The New Situation: The Murder of Michael Brown, the Resistance of the People, and the Month of Resistance

September 1, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


The defiant outpouring of resistance to the police murder of Michael Brown has radically changed the face of society. What has been revealed by this struggle? What new situation exists? What new challenges does this pose to revolutionaries and to people more broadly who seek real justice? And how does the upcoming October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation!, called by Carl Dix and Cornel West, and taken up by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, along with many other groups and individuals, relate to all that?

What Was Revealed by the Murder of Michael Brown and the Resistance to That Murder?

Ferguson, August 18, 2014. Photo: Li Onesto/

Michael Brown's murder revealed, once again, that the cold-blooded murder of African-American, Latino, and other "minority" youth by police is not an isolated incident but "business as usual" in America. The resistance to the murder of Michael Brown forced society to confront the truth that every year hundreds of youth are shot down in the same way, and nobody is ever punished for it. What does it tell you when millions of Black and Latino youth feel and say that this could have been them? What does it tell you when it gets revealed that these police forces are riddled with openly Nazi operatives and vicious thugs, and that almost all the police down the line support these thugs or, at minimum, will not criticize them? What does it tell you that when people righteously demand justice, the State pens them in and, if people don't like that, clamps down on them with overwhelming and brutal force?

It tells you that this brutal killing and the vicious repression against those who protested it was not an isolated incident, but part of a whole "way of life" that is deeply embedded in this society. It tells you that this comes not from individuals but from the institutions of a system. That system is the "peculiar" form of American capitalism, which is deeply interwoven with white supremacy and racism. In fact, in the USA, you cannot separate white supremacy from capitalism-imperialism.

Resistance and Change

But the last month reveals something else, equally important: that when people defiantly resist they can radically change the situation.

Ferguson, August 18, 2014. Photo: Li Onesto/

First, resistance calls forth the kind of spirit that lies within millions, but rarely surfaces—the spirit of uncompromising struggle. Just this Saturday, August 30, in Ferguson, as demonstrators again defied orders to stay in line, one marcher told reporters that "There is no fear anymore. It's either stand up or die."

Resistance lets the people on the bottom of society raise their heads in hope. Those who are constantly told that everyone hates them learn that there are people who will stand with them, in spirit and actual fact, if they rise up. Resistance breaks up the passivity in the middle class—some "come out of their bag" with their open racism, but others who have been way too silent for way too long feel challenged to come forward in defense of the people, and finally it becomes two-sided.

Resistance puts the powers-that-be on the defensive. Revolutionaries and radicals within this resistance call into question the legitimacy of the whole way things are ordered and organized in society, and it forces the powers to send in their "firemen" to cool things down. As those "firemen"—the representatives of conciliation and compromise with the oppressor—are increasingly forced to "reveal their true colors," and as revolutionaries and radicals increasingly expose how the solutions they put forward to this horrific and totally unnecessary genocidal program of mass incarceration and endemic police murder are in fact no solution whatsoever... it shows to many just how bankrupt their programs really are.

Without resistance, real resistance, the people have no chance whatsoever to force those oppressing them to jump back. With resistance, people can lift their heads, and the possibility of revolution begins to seem more real to many more people.

What Is Immediately Demanded by This Outpouring?

In one word, more. More struggle against this system... more digging into the character of the problem, the causes of it and its solution... more participation in many different ways from many different people in this, especially on the campuses where so much ferment erupted... more mobilization of those at the bedrock of society, the outcast ones who came forward so powerfully in Ferguson... and more promotion of revolution within all this.

All this, taken together, can radically change the way that millions of people see the world. It can draw forward new people into checking out revolutionary ideas, taking on revolutionary values and the revolutionary approach to things, and moving closer toward revolutionary organization. And it can reinforce and strengthen the ranks of the conscious, dedicated revolutionaries and their vanguard.

Within this and at the forefront of it, the struggle for justice in the case of Michael Brown must not be allowed to "die down"—it must not be allowed to be derailed into dead ends of Justice Department investigations, voter registration drives, etc. IN PARTICULAR, THE URGENT DEMAND THAT THIS MURDERING PIG BE INDICTED MUST NOT BE SHUNTED ASIDE AND, IN FACT, MUST BE FOUGHT FOR AND MET—RIGHT NOW! This case is a watershed—it cannot be allowed to be hushed up or "handled by the judicial process." There is no justice in this system—we cannot have yet another instance like Sean Bell or Amadou Diallo, where killer cops walk free; or like Oscar Grant, where the cop got a mere slap on the wrist for shooting an unarmed youth, restrained by handcuffs and face down on the ground, in the back.

What is the Role of the October Month of Resistance in All This?

The Month of Resistance must not only build on the resistance that has come forward in Ferguson, it must broaden it and it must strengthen key parts of it. By the end of October, it must be clear to everyone that there has emerged in this society an active, growing pole of opposition to this genocidal program that demands that it STOP, and that everyone must throw in and throw down on one side or the other.

What must happen to change the direction of this society in one month? In short, exposure of and resistance to the whole program of mass incarceration, police murder, and the criminalization of Black, Latino, and other "minority" youth must jump from every corner of society in such a way that people in their millions are forced to pay attention to this and to confront their role in relation to it. Are they going to let this horrific program keep happening? Or are they going to actively resist it?

