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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

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Eric Upchurch: Solving Our Explicit Bias Toward Fakeness
27 Nov 2016
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Eric Upchurch: Solving Our Explicit Bias Toward Fakeness

YGB activist Eric Upchurch wrote a powerful piece for Madison365 about how we must acknowledge covert and subtle racism in everyone, including ourselves, to fix the problem. Writes Upchurch, "Everybody has a part of the problem; and that means you, too, reader. You don't have to be a slave master to perpetuate slavery."

Read Eric's article by clicking here.

Madison365: M Adams Gives Specific Policies For The #BlackLivesMatter Movement
07 Aug 2016
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Madison365: M Adams Gives Specific Policies For The #BlackLivesMatter Movement

A recent Madison365 article quotes Freedom Inc.'s M Adams, who worked for over a year to generate six demands and 40 specific policies to end systemic racism in conjunction with the Movement for Black Lives, an umbrella #BlackLivesMatter organization.

Here are the six fundamental demands:

◆ End the War on Black People
◆ Reparations
◆ Invest-Divest
◆ Economic Justice
◆ Community Control
◆ Political Power

Read the Madison365 article here. Visit the Movement for Black Lives policy page here.

 

31 of Wisconsin's 56 Black Neighborhoods Are Jails
02 Aug 2016
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31 of Wisconsin's 56 Black Neighborhoods Are Jails

Prepare to feel sick to your stomach.

The following is every Black neighborhood in Wisconsin. A Black neighborhood is a certain area where the majority of residents are African American. Using the Racial Dot Map, a website that places one dot on a US map for every American, it is possible to find each and every Black neighborhood in the state.

Every white person is represented by a blue dot, every Black person is represented by a green dot, and so on.

Eric Upchurch: Why Do I Only Hear All Lives Matter When I Say That My Black Life Matters?
02 Aug 2016
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Eric Upchurch: Why Do I Only Hear All Lives Matter When I Say That My Black Life Matters?

If All Lives Matter, why is it a problem for you when I say, “Black Lives Matter?” Don’t you get that’s why I have to say it? Because the mere mention of my life bothers you. And why is that? Do you think I’m saying it for no reason? Like I got all the time in the world and I’m gonna choose to spend it talking about Black lives just because? “Hello…McFly…” I ain’t got time for that. We’re dying in the streets, in the back of police cars, being locked up at a rate of 11:1, being beaten at the pool, on the lawn, at the mall. We fill the jails. And this ain’t for play. I got plenty reason. And your issue with this is that I say “Black” instead of “All?” C’mon now.

 

 There is nothing wrong with supporting all lives. There is something contradictory about squelching the exclamation of Black Lives under the guise of All Lives. If you say that All Lives Matter and then I say that Black Lives Matter (effectively agreeing with you), the statements are sequential. The theory goes that All Lives Matter and so Black Lives must matter. But that is not the reality that we live and the “All Lives Matter” that I hear is usually to contrast our “Black Lives Matter.”

 

Your “but, ALL Lives Matter” suggests that I shouldn’t cry out in the very real pain that I feel – the hurt, the disgust, the anger - “Black Lives Matter!” Tell me, how can All Lives Matter when I can’t even say, “Black Lives Matter” without you trying to silence me?

 

This note was inspired by a conversation that I had recently with a good friend of mine who was frustrated from having to defend herself every time she said that Black Lives Matter. The presence of that struggle is a testament to the need for that struggle and the insidious disease we are fighting.

 

 I want you to know that no matter what side you’re on here, I got love for you. I need you to know that it’s completely understandable that, given your experiences, you believe what you believe – assuming you’re as “rational” as the rest of us. But we must acknowledge that different  experiences lead to different rationales; and intent does not always equal impact.

 

To get us closer to a common perspective, let’s share in an experience. Recently, I lost a brother. We lost a neighbor, PM Deacon Julius Johnson. I participated in his memorial service Friday. I wasn’t as close to Mr. Johnson as I would’ve liked to be; but I’ve known him for years and felt his loss in my spirit – someone that was a pillar of love, joy and wisdom – an example for me in our fraternity. Our community lost a beautiful soul. I will miss him. Imagine how his close friends and family must have felt when they found out. Imagine tears making a river into the funeral home; and when there’s finally a long enough gap between the sobs, one of the staff get genuinely, caringly close,  and with a gentile hand on the back says, “You know All Lives Matter. Just remember that while you’re crying, ok?  It’s not just about his life. All..Lives…Matter (three small fist pumps).” No one was silly enough to take space at his memorial to exclaim that All Lives Matter. Now of course we can argue that our Julius didn’t die from police brutality or at the “hands” of the worst racial disparities in the nation. But common to the Black Lives Matter Movement, there is the very real feeling of loss and despair.

 

Remember that time you lost someone close to you? Or when your friend lost someone close to them? What good would it have done them to be reminded that All Lives Matter every time they exclaimed that they missed that person – that they wished that person was still alive? I’m hoping that your rational human mind can see that it wouldn’t make any sense – that it would be harmful, hurtful…traumatic.

 

So why do seemingly well intentioned people feel the need to assert that All Lives Matter when we say that Black Lives Matter? In this talk with my friend, we discovered what I will call the Noble Cause Paradox. It’s what happens when two views are “justifiably right” and seemingly opposing for the greater good – making both parties immovable. After all, what’s wrong with advocating for all lives? I doubt we’ll stone someone for saying that they want everyone to be able to live a happy and peaceful life free of oppression. However, this noble cause is used as a weapon to silence the voices that cry out, “I miss you. I wish it wasn’t this way. Your life matters. Black Lives Matter!” Your well timed “All Lives Matter” loses its nobility. That silencing – intended or not – is due cause for us to pump up the volume and scream it louder. BLACK LIVES MATTER! Wouldn’t you for your loved one? The paradox continues.

