Help Get Justice for Michael Brown

smalldervishmemeYou can help see justice have its day. You can make a real difference standing up against state corruption and tyranny. You can make a difference toward ending, by exposing and shaming, the wanton and deadly racism so common among the men with guns we ask to police our streets (and it is indeed usually the men). This is how.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave (!), you should know by now the story of Michael Brown, an unarmed college student gunned down by Ferguson police, in circumstances so incredibly suspicious and tinted with racism and shocking abuses of police authority, as to horrify anyone paying attention. This isn’t new (we’ve heard this story sadly too many times: see some examples of this being pointed out here and here and here). But this is becoming the last straw. And now his family wants to fight. And they are incurring expenses pursuing legal recourse (they have already had to pay for their own autopsy, because the city’s has suspicious omissions and appears to be covering up the facts…you know, as for example). And fighting for their fair day in court will only get more expensive here on out, as the corrupt city authorities appear to be circling their wagons and will do everything in their power to stonewall them and mount their expenses in the hope they will give up for lack of money.

Indeed, Anonymous has just exposed the fact that, apparently, the chief of police [now heading the investigation] in Ferguson, or else his son, hangs a confederate flag on his living room wall!! Brown’s family is not likely to get honest justice from the authorities.

The police have even resorted to physically attacking and arresting the press, gassing and assaulting people in their own backyards, and charging into the streets to shoot and beat down peaceful protesters, even camera crews from major news organizations (so much for the first amendment “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”). They are even dragging pregnant women out of their cars and smashing them to the ground for no good reason. The timeline shows some protest rioting and looting has occurred. But the police then use that as an excuse to assault completely peaceful protests, and deny people access to public areas, even their own homes (Ferguson now looks like the streets of any tyrannical nation). The police are literally shooting people with rubber bullets, gassing them, bombing them, and beating them. And using the mini-riots in other locations as an excuse. But think about this. The cops are now the Redcoats. And this is a real tea party. Or, rather, more like the 1766 New York riots over the quartering act…when the people were answering the unjust use of force against them by yet another haughty and unanswerable imperial power. The quartering act riot of 1766 (assault on the state police). The tea party riot of 1773 (destruction of property). The Ferguson riot. What, really, is the difference?

But no matter. This is about starting to put an end to all oppressive and tyrannical abuse of power, by supporting a peaceful family that is being denied justice.

Help the Brown family bring the truth to light and have a fair trial of the facts. They have raised so little so far, barely three grand. For a case like this they will need fifty to a hundred grand. I want to see an outpouring of support. Send what you can to the Michael Brown Memorial Fund. Please do this. If not for Brown and his grieving family, do it to show you believe in opposing corruption, abuse and oppression in your own country. Do it to show you are fed up with police getting away with the murder of black men every month. Do it to show this must stop. And the people are now paying attention.

Travel Fund Outcome

If you want Richard Carrier to visit your city, for any organization you are a member or officer of, check this out. Thanks to generous donors covering my losses from a burglary and exceeding that request by several thousand dollars, I have some money I will apply to the cost of visiting other cities to speak next year (mostly in reducing my honorarium, covering book procurement for resale, and some transportation costs). I promised I’d give these benefits to the cities the donations came from, by proportion. Although unfortunately, as I also noted, I can only do this for North American donors. I received generous support from such countries as Norway, Japan, Poland, England, Germany, and Australia, which I will just count toward recouped losses. Thank you so much, all of you. (But one island nation, which donated unusually generously, might prove an exception–private negotiations for a possible visit are underway; I can’t say more just yet.)

Many cities are receiving the benefits. I have some small discounts, and some large discounts. I’ll describe them in that order…

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And Then a Burglary Sets Me Back $2000

Update: As of now, amazingly generous patrons have sent me a total of almost $5000. So I am well above what I needed for a financial recovery, and I am going to apply the difference to covering the cost of arranging speaking engagements in the cities donors asked for (so you will all have made those trips possible and saved local organizations some expenses!). Thank you so much, everyone. This was far beyond what I expected. It quite caught me by surprise. Now go forth and battle the dragons of the world!

I’m hoping to get some small financial help from fans and supporters to help me recover from a setback. My own income ranges between $15,000 and $25,000 a year. So losing $2000 in one burglary hurts. A lot. And that just happened this last weekend. I am fortunate that I combine my income with Jen’s, but she is moving to part time work and going back to school, so our combined income will get us by (tuition and all, plus she has to buy a second vehicle to manage her new schedule without conflicting with mine), but two grand is still a sore loss.

