Black Lives Matter

Autistic Lives Matter Too

I’ve been pulled over before in North Miami with my autistic brother in the car.

My family grew up in North Miami.

I now live only about five minutes from North Miami.

But North Miami is not the place I thought it was.

North Miami is a dangerous place for black people and a dangerous place for people with disabilities.

Some will say that the shooting of Charles Kinsey was an isolated incident.

I think it is all we need to know.

The story, which is now an international news item goes like this.

Police are called by someone claiming that a man is carrying a gun, threatening to kill himself. The man is walking in the middle of a street in North Miami. The man is autistic and it is clear to see on the videotape.

A man named Charles Kinsey comes over to help the autistic man. Kinsey quickly realizes that the autistic man is just holding a toy truck- not a gun.

He is no threat to anybody and just needs to get back to his group home from which he has escaped from.

The rest of the details are still a bit fuzzy.

Police show up, pull out high-powered rifles and order the two men to lie down.

Kinsey complies, lies on his back and puts his hands high up in the sky.

The autistic man sits down next to Kinsey.

The rest of the story is well-known by now.

“All he has is a toy truck, a toy truck,” Kinsey is heard yelling at police in cellphone video. “I am a behavior therapist at a group home.”

The police then proceed to shoot Kinsey three times in the leg as he is lying down mere feet from the autistic man.

I became enraged when I first heard the news of the incident last night.

Then I became scared.

Terrified.

This could happen to my brother.

While I’ve always supported the Black Lives Matters movement, today is the first day that I really understand the totality of its importance.

Our police are the only people in the world that have the power to kill an American citizen if  force is justified. They have the legal writ to use violence. And we need them to have that right. But it also means that we need to hold them to an incredibly high standard.

We have to pay them better, we have to recruit better people into the force and we have to train the great people already in the force on how to identity people with developmental disabilities.

It is never ok to shoot an unarmed man who poises no direct threat to an officer, himself or another person.

And it is never ok to shoot an unarmed man who is mere feet away from a person with autism.

North Miami is not the place I thought it was and I’m scared to death for my brother, for my family, for potential aides that my brother may have and for myself.

This makes it plain as day that some officers in the North Miami Police Department do not have the training or the empathy needed to do their jobs.

But North Miami is also not unique.

Ethan Saylor was a 26-year-old man from Maryland. He also had down syndrome. And he was white.

Ethan was choked to death by off duty police officers after he refused to leave a movie theatre. He wasn’t violent. Have you ever met someone with down syndrome? He wasn’t a threat.

Saylor was described by people who knew him as a sweet, loving man with an innocent spirit.

He also loved the police more than just about anything.

He was so fascinated by cop shows and the idea of helping people that he once called 911 innocently just to ask them about their work.

Ethan Saylor believed that police officers were good people who had devoted his life to protect people like him.

And they killed him on the ground in a dirty movie theatre like an animal.

He cried out for his mother as his life was ripped from him.

“Ouch Mom, that hurts, don’t touch me, get off!” he said.

Then he died of asphyxiation. The cartilage in his throat was fractured, and he had bruises and abrasions all over his face and body. The cause of death was homicide.

I’ve always said I supported Black Lives Matter because of my “empathy.”

But fuck empathy.

This is about survival.

If we can’t protect black lives, then we sure as hell won’t be able to protect autistic ones.

America has a problem folks. And its worse than we thought.

Do you have a news tip about excessive police force involving people with disabilities? Send us a news tip to editor@risenews.net. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

“Day of Rage”– Large Protests Allegedly Planned In 37 Cities On Friday

Through what are being called unofficial channels, folks claiming affiliation with the hacktivist group Anonymous have released a ‘nationwide call to action’, listing locations for demonstrations in 37 US cities where simultaneous protests begin at 7pm, EDT.

The ‘collective day of rage’, as per the Anonymous affiliated YouTube video’s description of the particulars of the event, is being billed as “A day of action centered around civil disobedience and the right to protest”.

Also being billed by other Anonymous associated accounts as #FridayofSolidarity, the group calls for solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter in its mission to bring about social justice and police reforms, stemming from the recent shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Referring to the subsequent shooting deaths of 5 Dallas area police officers during a BLM protest, “While we do honor these fallen officers, we will not be discouraged, we will not stop, until the officers responsible for the deaths of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the voice in the YouTube video says.

