A Call for Stolen Lives Days on Campuses and Communities

March 26, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


I’ve been thinking about the Call from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network for NO SCHOOL! NO WORK! STOP BUSINESS AS USUAL! on April 14 and how to make this #ShutdownA14 a powerful message saying NO MORE to the system giving a green light to killer cops! I have some ideas I want to propose for how to build NOW toward making this vision of April 14 a powerful reality on campuses and in communities all across the country.

This must be a day when students on campuses all over the country step up to say NO MORE to the routine, epidemic murder of Black and Latino people by the police. April 14 must be a day when students step up to Shut It Down. To be real, it is in our hands to put an end to this. Not in the hands of the powers-that-be or their spokesmen. And more, when students join with people from the neighborhoods and a wide range of people throughout society to shut it down…this will count for a great deal. Breakouts on the campuses and in the neighborhoods that face horrific brutality every day can awake all of society and mobilize people in both cities and towns to make April 14 a day which will be the beginning of the end for the rampant murder by the police in this society. Again, it is in our hands. In this light, I urge all revcom.us readers to read and think about the Message to Students and Youth of ALL Nationalities.

Many students across the country express the desire and determination to stop murder by police and police brutality but the question is posed: How to go about organizing other students to really step up and act on April 14?

To this end, I would propose the following:

Stolen Lives
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April 1 and 2 should be Stolen Lives Days on campuses across the country. The Stolen Lives poster which appeared on revcom.us (as centerfold in Revolution newspaper #377-378, available online here) brings people face to face with the horrible reality of police murder that is happening in this country every day. Big installations of this poster should appear in key crossroads on different campuses and be spread everywhere through social media. This poster can play a big role in compelling people to act—together—on April 14. With the aim of making the murder by police of Black and Latino people come alive for the society as a whole, students on campuses should confront this poster everywhere—with big installations in the middle of the campus, hung on bulletin boards in departments, dorms, bathrooms…and showing up in unexpected places. Students should be taking selfies of themselves with the installation and spreading them everywhere on Instagram and other social media and going to revcom.us and tweeting the image of the poster and getting it up on their Facebook pages. What happens on one campus should be spread to other campuses in a way that momentum is building.  

As part of these days, parents and relatives of people murdered by police should be invited to the campuses to tell the stories of the loved ones they have lost—and a big deal should be made of their appearance…gathering crowds to speak with them and learn about the reality of what is happening every day, in every city and town in this country.

This image of the Stolen Lives and #ShutdownA14 should become so visible that everyone is talking about, taking a position, deciding where they stand and where they’ll be on April 14.

Those organizing this will find some are attracted to this and want to get involved and others will be challenged by it. That’s a good thing. This is how we can transform people’s thinking and get organized for walkouts and actions on the 14th. Let people know the importance of April 14, what we are aiming to do, and why all those who see the injustice and brutality in this society should be a part of this struggle. Tell people: If you think how Black and Latino people are oppressed in this society is wrong, act on it on April 14. Say to people: it may not be happening to you, but it is happening—and students together with others have a moral responsibility to stand up to stop police murder and brutality. We do not want to live in a society where the lives of Black and Latino people count for nothing, where Black and Latino people suffer every day in countless ways from oppression—and jumping into April 14 can change all this.

I am writing this with the intent of giving students everywhere who feel passionately about the need to stop murder by police the means to organize others to shut down their campuses on April 14. Organizing your fellow students means just that…bringing together a core of people (no matter how large) to build and display the installations, to go out broadly and canvass the dorms with palm cards and fliers for the actions planned for their campus on the 14th, to get on social media and spread the word and discuss: what kinds of actions can be taken on your campus. When campuses everywhere are shutting it down, in wave upon wave, this can be a part of changing everything. And when this goes together with whole neighborhoods and communities taking this up, putting the poster in windows everywhere, and putting before people the reality of what is happening to Black and Latino people across the country and the need to act, this can be a catalyst to drawing in and organizing many, many people to act on April 14.

Then the weekend of April 10, 11, 12 should be Stolen Lives Days in communities and neighborhoods everywhere. Right in the neighborhoods where the occupying armies of police harass and murder our youth, the Stolen Lives poster should flower everywhere—exposing their crimes right in the face of these murderous cops! Display the poster in every window in the projects and homes, posted up on the front window of bodegas and corner stores, posted up in every laundromat, beauty parlor, and barbershop, so everyone is talking about it all throughout the neighborhoods and making their plans for no school, no work, come together and shut it down on the 14th. There should be installations on street corners, posters passed out at the services at mosques and churches in the community, with pastors and imams delivering sermons about the Stolen Lives and the need to act.  

And everywhere getting out palm cards and fliers calling on people to walk out and where to converge on the 14th. Cores of youth from the high schools, parents and people from the neighborhoods—everyone getting involved to get the posters up, get the word out and ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE to come out and stand up in the face of these murdering pigs and be part of ShutdownA14! 

And every time a new outrage happens get out in the middle of the protests with banners and posters for #ShutdownA14. Seventy-eight unarmed people have been murdered by police since January 1, 2015 and many more brutalized at the hands of law enforcement. When Martese Johnson was beaten at the University of Virginia, students poured out on the campus. Wherever outrage like this pours out, be there spreading the word and organizing people to join in organizing for #ShutdownA14. A day when we will draw together all the streams of outrage and fight for society as a whole to say NO MORE!

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