s and 60s with the advent of the television, politics were paired with advertising. From that point forward, the information we receive via the media and television has sought to target and shape the public’s identity and has effectively programmed millions.

Something as simple as framing a report in terms of a “riot” instead of in terms of a “rebellion” shapes the way an event is conceived. A riot implies a mindless and emotive, chaotic response that lacks direction and objective whereas, a rebellion is the natural response of the people suffering from an unjust situation.  If all the media and political advertisers have to do is implant one word to shape your perception of an event, then imagine what they can do with a whole sentence, a paragraph, an episode or a series.

What is not occurring is the questioning of the agenda, the reasons behind why the events and the situations and circumstances of the superstructure are being framed in such a way. The people just accept the information they receive from the media and television as if they are authorities on these matters.

So, it is difficult to blame the people who are exhibiting utter apathy and even contempt of many, if not most Americans who are condemning those taking a stand and demanding justice. But, once you have been exposed to the truth and make an active choice, of your own free will, you are responsible for the decision you make.

We are not as divided and as different as they would like us to believe, they just do not want the classes to unify and to oppose business as usual. The system is spiraling out of control and power is consolidating into the hands of the few. First Amendment rights are already being suppressed. The NSA is already monitoring every transmission and storing them in a massive database to be analyzed. These are characteristics of a Totalitarian state and it will affect everyone, unless the system is reeled in.

Soon it will not just be people all over the planet screaming #BlackLivesMatter because they are the first ones to experience the oppressive nature of this regime. Soon, all kinds of people, from all walks of life and colors will be expressing such contempt at the system, but by that point it may be too late to do anything about it.

“Hands Up. Don’t Shoot.” Seattle Protests and Rallies (Explicit Words & Images)

Hundreds of people outraged about the ‪Police Brutality‬ that is and has
been a plague upon this nation, and impassioned to fight for ‪Social
Justice‬ took to the streets in Seattle, like many other cities around
the United States.

(The intent of this video is to show what has been going on in Seattle, but because of requests about the music, I am putting the info into this post.)

The background music is titled “Weapon of Voice” by Renaissance the Poet

And the original track is available for both streaming and free download at:

Fed-Up with a System that is not Just and Does not Listen


After the Grand Jury decision not to indict the Ferguson officer responsible for the murder of Michael Brown was released (November 24, 2014), people across the country took to the streets in protest. Seattle was no exception to this national wave of civil unrest.

People throughout the country are upset and fed up with being treated unfairly and being valued less than other citizens. The people are sick and tired of feeling like their rights and lives do not count, like they do not matter. The people are done with passively fearing for their lives, knowing that at any moment they can be killed with impunity because the officers will almost unequivocally escape any sort of punishment. The people are tired of being treated as second-class citizens.


The Grand Jury decision was the last draw.


The civil unrest did not just occur because of this one particular incident, but rather because of long series of incidents that stretches back hundreds of years. Although, the most recent incidents of Trevon Martin, and the 12-year old child who was shot by a Police Officer because of he was in possession of a bb-gun catalyzed the issues police brutality and injustice in recent memory. If it was only one incident, then the people would not be standing in solidarity throughout the nation, but they are.

I keep hearing again and again, that people are “sick and tired of hearing people of color complaining about injustice.”


To them I ask:


What is it that would cause a people, and not just black people, but all kinds of people to clamor for justice?

What would cause the people to take to the streets, host protest, and use the only voice they have left?

Could it possibly be because we actually feel and are being treated unjustly?


When I hear that people are sick and tired of hearing people of color complain about injustice what I hear is one of two things:


(1) Either they believe that the system is just, i.e., it provides for the common benefit of all people.


(2) they know the system is unjust and do not want to do anything about it, i.e., relinquish some of the privilege gained by the oppression of others.


In either case the outcome is wrong, but option two is far worse because inherent in it is an obvious choice to maintain the status quo, to maintain a system of oppression.


For a few generations since the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s & 70s, the people have been attempting to maneuver through the political system, the people have published papers and articles, written books, held peaceful vigils and all that has come about from it all is a corrupt system of injustice. Since the 1970s, but really picking up steam in the 80s and coalescing in 90s a new criminal justice system was created. This new system has the results of 3/4 of the adult African-American male population either in prison or with a prison record, that same population having their right to vote revoked, denied access to higher education, and legally discriminated against culminating to create what Michelle Alexander termed “The New Jim Crow.” The rhetoric behind and which founded the creation of this system has identified the young person of color as the enemy, as the “bad man,” and as worthy only of contempt and punishment. Simultaneously, the system shifted from prevention to punishment and diverted most of the funding that was set aside to help prevent crime and the causes of crime and suffering to the Prison Industrial Complex. These cuts and re-distributions of funds, while argued in public were often cryptic in design, like cuts to education programs, cuts to welfare programs, cuts to drug rehabilitation programs and the money was reallocated to law enforcement and to prison construction and maintenance. This is the result of peaceful, non-civil unrest action over the past few decades has come to nearly naught and the people most affected by this system know it all too well, even though many who are not affected by it are surprised to discover it nature.


This system just described above is what provides the motivation and the justification for officers of the “law” to act with impunity concerning the lives of people of color in the United States, a fact well known by the people. So, when the Grand Jury decided not to indict Daren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, essentially what the judicial system was doing was upholding its position against people of color. The determination was that there was not probable cause to file murder charges. This could only be the case if the law was set up to tolerate this type of behavior in the first place, but what is legal and what is just are mutually exclusive and thus, not always the same thing.


This is why the people took to the streets all throughout the nation. We are demanding that what is law and what is just be made to be equitable.