WATCH: Video Message from TheAnonMessage on Youtube

While the YouTube video calls for a ‘collective day of rage’, it also states “We MUST STRESS the importance of staying nonviolent.”

Police Departments and Federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, are make preparations for the events.

According to the NY Post, the Defense Department put out an “AllCon”, or All Concerned briefing to post commanders in the US Northern Command, telling soldiers “Please be advised the [US Northern Command] has issued a threat advisory informing DOD personnel that a series of protests has been scheduled to be conducted across the United States on July 15, 2016. For your personal safety, we highly encourage you to avoid this specific location entirely”.

In Pittsburgh for example, local media contacted police in an effort to find out how they plan on responding to the potential for protests.

“We are in close contact with the FBI, almost up to the point of an hourly update. We are monitoring the intelligence along with our federal partners,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich told CBS Pittsburgh.

This afternoon, I spoke with Detective Patrick Michaud of the Seattle Police Department, another city on the list.

Michaud confirmed that Seattle PD is aware of the planned demonstration, but did not have specific information on the number of anticipated demonstrators.

According to Michaud, public demonstrations “don’t require a permit” in Seattle.

They are also in communication with other law enforcement agencies about the event.

With all of that said, this isn’t the first time a so called Day of Rage has been announced on the internet.

Similar posts were released in 2014, with a nearly identical set of cities.

Snopes.com in fact says that despite all of the above, it’s all just a hoax.

For those who aren’t planning to join the potential protests, here is a ‘how to’ wiki on what you can do to prepare before and during a public gathering that could potentially get out of hand.

We’ll stay on top of this tomorrow and update our coverage accordingly.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Phil Roeder/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Someone Hanged A Stuffed Monkey From A Tree Near The U. Of South Carolina

According to mulitple eye witnesses on social media, someone hanged a plush monkey from a tree from a student off campus housing development in Columbia, SC.

The stuffed animal was found with a belt around its neck hanging from a small tree in a parking lot at The Village at Columbia development.

The Village at Columbia is an apartment complex designed for use by University of South Carolina student according to the complex’s website. 

The incident comes on the heels of another similar situation at Clemson University last week where two students there admitted to hanging bananas from a pole next to a banner honoring African-Americans.

Those two students claimed that their actions were not racially motivated

This is a developing story. Stay with RISE NEWS. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: @IStandAlone_0/ Twitter

Hate Will Solve Nothing. But We Have To Acknowledge That America Is Still A Racist Country

We are an emotional society.

We want answers, justice, and peace, and we think, discuss and act based on our feelings.

But we will not achieve anything through bereavement and hate.

This kind of behavior shapes a constant cycle that renders the topic of racism untouchable, non-relatable, and non-discussible.

It is dark and we cannot see, we cannot breathe.

But our cries and our chants, our fear and our hate are not good enough.

Mourning is important, but it is an inadequate way to promote change.

Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trevon Martin, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, these are names we should remember and honor, but they are not the platform in which we should lead off of to demonstrate our outrage.

Instead of looking at the real issues that are allowing these murders over and over again, instead of demanding that our government change in order to actually function for and by the people, we are more concerned with how what we say makes people feel.

We are talking about who has a right to say what and when, we are speaking past one another about events that have broken our hearts but that cannot rebuild our country.

Our emotions are slowing down our aspirations, and if something is ever going to be done, we must aspire to redefine this nation’s identity.

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Photo Credit: Christopher Dombres/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Police brutality is an abominable action that causes men and women leave their homes fearing that their children, siblings, or spouses will be shot down and murdered for the color of their skin.

This is an intimate, deep, and powerful fear, and it should not exist in the minds of our citizens.

But police brutality is also a problem that feeds off of the systemic biases and political violence of a nation.

Read More: Acknowledging Our Built In Biases Can Make Us Stronger And More Tolerant

It is a historical and ongoing economic and political plot to keep specific people from obtaining a better and equal quality of life.

Like dust, American citizens are swept under the carpet, hidden in the fabrics of forgotten neighborhoods and overlooked schools.

And if that doesn’t do it, they are put in prisons, leaving their children alone and unsupported.

Accomplishments and success are faded or tainted because of national prejudices that disregard the brilliance of black culture by commercializing and whitening it.

