Boggs Center – Living For Change News- February17th, 2021

February 17th, 2021

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Thinking for Ourselves

Dangerous Forces
Shea Howell

The impeachment trial is over. The outcome was clear before the first words were spoken. In spite of overwhelming evidence of Trump’s responsibility for the Capitol attack, only 7 Republican senators had the courage to acknowledge his guilt. After voting against impeachment, Senator Mitch McConnell felt compelled to try and salvage his position by saying “There’s no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.”

McConnell’s hypocrisy reflects the problem we all face. The mob unleashed by Trump is not going away. It will haunt us all. Republicans out of a combination of fear, foolishness, and a desire to garner votes, have encouraged more violence to come.

The coming months will challenge us all in ways that we can only begin to imagine. It will be especially critical that we understand the difference between public actions that press for peace and justice and right-wing mob violence.

Unfortunately, our Police Chief will be of no help. He  fosters the misguided and dangerous reasoning that formed some of the main arguments of the Trump defense. He consistently confuses mob violence with public demonstrations for justice. He minimizes the racist treatment of BLM protestors, while excusing the hands-off approach accorded to right wing mobs.

Shortly after the attack on the Capitol, Craig went on Fox news to offer an argument in support of Trump. He invoked an example from  Seattle, where the city decided to remove barriers from a police precinct in the face of a Black Lives Matters action,  and claimed this was like the failure of law enforcement’s response to the Capitol. He said, “In those instances where law enforcement retreated and didn’t respond to criminal behavior by BLM protesters, what’s different with that than what was seen in the Capitol?” The Chief’s posing of this question, let alone his inability to answer it, is dangerous.

The Chief’s support for excessive force against people who challenge white corporate power is clear. He has established a record of hostility  to those who challenge injustice. He refuses to protect First Amendment rights. Instead, he attacks those who exercise them with as much force as he can amass.

Consider his first challenge after he was appointed Police Chief by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. In the midst of draconian water shut-offs, as people protested and challenged a clear violation of basic human rights, Chief Craig backed outlandish charges against two young Detroit Artists who whimsically painted “Free the Water” on an abandoned water tower that graced the Detroit skyline. He supported the charges of “trespassing at a key facility,” a post 9-11 charge that could have resulted in 4 years of imprisonment for the artists. Charges were ultimately dropped.

More directly, he supported the three year ordeal of the Homrich 9, water activists who had used their bodies to block Homrich Trucks from leaving a garage to shut off water to homes.  The case was finally dismissed when the 36th District Court ruled the defendants’ constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated by “numerous unexplained and unjustified delays.”

Most recently, after a federal judge found that the Detroit Police used excessive force against Black Lives Matters demonstrators and barred the use of these tactics approved by the Chief,  Craig backed an expensive counter-suit, claiming Detroit Will Breath protestors have engaged in a civil conspiracy.

Chief Craig reflects the kind of thinking that most of the people in Detroit have rejected. He, like his republican friends in the Senate, are unleashing dangerous forces, while attacking those who offer the best hope of moving us forward as a people.





Boggs Center boardmember and Detroit Justice Center founder, Amanada Alexander wrote letter to her young niece about staying true to your goals, deriving sustenance from nature, and other insights I’ve gleaned from activists.

Dear Fiona,

Last summer your mama asked me a question that I couldn’t shake. We were at a rally called by brave young people who are fighting for well-funded and safe schools, without police, in Detroit. If they win, you will never know cops in your schools. You may even think it strange they were ever there.

Our people were in the streets for more than 150 days last summer and fall. We’ve been in the streets since police killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones in 2010, since they killed Sean Bell in 2006, since they killed Amadou Diallo in 1999, and long before. As we were leaving the demonstration, your mama asked me: How do you stay focused on Black joy and liberation? And how can I raise my child with that sense of possibility? I didn’t know how to answer her in that moment, but I promised I’d give it more thought.

