This year will always be a year of befores and afters. Here we are now, in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing. Here at Birchbark Books, we grieve with George Floyd's family. We stand with the protesters and are among the protesters. We are heartsick and furious. Our task now is to provide information that will help deepen understanding that will lead to real, true, change. However it is worded -- defund, dismantle, abolish -- we have to fix policing. A movement to do this has started here in Minneapolis and reverberated throughout the world. What we do now will help lead the way for others.
There are reasons that reform hasn't worked since Jamar Clark, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and countless others were killed by police. Ricardo Lopez, Senior Political Reporter for The Minnesota Reformer, wrote an article addressing systemic racism in Minneapolis-St.Paul and why it persists in our police force. I can't say it better than Mr. Lopez: "Minnesota's Decades Long Failure to Confront Police Abuse"
Last Friday, the Minneapolis City Council passed a resolution to create a "Future of Community Safety Work Group". This group will study modes of public safety and seek experts who can help keep ALL citizens safe without resorting to harassment, intimidation, and violence. The result of Black Lives Matter, Black Visions Collective, citizen activism, and this study by the City Council is likely to be a policing initiative on the ballot next November. We need to know the issues and get out the vote.
When I first saw signs demanding Abolish The Police, I was confused. How could such a thing happen? I turned to The End of Policing by Alex Vitale. This matter-of-fact book has helped me understand what an initiative next fall could look like. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Let's not lose the momentum that we have, let's not stop creatively coming together and growing, let's not be a city that allows things to go back to the way they were before. I want to be part of a true after.
We have a few copies of The End of Policing now and will be getting many more soon from Verso Press. Please call and reserve a copy of this book. The word essential has gotten a lot of use lately, but when I say this book is essential I truly mean it.
While you are waiting for The End of Policing, I also recommend White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson -- a book that brings clarity to history and sheds light on where we are now. At present, I'm reading From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. I'm not done with this book yet, but Taylor is a formidable analyst and a brilliant writer.
Shock, rage, sorrow and protest open a lot of hearts. Let's keep our hearts open to one another and make real change happen right here.
Love and Justice,