Ⓐctivate Media Newsletter
Message from the Director!
Greetings Friends! Black Lives Matter! We are all connected!
I hope that all of you are having a great summer season. A short few months ago one might have wondered if we’d ever get to warmer weather. July has been a very busy month with a majority of our focus going toward planning for fall and the new season of shows on Activate Radio, as well as the continued development of Activate Magazine and other newly added features to the website, As we evolve and grow we appreciate your support and involvement in making us a better media organization, and in a sense a better community,
As a media organization we have helped produce and distribute fresh content from the perspective of the marginalized as well as reports from from the front lines wherever they may be in the struggle for humanity since 2011.
Through your help with creative fundraising campaigns, and decadent events over the next few months we hope to position ourselves to revisit the idea of a studio and funding a couple staff positions. This will allow us to make a larger investment locally in the Boston area in bringing independent journalism to the world.
We have some new things to share with you on the website. Check out the new Calendar! We hope that this helps to bring people together, and is helpful to our community. We have also added a player to the site that features Global Revolution’s aggregated Livestream Feed. This will allow you all easy access to livestreams wherever they might be! If you click on Sponsorship, you can see our progress in making a space to acknowledge the much appreciated support that we get.
Activate Radio is in the process of selecting new shows to broadcast this fall season, which allows us to bring you new and exciting things. We will be announcing the new lineup of shows late in August. If you have a show that you’d like to submit for broadcast, please contact us ASAP!
The Occupied Nation Show and the Young Jurks have moved from Wednesday to Thursday nights, We hope that Tribuna Popular will return to the stations schedule soon with exciting new content. Wednesday night’s this fall on Activate Radio will feature New Shows that we will be looking for your feedback on.
We have Activate Radio Buttons! If you send an address along with your contribution, we will gladly send you one in thanks for your support! If you support with over $100 we will allow you to record a bump for the station
You can donate to Activate Media by clicking the secure Donate Here Button in the upper right area of our website just below the player!
- James Recht
In just a few months Activate Magazine is making an impact on the metrics of our site. With the hard work of independent journalists like Josh Sager, featured in this newsletter, Activate Magazine is starting to take shape. We are looking for more people that would like to write. Contact Us !
A Few Words from David Concepcion
Growing up as a lifelong Unitarian Universalist at a Quaker grade school, I was burned out on activism at age 9. After that I only tried to participate in actions I was truly passionate about. Over the years that included AIDS awareness/gay rights issues, apartheid divestment, and Latin American human rights violations.
When a friend originally asked me to host the “Theology in Action” show, I was reluctant to say the least. I was a weekend father, a part time worker trying to make ends meet, had child support payments I couldn’t keep up, bills I couldn’t manage, and enduring a serious decline in my mental health because of all of it. However the Occupy movement was in full sway and while I didn’t have the faculties or will to participate, it was something I supported. I wasn’t being asked to organize a protest or take over the streets or camp out in a park, I was asked to be on internet radio and talk about two things I already knew pretty well: spirituality and social justice. In college during protests over tuition hikes, I always appealed to moderates listening saying “you don’t need to march to show support. Write a letter, make a phone call, do what you can to make an impact.” Remembering that made it easier to say yes to the show.
I still have my money and mental health issues, but I still have the show. It gives me a voice to do what I can for social justice. There are many activists that do heavier lifting than I do, and I’m okay with that. I help out in small ways, but I help out. Someone has to talk about things and break it down to be understood or highlighted. Someone gets to make these connections between spirituality and social justice, show that the faith communities can be allies not enemies. If I do my job right, awareness is brought to the public. Education is to be the start of change and I’m glad I can help in that.
David is the host of Theology in Action, which airs Monday afternoons at 3pm eastern time.
Deconstructing the Police’s Playbook to Avoid Consequences After a Killing
© Josh Sager – August 2015
Black lives matter.
I start with this simple statement because it needs emphasizing given the devaluation of black life by many police forces in our nation. According to a count by the Guardian, 547 Americans were killed by the police during the 213 days between January 1, 2015 and July 1, 2015—this amounts to approximately 2.5 killings per day. When you look at a racial breakdown of these victims, black Americans are being killed at over twice the rate of either white or Hispanic Americans. This number is made even damning when we consider the fact that only 13.2% of the total US population is African American.
While the police have killed African Americans in a variety of ways (ex. shooting, strangleholds, tasers, etc.), they have developed a disturbingly effective common playbook for minimizing and justifying their actions. This simple set of five strategies has been implemented in numerous cases by a variety of police forces, and appears to be fine-tuned to destroy accountability.
The first step police often take when dealing with a police killing is to conceal evidence—particularly video evidence—for as long as possible. This serves to create a time buffer between the killing and any disclosure that reduces the amount of attention the public pays (they wait out the news cycle). In addition to reducing the public focus, delaying the disclosure of damaging evidence gives the police time to get their stories straight, comb the victim’s life for damaging information, and insulate the DA/IAB from political backlash if they decide not to punish the officer.