These are some of the insights I’ve kept close through 20 years of movement work. It’s basically what all of my life has been aimed at honing. I’ve learned these ways of being from elders, writers, and organizers — sometimes in community and sometimes alone. I’ve gleaned the most from Black women philosophers, prophets, community builders, and strategists who cultivated young leaders and ensured that movements could sustain themselves across generations.

When my mama died at age 60, I decided that I wanted every aspect of my life to come alive with color. And that I couldn’t numb myself with work — even noble work — or delay joy and pleasure. I’m sharing what works for me more days than not, with the hope that it might hold something for you. READ THE WHOLE LETTER @ BOSTON GLOBE.


The Realities of Mass Incarceration 
In conversation with author/columnist
Jeff Cohen and Exoneree Lacino Hamilton

FEBRUARY 17th 7pm

On September 30, 2020, Lacino Hamilton walked free after 26 years of wrongful incarceration in the Michigan prison system. At the hearing that exonerated him, Wayne County Judge Tracy Green apologized profusely:

“Twenty-six years is a very, very long time to spend in prison. I’m sure it’s
even harder for an innocent man.” He was freed by long-buried DNA evidence — after social activism demanded a review of his case. He’d been convicted, at age 19, largely on perjured testimony from a
“jailhouse snitch.”

Lacino spent 26 years fighting for his freedom, seeking help by writing thousands of letters to the outside world, and educating himself. He never gave up or gave in. On the inside, he became a columnist, writing about prison as part of a broader system of economic and racial exploitation. One of his columns, “The Gentrification-to-Prison Pipeline,” recalled his time growing up in Detroit’s Cass Corridor.
Lacino Hamilton has plenty to say about prison and about society. His articulate voice needs to be heard.

He’s eager to answer any and all questions.
After 26 years of being denied an opportunity to make a life , Lacino has nothing. A GoFundMe page has been set up on his behalf. Anything you can contribute will go directly to Lacino. He needs help with housing, transportation, clothes, food, eye wear, phone, medical needs denied him in prison, and resources to continue fighting for truth and justice. Donating will help Lacino secure the most basic necessities and help him foster and expedite his continuing efforts to build a broad dialogue to find more effective ways to challenge injustice and promote social justice through education. Thank you for being part of righting a terrible wrong. Donate! Help Lacino! And join our zoom meeting on February 17th at 7pm.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 846 6078 0872
Passcode: 897354
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Our Suburbs Are Up To Us
Rich Feldman

When I moved to Huntington Woods, a 1.5 square mile city, just outside Detroit, I was told it was integrated. I looked surprised and then they said it was Jewish and non-Jewish. For the past 50 years, most of my political activism and community-labor commitments have been in Detroit, the Downriver working-class suburbs, the Ford Wayne Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, and the UAW Headquarters on the east-side of Detroit. Since my retirement and the 2016 Trump election, I have been working in the Tri-County suburbs of Oakland, Wayne & Macomb County with an organization called “Break our Silence.” We have focused on challenging anti-black racism with a belief that we need to move beyond being allies – mere cheerleaders for social justice – to being co-conspirators and co-liberators in the mold of the Abolitionists of the 19th century (John Brown and William Lloyd Garrison) or brave 20th century leaders like Viola Liuzzo. Since the murder of George Floyd, the energy, the opportunities, and responsibilities for organizing, education, actions, dialogue, engagement, and listening have reached new heights.

The opportunity to truly break the racist silence of the suburbs, to move beyond our suburban comfort, and to transform our values, our institutions, and ourselves is now on the public agenda.  This summer we saw tens of thousands of people across the metro area say, “enough is enough.” It was the organizing, vision, and commitment of the movement for Black Lives that unlocked this moment. At 73 years old, I am so fortunate to participate in a second historical social movement in my life. It is great to be alive.

Celebrating this moment and our challenges does not mean I do not feel and hold the pain, the fears, or the sadness of a world facing climate change, global poverty, continuous war, chaos, and a global pandemic. 400,000 Americans have been murdered by the heedless policies of a war criminal, Donald Trump. I do believe that out of pain emerge not just dreams but real possibilities. 2021 brings us the possibility of contributing to a multi-generational, multi-cultural, multi-racial movement – that can successfully resist “White Rage” and counter-revolution. “The times,” as a Sixties culture hero promised us, “they are a-changin’”.


