By 2023, the US will be 40 percent minority and 50 percent of the entire population will be under 40 years old. These are demographics that cannot be ignored as progressives move forward building opposition to institutional racism and plutocratic governing. In my thinking, …
Now, thanks to the diligent work of local organizers, the St. Louis Board of Aldermen unanimously voted earlier this month to close the jail, officially known as the Medium Security Institution. The closure, the culmination of two years of steady, focused and multi-pronged efforts to engage community members and elected officials, could serve as a model for other cities looking to enact major criminal justice reforms, activists say.
When it comes to police reform, the powers that be in Chicago have been negligent in their response to the demands of the people of this city and this nation. People across the country are calling for systemic police reforms now. The resounding voice of the people in the streets is, “We will not accept this anymore!” In Chicago, we’re not new to this plaintive cry, unfortunately. We have the longest standing movement for community control of the police in the country, stretching back to the 1969 police murder of Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party. Yet our city is lagging behind every other major city with respect to announcing much needed reform, including New York City and Minneapolis.
Individually we who write this letter are former members of the original Black Panther Party, co-founded in 1966 by the late Huey P. Newton, and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California. We were targets of the FBI’s infamous Counter Intelligence Program (codename COINTELPRO) which killed many of our comrades, including Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, and numerous other Panthers and revolutionary freedom fighters.