Most of all, this resistance must surge out of two key wellsprings of society. The student movement that has been percolating in different ways over the past few years and took a leap, especially at historically Black schools and among Black students more generally, with the murder of Michael Brown—this must go much further. The time is now for students to again become the conscience of society—to again become that force determined to shape the future, to refuse to accept the ways in which the older generation has learned to "go along to get along."

Second, resistance must come from those whom this system has no place for and who have been destined by that system for a life "on the run," hounded and harassed and beaten and jailed and sometimes outright killed by the enforcers of this system. The Black and Latino youth of this country, who have been consigned to prison cells and demonized, must be reached and mobilized to step forward again, and this time across the country. This means really spreading the "blow the whistle" movement deep among this section of people, where whole communities will be blowing the whistle every time the police come around to harass and suppress the people. It means people bringing "the Month" onto the scene of every outrage and every outpouring of protest and resistance. It also means finding the ways for the Month of Resistance to reach into the hellhole prisons of America, where millions have been penned in brutal, sub-human conditions. In all of this, in particular, there will be tremendous meshing and synergies between the work to get BA (Bob Avakian) everywhere into society and actual resistance on the ground.

The forms this takes can and must be many, and we will get into that below. But there must be some key anchoring events to have maximum impact. In particular, this must find powerful expression on October 22 itself, in school walkouts and defiant, truly mass demonstrations all across the country. In addition, there need to be other focused actions, at the beginning of the month, that embody, push forward, and spread the defiant, radical edge that emerged in Ferguson. There should also be political actions undertaken, earlier in the month, even by relatively small groups of people, which make clear that there is a force that is determined now to act boldly in accord with its conscience and to say no in radical terms.

Letting People in on This

To do this, those working on the Month of Resistance will need to marshal and build on significant strengths that do exist, but even more so they will need to "build new muscles"—very, very quickly. There are many people who have stepped forward already, with many ideas and resources, who could play a very active role at all levels of this month. Just going from the people who have signed the call for the Month of Resistance already—at a time when it really hasn't gotten that far out into society—makes clear that there are many people who want to ACT to make this stop. This is a great resource for this new movement, and people must be given a way to act on what they have signed. At the same time, it would be important for this, and perhaps other sharp statements, to find much broader circulation.

There are also all kinds of organizations and individuals who are working on one or another aspect of this problem already, coming from many different angles, who haven't even heard of the Month of Resistance yet! Anyone who is working on this problem and really, sincerely wants to end it should be able to find a way to be part of this Month. This includes everyone from people who are doing literacy classes in prison, to people working in communities to give alternatives to youth who are under the gun, to those who are doing scholarly work, etc. One excellent example of the kind of thing that is needed is the initiative launched by the Reverend Jerome McCorry for a nationally coordinated weekend of sermons against mass incarceration during the month of October. Another good example is the recent account at by a 12th-grade teacher of how s/he got the class to get into the issues posed by the police murder of Michael Brown. Couldn't initiatives like these be multiplied by the thousands? And if this were happening in a way that brought many individual efforts together around a unified message and approach—for instance, if someone were to develop a lesson unit on mass incarceration or police brutality, say, and to call for a day on which classes everywhere took this up—couldn't this have a powerful social effect? And can't a similar approach be taken to cultural expressions, or to bringing forward expressions in the fields of law, health, etc.? All these people need to be reached and drawn into active participation. All of them should be able to play a role in this.

Doing this requires that those at the core of the Month of Resistance be good at and get much better at reaching out very broadly and listening in very active ways and tapping into the now-suppressed desire to take initiative that exists in many different places.

The Radical Edge—Fully in Effect!

At the same time, the uncompromising radical edge that fought to come to life in Ferguson must be brought forward as well, and given much more powerful expression. This has several dimensions to it. Particularly on October 22, but all through the Month—the spirit of the woman quoted at the beginning of this editorial, when defying efforts of self-appointed leaders to rein things in: "There is no fear anymore. It's either stand up or die." These forces must be sought out and further unleashed. New alliances must be forged and old ones strengthened.

Within and influencing all of this, the revolutionary alternative posed by Bob Avakian and the Party he leads, the Revolutionary Communist Party, should and must be in full effect during this month. The film REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, featuring Bob Avakian's historic speech, must get out much more broadly. The T-shirt promoting this film—which began to become iconic during Ferguson—must become widely known in society, and all barriers to its distribution must be overcome. In particular, the efforts to make the upcoming dialog between Bob Avakian and Cornel West very broadly known in society can have a very powerful positive effect on things, even though this is not a "project" of the Month of Resistance (though revolutionaries working on the month should promote it). The Revolution Club must be boldly recruiting through all of this. And in all this—the fact that not only is this genocidal program of mass incarceration and police terror outrageous, but also that the RCP has an actual program for a whole different society where the deeply rooted white supremacy at the heart of American capitalism, as well as the many other forms of oppression that poison this society can finally be torn up, root and branch... and that this Party has a strategy for getting to that new society—must become widely known.

As one key element in building both the Month of Resistance in its own right and in linking it to everything else going on in the world and the ways that all these things pose the need for revolution, must increasingly become a "go-to" website. At the same time, people going to the website of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network need to be able to get immediate direction on what to do and to be able to download materials—including stencils for T-shirts, stickers, and PDFs of other material that the Network develops in the next weeks.

All this will require everyone going to a higher level. But this is the need before us, and if we work together... if we apply science to this task and are good at learning... if we constantly return to what is the source of all this, how it is connected to everything else that is fucked up and backward in society, why it is not necessary and how this can be finally overcome... we can do this.

And we must.


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