This decade is an opportunity to usher in the  ”Third Reconstruction” and a fundamental transition, as Valarie Kaur has said:

This month in my small world of the suburbs of metro Detroit, I have seen a commitment by suburbanites, my mostly White neighbors, to move beyond the “initial outbursts, and the “righteous anger” which followed the murder of George Floyd. While we often think of the suburbs as White, it was a young African American woman in Royal Oak and Berkley that organized the two major initial demonstrations.

As 2021 begins, I wanted to share three exciting developments.

The recently formed Suburban Coalition of Collective Liberation’s first public event:  The Suburban Car Caravan of Spring 2020, which brought together hundreds of people under the banner of“Suburban Silence is Racist Violence & Disturb the Burbs.”1

Last month, the newly formed coalition sponsored its second event entitled Beyond Biden: Moving Towards Collective Liberation.  125 folks from local suburban organizations and residents from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties attended. Church members and others joined voices to uplift the local struggles against police violence, white supremacy, and the evil triplets of “racism, materialism and militarism.” People shared stories, some shared the poetic words of Amanda Gorman and everyone emphasized the idea that it was time to create a suburban coalition with a multi-year commitment.  A commitment to transform ourselves, the purpose of the suburbs and the relationship of the suburbs to Detroit and Pontiac.  The urgency of NOW is on our agenda.  While welcoming the victory over Trump in the election, the coalition has no illusions that the Democratic Party will redefine the future of the land its first inhabitants called “Turtle Island.”  Transforming ourselves, our values and all our institutions is our job.

A few days later Huntington Woods 4 Black Lives (HW4BL) hosted a zoom educational event on Prison and Police Abolition:  “A World without Prisons and Police.”  Huntington Woods for Black Lives is a group of younger adults and high school students working toward anti-racism in their hometown. A friend and 30-year Huntington Woods resident who was at the event said, “It wasn’t just educational – it was genuinely thought-provoking.”3

HW4BL is also organizing a campaign to CREATE A MORAL BUDGET, that involves high school students, long time residents, former residents and young people who grew up in HW and attended Berkeley Schools.4

These two small developments when combined with the work and vision of other suburban anti-racist organization & social justice organizations are ushering in a new era for vision, action, and change. Here are just a few of the groups that participated in the Suburban Coalition for Collective Liberation event in January:

  • Showing up for Racial Justice
  • The Beloved Community of Farmington Hills,
  • South Warren Radical Movement (SWARM)
  • Suburban Solidarity for Social Justice (SHIFT)
  • Accountability of Dearborn
  • We the People of Michigan
  • Mindful Generation
  • Resource Generation
  • Michigan Liberation and many, many others.

2020 witnessed the greatest visible birthing of a multiracial, multi-cultural movement in the history of our country. While it has been the result of decades of organizing, it was also a response to “the fierce urgency of now” – an urgency of now which was viewed and felt across our phones, and video screens when we witnessed the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many more. The older generation remembers that it was the image of the bludgeoned body of Emmet Till that appeared in JET magazine in 1955 that will never be erased from our minds and hearts.

We also remember that there were organizers, visionaries and activists engaging in organizational building, creating strategies, training, and educational activities before these historic painful events that said, “enough is enough.” The 1955 murder of Emmett Till lead to the arrest of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, where 50,000 people joined together for 381 days, unleashing the modern Southern Freedom Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and ultimately the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Some call this the Second Reconstruction. Then came the response of white rage, Richard Nixon, the New Right, talk radio, and in 1980 the presidency of Ronald Reagan – the counter-revolution that culminated in proto-fascist President Donald Trump and the White supremacist riot he encouraged at the Capitol.

