While mainstream media has been noticeably mum regarding the ongoing protests in Ferguson, Missouri over the fatal police shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown, rapper Talib Kweli has remained diligent in allocating funds to help support local protestors.
In October, Kweli, alongside his Action Support Committee, helped launch the Ferguson Defense Fund via crowdfunding site Indiegogo in an effort to raise money for the livelihood and legal funds of peaceful protestors. To date, the campaign has exceeded its initial goal of $25,000 and raised just over $112,000 in funding. Last Friday the group announced plans to distribute the raised funds through grant money to local community groups in the city.
"These are young men and women who have put their lives on hold to stand up for all of our freedoms," Kweli said in a statement. "The overly militarized police force in Ferguson has attempted to criminalize them by harassing and throwing them in jail for exercising their right to peaceful protest. We hope these funds help to empower."
According to a press release, the first phase of grants, totaling $48,800, was distributed on Feb. 13 to the following programs and organizations:
* Jail & Bail Fund: Missourians Organizing For Reform and Empowerment (MORE) - $35,000 - Designated explicitly for re-granting for bail funds and legal support for Ferguson protesters. http://www.organizemo.org/ .
* Artists As Tutors: Artists as Tutors - $2,000 - Provides Ferguson students with homework help and sharing skills in music, visual art, creative writing and theater. http://artistsastutors.weebly.com/ .
* Revolutionary Reading Program: Freedom Fighters - $2,000 - A Ferguson-based program collecting and disseminating historical black literature for adults and children. http://twitter.com/ff_stl .
* Tech Impact Initiative: Hands Up United - $2,000 - . As a way counter cyber warfare, close the digital divide and address the issues of economic equality, Hands Up United will lead technical training workshops to the Ferguson community. http://www.handsupunited.org/ .
* Juventud Raza Unida: Latinos en Axion STL - $2,000 - Youth leadership program for Latino youth between ages 12- 18. It will take place in the summer of 2015 and will promote self empowerment, community activism trainings and build Black and Brown collaborations with other St. Louis groups. http://www.latinosenaxionstl.com .
* The Transitional Housing Program: Operations Help or Hush - $2,000 - Provides transitional housing for protesters who have lost income or financial support and are facing homelessness as a result of their activism. http://operationhelporhush.org/ .
* Bereavement Fund:: Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) - $3,800 -Working for peace, justice, and nonviolence since 1915, FOR has been in Ferguson providing providing assistance to bereaved families and activist groups on the ground. http://forusa.org/ .
Of the campaign’s remaining funds of $54,000, which will be released in late Spring, $20,000 has been designated for the Action Support Committee’s Revolution School.
The school will provide trainings, workshops and technical assistance for local organizers. The remaining $34,000 will be dedicated to grants for programs committed to sustaining the recent momentum of social justice organizing.