Editor’s Note: Below is a version of remarks by Dennis Powell, president of the Berkshire County NAACP branch, presented during the Black Lives Matter rally in Great Barrington, Mass., on Saturday, June 6, 2020. Powell provided this text upon conclusion of his remarks, but it may not represent entirety of his speech.
As president of the Berkshire County branch of the NAACP, I welcome you on behalf of Calista Nelson, a 17-year-old rising senior at Monument Mountain Regional High School, who joined forces with Langston Stahlers, 18, of New York City, the organizers of today’s rally.
This is what it’s about. These are the voices that matter. Our young people are stepping up, speaking out, they are tired! They are doing what their ancestors did not do: they’re speaking out about injustice; they’re speaking out about murders, senseless murders; they’re using their voices to say enough is enough. You just got to stop killing human beings of any color, but especially Black and Brown human beings, all Black and Brown humans regardless!
There are organizations in Great Barrington doing important work to benefit our youth. Two that I’m involved with are Railroad Street Youth Project, which offers support for teens through its drop-in center and empowerment programs, and the Clinton Church Restoration, where I am the vice chair, which is creating an African-American Cultural Heritage Center at the historic Clinton A.M.E. Zion Church a few blocks from here. These organizations and others are putting a spotlight on the work of Great Barrington native and NAACP co-founder W.E.B. Du Bois to ensure that his legacy continues and that his vision for racial and economic justice are realized.
My appeal to you today is to support through funding these two organizations — Railroad Street Youth Project and Clinton Church.
Even Amnesty International was compelled to report that hundreds of police from Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Arizona, Connecticut, New York, Massachintonusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, Washington state and Washington, D.C., had been flown to Israel for training.
Thousands more have been trained by Israeli forces who have come to the U.S. to host similar events to the one held in Minneapolis. According to the somewhat selective rights organization, many of these trips are taxpayer funded, while others are privately funded.
Since 2002 the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs have paid for police chiefs, assistant chiefs and captains to train in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), it said.
To my Jewish brothers and sisters I urge you to write to these organizations and tell them to stop funding and training our police in terrorist techniques because our American citizens are young, old, middle-aged, Black and Brown people, are not terrorists. It’s got to stop; and it’s got to stop yesterday! The world has spoken: Enough is enough!
The White House in our nation’s Capital was built by the blood, sweat and pain of Black people. I stand here today to serve notice that we’re coming for the keys. The White House was not built to house its present occupant; the safety net put in place because of COVID-19 which protects individuals from being evicted from their homes does not apply to the occupant of the White House; we are coming for the keys because we’re going to get out in unbelievable numbers — come this November — yeah, we’re going to vote you out of the White House! We are coming for the keys; get ready; pack your bag; your reign is over! For the Bible that you held that you probably never open will not save you!