Letter of Hope Movement Elders to Young Activists

Letter of Hope
Learnings from Lived Experiences
From Movement Elders to Young Activists

The National Council of Elders was organized in 2011 to bring together leaders of the 20th Century movements for peace, freedom, and justice to strengthen our collective engagement and to share our experiences with young activists in the 21st century. We share with them now a sense of urgency caused by the escalation of all forms of violence in our country and the rise of anti-democratic forces. Our intent is to deepen the dialogue necessary to move away from a culture of violence toward a culture of peace and justice. As the current movements for justice grow, younger activists have asked us to share some of our experiences of state supported violence against our movements.



Letter of Hope
Learnings from Lived Experiences
From Movement Elders to Young Activists

The National Council of Elders was organized in 2011 to bring together leaders of the 20th Century movements for peace, freedom, and justice to strengthen our collective engagement and to share our experiences with young activists in the 21st century. We share with them now a sense of urgency caused by the escalation of all forms of violence in our country and the rise of anti-democratic forces. Our intent is to deepen the dialogue necessary to move away from a culture of violence toward a culture of peace and justice. As the current movements for justice grow, younger activists have asked us to share some of our experiences of state supported violence against our movements.

We know the U.S. began with violence against Indigenous and African peoples. Through the centuries, the triple evils of racism, materialism, and militarism have marked our country. At the same time, people have resisted these forces, organizing for freedom and justice. At every stage in our history, progressive movements have been met with legalized violence, carried out by federal, state, and local authorities as they attempt to protect power and privilege by destroying individuals and organizations who challenge them. This state directed violence against progressive efforts encourages and supports extra-legal actions by right wing extremist individuals and organizations.

Given this history, the months between November and January may be among the most dangerous in U.S. history. We come to this conclusion out of bitter, painful experience. We are a generation that came to consciousness with the image of Emmett Till’s battered and broken body seared into our minds and hearts. Violence like this, necessary for white supremacy to maintain itself, shaped our daily lives. We have witnessed assassinations, imprisonment, and brutality, often sanctioned by legal authorities in the name of law and order. We have come to understand the commitment and resilience of our movements, determined to endure and grow, in spite of this violence.

The murder of Medgar Evers touched all of us in 1963. As the field secretary for the Mississippi NAACP, engaged in organizing for voter rights and desegregation, Evers was under surveillance by both the FBI and Jackson police. On a June evening, he was gunned down in his driveway in front of his wife and children. The man charged with his murder was a member of the White Citizens Council. The FBI and local police were complicit. They had mysteriously disappeared the night of the killing. The killer was acquitted, twice, by all white juries.

In November of 1979 in Greensboro North Carolina five members of the Communist Workers Party were gunned down as they gathered in a neighborhood to begin a march to protest the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party. The FBI and local police were complicit in these killings. Again, the killers, members of these white supremist groups, were acquitted, twice.

In the 15 years between the death of Medgar Evers and the Greensboro Massacre, we witnessed a series of assassinations of civil rights workers by white terrorists, frequently acting with the knowledge of local and federal law enforcement. Some are names well known, like, Martin Luther King Jr., shot in front of more than 150 police officers. Most were people working locally, doing the most ordinary tasks of daily movement organizing. In 1989 the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama commemorated 40 people killed during the course the movement, beginning in 1955, with the murder of Rev. George Lee, who led voter registration drives in Mississippi. It ends with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in April 1968.

Over the course of decades, our movements gained power and expanded, raising profound questions about peace, justice, gender, and our responsibilities to the earth. As our movements challenged the US government and resisted the war in Vietnam, federal and state violence against organizers accelerated. The most notorious effort was the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) of the FBI and CIA. This program surveilled, disrupted, persecuted, and killed. The government imprisoned activists, spread lies, and drove people out of the country. COINTELPRO especially targeted the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam, the Republic of New Afrika, the American Indian Movement, the Brown Berets, Students for Democratic Society, the Weather Underground, Chicanos, Puerto Rican independence organizations, feminists, queers, and environmentalists. Their victims included Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, Zayd Shakur, Geronimo Pratt, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, Leonard Peltier, and Assata Shakur.

