We’re Gonna Be in Atlanta… Making Plans to Step Up Resistance to Police Murder

Updated February 5, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Revolution interviewed people around the country who are planning on attending the meeting the Stop Mass Incarceration Network has called for February 7-8 in Atlanta to make plans for how to take the resistance to police murder to a higher level.

Someone in Ferguson who has been active with SMIN for a few months:

The reason why I’m going to the Atlanta National Meeting is because—the MLK workshop where we’re meeting up—to learn how to shut the country down on April 14. I’m really interested in that. We need to make a step forward. We are going to prepare to shut the country down.

What has changed? Nothing. I don’t see any outlet for Black and Latino people. Nothing has changed. They didn’t prosecute Darren Wilson or the cop that killed Eric Garner. Haven’t done anything to any of those cops. That’s why I’m going to Atlanta to bring about a change.

What would you tell other people about why they should come to the Atlanta meeting?

They should because it’s preparing us for what is going on now. Those cops didn’t get indicted. Nothing been done to any cops who killed people, killed kids. No justice. Come to Atlanta to prepare to wake the country up. Prepare to let everyone know all over the world. Not just Ferguson. Listen and come forward. Nothing has been done. Nothing like this [the upsurge of resistance] has happened since back in the ’60s. There has been thousands of Rodney Kings since the Rodney King incident and still nothing been done. Learn how to shut this country down. Protest without progress is a nuisance. Doing this for nothing. Don’t go down like this.


Dorothy Holmes, mother of Ronald Johnson, killed by police October 2014 in Chicago:

I’m going to let people know what happened to my son on October the 12, 2014 and support other families that are going through the same thing that I’m going through.

It’s getting the word out, letting the whole world know what’s going on with the police brutality and the support from the marches and the protests.

So if there is anything about police brutality they can find out how to get justice and how to get organized and to support the next person who is going through the same thing that they have us in.


Student in Southern California:

[I’m going to the Atlanta meeting because] I feel like it would make me a stronger leader. The Atlanta meeting will inspire me to get more people active. And, the knowledge gained from this meeting will help me take responsibility for mobilizing my campus. I see the importance of this conference in leading people to stand up against police brutality and not accepting it. Not everybody understands that police brutality can happen to anyone. And, most students don’t care about police brutality until it happens to them. Students should start caring and be informed about these topics that oppress people.

There’s been a new form of resistance against the system and police brutality; and this is part of the liberation of humans. We’re going against the system that keeps us oppressed. By protesting we’re telling them that we’re conscious and that we’re not gonna let this continue to happen. And, that we’re going to continue shutting it down until it stops. I feel like it has shaped the U.S. and the whole world to say that we can’t just let police brutality and murder continue to happen. Our resistance is viewed by other countries (a lot of countries) and even as a lot of countries don’t like the U.S.—people see others trying to go up against this system and that compels people to stand with. I do it as a stance for humanity. We’re making younger generations more aware of what’s going on. We can be role models. When I first saw people stopping freeways in Atlanta it was inspiring—although we marched on our campus we could do more and have a much greater impact. Protests can inspire better protest and higher ways of thinking.

It’s really important to go to this meeting because this is a current issue because police brutality continues to happen daily. This needs to be relatable to a lot of students: a lot of students on my campus have not participated in protests and have said, “I haven’t done anything about protesting because I want to get informed but I really want to help.” They tend to be more focused on their education but they need to resist. I feel like time can be a concept. There’s always time for everything else, but this meeting and plans are going to shape society and the future. Police brutality is oppressing people: and while folks try to stay out of trouble—the police continue to oppress people (it’s a way of keeping people in a factory line). So, the more people resisting, the better. We have to take power into our own hands. And act now. Nothing is going to be done if we just wait for justice to happen (nothing is going to change); and the police will continue to murder people. We have the capability of getting stronger and connected with one another. And, this meeting will get us more informed, more inspired to take initiative, to build central leadership, to take control of our lives, and to break the chains of this system.


Person from St. Louis who has been involved with SMIN for a few months:

Why are you going to the Atlanta meeting on February 7-8?

To lend my support and opinion about taking the national movement and the national shutdown to another level. And to say we are not standing for police brutality anymore.

What do you think has changed in society (and in how you yourself see things) through the upsurge of society wide protests in the last several months?

