by Marisa Franco, lead organizer of the #not1more campaign for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network
Originally posted on the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) website
“Last night completed a circle of tragedy and travesty.
Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in broad daylight, but his protectors used the thick of night to announce their decision to not indict. While the St. Louis prosecutor’s explanation rang empty and hollow, the clamor for justice in the streets of Ferguson was once again clear, resounding, and this time nationwide.
Our hearts were already split last week by the President’s immigration announcement, now they would be fully broken if it were not for the freedom fighters of Ferguson.
We are outraged at the miscarriage of justice, but we are fortified by the proliferation of protest. From Ferguson to Ayotzinapa, people have reached their limit and are exposing governments that govern with violence. In every corner we see a system that continues to define it’s own shortcomings and movements with the potential to transform them.
For immigrant rights organizations, our struggles are connected but distinct. We know of unjust policing and federal deportation programs that have created chaos in all our neighborhoods. But we are not Mike Brown. Instead of reaching for unity by erasing difference, let us build it by bridging the divide between who is deserving and who is undeserving. Just days ago, President Obama announced relief for families, but not felons. But what are those terms in the context of Ferguson? When our communities are already deemed criminal? When the murdered are put on trial? And police forces like Ferguson’s are the arbiters of this ‘nation of laws?’ We refuse these dividing lines because, as Ferguson shows us, what is defined as criminal, who is guilty and innocent, often falls far short of what is just.
To the movement with Ferguson at its epicenter, we stand with you. We know what it is to have your tactics condemned, to be told to be patient, to be corralled into ‘official channels’ and we have learned that it is in breaking the rules that we change the rules. By so boldly stating that Black lives matter in the face of their negation you have already broken so many unspoken rules. We will echo your words. We will make your struggle our struggle but we will not make your struggle about us. We will dedicate ourselves to a fight against criminalization that uses Black lives as a laboratory. We will defy the character assassinations in our own community that render someone undeserving of our care or deserving of the violence of the state.
There is justified anger, there is frustration spilling out from our hearts onto the streets. Let that energy propel us to organizing that will push back on this criminalization that is killing our brothers and sisters, and holding us back from the life and future we all deserve.