Erica Garner’s Life and the Death Culture of White Supremacy

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Erica Garner, 27, died of a heart attack on December 30, 2017. Many close to her say she died of a broken heart — a heart broken by a violent white supremacist system that repeatedly demonstrated that her life, and that of her father, Eric Garner, did not matter.

Eric Garner was murdered when Daniel Pantaleo, the arresting officer, placed Mr. Garner in an illegal chokehold. While the medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, and Garner’s death by the state became a national scandal, justice for the murder has never been served. Despite having a checkered past as an officer who abused his authority, he continues to enjoy full-time employment with NYPD. This was no accident. NYC mayor Bill de Blasio, the so-called “progressive,” prevented Officer Pantaleo’s previous disciplinary records from being used in the court proceedings. These could have helped the case for justice, and without them the Staten Island grand jury refused even to indict Pantaleo.

In response to her father’s death, Erica Garner became an ardent racial justice activist. She led twice weekly protest marches and die-ins to the site of her father’s death, and emerged as a key NYC figure demanding accountability for police killings of African- Americans. As author Ezinne Ukoha wrote, “She never stopped holding the NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio accountable and spent the better days of her young life being an active justice seeker.” She was a tireless advocate for people of color whose lives had been destroyed by state violence, only to succumb to the impacts of state violence at age 27.

How did state violence kill Erica Garner?

Political scientist and commentator Melissa Harris-Perry, in Elle, clearly makes the case that Erica Garner’s death is attributable to institutional racism and state violence in America. State violence, physical and psychological violence, is enacted by the institutions in power on the most marginalized members of the population — Black people, indigenous people, and other people of color — who face outrageous mistreatment and discrimination through police departments, courts, schools, health cares and other powerful societal institutions.

The Movement for Black Lives Global Network sums up the myriad ways in which Erica Garner’s death is a result of state violence:

Erica died of a heart attack but her death was anything but natural; she died at the hands of a state that builds healthcare systems that neglect the needs of Black women and Black mothers in particular, a state that is engaged in a war on Black people, a state that has constructed and deploys a policing system that directly kills Black people and indirectly murders our families and loved ones by forcing them to engage in a never-ending struggle for justice under this current system. Erica’s death stands as a stark illumination of the ways in which police violence also takes an unimaginable toll on our families: emotionally, spiritually, financially, and physically.

The wounds from the criminal injustice system. Since 1980, before Erica’s father was killed by the NYPD in 2014, he had been arrested 30 times due to the NYPD’s misguided broken windows theory of policing. Disproportionately, it’s Black women and children, like Erica Garner, who suffer the most under the weight of oppressive policing and constant exposure to the criminal justice system, and on whom the criminal injustice system takes its most crushing toll.

The wounds from activism. Erica Garner was an activist with all her might. And while stress and anxiety of organizing takes a toll, organizers persevere because they know their lives, their families’ lives, and the life of their community depend on it. Ashley Williams, an organizer with the Charlotte Uprising coalition in North Carolina, puts it like this: “Police misconduct, poverty, and white supremacy do not take vacation days, so black activists feel like they can’t either.” Garner addressed her situation by stating “I’m struggling right now, with the stress and everything, ’cause this thing, it beats you down. The system beats you down until you can’t win.” Still, she kept fighting.

The physiological wounds of racism and the U.S. healthcare system. At the time of her death Erica Garner was a postpartum mother of two, with a 4 month old. She lived in a country where maternal mortality is not only the highest in the developed world, but is also disproportionately higher for Black women, and higher in NYC than the rest of the country. After giving birth to her baby, Erica Garner was diagnosed with an enlarged heart. According todata from the National Center for Health Statistics, African-American women suffer rates of heart disease that are twice as high as white women; African-American women are also 30% more likely than white women to die of heart disease. “African American women live sicker and die younger than Caucasian women,” the study says, “largely as a result of heart disease.” Additionally, like her father, Erica Garner had asthma. A U.S. Department of HSS Office of Minority Health report found in 2015 that African-American women were 20% more likely to have asthma than white women, and African Americans were almost three times more likely to die of asthma-related causes than whites.

A call to action for white people… On one hand, stopping institutional racism and state violence seems overwhelming; on the other, doing nothing makes us complicit in the system’s well-being. As white people of conscience, it is our duty to continuously center, lift up, and support the fight for justice. With that in mind, we call upon white people to take action to interrupt the racism that exists at all levels and to stop being complicit in the white supremacist system. We must think beyond just “fixing the system.” For the white power elite who hold ultimate control, the system isn’t broken at all, and there’s only so much change they’ll allow. Institutionalized racism, with its attendant state violence, works quite well for those who prosper and benefit from the conditions that allowed Eric Garner to die and his killer walk free, or his daughter to die, no doubt from living a life where she was never meant to survive.

We MUST expand our consciousness and understand that the systems are working perfectly well to ensure that Black people, indigenous people, and other people of color are locked up and/or blocked out of society. Institutional racism dehumanizes Black bodies and allows police officers to feel a threat to their safety where none exists. Systems protect law enforcement officers who kill and denies justice to grieving families and communities. They mitigate against the physical and mental health, the economic security, physical safety, and overall well-being of Black lives. We must think beyond the limitations of oppressive systems to help imagine, create, and support new systems entirely.

