In elementary school when your skin is dark and your nose is broad and your hair is kinky, your peers don’t think your life matters. So you find sanctuary in the library. No one beats you up, no one calls you names, you read. And you discover how much there is that you don’t know and you can find it in a book. A teaching career, a military career, an artist’s career, medical technical career, African history, philosophy, literature, world travels. Information made his life matter. Charles made his life matter. Charles Henri Tuggle, 80
Information Made His Life Matter
Charles is part of Hunters Point Shipyard Artists in San Francisco California. Examples of his work are available here. www.shipyardartists.com
Freedom never descends upon the people. It’s always bought with price.
The five pictures exhibited represent the questions we need to ask ourselves. What does Black Lives Matter mean to you? Whatever the answer is, how will you know when we have it? How will you measure it and what will you do to accomplish it? Our ancestors would have died in vain if we haven’t accomplished it. Freedom only comes after you have economic power. As Dr. King said, America has defaulted on its promissory note. This country’s wealth has been built upon our backs since its inception, for over 400 years, and we have never been adequately compensated. Our wealth should be attached to the nation’s Gross National Product. Freedom will not come until we have political power: One Man One Vote. Freedom will not come until our judicial system is just and disproportionality erased from the highest courts to local law enforcement. Freedom will not come until we own and control our means of communication from daily newspapers to television to radio to cyberspace. Freedom will not come until we have moved from consumers to producers and own the means of production, not just having jobs but providing jobs. Freedom will not come until we have education in the skilled trades, transportation, information, finance, investment, insurance, real estate, professional, scientific and technical services.
Before Apartheid Our 400 years of enslavement began before apartheid. In South Africa the Dutch, the first settlers to arrive followed by the British, forcibly took over the land and made native Africans slaves to work on plantations. Later the Europeans would import more slaves from other areas such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar. Immigrants from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan would later migrate to South Africa in search of cheap labor and were employed as indentured servants.
50 Years In Chains
The black box in the L in LIVES in the BLM mural represents the difficulties of 400 years of enslavement. The red box represents the struggle for freedom. The chains beneath the feet of Charles Ball represent the multiple times he escaped from slavery and was recaptured. In 1813 while a free man he enlisted in the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla and fought in the War of 1812. The green box represents a future with greener pastures. Curtis Mayfield’s song People Get Ready is calling for us to join the movement and continue the struggle through voter participation.
According to the UNIA more recently, the three colors on the Black Nationalist flag represent: RED: the blood that unites all people of Black African ancestry, and shed for liberation; BLACK: black people whose existence as a nation, though not a nation-state, is affirmed by the existence of the flag; and GREEN: the abundant natural wealth of Africa. Designed by: Marcus Garvey Adopted: 13 August 1920.
The Corona The National Museum of African American History & Culture distinctive three-tiered form known as the corona is in an evocative symbol of traditional influences and ideas that have defined the shape of the African-American experience. In designing the upward-angled shape of the Corona, the architects drew inspiration from Yoruba architecture.
Our African Ancestor’s sacrifices will matter! Only when we have economic and political power!
Life in Slavery
Charles Ball was born as a slave in the same county around 1781. He was about four years old, when his owner died. To settle the debts, his mother, several brothers and sisters and he himself were sold to different buyers. His first childhood memory recorded in the book is his being brutally separated from his mother by her buyer: “Young as I was, the horrors of that day sank deeply into my heart, and even at this time, though half a century has elapsed, the terrors of the scene return with painful vividness upon my memory.”
By way of inheritance, sale and even as a result of a lawsuit, he is passed on to various slaveholders. From January 1, 1798 to January 1, 1800 he is hired out to serve as a cook on the frigate USS Congress. In 1800, he marries Judah. In 1805, when his eldest son is 4 years old, he is sold to a South Carolinian cotton planter, thus separated from his wife and children who had to remain in Maryland.
