Respect to Colin Kaepernick for Investing His Time, Resources, and Spirit to Communities Fighting for Justice

When Colin Kaepernick took a knee, his actions brought worldwide attention to the current state of oppression in America, and simultaneously emboldened the movement that is fighting for justice for communities of color throughout the nation.

It is with great honor that SV De-Bug has been able to build with Colin Kaepernick and his foundation through our participation in their powerful Know Your Rights Camp, and now through his contribution to support our local work to end police violence and mass incarceration. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee, his actions brought worldwide attention to the current state of oppression in America, and simultaneously emboldened the movement that is fighting for justice for communities of color throughout the nation. His thoughtful responses to even those who sought to critique him exposed America’s sordid relationship to power and race, and how that history has arrived us to a current moment where officer-involved killings of unarmed people of color with impunity has been normalized. 

His historic action, seen on the world stage, proclaimed such violence as no longer tolerable, and echoes the call that has been chanted, screamed, and demanded through protest from across the country.

But Colin Kaepernick’s commitment to the movement goes beyond what the larger public has seen in the news. De-Bug was able to give a workshop on What To Do in Police Interactions and Wrongful Arrests to hundreds of black and brown Bay Area youth at Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp. We brought community leaders like Ramon Vasquez and Lamar Noble to talk to the youth about being assaulted by police, wrongfully arrested, and what they did to fight back and win their freedom, and how youth and community can protect themselves in police interactions. On that day, Colin Kaepernick’s sincere commitment to young people and their future was undeniable. He not only appeared at the event — he was involved in every aspect of it — from developing the agenda to stuffing the backpacks to give the youth with books that have impacted his life such the Autobiography of Malcolm X. He spoke to them genuinely about his own personal journey as a way to encourage them on their own path to greatness. Please believe, those young people walked out of that building in Oakland with a new sense of who they are, who supports them, and who they are destined to be.

And now, through his Million Dollar Pledge, Colin Kaepernick is supporting several of De-Bug’s projects, as well as a number of other movement-making organizations nationally who are doing vital and often under-resourced work in communities of color. What is particularly powerful in his pledge is the lifting up of the power of the local — ground zero of where these large institutions of oppression touch down and destroy, and consequently exactly where courageous movements for justice are rising up to make change within the proximity of their communities. 

With De-Bug, Colin Kaepernick’s donation of $25,000 will go to several pieces of work that are about amplifying and centering the experience of those directly impacted by police violence and the criminal injustice system to lead the movement.

(Video from event of San Jose families who's loved ones were killed by law enforcement. At the end of the event, families sent laterns into the sky on behalf of their family members.)

Below is a listing of the projects that the resources will fund:

Healing and Strategic Planning Retreat for California families who have lost loved ones to police violence.

This idea is developed by Laurie Valdez of the Justice for Josiah campaign. Laurielost her partner Antonio Guzman Lopez, father of their child Josiah, to San Jose State police, who shot Antonio in the back in 2014. Since Antonio’s death, Laurie has been the leading voice to stop police violence in the South Bay and beyond, supporting families who are going through the same horror her family is experiencing. Her idea is to create a collaborative healing space for families who have endured the trauma of losing their fathers, sons, sisters, mothers to police violence. While providing needed community solace, the retreat will also serve a strategic planning space for families to collectively discuss how to advance the movement for police accountability through the lens of impacted families. 

Laurie Valdez calls for the officers who killed her partner and father of her child, Antonio Guzman Lopez, to face criminal charges at a rally in San Jose. 

Creation and implementation of The First 24 poster and video campaign for families after a officer-involved critical incident.
From a strategic planning meeting with families in San Jose who have lost loved ones to police violence, they identified a specific tool they wanted to create that would assist other families who face the same tragedy. Namely, listing steps families can take within the first 24 hours after an officer involved critical incident (a killing, or severe use of force) that would help the family better position themselves in relation to the investigation, law, and media, as they seek justice.

(Lamar Noble leads a rally for accountability after being the recipient of unlawful use of force by Santa Clara County Sheriffs.)

Creation and implementation of The First 24 poster and video campaign for families after an arrest of a loved one.
Based on De-Bug’s experience of working with families who have loved ones facing criminal charges, we have identified key steps that can be taken immediately after an arrest to best position yourself to defend against the allegations, win pretrial release during the court process, and secure the best outcome of the case. De-Bug released an Alameda County Youth Edition version at the Oakland Know Your Rights Camp. 

(Material handed out to youth at the Oakland Know Your Rights Camp.)

Almost a Hashtag Campaign: Public education and media campaign around 3 cases where someone was the victim of police use of force abuse, but ends up facing a criminal charge (anecdotally referred to as “cover charges.”)
This is informed from our campaign, where we fought for the freedom of Henry Sires, a San Jose man who was shot by Santa Clara County Sheriffs, but then wrongfully charged with assault on a police officer. We were able to organize community support for Henry and his family, have a presence in the courtroom to let the actors of the court know that the public was concerned about the outcome of the case, and do in-time media to bring public awareness of the case. We will do this comprehensive community support campaigns for others who were victims of police violence, but are the ones facing charges. The work is aimed at bringing the energy on the streets calling for police accountability to the courtroom, which also needs critique and structural change.

(Deborah Sires with family getting ready for first day of trial for Henry Sires, an unarmed man shot by sheriffs, then charged with assault on a police officer. Charges were later dropped.)

3 Social Biography Videos to stop youth to be charged as adults.
Social biography videos are a tool De-Bug uses for individuals facing the court process so the totality of their lives, their communities, and there futures are understood and considered by actors of the court. Namely, so they are understood as more than a case file — but as young people with futures and potential that is at risk with an incarceration. We will make three videos for youth who are being considered for adult prosecution.

(De-Bug participatory defense videographers producing a social biography video for a young man in Gilroy,CA.)

We are excited to launch these projects through the support of the Colin Kaepernick Foundation, as they literally are about saving lives and building the movement that we believe is as possible as it is needed.

Related Media: 

I'm a U.S. Air Force Veteran and an Oakland Raider Fan Who Stands with Kaepernick

San Jose Families Rally Together for #FreedomNow

Public Defenders Join Families Who Have Lost Loved Ones to Police Violence at San Jose #FreedomNow Action

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This article is part of the tags: 49ers  / Almost a Hashtag  / Colin Kaepernick  / Colin Kaepernick Foundation  / Know Your RIghts Camp  / Million Dollar Pledge  / National Anthem  / Police Violence  / Protest  / Racism  / Social Biography Videos 


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