Comments by Justin Brown

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  • Thank you Oldhead. You are absolutely right!

    Let’s get the word out and not be lulled into complacence by news reports that the Senate version is dead because of fights over gun owners rights.

    Your Friday before Labor day theory should give us enough fear to get this done! Yes, I commit to making those calls and getting at least ten of my friends to make them too.

    Thank you for pushing us to action!

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  • I very much appreciate your saying: “Forming true solidarity requires more than an occasional blog or a thought piece.”

    “Solidarity is more than a retweet or hashtag!” Yes!

    I’m glad that you held up the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community as an example of feet on the ground work that is being done. I’m wondering if Mad in America readers have other examples to answer your question: “What would it look like if we were truly unified in solidarity?”

    Western Mass has one of few peer respites across the country. I’d like to see peer respites in Mass that could be accessible to people in Boston, Springfield, Worcester, Lowell, Lawrence, Lynn, Fall River, Brockton and other urban communities. I agree with you that in Solidarity “We would have community-based centers providing intentional support, open 24 hours a day, instead of crowded jail cells holding people in pain. It wouldn’t be easy, but we have to do it.”

    I commit to working to make this dream a reality, not just a re-tweet but a fact. I know there are many others in Massachusetts who share this commitment. is one place where we might grows as a movement that has its feet on the ground.

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  • Thank you Stephen for your unique perspective as one who can pass as white. Awareness is the beginning that leads to action. In my long comment (down at the bottom of this page) I recommend an article that Perwana Nazif recently wrote about 10 ways that non people of color can support BLM:

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  • I fully support creating “People of Color Only Safe Spaces and Healing Spaces” as BLM often does, but this is different than saying BLM is an exclusionary movement. Many including MJ Jones have written powerfully about the need for Black Only spaces. See

    It is important that I as a white person recognize that my white privilege doesn’t entitle me to walk into any space and claim it as my own. At the same time, white people can support the Black Lives Matter movement and participate in demonstrations where we are welcome. Perwana Nazif recently wrote about 10 ways that non people of color can support BLM:

    One of these ways is showing up at events in the streets that are not Black Only. Here is a quote:

    5. Offline participation
    While sharing on social media can spark change, you also have to physically attend and participate. Join demonstrations, protests, marches, and events for BLM, like Los Angeles’ Underground Museum’s recent event, Holding Court: Black Lives Matter, an event for critical thinking and community building with BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors and Black Lives Matter Network Art + Culture Director Tanya Lucia Bernard. Numbers propagate change!

    Circa, if you took my comment to be speaking for the Black Lives Matter movement, that was not my intention. Instead I was speaking as a person who is part of what I like to call the Mad Pride movement who has participated in BLM events. I was speaking about what I have learned through this participation and how it applies to the Mad Pride movement.

    The two movements are not the same but they do intersect. I have a right and obligation to focus on the execution of Kajieme Powell because Black Pride and Mad Pride intersect in his defiance of police authority. I would fully support creating a “Black only and Mad only” safe space, even though I cannot enter this space, because I understand the need for safe spaces where people feel that they can be truly themselves without having to explain to others what this is like or why their experience is uniquely their own. Unfortunately such spaces are far too infrequent. This is one reason why I believe our Mad Pride movement needs to grow both in size and diversity.

    Yes, black people have turned out in thousands and thousands to mourn the death of Michael Brown and in far fewer numbers to mourn for Kajieme Powell, but it would be a mistake to say that Kajieme was altogether forgotten by the BLM. In fact, BLM has done a better job of remembering Kajieme than the Mad Pride movement has. That needs to change! We the Mad Pride movement need to be turning up in thousands and thousands to honor Kajieme and the 385 other people shot by police in 2015 and so far in 2016 who have been labelled with “mental illness”. We do not have the luxury of criticising BLM for neglecting Kajieme and other Mad people, because we have not done our own organizing.

    I am not suggesting we appropriate the issue of militarized policing as our own, taking it away from BLM. I am saying that we too are affected by this violence and that we need to honor those who have fallen and demand justice. In this we have much to learn from BLM and we do well to participate in those spaces where we are welcome.

