Tag: Dream Defenders

Jay Z’s Tidal Donates $1.5M to Black Lives Matter and Several Other Social Justice Organizations

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Madonna, Deadmau5, Kanye West, Jay Z and J. Cole onstage at the Tidal launch event #TIDALforALL at Skylight at Moynihan Station on March 30, 2015, in New York City.  (JAMIE MCCARTHY/GETTY IMAGES FOR ROC NATION)

article by Angela Bronner Helm via theroot.com

Jay Z’s fledgling music streaming platform Tidal is donating $1.5 million to Black Lives Matter and several other local and national social justice organizations from money raised at an October concert, reports Mic.

The announcement was made on Friday, the same day Trayvon Martin would have turned 21 years old. The Trayvon Martin Foundation will receive a portion of the monies.

Tidal raised the funds at its Tidal X: 10/20 charity concert at Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Barclay Center. The live-streamed show featured Jay, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, Usher, T.I. and Damian Marley, among others.

The October concert was billed as a fundraiser for the New World Foundation, which will distribute the funds.

The nonprofits that will share the bounty include national organizations such as Opportunity Agenda, and Sankofa.org, as well as local grassroots groups such as Hands Up United, in Ferguson, Mo.; Dream Defenders in Tallahassee, Fla.; the Black Youth Project 100 in Chicago; the Baltimore Justice Fund; the Ohio Students Association and Million Hoodies and the Justice League in New York City.

Donations will also be given to organizations created by the families of victims of police brutality, including the Trayvon Martin Foundation, the Michael O.D. Brown We Love Ours Sons and Daughters Foundation and the Oscar Grant Foundation.

Read more at Mic.

Bree Newsome Speaks For The 1st Time After Taking Down Confederate Flag from State Capitol

Activist Bree Newsome Takes Down Confederate Flag from South Carolina State Capitol grounds (Photo via bluenationreview.com)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the weekend, a young freedom fighter and community organizer mounted an awe-inspiring campaign to bring down the Confederate battle flag. Brittany “Bree” Newsome, in a courageous act of civil disobedience, scaled a metal pole using a climbing harness, to remove the flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol. Her long dread locks danced in the wind as she descended to the ground while quoting scripture. She refused law enforcement commands to end her mission and was immediately arrested along with ally James Ian Tyson, who is also from Charlotte, North Carolina.

Bree Newsome arrest feature

Earlier this week, social justice activist and blogger Shaun King offered a “bounty” on the flag and offered to pay any necessary bail bond fees. Newsome declined the cash reward, asking that all proceeds go to funds supporting victims of the Charleston church massacre. Social media users raised more than $75,000 to fund legal expenses. South Carolina House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, a renowned defense attorney, has agreed to represent Newsome and Tyson as they face criminal charges.

Newsome released the following statement exclusively to Blue Nation Review:

Now is the time for true courage.

I realized that now is the time for true courage the morning after the Charleston Massacre shook me to the core of my being. I couldn’t sleep. I sat awake in the dead of night. All the ghosts of the past seemed to be rising.

Not long ago, I had watched the beginning of Selma, the reenactment of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and had shuddered at the horrors of history.

But this was neither a scene from a movie nor was it the past. A white man had just entered a black church and massacred people as they prayed. He had assassinated a civil rights leader. This was not a page in a textbook I was reading nor an inscription on a monument I was visiting.

This was now.

This was real.

This was—this is—still happening.

I began my activism by participating in the Moral Monday movement, fighting to restore voting rights in North Carolina after the Supreme Court struck down key protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

I traveled down to Florida where the Dream Defenders were demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, who reminded me of a modern-day Emmett Till.

I marched with the Ohio Students Association as they demanded justice for victims of police brutality.

I watched in horror as black Americans were tear-gassed in their own neighborhoods in Ferguson, MO. “Reminds me of the Klan,” my grandmother said as we watched the news together. As a young black girl in South Carolina, she had witnessed the Klan drag her neighbor from his house and brutally beat him because he was a black physician who had treated a white woman.

I visited with black residents of West Baltimore, MD who, under curfew, had to present work papers to police to enter and exit their own neighborhood. “These are my freedom papers to show the slave catchers,” my friend said with a wry smile.

