Joshua Williams, Sept. 10, 2014.Durham, N.C. — During the height of the Ferguson Rebellion in the summer of 2014, youth organizer Joshua Williams rose quickly to the call of duty. In the aftermath of officer Darren Wilson’s brutal murder of Mike Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, 19-year-old Josh Williams, stepped forward in the most dedicated and courageous way possible — on the front lines.At protests, Williams stood his ground against armed police, national guardsmen, tanks and teargas, and encouraged others to do the same. In doing so, Josh not only earned the respect of his peers, he began to garner favor with longtime veteran leaders such as Cornel West and Al Sharpton. He also became a darling of the national media, from USA Today to the New York Times. From the perspective of the status quo, such potential and leadership qualities were seen as a threat.A few months after Mike Brown’s dead body lay in the street for four hours, another Black teenager, Antonio Martin, was shot by the police in Berkeley, a small town just outside Ferguson. In a righteous rage, youth took to the streets in rebellion. In the process, Williams was caught on camera lighting a fire at the convenience store where Martin was shot and killed. In December 2014, Josh Williams was arrested by the St. Louis County police, and a year later pleaded guilty to first degree arson and second degree burglary.Were Josh’s actions of “damaging property” illegal? Yes, they were. But so is the murder of innocent human lives. Did Darren Wilson serve time in jail? No! Did George Zimmerman serve time for murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin? No! Josh Williams, however, was sentenced to eight years in the Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Mo. Neither Wilson nor Zimmerman ever served a day in prison.Another recent case of overt targeting of activists by the state is the case of 28-year-old Jasmine Richards (also known as Jasmine Abdullah). Jasmine, founder of the Black Lives Matter Pasadena Chapter, has become the first Black woman convicted of “felony lynching.” You heard right, lynching! She was hit with this charge for trying to prevent the arrest of a Black woman accused of not paying her bill at a local restaurant, back in August of 2015.During the incident, Jasmine and others happened to be nearby at a protest against violence in the Black community. As the commotion spilled over, Jasmine and other protesters came to serve as witnesses and demand justice. At the time, the suspect accused of not paying for her meal was the only person arrested. Three days later, however, for her valiant pursuit of justice, Jasmine was charged with delaying and obstructing officers, inciting a riot and felony lynching. On June 1, Jasmine Richards was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 36 months of probation time.In the state of California, lynching implies “the taking by means of a riot of another person from the lawful custody of a peace officer.” The erroneous charges against Jasmine backfired, however, when the general public finally received word of such a ridiculous interpretation. Public outcry was heard worldwide, while an old phenomenon became quite clear.What we’re seeing in regards to the intentional targeting of activists and organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement is nothing new — no different than the targeting of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Assata Shakur and Leonard Peltier. What we’re seeing is the same strategy that Cointelpro used against the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army and the American Indian Movement.The intention of such repression is to halt the movement, to slow down the surge of the poor and oppressed, to “disrupt, discredit and destroy.” The state apparatus will do anything to protect the elite. If they can’t stop you permanently, they’ll tie up your time, energy and resources in the jails and court system. And they’ll use the media to demonize you in the process.As revolutionaries, we have to learn from these experiences and pass these lessons down. We already know the state is trying to prevent the oppressed from rising up; that’s nothing new. We know what’s coming: harassment, intimidation, imprisonment. What is new, is that a new generation must be armed with the proper information to protect themselves. Those on the front lines must be defended, by us, the people, the community, at all cost, by any means necessary.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
Arsene Wenger believes he was right to turn down the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Paris St Germain and even the England job to stay on as Arsenal manager for 17 years – and would welcome ending his coaching career at the Emirates Stadium. The Frenchman, who will turn 64 next month, has received the full backing of owner Stan Kroenke as his young team look to deliver a first trophy since 2005 with the London club embarking on what they hope will be a new chapter backed by increased financial resources, which helped secure the record £43million signing of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. Following the disappointment of an opening-day 3-1 home defeat by Aston Villa, Wenger has since guided Arsenal safely into the group stages of the Champions League, to the top of the Barclays Premier League table and on Wednesday night saw the next generation come through a penalty shoot-out in the Capital One Cup at West Brom. Press Association “I want to feel that I do well and then the question of me staying will be secondary after that.” The arrival of the relatively unheralded former Monaco and Nagoya Grampus Eight coach was met by headlines of “Arsene Who?” when he succeeded Bruce Rioch in September 1996. Wenger, though, has no intentions of revelling in a bit of nostalgia ahead of what is set to be a testing encounter at the Liberty Stadium. ”Our job has a good advantage – you just look forward to the next game,” he said. Arsenal head to Swansea looking to stay top of the table after four straight league wins. Former Cardiff midfielder Aaron Ramsey is set to have a fitness test on a thigh problem, as is Mathieu Flamini (shoulder). England forward Theo Walcott, meanwhile, faces more than a month of rehabilitation after a minor procedure on an abdominal problem. Last season, Arsenal battled to a 2-2 draw at Swansea in the FA Cup third round, before going through on a replay, and then won 2-0 in Wales when the home side had just celebrated winning the Capital One Cup. “Swansea are a team now where the level of expectation is higher than the year before, so of course everybody wants them to be performing in the top seven or eight, what I think they have the quality to do,” said Wenger, whose side were beaten 2-0 at home by Swansea in their Premier League game on December 1. “Overall they buy well, they play attractive football. Swansea is a very, very good team.” Wenger remains relaxed about his own long-term future, but made it clear he would have no issue with signing on again for the Gunners. “Yes I turned many offers down because I rate what I’ve got here and I always thought that this club is special on that front. In our job it is important to know what you want and I rated the qualities that this club has always shown,” said Wenger, who takes his side to Swansea for Saturday afternoon’s late kick-off. “I am very grateful to this club because during the 17 years we had ups and downs. They have always shown a big faith in me and they always let me do the job like I thought it had to be done, and if I am still here today it is because I got that consistent support from inside the club. “Honestly, I would love to be here forever because that would mean I would be immortal! I am (though) not naive enough to believe that. What I would like to do as long as I am here is give my best for this club because I love this club, of course.” Wenger added: “I am very honoured to have the support of Stan Kroenke. That he thinks I can help the club is a huge confidence vote. That is something for me that is very positive.” On the continuing negotiations, he said: “(We will do it) when we find time. I don’t think that is the most important problem at the moment. “The good thing with me, if I have one quality, (it is that) you don’t need a lot of talks to extend the contract I have. “I want to focus on the quality of our season.