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8 Aug 20
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http://phillywerise.com/resources/

As the Trump Administration continues to incite violence, promote fascist ideals across the nation and send militarized forces in Black and brown communities, our people need monetary, legal and medical assistance as they fight for justice.  We have compiled a list of local and national resources for individuals looking to donate, support from the movement from home, or find emotional support. We will update this list as we receive additional resources. The fight for liberation continues. 

A number of well-meaning people are trying to square their rage with racist violence that continues unabated week after week in this country. Folks find themselves  conflicted by the property damage, and in some areas looting, occurring as a protest to the deaths of George Floyd and so many African Americans at the hand of police.  I'm one of them.  I have a tough time squaring peaceful protest and property damage.  And while I don't think its a tactic I would likely pursue, I seek to understand what's happening in the context of the well-justified anger and rage.  

First, there are opportunists that have been well-documented at a number of protests around the country.  This article documents a numbers of these incidents including one in Detroit where our friend Meeko Williams is seen in one of the videos in this article asking outsiders to stand down with police provocation (https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/clarissajanlim/protesters-violence-george-floyd). (Hoping we see a report out from Metro-Detroit Political Action Network on what's been happening.) The mayor of Saint Paul noted that all or most of the arrests were folks from out of state.  There are a number of examples of peaceful protesters stopping or attempting to stop behaviors like looting.  

The truth is there are left wing anarchists and right wing white supremacists itching for a much broader fight.  I’ve been to a number of protests over the years (though none this week), and I try to keep my distance from the anarchists who show up.  I don’t understand their ideology and I’m not a big fan of their tactics, especially latching on to otherwise peaceful protests.  Movement building requires dealing with these kinds of tensions where allies or potential allies don't share all of your values or change making strategies.   

Life is most certainly a Higher Order Concern than Property

I wouldn’t discount the fact that there are a lot of folks just plain ole fed up with a lot of anger.  If you’ve lived under the conditions that I see in Philly your whole lives with little hope for change and you and your friends and family have seen or been subject to police violence and poverty, it would not take much to shift the hopelessness to rage.  Tamika Mallory's (Women's March co-founder) rage so well captured this postion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7-2qnaCQr4 

I know as a white guy, I can't fully put myself in the shoes of an African American, especially one who has been the subject to police violence and interrogation. Remember a decade ago that in cities like New York and Philadelphia, stop and frisk, was an acceptable policing technique.  Even if the end result was not an arrest or violence, black and brown men could have their person completely violated by the police without any cause.  In the 90s, it was the Crime Bill and get tough on crime measures like 3 strike and you are out policies that furthered mass incarceration.   Such policing policies are debated by white folks like me about their effectiveness and fairness with full knowledge that such policing techniques will never be used against us.  White privilege is an unacknowledged part of these discussion as it is just part of the construction of political and social life in the republic.  

More immediately to the issue at hand, if my son or friend was killed in the manner in what we saw this week, I might want to burn the whole thing down, especially if I knew there would be a next one.  The perniciousness and pervasiveness of the racism and dehumanization of my loved one would likely lead me to thinking the entire system needed to be overthrown, and if property damage happens in the process, that would seem like a small price to pay for a wide systemic change.  

And When Peaceful Protests are Rejected

And let's be clear.  White people have had problems with all kinds of peaceful protests from black folks throughout American history and most definitely since the Black Lives Matter movement began.  There's a group of white people, who don't ever want to be reminded that racism exists and that something needs to change.  Colin Kaepernick kneeling ignited a wildfire of commentary, costing him his job with the NFL.  He sacrificed his livelihood through simply kneeling during the national anthem to protest racist police violence.  But here's the thing.  What the fuck has changed in the last 5 years since that the kneeling protests started?  How many African Americans have died at the hands of police in the intervening time?  Nothing changed with a hugely visible protest of NFL players.  Nor in any other celebrities pleas for change.  Nor in peaceful protest after peaceful protest in the streets.  Nor in the prayers of churches and ministers. Nor in the halls of Congress as the Congressional Black Caucus and others have pleaded for changes.  Nor in the state and municipal halls of government.  Arguably with a notoriously racist President who sees good people among Nazis and white supremacists, racist violence has only worsened.  


