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...]

Another Dimension to “Black Lives Matter”

The Washington Post’s landmark survey of police shootings in 2015 found that around twice as many people were shot to death by police than others, including this author, had estimated from FBI and public health sources. In a large majority of deadly police shootings, officers killed suspects armed with lethal weapons; none of those shootings appear to be controversial. The controversy over possibly unjustified police shootings surrounds the fewer than one in 10 instances in which unarmed … [Read more...]

Why ‘Outrage Fatigue’ Only Hurts Us

Once again, a grand jury has decided not to indict a police officer for killing a black child. And for those who desperately cry out for justice, watching these cases unfold the same way, time after time, is enough to leave you with outrage fatigue. Or as civil rights warrior Fannie Lou Hamer once called it “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Outrage fatigue comes with an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. The sense that our lives are completely being devalued. We’ve been angry by … [Read more...]

An Open Letter to Black Clergy on the Disdain for Protest

Advent is upon us as we await the coming of the world’s most famous Palestinian—Jesus of Nazareth. In this time that’s dedicated to a poor child born to an unwed mother, my conscience has forced my hand to the page. The disdain for protest within our blessed community has troubled my spirit to the point that I cannot sleep. It is with great trepidation that I write you as your son—heavy-hearted and ashamed. Having been baptized into the faith at 15, my formative years were shaped by the … [Read more...]

This Surveillance Software Is Probably Spying on #BlackLivesMatter

e just got a pile of public records from the police department in Fresno, California. They show that in the last two years, Fresno police have been using several different brands of social media surveillance software – all without the public’s consent. What’s worse, the ACLU has discovered that Fresno police have been using an especially offensive piece of software called MediaSonar, which encourages the police to identify “threats to public safety” by tracking #BlackLivesMatter-related … [Read more...]

These Savvy Women Have Made Black Lives Matter the Most Crucial Left-Wing Movement Today

There was a time when Melina Abdullah wanted to be the next Maxine Waters. A year or two ago, I recognized that those middle-class aspirations are done,” Abdullah says now, in the soothing voice of a therapist or guidance counselor. “You can’t go in and yell at people or camp in front of the mayor’s house and go, ‘Now I’m running for office.’ I had to make peace with that.” Abdullah lives in a three-bedroom house in Crenshaw with her three children. She drives a Volvo. She’s a tenured … [Read more...]

How Much Do Black Lives Matter to the Presidential Campaign?

The onslaught of confrontations between blacks and the police, as well as intense coverage on TV and online of college campus protests and of the Black Lives Matter movement, have decisively affected the Democratic Party’s position on a core issue: the use of force to maintain public order. On its own, the Black Lives Matter movement has become a source of polarizing disagreement between Democrats and Republicans, who were hardly in harmony on crime and punishment to begin with. An additional … [Read more...]

Black Family Matters: Resistance and Mothering in the Face of Racism

As the crowd around me roared, 'no justice, no peace, no racist police', I watched my son as he engaged in social protest. He is an absolutely beautiful young man, tall with broad shoulders and a smile that melts my heart. I am his mother and I love him dearly. My palms sweat and my face was tense as I watched. I wondered if my son was at the line of civil disobedience or had he already crossed it. I know he has the right to protest what he sees as injustice. In fact, for twenty years I have … [Read more...]

Obama, Pushing Criminal Justice Reform, Defends ‘Black Lives Matter’

President Obama said Thursday that black Americans were not simply imagining concerns that they are often treated more harshly and less fairly by police officers than are whites. “It’s real,” he said. “We have to take it seriously.” And, during a panel discussion on criminal justice reform here, he defended the Black Lives Matter movement, which has been criticized by some as being anti-white, and by police unions in particular as being anti-police. “I think the reason the organizers … [Read more...]

The Collateral Victims of Criminal Justice

Since the financial crisis, complaints that corporate wrongdoers suffer light penalties have become routine. One reason is the Department of Justice’s longstanding policy that prosecutors must consider the “collateral consequences” that pursuing a corporation might have on innocent employees, shareholders, pensioners and even the financial system at large. Amid public outrage, Congress has hauled in prosecutors to ask precisely how often collateral consequences have led them to give the banks a … [Read more...]