This program was a “secret,” until the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into an office in Media, Pennsylvania in 1971 and found documents exposing it. The program was supposed to have ended in 1976, but state violence is ongoing. Public officials encourage and sanction right wing individuals to intimidate and kill people they consider threats to their power. Even if violence at the federal level is curtailed, local and state authorities are willing to use any means necessary to protect power and property.

This is normal in the culture of violence that shapes America. Long before Donald Trump encouraged Proud Boys, or talked of good people on all sides, maintaining injustice required force.

As in the past, we imagine individuals are now paid to spread lies, inform on activities, sow disruption and dissent, and manufacture disinformation. But these efforts have taken on an insidious character as the technologies of surveillance and weapons of control have become much more sophisticated. Informants no longer need to draw crude diagrams to show the FBI where we sleep. Heat seeking devices are far more accurate.

Some things we learned may be of use to today’s activists.

The transformative potential of young people expressing a new sense of agency and confidence in their capacities to change this world threatens those defending white supremacy. The extraordinary leadership of people of color, especially Black women, joining openly with queer and trans people nationally and internationally, gives the current movement strategic force and moral weight. Under this leadership, large numbers of people of European descent have stepped forward to challenge racism and inequality. The more possibilities of real systemic changes are evident, the more we should expect increased repression.

As young activists, we saw organizations fall apart, personal animosities intensify and distrust spread because of government actions. Grief, trauma, and anger impacted us. But, like generations before us, we found strength and support in our communities. We learned to see ourselves as part of a long struggle that began before us, and will continue after.

Still, many of us are deeply scarred, carrying with us the loss of those we loved, the knowledge of betrayals, often by our most intimate friends. We carry the sorrows of lives confined and destroyed. Yet we hold on to the importance of kindness, care, and forgiveness, knowing these are essential for our survival. We embrace the spirit of care emerging in today’s movements as people consciously address the heart needs of organizing together and weaving community.

We also have learned that no matter how painful, acts of state violence should be exposed. Public accounting moves us as a society closer to safety and security. Over the years we organized viewings of killing grounds, developed commissions, held tribunals, collected public testimonies and countered official accounts. In Greensboro, we launched the first Truth and Reconciliation process in the US. Last month, after more than four decades, we secured the first public apology from those who officially knew of the massacre and did nothing to stop it. We have seen that out of confronting violence and pain we can come to understand the need for respect and compassion among us.

We are still learning the intentionality required to create a culture of peace. We understand the importance of embracing the philosophy of non- violence as the heart of a new culture. We learned that often a person who advocated violence toward those we opposed was an agent, or someone damaged by trauma. Such calls to violate other people would only serve to make us vulnerable, isolated, and self-destructive.

Out of our commitment to non-violence we were able to understand the distinction between violence and self-defense, between acting out of hate, or out of love for one another and our communities. We know our commitment to create a culture of peace saved lives. Creating beloved communities means putting love in the center of our organizing, holding out the possibility for all of us to transform toward our best selves.

Finally, we learned our basis for trust in each other was our commitment to agreed- upon missions and objectives.

We have seen some of the worst that America represents. But we also dream and continue to work for new worlds, joining with a new generation of leaders accepting global responsibility and taking us far beyond what we could have imagined. We walk with all those who believe we can yet become a place of peace, valuing life, justice, joy, and love. 

National Council of Elders

Members: Ms. Rachele Agoyo, Ms. Dorothy Aldridge, Rev. Dorsey Blake, Mr. Louis Brandon, Ms. Candie Carawan, Ms. Mandy Carter, Dr. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Rev. John Fife, Ms. Aljosie Aldrich Harding, Dr. Gloria Aneb House, Dr.Shea Howell, Dr. Dolores Huerta, Mr. Phil Hutchings, Ms. Joyce Hobson Johnson, Rev. Nelson Johnson, Mr. Frank Joyce, Rev. James Lawson, Rev. Phil Lawson, Dr. Catherine Meeks, Mr. Gus Newport, Ms. Suzanne Pharr, Ms. Lyn Pyle, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Ms. Frances Reid, Ms. Kathy Sanchez, Mr. Charles Sherrod, Ms. Shirley Sherrod, Dr. G. Zoharah Simmons, Friar Louis Vitale, OFM, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Mr. Hollis Watkins, Mr. Junius Williams, Mr. Bob Wing, Rev. Janet Wolf.

