Modern-Day Lynchings

Modern-Day Lynchings

Last week I visited the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, AL.  Together, they memorialize the legacy of enslaved Black people, especially the victims of racial terror lynchings in the United States.

I realized then that racial terror lynchings still exist today, though they have shape shifted. Lynchings still exist today when police use lethal force to harass, harm, and kill Black people. Lynchings have shape shifted when African Americans, like Breonna Taylor, are shot to death by police while sleeping in her bed. Lynchings still exist today when 28% of those killed by police in 2020 are Black people, despite being only 13% of the population.

It is truly difficult to fathom the violence and terrorism that was allowed, even encouraged, during the Jim Crow era. It is equally difficult to recognize that we still don’t always see the injustice of police actions today against Black people as deadly, terrorizing, and inhumane. Or, that we don’t act to change these racial injustices.

As we watch the trial of Derek Chauvin for the killing George Floyd, I am not only outraged, I am motivated to persistently lobby for the elimination of the modern-day lynchings of hundreds of Black people.

Modern-Day Lynchings by Diane Randall, Friends Committee on National Legislation, April 14, 2021

Who polices the police?

That is a perennial question. That is why there are calls for an independent investigation into the death of land defender Manuel Terán (Tortuguita). Now U.S. Congressional Representatives Cori Bush (D-Missouri) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) have joined in calls for an independent investigation.

Progressive lawmakers are calling for an independent investigation into the death of climate justice activist Manuel Terán, who also went by the name Tortuguita, who was killed by police last week as law enforcement officers were carrying out a violent raid of a protest camp in a wooded area in Atlanta, Georgia.

Activists say that the police raid of the camp was only law enforcement’s most recent attempt to clear the camp, where activists have been protesting a proposed $90 million police training facility that activists have nicknamed “Cop City.” The construction of “Cop City,” as proposed by the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Police Department,” would involve razing nearly 100 acres of forest to build “a domestic version of a military base in the heart of a working-class Black community,” as Atlanta forest defender Kamau Franklin wrote for Truthout.

Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) and Cori Bush (D-Missouri) called for an independent investigation into the police killing of Tortuguita this week, echoing activists’ calls.

“Last week, police killed Tortuguita, a climate justice protester in Atlanta who was defending a forest set to be destroyed for Cop City, a police training center,” Bush wrote on Twitter on Monday. “I am calling for an independent investigation into their death. There must be accountability.”

Tlaib repeated Bush’s call in a tweet on Wednesday, saying: “I echo Rep. Bush’s call for an independent investigation. We demand justice for Tortuguita. I stand with the forest protectors righteously fighting Cop City.”

CORI BUSH CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION INTO POLICE KILLING OF ACTIVIST TORTUGUITA. Activists have questioned law enforcement’s narrative about the killing of the Atlanta climate justice activist by SHARON ZHANG, TRUTHOUT, JANUARY 26, 2023

On the morning of Jan. 18, during what had become routine police operations to clear protesters from the site of a future training facility nicknamed “Cop City” in Atlanta’s forested outskirts, shots were fired. When the smoke cleared, an activist had been killed and a state trooper was wounded. Questions about what happened have elevated the case into a flashpoint in the national debate about policing and environmental activism.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said the shooting was not recorded on body cameras. Police said the gun used in the shooting against the trooper was purchased by Teran in September 2020. On Wednesday, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced that a special prosecutor will be assigned to review the case, but critics are calling for an independent investigation. 

What we know about “Cop City” and the standoff between police, protesters in Atlanta by Cara Tabachnick, CBS News, 1/26/2023

Questions about what happened have elevated the case into a flashpoint in the national debate about policing and environmental activism

Cara Tabachnick, CBS News, 1/26/2023

What is “Cop City”?

For years, Atlanta police have trained officers in temporary facilities, but in 2021 the police department and partners proposed building a facility to boost recruitment and retention efforts.

“We’re excited, because first class cities have first class investment in their training, in their public safety first responders,” Deputy Chief Darin Schierbaum told CBS News Atlanta during an overview of the project. “Training is the lifeblood of any public safety organization.”

The $90 million, 85-acre center, which includes a shooting range, mock city and burn building, among other facilities, will “reimagine law enforcement training and Police/Fire Rescue community engagement,” said the Atlanta Police Foundation, a not-for-profit that helps fund police initiatives through private-public partnerships in a statement on its website.

But the training center drew opposition almost immediately, coming on the heels of a tumultuous year of high-profile cases of police brutality and strained community relations. “We’re talking about spending millions of taxpayer dollars to fund another failed proposal that will only line the pockets of wealthy people and not actually address the issues of our day,” James Woodall, a policy associate with the Southern Center for Human Rights, told CBS News Atlanta. “City council members have even admitted that this will not impact crime,” he added.

What we know about “Cop City” and the standoff between police, protesters in Atlanta by Cara Tabachnick, CBS News, 1/26/2023

On Thursday, Governor Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency in response to protests Saturday night sparked by Tortuguita’s death, during which participants threw rocks, broke windows, and burned a police car. Kemp’s order, effective until February 9, allows up to 1,000 National Guard troops to police the streets of Atlanta.

To allies, Tortuguita’s killing was the climax of an escalation of police and legal tactics meant to stifle the wide-ranging movement to stop construction of the training center, which includes parks advocates, prison abolitionists, and area neighborhood associations. Over the course of December and January, 19 opponents of the police training center have been charged with felonies under Georgia’s rarely used 2017 domestic terrorism law. 

Documents show how 19 ‘Cop City’ activists got charged with terrorism by Alleen Brow, Grist, 1/27/2023

There are also heightened tensions now in Memphis related to the police killing of Tyre Nichols.

Video of the encounter will be released after 6 p.m. local time Friday, officials said. Memphis police chief Cerelyn “C.J.” Davis said Thursday that she expected citizens to be outraged by what she called the “heinous, reckless and inhumane” conduct captured in the video. She said she expected people to protest and called on them to remain peaceful.

Memphis police set to release video showing fatal beating of Tyre Nichols Story by Doha Madani and David K. Li and Deon J. Hampton, NBC News

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