It was the murders of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown that sparked the birth of Black Lives Matter.  It was the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd that unleashed conversations, activism, and commitments in the suburbs that I have never seen in my life. While I remember Chicago Black Panther Party Leader Fred Hampton’s efforts to unite Puerto Rican, Chicanos, and poor Whites in Chicago with the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s, to form a multi-racial, multi-cultural Rainbow Coalition, we are currently witnessing a similar evolution in the northern suburbs of Metro Detroit, the rural areas of Iowa, and small towns across our country. These movements of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s were not separate from the anti-colonial struggles and the liberation and independence movements in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

None of this would be happening without the leadership and organizing skills of the Movement for Black Lives, predominantly Black women, which was birthed In July 2013.  The movement began with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the shameful acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African American teen Trayvon Martin 17 months earlier in February 2012.

It is also not a coincidence that the Arab Spring in Tunisia in January 2021 and Black Lives Matter both emerged in such a close time frame. Nor is it difficult to understand the timing of Detroit’s US Social Forum uplifting the banners of: Another World is Possible; Another US is Necessary, and Another Detroit is Happening, bringing 20,000 people together. The decade that just ended witnessed Standing Rock, the MeToo Movement, Occupy Wall Street, the Immigrant Rights Movement, the voices of the Transgender and Disability Justice Movement and the movement to “Save the Planet” that lead global climate strikes across the globe.

It is precisely our winning and our success that unleashes the intensified “White rage.”
History is about movements in response to movements, and in response to the continuing crises of our economic and political systems, planet-wide and now planetary concerns.

Do we just go back and forth or is there a moment when new births and new visions emerge?  I believe this is one of those moments in human history, in our history.

In conclusion, I want to uplift the current Friends of Royal Oak Township campaign to “Tell the Truth and End the Lies”. This Truth Toward Reconciliation: Voices of Dignity and Stories of Royal Oak Township. It’s a suburban campaign to repair, heal, transform and reach reconciliation after more than 400 years of stealing, occupying indigenous land, enslavement and systemic racism, which runs deep within Metro Detroit and our suburban story.

We know in our hearts and minds that there will not be reconciliation, repair or moving forward until the voices of dignity and truth are heard. As James Baldwin often said:  American must face our  Lie. We are so honored and challenged that The Friends of Royal Oak Township has initiated this campaign: Without truth there is no transformation, healing, repair or co-liberation.

Thus I share the words of Brigitte Hall, Royal Oak Township resident: and invite readers to the February zoom public meeting:

Greetings Friends,

In this moment of national reckoning of history and race, the words “Systemic Racism” and “Structural Racism” are now in our national conversation. Most suburban communities have never confronted their historical role in the segregation, suburban sprawl, and racisms that have shaped our home. Friends of Royal Oak Township and our community partners aim to transform our understanding of our own histories in South Oakland County. Few know the history of Royal Oak Charter Township and how the Township’s original 36 square miles, currently .55 square miles, were siphoned off to create what is now Ferndale, Hazel Park, Royal Oak, Berkley, Madison Heights, and the rest of South Oakland County.  Therefore, the “Truth Toward Reconciliation” project.

Please join The Friends of Royal Oak Township and our partners throughout South Oakland County for an on-going introduction to our project: Truth Toward Reconciliation (TTR): “The Vision, Journey, and Voices of Royal Oak Charter Township,” which includes an oral history project with residents of the ten subject communities in Southern Oakland County, with priority given to documenting the voices of long-time (current and former) residents of historical ROCT.

We will be gathering Saturday, February 20th, at 3pm for a Zoom call to introduce the project and build community engagement through the collective exploration of our past, present, and future.5

Recent events in HW, the recent gathering of the Suburban Coalition, and the Friends of Royal Oak Township Truth Toward Reconciliation campaign move us along this journey. It is a journey of no simple answers utilizing few or no old solutions. Creating change is messy and much more than “lawn signs” and “study groups”. It is about taking risks into the Unknown.


