Instead of Drive-By Activism Let’s Mobilize on Strategic Demands in Ferguson

628x471We have seemingly run out of effective tactics, leadership and direction in the black community. The old civil rights community holds prayer vigils and tranquil marches while so-called radicals endorse confrontation without real demands. Calling for the “end of police brutality” is a good slogan but hardly enforceable when dealing with police agencies that are innately hostile to the black community and out of its control. It does not matter if you walk with your hands up or in a black power fist, although I prefer the latter, it’s all symbolism and after a few months without a plan it won’t make a difference on the ground in Ferguson. These past few weeks have demonstrated the intellectual back-slide of the activist/organizer class. Going to Ferguson or any place that captures the essence of black rage against oppressive forces has become like tourist descending on Pamplona for the running of the bulls. These acts of solidarity, although well intended don’t offer any long term solutions for the community, but they do wonders for the travel industry. Imagine how much money was spent on plane, bus and train tickets, on gas for car rides to and from Ferguson over the past several weeks. Enough I would assume to hire and train two or three local young people in community organizing to push for needed change. Besides the travel industry the other financial winners are the faces of this failed movement. These folks go back and hold fundraisers and talk about what it was like on the ground. Most of these leaders will return for round two when the grand jury decides to not indict, or later if an indictment happens after he is acquitted at trial. Still, nothing will have changed in Ferguson.

There are no silver bullet in Ferguson, however an analysis of the situation presents opportunities for strategic victories, an easing of the day to day pain and a push for resources into the community. Ferguson is a small incorporated city that is 66% black, but yet is dominated by a majority white city council, police department and white mayor. These forces have seemingly huddled together to protect a killer cop by assassinating the character of his victim and to maintain the control of the status quo. There are several ways for organizers to help those already self-organizing. We may not get the rush from being on the ground, but it could have longer term benefits for the community.

1. Money should be raised to support local community organizing. No we can’t raise enough to lift the community out of poverty right, but we can raise enough to give local groups working with youth some added resources for a longer term fight against the status quo. We can also direct all those foundations we know to give to local grassroots organization to build their capacity further and not to further enrich larger non-profits who have no long term stake in Ferguson and never heard of it before the uprising.

2. Support a campaign to ensure that each cop car and cop has a camera attached to them, so we don’t have to rely on a “blue wall” of lies for what is actually happening.

3. Fire the current police chief.

4. Hire a new Black police chief who will hire black officers from the city of Ferguson. No this will not end police brutality, but let’s be honest no population wants to be ‘policed” by folks who don’t look like them or share their experiences. One of the constant complaints about the police is the better treatment received by the white community, this is one step in changing the current treatment.

5. Call for the creation of a community board over the police department in Ferguson made up of Ferguson residents. Instead of being offered a ride along with the police and to act as cheerleaders this community board should be empowered with the task of disciplining and potentially firing officers when reports of misconduct are validated. This puts the department on notice that it should be controlled by the community as opposed to being a militarized occupying force in the community.

6. Build a campaign to have the Sister State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal run for mayor (or someone with real community credentials) and get others from the community with solid progressive to left politics to run for city council slots. Again many of us have civic engagement backgrounds it should not be hard for us to support, even from afar. This can lead to directing more city resources to communities in need.

7. For activist and organizers outside of Ferguson in addition to these demands, continue to write, speak, march, and commit civil disobedience on the issue of the militarism of US police forces, which is supported by the federal government. Call for a federal indictment of the cop who killed Michael Brown and be ready to continue the counter narrative against the police and corporate media outlets (something that has already been done with great success) killing black teenagers and then criminalizing them.

These are mostly reformist ideas that will of course get critiqued by so-called revolutionaries as not transformative (that’s the new buzz word so that you don’t have to say the word revolution anymore). However I have come to believe that those who shout about radical and or transformative change the most usually have the least ability to bring it about. Some people will pimp for cash others for ego, neither will create winnable outcomes and community control for Ferguson or the larger community.

About Community Movement Builders (159 Articles)
Community Movement Builders (CMB) is a member-based collective of black people dedicated to being a force for creating sustainable self-determining communities through cooperative economic advancement and collective community organizing. Our mission is rooted in Black love and equity. Grassroots Thinking is our newsletter/community blog about our work and movement activity

3 Comments on Instead of Drive-By Activism Let’s Mobilize on Strategic Demands in Ferguson

  1. Charles Barron // August 26, 2014 at 4:47 am // Reply

    This article is right time! Brother Kamal I couldn’t agree with you more. Your are making refreshing real sense. Check out my article in the Aug. 21- Aug.27 2014 issue of the New York Amsterdam News, entitled BLACK POWER FOR FERGUSON, MO. As usual, we are on the same page. Our Victory Is Certain! Forward Ever! Your comrade in struggle– Brother Charles Barron

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