Black Lives Matter DMV A collective of Black Lives Matter Organizers in the DMV Tue, 23 Jan 2018 00:54:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 BLM DC Calendar Mon, 22 Jan 2018 05:07:20 +0000

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BLM D.C’s Statement of Solidarity with J20 Defendants Sun, 21 Jan 2018 23:42:29 +0000  


We often think of fascism in terms of Hitler, Mussolini–overtly racist and violent people who want to take over the state–as something that has never happened in America but is close to happening now. In reality, the authoritarian police state many people now fear has been the status quo for Black people in America for centuries.

While people are right to be upset and afraid it is important to remember that the use of political violence and over policing is nothing new, it’s something that is woven into the very fabric of America; it’s as American as apple pie. It’s just not the America white people are used to. Yet it is the only America Black people have ever known.

The kind of police tactics used at J20 weren’t new, it’s the kind of policing done in the overwhelmingly Black 7th District east of the river everyday. In the 7th District, white police officers like Vincent Altieri (Badge #4440) wear overtly white supremacist tee-shirts over their uniforms while they illegally harass and brutalize Black people. They have been seen in court with tee-shirts that brazenly glorify jump-outs and have the sun cross, a popular white supremacist symbol, prominently displayed. This is the type, nature and ideology of policing of Black communities in the district.

Now, MPD has been using the blank check of fascist white supremacy given to them by the administration to use things like Islamophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments to export the militarized policing used in Black communities throughout the entire district.

They’ve already been coming for Black people and most of DC has done nothing. When they started coming for immigrants and Muslims, most of DC was still silent. But now that they are coming for anyone looking at, reporting on or just around protest, you cannot afford to continue your silence. We have to hold the people responsible accountable and at the top of that list is Police Chief Peter Newsham. Newsham was in charge of oversight and compliance on the consent agreement with the DOJ to curb D.C’s rampant police brutality in the 90’s. He refused to implement all the requirements of the agreements, allowing MPD to slide back into it old, brutal ways. Now as police chief, Newsham is taking his habit of brutalize first, justify later, to streets of downtown D.C.

As long as Peter Newsham is allowed to continue his reign of brutality, Black people will not be safe in our communities.

As long as Mayor Bowser refuses to take steps to make D.C a real sanctuary city, immigrants and Muslim residents, especially Black immigrants and Black Muslims, will not be safe.

As long as MPD can weaponize hate and political violence in the district as they did on J20, our democracy will continue to be a sham, not only for Black people but for all residents of the district.

Therefore Black Lives Matter D.C stands in solidarity with all J20 defendants. We recognize their fight is our fight. Their struggle is our struggle. We can only win, when we move forward together. An injury to one is an injury to all. Solidarity, now and forever.




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Updates From a BLM Organizer Wed, 16 Mar 2016 14:17:22 +0000 As we move into 2016, we are trying to do a better job of telling our story. We often get so busy doing the work that we forget to tell people that work is being done. Or, more importantly, how the work is actually getting done. While we don’t do this work for credit, we understand that often times the biggest barrier to getting involved is not knowing how you can get involved and what is needed. This is why we are going to try to send more regular updates about what we are doing, planning and dreaming about and how you can get involved. To start us off, here are few updates from Aaron Goggans, one of our core members. Please also see our updates page and our take action page to get involved with some of our on-going events.

Aaron Goggans Profil Pic

When did you join BLM: DMV?

I joined BLM:DMV at the very beginning. I had been hosting Black is Back and Beautiful Brunches at my house where Black folks who were interested in the movement talked, de-stressed from our weeks and built community. Omolara (Omo) Williams McCallister, who I had met maybe two months before, was chatting with me after one of these brunches. She said she was going to start a Facebook page so that she could start raising money for different organizers and projects. She wanted to know if I would be interested in being one of the projects that would be listed and funded.

I had been paying for all the food at my events, as well as the hosting of my website and poster boards for actions so I thought some more funds couldn’t hurt. I also knew that it was easier to ask people to raise money for another person’s project than to ask for money for myself.

Why did you join BLM: DMV?

Erika Totten, Omo and I were just meeting a lot, hanging out and working together on a bunch of stuff before I realized that our Facebook page had become a concrete group. Eventually, Erika told me that there was a national network of BLM chapters and that we should officially register. At first I was skeptical because I didn’t want any national group telling me what I could or couldn’t organize. When she said that the national group won’t tell us what to do I was like, “will they give us money?” She said no. So it seemed like a waste of time, I’m also generally skeptical of the usefulness of organizations in radical change.