As an American minority member you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t and no one ever stops to stand up and shout “enough”, but then again, no one ever acknowledges that there is a problem in the first place.

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Photo Credit: 5chw4r7/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

It is important to declare ones outrage and it is true that black lives are constantly targeted, but it is ineffective to make this solely an issue of police brutality.

That is a branch on a tree of racism that is rooted through this country.

When Philando Castile was bleeding to death in his car, his fiancé pleaded to the officer, “He has never been arrested or nothing, he isn’t in a gang or nothing”.

This concept is the soil around this tree that nourishes each branch of structural and social violence.

The fact that she felt that she had to justify his lifestyle contrary to the color of his skin speaks to a horrifying notion that this country has deemed black men guilty before innocent.

This prejudice is illegal, it is sickening, and it is a long practiced piece of culture.

Slavery and Jim Crow abandoned the very idea of humanism and instead, replaced it with a beast that thrived on the over and misuse of people for economic gain.

But that is not solely about black people, our history was made on the backs and blood of Native Americans, and Latino/a Americans are perpetually treated in a socially violent and disregarded manner.

These are the origins of America, this is the problem.

The problem with police shootings besides racism is that they are not adequately trained to deescalate situations.

That, and a systemic bias make for very volatile situations.

Our prison system is corrupt and ensures that with ones sentence comes recidivism and a country that deems a perpetrator of even the smallest crime, unfit for society.

We teach our children right from wrong, and then we eradicate that ideal by producing immeasurable destruction to the lives of the marginalized.

Leon Bing describes in her book, Do or Die that just miles apart from each other, a quiet, suburban neighborhood with freshly paved roads and a school with a fenced in field sit above a dilapidated school in Compton, where the walls have holes and the ceiling is leaking and there aren’t even enough chairs for students to sit in for class.

This is a creation essentially encouraging kids to find salvation elsewhere, if the school system has failed them why should they oblige and attend it?

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Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

America needs to open their eyes and mouths and own up to it’s not so ignorant ignorance.

We know the system is unfair, we know populations are being ignored, and we know police brutality is just once piece of the violence.

But why do we still only talk about that one issue?

Black Lives Matter is an important organization, but it has not yet found a way to address racism in a manner that demands national political and social change.

If you make a movement solely about the experience of African Americans, you automatically exclude the rest of the population and in doing so; exclude your own ideals from the rest of the country.

This way of advocacy is entirely understandable, but it is not as effective as demanding that as a nation we change the foundation that separates us from each other.

The Civil Rights Movement fought for shared liberties like using the same restrooms, drinking fountains, and restaurants.

We are in a new age and are desperately in need of a new civil rights movement, but just like that last one, it must fight for a shared quality of life rather than separating itself from the rest of the population.

Instead of discussing how a white person you can show support, we should all be discussing what pieces of our government are allowing institutional racism to run our nation.

That is a discussion that everyone should be involved in regardless of ones skin color, because it affects Americans and taints this country’s identity.

Supporting each other comes from identifying problems and executing solutions.

We should all be able to recognize now that the experience of a black American is far different than that of a white American, but more importantly, we should be able to identify the qualities of the U.S. that make day to day life more violent, more hateful, and more oppressive.

We can’t breathe because the air is too thick with the blood of innocent people and the ignorance of a nation that turn a blind eye after a week or two.

In the play, Angels in America, Tony Kushner writes,“The white cracker who wrote the national anthem knew what he was doing. He set the word ‘free’ to a note so high nobody can reach it. That was deliberate. Nothing on earth sounds less like freedom to me”.

It isn’t just the police, it is our nation, and it is in the soil and the air and it reaffirms a history that consistently belittles its citizens.

If we are going to change anything it has to be about the foundation that causes our loss and our pain.

We are outraged, and that makes sense, but it isn’t good enough to be outraged, we have to be pragmatic if we are going to redefine our history and end this cycle.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Christopher Dombres/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

 

Acknowledging Our Built In Biases Can Make Us Stronger And More Tolerant

By Zac Head

My name is Zac,

I am not a person of color. I am not female. I am not a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

I have not truly experienced poverty. I will likely never know what it is like to be a member of any of these groups.

I am a straight, white male, whose household income is significantly above the poverty line.

