In the wake of the #BlackLivesMatter protests in and around Richmond, NBC 12 reports that a public forum is scheduled between police and protesters.

donttalktocop

I am not an organizer of these protests although I have participated in several and support the movement as much as I can. And I am white, and it is certainly delicate territory for me to critique organizing being done by folks of color. But in this case, I think it is necessary, as a safety precaution and because this sort of event has the potential to affect activists of all types in Richmond.

I support 110% the concept of Diversity of Tactics. No one has to organize like anyone else, as long as we have points of agreement we are working towards. However, I am highly skeptical of and concerned about a meeting with the Police.

Generally speaking, when organizing protests or events, folks I organize with operate with the idea of having as little interaction as possible with the police. This is coming from a largely anarchist organizing scene, so if these protesters are not anarchists, that might explain their different approach. But anarchist or not, it can be very harmful to a movement to have some folks deal with the police. There are many reasons for that.

Significantly, is that Police can lie. They are trained interrogators, and when involved in a conversation they can lie and manipulate you with ease. While the police can lie, you can not. It is illegal for you to lie to the police. If you want to know your rights, check out this post full of useful info, or get in touch and I or someone else will happily come to your group to do a Know Your Rights or How to Copwatch workshop. Trust me, many cops do not know your rights, and aren’t required to tell you much about them. They aren’t even legally required to give you a verbal Miranda Rights anymore. The news article says “They say they’ll be asking questions like “If an officer asks me to take my hands out of my pockets, do I have to?”” – look, you do not have to go talk to the police to find this information out. Yes, you do need to take your hands out of your pockets or else the police might think you are doing something dangerous and shoot you. When you are detained the police have the right to pat you down to feel for any weapons. They can not go into your pockets for anything other than something which feels like a weapon unless you give consent. Never give them consent to search. Always say, “I do not consent to a search”. But do not physically resist a search, just repeat loudly that you do not consent. See you do not need to go to police to get this information.

Additionally, police operate with a hierarchical system. They assume everyone else does too. I couldn’t count the number of times some cop has asked us to speak to whomever is in charge, just to receive laughter in response. No one is in charge silly cop. Of course, that is after they usually approach the biggest white male first, under the assumption that they are in charge. What this means in terms of talking to the police, is that if one person or group of persons comes to any agreement with the police, the police are liable to hold the entirety of ‘demonstrators’ to those agreements. Even though many who might protest a variety of issues had no say in those agreements.

In certain protest situations, this has resulted in protesters who had agreements with the cops, actually policing other protesters. Sometimes this means protesters trying to detain, assault, or have arrested others involved in the protest. This pretty obviously sucks. Even if things do not get to that point, any agreement with the police by some protesters basically gives the police leverage to try to hold all protesters to that agreement, and places more folks in potential danger.

The location of the forum, is at the Police Training Academy on Northside, hardly neutral ground. There are folks who might want to participate who validly do not feel at all safe in that space. There are tons of folks who do not feel comfortable sharing any space with police. And folks who do feel safe in those spaces need to be careful to not speak for those who do not. This is a highly tricky situation.

The forum is also a fairly transparent means through which the police are trying to get good media coverage. They are being nice, reasonable etc. These are still the police who terrorize men of color, engage in stop and frisk activities in Northside neighborhoods and others too, lock up all kinds of people for non violent offenses, and generally harm our communities. They do not have to be regularly murdering people in a direct manner for their very existence to be oppressive and harmful.

The article also says that questions from demonstrators will be submitted written and read by a third party. I don’t know about yall, but thats not how I imagine a DIALOGUE going. Conceivably questions might be ignored or censored as the police please. It seems that there is no assurance of an opportunity for response or rebuttal. So this might just be a forum to give the police a platform to answer soft questions and look good for the media. Not a win in my mind.

It is unstated as to whether or not ‘demonstrators’ will be allowed to bring in recording devices to capture their own take on the situation.

City Council’s new President Michelle Mosby is quoted talking about “mutual respect” between protesters and police. Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. NOPE! I speak for myself only, but am fairly certain there are plenty of folks in Richmond who do not have respect for the enforcement arm of racism, capitalism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, etc. I mean, the police!

The question of legitimacy and the process of de-legitimization is also present here. Who represents these movements and has the legitimacy to engage with the police. What does this do to others in the movements who do not want to talk to the police or support this tactic. There are certainly people of color who are not supportive of this forum, if my facebook feed is at all representative. Unfortunately, this forum will de-legitimize those protesters in the polices’ eyes.

Movements need leadership, but not necessarily leaders. If folks are perceived as in charge by the police, this also puts them in a tricky situation of being accountable for an entire movement. It can be dangerous to be a police liason. And it can put folks in a position of being pressured by police to force protesters to engage in something they do not want to do.

If you are talking to the police, be very careful. Be considerate of others involved in the movements, and make an effort to avoid speaking for or representing others. Ask tough questions if you are going to ask questions. And remember that people choose to be police, choose to enforce unjust laws, choose to engage in a system of racism and transphobia, and generally choose to be oppressive.

That’s all I’ve got right now. Just make sure this is something you want to do and that the benefits outweigh the risks.
See you in the streets.
Over n Out.

2014 April 9 – Special Meeting of Land Use To Consider Monroe Park Bids – Richmond City Council – Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger on Vimeo.

Part 6/10 – 2014 April 14 – Citizen Comment Period – Richmond City Council Meeting – Richmond, Virginia from Silver Persinger on Vimeo.

