Excerpt from “How 7 Civil Rights Activists View the George Floyd Protests”

…Bernard Lafayette, 79, who, like Mr. Young, accompanied Dr. King on the 1968 trip to Memphis where he was assassinated, has spent recent years training young activists in nonviolent social change. He traveled to Ferguson, Mo., to advise protest leaders there, and has spent the past weeks fielding phone calls from young organizers…

“Oh, I’m very hopeful, but also excited, because I see some very strategic things happening. The only thing we have to be concerned about is the sustainability.

I am more or less thinking about strategy, and that’s where I’m turning my energy. They call me on the phone all the time. I get 15 to 20 calls a day. I answer their questions. Mainly they need training. They need to build coalitions. I prepare folks to take different roles in the movement. You can’t do everything. People have different roles.

Now what I’m looking for is leadership among the young people. I’m looking for a new Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The next thing that we need if we’re going to have a movement that is going to sustain itself — we need music, OK? Once you get those artists singing songs about change and the movement, that helps to stimulate people and bring them together. There is nothing like music to bring people together.

The other most, most important thing, you got to get people who are ready to register to vote. You have got to have people in power who represent you. You’ve got to be negotiating and talking to the people who will make decisions. You can’t just put it out there and be screaming in the air. The air can’t make the change.”

Link below: https://nyti.ms/3hxXRbQ

Photo from NYTimes - Floyd Protests

Tom Cotton’s op-ed calling for military suppression of protests is dangerous

On June 3, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton calling for the use of the United States Military to suppress the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests in cities across the country. I am writing to express my disappointment that the editors, including James Bennet, chose to publish this appalling perspective.

Mr. Cotton’s editorial is a derogatory and inflammatory argument for violent suppression of citizens’ voices and the establishment of an oppressive military state. As a lawmaker, Cotton should have more respect for American citizens’ right to assemble and to express themselves freely. Use of military force on a country’s own citizens in response to scattered rioting amongst primarily peaceful demonstrations would be a disproportionate response, and would amount to the suspension of the Constitution. It would surely result in more loss of life among both protestors and law enforcers, and escalate the already tense situation.

The choice to circulate this opinion is more than a matter of “considering alternate perspectives.” By lending Cotton the voice and wide circulation of the “paper of record”, Bennet and his colleagues have deliberately contributed to creating a more dangerous environment for Black people in the whole country as well as for their supporters in America’s cities, and for Black journalists.

As a member of the Religious Society of Friends, who hold dear the testimonies of peace, community, and equality, it runs counter to my convictions. A truly free, democratic government should not even consider exerting the inordinate violent potential of its own military against its own people, especially in such a situation which would single out and cause greater violence to a minority group that is already suffering from police brutality.

There is a good reason why the New York Times’ Black reporters have uniformly joined in protesting the publication of this editorial. I request that the op-ed be retracted and call for Tom Cotton to immediately resign his Congressional seat for advancing this kind of anti-constitutional, inflammatory rhetoric.