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We use direct actions to interrupt the status quo and bring awareness to key issues and different forms of state violence affecting the root causes of the plight of black and brown people around the world.,

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We stand against the many forms of state violence: police killings, mass incarceration, poverty and others.  We stand for justice for Tony Robinson and ALL Black lives lost at the hands of the state. We stand for community and self determination. We will not stop until we are free.

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YGB raising awareness and building community

Response to the Claims of "Blue Lives Matter" at Tuesday's Common Council Meeting
20 Jul 2016
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Response to the Claims of "Blue Lives Matter" at Tuesday's Common Council Meeting

A recent petition has circulated the city of Madison. This petition stresses "Blue Lives Matter", the notion that the authority is always right and that it should never be questioned by those oppressed. This type of paternalistic ideology ignores silenced voices and has consistently been on the "wrong side of history." It is also noteworthy that the signatures were only 45% from Madisonians (and of this, 20% police officers, many of which lied about their place of residence).

 

The woman who started the petition spoke at the podium at a Common Council meeting Tuesday night, speaking of how the police and those who support them have been "oppressed." This is, of course, not possible, because the key ingredient of oppression is power - and the police and their supporters have history, government, economics, and skin color on their side. There is also a big difference between being hurt by words (the police) and being hurt by brutality, bullets, and an 11:1 arrest rate that makes us nearly 50% of the jail (Madison’s Black population).

 

The woman also claimed that the Blue Lives Matter movement is a "silent majority" and the Black Lives Matter movement is a "vocal minority." Not only did she provide no statistical proof that Blue Lives Matter outnumbers Black Lives Matter, but the logic of her argument was flawed. Just because a majority supports something doesn't make it right - remember that slavery was supported by a majority in the past. Even if a majority of white people have a good relationship with the police, that doesn't erase the truth that our minorities have been victimized and mistreated since the invention of the police.

 

Other podium speakers claimed that Koval and the Madison Police Department are some of the best in the country. Why, then, do we have an 11:1 arrest disparity, much worse than Madison's counterparts? Why does Madison - a city with great economic capacity - have a Black child poverty rate (75%) higher than that of New Orleans (42%) and Chicago (51%), cities famous for their marginalized Black communities. Why does Madison have a significantly higher Black unemployment rate (25%) than Atlanta (22%) and even Detroit (22%), despite having radically lower white unemployment rates? The answer: the city spends its money building police and jails instead of building its people and communities. The MPD and Chief Koval are not solving the real problems - poverty and mental health - in Madison's Black communities, and are instead marginalizing, mass-incarcerating, and beating Black lives. From a statistical perspective, Koval and MPD are some of the worst - not best - in the country.

 

Multiple pro-Blue Lives Matter speakers also spoke out against the $400,000 allocated to the investigation of the MPD, claiming that there was nothing to find. Not only has that not been confirmed yet, but in fact the MPD has already been proven guilty of violation of national law by illegally instructing landlords to filter tenants based on criminal history, which violates the FHA. Even an MPD officer herself spoke out about how she was happy to spend $400,000 to improve the police force. More transparency can only bring about positive change.

 

Speakers in opposition to Black Lives Matter also stressed that they are upset with so-called “divisiveness” caused by protesting and rallying. But this "divisiveness" goes both ways. In the Blue Lives Matter petition, a Madison officer called Black Lives Matter protesters "glory-holing nincompoops who are out of touch with reality." Clearly, the MPD refuses to hear the needs of those most negatively impacted by their seeming well intentions - protesters who are begging them to listen and empathize. Do these police actions really bind our community together?

 

But the better question is: are people not justified in their anger? Why is it that asking the police to make improvements and to better serve their communities is somehow "discrimination" or "hurtful" to a system of power? Why is trying to fix our 99:1 racial drug arrest disparity a "war on the police"? Fighting child abuse isn't a war on parents.

