Black Lives Still Matter: Show Up for Charlotte

Community members gather together to remember the life of Keith Lamont Scott on September 22, 2016.

Community members gather together to remember the life of Keith Lamont Scott on September 22, 2016.

Words are not enough. We must act to show that Black Lives Matter.

“Last night my children and I went to Charlotte to share space with other people who were grieving and angry over the loss of yet another black man’s life at the hands of the police. We went first to a candlelight vigil. Folks were comforting one another and talking about ways to enrich their communities. It was a calm, peaceful, and uplifting space, even when people were speaking about their justifiable anger and frustration and grief…

But when we went to join peaceful demonstrators gathered downtown– it was chaotic. The police were throwing tear gas indiscriminately into the crowds of people. I kept hearing protesters checking in on each other: “Are you okay?” “How bad are your eyes?” “You need help with those babies?” That last one was directed at me, from a man whose eyes were watering from the gas- his lower face covered in a bandana. He was clearly in pain, but was holding his arms out to ask if he could help me get my kids out of the danger.”

These are the words of Leah Hendershot, a public school teacher who was among those who marched more than 20 miles this summer to demand better learning and living conditions for the students of North Carolina. Her words tell a very different story than many you may have heard about the events taking place in Charlotte this week following the death of Keith Lamont Scott at the hands of the police.

It has been two years since Organize 2020 affirmed our belief that Black Lives Matter. It is with great sorrow that we once again find it necessary to make this statement in defiance of the relentless pattern of police killings have continued to take place.

The events of this week alone make it abundantly clear:

  • 13-year-old Tyre King was killed for holding a BB gun;
  • Terence Crutcher was shot with his hands in the air after his car broke down on his way home from class;
  • Keith Lamont Scott was shot when waiting to pick up his son at the bus stop;
  • Conflicting reports about the shooting of a civilian during demonstrations Wednesday night.

Words are not enough to communicate that Black Lives Matter. Our students deserve more.

For this reason, we ask everyone to attend the Show Up for Charlotte event this Saturday, September 24 at 1 pm to demand dignity and respect for Black lives.

We need to show, with our actions, how important this moment is. To refuse to allow the drumbeat of deaths to slide into the background. To demonstrate our shared belief that the world can be better.

For those that cannot attend the event, we are also asking school workers, parents, and students to wear red to school on Monday, September 26 to express support for those who call for an end to extrajudicial killings of Black people at the hands of police.

Some people have expressed concern at reports of violent protest that have emerged from Charlotte. In response, we would like to share the words of Carla Harris, a public school teacher who participated in the Students Deserve More march and has been on the ground in Charlotte:

Organize 2020 affirms that Black Lives Matter

“I ask that we truly reflect on how we define the terms peaceful and violent. The crowd with fists held high, motorcycles revving their engines, people looking out for one another and shouting their unrest – that was peaceful. Fearing that you might not make it back home from picking up your child after school – that is violent. Using tear gas, flash bangs, rubber bullets, & charging at unarmed people in full militarized riot gear – that is violent. Breaking windows rather than bones, burning property rather than bodies, bearing lifelong and centuries old oppression rather than giving into such hatred… that is beautiful, resilient, and justified.”