Reports from October 22—20th Annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation
October 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
These are reports we've received from cities about October 22 protests around the country. We will add other reports as we receive them.
Rally and March in Brooklyn: Fierceness, Anger, and Determination to STOP Murder by Police
On October 22, in New York City, about 200 people rallied in Brooklyn for the 20th anniversary of the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.
There was a fierceness and anger in the spirit of the crowd and in the rally—a determination to be heard, to shout out loud that this rampant police murder MUST STOP. This was brought home very powerfully when the parents of those whose loved ones have been killed by the police took the microphone and spoke from the heart, with passion and tremendous anger. There were at least a dozen family members at the rally, coming from New York City and other cities, who had taken part in the public reading of names of lives stolen by the police in Times Square earlier in the day.
One of the first groups to show up was a contingent of 25-30 students from St. Anne’s High School. The group, mainly white, all marched in together. At least one teacher from the school also came with them. One student said, “This is something I hadn’t thought about much but I should, it’s a big problem.” Another said what’s happening to Black people is genocide. There were other high school and college students at the rally as well and many others, including a group who came together from Housing Works, a social service agency that works with people with AIDS and the homeless. About half a dozen transgender people came together from the Audre Lorde Project. There was a banner expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people’s struggle.
There were a number of other speakers and cultural performances, including a nine-year-old reading a poem about police brutality and an older Black man playing the violin and singing a song about those who have been killed by the police. Rev. Jerome McCorry, who heads up the national faith task force for Rise Up October, spoke, calling on ALL the churches, Black and white, saying that there was no excuse for them not to join this struggle. Carl Dix, representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party and co-initiator of Rise Up October, called on people to look at the pictures of loved ones killed by the police, and to think about the fact that this is just a drop in the bucket of the people killed by police. He said this is an illegitimate system and called on everyone to come out on Saturday to march in the streets to demand a stop to this police terror.
After the rally, people marched through the streets to Barclays Center for a short rally.
All Photos: Special to revcom.us
Above and below, Chicago, October 22, 2015. National Day of Protest. Photos: Frank James Johnson
More than 70 people gathered at the James A. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago for a spirited “Say Their Names” protest. The crowd formed a circle to represent how the thousands in New York City on October 24 will figuratively “form a circle” around the families of police murder victims. Each person in the circle read three names of stolen lives, chanting “Say Their Names” after each name, and a pot and pan were banged after each reading in the spirit of the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina. There was a contingent of 25 mainly Black youths from a high school. One of the young women had a handmade sign against the police murder of her boyfriend by the Chicago PD this summer. Also participating were 25 people from Save Our Sons and Daughters—a community organization from the West Side—and some college students, including seven or eight students from the University of Dubuque, Iowa, who were in a class studying social protest and drove three hours to be part of October 22. Speakers of conscience included Unity Lutheran Church Reverend Emily Heitzman, pastor with Youth and Households Edgewater Congregations Together, who called for more “holy anger” at the systemic racism in America. The crowd joined together to sing “I Can’t Breathe” and “Hell You Talmbout.”
Then the youths marched through downtown bursting with energy and defiance, chanting “Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cops to Jail, the Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell!” The high school youths were boldly in your face to the police; one youth shouted, “You talk about Black-on-Black crime, how about Blue-on-Black crime?” A number of people on the street joined in the march and came to the final rally where people spoke out against the crimes of police and why we have to Rise Up October. Several people signed up for the bus to New York City on the spot.
Fifty people assembled in front of the Justice Center in Cleveland to read hundreds of names of a small portion of the people killed by the police in the past 10-plus years from all over the country. Many people came up and read, from a family member, to a Black professional singer, to people organizing in the Black community, to white middle class activists, to Black people from the bottom, and a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party. And some of the people reading are coming to Rise Up October in New York City. We had many posters of people killed by the police from Cleveland and many Stolen Lives posters. There was a serious and determined feeling among the people there that the police killing is indeed an epidemic and part of genocide against Black and Brown people and only we the people can stop it.
The readings were interspersed with two vocalists; the readings went on for almost two hours. A Black man who is part of Rise Up October summed it up this way: “People need to hear the names. It could be any of us, our family, our children. If you don’t do something it will probably be one of our names, family members or someone we know. They kill people and no one is accountable. If we commit crimes we are held accountable. I fear for my life. For us Black and Brown people it’s modern-day slavery, a way of controlling.” Brenda Bickerstaff, a Black woman whose brother was killed by police and whose niece died in police custody a few months ago, said, “[We are] reading names so people cannot forget and have a constant reminder. We are tired of putting these pictures on posters.” A young white activist said, “Reading the names reminded us of why we are going to NYC.” At different points people called on others to get on the bus and be in NYC on October 24 to declare that the police terror must stop, and “which side are you on?” has to be a rallying cry throughout society.
Photos: special to Revolution
The October 22 protest in Seattle was riveting and inspiring. Black and white youths, Native Americans, middle class white people, basic people of different nationalities, students from community colleges and art schools and others lined up to read the names and stories of cherished people who have been ripped from their families and us by police murder. April Nation, the aunt of James Whiteshield, told the horrifying story of her nephew’s beating and murder in jail in Seattle. Jamilla Gardner told of how the police stole away the life of her dear friend Victor Duffy Jr. As the stories were read of the people lost, their lives and the horror done to them, youths openly wept and people shook their heads in disbelief. The “Say Their Names” went on for an hour. People were welded into a determination to take this out to the streets and to people, to challenge them about which side they are on in the face of this genocide. People took off in a defiant, spirited, and youthful march through downtown, marching down main streets and disrupting traffic, singing “Hell You Talmbout” and other songs and everywhere saying the names of those lost to police terror.
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