The Madison Police are a publicly funded force with the motto, "to serve and protect". If this is true, why is it wrong to the question authority that violates this motto? At the Common Council meeting, Freedom Inc. members and other activists disproved the faulty Blue Lives Matter talking points one by one, and ultimately asked the MPD to fix these problems by enacting Community Control Over the Police. We will continue to organize for Community Control Over the Police - so that the community can meet its needs whether or not those in power agree.

Freedom Inc. Rally Calls For Community Control Over The Police
14 Jul 2016
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Freedom Inc. Rally Calls For Community Control Over The Police

On the morning of Monday, July 11th, Madison’s Freedom Inc. held a rally of about 100 protesters who marched to the police department in downtown Madison. After marching and chanting, the protesters made a human barricade to the front door of the police department, demanding the resignation of Police Chief Mike Koval, accountability for MPD officers guilty of police brutality, and that the department adopt a “community control over the police” system.

The protest, which featured speeches from Alix Shabazz, T Banks, M Adams, and Lexy Ware, who identified the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling as products of a historically racist system, which can only be fixed with people power: specifically, a board of Madison residents with complete control over police staff, laws, and actions. They also addressed how police killings affect more than just Black men - they also affect Black women, Black trans people, and Black people with disabilities. As proof, they listed all of the Black women and girls killed by police, the crowd shouting “say her name” after each one. It took a full five minutes to go through all the names.

Below are segments of speeches given by Alix Shabazz, Lexy Ware, and M Adams, as well as a slam poem delivered by T Banks.

 

Alix Shabazz: Philando was sitting in his car. He had a licensed firearm...He said, “I have a gun. I’m grabbing my license.” And the police shot him anyway, four times...We know the only way to end police violence is by putting the power in the hands of the people. We cannot trust the state to protect us. We know that any institution whose job it is to protect the corporate interests and the capitalist society - we know they’re not going to protect us. That’s why we say we need community control of the police!

 


Lexy Ware:
Something Stokely Carmichael said was, “if a white man wants to lynch me, that’s his problem. If he’s got the power to lynch me, that’s my problem. Racism is not a question of attitude; it’s a question of power”....[in the case of Tony Robinson] they should’ve had services and not police, and if that happened he would’ve been alive today. They are not trained in mental health services.

 

Alix Shabazz: We literally mean all power to the people. We literally mean that we should have the power to decide how the police interact in our community. We literally mean that we should have the power to hire and fire police officers. We literally mean that when the police kill an unarmed person and when the police beat a teenage Black girl, we should be able to say “that was injustice and we want them fired.”

 

 

T Banks: Do you really think that power would let itself just be shared? Do you really think my proper manners would get white people in Sun Prarie, Verona, Middleton, Monona, Maple Bluff, and downtown Madison to redistribute their wealth? Do you think that slave catchers would let their profits just walk free? Civil rights taught me that without demanding human rights I would never have the right to self determine. ...Is there a desk on Bascom Hill with my niece’s name on it? No, there’s not.

 

M Adams: We want housing. We want food. We want education.How is it that we’re spending this much money on the police with the literacy rate we have of Black children in this city? How is it that we are spending this much money on the police with a Black child poverty rate of 75%? That means three out of every four Black children are living at or below the poverty line. How are we spending this much money on the police and homeless folks have no place to go? How are we spending this much on police and Black unemployment is in the mid 20-something percents? How are we spending this much money on the police when on the south side we have barely any resources?...Instead of guns and badges, folks who ain’t accountable to us, who shoot us when we call for help or arrest us when we call for help, we want human rights solutions. And the police ain’t a human rights solution.

Why Genele’s Release Is Not Really A Win For Her Or Any Of Us
27 Jun 2016
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Why Genele’s Release Is Not Really A Win For Her Or Any Of Us

Eric Upchurch explains why Genele Laird is not really free yet:

 

At the moment, we can carry some relief that Genele Laird is no longer being unjustly incarcerated for being battered by Madison police officers. However, to be released under threat of still being charged is not a release. And it’s not recognition that MPD should not have handled this case the way that it did.

