Did you hear what Black Lives Matter organizers had to say this morning?
If the past performance of our local press and the national media that has invaded Boston this week is a sign of the coverage to come, then you can expect to hear a lot more from the handful of white supremacists headed for the Common on Saturday than you will from the tens of thousands of people who are expected to flood the city in an effort to thwart the encroaching hate groups.
Readers and TV news viewers are also likely to be inundated with messages from state and local politicians, many of whom are getting a pass from the press on their own doings of late thanks to the cloud of white nationalist madness emitted by President Trump.
All things considered, it shouldn’t have been too surprising that the press scrum at this morning’s Black Live Matter media availability was noticeably thinner than the crowd outside of City Hall on Monday for a conference called by Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. Or that the organizing instigator of tomorrow’s so-called Free Speech rally got extensive coverage yesterday, including at least one lengthy interview with an international outlet on Boston Common.
In the interest of doing better than those who are paying more attention to right-wing extremists than they are to the Bostonians speaking out, here are some of the points coming from the groups Violence in Boston, Black Lives Matter Network, Black Lives Matter Movement, Black Lives Matter Boston, and Black Lives Matter Cambridge, which along with national affiliates are planning a counter-protest and march starting in Roxbury tomorrow at 10 am. Violence in Boston organizer Monica Cannon read the following statement, excerpted below, which was released by the alliance yesterday:
- “While Mayor Walsh, Police Commissioner Evans, senators from Massachusetts, and Boston City Council members have openly denounced the gathering of white supremacists slated for Boston Commons, privately they have also denounced the counter-demonstration being organized by Black leadership… It does not go unnoticed that organized resistance from our Black communities is ultimately what led to the apparent collapse of Saturday’s white supremacist rally and platform.”
- “Organizers of the Resistance Rally also understand that prevailing political realities have emboldened overt white supremacists to openly intimidate vulnerable communities, and subject them to unchecked fragility and hatred. The current [Trump] administration has undeniably been complicit in wilfully and deliberately inciting physical and rhetorical violence perpetrated by their neo-conservative base. We believe those committed to anti-racism work have a moral obligation to unapologetically confront and oppose these violent and threatening displays when they occur.”
- “However, the Resistance Rally was also organized in response to all prevailing manifestations of white supremacy impacting the most marginalized. The events in Charlottesville this past week serve as glaring reminders of the blatant bigotry we still face today. While it is our intention to send a message to those who would subject marginalized communities to domestic white terrorism, hate speech, and violence, we also stand in opposition to the most insidious and deadly forms of white supremacy. These include, but are not limited to: mass incarceration, income inequality, anti-immigration initiatives, police and local law enforcement, and housing and employment discrimination.”
- “We envision a future where Black and Brown families are no longer torn apart due to systemic white supremacy. When Massachusetts Governor, Charlie Baker, cut funding for HIV programs, drug treatment facilities, and elder care services from the fiscal budget, it was understood that Black communities would be hit hardest. This year, 49 Boston public schools sustained significant budget cuts predominantly impacting children of color. Meanwhile, State judiciary and law enforcement institutions continue to aggressively spend resources to disproportionately profile, prosecute, and incarcerate Black community members. Black residents in Massachusetts are incarcerated at a rate SIX TIMES higher than their white counterparts.”
- “In 2011, the state’s largest prison—MCI Norfolk—was fined thousands of dollars by the Department of Environmental Protection for failing to meet water supply standards. Water samples at MCI Norfolk showed elevated levels of minerals that, when ingested over prolonged periods of time, can lead to neurological disorders and other severe health issues. The Massachusetts Department of Corrections was ordered to install a new water treatment system. Six years later, and MCI Norfolk has not yet replaced the water system. The longstanding impact this will have on the Black community is incalculable.”
- “Finally, access to affordable housing must be regarded as a social imperative in the Metro North. Recently, Mayor Walsh of Boston approved 720 new housing units in the neighborhood of Roxbury, with only 15% being made affordable to households earning $60-$70,000 a year. That initiative was touted as “progress,” despite a $30,000 median income for Black and Brown families currently residing in Roxbury. And according to the Boston Federal Reserve, the median net worth of white households in Boston stands at $247,000—compared to just $8.00 (yes, eight dollars) for Black households, and $28.60 for Latinx households.”
- “This is white supremacy.”
When the rhetorical smoke clears for a moment on Sunday, we will see how many of these messages are echoed in the coverage, national and local alike. In the meantime, to help them amplify their voice, organizers say they are expecting 20,000 to 30,000 demonstrators alongside them, and report that they have received support from outfits all across the country, including groups in Charlottesville, as well as from the Jewish community and multiple social justice fronts.
“We are very clear that we are focused on a peaceful engagement, [and] that we do not want weapons of any kind,” said Angelina Camacho, one of the organizers and a candidate for Boston City Council in District 7, where today’s presser was held. “We do not want to entertain anything that would actually detract us from expressing our message.”
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.