Revolution #248, October 23, 2011
Initial Reports on October 22 National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality
New York * San Francisco * Chicago * Seattle * Los Angeles * Boston * Houston * Atlanta * Greensboro * Cleveland * Minneapolis
Updated October 29: report from Minneapolis
Updated October 24: reports from New York, Greensboro and Cleveland.
October 22 was the 16th National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and Criminalization of a Generation (NDP). Protests took place around the country. The following are initial reports Revolution has received from some of the cities. We will post further reports and photos as we receive them.
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From a Revolution newspaper distributor:
Several hundred defiant and angry people rallied in New York's Union Square for the 16th Annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. This was the largest October 22 gathering in several years. A palpable determination of "we're going to stop this shit" was in the air. I was with a crew of Latino and Black people that came down from Harlem. Most had been at the 28th Precinct the day before when Cornel West, Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Reverend Stephen Phelps from Riverside Church, Reverend Earl Kooperkamp from St. Mary's Church, and others, more than 30 in total, had carried out non-violent civil disobedience. (See "Harlem October 21: An Audacious Start to the Movement to STOP Stop and Frisk")We marched out of the subway and joined the crowd as we chanted, "We say no to the new Jim Crow. Stop and frisk has got to go." At the edge of the crowd, about ten people held up hand drawn pictures of people killed at the hands of the police.
The crowd was mainly young and multi-national. We met people from the hood in Harlem that had joined Friday's march to the 28th Precinct to Stop, Stop and Frisk. They heard about October 22 and said they had to be there. About 70 people marched up from Occupy Wall Street and others took the subway. Occupy Wall Street has had an electrifying effect on many and this spirit of justifiable rage at the system was felt throughout the day. In the projects where the march went, people were very happy to see and hear it.
People poured out of the park in a march of about 500 in the street down Broadway before being forced onto the sidewalk at East 8th. The march snaked though the East Village, through Tompkins Square Park, stopping at projects near where police, in a case of mistaken identity, chased Makever “Keba” Brown into traffic on the FDR Drive and he was hit by several cars and killed. The march ended up for a second rally at the Jacob Riis Houses, projects in the Lower East Side. At the rallies and along the march people chanted, "NYPD, KKK, how many kids have you killed today?", "Policia, asesinos," "What do you do when you're under attack? Stand up, fight back!", "No justice, no peace. Take to the streets and fuck the police," and "Stop and frisk don't stop the crime. Stop and frisk IS the crime."
The police were out in major force, with at least 200 cops that marched along single file in the street next the march. They had metal barricades in the street all along Broadway to keep people penned into a narrow strip of the street.
Speakers included Juanita Young; mother of Malcolm Ferguson who was gunned down by the NYPD in 2000; Carl Dix; a cousin of Nicolas Heyward Jr, a 13-year-old honor student playing cops and robbers in a stairwell in Gowanus Houses when a housing police officer shot and killed him; the family of then 17-year-old Elijah Foster-Bey who was shot three times (but not killed) by cops; Debra Sweet of World Can't Wait; Ignite; Jean Griffin, the sister of David Glowczenski, who suffered from mental illness and was pepper sprayed, maced and beaten to death by Southampton Village police in 2004; Occupy the Hood; and others.
Carl Dix spoke at both rallies about the importance of October 22 and the launching of the movement to "STOP Stop and Frisk" and what had happened the day before. He put this in the context of building a movement for revolution. At the Jacob Riis Houses he received a loud round of applause and whoops from the crowd when he said, "I am a revolutionary communist."
Throughout the course of the day, our team sold over 300 copies of Revolution. During the rally at the Jacob Riis Houses, a Black woman from the projects came up to our truck. It was decorated with enlargements of the front page of the BAsics Special Issue of Revolution, the back page in Spanish, and the poster of the "Three Strikes" quotation from BA. She asked, "Do you have that paper?" pointing to the side of the truck. In two trips to the truck, she took about 150 copies of the Special Issue in English and Spanish along with 75 copies of the "Three Strikes" poster. She passed these out to people living in the projects mainly and some at the rally. On her second visit, she pointed to the projects and said, "These people need to see this."
New York Correspondence
(Posted October 24) Revolution received this correspondence from a reader about October 22 actions in New York City:
Hundreds of people took to the streets of New York City on October 22, for a defiant and very diverse 16th Annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation. This 16th annual National Day of Protest featured a teach-in in Union Square, followed by a spirited and visually powerful march that wound through the busy streets of the East Village and then through Tompkins Square Park, ending in front of housing projects in Alphabet City where people took the mic to speak out and perform artistic pieces on the themes of the day.
There was very significant momentum going into this year's October 22 as it took place one day after a historic action in Harlem in which more than 30 people—including Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party and radical public intellectual Cornel West—had been arrested as they engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience to STOP “STOP & FRISK,” linking arms in front of the NYPD's 28th Precinct. Hundreds of others, including dozens who traveled uptown from the Occupy Wall Street movement, demonstrated at the precinct to show their opposition to the NYPD's criminal and illegitimate stop-and frisks of hundreds of thousands of innocent African-Americans and Latinos each year and to express solidarity with those getting arrested. The action was widely covered by local and national media, including The New York Times; The Daily News; NY1 and several other New York City television stations; Associated Press, Salon.com, The Wall Street Journal, and the Spanish-language newspaper El Diario.
As Dix told people in Union Square about the call he and West had issued to STOP “STOP & FRISK,” the crowd cheered. He said those who had engaged in the nonviolent civil disobedience the previous day were part of kicking off something new, that they had put their bodies on the line and were this era's version of the Freedom Riders and the sit-ins, referring to the first resisters who stepped forward in the 1960s to fight back against Jim Crow segregation and racial oppression more broadly. He announced an organizing meeting the next day in Harlem for those who want to be part of stopping stop-and-frisk and urged people to come.
One aspect of October 22 that was striking was the mix of nationalities and ages in the crowd: At one point in Union Square, I looked around and, just in the immediate area where I was standing, saw a white woman with white hair; a young Asian man; two young white men; a white man who appeared to be in his 60s; a young white woman; and a Black man who seemed to be in his 30s or 40s. Overall, there were many youth of different nationalities in the crowd. Some people had come from Occupy Wall Street to be part of the day, which was clear both from talking to demonstrators and from the substantial cheer that went up when the day's emcees gave shout-outs to OWS.
A Revolution Books table displayed and sold copies of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, Revolution newspaper and other materials, and a crew of revolutionaries—some wearing the T-shirt with Avakian's image—wove through the crowd and on the sidewalks of the march route, selling books and newspapers and talking to people.
To give a sense of the breadth of signs and other visuals on display, here is a sampling: The centerfold of Revolution #248 that features the names and faces of a handful of people murdered by the police just this year, other depictions of police brutality, repression, and the criminalization of a generation, and a photo of people in Washington Heights protesting the police murder of John Collado last month. At the bottom of this centerfold is the excerpt from “The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have: A Message, And A Call, From The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA,” which states: “The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.” …
On the south steps of Union Square, a multinational group of more than 20 people stood in a line, each one holding a sign featuring the name and drawing of a person murdered by the police, along with the date that person was killed. (These signs were later shown on local news coverage of October 22.)
One demonstrator held a two-sided sign that served to powerfully unmask the illegitimacy of this system, the interconnectedness of its different crimes, and the role of the police as enforcers of that system.
One side of the sign read: My best friend has spent 14 of his 28 years on earth in prison for minor drug offences. Meanwhile... The “man” that abused me for 3 years after 3 dismissed cases received only a 6 month sentence... He has already assaulted his new girlfriend.
The other side of the sign read: STOP INSTITUTIONAL VIOLENCE. WHEN I STOOD UP FOR THE FREEDOM OF HUMANITY... YOU WERE THERE (and accompanying this text there was a picture of her being arrested). WHEN I WAS GETTING BEAT DOWN JUST FOR BEING ME... WHERE WERE YOU (accompanying that text, there were photos of her taken after she was beaten).
