Dec 22 2014

How The Slogan “Black Lives Matter” Has Changed the Conversation on Race in the US

Feature Stories | Published 22 Dec 2014, 10:10 am | Comments Off on How The Slogan “Black Lives Matter” Has Changed the Conversation on Race in the US -

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The killings this weekend of two New York Police Department (NYPD) officers by a man claiming revenge for the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, has kicked off a firestorm among law enforcement officials. An African American man named Ismaaiyl Brinsley shot and critically injured a woman on Saturday who is believed to have been his ex-girlfriend, before shooting into a police car, killing officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, and then killing himself. Before the shootings, Brinsley reportedly boasted on social media sites that he was going to kill cops.

Police union leaders instantly blamed anti-police brutality protesters, Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Rev. Al Sharpton, and President Barack Obama for the incident. Patrick Lynch, the head of the police union said, “there was blood on many hands.” Lynch also said in a statement, “[W] e have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department. We will act accordingly.”

The killings came within days of the revelation by St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch, that some witnesses who testified to the Grand Jury deciding whether or not to charge office Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, may have lied. In an interview McCulloch said, “Clearly some were not telling the truth.” His statements referred to Witness number 40, a woman named Sandra McElroy who apparently has a history of, “racist remarks, criminal behavior, and mental illness.” She was considered a key witness in the decision to not indict Wilson, and Wilson’s supporters have often cited her testimony.

It now turns out McElroy simply parroted media reports of what Wilson said happened. Mr. McCulloch however said he had neither regrets about calling non-credible witnesses to the stand, nor any plans to prosecute them for lying under oath.

As the battle between people and police ramps up, we turn today to the co-founder of one of the leading organizations in the fight to hold police accountable.

GUESTS: Patrisse Cullors, founder of the group #BlackLivesMatter, with fellow organizers Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi. She is also the founder of the organization Dignity and Power Now. She is an artist and activist, and a Fulbright Scholarship recipient, was named the 2007 Mario Savio Activist of the Year, and received the Sidney Goldfarb award. She earned a degree in religion and philosophy from UCLA. Patrisse Cullors has been on the ground in both Ferguson and St. Louis providing support to activists, and helped to organize hundreds of people in a Freedom Ride from St. Louis to Ferguson. And, Jasmine Richards, born and raised in Pasadena, CA., where she is an active member of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, and is currently working on building a chapter in Pasadena.

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