Shooting of Unarmed Black Teen Sparks Call For Peaceful Gatherings Nationwide

Human Rights

Less than a month after the choking death of Eric Garner by an NYPD officer, police in Ferguson, Mo., shot 18-year-old Mike Brown to death in broad daylight. Many in the black community were still in shock over Garner's death when photos of Brown's body lying on the pavement began circulating on social media.

Feminista Jones, a community activist and blogger, is organizing what she's calling National Moment of Silence 2014 gatherings (or #NMOS14) across the nation, so people can mourn the killings of black people at the hands of law enforcement. In less than 24 hours, Jones' efforts have led to more than 30 vigils being organized around the country, set to begin the same time Thursday at 7pm EST.

Jones told AlterNet that the frustration unfolding in the St. Louis area needs to be channeled into calm spaces where people in disenfranchised communities can network and move forward with constructive ways to heal and take action against the injustices that have affected them.

"We understand that tensions are high," Jones said. "We understand that people are reacting and we understand that, during several points in history and across the world, people have revolted and they have rebelled and they have rioted. But we also know that the most effective resistence was planned. It was organized. People got together, whether it was non-violence, whether it used violence and aggression, it was still organized. And when you are able to organize, you are able to come up with tactics that can minimize the risk of injury and harm to the people involved. It can coordinate efforts, so that people are standing strong in numbers and it can lead to sustainability. We cannot sustain any kind of resistence if all of our people are being locked up in jail."

According to numerous reports out of Ferguson, tensions over the fatal shooting have led to looting and significant property damage Sunday evening. Nearly three dozen people have been arrested, according to NBC News.

Though police reform is a primary objective that must be addressed to curb the high number of police-related shootings, the need to bring calm to these communities seems most urgent. Leslie MacFadyen, a founding member of the Unitarian Universal Legislative Ministry of New Jersey’s “Ending the New Jim Crow Task Force,” aimed at ending mass incarceration with state legislation, is responsible for organizing Philadelphia's NMOS14. MacFadyen told that she shares of Jones' view of grassroos organizing to deal with police brutality.

“I can do something to bring attention to this important issue in our country and in our cities,” MacFadyen told, adding that she wants to organize like-minded individuals, and exchange contact information to “continue work in this area.”
Most importantly, Jones says the gatherings are for the victims and those who have suffered trauma from police brutality.
"Let's honor their memories and not forget that they exist," she said. "And let's send out love and prayers and well-wishes to their families and their loved ones. All together, let's have a moment of silence and let's use these gatherings to exhange information and start planning some very real actions to go forward because enough is enough."

For more information on the gatherings and to find one in your area, visit the NMOS14 Facebook page.

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