    Let’s never pretend that we don’t show up to support BLM because all BLM spaces are Black Only. This simply is not true. While being sensitive that white privilege can blind us to the disruption we may cause by entering a Black Only space, we also have an obligation to use our white privilege to support the BLM movement and to take the ten steps recommended by Perwana Nazif.

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  • Thanks Will for this much needed article. Your challenge to us all is not only to support the Black Lives Matter movement but also to learn from it. To grow our activism as we participate in and learn from BLM is essential. On Monday we had 150 people at a protest in front of the Boston Globe mourning those we have lost to systemic violence. Many died in restraints. Many were children. And 385 of the nearly 700 people who lost their lives to the mental health/criminal justice system were shot by police.

    Some of us were afraid that these 385 deaths could be too easily dismissed as so-called “suicide by cop” which is exactly how the Boston Globe described it in their Spotlight Series. The fear was that we might play into the Globe’s attempt to paint us as violent and dangerous. But I personally took courage through my participation in Black Lives Matter movement (more specifically Mass Action Against Police Brutality in knowing that the media will almost always portray black people and brown people and mad people as the aggressors, even if this is far from the truth. This has not stopped BLM and it should not stop us from mourning our fallen and demanding justice.

    The intersection between Black Lives Matter and Mad Pride began for me almost two years ago on August 20, 2015. Just ten days after Micheal Brown was gunned down in Ferguson and the city erupted into protest, Kajieme Powell, a young black man, was viciously assassinated on video for the whole world to see. You can go to the website where I have laid out all the facts. Unlike Michael Brown, Kajieme Powell’s death was attributed to “suicide by cop” but that explanation just doesn’t hold up. This was a brutal execution of a person in deep distress that was needless and amounted to an extrajudicial execution. And yet far too many of us were afraid then–and remain afraid today–to identify with Kajieme Powell as one of us who has fallen.

    No one will be held accountable for Kajieme Powell’s death. No one will be held accountable for the 385 other individuals identified by the Washington Post as having “signs of mental illness” who have died in 2015 and so far in 2016, but we cannot give up the fight. In this respect we need Black Lives Matter more than ever. Not only should we join in the street; we need to join in the workshops and consciousness raising events. This is not just to show support, it is also to learn how we can be more effective in our activism and how we can speak from the points of intersections–like Kajieme Powell’s assassination–that bring us together.

    If you haven’t already signed the petition at, please do!

    Thank you Will for reminding us all that we cannot do this alone. We need to walk arm in arm with a movement that is larger than any of us, a movement for racial justice and the end of militarized policing. If we don’t come out onto the streets for Black Lives Matter, we are likely to be afraid to come onto the streets for the 385–black and white–who we have lost to militarized policing in the last 18 months.

    For more information about Monday’s Boston Globe protest go to: or

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  • Sera, I cannot agree with you more about this terrible article. Thank for taking it on point by point!

    I just want to add how petty and mean spirited that last sentence was. How many so-called “readers” of the Globe never read the article? I am guessing many, if not most, did no more than look at the pictures of us as murderers and take away that basic message: “They are all violent and dangerous.” They didn’t have to read the article because the pictures spoke louder than words.

    So we brought our own pictures of those who died due to restraints, abuse, neglect and militarized policing. Our message we equally basic: “The mental health/criminal justice system is killing us. We are 6 times more likely to be murdered than the general population. We are 11 times more likely to be victims of violent crime. You don’t have to read the Globe’s hate speech to know these facts.

    We came out to honor our fallen. We came to vigil for the truth.

    How offensive it would have been for a reporter to come to the funeral of one of the police officers recently killed and ask the participants “Did you read the all the articles about why these police officers were killed?” And then to somehow suggest that the mourners had not right to be there if they had not.
    We came to mourn those we have lost. Shame on the Globe for belittling us in our grief. Shame on the Globe for not publishing all the nearly 700 faces of those who died to systemic violence. Shame on the Globe for not covering the facts!

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