[WSMDiscuss] The US is aflame : Michigan Sheriff and Police Didn't Disperse Their Town's Protest—They Joined It (Common Dreams) ? Corporate Voices Get Behind ‘Black Lives Matter’ Cause (New York Times)
jai.sen at cacim.net
Mon Jun 1 05:57:34 CEST 2020
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Viruses in movement…, Resistance in movement…, The US in movement…
[The US is aflame, and especially at a distance, things look very uncertain and it’s very difficult to know which way things are going, or even what might happen next. But in the midst of this storm of uncertainty, some unusual and unexpected things are also happening. Does this mean anything ? Who knows. But it’s happening :
· Michigan Sheriff and Police Didn't Disperse Their Town's Protest—They Joined It (Common Dreams)
· Corporate Voices Get Behind ‘Black Lives Matter’ Cause (New York Times)
'I Took the Helmet Off and Laid the Batons Down' : Michigan Sheriff and Police Didn't Disperse Their Town's Protest—They Joined It
"Do I think this has solved the issue between police and unarmed black, human beings? No. But I do believe that this type of leadership is a positive step in the right direction and gives me hope for black men and women around the world and for all of humanity."
Common Dreams staff <https://www.commondreams.org/author/common-dreams-staff>
Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson alongside people in Flint, Michigan demonstrating against police violence and the killing of George Floyd in neighboring Minnesota last week. "When we reached the police station, the officers were lined up and everyone immediately took a knee," said local photographer Leni Kei Williams who documented what transpired. "The Sheriff asked one question... 'We are mad too! What can we do?' and the crowd responded, 'Join us.'" And then they did. (Photo: Leni Kei Photography / Used with permission)
Amid a national wave of uprisings against police brutality in response to last week's brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota—but in contrast to a wave of aggressive and violent responses from law enforcement to those demonstrations <https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/05/31/watch-what-it-looks-when-response-protests-against-police-violence-more-police>—a scene in Flint, Michigan that played out Saturday evening offered an alternative to aggressive police tactics as a local sheriff and his fellow officers laid down their riot gear and joined with those members of the community who came out to voice their outrage and sorrow.
"When we reached the police station, the officers were lined up and everyone immediately took a knee. The Sheriff asked one question... 'We are mad too! What can we do?' and the crowd responded, 'Join us.'"
—Leni Kei Williams, photographer
When Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, his deputies, and local officers were confronted by community members who marched on the Flint Township police station, witnesses described how Swanson told the crowd he wanted their pleas to be heard and that the police wanted to be in service of their demands and the protest itself.
After communicating with protest leaders and others, Swanson put down his riot gear and told the crowd he and other officers would join with them.
"We wanna be with y'all. I took my helmet off, laid the batons down," said Swanson as the crowd cheered him on and offered high-fives. "I want to make this a parade, not a protest."
What transpired was documented in a powerful photo essay by Leni Kei Williams, a local photographer, who posted <https://www.facebook.com/leni.kei/posts/10157572158444811?__xts__=68.ARC490ZrN34ENqHNLGTc_1pic8c_ucQS_I5BLjy8jGykTOCEr6jvzxNKqWFtGHzdnF8rmh_X9V7cJr3uRRC0TbUSElqq4j-Rs5qXZi5miLveUaZU4Rw1lmMQNEJ7e3vuWWJpK_0aOjph3cUYhKbjq1-GgCbSmzF_Bli8WYUrvWjRcZrxvx5iqU8RN2Zdaj--CFBzI_XU0gD8CpcBhg&__tn__=-R> the experience to Facebook.
"We weren't sure what to expect. With everything we have been seeing on the news, it wasn't clear what would happen but as we were walking, it was beautiful to see people of every race, age, demographic come together and unite," Williams wrote. "When we reached the police station, the officers were lined up and everyone immediately took a knee. The Sheriff asked one question... 'We are mad too! What can we do?' and the crowd responded, 'Join us.'"
"You got little ones here, you got dogs," Swanson said to the crowd in remarks caught on camera. "So listen, I'm just telling you, these cops love you. That cop over there, hugs people. So you just tell us what to do."
"We can't forget on all our police cars across the nation it says, 'protect and serve.' That means all people, that means all people deserve the same dignity," Swanson later told <https://www.abc12.com/content/news/Show-of-unity-and-support-during-Flint-Twp-protest-570901331.html> local news outlet WJRT. "If you can't call out what's wrong, try to make it right. And that's the magic we saw tonight. Nobody's arrested, nobody got hurt. This is how it's supposed to be."
While Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged Friday with 3rd-degree murder for the killing of Floyd, the other three officers on the scene at the time—two of whom can be seen in footage sitting on the man's back while the other stood over and did nothing to stop them—have yet to be taken into custody or charged. And while angry protests that have erupted over recent days in countless cities and communities nationwide have been met with violent police counter measures, what happened in Flint stood out to people as an example of progress and how law enforcement agencies should respond to communities that are grieving and rightly upset over the injustices of society.
The power of asking questions. https://t.co/KUuGLgFjwm <https://t.co/KUuGLgFjwm>
— Galen Bernard (@galendares) May 31, 2020 <https://twitter.com/galendares/status/1267132971850575875?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>
"This is the way it's supposed to be—the police working with the community," said <https://www.mlive.com/news/flint/2020/05/flint-area-police-join-protesters-marching-to-seek-justice-for-george-floyd.html> Swanson on Saturday night as he marched with demonstrators. "When we see injustice, we call it out on the police side and on the community side. All we had to do was talk to them, and now we're walking with them. ... The cops in this community, we condemn what happened. That guy (Chauvin) is not one of us."
"Do I think we still have a long way to go? Definitely. Do I think this has solved the issue between police and unarmed black, human beings? No. But I do believe that this type of leadership is a positive step in the right direction and gives me hope for black men and women around the world and for all of humanity."
In a message to Common Dreams about what happened in Flint, Williams said, "Seeing a community who has seen so much hardship and pain come together to show leadership, unity and strength regardless of religion, age and race was such a humbling experience in itself. There was such a peace and feeling of hope in the air. And when the police department took their helmets off and dropped their batons when asked to join to March, they responded 'Let's go! We can walk all night!" This was history."
Williams noted that of course society's pervasive injustices and ongong police violence would not come to end simply because of what transpired in Flint but said it was uplifting and should be seen as a ray of hope and progress nonetheless.
"Leaders facing leaders, coming together in peace," Williams said. "Do I think we still have a long way to go? Definitely. Do I think this has solved the issue between police and unarmed black, human beings? No. But I do believe that this type of leadership is a positive step in the right direction and gives me hope for black men and women around the world and for all of humanity."
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Corporate Voices Get Behind ‘Black Lives Matter’ Cause
Major companies are often wary of conflict, especially in a polarized time. But some are now taking a stand on racial injustice and police violence
Tiffany Hsu, New York Times
As tensions flared around the country after George Floyd’s death under a policeman’s knee, protesters received support from an unexpected corner: corporate America.
Companies like Nike, Twitter and Citigroup have aligned themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement.
As Netflix posted on Twitter <https://twitter.com/netflix/status/1266829242353893376?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet> on Saturday: “To be silent is to be complicit. Black lives matter. We have a platform, and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up.”
Major companies are often wary of conflict, especially in a polarized time. They tend to be afraid of offending their customers and associating their brands with sensitive subjects.
American advertisements often shy away from addressing political issues, like impeachment <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/20/business/media/politics-trump-advertising-2020.html>, and also steer clear of news stories about violence, drugs and, recently, the coronavirus pandemic <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/07/business/media/advertising-coronavirus-news.html>.
But after Mr. Floyd died on Monday in Minneapolis, a wide range of companies began to take much more public stances on racial injustice and police violence.
Speaking out on social issues is often a calculated decision, a form of “values and identity-driven targeted marketing,” said Americus Reed, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. By aligning corporate values with what customers care about, companies are hoping to build a sense of loyalty and a deeper sense of personal connection, he said.
“There’s a general trend toward executives in the C-suite being called out and pressure-tested by consumers who want to know where they stand — there’s an opportunity to differentiate not just on function, on what’s a better mousetrap, but on values,” he said. “It’s smart — they’re taking a stand, hopefully, because it’s moral, but also because they understand the long-term economic game.”
Twitter, which spent much of last week battling President Trump <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/29/technology/trump-twitter-minneapolis-george-floyd.html> over the warnings and fact-checks it placed on several of his tweets, changed its profile image <https://twitter.com/Twitter> on the platform to black and added “#BlackLivesMatter” to its description.
