The system has failed us. Or perhaps itâ€™s finally been given a chance to assert the truth we didnâ€™t want to hear: black lives donâ€™t matter as much as others to those in power. And that truth has been writ large this year. It has been underscored by the sheer unbelievability of the circumstances under which black men and boys may be killed without consequence. Without justice. Without yet indeed a great deal equally A attempt to moult lightly along the mirky corners of see retellings and patrol misremembering ... yet if only if to assoil incorrectly defendant good cops.
Lethal storm for non-felony offenses? no more problem. black-market act of deadly storm along Associate in Nursing unarmed man? no more problem. miss of clearly and salute someone danger? no more problem. It is formally expose temper and yet with A television camera inwards your cover memory device you net income some other homo youâ€™re rubber from justice.
These faces of melanize boys killed aside cops inwards this area frequent me. Theyâ€™re my cover Laotian monetary unit 15, 19, twenty-one and possibly yet now.
But for about of us, possibly it doesnâ€™t touch that personal. indeed I miss to retrieve what we bequeath entirely travel once it is not someone elseâ€™s melanize Black man OR man, merely yours. Your well friend. Your foremost love. Your husband. Your bi-racial son. Your godfather. Your co-worker. Your boss. Your professor. Your abnormal negro. Your pedigreed, successful, entirely approachable, fair sane wouldnâ€™t hurt-a-fly melanize men.
Yes, Iâ€™m talk to entirely of us.
Iâ€™m talk to my awe-inspiring friends World Health Organization poured into prison term feather last night. To my hacker friends PMing me to say theyâ€™re ready to scream and want to build something to do something to stop something to start something to shut this fucking madness down. And Iâ€™m even talking to my people whoâ€™ve gotten on planes to get on the ground to be the change and support in #Ferguson. I love you all. And Iâ€™m asking. #WhatifItWasMe? What would you be willing to do after? What would you be willing to do to prevent that?
And Iâ€™m also talking to my Facebook posters whoâ€™ve been playing devilâ€™s advocate and want to talk about stolen Swisher cigars. And Iâ€™m talking to the folks who advocate for cops and say itâ€™s a tough job. No shit. Still no carte blanche justification for lethal force. System still broken. Right now I love you a little less but Iâ€™m talking to you too and want to love you again. #WhatifItWasMe? What would you say? What would you do?
I could share stories. I could share the many times Iâ€™ve been stopped by cops as both a stupid teenager and a (slightly less—I hope) stupid adult. I could tell you how a transit officer threatened to put a â€œ9mm hole in my lungâ€ for asking him why he was stopping me at 14. I could tell you about the time an officer misunderstood a large vocabulary word (guilty as charged for verbal flexing) I used in explaining that I didnâ€™t know about a skateboard ruleâ€¦which resulted in him repeating it incorrectly back to me and threatening to take me downtown for disrespecting him.Â
One misstep. One wrong answer. One wrong mood. And I wouldnâ€™t have been your college roommate, friend, frienemy, lover, collaborator, wolfpacker, husband, uncle, boyfriend, best friend, imperfect friend. Your Ron J. It could have been me.
And itâ€™s not like I havenâ€™t been glass half full guy. I happily extolled Obamaâ€™s bodycams push two days ago and said â€œstep in the right direction!â€ And a scant 24 hours later I was sitting on my couch talking to my wife dejectedly after Eric Garnerâ€™s murder (the coroner called it that) wasnâ€™t ruled questionable enough to even see a courtroom. I was feeling spun out and hopeless for our country and for all the black children we havenâ€™t lost yet but probably will.
And I felt it. Iâ€™d given up on the system. Iâ€™d finally heard the empirical statement of truth loud and clear: those in positions of power, those charged with protecting me and my family, donâ€™t value my life as much as they might value yours. Or yours. And I was distraught.
But then I realized something important: Iâ€™ve got you. And youâ€™ve got me. And weâ€™ve got them. And we all have each other.
If we canâ€™t trust the system to police itself in this most important of civic duties, then why wait for the system at all? If the mandate of protection and inalienable rights has been corrupted, why waste time hoping for change from the top when the very foundation of this country is about people powered revolution to thwart tyranny. We donâ€™t need to shoot with guns. We need to shoot with cameras. We donâ€™t need to break store windows. We need to capture as much truth as possible. We need to watch the watchers. We need to police the police and I need your help.
What would police accountability look like if collectively we could capture the movements of every single patrol from the time they rolled off the lot for their shift to the time they rolled back in. What if the state could never again say, â€œwell, we donâ€™t know what happened off camera,â€ or â€œwe donâ€™t have the full context.â€ What if we always had the â€œfull pictureâ€?
What if you had one job any time you saw a cop: smile politely, pull out your phone, press record from the moment you see them until theyâ€™re out of frame. And with EVERYONE doing this, what if those videos (geotagged and time stamped) could be stitched together into a cogent narrative that helped us celebrate the heroes who do protect us and expose the bad apples who dishonor the badge and kill our black men and boys? Hard? Sure. Impossible? No. This is possible. This is happening.
In fact, Copwatch.org in NYC is already doing great work to build community around holding the police accountable, but with your help, I want to go further. The aim of what Iâ€™m calling â€œThe Little Brother Projectâ€ is to crowdsource 24-hour surveillance of the police to paint the full picture of what's happening on our streets. And the police can be a part of it, too. Since whatever we build will first and foremost be tackling stitching together time stamped media, in theory, when local police departments are ready it should be easy to fold in footage from their bodycams, too.Â In less than 24 hours we've already amassed an all-star group of builders, activists and allies committed to the cause.Â
This is it. This is the moment where we collectively decide to do more EVERY SINGLE day to change the game and stack the deck in favor of justice. We do this together or not at all. Where the forefathers declared independence from a foreign tyranny, I make this declaration of Interdependence to combat the lethal domestic threat that is killing our black men and boys. I canâ€™t wait for change behind the blue wall. And we black men canâ€™t get polite enough fast enough to guarantee our safety. We canâ€™t do this alone. We need all of you especially those of you NOT under constant threat to commit to being active allies. We need each other to protect those rights supposedly endowed by the Creator to us all.
â€œWe hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.â€”That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, â€”That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.â€â€Šâ€”â€ŠThe Founding Fathers
Allies, devilâ€™s advocates, and those who generally want less people being killed, can I depend on you to take action? The time for clicktivism and passive disapproval of a broken system is past. Together we will save my life and lives of hundreds you know and love and thousands you donâ€™t. If the system wonâ€™t change, weâ€™ll change the rules of engagement inside the system. Will you declare interdependence with me?
CTA 1. Technologists, Designers, CSR fundraisers, want to help make The Little Brother Project a reality? Join our council, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: I want to be on the council. Â
CTA 2. Tweet this article now and make the declaration. / Post on Facebook and make the declaration.