Deceased Founding Members: Dr. Grace Lee Boggs, Dr. Dorothy Cotton, Dr. Vincent Harding, Father Paul Mayer, Mr. Ron Scott.

Facebook contact: National Council of Elders@ncoe20century 



Try Email Marketing with VerticalResponse!

Boggs Center – Living For Change News – December 8th, 2020

“Loving your people and loving questions are, I believe, the two most important qualities that an individual needs today to help create the new kind of politics we need to bring about fundamental social change in our country. Even if the people of our respective communities or of our country are acting in ways that we believe are unworthy of human beings, we must still care enough for them so that their lives and ours, their questions and ours, become inseparable. At the same time we must love the questions themselves, first, because every time we act on our convictions, we create new contradictions or new questions; and secondly, because we have no models for revolutionary social change in a country as technologically advanced and politically backwards as ours.”

Grace Lee Boggs, “I Must Love the Questions Themselves” 1985


December 8th, 2020

revolution image final




Thinking for Ourselves
Limited Federalism
Shea Howell

The pandemic has enabled people to see the extraordinary inequalities and dysfunctions built into what we call the “normal” way of doing things.  We are recognizing that the federal system of government is filled with limitations. It is a system that is increasingly moving toward authoritarian methods of governing, while benefiting a smaller minority of corporations. Since 1980, this shift has been carried out by policies loosely termed “austerity.” In the name of fiscal responsibility, the Federal government has been systematically withdrawing support for the most basic services and responsibilities of collective care. It has been allowing states to determine their own responses to shared problems.

The effects of this policy shift toward austerity are felt every day as governments fail to provide basic elements essential to life.  Here in Michigan, we drive on roads that destroy cars and busses, cross bridges of questionable strength, use jails for mental health crises,  and have lost a city to a predictable damn collapse. Our public education is among the worst in the country, our healthcare reflecting deep racial and class divisions. Virtually all of our majority Black cities have been forced into bankruptcy, enabling corporate interests to amass wealth at the expense of public goods.

This week, as the federal government is getting closer to approving a stimulus package in response to the strains the virus has put on all of us, the limitations of federalism are clear. While congress seems to be responding to pressure to provide relief for people,  the  proposed $908 billion compromise is a drop in the bucket. Almost all economists agree that the proposal is inadequate. It will provide short term relief for an intensifying structural crisis. The right wing republican insistence on limiting aid to state and local governments will have long term destructive effects.

The essence of this crisis began long before the pandemic. It will continue to define much of the political terrain over the next few years. At the core of the controversy is a fundamental question: in whose interests do we constitute government? Can we create a living democracy that makes choices to care for people and the earth? Or will we establish an authoritarian state, serving the interests of an ever-smaller group of a white, wealthy elite, endangering the planet and future generations?

Much of this crisis has been masked, as state and local governments have worked to meet urgent challenges of providing for basic needs. But the demands on states to balance their annual budgets has meant that, collectively, we are allowing our infrastructure to crumble, our people to have less access to education, support in hard times, and to the things that strengthen community growth.

The ability and willingness of state and local governments to fill in these gaps is uneven at best. As this crisis has clearly shown, state and local leadership made a tremendous difference in the quality of the response to the virus. Some us have been protected by governors, mayors and township leaders who have closed economic activity and encouraged public health measures like social distancing and mask wearing.  Others of us have been living in places where the virus is not even considered “real” even as hospital beds are filled to capacity.

Right wing republic forces and their corporate sponsors have recognized this pandemic is an opportunity to advance control over state and local governments whose thrust has been to encourage social responsibility and democratic practices.