Mark Mason, the chief financial officer of Citigroup, wrote a public blog post <https://blog.citigroup.com/2020/05/i-cant-breathe/> on the company’s website that repeated Mr. Floyd’s pleas to the white officer kneeling on his neck: “I can’t breathe.” <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/29/us/derek-chauvin-george-floyd-worked-together.html> The advertising agency 72andSunny wrote on Instagram <https://www.instagram.com/p/CAycQxgFtZO/> that “white people need to start carrying this burden” of combating racism. Reebok said in a message to “the black community” <https://twitter.com/Reebok/status/1266792697941164032> that it “stands in solidarity with you,” telling its social media followers: “We are not asking you to buy our shoes. We are asking you to walk in someone else’s.”
On Monday, Change.org will promote its largest petition ever — “Justice for George Floyd” — on taxi-top ads in New York and billboards there and in Minneapolis. The marketing campaign, funded by supporters, will be the most expensive effort of its kind for the company.
WarnerMedia brands, including HBO <https://twitter.com/HBO>, TBS <https://twitter.com/TBSNetwork> and the newly introduced HBO Max <https://twitter.com/hbomax>, changed their Twitter names to #BlackLivesMatter and quoted the black novelist James Baldwin: “Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind.”
The hashtag also appeared in posts from retailers like Nordstrom <https://twitter.com/Nordstrom/status/1266923042938241024?s=20>, the ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s <https://twitter.com/benandjerrys/status/1265743545802973186?s=20> and media companies like TikTok <https://twitter.com/tiktok_us/status/1266847756108173313?s=20>. YouTube <https://twitter.com/YouTube/status/1266540691791863808?s=20> promised to spend $1 million on social justice initiatives, but it quickly faced criticism that its moderation efforts <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/05/business/youtube-remove-extremist-videos.html> against racist content have historically been weak.
“Your hypocrisy knows no bounds,” wrote Sleeping Giants <https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/20/business/media/sleeping-giants-breitbart-twitter.html>, a media watchdog group, in a reply to YouTube that echoed a similar complaint <https://www.facebook.com/slpnggiants/posts/2605806736328626> against Twitter. “As a platform that has done its very best to avoid having to remove any videos from racists, white supremacists and hate mongers, you should be ashamed of even tweeting about this. Too little, too late.”
Some companies were more cautious in their approach. Target, which is based in Minneapolis and was hit by looting at a store there last week <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/31/business/target-closing-or-cutting-hours-George-Floyd.html>, described “a community in pain” in a blog post <https://corporate.target.com/article/2020/05/supporting-communities-minnesota-beyond> but never mentioned the word “black.”
Several of the businesses that expressed support have had complicated relationships with race in the past. Starbucks, which conducted sweeping anti-bias training <https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/29/business/starbucks-closing-racial-bias-training.html> after two black men were arrested in a store in 2018, posted a public letter <https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2020/letter-from-ceo-courageous-conversations-in-the-wake-of-george-floyds-murder/> on Saturday encouraging “courageous conversations.”
Nike, which has said that only 8 percent of its 353 vice presidents <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/19/business/adidas-diversity-employees.html> as of 2017 were black, released a new ad <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drcO2V2m7lw> on Friday that was reposted by other shoe companies like Adidas and Converse. “For once, don’t do it,” the spot said, beseeching people to stop pretending “there’s not a problem in America.”
The company won awards for its 2018 marketing campaign <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/16/sports/football/colin-kaepernick-nike-emmy.html>, which featured the quarterback Colin Kaepernick telling viewers to “believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,”
To many people, the supportive corporate sentiments fell short without offering funding or other substantive resources. But some companies said nothing at all.
Jackie Aina, an influencer with more than three million subscribers on YouTube, posted a video <https://twitter.com/omariannee/status/1266127149712449537?s=20> to Instagram last week urging fashion brands like Fashion Nova to weigh in on the nationwide protests. The brand said in a post <https://www.instagram.com/p/CAyRDtyF6xj/> on a secondary Instagram account this weekend that it was “appalled, angered and deeply saddened” and was “talking to a number of community leaders to identify and explore ways to take a stand and help.”
In an interview, Ms. Aina said that she did not expect all companies to weigh in. But brands that borrow heavily from black culture and target black consumers have a responsibility, she said, to push for change, often by bringing more black employees into their ranks.
“When it comes to relevant things happening, things you can’t ignore like the Black Life Matters movement, police brutality or murders in our community, it’s crickets, and that’s unacceptable,” she said. “If you are capitalizing off of a culture, you’re morally obligated to help them.”
Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa
jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900)
CURRENT / RECENT publications :
Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration with OpenWord and PM Press. Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN <https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>, MOM1Flipkart <https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>, and MOM1AUpFront <http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>
Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?. New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
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