Friday, August 29, 2014

Court case has critical implications for public health care

CAMPBELL RIVER COURIER-ISLANDER 

AUGUST 29, 2014 12:00 AM


A B.C. court case challenging the very foundations of public health care could undermine the comprehensiveness and fairness of Canadian medicare and erode the competitive advantage it provides to B.C. businesses.

Dr. Brian Day, owner of two for profit clinics in Vancouver, was scheduled to start the next phase of his controversial case on Sept. 8 in B.C. Supreme Court, but was recently granted a sixmonth delay until next March.

The case has been called the most significant constitutional challenge in Canadian history, as it seeks to introduce twotier health care into this country. It's likely to go as far as the Supreme Court of Canada, but what happens in B.C. will be crucial.

Canada's system of public health care anchored by singlepayer, universal health insurance ensures that access to care is comprehensive and based on need, rather than ability to pay. Because we all share the risks and the costs, it's both efficient and fair. Everybody is covered. Everybody benefits. But Day has spent years testing the rules that protect universal health coverage. A 2012 B.C. government audit revealed that Day's clinics have been unlawfully extrabilling patients for medical services covered by the provincial Medical Services Plan. In this legal case, Day is challenging the laws that prohibit doctors from charging patients extra for services already covered under provincial insurance plans. He's also taking aim at B.C.'s ban on duplicate private health insurance, claiming that these rules violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If Day has his way, those who can afford to pay privately will jump the queue, and private health insurers will expand into a lucrative new Canadian market. Health care advocates are concerned that this would lengthen wait times and wait lists as private clinics compete to attract surgeons and other health professionals from the public system. Private clinics ensure their profits by performing only a limited range of highvolume, lowcost procedures on healthy patients. There's also the potential of higher costs for B.C. businesses.

As it stands, our current system of singlepayer health insurance provides these businesses a competitive advantage when compared to U.S.based firms who are required to provide expensive (and often less comprehensive) private health insurance for their employees.

That's an advantage worth protecting. That's not to say that our current public health care system is perfect. There's lots of room for improvement, especially in areas like seniors' care and prescription drug coverage.

But Canada's universal public health care system is widely supported by the public and for good reason.

This ongoing legal case being prosecuted against public health care is a stark reminder that no one should take it for granted.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Egyptian Revolutionary Council: An Introduction

August 26, 2014

The ERC is an organization that has brought together Egyptian citizens and movements abroad, irrespective of their political or ideological affiliations. We share in common, a belief in the principles of the January 25th Revolution, and work towards achieving its aims. We oppose all aspects of corruption and dictatorship in Egypt. We oppose the military coup and all that ensued from it, and we refuse the interference of the military in political life. We believe in constitutional legitimacy and work for the establishment of a civil sate that reflects the will of the Egyptian people and their freedom in choosing their government.

Background

The Egyptian Revolutionary Council was launched on August 8th 2014, one year after a military coup aborted Egypt’s nascent democracy, and kidnapped its first freely and fairly elected President, Dr Mohammed Morsi.

We believe it is incumbent upon us, as Egyptians across the world, to unite under a single umbrella in order to expose and stand up to the crimes of Sisi’s military regime, as well as to work together to support the resistance inside Egypt to achieve the goals of the January 25th Revolution for Bread, Freedom, Social Justice and Human Dignity.

Aims

The ERC is a broad platform that represents different political currents and invites all Egyptians, irrespective of their political views, to work together to bring to an end the military regime, and to work to establish a democratic and civil state that upholds the rule of law and respects human rights.

We believe in working together for the political and economic prosperity of the Egyptian people. A prosperity that cannot be achieved under the kind of dictatorship, tyranny and corruption that manifests itself through the current regime in Egypt.

The Current Situation

In its year in power, the coup regime has been responsible for the murder of thousands of peaceful citizens and the imprisonment of over 40,000 dissidents. According to the HRW, the worst massacre in the modern history of Egypt in Rab’a, was premeditated and the plans and orders came from the highest levels of the state, from the current Head of State president Sisi, his Interior minister, and other high level officials.

The military regime and its security services have committed other massacres with impunity over the past year. As documented by western human rights organisations, the Sisi regime systematically and intentionally murders peaceful protestors, tortures prisoners and rapes women and children.

Our Position

The ERC rejects a regime that has divided the Egyptian people, that seeks to justify the incarceration and murder of political dissidents and encourages sectarianism.

