Blow the Whistle Day

Updated March 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


East Oakland: Blow the Whistle!

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network put out a call: “Blow The Whistle On Brutal, Murdering Cops! Mobilize For A Day Of Blowing The Whistle On Brutal, Murdering Cops On March 14.” In response, actions were held in New York, Los Angeles and other cities around the country. Many hundreds of whistles were passed out for people to use: When you see the police harass and brutalize one of our brothers or sisters, Blow the Whistle! Alert the community and the police that we are not going to tolerate this brutality and murder.

The following are reports, correspondences, and photos we've received from some of what happened on March 14 at Blow the Whistle Day.

Chicago: Still cold but some signs of spring on Blow the Whistle Day

From a reader:

The cold weather is keeping people indoors too long into March! But what happened in one community on the south side of Chicago is a sign of the times. This is a park where the Revolution Club in Chicago has done work before. Earlier in the week the revolutionaries got out whistles and a little flyer—on one side it explained about blowing the whistle on police brutality and April 14—Shut It Down. On the other side is a call for all different street organizations (sets, gangs), Latino and Black, to put their guns down for A14. A young man who hangs in the park and is now running with the Revolution Club went back the day before Blow the Whistle Day and reported that the stickers were up and people were wearing their whistles still.

On Blow the Whistle Day, there were not many people out in the park. So they decided to do the skit—one person donned an ugly pig mask and grabbed a young Black female member of the Revolution Club. Others started blowing the whistle. Now here is the COOL part. People came out and stopped their cars and got out. Some of these people did NOT know there was a skit being acted out—they heard the whistles and came out AND they were blowing their whistles. Exactly what they need to do when a PIG messes with someone.

In this neighborhood people say, "I get it. We should organize ourselves to do this. We are calling the community on the police." An 11-year-old reported she blew the whistle on the police and the police threatened her and took her whistle. (The Revolution Club is going to ask First Defense—a legal organization that goes to the jail whenever it is called for anyone arrested for any reason—to put up a billboard near this park, something they do as part of their project. This way everyone will know who to call if the police mess with them for blowing the whistle.)

There was a group of women from Indiana who gave their contact information and filmed the skit.

Driving around later in the day in a decorated van, the Revolution Club spotted a basketball court full of Black and Latino kids, which is unusual given the segregation in Chicago. The game stopped as everyone listened to two young members from the Revolution Club. The crowd put on the whistles. The youth were taking pictures of the decorated van and were really interested in what this was all about. The van drove off to the sound of whistles.

Another really good suggestion from a Revolution Club member: always have clipboards to sign people up. We need them to do this better but also he stressed that even HAVING A VISIBLE CLIPBOARD tells people that we are there to "sign people up"—we are serious.

Atlanta: Outpouring of Sadness, Rage, and Defiance

From the Revolution Club, Atlanta:

Between 100 to 150 demonstrators gathered at the Chamblee Heights Apartments in front of the memorial for Anthony Hill, a 27-year-old Black man shot and killed by a white cop in DeKalb County (in Metro-Atlanta).

Members of the Atlanta Revolution Club and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network visited the neighborhood the day after Tony's murder and led an impromptu march through the neighborhood with dozens of residents. Afterwards, residents and organizers made plans for March 14.

Atlanta, March 14

Atlanta, March 14

Atlanta, March 14 Photos: Special to

March 14 was an incredible outpouring of sadness, rage, and defiance against the endless murder of OUR youth. The crowd was multinational and multigenerational. This was very significant. Tony was one of the few Black residents in the mostly Latino neighborhood, but he was loved by everyone and that was evident on March 14.

News cameras gathered as we marched through the complex and into the main road outside of the complex. We chanted in both English and Spanish. The people were on fire and unafraid. The Stolen Lives banner led the march right behind a group of middle-school-age skateboarders. Kids and parents carried signs with pictures of Anthony Hill as people blew their whistles at the growing numbers of police arriving on the scene.