The restorative justice option afforded to Genele requires her to first accept responsibility for her charges – charges incurred while she was getting her ass beaten by Madison’s finest. If it's clear that the charges shouldn't exist, then why is she required to accept responsibility? How is accepting responsibility for someone else’s wrong doing just? She did not cause a trained Mental Health Officer to escalate a childish situation. She did not make the officer strategically place his knee into her ribs over and over again. She did not force MPD into tasing her multiple times.

Without real MPD accountability, Genele is missing out on real justice. Because she’s accepting responsibility for what happened, the City of Madison and MPD miss their chance to step up for and address the unjust beating and tasing of an unarmed teen. The community misses a shot at real restoration.

Some have expressed that Genele at least has her freedom, right? Well, she may not be in jail, but she is not free of charge yet. If she does not accept the terms or complete her restorative justice agreement, the DA promises to file felony charges against her. Once again, the victim that we rally to support is seen at fault, and the trained protectors and perpetrators of the violence have no fault. Madison has once again sustained a culture that devalues Black life and excuses the misconduct of the MPD.

Where is the accountability now as the police and community leaders continue to thank each other for a job well done? You mean to tell me that MPD violates this 18 year old girl so much so that she is released from unjust incarceration. She still faces felony charges for MPD’s wrong doing - which she’s accepted responsibility for; and everything’s all good because MPD and “community leaders” got a pat on the back? Where do we consider what’s best for Genele and what’s best for our community?

She has accepted responsibility for bringing about the events that led to her brutalization and the injuries sustained by the officers during that brutalization. Per Chief Koval, she has to – excuse me – gets to sit down with her perpetrators of this violence, and apologetically attempt to restore the community for “her wrong doing”. Congratulations!

What we’ve received is a pacifier - a reason to think that it’s all good. We’ve given our DA an opportunity to boost his votes and “community leaders” a chance to show up and “make a difference” on camera. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that Genele is not charged or in prison … yet; but what has she or we gained as others gain around her? Depending on how restorative justice goes with the officers who beat and tased her, she may still be charged and sentenced. Her price for this pseudo freedom is to accept that the wrong doing of MPD is her fault. The price of this “acceptance” is the ability to use this case as a tool to hold MPD accountable and improve our justice system. We’ve been stabbed in the back 9” the knife has been pulled out 6” and we are calling that justice.

Genele Laird is not a platform for you to stand on. Genele is not part of your portfolio. Genele is not your credit.

This beating is a warning sign that we should take very seriously. It could have gone further. It didn’t, but it could have. Genele could’ve been killed just like Tony. Genele could be another hashtag in a sea of too many hashtags. Have you forgotten? Have you forgotten how officer Matt Kenny murdered a Black man in 2007, warning us that Tony could be next? Have you forgotten how Kenny was rewarded and now sits as a trainer for his fine work during the tragedy that cost Tony’s life? I haven’t. Pay attention, Madison. It’s moments like these that are the fork in the road to change. That’s why we still call for no charges to be brought against Genele Laird. That’s why we still call for MPD to be held accountable. That’s why we still call for Community Control Over Police. We needed it to prevent Tony. We need it to hold MPD accountable and truly free Genele. We will need it when MPD inevitably violates again. And I would expect nothing less of an institution created to enslave my Black ass. The only way to sustainably address this detrimental pattern is to divorce this game of recognition and fluff to truly empower the community of those most impacted.

In the coming weeks – after the birth of my son – YGB and community partners will be hosting discussions around Community Control Over Police and Collaborative Direct Democracy. Contact YGB to get involved. Stay Vigilant.

With Love,

Eric

Matt Braunginn: Koval Unfit to Be Police Chief
15 Jun 2016
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Matt Braunginn: Koval Unfit to Be Police Chief

The Police Policy and Review Ad-Hoc Committee has just designated $350,000 (in addition to the initial $50,000) for an independent review of the Madison Police Department, which has recently been under fire from the ACLU for illegally instructing property owners to filter tenants based on criminal history. With $400,000, the committee can fully investigate any racist and/or illegal actions that the MPD may be hiding from the public.

