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September 22, 2014 2

Ferguson = Gaza: The Continued Invocation Of A False Comparison

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Vigil for Gaza at the Col­lege of Staten Island

While Gaza and Fer­gu­son no longer dom­i­nate the head­lines, these unre­lated events con­tinue to be con­nected by a num­ber of groups and indi­vid­u­als in an attempt to bring atten­tion to their activism.

In addi­tion to pre­vi­ously reported exam­ples, more recent anti-Israel events con­tinue to link the con­flict in Gaza to the Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri shoot­ing and its after­math, couch­ing hos­til­ity towards Israel in social jus­tice terms in an attempt to appeal to a broader base of support.

Recent exam­ples of anti-Israel events that draw par­al­lels between Fer­gu­son and Gaza include:

  • Exis­tence is Resis­tance and the Cam­paign to Bring Mumia Home are adver­tis­ing an event sched­uled for Octo­ber 11 at the Mal­colm X and Betty Shabazz Cen­ter in north­ern Man­hat­tan to address “the global sys­tems that oppress us, from Fer­gu­son to Gaza.” The event will fea­ture speak­ers such as Remi Kanazi, an orga­niz­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber of the US Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic and Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel (USACBI).
  • A panel dis­cus­sion titled “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine: Con­nect­ing Strug­gles” is sched­uled to take place at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas-Austin on Sep­tem­ber 24 accord­ing to the event’s Face­book page. The event, spon­sored by the Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Com­mit­tee, will fea­ture at least two UT-Austin professors.
  • The City Uni­ver­sity of New York (CUNY) Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter is host­ing a panel dis­cus­sion at the CUNY Grad­u­ate Cen­ter titled “CUNY Stands for Jus­tice: From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine” on Sep­tem­ber 22 fea­tur­ing “an evening of poetry, speak­ers, and dis­cus­sion around repres­sion and resis­tance from Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri to Gaza, Pales­tine,” accord­ing to event flyers.

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    SJP “die-in” at Brook­lyn College

  • The Col­lege of Staten Island SJP chap­ter hosted a vigil for Gaza on Sep­tem­ber 17 at which the group adver­tised on Face­book that it would “read the names of the lives lost, give speeches, and stand in sol­i­dar­ity from Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine…” The group also stated that it shares the anger of those in Fer­gu­son because “Pales­tini­ans know what it means to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity.”
  • Accord­ing to a post on an anti-Israel Face­book page, mem­bers of the Direct Action Front for Pales­tine attended protests in Fer­gu­son and spoke to peo­ple there about Gaza. On Sep­tem­ber 8, it held a meet­ing in Brook­lyn, New York to share what they “learned in Ferguson…to become more effec­tive in our resistance…”
  • Mem­bers of the Inter­na­tional Jew­ish Anti-Zionist Net­work (IJAN) protested out­side ADL’s San Fran­cisco office on Sep­tem­ber 3 with a ban­ner that read “From Oak­land to Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine, The US and Israel, A Deadly com­bi­na­tion” and “Stop police brutality…Stop the ADL.” IJAN is a coali­tion formed in 2008 that seeks to facil­i­tate global anti-Israel activ­ity on the part of anti-Zionist Jews.
  • On Face­book, Brook­lyn Col­lege SJP adver­tised a Sep­tem­ber 2 “die-in” on the Brook­lyn Col­lege cam­pus to “raise aware­ness about israel’s [sic] lat­est mas­sacre” and to remem­ber “all the vic­tims of white supremacy and insti­tu­tion­al­ized racism in the U.S., the lat­est being #Mike­Brown and #EricGarner.”