I have always been aware of what’s going on because I was part of the history of struggle against police brutality, discrimination, and taxation without representation. In terms of people around the country and in St. Louis, it’s meant awareness. They became aware of what’s going on. Truth was uncovered. People are now more acceptable to protest and speaking out about something that’s covered up and is now out in the open.

What would you tell other people about why they should come to the Atlanta meeting?

I’ve told others that they should voice their opinions. People have died and fought for them to have a voice. So voice your opinion. I’m telling people that to be silent is worse than being for it. If you’re silent, that’s as bad as being for the system.


From a 34 year old Black woman and college student in the SF-Bay Area
Why I want to go to Atlanta - A request, and a challenge to others
A call has been made. To the activists, the students, the mothers and fathers as well as their children, to the teachers and preachers, to the revolutionaries, to the thug, the homeless man, to the drug dealer, the pimps and the prostitutes, the vagabond, the worker, the dreamer, the realist, the sleeper, the one who is wide awake, to the fighters as well as those who think they have no fight left in them. A call has been made to the people. What will our answer be?

I am answering this call, though I know I am not alone. The other day, after leaving school I met with an activist working with the stop mass incarceration movement. After discussing the current situation of the movements in the Bay Area and how it is slowly subsiding, I was asked to attend this meeting. Immediately though, I thought of how tired I was and how I just got home from a long and tiresome trip through the South. My mind began to flood with present and future homework, and classes I have and about the life I was so happy to get back to. Then my thoughts shifted to Marissa Alexander, a mother sentenced to 20 years for standing her ground against her abuser and that I had spent almost 3 weeks driving through the South marching, teaching, shouting , postering and singing on her behalf. I thought of her life and the life of her 3 children being changed forever because of this system of mass incarceration and I immediately straightened up.

Some people have acquired the gift of forgetfulness. It is amazing to me how one can hear stories about people like Mumia or have the pleasure of reading his books and their eyes travel through the pages and forget the sentiments that should follow. We see Marissa Alexander fighting for her life by standing up to her batterer and then the system. We cheer for her until the news cast is over, and she is no longer relevant. We see neighborhoods shifting constantly with the young men and women who society has thrown away, who we have thrown away. All this and we still forget, or maybe we don’t know the power in remembering or better yet the action that may follow when we unite, and strategize and fight, with courage and strength and wisdom. Because I can no longer forget. I can only remember.

A call has been made and I believe we should answer it with a mindset of changing the status quo. There is a sense of urgency we must have as well as a knowledge that we can sustain this movement. We can change things for the better. I believe that and that’s why I am going. That’s why I think everyone is going. May we all answer that call.


Member of the SMIN steering committee in New York City:

I’m going to Atlanta and I want to meet up with people from all over the country involved with this resistance. We need to keep the momentum going. The feelings about righteous outrage are not just in New York City, but across the country, about the police murdering people of color and getting away with it. We need to keep this momentum going, build national outrage and a day of no business as usual.

What do you think has changed in society (and in how you yourself see things) through the upsurge of society wide protests in the last several months?

Well, since the decision or lack of an indictment in the Michael Brown murder in Ferguson, the people stood up. The outrageous decision by the Ferguson grand jury was an outrage and a sham. We were led by people in Ferguson who said NO MORE. We need to show our outrage. A young Black man was murdered, and people protested under trying circumstances. They were besieged by a military onslaught, and people still stood up. This outrage reached a broad spectrum of society. And there was another non-indictment of the cop, Daniel Panteleo, who choked Eric Garner to death on Staten Island. And the whole world saw the video. And there was no indictment. People were fed up, and they came out in numbers we’ve not seen since the ’60s. This was really striking cuz it crossed all ethnic and racial lines and people were out there!

People need to be part of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network’s call for a national day of shutdown on April 14. We need people who are not just outraged, and people who are not just for justice to come forth, but to have a powerful day on April 14. A powerful day is needed. We’re not having it; in fact we need to ramp it up. We all need to be there in Atlanta—a planning meeting to ramp it up all across the country. We Say NO MORE! No Business as Usual! Shut It Down!


Middle-aged African-American health care professional in Los Angeles:

I am going to the Stop Mass Incarceration National Meeting in Atlanta because I want to get an up-close perspective, get a deeper sense of the atmosphere and climate, on how people from around the country are looking at mass incarceration and police murder and everything that started in Ferguson and spread. I want to learn the level of support, about the strategy for stopping this violence against the everyday people, and what people are thinking. What has changed these past months is that people are becoming more conscious of the violence being perpetrated on everyday people. And people are fed up, quite frankly, and looking for answers. Everyone who wants to get a feel for how people, Black and brown people especially, and how youth see their future in America... should grab the opportunity and be in Atlanta.


