[The following is a message from band member Zach Brake, who speaks for himself through the Guerrilla Fanfare platform] - 

 

I’ve been posting almost exclusively on my personal page for a while now, as this page has pretty much been shut down since COVID save the occasional Ad-Hoc jam we’ve been able to do amidst social distancing. While we thought that by limiting our posting amidst this chaos to only positive and substantive things such as those jams we would help cut down on unnecessary noise, I felt it necessary to post some personal thoughts to our followers regarding the tragic events we see transpiring now.  I am speaking out now as a musician, and because this platform exists as a result of efforts from a history of Black musicians in this country. Our form of brass band was born in Louisiana by slaves in Congo Square [40]. It is an African American art form and tradition that we have based our music upon as Guerrilla Fanfare, and we pay respect to that culture through performance in performing music, actions through volunteering with the No Enemies Brass Bands and through words such as the statement I have prepared today.

 

Tensions are running high. The state of affairs in this country was already a breaking point for millions who have lost their livelihoods [1], their life’s work [2] and incomes [3] from this deadly virus, not to mention the staggering loss of life with over 100,000 Americans and counting dead [4]. It is an unmitigated disaster. People are mourning. People are scrambling to get by. While the wealth inequity in this country was already an unacceptable issue [5], it is made now even more grave. People are afraid, and people are getting fed up with the same tired excuses and empty rhetoric from politicians we have heard time and time again. 

 

Similarly, the ever growing divide in our country has been made very clear by our “leadership” from the oval office. Racial inequity in this country is nothing new [6]. Our nation’s history is rife with racism, and our society is undoubtably built on the backs of the groups deemed lesser by those in charge. The First Nation indigenous populations whose cultures we destroyed [7], the Africans brought from the slave trade who were [8] and still are subjected to some of the worst atrocities known to human history [9], the Japanese who were incarcerated during world war II [10], the ongoing situation at the southern boarder where Central and South American refugees are put in cages [11], separated from their families [12] and subjected to subhuman living conditions and sexual abuse [13], those of Muslim and Jewish faiths who are unfairly and viciously targeted [14], and now the Asian population at large [15] for spreading the “Chinese Virus”[16] to the United States all make up a non-exhaustive list that immediately comes to mind when we get on this subject, a list that is sadly far from complete. 

 

Now we are all seeing shocking images of police brutality in response to peaceful protests of the wrongful police murder yet another black man, George Floyd, effectively sentenced to death by the judge, jury and executioners we call “law enforcement” [17]. While, for once, we are seeing the particular culprits charged [18], the work of dismantling our nation’s systemic white supremacy and actively undoing its harms needs to continue. George Floyd was the latest unacceptable travesty in an ongoing history of police violence and brutality that disproportionately targets people of color especially those of the Black community [19]. Look no further than a few days prior (or since) his wrongful killing and you will find more. David McAtee a pit master in Kentucky who regularly gave cops free meals gunned down by cops and left to rot on the street for nearly twelve hours [20], or Breonna Taylor, who was a victim of extrajudicial murder by an inept police force incapable of even finding the right house or checking to see if the suspect was already apprehended. She was my age [21]. White supremacy is not limited to cops either. Ahmaud Arbery was murdered while jogging by white supremacists [23]. Those are just a three names, three lives, three loved ones who will never come home again out of the countless lives lost at the hands of the police and through systemic racism [22].

 

Just this week, we have seen images of police pepper-spraying peaceful protestors including black Senators [24], using their cars as weapons [25], destroying water bottles and medical equipment that was not theirs [26], arresting and attacking bystanders with physical force and less lethal rounds used improperly to inflict maiming and sometimes lethal damage [27], openly attacking reporters violating several amendments of the constitution—for  which they are being sued by the ACLU [28]—and firing on people with less-lethal projectiles for being on their own property [29]. Yet again, this is an incomplete list.  While that does not excuse the behavior of opportunists who are looking to steal some surfboards at the expense of public favor of Black Lives Matter [30], the authoritarian actions undertaken by these paramilitaries we call “law enforcement” have gone too far and should create an outlook of shock and shame, and serve as a sobering look into the police state of “the land of the free.”

 

The national disgrace who occupies the White House, and occasionally the underground bunker near the White House [31], continues to stoke the fires of racism in his base, and sow seeds of division with our neighbors and fellow countrymen, calling himself the “Law and Order” president as others have done more effectively before him, [32] and telling local governors to “dominate the streets” through force and mobilizing the military against US citizens [33]. We must not allow him to continue to damage our country, and ensure a decisive victory against hi, in November to ensure the continuation of our Democracy [34].