Erica Garner supported the Movement for Black Lives; her tragic death is a reminder that each of us, particularly white people, must assume some level of responsibility to continue supporting the movement for Black liberation. One way to take action is to support the Movement’s policy goals, strengthening legislative efforts that bring justice to Black and Brown people. You can donate to the movement here.

It’s also important for white people to organize together in support of people of color led movements, in the ways they request. We must understand how we, even as white people of good conscience, participate in and receive material and psychic benefits from the white supremacist system, and therefore that we too are implicated in state violence. It’s our responsibility to ask, what are we willing to do? What are we willing to give up? What are we willing to say? Are we willing to unapologetically say Black Lives Matter? Are we willing to give up some of our comfort to step into anti-racist action? Will we put our time and financial resources toward the liberation of Black people?Here are also some ways to think about the impact of Erica Garner’s death through the lens of reproductive justice and ways we can embolden ourselves to do better for Black women in 2018. Join us in fighting against white supremacy and supporting these efforts.

LAUSD’s Failed Metal Detector Policy


White People for Black Lives stands in solidarity with the students of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Schools LA Students Deserve, Youth Justice Coalition, Black Lives Matter, United Teachers of Los Angeles, American Civil Liberties Union, Public Counsel, and numerous other organizations and individuals in opposing LAUSD’s Random Metal Detector Search Policy outlined in Bulletin 5424.2.

Public awareness of gun violence in schools grew exponentially with the Columbine shootings and subsequent similar events. In the aftermath of these tragic occurrences, cities and school districts throughout the nation implemented measures with the goal of increasing student safety. Many of these measures enforced similar strategies to that of the LAUSD’s Random Metal Detector Search Policy. However, after years of trying these methods, results have shown the opposite effect. Far from achieving a safer and more disciplined learning environment, these policies instead have instilled fear and distrust of the educators; the LAUSD’s Random Metal Detector Search Policy creates distractions, interferes with the students’ ability to focus on their studies and learn, and erodes their sense of dignity and personal safety at school.

California and Los Angeles have painted an image of a progressive diverse culture. Yet people of color living in Los Angeles consistently experience a different reality from that which is presented through the media, especially in terms of their disproportionate contact with the demoralizing and inhumane criminal justice system. California and Los Angeles have been leaders in this area as well, with the largest prison population amongst the states. This policy presents a continuation of the “school to prison pipeline” that undermines Los Angeles’ progressive image as well as presents an existential threat to the wellbeing of citizens of color of all ages.

The Random Metal Detector Search Policy is rife with abuse, racial profiling, and other problematic outcomes, like students’ psychological distress and increased incarceration rates. There is growing evidence that these intrusive and punitive measures are ineffective. In this situation, these measures can damage trust between students and school personnel and can undermine teaching and learning activities. Yet, Los Angeles continues to be one of the very few districts left in the nation that upholds such policies in their schools. The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education recommend against such punitive approaches to school security in favor of creating schools “where students and staff are empowered to demonstrate positive, caring, and restorative approaches to improving school climate and discipline.”

The implementation of the Random Metal Detector Search Policy perpetuates a feeling of hopelessness for students. The schools tell students that the staff are there to help them learn, become the best people they can be, and achieve their personal goals, which we hope are aligned with improving the world around us. However, when staff are forced to treat students like potential suspects in criminal activity, this denigrates and demoralize them in front of their peers. It creates fear within the entire student body which becomes a distraction and impediment to positive and peaceful learning goals.

In addition, random metal detector searches normalize the LAPD’s “stop and frisk” policy; initiating and continuing a parallel policy in the schools tacitly endorses this practice on the streets and neighborhoods. It is worth noting that in New York City, the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” policy similarly targeted people of color in an effort to “prevent” crime. Not only did the courts rule this unconstitutional, but it was also shown to have no impact on reducing crime. It only served as a mechanism to detain and harass people of color and confiscate their belongings. In the same way, random school searches infringe on the rights of students and result in confiscation of their property. Ipods, hair brushes, sandwiches, highlighters, and nail polish are examples of items deemed a threat by school police.

This issue is a concern for the community at-large who are committed to a healthy educational environment for students in LAUSD. In the words of activist and actor Matt McGorry:

Over the last year, I have had the great honor of getting to know a number of the students involved in fighting against these racist and ineffective policies. These intelligent and courageous youth are the leaders that will continue to work for and create a better city, state, and country as they continue to grow. How, in good conscience, can we call this City a beacon of progress, if we refuse to treat the lives and minds of these brave leaders with basic dignity? How would we feel if it was our own children that were being harassed and deterred from learning and feelings of safety in their schools? In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” That time has passed. Please do the right thing and eliminate this ineffective and discriminatory policy once and for all.

We call on LAUSD to unequivocally reject and discontinue the Random Metal Detector Search Policy.

