Leaders of Concerned Citizens for Justice said at a press conference on Thursday morning that 2015 is a «year of resistance and civil disobedience» in response to «state violence against black lives.»
Ash-Lee Henderson said, «We are gathered here this morning on the steps of Chattanooga City Hall on the 86th birthday of Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. to put the city of Chattanooga and this country on notice that we, along with thousands across this country are gathering at institutions of state power in our cities and pledging to make 2015 our year of resistance to state violence against Black lives.
«We challenge ourselves and those in our community to take risks as we confront the many ways that Black lives are diminished and taken from us whether that be through police violence, gross educational and economic inequality, gentrification and displacement, criminalization and mass incarceration, or a multitude of other ways.
«This pledge is in defense of ALL black lives. We stand with Black men and women. We act when Black Queer and Trans lives are threatened. We defend the rights of our Black family when we are poor, disabled and incarcerated. We will elevate their names.
«We pledge to practice resilience. As we make space for direct action and civil disobedience, we will also act for the healing of our communities and make space for our own healing so we may be a part of this movement for the long-haul.
«This year, we will declare boldly and loudly through our words and actions, that #BlackLivesMatter.
«On the week of August 9th, Black youth in Ferguson took to the streets and kicked off a wave of resistance against police violence that has spread across the country. In the last five months, we have stood united in a call for change in our system of policing and a new vision for Black lives, lived fully and with dignity.
«Millions have answered that call with simple acts of civil disobedience. We are marching, shutting down streets, taking highways, stopping trains and yes, even tweeting. We have done all of this together. We’ve met in our homes, offices and schools— and walked out of them, with our hands up. Many of us have organized small actions that when woven together, have tremendous impact.
«This movement belongs to all of us. It is broad and people-powered, made up of many places and parts. No one organization, group or leader can claim this ongoing momentum, which was undeniably sparked by a group of young Black people in Ferguson who said: “Enough.” These marches, sit-ins, and occupations continue a long tradition of civil disobedience in the pursuit of justice that has inspired the world to act. That is real leadership.
«Together, we have made #BlackLivesMatter a dinner table conversation, and in doing so, opened a long-overdue national dialogue on what it takes for Black people to fully attain freedom. Because when we are out in the streets, we know that this movement is bigger than body cameras or civilian review boards. We are all asking important questions.
«What is justice when police officers can kill and beat us with impunity, on and off camera?
«What is justice when the policing system we aim to change feeds our nation’s addiction to prisons, where many of our family members serve unjust sentences that do nothing to repair the fabric of our communities? Meanwhile, law enforcement officers and the departments that employ them are never held accountable for the damage they inflict in our neighborhoods.
«What is justice when the promise of a living wage is beyond the reach of many in our communities? When our schools are broken and underfunded? When we are pushed out of our neighborhoods to make room for wealthier, whiter residents?
«The truth is that justice eludes us: at our schools, in our streets, at our borders, in prison yards, on protest lines and even in our homes. It is that full freedom that we fight for when we say that #BlackLivesMatter.
«This is a movement of and for ALL Black lives— women, men, transgender and queer. We are made up of both youth AND elders aligned through the possibilities that new tactics and fresh strategies offer our movement. Some of us are new to this work, but many of us have been organizing for years. We came together in Mike Brown’s name, but our roots are also in the flooded streets of New Orleans, the bloodied BART stations of Oakland, the Salvation Army halfway house on McCallie Ave and just behind us the building where Waddie Suttles was murdered in a Chattanooga jail.
«We are connected online and in the streets. We are decentralized, but coordinated. Most importantly, we are organized. Yet, we are likely not respectable negroes. We stand beside each other, not in front of one another. We do not cast any one of ours to the side in order to gain proximity to perceived power.
«Because, this is the only way we will win. We can’t breathe. And we won’t stop until Freedom.»