Over the last nine years members from
the Make it Safe Coalition (MISC) have arranged an assembly of whistleblowers
in Washington, DC each year for an annual conference originally known as
Washington Whistleblower's Week. Whistleblowers and their advocates from across the country
will descend on Capitol Hill to convene this three-day event, which features
Plenary Session, Workshops and Panel Discussions, Press Conference, Whistle Blower
Book Signing and Film Screening, Whistleblower Appreciation Day Luncheon and
Welcome Reception, Pillar Awards Presentations, and Solidarity Dinner.
ACORN 8 and conference host committee members--Coalition for Change (C4C), Project Censored, Justice Integrity Project and Federally Employed Women Legal Education Fund (FEW-LEF), will co-host this year's Whistle Blower Summit for Civil & Human Rights in Washington, DC on July 29-31, 2015. Additionally, the National Whistleblower Center will host a National Whistleblower Appreciation Day Luncheon on Capitol Hill to commemorate the passage of the first whistleblower protection law by the Continental Congress in 1778.
The Whistle Blower Summit for Civil & Human Rights is unique because it seeks to bridge the gap between the traditional "whistleblower" organizations, and the modern civil rights and global human rights movements. The Whistle Blower Summit is a three-day conference that runs from July 29-31, 2015 and celebrates National Whistleblower Appreciation Day (July 30, 2015), with particular emphasis on Civil Rights issues on July 31, 2015. In the past, we have provided an outlet for whistle-blower stories before the traditional civil rights organizations or mainstream media outlets picked up on them. For instance, the Jena 6 came to our whistleblower conference at Rice University (Houston, Texas) six months before that story exploded on Black radio across America.
Black Men, Women and Children are all at risk to arbitrary execution by the hands of the people who are sworn to serve and protect us. We have learned that you are never to young or never to old to be murdered by the police; from 12 year-old Tamir Rice (Cleveland, OH) to 107 year-old Monroe Isadore (Pine Bluff, AR). Beginning in Sanford, Florida to most recently Baltimore, Maryland--America has witnessed the execution of hundreds Black people by the hands of the police. But the protests sparked after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri seem to have ignited the next leg of the Civil Rights Movement.
In the words of Gil Scott Heron, "the revolution will not be televised"--but it will be Tweeted on social media. Thus, this year's conference theme is "Black Lives Matter--This Is The Movement!" Therefore, we are focusing on "Law Enforcement and Judicial Reform" this year. We have assembled an all-star cast of Police Whistleblowers and organizations who are willing to break the Blue Wall of Silence on Capitol Hill--including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and the National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice and Accountability (NCLEOJA).
One important law enforcement whistleblower was Frank Wills. An African-American, Frank Wills was the security guard who reported the break in at the Watergate Hotel that eventually brought down the Presidency of Richard Millhouse Nixon. Tragically, everyone benefited from the Watergate story, including the criminals--except Frank Wills who suffered retaliation and died destitute. In addition to the Pillar Award for Human Rights, we are also proud to announce the "Frank Wills" Award for Unsung Heroes. This award is given to whistleblowers who suffer great tragedy and setbacks for speaking truth to power or otherwise doing the right thing. This award honors his memory and highlights the tension between how whistleblowers are regularly used by media outlets but are then readily discarded when the news cycle ends.