Rosemary Rivera’s Message from Ferguson – Day 3

Hi everyone,

Not sure who I am sending these to  This is not a very strong piece.  I am totally exhausted, but it still has some information

Today is the national strike for fast food workers.  As people across the country were cheering for  Ferguson and mourning Mike Brown, today Ferguson was cheering about the strikes.  There were no strikes in Ferguson.  Those who organized the strikes decided to respect the organizing that is going on and not to mix their message.  Reactions were mixed on this.

Many saw the fact that there was no strike in Ferguson as a missed opportunity.  Yet some in the community viewed it as a distraction from the focus they were trying to maintain.  No matter how you viewed the lack of the strike, it was felt here!  GO NEW YORK!!!

Turning to matters in Ferguson, today I spoke more in depth with the woman I am staying with.   Apparently, the death penalty is in full swing here and they have another black man sentenced to die next Wednesday.  Apparently, there is Klan territory still in Missouri and Ringo, the man accused of killing two, was sentenced by an all white jury, a white judge, in an all white town.  Now activists are turning to Governor Nixon to give a stay of execution.  If Ringo dies, that will be the ninth person in nine months executed.  They are executing faster than you can say “reasonable doubt”

While Mike Brown’s case is the focus, particularly because we had an unarmed black man gunned down by those who are paid to serve and protect, the people here cannot escape the fact that racism is pouring out of the criminal justice system.  And, it is permeating every institution here.  Remember that Jonothan Kozol’s book, Savage Inequalities raised the resource problem within school districts in East Missouri.  The Lost Voices group confirm that the education system in Missouri is atrocious and that there is an excellent education waiting for you here…if you have the money.

Earning the trust of the Lost Voices has been one of my main focuses and I wouldn’t violate that trust.  That is incredibly hard to do when others have come before you and taken advantage of them for their own profit.  PLEASE DO NOT DONATE TO LostVoices14 at this time as the money is NOT reaching them!  They are trying to figure out how to fix this and will inform me when they have a system to collect donations which they so desperately need.  (I really want to think about how to get the secretary a laptop – I did show her some things about keeping a list, discovered that Nationbuilder is only free for 14 days so that won’t work, but showed her Excel and Google Docs. These kids are thirsty for knowledge)

I will relay one story that shook me.  We went to get something to eat.  Dante, one of the spokepersons of the group ordered for us all.  At the end, the man quoted a price that seemed really high.  So, he took out his phone to use the calculator function and asked the man to tell him what each item cost (no menu on the walls).  The man flat out refused to do so and when Dante expressed his right to ask for the price of the items we were buying, the man said, “You can all go, but if the white lady (pointing to me) wants something, I will serve her!”  I don’t need to repeat most of our reaction to such a blatantly racist thing to say in the middle of Ferguson.  But, it shows me that racism is steeped into everything in this city.

Organizing for Black Struggle has been thrown center stage with all the established organizations, (they themselves are established here) like CBTU, ACLU, NAACP, Urban League, SEIU and other unions.  They will get the resources they need.  It is easier for an outsider like me to work with them because they understand the value of coalition building, tapping into organizing potential, and seeing connections between what is happening in Ferguson and what is happening everywhere on economics, health care, education, jobs, etc.

Today, I was honored to work with their lead organizer, Erin Burnett, in pulling together an action. I will not be able to see it through as I leave on Tuesday but I sure will be there with them in spirit as they block of city hall and demand an independent prosecutor in this case so they may have at least a, small chance at justice

Rosemary Rivera
Citizen Action of New York &
Public Policy and Education Fund of New York
Organizing rector
(585) 520-6542

“Power concedes nothing without a deman

One thought on “Rosemary Rivera’s Message from Ferguson – Day 3

  1. Thank you for your updates Rosemary–they truly represent the core of what is happening in a straightforward and objective way. Sending love and energy to you and all those working with you for your safety and to continue the work you are doing. Gloria

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