With thousands descending on Ferguson today to demand justice for Michael Brown, a creator of #BlackLivesMatter thinks now may be the time to win long-term victories.
BY JULIA WONG
Originally published in In These Times
Thousands of activists are expected to converge on Ferguson, Missouri starting Friday, October 10, for a “Weekend of Resistance” to support the ongoing protest movement that arose in the wake of the police killing of Michael Brown on August 9. Ferguson October, as the initiative is called, was organized by a coalition of recently formed and longstanding community organizations in the St. Louis area, including Hands Up United, The Organization for Black Struggle and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE).
Beginning Friday with a march to the office of Bob McCulloch, the attorney charged with prosecuting the police officer who shot and killed Brown, the weekend will include numerous rallies, protests, political forums, and teach-ins, and will culminate with planned civil disobedience actions on October 13.
Alicia Garza is one of the organizers working on the ground in Ferguson with the wave of new activists who have taken to the streets in the wake of Brown’s killing. Based in Oakland, California, Garza is the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance (NDWA). Garza is a co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, a “political project” and online platform that aims to confront anti-black racism and reaffirm black humanity. Garza is also a member of LeftRoots, a “national formation of Left social movement organizers and activists” seeking to build socialism in the 21st century.
In the aftermath of Brown’s killing, Garza recalls feeling “not only completely horrified, but completely rageful.” She says, “Just like when any member of your family is hurt in any way, there’s a real urge to be there.” She responded to a “call coming from folks on the ground … for black folks in particular who were organizers and medics and attorneys and healers to come and support the community of Ferguson and the St. Louis community more broadly.”
With the backing of the NDWA, Garza traveled to Ferguson about three weeks after Brown’s death, and spent two weeks working “to help support capacity building on the ground.” During that time, the Black Lives Matter team organized a Freedom Ride that Garza says “mobilized more than 500 black people from all over the country to come to Ferguson, to not only stand in solidarity but to lend concrete and material support to organizers who work on the front lines of the Ferguson rebellion.”
Garza says her work in Ferguson was to “make sure the organizations and activists on the ground had the capacity to really hold this moment and extend it into a movement.”
After returning to the Bay Area, Garza received a call from the coalition organizing Ferguson October asking for support. On September 28, she returned to Ferguson, where she spoke with In These Times.