This is a brief post, because I don’t know what to say and I feel I have to say something.
Frankly, I’d been avoiding the news. I knew another unarmed young black man had been killed by cops. I knew there were protests and that the police were behaving badly. That was pretty much it. It’s practically boilerplate by now: the last few years have taught me the script, just like the one for school shootings.
I started this morning with my coffee, started catching up on articles and link roundups and tweets around the web, and ended up in tears, scared in ways I didn’t know I still could be over events like this.
I don’t know what to do. I know this is not okay. I know that there are times when my job as a white person is to sit down and listen, but eventually there comes a time when my job is to stand up and scream, and I think the moment when part of my country starts to descend into martial law and riot control that would make Bull Connor proud is a moment to stand.
But I’m over here, and they’re over there. This isn’t a situation where I can at give money to a relief organization and feel that that’s tangible helps — well, I guess I can, but I don’t know where to send my money. If anyone knows of organizations that are raising money for legal defense or anything like that, please let me know. (ETA: The ACLU has been suggested while I was writing this. Thanks, Kat! I’ll update this post with links when I have a chance.) If there are other ways I can help, or anyone can help, please let me know.
In the meantime, I’m adding my voice, since it’s all I have. Governor Jay Nixon needs to get this under control. Police Chief Thomas Jackson needs to be held accountable for the horrifying tactics and behavior of his police force. And as a nation we have got to work to dismantle the institutional racism that allows cops to harass and murder young men of color with impunity. Require police to wear body cameras. Stop incentivizing murder by giving cops who kill paid leave (reportedly, the officer who killed Michael Brown is on paid administrative leave).
We can’t just let this keep happening. We can’t. We can’t.
ETA: Thirteen hours later, the situation in Ferguson looks very different, which is a relief. There are still things we can do to help:
- Raise your voice on a local level. There are a couple of petitions going around the internet about changing policy to require police officers to wear front-facing cameras, which has been shown to reduce complaints against police and use of force by police. The petitions are a good start, but not an endpoint. Get in touch with your state government, your county government where applicable, and your city government, and see what work you can do to get camera policies enacted in your city.
- If you want to make a financial contribution, there are a number of places you can give money (and these organizations may have other ways you can get involved, so be sure to click around):
- As mentioned here, VOTE. Vote for federal elections, yes, but pay attention to local elections and vote in them too. Change starts at home, with you, in the ballot box.
This whole situation was — is — terrifying and sad. Every aspect of it: Michael Brown’s death, the police’s initial reaction, the police’s continued overreaction, and the fact that it could happen again. Maybe not in Ferguson — but hell, maybe in Seattle, we’ve got a terrible track record.
It could happen again, but let’s not let it. Not again.