For nearly two hours, we blocked all six lanes of traffic as police tailed along both in cars and eventually a helicopter. As the march headed back toward the apartment complex where it was planned to come to a close, police swarmed in, yelling at people to get on the sidewalk. Within seconds, the cops grabbed a young Black woman with the Revolution Club. The crowd started blowing their whistles loudly and yelling "Let her go!" More and more people came into the streets as the cops continued to shove, tackle, and handcuff demonstrators. They arrested seven people, which included several members of the Revolution Club, a 14-year-old girl who was friends with Tony, and her mother, who is currently caring for a newborn baby. All were charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction and were released on bond within 24 hours.

According to residents, since the protest, police and investigators with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (who were assigned to investigate after the officer shot Anthony) have been going door to door asking questions, confiscating cell phones, and creating a general climate of fear amongst the mostly immigrant community. Despite the police effort to intimidate the people, many who we have spoken to (especially the youth) say they are ready to SHUT IT DOWN on April 14.

See local news report on the March 14 action.

Harlem, New York City

From readers:

New York City, Blow the Whistle Day
Blow the Whistle Day in Harlem, New York City, March 14. Photo: Special to

"They kill us!—so fuck these cops!—blow the whistle!—right here it stops!" That chant rang off the walls of West Harlem on Saturday afternoon. It was raining, but the NYC Revolution Club and others went through the streets of Harlem, blowing the whistle on police and getting out stickers, fliers, posters, and whistles, and signing people up to get organized for April 14 Shutdown Day and to retake the offensive against police murder. 

There was no mistaking what this was about. We carried a huge poster saying “STOP MURDER BY POLICE!” with the images of 44 victims of police violence, and a bright yellow banner saying “Harlem Is Ferguson; Ferguson Is Everywhere; The Whole Damn System Is GUILTY!” We carried and got out to people on the street posters based on the video of the police holding down Eric Garner, but depicting the murdering beasts with the heads of pigs.

So you can bet people stopped and looked! People in cars driving by stopped and called for materials. “BLOW THE WHISTLE WHEN YOU SEE THE POLICE!” “I’ll do that,” people on foot and in cars responded.

Rain still coming down, we began a rally. The father of Ramarley Graham, an unarmed 18-year-old Black man murdered in his own bathroom by the police in the Bronx in 2012, was there. Graham’s murder, and the system’s exoneration of the cop who killed him, still burns like a scorching iron in the hearts of people, and the fearless and steadfast resistance of his family is an inspiration to everyone in the struggle against police murder.

It wasn’t but a few minutes before the blue-jacketed “community police” came out to threaten us for using a bullhorn because we didn’t have a sound permit. As they gathered their forces, we organized our crew and other folks in the area to blow the whistle on them. It created quite a scene that attracted even more people. Eventually, the police backed off and we finished up the brief rally and orientation to go out, spread the word, and organize more people.

A patrol of seven of us struck out along 125th Street, the main street in Harlem, and then headed up to the housing projects on the west side of Harlem. Along the way we got out fliers and whistles, some in bundles, and signed up people on the spot to take part in these outings, and to get with the revolution and the movement to shut shit down on April 14.

A young woman said she’d been attacked by police and showed us the scar on her head. A young man working in a pizza shop came running out demanding materials and signing up for the movement. We asked him for a donation. He went back inside and presented the team with a whole order of pizza bread sticks. A young woman—the friend and neighbor of a woman whose son was murdered by police and who is active with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network—with a bunch of kids came to the rally and took an entire bag of whistles for her kids and to take to her family and friends in the Bronx.

Hundreds of stickers went out that people loved, showing hands up in the air and “Tuesday April 14 STOP MURDER BY POLICE! #ShutDown A14”  

We stopped in front of a shelter for young LGBT people, where gay and lesbian youth who are routinely harassed and brutalized by the police gather. A young transgender woman told us of being followed right to the door of the shelter by pigs, harassed and verbally assaulted.

A young Egyptian man, a photographer and journalist, met us along the route and stayed with the group the whole way. It turned out he had attended the Dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West last November. When we talked about blowing the whistle as a part of organizing and preparing for an actual revolution, he said, “In my country the idea that a revolution could happen in this country is fantastic, and the idea that anybody is actually organizing and fighting for it is incredible.” He walked with us throughout the afternoon.

