One year after the killing of Michael Brown, there has been very little substantive change in America. As reported in the Nation,
Missouri lawmakers filed more than sixty bills inspired by last year’s protests, but only court reform passed into law, according to an Associated Press analysis. One of the bills that failed to move through the statehouse sought to make Missouri’s use-of-force laws compliant with a 1985 US Supreme Court decision. Other bills would have made body cameras mandatory and require special prosecutors to investigate officer-involved shootings. Last year, activists accused county prosecutor Bob McCulloch of being too close to law enforcement to objectively handle Wilson’s case.
Furthermore, the Washington Post reports that:
So far this year, 24 unarmed black men have been shot and killed by police – one every nine days, according to a Washington Post database of fatal police shootings. During a single two-week period in April, three unarmed black men were shot and killed. All three shootings were either captured on video or, in one case, broadcast live on local TV.
Those 24 cases constitute a surprisingly small fraction of the 585 people shot and killed by police through Friday evening, according to The Post database. Most of those killed were white or Hispanic, and the vast majority of victims of all races were armed.
However, black men accounted for 40 percent of the 60 unarmed deaths, even though they make up just 6 percent of the U.S. population. The Post’s analysis shows that black men were seven times more likely than white men to die by police gunfire while unarmed.
The latest such shooting occurred Friday, claiming Christian Taylor, 19, a promising defensive back on the Angelo State University football team. Police said Taylor crashed an SUV through the front window of a car dealership in Arlington, Tex., and was shot in an altercation with responding officers. The case is under investigation.
The disproportionate number of unarmed black men in the body count helps explain why outrage continues to simmer a year after Ferguson — and why shootings that might have been ignored in the past are now coming under fresh public and legal scrutiny. (Emphasis added)
One year after the death of Michael Brown, the Black Lives Matter Movement has failed, for the most part. People are still marching, protesting and engaging in civil disobedience in Ferguson and around the country. That proves that the movement has not achieved its objectives. The End Racial Profiling Act has not been passed. In fact, a bill to protect lions and other wild animals is a greater priority in Congress than the End Racial Profiling Act. That is an obvious sign of failure. While unarmed movement members are arrested for engaging in civil disobedience, killers like Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman continue to walk free and armed white militia patrol the streets of Ferguson looking for trouble from the black natives. That is not success. That is failure. As previously stated, the brutal police continue to harass and kill unarmed black people. Recent examples include the killing of Walter Scott, Freddie Gray and Sam DuBose. Our lives still don’t matter. Again, the movement has failed miserably.
Certainly, the movement’s catch phrase “Black Lives Matter” has become a popular slogan. That slogan has generated a much needed national discussion. Even that discussion has detoured into discussion about how “all lives matter.” More importantly, slogans alone are a poor substitute for actual substantive reforms. Discussions are just that, discussions. Discussions are not actions. Clearly, the movement has gained publicity. Nonetheless, publicity without a focused purpose, other than 15 minutes of fame, is meaningless. Publicity for the stake of publicity accomplishes nothing.
For example, this past weekend, purported Black Lives Matter activists Marissa Janae Johnson (a former Sarah Palin supporter) and Mara Jacqeline Willaford interrupted Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ speech. Ms. Johnson’s “I don’t give a f***” attitude is childish and unsophisticated. Unfortunately, that is not the first time that Black Lives Matter activists have interrupted a program. They also interrupted Al Sharpton’s Justice for All march.
It is just plain stupid to attack, alienate and discard allies, especially when your movement is funded by the same white progressives that you criticize. By the way, black organizations should be funded primarily by black people. Anyway, the Black Lives Matter Movement should collaborate with Al Sharpton and other prominent civil rights leaders and organizations. Potential allies like Sanders have the power to pass laws to address the problems of police brutality and racial profiling. Instead of interrupting fellow progressives, the movement should be interrupting the police who harass and kill black people. Instead of interrupting organizations that have the same goals and objectives, the movement should be interrupting a Congress that is more concerned about slain lions than slain black people.
Marissa Janae Johnson’s and Mara Jacqeline Willaford’s actions expose another fundamental flaw of the movement, its leaderless and decentralized nature. Such a structure breeds chaos and rogue action. If it is to be successful, the movement needs more structure and more discipline. Otherwise, it will be another short-lived moment just like the Occupy Wall Street movement. It will be here today and gone tomorrow. Rather than having an arrogant “know-it-all” approach and attitude, the movement should learn effective strategies from civil rights veterans and black power veterans.
Instead of engaging in such juvenile publicity stunts, the movement must present a clear set of demands to elected officials and candidates. The movement must demand that all politicians pass legislation that is in accord with those demands. Instead of just tweeting and marching, the activists should be conducting effective and massive voter registration and education drives. If we do not vote, we cannot complain about politicians not implementing reforms. If we do not vote, we cannot complain about juries and grand juries letting killers like Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman go free. Through the vote, we are able to serve on juries and render justice.
[Originally posted at New Possibilities]