Monday, December 22, 2014

Establishing Citizens Police Review Board

ATLANTA, GA (PR) - Here in Atlanta, there is a narrative fallacy that these protests have been unorganized, disconnected and without concrete outcomes in mind. That could not be farther from the truth. It is time to take back our story and our struggle. It is time to broaden our base. The national consciousness has been awakened- everyone from congressional staffers, to medical students, to athletes and celebrities have shown their solidarity.

Many demands have been given (and in some instances met). Political leaders from President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder to our own City Council and Mayor here in Atlanta have had to engage in dialogues that WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED without the youth-led movement in the streets.

We have seen the establishment of a citizen review board in Ferguson, federal racial profiling guidelines.  And eight years after it expired- Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) successfully got Congress to pass a bill requiring police departments to count how many people they shoot.  Less tangible is the palpable and connected energy that’s emerged among the PEOPLE.

Body cameras for APD are a step -but as Sister Mary Pat of the National Action Network asked this week to a congregation of concerned citizens at Ebenezer Church- who is auditing these cameras?

What disciplinary action will we demand if officers in Atlanta do not turn on their cameras?

Groups including the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, #ItsBiggerThanYou and countless others have organized protests, rallies and community meetings in response to the murders of black and brown bodies as a result of systemic violence amongst police officers.

People are sick and tired of being sick and tired. People are questioning and identifying structural flaws in not only law enforcement agencies but in the guiding principals of our country.  People are realizing how UNFREE we are in the land of the free. People are questioning the American dream. We are at a crossroads.

We cannot let up on local leaders. Without mobilization and strategy we will be ignored. Take the most recent issue of the Atlanta City Council newsletter which failed to acknowledge or mention the work being done on body cameras or the numerous protests across the city. Together we have the potential, the resources and the momentum to impact change. There is still work to be done here in Atlanta and across the country. We must not let up.

•    Every Tuesday- 7PM-Hagar’s Place, #itsbiggerthanyou Weekly Public Meeting. Follow IBTU on Instagram for daily happenings.

(Special Note: The first meeting of EVERY month focuses on health and wellness).

Words from the Movement:

“Stay focused on Black lives. Do not become Co-opted. Use your allies when necessary. No more business as usual. DISRUPTDISRUPTDISRUPT. Make sure your actions match your demands.”– Johnetta (Ferguson)

“Make sure you engage in self care. We are at war.” – IBTY Executive Board

"The only thing worse than accountability is having what looks like accountability with no power."- Overheard at Ebenezer Baptist Church Speak out with reference to the Atlanta Citizen Review Board

"We need jobs and opportunities. We need a coalition of youth serving and youth led organizations."- Overheard at IBTY Meeting

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