So I’m hoping some awesome folk out there who like my work might help me make up the loss. There’s a tiny perk for anyone who does. More on that shortly.

If you prefer to devote money to a more alarming charitable cause, I quite understand. The Foundation Beyond Belief is representing the atheist community in helping child refugees get legal representation (they have no right to an attorney, so the state is not providing them any…literally, these kids have to advocate for themselves in court). That’s an excellent example of what I had called for several weeks ago. It’s a huge crisis that needs a lot of help.

But at the same time we all have to make a living. And as an independent scholar, I depend on funding from supporters of my work. I sell books, collect small speaking fees, do some online teaching and contract work, earn tiny amounts from blogging and various other sources (to see a complete list of all the ways to support my work through commerce and beyond, see my official support page). But I also take fan-funded research grants. Any money sent in support helps keep me going, and keeps me hopeful that I’m making a difference that people appreciate. So anyone who does appreciate all I’ve done, and wants to see more, I would be so moved if you can reward me with your patronage this coming week.

(Of course you could give a little to both causes.)

If you want to help me make up my loss, or just show your appreciation and support, please send me any amount you want through PayPal (my account is [email protected]).

And when you do, when it lets you add a message to me, say what city you’d like me someday to speak in.

I’ll then rank the cities named by the amount of money backing them, and get to work trying to set up a speaking engagement at each one, starting at the top. I can’t promise to succeed, but I will contact all the organizations there that might be willing to pool together the expenses of bringing me out. Unfortunately this means probably just destinations in the U.S. and Canada will come through. You can certainly name overseas destinations. But the cost to fly me to them is prohibitive to most interested parties, so I’m unlikely to succeed at it. Advice on that is welcome, though, which you can include in your message (whom to contact, for example). But if I am inspired to get a gig in a city you name with your donation, that’s a tiny perk you can claim (“I set that in motion!”).

Meanwhile, here’s what happened, if you’re curious…

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Grief Beyond Belief Now Online

Grief Beyond Belief, a support group for nonbelievers dealing with the loss of a loved one, has now launched its official website. They are no longer just a FaceBook group! Check them out. Look over what they do, and see if there is any help they need. And spread the news. There are a lot of us who would want to find a site like that, and the resources it provides, but might not know it’s there.

Bread and Roses: Help Support the Fight for Freedom in Iran

Maryam Namazie, a renowned voice for the freethought movement worldwide and our colleague here at Freethought Blogs, has been running an online television news program for audiences interested in, and those engaged in, the long fight for political freedom and justice in Iran. With episodes in English and Persian, it’s a well produced and valuable service, especially to many in Iran, but also across the world. But their equipment is aging and they need to get new stuff. They are short of their June 16 fundraising target. So please see if you can give any little amount you can spare, and spread the word in case others can, too. Namazie’s full explanation (and how to donate, and see the show) is on her blog here. Check it out!

-:-

P.S. Some of you may object to Namazie’s politics, as I somewhat do, although they aren’t Soviet, and her video program is about promoting freedom, not Stalinism. I think we can all support that objective, and let Iranians democratically decide how to organize their society as long as basic freedoms are guaranteed. That’s what she wants. And it’s what I want. And it’s what this video program can help make happen. It certainly gives some justified hope and recognition to political dreamers and dissidents in Iran, and to ex-pats the world over who would like one day to go home.

First in the Family Scholarship Fund

Last year I blogged about the amazing First in the Family Humanist Scholarship Initiative launched by Black Skeptics of LA to help send minority atheists to college. If you missed that (or need to refresh your memory), check out my article on that, Help Minority Atheists to College. To learn more about the evolution of the initiative, and to donate for the fund this year, see their new IndieGogo page. I really hope you donate, because it will make up for my not being able to this year. We are saving money to survive sending Jen back to school for a career change, so the belt is going to be tight for us for a while and we need every penny to get by. So I’m saddened I can’t help this cause this year. But maybe I can inspire enough people to!

Help Ed Brayton Battle a White Supremacist

Our colleague Ed Brayton is being sued by a white supremacist for calling him a white supremacist. It’s a case that Ed is sure to win. But the guy attacking him has minimal expenses (since being a lawyer, he is representing himself) and Ed needs to cover enough of his own costs to answer him capably. Read all about it in Please Help Me Fight a Lawsuit, where you can also send Ed some bucks to help. It’s worth a little dosh at least. Because this is yet another case of our backwards legal system disadvantaging the non-rich by making them pay for justice.