Building a Movement : A Virtual Town Hall with Minneapolis Organizers

Thu, Jun 18, 2020, 10:00 PM – Fri, Jun 19, 2020, 12:00 AM

Hear directly from long-time Minneapolis organizers building a movement to end police violence and systemic racism in our communities.

About this Event

Race Forward, the largest multiracial racial justice organization, “stands in solidarity with the millions who have marched to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and for those Black lives who have been taken prematurely by police brutality. We join their condemnation of all forms of racist violence, whether state or state-sanctioned or from individuals and groups.”

In particular, we stand with the black and brown leaders and folks in Minneapolis, who have been organizing for and with the black lives movement for years. Their organizing grows out of the devastating loss of Jamar Clark, Philando Castile, Thurman Blevins, now George Floyd, and many more black lives, all at the hands of police. It is their organizing that has brought to the fore the abolitionist strategy of defunding police. It is their organizing that has moved educational institutions and corporations in Minneapolis, and now across the country, to publicly declare their divestment from police.

In this Town Hall, we will create a space for long-time Minneapolis organizers to tell the story of what’s been happening on the ground themselves.

We will be joined by:

Eli Darris – Elizer is the organizer in charge of the Smart Justice program for the ACLU of Minnesota. He works to reduce mass incarceration, reform the criminal justice system and create racial equity. He works directly in the community organizing events and voter registration drives, and engaging with residents and local lawmakers. He advocates for just policies and legislation, and builds connections with our partner organizations. As a juvenile, he was sentenced to life in prison without hope of parole. But he studied in prison and worked with his state-appointed counsel to get his life sentence reversed on appeal. Upon his release, Darris became a business owner, consultant, educator, IT specialist and motivational speaker before joining the ACLU of Minnesota. Darris was an AALF Josie R. Johnson Leadership Fellow, field operations director for the Nekima Levy-Pounds for Minneapolis Mayor Campaign, and lead mentor in the Boys of Hope Program. When he’s not organizing in the community, he enjoys going to the movies with his significant other.

Kandace Montgomery – Kandace is an unapologetically fierce black, queer, womanist, organizer. She is done with the structural and intentional oppression placed on her people for the sole benefit of corporate interests and profits. Kandace grew up in a small, rural town in Maine. She attended college/fled her back of the woods town to the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she studied Public Health and began community organizing.As an anti-police brutality organizer, Kandace Montgomery has observed the Minneapolis Police Department undergo years of reform efforts. After 24-year-old Jamar Clark was killed by police in 2015, she helped organize a Black Lives Matter chapter in the city. By 2018, it was clear to her and other organizers in the city that only a plan to take money away from police and give it to other community-led safety initiatives would protect black and brown people. The organization she directs, Black Visions Collective, campaigned alongside its counterpart Reclaim the Block to defund the Minneapolis police, yet the mayor still raised the police budget more than $8 million this year.

Ricardo Levins Morales – Ricardo Levins Morales describes himself as a “healer and trickster organizer disguised as an artist.” He was born into the anti-colonial movement in his native Puerto Rico and was drawn into activism in Chicago when his family moved there in 1967. Ricardo left high school early and worked in various industries, and over time began to use his art as part of his activism. This activism has included support work for the Black Panthers and Young Lords to participating in or acting in solidarity with farmers, environmental, labor, racial justice and peace movements.

Increasingly Ricardo sees his art and organizing practices as means to address individual, collective and historical trauma. He co-leads workshops on trauma and resilience for organizers as well as trainings on creative organizing, social justice strategy and sustainable activism, and mentors and supports young activists.

Ricardo’s art has won numerous awards but the greatest affirmation is the uses to which it has been put by grassroots movements and communities.

Kevin Reese – is the Director of Criminal Justice at Voices for Racial Justice. Kevin Reese grew up in Minneapolis Minnesota. He was incarcerated for 14 years. His work as a Prison Justice organizer at Voices For Racial Justice is rooted in his mission to end mass incarceration. He is an 2018 AWP intro Journals project award winner for poetry published in the Hayden Ferry Review. He can be found featured in Emily Baxter’s internationally acclaimed book We Are All Criminals. He has a running column in the Minnesota Spokesmen Recorder. His writing is centered around humanity, organizing, transformative movements, and ancestral visionary poetry.

* Tickets are free but donations are encouraged from those belonging to large organizations.

*We will be using Zoom for this webinar. Zoom information will be sent out a day before the event.

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