Muck City Can't Breathe: Glades Area Black Lives Matter Organizes to Fight Back

Muck City Can't Breathe: Glades Area Black Lives Matter Organizes to Fight Back

Muck City Black Lives Matter press conference

On Nov. 7, 2020, history was made on the steps of Belle Glade City Hall when the Glades community came together to announce the formation of Muck City Black Lives Matter (BLM). In honor of Henry Bennett III "Scooter," Belle Glade resident killed by the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office in 2016, Muck City BLM organizers laid out their current focus issues — local government corruption, voting rights and responsibilities, economic injustice and exploitation, mass incarceration, police violence, community mentoring for at-risk youth and environmental racism associated with pre-harvest sugar field burning — and asked community members to bring their hearts and souls to the fight. The Cry of Black Youth (COBY) organization started the fight for Black lives from 1969 to 1971 and now the time is right and ripe for Muck City BLM in the Glades. The juxtaposition of the announcement of the Biden-Harris victory on Saturday was noteworthy; the power of the Black vote and the demand for change in the Glades is a reflection of the wider national movement for black lives.   

Robert Mitchell, community organizer, said, "I stand before you as your brother, neighbor and friend to send the message of 'Get Your Knee off our Necks, and Let Us Breathe!' I need you to know my people that our Black Lives Matter! That our Black and Brown Communities Matter!"

Colin Walkes, former mayor of Pahokee, said, "Muck City, we need to stand up. We have to be responsible for our vote. What does that mean? It means getting involved in our community. That means we attend local commission meetings. We need to organize in our community. We need to hold our voices together and hold those we elected accountable to create policies that support us. We cannot keep doing the same dance muck city."  

 Joshua Walkes, Pahokee High School sophomore, said, "Muck City BLM represents goodness, strength, courage, understanding and wisdom of humanity."

Kina Phillips, "Apostle" community organizer, said, "For too long we've been silent. Whispering. Sitting in the comfort of our homes about the effects of a very outdated practice, and still we struggle to breathe. The sugar industry has banked on our silence and has taken advantage of it. How long will we allow them to rape us of the value of our lives, to put a death sentence on our loved ones? It is time to let your voice be heard to help bring about a change. It is time to stop the burn." 

Jerry Campbell, "The Champ" life coach, said "Everything is an example to everything that happens, we need to start teaching our kids not to look up to football stars and to rappers. We need to stop pointing to people who are not real leaders as an example to follow, examples of real leadership for our community must start at home first." 

Eric Brandon-Oce, community organizer with Food not Bombs, said, "We are here to put the call out that Muck City BLM is on the map. We know how to build the power that forces change and accountability on the PBSO, Geo Group and the sugar industry whose single-minded pursuit of profit have turned the blessing of black soil into a health-sapping and life-shortening curse. It is necessary to look beyond our own communities and towards others nearby and far away for solidarity and support. So this is why I am here today. In solidarity."
Robert Mitchell closed up the press conference with a call for Muck City residents to sign up and join the movement. Supporters can join the movement by connecting to Muck City BLM on Facebook and Twitter @BLMMuckCity.
Let Us Breathe