Among the other homemade signs and visuals observed in the crowd and march: “Pigs are human too. Sike.” (held by a young white woman); “The audacity of war crimes” (held by a Black man with dreadlocks); “We are the 99 percent”; “End corporate personhood” ...“Support and respect our youth. No police brutality”; “Hey NYPD You Are Not the Law. Abide By It. Don't Compromise What's Right to Follow Orders” … “Justice for Oscar Grant”...“End All War”... “Anatomy of a pig” (featuring a drawing of a pig, inside of which were written different phrases, such as “School to prison pipeline,” “4000 killed by police since 1990,” and “Criminalization of hip hop”)... “Imagine a future where this all can change”... “I know how the NYPD feels – I served America in the Gulf killing the 99 percent”... “KKKops Defend the 1%.”
A group called the Peace Poets performed several pieces. One of them began: “When I was a child, I fantasized about being a police officer. A beacon of all that was good in the world.” Until, the poet continued, he came to discover that he “looked like the bad guy” in the eyes of the cops. The way he looked, where he lived, the type of music he listened to—“all of these things betrayed me,” the poet said.
At one point in the poem, he listed in succession the things cops say to him as they violate his humanity: “Hands on the steering wheel. Face the wall. Spread 'em. Step out of the car. Get on the ground. Do you have any weapons?”
The Peace Poets dedicated another poem to “everyone locked behind bars because of who they are and how they look,” and referred to prisoners locked away “like commodified cattle.”
Throughout the day, family members of people murdered by the pigs spoke bitterness. Their speeches brought to life the heartbreak, agony and fury of having the lives of their loved ones violently, senselessly, and eternally stolen from them; the defiance and determination that comes with speaking out and fighting back against a situation that is urgent and intolerable; and a sense of optimism that change is in the air and people increasingly are fighting back.
“You are remaking history in New York City,” Margarita Rosario told the crowd. Her son Anthony Rosario, and his cousin Hilton Vega, were shot in the back 14 and 8 times, respectively, by pigs in the Bronx in 1995.
Juanita Young, whose son was executed by a pig in the Bronx in 2000 and who—along with other surviving members of her family—has been repeatedly and viciously brutalized by the police since then, held up the Stolen Lives book documenting the thousands of people murdered at the hands of the pigs just in the 1990s. Noting the turnout at this year's October 22, she noted, “People of New York are finally standing up!”
She said that cops go home and are asked what they did that day, and reply, “Oh, we caught the bad guy.” Young drew cheers from the crowd when she angrily countered: “Fuck no, you are the bad guy!”
Allene Person, the mother of Timur Person, described how her son was gunned down by pigs in December 2006 in the Bronx. She found out what happened to her son from her daughter-in-law; to this day, almost five years later, the pigs have never told her what happened to Timur.
“I wanna curse every blue shirt I see out here,” Person said.
Jean Griffin held up a picture of her brother David, as she told the crowd how he was tortured and murdered by Southampton pigs in broad daylight in 2004. David had no weapon and committed no crime. He was mentally ill and did not understand an officer's command to get into a car. He was carrying a Bible and was on church property. Police proceeded to pepper spray him and tase him repeatedly; Jean noted that he had 18 sets of burn marks from a taser on his body. Those marks were on his back, thighs, and buttocks, clearly indicating that he was not trying to fight.
Jean further explained that her brother was delivered to the emergency room handcuffed behind his back. “Can anyone describe to me,” Jean said pointedly, “how you provide CPR to someone handcuffed behind his back?”
She ended by saying: “Let's all observe and not allow this to continue in the society that we live in. It's disgusting.”
The son of John Collado, who was murdered by an undercover pig in Washington Heights just last month, said that the cop who killed his father goes home to his bed and sleeps comfortably, while he will never see his father again.
“I'm just here for justice,” he said.
Some people in the crowd held bilingual signs that read, “Justice for John Collado/Justicia para John Collado.”
Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party took to the microphone next.
“Our youth are the future,” he said, “and this system has been treating them like criminals: guilty until proven innocent.”
Dix noted that some people in the crowd might know him, and therefore would know that he tells people the truth.
“All this bullshit here and around the world is built into the rotten fabric of this capitalist system,” Dix said. The crowd cheered.
Dix then talked about the need for revolution and the fact that revolutions have been made in the past. Dix told the crowd that Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party and the leader of the revolution, has deeply studied the past experience of these revolutions, identifying both their great achievements and also where they fell short, and on that basis he has come up with a new synthesis of revolution and communism. People need to engage that new synthesis.
And even if people are not with revolution yet, he said, they need to be part of resisting police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation. He reiterated the organizing meeting the next day in Harlem around stopping stop-and-frisk.
Dix received enthusiastic cheers as he ended his comments at Union Square by saying that the capitalist system is the problem and revolution is the solution.
Christina Gonzalez, a Wall Street Occupier, described being brutally arrested, along with many others, on a September 24 march to Union Square (this was the march where a pig infamously pepper sprayed several women). She said she had been handcuffed so tightly that she still had no feeling in her thumbs, while others arrested had gashes on their eyebrows and face. She spoke to how this brutality was a small taste of—and had caused people to increasingly confront—what people in oppressed communities experience constantly at the hands of the police.
As demonstrators prepared to march down Broadway towards the East Village, I spoke to E., a 33-year-old Black woman. E. had not planned to come to the October 22 National Day of Protest; she stepped out of a subway station and her attention was caught by seeing signs about people killed by the police. These victims of police murder, E. said, are part of the “99 percent” and they've died “because of a system gone wrong.”
E. said she was struck by the mix of generations at October 22. “You have people in their 60s and kids in their teens,” she said.
Soon, the crowd of hundreds took off marching down Broadway, then turned onto 8th Street, trailed by a line of cops on motorcycles. Onlookers watched as they stood on East Village sidewalks and sat in cafes, some taking pictures on their cell phones; it was a sunny Saturday afternoon, and there were a lot of people hanging out. Later, as the march wound its way into Alphabet City, people observed as they stood in front of laundromats and barber shops, or looked out their windows. A drum corps, a tambourine, and hand claps contributed to the liveliness of the march.
Some of the chants on this day included: “We are all Sean Bell/NYPD go to hell!” … “No justice! No peace! Fuck the police!” … “Tell me what a police state looks like? / This is what a police state looks like!” … “The cops/are NOT/the ninety-nine percent! The cops/are NOT/the ninety-nine percent!” … “From Harlem/to Greece/Fuck the police!”
As the march culminated at housing projects on the Lower East Side, a large crowd remained and continued to chant.
“Word, stay up, G,” a young Black man in front of the projects said. “Fuck the pigs!”
People continued to speak out or perform poetry, music and spoken-word pieces. This time, demonstrators used the “amplified sound” method used at Occupy Wall Street, where the crowd repeats what each speaker says.
“We are not gonna take this anymore!” said Rev. Omar Wilks of Unison Pentecostal Church, addressing the crowd. “Now is the time—tonight! We have the power... We will not bow down! We will not bend down!”
Wilks, like Juanita Young earlier, recounted the vicious murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, a 7-year-old girl shot in the head and killed by a Detroit pig in May 2010 after cops threw a flash-bang grenade at her.
A young man of color from the Lower East Side said he wanted to address the Bloods, Crips, and other gangs in the area: “Stop killing each other! Stand up! Stand up!”
The cousin of Nicholas Heyward Jr., a 13-year-old boy executed by pigs in Brooklyn in 1994 after they claimed to “mistake” his toy gun for a real one, spoke of the heart-wrenching pain of his absence.
“I lost my dear friend,” she said. “He would have been 30 today.”
He would have been 30 today. Hearing her state this simple fact drove home, and brought to mind, just how much—and how many years—had been senselessly stolen from Nicholas Heyward Jr., from each and every one of the thousands of victims of police murder in this country, and from all those forced to live the rest of their lives without their loved ones.
Outside the projects, I asked some people in the crowd what had brought them out on October 22 and for their impressions of the day.
