Drug Policy Reform and #BlackLivesMatter Movements

At a time when the nation reflects and focuses on the history, contributions and lives of Black Americans, our recent International Drug Policy Reform Conference’s town hall presents a profoundly relevant conversation on the extensive intersection of drug policy and Black communities. Check out this powerful discussion about race, the drug war, and the intersection of the #BlackLivesMatter and drug policy reform movements: We know that marijuana arrests are the engine driving the U.S. … [Read more...]

When Will the North Face Its Racism?

View image | gettyimages.com he groundswell of protests over police brutality in the closing days of 2014, when people dropped to the marble floor of Grand Central Terminal and shut down the Brooklyn Bridge, blocked Lake Shore Drive in Chicago and chanted “I Can’t Breathe” from Boston to Oakland, summoned ghosts not only of the marches of the civil rights era but of the larger forces that led to the arrival of so many African-Americans in the big cities of the North and West in the first … [Read more...]

Framing Black Queer Resistance

An Interview with Black Lives Matter L.A. Activist Povi-Tamu Bryant ast week, activists from the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles (BLMLA) coalition spearheaded the Occupy LAPD encampment, demanding a meeting with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck as well as the firing and prosecution of the officers who murdered Ezell Ford. The issue of black self-determination—queer, trans, disabled, undocumented—is at the forefront of this thriving mass movement, which not only challenges white supremacy but … [Read more...]

Chief Beck, DA Lacey Slow Play Ezell Ford Investigation

What Happened When 'Black Lives Matter' Protesters Met With Los Angeles Police Chief elina Abdullah began her week in jail. On Monday, the Cal State professor was one of two people arrested for trying to deliver a letter to Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck on behalf of protesters who for almost two weeks now have camped outside LAPD headquarters. They've been holding signs declaring "Black Lives Matter" and demanding an end to what they see as a pattern of impunity for cops who kill … [Read more...]

Dying In, Rising Up

Young leaders of the police-reform movement, like their counterparts in Ferguson, Missouri, and other cities, have creatively used social media and their own energy in translating grievance into mass action, assembling crowds at the drop of a pin on a smartphone map. The mayor and Council speaker are right to respect that. he protesters who lay down in the streets by the thousands across New York City this week, memorializing Eric Garner and calling for policing reform, showed a vivid grasp of … [Read more...]

We Must Stop Police Abuse of Black Men

#460074356 / gettyimages.com can recall it as if it were yesterday: looking into the toilet and seeing blood instead of urine. That was the aftermath of my first police encounter. As a 15-year-old, living in South Jamaica, Queens, I was arrested on a criminal trespass charge after unlawfully entering and remaining in the home of an acquaintance. Officers took me to the 103rd Precinct — the same precinct where an unarmed Sean Bell was later shot and killed by the police — and brought me … [Read more...]

5 Critical Needs Beyond Ferguson

Police violence is only one facet of a criminal justice system permeated with racial disparities, and that criminal justice system too often serves as a substitute for failures in education or mental health treatment. t’s been several days since a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson for killing Michael Brown. In L.A., as elsewhere, many people have taken to the streets. #459694198 / gettyimages.com Here, at the ACLU of Southern California, we recognize that racial inequities … [Read more...]

Where Do We Go After Ferguson?

hen Ferguson flared up this week after a grand jury failed to indict the white police officer Darren Wilson for killing the unarmed black youth Michael Brown, two realities were illuminated: Black and white people rarely view race in the same way or agree about how to resolve racial conflicts, and black people have furious moral debates among ourselves out of white earshot. These colliding worlds of racial perception are why many Americans view the world so differently, and why recent … [Read more...]

Putting a Price on Black Life

Civil Settlements in Bias Cases Rub Salt in Ancient Wounds n offhand remark in a media interview with the Brown family's lawyer, Benjamin Crump, got me thinking about a little-discussed abomination. Mr. Crump acknowledged that the family will press a civil suit over Michael's death, but he made it very clear that any civil settlement won't address the justice issue--the issue of accountability for the shooter of an unarmed Black man. #459548090 / gettyimages.com I invite you to look … [Read more...]

The Worth of Black Men, From Slavery to Ferguson

he paper, stained in spots, has yellowed, its black ink faded to a dull brown, but the horizontal lines printed on the page are still a fine blue. Some scribe took great care preparing this page, first dragging a piece of graphite along a straight edge to make two pairs of twin columns. Sometimes the pencil marks skip, disconnecting from the line before joining the page again. Once ordered, the table received its data: numbers rendered by hand but with a machinelike uniformity. One column is … [Read more...]