I basically agreed because other people wanted to and it didn’t seem to matter; we could still be a collective. The process was helpful in getting us to start thinking about our goals, structure and strategies. Fast forward a year and we are having weekly updates and calls from around the nation. So it’s new but I’m excited to see what will emerge.

What have you been doing for BLM: DMV?

So much! It’s crazy to think of what we have accomplished in the past 18 months. I have mostly been trying to build a network here locally. If I had summarize what my role has been in the group it’s  been focusing on building a network of transformative relationships between politically conscious people and organizations and trying to develop a shared analysis and intention for that network.

I have been creating spaces for relationships to form and fostering collaboration.

Omo and I have also being doing a lot of coalition building with non-black people. In the past 6 months, my sister April and I have also been doing a lot of coalition work with Black people. With the help of my friend Sam Miller I created our website last year. I’ve been learning website design ad-hoc for about a year now. You can see the changes we’ve made this month. Now we have an updates page and clarified how to take action.

I also do a lot of work with local non-profits. It’s funny because most people who know me professionally know that I am part of BLM but when they see me doing anti-oppression work in professional spaces I don’t think they link it to the movement. I believe in organizing where you are at. I’m in professional advocacy and organizing spaces so I am committed to transforming those spaces. I helped create a group of organizations that meet to talk about what anti-racism looks like in non-profits. I have done a lot of work to push organizations to be actively anti-racist and do more transformative work instead of transactional reform.

12341588_10154909749533084_1852026281721131657_nI think that DC has a really unique history in terms of organizing; at least that’s what I’ve been able to gather from talking to older folks. There are only a handful local groups even trying to do paid, local, radical broad based grassroots community organizing in POC communities. It’s mostly ONE-DC, Empower DC and now MLOVE. There is also a lot of moderate policy advocacy that is mostly done by white people. But the most powerful block of people presuming to speak for low-income Black people and POC’s are service providers which is weird and problematic.

I’ve heard from a few folks that service providers have seen their influence decline as gentrification brings in wealthier, whiter populations who don’t need do, and don’t want to, engage with the service providers but can advocate on their own. Now the council has this whole other constituency that they can go to when they want to talk to someone other than a developer. This is moving the Council even closer to right side of the political spectrum as NIMBY’s get a larger share of seats at the table.

You are starting to see these service providers do more and more organizing, partially in response to this dynamic. So while folks have always been organizing in DC, there is a new crop of funded non-profit organizing happening in service organizations that has cropped up the last 5-10 years. In talking with long term residents, it feels like this provides us with a unique opportunity.

I’m really excited to see how the movement could shape the values and culture of these non-profit organizing outfits at places like Bread for the City, Jews United for Justice and So Other’s Might Eat [SOME] by holding them accountable to transformative organizing principles. I think that even though DC doesn’t really have a culture of accountability, there are folks in these organizations that have been inspired by the movement and are very receptive to being pushed with direct, loving, compassionate communication, and agitation.

I don’t think we are going to see radical organizing happening at all of these non-profits anytime soon but I do think that we could create a culture of pro-active anti-racism at non-profits. I think we could build a culture of accountability that would make these wealthy groups viscerally responsive to communities that pay their paychecks. I really believe that would make a big difference in our communities and free us up to do more radical, broad based, transformative organizing in the next couple of years.

On my personal website, The Well Examined Life, I try to tell stories of liberation, struggle and growth through podcasts, poems, short stories and essays. The goal is to build an analysis that will allow us to envision a liberated world, populate it with beautifully free and liberated people and then tell stories that incite the network I have been building with other folks to create that world and be those people. I find it puzzling and often hilarious that people assume that all I do, or we do, is direct action. But I get it. It’s what makes headlines. But to me, all of this connected.

I see myself as one of many people planting radical seeds and building a network capable of reaping them when harvest comes.

What lessons are you currently learning?

I’m learning that doing something new like what we are trying to do here at BLM: DMV means that there will be a lot of misunderstandings. We are not an organization. We are a collective. We don’t have paid staff and we don’t work the way people expect us to. I’m realizing that this can be as frustrating to folks who want to get involved as it can be to me. We don’t need a hundred volunteers to stuff envelopes, or deliver our newsletter to the community. I think it was a mistake to ask for so much support in the beginning because we are actually not in a place to accept a lot of it. I think we’ve tried to be better at saying this but the number one question we get is how can I be involved not can you help me with X project, so clearly we have more work to do.