Instead of acknowledging the MPD's faults, Chief Koval wrote an aggressive blog post on June 5th against the committee and Common Council, which initiated it. He depicted the Black Lives Matter movement as "perpetually offended" in a "PC world" - dog-whistle language, which is used by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump, specifically targeted at YGB's Brandi Grayson - and he even went as far as telling Common Council, an elected group speaking for the needs of a silenced community, "you are being watched" - patronizing language from a "public servant".

If the police department has nothing to hide, why would it be so worried about an investigation? If it were so representative of the needs of Madison and its Black community, why would it push off all of their ideas, such as community control over the police and guaranteed housing for the homeless?

It is clear that Chief Koval is not listening to the people and is unfit for his positions. If you are interested in reading more, please give a read to this Madison365 article, written by YGB founding member Matt Braunginn, which goes more in-depth on these topics by clicking here.

MPD Under Investigation From The ACLU
22 May 2016
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MPD Under Investigation From The ACLU

The Madison Police Department is currently under investigation from the ACLU.

According to the ACLU’s letter to Chief Koval, the MPD has been “seeking from landlords lists of their tenants”, “using trespass law to ban certain guests from visiting tenants”, and instructing landlords to use “criminal history information in screening tenants.” The MPD has consistently instructed property owners to perform background checks on potential and existing tenants.

This directly conflicts with the Fair Housing Act (FHA), a federal law, which states that “excluding potential tenants based on arrest records can never be necessary...since arrest records do not constitute proof of unlawful conduct.” The act correctly explains that when landlords consider incarceration history in their housing decisions, it makes it harder to reduce homelessness and harder to facilitate formerly incarcerated people’s reentry into society.

Not only are these MPD practices unlawful and unnecessary, they are also racist. Madison has a Black:white arrest ratio of 11:1, which means that when the MPD encourages property owners to deny housing to people with arrest or conviction records, this will disproportionately affect Black community members. On top of this, since 81% of Black and 71% of Latino householders in Madison are renters - much higher than that of the white population (46%) - and they have a much higher need for public housing assistance, there is an even greater need for affordable housing among communities of color because housing opportunities are being taken away by these racist MPD and landlord practices.

In the conclusion of its letter, the ACLU demanded that the MPD encourage property owners to comply with the FHA and not to screen tenants for criminal history. They also suggested alternatives to evictions.

We must demand that the MPD stop breaking the law and stop encouraging landlords to discriminate against people seeking housing! We must demand community control over the police!

Powerful Protest Calling on Madison to Invest In Communities, Not Cops
14 May 2016
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Powerful Protest Calling on Madison to Invest In Communities, Not Cops

The City of Madison is planning to add an extra $6 million per year to the police department's budget in order to hire 40 new police officers. And Matt Kenny, the murderer of Tony Robinson, would be one of the officers assigned to train them.

This authoritarian level of policing is unnecessary in Madison - cities with comparable populations and crime rates have 60 less police officers than Madison does, yet instead of removing police presence from the city, we're adding more.

We know that police presence doesn't solve crime. A study in Columbia, Missouri showed that when police presence increased, some forms of crime went down, but other forms of crime skyrocketed - 242 more burglaries and 459 more larcenies - concluding that the statement "police presence deters crime" isn't entirely accurate. The reason that police presence isn't the answer is because increasing surveillance of high-crime neighborhoods doesn't address the root causes of the problem, which include mental health and an inescapable cycle of poverty.

To solve the problem we need to take the proposed $6 million for the added 40 police officers and reassign it to the root causes of the problem. That means investing in Black mental health, and investing in Black economic empowerment programs. With the same money we can hire up to 150 mental health workers, or assign the funding to social programs and Black employment programs in order to combat Madison's disproportionate Black child poverty rate (currently 75%) and Madison's ridiculously high Black unemployment rate (currently 25%).