Young man in Southern California whose brother was beaten to death by cops several years ago, and whose sister just recently was shot multiple times and murdered by the police:

This is like a monster that keeps attacking your family—and we can’t do anything to this monster. They keep taking your family away. You don’t know when they will take another life from your family—another family member who is close to you. I’m going to Atlanta to support my sister. She’d do the same and more for me. It happened to her, so I will take her place. I’ll represent my sister. I’m going to the Atlanta conference because we need to plan more protests, bigger protests, to stop these monsters from killing more people. These monsters killed two of mine, and I know there are many others.


Chicano artist in his mid-20s in Houston:

I heard about the meeting in Atlanta through a mutual acquaintance who’s been part of the protests here against police brutality. He told me about the meeting and invited me to it. He goes to UH [University of Houston] and is big on this group, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. So I told him great, I’m definitely interested.

I’m going because I support everything the Stop Mass Incarceration Network is doing. I read the Call for the meeting and for April, and want to be part of figuring all this out. We’ve been talking about it, during meetings and other places. I’m a graphic artist, I want to make a piece about what we’re doing, what this is about. Me, I want to help spread a message through art. I think I can do it best that way. Also, I have a couple of friends in Atlanta I hope to catch up with.

People have different preferences of what they can do. I’ve been part of a Hispanic Council, but these protests this year were different. I’m having a hard time putting into words what I think is different. I really didn’t know anything about Michael Brown and that case until it got onto the social media and in the news and you really couldn’t ignore it. Everything that’s gone on has changed things, but in a small way, a beginning way. We’re trying to make it much bigger, even bigger, so no one can ignore it.

I’d tell people, I am telling people, get involved in making a stand if you want these things to stop. I’ve always stood for the Hispanic community. I’ve gone to meetings in New York, and I think this meeting will really add to what’s going on. It makes a statement about how important we think this is, people going all the way from Houston to Atlanta for this. We think it’s important, we want to be part of it. Imagery wise, I want to make an impact with my art, whether it’s posters, T-shirts, whatever. The point is making an impact and changing things.


African-American woman whose younger brother was brutally beaten by Los Angeles sheriffs and left for dead, but was saved by people who found him; he now faces felony charges.

I’m going to Atlanta because I want to support, I want to help stop incarceration, beatings, and killings by police. And I want to hear what’s going on elsewhere across the U.S. and help everyone come together. It’s very important to go to Atlanta! We are not going to stand for what they are doing! The protests all across the country opened a lot of people’s eyes and there is more awareness. But it is not enough. We need to let everyone know: We are here and we are not going away! What I have gone through with my brother—all the violence and corruption—the police keep getting away with it. I say to everyone, join in whether it has happened to you or not. You could go through it, but we have to stop the brutality before that—because if they get away with it, it keeps happening. This is why it’s important to come together, support each other, and shut down business as usual. We got to interrupt their business so it’s clear we are serious. People need to come out—come to Atlanta—before this happens to others. It has to stop.


Marie Martin in Los Angeles, who has a relative who has spent over 30 years in a California state prison:

I am going to the Atlanta SMIN meeting to meet people from other states in the U.S.—people who know police brutality and police murder and mass incarceration is detrimental to people’s rights and citizens’ rights. As many people as possible should come to Atlanta, including from the South of the U.S., where there is a lot of police brutality and murder. Sometimes police murder is more publicized in the North, but it goes on a lot in the South, even if not as widely publicized. It should get out in the media that we are going to the Atlanta meeting to stop the extermination of Black and brown people.

I think a lot has changed because of all the cell phones, cameras, and tablets. People are finding out that people are being killed and incarcerated in alarming numbers. We proved that the protests have changed some laws, like stop-and-frisk in New York. This is a beginning.

Eric Garner was murdered by police, he was stopped and he was innocent. I think it’s a continual thing that has been going on since the Emancipation Proclamation, killing Black people without probable cause. The protests enlarged when more, and more people found out about all the murders and incarceration. And many white people are brutalized and murdered by police too. You can see it online. And as a retired nurse and teacher, I know all colors are murdered by police. The masses of people’s determination is making a difference. It’s been going on all over the world. People are being relentless. Things have to change.


