Revolution #138, August 3, 2008
"There Ain’t No Calming Down!"
People Stand Up to Chicago Police "Surge"
On July 25, protest erupted on Chicago’s South Side against a wave of police brutality, and shootings and killings by the police. People went up in the face of what Chicago city authorities are calling a police “surge.” By calling their wave of police terror a “surge,” the authorities are purposely evoking the brutal U.S. occupation of Iraq—but on the South and West Sides of Chicago. Just between June 11 and July 5, Chicago police shot 12 people (all Black and Latino) and killed six of them.
Among the victims of the Chicago police shooting spree was Jonathan Pinkerton. He was planning to go to college. But that didn’t stop the police from shooting and beating him. Jonathan turned 17 in the hospital. (For the story of the police rampage, see “Trigger Happy Police … and a Criminal System,” and other coverage of these shootings in Revolution #137, available at revcom.us).
The Chicago police “surge” comes amidst official hysteria over “crime,” and there has been confusion among the people as to who is to blame for youth violence directed at other youth. The reality is that both the wave of police shootings, and the conditions that have driven youth into desperate means of trying to survive, come from the system.
As we wrote in Revolution last week: “Yes, it is terrible—and it is a CRIME OF THIS SYSTEM—that the youth are driven to shoot at and kill each other. It is terrible—and a CRIME OF THIS SYSTEM—that they internalize the message they get every day through the worthless schools and degrading conditions and sneering brutalizing cops—the message that this system has no future for them, and that they don’t even deserve a future—and then act it out, against each other.” (See “MAYOR DALEY SHOULD TAKE HIS TALK OF ‘RESPONSIBILITY’ AND STICK IT UP HIS ASS!” at revcom.us).
How did the system put people in this situation? When Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party were getting youth out of the bad shit they were into, and into the revolution—the system lashed out by murdering Fred Hampton as part of a play to crush the revolutionary movement. It was the system that moved nearly all the jobs out of the inner cities and flooded the ghettos with drugs. It is the system that enforces deeper segregation for a whole section of the Black masses. And it is the system that created a void that the gangs were allowed (and to a large extent encouraged by the powers) to fill. More police flooding the communities, jacking up youth, and shooting people cannot in any way be part of a solution to the desperate situation youth face!
In the midst of this police siege on the people, a statement from a forming Chicago Revolution Club called on people to get in the streets and fight the power through mass political resistance, with these demands:
STOP THE MURDEROUS RAMPAGE BY THE CHICAGO POLICE!
STOP THE “SURGE” IN POLICE TERROR!
INDICT, CONVICT AND JAIL THE KILLER COPS!
THIS SYSTEM IS GUILTY AS HELL!
On Friday, July 25, there was a very important beginning rumbling of resistance. People in Chicago’s South Side took a courageous stand, sending a message that this is not going to go down like this. They were brutally attacked by the Chicago PD, and they refused to back down. In the aftermath of the protest, the struggle continues.
The story below, of what happened, was submitted by a correspondent in Chicago.
Friday, late afternoon—A warm summer day on the South Side of Chicago. In the midst of Chicago’s self-proclaimed “police surge,” and in the aftermath of 12 shootings by Chicago police in a one-month span, the people had had enough. On a large intersection in Englewood, a couple hundred people stood up to police intimidation, humiliation and terrorizing, called the police out as murderers, and by the end of the night an estimated ten people had been arrested and brutalized.
People were coming home from the funeral services of 19-year-old Bennie Ross, who was reportedly killed during a game of dice. There was a gathering for a repast for Bennie on the neighborhood basketball court—people were in mourning and some of Bennie’s friends and other youth were trying to start up a game of basketball. This basketball court is well known as gang truce territory where everyone can play. All of a sudden, police showed up and were blaring their sirens. They tore up pictures of Bennie and other parts of his memorial, calling him a “little fucker” and told people they had to get off the court, claiming there had been a threat of a drive-by. They called the youth “nigger bitches” and said, “Fucking monkeys, if you want to play, go play in the trees.” They took away the basketball and pushed most of the people off the court. Outraged, some of the youth and others in the neighborhood gathered up and marched back onto the court. In protest, a couple of kids started playing ball anyway. And then the cops started grabbing people up and arresting them.