J., a 25-year-old white man who has been part of Occupy Wall Street—he added that OWS was his first protest—replied: “How can you see such injustice taking place in what's supposed to be the land of the free and not do something about it, or at least bear witness?” He added that he thought the 99 percent needed to join together and discuss and figure out what kind of world they wanted to live in.
“I think it is a good thing,” said an 18-year-old Black man. “We're tired of Blacks and minorities being attacked by the police, accused by the police.”
He also mentioned the earlier story recounted by Christina Gonzalez about being brutalized by the police, adding, “She didn't do nothing.” He then proceeded to tell his own stories of being harassed and humiliated by the pigs. In 2007, he was on a subway and arrested by cops who claimed he had killed someone. Then, this year, he was heading home when cops grabbed him and pushed him against a fence. He asked what he did wrong, and was told “Shut the fuck up,” before being searched in a humiliating fashion.
“They're racist,” the man said. “They're the new Ku Klux Klan.”
Asked how he saw the significance of Wall Street occupiers showing up to be part of October 22, he said: “I think they're here for the same reasons we're fighting for. The billionaires attack the poor, police attack us minorities. So we decided to fight back.”
An enthusiastic white student who was at Occupy Wall Street earlier this week said she felt it was really important to be part of October 22 and was glad that other people from OWS had come out as well.
“It's about building communities and working together,” she said. “I think it's really great because it's emphasizing two movements coming together.”
Carl Dix addressed the crowd again as it gathered in front of the projects, during the amplified sound portion of the day.
“Let me tell you something,” he said, as the crowd repeated. “From up here, y'all look good.”
It always looks good, he continued, to see people standing up against injustice, saying no to police brutality, saying “Stop stop and frisk,” protesting the inequality in society.
“I must say one more time that I'm a revolutionary communist,” Dix continued, and the crowd responded with enthusiastic cheers, “and that I am clear that problems like police brutality, police murder, wars for empire, starvation all around the world, women being sold into sexual slavery are built into the fabric of this goddamn capitalist system.”
Dix made the point that the “folks in blue behind us” are the enforcers of all that misery and brutality.
Dix continued, as the crowd repeated, saying that revolution is the solution but we can't just wait around for revolution to happen; we need to get busy fighting the power and transforming ourselves and others for revolution. Standing up against police brutality is part of that, he said. Stopping stop and frisk is part of that. Being down on Wall Street representing the 99 percent against the 1 percent is part of that.
“Damn,” Dix concluded. “Y'all look good!”
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On October 22, hundreds of people took part in two separate actions against police brutality. In the Bayview District, where the masses rose up against the police murder of Kenneth Harding Jr., more than 100 people marched through the community in the October 22 National Day of Protest To Stop Police Brutality, Repression & Criminalization of a Generation. Later that afternoon, Occupy SF staged a "Solidarity March for National Anti-Police Brutality Day."
The Bayview is one of the many mainly Black communities in the U.S. which are "occupied"—where police are constantly coming down on the youth and others. But it's also one where there is a growing mood of defiance and resistance. On October 22, over 100 people—relatives of those murdered by the police; people from the Bayview community, as well as the Mission District and the Western Addition; a contingent from Occupy SF; revolutionaries; former prisoners; and students—including from high school and SF State—took part in a spirited march through the neighborhood, with people stopping at various points to rally—with many people stepping forward to voice their outrage at the police and the way people are forced to live—and their determination to fight back.
Kenneth Harding, Jr., 19, was murdered by San Francisco Police on July 16 for allegedly trying to avoid paying a $2 bus fare. Videotapes showed Kenneth lying on his stomach on cold concrete bleeding to death while cops pointed weapons at the people who had gathered. Kenneth Harding's picture was held up by protesters and his name rang out along with other names of those killed by the police: Charles Hill...Oscar Grant...Raheim Brown...Brownie Polk...Derrick Jones...Andrew Moppin...Gus Rugley…Mark Garcia…Idriss Stelley.
Denika Chapman, Kenneth's mother, spoke at the protest. Denika, who moved to the Bay Area from Seattle after the killing of her son, told Revolution, "My life literally changed overnight. It's no longer about me. I'm here in this Bayview community almost every day, going to the high schools, to the colleges, reaching out to the youth, trying to create awareness and prevention so no one else has to suffer another loss like I did. It takes more than just me to stand for justice. We all have to unite together if we want to create any type of change."
"I'm not going to stop. This is my mission. This is my purpose," Denika said. "When we all leave here and cross that bridge and go home to our own communities, these people who live here in this community, the Bayview-Hunters Point, they have to continue to go through this and that's why I'm going to continue to be out here every day, every chance I get."
Anger in the community and aggressive counter-attack by the authorities has been building in the community leading up to the protest. DeBray Carpenter, known in the community as Fly Benzo, a City College student, hip hop artist, has been outspoken in opposing police brutality, in particular the murder of Kenneth Harding, was arrested on October 18. An article in the San Francisco BayView by mesha Monge-Irizarry, founder and director of Idriss Stelley Foundation, reports how Fly was knocked to the ground by police and beaten after the police told him to turn down his boom box (ripping out the power cord) and knocking down Fly's video camera which he was using to film the police. Outrageously it was Fly who was charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest, interfering with police business and inciting riot. He is being held with a bail of $73,000.
On October 17, a day before his arrest, Fly performed a rap and spoke at a press conference for October 22. Fly's performance is available on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_vbh28x0_E4. The video begins with the voice of Black Panther founder Huey Newton comparing the police to an occupying army. At the end of the video Fly says, "Whoever stands with the police does not stand with the community, period!" The San Francisco BayView wrote, "Fly's latest arrest Oct. 18 is probably to silence him on Saturday, Oct. 22, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality."
Fly was still being held in jail on the day of the protest. But his presence was felt. Shouts of "Free Fly Benzo!" and "Hands off the Truth Tellers!" rang out. Fly's father Claude Carpenter spoke at 3rd and Palou as the demonstration began saying, "They just can't kill our children down in the street and have no one say anything about it or do anything about it."
Also speaking at the protest was Kilo G, an educator who founded the community group, "Cameras Not Guns." Kilo was arrested after videotaping immediately after the murder of Kenneth Harding. His charge: obstructing justice. "They don't want me to talk," Kilo said. "I got pepper sprayed, I got arrested. I got my arm twisted. I got choked. The police did this in front of my three year old son. So I know for a fact that we are standing up for justice because they are mad."
Jerry Elster from the ex-prisoner group All of Us or None spoke of the hunger strike waged by thousands of prisoners in California who are kept in solitary confinement for years and decades in conditions that meet international standard of torture. "Our society and us are guilty of conformity and we ain't doing it no more. We not going to acquiesce with the bullshit no more," he said. Jerry who spent 27 years behind bars said, "Before I went into the penitentiary I was a product of the system. Now I am a threat to that system because I'm educated, I think and I can see."
The Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party on the Occasion of October 22, 2011 was read and punctuated by raised fists and cheers at each of the "salutes" to those fighting the power—and drawing serious attention, and Revolution newspapers circulated among many in the protest, as well as some of the onlookers.
The Peoples' Neighborhood Patrol was present throughout the march, and one member gave a statement—and then a spoken word poem.
Other groups and individuals speaking at the demonstration included Willie Ratcliffe, publisher of the San Francisco BayView; Cephus Johnson, uncle of Oscar Grant; an activist in World Can't Wait who was recently arrested for doing civil disobedience in support of the prisoner hunger strike; representatives of Poor Magazine Poets; a representative of the Oscar Grant Movement in San Francisco. Terry Joan Baum, the Green Party candidate for mayor of San Francisco was at the protest and spoke at the press conference endorsing the protest.
From Occupied Territory to Occupied Territory:
As the march began, a crew of youth chanting and carrying banners jumped off the MUNI T line banging drums, wearing face paint, covered in stickers denouncing police brutality. Occupation San Francisco had arrived! The contingent of some 15-20 mostly youthful people had been organizing for October 22 at the encampment in the San Francisco financial district, where they had been subjected to two raids and daily harassment by the police. Denika Chapman, Kenneth Harding's mother, was invited to speak at occupation on October 21.
