FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Keep on Marching

The protests began in Ferguson, exploding after the prosecutor announced that the policeman who killed Michael Brown would not be brought to trial.  They spread across the country after the Staten Island grand jury refused to charge the policeman who strangled Eric Garner, killing him on camera.  Now, as others –Tamir RiceJohn Crawford IIIAkai Gurley – are added to the list of casualties, the marches keep on building.

Professional and college athletes don shirts saying, “We can’t breathe.”  Congressional aides go on strike to stand on the steps of the House, calling “hands up, don’t shoot.”  From Boston to Denver to Miami, die-ins and protests tie up major intersections in big cities.  Non-violent protestors chain themselves to a Bart car, declaring they want  to stop the line for four and one-half hours, the time Michael Brown was left on the street in Ferguson.  This weekend, tens of thousands marched in Washington, Boston, New York and elsewhere.

Why march?  Marching is a public protest, a witness demanding attention be paid.  Marching is a public classroom, teaching millions about what has long been true about police violence and racial injustice, but too seldom acknowledged.  Marching forges community, an evolving community of ordinary heroes who put their bodies on the line to call the powerful to account.  Marching involves moving from spectator to participant in history, going from being on the sidelines to being on the field.  It is exhilarating and frustrating at the same time.

These marches are spreading, in part because many share Eric Garner’s final plea, “I can’t breathe.”  African American outrage is clear.  We experience police abuse as a daily reality.  African American males are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than white males.  To even out the disparity over the last three years, according to Propublica, police would have to shoot an additional white male a week — for three years.  But this isn’t just a black male problem.  According to Propublica, 44% of those shot and killed by police are white.  And even this data is incomplete, since many police departments do not file fatal police shooting reports at all.

These marches reflect the reality that many can’t breathe in this current arrangement. The unjust judicial system reflects an unjust economic order.  The day after the first Garner demonstrations that shut down much of New York City, low wage workers walked off their jobs in over 190 cities.  They came from McDonalds and Wal-Mart, Dollar Stores and discount chains.  They too can’t breathe in jobs that offer low wages, few benefits and less security.

The protests have now gained national attention.  The White House has promised reforms in sentencing, in police practices and in police equipment, with millions promised for new cameras.  Even conservatives have joined in speaking out against police abuse.

This is all good, but merely a first, baby step.  We need fundamental reform not simply of police practices but of economic and educational policies if we are to meet the challenge exposed by Ferguson and Florida and New York and more.

And all of our history teaches that real reform comes only if the people are in the street demanding it.  Those who are comfortable with the current arrangement will not lead the change.  Those who can’t breathe must lead the change.  And now, they are.

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail