The Institute of the Black World 21st Century decries the decision of the Grand Jury in Ferguson not to indict Officer Darren Wilson as yet another in a tragic litany of injustices that is fueling a spirit of resistance, righteous rebellion and movement building across this country; a movement primarily led by young people. We applaud the weeks and months of disciplined training, organizing, demonstrations and protests by young leaders that may well mark the birth of a new movement for social justice and social change in this country. It is their “Selma moment!” The leadership of IBW remains willing to assist with the development of this movement as young leaders deem appropriate.
The police killing of Michael Brown with impunity is a metaphor for the structural-systemic oppression of our people, the State of Emergency afflicting Black America. We reiterate, racially-biased policing policies and practices that lead to the occupation, terrorizing and killing of Black people is now a substitute for social, racial and economic justice. Nothing short of finishing the unfinished civil rights/human rights agenda will end the State of Emergency in Black America and create safe and wholesome communities.
While we agree with the excellent proposals for police reform put forth by various organizations, IBW continues to call for the elevation of this issue to the level of a moral and political crisis that demands far-ranging change. Therefore, we reiterate an agenda we believe will meet that objective:
■ President Obama and the Attorney General must vigorously continue dismantling the “War on Drugs” and all the damaging policies and practices related to this longstanding, racially-biased strategy.
■ President Obama should also seize this moment to convene an Emergency Summit on Policing Policy and Public Safety to identify and share best practices for building effective police/community relations. Such a Summit would have the effect of providing the President with a high profile platform to articulate principles for more just and humane models of policing in this country.
■The damages to Black families and communities resulting from decades of racially-biased policing policies and practices and massive disinvestment in our communities must be repaired. We must demand the equivalent of a Domestic Marshall Plan with massive investment in jobs, economic development, housing, health and education to create safe and wholesome communities.
■ Finally, the enormity of the State of Emergency as evidenced by chronic joblessness, the persistent wealth gap, economic underdevelopment, recurrent police killings and the violence and fratricide in Black communities cries out for President Obama to convene a Kerner Commission type body to examine the root causes of the persistent crises afflicting major sectors of Black America. The appointment of such a Commission will elevate the State of Emergency in Black America to the level of moral and political urgency it deserves.
It may be a new moment and a new movement, but IBW believes that the 60’s Civil Rights Freedom Song captures the essence of the spirit with which we must collectively move forward: “We ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around!”
Note: The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission after its chair, Governor Otto Kerner, Jr. of Illinois, was an 11-member commission established by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the causes of the 1967 race riots in the United States and to provide recommendations for the future.