Revolution spoke with Charlie, a 25-year-old white man who spoke to why he was taking part in Occupy San Francisco and the links with opposing police brutality: "I don't see a future for me that isn't hopeless and morally bankrupt. In order to survive I would either have to work a dehumanizing job or a morally repellant job and I don't want to have to choose between those two options. This protest against police brutality is very important because it's tied in because police seem to be an armed wing of the rich than people who serve and protect."
Charlie commented on the moving accounts that people from the community gave of brutality by the police saying, "I've never been to this neighborhood before. What people are saying is that this is occupied territory. We are occupying for the 99% but this is territory occupied by the military wing of the 1%."
No More Stolen Lives
The march ended at the spot where Kenneth Harding was killed. mesha Monge-Irizarry, whose son Idriss Stelley had been killed by San Francisco Police, built a memorial for Kenneth. Several family members spoke there. Elvira Pollard whose son Gus Rugley was killed seven years ago came because she was moved by many similarities between the way the cops operated when they killed her son and the way they operated when they killed Keith Harding. She bitterly recounted how 20 police officers fired more than 500 rounds at her son, an unarmed construction worker. "I'll always hate them motherfuckers," she said. "I'll always talk shit. I'm always one who will say fuck the police to their face. I'm not somebody to talk behind your back."
At the end of the demonstration Danny Garcia, whose brother Mark was pepper sprayed and killed by San Francisco police, read names of some of those killed by police from the large wall. The police officer who was in command at the scene at the time when Mark Garcia was murdered, Greg Suhr, is now Chief of the San Francisco Police Department.
Occupy SF's "Solidarity March for National Anti-Police Brutality Day"
Later in the afternoon, several hundred people from Occupy SF militantly marched through downtown San Francisco to the main police headquarters and jail at 850 Bryant Street. Occupy SF has been repeatedly threatened or attacked by the police, and today the demonstrators went right to this notorious "Hall of Injustice," and took over the street in front —forcing the police to block it off. One protester emailed Revolution that “Occupy SF protesters stood in front of the building on Bryant Street with a double phalanx of police officers on the steps of the Hall facing their fellow citizens.”
A contingent of people from the Bayview action—which included both members of the Oct 22 Coalition and the youth from Occupy SF who had come to the Bayview—joined the action on Bryant Street.
There are different views about the role of the police among people at Occupy SF (including that police are part of the people—or the "99%"). It was very important that people from Occupy SF came to the Bayview and heard the voices and stories of those with a lifetime of experience of what the police are all about – brutal, murderous enforcers of a system of exploitation and national oppression. As one young white woman from Occupy SF who came to the Bayview action said to Revolution, “Listening to mothers like Denika was very important. What they've lived through—people should hear this. I'd never heard this before."
The protesters then marched from Bryant Street back to Occupy SF in high spirits—right down the City's central artery—Market Street. It was one of the largest protests against police brutality in SF in recent memory.
* * *
January 1, 2011: Police shoot and kill Tory Davis...
January 7, 2011: Police shoot Darius Penix, 27-years old. Shot at 16 times, killing him at a traffic stop...
June 7, 2011: Police shoot Flint Farmer numerous times, killing him while he holds a cellphone...
July 25, 2011: Police shoot 13-year-old Jimmell Cannon four times...
October 5, 2011: Amit A. Patel is chased into Lake Michigan by police. He died a few hours later. Age 31...
Names and stories from the list of 57 people shot and/or killed by the Chicago police this year ring out in a striking indictment of these crimes of the system, reverberating off City Hall and the State of Illinois building.
The front page of the Chicago Tribune on the morning of October 22nd carried an expose of the cover-up of the police murder of Flint Farmer, including police video showing the cop shooting him three times in the back while he lay face down in the grass and killing him.
As people streamed into the plaza and the stage was being set up, the electricity of the day began to course through the air. Revolutionary music from Outernational and conscious hip-hop thundered off the skyscrapers overlooking the plaza. Curious bystanders and tourist were drawn into the growing scene of resistance, as protesters unfurled Stolen Lives banners and posters condemning police brutality and murder, and passing out flyers with the faces of victims of police murder.
Once the rally started, a statement from Flint Farmer’s father was read to the crowd of 100 people of all different backgrounds gathered to demand an end to police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation. Family members of victims of police brutality and murder, young folks from Occupy Chicago and Occupy the Hood, people who were outraged by the execution of Troy Davis, as well as college and high school students stood shoulder to shoulder to demand that this must stop.
A former prisoner who spent many years in solitary confinement and who has been involved in the movement for revolution since his release from prison condemned the historically unprecedented explosion of racist mass incarceration in the U.S. and the spoke about the courageous example of the prisoners on hunger strike in California (see below).
An uncle of Jimmell Cannon, a 13-year-old shot by Chicago police 4 times (see Revolution #242, Chicago Police on a Murderous Rampage: 42 people shot - We Say NO MORE!), spoke passionately about the outrage of these police shootings and murders.
After the Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party on the Occasion of October 22, 2011 was read, others spoke out. Relatives of Jose Diaz, killed by Berwyn police, spoke; one relative said that "even though it was 11 years ago, it feels like yesterday." Jamia Smith, the teenage sister of Devon Lee Pitts—who was killed by a police officer driving drunk—brought the crowd to tears as she read a poem with the lines: "Even as I write this, I still feel you around, my big brother, my guardian angel" with tears of sadness running down her face. Mark Clements, a survivor of police torture and activist with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty who spent 28 years in prison on a wrongful conviction, condemned the legal lynching of Troy Davis and led the chant, "Remember Troy Davis!" Occupy Chicago voted at their General Assembly to attend and send a representative speaker to stand in solidarity with O22, who said, "We have to end the suffering. It has to stop now!"
The rally concluded with a member of the People’s Neighborhood Patrol reading their founding Proclamation and calling on people to join the patrols. Several people signed up.
The crowd defiantly marched out of the plaza, chanting "Egypt, Wall Street, Pelican Bay –We refuse to live this way!" This spirit was heightened musically by a raucous anarchist brass band. The march grew as it snaked through the Saturday afternoon crowds on State Street. A banner with pictures of people killed by Chicago police stretched across the sidewalk side by side with a banner of Troy Davis brought to the rally by students from Columbia College. People stepped aside to let the protesters through, with many smiling widely that this question was being addressed and some even joining chants including "Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail—The whole damn system is guilty as hell!" After moving through the crowded streets of the Chicago Loop, they marched into the occupation surrounding the Federal Reserve Bank building, mingling in with the chanting, drumming scene at Occupy Chicago.
Marching Against Police Chiefs
The Chicago Ad Hoc Committee for Oct 22nd, joining with World Can’t Wait and the Midwest Anti-War Mobilization, called for protesters to reconvene at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Gala taking place at the Chicago Hilton later that evening. This was part of the IACP convention, a convention of police commanders who order murder, torture and rape. Their members include 20,000 commanders of police forces that rain brutality and terror down on civilians from Saudi Arabia to London, England, where police brutality helped spark major uprisings this spring.
As the time to reconvene approached, a "mic check"* was called at the HQ of Occupy Chicago and the crowd was challenged to join a march down to the Hilton. About 30 people marched out of the HQ bound for the IACP gala, chanting "Cairo, London, Chicago—Police brutality has got to go!" to the accompaniment of the anarchist brass band.
Once the march arrived at the Hilton, the march had grown in numbers and it was greeted by police lines and barriers. Protestors responded creatively to the police repression by positioning themselves on the other three corners and a determined and defiant protest ensued, denouncing the IACP in English and Spanish.
The October 22nd action concluded with the IACP protesters marching up Michigan Avenue to Grant Park, where they greeted thousands of people marching in to occupy the park; later that night 130 Occupy Chicago protesters were arrested while attempting to establish a permanent occupation at the park.