Steps you can take to support the Students Not Suspects campaign:

  1. Please read and share widely this article about the #StudentsNotSuspects movement:
  2. Please sign the petition to end random searches in LAUSD schools:
  3. Please donate to the Students Not Suspects campaign and help to expand organizing efforts to other schools:
  4. Follow Students Not Suspects on Instagram: @studentsnotsuspects

WP4BL statement on Transgender Day of Remembrance

On Transgender Day of Remembrance, we mourn and honor the lives of transgender and gender-nonconforming people who have been murdered this year in the United States. As we remember, we also acknowledge that a combination of anti-trans bias and racism leads to trans people of color experiencing particularly harmful levels of discrimination and violence. Discrimination and violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people is not only perpetrated by individuals, but also by the state.

The statistics are staggering:

  • According to the National Anti-Violence Project, 64% of all LGBTQ murder victims in the United States during 2016 were Black.

  • 54% of all LGBTQ murder victims were trans women of color.

  • According to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey, US trans people were nearly four times as likely to be living in extreme poverty, with Black trans people more than eight times as likely as the general U.S. population to be living in extreme poverty.

  • 47% of all Black trans people have been incarcerated at some point.

As white people, we can take action by:

  • Unlearning our own racism and committing to educating ourselves on the intersection of white supremacy and patriarchy, systems which sustain the hostile conditions that put trans women of color, and Black trans women specifically, at increased risk for violence.

  • Getting involved in anti-racist action by finding local racial justice groups, and ensuring that our actions support Black trans lives.

  • Financially supporting organizations led by trans women of color.

  • Engaging other white people in conversation about how the freedom of trans people, especially Black trans women, is critical to the formation of peaceful, just communities.

We echo the demand of the Movement for Black Lives to end the war on Black trans, queer, and gender-nonconforming people, including through policies that perpetuate discrimination and harassment in education, employment, policing, prisons, health care, housing, and more.


Los Angeles Mayor Protects Police Chief, Community Demands: #FireBeck

White People 4 Black Lives is in solidarity with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles’ call to #FireBeck. Los Angeles Police Chief, Charlie Beck, has reigned over LAPD since 2009. In that time, he continued the oversight of policies and practices that led to police killing Angelenos with impunity. In addition to overseeing the most murderous police force in the country, under the watchful eye of Charlie Beck, a recent scandal came to light within the LAPD cadet program that included several police officers, stolen police vehicles, and statutory rape. Not surprisingly, the Chief stood in front of cameras for the photo op, condemning the unlawful actions of his police officers. In that moment, Chief Beck had the opportunity to do right by Angelenos to hold himself personally responsible for the practices of the LAPD. In light of the latest fiasco, Los Angeles residents must consider the following question: Are corrupt and violent officers ‘bad apples’ or a product of a police culture where cop frequently violate our civil rights while receiving protection from their superiors?

Looking at the LAPD’s recent record, it is clear that Chief Beck has perpetuated the culture of impunity that Los Angeles law enforcement has been notorious for since its inception. Chief Beck went on the record saying he will “protect” police officers like the “vests that they wear.” This protection almost always extends to cops who trample on our civil rights, abuse and kill Black and Brown Angelenos, and purjor themselves to cover up their tracks. LAPD officer are so well protected that from 2012-2014, not a single racial profiling complaint out of 1,356 led to disciplinary action for the officers involved. These send a clear and powerful message to officers and the community at large: criminal behavior is condoned and perpetuated by this Police Chief.

Chief Beck’s culture of impunity and police overreach extend to all facets of community engagement. Countless examples exist to support his failure to conduct an accountable and transparent department. In the past, the Police Protective League, the union representing the majority of LAPD, took Chief Beck to court, claiming he had a "corrupting influence" on the disciplinary process. Before the Police Commission investigates instances of potential misconduct that includes excessive use of force, Beck makes his own ruling on the force used. This puts pressure on the Commission to find the officers in policy regardless of the information they receive that could otherwise discipline the officer. This undermines the authority of the Board. Beck permits his department to withhold footage, edit videos, and turn off the recording equipment before interactions without any punishment. He has said he has "no plans to release video footage" from dash cams and body cams to the public. Additionally, twenty-two minutes of the surveillance tapes of Wakiesha Wilson’s death (while in police custody) are missing and Chief Beck has done nothing to address this. He has expressed openly and publicly that “the vast majority of the time” he sides with police, “regardless of public opinion.” It is clear through his actions and his words, he protects police officers from accountability in all possible ways at the expense of Angelenos most targeted by his police force. Meanwhile, community members continue to attend Police Commission meetings and are subject to arrest, including an 81 year old man--who spoke for 10 seconds during public comment and was arrested in front of Chief Beck.

Not only does Charlie Beck's irresponsibility lead to the murder of Black and Brown Angelenos, but those murders also cost the city of Los Angeles millions of dollars to settle the many civil lawsuits against the LAPD. The LA City Council projects the city will have to pay out $135 million in 2017 to settle litigation brought by grieving families, disability-rights groups and people wrongfully convicted of crimes. In order to do so, the City will have to borrow $70 million to avoid dipping into its emergency fund.

This toxic culture must end, starting with accountability. Los Angeles must turn the page on Charlie Beck’s failed leadership. Mayor Eric Garcetti must #FireBeck and demonstrate that he will not tolerate an LAPD ranked as the most murderous law enforcement agency in the country. Together, the people of Los Angeles must shatter the blue shield that protects police corruption and violence and undermines our collective pursuit of safety and justice.