I grew up with happily married parents who were always very supportive of me.

I have broken laws, and been sent away from at least two encounters with law enforcement with “warnings”.

I have benefited from biases of others based on race, gender, social class, and sexuality.

I am privileged.

While I value all human life equally, recognize the sacred worth of every individual, and know that we are all God’s children, made in the image of God, and equally loved by God,

I have biases that affect the way I perceive people of color.

I have biases that affect the way I perceive females.

I have biases that affect the way I perceive people with different religious and political views than my own.

While these biases are most often subconscious, I am aware that they exist and that they cause damage in relationships and the lives of others.

My mind often feels threatened by those who are different than myself.

My mind often feels threatened by black masculinity.

I am aware of my biases and constantly fight against them.

I pray for deliverance from my biases.

Through prayer and conscious effort I have experienced deliverance from bias bit by bit, but if I am being honest I may never completely leave these biases behind.

All I can do is try each day to only see people for the children of God that they are.

Until we can acknowledge our biases we will continue to teach these biases to our children.

Until we can acknowledge our biases, it should be no surprise that those against whom we are biased will suffer.

Until we acknowledge the issue of black masculinity being perceived as dangerous, black men will continue to die from violence (with and without police involvement) at a higher rate than white men.

Until we acknowledge the issue of black masculinity being perceived as dangerous, little black boys will continue to grow up being told by the media that they are more likely to be violent than their white counterparts.

Until we acknowledge the issue of black masculinity being perceived as dangerous, we should not be surprised when this cycle continues.

I can never know what it feels like to be black, a woman, or someone who grew up in poverty.

All I can do is try my very best to listen to others who have those perspectives, acknowledge the worth of these perspectives and individuals, and live in such a way that teaches my daughter to move past biases while doing my very best to keep certain biases from forming in our household.

Today, I acknowledge my biases.

Today, I pray for deliverance (my own and that of our society) from these biases.

Today I am proud to see so many young people standing up for what Is right and am filled with hope for the future.

Forgive us, oh God of grace, for failing to see your image in one another.

‪#‎blacklivesmatter‬

Zac Head is a pastor at Mount Hebron United Methodist Church in Beaverton, AL. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Please Stop Sharing Photos Like These On Social Media. You Are Making Things Worse

We here at RISE NEWS came across the photo below on social media a day before the tragic slaying of five police officers in Dallas.

We found it absolutely repugnant at the time but did not say anything.

We were wrong not to.

We all need to take a stand when we see people post horrific images because sometimes they can inspire people to do horrific things.

Here is the image in question:

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We will not be “outing” the person that posted the image because they are a private citizen and we hope they will learn from this mistake without their reputation being damaged in the process.

From the post:

“This photo may offend some individuals and I clearly don’t give AF! America needs to realize that it’s not about BLACK OR WHITE PEOPLE. It’s more about these crooked ass so called law enforcement officers. Now, there are some good ones and I applaud you for standing in unity and going against negativity and protecting this country but some of you abuse your authority when you in a little position of power. #RIP #AltonSterling

No one posted arguing that the image was terrible.

In fact, some people egged it on.

One person wrote:

“There are good cops out the there. But there are too many bad ones too. Racism is strong in this country. A lot of the problems with these deaths is because of a racist society. I’ve been here long enough to see a lot of it. Just think what our parents and there parents have seen.”

Another said:

“I take issue with the so called good ones too because most of them allow this shit to go on and don’t say anything.”

We agree that Black Lives Matter.

There is no question that police violence and systemic racism in our justice system are real issues that we have not done a good enough job in weeding out as a country.

There are racist cops. There are dirty cops. There are bad cops.

But there are also really great cops who take their jobs seriously and work everyday to protect the people of this country. Without them, we will have no peace. Without them, we will have no democracy.

While the Black Lives Matter fight must continue to go on as the deaths of young black men in this country will undoubtedly continue as this summer grows hotter, we must all do our part in lowering the rhetoric.

Posting a photo to social media depicting a police officer having his throat slashed by a ISIS like figure with American flag colored gun straps is not helping.

It is not good social commentary. It is not interesting. It is only vile.

Of course this does go both ways.

All of us have seen countless racist memes pop up on our feeds from time to time or the words All Lives Matter as a substitute for real conversation about what is needed to make things better.

