Change always comes. In most things we notice it after the fact, often in a passive and fleeting glance back to where we forgot we had started from. But some change is brutal --- propelled not by trends and generational understandings --- but, instead, by upheavals in the very earth of our society. The last two weeks have forced our nation and our city painfully forward in the fight for Black liberation. Alton Sterling’s murder, may he rest in power, pulled a trigger in the movement for Black lives. We can’t un-watch his state sponsored execution. They can’t lie over and over again and hope the people will believe in a false narrative of justice forever. Sometimes the ground quakes and our roots poisoned by centuries of white supremacy are again exposed --- and, to be sure, this City of Trees has more than our fair share of poisoned roots.
On July 6th, I was in my car in the parking lot of Safeway on Alhambra when I clicked on Philando Castile’s last moments. How easily we have accepted watching public lynching passively in the palms of our hands. This was the moment when I understood how bloody mine had become. I was feeling energized by attending the Sacramento Community Police Commission’s public ad hoc committee on transparency and accountability. BLM Sacramento organized an event where we voiced a desire for transparency by the immediate release of all information, including video footage, of any officer involved shooting. We demanded our law enforcement agencies provide affected families with respectful treatment and timely notification. We insisted that our “community” police commission be mandated with oversight powers, so that real police accountability will arise from community-led policing. We talked about trust, and the absence of it, between LEOs and communities of color. We discussed how divestment in a racist policing system, coupled with an investment in community programs, would shift the violence in our city. We talked about Dazion and the very recent instances of police extrajudicial murder locally. We said his name. We uplifted his name. Afterwards we walked from City Hall chambers to the outside grounds bathed in twilight to hold a vigil for Alton. Dozens of Sacramento community members joined us in outrage. There was something buzzing in the ether. Something pulled off blinders, and open, angry-eyed Sacramentans joined in the fight for Black lives.
So, yeah, I felt like things were charged and I was grateful to be part of the change. Then I clicked on the Facebook Live video. If Alton’s assassination had pulled yet another trigger on the US’s 300-year-old racist police brutality crisis, then Philando, Diamond, and that precious baby girl’s nightmare turned the gun squarely on its citizens. Baton Rouge to Minneapolis, New York to Sacramento --- we felt the earth quake with the blood of the dead and the pain of the living --- the energy balance had shifted and we began peeling back the dirty layers of our bloody skin.
Sacramento, not often in touch with its radical activism, got real woke, real fast. Unprecedented numbers of people, some never having attended public displays of dissent, joined Black Lives Matter Sacramento in several community actions. Change --- once the momentum ignites --- is inevitable, and our city is collectively digging up our poisoned roots.
We Won’t Take It Anymore ---7/09/2016
Sherriff Scott Jones is a racist, anti-immigrant, police brutality & murder apologizing, Trump supporting, sexually harassing, militarizing, illegally surveilling, fascist, who is not only leading an exceptionally violent law enforcement agency with zero accountability, he is running for US Congress in November. With the Sacramento Sheriff’s killing of Adriene Ludd on October 22nd, 2015 and the subsequent lack of even basic accountability --- they won’t even provide a police report --- Black Lives Matter held a rally outside of his campaign headquarters. Several hundred protesters let it be known that Sacramento is fed up with the Sheriff Department’s reign of terror on communities of color. Look for more in-depth information in an upcoming BLM Blog, as Scott Jones has got to go.
Shut It Down Board of Supervisors --- 7/12/2016
The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors approve funds for the Sacramento County Sherriff’s Department. Black Lives Matter Sacramento organized an event to educate the individual supervisors of how our community members view the corrupt Sherriff’s Department, and to hold them accountable for their collusion with the department’s shameful behavior toward its Black and Brown citizens. Inundated with requests to speak on the topic by dozens of BLM supporters, the Board of Supervisors agreed to allot to first two hours of the meeting to address those concerns --- and address them we did. Again, Sacramento came through! People spoke of their lived experience with racism and violence perpetrated by the Sherriff’s Department --- of being racially profiled, harassed, and left feeling unsafe in the presence of LEOs. The reprehensible actions of Scott Jones were mentioned more than once, from his illegal use of Sting-Ray surveillance technology on over 500 occasions without constitutionally required warrants, to his detention and profiling of undocumented community members. A mother talked about the blatant dismissal she received from the sheriff after her child was found murdered. People spoke of being the “children of Martin and Malcolm” and simple wanting racial justice, but warning if the abuse and lynching of Black communities continue the “children of Nat Turner” will rise. Incredibly moving spoken word was used to illustrated the legacy of white supremacy in law enforcement. Donielle Price, BLM chapter lead, reminded the supervisors that 2016 is on track to be just as deadly as the last several years have been, and we are collectively responsible to protect the hundreds of lives that have not yet been taken by police. You can and should watch the board meeting here.