One woman told Revolution, “The police officers started this whole incident, everybody else was just standing around. They started at the school. They started blocking the kids off just for playing basketball. The kids was playing basketball and they just, you know, blocked that. But the kids still wasn’t doing anything to ’em, you know. They was just walking and still talking, you know, that was it. But the police officers started the whole incident with the fighting, you know, and the whatever. You know, they started it. And it’s a shame.”
This was just too much disrespect. People began calling out the police, gathering on the sidewalks and into the street, holding up the cover of the Revolution newspaper #137, and pointing to the picture of Jonathan Pinkerton, paralyzed by the Chicago police. Copies of Revolution were everywhere and the youth, from young shorties up through older teenagers and both young men and young women, were holding them up in the face of the cops and saying, “this is what you do”, “we know this is you” and “murderers!” Others grabbed up posters with the names and pictures of recent victims of police shootings, including 25-year-old Devon Young, who was killed by the police just a few miles east of this incident.
One woman said, “So it was peaceful, you know? They should have just let it be peaceful, you know?”
But this is not what happened. Instead, police swarmed into the protest and began grabbing and beating people who were calling out this injustice around the basketball court and doing exposure about the murderous rampage of the Chicago police, including Hank Brown, correspondent for Revolution newspaper, a couple other supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party, as well as Prisoners of Conscience Committee Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. (son of the Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton who was murdered by Chicago police in 1969). Many of the protestors were beaten, and one ended up in the hospital. It meant something to the youth that revolutionaries of different nationalities and different ages were out there standing together with the Black youth, outraged about the unjust and unprovoked arrests; the youth chanted together, “Let them go, let them go!”
After some of the arrests, and completely without warning, the police brutally pushed out, threatening people with tasers, chasing people, arresting and beating up any young Black men they could catch.
Funds are needed urgently to mount a legal defense for the protestors:
Checks or money orders can be sent to:
Please make the checks out to David Thomas, Attorney and write “Englewood Protestors” in the memo line.
Two blocks from the protest scene, cops smacked down and arrested a 20-year-old as well as a 14-year-old who had just left his house to see what was going on as protesters ran from the police through his yard. A relative told Revolution “My cousin, all we see is everyone’s running this way or whatever, and so he’s just walking from the house or whatever and he gets right there to that alley right there. One of the police officers just pushed him down, pinned him and shit with a billy club or whatever. The other police [making fun of] him like he ain’t shit, you know what I’m saying? He wasn’t over there. He just left. He just left.” Another person told Revolution he had been trying to help the police chill things out and the police beat him with their sticks anyway.
But despite the brutality, the mood was defiant and joyful—people had stood up. When the police helicopters flew over the crowd, everyone laughed and gave them the middle finger.
A group of young women trying to figure out what had happened to their male relatives continued to demand of the cops, “Where he at?!” The police sergeant, who had witnessed and overseen all the beatings and brutality told the people, “Y’all just need to calm down.” And the people responded, “There ain’t no calming down, y’all just jumping on people! Ain’t no calming down!”
As we go to press:
The day after this night of powerful resistance, there have been rumors of police retribution, including beating up Black youth who rightly stood up. Revolutionaries and protestors have been slandered in the Chicago Tribune, after being beaten and arrested. A group of people now face numerous charges.
But the initial resistance must now be built on—and spread much further—setting forward a different dynamic in the city. These outrages and abuses from the police must not be tolerated or accepted, and we have to set a different tone especially in the oppressed communities where the police have to think twice before shooting down our youth in cold blood or beating people. People from all walks of life—from different strata and neighborhoods need to come together now to take up the political battle to spread this struggle and defend those who’ve been attacked for standing up, and spread the truth about all this far and wide.
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