One group’s push for change.
On the Facebook group, I Will Witness, we watch and share live streams related to the revolution. These feeds are protests, marches, rallies, speeches, vigils, and direct action movements. One group that kept showing up, was Black Lives Matter 757 from Virginia.
THIS is what community looks like.
According to their website, they started their group in 2016, after the Philando Castille murder. Black Lives Matter 757 “hosts frequent events to protest against police brutality, injustice by the judicial system and also strives to proactively create safer communities for Black Lives by advocating for research-based best practices in racial justice and accountability.”
After George Floyd.
While looking back on BLM757’s Facebook, you can many of their events and activities they participated in before the murder of George Floyd, but since Floyd’s brutal killing, this group has been making themselves known in the Hampton Roads area in Virginia.
On May 28, 2020, just days after George Floyd’s murder, Japharii Jones the president of this Virginia Black Lives Matter group, met the local news station at Fort Monroe. The significance of this place is that it is the exact location that the first Africans arrived in America in 1619. Before the interview, Jones spoke with Earl Lewis JR who told us about how his cousin, unarmed, was murdered by a police officer in 2015. That same police officer had previously murdered another Black man in 2011.
In both the video before the news interview and on the news interview, Jones said, “It’s not open season on Black people.” Unfortunately, in America, it’s been open season on Black people for hundreds of years. But NOW is the time to stand up and fight against it.
So, Black Lives Matter stood in solidarity with every city in America as the 2020 Civil Rights Movement began. They stood in solidarity on May 29, May 30, May 31, and have been protesting police brutality ever since.
As we saw all around the country in the first weeks after the George Floyd murder, some of the protests broke out into isolated incidents of looting and rioting, Virginia Beach was no exception. Knowing now, many of these incidents were at the hands of juveniles and in many cases, white supremacists looking to cause community divide. This has been a big factor in the narrative from Fox and Breitbart that we are still dealing with today.
BLM757 didn’t have anything to do with any rioting or looting that took place in Virginia Beach in those early days. They put out a press release condemning those actions, spoke to local news about it, and went to the affected area to see how they could help local business owners.
The Confederate statue in Richmond.
Black Lives Matter 757 was in Richmond, VA to celebrate the day that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced the statue would be coming down. A moment that many of us in southern states are looking forward to with our own white supremacist symbology in our own areas. These statues were placed all over the south 100 years ago by the hate group, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and it’s time for them to go. Unfortunately, racists have blocked the removal of the statue with lawsuits. The issue of the statue is due to be in court on October, 17.
They’ve been met with hate and violence.
While we have a president who strokes hatred, racism, and violence, we have seen Trumpers all over America attack peaceful protesters. It’s happened to BLM757, too. A pickup truck tried to run them over on May 31. Just days later, the driver of that truck was caught on video pulling a gun on another driver. His name is Manny Wilder and here he is on another incident swinging a hatchet at a group of protesters.
Violence towards Black people protesting for equal justice hasn’t just come from Trumpers, either. Much of the violence has come from the police. On June 2 police shot tear gas into a group of peaceful protesters, while there were also children in the group. On July 18, the police assaulted a peaceful protester by grabbing his neck.
The Confederate statue in Portsmouth.
BLM757 protested the removal of the Confederate statue in Portsmouth. Their protests worked! This was something that anti-racists all over the country celebrated. In August, the city began taking down the ode to white supremacy. But they made sure to get their revenge. Over a dozen people were charged with felonies for the destruction of the monument, including Senator Louise Lucas. This was a direct attack on local Black leaders and proof that racism is thriving in Virginia Beach.
The local government has repeatedly infringed on BLM757’s Constitutional rights.
They have blocked parking lots from preventing protesters from parking their cars at meeting places for marches. Virginia Beach police have attempted to stop Black Lives Matter 757 from attending city council meetings. And on another day, completely stopped them from attending the city council meeting at all. Police have even charged Japharii Jones with crimes for leading peaceful protests.
Nothing can stop this Revolution.
History books will look back on many activist groups all over this nation as leaders in this Revolution and Black Lives Matter 757 will undoubtedly be at the forefront. BLM757 will one day be remembered, the same way that we now remember the Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE) from the 1960s.
You can also Witness the Revolution happening in Virginia with BLM757 by following them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.