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Strange Fruit: Police Violence, and the Movement for Black Lives Convening

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Last week in Cleveland, activists from across the country came together for the Movement for Black Lives Convening. Panels and breakout groups talked about police violence, LGBTQ inclusivity, self-care, labor organization, and a full schedule of topics relevant to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Dr. Britney Cooper was there, and two incidents stand out in her mind: First, conveners were at a nightclub when one of them—a trans man—was forcibly removed from the men's restroom. En masse, attendees exited the club in protest and solidarity. They stood outside the establishment chanting, singing freedom songs, and documenting the whole thing under the hashtag #ShutItDown.

Then, on the last day of the conference, they witnessed a 14-year-old black boy being arrested for intoxication. Activists surrounded the police cruiser in protest, and some were pepper sprayed by a Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority police officer. After negotiation between organizers and officers, the young man was released into his mother's custody instead of taken to jail.

Cooper joins us this week to talk about her experiences at the convening, and what she sees as some of the next steps for those working to put an end to police violence and lack of accountability.

We also talk about the indictment of University of Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing, who was charged with murder in the shooting of Sam Dubose in the head during a routine traffic stop. Tensing had claimed he feared for his life after being dragged and nearly run over by Dubose's car; his body camera later shows his account to be untrue. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters called the shooting "the most asinine act I've ever seen a police office make," "totally unwarranted," and "an absolute tragedy."

And we also talk about the latest casting news in the live television version of "The Wiz:" Queen Latifah will play the title character, with Mary J. Blige in the role of Evillene.

And it's Jaison's birthday week! Doc sings the praises of those born under the Leo sign, which naturally leads to the question of whether Vanity Smurf was a butch queen.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.

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