Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Need Another Resolution Eh! Why Ferguson matters in Canada

AP Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, second from left standing on the top of a car, hugs an unidentified man, wearing an I am Mike Brown shirt, as she listens to the announcement of the grand jury decision Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.
 | Metro
In the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, emotions are running high and many questions remain.  Jen Taplin spoke with author, activist, spoken-word artist, professor and Halifax Regional Municipality’s poet laureate El Jones on why Canada needs to pay attention
What was your reaction when you heard Darren Wilson would not be indicted?

What’s the saying? ‘Shocked, but not surprised.’

To indict the officer is to indict the system and they can’t indict the system without then reforming it, so I didn’t expect anything to happen there.

What do you think about the reaction across the United States?

You’ve seen photos of them being treated like it’s a hostile military country imposing no-fly zones.

So that’s very disturbing, that people who are citizens of the country being treated like the enemy, with the same tactics they’re using in Iraq or Afghanistan as invaders, and occupation is being directed at its own citizens.

From the beginning, there’s been a consistent police response, which has been about repression rather than recognizing the right of the people to be in their own streets in their own country. We tend to get this media response that it’s looting, it’s rioting. (But) it’s revolution.

The people are recognizing the solutions are not going to lie inside the political system, the justice system. It’s going to have to be from people making their own response and that’s what we’ve seen on the streets of Ferguson.

People want to characterize that as violence as that delegitimizes the protest … I know people get frightened when something revolutionary happens, but I think it’s positive because what we’ve seen is the ordinary people organizing …

What about the reaction in Canada?

There’s been a lot more awareness of racial profiling and police brutality in general … We had the Moncton shootings and we’re always coming through this lens in Canada, especially with Ottawa, of violence against police versus police violence.

There’s that question of is it disrespectful to talk about the police when we’ve had Moncton? When we held the Ferguson Rally in Halifax people said, ‘There aren’t shootings here, so why are you holding a rally?’

And we said, ‘Well, that’s why. We want to get people organized to work in our communities before there’s a crisis point, because once you’re in crisis, there’s no justice and there’s nothing that can happen. Once somebody’s dead, what can you do?’

As African people, we have the right to engage our police departments, we should have a race relations committee, we should have members of the community that are keeping the police accountable, we should be doing neighbourhood watch and police watch to make sure policing in our community is in relation to us and we have whatever relationships we need to have in the police department.

No comments:

Post a Comment