Hoodie Day–Crenshaw District, Los Angeles

June 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From a reader:

A very spirited and determined rally and march was held in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles for National Hoodie Day. Led by the slogans "We Are All TRAYVON!" and "The Whole Damn System is Guilty," 70 people "hit the streets" on Crenshaw Blvd. during rush hour traffic and brought business as usual to a virtual stop. The march went up and down Crenshaw Blvd., in the street the entire way, impacting many hundreds of motorists as well as people on the street. Crenshaw Blvd. is a major thoroughfare in South Central Los Angeles and the Crenshaw district is an historic and present-day commercial and cultural hub of Black people in Los Angeles.

The march was warmly welcomed and embraced by the masses up and down Crenshaw. People came out of storefronts to give fist salutes and take pictures, and cars by the dozens honked their horns in unity. The march was covered by the LA Times, a picture appearing in the Tuesday edition under the heading "Jury Selection Begins in Zimmerman Trial" with the photo caption of the Leimert Park event described as "one of a series of nationwide demonstrations." TV channels KCBS 2 and KCAL 9 and Telemundo 52 also reported on the protest, as did KABC 790 Talk Radio.

Leading up to the march, speakers from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and the Revolution Club South Central led a short rally to cohere the crowd and convey to the marchers that any chance at justice in this case is up to us in a real sense and any chance for justice will require a major struggle from here on. Speakers contextualized the Trayvon Martin murder, that it is part of a systematic program of suppression that includes 2.3 million in prison and the torture of 80,000 people in the U.S. prison system through long-term solitary confinement. With the George Zimmerman trial, will this system have its way—imposing its verdict that the life of a young Black man is worth nothing? Or will there be a different verdict—in the court and in society—because WE SAY NO MORE: that "open season" on Black and Latino youth won't be tolerated by millions of us from throughout society, that we say NO to the murder of Trayvon and NO to all the racist murders of youth by vigilantes and police and NO to the mass incarceration of 2.4 million people? We had something powerful to declare on this day about which outcome we will fight for.

Joe Veale, a veteran comrade of the Revolutionary Communist Party, gave an impassioned speech to set the tone, and the context, for the march. Joe spoke of the children being swept up into gang databases. Of how such gang databases are one way the school to prison pipeline begins, how these databases are in every major city, and this is how the massive incarceration campaign of Black and Latino people leading to 2.4 million in prison in the U.S. has gone down. Joe talked about how all this brings to mind what happened to Joe's own family back in the 1960s. Joe's 12-year-old brother was arrested and sent to California Youth Authority (CYA) for defending himself against a physical assault by a teacher. This was his brother's first encounter with the police. His family was powerless to do anything about it, and his family's anguished compassion and love for his brother meant nothing to the judge and court. At that point, as Joe Veale said, Joe's brother's life was over and he went in and out of CYA for several more years and at 18 took his own life. Joe spoke to Trayvon Martin's murder and asked "How Long…" will this nightmare of oppression and brutality go on, and spoke to the power of Bob Avakian's "new synthesis of communism" as the road out of this nightmare.

We took off on the march, determined to be out in the streets powerfully on National Hoodie Day, and to stay in the streets until there is justice, clear that what happens in the trial of George Zimmerman is NOT a settled question and that we should not forget there would not even be "a day in court" if it wasn't for the people acting in their tens of thousands last year.

People had come to the protest ready to "hit the streets" and march: they'd received leaflets on Crenshaw in the weeks leading up the event and at recent high school graduations, and some had heard about the march through radio programs on the local Pacifica radio station. Masses took to the bullhorns and held up the banners. Some seriously, and joyously, ran up and down and on both sides of the street all along Crenshaw Blvd. during the march, rushing up to cars, passing out information on the battle for justice for Trayvon, and what is at stake with this, and called on everyone in their cars and walking on the street to "join us."

And some youth came off the street and joined this march, hitting the streets with us. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network led the march, Revolution Club members—many emblazoned with "Revolution—Nothing Less!" t-shirts (promoting the new DVD film of Bob Avakian's talk) led the marchers in chants "Trayvon did not have to die; we all know the reason why; the whole system is guilty!" and "Trayvon's killer can't go free, stand up, get in the streets!" and the Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc brought a colorful cultural punch to the march. We don't think a march quite like this has hit the streets on Crenshaw in quite a while! One woman said "There needs to be marches all around the U.S… this (Trayvon Martin) is not the only one… it made national news but this is not the only one… we still live in a racist country and Black men are still being screwed by the system." Another person spoke out: "we need to protest, and make our voice heard. ...they should not be murdered for having a hoodie on or walking through their neighborhoods."

At a concluding rally, Rev. Richard Meri Ka Ra Byrd, of KRST Unity Center for Afrakan Spiritual Science, spoke, as did a representative of the Revolution Club Los Angeles, and statements of support came from Blase Bonpane, Executive Director of the Office of the Americas, and writer and journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan.

An attack by a small but disruptive group of extreme narrow nationalists was launched during the concluding rally. Pure and simple, these narrow nationalists were upset that a diverse group of people were standing up to demand justice for Trayvon and by carrying out this attack made clear they oppose people standing up to resist and fight to stop racist murders of our youth! They did all they could to stop people from getting organized to stop murders of youth like Trayvon, interrupting speakers, and at one point launched a physical attack on the stage. The MCs on the stage rallied the masses at the event to stand up and defend this event and rebuff this attack, repeatedly stressing why we were there and why this matters. The people at this event, who had just completed a significant march, wanted to hear the speeches from special guests, and weren't going to and did not tolerate this effort to break up and wreck this event. This attack was outrageous and these forces were disruptive and they did prevent important speeches from being fully delivered, yet their attack was not successful, and the rally continued, including with an emphasis on getting organized to build the muscles of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network throughout the country and in LA.

Through the day, it was made clear we were acting in concert with people throughout the country who had taken up We Are All TRAYVON! National Hoodie Day actions in New York, Sanford and Jacksonville , FL, Dallas, TX, Cambridge, MA, Twin Cities, MN, Milwaukee, WI, the Bay Area and Fresno in Northern CA, and in Cleveland, OH, Detroit, MI and Chicago IL. Today we made clear, and we let the powers-that-be know, that people will not be silent, that we are not going to stand by and tolerate the racist murder of Trayvon Martin or anyone else, whether from racist vigilantes or racist police departments throughout the country.

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