Amidst the chaos of a global pandemic, the nation has also been mourning the deaths of multiple African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement. Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT in Louisville, Kentucky, was shot eight times in the early hours of March 13 by Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, and detectives Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankison, who according to the Courier-Journal, were “plainclothes officers who had burst in to execute a “no-knock” search warrant at her home.”
Most recently, the civil unrest in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd on May 25, by now-former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin— who was caught on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than 8 minutes, has since been fired and arrested on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter, according to the Washington Post—has spread to multiple cities across the nation—including Durham, Raleigh and Charlotte.
In light of these recent events, with African-American women at the focus, activists in Winston-Salem are organizing a movement calling for “transparency and justice” from Winston-Salem city officials, specifically Mayor Allen Joines, the Winston-Salem Police Department, and Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill.
On Sunday, May 31, from 3 to 5 p.m., African-American women will gather outside Aster Park, located at 300 W. Northwest Blvd. (between Cherry and Trade Streets), to “call leaders to the table around the lack of Justice for Julius Sampson, transparency regarding the murder of Sis. Ella Crawley and state this cannot happen anymore in our city,” wrote co-organizer Miranda Jones. “We will come to wherever they are to demand justice.”
Jones wrote in a Facebook message that she and former military veteran Arnita Miles organized the “Black Ops: Rebellion of Black Women,” movement which, according to its press release, “means operations completed in unity and power to uplift black women. This was coined by a military veteran and local black woman activist, Arnita Miles.”
Speakers will include Miles, Jones, and other African-American women activists such as Jenn B. Oliver, Ikulture Chandler, as well as “select African-American men activists, and a representative from the School of Love. Groups standing in solidarity are the Winston-Salem DSA and Hate Out of Winston.”
The press release states that tomorrow’s movement will demand from the Winston-Salem Police Department the following:
● A full investigation into the murder of Ella Lorine Crawley, a black woman whose body was found near the Gateway Commons Park area. This is a public safety issue, and we demand that our letters put all of their resources behind the investigation, particularly during this time of heightened racial violence and terror.
● A full investigation into the murder of Julius Sampson that includes constant and consistent contact with this widow, we demand that District Attorney Jim O’Neill be responsive to her requests for answers, especially since he is running to be elected to N.C. Attorney General.
● We are demanding that our local and state leaders, and political candidates repeal the Stand Your Ground Laws by putting in a bill and that they do so swiftly. We are asking local city and county leaders to repudiate this law in word and deed.
● We demand that the health of black women be made a priority as we are heavily impacted by COVID-19, lack of testing, and health disparities in EVERY area
● A full investigation into the shooting of Jericka Nasgah McGee, another black woman whose body was discovered on East 20th Street here in Winston-Salem.
● These investigations must be completed with bias or demonizing the victims due to their struggles, social location, or socioeconomic status.
To get involved or learn more, visit HateOut of Winston’s Facebook page or call Arnita Miles at (912) 332-0410.