Take Action! Call Mayor Garcetti's Office (213-978-0600) and demand he #FireBeck because of Chief Charlie Beck's failure to hold violent, corrupt, and killer cops accountable. Call daily, it only takes a few seconds.

Black Lives Matter Los Angeles local demands:

  1. Fire Chief Beck for his refusal to hold LAPD officers accountable.

  2. Work in partnership with the Los Angeles City Council to develop a reparations strategy.

  3. Hold Police Commission meetings that are open, accessible, and at night - a time when working people can attend.

  4. Appoint real community advocates to key commission seats.

  5. Adhere to the agreed upon Town Hall meeting structure with Black community negotiated in July 2015.


#WhitesAgainstTrump: Following Up, Following Through, and a Call To Action

For many white people, November 9th 2016 marked a turning point in their view of America’s trajectory of human rights progress. However, for Americans of color in particular, this trajectory was never taken for granted and the election of Donald Trump was, in many ways, anything but a surprise. Since election day, countless opinion pieces have been written attempting to understand why and how Donald Trump, with his message of populism and white nationalism, captured the hearts of so many voters. While many feel despair and fear at the uncertain course ahead, there is also reason for hope and, most importantly, the requirement for action. Among the many valuable analyses offered, why do we choose to continue to focus on racial justice, and why is anti-racist white organizing an important tool in the Trump America?

Prior to the election, a network of dedicated white anti-racist activists across the country tried to prevent the reality of a Trump presidency. These efforts failed. If we are going to be effective in bringing about a more just and equitable society, quite simply more white people need to step into anti-racist action in this country. The role of white people is not that of “savior” but rather to recognize that we, as white people, also suffer under the current white supremacist system, and we too, need to be freed. While white people are profound beneficiaries of white supremacy, there is also a moral and psychological toll exacted through generations of the perpetration of dehumanizing violence and the breakdown of empathy. Of course, it is also in the self-interest of white people to be able to work effectively in multiethnic coalitions, to not be pitted against people of color to fight over scarce resources, which sabotages unity in demand for better wages, clean air and water, access to good education, housing and healthcare. White anti-racism efforts serve to recognize, repair, and reclaim a new way of being white in the world that rejects white supremacy and works to dismantle it. We work in concert with people of color so that we may all be liberated from the oppression of violence, injustice, scarcity of resources, and the failures of human empathy that we see around us. Not in more than a generation has it been so clear to wide swaths of the American citizenry that their liberation is at stake.The great indigenous activist, Lilla Watson, famously said, “if you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come here because your liberation is bound up with mine, let us work together.”

White People 4 Black Lives emerged in Los Angeles in 2014 as a white, anti-racist activist collective. We were responding to the explosion of anti-Black violence nationally, and the failure of our “criminal justice system” to redress its own endemic racism. Our immediate desires were to support the Movement for Black Lives, the L.A. chapter of Black Lives Matter, and to “call in” other white people to help end white supremacy and all manifestations of institutionalized racism. Soon after, we affiliated with national SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), which had organized in 2009 to address the anti-Black backlash and rise in visible racist attacks following the election of Barack Obama. We have work to do and the uphill battle will be steep. We are calling upon our fellow white people of conscience who may be questioning the status quo, wondering how we got to a Trump presidency, feeling motivated to take action but hesitating out of fear of getting it wrong or having no idea what to do in this crucial moment in time.

To white folks who have been activated by a Trump presidency and looking for what to do, here are a few suggestions:

  • Read and Learn: Due to the whitewashing of American history in schools, and politicians who push a color-blind agenda, race is often never discussed in white homes or communities. It’s no wonder, then, that white people so often struggle for adequate understanding, context, and vocabulary to describe the various forms of racism and their impacts on individuals and society. It is important for us as white folks to commit to self education; we don’t want to put the burden of this work on people of color. It’s not their responsibility to carry us through our anti-racist education process. There are many great works by people of color as well as white anti-racists to draw from. A great tool is the Black Lives Matter Syllabus, but don’t stop there.


  • Be mindful of language: Many Facebook posts following Trump’s election were filled with statements of shock and dismay, particularly from white people, many of whom were seemingly unaware of how pervasive white racist sentiment still is in this country. During the campaign it was easy enough for us with white skin privilege to dismiss Trump’s followers as “fringe,” while people of color were warning that white supremacy is indeed a real and viable political strategy and still infests the hearts and minds of enough white people to get him elected. We must be mindful of the language we use on social media and elsewhere; our shock as white people only serves to discount and minimize the lived experiences of the most marginalized. There are many thoughtful pieces circulating from people of color who want white folks to move from “shock” into action.


  • Find an existing organization and get involved: There are many white folks who are newly engaged and activated because of a Trump presidency, and this is wonderful. Unfortunately, though, racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and islamophobia were problems in America long before Trump’s candidacy. Fortunately, amazing networks, organizations and individuals already exist with years and decades of experience working for social justice and human rights. Before trying to reinvent the wheel, check if there’s a local group already doing the work that speaks to you. Chances are they can use more hands and resources; your time may be best utilized supporting an organization that’s been around awhile. You can find local white anti-racist chapters across the country here.