In September 1806, he is given as a present to the newly wedded daughter of his owner and has to relocate to Georgia to a new plantation. Shortly afterwards, after the sudden death of the new husband, the new plantation, together with the slaves, including him, is rent out to yet another slaveholder, with whom he builds up a relationship of mutual trust. He becomes the headman on the new plantation, but suffers from the hatred of his master’s wife. In 1809, when his dying master is already too weak to interfere, he is cruelly whipped by that woman and her brother. After that, he plans his escape, which he puts into practice after his master’s death. Travelling by night to avoid the patrols, using the stars and his obviously excellent memory for orientation, suffering terribly from hunger and cold, not daring to speak to anybody, he returns to his wife and children in early 1810.
“I stood at my gun, until the Commodore was shot down, when he ordered us to retreat, as I was told by the officer who commanded our gun. If the militia regiments, that lay upon our right and left, could have been brought to charge the British, in close fight, as they crossed the bridge, we should have killed or taken the whole of them in a short time; but the militia ran like sheep chased by dogs.”
According to Ball’s autobiography, his grandfather was a man from a noble African family who was enslaved and brought to Calvert County, Maryland around 1730.
The 1837 edition dedicates three pages (Pages 22–24) to the description of his religion as the old man explained it to his young grandson. This description has some similarities with Islam, but there are also differences, so it is not clear, if his grandfather was Muslim or not. Other Africans whose religion Ball mentions, are explicitly called “Mohamedans” (p. 165).
The precepts of that religion are contained in a book a copy of which is kept in each house, implying that the grandfather’s African society had a high degree of literacy, whereas Charles Ball is illiterate. This may be worth mentioning because contemporary apologetics of slavery often claimed that Africans had been “civilized” by slavery.
Historical Document Charles Ball’s narrative: Fifty Years in Chains 1836
Friday June 19, 2020 at 12:15 at The Spokane Tribal Gathering Place (outside City Hall), SCAR and its partner organizations unveiled their full Platform for Change..
PLATFORM FOR CHANGE— RESPONDING TO THIS MOMENT
RELEASED: June 19, 2020
Spokane Community Against Racism (SCAR) and Asian Pacific Islander Coalition (APIC) – Spokane Chapter, Eastern Washington Progressives, Faith Leaders and Leaders of Conscience, FUSE Washington, Greater Spokane Progress, Hispanic Business/Professional Association, MAC Movement, Muslims for Community Action And Support, Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS), Planned Parenthood Advocates of Greater Washington and North Idaho, Progressives of Spokane County, RAIZ of Planned Parenthood, Red Skirt Society, SHAWL Society, Smart Justice Spokane, Spectrum Center Spokane, Spokane Alliance, Spokane Ministers’ Fellowship, Tenants Union of Washington State, demand transformational change.
Spokane has a problem.
American policing tactics are rooted in white supremacy, fear, and violence. Spokane is not exempt from this, even though our mayor, police chief, county commissioners, and sheriff refuse to admit the true nature of the problem. In fact, Spokane has the 5th deadliest police force in the nation. We must end the cycle of fear and violence in our community and seize the opportunity during this tumultuous time to enact structural changes.
Death at the hands of police is not the only measure of racial violence. Here in Spokane, Black and Native Americans are disproportionately arrested, receive higher bail amounts, and are more likely to die in jail than whites. Our city and county officials know this. They have hired several consultants for millions of dollars to tell them so, yet they continue to ignore the good advice we all paid for.
We don’t trust them to understand, because they keep proving they are not listening.
At the invitation of the city and county, community members have spent thousands of hours sharing their testimony and lived experience in the name of community engagement. Yet elected officials have failed to honor this engagement by fulfilling their promises to decarcerate and advance racial equity.The residents of Spokane have fought officials numerous times to avoid building a new jail. Still—despite the wishes of the community—the County Commissioners and the Sheriff’s office continue to pursue a new, larger jail without first enacting the totality of humane, cost effective reforms which have been recommended to them over the past decade.
Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich continues to defend bringing the creator of “Killology,” a method of police training that teaches officers how to “…overcome the powerful reluctance to kill…” to train his deputies. He has doubled down on his support for killology training despite receiving thousands of petition signatures calling for the two-day seminar and workshop to be canceled. Spokane demands transformation. The unwillingness of the Mayor, Police Chief, County Commissioners, Sheriff, and other elected officials to heed expert advice and community lived experience, their stubborn insistence on expanding incarceration and entrenched racist systems, and their failure to listen to the community, convinces us that the elected leadership of Spokane does not grasp—or is not willing to meet—the needs of our community. We do not need more studies, consultants, conversations, forums, or media stunts. We are not interested in incremental change, but in drastic action.
To that end, we present the following Platform for Change. While we cannot hope to provide every comprehensive detail of necessary policy, we know the shape that change must take. This is the product of ongoing work within our community and around the country and is meant to serve as a mandate—it’s up to our leaders to help us all live up to its intent.
PLATFORM FOR CHANGE
DEFUND THE POLICE: INVEST IN COMMUNITY
SCAR rejects the idea that the only way to increase public safety is to increase policing. The power of state-sanctioned force and threat of lethal violence wielded by police is often inappropriate and inadequate to address the diversity of situations they are sent to resolve. Police are frequently tasked with handling homelessness, addiction, mental health, intimate partner violence, and other conditions in which they have no formal expertise; the result is often harm, injury, or even death for those whom the police are supposed to protect. The weight of these injuries and deaths falls most heavily upon people with medical or mental health conditions, people of color—particularly Black and indigenous people—and people with disabilities. This is not a problem that can be solved with more training. Expanding the power or authoritative scope of police in our communities will not make us safer.
Instead, SCAR embraces a holistic vision of public safety, one that accounts for the root causes of crime, and recognizes that shared prosperity and community care are at the heart of a safe and healthy society. When people’s basic needs are met, and experts are empowered to work within their expertise, communities are free to flourish. The City of Spokane and Spokane County will be safer when our leaders follow the advice of their expensive consultants, and the best practices indicated by decades of research in this and other cities. We demand investment in historically underserved communities to create a vibrant and healthy environment where all families can thrive:
Addiction and Mental Health Services
We demand public investment in culturally appropriate chemical addiction treatment and mental health services and diversion programs. These services should include crisis care, long-term in-patient, and out-patient care. Police are not mental health professionals and incarceration should not be a stopgap for healthcare or an underfunded social safety net.
SPS has the largest school policing budget in Washington State at $2.2 Million. That’s $2.2 Million spent to support the School-to-Prison Pipeline, a system which disproportionately funnels children of color from educational settings into the criminal justice system. Using police to address student behavior positions students as potential criminals who require management through the threat of legal and physical force, instead of recognizing them as children who are learning to manage conflict and their emotions.
We demand investment in school counselors, restorative conflict resolution practices, and activity programming which provides youth with constructive outlets and interpersonal learning environments. The ACLU of Washington has been at the forefront of this issue, listen to them.
CHANGE POLICE CULTURE
Public trust in the SPD is broken. It’s the 5th deadliest police force in the nation, and officers have been using the same knee-on-neck restraint that killed George Floyd until June 8th, 2020. We believe it is necessary to start fresh.
Disband the Police
Disband the police department, and hire a smaller group of officers to carry out narrowly defined, law-enforcement duties. In 2016, the Police Leadership Advisory Committee (PLAC) put together recommendations for the hiring of a new police chief. These recommendations, which could have helped revolutionize the culture of the SPD, were ignored. We believe these recommendations should be applied to all officers hired to work in the City of Spokane. PJALS has been deeply involved in this work, listen to them.
De-escalation Training for SPD and County Forces
While we do not believe the fundamental problems with American policing can be trained away, we support the will of Washington State Voters who voted decisively in favor of Initiative 940. Passed in 2018, Initiative 940 requires police receive training in de-escalation and mental health, and enforces the duty of all police officers to render first aid. It is our hope that with these tools police will be less likely to use lethal force, and that when they do, that force is less likely to result in death.