We believe in an Egypt for all its citizens without discrimination. We believe in an Egypt for all its citizens without discrimination that has a reformed and independent judiciary, not one that is the tool of the state, as evidenced by the sentencing of thousands of dissidents to death in minutes, without due process. We believe in an Egypt where the military serves its role as a defence force, and not as the de facto ruler, as it has done since 1952, nor where it is major economic institution in its own right, that controls over a quarter of the economy. We believe that endemic corruption at every level has hindered the economic prosperity of Egypt and resulted in an inequitable transfer of wealth from the state to a very small elite that controls the country’s institutions. We therefore believe that the corrupt state institutions need to be reformed root and branch. We believe Egyptian citizens deserve a better health, education and social security system that is not bled by the corrupt syphoning of resources to a klyptocratic elite We believe all of Egypt’s citizens deserve democracy. We believe all of Egypt’s citizens have the right to political participation and to demand accountability from their government.

Our Operating Model

Through each office and member of the ERC we intend to be the ambassadors and voice of free Egyptians and to echo the voice of the resistance inside Egypt which refuses to accept dictatorship and tyranny.

The ECR will be working to combat the coup regime through the following offices:

1. The Political and Diplomatic Bureau

2. The Human Rights Bureau

3. The Legal Bureau

4. The Media and Information Bureau

Each office will through its own expertise work to combat and expose the military regime in Egypt. Each will work to build bridges with governments, policy makers, parliamentarians, civil society and the public across the world in order to create awareness of the extreme dangers of the current coup regime to security and stability in Egypt and beyond; to demand a change in policy towards a tyrannical regime and an end to political and military aid to it.

In addition, the ECR will pursue all channels to ensure that the perpetrators of crimes against civilians deemed to be crimes against humanity are brought to justice through international law, as well as document all crimes against civilians as a resource for a future prosecution of the perpetrators in Egyptian courts, once democracy is restored.

The ECR will seek to galvanize support among Egyptians living abroad (a broad base, among whom are educated professionals who are well established in, and contributors to their host communities) and seek to coordinate their activities and efforts in opposing the dictatorship in Egypt.

Finally, the ECR will set out an alternative political and economic vision for Egypt›s future built on consensus and thorough studies with all political forces inside and outside Egypt who believe in a civil state, democracy and the end of the military›s interference in politics.

This will ensure that there is an orderly transfer to a democratic society once the army’s hold on power is broken.

Conclusion

We will not give up our struggle for freedom and justice in Egypt, and we call on all those who believe in the values of democracy and justice to stand with us and take all necessary political, diplomatic and economic action to condemn and isolate a dangerous dictatorship that kills its own citizens and threatens regional stability and security.

Mohamed Sherif Kamel;
Spokesperson
Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC)
Democracy -Constitutionalism- Civil State
Could be reach at:

CJPME CONDEMNS HUMAN RIGHTS ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY ISIS

– FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –


Montreal, August 25, 2014 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) condemns human rights atrocities being committed by ISIS (“Islamic State of Iraq and Sham”), an armed extremist group, in northern Iraq. According to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, and other human rights groups, ISIS has been ruthlessly carrying out widespread ethnic and religious cleansing in the areas under its control. Its violations include targeted killings, forced conversions, abductions, trafficking, slavery, sexual abuse, destruction of religious and cultural sites, and the besieging of entire communities because of ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliation. Among those directly targeted are Christians, Yezidis, Shabaks, Turkomen, Kaka’e and Sabaeans.

Pillay indicates that hundreds of mostly Yesidi individuals were reported killed and up to 2,500 kidnapped at the beginning of August in the Ninevah Governate. The men who refused to convert to Sunni Islam were executed and the women and children were handed over to ISIS fighters as slaves. Similarly, in Southern Sinjar, hundreds of Yesidis were killed and hundreds more abducted August 15. Amnesty International (AI) reports similar findings. AI’s Donatella Rovera states, “ISIS has given minority communities an unambiguous message – convert, leave or die. This is ethnic cleansing.”

“All parties to any of the conflicts in the region must respect international law and fundamental human rights accords. Killing civilians because of their religion or ethnicity is an extremely grave violation of human rights,” says CJPME President Thomas Woodley. CJPME notes that ISIS emerged in the environment created by the US invasion of Iraq and Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki’s mismanagement of the political situation. ISIS is not alone in violating Iraqis’ human rights. According to Human Rights Watch, government--backed militias have been kidnapping and killing Sunni civilians throughout Iraq’s Baghdad, Diyala, and Hilla provinces since March. Nonetheless, the numbers affected by ISIS actions far exceed the numbers affected by the actions of government-backed troops. Al Maliki announced August 14 that he is stepping down.