  • If you can’t find an organization in your area, start one: There are many places in the U.S. that still lack infrastructure for anti-racist organizing. Those areas will need some heavy lifting when it comes to transforming hearts, minds, and institutions. Starting from the ground up is hard, but rewarding. There are toolkits for starting your own chapter here.

There’s value in remembering that there are many justice advocates who have been working for decades during more and less hospitable Presidential administrations. State oppression is, perhaps, an existential given of modern life. We are in a period of renewed visibility of the oppressive structures and it may get worse before it gets better. History serves both as a caution and as an inspiration.

Finally, we have reason for optimism and hope. Current social, economic, environmental, and racial justice movements are alive and well. They are also intersecting with each other, supporting one another, and working together in ways that previous issue-oriented movements did not. Based on this, we envision the potential for a mass movement broader and deeper than even the Civil Rights, Anti-Vietnam War, and Women’s Movements. White anti-racism is a key ingredient to a mass movement. Demographics alone require meaningful and substantial white participation in large-scale social movements if we want to see real change.

White People 4 Black Lives (WP4BL) is a white anti-racist collective and activist project of the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere (AWARE-LA) and operates within a national network of white anti-racists called Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). WP4BL is rooted in acting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles locally, and the Movement for Black Lives nationally. If you are in Los Angeles and would like to get involved, send an email to whitepeople4racialjustice "at"

#NoDAPL Solidarity Statement

White People for Black Lives, the Los Angeles affiliate of Showing Up 4 Racial Justice (SURJ), stands in solidarity with the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux) peoples at Standing Rock whose water protectors are staging a defense against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) project. Led by politically connected, powerful corporations and bankrolled by Wall Street, the DAPL will snake under the Missouri River, through sacred burial grounds and greatly endanger water sources that are livelihood and life for Oceti Sakowin communities. These facts are only backed by legal doctrine that unequivocally support the case against the pipeline. In fact, the construction is in violation of five federal treaties and regulations that should govern its construction. However, the letter of the law and word of our government has always defrauded Native peoples. Which is why non-Native, and especially white solidarity with the Native water protectors at Standing Rock is paramount. In light of the strength of white nationalist politics demonstrated in the election, white solidarity with people of color led movements is more important than ever.

As white, antiracist allies, we frame this moment of resistance at Standing Rock through the lens of opposition to white supremacy. According to whitestream histories of the United States, the indigenous people of this continent were eradicated by colonization. However, the massive Native resistance shown at Standing Rock is a firm affirmation of Native existence; and, likewise, that colonialism still persists in the US, and must be exposed and opposed. We acknowledge the systematic attempts at the destruction of indigenous peoples, starting in the seventeenth century and continuing to the present day. Broken treaties, smallpox, stolen land, planned starvation, military occupation, kidnapping and forced assimilation, and finally annexation and “second class citizenship” are this country’s record.  

In order to swallow the mythology of US democracy, we must  refuse to acknowledge the dispossession of land and the political exclusion of Native peoples. In fact, the US democracy story requires their erasure. Those supporting the DAPL just want the Oceti Sakowin to go away, to not have dignities or rights that counter the “progress” of US capitalism. This moment has brought into the consciousness of many white people that which is deliberately hidden from view; it is easy to see the state’s reaction when indigenous people come into view--violent suppression. We, as white antiracist allies, must call out the blatantly racist tactics US governmental and corporate forces are currently employing against indigenous people at Standing Rock. Suppression tactics have included LRADs, MRAPs, attack dogs, pepper spray, mass arrests, rubber bullets, and bean bag rounds.

In challenging white supremacy, we must amplify the indigenous voices that fight for their survival even to this day. We, as white antiracist allies, must advance the interests of indigenous communities by pushing their stories into the consciousness of masses of white people.  Humanization penetrates the soothing salve of ignorance. We do not need to frame this struggle as one of whitestream climate change or sustainable development when Native leaders are giving voice to the most critical political analysis on the topic. In North America and globally, indigenous peoples’ struggles for sovereignty and defense of the earth have been the strongest bulwark against the destruction of water and land.

We must draw attention to the unfolding, expected media narrative that centers whiteness, reducing indigenous leaders to primitive, inferior, nameless beings, unworthy of the same rights, privileges and political agency proclaimed available to whites. Indeed, the very land that provides the current battleground is stolen. We must also take care against well-meaning but insensitive attempts by white activists to reshape or redefine Native-led struggles to suit our own narratives or perspectives.

As members of White People for Black Lives-Los Angeles, we recognize that we too are living on stolen lands--of the Tongva peoples. As white allies, we must be conscious of our own participation in the cruel and ongoing colonial denial of the Tongva and other Native peoples and their rights. As such, we must be mindful to keep indigenous people centered in their struggles for justice, so that our alliance with them may continue to grow in challenging evolving practices of colonialism. We must defer to the wisdom and expertise of Native leadership, respecting their lived experiences and trusting that they know both the goals and the tactics that are best suited to meet those goals. More specifically, when in engaged in resistance at Standing Rock, we must arrive with open hearts and minds, as followers.