Events link­ing Fer­gu­son and Gaza have also been orga­nized by some uni­ver­sity depart­ments. At UCLA, the Law School’s Crit­i­cal Race Stud­ies Depart­ment spon­sored a Sep­tem­ber 18 event called “From Gaza to Fer­gu­son,” which accord­ing to pub­lic­ity mate­ri­als, explored “the rela­tion­ship between race, the rise of mil­i­ta­rized polic­ing and the response to dis­sent in the United States and con­sider its impli­ca­tions in a global con­text.” The panel included Hedy Epstein, a Holo­caust sur­vivor who has com­pared the Israeli treat­ment of Pales­tini­ans to the Nazi treat­ment of Jews.

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September 16, 2014 2

New Black Panther Party Advisor Calls For Killing In Ferguson Aftermath

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Screen­shot of AADL’s Face­book page

Mauricelm-Lei Millere, an advi­sor to the New Black Pan­ther Party (NBPP), is using social media to call for the death of the police offi­cer who shot Michael Brown and for vio­lence against white peo­ple in gen­eral, inflam­ing the already tense sit­u­a­tion in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri.

On Sep­tem­ber 15, Millere, who is cur­rently in Fer­gu­son, posted an image of Offi­cer Dar­ren Wil­son on Face­book and wrote, “When you find Dar­ren Wil­son you know what to do! Who­ever finds him knows what must be done! Take every­thing that he took from Mike Brown.”

The day before, Millere posted on Face­book that Wil­son is “wanted Dead or Alive!” echo­ing calls made by the NBPP, the largest orga­nized anti-Semitic and racist Black mil­i­tant group in the coun­try, for the “dead or alive” cap­ture of George Zim­mer­man, the man who, in Feb­ru­ary 2012, shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

Millere also called for vio­lence against Mar­tin Baker, an African-American con­gres­sional can­di­date who pub­licly sup­ported due process for Dar­ren Wil­son. On Sep­tem­ber 11, Millere wrote that Baker “must be caught, beat, drug, and whipped to the point of see­ing the light for sup­port­ing white racist mur­derer Dar­ren Wilson…We must phys­i­cally beat this jig­ga­boo…” Later that day, Millere com­mented on his post, which included a photo of Baker: “Get a good look at this a**h**e. Find him, detain him, beat him, and await fur­ther instructions.”

In these Face­book posts, Millere lists his affil­i­a­tion as being with the African Amer­i­can Defense League (AADL), an orga­ni­za­tion Millere started on Sep­tem­ber 10, which unabashedly pro­motes vio­lence against white people.

On Sep­tem­ber 11, Millere wrote via the AADL’s Face­book pro­file, “The white­man wants your blood! How many of us has he killed and enslaved? Trillions!…We need the action that makes them pay atten­tion. An eye for an eye phi­los­o­phy! Arm your­self in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri and across Amer­ica! A life for a life!” He con­tin­ued, “Also, we must go to their com­fort­able neigh­bor­hoods and raid those stores. It is time to LOOT & BURN those stores…” The post’s image depicts a man hold­ing a rifle.

Millere changed the AADL’s Face­book pro­file pic­ture to a photo of a hand­gun on Sep­tem­ber 10 and wrote “Shoot 1st.” Millere sub­se­quently updated the AADL’s cover photo to a gun, and com­mented on the photo that, “There comes a time when one must do what is nec­es­sary beyond cost. Dr. Mauricelm-Lei Millere.”

Addi­tion­ally,Malik Zulu Shabazz, the for­mer NBPP leader and cur­rent leader of the Black Lawyers for Jus­tice who has a long his­tory of anti-Semitism and racism, appears to be involved with the AADL. On Sep­tem­ber 13, Millere posted that Shabazz is a board mem­ber of AADL and Shabazz responded pos­i­tively, say­ing that the he came up with the name and con­cept behind AADL but that he gave it to Millere. On Sep­tem­ber 14, Shabazz posted the fol­low­ing on AADL’s Face­book page: “Much suc­cess to the African Amer­i­can Defense League—The AADL. We need a broad based orga­ni­za­tion that will orga­nize to defend our hunan [sic] rights.”