De-escalation and mental health training have the potential to not only act as positive tools in the current policing toolbelt, but to provide an additional standard to which police can be held accountable.
Demilitarize the Police
Our city is not a warzone, and weapons of war should not be used on our streets. This includes tear gas—a chemical weapon which is banned by the Geneva convention—and all repurposed military surplus equipment. Military uniforms, vehicles, and weaponry communicate to the residents of Spokane that the police view them as enemy combatants. Furthermore, militarized uniforms encourage a “warrior” mindset in police, which emphasizes readiness for violent conflict over the relationship-based work of building community trust. Spokane does not need street warriors, Spokane needs public servants we can trust; from their uniforms to their equipment, police should be equipped for the job that is needed.
Independent Oversight with Investigative Power is a necessity at the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
No Contract without Office of Police Ombudsman Independence
We demand that the Office of Police Ombudsman (OPO) be empowered to conduct independent investigations and publish public closing reports. We demand that the OPO be free to conduct these independent investigations without fear of reprisal by the Police Guild.
A poison pill amendment to the Police Guild’s contract with the City of Spokane, which is still being negotiated, would allow the Police Guild to preemptively file a grievance against an Ombudsman candidate in an effort to prevent their appointment. It further empowers the Guild to attempt to have the Ombudsman or an OPO Commission Member removed for “exceeding their authority under the collective bargaining agreement.” Police cannot control the fate of the body that oversees them. We demand that the Spokane City Council reject any contract that fails to protect OPO independence.
NO CONTRACT without independent investigative power and public closing report. NO CONTRACT with police guild oversight of the OPO.
Mandatory body cameras for SPD and County Forces
Body cameras should be mandatory for every SPD officer and County deputy as a tool for reviewing police encounters with Spokane residents. Body cameras do not prevent violence, but they can be valuable for holding the police accountable. Turning off a body camera should come with an automatic charge of destroying evidence.
We urgently need to adopt effective, restorative policy solutions that are driven by the needs of those impacted by our justice system.
We demand divestment from the prison industrial complex: NO NEW JAIL; end policies that criminalize poverty, homelessness, and addiction; end cash bail; and end draconian drug charging decisions by the County Prosecutor’s office.
Instead, the city and county should invest in racial equity tools throughout our justice system; release criminal justice system demographic data; and adopt least-restrictive alternatives to jail with fully funded pretrial services. Smart Justice Spokane has been leading on these issues, and we demand our government listen to and collaborate with them.
Impartial judges are the ideal, but we know that their decisions are vulnerable to the forces of systematic oppression and unconscious bias. For this reason we demand that the county, in cooperation with the courts, release sentencing data dis-aggregated by judge and defendant’s demographic information, including race and gender. With this data, voters—and the community groups who help keep them informed—will be empowered to identify racial sentencing disparities, and if necessary, right them at the ballot box.
Establish an Office of Civil Rights
The City of Spokane needs a fully funded and staffed Office of Civil Rights. This office would work within the City government to advance civil rights and end barriers to equity. It would regularly assess the city’s approach to racial equity, and provide education and training to government and local entities. The Office of Civil rights would receive civil rights complaints from the residents of Spokane, address hate crimes, and ensure that laws against illegal discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and contracting within Spokane city limits are equitably enforced. The Office of Civil Rights Exploratory Committee and Greater Spokane Progress are already working on the structure of this office. Listen to and collaborate with them.
These are just some of the changes that Spokane needs. These demands are rooted in the data-backed reality, and the spiritual conviction, that a punitive approach to public safety has never, and will never, yield a free and equitable society.
Policing can no longer be the bandaid we affix to every social wound. Instead, we must build a Spokane where everyone is free to thrive. The time for incrementalism and half measures is past. This community demands transformation, and will continue to do so in statements, in public meetings, at the ballot box, and in the streets. It is up to our leadership to listen, and to do the jobs for which they were elected. The people are watching.