We need to wake up the governmental system and the police system of Madison - so, on Friday, May 13, a day after the one year anniversary of the non-indictment of Matt Kenny, a group of about 40 protesters gathered at Cathedral Park in downtown Madison, just two blocks from the State Captiol, at 3pm, with the plan of marching to the office of Mayor Paul Soglin to demand that the city of Madison invest in communities, not cops.

The rally pulled into Fairchild Street and the protesters started marching towards the Public Safety Building, where half of the inmates are Black. A banner saying "community control over police" was hung up over the street, and a banner saying "invest in communities, not cops" was placed on the side of a parking ramp. The protesters blocked off traffic, and their voices could be heard blocks away in all directions. After marching in the streets, they entered the City County Building and chanted in front of Mayor Paul Soglin's office, demanding that the city invest in communities, not cops.

Along the way, T. Banks and Junior of Freedom Inc, as well as Sharon Irwin, the mother of Tony Robinson, made speeches.

Junior: "Being a Black teenager in Madison is hard. Tony Robinson was a teenager and he was killed by a cop...his friends who called the police to help Tony didn’t want him to be dead...I don’t want to die as a Black teenager." Junior later said, "more police is not the answer. More police doesn't solve the problem of not having homes with food and clothes. Having more police won't make us stay in school. Having more police is not going to make us think twice before trying to do something we need. MPD should not hire more cops. They should put more resources into my school so more kids can eat and get what they need. They should take the money they need for hiring more cops, and put it into Black communities. We know what we need but don't have the money to get it."

Sharon Irwin: "If we don’t start taking accountability for the things that are happening, what happened to my son will be the first of many…we don’t need more police officers, we need more community support, we need more things for these children. These kids are suffering, and this is not the answer."

T. Banks: "The violence we are having in our communities is from economic deprivation. That is that people are in such desperate need and in poverty, that in order to survive, violence is happening towards one another. That’s why we are demanding that Madison build its people and not more cops. We demand community control of the police. We demand that money used to hire the 40 new cops will be poured back into the Black community so we can get jobs, have better schools, have food, have housing, have clothes, have transportation to be able to live, and have our basic needs taken care of. This is what the community wants. Not more cops. We want community control of the police. Not surveillance or more harassment - we are only trying to survive poverty. The community wants economic opportunity so we can determine our needs and get our needs met. We don’t want no more officers trained by Matt Kenny. We don’t want there to be more Black teens killed like Tony Robinson. We don’t want more officers to just respond to crisis and violence, and then perpetuate more violence! We want resources so that we, the community, can determine the accountability to our own communities. We want to build communities, not more police."

6 Upcoming Ways To Fight For Racial Justice
17 Apr 2016
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6 Upcoming Ways To Fight For Racial Justice

Decriminalize Black Bodies
UW Campus, 4/20
This 4/20, we will protest the mass incarceration of Black people by A) wearing all black, B) posting pictures to social media of non-Black people abusing drugs and getting away with it, and C) using the hashtags #HIGHEReducation, #BlackUnited, and #BlackStudentsUnited.
Click here for more info.

Unhood Yourself
Chazen Museum of Art, 4/22 from 5-9pm
This is a 4 hour exhibition and show created by #TheRealUW, an organization trying to fight the recent string of racially-biased incidents on the UW campus. Students of color at UW will share their personal experiences, educate participants about UW's history, and create a platform for change on campus and in the community.
Click here for more info.

Mental Health Care Without Policing
Milwaukee Public Library (Milwaukee), 4/23 from 1-4pm
Jess Heaney, a member of Critical Resistance, will be leading a workshop focused on the connections between Black mental health care, policing, and access to support. It's based off of the "Oakland Power Projects", an anti-policing initiative, and will build an increased sense of resources and relationships.
Click here for more info.

