Open Thread: What To Do Next

staring at the computer in anger sucks. what are we going to do about this?
- Joel Reinstein, from Wednesday night’s open thread

By Arturo R. García

If there was one positive to come out of Wednesday night, it was the sight of all the people rallying on behalf of Troy Davis – not just in Georgia, but at the White House and the Supreme Court; in Europe; and online, where it became just a bit suspicious to some that Twitter seemingly did not recognize the #TroyDavis and #occupywallstreet hashtags. (One explanation I read Wednesday evening was, because there actually is a Troy Davis username on the service, it could not be a trending topic. No word yet on #occupywallstreet.)

But, as Joel mentioned above, the question for many going forward is, what now?

“Social media activism does not take place while you are on Twitter or Facebook,” Alfred Edmond Jr. wrote in Black Enterprise Thursday. It’s about more than turning a cause into a trending topic.”

So, if there’s organizations you can recommend for anybody looking to become more involved in the wake of this week’s events, let’s share them here. Here’s a few to start us off:

  • The Innocence Project, which dedicates itself to defending prisoners who can be cleared through DNA testing, has a list of ways you can get connected at the local level.
  • Democracy Now!’s coverage Wednesday night was spot-on throughout the evening, with host Amy Goodman literally stayed until authorities kicked her and her team out.
  • Both Amnesty International, the ACLU and the NAACP supported Davis throughout his ordeal.
  • Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, an organization run by family members of both murder victims and executed prisoners, focuses on victim-advocacy and works with other groups seeking to abolish the death penalty.
  • Natasha

    Hi there, my name is Natasha and I’m a new reader of your blog.  I am also beyond deeply upset by Troy Davis’ murder and am at a loss too given how many regular people AND big shot people he had supporting him, and still the US government murdered him in such a cruel way at that.  What do The People do when the gatekeepers are locked so far behind their gates and weapons that they’re unreachable?  Looking at Black Panther and AIM (American Indian Movement) style activism of the 1970′s is inspiring to me; government buildings were physically taken over & occupied, activism like that happened outside of petitions and other legal “western notions of polite discourse” (as per Jessica Yee) because it seemed like the only way to get the predators to pause…I don’t know and don’t have more to say, just sharing my thoughts.

  • Kate

    In terms of broader criminal justice and prison reform, I think a lot of organizations might be local. If folks have some time and/or resources they might just want to google it for thier city most organizations have websites now. I don’t think anybody is in Buffalo but there is prisoners are people too http://www.prp2.org/ . 
    “INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence is a national activist organization of radical feminists of color advancing a movement to end violence against women of color and our communities through direct action, critical dialogue and grassroots organizing.” If you scroll down this page they have a list of supporting organizations, some of which focus on state violence against women of color through prisons and police officers etc. http://www.incite-national.org/index.php?s=92 .

    Then there’s all the national or international NGOs and civil rights organizations that people have mentioned below – http://www.innocenceproject.org, http://www.naacp.org/content/main etc.

    Good luck!

  • Kendra

    I wanted to add that for anyone in the NYC who wants to volunteer for the Innocence Project, Idealist.com usually has a few opportunities bi-weekly. They, Amnesty Intl. and the ACLU also post job listings there fairly often as well. 

  • Anonymous

    I’m planning on becoming a member of the NAACP when I get my next paycheck. They did great work on this case and that should be honored.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2BUZJEBVVBLK5P3GQJ4XUIXUDM Online Life

    There are several organizations in Texas, they are all listed in the left sidebar of this organization’s website:

    TX Death Penalty Abolition Movement
    http://abolitionmovement.org/?page_id=19

    For inspiration have a look/listen to this interview with long time death penalty abolition activist, Ms. Gloria Rubac.  http://rmedia.lib.utexas.edu/index.php?title=TAVP:Gloria_Rubac_1

    This might seem really small, but I feel like even writing to people on death row is a place to start…?

    I think this list is current:
    http://www.ccadp.org/texas.htm

    Actually, it seems like from that website you can find information on death row inmates in each state and abroad.  http://www.ccadp.org/inmates.htm

    It includes names and photos of the inmates and something they’ve written about themselves, and their address.   Seems like an excellent resource, can anyone say if it’s current?

    I feel like I can empathize with sentiments expressed by Mimi10, Grace, and Digital Coyote.  I’m sure there are many of us who can.  Feeling this tragedy and absolute injustice is a good place to start, but when we’re ready we must get active.