And now, in the past 6 days, I’ve seen arson attacks against 5 black churches in the South, including in Charlotte, NC where I organize alongside other community members striving to create greater self-sufficiency and political empowerment in low-income neighborhoods.

Continue reading “Bree Newsome Speaks For The 1st Time After Taking Down Confederate Flag from State Capitol”

Black Lawyers to Challenge Police Brutality in 25 Cities

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – In an effort to combat police brutality in the Black community, the National Bar Association (NBA) recently announced plans to file open records requests in 25 cities to study allegations of police misconduct.

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National Bar Association President Pamela J. Meanes

Pamela Meanes, president of the Black lawyers and judges group, said the NBA had already been making plans for a nationwide campaign to fight police brutality when Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a White police officer following a controversial midday confrontation in a Ferguson, Mo.

Meanes called police brutality the new civil rights issue of this era, an issue that disproportionately impacts the Black community.

“If we don’t see this issue and if we don’t at the National Bar Association do the legal things that are necessary to bring this issue to the forefront, then we are not carrying out our mission, which is to protect the civil and political entities of all,” said Meanes.

The NBA, which describes itself as “the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges,” selected the 25 cities based on their African-American populations and reported incidents of police brutality.

The lawyers group will file open records requests in Birmingham, Ala.; Little Rock, Ark.; Phoenix; Los Angeles; San Jose, Calif., Washington, D.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Miami; Atlanta; Chicago; Louisville, Ky.; Baltimore, Md.; Detroit; Mich.; Kansas City, Mo.; St. Louis, Mo.; Charlotte, N.C.; Las Vegas, Nev.; New York City; Cleveland, Ohio; Memphis, Tenn., Philadelphia; Dallas; Houston; San Antonio, Texas, and Milwaukee, Wis.

In a press release about the open records requests, the group said it will not only seek information about “the number of individuals who have been killed, racially profiled, wrongfully arrested and/or injured while pursued or in police custody, but also comprehensive data from crime scenes, including “video and photographic evidence related to any alleged and/or proven misconduct by current or former employees,” as well as background information on officers involved in the incidents.

Not only will the NBA present their findings to the public, but the group also plans to compile its research and forward the data over to the attorney general’s office.

Meanes said the group’s ultimate goal is to have a conversation with Attorney General Eric Holder and to ask, and in some cases, demand he seize police departments or take over or run concurrent investigations.

Meanes said federal law prohibits the Justice Department from going into a police department unless a pattern or history of abuse has been identified.

“The problem is that the information needed for that action is not readily available in a comprehensive way on a consistent basis with the goal of eradicating that abuse,” said Meanes, adding that the open records request is the best way to get that information.

Meanes said that the NBA was concerned that the trust had already brrn broken between the police force and the residents of Ferguson and that the rebellion and the protests would continue.

“We don’t think St. Louis County should investigate this. We don’t think the prosecutor should investigate this. There should be an independent third-party investigating this and that is the federal government,” said Meanes.

Phillip Agnew, executive director of the Dream Defenders, a civil rights group established by young people of color in the aftermath of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager in Sanford, Fla., said law enforcement officials taunted, antagonized and disrespected peaceful protesters who took to the streets of Ferguson and at times incited the violence they attempted to stamp out in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown.

“An occupying force came into the community, they killed someone from the community, and instead of being transparent and doing everything they could do to make sure the community felt whole again, they brought in more police to suppress folks who were exercising their constitutional rights,” said Agnew.“If your protocol results in greater violence, greater anger, and greater disenchantment of the people, you have to chart a different course.”

On the heels of the NBA announcement, Attorney General Holder launched two initiatives designed to calm anxiety and frustration expressed by Ferguson’s Black residents towards the local police department over allegations of misconduct, harassment and discrimination.

The Justice Department also introduced a “Collaborative Reform Initiative” to tackle similar concerns with the St. Louis County Police Department and to improve the relationship between police officers and the communities they serve.

