Boggs Center – News Letter Living For Change – April 14th, 2021

April 14th, 2021

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Thinking for Ourselves

More Questions
Shea Howell

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has refused to press charges in the shooting death of Hakim Littleton. In an unusual, lengthily press conference to justify her decision, Worthy presented a powerpoint, referring to testimony from witnesses  and video clips  from body cameras to support her conclusion that the officers “acted in lawful self-defense.” Acknowledging that the case is controversial, Worthy said “we cannot let that deter us from making the right decisions in cases where some people would like to see charges.”

Both Prosecutor Worthy and Chief Craig ,in a separate press conference stressed the decision was based on “facts.” Both blamed the controversy on social media spreading misinformation. Thanking Worth for her decision, Chief Craig said he hoped the “misinformation will stop” and the “false narratives” will cease.

Two key points in this “false narrative” were highlighted. First, that that Police shot an unarmed black man 15 times, and second, that they continued to shoot him even after kicking the gun out of his hand. Both have proven untrue, according to the Chief.

Not exactly.

The decision to back away from an open, public inquiry or an impartial investigation leaves far too many questions unanswered.  Worthy claimed that her career has reflected a willingness to prosecute police misconduct. She seems to be hoping that this will make people accept a very questionable decision.

The thrust of Worthy’s presentation seemed to be to establish that Hakim Littleton pulled a gun and shot at police officers. No one calling for an independent investigation disputes this fact. Yes, Hakim Littleton pulled a gun and fired it.

The question, however, is once he turned to run away, once police had shot him in the thigh three times, once an officer was sitting on top of him, once he was pinned to the ground on his stomach, once several officers with guns were converging on him, was a single  close range shot to his head justified?

In this set of questions, Chief Craig and Kym Worthy offer differing accounts. Worthy says plainly that “the video footage and statements from four civilian witnesses showed Littleton fired five shots at police before an officer kicked his gun away from him — in contrast to claims from protesters that the 20-year-old was unarmed when he was shot.”
The idea that Mr. Little was unarmed when he was shot did not come from protestors. It came from Chief Craig. In in his press conference held on the day of Mr. Littleton’s death attempting to quell outrage, Chief Craig introduced the moment when the gun is kicked away. As Craig showed the video footage for the last time to reporters, his only comment is to note that gun is kicked way.  He explains that as Littleton is shot, he begins to fall. As he is falling, he shoots two more times, away from the police, and is then tackled by an officer. There are a total of 4 shots, he says, not five as Worthy identifies.

Craig explains that the footwork we see as the officer advances on top of Mr. Littleton is the” kicking away” of  the gun from the left side of his body. Worthy claims the gun was kicked away from the right side of his body, which would have meant he was completed twisted under the officer, as the gun was in his left hand.

Worthy’s account is contradicted by the Chief’s early portrayal of the case. Further, in the original video release by the Chief, we see one officer rush around a prone and immobile Mr. Littleton. The officer moves  quickly to his head, extends his arm and shoots . At least three other officers, with guns out, did not feel threatened enough to shoot as they converged from closer range on the victim. The officer who tackled Mr. Littleton and sat on top of him never pulled out his gun.

So, we are left with the question, why was Hakim Littleton killed? Why did one officer race up to his head, take aim and shoot? What is the history of this officer? Why was Mr. Littleton not arrested, taken to a hospital for treatment and charged? Why did Hakim Littleton die that day?

The people of Detroit and the family and Friends of Hakim Littleton deserve more than slide shows. We have lost a young man who walked out of house one summer morning, never to return. None of us are safe until every death, especially those at the hands of police are fully and openly and independently investigated.

 


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Enough is Enough
Rich Feldman

On a recent weekend in suburban Detroit, The voices of Asian Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders were joined by other suburban folks to say “enough is enough” to racism, racial capitalism, anti-hate, and violence against Asian-Americans and to also uplift the continued struggle and challenge to state loudly that Black Lives. The murders of the Asian Women in Atlanta have again challenged all of America to look in the mirror.

On Saturday, there was a vigil in Huntington Woods, MI.  The gathering was multi-generational and had the privilege of uplifting the voices of Laura Misumi who is  fourth generation Japanese American and the current executive director of Rising Voices of Asian American Families.  Laura provided significant historical framing and the importance of speaking out, learning history, and creating community with each other.  Being silent must end.