  • Anonymous

    The night of the execution I drove around DC after work, around 10 pm, trying to remember where the vigils were.  Cruised the White House, remember something about 8th street, finally headed home.  Even as I was driving, I felt the futility of vigils and protests.  As a high school & college kid in the ’80′s & 90′s, I attended rallies and actions that were anti-war, anti-klan, anti-old growth logging, pro-choice, etc.   The numbers were formidable, but after a while I realized that aside from making me feel better, I generally came away feeling frustrated and ineffectual.  I haven’t been much of an action or rally goer for a long time. 

    FB & Twitter and the like seem like an effective tool for organizing, but ineffectual for making change happen.

    It has to be a pocket book thing. 

    The Corrections Corporation of America (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrections_Corporation_of_America) is a private corporation traded on the NYSE.  They lobby for laws that will increase their profits.  Can they increase their profits without increasing their inmate population?   I don’t have a retirement portfolio, but if I did, I’d be curious as to which funds have CXW (their stock exchange tag) in their portfolio. 

    Who are their biggest investors?  Institutional holders?  Mutual fund holders?  Here they are:
    http://finance.yahoo.com/q/mh?s=CXW+Major+Holders

    How is this information distilled down into something as easy to latch onto as I AM TROY DAVIS?  The genius of Republican marketing is its simplicity.  FB status update activism has a staying power as long as the news cycle.  My knowledge of the market is pretty basic, but “follow the money” always seems to yield interesting, and rarely surprising, results. 

    Hospira, a global pharmaceutical company, was forced by one of it’s Italian manufacturer to discontinue one of the drugs it makes that was being used in the lethal injection cocktail if it could not.  According to this MSNBC article:

    “…Italian authorities insisted the company control the product’s
    distribution all the way to the end user to guarantee it wouldn’t be
    used in executions.  After discussions with Italian authorities, with Hospira wholesalers
    and within the corporation, Hospira decided it couldn’t make that
    promise.”

    “Hospira continues to make two other drugs that, in addition to medical uses, are also used by states for executions — pancuronium bromide, which paralyze inmates, and potassium chloride, which stop inmates’ hearts.”
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41196734/ns/health-health_care/t/key-death-penalty-drug-discontinued-us-maker/#.Tn4HxU_LJBE

    Where are these drugs being manufactured?  What other drugs do they make?  Who are they marketed to?  Who made the drugs used in the two executions Wednesday night?

    http://products.hospira.com/

    You have to hit them where it hurts. 

  • Mimi10

    I feel devastated over the blatant blood-lust of (in)justice system for the lives of PoC in almost the most random way. A cop got shot and they just grabbed the nearest Black man. He was doomed from the minute he walked through the door of the police station. Nothing made sense anymore. There was no real evidence – everyone knew that!! But they needed to kill someone and hey- all Black men are criminals and they all look the same and Troy Davis – he was handy – he was right there. AND, the 4 hours of further torture while they pretended, in a facade of “hey, we gave them one more chance.” (as if) so that he could lie there all hooked up with the needle already in his arm and a further anguished glimmer of hope before….”ha ha, we fooled you – now you’re going to die.” As if it all wasn’t the worst nightmare ever for Troy and his family. The degree of cruelty leaves me speechless!! I am weepy, I cannot sleep. What can be done??

  • Grace

    I know that we all have lives outside of Racialicious, and the internet in general, and I know that comments aren’t automatically posted, as per the comment moderation policy…and yet, it’s after 9pm here in New York, and I’ve yet to see a response to this. A passing yhought is, I wonder how many of us are simply at a loss for words to describe what has happened to us collectively. Just a thought though…

    As for me, outside of things like Racialicious, blogging (sporadically), and signing online petitions, I’ve been out of the REAL, LIVE activism scene for almost 2 1/2 years now, due to access and finances. So for me the goal is to just get to a place in which I’m really involved. I must say though that, for some odd reason I don’t really see myself joining the organizations mentioned here. Not really sure why.

    • Digital Coyote

      I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t think I’m at a loss for words. 

      If anything, I’m tired.  Overwhelmed, tired, and scared.  It’s probably more to do with what seems to be a “rash” of assaults on PoC (literal and metaphorical) that no one but us cares about.  They seem to be growing more violent and are, more often than not, done with the complicity of the law.  I worry that I will get caught up in something and will be unable to escape it because of this trend.  The lack of value our lives have, irrespective of our ability, aptitude, humanity, or decency, is glaringly obvious.

      It’s a lot to take in.

      The struggle to even process this is such that trying to do anything, or even contemplate doing anything for others, is something I can’t wrap my brain around right now.