CJPME supports the August 23 call by UN envoy for Iraq Nickolay Mladenov for the international community to take immediate action to prevent a possible massacre in the northern Iraqi town of Amerli, besieged by ISIS militants for two months. Mladenov also noted that the siege was leaving the town’s residents stranded without food or access to water supplies. CJPME recommends a UN peacekeeping presence to protect endangered communities and to facilitate the safe evacuation of civilians under direct threat by ISIS militias.

About CJPME - Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.For more information, please contact Patricia Jean, 438 380 5410
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org 

The whole or parts of this press release can be reproduced without permission.

– 30 –

Al Sharpton at Michael Brown funeral: 'Something is wrong in America'

Watch Rev Al Sharpton sermon beginning at 24:40 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsA6zfyA4mQ

Canada’s tax-deductible support for Israel’s crimes

26 August 2014


When is a Canadian who leaves this country to join a foreign military force and participate in the killing of innocent civilians, including children, called a “terror tourist” and sent to jail? The answer is: only when that person joins a military force the Conservative government disagrees with.

Numerous ministers in the current federal government have loudly denounced the radicalization of Canadian youth in foreign wars. Last year, the Conservatives passed a law that sets a maximum fifteen year prison sentence for “leaving or attempting to leaveCanada” to commit terrorism. Jason Kenney, the minister for multiculturalism, recently saidthe government is trying “to monitor networks that recruit and radicalize youth.”

Last month, Somali-Canadian Mohamed Hersi was sentenced to ten years in prison for attempting to join the al-Shabab militia in Somalia. Arrested at Toronto’s Pearson airport before leaving, Hersi was not found guilty of committing or plotting a specific act of violence, but according to the presiding judge, was “poised to become a terror tourist.”

Yet our government does nothing to hundreds of other Canadians who join a different foreign military force which daily terrorizes millions of people and often uses explosives to kill thousands — most of whom are civilians.

It’s unknown exactly how many Canadians are participating in Israel’s ongoing attacks onGaza but an Israeli military spokesperson has said there were 139 Canadians in the Israeli military in 2013. The Nefesh B’Nefesh Lone Soldiers Program, an organization supporting the Israeli military, has referred to 145 Canadians in the Israeli military. That figure, however, only refers to what the organization calls Canadian “lone soldiers” — soldiers without family in Israel.
“Respectable” criminals

Breaking the stereotype of radicalized youth who join terror groups, recent media reports suggest that most of the Canadians joining the Israeli military are children of lawyers, doctors and other professionals. When thirty individuals attended the 2012 launch of a Toronto support group for Parents of Lone Soldiers, it took place at the home of Perla and Ron Riesenbach. The latter is a vice-president at the University of Toronto’s Baycrest Health Sciences Centre.

Earlier this month the French language website La Presse quoted a McGill University law student, Menachem Freedman, who recently completed a stint with the Israeli military and now does legal work for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

A partner in a Toronto law firm, Audrey Shecter has two kids with Israeli military experience. According to the National Post, Shecter’s son completed 27 months with the Israeli military in February and her daughter, Orli Broer, currently serves on a base in the illegally occupiedWest Bank.

Broer, a 19-year-old Torontonian, who is in a unit that processes visas and other paperwork, helps to deny Palestinians freedom of movement in their own homeland. “It’s my home and I have to protect my home,” the Canadian born and raised Broer told theNational Post.

While the Foreign Enlistment Act technically prohibits Canadians from recruiting for a foreign army, there are a number of organizations that help individuals enlist in the Israeli military. At its Toronto office, the Friends of Israeli Scouts’ Garin Tzabar program provides Hebrew lessons and support services, as well as help with transport and accommodation in Israel, for twenty-five to thirty Canadian “lone soldiers” each year.

According to a Garin Tzabar spokesperson who spoke to La Presse, the recent killing and destruction in Gaza has prompted a flood of inquiries about joining the Israeli military.

Part of the tab for lone soldier support services is picked up by Canadian taxpayers through tax credits for “charitable” donations. The Israel-based Lone Soldier Center has Canadian charitable status through the Ne’eman Foundation. So does the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which has, according to its website, sponsored “fun activities” for “lone soldiers.”
Business support

Financial backing for lone soldiers reaches the top echelons of the Canadian business world. Billionaire Toronto couple Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman created the Heseg Foundation for Lone Soldiers. Reisman and Schwartz provide up to $3 million per year for post-military scholarships for these non-Israeli soldiers.