We, in Michigan know just how far these forces are willing to go to advance corporate interests. They will set aside elected governments in the name of financial responsibility,  close city halls, sell off public assets, close schools, privatize essential services, gut public spending, and create a police force equipped to control all those who object. This is what the drive to state bankruptcy brings.

To create a different future, we need bold thinking about programs and policies that begin with the recognition of our human responsibility to care for each other and the earth that sustains us.


What Might Sustain the Activism of This Moment? Dismantling White Supremacy, One Monument at a Time



“As most of you know, Rojava is the autonomous section of Northern Syria that has, since 2012, been run by a revolutionary bottom-up feminist “self-administration” that is developing a new model for organized social change. When Turkey invaded Afrin, its northernmost part, in 2018, a handful of us here formed the Emergency Committee for Rojava, to support the people there and draw US attention to their struggle. We have put together this very short film for our annual fundraiser.”


Over this year the demands on The Boggs Center have expanded to the point where we have made a commitment to engage an executive director and support staff, especially around social media. We invite you to make a financial contribution to the Boggs Center. This is a responsibility that requires us to create a clear financial plan and we urge you to become a Monthly or Yearly Sustainer. Our goal is raise $50,000 in 2020-2021 through this fund.

To contribute, click the “donate” button at the top of our homepage or send a check to

Boggs Center
3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan

Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – November 26th, 2020

November 26th, 2020

revolution image final

Black people did not vote to save American democracy. They voted to save their lives and the lives of their children.” – Junebug Jabbo Jones, Nov. 4, 2020

Veteran SNCC Activists Praise Today’s Young Social Justice Leaders on Participation in 2020 Presidential Election.  KEEP READING

Thinking for Ourselves

Police Violence
Shea Howell

The Detroit Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability  (CPTA) held a public hearing on police brutality November 21, 2020. For more than 3 hours people recounted the history of violence embedded in the Detroit Police Department. In story after story, spanning more than 50 years, we heard details of unprovoked, life shattering  encounters with physical and psychological assaults suffered at the hands of police.

People spoke of doing the most ordinary things in their lives. Mailing an application for a scholarship, dropping off a child’s car seat,  or going on a first date. These quiet moments were interrupted by vicious police assaults, changing lives forever. As one witness commented, it seemed “ just being black” justified police violence.

The hearings also provided a forum for people who had experienced police violence while exercising their right to be critical of public policies and police conduct. Individuals outlined in quiet, graphic detail, abuses they had endured, including being beaten, kicked, handcuffed, denied medication, intentionally placed in filthy, unsafe conditions, ridiculed, chocked, and threatened with death.

People living without documents shared the daily terror and fear of police, keeping many in their homes, afraid to take children to school, go to work, get groceries, or go to church.

This was the third public event sponsored by the CPTA since July.

The Coalition was formed in the wake of police killing of Hakim Littleton. Mr. Littleton was killed during a chance encounter in his neighborhood. This shooting provoked immediate response by the community and marked one of the most violent responses by police to public protests.

Chief Craig released a video within hours of the killing, claiming it vindicated the officers, as Mr. Littleton appears to pull a gun and shoot at police.

Chief Craig is so immersed in the use of force and the perspective of police, he did not see what many of community people  saw clearly on the video.

We see a frightened young man walking down the street, seeing his friend being arrested. The young man is approached by police and he pulls a gun , shoots and appears to try and run away. Mr. Littleton is tackled, possibly shot, and ends up flat on the ground, the gun kicked away. He is clearly subdued. More shots are fired by police. Then an officer runs up and points a gun directly at the back of Mr. Littlteton’s head, firing the shot that killed him.

The Coalition took the tape played by Chief Craig and simply slowed it down to reveal the questions that emerge from the death. It held a press conference, released the video with a community perspective, and called for an independent investigation. In a statement accompanying the video, Coalition members said:

“Although Chief James Craig immediately characterized the killing as an appropriate use of force, members of the community are left with many questions, not the least of which is whether the death could have been avoided altogether if officers had used the law enforcement profession’s best practices and employed de-escalation techniques,”

The CPTA continues to call for an independent investigation of this case, as well as the series of shooting deaths that followed within two weeks of the killing of Hakim Littleton.

