It’s been a tough week in the U.S.
Two black men were killed by police officers in just two days. Alton Sterling, 37, was killed by police in Baton Rouge Louisiana on Tuesday night. The next day, 32-year-old Philando Castile was fatally shot during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Sterling’s killing was caught on camera by bystanders and Castile’s girlfriend live streamed the aftermath of his shooting on Facebook.
The incidents have sparked outrage across the country. While a lot people know they can post a photo on Instagram of share a story on Facebook, that’s a momentary thing. If you’re wondering how to create lasting change, there are some things you can do.
At the Union Square protest in memory of Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile and all unnamed police brutality victims pic.twitter.com/Mm9Vh9QqOy
— Okayafrica (@okayafrica) July 7, 2016
After a police shooting, vigils and non-violent protests will start to organize pretty quickly.
The best way to find them are to connect with social justice crusaders on Twitter and Facebook, so you can always see their updates. We suggest following Deray McKesson and and Johnetta Elzie. You can also utilize social media, by searching for protests through Facebook Events (click the “discover” tab) and doing a general search on Twitter.
Call Your Congressman
While we have a tendency to focus more on presidential politics than other realms of government, you’re most effected by politicians who represent your city and state. They hold the power to pass legislation that can create more oversight for law enforcement and city councils can advocate for better training.
It’s easy online to find your U.S. Representative and your U.S. Senator. You should also look up your state representative. A quick check of your city and county websites can help you find local council members.
These people are elected to represent your voice, so make them listen to what’s important to you.
Do you know why it’s wrong to say #AllLivesMatter after incidents of police brutality? Do you understand that people of color are more likely to be profiled by law enforcement? Have you brushed up on the history of racial tensions in America?
It’s not enough to be a voice at the table if you’re an ill-educated one. Of course, you can learn and step up at the same time, and you don’t need to get a Ph.D. or anything. It’s just good to know what it is your fighting for (when excessive force is used, it’s a symptom of a much bigger problem) and how people have gone about getting justice in the past.
One of the best things you can do is speak up when you think someone’s been unfairly treated by the police. Silence won’t change anything.
Exercise your First Amendment rights by expressing your feelings on social media. You should also engage with other people and talk about your reactions. The latter is especially important for white allies because they won’t ever experience racial oppression.
P.S. If you’d like to help Alton Sterling’s family a GoFundMe was set up to send his kids to college.
Know some other ways to fight for social justice? Tweet them to us at @feather_mag.