Young Black revolutionary activist in Cleveland, in the movement against police murder:

I’m going down to Atlanta because I’m tired of people getting killed by the police, harassed and beaten just for the color of their skin. This has to stop, I believe. This meeting is going to push things forward and help bring in a new wave of resistance to overthrow this oppressive system. I think people are more aware of the police’s oppressive role against Black people and Latino people. People stood up and said no more and actually are fighting back. Me personally, I see that people don’t listen to the bullshit these cops say or the government say. People are ready to stand up and fight and actually bring about change. I would tell people if you’re tired and sick of this and you want justice, come to this meeting and help plan and build for it to be really about breaking these oppressive chains that shackles people down.


Black revolutionary in Cleveland:

“I want to go to be part of what is being planned for April 14 and what we need to do to get other people involved in the 14th. I see there is no change coming through reform and what the police do is a systematic practice. I see no change of how the police do their job of murdering Black and brown youth. I see no change coming through the system. People need to know about the inner workings of the system and why these practices go on. The only change is for more people to stand up against police brutality and mass incarceration. People should come to understand why this happens and why we need to stand up for this cause. People should go to Atlanta because they need to know what this system is doing and what needs to be done to make revolution. People should go to interact with others in this fight.


Dougie, founder of the Georgia Coalition to End the New Jim Crow and an organizer of the SMIN meeting in Atlanta:

We’ve all been aware of the extrajudicial killings of young Black men and Latinos by the police and I’m tired of living in a nation that is, as Dr. King said, the greatest purveyor of violence in the world and that has a general disregard for human life.

You know, Free Thought Project has been trying to record [police] killings since 9/11. They’ve recorded over 5,000 murders, more death than any other industrialized nation.

It [people being killed by police] has become so commonplace that people have lost their motivation to fight back. It’s not normal! I’m sick of living under a system that has, especially over the last 40 years, de-industrialized, leaving no jobs, and considers poor people insignificant so it has under-funded education. There is no future for the youth. I’m tired of 80 million people living with criminal records and the New Jim Crow’s tied 2.2 million in prison. I’m tired of structural racism and white supremacy. It’s time for people to get serious and take a stand—cause just like Carl [Dix] said, this is a slow genocide. We’ve gotta wake up. We don’t want to wake up 10 years from now and there’s 3.5 million or 10 million or whatever living in prison. This has to stop!

Jasiri X, he came out with that song called “212,” which is the point when water gets to the boiling point and I think that song kind of reflects the emotion—I mean, we’ve seen all of these murders and there’s a complete disrespect for Black life and character assassination that follows. People’s level of consciousness has risen and they’re finally realizing what’s been going on. You went from slavery to peonage to sharecropping and Jim Crow and segregation and then we’ve gotten to 50 years after Dr. King. Many of the people over the past 20 years have started to believe that we are in a post-racial society. People, especially after the election of Obama—people weren’t taking the initiative. Our communities felt inspired and they thought that if they voted they could change things, but I think people are realizing that 50 years after Dr. King’s speeches of “I have a dream” and all that post-racial society stuff, they’re waking up and realizing that we’re in the same position that we were 50 years ago and that the powers-that-be have put a program in place, just like Michelle Alexander describes, the New Jim Crow. People are waking up and realizing that we have to stand up. We’re not going to let our young people be racially profiled, targeted, and people murdered in the streets... and no job opportunities and no future for people. People just aren’t going to take it anymore; we’ve reached the boiling point.

What about you? As far as where you were before Ferguson and the people rising up... how has your thinking changed?

My feelings have changed in that I don’t... five months [ago] I felt kind of isolated and self-alienated and thought that young people were distracted with like what Cornel [West] says, the Weapons of Mass Distraction. I felt like they weren’t engaged, but now I feel inspired. The young people realized after Trayvon [Martin] the injustice of it all. I’m inspired to know that the youth are more engaged and there’s been a whole movement that’s been built just over the last five months and they [the youth] are the future of this movement. In my mind, I thought these young people weren’t in the game or caring about what’s going on, but they completely changed my whole mentality. I thought that they didn’t care, but they care more than we could’ve imagined.

What Carl Dix has said is really true and he’s been at this for a long time. We’re in a critical moment and we could either go one way or another. And I think that too much has been exposed for us to turn around now. It has been too frequent that we get together and mourn [those] that’s been killed by the police and we stay in the streets for a little while and the cops get off and then we go out in the streets about that... It’s gotten to the point where we have no choice, we’ve got to continue to stay in the streets. We’ve got to continue to build up this movement to stop mass incarceration and the murder of young people or it will continue to get worse. If we back down now, the movement could dissipate. And we just can’t allow that to happen.