The second effort to expose the violence of the Detroit Police was a People’s Tribunal that highlighted the many questions raised by this killing. You can watch the tribunal here, as well as find supporting material about the case.

Four elected officials attended the Hearing as listeners: Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, State Senator Stephanie Chang, and Detroit City Council members, Mary Sheffield and Raquel Castaneda-Lopez.

Currently, the Detroit Police Department has accelerated aggressive behavior, including pursuing a lawsuit against protestors, and attempting to ramp up technologies of surveillance in our city. Police are asking for millions of dollars for listening devices and cameras to be deployed in neighborhoods.

What should be clear to anyone who listens to these public hearings is that since their beginning, police have been used to repress, control, intimidate and kill those who challenge power and privilege.  Especially Black people. Police do not make us safe. Safety comes as we care for one another, often in the face of violent authorities.

violent authorities. 

listen works
post election



Charles Ezra Ferrell
Kariuki wa Ngugi © 2020

Welcome to all those who love freedom.
Welcome to all those who love justice.
Welcome to all those who seek to forge a world where artificial boundaries disappear and the unity and diversity of humanity is celebrated.
Welcome to all those who seek to keep Darnell Stephen Summers free.

My name is Charles Ezra Ferrell and I am the former vice-president of Public Programs and Community Engagement at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

In 2019, I received the first inaugural Humanitarian Champion of the Year award from Michigan Humanities and the Certificate of Senatorial Recognition from US Congressman Gary Peters, and this year I received the Culture Bearer Award for the Societe of the Culturally Concerned, The Detroit Black Legacy Coalition Award, the Spirit of Detroit Award from the Detroit City Council, and special recognition regarding my work has been entered into the Congressional Record on September 4th by freedom fighter US Congresswoman Rashidi Tlaib.

Now, I serve as vice-president of development and global programs at Keiga Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization, which has offices in Roseville, MI, Kampala Uganda, and a partner organization in Kassel Germany. Keiga Foundation is a partner with the Coalition for Police Transparency and Accountability. We will present a virtual program entitled, The Execution of Hakim Littleton: A Conversation about Police Violence against African Americans on November 19th at 7 PM. This virtual program – https://www.keiga.foundation/hakim-littleton – will include the soundtrack music of  Darnell Stephen Summers: Cool Jazz Flavor Live! during the program opening and closing credits.

Darnell is the brother of the legendary percussionist, Bill Summers, who worked with Herbie Hancock, most notably on the groundbreaking cut, Head Hunter.

Keiga Foundation had begun discussing developing a program series focused on eradicating global homelessness and centered on the creative work of Darnell Stephen Summers. Darnell is as an internationally recognized film documentarian, musician, social justice and human rights advocate and activist. He has captured absolutely stunning footage of images and interviews of the homeless in Berlin and Detroit.

I was shocked to learn that our dear brother, Darnell Stephen Summers, had been harassed by search warrants to extract his DNA, snatch his mobile phone, and threaten him with innuendo. But then, in this political heightened anti-democratic climate, where autocrats with blond hair and orange pigment or wearing red baseball caps or blue uniforms, anything can happen. This is why we are calling on all lovers of freedom and justice to lock arms with Darnell Stephen Summers.

I offer this following poem:

(say “hashtag keep darnell free!”)


The past is present.
The repetition of brutal acts of political persecution

Date sampling:


New hands of oppression
Guided by the same criminal impulse to incarcerate
Freedom of expression and lovers of freedom

Attempts to silence mass voices
The Conscious Creatives
through manufacturing
and planting
false evidence, fertilized with viciousness
and a total disdain for the truth


We Know

They are paid mercenaries
More frontal
in this climate of naked hate

Agent Orange
Chemical and Non-chemical Warfare
Berlin to Detroit
Louisiana to Detroit
Iran to Detroit
Iraq to Detroit
Palestine to Detroit
Guyana to Detroit
All Roads from Inkster to Detroit

The Malcolm X Cultural Center in 1968
A street of Dreams on Harrison
Filming harsh realities

Exposing the shard glass edge
of contradictions
And broken mirror realities

A Land of Great Affluence and Mass Homelessness
Jails packed with 2 Million People of Color – Mostly Black Young Men
Massive Foreclosures and Homelessness
Surrounded by Fresh Great Lakes in a city where 140,000 homes have water-shutoffs

Who is the real criminal?