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Boggs Center – Living For Change News – February 4th, 2021

February 4th, 2021

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Thinking for Ourselves

From Greensboro to Detroit
Shea Howell

February 1 is the anniversary of the Greensboro sit-ins. In 1960 four young African American students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, inspired by the actions of Dr. Martin Luther King,  decided to do something about segregation. They decided to go to the white only lunch counter at the local Woolworth and order coffee. This simple act  sparked some of the most courageous and imaginative organizing in defense of human rights in this country.

It is fair to say that the members of the Detroit City Council owe their ability to participate fully in public life to these young men: Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCainEzell Blair Jr., and David Richmond. They owe it to the hundreds of thousands of men and women who joined together to intentionally challenge the unjust laws of this land. These law breakers broke the hold of white supremacy and Jim Crow terror to open new possibilities for African Americans.

It is this legacy that five members of the Detroit City Council defiled. Last week they voted to  provide $200,000 for a spiteful counter lawsuit against Detroit Will Breath. DWB is the main organization challenging police violence. The suit, clearly initiated by Chief Craig in retaliation to allegations of police violence, charges activists with criminal conspiracy. A slim majority voted for City support, after widespread public condemnation of the suit during council session.

The emptiness of this lawsuit should be clear to everyone. In addition to desecrating the long legacy of struggle for justice lead by African Americans, the counter suit ignores well documented police brutality and misconduct against activists. Prior to the Council vote, a federal judge found police actions so outlandish they issued a restraining order against excessive force. The judge found it necessary to actually list the kinds of routine, violent behaviors they needed to limit: rubber bullets, chokeholds, and use of tear gas.

In addition to this acknowledgement of police violence, city prosecutors dismissed 238 of the misdemeanor charges against protestors. More dismissals are expected to follow.

This lawsuit is more than a waste of money or rejection of a proud history. It is dangerous. It flows from the inability of law enforcement to distinguish between public advocacy for change and right-wing terrorism. It reflects the kind of thinking that has been fostered in the Trump era. It endangers all of us.

This week the NYT reported on how the Trump presidency recklessly focused attention on progressive demonstrations and willfully ignored growing far right violence.

The times explained:

— As racial justice protests erupted nationwide last year, President Donald J. Trump, struggling to find a winning campaign theme, hit on a message that he stressed over and over: The real domestic threat to the United States emanated from the radical left, even though law enforcement authorities had long since concluded it came from the far right.

It was a message that was quickly embraced and amplified by his attorney general and his top homeland security officials, who translated it into a shift in criminal justice and national security priorities even as Mr. Trump was beginning to openly stoke the outrage that months later would culminate in the storming of the Capitol by right-wing extremists.

Chief Craig is among those who embraced this dangerous nonsense. He has now been supported by Council Members Roy McCalister, André Spivey, Janeé Ayers, Scott Benson and President Brenda Jones voted for the lawsuit. Council Members James Tate, Raquel Castañeda-López, Gabe Leland and President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield voted against it.

Trump has left the White House, but his legacy lingers in our City Council and Chief of Police. We owe our ancestors more than his.



The recognition is growing: truly addressing the problems of the 21st century requires going beyond small tweaks and modest reforms to business as usual—it requires “changing the system.” But what does this mean? And what would it entail? The New Systems Reader highlights some of the most thoughtful, substantive, and promising answers to these questions, drawing on the work and ideas of some of the world’s key thinkers and activists on systemic change. Amid the failure of traditional politics and policies to address our fundamental challenges, an increasing number of thoughtful proposals and real-world models suggest new possibilities, this book convenes an essential conversation about the future we want. READ.




Were Watching

The threat of fascism has grown before our eyes. Black Marxism helps us to fight it with greater clarity, with a more expansive conception of the task before us, and with ever more questions. READ.

Set in Oakland, a city with a deep history of social justice movements, WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS documents the Radical Monarchs — an alternative to the Scout movement for girls of color, aged 8-13. Its members earn badges for completing units on social justice including being an LGBTQ ally, the environment, and disability justice. WATCH.