We are witnessing a critical moment of resistance in Standing Rock. Over 200 tribes have coalesced, uniting in peaceful protest. Thousands of people have come together to ask only for what is theirs ― land and water, yes, but also basic human rights. #WaterIsLife #NoDAPL

Showing Up for Racial Justice offers us specific ways white people can get involved in supporting Standing Rock:

  1. Donation pages are here:

  2. Go to North Dakota. If you're not able to go, take action against all of the targets outlined here: There have been actions taking place across the country, from banks to school walk-outs to police departments to golf courses owned by corporate CEOs

  3. Target mainstream media outlets online to call out lack of coverage, using hashtags #MediaWhiteout and #NoDAPL

White People 4 Black Lives Solidarity Statement with #Charlotte #Tulsa #Columbus

Terence Crutcher in Tulsa OK, Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte NC, and 13 year old Ty’re King in Columbus OH are the three Black people most recently shot and killed by police notoriously and publicly, the latest examples of the tragedy of US racism. Their killings were senseless and preventable; yet, already, some people around the country are looking for a reason or explanation to ignore or minimize the significance of these ongoing acts of deadly violence. However, there is no justification.

In these moments, we need more than another letter or statement like this one, which really only echoes what Black folks have been saying for years, decades, and centuries. As white folks, we must start listening, acknowledging, responding, and acting with determination to solve the problems of white racism. We can do this by:

  • Supporting Colin Kaepernick and other athletes in their refusal to stand during the national anthem. 
  • Challenging our friends when they fail to see constant violence against Black people as an expression of anything other than a social system that is racist and profoundly broken. We must call these friends and other white people we know into the movement to end police violence, racism, and white supremacy in the US, into the community of justice and transformation. 
  • Reframing conversations in white communities from the need for “peace” --meaning quiet-- to a focus on systemic racism and state sanctioned violence. 
  • Building relationships and networks with other white anti-racists and show up when allies are needed in this struggle - at rallies and actions to support the Black Lives Matter movement or helping with planning and providing needed resources. 
  • Promoting and defending the voices of Black movements against state repression and media racism. We must help provide material and legal resources and court support for Black and other people facing such repression for standing up and speaking out against racist police murders.
  • Acknowledging and supporting our Black and brown friends when they tell us about their experiences of racism. We need to offer unquestioning support, without searching for reasons or explanations that only cast doubt on what is at this point an undeniable reality: racism is everyday and nationwide. 
  • Working hard to overcome the day-to-day institutionalized and internalized racism in commerce, education, government, and belief systems that the police killings grow out of and enforce.

As the Los Angeles chapter of White People 4 Black Lives (WP4BL), we support Black people expressing themselves in response to all forms of racial oppression. Black people are leading their own struggles and have their own political strategies. We must support these brave folks who are committed to a better vision for America. We commit ourselves and call on other white people to engage in critical self-reflection and examination about the meaning of race and whiteness in our lives. We also commit ourselves and urge other white people to take action and organize.
We need to challenge and change what is normal white culture in this country so that it is no longer anti-Black. Let’s dismantle white supremacy.

White People 4 Black Lives (WP4BL) is a white anti-racist collective and activist project of the Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere (AWARE-LA) and operates within a national network of white anti-racists called Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ). WP4BL is rooted in acting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles. If you are in Los Angeles and would like to get involved, send an email to

#DecolonizeLACityHall Solidarity Statement

White People 4 Black Lives is in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter activists and allies who have been participating in the #DecolonizeLACityHall encampment in Los Angeles since July 12, 2016. On this date, the Los Angeles Police Commission--the alleged “community oversight” board to the Los Angeles Police Department--found the murder of #RedelJones to be “in policy.” We believe that this and other inactions by the police commission illustrate that the police commission is ineffective at holding officers accountable for excessive use of force and murder, and perpetuates the abusive and murderous tactics of the LAPD.

According to Black Lives Matter Los Angeles: Redel Jones, who stood 4'10" tall, was accused of stealing $80 with a kitchen knife from a local pharmacy on August 12, 2015. By witness accounts, she was running away from police when she was spotted in an alley and shot as she fled; her body laid on the pavement for hours and her family was not notified of her death for more than a week. Redel was the mother of a 7 year-old girl and a 13 year-old boy; her husband, Marcus Vaughn, travelled to Los Angeles by bus to be present for the ruling. Her family is still reeling from her death and outraged by the ruling.*

The day after the Redel Jones verdict was read, the mayor and police chief were on “official” business at the White House to engage in dialogue about policing in the United States, yet they refuse to engage in dialogue about policing in their backyard. The strategic absence of the mayor and police chief at a time when there would be anticipated community backlash is not new and only further demonstrates their unwillingness to engage with community members who critique policing practices. Instead of firing Beck or meeting with activists at the encampment, which have been demanded by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti chooses to meet with who he deems so-called voices of Black communities in Los Angeles who will not call into question or demand scrutiny of policing practices in the city.

While at this forum on policing at the White House, Chief Beck espoused that the community needs more “dialogue” in Los Angeles about policing. Yet he fails to create such opportunities for meaningful dialogue. The only space for alleged “dialogue” is at the inaccessible LA Police Commission meetings that are held at 9:30a.m. on Tuesday mornings, when most people have to work. It is held at the epicenter of policing, the Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters, rather than at a community-based site. The optics alone in this “community meeting” are unsettling to witness: armed police officers in the room surrounding the public, the first two rows closest to the Board of Police Commissioners closed to the public--reserved for police officers only, Commissioners and Charlie Beck on their cell phones during public comment, and members of the public being arrested for speaking during public comment or speaking past their 2 minute public comment time. Still, Black Lives Matter activists and allies attend weekly to have their voices heard. Dialogue can only go so far though, when the community demands action.

