Taking A14 to the Chuy Garcia Election Night Event

April 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From readers:

A crew of us in Chicago went out to Chuy Garica’s election night event, April 7. He ran as a “voice of the people” against–and lost to–Rahm Emanuel, the cold-hearted present mayor of Chicago. We didn’t go there to talk to people about elections, and almost no one we met there wanted to talk about them either. We went there to challenge people about what they needed to be doing NEXT Tuesday, April 14, which is shutting the whole country down to end police murder. And huge numbers of people did want to talk about and get involved with that.

We started out in front with a big Stolen Lives banner, calling attention to it, challenging people with what it concentrated, and getting out materials and taking names of people who wanted to get involved. This was a progressive crowd. The majority were Black or Latino, with quite a few younger folks. So the message of “April 14–Shut It Down” struck a strong chord among many, including white people. People are closely watching the news and a number told us of their outrage at the recent police murder of a 17-year-old Black youth (shot in the back) in the northern suburb of Zion. Others spoke out about the video that had just gone up online of a cop shooting a Black man in the back in South Carolina. One important way we connected with people was calling on them to take pictures of themselves with the Stolen Lives banner and posting them on their Facebook pages. Quite a few stopped to do this. In a particularly powerful video, a Black student poured out his rage after just hearing about the South Carolina murder.

After an hour or so, people stopped arriving and we talked about calling it a day since everyone was bone tired. We had gotten a good response, distributed a lot of lit, and made some good videos. But someone said “let’s take this inside” since the event was open to the public. The police had already messed with us and forced us away from the main door and out onto the sidewalk. And there were signs posted on all the doors that no backpacks or signs on wooden poles were allowed. But our banner was not on poles and we had big pockets and purses for materials, so we decided to give it a try.

And that was when the fun really began. We unfurled our banner and started passing out material in the large hallway right outside of where Chuy was making his concession speech. It only took a few minutes for the police and building security to show up and tell us to stop. Instead, we started to agitate louder and called on people to start taking pictures–which a number did. We argued that this was a political event open to the public and we were here with a vital political statement that everyone needed to hear. There was a tense moment. More people stopped and pulled out their camera phones, we kept agitating and passing out material, and a whole crew of enforcers huddled off to the side. Then one of them walked over and said we could stay, as long as we did not block the hall.

Then things really took off. A sister from Ferguson, who knew Michael Brown as well as the revolutionaries who have been down there since August, stopped by and was just beside herself with excitement at seeing us. She made a video of herself with the banner, gave everyone big hugs and said she would be in the street in Ferguson on A14. Soon people began to pour out and it was all we could do to connect with everyone who was interested. Our crew repeatedly chanted “Every city, every town, has its own Michael Brown. April 14th—Shut It Down!” as the agitator called on people to get out their phones and take pictures of the banner and post them with #ShutDownA14. Literally dozens of people stopped to do this.

A number of people told us that they had already heard about A14, some said on Facebook. Two high school students said they were already planning their walkout for April 14. Others signed up to be organizers. And before we knew it, every single piece of material had been distributed. As we left, a white woman who is deeply drawn to A14 and had been talking to one of our crew told us “how much I appreciate what you are doing.” We made a slight correction—it’s “we,” not “you.” She laughed and said “yes”—followed by hugs all around.

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