Freedom Side, a collective of young activists of color, are launching a multi-state effort inspired by the efforts 50 years ago by the Freedom Summer campaign during the height the Civil Rights Movement. Comprised of young men and women from various organizations already on the ground fighting for racial and social justice, the new campaign has a specific aim in highlighting the mass criminalization of young people.
One year after the shocking verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, the Freedom Side collective hosted a press conference in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday and held a silent march Saturday as well. Freedom Side members wore prison jumpsuits and black tape over their mouths in a solidarity protest in the city, which the Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison company in the United States, calls home.
Friday’s 11 a.m. CST press conference highlighted Freedom Ride’s ongoing mobilization efforts and also announced plans for the Saturday march and other related matters. The press conference also announced the actions of partner groups in their respective cities and regions in support of this ongoing campaign.
Five Freedom Side organizers were arrested Saturday while protesting the National Governors Association meeting in downtown Nashville: James Hayes, Malya Davis, Marshawn McCaroll, and Aaron Hayes of the Ohio Student Association, and Mike Sampson of the Dream Defenders were arrested without warning while trying to meet with their respective elected representatives. According to Freedom Side officials, they were released later on Monday, after a judge saw no probable cause for the arrest.
The group is calling attention to the sweeping attack on the freedoms of Black and Brown youth nationwide who are disproportionately targeted, charged, and jailed. Freedom Side members from Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and other states will be working alongside Nashville’s Put The People First Coalition.
Freedom Side consists of leaders from Dream Defenders, United We Dream, Black Youth Project 100, among more than a dozen other such grassroots groups that aim their efforts on communities of color. Over the summer, the group will travel around the county to bolster campaigns, such as the efforts of the weekend, and will also address voting rights, immigrant justice, and equality in education.
“We came from Mississippi, Ohio, Florida, Texas, Arizona, New York, and many more places to walk together,” said Nelini Stamp, Freedom Side spokesperson. “We have been organizing to make sure that this summer – and not just this summer, but for the long term – we build a youth of color agenda that is not just for some of us, but all of us.”
“For anybody that’s been asking about what young people are doing, this is just a sample size of what we are up to,”stated Philip Agnew, executive director of Dream Defenders. “This summer we invite other youth to join us in voter registration and education, so that we can begin building a bloc of voters that moves not along party lines – but on our issues, values, and principles.”
On social media, the Freedom Ride network, has been using the #OurLivesMatter hashtag to organize the message. Also, the Freedom Side Twitter account has been an active look into the group’s efforts on the ground over the weekend.
For more information about Freedom Side, they can be addressed by reaching out to Erika Maye at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 678-478-1808.
View the Freedom Side website here.