By now you’ve seen the news and read the analysis: 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was killed by Detroit police when they raided her home in search of a murder suspect. Communities across the country are outraged—and probably, so are you. But chances are if you’re not in Detroit, you’re looking for ways to channel that anger. As Akiba Solomon wrote this week, the big answers are elusive and, as individuals, we all get overwhelmed by the complexity.
So ColorLines checked in with local and national organizers and came up with a few places to start moving. Here are five ways to stop fuming and start rabble rousing. Jump off with the easiest, but keep moving through to the big steps.
Shape the conversation. You’re on Facebook. You’ve joined one of the pages that have popped up in response to Aiyana’s shooting (like here and here). So start talking—about the big picture rather than the interpersonal dynamics. What about patterns of police using excessive force in Black neighborhoods? Detroit’s track record isn’t pretty, actually.
Tell ‘em you care. Email Attorney General Eric Holder at AskDOJ@usdoj.gov. Ron Scott, founder of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, pointed out that Aiyana’s tragic death is just one piece of a much larger puzzle that includes two federal consent decrees since 2003. Members of Scott’s coalition drafted a sample letter you can send, asking for an end to what he calls the Detroit department’s “military tactics” in communities of color and for a federal investigation into Aiyana’s death. Blogger Adrienne Maree Brown has posted the letter here. You can also call DOJ directly at 202-514-2001.
Get Informed about the gun control debate nationally, because it impacts communities locally. We can’t forget that this ugly affair involves another youth, 17-year-old Je’Rean Blake, who also died from gunplay. Detroit police say they were hunting his killer when they burst into the Jones home. Whatever the Jones’ relationship to Je’Rean’s murder, his death reinforces the fact that there are too many guns on the streets. Here’s a good place to start learning why.
Donate to the Aiyana Stanley-Jones Fund at Fifth Third Bank (1-800-972-3030). The effort began as the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality’s effort to help the family pay for funeral costs, and it’s still going. We called local branches this week and found that it’s a tough process if you’re not nearby, but it’s one of the few ways to support the family directly.
Become a watchdog in your community. Look for police accountability efforts in your area. Ilana Weaver, a Detroit-based rapper and activist who goes by the stage name Invincible, reports that local activists hope to build alliances with groups concerned about policing everywhere. The National Police Accountability Project’s got a good list of both local and national organizations to help you get started.