We are wrong when we don’t confront people who post those images as well.

We can make things better in this country. We can create a better future where the relationship between the police and people of color can be strong and respected.

But we can certainly not have this future if we don’t trust each other. And we certainly can’t bring about that future if we hate each other.

Love and respect is the only answer.

And it is time that we all do our part.

A Former Congressman Just Vowed To Start A Race War In The US

Joe Walsh, a former Republican Congressman from Illinois took to Twitter after the Dallas Shootings to threaten President Obama and vow to start a race war.

Walsh Tweeted:

“This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you.”

Four police officers were killed when two snipers opened fire at the close of a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Dallas. Another seven officers were injured in the attack.

Walsh deleted the Tweet but it was saved by many people.

Let’s just say that people were pretty mad:

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We wonder if Walsh will actually receive a call from law enforcement due to his hate filled tweet.

“Peace”: You Have To Read This Powerful Poem About Police Violence

By Courtney Anderson

They take our lives every day.

Shoot us in the back.

In front of family,

friends,

and strangers.

They leave us in the streets.

And Cuff our dead bodies.

**

They lie about us.

Drag our names,

stories,

and lives

through the mud.

We deserve our deaths, they say.

We killed ourselves.

We always kill ourselves, they say.

**

Our lives are played on social media.

And so are our deaths.

**

And our killers go free.

Every.

Single.

Time.

**

And then

They ask for our

Peace.

**

Peace! Peace! Be Peaceful! Have Peace!

Be peaceful as we slaughter you!

Stand still as we shoot.

Paint our streets with your Blood.

And above all, have Peace!

**

There is no peace.

There is no peace.

There is no peace.

There will be no peace.

As long as they live,

and we die,

There will be No Peace.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Annette Bernhardt/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This Video Of The Death Of Alton Sterling Is One Of The Worst Things We’ve Ever Seen

A 37 year old man named Alton Sterling, was killed in the early hours of July 5th in Baton Rouge, LA after being shot by police.

Not much is known about the incident but someone did record the end of it.

The video is hard to watch. But we all must figure out what happened:

According to the Advocate, Sterling was selling CD’s in front of a convenience store when he got involved with “some type of altercation” with two police officers.

The situation then escalated to the point that Sterling was thrown to the ground and then shot by one officer “multiple” times.

This is a developing story. Stay with RISE NEWS. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Frisco Five Hunger Strike: What You Need To Know About This Growing Movement

By Alexandra Van Erven

Even though it didn’t make national headlines, something really important happened in San Francisco over the course of the last few weeks.

Major protests have rocked the Bay Area after five local activists endured a 17 day hunger strike in an effort to force out San Francisco’s police chief.

The chief in question, Greg Suhr was accused by the strikers of not being responsive to the concerns of members of minority communities after a series of police involved shootings.

The hunger strike ended last week after doctors implored the strikers to stop it for their own health and safety, but the movement to reform the city continues.

Last Monday, May 9, nearly 100 impassioned citizens of San Francisco took to the streets in front of City Hall, calling for the resignation of Suhr.

The protesters circled the city hall roughly a dozen and a half times, doing so for the protesters who had to make sacrifices such as not eating for nearly two and a half weeks.

“One for every day the hunger strikers did not have food in their bodies,” Benjamin Bac Sierra, one of the organizers said according to ABC 7 News.

The Frisco Five protesters had been at it for 17 days and had camped out in front of the Mission District police station, going days without food and without shopping in order to protest police brutality, killings, and racism.

Police also allegedly injured four journalists who were covering the protests, further escalating the situation:

These protests seem to be having some of the desired effects, with multiple sources claiming that San Francisco supervisors Jane Kim, David Campos, Eric Mar and John Avalos are all calling for Suhr to be replaced, therefore becoming the first San Francisco elected officials to do so.  

“Chief Greg Suhr has served San Francisco for over 30 years and we should thank him for that service,” Jane Kim said in a press release. “But even he must acknowledge that leading a culture shift in that department would be easier and faster if there was new leadership there.”

And the Mayor of San Francisco has called for more money to fund police reforms. However, the hunger strikers do not seem to feel like that is a real fix for the problems gripping the city: 

RISE NEWS will continue to monitor further developments as this story progresses. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

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