Join the YWCA to Stand Against Racism!
Fountain of Life Church, 4/28 from 8:30-10:30am
The YWCA invites you to join them in their fight for racial equity and women's empowerment. They will be delivering updates on Justified Anger's "Our Madison Plan" and Race to Equity's "Roadmap to Equity" plan. The YWCA is "on a mission to eliminate racism", and they need your help with this facilitated discussion to make that happen.
Click here for more info.

Dontre Day
Red Arrow Park (Milwaukee), 4/30 
This event will be held in Milwaukee's Red Arrow Park, the location where Dontre Hamilton was fatally shot on the same date in 2014. There will be entertainment for the entire family. If you want to volunteer at the event, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and share the event on social media.
Click here for more info.

JUSTICE4TONY Reception at MMoCA Gallery Night
Social Justice Center, 5/6 from 5-9pm
On this day, to honor the 14 month anniversary of the shooting of Tony Robinson, Tony's friends and family will hold an event, which includes an intimate photographic art exhibit documenting the difficult emotional times the Madison community faced in the aftermath of his brutal murder. There will be refreshments and a strong sense of community.
Click here for more info.


As more and more people take action, we will get closer and closer to racial equity. So, please put these events down in your calendars! Show up and show out!

Madison Magazine Article - How YGB Has Changed the Views of White Madisonians
07 Apr 2016
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Madison Magazine Article - How YGB Has Changed the Views of White Madisonians

A recent Madison Magazine article explained the cultural shift that YGB has sparked in Madison, through the eyes of a white person. The article is a personal narrative in which the author explains how YGB gave him the power to transform his assorted knowledge of racial issues in Madison into a full, comprehensive understanding of the systemic racism that plagues Madison.

The writer explains that through YGB he was able to connect the death of Tony Robinson to school failures, mass incarceration, and Black unemployment. The author implies that without YGB's raising of awareness, he would not have the empathetic connection to the family and friends of Tony Robinson that he has today, nor such a profound understanding and drive to take action against Madison's systemic racism.

And, most importantly, he said that these realizations have been experienced by a large portion of white Madisonians. The protests and messages sent by YGB have sparked a conversation in nearly every Madison household on the topic of Madison's relationship between the police force and the Black community, and this has changed our political system greatly; in a governmental discussion last year over Madison's $150 new jail proposal, multiple representatives emphasized that the desire of the people, as seen by YGB protests, is to deny the jail proposal - and that people power directly influenced how the representatives viewed the problem, and ultimately how they voted.

The Madison Magazine article perfectly debunks the myth that YGB protests are unproductive or wasteful - it proves that the protests have brought the conversation to tens of thousands of tables across the city, have challenged misconceptions, and have had social, political, and cultural impacts that cannot be measured or overestimated.

 

Read the Madison Magazine article:

http://www.channel3000.com/madison-magazine/opinions/heinen-i-cant-forget-tony-robinson/38165292

YGB TO PETITION THE UNITED NATIONS

YGB needs your voice in order to get an investigation by the United Nations as we elevate the conversation of of racial disparities in Madison and fight for justice for Tony Robinson, the unarmed black teen murdered at the hands of officer Matt Kenny of the Madison Police Department  

SIGN THE PETITION HERE SIGN THE PETITION HERE 

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR GOFUNDME

YGB functions without traditional funding. We are not tied to the stipulations that come with large donors. Instead, we are supported by the direct will of The People. This gives us the freedom to raise our voice and mobilize our community toward an end to State Violence. Please help support this freedom by sharing or conotributing to our GoFundMe page.

SHARE OR SUPPORT OUR GOFUNDME PAGE HERE

FIRE MATT KENNY

YGB demands that Matt Kenny, the murderer of Tony Robinson, be fired. Far to often are killer cops left unpunished, and we want Kenny off the streets.

SIGN THE PETITION TO FIRE MATT KENNY HERE

ABOUT US

The Young Gifted and Black Coalition is a circle of young leaders determined to end state violence and raise the voice of communities of color. We are young Black Women, Queer Folks, Straight Folks and Feminist Men who are fighting for Black Liberation. Our focus is on the low income black communities that our core members call home. 

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