Michael Brown was killed by a police officer’s bullet in Ferguson, Missouri, a town in which 66% percent of residents are black, yet 50 of its 53 police officers are white, as are 5 of its 6 city council members and 6 of 7 school board members. The mayor of Ferguson, James Knowles, is a white Republican, leaving the tax-paying citizens of Ferguson unrepresented in their city or county governance, with an overwhelmingly white police force that does not reflect the community, that harasses (and worse) the people of Ferguson; in which Blacks account for 86 percent of the traffic stops in the city, and 93 percent of the arrests after those stops, a police force that serves as an occupying army, complete with surplus US military weaponry and violent tactics, resulting in Michael Brown’s death and weeks of civil disobedience in protest;
The reason the people of Ferguson, Missouri and similar towns do not control their own governance is because they do not vote (only 12% of registered voters cast a ballot in 2013; only 6% of African Americans voted) and they do not register to vote. Located just 3 miles from the site of the notorious Dred Scott decision by the Supreme Court, they are alienated from true democracy by a centuries-long legacy of slavery, reconstruction, taxation without representation, disenfranchisement and voter suppression that continues to this day, including Ferguson’s “unusual “municipal elections calendar (holding elections in April in odd-numbered years).
Political and service organizations including the NAACP, ACLU, PowerPAC+, Rev Jesse Jackson, National Action Network and others across the country have sent volunteers and funds to St Louis County to help local organizations like HealSTL, Urban League, Organization for Black Struggle, ministers and politicians to register and educate voters, groom, train and support potential candidates and otherwise work to restore the democratic process in Ferguson. (Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Matt Wills called the voter drive “disgusting” and “inappropriate.”) Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has pledged candidate-training workshops. But Ferguson is not unique; in the State of California, there are towns like Ferguson, where the population is underrepresented in local government, public officials do not reflect the community they serve, people feel powerless and police action often leaves the community feeling terrorized.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
The Alameda County Democratic Party supports those working on the ground and traveling to Ferguson to help establish the democratic process; and we pledge to begin a program to increase voter registration and participation in our own areas; to reach out to California counties with a demographic imbalance like Ferguson’s; to share our resources helping local Democrats register voters, conduct voter education workshops, recruit, groom and support potential candidates; to take a stand against police harassment and violence; to overcome all obstacles to allowing Democrats to vote and to help the disenfranchised citizens of those areas restore democracy before the 2016 elections. Copies of this resolution are to be sent to California Democratic Party state and county leaders and elected officials.
Submitted by: Pamela Mays McDonald
Endorsed by: Alameda County Democratic Central Committee
October 1, 2014