Will you follow Jackson’s lead and help make this movement viral?
article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Editor-in-Chief
Parties and protests don’t typically overlap, but the “Selma” cast made an exception and a statement on Sunday night following the film’s Manhattan premiere. At one point during the otherwise splashy festivities, director Ava DuVernay took to the steps of the New York Public Library with actors David Oyelowo, E. Roger Mitchell, Wendell Pierce, Omar Dorsey, John Lavelle, Stephan James, Kent Faulcon, Lorraine Toussaint, Andre Holland, Tessa Thompson and Colman Domingo, donning “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts over their partywear and raising their arms in the “don’t shoot” pose.
It was not just an unusually sobering photo op, but also a direct acknowledgment of the eerie timing of Paramount’s civil rights drama, with its scenes of organized protest and its urgent plea for justice and reform. The premiere was held the same weekend that more than 25,000 men and women marched through Manhattan, in the largest protest the city has seen since a grand jury decided not to indict a police officer in the death of Eric Garner.
The picture’s timeliness is undeniable, said Toussaint, who plays the civil rights activist Amelia Boynton. “There are no accidents,” she said. “I’m so proud to be a part of this film, and I’m so proud of Ava’s accomplishment. To bear witness to the fact that this voice is being heard at this moment … it speaks to the times and the needs of this time, too.”
Introducing the screening, along with Oyelowo and producers Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, DuVernay noted that the last time she had set foot in the historic Ziegfeld Theater, it was in her capacity as a publicist. That was back in 2006, at the New York premiere of “Dreamgirls.”
“I was on that film for a year,” DuVernay recalled at the afterparty. “I remember what Jennifer Hudson wore. I remember what Beyoncé wore. It was a madhouse of A-list celebrities, and I walked that same carpet.” Is it better walking it as a filmmaker rather than a flack? “A little better, a little better. I’ve got better gear on than that black suit.”
Fortunately for actor Alessandro Nivola, the premiere was held on his one night off from “The Elephant Man,” the Broadway play in which he’s currently starring alongside Bradley Cooper. Nivola had to dash over to the Ziegfeld from the matinee, just in time for the film’s 6 p.m. screening.
“I would’ve walked offstage a little early to get to the red carpet if it had meant that I was going to miss it (otherwise),” Nivola said.
He noted that it was a treat to work again with Oyelowo, with whom he also appeared in “Who Do You Love” and the upcoming “A Most Violent Year.” “He was particularly inspired in this particular role by his faith. Whether or not you believe in God, when you see somebody who feels that drive in him in a performance, it’s a pretty powerful thing.”
Also in attendance were Paramount chairman-CEO Brad Grey, Viacom president-CEO Philippe Dauman, James Schamus and Harvey Weinstein, as well as “Selma” actors Carmen Ejogo, Common, Tim Roth and Tom Wilkinson. Paramount will roll the film out on Christmas Day in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., followed by a wide release on Jan. 9.
article by Justin Chang via Variety.com
Erica Garner organized and led a protest in Staten Island on Thursday in memory of her father Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black man who died in July after he was placed in a prohibited chokehold by a white police officer.
Erica, 24, was joined by a group of protesters who marched through the city and collectively staged a die-in at the site where her father was slain.
Upon their arrival, Garner lay on the ground in the exact spot where he father died. It was a moment that was captured in these powerful photos:
Garner’s family has spoken out since a grand jury declined to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo, who said he “felt very bad” about Garner’s death and sent his condolences.
However, Garner’s widow, Esaw, rejected his offer in statements she made shortly after Pantaleo issued his statement. “Hell no! The time for remorse would have been when my husband was yelling to breathe,” Esaw said during a live press conference at the headquarters of the National Action Network on Dec. 3.
“No, I don’t accept his apology. No, I could care less about his condolences,” she continued. “He’s still working. He’s still getting a paycheck. He’s still feeding his kids, when my husband is six feet under and I’m looking for a way to feed my kids now.”
Protests have occurred in major cities nationwide since the grand jury’s indictment eight days ago and more are planned for the coming days. Garner’s family, along with families of other victims of police killings, will join Rev. Al Sharpton in leading a march in Washington on Saturday to speak out against racial profiling and police brutality.
“Do not be silent. Do not be complacent. Do not continue to live with police misconduct and violence as somehow acceptable,” Sharpton wrote on The Huffington Post.
“Those who came before us sacrificed so that we may have a more just future. Now we must do the same for the generations that will come after us.”
article by Lilly Workneh via huffingtonpost.com
WASHINGTON — Dozens of congressional staffers walked out of their offices Thursday afternoon to show solidarity with demonstrators who are protesting the decisions not to indict police officers who killed Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
Just after 3:30 p.m., the staffers stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol with their hands raised in the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture. In interviews, the staffers said they felt the need to express their support for demonstrators calling for police accountability for officers who take the lives of unarmed black men and women.