While media reports some­times call Millere an NBPP “leader” and Millere describes him­self as a “Lead Advi­sor at Black Rid­ers Lib­er­a­tion Party, Lead Advi­sor and Lia­son [sic] at Black Pan­ther Party and Lead Advi­sor and Lia­son [sic] at New Black Pan­ther Party,” it is not clear exactly what role he plays with the NBPP. In Sep­tem­ber 2011, Millere and Shabazz appeared together at an event in Colum­bus, Ohio, and in Octo­ber 2010, Millere appears to have orga­nized an event for the “Arkansas New Black Pan­ther Party” in Lit­tle Rock.

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August 28, 2014 0

Moving Forward From Ferguson

“His­tory sim­mers beneath the sur­face in more com­mu­ni­ties than just Fer­gu­son,” Attor­ney Gen­eral Eric Holder aptly rec­og­nized dur­ing his visit there. The con­ver­sa­tion about Fer­gu­son can­not start with the death of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black man shot to death by a white police offi­cer.  Though tragic in and of itself, the story goes back much further.ferguson-civil-rights

It is a sad tru­ism that America’s laws—and the peo­ple charged with enforc­ing them—have not always pro­tected com­mu­ni­ties of color.  In the infa­mous Dred Scott case, which orig­i­nated just miles from Fer­gu­son, the Supreme Court shame­fully ruled in 1857 that African Amer­i­cans had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”  Though the case served as a cat­a­lyst for the Civil War and the 13th, 14th and 15th Amend­ments rat­i­fied shortly there­after to super­sede the rul­ing, deep-seated racism continued.

Jim Crow laws seg­re­gated soci­ety and rel­e­gated African Amer­i­cans to second-class cit­i­zens. Lynch­ings ter­ror­ized com­mu­ni­ties.  All too often not only did law enforce­ment fail to pro­tect African Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties, but police offi­cers par­tic­i­pated in the lynch mobs.  Dur­ing the Civil Rights Move­ment, now-infamous images cap­tured police offi­cers using dogs, fire hoses and billy clubs against peace­ful protestors.

Since the Civil Rights Move­ment half a cen­tury ago we have worked hard as a nation to move towards a more just and equal soci­ety. We have come a long way, but Fer­gu­son stands as a stark reminder that we still have a long way to go.

In address­ing the cri­sis in Fer­gu­son, the first step must be open and respect­ful dia­logue.  We can­not move for­ward unless and until we face the past.  Part of that dis­cus­sion must be about the role of law enforce­ment and their rela­tion­ship with the com­mu­ni­ties they have sworn to serve and protect.

Since 1999 the Anti-Defamation League, in part­ner­ship with the United States Holo­caust Museum, has con­ducted train­ings for law enforce­ment—from police chiefs and the head of fed­eral agen­cies to recruits and new FBI agents—exploring what hap­pens when police lose sight of the val­ues they swore to uphold and their role as pro­tec­tors of the  peo­ple they serve. By con­trast­ing the con­duct of police in Nazi Ger­many, and the role that law enforce­ment is expected to play in our democ­racy, the pro­gram under­scores the impor­tance of safe­guard­ing con­sti­tu­tional rights, build­ing trust with the peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties they serve, and the tragic con­se­quences when there is a gap between how law enforce­ment behaves and the core val­ues of the profession.

We know from our work that the vast major­ity of offi­cers care deeply about the com­mu­ni­ties they serve.  But that is not to say police are infal­li­ble.  None of us is.  And there are cer­tainly some within law enforce­ment who engage in mis­con­duct, as is the case in every pro­fes­sion.  But the bad acts of some can­not and do not define law enforcement.

Amer­ica is strongest and safest when there is mutual under­stand­ing and trust between law enforce­ment and com­mu­ni­ties.  We must seek to build those bridges by rec­og­niz­ing our trou­ble­some past, acknowl­edg­ing the prob­lems per­sist­ing today, and com­mit­ting to changes that move us for­ward to a more per­fect union.

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