Ghost Witnesses Evaporate
Into Thin Air
The moment their mouths were pried opened
And stuffed
with fabric-

Lynch ropes
Lying dead in the open streets for hours
In a pool of blood
Shot seven times close range
RV chased and crashed black youth death

Blue cars with Red round lights
Mostly white
Patrolling black streets

Search warrants
Signed in red blood
Seize Mobile Devices
Insert Swab in mouth to extract DNA cells

They are scheming untruths to silence


We will breathe
We will speak
We are a fearless, analytic, independent, resilient human beings

The pit you dig for us
You will fall in

Truth and Justice and Our Victory will prevail
8:46 seconds in May exploded global thunder
The people hit the streets to say NO
This has got to stop – NOW!

White knee on black neck
The pressure of racism
Causes rebellions

Can serial killers
bent on violence against humanity
really reform themselves?

They teach war,
they practice it, they worship it at their alters
violence overflows everywhere in this culture
Truth denial

In Media
Pennsylvania, 1971
Vietnam draft dodgers broke into a FBI building
To destroy their records
But found COINTELPRO documents
Confirming a deadly federal conspiracy
To kill blacks
The Uncontrollable Ones
The Ones who can Influence Others
The Orators


Darnell Stephen Summers
Keep Darnell Free
Darnell is you
Darnell is me

This is a 52-year old protracted war
Who’s winning?
Who will win??

Tactics of oppression will not cause us to break rank
We will stand together, fiercely, and rise up to new heights
To leap forward into the new freer tomorrows.
The people are standing together
Calling out with one global voice

Under your blue constant green light eye of injustice
Collecting data
Tainted by racism and class bias

Let’s interlock our arms around this body
Who they seek to snatch from us as a political prisoner

We remember the false persecutions
Ahmad Rahman
Imam Jamil Al-Amin
Ngugi wa Thiong’o
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Assata Shukur


We must place the Devil on the Cross

Say No!
No! to racist and self-hating police
No! to tyranny
No! to false persecutions
No! to crucifixions
No! to lynching
No! to medieval metal cuffs
and No! to medieval small rooms with metal bars or locked metal doors

No! bully
No! we are not scared of you

Your lies dissolve in our truth

You have nothing real
Because Darnell’s heart is pure
There is no record, no branded internal memories that require evaporation or erasure
His innocence allows for our deep belly laughter

You must live in your world of false illusions

This is not 1619, 1955, 1965, 1968, 1992, 2012

This is 2020, the year of SANKOFA


Victory is ours.
Fighting is winning.




PASC-program-flyer 1
PASC-program-flyer 2

Over this year the demands on The Boggs Center have expanded to the point where we have made a commitment to engage an executive director and support staff, especially around social media. We invite you to make a financial contribution to the Boggs Center. This is a responsibility that requires us to create a clear financial plan and we urge you to become a Monthly or Yearly Sustainer. Our goal is raise $50,000 in 2020-2021 through this fund.

To contribute, click the “donate” button at the top of our homepage or send a check to

Boggs Center
3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan


Try Email Marketing with VerticalResponse!

Black Bottom Archives – Memories and Experiences


Black Bottom
Digital Archive
Welcome to the Black Bottom Digital Archive, where the memories and experiences of those from the long-gone Black Bottom neighborhood are preserved for future generations. Here you will find oral history interviews, historical documents and media from the neighborhood, and entries about historical sites and figures and events.