Police Are Acting with Gratuitous and Unnecessary Violence Against Protesters, Most of Whom are Peaceful

The greatest headline was in Slate today, "Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide." (https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/05/george-floyd-protests-police-violence.html) We need more media like this.  The article show incident after incident of police firing rubber bullets at point blank range, gas canisters onto people sitting on their front porches, driving their cars through crowds, flashing white power symbols, etc. etc.  These are the incidents caught on camera.  If we can't expect our uniformed police to handle themselves professionally to keep the peace, why do we expect an impoverished young man from Minneapolis or Philadelphia to be able to handle their anger better (and yet most protesters absolutely do!).? 

The best responses from police officers and forces are when they in fact joined protesters in marching, taking a knee, and other forms or protest letting communities know that they are just as outraged at the behavior of their own.  When the police offer this response it almost certainly leads to better outcomes.  

The Truth is that Property Destruction Can Be Effective in Getting an Issue the Attention it Deserves

For those who say nothing has been accomplished by the destruction of property, that's simply not an accurate reading of history.  Jesus himself turned the tables of moneychangers outside the template in a fit of righteous rage.  They colonists held a Tea Party, destroying property as the foundational protest of the nation.  Enslaved Africans made attempt after attempt to free themselves through violent revolt.  The labor movement, the gay rights movements, the women's movement all had riot moments where the collective anger about injustice exploded.  Property was destroyed.  And a new attention was given to the underlying issues.  

Destruction of property is jarring, but after we all watched an innocent man killed this week, it is sideshow for anyone who cares about getting to justice.  We must understand a riot and property damage as Rev. Dr. King explained to us:

"Riots are the Language of the Unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? ... It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity. "

And I will say this.  Its been over 50 years since King said those words.  Not nearly enough has changed since.  

It has to be different this time.  It has to be.  Until the system changes and finally delivers on racial justice, there will be no peace...and nor should there be.  

  

Robert Jay
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Originally Posted on July 24, 2017

On July 24th, the Michigan Trump Republicans held a rally at Duggan’s pub in Royal Oak, MI. Metro-Detroit Political Action Network (MDPAN), Refuse Fascismand members of Solidarity and Defense staged a protest to reject the fascist ideology espoused by the President’s base. While the aim was for a peaceful demonstration, the Michigan contingent of Bikers for Trump violently escalated the situation, assaulting two members of MDPAN.  

Joseph Fournier, a leader with MDPAN, made note that “known members of Michigan Militia and Bikers Against Radical Islam, who just love going into communities and tormenting families here,” were in attendance. The latter group recently attempted to drive through Dearborn terrorizing the majority Muslim populace, while thumbing their nose at Islamic traditions by hosting a pig roast, before being shut down by local Elk clubs. “Duggan’s is clearly endorsing them, despite what their official statement may say.” Fournier continued, alluding to a statement that this pro-Trump rally was simply the matter of fulfilling a reservation.

The first hour and a half of the protest was mild, peppered by the occasional jeers and Trump supporters wandering into the resistance area to profess the alleged evils of globalism, Black Lives Matter, and immigration. Encounters were tense, but ultimately not harmful.

That changed after 7 PM, when both sides clustered on opposite ends of the egress in Duggan’s parking lot. Shouts of “Lock Him Up” and “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA” clashing with “We’re Stronger Together With Trump” and the revving of stationary motorcycles.

While the Bikers for Trump camp were safe crossing into resistance territory, two women from the activist camp were not so fortunate. Witnesses at the scene state that a woman walked across the egress, then had her sign grabbed at, and later her person, repeatedly shoved by a female member of Bikers for Trump in bizarre posture, reminiscent of a soccer player trying to get physical while avoiding a red card. Within seconds, she was shoved by a second Trump supporter and struck back in self-defense. Several other activists rushed to her aid.

One protester was then grabbed by multiple Bikers for Trump members and had her megaphone stolen amidst the chaos. At this point, the Royal Oak Police intervened, separating the clashing groups. The first assault victim made multiple attempts to state the crimes committed against her, but was simply told by an officer on the scene to “go back to the sidewalk” and file a report. Minutes later, she was placed under arrest for assault.

Another protester made multiple appeals for the return of her megaphone, which was eventually recovered by Royal Oak PD, stating that they found it on the ground and saw no evidence of wrongdoing. Video evidence proves otherwise. No further arrests were made.

