Tag Archives: racism

Demo and Assembly in Response to the Election

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Sunday, November 13

Sample Gates

3 pm

 

Thoughts ran in me that words and writing were

nothing and must die, for action is the essence of all

and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing.

-Gerrard Winstanley

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SASV on Monday’s BLM Demo

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blmdemo

Students Against State Violence on the BLM Demonstration,  Monday, October 10, 2016

Students Against State Violence (SASV) and the IU Black Student Union hosted a Black Lives Matter Rally Monday, 10/10, at the Sample Gates, beginning at 6:30pm.The rally and the march that followed were carried out to protest the series of murders of Black people by police around the country during the month of September, as well as to pressure the BPD to cooperate with the family of Joseph Smedley, an IU student who went missing and then was found dead last Fall under suspicious circumstances.

The demonstration on Monday was an opportunity for us all to express our grief and anger about the constant police violence against Black people. This September was a particularly fatal month: On September 14, 13-year-old Tyre King was shot by Columbus, OH police while in possession of a BB gun. On September 16, 40-year-old Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed man, was shot and killed by Tulsa, OK police. On September 20, 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, who suffered from a traumatic brain injury, was killed by Charlotte, NC police. 23-year-old Korryn Gaines was killed by Baltimore, MD police after they invaded her home in response to a traffic violation from 5 months earlier. Her 5-year-old child was also shot during the incident, and on September 21 it was announced that the officers involved will not be facing charges. On September 27, 38-year-old Alfred Olango, an unarmed Ugandan immigrant, was killed by El Cajon, CA police, after his sister called emergency services because he was suffering from seizures.

SASV wants to make it clear that we think it is very important to not only focus on male, cis-gendered, or “innocent” victims of police violence. It is necessary for us to research the cases and know the names of Black women and trans people who have suffered at the hands of the police and other forms of state violence, and to defend those who the media and politicians ignore or portray as undeserving of sympathy or defense.

To bring attention to these murders, we heard speeches from Leah Humphrey and Kyra Harvey from Indy10 Black Lives Matter and Kealia Hollingsworth, President of the IU Black Student Union. Leah and Kyra spoke on the leadership role of Black women in the movement, and the need to lift up the stories of Black women who have been killed by the police, who are too often forgotten and ignored. Kealia focused on the experience of Black students on campus here at IU. Members of the theatre troupe for the upcoming play Resilience: Indiana’s Untold Story, about the legacy of Black people in Indiana, provided 200 balloons with the names of victims of police violence on them, which were released at the end of the rally.

Angaza Iman Bahar and OBAM, founding members of IDOC Watch (Indiana Department of Corrections) who are currently incarcerated at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, called in to the rally to express their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and to inform us about the struggle against prison slavery here in Indiana. Angaza is 41 years old and has been incarcerated for the past 23 years, convicted of the crime of attempted murder of a police officer when he was 18yrs old. He is due to be released in the next 2-3yrs and hopes to return to society and use the consciousness he has gained to add another voice to the movement for justice and social change. His writings can be read here. OBAM is 49 years old, serving a 75 year sentence with 17 more to do. He is a devout vegetarian, and in his words, “a politically conscious brotha” who is working diligently to get his time reduced. In the meantime, he seeks to form quality relationships and network with those on the outside with similar interests.

Then we heard a speech about institutionalized racism in the university context from Yassmin Fashir and a speech by Bella Chavez of GlobeMed, whose uncle Miguel was murdered by police in Oklahoma City in June of 2016. Finally, Stanley Njuguna, of Students for a Democratic Society, delivered an inspirational speech, and we released our balloons, before we took to the streets in protest.

We marched down Kirkwood to College Avenue, and then back east on 3rd street, blocking the whole road, and chanting “Black Lives Matter!”, Whose streets? Our streets!” and “USA, KKK, how many kids did you kill today?” as we marched. We blocked the intersection of 3rd and Lincoln, by the headquarters of the Bloomington Police Department (BPD), in protest of the department’s ongoing refusal to cooperate with the family of Joseph Smedley, a Black student whose body was found in Griffy Lake last Fall under suspicious circumstances. He had been missing for days without any indication being given by IU that a student was missing before his body was found, and his death was pronounced a suicide without sufficient investigation. For more information on Joseph Smedley’s case, please find and follow the “Justice for Joseph” page on Facebook.

During the intersection blockade, Indy10 Black Lives Matter led a call and response of the names of people killed by the police. Next, Andrea M. Sterling spoke on the need for active participation and accountability on the part of allies that goes beyond social media activism and one-off events. She called for sustained commitment to transformative change in our daily lives, through “solidarity, love, and support,” between and going further than protests and exciting actions. “Recognize that if you are here, and if you are really in it,” Andrea said, “then you’re not marching for me. You’re not rallying for me. If you’re fighting for freedom you’re fighting for your own as well.”  You can read her speech here. Then, Peter McDonald, who grew up in Columbus, OH, not far from where Tyre King was killed, spoke on the situation in that city and the institutional forces that drive police violence. Before we left the intersection, there was a spontaneous poetry reading. The intersection blockade lasted over twenty minutes. After that, we continued marching down third street, turned left on Indiana Avenue, and ended the demonstration with a blockade and speak-out in the intersection of Indiana and Kirkwood.