Former Prisoner Speaks
The following is the text of the speech by the former prisoner at the Chicago O22 rally:
I’m here to speak about the criminalization of a generation: there’s been an explosion of mass incarceration since the early 1970s, historically unprecedented in the history of the world.
U.S. has 5% of world population, 25% of worlds prisoners. More women incarcerated here than anywhere else in the world.
Nearly 2.5 million men, women & children in prison & close to 8 million are ensnared within the inhuman clutches of the so called “criminal justice system” today.
Rate of incarceration for Black males is over 5 times higher than apartheid South Africa, where a white supremacist colonial regime subjugated the indigenous Black population for decades and is universally considered one of the most racist regimes in the history of the world.
As Michelle Alexander documented in her book The New Jim Crow, more Black folks are in prison, jail etc in the U.S. than there were slaves 10 years before the Civil War.
Joining in with the upsurge of resistance sweeping the globe, in July thousands of prisoners in CA—led by prisoners in Pelican Bay SHU—went on hunger strike to demand an end to the torture & inhumane treatment they face.
Within days, over 6,500 prisoners in 1/3 of California prisons joined the hunger strike.
After 3 weeks they temporarily came off hunger strike, and then resumed the hunger strike on September 26. Within days nearly 12,000 prisoners were on hunger strike.
CDC retaliated, banned prisoners lawyers, withheld mail and visits, threatened to place prisoners on hunger strike in administrative seg.
At the end of last week, they temporarily came off again. Prisoners have stated though they are willing to die rather than face these conditions of torture, they do not want to die, and know that it will take peeps on outside to force the government to meet their demands, and that will not happen in the time they can remain on hunger strike and live to see those changes.
Despite the demonization & dehumanizing portrayal, majority of prisoners are locked up for non-violent drug offenses as part of "war on drugs," which began in the early 1970s but expanded exponentially in the 1980s. And the "war on drugs" was a strategy for ruling class to impose a "counterinsurgency before insurgency" because they fear the power of the people rising up to challenge the crimes and injustices of this system.
They saw the power of the people in the 1960s, but because people didn't make a revolution out of the upsurge of the 1960s, the ruling class was determined to crush any potential liberating movement of the people from developing again.
Despite their attempts, even in the depths of the most horrendous conditions of oppression such as the hellholes of America’s prisons, people have a vast potential to transform themselves as they transform the world and join in becoming emancipators of humanity.
Like millions of others, I was one of those youth that this system has cast off. My family lost our home when I was a teenager, I got involved with a street organization to survive on the streets, and by the time I was 17 years old I was serving a 20 year sentence in an adult maximum security prison. Like too many other youth, this system offered me no better purpose and no greater fate than crime and punishment, a future of living and dying for nothing.
Once I got to prison, I soon started to question what brought me—and all the other people there with me—to prison, and soon began to develop an understanding of the historical and social forces that led all of us to the hellholes of America’s prison system.
Within a short period of time, I was given an indeterminate period of segregation—solitary confinement—and it was in the midst of those brutally isolating conditions of torture that I became politically conscious.
And since my release from prison a few years ago, my life has been firmly dedicated to the movement for revolution and the struggle against the crimes of this system and for a liberated future for all humanity.
O22 is a day for people of all different backgrounds to get in the streets and stand together shoulder to shoulder with those who live under the boot and the gun of police brutality and repression—and those languishing in the hellholes of Americas prisons—and demand that all of this must stop! People of conscience everywhere should take inspiration from the courageous example of the prisoners on hunger strike and recognize the moral responsibility to join together to rise up to take action to stop these horrendous injustices.
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October 22nd in Seattle was a very powerful and good day! Resistance to police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation was intensified and deeper political unity built. October 22nd was endorsed by the Occupy Seattle General Assembly which also recently passed a resolution not to speak to the police at the occupation. Occupy also assisted with legal and tactical help and the rally was shown on Occupy Seattle’s live stream.
An opening rally was held at Westlake Park, the site of Occupy Seattle. A very diverse mix of over 1000 people of all nationalities and many backgrounds came together—including many youth, students, proletarians, homeless, re-awakened anti-war activists, anarchists, people of color, activists, revolutionaries, and many people newly activated by the Occupy movement. The MCs from the October 22nd Coalition began by reading the names and telling the stories of scores who’s lives have been stolen by police murder. Powerful and moving testimony was given by family members who have lost loved ones to police murder.
Friends and family of David Albrecht told how he was shot by police after his family had called them for help because David was suicidal. Police ordered his girlfriend to move away from David, and then shot him 23 times. There are still bullet holes in the house. His family and friends have been tailed and stopped in their cars and harassed by police since they have spoken out. They carried the lead banner in the O22 march.
The aunt of James Whiteshield, who at 17 died under suspicious circumstances in juvenile detention spoke out with great grief and passion. A native American woman, she said that it's not just people of color who are brutalized and killed by the police, it's anyone who is poor, and ended by saying "we are all related."
Brother Talib, an ex-prisoner, spoke about mass incarceration and torture in the SHUs, beginning his speech with "Power to the People!"
A young white woman Sarah, told the story of her foster brother Miles who was killed in juvenile detention. The authorities claimed he committed suicide, but his body was bruised and beaten. She opened up an album with pictures of Miles showing his smile and then the pictures showing what had been done to him in jail. People came up to the stage to see the pictures and were moved and shaken. Since her family has challenged the police version, they have been repeatedly threatened by police.
The statement from the RCP was very well received. The crowd especially liked the "Three Strikes" quote from Bob Avakian, responding with cheers when to the end of the quote, "Three strikes and you're out." The speaker held up the book BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian when saying "Get into BAsics" and was later approached by two college students who liked the speech and asked, "What was that book you held up?" and decided to get one. They are participating in Occupy Olympia (WA) and are also working with youth in juvenile detention and expressed a lot of pain and passion about people at the bottom of society and what incarceration does to young people and other prisoners—especially how youth are routinely medicated for the most minor violations in order to keep them sedated and compliant. They felt BAsics would help them at the occupation, where people are struggling to understand the world and how to change things, and that communism was little understood and needed to be seriously considered. The whole day of protest, they said, had been very empowering.
Also speaking were Eric Roberts, the brother of Aaron Roberts who was murdered by police after being stopped in his car, friends of David Young who was shot by police as his car was blocked into a fence, a witness to the murder of Shawn Maxwell, and Jared from the Responsible Marijuana Project who spoke about the incredible human toll experienced by people who are incarcerated for minor drug offenses and how people of color are disproportionately targeted and arrested.
The powerful testimonies given connected with all of us, including many new people in the crowd from Occupy Seattle who were just learning about the scope and cost of this epidemic. Pictures of the faces of the stolen lives were passed among people to carry and a powerful and defiant march of 1000 people took off. People did a die-in at the spot where Chris Harris had been body slammed into a wall by police after being wrongly identified as a suspect. Chris has suffered catastrophic brain injury. The march went by Seattle Police West Precinct, where protesters stopped, spoke out and indicted police brutality and murder. One person was grabbed out of the crowd by police and arrested.
After back and forth among the marchers, people went to the infamous spot where native carver John T. Williams was murdered a year ago. John T. was shot by Seattle cop Ian Birk within 4 seconds of jumping out of his car as he walked down the street carrying his small folded carving knife. There was and is tremendous outrage over this cold-blooded murder and the refusal to bring charges against Birk by prosecutors. At this site people died in, blocking the street. A close friend of John T’s spoke in his memory and did a prayer in Lakota.
The march was followed by an open mic back at the occupation site, where people of all kinds moved into a circle and were invited in to discuss and debate the role of the police and different strategies for ending police brutality and murder.
This whole day was extremely intense and also uplifting. People were inspired to stand together in resistance against this system’s crimes. Deeper understanding and unity among different political forces and sections of people developed around opposing police brutality and murder, mass incarceration and repression.