A young African man said, “It’s important what you’re doing here. When you do it here you should go do it somewhere else.” When we asked where else, he responded, “You need to go to other countries and do this.”

Over the course of the day, 400 whistles went out based on people uniting with BLOWING THE WHISTLE on police brutality, and nearly 50 people signed up to be part of this battle in an organized way. ON TO April 14!

Brooklyn, NY

Correspondence received by Revolution Club, NYC and forwarded to

Brooklyn, NY Blow the Whistle dayPhoto: Elaine Hargrove

I just did a bit less than an hour of picketing in the Midwood neighborhood in Brooklyn, on Flatbush, with a sign that said "We do not need policing. We need a healthy world." It was a thrilling experience. I felt so much love for my fellow citizens. I felt I was doing something right, spreading hope and a bit of light, feeding positive dissidence and resistance, stimulating solidarity. Spreading the idea that the problem is not criminality and criminals, it's policing and the sick world it defends that creates them. I did not get arrested. Nobody said bad things to me. I had many smiles, some worried gazes from people who seemed to think I was a bit too reckless (goes to show you we are not in a democracy). Most people seemed to really appreciate. I was told "somebody has to stand up," and "make your banner bigger," and "you don't want to come with me for a ride, baby; show me your face, you look cute." Hahaha! I felt that every citizen was my friend; I felt fellowship with all these unknown faces because we are together, here, at the street level, human beings, together.

Ah! Activism feeds the love I have in my heart, redirects my anger and my pain in a positive way, it helps me feel less powerless and have more hope.

Los Angeles—Southern California

From readers:

Blow the Whistle Day, Los AngelesPhoto: Special to

March 14 "Blow the Whistle on Police Brutality and Murder" got taken up on Skid Row LA, in the neighborhood where Ezell Ford, an unarmed Black man, was murdered by LAPD last August; in Bakersfield, by those protesting the Bakersfield police murder of David Silva and many others; as well as in other spots in Southern California.

On Skid Row, Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) activists, Skid Row advocates, people living on Skid Row, and others met at the sites of the LAPD murders of homeless "Brother Africa" and Carlos Ocana (killed March 1, 2015 and May 24, 2014, respectively, by the LAPD). The contingent also "Blew the Whistle" at the Metro Division of the LAPD downtown. The murders of homeless "Brother Africa" and Carlos Ocana are two of the nationwide spree of police murders of homeless people in the U.S., which includes the heinous beating and murder of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton, California on July 5, 2011, and the military-style police execution of James Boyd in Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 16, 2014.

Hundreds and hundreds of whistles were passed out to people. Many conversations were held with groups of people living on Skid Row, explaining how to use the whistles and what difference it will make to have each other's back. We told everyone this was a national day, building up toward April 14 Shutdown Day. Christian people, who feed hundreds of homeless in downtown LA, put a whistle and the flier for March 14 in the dozens of sack lunches they passed out to the homeless.

A woman sitting behind a sewing machine set up on the street got a whistle. She has lived there, in a tent, for a year and a half. A couple of years ago, she was brutally beaten by cops in Indiana, who deliberately broke her leg after her son was arrested. Now she is homeless; she can’t use her leg; she can’t walk far; and she’s in a tent. She works across the street as a volunteer, and she does free sewing for the homeless. “This is what I’m doing; giving back to the community.” About the whistles, she said, “I think it’s a great idea. It’s a great way to call for help. You just blow the whistle. [She blows her whistle to demonstrate.] We need to put a stop to [police killings]. Something needs to be done. They’re killing too many people.” She plans to get the extra whistles to others. And April 14? “Yes, I heard about April 14th. I’m looking forward to April 14th. We’re gonna shut down everything. Shut it down. We want justice.”


From readers:

The local SMIN chapter decided to go into two neighborhoods to spread the word about A14 Shutdown Day and the Blow the Whistle on Brutal, Murdering Cops campaign. We got out about 130 whistles, collected some money for them, and got out a few hundred A14 fliers.

