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Aura Rosser, Kyera Singleton, Shae Ward, Shirley Beckley: Black women’s lives matter

A year ago, Aura Rosser moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor to start a new life, and by many accounts, she was succeeding. On November 9, however, she and her partner were fighting. Her partner called the police. Two police officers arrived. One of them shot and killed Aura Rosser, who apparently held a knife in her hand. Then the police department went silent. The ACLU and the Ann Arbor Independent filed Freedom of Information Act applications. Students and townspeople organized. The officers were named. The Ann Arbor City Council voted to equip police with body and car cameras. The lack of cameras did not kill Aura Rosser. A man with a gun killed Aura Rosser.

Students, led by Kyera Singleton, have mobilized communities across Ann Arbor and beyond. Singleton explained, “It’s really important that we break the silence about who’s a victim of police violence. We can’t be silent when it happens to a woman and then go out and march when it happens to a man. … These national movements often take place around the bodies of men, and then black women may get erased.”

Aura Rosser’s sister, Shae Ward, agrees. She knew Aura Rosser and doubts that she would have actually attacked anyone, much less someone with a gun. Who was Aura Rosser? According to Shae Ward, “She was very artistic. She was deeply into painting with oils and acrylics. She’s a culture-type of gal. She was a really sweet girl. Wild. Outgoing. Articulate.” She was also the mother of three children.

Now, communities are trying to raise money for the funeral and for the children. Many are asking where the State is in all this. They argue that the State, in this instance Ann Arbor, killed a young Black woman, and the very least it could do is to bear the expenses of her funeral. Ann Arbor has opted to purchase cameras for police bodies and cars.

Shirley Beckley, 71 years old, went to the City Council and demanded a different kind of payment. Respect. Dignity. She asked for three minutes of silence. This request actually confused the City Council, but finally, after the Mayor laughed, they allowed for three minutes, three whole minutes, of silence.

Black women’s lives matter. Cameras will not stop the State assault on Black women’s lives. They will only record and document the assaults. In the same way that prisons have not reduced crime, because they never were intended to, cameras will not reduce State violence against Black women, people, or communities. Only a fundamental change in policing practices and cultures will begin to do that, and that change begins with this: Black women’s lives matter.

 

(Photo Credit: MichiganDaily.com/Paul Sherman)

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In Burkina Faso, the women continue to push for justice and transformation

In October, women carrying spatulas took to the streets of Ouagadougou, and sparked an uprising that finally overthrew Blaise Compaoré. With spatulas and brooms, they pushed open doors and windows that had been long closed. Thomas Sankara’s widow, Mariam Sankara, called for a real investigation into the circumstances of her husband’s death. Joséphine Ouédraogo, a […]

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In drone wars, women disappear, bodies never counted, names never known

The United States drone program, run by the CIA with the complicity of the NSA, inaugurated a new form of deterritorialized death sentence without trial or any form of public review in developing countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. This secret program fits in with the rhetoric of domination and control. Its process is obscure, […]

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Joséphine Ouédraogo’s long slow burn to democracy

For some, it’s the end of the year, and so a time for reflection and celebration. 2014 has been a year of brave, inspiring young feminists. It has also been a year in which women, young and old and in between, have pushed out long-standing rulers and sparked the process of State transformation. In Burkina […]

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Texas built a special hell for immigrant women and children

Today, December 18, 2014, is International Migrants Day. On December 18, 1990, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. What better way to honor that convention than to build the biggest, baddest prison for migrant women and children? […]

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No crime, no trial, indefinite detention: Happy birthday Glory Anawa

“Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” We have traveled far, and quickly, from such notions of childhood, tenderness, and caring. Instead, we now have prison camouflaged as `detention’, and hell powder puffed as “indefinite detention.” Indefinite detention is not indefinite. It’s eternal […]

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In Kenya, the women say, “NON-NEGOTIABLE: my body my womb my rights”

In Nairobi this week, five women wearing t-shirts walked into court. On the back, the t-shirts read: “NON-NEGOTIABLE: my body my womb my rights.” On the front, the t-shirts read, “END FORCED AND COERCED STERILIZATION OF WOMEN LIVING WITH HIV” The five women, all HIV positive, are suing the Kenyan government, two maternity hospitals, and […]

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Will the murders of Seneng Mujiasih and Sumarti Ningsih be a wake-up call?

In the early morning hours of November 1, 29-year-old British securities trader Rurik Jutting called police officers to his apartment in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district. Inside, they discovered a gruesome scene: 29-year-old Seneng Mujiasih lying naked on the floor with fatal knife wounds, and a suitcase containing the mutilated remains of 23-year-old Sumarti Ningsih […]

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Women are the unexplained unexplained of the global wage gap

Last week, the International Labour Organization published Global Wage Report 2014/5. The largely report confirms what many already know and live. First and last, wages matter: “Wages are a major source of household income in both developed economies and emerging and developing economies.” Second, wages in so-called developed economies have been fairly flat, while wages […]

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You’re killing me. I can’t breathe.

Many murals will emerge bearing the words, “I can’t breathe.” Maybe one of them will show Charles Jason Toll, Jimmy Mubenga, and Eric Garner, brothers in arms, tender comrades in a war they never declared but which killed them nevertheless. Perhaps another will show Jane Luna, Adrienne Kambana, and Esaw Garner and their combined struggle […]

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Pregnancy or abortion: Either way, women face violence

In the United States, violence is often the current reality for women seeking reproductive services. Access to abortion is becoming more difficult, more costly, and almost always associated with numerous procedures or circumstances that shame women. Giving birth is similarly costly and often a place for extraordinary controlling power over the women’s devaluated bodies. When […]

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