People Must Be Inspired, Mobilized and Organized, Urgently, for #ShutDownA14!

March 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | has put out three reasons why EVERYONE who cannot tolerate the epidemic of murder by police should take part in massive actions all over the country set for April 14—actions that have been called to shut things down all over the country, bringing the “normal operation” of things to a halt through mass political mobilization and action:

These actions will make it absolutely clear that these unpunished murders by police must STOP—and that the whole genocidal agenda that they are part of must be reversed!

These actions will let the world know that this is not just a problem in Ferguson, Missouri, or Madison or Oakland or any of the other places in the headlines day after day. These actions will make clear that this is the reality of America. That this is not a few bad apples or bad departments, this is systemic! And it will be fought that way.

Most of all: these actions will sound a loud call to millions, here and around the world, that there are people determined to STOP this... It will make it clear that there are people—and there is a movement—determined to fight for a future where our youth are not cast off, locked down, warehoused, routinely abused and even murdered—a future where they can instead live with their humanity fully recognized. A movement determined to call on, inspire, and organize many, many others to join in this battle. These actions will say to the millions now agonizing to come out and be part of changing the future!

On college campuses this means that on April 14, the whole campus must be confronted with this reality, it means that this is the topic that students and faculty are debating and being compelled to say where they stand. No business as usual. This might be through sit-ins, die-ins, classes canceled, walking out en masse—there are many forms this can take. Then students would join with others in their area to impact society as a whole.

For this to happen, revolutionaries and freedom fighters everywhere must wage a systematic and concerted fight to organize people and to bring forward waves of new leaders who will also take responsibility for organizing others.

Here is a plan for how we can do this:

1. Real Saturation with #ShutDownA14

#ShutDownA14 must become known everywhere! We need to truly saturate the campuses with word of this—literally tens of thousands of palm cards on a single major university, hundreds of posters, thousands of stickers announcing the day. The goal of this is not merely to let people know about #ShutDownA14, but to make a powerful statement through the sheer volume and tenacity of the efforts to promote this day. The aim should be to create a situation where both the call for #ShutDownA14 and the tremendous amount of determined and creative promotion of #ShutDownA14 become a widespread topic of conversation. This is not only a great way to meet tons of new people, but it is also a great way to involve new people. One of the easiest and most valuable first steps that students and others can take is to slide a flier under every door in their dorm, make “table tents” for the cafeteria tables, hang posters, and spread the word through social media. And, the more this is seen everywhere—and especially the more that hundreds of students are taking up and wearing the stickers themselves and seeing their peers spread this on social media—the more emboldened and less alone those who truly want to Shut It Down will be.

2. People Must Be Compelled to Confront the True Stakes of the Epidemic of Police Murder

Stolen Lives
Download PDF for printing; JPG for web

In broad outreach and in talking with folks we have met in recent months, we must put before people the full scope and horror of the epidemic of police murder and brutality in ways that compel them to feel the need to act.

Even if you are talking to someone you met at a protest, or someone who considers themselves “in the know” about this—take a minute to get them to really live inside the magnitude and scale of the problem. The Stolen Lives poster (PDF for printing; JPG for web) does this. Get these out and get these up, everywhere. They speak very powerfully for themselves.

3. People Need to Know that Their Actions Will Count

Everyone should see the three reasons we started this out with. Print out the PDF of this and get it around. Students, and middle-class people generally, need to hear from people on the bottom how much their actions mean to them—get out the letter from the former prisoner to let them know. People on the bottom have to understand the powerful role that they can play—make sure that they see this letter.

4. Everyone Who Has Expressed Interest Must Be Systematically Reached, Challenged, and Organized!

On this foundation of confronting the real stakes, set the bar where it needs to be—an actual Shutdown on April 14—and challenge and organize students to take responsibility for organizing this on their campus.

It’s great that a lot of people respond positively to hearing about #ShutDownA14, but right now what is urgently needed is for individuals and clusters of people to step forward and take responsibility for shutting down their campuses on A14. They have to not only decide to act themselves, but dare to lead and organize hundreds—and even thousands—of others. They need to pull together a crew that can work together, plan their actions for their campus, and then reach out to all those they can reach to get involved. We must work to give people the understanding, confidence, the concrete steps, and yes—the push—they need to rise to this historic challenge. And very quickly we need to win students to step forward to do this on dozens of campuses—and soon hundreds of campuses—around the country.

Without this, the broad sentiment that exists will not be galvanized. Instead, the moment will pass, these positive sentiments will be submerged once again in despair and apathy, and the police will go on killing and killing and killing, and the rivers of tears of Black and brown parents will continue to flow.

In doing this, it is important to systematically call everyone who has been met in the last six months. On the basis of bringing alive the true stakes, people must be given concrete ways to organize for #ShutDownA14. People should be directly asked, “What are you going to do to make Shut It Down on A14 happen?” People should be given stacks of stickers, posters, and palm cards on the spot so they can begin reaching out. And they should be able to stay in touch with others who are organizing for A14.

5. Students Who Step Forward Must Be Connected with Others Fighting for #ShutDownA14 and Given Ongoing Support and Leadership

Students raise their voices calling for #ShutDownA14

When students and other young people step forward and express the desire to fight for #ShutDownA14, they need to be given the leadership and collectivity they need to follow through. This includes everything from having thousands of palm cards, stickers, and posters, to having someone to call when they run into questions they can’t answer, to having real collectivity with other students who are also stepping forward in new ways to change history on #ShutDownA14.

In a moment like this, one or two determined students can lead something truly monumental, but they cannot do it all alone. They need to see on social media photos and YouTubes of others their age across the country who are fighting for the same thing. They need to see experiences summed up on as well as polemics that take on all the different things they will be hit with. They need to be able to go to the Stop Mass Incarceration website to find materials, to see what’s going on and what is planned, and to join into all this. They need to be getting into the bigger questions of where all this oppression comes from and what it will take to end it for good. And they need to have the ways to connect with—and learn from and enrich—others like them who are stepping up on other campuses.

In addition to and and, one important form for people to connect with each other around the country and take collective responsibility for #ShutDownA14 is the national student and youth organizers’ Stop Mass Incarceration #ShutDownA14 conference calls. (Read an interview with a student who has been organizing at her school and taking part in the national conference calls.) Students everywhere who are stepping forward to be part of making #ShutDownA14 a success need to be mobilized to take part in these conference calls, every Friday afternoon, 2:30 p.m. PDT/4:30 p.m. CST/5:30 p.m. EDT. (Email for call-in details).

6. Last but not least, learn—and talk with others—about the roots of police murder of Black and Latino people, what must be done to end it, the different questions and controversies in the movement, and what this has to do with all the different forms of oppression and the struggles against them throughout the world.

This website——is a rich resource for analysis and discussion of WHY these outrages go on and what can be done about it. It’s also a place where big debates in the movement against murder by police and mass incarceration are gotten into, and where people analyze their experience in building this movement. For starters, check out the film clip from the Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian over why these outrages keep happening, how they should be confronted, and what must be done.

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