Know Your Rights: Free Brake Light Clinic in S.B.
By Dianne Anderson
Nothing ends in disaster faster for a Black man than a broken brake light.
For that reason, on Saturday, March 23, the Inland Empire Democratic Socialists of America will hold a free brake light clinic for all those in need of a repair, along with other friendly resources not easily found at the local body shop.
The event will provide Know Your Rights informational materials, and what to do when stopped by police. It will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at 195 N. Arrowhead Ave in San Bernardino.
Volunteers will be on site to replace brake lights free of charge.
Matt Milholland, a member of IE DSA, said their main goal is to help prevent tickets, fines, and possible court cases, or even save a life.
Because minor police stops have become a death sentence for so many young Brown and Black men, including, but not limited to, the tragic Minnesota case of 32-year-old Philando Castile, who was fatally shot by an officer in front of his four-year-old daughter. He died about 20 minutes later.
“This is DSA’s way of reaching out to the community to show solidarity with the communities that are effected under the current system,” he said.
Creating a true mass movement, one that empowers working people to fight for change, underlies the philosophy of the Democratic Socialists of America, he said. It is about offering practical ways of reaching communities who are suffering under the current system.
“We think that a truly democratic criminal justice system should promote peace and justice, not the recurring arbitrary violence inflicted on communities of color,” he said.
This is the Inland Empire chapter’s first brake light clinic, but he said that many DSA chapters have held their own successful clinics.
While they haven’t looked at police stop statistics specifically in the Inland Empire, he said the organization aligns under greater national concerns, particularly with Black Lives Matter, which has put a lot of effort behind ending deadly police stops.
In the past few months, DSA stepped up outreach in the Inland Empire, however, the national organization is the largest socialist organization with over 56,000 members, including longtime member, Dr. Cornel West, who is also honorary chair of the national DSA.
Milholland said DSA is not a political party, although they are a political organization, and they are not in competition with the Democratic Party. Through their many campus and community-based chapters, he said their members use a variety of tools for social change, from legislative to direct action to fight for reforms for the power of working people.
So far, the local DSA has had a good reach with women, and the Latino community, and they are looking to expand their reach into the African American community.
After 2016, DSA saw explosive growth across the nation with Bernie Sanders candidacy having done much to draw more attention to the organization, and draw new members.
But, he said a bolder, stronger stance was needed.
“There was also a strong revulsion at the election of Donald Trump and a sense among many people that politics, as usual, wasn’t going to suffice if we were to beat the right wing in this country,” he said.
As yet, the national DSA or local chapter hasn’t endorsed any candidate for the 2020 election.
Locally, community outreach is just getting off the ground, but they are interested in connecting with Inland groups.
“We’re looking to align with any groups that share our values and our overall goals for society, we are still just making our presence known,” he said.
Interested volunteers can contact the group via their website. He said they hold a monthly meeting every third Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Riverside.
He noted that even though they are changing the brake lights for free, he said DSA in no way believes that people are bringing police stops on themselves simply because their brake lights are not in working order.
“We’re just trying to raise consciousness on this issue and reach out to the community,” he said.