No, no – it’s not the children who need parenting that I’m concerned about, it’s the local government.
If you are a parent, or have ever acted as a babysitter, you will understand where this is going. You can’t have dessert until you finish your vegetables, and you can’t watch T.V. until you’ve done your chores. The #blacklivesmatter action at City Council follows the same logic. Mayor Jones and City Council can’t have football stadiums, baseball stadiums, or breweries until they finish their vegetables and chores. And as activists in Richmond have been saying for years, we need the basics taken care of here before the public boondoggles – I mean developments.
Mayor Jones’ concept of making Richmond a Tier One city is akin to putting lipstick on a pig. He and City Council seem to be continually interested in doing the fun stuff, while neglecting the hard work. Their general practices are the same thing as when your mom tells you to clean your room so you shove the mess into the closet. Well at the City Council meeting, everyone who’s tired of the mess spoke up.
A motley crew took action at the first city council meeting of 2015, presenting a list of grievances, a list of demands, and an ultimatum. The subject matter of the demands is very intersectional, including environmental, no stadium in Shockoe Bottom, public transportation, the schools, and protecting the right of the homeless to be in Monroe Park.
There has already been public reaction – why would anyone threaten the UCI International Bike Race? Trust me, it’s not because we hate bikes, or fun. It’s because we can not build a strong community or a tier one city without the items listed in the demands. And if you don’t do your chores, you get grounded. Frankly, it is surprising it has taken this long for residents of Richmond to put the Mayor and City Council on notice.
For folks who do not understand the #blacklivesmatter thing, well that’s a whole other article. But for this instance, calm down and take a gander at the list of demands. If everyone can take off their angry goggles for a minute, it is pretty easy to see how all citizens of Richmond, regardless of race will benefit from these demands being fulfilled.  Can you imagine if our schools had the funding to maintain buildings and build amazing curriculums? And if our bus systems was affordable and effective, creating more job access?
For all the grandstanding and puffery by public officials, Richmond is still in a very bad position to host a major bike race. We apparently can not currently manage our own parks, schools, buses, social services, etc. And for a bike friendly town, we aren’t that bike friendly yet. We need a better foundation in order to host awesome events, like bike races. You have to clean the house before you have company over.
To Mayor Jones and City Council, I say, get your chores finished and then let’s all enjoy a bike race come September.  You can do it.
To everyone else in Richmond, help out your buddies the Mayor and City Council. It’s always nice when your friends help with your chores so you can all hang out afterwards.
The threat of boycotting and disrupting the 2015 UCI International Road Championships is akin to your parents threatening to ground you if you misbehave. It is the kind of discipline Richmond needs to get the local politicians in line.

Let’s do this together,
Mo Karnage

ALL the money!!!

Richmond seems to have access to ALL the MONEY!!! For any stupid, classist, racist, sexist, etc. idea that comes down the pike. This is what half of my articles are about as is, but I could not let the $53,000 for a fence to keep homeless people from possibly sleeping under a new bridge pass without comment.

News story here if you hadn’t heard about this bullshit.

And if you’ve missed about all the other crap we spend public funds on, check out this article I wrote recently recapping some bad investments.

Just remember- the people who run this town (for now), think it is perfectly reasonable to spend Fifty Three Thousand Dollars to build a fence to prevent homeless people from having the shelter of a bridge if they choose it. But they privatized a major park, want to build a baseball stadium, neglect the schools, built a football stadium for a racist team, are funding a brewery and restaurant, don’t have a central homeless shelter (more coming on that from a group of us soon), fail to maintain public housing in good conditions, etc. Basically – what the hell!

And, this involves Venture Richmond, who LOVE to act like they are nice people, and Dominion Resources – the fuckers behind the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Venture/Vulture Richmond has mega ties to Dominion and McGuire Woods Law Firm who is representing Dominion to sue landowners etc. It’s basically all connected, from environmental issues to homelessness to eminent domain etc. We have to pay attention and call out this stuff constantly.

This has been  a rant.

Nude Pictures!!! Read the rest of this entry »

AKA: Where DON’T We Go Wrong?

Watching the back and forth reactions to both the bombing of the NAACP headquarters in Colorado Springs and the shootings at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris on social media is enough to give me whiplash.

Navigating the intertwining issues of race and religion isn’t something at which us humans are very good. Add in jargon like “terrorism” and “rights” and suddenly we have added complex emotions to some already emotional issues. Entire books have been and will be written on these issues*. And ultimately, we all need to take more time to have long discussions and studying of these concepts and how we use them. There is power in words.

Yes, you have the right to free speech, and the right to draw images of a Muslim prophet Mohammad that many people believe ought not be depicted. But yes, it does make you an asshole if you choose to exercise this right.

No, (Muslim dudes in Paris) you do not have the right to kill people for being assholes. No, (Obama and U.S. military) you do not have the right to use drone strikes to kill people for being in proximity to where you think assholes might be located. None of this is acceptable behavior.

It is difficult at this point to distinguish the chicken from the egg in the world of international terrorism. The place to start, it would seem, is in accepting accountability for one’s own nation’s actions, and working to end disrespectful and terrorist activity one’s for which one’s country is responsible. The finger pointing is a fun game for sure, but unless you support endless war and civilian casualties and mondo finger cramps, we have to calm down*** and stop.

Simply because we have the right does NOT mean that doing or saying the thing is as good idea. And it also doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences. The consequences for saying something racist or disrespectful obviously shouldn’t be getting your offices shot up. When someone says something that isn’t respectful, they should understand that any negative responses are not about curtailing their ‘right’ to say something mean, but rather are the fair market reactions. Read the rest of this entry »

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