After being separated, there were no further instances of violence at the event, though several homophobic comments were lobbed at Fournier by the Trump supporters as they departed. Despite a perverse obsession with the American flag, one member of Bikers for Trump displayed where his true loyalty lay:


Robert Jay
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Originally Posted February 11, 2018

Bill 5550 has been proposed to the Michigan House of Representatives amid Metro-Detroit Political Action Network's (MDPAN) protest that Metro City Church is hosting conversion therapy sessions for teenage girls. The bill, introduced by Ann Arbor Rep. Adam Zemke, seeks to make Michigan the tenth state to ban conversion therapy (attempts to reorient LGBTQIA individuals to a hetero/cis gender and sexuality dynamic) by mental health professionals. Zemke is joined Brownstown Rep. Darrin Camilleri in calls to remove the practice. Camilleri is also demanding MI Attorney General Bill Schuette investigate the Church for any deceptive and unconscionable practices under the MI Consumer Protection Act.

The protest, organized in under a week by MDPAN, began with author Sara Cunningham's posting of Metro City Church's $200 workshop for teenage girls struggling with gender and sexuality identity. The activist group quickly mobilized. Spearheaded by LGBTQIA chair Brianna Dee Kingsley and Meeko Williams, the protest drew roughly 300 to the Riverview church to support those teenage girls pressured to attend the workshop, and condemning any abuse visited upon them by church staff.

One such tale of abuse was suffered by Seth Tooley, a 17-year-old transgender man, who attended a similar workshop by the church four years prior. Kim Tooley, Seth's mother, told the Detroit Free Press "My son had three adults laying hands on him — (he was) screaming so loud I heard him from the other room — praying that God will deliver him from (the homosexuality) demon". The abuse continued as the church insisted on deadnaming Seth, demanding he dress as a female, and subsequently banned him from a boy youth group within the church. 

With Seth's experience as a focal point, MDPAN rallied LGBTQIA community leaders such as Kingsley and Williams, Jey'nce Poindexter (Equality MI, Trans Sistas of Color Project), Char and Esther Davenport (National LGBTQ Task Force), Rev. Roland Stringfellow (Metropolitan Community Church), Pastor Tray Smith (Faith Christian Community Church) spoke alongside Seth himself. The crowd gathered had time to share their stories, an improptu speaking circle lead by Williams also shed light on the experiences of James Williams and Matt Mayes, among others.

Jeremy Schossau, founder and head pastor of Metro City Church, denies these workshops feature conversion therapy. However, the Church's partnership with FORGE (Families Obediently Restoring Godly Education) Ministries suggests otherwise. A non-profit based in Texas, they bill themselves as a champion of Christian family values. Biblical verses pepper their organizational values, highlighting Mark 10:6 "But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female," and Genesis 1:28 "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." These passages forming a core of the ministry's ethos proves troubling, especially for the mental health of LGBTQIA teens, already at risk for suicide attempts at a rate five times higher than hetero/cis teens.

More dubious still, the workshop is explicitly designed for girls, but lead by men. Schossau's dismissive social media comments suggest a belief that homosexuality is comparable to a drug addiction, or obesity. The logical extension of FORGE Ministry's philosophy demands there be a rigid gender binary, and that women are tasked with breeding as their primary function. When taken with Seth's account of abuse, this workshop (and others like it), can cause long term psychological damage for attending girls. 

GLSEN Southeast Michigan, Ruth Ellis Center, Equality MI and Affirmations have reached out while the protest was developing to offer resources for any teens struggling with LGBTQIA identity, especially those who went to conversion therapy sessions like Metro City Church's.

MDPAN is taking a stand against these torturous practices. Call your state reps and tell them to back MI House Bill 5550 and make this state the tenth to outlaw conversion therapy! Join the protest next Thursday the 15th in Riverview as the call continues to shutdown Metro City Church's workshop. 

ministries 

Robert Jay
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Originally Posted on September 7, 2017

Metro-Detroit Political Action Network Event

Little Caesar's Arena will open to the general public on September 12th, spurning the residents of Detroit by selecting Kid Rock as it's first act. The stadium was granted $324.1 million in tax revenue, some of which initially earmarked for Detroit Public Schools. The Illitch family, owners of Olympia Entertainment, delivered false promises of employing 50% of their construction labor with Detroit residents when the actual figure was closer to 25%. Choosing potential Senate candidate Robert James "Kid Rock" Ritchie twists the dagger further, given the musician's ties to white supremacist political figures

While the primary focus of the protest is Ritchie, the immediate harm to the people of Detroit by Olympia Entertainment should not be ignored. The company has failed residents in the past with similar deceptions regarding development around Comerica Park. 