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October 22nd in Los Angeles saw the coming together of the spirit and optimism of the Occupy L.A. encampment with the deep, visceral anger at, and determination to put an end to police brutality, repression, and the criminalization of a generation. That synergy brought an electricity to the march and rally that impacted everyone who took part, or viewed it from the sidewalks as it passed by. And it spoke to a statement from the Party's Message and Call—"The Revolution We Need… The Leadership We Have"—that was read twice at the rally:
The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world… when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness… those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.
Over 150 people marched from the Occupy L.A. encampment over to Pershing Square, where the protest against police brutality was gathering. Along the way people chanted "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? now," and "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Police Brutality's got to go." They carried all kinds of signs they'd made at the encampment, including silk-screened posters of a cartoon pig in a police uniform; and they carried a banner that read "Occupy L.A. Committee to End Police Brutality." They moved at double-speed, beating out rhythms on newspaper boxes and anything else metal available along the way. They were old and young, and of all nationalities, and brought a spirit that was infectious.
A week and a half before O22 there'd been a speak-out at the encampment where family members of the prison hunger strikers at Pelican Bay State Prison and other prisons told the hundred or more who attended about the torture of long term isolation in the prisons of California and around the country, and the struggle to end it.
And in the days before O22, after much debate about the role that the police play in society, the decision was made for Occupy L.A. to participate in the march.
A white college student, there with his two friends and part of the occupation, was asked what brought him to the protest: "I think if you'd lived in Birmingham when MLK was marching, you should have been with him."
Students at one south central high school who'd made plans to walkout or sit-in to support the "Day of Defiance," were kept from going through with it after the principal threatened one of the student organizers with expulsion.
The speak-out at Pershing Square set the tone for whole march. A South Central high school student got up on the truck with her father. She spoke about her and her family's experience with police brutality, and about how she reached out to other students at her school to come to the protest. Her father stood with her; when he spoke, he talked about his family's lifetime of suffering police brutality and prison, and the impact of mass incarceration.
Other family members of victims of police brutality of different nationalities got up and told their stories. A youth spoke for the contingent that came from Fullerton, in Orange County, carrying the horrific photo of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man beaten to death by 6 Fullerton cops.
And the mother of a hunger striker told everyone, "Don't to be ashamed if your relative is in prison, you need to speak out!"
The march kicked off 500 strong; the Occupy LA forces joining with students from different college campuses, high school students, family members—mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers—and other fighters against the police murders of so many Black and Latino youth. Some marchers had traveled for hours; from as far away as Riverside, Orange County, Victorville, and San Diego. Veterans of National Day of Protest were joined by many others who were learning about and protesting police brutality and murder for the first time.
A group of family members of prisoners part of the hunger strike marched with a banner in support of the prisoners' courageous battle, with scores of hand written messages of support; and they held up homemade signs reading "Stop Torture" and "CDC Lies, Prisoners Die." Their presence, and the brave and inspiring story of the hunger strike, had a big impact on the entire protest.
There was a real feeling of being strong together in the street and being able to shout about these crimes. That spirit of strength and defiance grew as it went down 6th Street—they were "on a mission." "Marching down 6th street gave me goose bumps;" the sister of a Pelican Bay hunger striker told us, "after having felt alone for so long."
The march stopped in front of the notorious Rampart police station, a few blocks from where Manuel Jamines, a homeless Guatemalan day laborer, was murdered by police last year, sparking nights of rebellion in the community. "Justicia, Justicia, Justicia para Manuel!" rang out. And as the names of all those murdered by L.A. County police were shouted out from the truck there was an outpouring of chalking on the sidewalk in front of the station—"LAPIGS," "Murderers," "Stop Killer Cops," "Stop Killing Our People," "Stop this Shit!" "Fuck the Police!" Chalk outlines of victims of police murder were drawn on the sidewalk while a young Black man lay on his face.
Perhaps 40% of the protesters were Black youth and other Black people—marching through this community densely populated with Latino immigrants. They took up the chants in Spanish while for blocks along the area of 6th Street where Manuel Jamines was killed, people from the community filled the sidewalks watching intently as the march passed.
The march stopped at the site of this killing. Family members of other victims of police murder climbed up to speak, including telling the story of her son, killed in Lynwood. As this was happening, a group of young Black women came forward with pictures and stencils of Manuel, and with roses and candles arranged a commemoration for him at the spot where he bled to death.
The sense of outrage and deep desire to fight police brutality continued at the rally. Families of the victims of police murders painfully shared their stories—but also their determination to expose these injustices. The sister of Julian Collender described how her parents were locked in the back of a police car watching their son bleed to death on their front lawn; and then how they assassinated her brother a second time with lies and slanders about what kind of a person he was. The brother of Robert Anthony Serrano described holding his brother, shot by the police, while he died in his arms; and how his father committed suicide on the day after what would have been Robert's birthday.
There was also a sense of people straining to understand where this brutality and murder comes from, and what it will take to eradicate it. "It's not just some bad cops," Julian Collender's sister said, "they're all bad."
The statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party on October 22, read by Michael Slate, writer for Revolution, addressed these questions and was very well received. People applauded at different points, including the description of what's going on in the inner cities as a slow genocide that must stop. And there was applause when an announcement was made about the demonstration and non-violent civil disobedience that had taken place in Harlem the day before—launching a battle to stop "Stop and Frisk" as part of a new movement end to the mass incarceration of especially Black and Latino youth. A number of people came up afterwards to talk about the impact that the statement had on them—many wrestling with the "systematic and systemic" nature of police brutality.
A young man who has been part of Occupy LA from the beginning spoke about the sharp debate that has been going on at the encampment over the role of the police. Arguing against the view that police are part of the 99%, he said, "When you put on that uniform, you're working for the ruling class." He said while the police haven't yet attacked OLA yet, they have attacked other encampments all over the country; and they occupy every single town surrounding OLA. He talked about stopping mass incarceration and also pointed to what had just happened the day before in Harlem. And he ended by calling on the people at the rally to go down to Occupy LA, be part of the dialogue and share their stories and understanding.
A member of the People's Neighborhood Patrols exposed the police murders, the round-ups of immigrants, the harassment like "Stop and Frisk" that happens every day, and called on people to repeat with him, "All of this is illegal and illegitimate! All of this is illegal and illegitimate!" There was a call to join the People's Patrols, and half a dozen people who had participated in the march joined the Patrol as they went out that night in the neighborhood following the rally.
The day ended with a candlelight vigil which 75 people took part in.
* * *
From a Revolution Books staff member:
On October 22nd over 250 people rallied outside the Boston Police Headquarters as part of the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality and the Criminalization of a Generation.
The rally was marked by the broad participation of activists and supporters of Occupy Boston, including students from Harvard, Tufts and Boston University as well as residents of the predominantly Black and Latino and Cape Verdean neighborhoods of Roxbury and Dorchester in Boston. Many OB activists had only heard of the National Day of Protest the week before when it had been brought to the OB General Assembly by staff members from Revolution Books and were excited at being part of this nation-wide initiative. A number had participated in a rally of over 500 people the night before called for in the heart of Roxbury to demonstrate Occupy Boston's commitment to the concerns of the Black and Latino communities.
A statement from the Occupy Boston web-site read in part: "This Saturday, in recognition of the 16th annual National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, we will mark a historic development in our movement: activists from Occupy Boston will be joining activists from Occupy the Hood in a joint demonstration of strength and solidarity against police brutality. Not only will we be rallying against the police repression of our movement, both in Boston and nationally; more importantly, we'll be rallying against the police violence experienced by poor folk and communities of color every day in this country."
The rally buzzed as word of the arrest of Cornel West, Carl Dix and 30 other people protesting the New York Police Department Policy of "Stop and Frisk" in Harlem the previous night spread. Many people had never heard of "Stop and Frisk" and simply could not get their heads around having 700,000 such incidents happening in the course of a year. Some were asking "how can this be happening in this country?" Others were saying "this is exactly what happens when people protest the injustices in the system." People taking up the Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party on the Occasion of October 22, 2011 and its call to be "WORKING FOR REVOLUTION" engaged in heartfelt discussions over what was the source of these crimes and what it would take to end them. Two young men who had traveled up from Occupy Wall Street in New York the night before spoke about how similar conversations were taking place at Zuccotti Park every night.
