Bringing Revolution to the Ramarley Graham Protest

February 17, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution interviewed two members of the NYC Revolution Club who were part of a team that went out to the march to a police precinct in the Bronx on February 2, the one-year anniversary of the police murder of Ramarley Graham. The following are excerpts from the interview.

Revolution: Can you give our readers a sense of how the Club took out the message of revolution and the premiere of the film of the new talk Bob Avakian Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! to the protest?

Noche: We went as part of the call to mark that day as a day of struggle, part of the month of struggle in February, to the Bronx, where the murder of Ramarley Graham actually happened. We started sending this message and getting this out before we got there—on the way there, on the trains. We were on public transportation, and agitating and selling Revolution newspaper. It's been a year since the murder, and there's been no justice. But what has been going on, with another year under this system continuing to grind up lives? The continuing genocide that goes on with the murders of Black and Latino youth and the imprisonment of millions... wars... the destruction of the environment... the war on women. Nothing less than revolution is what's needed to put an end to this. And we put out that the Revolution Club is building this movement for revolution. And with this film coming out in March, people are going to have the opportunity to hear from the leader of this revolution speak about why nothing less than revolution can deal with all these problems and how we can actually go about making that revolution.

In a half hour we sold about 30 to 40 newspapers. And we did stir up conversation about not just what had happened with Ramarley Graham, though that was part of it, but also what's the problem and what's the solution. Including one woman trying to argue that we're all "sinners" and we need to repent and pray. We took that on right away—this is how they keep people enslaved, they got us thinking that things like Ramarley Graham happen because we're all sinners and it's our fault and we need to pray. But Bob Avakian says we don't have to live this way and we can actually end all this—and that's going to take revolution and nothing less. We got the whole subway car going.

J: Part of the orientation we went out there with is to struggle with people to really get with this, and challenge the different frameworks that are out there from the standpoint of revolution, nothing less, is going to get rid of all these problems that people face every day. So it definitely was a moment that sharpened up a lot of things in terms of people's frameworks: could we do this or can't we do this within the framework of the system and the confines of it? We're coming in there, in the midst of all these different frameworks and saying revolution, nothing less, is going to get rid of all this. And as the brother was saying, on the way up, a half hour on the train, you could feel the impact that orientation had, and people looked at this differently when we posed it that way. So this is a big part of the way we're actually going to be doing our work in the upcoming period leading up to this film.

After you get off the train, you gotta get out in the streets. It was a protest, and how we entered that was from the standpoint of revolution, nothing less, and that led to a lot of sharp struggle. There were people in the protest that weren't revolutionary, people that were looking for some different way out of this, looking for a way, you know, that these kids could get stopped getting killed by the police and this kind of thing could get stopped happening, but it wasn't from that standpoint. So it was very polarizing for people. We had an interesting day.

Revolution: So you went into this protest against a real injustice, the police murder of Ramarley Graham, and it's right for people to fight against that, but there were people with different kinds of, as you said, frameworks out there that aren't about the real problem and real solution. What did you do, and what was the response?

Noche: Well, there's different levels to that. One was that there was a diverse array of forces out there as part of this, for different reasons and different perspectives. We were there also with a contingent from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, saying this needs to be part of this month of struggle and not just marking another day going by where there's no justice. The way the front page of Revolution newspaper put it was, "It's up to us." There were some people there who said that what was needed was to vote for this or that mayor or to pass this or that legislation or maybe to get more involved in the community affairs police. So there was a lot of stuff that was straight-up bullshit. We were saying no, what that day needed to be was a day of struggle. But where does that struggle need to go? Yes, justice for Ramarley Graham. But even the family has said this is not just about Ramarley, it's about all the youth that this happens to. And if you actually want to do something about that, you need a revolution and nothing less. That wasn't popular [laughs] necessarily amongst everybody there. There was contention around both of those things: whether or not this was going to be a vigil and a march that was actually going to be about fighting around this; and people were putting forward a lot of bullshit about what's the problem and what's the solution. People argued about whether or not the sagging pants was part of the problem. So the question of problem and solution came up because of what we stepped in there with and what we were projecting: revolution and nothing less being a cohering thing around the Club.

I got a chance to speak at the rally at the police precinct. I talked about how the police work overtime to make it clear to everybody what they're out there to do, which is not to protect and serve the people but to protect and serve this system. That's the problem. All this stuff about how with Obama everything's changed... is bullshit. The whole history of this country has proven that, from slavery to Jim Crow to now the New Jim Crow. And projecting that this revolution is real. The Revolution Club is here, building that movement for revolution. And in March, people are gonna have a chance to hear from the leader of the revolution lay it all out, why revolution, nothing less, is the solution, and how you can actually make that revolution. And right after I spoke, people came up to us—"What do we do?" There was one woman who came up and said, I'm so sick of what goes on. In my country (she was from South America), if people have a problem, we do something about it. She was raising up different questions about what people could do in a Third World country and what can you do here, and how do you actually go about making revolution in this country. We put out that pole out there. And even the dude who was saying some of this nonsense about sagging pants came back to talk to us, because he actually does hate what happens to people. He had a whole wrong and fucked-up view and framework of what's the problem and what's the solution. But when it was clear that there was a coherent message being put out, some people were drawn to that. The point wasn't to say something that everyone can agree with and be happy that we said. Including some people who were like, oh, they're just about Bob Avakian, they're not really about this struggle. People had to relate to what we were putting out, attack it or seek it out.

J: Coming off that, the orientation wasn't, we're going to go out there and say the most crazy, radical things in opposition to what people are saying, you know what I mean? Just for the sake of opposing what other people were saying—that's not what we went out there to do. We went out there to sharpen this struggle up and pose to people, what is the actual reality? That was the point. What is the reality? What is the problem? It's the system. And what's the solution? Revolution. That was one of the chants we were saying in the streets out there that day. Which is interesting, because it was part of struggle between different lines, the chants. We were coming up very creatively with different chants during the march; we even got the bullhorn for the chants.

Revolution: What were some of the chants?

J: One was the one I referred to: "What's the problem? The whole damn system. What's the solution? Revolution." And then another was, which really got sharp around what Noche was talking about: "I sag my pants. I rock my hoodie. NYPD, keep your hands off me." There were different forces that were like, what, you can't advocate for people to sag their pants. Then we had a whole struggle around that: what is actually the problem? It's not the problem that people are sagging their pants. What is the actual problem? The system and what it does to people and how it keeps people under these conditions. And the solution to that is actually revolution. So we were coming up with chants creatively and there was a lot of struggle in the crowd around that. It's not like everybody was against us or something. There were people who were feeling, like Noche said, they hate the way things are. That was the reason people were down there in the first place. Because they hate what happens to the youth all the time. It wasn't just about Ramarley Graham. In larger overall ways people hate what happens to people. But people have a lot of different ways they think what the problem and solution is, you know what I mean? That's why you have to come in there with some reality and science, with what the actual situation is. And then pose to people, what's the solution. Now that's going to be polarizing to people. It's not something that people sit around and think about and deal with every day. So we have to come into things with that.

Noche: Just to add to that. In addition to learning from what was accomplished, one of the things people should learn is, when you do something like that and open things up, that is an opportunity you have to be looking for, how to maximize. Which we're still trying to sum up how to more maximize, but including things like putting directly into people's hands ways they can start to go to work on making revolution, which we didn't do. Like that person who came up and said, "What do we do?" There's conveying and projecting and breaking down the strategy for revolution and what we're doing in an overall sense. But one of the things we have to get better at is more actually giving people ways to be part of the movement for revolution right now, including things like giving people ways they can take up right away to make this film premiere a big deal.

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