Black Bottom Digital Archive Team

BBA Present and Former Staff

  • PG Watkins, Director & Co-Founder
  • Kamau Baaqi, Communications Associate
  • Tulani Pryor, Digital Archives Assistant
  • Lawrielle West, Community Engagement Coordinator

Black Bottom Digital Archive Interns & Contractors

  • Abdeena Barrie, Intern
  • Nic Ciccone, Intern
  • Conor Mendenhall, Web Developer

BBA Advisory Board

  • Emily Kutil, Black Bottom Street View creator
  • Angela Abiodun
  • Ever Bussey
  • Steven Farrar

Boggs Center – Living For Change Newsletter – October 13th, 2020

October 13th, 2020

revolution image final


Thinking for Ourselves

No Equivalent
Shea Howell

Last week 13 people were arrested in a plot to kidnap and kill Governor Gretchen Whitmer. They also planned to blow up bridges and kill specific law enforcement people. They intended to storm the State Capital and to incite a civil war.

Governor Whitmer, who has known for some time of this particular plot, responded with clarity and courage, saying of the conspirators, “They’re not militias. They are domestic terrorists endangering and intimidating their fellow Americans. Words matter.” In a strongly worded editorial in the Washington Post Governor Whitmer explained:

When our leaders encourage domestic terrorists, they legitimize their actions. When they stoke and contribute to hate speech, they are complicit. And when a sitting president stands on a national stage refusing to condemn white supremacists and hate groups, as President Trump did when he told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during the first presidential debate, he is complicit. Hate groups heard the president’s words not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry. As a call to action.”

The Governor’s clarity is critical for us to understand the dangerous, polarized moment we are all now facing.

Many in the media obscure this danger by refusing to name right- wing forces for what they are, criminal gangs, bent on killing. Paul Egan, for example, writing in the Free Press created a false distinction between groups that provide armed “security” at public events and what the Governor and most experts on right wing terrorists call “hate groups.”

Eagan argues that “the truth is somewhere in between” and private military groups “should not be all lumped together and must be judged and labeled based on their actions and intentions.”

The truth is that the actions and intentions of right-wing forces are now, and have historically been, the use of violence to protect property and white supremacy. The definition of right-wing movement is the effort to push society toward establishing order, which requires the use of violence.

This is in sharp contrast to left wing movements, which center people above property. Now and historically, left wing movements have aimed for justice and been rooted in calls for peace.

While both the right and the left have occasionally taken up arms, the essence of the right wing is violence. That is why they typically embrace such issues as: military intervention into other countries, the use of nuclear weapons, the expansion of police powers, and limitations on government efforts to control corporate power. They oppose any effort to advance human rights, save that of the fetus. Even in the name of “pro-life,” they have justified the killing of doctors who perform abortions and the deaths of women who risk their own lives by giving birth. They insist women violated by rape be required to give birth. In recent history in Michigan, they have blown up school busses to protect white supremacy. These are the actions and intentions of right-wing forces.

Just this summer we have seen a proliferation of armed, right wing groups confronting people gathering in defense of Black lives. Recent research documents almost 600 such instances noting, “The number of serious incidents of outright violence, shootings, vehicular assaults or menacing with a pointed gun is on the up.”

Even more concerning is that “at least 40% of the almost 600 recorded total, were uncoordinated, with no known involvement of the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Proud Boys, or any other established group.” This means there have been at least 240 instances where armed white men have been enacting gun fantasies on our streets, claiming to protect property and willing to kill people.

This activity is clearly illegal. It is also immoral. There is no equivalent between the violence of the right and the aspirations of the left. Those like Egan, who claim the truth is somewhere in between, are enabling the most viscous aspect of our country to feel justified in what they do.

Instead of writing sympathetically about the anxiety of white men in turbulent times, we need to be clear about the consequences of their actions. Only by facing this reality, will people be able to determine what choices move us closer to creating peaceful, loving communities.


Chief Craig Must Go flyer PDF 1

Nearly 41 years after Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazis shot dead five antiracist activists in the town of Greensboro, North Carolina, the City Council there has passed a resolution apologizing for the attack and the police department’s complicity in the killings. We speak with two survivors of the 1979 attack, Reverend Nelson Johnson and Joyce Hobson Johnson, who say the city’s apology acknowledges “the police knew and chose to do nothing. In fact, they facilitated what we name now as a North American death squad.”


Try Email Marketing with VerticalResponse!