Written by: Lamont Lilly
(This article was published by and originally appeared in Workers World)
Los Angeles — The Community Planning and Economic Development Club at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College honored Sandra Bland, a victim of police terror in Texas, in a Student Day of Action Series on Oct. 7. The goal of this series was to “celebrate the life of Sandra Bland and other women who have died [because] of police brutality.”
The action series was held at Redwood Hall and sponsored by the Associated Student Organization. Through an array of interactive learning stations, both students and community members were able to learn the truth about Sandra Bland and how to get involved in organizing against police terror.
Event organizer Shelia Balque stated, “The whole reason we organized this was because Dash Gomez, a sister organizer who recently transferred, really wanted to do something about this, particularly in a way that raised awareness.” And raise awareness is exactly what they did. No cameras, no press, no hype. Just the people teaching and learning from one another.
This event was an interactive walking and dialogue tour meticulously comprised of four unique stations. Station one offered a litany of posted facts about Sandra Bland and the specific details surrounding her untimely death at the hands of Prairie View, Texas, police. Attendees were also informed of some of Bland’s favorite foods and personal activities.
In addition to Bland, there were stories of other women killed by police, such as Tanisha Anderson, Alesia Thomas, Yvette Smith, Tamika Wilson and Rekia Boyd. Photographs, boards and posters were quite colorful and creative — a nice touch considering that such subject matter can be quite traumatic.
The next station was an interactive letter-writing exercise. In a small section of the room, organizers supplied desks, chairs and stationery supplies needed to pen support and encouragement to Bland’s family. This activity was so important because it allowed the people to communicate directly with her family. The last thing the corporate media want is the oppressed freely communicating with each other, especially in ways that encourage and inspire one another. In an overwhelming show of support, over 200 letters were written and collected.
Station three of the series was an interactive video and interview workshop. In a quiet, closed-off nook, attendees were able to verbally share support via live testimonials and statements of solidarity. Questions such as “Why do Black Lives Matter to you?” were very important in helping to frame the event’s overall purpose and conversation. For those who did not want to be seen on live video, voice recordings were an option — a perfect vehicle for sharing thoughts and self-reflection.
The final station was a dialogue wrap-up and free lunch. It was here that series participants were able to be in fellowship and build with one another over fresh fruit, chips and a full assortment of pizzas. Attendees were also given Sandra Bland T-shirts with a beautiful headshot, bearing the hashtag #SayHerName. Co-organizers Kim Williams and Julie Minnard assisted attendees through each station.
No, this event was not a major protest or highway shutdown. It was, however, just as powerful and equally effective. Not only were participants well-educated on the subject of state violence, they were immediately mobilized into a series of actions.
Los Angeles-based activist Shelia Balque will also be speaking at the upcoming People’s Tribunal on Racist Police and State Terror, which convenes Oct. 16-17 at Los Angeles Trade-Tech’s South Tent, 2225 South Grand Ave.
Join us that weekend as the Black and Brown Students for Social Justice, the Puerto Rican Alliance and WeChargeGenocideLA continue the work of raising consciousness and fighting for the oppressed.