Activists in Flagstaff have taken to the streets the past two weeks in honor of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and hundreds of other black people murdered by police in solidarity with the international Black Lives Matter movement. "No justice, no peace, abolish the police," voices have shouted in chorus, joining a demand that has taken hold across the nation: We must defund the police.
From a June 2 protest in west Flag that saw crowds lay on the ground across Milton Ave. for 8 minutes and 46 seconds—the exact amount of time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on 46-year-old Floyd’s neck—to daily actions at the Coconino County Detention Facility or the masses of protesters lining Fourth St. and Route 66 in the Sunnyside neighborhood, people have come out in the thousands.
The Sunnyside protest was encircled by armed police officers as well as onlookers holding AK-47s dotting the route. This local neighborhood in particular has been affected by police surveillance, with harmful stereotypes perpetuated. Flagstaff is not immune to police brutality, as the 2019 arrest of Matthew Dearing shows.
The un-ceasing nature of these uprisings around the country as well as locally also reminds us that a protest need be an ongoing push for policy and systemic change, not something that can be condensed into a black square on Instagram. Whether through listening to indigenous organizers, not denying BIPOC people their anger, holding people in power accountable, donating to bail funds or supporting the praxis of black and brown artists and mutual aid networks, the work is not over.
The protests have not ended. In fact, activists have gathered outside the Coconino County Detention Facility, 951 E. Sawmill Rd., and future marches are planned throughout Flagstaff, at City Hall, 211 W. Aspen Ave., and other locations. Request to join Black Lives Matter Flagstaff Solidarity Action Group on Facebook for more updates.
Flagstaff Police Department data
For years of data on the FPD, including budget and annual reports, visit www.flagstaff.az.gov/1209/FPD-Statistics-Reports
REDISTRIBUTE WEALTH IF POSSIBLE:
Flagstaff Foundry, Chomsky School of Business, Together We Will, Soul Sugar
Together these organizations (the first putting on shows featuring spoken word artists, theater, music, aerial arts and more, and the second bringing us fierce and funny and always-pertinent improv comedy) are hosting the Solidarity Fundraiser Virtual Show. All proceeds from the event will go to Arizona activists bail/bond funds. The solidarity fundraiser show begins at 7 p.m. Monday, June 8, and can be viewed live on the Chomsky School of Business Facebook page. All donations can be made via Venmo @WreckingBallFLG
Kinlani/Flagstaff Mutual Aid:
Mutual aid groups not only do the work of delivering personal protective equipment, food and water to those who need it most during the COVID-19 pandemic, they also have historically been involved in issues such as police brutality, and advocating for black and brown communities through care, providing direct action and stepping in where other support networks and social safety nets may fall short.
Kinlani/Flagstaff Mutual Aid provides food, water, warm clothing, menstrual hygiene and PPE kits, hand sanitizer and more to communities on the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation as well as Flagstaff’s unhoused indigenous community. Donate, volunteer or read more about the mutual aid group at kinlanimutualaid.org.
Chip Thomas and Juxtapoz Mag
Navajo Nation physician, activist and prolific artist Chip Thomas, aka @jetsonorama, is partnering with Juxtapoz Magazine to raise funds for Black Earth Farms, a grassroots pan-African and pan-indigenous farming collective that grows food in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Willie Mays Boys and Girls Club in San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point neighborhood. One hundred percent of proceeds from sales of his “We Free Kings” print through Monday, June 8, will benefit these organizations. Never heard of Chip Thomas before? Take a stroll through downtown and you will likely see his art on at least two alley walls. Hint: Check out the alleyway between Route 66 and Aspen Ave. near MartAnne’s Burrito Palace.
Bakers Against Racism, Ofelia Bakeshop
As part of a national bake sale, Flagstaff's Ofelia Bakeshop will be selling cookie bags and raffling off bundles of bread, cookies and a $20 gift card to Mountain Sports. All proceeds will benefit Black Lives Matter. Orders just opened on the Ofelia website and will remain open until June 18. Supporters can pick up their orders Saturday, June 20, at 24 N. San Francisco St.
