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Fighting ignorance and taking back power through digital media / by Victoria Ruiz

This year we had to make sure to not be numbed by the media. We saw so many images, heard so many facts and figures. The news cycles continue to get faster and faster, but there is still so much that stands in the way of getting at the truth, especially when it comes to awareness about police violence, power dynamics, and the status quo. This is a list of web resources that came out or were revised this year that truly help to educate our minds and our hearts after we read the spectacular headline or saw the tragic video for the fifteenth time. These sources take information and make political education that helps us get at why we need more than facts to change beliefs and to change our reality. We need to chip away and dismantle ignorance!


Mapping Police Violence is a resource that allows individuals to download source data and detailed information about police departments from all around the country. American Civil Liberty Union chapters are using this site to politically educate people via their web presence. ACLU St. Louis used the site to show that of all their locally reported police murders, 100% were murders of Black people. "Police killed at least 1,152 people in the United States from January 1 - December 15, 2015," reads Mapping Police Violence website. "And nearly one in four of these people was killed by one of America's largest 60 city police departments." Visit the site for more information.


Campaign Zero is a participatory website that includes political education and research regarding the context for modern policing in the U.S.A. The goal of the site is about ending police violence in the United States. "The events in Ferguson have introduced the nation to the ways that local police departments can misuse military weaponry to intimidate and repress communities," reads Campaign Zero's website. "Last year alone, militarized SWAT teams killed at least 38 people." There is a disciplined race analysis used in the site that sheds light upon how the conditions of racism allow for policing to continue enforcing the status quo. Two key elements to the site are access points to learning about policy recommendations to demilitarize the police, as well as integral information for understanding the role of police unions to protecting white supremacy's protectors.


While it is not specifically related to police violence and accountability, Huffington Post's Black Voices site features many voices of people of color speaking on the struggle against police violence and how police violence is affecting U.S. American communities. This website saw a narrative shift in 2015 with the surge in resistance against the police nationwide. Something that stands out in particular is the recently-published piece, "A Closer Look At Police Killings This Year Debunks A Big Myth About Community Violence: It just reminds us that the police are choosing to be violent in communities."


Killed By Police is a very diligent and tragic list of people killed by U.S. Law Enforcement. The project contains no marketable graphics or anything like that, just a raw and painful list. The list was established on May 1, 2013. I do not know if it was intentional, but it's fitting that May 1st is also International Worker's Day. Check out the entire site.

(Trigger warning: rape)

Initiated by the powerful and incredible Deray McKesson, this is a very to-the-point Google Doc that accounts what he has collected regarding the death of Sandra Bland. The sweet, intelligent, and inspired Sandra Bland ended up in prison after a traffic stop; she was stopped for what law enforcement indicated was a failure to signal when changing lanes. She was in prison for 3 days, before she was found decreased in her jail cell. Sandra's mother has been vocal about her daughter's death and many of us in the community feel she was hurt and killed by the police who work for the prison, a/k/a correctional officers. No one who worked for the prison was indicted. This website helps us organize our information and narrative of #whathappenedtosandrabland. For example, the google doc gathers information about the stop and arrest, the jail, the death in custody report, autopsy, and rape kit. "Rape Kit," it reads. "A rape kit was collected due to white pasty discharge. When will the rape kit be ran? Who has custody of the rape kit?"


While scrappy in its appearance, this website and their Facebook page have been around for a long time and are very influential in providing video accounts of police violence in various communities. I have been following their online presence for a while and they seem to garner views and support from people outside of the more visually hip activist sites. The project publishes videos of police brutality. These videos are presented in a way that does not not numb our consciousness but rather they are pieces of evidence and fodder in our struggle against police brutality. A very important visual archive for when there are enough lawyers to sue police departments like crazy. While the site was started before 2015, it received a new layout and many more views in 2015 making it more accessible to be viewed by the masses. Over the years, they have published articles on subjects like "rejecting the bad apple argument" -- the idea that all police brutality is the result of the actions of a few bad apples. As Cop Watch also explains, the reality is that police as an institution itself is rotten to the core.


Due to language barriers and the need to protect people's identities, there are probably not a plethora of organized online resources regarding police abuse of undocumented people. Nevertheless, resources like the the National Day Laborers Organizing Network, and personal networks, can give us a entryway to the bigger picture. The Colibri Center also has a really good online form for people who are missing family members and who are trying to find out what is happening to their community members at our criminalized United States border. While not a definite source, U.S. Border patrol says that 1,954 people died on the border last year. With a completely militarized border and militarized patrollers, these deaths are clearly not all natural.


Our policing strategies are not unique to the continental United States of America. We have exported many of our strategies to other places where we exert economic, social, racial, and political control, including to Palestine, occupied Palestine, or what others refer to as the "State of Israel," or Israel. The same supplier of weapons that were used by police in Ferguson during Black Lives Matter Protests are being used against Palestinian civilians by the U.S, funded and backed government of Israel. While not its own website, Al Jazeera created an incredibly tragic and insightful map that documents those killed by state violence in Palestine along with photos and brief bios of who the world lost due to state sanctioned police violence. Though it is not a new site, is a also good supplemental read and visit that offers more context and background on where this site fits in if you are reading this and live in the U.S.

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