Members of the Israeli high command — Heseg’s board has included a number of generals and a former head of the secret service Mossad — say “lone soldiers” are of value beyond their military capacities. Foreigners volunteering to fight for Israel are a powerful symbol to reassure Israelis weary of their country’s violent behavior. Schwartz and Reisman’s support for Heseg has spurred a campaign to boycott the Indigo, Chapters and Cole bookstore chain they own.

Canadians in the Israeli military benefit from various Canadian-financed support programs and may also find other Canadians stocking their equipment. Approximately 150 Canadians serve as volunteers on Israeli army supply bases each year through the Zionist organization Sar-El. That organization takes out ads in the Canadian Jewish News calling on individuals to “Express your Zionism by serving as a civilian volunteer on an Israeli army supply base.”

There are a number of other registered Canadian “charities” that aid the Israeli army. Money sent to Disabled Veterans of Israel or Beit Halochem (Canada) and Canadian Magen David Adom for Israel support the Israeli military in different ways. Established in 1971, the Association for the Soldiers of Israel - Canada, which gives tax receipts through the Canadian Zionist Cultural Association, provides financial and “moral” support to active duty soldiers.

Various Canadian organizations have long supported the Israeli military and individuals from this country have directly participated in its violence. At least 25 volunteers from the Greater Toronto Area fought in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, the three-week assault in late 2008 and early 2009, which left some 1,400 Palestinians dead.
History of complicity

Canada’s military contribution to the conquest of Palestine predates the creation of Israel.

During the First World War, Québec City-born Lieutenant General Sir Charles MacPherson Dobell, fresh from leading the Anglo-French conquest of German West Africa, was given a command position in the 1917 Egyptian expeditionary force sent to seize Gaza from the Ottomans. Additionally, as many as four hundred Canadians (approximately half recruited specifically for the task) fought in British General Edmund Allenby’s Jewish Legion that helped conquer Palestine.

A number of Canadians, with at least tacit support from the Ottawa authorities, played a direct role in “de-Arabizing” Palestine in 1947 and 1948. Representatives from theHaganah, the primary Zionist military force behind the Nakba — the ethnic cleansingleading to Israel’s foundation — recruited three hundred experienced Canadian soldiers.

The heir to the menswear firm Tip Top Tailors, Ben Dunkelman, was Haganah’s main recruiter in Canada. He claimed that “about 1,000” Canadians “fought to establish Israel.” During the Nakba, Israel’s small air force was almost entirely foreign, with at least 53 Canadians, including 15 non-Jews, enlisted.
Double standard

Given this country’s past, perhaps today’s double standard about “terror tourism” is not surprising. But those of us who want a just Canadian foreign policy must nonetheless expose our government’s hypocrisy.

While al-Shabab has committed many reprehensible acts and espouses a terribly repressive ideology, the group’s growth and radicalization is largely a response to the 2006 US-sponsored foreign invasion of Somalia that has left tens of thousands of Somalis dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

On the other hand, it’s as if the Canadians fighting with Israel are unsatisfied with their and their ancestors’ dispossession of First Nations in North America and now want to help colonize yet another indigenous people.

The double standard is extreme. It is illegal for Somali Canadians to fight in that country but it is okay for Canadian Jews to kill Palestinians in Gaza. And the government will give you a charitable tax credit if you give money to support the latter.

Fortunately, activists in one country have made strides on this issue. A Palestine solidarity group in South Africa recently launched a case against citizens of that country who have served in the Israeli military.

Some have suggested another solution. Eminent Canadian historian Jack Granatstein recently said: “In my view, no one who is a Canadian should be able to enlist in some other country’s military and keep his Canadian citizenship.”

Canadians of good conscience must at least insist upon fairness and an end to an outrageous double standard.

Yves Engler is the author of Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid and The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy.

Monday, August 25, 2014

National Lawyers Guild, Other Legal Organizations Urge International Criminal Court to Investigate War Crimes by Israeli, U.S. Leaders in Gaza

by Marjorie Cohn -- August 23, 2014



The National Lawyers Guild (NLG), Center for Constitutional Rights, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Arab Lawyers Union, and American Association of Jurists (Asociación Americana de Juristas)sent aletter on Friday, August 22 to Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), urging her to initiate an investigation of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity committed by Israeli leaders and aided and abetted by U.S. officials in Gaza. Under the Rome Statute, the ICC has the power to hold individuals criminally accountable for the most serious of crimes.

