If you spend time on social media, you may have seen the hashtag, #ReclaimMLK. Black Lives Matter activists around the nation and around the globe,
If you spend time on social media, you may have seen the hashtag, #ReclaimMLK. Black Lives Matter activists around the nation and around the globe, have been organizing activities spanning January 15-January 18, using a variety of strategies “to call for divestment from a broken criminal justice institutions that drain our communities of potential solutions.
During #ReclaimMLK weekend, people will gather to ask strategic questions, develop visionary strategies for justice, and remember those who were killed because of state-sanctioned violence and negligence. Through teach-ins, protests, rallies, and shutdowns, organizers and activists will #ReclaimMLK by holding decision-makers accountable to developing and implementing policies that reflect the needs of Black people in America.”
Black Lives Matter, Sacramento participated in Sacramento’s MLK Poor People’s Campaign on Saturday January 16, a full day of activities bringing together organizations whose work focuses on the tenets of Dr. King’s philosophy of economic justice. It was inspiring to hear from long time organizers, who spend 365 days a year working to bring elements of Dr. King’s vision to fruition. The day was an opportunity for these groups to share the work they were doing, make others aware of the fights still needed to achieve Dr. King’s dream, and enlist more support from the community in enacting Dr. King’s vision all year round.
At the Poor People’s Campaign event, along with performances, we heard from organizers who work on a range of topics. There is such good, hard work being done in Sacramento! We heard from advocates on issues including homelessness reform, voters rights and registration, police brutality and corruption, mass incarceration, indigenous rights and oppression, feminism and violence against women, immigration and human rights of the undocumented, abuse of migrant, immigrant and undocumented workers (including children), and of course, economic reform.
Speakers presented from organizations including Black Lives Matter, Sacramento, who argued that Dr. King’s dream has yet to be realized- we are mired today in a nightmare of unrelenting state sanctioned violence, with the police merely “the hand on the gun” of the “predatory capitalist” force that menaces black lives in so many forms, including employment, pathways out of poverty, housing, and education. Other organizations included Raise the Wage Sacramento, the Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee (SHOC), Clothing and Food for Everyone (CAFFE), Peace and Freedom party, Brown Berets, Answer Coalition Sacramento, and Women Take Back The Night. Al Rojas, long time organizer who worked with Cesar Chavez, is over 70 years old but still working and risking arrest over the boycott of Driscoll’s farms, which are implicated in severe abuses of the migrant workers that bring Driscoll’s berries to our shelves.
Among the speakers were two candidates for political office, Russell Rawlings who is running for Sacramento mayor in 2016, and Mario Galvan, who is running to replace Doris Matsui for US Representative in California’s 6th Congressional District. Both candidates spoke passionately about their support for the issues that brought the community to the event that day. Rawlings stated that his mission was to be a true voice of the people.
To worship or to WORK?
Acknowledge Dr. King’s Dream by putting it into action! Involvement comes in all sizes, and you’ve heard the Buddhist proverb: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito”
While there were so many inspiring, tireless organizers who give their lives to the fight for social and economic justice, keep in mind that there are so many ways to impact justice. Not everyone can commit lots of time to this work, but every little bit helps.
Here’s how you can get your mosquito on right now:
- Attend an event like the January 23 campaign kick-off event for Raise the Wage Sacramento, an organization that is still fighting for our $15 minimum wage. Raise the Wage would love your presence at their opening event, where you could spend an hour helping collect signatures, or come by to add your own signature and bring a few friends with you. It’s at 1033 S Street from 10 am-3 pm.
- Donate time or items to Sacramento homeless advocacy organizations like CAFFE, which serves homeless citizens on Saturday mornings at 8:00 am at Cesar Chavez Park, and the Community Dinner Project Tuesday evenings from 4:00- 6:00 outside of city hall.
- Attend a fundraiser, and first on your list should be the Black Lives Matter, Sacramento Rummage Sale on Sunday January 31. Like the event page here for details.
- Support candidates with a social justice mindset. Russell Rawlings is the socialist candidate for Sacramento mayor, who makes himself available for conversation all over Sacramento. Mario Galvan, congressional representative candidate, needs your signature, and several of your friends, to help him get the 3000 signatures he needs in order to run without paying a $2000 fee.
- Sign an important petition. Go online and sign the Sacridehuman.org petition against G4S Security Consulting, which has a contract with Sacramento Regional Transit. G4S is a major reason we have mass incarceration in this country- they are a security company, with an insatiable appetite to get countries, states and cities to build prisons and jails so that G4S can have more and more contracts to run these institutions. While those of us with a conscience are busy reading Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, watching Bill Clinton apologizing for setting mass incarceration in motion- G4S is still out there trying to build and sustain and fill up prisons. Sacramento should have NOTHING to do with this monstrous organization. Sign the petition!
- Come out to an action: Actions are a great way to get informed. Black Lives Matter Sacramento continues to beat the drum for justice in the case of Adrienne Ludd. Join us on Arden and Heritage, right across from Arden Mall, where will be protesting the inaction of Sheriff Jones’s sheriff’s department, and educating the community about Adrienne Ludd’s murder by Sheriffs deputies.
Sheriff Jones has the discretion to share dashcam footage that could help shed light on what happened the day Adrienne lost his life to trained deputies who decided they had no other choice than to shoot a human being so many times, that his body was unable to be embalmed for a burial, forcing his grieving family to cremate him. A transparent, ethical law enforcement agency would share this footage immediately in the interests of maintaining credibility and good relationships with the community they serve. Sheriff Jones’ delay in this matter requires our urgent and continuous attention.
Instead of working to meet the demands issued by Black Lives Matter, Sacramento, Sheriff Jones is going around the community talking about the introduction of “Intelligent Policing” to his jurisdictions in the county. Black Lives Matter Sacramento organizers attended his first community meeting in Arden on January 7, and asked him serious questions about the steps he was taking to de-emphasize carceral solutions to crime. We asked how he would use intelligent policing and other strategies to work more with community organizations that seek to solve people’s social problems, rather than resort to incarceration or state violence against citizens. Sheriff Jones stuck to his prepared remarks, and attempted to discredit efforts to reverse mass incarceration such as AB 953 and Prop 47 in California.
As you can see above, there is so much work to be done to realize Dr. King’s dream, and you can be a part of it. A much quoted line from Dr. King warns us that “Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war”.
In the words of Answer Coalition Sacramento organizer Jamier Sale, and echoing Dr. King, social justice organizers need to be unified because "The 1% all over the globe are unified, we have to be unified. ... Revolution is not an event, it's a process. Thank you for joining us in the revolution."