The unjustified murder of Michael Brown, the St. Louis County prosecutor’s decision to provide “information” to the grand jury versus making a compelling case to prosecute Officer Wilson, and the outrage and uprising that followed are all manifestations of a criminal justice system that is institutionally racist.
Michael Brown did not deserve to die. His family deserved justice but were denied. The community of Ferguson deserves more, as do so many other black and brown communities across this country. When our young men of color are gunned down, locked up and subsequently locked out of any semblance of opportunity for a decent way of life -- we must fight back. When our young men of color are intentionally targeted by a criminal justice system whose survival and success are directly linked to the number of young people of color arrested and incarcerated, we must fight back. And as long as institutions, whether it be government, criminal justice or corporate are allowed to exploit and profit off poor people of color – nothing will change.
The facts alone about Ferguson bear this out. A fifty percent unemployment rate among black men and a Ferguson police force that is overwhelmingly white in a town that is overwhelmingly black. The Mayor of Ferguson ran unopposed in the last election and voter turnout was twelve percent. Let the gravity of that set in for a moment.
You turn these facts upside down and maybe Michael Brown is alive today. You turn these facts around and maybe you have a stable community where black men have good jobs, black children have good schools, and the black community’s needs are met by a representative democracy.
Without a transformational movement that attacks and dismantles structural and institutionalized racism, it is only a matter of weeks, if not days, before another Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Eric Gardner incident will occur. Now is not the time to wait for the next unwarranted and unjustified killing of another young black life and then react. What we need is an organized movement of all people ready to go on offense and willing to demand and win transformational, game-changing, structural changes in our economy and our democracy. If not, the cycle of injustice will only continue because the system is set up to make it so.
Byron Hobbs Executive Director SOUL (Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation)
Dear friends, elected officials, business leaders, & concerned citizens:
You are cordially invited to SOUL's annual awards banquet on Sunday, October 6,
2013. As you may know, SOUL is an organization of congregations, community organizations, and individuals across the South Side and South Suburbs of Chicago who come together to make change on key issues affecting our communities. The banquet is a time to celebrate SOUL’s
work with music, dancing, food, wine and networking! We will recognize the
outstanding commitment of our leaders and allies, and show elected officials
the power of organized people.We want
you present to celebrate with us!
Here are the details of the event:
When: Sunday, October 6, 2013, 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Where: Church of Saint
Paul and the Redeemer, 4945 S. Dorchester, Chicago 60615 Ticket price: $75
Over the past year, SOUL has
succeeded in making a number of positive changes in our communities:
·SOUL re-activated a campaign for an Arts &
Recreation Center in Bronzeville and began securing financial commitments to
fund the center.
·SOUL began campaigning for a 31st Street Bus and
got commitments of support from one alderman and three state legislators.
·SOUL secured commitments from Cook County Board
President Toni Preckwinkle and Aldermen Michelle Harris and Roderick Sawyer to
use the new Cook County Land Bank to get banks to donate vacant homes so they
can be fixed up and returned to occupancy, with local jobs created in the
·SOUL worked with IIRON and National People’s
Action to push Attorney General Lisa Madigan to support large-scale mortgage
relief, including a $25 billion settlement with the biggest banks requiring
them to reduce mortgage payments for some underwater homeowners.
·SOUL worked with IIRON to fight back against
corporate tax loopholes that cost the State of Illinois $2 billion and have
forced $1.7 in budget cuts to Medicaid and $200 million in budget cuts to