It Happens in Sacramento ---7/16/2016 Adriene Ludd --- Say His Name! Dazion Flenuagh --- Say His Name! Joseph Mann --- Say His Name! Lamont Harmon --- Say His Name! Justin Prescott --- Say His Name! Gabby Nevarez --- Say Her Name! Eddie Currie --- Say His Name! Danny Sanchez --- Say His Name! Ruben Juarez --- Say His Name! These are all people who have been killed by local law enforcement in last couple of years. We have a SACRAMENTO problem, not just a national problem. California has one of the strongest and least transparent police officer bill of rights and NONE of these irreplaceable lives or their families have seen justice.
BLM Sacramento held a protest outside of the Sacramento Police Department Headquarters to highlight the recent murder of Dazion Jerome Flenaugh on April 8th, an unarmed Black man who was initially illegally detained by Sac PD. Dazion, clearly displaying mental health needs, was locked in the back of a police car after being told he was not being detained. His mental health deteriorated as he was held captive. Sac PD made numerous unconscionable decisions that directly led to his death. After he began to panic, they let him out and then chased him as he ran trying to save himself. He thought they were trying to kill him. He was right. They emptied their guns into his terrified body after finding that he “armed” himself with a kitchen knife and displayed “an aggressive stance.” Sac PD has yet to provide the family with any formal information or take accountability for their illegal actions. Days before the rally was scheduled to take place, another Black man experiencing homelessness and mental health issues, was murdered by Sac PD. Joseph Mann was killed, again, only holding a knife and standing more than fifteen feet from police. Sacramento Police Department, fueled by racism and abusive authoritarian behavior has proven that they are not able to protect or serve anyone. The people charge murder, and we want justice now!
Open BLM Sacramento Meeting --- 7/16/2016
Ultimately Black Lives Matter is a movement of Black love. A movement that seeks to empower all Black people of the African diaspora across the globe --- to breakdown the chains of white supremacy and cis-hetero patriarchy --- to make all Black lives matter. Black Women’s Lives Matter. Black Trans Lives Matter. Black Men’s Lives Matter. Black Afro-Latinx Lives Matter. Black Children’s Lives Matter. Systemic anti-Black racism has created every institution we engage with --- they have been designed this way. Our education system is racist. Our government is racist --- from city councils to the White House. Our policing and judicial systems are racist. Our capitalist financial system is racist. Our imperialistic and genocidal war systems are racist. Every. Single. System. The network has stated that “Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”
BLM Sacramento held an open meeting to educate the community about the Guiding Principles of the BLM network, inform people about current Sacramento projects and campaigns, and reach out for support and new membership. More than 400 Sacramento citizens showed up to participate at the amazingly helpful Colonial Heights Library. Library staff not only welcomed the hundreds of community members, they helped create a safe space for Black Liberation. After the overwhelmingly positive meeting, hundreds moved to the streets and demanded justice for those murdered in Sacramento. The People have risen and the tone is forever changed --- from one of Sacramento apathy --- to one at the crossroads of Black freedom.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Upcoming Events & Links
Let Your Voice Be Heard --- 7/20/16 --- Tomorrow!!!
Please join the Sacramento Community Police Commission’s Accountability Ad Hoc Committee to discuss transparency in the Sacramento Police Department Wednesday, July 20, at 6 pm, Sacramento City Hall.
***Please join members of Black Lives Matter Sacramento at this meeting. It's always important to show up to these events just to participate and make sure a balanced perspective is shared. There will likely be community members there who will defend the status quo and pressure the Commission to do the same. It's critical that voices reflecting social justice are there so that we can hold the Commission to a higher standard. ***
BLM Sacramento Applications are online here.
BLM Sacramento T-Shirts are online here.
BLM Sacramento donations can be made here.