Do Your Part To Break The Cycle


By Elvert Barnes Washington, DC August 14, 2014 Flickr/creative commons

By Elvert Barnes
Washington, DC
August 14, 2014
Flickr/creative commons

Michael Brown and his family have finally put a face on police brutality, sparking a robust national conversation that must take place. Freedom and human rights are just words, words this country peddles abroad but does little for at home. We can honor this family’s awful sacrifice by doing more each day to end this scourge in our nation. Will you? (VenusPlusX, August 18, 2014)

Yesterday, we wrote Solutions Are Available But Will We Pay Attention? to start a list of what we can do to bring about substantive change to the circumstances that lead to the tragic killing of young black men in this country. We talked about three things we need to be doing to get started:

  1. Mobilize people of color to vote, making sure they are represented proportionally at all levels of local, county, and state administration. The most recent elections in Ferguson brought out only 12% turnout by minorities, less than a third of white turnout.

  2. Support national legislation to reverse the decades long, constitution-bashing systems that turn local police forces into armed militias who must overreact to justify their existence. (Sign the Care2 petition.)

  3. Make every policeman wear a body camera, a simple fix that has shown a dramatic 88% decline in the number of complaints about police, and a similar drastic reduction in the use of force and police brutality. (Sign White House petition.)

Today,  and  expand on our list, writing on Huffington Post, 10 Ways You Can Help The People of Ferguson, Missouri.

  • Donate to the Michael Brown Memorial Fund to assist the family with legal, burial and travel costs as they investigate their son’s killing.
  • Support and donate to Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment’s Legal Defense Fund for Justice for Mike providing legal support for those arrested as part of the protests, primarily on bailing or bonding residents out of jail.
  • Sign the Amnesty International petition, and/or the related one launched by the American Civil Liberties to show support for and voice your opinions to Ferguson’s elected officials charged with helping to mediate the conflict.  You can also contact the Ferguson Police Department, urging law enforcement leaders to release public information related to the shooting (Police Chief Thomas Jackson, 314-524-5269 or email
  • Don’t allow irrelevant narratives to deflect front he larger issue at hand.
  • Send condolences or a message of support to Brown’s family.

Ashtari and Boboltz urge everyone to invest ourselves in the cause of racial equality (one of the pillars of VenusPlusX’s work). They also talk about something we stress over and over: Always remember that if you have any privilege whatsoever its only use is give it freely to those who have none.

How will you use your privilege today to help others? petitions: What the people really want

Earlier this month (the official site of the White House) launched “We the People”:

“Welcome to We the People on This tool provides you with a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.”

Any petition created within the first 30 days, that reaches at least 5,000 signatures, will receive an “official response”. This has incredible potential. It gives the Internet hivemind a way to bring what they actually care about to discussion. Guess what the people want?

  1. 34,223+ “Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol.
  2. 20,375+ “Abolish the TSA, and use its monstrous budget to fund more sophisticated, less intrusive counter-terrorism intelligence.
  3. 16,930+ “Call an Investigation into Allegations of Prosecutorial & Judicial Misconduct in the Case of Sholom Rubashkin
  4. 12,763+ “Edit the Pledge of Allegiance to remove the phrase “Under God”.
  5. 10,594+ “Allow Industrial Hemp to be Grown in the U.S. Once Again
  6. 10,381+ “Direct the Patent Office to Cease Issuing Software Patents
  7. 10,178+ “Legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana.
  8. 9,586+ “Stop Interfering With State Marijuana Legalization Efforts
  9. 8,689+ “End the destructive, wasteful and counterproductive “War on Drugs
  10. 8,537 + “Remove “In God We Trust” from currency.
  11. 8,400+ “Restore democracy by ending corporate personhood.
  12. 7,998+ “Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

I don’t see any hate petitions, or faith petitions, nothing commercially motivated. These are generally issues that I care about and ones that don’t always receive the most coverage. Even if the corporate media shies away from an issue, tools like this bring them back up. If these petitions get the attention they genuinely deserve, then it could be a huge step forward for our country. In reality, our government isn’t ignorant to these things; someone has an agenda that involves marijuana being illegal and the TSA making travel inconvenient and degrading.

We don’t know what the “official response” will look like, but right now these petitions are educating people and creating a valuable sense of urgency.

Sign up, contribute, and spread the word.