Continue reading “Black Lawyers to Challenge Police Brutality in 25 Cities”

OPINION: Black Millennials Are Emerging as the ‘Movement Generation’

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Christina Bijou holds a sign during a rally outside the Department of Justice, August 27, 2014, in Washington, to call on the Attorney General Eric Holder to help secure justice for Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

On August 22, almost two weeks after Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, The Washington Post published an op-ed by Columbia University professor Fredrick Harris titled “Will Ferguson be a moment or a movement?

I started working on my piece about the new era of black activism (which you can read here) months ago, and so I read Harris’s op-ed with the same level of irritation that made me want to write that piece in the first place. Not that there isn’t any value in what Harris wrote, because there certainly is. But if you’re asking the question “Where is the movement?” you simply haven’t been paying attention.

“A moment of trauma can oftentimes present you with an opportunity to do something about the situation to prevent that trauma from happening again,” Charlene Carruthers, national coordinator for Black Youth Project 100, told me in an interview for that piece, and the millennial generation has been presented with trauma after trauma. The killing of Sean Bell, the over-prosecution of the Jena Six, the killing of Oscar Grant, the killing of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, the killing of Trayvon Martin and so many more moments that may not have captured the national media attention but those events have defined the late adolescence and early adulthood of black folks of the millennial generation. As part of that demographic, let me say: the trauma has been fucking exhausting.

So, too, has been the haranguing from older generations that we have been too apathetic, that we have been too “post-racial,” that we have not done our part in upholding the legacy of the civil-rights movement. And so I wanted to write a corrective to that narrative, as I’ve seen my generation take up the fight and organize and begin along the hard road to movement building. It’s happening at this very moment. It was happening before Michael Brown was killed.

Harris writes: “What may keep Ferguson from becoming a national transformative event is if “justice” is narrowly confined to seeking relief for Brown and his family. If the focus is solely on the need for formal charges against Wilson, a fair trial, a conviction, a wrongful-death lawsuit—rather than seeing those things as part of a broader movement that tackles stand-your-ground laws, the militarization of local police, a requirement that cameras be worn by police on duty and the need for a comprehensive federal racial-profiling law. If justice remains solely personal, rather than universal.”

But that work had already begun before Ferguson erupted. The Dream Defenders traveled to the United Nations to present a case against “stand-your-ground” laws, and BYP100 recently organized an action at the Chicago Police Department headquarters to address discrepancies in marijuana arrests. The movement is here. The pictures are not as arresting as what comes from a moment like Ferguson, and therefore aren’t as compelling to media outlets only interested in the sensational. But the criminalization of black youth has emerged as the central focus of organizing efforts for the millennial generation and the work is being done.

On Twitter, filmmaker/writer/activist dream hampton called millennials the “Movement Generation.” It fits.

article by Mychal Denzel Smith via thenation.com

Youth-Led Campaigns Continue to Seek Justice for Trayvon Martin, Refute CNN’s Don Lemon

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At left, American singer, songwriter, actor and social activist Harry Belafonte, Jr. listens as Dream Defenders Executive Director Phillip Agnew, right, raises his fist as he leads a chant calling for a special session Friday, July 26, 2013 in the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

In wake of the Trayvon Martin murder trial, movements led by young people who embrace hoodies, tattoos, hip-hop culture and rebellion are proving that a powerful voice in this nation can defy stereotypes or expectations.  While media pundits and lawmakers continue to bicker over the destructive ethos of American society, organizations like the Dream Defenders, the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice and the Trayvon Martin Foundation have taken their concerns to the streets.  They’re camped out. They’re marching Washington. They’re demanding that laws be changed and they’re forcing the government to listen.

An uprising not unlike civil rights movements of the past, these youth activists have utilized social media, new technology and the provocative antics of hip-hop to make a difference, and they don’t intend to stop.

#Ever.

“We are powerful because we are a product of our generation,” Ciara Taylor, political director for the Dream Defenders, tells theGrio. “We show the world that yes, you can listen to rap music, and yes, you can sag your pants, yes, you can have tattoos and wear snapbacks, but you can also stand up for yourself and your community.”