The protest was peaceful: An overwhelming majority of vehicles were able to turn around and find other routes, but a few aggressive drivers ignored courteous requests and alternate directions. Any conflict between drivers and protesters resulted from vehicles attempting to drive into the crowd, endangering lives. At least one protester was injured by a particularly aggressive and thoughtless driver, who tried to ram his SUV through the crowd. The Herald Times,’  report on the protest, written by Abby Tonsing, simply parroted back the BPD and IUPD’s statements about Joseph Smedley rather than engaging with any evidence or alternate viewpoints, and their article focused on the one moment where violence broke out, blaming the violence on protesters. The violence enacted by protesters in that moment was clearly in self-defense: watch the video and see for yourself. The majority of the people in the video are white, because throughout the demonstration white and other non-Black allies formed a perimeter in order to protect the more vulnerable bodies of our Black comrades. Better reporting on the demonstration, by the IDS and WFHB, can be read here and here.

It is completely unsurprising that news reports would portray protesters as “violent” and “scary”; like the police, they work for the elite, and they share the goal of keeping people scared to protest, especially against police violence. News outlets are more able to garner greater attention and viewership by appealing to reactionary aggression, as seen in many comments on these articles, rather than by conveying the messages and voices of those standing up and unifying in the face of systemic violence against black and brown bodies. Additionally, reports of the protest on social media have been met with many disturbing, threatening comments, by State Representative Jim Lucas, among others, often calling for violence against the protestors.

The negative reactions to our demonstration on social media bring into sharp focus the normalized disregard for Black lives that pervades society, and further illustrate the need for transformative change through collective struggle.

In Memory of Clinton “Boo” Gilkie, A Premature Death

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Printable PDF: InMemoryofBoo

In Memory of Clinton “Boo” Gilkie, A Premature Death

Clinton “Boo” Gilkie was held in the Monroe County Jail since he was 16 after a failed robbery using a toy gun. He was set to be released from jail in late June. After sitting for 22 months, he was finally being offered a plea deal for time served. He qualified for bail – just $1,000 – the entire time he was imprisoned, but was too poor to get out. On June 7th, 2016, less than two weeks before his release date, Boo died inside the Monroe County Jail. His incarceration was absurd, his death, murder.

Even though Boo’s death was quieter than that of the Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge or Philando Castile outside St. Paul, who were both cut down by cops, it follows the same pattern – the premature death coldly dealt out to those who are poor and/or black in this society, whether by bullet, coercion or neglect.

Because Boo’s family was poor he was considered “indigent” which means the state would be forced to pay for his medication as long as he had no money on his books. When his family was able to put $10 a month on it was immediately taken by the jail to cover the cost of his medication. The only way Boo had enough money on his commissary to pay for necessary food that met his dietary restrictions and calorie needs was to refuse his medication. This means he was given the choice between access to food or access to medication.

The immediate cause of death was an aortic aneurysm, the result of the jail’s failure to treat a pre-existing heart condition called Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder. The jail was aware of Boo’s diagnosis and family medical history. Medicine and routine tests can manage the condition but the jail denied Boo access to these basic resources. When he died, the guards tried to claim it was an overdose and immediately isolated all of his blockmates, interrogating them and ransacking their dorm. Ex-prisoners who were released shortly after his death and other recent deaths reported that they were blamed, mistreated, and had no substantial support for trauma and loss. Counseling for survivors wasn’t made available, even at their request. While jail staff targeted and attempted to incriminate Boo’s blockmates, we know who the real killers are: the jail medical staff, the jail administration, and an institution that criminalizes race and poverty.

Boo’s premature death comes close on the heels of two suicides and countless suicide attempts in the jail over the last year and a half. These deaths have been under a new administration and jail-appointed medical provider. A suicide had not taken place in the jail for more than 30 years before this. A rise in jail overcrowding, minors tried and held as adults, incarceration for illness and poverty, and an increasing disregard for human life also mark an escalation beyond the last three, already miserable, decades of incarceration.

The system assumes it can keep failing our communities. This assumption relies on our hopelessness and complacency. The people in charge know that many of us get angry when teenagers are left to rot and die inside wretched cells, but they think we’ll stay quiet or take it out on each other. The rebels in Ferguson have demonstrated, though, that the only practical response is to find each other, combine our rage, and fight back against the enemy that cages or kills our friends, family, and loved ones. The legal system offers no protection to the poor, let alone to black teenagers. Our only protection, our best weapon is solidarity – what limits their violence and neglect is fear of our collective power.

If you miss Boo or are angry about his loss:

*Spread the word about Boo’s death. Fight against the media’s effort to sanitize the murder – they are simply acting as the mouthpiece of the jail and the cops.

*Revolt against his murder, against the next murder by law enforcement, and against the daily oppression across this society that mirrors and exceeds that of the prison. Remember that the Ferguson cop who murdered Michael Brown would not have faced any repercussions at all if a rebellion hadn’t broken out.

*Organize now in our communities to solve problems for ourselves and be prepared to address harm instead of calling cops. Stop snitching. If you’ve ever considered testifying against someone, remember that you might not just be sending them to jail but to their death.

Solidarity banner with anti-racist mobilization in Georgia

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atl_2Received and posted:

Living in Bloomington, Indiana, we understand what it means to go up against the organized forces of white supremacy like the police and the Ku Klux Klan.  As we continue to struggle for liberation here, we’re inspired by the open, dynamic revolt against racism going down with the Stone Mountain mobilization. So in support of this weekend’s demo, we hung a banner on the west side – a neighborhood marked by gentrification, police violence, and fascist agitation, but also by rebellion, mutual aid, and solidarity across racial barriers.