 
 

That feeling that you get – that rumbling restlessness – when you just have  to correct someone for saying Black Lives Matter – when you just have to make sure they know that All Lives Matter – I’d like to think that it comes from a noble cause. I’d like to think that you are such a good person that you want to make sure All Lives Matter. But noble or not, this is a kind of “invisible” racism. You want to make sure that we remember all lives because it would be “wrong” to leave them out. White folks always tryina “do the right thing” – Intent. But what you actually end up doing is silencing the cries of a group of lives that you say matter; and Black folks are once again left out, disregarded and dismissed – impact. Your anti-racism becomes racism. Your anti-hate becomes hate. Don’t hate. Appreciate.

 

When you say, “All Lives Matter” as a counter to my “Black Lives Matter,” you trade your hand made superhero costume for sheep’s clothing and devour what you claim to support. You are the gentle voice and hand on the back suggesting I quit my sobbing and remember the big picture. Your white privilege allows you to focus on the big picture – the majority picture - All Lives All the time. In your mind, you represent most. You feel naturally included and represented in the All. And why wouldn’t you be? 86% of All of your Madisonians – All of the people in your intimate and personal sphere All look like you. My survival demands that I focus on my subset of All lives, because it’s clear that it’s not a priority for you All. And it has to be a priority for somebody, because All Lives Mattered when my unarmed brother was gunned down with his hands up. All Lives Mattered when my family was jailed – when my sister was beaten. All Lives Mattered when my supervisor’s racism threatened my household – when my teacher sold me at a discount. What did your “All Lives Matter” do for me then and what is it doing for me now as my people’s blood fills the streets?

 

I yell “Black Lives Matter” because they do. If you agree, but you feel that restless rumble of All Lives Matter bubbling to the surface, please kindly shut the hell up and do something about why Black people feel the need to shout about the value and awareness of our lives. Every 8 hours an unarmed Black person is killed by an armed official. Why do you feel the need to correct me in my distress? I hope you can see the ignorance in that.

 

But in case you don’t get it, I hope you can get that Alton Sterling’s Life Matters. Philando Castile’s Life Matters. Freddy Gray’s Life Matters. Aprina Paul’s Life Matters. Aiyana Jones’ Life Matters. Eric Garner’s Life Matters. Mike Brown’s Life Matters. Tony Robinson’s Life Matters. Genele Laird’s Life Matters. My Life Matters too. You gonna “All Lives Matter” that? Stop. Recognize your “invisible” racism for what it is. Be better for us All…

Freedom Inc. Occupies Rimrock/John Nolan Intersection For Two Hours
24 Jul 2016
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Freedom Inc. Occupies Rimrock/John Nolan Intersection For Two Hours

On Thursday, July 21st, for the National Day of Action, Freedom Inc staged a protest at the police union and the corner of Rimrock and John Nolan Dr.

The protest began at 2:30, when a group gathered, listened to music, break danced, and felt the love outside. They then walked to the police union on the third floor of 660 John Nolan Dr, where a banner saying "community control of the police" was laid out. On top of this banner were three activists who had their arms locked with white tubes, as solidarity and unity are unstoppable.

After the police forced everyone to leave and began to take arrests inside, a series of chants were held outside. Then, the protesters moved into the busy intersection of Rimrock and John Nolan.

At the intersection, tensions were high. There were nearly as many police as there were protesters - about 40 of each - and it was ultimately a battle of who could withstand extreme weather - 110 plus degree heat and severe thunderstorms - the longest. The organizers held in there at the intersection for a full two hours - from 4pm to 6pm.

The fact that nearly 40 police officers could spend the entire afternoon doing nothing but watching and arresting nonviolent people is the exact reason that it is unnecessary to hire 40 new officers as is proposed - or frankly, not to fire Matt Kenny and all other unnecessary and/or racist officers in the MPD. It also says a lot about their role in the community that they single out protesters with derogatory language and arrest people for blocking the street without even opening it up after they're gone - giving their actions no logical purpose. We don't need them patrolling and over-policing us in order to have a peaceful society - as was seen Thursday, they created more divisiveness on their own than us protesters ever did.
 
It is also unacceptable that the police claim that we are trying to "push it" by excessively blocking the sidewalk, the crosswalk, and the streets, as if we are the uncooperative ones. In fact, they are uncooperative ones for beating, mass-incarcerating, and killing Madison's Black community as we all demand that they stop. The city and national government are really the uncooperative ones, for relentlessly supporting an institution - the police - that is inherently and systemicly undemocratic, violent, and racist, with roots in protecting white elites and suppressing Black people. The Blue Lives Matter people are really the uncooperative ones for not joining our revolution, as our goal of Community Control over the Police aims to make our police fundamentally and systemicly less racist, less corrupt, less violent, less reactionary, and more democratic, something only uncooperative people who refuse to challenge authority would reject. Who is really "uncooperative" here?
 
More importantly, it shows how backwards the conversation is that people who have been denied life or death systemic changes for years are somehow condemned for using non-violent civil disobedience to get it. Do you expect people to wait another hundred years for the system to change on its own? The protests are not a choice, but a necessity to save lives from mass incarceration and police brutality. In an empathetic and caring world, it wouldn't even be a debate whether or not to take time out of your day to fight for the equity of your fellow community members.
 
We will continue to organize for Community Control over the Police and the reinvestment of money into communities until we get it. Stay tuned to this website and the email list to make sure that you take action whenever possible - we need your voice!
 
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

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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