Today, on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016 — the 61st anniversary of the launch of the Montgomery Bus Boycott — and now just hours after a major victory was won for the people of Standing Rock, hundreds of thousands of us have joined together to take an organized stand against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States of America.
It’s not a petition. It’s not a Facebook page. It’s not a retweet or a hashtag.
It’s an organized resistance, driven by local people and activists, supported by passionate believers all over the country and around the world. Just as the Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted for 381 days, we are prepared for this boycott to last as it takes to make change happen. Indeed, we won’t stop until it does. This boycott will not weaken, but will grow in size, strength, reach, and power every single day.Images from the Montgomery Bus Boycott
We are launching Phase 1 of the Injustice Boycott Monday, and it will last until Monday, Jan. 16th, 2017 — which is also known as Martin Luther King Jr. Day in this country. We chose to launch Phase 1 on the anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and end it on the day our nation celebrates Dr. King, to remind us all that our ancestors fought for change. They made it happen before and we can do it again. We will do it again!
These dates were also chosen to reclaim the legacies of our heroes. They were not the hollow caricatures that history so desperately wants to make them out to be, but were organized, courageous, determined warriors for justice. It’s not enough for us to pick up trash and have cookouts on King Day when our people are catching hell from coast to coast. We have reached a pivotal point in the history of our country, now just weeks away from the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, where our organization must match our outrage.
Please allow me to speak plainly.
Today, we are announcing the first three cities of our boycott.
They are Standing Rock, San Francisco, and New York City. We are giving those cities, the businesses and corporations that call those cities home, the states they are in, and the federal government, 43 days, that’s until King Day of 2017, to meet the reasonable and humane demands of local activists in those cities.
The government officials in those cities know full well who the local activists are. The government officials in those cities know full well what the reasonable demands of those local activists are. And today, we are serving notice, that it is time for government officials, businesses, and all interested parties in those cities to actually make serious, substantive, measureable change happen over the next 43 days. If they opt to ignore the requests, pleas, and plans of local organizers, on Tuesday, January 17th, 2017, the day after King Day — we will do four things:
We will begin a full tourism boycott of those cities. To protect small businesses, we will also announce a comprehensive plan for ways you can support local entrepreneurs to get them through the boycott.
We will begin a comprehensive divestment plan where we ask people to pull their money out of banks, financial institutions, and investment plans which we have determined either directly support racial injustice and police brutality in those cities or have chosen to remain silent in the midst of this national crisis. We will give some of those financial institutions an opportunity to publicly endorse the reasonable reforms of local activists before we publicly announce our divestment plan.
We will announce a targeted national boycott of large corporations headquartered in those cities that have either directly supported injustice there or have remained painfully silent in the face of it. Willful ignorance is no excuse. We will give those big brands and corporations an honest chance to publicly endorse the reasonable reforms of local activists before we publicly announce a boycott of them.
We will begin creatively disruptive protests in those cities designed to inconvenience and shut down both commerce and government work.
Please allow me to say a few words on why we chose these three cities and how we will be choosing many of our future targets.
First, I’ll start with San Francisco and New York City, and then close with Standing Rock.
San Francisco and New York City proudly enjoy reputations as progressive, liberal, Democratic havens, but the reality on the ground in these cities for people of color simply do not line up with those reputations. One of the primary goals of the Injustice Boycott will be to unashamedly hold “progressive” cities, their elected officials, and the businesses in those cities responsible for the reputations they so enjoy.
To be clear, I could name thousands of more names of men, women, boys, and girls who’ve been victimized by systemic injustice in San Francisco and New York City. The list is painfully long, but justice is woefully and repeatedly missing in action in almost each and every case.
To this day, in New York City, many people are being held in Rikers Island for years and years without going to trial. Not only that, but it is an abusive, corrupt hell hole of an institution that should be shut down. Rikers Island is not the slightest bit progressive. With all due respect to Mayor Bill De Blasio — it’s nearly impossible to survey the mess that is Rikers Island and conclude that a compassionate progressive government is in power here.
Not only that, but New York City, beyond refusing to convict the officers who killed men like Amadou Diallo and Eric Garner, won’t even fire them from the police department — forcing families who call this city home to wonder, each and every day, if they will have to casually bump into the men who murdered their loved ones. This is sick.
San Francisco is no better. After it was discovered that at least 14 San Francisco Police Officers sent blatantly racist and violent text messages with one another, not a single officer has been held accountable for those text messages. In fact, because of a ridiculously negotiated deal the city made with the police union to give a one year statute of limitations on punishment for such infractions, none of the officers can be held responsible for them, because they allowed the time limit to run out without offering any discipline for a single officer involved.
In the face of this scandal and countless incidents of police brutality in San Francisco, the city formed the Blue Ribbon Panel on Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Law Enforcement comprised of respected judges and attorneys. The scathing report they issuedfeatured 81 different recommendations. Months after the report was issued, the panel and the community blasted the police department for failing to act on any of them.
The NYPD, SFPD, and the local elected officials in New York and San Francisco know full well what the problems are and how to fix them, but they refuse to do so while simultaneously basking in the glory of being labeled liberal and progressive. People are tired of it and we will hold these cities, their leaders, and the businesses in these cities accountable. We must!
Lastly, for months, we planned on Standing Rock being at the center of this boycott. The Dakota Access Pipeline is an abuse and a disgrace. It is embarrassing that the indigenous people of this land are still, after all they have endured and suffered, having to fight for the most basic human dignities. The primary goal of including Standing Rock was to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through their sacred land and water supply. Many people don’t want it there and that alone should’ve been enough.
Thankfully, in a surprise decision yesterday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they were denying the easement, or permits, for the pipeline to be constructed there and for a comprehensive environmental study and community input process to begin. After speaking last night with the local leaders from Standing Rock, we learned that while this decision is a powerful victory for local activists, it is not a permanent one.
While the construction must be halted, this is not a full guarantee that it will not one day continue. First, the corporations and investors could literally decide to ignore the process, pay for fees and fines, and continue construction. This would be an egregious decision, but it is fully possible. Secondly, over the next year, particularly as Donald Trump is inaugurated, the review process could take a decidedly ugly turn. Trump could stack the Army Corps of Engineers with his own people, and they could quickly change course and continue construction. Many leaders in Standing Rock believe full well that this is what could happen. Here’s a good explanation of what’s possible.
For that reason, after consulting with local leaders in Standing Rock, who consulted directly with their government council, we are continuing to include Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline in the Injustice Boycott.
In fact, we think it would be a grave mistake for us to all simply celebrate and move on from Standing Rock because of the great news that was received yesterday. While the announcement was a victory and a wonderful confirmation that we were right all along to protest the DAPL, now is the time that we call on all people to divest all monies from banks that have financed and will continue to finance the Dakota Access Pipeline.
A DeFund DAPL movement is already fully underway and we encourage you to join it. While the decision by the Army Corps of Engineers was a start, the best way to ensure that this pipeline is stopped, is to hit it where it counts — in its funding. Remove your money from all banks that are supporting the pipeline and tell them that you will never bank with them again if they continue to fund this ugliness.
While we are now on a 43-day countdown in San Francisco and New York City, we are asking that you actually make the serious decision to help DeFund DAPL today. We must move to support Standing Rock now.
And I’ll conclude with this thought. The hardfought victory won yesterday by the people of Standing Rock is both a lesson and an inspiration to all of us. When we skillfully and passionately organize ourselves, when we focus on what’s possible and on what needs to happen, instead of how permanent it seems like injustice will be, when we put aside our differences and focus on making change happen, it can happen. It will happen.