Press Conference Denounces LAPD Attempt to Stop People from Publicizing BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

March 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Wednesday, March 13, a press conference was held under a huge colorful billboard for BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! on Crenshaw Blvd in Los Angeles. It was in protest of the LAPD's attempt to forcibly prevent people from publicizing the premiere of the film in the area. For several weekends before the date of the premiere, revolutionaries have gone to the corner of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, talking to people at the bus stops and passing by, and using a sound system and DVD player to connect people with BA on the spot. People have stopped and engaged in lively debates, checked out BA, taken stacks of palm cards and copies of Revolution newspaper.

The last Saturday before the premiere, the LAPD tried to put a stop to this. As a press release about the incident stated, "On Saturday, March 9, in a violation of their legal and civil rights, the LAPD attempted to prevent a group of revolutionaries from distributing information about the upcoming film premiere, BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less on the corner of Crenshaw and MLK Boulevard, [a spot named Freedom Square]. An LAPD officer threatened them with arrest for inquiring what code they were in violation of and six cops formed a phalanx near the literature table." (Read more about the incident here.)

The Crenshaw District was said by a city council member to have the highest rates of homelessness, unemployment and foreclosures in the city. It was also one of the centers of the Los Angeles Rebellion in 1992, and protests of the murder of Trayvon Martin a year ago. In addition to people connecting with Bob Avakian on the street, some small businesses have put posters for the premiere in their windows. It's easy to see why the authorities fear people here connecting with the work and vision of Bob Avakian.

The press conference was not covered by the mainstream media. There were reporters from KPFK, the LA Pacifica station, Our Weekly, a widely-distributed paper with news relevant to African American communities, and Revolution.

The speakers:

James Lafferty, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild LA Chapter
Harry Lennix, actor and filmmaker
Rev. Meri Ka Ra, KRST Unity Center of African Spiritual Science
Michael Slate, writer for Revolution newspaper, host of Michael Slate Show on KPFK FM

Following the press conference, the speakers went down to the corner of Crenshaw and MLK, and helped distribute palm cards – in defiance of the LAPD's attempts to criminalize such activity.

James Lafferty: "I have to think that if somebody from a Disney film was standing where these folks were standing and passing out fliers for a Disney movie, or any other movie in this country today, the police would not have bothered them in any way, shape or form. It's inescapable that it's because of the revolutionary message of this film and of the group that was passing out the literature about this film, that caused the police to react in the way that they reacted. It's inexcusable. And one of the things that we're certainly looking at whatever kinds of legal relief or legal redress would be in order here.

"In addition to that, when this press conference is over today, I think we're all going to be going back to the site of this alleged crime—I intend to, certainly—and engaging in the same activity that was engaged in on Saturday. And we'll see whether the police would dare once again to violate the constitutional rights, the First Amendment rights, of the Revolutionary Communist Party, its supporters, and those who are simply trying to publicize the need and desire of their group to show this movie, the revolutionary movie with a revolutionary message—certainly a message that at a time of great repression, and poverty and homelessness and joblessness in this country is a move that I would think everyone would give a fair listen to."

Harry Lennix: "I just want to say as a filmmaker, to have someone tell you that you cannot publicize a piece of work that you have done and that has taken a considerable effort is an outrageous abridgment of the freedom of speech. Dr. King once said very eloquently that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And so any time that someone is trying to prohibit someone from exercising their free right simply by drawing attention to the fact that a film has been made that people in this time, perhaps more than ever need to hear. I know a lot of people, particularly in this community, have been emboldened by the reelection of President Obama, but just a few short facts about that: At a time when lot of people are taking this as some sort of a tonic for the ills that are besieging the Black community, I know from first-hand experience, being from Chicago and having deep ties to this date there, 532 murders happened in the streets of Chicago last year. One most recently in the month of January happened a mile, or a couple of blocks, frankly, away from where the president makes his Chicago home. No one had anything to say about it.

"So any time I see any such thing, as a person who relies on the freedom of speech, the First Amendment, to make a living, then I have to get involved in that, because this party in particular, Bob Avakian in particular, has vocally, vociferously, vigilantly, defended the rights of the under-served and marginalized communities. And the fact that this film is something that will be used to propagate a message of freedom and hope and true liberty, and that somebody is trying to squelch that, particularly when they're supposed to be protecting and serving us, that's an outrage. And as Jim [Lafferty] said, I cannot sit by idly and let that happen."

Meri Ka Ra: "As a community elder and spiritual leader, my responsibility is the uplifting of the ancient principles of Ma'at, that being truth, justice, order, balance, harmony, propriety and righteousness, as such a form likely to affect our safety and happiness, and that encompasses the highest teaching for humanity and our sharing of the resources of the earth. My hearing of Bob Avakian's platform affirms a high teaching for all humanity and includes a clear message of operative and restorative justice, focused upon the redress of human rights for America's Black citizens. Bob Avakian deserves, and has the right, to be heard according to Ma'at, according to the Constitution, according to the Bill of Rights of the United States of America."

Michael Slate: "This was a show of force and intimidation to prevent the people in South Central LA from finding out about this very important film of a talk by Bob Avakian, described by one of the filmmakers as 'A daring, substantive, scientific summoning to revolution.' This type of harassment has been persistent in South Central LA. It will not succeed and it will not be tolerated.

"Why would the police and the system they serve target the promotion of this film premiere? It’s because they fear what might happen when the people they have pushed to the bottom of society can hear and engage with the ideas and theories of the most revolutionary leader on the planet. It’s because when people see this film they’re going to connect with this leader and the real possibility of bringing into being a radically different world, where all this madness, all the oppression and injustice, all the abuses and degradation that is so much a part of life now, would be done away with. And it’s because the system and its enforcers fear what might happen when the very same people they have demonized, murdered, humiliated and pushed into prison, hook up with a movement for real revolution and a leader who has this to say, 'Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity.'"


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