It is 2015 and we are the wake of yet another police brutality riot, this time in Baltimore mourning the life of Freddie Gray .
We just passed the the third anniversary of the Trayvon Martin case. It’s coming up on the year anniversary of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner Case. Not to mention, JUST last year, we mourned the deaths of young men and women like Rumain Brisbson, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Kajieme Powell, Ezell Ford, John Crawford III, Dante Parker, Tyree Woodson, Victor White III, Yvette Smith, McKenzie Cochran, and Jordan Baker.
The fact that I have to re-publish this particular blog a year later is shameful, disappointing and frankly disrespectful. You would think that after all of the MULTIPLE protests, riots, petitions, marches, and massive backlash against police brutality, police departments would:
1) Get some kind of sensitivity training
2) Re-evaluate and re-implement best practices in their county so these kinds of incidents don’t happen again
3) And if you’re not going to do that, at LEAST give us the common courtesy of not blatantly calling open season on our Black men and women back to back to back to back without the proper and due repercussions.
I could go on and on about this. I will be right up there with Black Twitter fact checking, link sharing and updating disgruntled updates until my fingers bleed. But that can only do so much.
As members of Greek letter organizations, specifically NPHC, we are rooted in the fight for justice and equality. Because we are community-conscious and action oriented leaders, it is imperative that if we do choose to lend a helping hand, we are doing so in a productive manner.
Therefore, here are a few action plans that can be implemented if (Lord forbid) this incident happens again and protests spark back up.
1) Partner with your local grad chapter, NAACP, National Urban League, churches or other community non profit organization and see how you can help with their initiatives.
The more helping hands, the better. It also helps if a collective body of organizations come together, not only for extra assistance, but it helps provide a alternative narrative for the media. March. Volunteer with clean up. Help rebuild buildings. Pass out flyers of upcoming town hall meetings, future protest, create a public Google Doc titled ” (INSERT CITY), where is help needed?”, etc. If mainstream media won’t catch it, please believe online media will fact check and provide the positive on your behalf. Another benefit of partnering with community organizations is that they provide structure, streamline the mission, and older members can provide guidance to younger members who are looking to organize events.
2) Purchase Supplies For Protesters on The Ground.
Protesters are initiating clean-ups and are in need of supplies. If you’re in the city or surrounding area, stop by a few stores and pick up a few things. See if you can purchase a few folding tables so you can set up shop and provide supplies to protesters. If you aren’t in the city where protests are transpiring, you can create a Amazon.com wish list where people can purchase necessities for protesters and organizers such as toiletries, garbage bags, brooms, jackets, small first aid kits, headache medicine and water.
3) Pass the Plate : Provide Meals to Protesters
Many times when large protests of scale take place, not only are protesters hungry, but schools might get shut down as well. Stop by your neighbors house or apartment complex and see if they need something to eat. Stop by the dollar store and load up on snacks so you can pass them out on hand. Gather with your local church or group of friends and offer hot plates to those who’ve been on the front line all day and night. Or create a community dinner and post the event details on Facebook so people can spread the word.
4) Get the Law on Your Side: Research Lawyers Who Do Pro-bono and Keep Information On Hand
Keep a directory of national lawyers like the National Lawyers Guild or the National Black Lawyers Association. Contact the local lawyers in your city that do probono work as well. Having them available to offer simple legal advice or to debrief of rights we might not be privy too can be extremely helpful. If they are willing to assist protest participants, pass their information along so they can get legal assistance ASAP. Engaging your local university Law School could also be a great resource for legal assistance.
5) Offering Time: Provide Financial Assistance for Funeral Arrangements
If worst comes to worst and there is a funeral arrangement that needs to be financed, search the net t see if there are any present micro-funding campaigns that are going on on behalf of family. But before you make any kind of donation, make sure the money distribution is detailed in the pages description. Double check the contact information to make sure it is a legitimate page and the funds are actually going to the family that needs it. If you don’t see anything, take the liberty of setting one up. Look up all the legal obligations or consult with any legal advisers you may have encountered to make sure you are setting it up correctly.
6) Play the Role of a Legit Bugaboo: Contact Government Officials and Local Police Department
Contact your local & state government officials and police department and bug the HELL out of them. Find your local police department here and let the phones ring off the hook. If they have social media accounts, feel free to hit those up too. Write up a collective list of demands that you and your community expect the city officials to uphold. Send email. Write letters. Call. Blow up their Twitter handle and Facebook timelines. Even if they don’t immediately respond, people will take note to the uprising. Soon, someone will have to address the issue at hand.
7) Become a Sponsor
In the even that the riots do escalate, there is a good chance local small businesses will be destroyed as an innocent by-standard. If you know, or know of, the business owner, get in contact with them and ask them what their needs are. Hopefully, they’ll have enough insurance to cover majority of the damage. But if that is not the case, partner up with your friends, family, chapter and local organizations and help sponsor a business. You could also pull together to sponsor a family if their home is destroyed. Follow up with the Red Cross to see if they have a list of supplies readily available that you can use as a checklist in case of emergencies. Write a letter to a few of your local establishments and explain that you are trying to sponsor a family/business who has been affected by the unfortunate events and you are seeking additional help. You can also create a public Google doc inventorying all of the needs for the business, families and/or protesters and distribute the list via social media. Start a Facebook Group or a Groupme to send out reminders and provide live updates on where people will be set up to distribute supplies. Organize a Facebook Event to invite people to volunteer (provide a public Google Doc sign in sheet so you can identify names ahead of time.)
It’s unfortunate that these kind of blog entries have to be written. But in the event that opportunities arise to stand up for what’s right or fall back into the shadows of silence, we have to be brave enough to take the baby steps for a greater cause. This can be our chance to take those steps. Even if they’re small, when we all take those small steps collectively, it’s still one huge shift from where we were. And that’s a big deal.
Be blessed and be safe family.