When Beck provided his weekly report to the Commission just one week after the Redel Jones verdict, he focused solely on “Black on Black” crime. This is a direct insult to Black Lives Matter activists, who continue to push back against this common tactic of focusing on “Black on Black crime” as a way to divert attention from police excessive use of force. This is a false narrative because it is a phenomenon that simply doesn’t exist. Crime almost always occurs intra-racially and it is not unique to Black people, and in fact is a direct result of racial segregation that exists in the city. Therefore, when crimes are committed, they are overwhelmingly likely to be committed between people of the same racial or ethnic background. Beck didn’t include this information in his report.

The policies and practices of killing Angelenos with impunity must end, and in order for it to end, accountability needs to start with Charlie Beck and his failed leadership. Mayor Eric Garcetti must #FireBeck and demonstrate that he does not enjoy and will not tolerate having the LAPD rank as the most murderous law enforcement agency in the country. This should be considered a disgrace and a mark on his record as mayor. A Black life was taken by Los Angeles Police, and once again, it was found in policy. With 21 people murdered in 2015 and 11 murdered this year, many with a known history of mental health issues, one must begin to question the policies of LAPD. One must assume the lack of accountability, lack of de-escalation training, and policies that allow for Black and Brown people running away from police to be killed, all synergistically create the conditions for LAPD to be the most murderous law enforcement agency in the country. No doubt, protection is provided to the police-turned-vigilantes under Chief Beck, who is on record stating that he will “protect” police officers like the “vests that they wear.” Furthermore, although over 1,000 complaints were filed against officers in the past year, NONE of them led to admonishment or punishment for any of the officers involved--even the LA Police Commission President Matt Johnson, who is no friend of Black Lives Matter, had to call this into question. White People 4 Black Lives supports Black Lives Matter Los Angeles’ call to #FireBeck for these reasons. We do not want this occupying force in the city.  We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, who demands of all of us to reimagine what public safety should look like.

Black Lives Matter Los Angeles local demands:

  1. Fire Chief Beck for his refusal to hold LAPD officers accountable.

  2. Work in partnership with the Los Angeles City Council to develop a reparations strategy.

  3. Hold Police Commission meetings that are open, accessible, and at a time when working people can attend.

  4. Appoint real community advocates to key commission seats.

  5. Adhere to the agreed Town Hall meeting structure with Black community negotiated in July 2015.

*This excerpt is taken from a petition Black Lives Matter Los Angeles is asking for community support in signing, please visit:

#FreeJasmine Solidarity Statement

White People 4 Black Lives believes the recent unjust conviction of Black Lives Matter activist Jasmine (Richards) Abdullah, and the 8-year sentence meted out to Joshua Williams in Ferguson for property damage during protest, underscore again the fundamental inequity and racism in a criminal (in)justice system that provides impunity to racist murders by police while criminalizing dissent and advocacy of human rights by Black freedom fighters.

These court results, while unacceptable, are not unprecedented; they are unfortunately more often the rule rather than the exception. Targeted surveillance, "kettling" of protesters (blocking egress while simultaneously declaring an assembly unlawful and ordering dispersal), mass arrests, abusive language and physical provocation and mistreatment of Black activists, selective prosecution, and harsh sentencing for protesters have become the order of the day in an effort to chill dissent and public exposures of police killings, shootings, beatings and deaths in custody. Law enforcement and prosecutors in L.A. County have gone after outspoken demonstrators and organizers of resistance to police abuse, while providing no legal check on police officers who maim and kill, even when their actions are found "out of policy" by the LA Board of Police Commissioners, charged with community oversight of the LAPD.

This is not new. Going back to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, institutional enforcers of the status quo of racism and white supremacy have used any means at their disposal to try to quash dissent and resistance. The attempt to criminalize and intimidate Black Lives Matter advocates and allies today has all the hallmarks of the beatings and arrests of civil rights protesters and voting rights advocates, the targeting and politically motivated frame-ups of Black Panthers, and the infiltration and surveillance of groups like the Coalition Against Police Abuse. Meanwhile, the infrequent prosecutions of police who kill Black people that result in acquittals or wrist slaps, as well as the much more frequent refusal to prosecute or even name such officers, make it clear that District Attorneys and courts are complicit in the "blue wall of silence" and guarantee of impunity that allow racist police killings to continue.

The school-to-prison pipeline, the racist disparities in police stops, arrests, convictions and sentencing, the use of mass incarceration to confine and control Black communities, and the targeting of activists who seek to expose, address and overturn such evils is testament to the deeply rooted nature of racism and white supremacy not only in the criminal justice system, but in the entire political, economic and social system it upholds and protects. Reinforcing racism in housing, education, employment and even the environment, such systematic injustice must be ended NOW. The costs in stolen lives, blighted aspirations and even in planetary ecological sustainability are too great to be borne any longer.

