Saturday, August 23, 2014

Filmmaker Ken Fero on Deaths in Police Custody

Joy Gardner
There's a reason why everyone in my neighbourhood in South London knows who Trayvon Martin was.

A few months ago, a local public meeting was held. The posters all featured a photo of Trayvon. No caption, no explanation. But everyone in this area knows that similar things happen here.

I know Trayvon was not killed by the police, but his killing was sanctioned by the courts.

BFI London South Bank recently held a day on deaths in police custody, as part of the African Odysseys ongoing film series.

Filmmaker Ken Fero, director of numerous documentaries including the multi-award-winning Injustice, spoke in the morning and screened clips from his films. In the afternoon, two of those films were screened.

Injustice chronicles the fight for justice of seven families whose members died in police custody. None of the police officers involved in these killings have been prosecuted or disciplined. Six of the families are Black (African Caribbean), the seventh is Irish. An Irishman was gunned down as he walked through Brixton carrying a wooden table leg. The police stated they thought he was armed with a gun.

All of these families are still continuing to fight for justice.

Injustice has never been shown on UK television. When it was first released in 2001, every time it was due to be shown in cinemas, the police would phone the cinema about 15 minutes before the screening was due to start, threatening legal action. They claimed the film “might be libellous”.

Ken Fero, filmmaker
However, as Fero explained at the BFI, the audience inevitably contained someone who owned a business or ran a community centre or another venue. So the audience would decamp down the street, and the film would be screened.

Like a lot of people, I was very keen to see the film, and I saw it in a barbershop in South London. All I can say is, if you haven't seen Injustice, you need to see it.

Fero has made many other films about human rights abuses committed in Britain and other European countries, notably Germany and France. It was, frankly, disturbing to hear him say how many times he has filmed some of the same families. For example, the family of Joy Gardner, a Jamaican citizen who died in police custody in 1993.

Joy Gardner suffocated whilst in police restraints. The press labelled her an illegal immigrant and, as Fero pointed out, ignored the fact that other labels could equally be applied to her. Like “student” and “mother”.

He also said that, between 2001 and 2011, another 1,000 people died in police custody. This is an escalation, as more than 1,000 deaths in police custody had occurred in the previous 30 years.

Fero said he makes these films in order to inspire people and educate them about how to take action. He told me that he doesn't want to continue to make these films but, as I am sure he would agree, it is vital that he does.

And while we are collectively mourning Michael Brown, Eric Garner and all the others, we are aware that these things also happen here.

Please join us for the International Summit on Nonviolence today.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

President Obama on the Ferguson Situation

"Hands Up Don't Shoot" Protest at Howard University
President Obama's statement last night on the situation in Ferguson was largely a recap - albeit with more brevity - of what the Attorney General Eric Holder had already said in his press conference earlier.

The local FBI in Ferguson are conducting an independent investigation into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.  The Justice Department are also conducting an investigation, in which they are co-operating with the FBI.

Over 200 witness statements have already been taken, and more are continuing to be taken.  (Does this mean Michael Brown was shot in front of more than 200 witnesses?  Maybe this is not what they mean by "witness statements".)  

Crucially, the President mentioned that "too many Black men are being left behind" and spoke about the importance of addressing and including cities and communities that have been left behind.  

The President also explained that he would not, himself, be going to Ferguson, because the investigations have to be seen to be independent.  However, the Attorney General will visit Ferguson tomorrow.   

Meanwhile, violence, shooting and rioting continue in Ferguson and in St. Louis, Mo.  The National Guard has been called out.  Now they are using teargas.  It's as if everyone is going crazy.

Inflict enough racist violence on people and they WILL go crazy.

The thing is, we always react to these things AFTER THE FACT.  These conditions have existed for many years. 

There have been peaceful protests in NYC, LA and San Francisco.  Check out my blog: "Hands Up Don't Shoot Protest in NYC". 

There was a protest in London as well, in front of the U.S Embassy, but, like many people, I did not find out about it until after the fact.

One result of people and communities being left behind is that our people are being killed.  Black people are being killed by the police and nobody is being held accountable.  When are they going to stop killing our young people?

Check it out:  Deaths in Police Custody.

Check out this very interesting article by Paul B. Raushenbush at the Huffington Post:  What White People Can Do about the Killing of Black Men in America.  But they're not just men and it's not just in America. 

Click here for the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence.  We MUST end the violence.

Friday, August 15, 2014

"Hands Up Don't Shoot" Protest in NYC

It is so moving and upsetting to see people chanting "Hands Up Don't Shoot".    Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, was shot dead by police in Ferguson, MO last Saturday the 9th of August.

Since then, there have been protests and riots in many places across the country.  President Obama called it a "tragedy" and called on the police to respect peaceful protests. 

The longer he is in office, the more he has to keep making these statements as more and more young Black men are killed by the police.

This rally was held in Times Square in the heart of Manhattan and reportedly was followed by rioting.  Many of the killings have taken place in NYC.  

How many more of our youth are they gonna kill?  This has upset me so much.

One more reason Why I Am Committed to Nonviolence.

Unfortunately, this will not be the last one of these blogs I shall be posting.  

See also:  Deaths in Police Custody

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Fire in the Blood Documentary

Fire in the Blood is the true story of how the pharmaceuticals companies conspired to stop people in Africa and other parts of the world from having access to affordable HIV meds.  

The key word here is "affordable". 

I saw this documentary a couple of years ago, but it has taken me until now to blog about it, because it upset me so much.  It is a very disturbing film.  

As we know, the HIV virus mutates and people have to change their meds every few years, to get hold of the most up-to-date and effective meds.  

Drugs laboratories in India were producing generic versions of popular meds and selling them in many different markets, including the United States.  This had been going on for many years. 

But when they started producing HIV meds, this was seen as a problem.  Some of the major pharmaceuticals companies, which were producing their own brands of AIDS and HIV meds, conspired to stop them from producing meds which would be affordable in places where people, and governments, have limited funds for purchasing meds.  

So a lot of people in African countries, Latin American countries and others were prevented from getting hold of these meds at affordable prices.  This has been called "genocide".  

Fire in the Blood breaks it down.  It shows exactly what was done and how the U.S. government conspired with the pharmaceuticals companies.  

This is not an easy film to watch, and it does not have a happy ending.  

Having said this, Fire in the Blood demonstrates why we must become less dependent on pharmaceuticals to treat serious illnesses, including HIV and AIDS.  We must learn to use other methods, including traditional methods of healing, as well as complementary therapies and other methods, alongside pharmaceuticals.  

Although pharmaceuticals have saved millions of lives, and are continuing to do so, we also need to use other methods.  

Monday, August 04, 2014

Black People in the First World War

Black Soldiers in WWI
As we mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, we need to recall the contribution of Black - African, African Caribbean and African American - people to the Allied war effort, and the tremendous sacrifices they made.  

Perhaps more importantly, we need to recall the devastation the war caused to the African continent. This is often overlooked.  

Listen below for more information.   
Black Soldier in the Kaiser's Army

I got some of the information contained in this blog from London Black History Walks.  Some came from other sources.  

We need to remember that it's up to us to end violence.  In this day and age, many conflicts are breaking out all over the world.  It's not up to him, her or them to end violence.  It's up to you and me. It's up to us.  

Violence does not, and cannot, end violence.  This is a lesson we still have not learned.  

Listen below for more.   

Click here for the Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence.  

I wrote about Nonviolent Communication, NVC, in Success Strategies for Black People and in my new ebook, Affirmations for Parents.  

Please share this blog post with your networks, and help spread the message of nonviolence.  Thank you. 

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