Los Angeles: Standing up Against the Police Murder of Richard Risher, Jr.
August 15, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From the Revolution Club, Los Angeles
Richard Risher, Jr.
Richard Risher, Jr., 18 years old and full of life and fun, was murdered by LAPD on July 25—shot and killed while running away from them. His family and friends gathered for a vigil the next day, remembering Richard and sharing their pain. His mother, Lisa Simpson, decided she had to act to publicly call out this crime and refuse to go along with it. Together with the Revolution Club, on July 29, Richard's family and friends got into the streets of Watts, marching from Nickerson Gardens to Southeast police station.
About 30 people either marched or drove directly to the police station for the speak-out, including Richard's girlfriend and other young women friends and relatives. Some of his relatives brought beautiful signs they made with pictures of Richard and messages of love. At the beginning, as people gathered, the Revolution Club showed some video clips of Bob Avakian and talked with people about why the police keep getting away with murdering Black people and the need to stand up as part of preparing for an actual revolution to overthrow this system at the soonest possible time. We encouraged people to speak out themselves over the bullhorn and we spoke about the leadership of Bob Avakian, the science and strategy developed for making and winning a revolution and leading a whole new society, and called on people to become part of the Revolution Club and getting organized for revolution. The first to speak was Richard's seven-year-old brother, who simply said quietly, "Why did the system kill my brother?" Richard's father also spoke very movingly, pointed to the faces on the Stolen Lives poster and called out the police as the real terrorists.
In front of the police station, Richard's relatives spoke out and his mother demanded answers. One person who had come to march was trying to get people to talk with the police, and the cops had their own "community" cops acting the part of "concerned well-intentioned officers trying to help." In Nickerson Gardens, LAPD has for some time been using "community-based policing" to try to build up a base of snitches and collaborators and create the kind of political terrain where police have free rein to carry out brutality and murder. The Revolution Club called this out over the bullhorn, ridiculing the idea of community police there to serve and protect while in reality they are getting you to go along with the terror they keep carrying out.
Some of this was illustrated well by the scene in front of the pig station. A line of police standing in front blocking the entrance, some gathering behind with riot gear, and a line of police on the rooftop, while a "community" cop comes out to apologetically say he doesn't know anything. People spoke out emotionally in front of the police station. Richard's seven-year-old brother again spoke. This time he said quietly into the bullhorn, "My brother never took me to the park to go play and now he's gone," and he broke down crying. His aunt screamed out over and over again, "Why did you kill my nephew?!" And his father again got on the bullhorn, "You guys are the terrorists. You're killing us and shooting us down every day. So why are you coming out here in riot gear for women and children?"
Several days later, Richard's mother organized a second march, this time in downtown L.A. to the LAPD headquarters. Friends and relatives of Richard who had not come to the first march but heard about it decided they had to come to this one, and overall the march had a tone of more determination and defiance. Again the Revolution Club helped to lead the march and put forward the need, strategy, and leadership for actual revolution and the challenge to get organized for revolution. When the march arrived at LAPD headquarters, the family decided to stay in the intersection demanding the police chief come out and tell them why the police killed their son. Together, we all blocked the intersection for about an hour while higher-level pig after higher-level pig came out to talk to Lisa and all said they didn't have anything to tell her. At the same time, police lined up in tactical gear on one edge of the intersection.
Cars were stopped, and a relative of Richard sat down in front of a semi and then later jumped on top of a van waving a shirt with Richard's picture so all could see. Some people nearby stayed to listen to the agitation. At one point, there was controversy about whether the Revolution Club was "endangering the lives of Black people" by standing in the street with the family. The reality is this system kills Black people every day, and when people stand up against that they should be backed up and supported.
Throughout the occupation of the intersection, people who were part of it were strengthened and emboldened. The Revolution Club repeatedly spoke over the bullhorn to expose the crimes of the police and the workings of the system that are the cause of it to all listening, calling out the non-answers of the police, their lies and justifications, the way they always need to "investigate" when any other person who shot someone would be in jail immediately, and the way they tell you to "let the system work" when this is the system working, pointing to the need and possibility for revolution, what a new revolutionary power would look like and the role of the police in a new society. Friends and family of Richard also repeatedly came up and spoke.
The march back after leaving the police station was even louder and more boisterous as a car full of young women accompanied the march, bumping the Ceebo the Rapper song "Fuck Tha Police," hanging out the window and singing along with the chorus.
Richard's funeral is this Thursday and his family is collecting donations for funeral expenses at https://www.gofundme.com/2gsue38.
Fighting for justice for Richard Risher. Photo: Special to revcom.us
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