Laura was followed by Brandon Mar who is a senior at Berkley High School.

His speech is below. The pictures were also taken by Brandon.  Brandon is a member of the recently formed Huntington Woods for Black Lives Matter. We also read from the proclamation passed by the Huntington Woods City Commission.

First, I want to say thank you to all of you for coming out to show your support against racist violence and being a part of breaking the silence in this community.

I wanted to share a little bit about how the recent attacks on the Asian American community have impacted me and my family. The other day, my mom Alice and I went to the Asian market in Madison heights.

As I watched fellow shoppers, all I could think about were the countless number of our elders who have been attacked doing the same simple routine: picking up groceries to feed themselves and their families.

While seeing these headlines I cannot help but also think about my own grandparents. It pains me to understand that they and the rest of my community are vulnerable to racially motivated attacks when stepping foot outside of their homes, to go about their lives. This feeling has left many in the Asian American community, myself included, in a state of constant worry and caught up in a string of text messages and phone calls checking in to make sure our loved ones are safe.

The murders in Atlanta and the anti-Asian violence across the country are no coincidence. The recent rise in acts of physical and verbal violence against my community has been fueled by white supremacy and systemic racism. While these acts are shocking and disturbing, they are nothing new.

Asian Americans were labeled as the “yellow peril” throughout the first half of the 20th century by the west. The phrase “Chinese virus” is merely a modern iteration of anti-Asian sentiment in this country.

When we are not under physical attack or being made the object of widespread fear, America frames Asians as the “model minority,” a superficially flattering phrase that masks a divisive and deeply problematic function. The “model minority” trope is weaponized to push anti-blackness and act as a wedge further dividing black, indigenous, and people of color: communities that should be supporting each other. This is done by creating the false narrative that if Asian Americans can overcome oppression and hardship so should other minority groups without regard to the true factors that continue the oppressive systems instilled in this country.

For decades, stereotypes have painted Asian American women as submissive and hypersexualized to the point where they have been robbed of their humanity. The murderer in Atlanta saw those women as just that: sex objects that he could destroy, instead of human beings. Instead of someone mother, sister, or child.

In response to the violence in Atlanta, there have been calls for further police militarization, but this action will never end racist violence. As for many situations, police only react once attacks have taken place. Additional police spending will never heal our communities. Rather I would like to see a greater investment in anti-racism initiatives that reach the root of this violence. Anti-racism initiatives that must be implemented by the city of Huntington woods which deserve more than the mere 2000 dollars proposed by our city commission.

However, ending racist violence does not just require additional policy protections for our grandparents, brothers, sisters, partners, and children.

Creating change cannot solely be left to faces behind closed doors or our government officials on the local, state, and federal levels. Change must also start within ourselves. It requires a cultural inflection to unlearn socialized and normalized, racism that we may not realize we uphold. Things that play out right here in Huntington Woods. It requires us to speak up and act out against injustice, even if said injustice is perpetuated by our friends and family.

It requires us to strengthen our communities. We must build connections with and listen to the voices of our neighbors of all races, gender identities, and sexual orientations, religious affiliations, abilities, and ages.

It requires intersectionality of our movements because liberation cannot be achieved by checking off boxes; it must account for the many different identities we are comprised of.

Most importantly it requires humanity.

It is in building these connections that will allow us to more frequently recognize biases where they appear, and to challenge them.
Hopefully, through this increased understanding of our shared humanity, we will build a world in which no one needs to feel unsafe when simply buying groceries for their family.

Ultimately, this change starts everywhere from the dinner table, walking in the park, or waiting in line at the store. We must be the ones to notice our own biases, speak out against injustice, and make a change.
On Sunday, there was also a rally and march in Troy, Michigan.

“We are asking individuals to join us, to raise our voices and speak out,” said organizers in a statement by two local Asian American groups: Whenever We’re Needed Detroit  and Asian Pacific & Islander American Vote – Michigan.
The Sunday rally and march of 40-50 people took place outside Troy City Hall. Troy is Oakland County’s largest city and 26% Asian American, according to the 2019 census.

As we continue to organize, listen, educate and uplift suburban voices, I cannot ask the question enough?
What will people who display Black Lives Matter signs and ant-hate messages on their lawns do beyond “cheer” for change?
What will people do who are studying the history of racism, learning about their/our own internalized “whiteness” do beyond study and discuss?

