Throughout its history, law enforcement has deemed Black activism as a national security threat. Law enforcement has used its powers to chill the speech and movements of Black activists and activism that’s done on behalf of issues that impact Black communities. In Criminalizing Black protest: When we resist, the 34th episode of “The Activist Files,” two activists working to bring attention to the environmental racism in St. James Parish, Louisiana, which is a historic Black community under threat of destruction by Formosa Plastics, share their stories of how police criminalized their activism.
Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, was arrested, charged with terrorism, and faced up to 15 years in prison. Pastor Gregory Manning, head of Broadmoor Community Church and a member of the Coalition Against Death Alley was arrested, charged with a felony for allegedly inciting a riot, and faced six months to 21 years in prison. They share the details of what led to their arrests. Pam Spees, senior staff attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights, provides information on the trends she’s seeing in laws that are increasingly criminalizing activists and how activists can stay safe in movement spaces.