If you take only one thing away from this essay, I hope it’s this: do not talk to cops. But if you only take two things away, I hope the second one is that it’s possible to imagine a different world where unarmed black people, indigenous people, poor people, disabled people, and people of color are not routinely gunned down by unaccountable police officers. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you take only three things away from this essay, I hope the third is this: you and your community don’t need bastards to thrive.
Let me tell you what probably won’t solve the problem of bastard cops
Increased “bias” training. A quarterly or even monthly training session is not capable of covering over years of trauma-based camaraderie in police forces.
Tougher laws. Cops do not follow the law and will not hold each other accountable to the law.
More community policing programs. Many of the cops pepper-spraying journalists were probably the nice school cop a month ago.
Instead of wasting time with minor tweaks, I recommend exploring the following ideas:
No more qualified immunity. Police officers should be personally liable for all decisions they make in the line of duty.
No more civil asset forfeiture. You lose more cash and property to unaccountable civil asset forfeiture than to all burglaries combined.
Break the power of police unions. Police unions make it nearly impossible to fire bad cops.
Require malpractice insurance. If doctors have to have it, police ought to have it.
Defund, demilitarize, and disarm cops. Cities are not safer when unaccountable bullies have a monopoly on state violence and the equipment to execute that monopoly.
One final idea: consider abolishing the police.
The above page has been paraphrased. If you want to know how this insider came to these conclusions read the complete story:
There are mobilizers and there are organizers. The demonstrations you have seen and participated in for George Floyd here and across the globe have been successful mobilization events. What is needed now is grassroot organization.
The map on the left are the communities in Spokane where this discussion needs to take place. Suggestions of what you can do in your community are at this link: Mobilizing to Organizing
Sunday June 7, 2020 started off at 10:30 am with meditation and yoga exercises at the Red Wagon. At 2:00 pm the NAACP had one of the largest outside rallies in Spokane’s history. The tone of this rally was set by Kurtis Robinson, Kiantha Duncan, and Le’Taxione. Kurtis Robinson welcomed a large standing crowd at the Lilac Bowl. Kiantha Duncan followed asking everyone to sit down on the grass and center themselves. She had three messages that she wanted to deliver to three groups of people. She thanked all who showed up to nonviolently express their outrage and disappointment with police brutality throughout the country. If there were those who came looking for trouble with signs with hateful speech, she wanted them to take those signs and sit on them. Then she called upon all law enforcement agents to obey the law and treat all demonstrators with respect and human dignity. My observation was that there were no visible signs of law enforcement. Le’Taxione told the audience that he was not speaking to make anybody feel good, he was there to express his strong objections to brutality and the status quo. But he made it quite clear he and the youth he brought would not allow anybody to hijack this peaceful demonstration. If so, they would be escorted out of town. These photographs bear witness to the unified desire that everyone should receive equal justice.
After your demonstrations at the Red Wagon or City Hall you could:
Ask 5 of your new or trusted friends for their email addresses and mobile phone numbers so you can set up a meeting regularly via Zoom to discuss strategies and planned measurable actions. Assign someone to send information about the measurable actions you plan to firstname.lastname@example.org so they can be shared at the website 4comculture.com. Hopefully when the city opens up and you can have meetings in public places such as coffee shops you will be able to have these discussions face-to-face.
If you can find 4 people that will accompany you to an arterial in your neighborhood each could stand on a corner displaying their signs for an hour or more
Walk up and down the block or cul-de-sac where you live with your sign and handout sharing why you march and what others can do to help. This is something you can do alone.
Stand in front of the house you live in with your sign and have a discussion about why you march with anybody that will join you. Have two socially distant chairs nearby.
Being Black I am always visible! I am asking you to shed your invisibility.
History Lesson On Organizing
Kwame Ture: Converting the Unconscious to Conscious