"In light of the extreme gravity of the situation in the occupied Gaza Strip, in particular the large number of civilian casualties and large scale destruction of civilian property, including schools, mosques and hospitals, and the ongoing incitement to genocide perpetrated by Israeli political figures and leaders, the [NLG] and endorsing organizations strongly urge the Office of the Prosecutor to use its power under Article 15 of the Rome Statute to initiate a preliminary investigation" of crimes within the ICC's jurisdiction.

"[Under the Rome Statute, an] individual can be convicted of a war crime, genocide or a crime against humanity . . . if he or she 'aids, abets or otherwise assists' in the commission or attempted commission of the crime, 'including providing the means for its commission'," the letter reads. "By transferring financial assistance, weapons and other military aid to Israel, members of the U.S. Congress, President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have aided and abetted the commission of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity by Israeli officials and commanders in Gaza."

The letter states that on July 20, 2014, in the midst of criminal behavior, Israel requested, and the U.S. Defense Department then authorized, the transfer to Israel of ammunition from the War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition. And in August 2014, Congress overwhelmingly approved, and Obama signed, a $225 million payment for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system.

"Israel's clearly disproportionate use of force against the 1.8 million residents of Gaza appears to have little to do with any claim of security," the organizations wrote, "but seems to be calculated to exact revenge against Palestinian civilians." The letter quotes statements of Israeli officials advocating vengeance against "the entire Palestinian people" and "calling for the internment of Palestinians in concentration camps in Sinai and the destruction of the civilian infrastructure in Gaza."

Allegations of War Crimes

The letter lists the following war crimes, and cites supporting factual allegations for each crime:

willful killing (over 2,000 Palestinians, 80% civilians)

willfully causing great suffering or serious injury (wounding nearly 10,000 Palestinians, 2,200 children)

unlawful, wanton and unjustified extensive destruction and appropriation of property (tens of thousands of Palestinians lost homes, severe damage to infrastructure)

willful deprivation of fair trial rights (450 Palestinians held without charge or trial)

intentional attacks against civilians or civilian objects or humanitarian vehicles, installations and personnel (bombing of numerous schools, UN places of refuge, hospitals, ambulances, mosques)

intentionally launching unjustified attacks, knowing they will kill or injure civilians, damage civilian objects, or cause long-term and severe damage to the natural environment (use of 'Dahiya Doctrine' to apply "disproportionate force" and cause "great damage and destruction to civilian property and infrastructure, and suffering to civilian populations," as defined in UN Human Rights Council [Goldstone] Report) (Israel virtually flattened town of Khuza'a).

Allegations of Genocide

Article 6 of the Rome Statute defines "genocide" as the commission of any of the following acts with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily harm to members of the group; or (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its destruction in whole or in part.

The letter says, "In light of the fact that Palestinians in Gaza had no ability to flee for safety, it must be assumed the responsible Israeli officials knew that huge casualties and destruction of civilian property and infrastructure were certain during the massive bombardment by land, air and sea of the occupied Gaza Strip." The letter also lists "the repeatedly inciting public statements made by Israeli officials before and during the course of Operation Protective Edge and the history of Israel's repeated bombardment of Palestinian refugee camps and populations in Lebanon and in Gaza" as evidence that "Israeli officials may be implementing a plan to destroy the Palestinian population, at least in part."

Allegations of Crimes against Humanity

Article 7 of the Rome Statute defines "crimes against humanity" as the commission of any of the following, when part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: (a) murder; (b) persecution against a group or collectivity based on its political, racial, national, ethnic or religious character; or (c) the crime of apartheid (inhumane acts committed in the context of an institutional regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another racial group, with the intent to maintain that regime).

The letter states, "Israeli forces have killed, wounded, summarily executed and administratively detained Palestinians, Hamas forces and civilians alike. Israeli forces intentionally destroyed the infrastructure in Gaza." It also says Israel keeps Palestinians caged in "the world's largest open air prison," and "controls all ingress and egress to Gaza, and limits . . . access to medicine and other essentials." Finally, the letter cites arbitrary arrest and administrative detention; expropriation of property; destruction of homes, crops and trees; separate areas and roads; segregated housing, legal and educational systems for Palestinians and Jews; the illegal barrier wall encroaching on Palestinian territory; hundreds of illegal Jewish settlements on Palestinian land; and denying the right of Palestinians to return to their homeland because they are not Jews.

The signatories to the letter conclude that "[t]he initiation of an investigation would send a clear message to all involved either in committing or in aiding and abetting of the aforementioned crimes that they stand to be held personally accountable for their actions."