Statement on January 6 Coup Attempt

Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability

The Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability (CPTA), comprised of over 17 grassroots organizations in Detroit, was formed in response to the July 10, 2020 execution of Hakim Littleton, a 22-year-old African American male, by Detroit police officers.  In press conferences following the incident, Trump-supporter Police Chief James Craig attempted to cover up the fact that Littleton had been murdered.   CPTA demanded an independent investigation of the murder, and called for an intensification of community efforts to stem police violence in the Detroit metro area.  We in CPTA believe that the January 6, 2021 coup attempt on the US Capitol holds many lessons for us who have been resisting police violence in our communities throughout the United States.

President Trump incited thousands of white supremacist insurrectionists to violently storm the US Capitol Building, seeking to upend the electoral process so that Trump, a delusional autocrat, could remain in power despite his recent certified electoral defeat. They came with the intent to assassinate anti-Trump government officials, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, US Congressman James E. Clyburn, Vice-President Mike Pense, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, as well as other Democrats and Republicans who did not support their insurgency.  Ultimately, they came to install Trump as a dictator and establish  a white supremacist government.

The insurgents’ violent intentions were apparent in their military cell units — kill teams — dispersed and coordinated in the large crowd. They were a well-organized, military-trained militia, identified by their combat uniforms and military-styled “hand-to-shoulder” formations, consistently used by elite military units in preparation for seizing a building.   Five people died as a result of their reckless actions. A dry run for this assault had occurred at the Michigan State Capitol, where investigative evidence has confirmed that a Trump-inspired, terrorist white nationalist coalition had planned to assassinate Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and later targeted Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s Secretary of State. These criminals openly brandished their military-grade automatic weapons inside and outside the Michigan Capitol Building.

During the attack on the US Capitol, complicit US Capitol police were captured on video, proudly taking selfies with insurgents and wearing red pro-Trump hats. We watched as they eagerly removed barricades and stepped aside to allow the violent mob to enter the Capitol Building. They even directed the insurgents through the labyrinth of the Capitol corridors to find their targets. The FBI, the Secret Service, the Capitol police, and other law enforcement agencies warned that such violent acts were imminent, but stood down. The complicity of these government forces has been confirmed by reputable news agencies.

CPTA sees this attack by white supremacist groups and their government collaborators as an escalating threat to the safety of all citizens, not only elected officials.  These insurgents live among us.  They do not believe in racial equality.  They do not respect the rights of people of color.  They resent that people of color have the right to vote and may constitute the majority.  They fear the demise of the world of white dominance that they have known and enjoyed.  Most threatening to all of us, they believe they are justified in using violence to impede change, to ensure the continuation of their privilege and political agendas.

Police and other law enforcement agents were a significant cohort of the insurrection, where assumptions of racial superiority, white privilege, entitlement, and white male authority were on full, barbaric display. Perhaps this ruthless face of white supremacy was new to some.  It was not new to African Americans and other people of color in the United States.  We see it routinely in the police officers who terrorize our communities with impunity.

We call upon all citizens to recognize the deadly intent of policing in our communities by forces similar to those who vandalized the US Capitol. The January 6 assault is a wake up call to those who continue to dream of and advocate for police reform.  Though Detroiters have fought for decades to reform the Detroit Police Department, police in Detroit are still brutalizing citizens, and still murdering African Americans. Since 2008, Detroit has paid out nearly $27 million in tax dollars to settle police violence lawsuits, “much higher than what similarly sized cities have paid out…. But the disparity is even bigger than that [because there were] several large lawsuit settlements that city officials never disclosed” (Ross Jones, 7 Action News WXYZ). The Detroit police chief is still attempting to cover up or justify excessive violence, and the doors to all the agencies responsible for police oversight and redress of grievances are closed to the people.

From its inception, the function of policing in the United States has been to intimidate, contain, restrain, oppress, brutalize and murder Africans and other people of color.  That function has not changed over the centuries.  The underlying objective has been genocide against African Americans, so that from the beginning to this very day, unjust arrests, incarceration and killing of Black men have been police priorities. This historical fact explains why the law enforcement agents at the US Capitol did not brutalize, arrest or kill the insurgents.  White police know that their duty does not include inflicting harm or injury on other whites.  They serve the ruling class as domestic troops in a war against people of color.   Their consistent use of excessive force, riot gear, toxic gas, tanks and other military-style weaponry against Black Lives Matter demonstrators illustrates this fact.

