Double Down on the Moral and Political Challenge Posed by the Stolen Lives Poster

April 4, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


To Revcom:

I was very moved by the letter from the student who attended the dinner honoring the relatives of police murder victims who have stood up against the terror (“Chicago Stolen Lives Dinner: Families Tell Their Stories of Heartbreak, Outrage, and the Fight for Justice“). And I have been moved, and very interested, to read the response to the Stolen Lives Days on campus, especially the letter from Sunsara Taylor, as well as the points from her and others on the response that this has gotten on the streets from people who see their lives on those posters. I have also heard that when relatives of the victims of police murder go out with these displays it adds to the challenge.

It seems to me that we have hit on something very important here. Through this there has begun to emerge an embryonic core of youth on the campus with some moral certitude around this. These youth are willing to stand up and say that MURDER by police is the issue and that this must STOP—NOW. This emerged last fall but the ruling class did work against this, both with coming down with repression and sowing confusion. Going with that, there have been forces in the movement who have pushed for a more conciliatory line—some who say “now is not the time for going into the streets and confrontation” and some who have even said that saying that the police are MURDERING our youth is the “wrong message” and “too incendiary”! (That’s like quitting a fight after the first exchange of punches.) But the challenge posed by the unvarnished TRUTH of this poster and by the people taking this out and insisting on that truth blows that bullshit away and this has begun to change that polarization back, and there are cores—again, small for now, but still cores—growing around it and there is a broader grouping of students who are beginning to be re-polarized around this.

Now is the time, going into April 14, to “double down” on this moral challenge. I propose that committees in the different areas make HUGE panels of this poster, 5 x 7½ feet or larger. One side can be the Stolen Lives and the other can be the poster with the slogan about every city and town has a Michael Brown, with the statistic on police murder of unarmed people since January 1. (Go here for these posters and other material for building for April 14.) Mount these on pickup trucks, now, and drive through the city streets with them. Go into parks, or shopping centers, or busy corners with crews that can pass out fliers as people look at this. People can be enlisted into the movement, right on the spot, with materials and information and ways to stay in touch. Artists can be asked to help build these. Bunches of people can go around with the truck; it can be an “entry level” to be part of the movement. Let the relatives of the victims of police murder know about this and be part of this. New people will get involved, and broader numbers of people will be challenged; they will learn about A14 and the question of actually being part of shutting shit down on A14 will become much more alive and pressing and real to them.

Let me add here that in reading it is plain that there is a mood among masses of “everyday people” that “we ain’t having this shit”—you can see this not only in the demonstrations in Pasco but also in the videos posted from Philadelphia and Cleveland, and the reports of actions in San Francisco. Going out with this truck can tap into and give further momentum, direction, and organization to this mood.

I would further suggest that people—especially students—be encouraged to make 4 foot by 6 foot boards and carry these around with them everywhere, from now to the 14th. When people stop these students, the students can let those people know about the 14th—give them materials that will help them spread it, and ways to get connected. These “Stolen Lives Boards” could have a powerful effect if students on campuses were to do this—even if these boards were only 2 feet by 4 feet, it could have an effect.

With these, and other creative stratagems for active re-polarization, and with real organization to give this coherence and drive, this movement can grow between now and April 14, crescendoing on the 14th itself, and then going from there.

A reader

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