Decades Since His Death, MLK’s Shadow Still Shapes Today’s Activism – NPR STAFF Updated January 17, 20167:12 PM ET Published January 17, 20165:23 PM ET

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Demonstrators march in December 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio, the day after a grand jury declined to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice in 2014.

Demonstrators march in December 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio, the day after a grand jury declined to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice in 2014. — Angelo Merendino/Getty Images

The country remembers the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. More than four decades after his death, many people see the Black Lives Matter movement as the modern incarnation of the drive for human dignity and legal standing that Dr. King embodied.

But others, including members of an earlier generation of activists, find fault with the group, seeing it as an aimless, formless group that still lacks direction and follow-through. Meanwhile, younger activists sometimes see their seniors as too narrow in their focus and rigid in their methods.

Others ask whether the mere fact that another protest movement has arisen is a sign that earlier efforts have fallen short.

To delve into King’s legacy in modern activism, NPR’s Michel Martin turned to the Rev. William Barber II and Patrisse Cullors, two prominent activists.

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Harvard Medical Scientists Say Police Killings Should Be Recorded As Public Epidemic

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Harvard researchers have called on US Public Health Agencies to consider police killings and police deaths public health issues. With that request, researches are also echoing numerous activists who are urging them to begin tracking the number of people killed by police.

The proposal was inspired by a year of continuous protests and public pressure from the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which stemmed from the murder of unarmed Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, and the consistent police murders and protests that have happened since.

As there are no official numbers, the best available data comes from independent news agencies like the Guardian (UK), who reported that 1,058 Americans have been killed by police in 2015. For African Americans, the number of law enforcement-related deaths per capita is twice as high as it is in the white population.

Their project, “The Counted” also indicates that US civilians are killed by police at an average of about three times a day. It includes cases of police who kill armed suspects, which many vocal police supporters consider justified without carefully examining the situation.

The Summary Points of the proposal from Harvard outline both the problem and a solution:

  • During the past year, the United States has experienced major controversies—and civil unrest—regarding the endemic problem of police violence and police deaths.

  • Although deaths of police officers are well documented, no reliable official US data exist on the number of persons killed by the police, in part because of long-standing and well-documented resistance of police departments to making these data public.

  • These deaths, however, are countable, as evidenced by “The Counted,” which revealed that over 500 people in the US had been killed by the police between January 1 and June 9, 2015, twice what would be expected based on estimates from the US Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI).

  • Law-enforcement–related deaths, of both persons killed by law enforcement agents and also law enforcement agents killed in the line of duty, are a public health concern, not solely a criminal justice concern, since these events involve mortality and affect the well-being of the families and communities of the deceased; therefore, law-enforcement–related deaths are public health data, not solely criminal justice data.

  • We propose that law-enforcement–related deaths be treated as a notifiable condition, which would allow public health departments to report these data in real-time, at the local as well as national level, thereby providing data needed to understand and prevent the problem.

Making police killings a notifiable condition would require Police Departments to report each killing to their corresponding Public Health Department. Medical and public health professionals would then report law-enforcement related deaths in real time.

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‘Chi-Raq’​ Scratches At Black America’s Generation Gap In A Time Of Protest – BY ALAN PYKE DEC 4, 2015 2:20 PM

Spike Lee directing on the set of Chi-Raq

Spike Lee directing on the set of Chi-Raq

Chi-Raq is a very funny movie. Measured on a belly laughs-per-minute scale, this is one of Spike Lee’s most successful pieces of work. The laughter is critical given the gravity of the subject matter here, and Lee’s ability to balance the two without sacrificing either is impressive and captivating.

But gauged on its broader merits, and in the context of a nationwide struggle by black Americans against an abusive criminal justice system, the film is tough to swallow. It espouses a heavyhanded respectability politics that threatens to drown out its many bright spots: A gracefully bawdy treatment of sex, a rollicking achievement in adapting ancient Greek verse to modern Chicago swagger, and a bevy of strong individual performances.