In CPTA we are bringing to light this essential truth about the role of police, so that we can be free of lies such as “the police are our friends, they keep us safe” that continue to confuse so many.  As we understand more clearly the historical function of policing, we can intensify our efforts to end the police violence that devastates our communities, and keeps us in perpetual grief over the loss of our young men and women, our future.  Having freed ourselves from this long-standing, debilitating deceit, we will carry out the work of devising new policies and agencies of community


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Boggs Center – Living For Change News – January 26th, 2021

January 26th, 2021

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The University of Michigan 35th Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium

2021 Keynote Memorial Lecture Featuring:
Gloria House, Poet, Essayist, Professor, Human Rights
Community Activist Malik Yakini, Educator, Farmer, Food Justice Advocate, and Guitarist

Thinking for Ourselves

Coming Storms

Coming Storms
Shea Howell

Since the attack on the Capitol, many people are acknowledging that mob violence is a part of who we are as a people. Recognition of the violence imbedded in American culture is crucial to changing it. It is also essential in understanding that we are facing accelerating conflicts as the right-wing terrorists are morphing from mobs to military forces.

In one of many recent articles exploring our history of terror, Verena Elenbusch-Anderson described the work of Black abolitionists saying they “used the term “terrorism” to describe the political rationality of a polity built on white supremacist principles of white domination and the oppression and exclusion of Black people.”

But there is also a danger in focusing only on the mobs, often cast as spontaneous reactions by whites to emerging Black power. Elenbush-Anderson points out that “the mob was not alone in bearing responsibility for racial terrorism.” She quotes anti-lynching activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett saying, “’the city and county authorities and the daily papers’ were as complicit as local media, which ‘issued bulletins detailing the preparations’ and public transport, which ‘brought people of the surrounding country to witness the event, which was in broad daylight with the authorities aiding and abetting this horror.’ In short, for Wells, terrorism did not describe the odious actions of extremist individuals and groups but was a means of political domination and racial control and served to re-establish white dominance against the political gains of Black Americans.”

Mob violence, aided and abetted by legitimate authorities and sanctioned by the silence of whites who benefited from it, has been a central aspect of nation building.

The mob attacking the Capitol was a time worn part of who we are. But it also reflects a newly energized and coordinated  move to militarized efforts to establish white supremacy and destroy democracy.

While we can all take some comfort in the fact that the inauguration proceeded without violence and that efforts to rally at state capitals were minimal, no one should think this violence is going away.

Rather, we should be looking closely at the changing configuration of white supremacist activities. Most important is the shifting ground from mindless mob to military force.

One of the results of the unfolding investigations into the attack on the Capitol is the presence of military and police personnel in the attack. An NPR analysis of arrests so far found that 1 in 5 people charged have some history in the military. Records indicate that many of these folks were not holding picket signs, but were equipped with sophisticated military gear, carrying flex cuffs, and among those looking to find specific law makers to whom they considered treasonous. The photo of a line of heavily armed and armored men snaking up the steps in a skilled military formation reflected the level of training being brought to bear during the attack.

Along with trained military personnel, we are also finding that many local law enforcement officers participated in the attack. The Washington Post reported “at least 29 current and former officers” attended the rally and 13 are under active investigation.

Since the inauguration, many of us have welcomed the trapping of a return to “normalcy.” But we should not fool ourselves. This is a moment of calm before the the storm.


Legal Observer

The role of Legal Observer is not exclusively reserved for lawyers or law students. Our best Legal Observers are community members that want to support social justice organizers and activist.