For example: the Charleston police are still refusing to release the dashcam footage of Justin Craven, one of their junior officer, shooting an unarmed African American man named Ernest Satterwhite during a May traffic stop—Craven claims that Satterwhite tried to take his gun, despite the fact that Satterwhite’s door was closed and Satterwhite had no history of violence. Those who have seen the video call it “horrible” and say that it was essentially an execution.
In effect, this tactic is designed to wait until a shooting is “old news” to release damaging information about it. Fortunately, while this tactic was very powerful in past decades, the development of cell phone cameras has limited its effectiveness
Demonize the Victim
After a shooting, police will often search through the lives of their victim to find any possible mitigating factor for their bad actions. They will latch onto any perceived flaw in the victim, even if it is completely irrelevant to the killing. This is aimed at turning public opinion in the police’s favor, while poisoning any eventual jury with the idea that the victim really deserved what he got (essentially, a form of jury nullification).
For example: After the Michael Brown shooting, the police painted Brown as a brutal “demon” who tried to take a poor, innocent police officer’s gun and use it on him, then ran through a hail of bullets to try to kill him with his bare hands when that failed. Sam DuBose was executed by a police officer in an incredibly flawed traffic stop, and the police officer tried to justify it by claiming that DuBose tried to drag him behind his car—unfortunately for the officer, we have his body-cam footage and it shows that he fell backward after shooting DuBose in the head, causing him to step on the gas and crash down the street (he was dead before the car moved).
Use Media Proxies to Deflect Blame
Unfortunately, the police are not alone in their fight to destroy public accountability when one of their own kills somebody. There are numerous media figures who are all too happy to help deflect bl1ame and push the police narrative. While many of these figures live in the right wing echo chamber, some are considered mainstream and many are very well respected.
For example: After the Sandra Bland “suicide” and the exposure of the nonsensical traffic stop that landed her in jail, Fox News’s Elizabeth Hasselbeck tried to justify the police officer’s hostility by claiming that Bland’s cigarette could have been a weapon. In addition to this embarrassingly stupid example, you need only turn on the TV after a police killing to see endless iterations of the “black on black” crime trope (80% of black victims are killed by other black people, thus focusing on police killings of black people is a distraction).
Refocus the Media on the Response
After a police shooting, protests can run hot and protesters can do some extremely regrettable things. We have seen numerous examples of this, from the Rodney King riots in 1992 to the Baltimore riot after the Freddy Gray shooting.
Police PR flaks and police apologists in the media like to exploit these actions by a very small subset of protesters, making the response to the injustice into the story and distracting from the greater issues. By refocusing on the violence of certain protests, these individuals are able to completely distract the public from the original violence that sparked the anger. IN addition to using this to improve their messaging, the police will often also use it as an excuse to tear gas, beat, or break apart protesters who are not violent and who would otherwise be seen as victims of police abuse.
Put simply, the white, older audience that watches cable news is much more scared OF black people rioting than FOR black people and the increased risks of police violence they face. This means that it is fairly easy for this type of distraction to propagate, as it gets ratings.
Unfortunately, this tactic is extremely effective, particularly now that we have such easy access to video footage of violence in the streets.
Sabotage the Legal Case
If by some set of circumstances, police officers end up being charged with a killing, there are often structural impediments to getting them convicted.
In some cases, the District Attorney will simply draw out the investigation and refuse to file official charges until they think that they can safely let the case die. The DA is currently trying to do this with the Tamir Rice shooting (where an officer with a history of mental health problems essentially did a drive-by on an 11-year old with a toy gun), but activists have managed to bring suit in court, and a local judge has decided that there is probable cause to charge the officer with murder. Whether this means that the case will proceed is unknown, but it makes it significantly harder for the DA to simply let the case die.
In other cases, the DA will scuttle the prosecution at the grand jury. The ultimate example of this was the Michael Brown shooting, where the DA not only presented the defense’s case, but knowingly let witnesses lie in favor of the police, concealed evidence that would have looked bad for the police, demonized the victim, and gave the wrong version of the law to be considered (one that made an indictment virtually impossible). This was the definition of a thrown legal case, but there are many less overt examples.
While not every one of these five tactics is used in each police killing, they are too common to ignore. We must identify what the police are doing so that we can inoculate the public to their tactics and reduce their effectiveness. Activists must stay on message and not let distracting and irrelevant talking points get in the way of the real issues (ex. the marijuana use of a police shooting victim). They must demand that the media do the same, and point out the use of these tactic wherever they are used.
Josh is a member of our Board of Directors.
#BlackLivesMatter #SandraBland #SayHerName #Ferguson #Baltimore #MikeBrown #VRA50
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The Veterans for Peace Show is broadcast every Monday evening at 6pm eastern. It
features highly decorated vietnam era veteran Bob Funke, and his exploration of current events as they relate to the veteran’s perspective.
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