Statement from Within Our Lifetime
This rapid response statement on police killings in September 2016 was originally released by Within Our Lifetime on September 29, 2016 at http://www.withinourlifetime.net/.
Within Our Lifetime (WOL) supports the families of Alfred Olango, Keith Scott, Terence Crutcher, Terrence Sterling, and Tyre King (among many others) and all the people grieving, organizing and protesting for justice in El Cajon, Charlotte, Tulsa, Washington, D.C Columbus, (and beyond) in the wake of the rampant police killings of Black people across America. These tragic losses lay bare the urgent need for substantive changes in a number of areas, including law enforcement training and community oversight. We are committed to finding ways to elevate awareness of the damage inflicted by structural racism, implicit bias and racial trauma and seek opportunities for joint work and joint action toward racial equity, justice, dialogue and healing. In short, WOL is committed to ending the hierarchy of human value that exists in the United States according to race, and calls for the following:
First, law enforcement agencies locally and nationally must immediately shift administrative practices through training, professional development, and protocols of accountability dealing with implicit bias, and overt racism. Specifically, WOL demands advanced de-biasing training to decrease officer bias with accountability to the community they serve. We have all heard the video of a police officer in a helicopter in Tulsa call a Black man with his hands in the air “a bad dude”, despite no other information. In addition to becoming conscious of their internalized racism, professional development for police must also address what Camara Phyllis Jones calls personally mediated, and institutionalized racism.
Second, WOL demands specific actions to increase the capacity of the community and government to hold law enforcement officers and departments accountable. U.S. police have killed many unarmed civilians in the past 2 years, with almost no officers charged, and even fewer convicted. We call for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the killings, and to expedite the creation of an oversight board within the Community Oriented Policing Services program to ensure that departments that receive funding are implementing community-centered strategies, and at a local level governments should push their departments to have independent community oversight with the power to subpoena officers. Additionally, police precincts should be controlled by communities not by centralized power of the unions. We call for reparations for the families of those killed, and we call for a national database that prevents officers dismissed for misconduct in one police department from being hired in another.
Third, Within Our Lifetime formally endorses The Movement for Black Lives Policy Platform and urges our member organizations to do so as well as lawmakers in California, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio and other state and local governments, as well as the federal government to do likewise. The need for anti-racist and direct democratic systems that include, community oversight of police departments, and the execution of all of the initiatives described in The Movement for Black Lives Policy Demands have never been more clear.
Finally, WOL recognizes the need for immediate responsiveness to impacted communities, as well as a renewed opportunity to work toward racial equity, justice and healing. We reject all attempts to shift the blame to individuals that have been targeted by the police – reading a book, or carrying a toy gun, or having your car break down are never acceptable reasons for violent force. We also reject all attempts to shift blame to the people protesting in the street in the wake of these senseless killings. The issue is state-sanctioned violence, not the community’s response to that violence.
We offer our support and our resources to these most recently impacted communities, with the sad recognition that this problem will not end today. We will pay special attention to the trauma and recovery of the communities most impacted, including the Black community. It is well past time for a fundamental shift in how Black lives are valued in America. And as communities emerge from the most significant trauma and disruption, we will make available the wisdom in our network around racial healing, and the tools to fight for policy change and racial equity. We invite you to join us in this work by becoming a member of Within Our Lifetime.
Within Our Lifetime is developing a Rapid Response protocol, in collaboration with Movement NetLab, to respond to crisis situations. In the interim our areas of support your local community can request in times of crisis for preparedness are the following:
- Emergency Financial and Material Resources: bail fund, family fund for social support costs. Movement Registry gift supplies via Amazon.
- Regional Racial Healing Calls: emotional emancipation processes, racial healing community circles.
- National Unified Calls to Action: mass networked symbolic and political actions that can go viral.
- Remote Strategy Consultations: coaching on racial justice strategies and documentation of events of the incident or watershed event through media coverage.
- Legal Support: Know Your Rights training, Tool kits, Legal Observers
To request movement support locally in your community from our interim intake process please click here. If you would like to get involved in shaping it or one of our other workgroups, please complete this form.
Here are some ways you can assist the three communities who experienced this state sanctioned violence (additional links to be provided soon for other cities):
- Sign petitions, volunteer or donate to Charlotte Uprising HERE.
- Donate to Movement 4 Black Lives support efforts HERE.
- Donate to Southern Vision Alliance Charlotte support efforts HERE.
Here are few resources to continue to learn more about the issues and to share within your organization, communities, and partners:
- Black Lives Matter Syllabus
- Racial Equity Glossary and some selected terms: Policy and systems change, Community Organizing, Criminal Justice, Implicit Bias and De-biasing work