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IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) – Once upon a time, 25-year-old Dominique Alexander of Dallas considered ‘civil rights’ a collection of grainy, black and white images of our nation’s past. But now, the new father says the crisis of police brutality and the deaths of unarmed citizens at the hands of those sworn to protect them, is ushering in a new civil rights era: and this one will be played out in color.
“This is everyone’s fight,” says Alexander, who adds that the crisis is resonating with many millennials. “They have realized that it’s there, and it’s hitting us hard.” He recently founded the Next Generation Action Network to encourage his peers to get more politically involved.
Alexander was among those protesting in Dallas last week following a grand jury’s decision to not charge the white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri.
Several protestors were arrested after the rally spilled out onto Interstate-35E, temporarily blocking traffic. Now, Alexander says supporters will gather again in solidarity with the people of New York.
Angry protests erupted the borough and across the country after a white police officer with a troubled past was not indicted for using a department prohibited chokehold to take down an unarmed black man, Eric Garner. Garner was accused of selling cigarettes illegally. The 43-year-old can be heard on the videotape of the incident telling officers “I can’t breathe.”
Alexander says news that the officer would not be charged brought him to tears. “I couldn’t understand why no one was indicted in this case.” The decision, he says, once again sends the message that there is a separate justice system for the nation’s police. Gesturing to the Dallas Police Department headquarters building near downtown, he said, “when it comes to them—this mountain behind us—you don’t matter. It’s happening to everybody. Let’s not get on the illusion that it’s happening to one particular race. It’s happening more to one race; but, it’s happening to everybody.”
Local civil rights activist Pastor Frederick Haynes of Friendship-West Baptist church was speaking in Ferguson when the grand jury’s decision was announced. He tells me that he was “disgusted” that the officer would not be charged—even in the face of videotaped evidence.
“Many African Americans and people of good will have no confidence in this justice system,” says Haynes. “The legacy of Black lives not mattering continues, but it must stop!”
Haynes and others are urging activism—and a relentless insistence on change. “I don’t believe in looting,” insisted Alexander. But, when asked, acknowledged that “disruption is an option.”
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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