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Monday, September 29, 2008

Was October 22nd, 2007 The Last National Protest Against Police Brutality?

For a while now we've been tracking the demise of several police accountability activist sites and organizations and the trend appears to be fairly far-reaching and, as of yet, unexplained. The trend appeared to have culminated in the sudden shutdown of the long-lasting and very outspoken BadCopNews.com, a site that aggregated international stories of police abuses and misconduct which is now only partially available in archives. (this is also part of the reason why this site has started focusing more on national stories of misconduct, because nobody else is really doing that anymore.)

That the news of that shutdown came right before the crackdowns on police accountability activists and copwatch organizations in Minnesota ahead of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul definitely hightened my own awareness of just how perilous speaking out against police abuses can be in the US and leads me to wonder what happened to all the sites and activists that have gone silent this year since BadCopNews wasn't the only site to shut down this year. From what I have observered myself, there have also been at least 7 sites which have either been completely shutdown without a trace or have just stopped updating for several months now, half of which went down in the month of May, including Spokane Police Abuses which was also last updated in May.

But perhaps what is even more disconcerting now is that the national October 22nd Coalition, which organizes a national day of protest each October against police brutality and has close ties to the Stolen Lives Project which published "Stolen Lives: Killed By US Law Enforcement" that documents the lives of people who have died in encounters with police, has also appeared to have gone silent as well, throwing doubts on whether or not there will be a national protest against brutality on what would have been the 13th annual protest this year.

The national October 22nd Coalition site has not been updated since last year and several of the local affiliate sites have also gone silent, including Seattle's 1022 site and the Bay Area California site. The only site that still seems operational is the New York site but even there the plans for this year's march in NYC appear in doubt as specifics are listed as TBA.

Email messages left with the national and Seattle chapter have gone unanswered and the national hotline number forwards to an automated answering service that tells callers to contact the national office via email or directs you to their site for more information. There has been no word on why the organization, formed in 1995, might have disbanded, but there appeared to be no indications of any problems last year when protest marches appeared to go off without problems; unlike a 2003 incident where Seattle police revoked the group's permit to march which then prompted a civil suit that cost the city $47,500 in a 2006 settlement with the group.

There has been no indication of any other groups forming protests or organizing on a national or local level to protest on what is typically considered to be the national day of protest against police brutality this year, which appears to be quite a setback for police accountability activists and organizations everywhere.

UPDATE: Shortly after publication of this article we received a statement from the October 22nd Coalition's national office that states they are behind but still planning events for this year, though none are definite as of yet. Hopefully this is true... yet with 10/22 less than a month away I hope they will have enough time to coordinate their plans with other groups and activists.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe alot of sites and groups have been hit by the economic downturn.?

Packratt said...

Well, not that I would discount that as a plausible theory because it's always possible.

But, well, doing this doesn't necessarily cost anything to do and, while I don't try to do this, some people can make money with their sites.

It's all innocuous most likely, at least I hope it is.

SusanK said...

But there is a big "cost" in doing this, and I think you can attest to that.
I find it emotionally draining simply to read your site, which is why it's not one of the sites I check daily, but is on my favorites and I check it at least once a week.
And when my browser closes, I still think about your site and the stories you report.
Anyone that feels passionate enough about this issue to blog about it is bound to hit a "wall" and need to take at least some break from it.

Packratt said...

Susan,

You're probably right there... there are days I just don't want to read another story about someone getting hurt by the people who are supposed to protect us.

But then I remember how lonely and horrible it felt for me when nobody would listen and there wasn't anyplace I could turn to for information about what I could do when it happened to me... and that reminds me why I keep writing and reading.

Thanks for the comment, and thanks for still reading the site even though it's hard to do sometimes.

 
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