The first neighborhood was in the middle of a Black community. The second was at Moody Park, on the Northside, which is a mixed Black and brown community. Moody Park was the site of the rebellion in 1977 after the cops who murdered Jose Campos Torres were convicted after a massive struggle, but fined only $1 for Jose’s murder.

The rallies included local SMIN chapter members, local activists from the community, others who have been involved in the struggle around police brutality, and revolutionary communists who linked this to the need for revolution and the importance of the premiere of the REVOLUTION AND RELIGION film on March 28. An 85-year-old Black woman who is well-known for her in-your-face attitude towards the system spoke several times on the bullhorn. She summed up the action as good, because it shows that people are still fighting and it gives people hope. Several people from the community responded, taking note of the February 22 Tamir Rice Day that took place here. [12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by Cleveland police on November 22, 2014, and there were actions nationwide on February 23, 2015 calling for justice for Tamir and other youth killed by police].  So there is a growing sense among some in the community about this movement, and interest in participating.

People really liked the idea of the whistles as a form of bringing people together to stop police from brutalizing and murdering people. In one housing project, the response was electric, with dozens of youths immediately taking up the whistles and discussing how they were gonna use them. One woman who took a whistle was close to the family of Jordan Baker, a young Black man murdered by Houston PD, and whose murderer was let go about the same time Darren Wilson in Ferguson and the cops who murdered Eric Garner were no-billed in NYC. 


From readers:

Cleveland, Blow the Whistle DayPhoto: Special to

A small team of us took whistles into an area where people have been brutalized and killed by the police and many people got whistles along the street, in barber shops, and in cars. At one point, 90 percent of the people we approached got whistles. A Black man who knew Kendrick Brown, who was killed without warning by police in the area, got a whistle and said, “I see it [police brutality] all the time. I know what it means.” A carload of Black women pulled up, heard about A14 Shutdown Day and the need to build a movement to STOP the rampant police murders, and got out money for whistles. There is a feeling in the air that the killing of Black and brown people must stop, and people liked the idea of blowing whistles as a way to build resistance. As we summed up the day, we all got a sense that the movement of blowing the whistle can grow, especially among the youth.

San Francisco Bay Area

From readers:

Like a whirlwind, Whistle Day whipped through three different basic people's neighborhoods: the Mission District in San Francisco, the Fruitvale area (near Fruitvale Station where Oscar Grant was killed), and 73rd Ave. area of East Oakland.

Throughout, the "no pig zone" skit was performed in all these neighborhoods. With a veteran supporter of the movement for revolution and a member of the Revolution Club as performers, the people in the streets were often drawn into becoming performers themselves. Youth on skateboards, Latino and Black street vendors, mothers doing shopping, and youth just hanging on the corner participated. The skits started with a pig threatening the crowd, "Let me see some ID," putting hands on someone; and then ended with the people blowing whistles and pointing fingers at the pig and chasing him off the block. At one point, a woman got so carried away, she kicked at the pig (!); and in this way many people were learning HOW to use the hundreds of whistles we distributed that day.

In the Mission, a march with whistles and 20 people took off to the neighborhood where a Guatemalan immigrant, Amilcar Perez-Lopez, was recently murdered by police; and whistles were blown throughout the neighborhood and people joined in the action right at the site of the murder.

In East Oakland, a march of 20 or more people was led by the Revolution Club, joined with some of those from the Fruitvale area. The march began up the street toward the Eastmont police station. All along the way, motorists honked their support and some people in the neighborhood joined in the march as well. Whistles were distributed and instructions were given to the youth on how to use them in case of pig harassment. 

East Oakland, March 14East Oakland, March 14. Photo: Special to

On the following day, Sunday, at a block party in the Fruitvale area, whistles were also gotten out broadly. A woman with her kid came up to our table and said that they had seen us the day before and had gotten whistles then. And when police suddenly appeared and hassled members of a car club (arresting one), some of the people began blowing whistles while a member of the Revolution Club addressed the importance of not tolerating police abuse (let alone murder). As part of this, she promoted the need to prepare for April 14 Shut Down Day, while palm cards were passed out advertising for the upcoming premiere screening of the film of the Bob Avakian/Cornel West Dialogue in Berkeley (and online).


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