 

While it feels inadequate, I find solace in putting outrage to action. These are a few actions that can benefit the Black Lives Matter movement.

 

  1. Register to vote, and vote Trump out in November [35]. Research your local representatives in local government, and make informed decisions. 

  2. Give money to organizations who help combat systemic racism.  I have specifically given to the ACLU [36], and NAACP legal fund [37], and the Colorado Freedom Fund (to help protestors post pail) [41] but there are many more. 

  3. Write our lawmakers supporting this legislation called the Law Enforcement and Integrity Act [38]. While you are at it, sign this petition for Breonna Taylor, whose murderers have still not been charged [47]. 

  4. Get involved in the movement either through active peaceful demonstration if you are physically able and comfortable to do so amidst a pandemic, or otherwise continue to share stories of outrage highlighting the injustices you see. This week, there were peaceful demonstrations in all 50 states. Here is a list where you can support this movement all across the country [42].

  5. Have conversations, especially with those who don’t agree with you.  Simply declaring moral supremacy and shutting out those who don’t agree by labeling them as “racist,” or as Hilary Clinton put it a “basket of deplorables“ [39], does not help.  This is not easy, but we need to do better at making it safe to be an advocate - especially because people who are new to this will not be perfect at the beginning.

  6. If time allows in your busy schedule, self-education and self-reflection makes a difference. I am by no means perfect. In fact, looking back on my past I now clearly see plenty of instances where I was wrong and wished I would have acted differently. Self-education and self-reflection helps spare the future of the same injustices of the past. Resources linked [43] [44].

  7. As you are able, please take a minute to support to a Black Artist or Locally Owned Business [45].

 

Our success and support as a band has no doubt been impacted by our privilege, and for that we are grateful for your continued support and recognize that we are very fortunate to have the privileges that we do. Law enforcement personnel are undoubtedly in a predicament [46], and there is an ongoing national conversation about what role police should play in our lives as this relationship they have as an institution with the general public is clearly untenable. Should these words put you in a situation where you no longer feel included in our community, I encourage you to examine why your reaction to a plea for black equality makes you uncomfortable and read the resources mentioned on action point #6.  We want to have the conversation, and we strive to make our music fun for people of all walks and backgrounds, but not at the expense of being tolerant of overt and flagrant racism. 

 

Know that each of you are loved. Take care out there, and we can’t wait to see you all again in person when the time comes.

-Zach Brake, Guerrilla Fanfare 

 

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/14/business/economy/coronavirus-unemployment-claims.html

  2. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/18/facebook-survey-details-coronavirus-small-business-devastation.html, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/12/small-business-used-define-americas-economy-pandemic-could-end-that-forever/

  3. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1108072/percentage-of-income-loss-due-to-the-covid-19-corona-pandemic/

  4. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/s0528-coronavirus-death-toll.html

  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM

  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism_in_the_United_States

  7. https://www.aclu.org/issues/free-speech/rights-protesters/stand-standing-rock (just a recent example of an entire history of book of violence)

  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_slave_trade, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3NXC4Q_4JVg (again not even scratching the surface)

  9. https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-racial-discrimination,not even scratching the surface again. Also, read Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol for inequality in public school.

  10. https://www.npr.org/2019/07/17/742558996/george-takei-recalls-time-in-an-american-internment-camp-in-they-called-us-enemy

  11. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/06/ceci-nest-pas-une-cage/563072/

  12. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/immigration/family-separation-back-migrants-u-s-mexican-border-say-advocates-n1208186

  13. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/us/immigrant-children-sexual-abuse.html

  14. https://www.vox.com/2018/4/6/17169448/trump-islamophobia-muslims-islam-black-lives-matter, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/27/us/active-shooter-pittsburgh-synagogue-shooting.html

  15. https://www.vox.com/identities/2020/4/21/21221007/anti-asian-racism-coronavirus

  16. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/trump-tweets-about-coronavirus-using-term-chinese-virus-n1161161 

  17. https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/01/us/george-floyd-three-videos-minneapolis/index.html

  18. https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/03/us/george-floyd-officers-charges/index.html

  19. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/03/us/minneapolis-police-use-of-force.html just an example, data is everywhere

  20. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/01/david-mcatee-kentucky-police-shooting-chief-fired

  21. https://www.vox.com/2020/5/13/21257457/breonna-taylor-louisville-shooting-ahmaud-arbery-justiceforbre

  22. https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-06-04/police-killings-black-victims 

  23. https://www.vox.com/identities/2020/5/6/21249202/ahmaud-arbery-jogger-killed-in-georgia-video-shooting-grand-jury

  24. https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/politics/news-politics/even-black-lawmakers-get-pepper-sprayed.html 

