Chants of “We ready! We coming!” could be heard in front of Washington, D.C.’s Office of Police Complaints Tuesday afternoon.
Led by members of the Washington, D.C., chapter of Black Youth Project 100—an organization dedicated to creating justice for all black people—youth protesters gathered in various locations around D.C. in response to the Darren Wilson verdict.
“We are doing actions the whole day to bring about change in our city and bring awareness that our city is just like Ferguson,” BYP 100 D.C. member Erika Totten told The Root. “We are one victim away from our city blowing up, too. We are delivering letters to officials calling for the creation of a citizen’s review board of the police. This is the first step.”
Black youth organizations have long been involved in political organizing surrounding the fatal shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., by police Officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. A St. Louis grand jury decided Monday that Wilson would not be criminally charged in the shooting.
Groups including Black Youth Project 100, Dream Defenders, Lost Voices and Millennials for Justice have worked to provide support to members of Ferguson’s community and to call for justice. Now youth-led organizations are leading the charge in the wake of what many see as a failure of justice for Brown’s family.
Staged for 28 hours—decided because of the statistic that every 28 hours a black person in America is killed by a police officer or vigilante—BYP 100 members in D.C. and in cities across the nation, including Chicago, New Orleans and Oakland, Calif., are participating in nonviolent demonstrations.
In Chicago, dozens of young people met at City Hall, where protesters are occupying the building for the 28-hour time period.
“We are calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel as one of the most powerful Democrats in the country to speak out to his colleagues in Missouri and stand against what they’ve done. We know that here in Chicago, we have a major problem with police killings and police brutality. We [BYP 100] have the National Agenda to Keep Us Safe. We are calling on Rahm Emanuel to sign on,” said Charlene Carruthers, the national coordinator of BYP 100.
Looking to the future, Carruthers says that the goal of these planned actions is to build a base of young black people ready to organize around progressive issues, including creating checks and balances for police accountability.
“We want to make sure that everywhere that it doesn’t exist, that there are independent citizen review boards for the police that can hold them accountable,” Carruthers said. “We know that right now … the police are accountable to no one but themselves, and that needs to change.”
Diamond Sharp is an editorial fellow at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.