We don’t really have the capacity to manage hundreds of volunteers. I think that we are developing a new model of base building that focuses on building a network of emotionally supported and politically conscious Black people. In my mind, we are just one hub in a network in the movement. I don’t ever want to be a membership organization but I think the opinion varies among the collective. It’s an open conversation.

I think we work best when someone comes to us with an idea that we can support, guide them to resources or amplify. We are not good at traditional base building because it’s not something we are trying to do, even if everyone seems to think we are or should. We are also not the end all, be all of the movement here in DC. There are a lot of ways to get involved with other groups. Personally, I’d like to see more people start their own thing. Yet, I feel like even though we say this a lot, people still reach out to us to volunteer as if we have an office where we can put them to work.

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 21: Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, center, of North Carolina, and other protesters representing the Black Lives Matter movement, march to the Capitol after a "die in" in the Longworth cafeteria to call on Congress to take action on racial issues, January 21, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

UNITED STATES – JANUARY 21: Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, center, of North Carolina, and other protesters representing the Black Lives Matter movement, march to the Capitol after a “die in” in the Longworth cafeteria to call on Congress to take action on racial issues, January 21, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If I’m honest, I’d also say that I am learning that it’s fine that some people just want to have a small discreet role in the movement. The anarchist in me doesn’t really know what to do with people who don’t want to be co-leaders. Yet I know that in some spaces I just want to help in some small way or in large way that I’m directly asked to. It feels good not to have to lead in every space. I get that; even as I struggle to incorporate that into my organizing. I’m learning a lot of lessons lately, but those two seem the most pressing.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m trying to build the spaces that I actually want to be in. The spaces I need to be a whole, healthy, liberated person. I think for a while I was too caught up in my role in “the movement” as this grand historical thing that I was partially responsible for. I was doing too many things because I thought they needed to be done. I was judging myself by what I did and not who I am. So, I’ve been doing a lot of healing work to get at why that is. It’s been really helpful. It’s amazing to think how much I’ve grown. I’m grateful to my wonderful network of Black women who support me in this work.

So, in the future, I want to focus on building resilient, life affirming, dream infused spaces which I believe are at the core of building a community of resistance. I want to build that community and foster the energy and purpose that comes out of it. I also really want to have kids and family, so I want to start building multi-generational movement spaces that my future family can be a part of. Ultimately, I want spaces to grow my nurturing side and have more spaces that nurture and affirm me in the ways that I need. I think the book “Revolutionary Mothering” illustrates how we can use that to build autonomous communities of resistance. I’m really excited to delve more into it with other people and see what lessons will can pull of it wisdom.

Problems with Bowser’s Bill at a Glance Mon, 19 Oct 2015 16:46:09 +0000 If Bowser’s bill gets passed, it would:

•Give police automatic access to the GPS records of people under court supervision, both before they have been convicted of anything and after.

• Give the District the ability to conduct suspicion-less warrant-less searches, at any time of day or night, of the places where many returning citizens live.”

• Expose returning citizens and the people who live with them to invasions of privacy by the District. The bill also puts people who receive benefits or section 8 vouchers in danger of losing their benefits after a search.

• Eliminate the right to privacy for many returning citizens and anyone who lives with them.

• Increase sentences for more than a dozen crimes, including many non-violent crimes, when the crime occurs against someone on a Metro Train or Metro Bus, a Metro worker or any person located near a DC park or recreational center.

• Allow the District to detain returning citizens for days, without a trial, charge or conviction in certain cases.

• Allows the District to detain returning citizens for days, without a trial, charge or conviction in certain cases.

• Expand the power of the state to keep innocent people in jail while they are waiting for trial. The detentions could last for months, ruin people’s lives, cause lost jobs, lost homes, and cut off contact with their children. This also means there will be more people in jail.

• Allow MPD to hire ex-police for forensic evidence teams that are supposed to provide “unbiased” evidence in police cases while still receiving retirement benefits from MPD.

• Expand the power of police and prosecutors to arrest and charge people of Felony or Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer even when the person has been brutalized by the police or wrongfully arrested.

• Increase the sentences for Assault on a Police Officer when an officer claims they feared “significant bodily injury” (up to 5 years), and when an officer claims “serious bodily injury” (up to 15 years). MPD already uses the tactics by assaulting people, provoking them into being arrested, then charging them with attacking a police officer to cover up police brutality.

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