I haven’t participated in a real “in the police’s face” protest or rally since my days at SFSU. Recently I joined the Nation of Islam, the New Community Leadership Foundation (www.newclf.com) Hip Hop artist Equipto ,Selassie and scores of other social activist in support of the #Justice4MarioWoods Coalition. We gathered near San Francisco’s Civic Center and marched towards City Hall. On this particular night various members of the NFL players from the two teams participating in the Super Bowl (North Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos) and San Francisco politicians including Mayor Ed Lee were at City Hall and the asian Arts Museum celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl which is being played here in the Bay Area down in Santa Clara at the SF 49er’s Levi stadium. Wisely our coalition is using the attention drawn by the Super Bowl to get our message about the racially motivated injustices that have taken place with in San Francisco( most of all the murder of Mario Woods) out to the world and to force other wise apathetic politicians and police to hold the officers that committed this heinous act accountable.
Before going to this protest i’d gotten into a debate with a good friend about several people and organizations we know non participation and refusal to stand with the #Justice4MarioWoods movement. At this point these individuals haven’t even made public statements to condemn the police officers actions and their silence is reverberating. My good friend explained to me publicly supporting the #Justice4MarioWoods movement would hurt these people’s financial and employment situations due to the fact these individuals are employed by and or receive quite a bit of money and political support from the city. I admonished my good friend for 1st thinking that by explaining the obvious politically and financially difficult situation our friends would be put in was some how a morally justifiable excuse. Wrong is wrong and even if I love you and understand what’s at risk for you if you make an unrighteous choice,commit an unrighteous action or fail to commit a righteous action when it’s needed I have to call it for what it is.
Am I mad?
No not at all.
Am I just disappointed?
The only thing that tempers my disappointment is I really do know and understand what these individuals stand to lose. I use to work for the Department of Public Health. I’ve worked in San Francisco’s juvenile and adult county jail system giving life skills work shops educating at risk populations. I’ve had meetings with various police officers and the current mayor about outreach to the homeless and poor of San Francisco. Ive worked closely with SFPD officers out reaching to the homeless,mentally ill ,drug addicted and otherwise at risk populations of this city. I know some genuinely “good cops” and I do think about their reaction to my support of the #Justice4MarioWoods movement (and in particular our movements position on the firing of Chief Surh.)
In other words what I’m saying is that I understand the fear of jeopardizing ones job or lively hood one can feel when having to speak truth to the power that pays you. Actually what prompted me to really write this was the fact I saw many officers I knew and had seen around in my field of work and the looks they gave me caused a slight pang of worry about my own civil service career(and to keep it as we say “One Hunid” my physical well-being) Would these officers, the Mayor or his aides retaliate by endangering my current job? I thought about this and for me the choice was easy…I stand for whats right. I remain true to myself and my people and will do what I can to correct the injustice of not only Mario Woods death but of all the inequities that exist with in this society. I also recognize I have a lot less to lose than some of the organizations and people I’m alluding to and I do understand these people’s positions are precarious. Some of these leaders have not spoken in concerns of the Mario Woods case and at least some have reached out to the #J4MWC and given their reasons for not supporting the #Justice4MarioWoods movement and I can only hope we can strategize in other areas in our over all battle with the systemic injustice ingrained in our society. Other so-called leaders actually seem to be attempting to weaken and derail our movement. They do so by acting as if they are the communities chosen representatives and are speaking the will of the people for the good of the people.The truth is that some are detached from today’s social struggle and promote out dated tactics. Others are duplicitous and are only playing the part of social activist while coddling to the powers that be. (ill write on this dynamic in more depth later)
Ive long stated to those I work with I will always do what i can for the movement. I may not be able to participate in rallies and marches on a consistent basis but when I can I will do something in support of the movement. This goes back to some of my good and dear friends decisions to sit this fight out or some of their “on the fence” positions. As Arch Bishop King of the Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church stated “you might not be able to carry a picket sign but man you can fold envelopes and lick stamps or something” What Arch Bishop King is saying here is that we with in the movement understand some of us are not in a position to push a hard publicly radical stance but one should always speak truth to power and do what ever small part you can. This is not just a matter of participating in marches but some of our good friends and allies in other causes have even remained silent on making a public statement of condemnation of the SFPD’s actions in this case. Last night the pangs of worry I felt concerning my chicken shyt job made me realize how courageous and brave our frontline soldiers are.
They are fearless!!!
It’s no small thing to stand up to a brutal and vicious police force in a city that regards you as an anathema. This is no small movement and I’m amazed at our solidarity, commitment and passion. The fact is that we are up against serious and powerful opposition. Hostile and unscrupulous opposition. Due to this fact I am even more impressed and proud of those who have been fighting this epic and historic fight since day one. Yes this is history we are making. #Justice4MarioWoods is justice for #MichealBrown #AlexNieto #SandraBland #TrayvonMartin #KennethHarding #SeanBell #TamirRice #OscarGrant #EricGarner #TanishaAnderson and far to many more. Mario is our martyr our catalyst our rallying point for our pursuit for justice and reparations for all this countries acts of atrocity and miscarriages of justice. We are going through a struggle that mirrors Biblical scripture. I am indeed a spiritual person and I feel our work is divinely guided. History will look back at this and our people’s struggle on a whole the same way we open up the book of Exodus and marvel at the works of Moses. To those leaders who are of and loved by our community that have not committed to supporting this movement or others of its like or simply speaking out against police terrorism I ask this simple question… “don’t you realize this is a 2nd Civil Rights Movement ? “Dont you realize your silence is heard by those who expect more from you?” ” Dont you know your support if only words of encouragement are needed?” We all are obligated to do our small part in this struggle for social justice…ignoring such obligations do not make them disappear.