It remains to be seen whether the ICC will exercise jurisdiction in such a case since neither Israel nor the United States is a party to the Rome Statute. But if the ICC determines that Palestine can accede to the Rome Statute, the ICC could take jurisdiction over crimes committed by Israelis and Americans in Palestinian territory.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She is also deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the U.S. representative to the American Association of Jurists (Asociación Americana de Juristas). Her next book, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues, will be published in September 2014.

I’m From Ferguson and I’m Tired and Fed-Up

08/25/14



I’ve grown up in and out of the Ferguson-Florissant area of St. Louis, Missouri for nearly 17 years of my 21 years of life. I have seen the police act as though black people don’t matter. I’ve seen police mistreat black people in every aspect of racial profiling, including what we call ‘driving while black’. My father and brother have been victims of police harassment for ‘driving while black’, arrested multiple times because of it. My mother was arrested and held a day and a half in county jail because she had one tail-light out while she was rushing me to the hospital because I was having serious heart palpitations. Ironically, the cops had a missing tail-light as well. I can go on and on but I’m sure a lot of people have the same stories, and even gruesome ones, at that. Many people have lost family members at the hands of police. Like Michael Brown’s family.

The Ferguson Police Department has always been known for its lack of diversity. Three percent of the cops on their police force are African American but Ferguson’s residents are nearly 70% African American. There should be a police department that reflects the whole community but the Ferguson Police Department from what I remember since I was child has never done that.

Because of this, the Ferguson community has been on shaky ground for YEARS. The killing of Michael Brown finally ripped that ground out from under this small county. The moment Officer Darren Wilson decided to execute Michael Brown and leave his body in his own pool of blood for 4 hours like he wasn’t human was the point where Ferguson residents had enough. The people started to revolt. Never in my life have I seen things change so drastically. What was once home to us has now turned into a war zone and that can never be erased from our memories.
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The first days of the protests, I couldn’t join in because I had to work, but hearing the stories of the people down there being tear-gassed, rubber bullets being thrown at them, pretty much the police treating the people, my people, like they were less than human was just so appalling. When I finally got out to the protests it was during the time where they were throwing out tear gas the most. The media was only just now rolling in. It had been Twitter that had helped bring attention to what was happening. If it weren’t for Twitter, millions of people wouldn’t have seen Michael Brown’s lifeless body left lying on the ground by police for 4 hours, uncovered. If it wasn’t for Twitter, the people outside of Ferguson and even in Ferguson wouldn’t have known what was developing. The people wouldn’t have seen the looting, the rallies, the heavy military action, any of it if it weren’t for the people on the ground that were on Twitter. I live in Ferguson and if it weren’t for people taking to Twitter I wouldn’t have seen half the things I saw.

Now there’s a whole social media activism movement. Hashtags like #HandsUpDontShoot, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, and #Ferguson, show support of Ferguson and Michael Brown coming in from around the world. Seeing people from all walks of life, including black, white, Asian, Native American, Latino, show their support in just simple gestures like their hands up in the air, or chanting or marching in solidarity, was very emotional and such powerful moments to see. We even got people from Palestine giving us tips on how to properly use gas masks and little mixes with milk to help people who are tear gassed. So, while people may think social activism is wack and not helpful, it is to Ferguson.

Ferguson will never be the same and in a way maybe it’s a good thing. We, as the Ferguson community, can change the way the laws are made and can change the way the law treats us. Now we have a voice. Not only a voice that we use each day when we’re protesting but a voice on social media, a voice that people from all around the world want to hear. And it will be heard loud and clear because when all of the media is gone and everybody goes back to the places they’ve come from and back to their ‘normal lives’ we, the people of Ferguson, will still be here because this is now our ‘normal’ life. We have to live here so we have to do all we can to change things, make it all better, and not let everything that we’ve done thus far waste away. We can’t do that to ourselves, we can’t do that to Michael Brown. He could have been one of our kids, our nephews, our cousins, and our grandchildren. He was someone’s kid, someone’s nephew, cousin, grandchild. Black life matters. Black life is beautiful. Things may get harder these next few months as we all fight for justice for Michael Brown and his family but we can’t give up. We’re fed up and tired and have been for a very long time. Now is the time to change things. Now is the time to start a revolution.

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Diamond Latchison, an African American woman, was born in Chicago, IL but has been raised in St. Louis, Missouri for the last 17 years. She’s an avid music fanatic listening to all types of genres from Jazz to Hip Hop but also loves to write stories & poetry during her leisure time.