“We’re coming out here to let them know, no, it’s not business as usual, our lives matter, we’re asserting our humanity and our dignity,” one congressional staffer told The Huffington Post.
“Even though we go to work in these prestigious buildings among prestigious people, we go home and we’re still profiled, we still are part of those statistics,” the staffer added. “It could have been any one of us who was Eric Garner, who was Mike Brown.”
Most staffers did not speak to the press, and none who did agreed to give their names.
Another staffer said that while there may be longterm changes that come about as a result of the protest movement, it was important to assert that it was wrong to allow police officers to take lives without being held accountable.
“They want to put cameras on police officers, which is a great idea, but the Eric Garner case was seen on live TV; the entire world saw it,” said one young black congressional staffer who participated in the walkout. “President Obama said protests are necessary. This is a necessary protest.”
Rep. Joaquín Castro (D-Texas), who took part in the demonstration, said the protest represented “the best of American democracy.” He said he hoped the effort had bipartisan support, and pointed out that a majority of Americans now support some reforms, like having body cameras on police, even in places “thought to be conservative,” like Texas.
The walkout was planned by the Congressional Black Associates, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Staff Association and the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association.
article by Dana Liebelson and Ryan J. Reilly via huffingtonpost.com
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — A week after their “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” show of solidarity, several St. Louis Rams players made another societal statement Sunday with the message: “I Can’t Breathe.”
The slogan refers to Eric Garner, who died after a New York police officer placed him in a chokehold during an arrest for selling loose cigarettes. A grand jury decided last week that it would not indict the officer. A video of the arrest showed Garner gasping, “I can’t breathe.”
Guard Davin Joseph wrote the words on the cleats he wore during pregame warmups before the Rams beat the Washington Redskins 24-0. Tight end Jared Cook had it written on his wrist tape. Receiver Kenny Britt had several names — including Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin — written on his blue and gold cleats. The names were of black men or teens whose deaths led to protests.
“I feel like we should support what we feel is right,” said Joseph, who intended to wear the cleats during the game but had to change because of the condition of the slick turf at the Redskins’ stadium. “We should always have an opinion of sticking up for people who don’t have a voice.”
Joseph Tweeted an image of his shoes before the game with the message: “R.I.P. Eric Garner.”
Players at other NFL games expressed similar sentiments. Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush had “I Can’t Breathe” written in black across his blue warmup shirt. Browns cornerback Johnson Bademosi wrote the message on the back of the shirt he wore before a game in Cleveland.
“Honestly, I’ve always been the quiet kid. I’ve always been the one who’s reserved, to kind of sit back and not really get into politics and things like that,” said Bush, whose mother has been a police officer for about 20 years. “But I don’t know why I just felt some kind of … I guess the situation just touched me.
“It’s kind of resonated with me. Not because I’ve been through a similar situation or because I’ve seen anybody go through it. I just really felt terrible about what was going on these past couple of weeks.”
Lions coach Jim Caldwell supported Bush’s action.
Despite New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s prediction that public demonstrations over the Eric Garner and Ferguson Grand Jury decisions would “peter out,” the protests are still going strong thanks, in part, to a generous contribution from musician John Legend and his wife model and food blogger Chrissy Teigen. The couple purchased a fleet of food trucks to serve up free food to hungry protesters in New York’s Lincoln Square.
Though neither Legend or Teigen is on the ground or taking direct credit for the trucks, Teigen did retweet the following message to her 500,000 followers:
For his part, Legend has let his art do the talking for him. The musician (who was just nominated for several Grammy awards) co-wrote a stirring track from the upcoming (and sadly timely) film Selma about the three Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 which led to to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The track, entitled “Glory,” contains the lyrics: “That’s why Rosa sat on the bus/That’s why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up.”
article by Joanna Robinson via vanityfair.com
One day after a grand jury declined to indict a New York police officer in the death of Eric Garner, prompting angry protests and calls for reform from elected officials, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday announced the start of a significant retraining of the nation’s largest police force.
Mr. de Blasio said the grand jury’s decision had focused the public’s attention on the relationship between the police and the public. “Fundamental questions are being asked, and rightfully so,” he said. “The way we go about policing has to change.”
The de Blasio administration did not immediately explain in detail what the training would entail and how the city would cover the considerable costs of such an undertaking.
Addressing the reaction on Wednesday to the grand jury’s decision, Mr. de Blasio said he understood the frustration of so many and he called on people to channel that anger into working for change.
“People need to know that black lives and brown lives matter as much as white lives,” he said.
Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said the retraining would require some 22,000 officers to complete a three-day course.
The program, beginning this month, is modeled on the periodic required firearms retraining that all officers must regularly undergo. Mr. Bratton first announced the department-wide retraining effort in the wake of Mr. Garner’s death. He provided further details at a City Council hearing in September, including learning “de-escalation” techniques. Continue reading