Last weekend it was brunch. This weekend it is the AFC playoff game in Foxborough, Mass., between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. A press release with the headline “Activists Stop Commuter Rail before AFC Playoff Game” was delivered to selected blogs and websites. Included was a contact, Saif Rahman, and phone number where he can be reached “for more information and interviews.” As a much-undeserved courtesy to Rahman and his band of goons, the phone number will not appear in this post.
The news release in its entirety however will:
January 10, 2015
Dedham, MA — Activists from across New England delayed an MBTA commuter rail train at the Dedham, MA station traveling to the New England Patriots game in order to interrupt “recreation as usual.” This peaceful demonstration was organized to continue lifting up the message of the Black Lives Matter movement and in honor of the “2015 Year of Resistance.”
Organized by a diverse group of white, non-black people of color, and black activists, the action was meant to highlight white complicity that allows police and state violence to be carried out against Black people.
“As white allies, we are taking direct action to challenge white supremacy and amplify the demands for an end to the war on Black communities across the county,” said one of the organizers, Mallory Hanora of Boston, MA.
“As non-Black people of color, we know that the struggle for our autonomy starts with the liberation of Black people in the United States,” said Sherrie’Anne André of Providence, RI.
The train was delayed for four and half minutes to represent the four and half hours Michael Brown’s body was left lying in the street; this span of time has become symbolic within the movement. Protestors quietly replicated the sound of a beating heart during that time.
“As a black woman, I agree that these actions are important, they demonstrate solidarity with our liberation and challenges white complacency with this racist system,” said Seneca Joyner of Boston, MA.
In Boston, Black people experience racial disparities at every point of the justice system, from unnecessary and unconstitutional stops by police, to overrepresentation in prisons, to the murder of unarmed Black people. The ACLU of Massachusetts released a report in October that found 63 percent of Boston police-civilian encounters from 2007 to 2010 targeted Blacks, even though Black people make up less than 25 percent of the city population. Even after controlling for crime, the study showed that police officers were more likely to initiate police encounters with Black people. Police gave no justification for 75 percent of these stops.
While white New Englanders celebrate our region as one grounded in principles of freedom and liberty, in reality white supremacy continues to impede the safety and well-being of Black people and their families. New Englanders continue to live under intense segregation and violent policing. At this game many white fans will cheer and celebrate Black athletes in the stadium while ignoring the racism Black people face in daily life. The AFC Division Playoff Game required us to insist that Black lives matter all the time, everywhere, on and off the field.
The protesters blocked the train for four and a half minutes — one minute for every hour that Brown lay on the street. Does that indicate that, according to their calculus, black lives matter, but only 1/60 as much as white lives? Presumably, they kept their act of public nuisance brief because they knew if they lingered, they’d be arrested. In fact, those whose names were made public still might. Deliberately delaying a form of public transportation is at least a misdemeanor and may be a felony. They could also face civil suits in the amount of the face value of tickets to the game held by fans who missed a portion of the action.