  25. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuZZ7aJ07Eg, https://time.com/5845631/nypd-protests-vehicles-protesters/

  26. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/03/asheville-north-carolina-police-seen-destroying-protesters-supplies/3135539001/

  27. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/style/police-protests-video.html, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/live-blog/2020-06-02-nationwide-protests-over-george-floyd-death-live-n1221821/ncrd1222206#blogHeader, https://www.facebook.com/janell.martin.37/videos/830310654882/, https://www.facebook.com/steve.neavling/videos/10222758042595214/, https://www.facebook.com/jessica.bundy.79/videos/3660753743939414/

  28. https://gizmodo.com/minneapolis-cops-sued-for-shooting-beating-and-gassin-1843887290?fbclid=IwAR0QiWsPQuAVXYPIRoX01k_pvi0HJlGMxp0myWnDMs5lNxrtEecZ3KT1NtA

  29. https://twitter.com/tkerssen/status/1266921821653385225

  30. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/police-handcuff-good-samaritans-protect-store-looters/ (look at featured video of looters, idk how to just get that video)

  31. https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/31/politics/trump-underground-bunker-white-house-protests/index.html

  32. https://www.npr.org/2020/06/03/868779265/trump-defends-symbolism-of-photo-op-at-st-johns-church

  33. https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/01/politics/donald-trump-national-address-race/index.html 

  34. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/6/3/21257133/trump-2020-election-meltdown-lawrence-douglas

  35. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/04/opinion/stacey-abrams-voting-floyd-protests.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage&fbclid=IwAR1QlFx1J_JWdSvxLpV35EHQNMl4lys_6_JYwX4Rd_1XFxPClrrvhQ-AMn8

  36. https://www.aclu.org/

  37. https://www.naacpldf.org/

  38. https://action.aclu.org/send-message/co-support-law-enforcement-accountability?social_referer_transaction=3165054&ms=sbsocial&fbclid=IwAR1oWxpcWI30fl7XT2vGTaGKqDBblh1CBCkSY2bkaJK3VLENRODkSVp6Ovg

  39. https://time.com/4486502/hillary-clinton-basket-of-deplorables-transcript/

  40. Driscoll, M.T. (2012) New Orleans brass band traditions and popular music : elements of style in the music of mama digdown's brass band and youngblood brass band. DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) thesis, University of Iowa. https://doi.org/10.17077/etd.4uq7e4ro

  41. https://fundly.com/coloradofreedom

  42. https://www.papermag.com/where-to-donate-protests-minneapolis-2646128317.html?fbclid=IwAR3vU0O4R-gesBGVrqCNO4rf78MUzgAPUpdDMe6LhW0bc1Dq5ofqzhJDMnA

  43. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KlCSiIDTGVJgfQ66LCDiqFzyWvl1zJT1MOLv1uHek64/edit?fbclid=IwAR0pSYDIDNe6nDb3f6MtVlOntIxWIs_rdRQnEDXFpEWPn-CHUe6q4_jdKxM, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1PrAq4iBNb4nVIcTsLcNlW8zjaQXBLkWayL8EaPlh0bc/preview?fbclid=IwAR1sMcHNc7qKCzZqsh6X8BKDE0QmA6Q-h23lgVsfDoFQyAMOgoMvKxBMyB0&pru=AAABcqV44GQ*cuk9coB_2VQjMS4l-e4jpw

  44. https://www.readitforward.com/essay/article/books-about-race-2019/?fbclid=IwAR0Ngkuphz377naGpAjcL9jFY-7Qr9R8Fw8A4EDB2FR6tc2duNaIH-juIss

  45. https://303magazine.com/2020/06/black-owned-businesses-denver/?fbclid=IwAR37jNFbumQD9vxfArJMfLN2uyHFEMX0KYtq9cpZzETB-vor0WeanyQSJx4, http://springsnative.com/black-owned-businesses-to-support-in-cos/?fbclid=IwAR3KL1UIz0AMZsOoszEnVpegN6tSiRQKLDUsaGDuP6IRurHhAESSFZudNyQ   

  46. https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2020/06/03/457251670/how-much-do-we-need-the-police?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&fbclid=IwAR2kQI3r0cUaTCgOPyrE54yAaFAjiVpM8Hr3sBCIGeIvMETAxNUNjn8e_4E

  47. https://www.change.org/p/andy-beshear-justice-for-breonna-taylor?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_22077589_en-US%3Av4&recruiter=1109044490&recruited_by_id=a7724570-a6ca-11ea-a31e-85d796f01d12&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial&utm_term=psf_combo_share_initial   

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