Speakers drew on deep personal experience with loved ones and friends whose lives had been lost at the hands of the police or whose street deaths were written off by the powers that be as "gang related" or, in other words, "not worth wasting our time on." One man recounted the only time the City of Boston agreed to an out-of-court wrongful death settlement to the family of a man killed by the police to prevent the case from going to trial: "You want to know how much the life of a young Black man goes for on today's market? $70,000—that's how much! For a life ended and a lifetime of loss for family and friends. And even this was the only time this has ever happened. In every other case the City has ruled 'Justifiable Homicide!'"
Other speakers spoke to how important this day was in breaking down the barriers that divide the people. An older Black woman spoke passionately about how much it meant for her to see the diversity of the crowd spoke to the mainly young white activists from the Occupy movement: "We are the 99%...You are the 99%...They say that once it gets cold and nasty and winter comes you will give up and go away. DON'T! DON'T GO AWAY! Stay. We are not going away, we are going to continue to fight, and we don't want you to go away." This was followed by a roar from the crowd "We are not going away! We are here to Stay!"
The rally ended with a march to nearby Roxbury Community College.
* * *
About 75 people gathered at Market Square. The rally was bolstered by a group of people who marched from the Occupy Houston encampment (whose general assembly had endorsed NDP) in another downtown park to join the protest. After the rally people marched throughout downtown Houston, including to the several prisons on the north end of downtown.
Speakers included Ray Hill, long-time prison rights advocate and founder of the Prison Show on KPFT; Krystal Muhammad of the New Black Panther Party; Dean Becker, a leading opponent of the drug laws used to jail so many youth; Maria, representing Occupy Houston; and Dave Atwood of the Houston Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The October 22 statement from the RCP was read to the attentive gathering just before the protesters started marching.
A group of drummers energized the spirited march through a busier than usual downtown Houston. A highlight of the march was at a county jail. As the march approached the jail, people had to cross over Buffalo Bayou, where in 1977 Jose Campos Torres was handcuffed by HPD officers and thrown into the bayou to drown. The MC told the rally of that crime and of the heroic resistance of the Chicano masses in response.
A section of the march went straight up to the door of the jail with their signs, and one man who had done a lot of organizing for 022 in one of the city's large ghettos took a banner reading "This system has no future for the youth, but the revolution does" and hung it across the jail's main entrance.
The MC played an audio testimony from an older Black woman in one of the city's housing projects earlier that day. She spoke of the everyday harassment of the youth…and older residents… by the police, and said that she is tired of all this. She powerfully exposed what daily life of people in the projects is, and the weight of it on people…"just because we're low income, doesn't mean we're criminal." She also related her own defiance of the police.
Then a Chicana just started speaking up from the outskirts of the rally. When she was invited up to the mic, she related how her sons are spending extended time in jail because the judge didn't like her defiant attitude. He straight up said she was butting into something that was none of her business [!], and retaliated with a more severe sentence for one of her sons. This woman's story unleashed a number of the youth and others in the march to get up and expose their outrageous treatment at the hands of the police.
Person after person spoke of being arrested, jailed, framed on minor or phony marijuana charges. One white woman from Occupy Houston was framed on a marijuana charge. She was a student, had never been in trouble with the law, and had no record, but had a million dollar bond set on her. She went on to say that she was lucky because she was able to afford one of the best lawyers in town, but that if she had been Black or Brown and didn't have money for a good lawyer, she'd still be in jail.
Several people who didn't come up to the mic nevertheless were eager to tell people flyering or selling REVOLUTION their stories.
Taking the march right to the "jailhouse doors" of the main County prison had a powerful impact on people; it really energized the marchers, unleashed a torrent of stories, and established some bonds with people going in and out of the jail visiting prisoners. Through this and the entire weekend's activities, a strong basis was established for continuing and developing the fight to end police brutality and repression, and the mass jailing of the youth.
* * *
On Saturday night, October 15, MARTA (transit) police shot and killed 19-year-old Joetavius Stafford at the Vine City MARTA Station. Joetavius' brother, who witnessed the shooting, said that the cop shot Joetavius in the back while he was running away with his arms up, and shot him again twice while he was laying on the ground shaking. The Fulton County Coroner's autopsy report found two bullets wounds in Joetavius' back, and one in his chest. This outrageous police murder charged the atmosphere in the city in the week leading up to October 22, and underscored the importance of building resistance to stop police brutality and murder. Family and friends held an emotional and angry vigil at the scene of the shooting on Monday night. Later that night, there was a defiant march through the downtown streets by Occupy Atlanta and others. On Tuesday, the October 22nd Coalition convened a press conference to decry this latest police murder and announce plans for the National Day of Protest. A section of the masses of people in the downtown area and MARTA riders listened to the speakers in the pouring rain, and all four television stations covered it on the evening news. Speakers included the October 22nd Coalition, FTP Movement, Revolution Books, Copwatch and International Socialist Organization. A message was read from former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and several people stepped up and spoke out on the spot.
October 22: "Hey, MARTA, you can't hide, we charge you with homicide!" "Shot in the back, no excuse for that!" "No justice, no peace! Fuck the police!" These chants rang out as a little over 100 people, including Joetavius' mother, father and several cousins, gathered at the main Five Points MARTA Station downtown for the October 22nd march and speak-out. The march took off and immediately headed one block up to Troy Davis Park (the site of Occupy Atlanta and renamed by Occupy Atlanta). Going through the park, the march grew to 175 as people from Occupy Atlanta and homeless people joined in. The march looped back around and passed by the MARTA station again where many enthusiastic Black youth joined the demonstration on the spot. At this point the demonstrators had taken over the street, and there was outrage and defiance and a feeling of freedom that unleashed excitement among people who are under the gun and harassed by the police every day, taking to the streets and being able to shout out what they really felt about the police.
Some people brought hand-made signs, many held up pictures of Joetavius that were distributed by the march organizers, others carried enlargements of the centerfold poster from Revolution with the pictures of people killed by police from around the country. Dozens of copies of Revolution were sold.
The plan was to march to the Atlanta City Detention Center for a speak-out. But along the way, the marchers diverted from the route for a brief stop in front of the Fulton County Courthouse, to demand that the Fulton County DA charge the MARTA cop who killed Joetavius with murder. When this was announced over the bullhorn the crowd erupted in cheers and as the marchers left the courthouse steps, a banner that had been signed by many people downtown earlier in the day was seen taped across the main entrance doors of the building that read "Justice for Joe! Jail the Killer Cop!"
At the jail, a people's speak-out was held, with many people coming to the mic to speak about their experiences with police brutality. Several had loved ones who were killed by police. Nicholas Heyward from the October 22nd Coalition and Parents Against Police Brutality in New York spoke movingly about his son who was killed by the NYPD 17 years ago, and the need to build ongoing resistance, not just on this day. A cousin of Joetavius said she was speaking out so that Joe did not die in vain, and so that other families would not have to go through the same loss in the future. Other people spoke about the unjust execution of Troy Davis, the history of the oppression of Black people in this country, the attacks coming down on immigrants, the heroic hunger strike by California prisoners, the civil disobedience in Harlem to stop "stop and frisk," the need for people to join the movement for revolution, and more. Revolution was in the air—every time the word was mentioned there were cheers among the crowd, even though people have many different views of what that means.
During the speak-out, an announcement was made from Occupy Atlanta that the mayor was threatening to evict the occupiers from the park that night and a large police presence was building on the edge of the park. When the speak-out ended, the crowd took to the streets again for a march back to Troy Davis Park to support Occupy Atlanta. When the march reached the park, people formed up on the side of the park where the police were gathered, stretching out between the police and the park. Another riled and emotional speak-out was held, with some people addressing their anger directly at the police through the bullhorns. Later that evening, the mayor announced that he was not going to move on the occupation and reverted back to his previous deadline of November 7.