HELP FROM HOME:
For those who are working during protests, sick, among the vulnerable population most susceptible to contracting COVID-19 or cannot otherwise engage with in-person protesting or volunteering, there are other ways to help. See the above suggestions on redistributing wealth, or consider researching bail funds in your area and sharing the information with your friend/family circles.
White folks, engage with white friends and family on the topic of racism, lean into the discomfort of these topics; it is part of your work to challenge yourself and engage with those who look like you. For more on white-to-white conversation topics and a guide on how to broach issues with friends, colleagues, family as well as folks outside your circle, visit http://pfw.guide. (Thank you meme page, @patiasfantasyworld).
If the work is to be ongoing, self-care—let's say, taking a break from social media for a couple hours, going for a walk or reading your favorite book—is crucial to prevent burnout.
The Yoga Experience
This local studio is offering free Trauma-Informed Community Yoga Classes, “in a spirit of love and humility” for all those who would like to join. Trauma-informed yoga seeks to reconnect folks with their body and accept emotions and sensations as they come. The goal in these sessions is not to perfect poses but to breathe and listen to one’s body and what it needs.
The session takes place Monday, June 8, at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Questions are welcome and participants do not have to turn on their camera if they are not comfortable doing so. The Zoom meeting ID is 878 6244 6279. Direct message @the_yoga_experience on Instagram for help logging in.
“The yogic path includes activism but we need to take care not to burn ourselves out,” the studio states in its description of the event. “So much change and uncertainty means we need to rely on our yogic practices more than ever.”
Stuck Community Acupuncture
This local Flagstaff business has held many a fundraiser on issues including migrant justice, while also remaining adamant about making acupuncture accessible to all. Stuck operates on a sliding scale basis. Even $1 is enough if that’s all an interested participant has available. For more information on Stuck and how it all works, visit https://stuckflagstaff.org/
PAY ATTENTION TO HISTORY:
Though Flagstaff is small and many like to see it as a blue oasis in a red state, it is not without violence and racism, past and present.
Cline Library Special Collections and Archives
Visit the digital collections of Northern Arizona University’s Cline Library Special Collections and Archives, type in “Dunbar School” and read about the now-renamed Murdoch Community Center, which long functioned as a segregated school in the historically black Southside neighborhood. While you’re there, request information on the Sawmill, which employed primarily black and Mexican lumber workers. These laborers not only faced work that was extremely physically demanding and dangerous, but the realities of segregation, a legacy that does not simply disappear with time.
If you’re up for another archives visit, type the name Delia Ceballos Munoz into the Cline Library search box. Founder of local nonprofit Nuestras Raices as well as the annual Latinx heritage celebration Celebraciones de La Gente, Munoz conducted oral history interviews with 75 Southside residents, documenting the suffering and success of Flagstaff’s historically black and Latinx neighborhood. The oral history collection is titled Recuerdos del Barrio and is viewable online at http://library.nau.edu/speccoll/exhibits/recuerdos/index2.html
On the nearby Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation as well as in Flagstaff, the effects of settler-colonialism, forced relocations, boarding schools, broken treaties and federal policies remain. Police violence is not new on indigenous lands. Start with the following text and go from there:
Settler Colonialism, Policing and Racial Terror: The Police Shooting of Loreal Tsingine by Sherene H. Razack.
Think racism is a public health emergency? Sign a petition asking the CDC to declare it as such. This effort is spearheaded by Leslie Gregory, a black physician's assistant based in Portland, Oregon.
For those who are not sure what organizers and protesters mean by “abolish the police,” why it’s important to many on the frontlines or how it differs from police reform, visit @wretched_flowers page on Instagram.
Publications like ours still have a long way to go and a great deal of work to do and undo. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have suggestions, critiques, questions or more. Accountability is necessary and that is also the case when it comes to Flag Live!, which operates on stolen land.
For those of us coming from a place of privilege, it has always been time to listen and act, to educate ourselves, self-reflect, be willing to admit we are wrong and not get defensive when called out. Each is crucial to understanding how we benefit from white supremacy while working against perpetuating it.
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