Aurielle Marie, 19-year-old co-founder of #itsbiggerthanyou:

[I’m going to attend the meeting on February 7-8 because] I think the level of engagement has been emphasized, in terms of how people are willing to be action oriented. In the past, people have been more education and awareness oriented. They know there are these significant problems, but now people are willing to use that knowledge for action.

I originally thought that community building and being involved and engaged in your community might be able to shift things, but now I think maybe that was a minute way to look at systemic oppression. Since Ferguson, I hear this is happening in St. Louis and Chicago, etc. and I realize that’s the same thing that’s happening to people here—people’s oppression is systemic. Since Ferguson I see that the total system is corrupt, you have to attack the system in its totality to get change.

We won’t know all of our possibilities unless we discuss them together, so people should come [to the meeting] and be a part of this to really find out which possibilities actually exist and be a part of contributing to that.


Revolution Club member in Chicago:

Well, I’m going to the meeting in February because, naturally, I go to all the meetings but this is something I feel like I could go to and participate in because I’ve been to Ferguson, I’ve been to New York with the same subject of police brutality. This subject needs to be worldwide and me being a teenager and in the social media as much as I am, I’ll be able to carry the information from there—to all the social media websites and get people to understand because I think as a teen who understands NOW I could really translate to other teens who don’t understand until someone explains it in a better way to them.

A LOT—a LOT has changed. I feel like a lot of people actually woke up and realized that everything is so messed up. There is a lot of police brutality and they finally see that there are a lot of cops that are out here and they are killing people and they are getting away with it. And it’s like it has been covered up for so many years and they felt like, well, “maybe it’s the other person’s fault” and now they see—with everything that is going on, people are finally submitting videos—police killing. It’s waking them up like a fresh batch of coffee.

I would tell people to come because this is something that they really need to know. If you’re not understanding, you need to see it, hear it in person. I know a lot of people can learn by being there—being active in it and they should come down.


Blackson, radio host in Atlanta, The Arena Uncensored:

[I’m coming] number 1, to support and number 2, I want to network with different organizations, so we can support each other. I think coalitions are important.

What do you think has changed in society (and in how you yourself see things) through the upsurge of society wide protests in the last several months?

It added to and maybe questioned the end game... my end game. You know, friends of mine and commonality... I don’t know if that makes sense. I’m trying to find where different organizations that have different agendas... I want to come up with new strategies and work with organizations that can benefit all of this [stopping police brutality, murder, and mass incarceration].

To me, people that can provide—you know, key organizations... because a lot of people are seeing injustice and wondering what they can do, and I think by them coming to the conference they can find organizations with different goals and work towards making a change around police brutality.


Young man from the ’hood in Chicago:

I’m going to the meeting in Atlanta to learn more about the system and why they are treating minorities wrong. Police can do things to you and get away with it but they should be criminalized and have to pay for their crimes like everybody else.

What is changed is I think that Black people are standing up for equal rights and they demand that police should be treated just like everybody else and get just as much time when they commit a crime.

I think people should come to the Atlanta meeting to learn more about how Black people are always being mistreated and why do minorities always end up getting killed and police always get away free-handed.


Young Black high school teaching assistant in Cleveland:

I want to go because I would like to see who and what types of people are involved, what the collective conscience looks like and the people fighting for this issue. I want to see whatever I can do personally and collectively. There will be some interesting materials to pass out to the youth I work with. I think on either side of the spectrum people are pissed even if they don’t know why. I noticed because of the killing of Black people, it has been disorienting to people and the issue of revolution has more focus. My own thinking has changed because I was more angry and not more analytic about it. I am asking people to come to meet like-minded people in this issue and this meeting will help. We can meet with people who are not complacent.


SMIN activist in Ferguson:

I’m excited and honored to roll up my sleeves as a participant in this national effort. The people and organizations committed to this “working” conference are willing to share ideas, strategies, and implementation. We all desire to escalate the struggle to the next level; launching in solidarity upon return to our local communities.

Society wide protests has proven to be more than activities to date since the civil rights movement. International attention and support for change has been echoed on our behalf. It’s ripened opportunity for “advanced” action and historic collaboration.

We can and should do this—Together. Diversity among contributing voices are needed. YOU are the key. There is much to learn and a place for everyone at the table ready to work.

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