Ritchie, the self-proclaimed "Rock and Roll Son of Detroit," grew up on a six acre estate Romeo, MI, provided by wealth accrued from a father who owned multiple car dealerships in the region. While developing an interest (and music career) based around breakdancing and hip-hop in his early life, Ritchie gravitated towards Country rock in 2001. 

He began using pro-slavery regalia such as Confederate flags during his shows for the next decade. Following a 2011 award by the NAACP, Ritchie claimed he "never flew the flag with hate in my heart" while protesters burned Confederate flags outside the ceremony at Cobo Hall. For the next five years he abstained from the use of white supremacist banners.

However, in 2016 he began breaking from the lyrics of his song "Born Free" at concerts to state "F--k Colin Kaepernick", in response to the quarterback's silent protest against police brutality. An odd choice of target, given that the musician's career was built off appropriating black culture throughout the 90s. Later that year, Ritchie exchanged his dog whistle for a regular one, printing a line of pro-Trump T-shirts featuring Islamophobic slogans, completing his return to white supremacist advocacy. 

Given his threat to run against Senator Debbie Stabenow in 2018, MDPAN is calling on Michigan residents to come out in protest of his performance and show that his views run contrary to the will of the people. 

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Robert Jay
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Originally Post on July 8, 2017

In the wake of Donald Trump's assumption of power as President of the United States, a national resistance group formed on December 19th, 2016. It began with a Facebook livestream from the Great Hall of Cooper Union in New York City. Reaching over 200,000 viewers the emergency conference featured speakers such as Jeremy Scahill, founding editor of The Intercept, Fran Luck, radio host for the multicultural feminist program Joy of Liberation, and hip-hop artist Immortal Technique. They called out the fascist character of the Trump/Pence regime and, through their website, have organized demonstrations across the country to thwart its machinations.  

They've disrupted the Sessions confirmation hearing with shouts of "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!", held demonstrations in honor of Holocaust Rememberance Day (drawing parallels with the ICE deportations) and hosting Teach-Ins in April on the warning signs of a government devolving into fascism. The group is present at every major protest, and are easily identified by their "NO!" sign, emblazoned with the core message:

 

On July 15th, Refuse Fascism will mobilize nationally in a march to drive out the Trump/Pence regime, with Detroit's event taking place at the Fist of Joe Louis at 1 PM. 

Vicki Edwards is one of the leaders for the Detroit chapter, a stalwart presence at every MDPAN event. When handed the megaphone, she appears to grow ten feet taller and deliver Refuse Fascism's refrain with a booming alto, and lo, the Earth doth shake. She was involved in the Occupy movement in 2011, and her experience there helped form the mission she carries out today. "It's not one thing, it's everything!" She said of her reasons for resistance. "This current government is fascist. This isn't just a collection of horrible, cruel, and inhumane policies, it's a qualitative change in how society is governed. Group after group is demonized and attacked, xenophobic nationalism is whipped up, dissent is criminalized, and once power is consolidated, traditional democratic rights are eliminated."

Given the President's repeated attacks on the press, travel bans, Russia's voter database hacking, and the ICE's mass deportations, Vicki's case is practically made for her. While the Detroit wing of the organization often tables other group's events, such as Love is Love and the Impeachment March, they're taking the lead more often this summer.

 

The group joined several others to protest against ACT for America's (classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group) anti-Sharia Law rally in Lansing, MI. Thin lines of caution tape and minimal police presence separated the two groups. While ACT was significantly outnumbered, several of their members were dressed in full militia kit, bearing assault rifles. Their opposition came armed only with their signs and their voices, with a rallying cry of "No hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here!"

The fight continues in full force this coming Saturday, and the group has been canvassing local events and businesses with fliers demanding the Trump/Pence regime must go. From the pamphlet: "July 15th must mark a leap to more sustained struggle, inspiring people to see the possibility of ousting this regime through unleashing the tremendous power of the people – aiming for the time when millions can be moved to fill the streets of cities and towns day after day and night after night, declaring this whole regime illegitimate – demanding, and not stopping, until the Trump/Pence regime is driven from power." 

Come to the Fist of Joe Louis at 1 PM and answer the call, in the name of not just America, but humanity itself. The rally will feature the following speakers:

Rachel Voltaire: MC for the event.
- Vicki Edwards: The very same from this article.
Stephen Boyle: Longtime Detroit activist and former Green Party candidate.
Fatima Salman: Education/Youth Chair for Michigan Muslim Community Council

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#votehacking #anti-Muslimbigotry

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