"From Harlem and the Bronx: We are All Trayvon! The Whole Damn System is Guilty!"

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From readers:

June 24—On the first day of opening arguments in the trial of George Zimmerman, revolutionaries and others went to the Harlem State Office Building, which is a busy crossroads and a common place for protest. During rush hour, they called on the people to join in delivering a bold message for justice for Trayvon Martin. During rush hour Monday, a banner made by a former member of the Black Panther Party was the centerpiece of a swirling scene at 125th and 7th Ave in Harlem. Twelve feet long, bright yellow, the banner was stretched out along the base of a statue that is a local landmark. Black and red lettering proclaimed, "From Harlem and the Bronx: We are All Trayvon! The Whole Damn System is Guilty!" with the word "System" stamped over a drawing of a pig outlined with words like "police, courts, media, racist vigilantes, Zimmerman." Bob Avakian's quote, BAsics 1:13, "No more generations of our youth..." written in two-inch-high red letters occupied a third of the banner.

Harlem NY, June 24, 2013: "We are all Trayvon: The whole damn system is guilty"

Harlem June 24, 2013: Justice for Trayvon

There was an initial reluctance to break out of the routine—the day-to-day—and the message that this system hammers into people every day, "You can't change anything," is combined with the official message around the Zimmerman trial: "You can do nothing, it's out of your hands." But the hesitation soon gave way to more unleashed outrage and defiance.

Two people took turns hammering at the stakes of this trial, drawing from BA Speaks: REVOLUTIONNOTHING LESS! to get at the whole history of this country from slavery, to Jim Crow, to the New Jim Crow. They spoke about a slow genocide that could become a fast one, and how revolution and nothing less is needed. The Revolution Club member spoke very directly to the youth. He said that it was Bob Avakian and beginning to see a way out of what this system does to Black and Latino youth, to women, to the people of the world that had changed his life. He challenged people to demand justice for Trayvon and learn about this revolution. People listened. A young Arab man listened, signed the banner, and listened some more.

It was the grandmothers who were the first to speak out. A woman got up out of her wheelchair as she spoke. "This was no self-defense! George Zimmerman already had it in his mind to shoot that boy when he stepped out of that car. We calling for justice!" Her words were bitter and seemed to be wrenched from deep inside. Another grandmother joined in: "People got to be willing to stand up for this or it's open season on Black youth. It is genocide. We cannot rest until he [Zimmerman] serves his time. What he did is criminal." A woman who had received an email to be at the corner held an enlarged Revolution centerfold comparing the murder of Trayvon to the murder of Emmett Till, and she struggled with others to stop and hold up the posters with Trayvon's face on them.

A segment of the adults who stopped to talk felt that George Zimmerman will be let free. "That's what they always do," one man said. With pain and anger, many went on to talk about bitter experience after bitter experience in their personal lives and in infamous cases like Ramarley Graham, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo. Some recalled the outrage felt when the cops who were caught on video viciously beating Rodney King to within an inch of his life were found not guilty.

"I'm so glad to see you out here." This was said in one form or another by many people.

All up and down the major street, 125th Street, people talked about the trial, and the stakes, is revolution possible, what is communism. A vendor pointed people toward the plaza where this scene was unfolding. A supporter of the revolution stopped in a McDonald's as he was leaving school and overheard youth talking about what they had written on the banner.

One woman in her 50s who had signed the banner early on and bought a copy of Revolution and a Trayvon poster said, "I think this is to the point where it's God that will have to solve it." She went to talk about how the youth are caught up in bs. "We need more like him," she said, pointing at the Revolution Club member, a young Black man who was standing on the base of the statue, holding a life-size cutout of Trayvon and agitating to the crowd.

The scene began to blossom not long after this conversation.

More and more people stepped up, including a significant number of the youth with their pants sagging. One woman said, "I think we're too quick to judge these young people. We can be too self righteous." A group of young men stopped, one wrote: "I ride 4 Trayvon. We won't live this way." He and two friends wanted to know how it would be possible to take on the power of this system. They stayed for a while and wrangled over Fight The Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution, and the kind of leadership we have in BA. They want to get BAsics, the manual for revolution.

A group of high school youth in uniforms were being hurriedly shepherded through the area by their teacher. "Keep going, keep going." When the teacher was challenged to stop and let the class sign the banner, he responded that he had to get them to the subway. He took a stack of the BAsics 1:13 quote cards and handed them out to the students. Another revolutionary shouted, "This system has drawn a target on your backs, just like Trayvon." One student, a boy 14 or 15 years old, bolted back to the banner and signed it. Then another group of students escaped the teacher's supervision and hurried back to the banner.

A door was beginning to open and the deeply felt anger at the long chain of abuse of Black people, and especially the attacks on the youth that is concentrated in Trayvon's murder, began to pour out. Well over a hundred people wrote messages on the banner.

Dozens of people were holding up their phones and taking pictures of the enlarged Revolution centerfold "No more generations of our youth...," the sidewalk chalkings of "Revolution—Nothing Less," and "Justice 4 Trayvon," the banner and moving on to the 11 x 17 poster with the picture of Trayvon in a hoodie and "We are all Trayvon! The Whole Damn System is Guilty!. Don't Let Zimmerman Walk Free!" and revcom.us. People were eager to send these pictures to friends and family, to spread a message from the people in Harlem on this opening day of the George Zimmerman trial.

It was hard to leave as people kept coming. "When are you coming back? I'll be here. We have to do this." Plans began to be made for bringing forward the most powerful statement we can, and building resistance to every effort to have people accept anything less than justice.

What happened on Monday was a little like widening cracks in a dam that allowed some water to start pouring out. Here are some of the things people wrote on the banner:

"We have to show that this is no longer acceptable." "Stop the killing of our youth." "George Zimmerman in jail for life!" "Put him in jail. From Harlem, NYC. The boy had no gun only food!!!" "Stand for something or fall for anything!" "Make the world a better place It is time. It's on it's way. Love not War." "We want justice now, No more Emmett Tills killed for being Black!" "We will not live like this." "Live on with us." "This ain't living, stop the killing." "Straight up murder did you hear him scream." "Stop the abuse of women! We can't live this way!! Stop the killing of our youth and poor people around the world!!!" "Time 4 Change" "Make a Difference!" "REVOLUTION!" "As a parent a child should be free of pre-judgmental individuals. Justice should be done as it was committed." "Children need to know they are safe in the streets!" "It could have been any of us. We are Trayvon." "RIP Trayvon—It's not right," signed by an 11-year-old. "God will deal with ignorant people." "Stand Up and Fight!" "This is not forgotten!" "I call justice and it will be taking place for Trayvon Martin." "Our Black Youths are Dying too Soon." "We must fight and stand together." "My sons are Trayvon. He lives on in all of us. Love and Peace. Harlem Mom" "Trayvon Martin should still be alive!" a nine-year-old wrote while her mom and grandmother watched in amazement.

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