A rare and powerful mix was brought together in the streets of Atlanta on October 22. Various streams of resistance came together in the streets, and revolution was in the air. People could sense that this mix and this atmosphere have great potential to change everything.
At one point during the march, someone who was straggling a bit behind and trying to find where the marchers were, was told by a bystander on the street, "Hurry up, you need to catch up with the revolution."
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Between 60 and 70 people marched in Greensboro, North Carolina, against police brutality, through the Smith Homes public housing community. This was the 12th year that Greensboro has participated in the National Day of Protest, and the third year that the march has taken place at Smith Homes. Many marchers came from having participated in the ongoing Occupy Greensboro encampment downtown. People from the community tell of ongoing harassment from particular cops, even after one notoriously brutal officer had been pulled from duty in the community after some agitation by O22 activists and community members. People get snatched up and arrested literally for nothing--all in the shadow of a new $114 million jail that is nearing completion.
A lively march led by Cakalak Thunder Radical Drum Corps snaked through the community, while marchers chanted, "No more Stolen Lives" and "We say no to the New Jim Crow, police brutality has got to go!" A couple of young people ran ahead of the march with a copy of the Stolen Lives book, tracing each other with chalk on the street to make police-style chalk body outlines, which they then marked with the names of people killed by law enforcement.
At the rally after the march, a revolutionary activist read a statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA that highlighted the new level of resistance in this country, from the California prison hunger strikes, to the Occupy Wall Street movement hitting cities all over the U.S., to the Stop “Stop and Frisk" movement taking off in NYC, and pointing out the role of the police as enforcers of a system of oppression. At one point, several members of the community really wanted someone to get on the mic to yell "FUCK THE POLICE!" but when no one stepped up to do it, the mother of a young Black man killed by a sheriff's deputy in 2001 grabbed the mic and gave the crowd what they wanted...and then said, "and the way we'll fuck the police is by continuing to get people together like this and exposing all the shit they do!" Another local activist spoke of the need to videotape the police, and the role that videotaping them can play in stopping brutality from happening, when the cops know they're being watched. A longtime activist from the Nation of Islam spoke on the need to unite all communities when these outrages happen, and the host of a long-running cable access show connected what happens in the projects to what's happening in the U.S.'s wars around the globe. The rally ended with the reading of the Stolen Lives Pledge, led by a Stolen Lives family member.
Later that night, several people from the rally joined others at a spoken word/open mic event called "Cuss 'em Out," organized in conjunction with NDP by a young musician and activist who played a leading role in organizing the march. Instead of just musicians and poets performing for an audience, people took turns, either from the mic or from the crowd, to tell their own stories of police harassment, to talk about things they'd done to build resistance, or to talk about getting rid of police brutality and other forms of oppression through revolution...occasionally interspersed with a poem or original song by some astounding local performers.
The following day, Sunday, a small group of O22 activists and people recruited from the Occupy Greensboro encampment walked down to the old Guilford County, aka "Guilty" County jail and traced the outline of a body on the sidewalk outside to memorialize Ronald Eugene Cobbs, Jr., who had been tasered to death in the jail in 2009.
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A group of 30 people gathered at noon, wearing black, ready to march and protest in front of the police station. Holding signs of loved ones killed by the police and a huge banner with "Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation" on it, people marched and shouted lots of chants, like “We fired up, can't take it no mo' Police Brutality has got to go!"
East Cleveland is a poor, decaying inner suburb adjoining Cleveland. It is a city where 98% of the people are Black. Although there haven't been recent police killings, there have been constant harassment and brutality against the youth there. There is a fight to get rid of the red light speed cameras used to "keep people safe" from speeding cars when in fact they are also used as surveillance cameras. As a community activist said, "These cameras profile Black youth, target them and many times then go after them and arrest them for minor violations." So this year East Cleveland was the target for October 22nd.
Families who have lost loved ones spoke. The Wills family, whose son Guy Wills was killed in 2002 when a cop banged his head against a cement floor, spoke about how the protest must continue until we stop police brutality and murder. Alicia Kirkman, whose son Angelo Miller was shot in the back seven times in 2007, spoke about how on the 911 tape the cop was saying, "put your hands up" and Angelo said, "sir, my hands are up, ain't got nothing." Then the cop shot him in the back. She said, "They ruled it justified, that Angelo had tried to run the cop over; no, if that were the case they would have shot out the front and back windshields."
Al Porter, from Black on Black Crime, a community group based in East Cleveland, said, "Police try to put fear in the hearts of citizens and I don't have to have fear no more. They have too many different police departments, the university police, the transit police, the sheriffs department, and more to turn it into a police state and I refuse to be part of a police state. We will continue to speak our minds and people should speak out too. I implore anyone in earshot to speak out also."
A young Black woman spoke who had gotten a leaflet about the protest: "I haven't lost anyone to police brutality but am here to support those who have to take a stand against police brutality and the criminalization of a generation. I want our children to have a chance and that the lives of people in East Cleveland matter."
A youth from Oppressed People's Nation, a grassroots community group, got on the bullhorn and said, "The oppressed will not stay oppressed forever. We will stop police brutality."
A distributor for Revolution newspaper read the statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party on the Occasion of October 22, 2011. People especially cheered when it came to denounce the mass incarceration of Black and Latino people and the slow genocide going on and the urgency to fight back. Someone said he liked it because it touched on all kinds of people, Blacks, immigrants, and more who are targeted by the police. He said the statement can really bring all the people together around the one cause, stop police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation.
After the rally, several of us went into the Black community of Cleveland, agitated about the movement to Stop “Stop and Frisk” in New York, the movement to stop mass incarceration and more. We got out lots of Revolution papers, introduced people to BAsics and got people signing up to be involved in building the movement for revolution.
As the sun was going down, a Black youth from Occupy Cleveland summed up the day this way: "You have to fight the police because they are not there to protect the people's common will or to understand the situation when they come to your house; the only job for them is to take you to jail. I think it's capitalism and for Black people they love seeing us in that fuckin' cage."
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This report is from october22.org:
In a rally and march called by Communities United Against Police Brutality, a good mix of youth from Occupy MN, the University of Minnesota and the community marched with seasoned activists and police brutality survivors to the Minneapolis Police Department's first precinct. The first precinct, in downtown Minneapolis, generates the largest number of complaints of police brutality in the city. They engage in racial profiling and attacks on homeless people going to shelters. They regularly attack Black people leaving the clubs, as a way to discourage people of color from coming downtown. They are responsible for the recent arrests of Occupy MN participants protesting foreclosures at the Bank of America. We received much support and cheers from people along the march, with people thanking us and some joining in.
At the first precinct, the crowd was reminded of the horror that can be inflicted on families by police when a 30 foot scroll containing 161 names of Stolen Lives was rolled down the sidewalk in front of the police station. The Stolen Lives listed were people killed by law enforcement in the state of Minnesota largely in the last 10 years. This year was especially tragic, with 19 names added to the list. A book with stories and pictures of the Stolen Lives was handed out to participants.
Speakers at the first precinct made connections between parts of the criminal justice system, noting the hunger-striking prisoners in California and around the country. Noting that a segment of the 99% sit in prisons, one speaker told about noise protests that have been held outside the local jail in sonic solidarity with the people in the jail. Others talked about the raids one year ago on anti-war and international solidarity activists, attacks on GLBT people, and on the very recent conviction of two Somali women on charges of "material support of terrorism" for raising a few thousand dollars and clothes for charities in Somalia. Both women face over 150 years in prison.
From the first precinct, the group marched to the homeless shelter where police are notorious for their attacks. Many in the crowd were surprised at the "no loitering" signs posted on public sidewalks around the shelter--yet another way to criminalize homelessness. At the shelter, people were given a lesson on copwatching and got some practice when staff members who work hand in glove with police came out of the shelter to harass the group.
We spent the rest of the evening copwatching in downtown Minneapolis. People at the event came away with a renewed spirit for taking on police brutality, with a number stating they will be coming to CUAPB meetings, copwatching and getting involved. From that perspective, we consider this year's October 22 event to be a real success.
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