It is time now to stop waiting for a change to come. We must make change happen. Action is what is needed!
Right now unarmed Black people---who under the U. S. constitution, are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, with the benefit of a defense attorney, an impartial judge, and a jury of their peers---are being denied all of these rights. They are shot and killed, or arrested and killed, or allowed to die in police custody, completely without due process of law.
The police officers hired to protect citizens are authorized to arrest suspected law-breakers, but not authorized to execute them.
They are not the judicial system; an impartial jury of their peers, guarantors of a fair trial. Yet some are committing unconstitutional acts, nothing short of genocide, and getting away with it.
Oppression of people of color continues and is allowed to thrive in a country that prides itself on its democracy. It appears that institutional racism is at an all-time high, and perhaps slated for escalation.
We must take action now, and we must make it known that we condemn these atrocities, and work to make them cease immediately.
Those that allow these practices to continue, including our elected officials, are thereby condoning these unlawful acts and, in effect, authorizing their continuation.
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Citizens are seeking leadership on how best to effect change and take action, before more innocent lives are taken. Groups are forming with names like Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, and Forward Together because citizens are concerned about innocent people being unlawfully executed and want to end it.
What is it that you and I will do to put an end to these unconscionable acts, continually increasing in number?
How many of you reading this today are willing to stand up, take a step toward justice, to speak out, and to dedicate time to formulate a plan and take action?
Do you have something more important to do? I don't, because murder and injustice make me angry, and doing something about it is what a moral person does.
As we honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his legacy of progress through non-violence, I would like you to think about something that he said:
"In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
Please, let us not be silent friends. Let's make our concerns heard, let's be out there and outspoken.
Some things you can do:
A first step is simply to talk to all the people that you see each day about things happening around you that you think are wrong.
Put it in your blog, on your Facebook page, Twitter it! Ask some friends, relatives, co-workers and/or neighbors to join you, or you can do it alone, but the more people involved the better.
The effectiveness grows when you speak out because it empowers others to do the same, and there are people you know who respect your opinions and consider making them their own.
Write letters to the editor of your newspaper(s). This is important as you need to formulate your arguments preparatory to taking action.
Get organizations in town to act: women and men's clubs, veteran's associations, fraternal orders, athletic groups and perhaps your place of worship, to take action to help others, many of whom would love you to work with them.
Look for groups that take action to help others and would appreciate your working with them. Look for groups that are seeking to right wrongs, to serve those who are being taken advantage of, and for chapters of national organizations that are working for justice.
Get your spokespersons on local radio and television talk and news shows. Try to look for outlets that will carry your message in prime time. It is important to meet with City Hall officials, mayors, city councilors, public school officials, and especially chiefs of police. Consider staging demonstrations that terminate at City and State public offices.
Talk to educators and public officials about spreading the message of non-violence, as Rev. King did. This should be taught to our children in school just as they are taught to spell and to read. It is particularly vital to see that police academies add this curriculum to their programs.
Set up town hall meetings where members of the public can exchange views with public officials. Also, bring the subject up as new business at public meetings.
Finally, insist that those seeking election or re-election to public office make this issue an important part of their campaign platforms. Thank you for being a moral citizen of the United States of America willing to work non-violently, to end oppression, and to promote equal justice for all.#
(Chaia Ross-Booker is a citizen/activist in Albuquerque, N.M.)