What you can do:

There are 4 ways you can support:

1. Please sign and share the Color of Change petition to #FreeJasmine here

2. Write a support letter and send it to Jasmine's attorney and send it to Judge Elaine Lu. You may use language such as:

Jasmine Richards was recently and unjustly convicted of a felony in Pasadena. I have personally witnessed how this valiant and socially conscious young women has been repeatedly and selectively targeted for police harassment, intimidation and arrest at protests in which we both participated and at the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners meetings we have both attended. Engaged in similar first amendment protected speech, our treatment has been entirely different, which I suspect is because I am a 69-year old white male retired school teacher -- nonetheless outraged about racist police murders and vocal about it. But police do not single me out as they do Jasmine, whom they seem to perceive as an existential threat. I believe her arrest, prosecution and conviction are unjustified, and I urge you to exert your judicial authority to suspend any sentence if you cannot indeed exculpate her and toss the conviction out entirely.

3. Donate to Black Lives Matter LA Legal Defense at and make a note "Jasmine" for funds to go to her support.

4. Share this solidarity statement with your networks and help get the word out about the conviction.

Statement of Solidarity with Black Lives Matter and Baltimore Uprising

What we have witnessed in the streets of Baltimore this week is a popular uprising - it is Black resistance to repeated and unchecked state violence. As white anti-racists, we stand in solidarity with Baltimore and Black resistance to white supremacy.

The mainstream media only has one frame of reference for covering these events: to undermine and discredit its significance by using ready-made and racialized labels such as “riots,” “looters,” “thugs” and “criminals.” These terms are not ahistorical, and these terms are not apolitical. Every time a news anchor wags a finger because of the destruction of property or paternalistically wrings their hands over their imagined idea of the broken Black family, they are affirming the violent anti-Black bedrock that this country sits upon. This is not ok. This is a feedback loop of hypocrisy and denial.

Either/or thinking (“good” protesters vs. “bad” protesters) and double standards characterize our media coverage, immediately erasing the context out of which these actions emerge. When white people express rage, such as when there is a loss in a major sports game that results in a “riot,” the media coverage is much more forgiving, and never refers to those engaging in “violent” behavior as “thugs.” Similarly, the “good” cops vs. “bad” cops binary fails to take into account the role of policing in Black communities - justifying the over-policing of Black communities and other communities of color and suggesting that it’s only those rare “bad” apples that contribute to the fear and rage in Black communities toward law enforcement. It is Black communities, not white communities, who are subject to unfair searches through “stop and frisk” laws that disproportionately target people of color and Black people, not white people, who are targets of legally sanctioned, yet dehumanizing, policing tactics on a daily basis by “good” cops. It assumes that “good” police officers are somehow devoid of conscious and unconscious bias when interacting with the communities they are sworn to protect. This binary assumes that policing is necessary in order to keep residents safe from crime, and that it is not the state’s tool for social control.

Too often our white skin privilege renders us indifferent to the reality of Black people’s lived experience. We can assume that police are there to protect us. We need not worry that an interaction with police may result in us taking our last breath. Time and again we’ve witnessed videos of police interacting with armed white men pointing a gun at officers, which rarely results in an officer’s use of force, let alone lethal force. Yet we have been conditioned to see Black communities, and Black bodies, as objects to be feared.

The media perpetuates the ideology that property is more valuable than Black lives. By focusing on the “looters” and “violence,” mainstream media gives permission to a national audience of people sitting in the comfort of their own home that they, too, should be outraged at property damage, and diverting attention from the focus on police murders, lack of accountability, and lack of investment in Black communities. As white people, we are encouraged to “pray for peace” in times of uprising; instead, let’s work to end police brutality and invest in Black communities. The media’s call for “peace” is really a call for a cease in the disruption of white comfort. Naming this is essential.

We support Black people expressing themselves in response to oppression and brutality in whatever forms that takes. We recognize Black people's right to lead their own struggle and determine their political strategies, and we recognize the important leadership that provides to all people committed to justice. We don't believe it's our role as allies to dictate what such struggles and strategies should look like. We commit ourselves and call on other white people to engage in critical self-reflection and examination about the meaning of race and whiteness in our lives. Our on-going work is to question the assumptions we hold about security, law enforcement, and the tactics of change; to excavate the lies and distortions we have internalized about American history and the color of justice; to be honest and radical in our evaluation of inequities and the privileges we have been afforded. The greatest tool we have toward this critical learning is our ability to listen. We must recognize and lift up the experiences and wisdom being expressed by Black people about what it means to be Black in this country. We also commit ourselves and urge other white people to take action and organize. Engage other white people in conversations about racism - call them in to the community of justice and transformation. Reframe conversations in white communities from “peace” to a focus on systemic racism and state sanctioned violence. Build relationships and networks with other white anti-racists and show up when allies are needed in this struggle - at rallies and actions to support the Black Lives Matter movement or helping with planning and providing needed resources. Promote and defend the voices of Black dissent and resistance against state repression and media racism. Help provide material and legal resources and court support for Black and other people facing such repression for standing up and speaking out against racist police murders. Let’s dismantle white supremacy.

‪#‎blacklivesmatter ‪#‎blackspring ‪#‎baltimoreuprising ‪#‎bmoreunited ‪#‎baltimore ‪#‎Baltimorerising