Both are valuable for public discussion and education.  My question is “what next?”  How will Oakland County change?  What does a revolution in values look like?   Is there a relationship between racism, materialism, and militarism?  Is there a relationship to the whiteness of our suburbs, the “love of Somerset Mall to the consumerism and destruction of our planet?
On Saturday, the banners read:

Suburban Silence is Racist Violence 

and

From Growing our Economy to Growing our Souls 
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Brandon Marr’s Speech

First, I want to say thank you to all of you for coming out to show your support against racist violence and being a part of breaking the silence in this community.

I wanted to share a little bit about how the recent attacks on the Asian American community have impacted me and my family. The other day, my mom Alice and I went to the Asian market in Madison heights.

As I watched fellow shoppers, all I could think about were the countless number of our elders who have been attacked doing the same simple routine: picking up groceries to feed themselves and their families.

While seeing these headlines I cannot help but also think about my own grandparents. It pains me to understand that they and the rest of my community are vulnerable to racially motivated attacks when stepping foot outside of their homes, to go about their lives. This feeling has left many in the Asian American community, myself included, in a state of constant worry and caught up in a string of

text messages and phone calls checking in to make sure our loved ones are safe.

The murders in Atlanta and the anti-Asian violence across the country are no coincidence. The recent rise in acts of physical and verbal violence against my community has been fueled by white supremacy and systemic racism. While these acts are shocking and disturbing, they are nothing new.

Asian Americans were labeled as the “yellow peril” throughout the first half of the 20th century by the west. The phrase “Chinese virus” is merely a modern iteration of anti-Asian sentiment in this country.

When we are not under physical attack or being made the object of widespread fear, America frames Asians as the “model minority,” a superficially flattering phrase that masks a divisive and deeply problematic function. The “model minority” trope is weaponized to push anti-blackness and act as a wedge further dividing black,

indigenous, and people of color: communities that should be supporting each other. This is done by creating the false narrative that if Asian Americans can overcome oppression and hardship so should other minority groups without regard to the true factors that continue the oppressive systems instilled in this country.

For decades, stereotypes have painted Asian American women as submissive and hypersexualized to the point where they have been robbed of their humanity. The murderer in Atlanta saw those women as just that: sex objects that he could destroy, instead of human beings. Instead of someones mother, sister, or child.

In response to the violence in Atlanta, there have been calls for further police militarization, but this action will never end racist violence. As for many situations, police only react once attacks have taken place. Additional police spending will never heal our communities. Rather I would like to see a greater investment in anti-racism initiatives that reach the root of this violence. Anti-racism initiatives

that must be implemented by the city of Huntington woods which deserve more than the mere 2000 dollars proposed by our city commission.

However, Ending racist violence does not just require additional policy protections for our grandparents, brothers, sisters, partners, and children.

Creating change cannot solely be left to faces behind closed doors or our government officials on the local, state, and federal levels. Change must also start within ourselves.

It requires a cultural inflection to unlearn socialized and normalized, racism that we may not realize we uphold. Things that play out right here in Huntington Woods.

It requires us to speak up and act out against injustice, even if said injustice is perpetuated by our friends and family.

It requires us to strengthen our communities. We must build connections with and listen to the voices of our neighbors of all races, gender identities, and sexual orientations, religious affiliations, abilities, and ages.

It requires intersectionality of our movements because liberation can not be achieved by checking off boxes; it must account for the many different identities we are comprised of.

Most importantly it requires humanity

It’s in building these connections that will allow us to more frequently recognize biases where they appear, and to challenge them.

Hopefully, through this increased understanding of our shared humanity, we will build a world in which no one needs to feel unsafe when simply buying groceries for their family.

Ultimately, this change starts everywhere from the dinner table, walking in the park, or waiting in line at the store. We must be the ones to notice our own biases, speak out against injustice, and make a change.

 

Brandon will be graduating from Berkley High School this spring, and plans attend Purdue University in the fall. Over the summer, Brandon was very active with the Black Lives Matter movement, and marched at countless protest, as well as he sold hand embroidered shirts to raise funds for organizations fighting for equity in out communities.

Most recently, Brandon has continued his work alongside HW4BL.

Dakari

“I really want to use our platform to highlight that it’s not just crime and gangbanging here. Our neighborhood is beautiful, and it’s full of children and like, dudes sitting on the porch.” KEEP READING IN MODEL D


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