Black Lives Matter, news update

A memorial sits outside the Waller County Jail last month in Hempstead, Texas. Activists have taken to demonstrating outside the jail, where Sandra Bland died in her cell. Photo: Pat Sullivan/AP

From NPR in the USA, 15 August 2015:

It has been another 100-degree day in Hempstead, Texas. But no matter: dozens of activists have still come to demonstrate outside the Waller County Jail, setting up improvised camps and playing songs, as they’ve been doing for the past month. …

Bland’s death also sparked a heated conversation on social media — and inspired activists like the Rev. Hannah Bonner to brave the summer heat demanding answers.

“I’m a millennial, and so I do live in this social media generation,” Bonner says. “But I also understand the weaknesses of that, and one of those is an addiction to technology and also using technology as a placebo for actual action.”

So Bonner drives an hour each way between Houston and Hempstead every day to protest in person. Demonstrators hope to keep attention on the issue by camping out at the jail.

Some days, there are dozens of people gathered here. On this day, there were six, including graduate student Carie Cauley. She’s been taking part in the vigil for three weeks and feels a personal connection to the cause.

“Sandra Bland was black, which I happen to be. She was a woman, which I happen to be. She was educated, which I happen to be. She had a bachelor’s degree, which I happen to have,” Cauley says. …

As Bonner stands strumming her guitar in front of the jail, Waller County resident Mary Dolen approaches her and bursts into tears, sharing her own concerns about local law enforcement.

“I wanted to get the courage to come in here and say something and let you know it’s not just you, it’s not y’all,” Dolen says. “It’s people like me, too.”

By “people like me,” Dolen means white residents. Bonner says she’s had lots of encounters like this over the past month.

“It’s taken people some time of us sitting out here, and now that we’ve been out here long enough, it seems like our courage is giving other people courage to speak up.”

Bonner says connections like these can only be made in person, and that’s what keeps her coming back to Hempstead every day in the 100-degree heat.

Sandra Bland was pulled over for dubious reasons, treated rudely by a Texas state trooper, tackled to the ground, and arrested for “assault.” She died 3 days later in jail custody. Her family has filed a federal lawsuit against Texas authorities for her arrest and subsequent death in jail custody. Details and commentary on what exactly the lawsuit alleges are below: here.

From the CodePink women’s movement in the USA, 14 August 2015:

Dear Activist,

It is time for CODEPINK to join the vigil at the Waller County Sheriff’s Office, calling for an investigation into the death of Sandra Bland. The vigil has already exposed the hate in the sheriff’s office. Bring the Pink to support Hannah Bonner in her vigil for Sandra Bland.

From the Tampa Bay Times in Florida, USA:

Saturday, August 15, 2015 8:31pm …

Nearly 80 people assembled Saturday afternoon at Curtis Hixon Park before marching through downtown for Blackout Tampa, a national event that highlighted police treatment of black Americans and other civil rights issues.

“I’m here because we’re demanding our freedom,” said Jayson James, 31. “I am tired of every day seeing another black person who is murdered, unarmed, by the police.”

The protesters, mainly black but including some whites, wielded signs that read, “Straight outta patience,” “They choose if we live or die,” and “Don’t apologize for your blackness, or your fear.”

As they marched single-file toward the police station, the occasional car sounded its horn, eliciting waves of cheer that rose above the city din. “I believe that we will win, I believe that we will win,” chanted Crystal Wilson, an activist and University of South Florida student.

She weaved through the crowds with fellow activist Ashley Green, a 25-year-old St. Petersburg resident, sparking small bursts of protest songs.

The overwhelming message? Change comes from the bottom, not the top.

Nia Knighton, 19, the event’s main organizer, said it’s essential to discuss institutional racism. “But a lot of the time, we forget to talk about the changes we can make after the protests,” she said, which include equipping children with black history books and providing after-school programs.

Many of the black protesters said they had not been victims of police brutality. “But I know several friends who have been,” said James, of St. Petersburg. He recalled how one of his three brothers was stopped because his windows were “too dark.”

Nothing happened, James said, but these minor events continue to inspire a deep fear in the wake of Sandra Bland, a black Texas woman who died in jail shortly after a routine traffic stop.

Outside the police station, the chanting reached a fever pitch, with protesters denouncing the entire American justice system as “guilty as hell.”

No one came outside.

After a few minutes of demonstration, they crossed through the green light at Kennedy Boulevard and Franklin Street, disrupting a small line of traffic. The cars idled while throngs of black-clothed protesters crowded the intersection, waving flags and jumping up and down.

“Whose streets?” one protester screamed. “Our streets!” came the hearty reply.

Demonstrators, marking the one-year anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown, protest along West Florrisant Street on Aug. 10, 2015 in Ferguson, Missouri. Getty Images/Scott Olson

From the International Business Times:

Christian Taylor Death: Friends And Family To Gather For Funeral Of Unarmed Football Player Shot By Police

By Luke Villapaz

August 15 2015 11:37 AM EDT

UPDATE 5:28 p.m. EDT: More than 1,000 people gathered Saturday for the funeral of Christian Taylor, the 19-year-old football player shot to death by a rookie police officer in Arlington, Texas. The Dallas Morning News reported among those attending were teammates and coaches from Angelo State University, some five hours away. Also in attendance were Mayor Jeff Williams and Police Chief William Johnson.

The officer involved, Brad Miller, was fired earlier this week.

Journalists Arrested in Ferguson for Doing Their Job: here.

‘A thug’s life don’t matter’: Texas racist threatens mob violence against Black Lives Matter to avenge deputy’s death: here.

#BlackLivesMatter and #Fightfor15: here.

BRITISH Jews voiced their opposition yesterday to anti-Palestine groups “offensively belittling” the Black Lives Matter campaign to further their own cause. Almost 90 Jewish people co-signed a stinging letter sent to the Zionist Federation and the Board of Deputies, accusing them of piggybacking on the campaign against police brutality on black US citizens by using the social media hashtag #IsraeliLivesMatter: here.

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