Los Angeles and New York City Press Conferences Call on People to Hit the Streets on April 14

April 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On Thursday, April 9, in Los Angeles and Friday, April 10, in New York City, press conferences organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) called on people around the country to act on April 14 against the continuing murders, especially of Black and Latino people, by the police. The press release in NYC said: “Yet another unarmed Black man shot down like an animal by police, left to bleed out in total disregard of his humanity. Caught on videotape. This Must STOP! People are mobilizing. There will be mass RESISTANCE with defiance, courage, conviction and conscience answering a Call put forth by Cornel West and Carl Dix and joined by families of the victims and by prominent voices: #SHUTDOWN APRIL 14!”

In Los Angeles, in addition to a statement from SMIN, Rev. Frank Wulf, pastor of USC United University Church, passionately called on people of all religious faiths to stand up on April 14 with others throughout the country; and Christian Ramirez and Óscar Ramírez Sr., brother and father of Óscar Ramîrez who was shot in the back and killed by Los Angeles Sheriffs in 2014, spoke to the urgency of the April 14 protests.

The next day, La Opinion—the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the U.S.—had a front page saying “Todos Somos South Carolina” (We Are All South Carolina) and featuring a big photo of the April 14 banner with faces of people whose lives were stolen by the police, and had major coverage of the press conference for April 14. Other media at the press conference included KABC Channel 7, Fox Channel 11, Azteca Channel 54, L’Agence France-Presse (AFP), and USC Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism.

At the New York City press conference, Carl Dix—from the Revolutionary Communist Party and co-initiator, with Cornel West, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network—gave the main statement (see video). Also speaking at the press conference were parents of youths whose lives were stolen by police: Nicholas Heyward Sr., Iris Baez, and Hawa Bah. Media covering the event included NY1 (cable channel, which covered the press conference in its 6 p.m. news), Telemundo, Univision, and radio stations WBAI and WKCU.


Listen to audio of complete Los Angeles press conference.

Statement by Rev. Frank Wulf
On Walter Scott and April 14 Shutdown Day, at the Los Angeles Stop Mass Incarceration Press Conference, April 9

It's ironic to me that the murder of Walter Scott happened in the Christian calendar on the day before Easter, the day in between the brutal execution of Jesus on Good Friday and the day we celebrate the resurrection. It's ironic to me because in this so-called Christian nation, this kind of thing continues to take place. We know that what the video shows in Walter Scott's murder is this pattern of behavior in which a police officer kills somebody and then we're normally left only with the police officer's word. And then again and again and again police officers are exonerated for these murders, for these killings. In this particular case we have the good fortune that somebody was brave enough to take a video and then brave enough to share that video. So we are able to see that there was much more involved than just the police reacting to a threat. In fact, the only threat that was present in North Charleston was the threat against Walter Scott. He was the person that was threatened by the police officer from the moment that he was stopped until the moment that he was shot dead. And the planting of evidence was just, for us, one more piece to ensure us that we do not know what happens in most of these police killings. The police version can not be followed, can not always be trusted.

We are left simply with this string of police killings over and over and over again. Black and Brown people are killed in a disproportionate number—a disproportionate number to other people killed by police. People with mental illnesses are killed in a disproportionate number to other people, so-called normal people in this society. People on the margins, people on the fringes, are consistently being targeted. And they're not just being targeted for murder, they are targeted for harassment by police forces. They are being incarcerated at rates that are extraordinary at this particular point in time. As you all know, the United States incarcerates far more people than any other nation on earth in spite of the fact that we are not the largest nation on earth. And the vast majority of those people that we incarcerate are Black and Brown. So we are dealing with a situation that is intolerable.

I, as a follower of Jesus Christ and a Christian pastor in this nation, have to say on the basis of my faith that this must stop. You cannot continue to kill Black and Brown people—in fact you cannot continue to kill mentally ill people or any people, wantonly, in my name. You cannot continue to do it in the name of a nation that claims to be more religious than any other nation on earth, a nation that follows various religious principles that tell us that love is stronger than evil, that love is more important than evil, that love is more important than hate or fear. If that is true, then we need, as religious people, as people of faith,  to live our faith. And we have to say no. That is why I'm supporting April 14.

And I'm supporting the need for us simply as a people, as a people, to stop the system because by not stopping the system we are giving tacit support to these policies, to these practices of criminal injustice that are taking place in our society and taking place in what is becoming more and more of an obvious way. The good news is that it's no longer underground, it's no longer hidden, it's beginning to come out where all of us can see. But now that all of us can see, we have a moral obligation to do something. And from my perspective as a person of faith I'd say we have a religious and spiritual obligation to do something as well. Our faith will not allow us to do anything different. So I'm supporting April 14. And I hope we can get religious people, people of faith out, as well as other people, out on the streets on April 14 to say no.

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