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Exploding Protest Movement Has Gone National — People Are Demanding an End to This Era of Brutal and Racist Policing

December 9, 2014 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, Alyssa Figueroa, AlterNet

This is about changing policing as we know it.

Late Saturday, hours into a protest march over police brutality in Berkeley, Calif., police were looking to make arrests and spotted Kyle McCoy. The young black man, a well-known racial justice activist and University of California-Berkeley alum was arrested on suspicion for felony assault with a deadly weapon. He was taken away and booked, but by Sunday morning he was free on bail. On Monday afternoon, when he was scheduled to be arraigned in court, a bailiff announced the criminal charge had been dropped.

That kind of routine police harrassment is partly why protests over police brutality and institutional racism continue nationwide. It is not just because ongoing deaths of unarmed black men and youths at the hands of police have struck a deep chord across America. The more you talk to protesters the more it becomes clear that this movement’s goals are crystalized by racist policing but do not stop there.

“Everyone out there is saying they can’t breathe for a lot of reasons,” said one protester who came to the courthouse to support McCoy, referring to Eric Garner’s last words before dying from a chokeheld during his arrest in New York City. “I know a lot of people who are out there [protesting]. It’s a lot of issues.”

In the Bay Area, today’s protesters are a mix of newcomers and veterans. There have been massive protests in recent years over other police killings of black men, notably Oscar Grant. There has been the Oakland-centered Occupy movement, protests over urban gentrification, rising higher education costs, and other issues with racial and economic justice underpinnings. But Cynthia Morse, an older white woman and longtime protester who came to the court to support those arrested this weekend, said police brutality was unlike other issues, especially if your family has been victimized.

“This whole issue has got to be a black people’s movement. It’s theirs. They want it. They don’t need direction from us. They need our support and that’s what most of us are really trying to do,” Morse said. “The institutional racism, the …read more


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