The Dream Defenders: #TAKEOVERFL

After occupying the Florida State House for three weeks to demand repeal of the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law, Taylor’s team demonstrated their influence this weekend when Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford announced he would hold hearings on the subject this fall.  The victory arrives after the organization, primarily made of twenty-somethings and college students, rallied legislators, drafted letters and sought approval from the Secretary of State to bring the matter to its feet.  According to Tallahassee.com, the protest has cost the government $182,362, including $68,777 in overtime for law enforcement officers.  “I’m thinking I’m going to lose my job,” says Taylor, who works part-time at the American Civil Liberties Union and has taken significant time off to lead the protest.

Continue reading “Youth-Led Campaigns Continue to Seek Justice for Trayvon Martin, Refute CNN’s Don Lemon”

Florida House Speaker Agrees to Hold Hearings on Stand Your Ground Law

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TALLAHASSEE — Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford announced Friday that he will order hearings this fall on the state’s “stand your ground” law, a victory for the young protesters known as the Dream Defenders who have spent the past two weeks protesting at the Capitol.  “It’s a critical first step,” said Phillip Agnew, executive director of the Dream Defenders. “We’ve been here for three weeks. We know Democracy takes time. Progress takes time.”

They shouldn’t celebrate too hard. Weatherford assigned the task of chairing the hearings to a staunch supporter of the law, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.  “I don’t support changing one damn comma of the stand your ground law,” Gaetz said Friday.  “It would be reactionary and dangerous to make Floridians less safe to pacify uninformed protesters.”  Gaetz, the 31-year-old son of Senate President Don Gaetz, talks tough on crime. He passed a bill this year that expedited death row cases and has been known for pushing conservative causes popular in his Panhandle district. He expects the hearings to draw national attention, and he says he’s ready for the debate.

“I want to have hearings, it’s a good idea,” Gaetz said. “Right now, the only voices on stand your ground are coming from the radical left. I want an opportunity to give a full-throated defense of the law.”  He said he’s not sure when he’ll hold the hearings, how long they’ll last, or how they’ll be structured.  But he said his bias shouldn’t deter those holding out hope that hearings can lead to changes in the law.  “Bills I don’t support occasionally pass my committee,” he said.

Weatherford agreed to the hearings in an op-ed published Friday. “Our evaluation of its effectiveness should be guided by objective information, not by political expediency,” he wrote. “Does the law keep the innocent safer? Is it being applied fairly? Are there ways we can make this law clearer and more understandable.”

Continue reading “Florida House Speaker Agrees to Hold Hearings on Stand Your Ground Law”

Today, Across the Nation, Vigils Will Call for ‘Justice for Trayvon’

Protester at Trayvon Martin Rally in Los Angeles, 7-17-13 (Photo by Lesa Lakin)
Protester at Trayvon Martin Rally in Los Angeles, 7-17-13 

Ira Acree spent two hours passing out fliers in front of the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago, hoping to spread the word about a “Justice for Trayvon” vigil at noon Saturday — one of at least 100 planned in cities across the nation.  On the way back to his car, Acree, a pastor, spotted a television in the lobby of the parking garage. A crowd had gathered in front, as if “watching the football game,” Acree said. President Obama was speaking.

In his first comments since a six-woman jury acquitted George Zimmerman of murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, Obama spoke frankly and reflectively, relating his experiences with race and racial profiling. “Trayvon Martin could have been me,” the President said. Obama’s earnest words moved Acree almost to tears.  “I just think that the president’s words may help whites across the nation at least understand us,” Acree said. “And be a little bit more emphathetic toward our actions tomorrow.”  Acree chairs the board of a social justice group in Chicago called the Leader’s Network, which is helping organize Saturday’s vigil.

The 100-city “Justice for Trayvon” vigils, which the RevAl Sharpton announced Tuesday on the steps of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., will be staged mostly at federal court buildings across the country. In California, rallies are scheduled in Los Angeles, Oakland, Palmdale, Riverside, Sacramento, San Francisco and the Monterey County city of Seaside.  Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, and Martin’s brother, Jahvaris, will attend a rally in New York City, along with Sharpton. Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, is attending a vigil in Miami.

With the vigils, organizers are hoping to build momentum for the filing of federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman.  A day after the jury delivered a not-guilty verdict, Sharpton’s civil rights organization, the National Action Network, held a conference call with local organizers.

Continue reading “Today, Across the Nation, Vigils Will Call for ‘Justice for Trayvon’”