Lee seems to want to talk sternly and directly to a younger generation of black people who share his political awareness but often dissent from his analysis of where change should begin. But it’s hard to start a conversation with a slap in the face. And even though the film is nowhere near the grating, one-dimensional picture that trailers made it appear, it will be hard for the folks Lee wants to reach to hear Chi-Raq as dialogue rather than lecture.

That shouldn’t be the case, Lee says, noting his own personal participation in rallies and protests of recent years.

“I’m in support of Black Lives Matter,” Lee told me before the film’s release. “At the same time, I’m not gonna be silent when a 9-year-old, Tyshawn Lee, gets executed after being lured into an alleyway. I don’t think I’m doing Black Lives Matter if I’m only gonna talk about the cops and George Zimmerman and not talk about what we’re doing to ourselves.”

Chi-Raq does explicitly tip its hat to the movement that’s finally drawn mass attention to how frequently black bodies get gunned down in circumstances that would probably have gone differently for a white person.

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Why Black Lives Matter Protests Are Growing In Minneapolis | BY DYLAN PETROHILOS NOV 18, 2015 4:44PM

How we got here.

On November 15th, Minneapolis police officers shot 24-year-old Jamar Clark, who witnesses say was handcuffed at the time, in the head. Police initially said Clark was a suspect in an assault who was interfering with paramedics. They also maintained he was not handcuffed, though he was unarmed. The police union president later claimed that Clark was trying to grab an officer’s weapon. The involved officers were identified as Mike Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze. The pair joined the force a little over a year ago and are currently on administrative leave.

The mayor called for an independent federal investigation, and police say they have snippets of footage that they will not yet release to the public. But while the circumstances of Clark’s death are investigated, protests are escalating.

Source: Why Black Lives Matter Protests Are Growing In Minneapolis | ThinkProgress

Student protestors at the University of Missouri want a “no media safe space” – Updated by Libby Nelson on November 9, 2015, 7:30 p.m. ET

Members of the Concerned Student 1950 movement speak to students after president Tim Wolfe announced his resignation. — (Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

The media flocked to cover football players at the University of Missouri protest the handling of racial incidents on campus, but some of the student protesters balked at the influx — going so far as to form a human shield to keep reporters away from the action.

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Traditionally, protesters might have welcomed coverage of their plight, certain that the national media’s attention would amplify their calls and put more pressure on the institution.

There are many reasons for this. The students already accomplished their landmark goal — these tweets were sent after university president Tim Wolfe announced his resignation on Monday. The campus has seen dozens, if not hundreds, of reporters descend, most of them, like the national media, overwhelmingly white. And these students have come of age after the rise of digital organizing. The national media is just another institution they don’t need, as the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery points out:

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The standoff appears to have caught many members of the national media, as well as student journalists at the university, off guard.

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University of Missouri president resigns amid race row – By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN Updated 12:54 PM ET, Mon November 9, 2015 | Video Source: CNN



(CNN)Several University of Missouri organizations, including the football team and the student association, saw their demands met Monday when university system President Tim Wolfe announced he was stepping down amid a controversy over race relations at the school’s main campus.

Saying he takes “full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred,” he asked that the university community listen to each other’s problems and “stop intimidating each other.”

“This is not — I repeat, not — the way change should come about. Change comes from listening, learning, caring and conversation,” he said. “Use my resignation to heal and start talking again.”

His decision, he said, “came out of love, not hate,” and he urged the university to “focus on what we can change” in the future, not what’s happened in the past.

His decision came after black football players at the University of Missouri — with their coach’s support — threatened not to practice or play again until graduate student Jonathan Butler ended his hunger strike. Butler, who was protesting the state of race relations on the main campus and had demanded Wolfe’s removal, tweeted Monday morning, “My body is tired but my heart is strong. This fight for justice is necessary.”

He tweeted after Wolfe’s news conference that he had ended his hunger strike and said, “More change is to come!! #TheStruggleContinues.”

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