If this is you please participate in a Legal Observer Training with the Detroit & MI chapter. We have a full winter calendar available : Feb 9, Feb 23, March 8, March 23, April 6, April 20, and May 11

Please complete this form if you are interested in being trained as a legal observer:


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Boggs Center – Living For Change News- January 20th, 2021

January 20th, 2021

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Thinking for Ourselves

Creative Turmoil
Shea Howell
This year Martin Luther King’s birthday falls the day before the inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris. The Capital  has been turned into a “green zone.” More than 25,000 National Guard troops are securing the grounds. This is 5 times the number of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is nearly triple the number called out after the assassination of King in 1968.  The National Mall that once held King’s tent city of the Poor Peoples Campaign, is closed. Security forces are on high alert as right-wing extremists plot violent attacks, including efforts to storm state capitals and blocking Biden’s entry to the White House.

All of this turmoil is a far cry  from Dr. King’s most enduring vision of our country as a beloved community, rooted in compassion, justice, and peace. But the violence of this moment would come as no surprise to him.

On December 10th of 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In the first paragraph of his acceptance he spoke of the violence raising up against those who struggled for justice. He said:

“I accept this award on behalf of a civil rights movement which is moving with determination and a majestic scorn for risk and danger to establish a reign of freedom and a rule of justice. I am mindful that only yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama, our children, crying out for brotherhood, were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death. I am mindful that only yesterday in Philadelphia, Mississippi, young people seeking to secure the right to vote were brutalized and murdered. And only yesterday more than 40 houses of worship in the State of Mississippi alone were bombed or burned because they offered a sanctuary to those who would not accept segregation. I am mindful that debilitating and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder.”

Four days after King was murdered, Detroit Congressman John Conyers introduced federal legislation to acknowledge Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday.  This effort ignited a national controversy. It was vehemently opposed by right wing republicans. It took nearly 20 years for the holiday to established. Consistently, right wing republicans rejected every effort pass a bill honoring King.  It took until 2000 before all 50 states were willing to acknowledge the day.

Along the way people mounted campaigns for celebrations of King’s life and legacy in local communities. We created boycotts, signed petitions, gathered to share memories, discussed the challenges facing our country, and devise plans to move us closer to loving communities.

At the same time, forces of white supremacy continued organizing against these efforts. Today, two states persist in linking the celebration of King with the honoring of Robert E. Lee and the confederacy. Others evade mentioning King’s name. Those who stormed the Capitol on January 6, drew their ranks from those who have denied this holiday. People have spent decades lying about our history, evading the brutality of racism,  and distorting our understanding of who we have really been.

We should not be surprised by their ability to deny the truth of an election.  They have long practice at denying the truth of our own history.

As we face the escalation of deaths in this pandemic and the escalation of violence from the right wing, we can draw strength from Dr. King’s words. He concluded his acceptance speech discussing his faith in our capacities to change, to transform ourselves, and our country. He said:

“This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.”
_____________________________________________________Make Your Own Comix Workshop

Saturday, February 6 – Saturday, March 6, 2021 

Hosted by Generate Comix, join in the fun for our virtual comic book boot camp! Designed for beginners and students, this workshop is packed with comic book history and how-to’s to produce your own dynamic comics.

This workshop will take place over five Zoom sessions, 90 minutes each. Registration is only $1! Stay tuned for the link to sign up.



Jesse Wente wants to broaden the way we think about reconciliation by framing stories about Indigenous people in joy. LISTEN

What We’re Reading


Andrew Solomon, Author of Far from the Tree said: Vivid and unforgettable…It is the story of how someone who is fundamentally different made not a life that transcends that difference, but aa life that ionizes it.  This book expands our notion of what constitutes the human experience, and it does so with generosity and open heartedness.

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Detroit Historical society * Grace Lee Boggs

This epsiode of Detroit History Heroes is all about Grace Lee Boggs – a feminsit, author, activist and, of course, a Detroiter.
Learn more about how her life dedicated to activism evolved – from protesting rat infested housing in Chicago, to helping organize Detroit’s 1963 March for Freedom with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and helping create community-based projects in Detroit.
Most importantly, learn how her life can give us an important lesson – how change can start in a small, but meaninful way. Watch now!