Building for April 14 Shut It Down:

“Stolen Lives” Truck in Harlem with 3 Days to go: “We're on the FRONTLINES”

April 12, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From NYC revcom correspondents:

A truck has been touring New York City for the past few days decorated with a 7x14 foot banner with portraits of the faces of 44 of OUR brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, OUR children—all of them people whose lives have been brutally stolen from them—from us!—by the police. The truck’s banner makes it very clear next to these 44 faces: STOP Murder by Police. SHUT IT DOWN! Union Square 2PM Tuesday April 14!!

Harlem, April 11

Harlem, April 11

Harlem, April 11 Photos: Special to

On Saturday, this huge portrait of 44 stolen lives made its way west to east across the main artery of Harlem, 125th Street! Stopping at major intersections where—for a hundred years and more—making and changing history has been debated, by artists, authors, activists, and everyday people—today, with the Revolution Club and April 14 Shut It Down! organizers. Some who came out had just met up with A14 at the Monday night EMERGENCY gathering with Cornel West and Carl Dix, and others stepped up and joined right on the spot, and made plans together with A14 organizers for now through Tuesday.

Hundreds of selfies were taken with the huge portrait of the 44—mostly in group shots as people studied and grieved and raged at seeing those lost, and came together determined to stop this. Activists invited everyone to step forward and be part of spreading the word widely: “Because you know this, you feel this, and you hate it! It must stop!” Whole families, young people, old people, people from all over the world handed their cameras to organizers and each other to take group pictures. Over 10,000 palmcards, thousands of stickers, and hundreds, maybe even thousands, of poster-size reproductions of the Stolen Lives 44 went into hands taking them across Harlem and New York.

Harlem, April 11

People spoke with rage and pain about day after day, over and over, seeing more of our people being beaten down and killed like animals: the cop shooting down 50-year old Walter Scott in the back; 10 San Bernardino sheriffs piling on to Tase and beat 30-year old Francis Pusok as he lay face-down on the ground. People poured out their own stories of being beaten, arrested, losing a brother to the police, seeing the police pile into 18-year-old Ramarley Graham’s house in the Bronx and learning later that evening he had been killed... People gathered round to sign up and get materials “Can I get one of those posters? How much does it cost? Can I take four for the lobbies in my apartment complex? ... for the counseling meeting I’m going to ... my library ... my school... my church ... I’m putting this up at my job, and if they mess with me, I’m gonna be back here with you volunteering full-time!”

Almost $400 was raised as people were challenged to recognize, and contribute to, the impact of the faces of these 44 touring NYC on this truck AND being made into a huge stop-everything construction for Tuesday, April 14 as part of shutting shit down across the country.

A musician who had just met up with A14 organizers on Monday and came with them to the EMERGENCY meeting with Cornel West and Carl Dix gave an hour-long, high energy, galvanizing performance of his signature song about police brutality, “We’re On the Front Lines,” woven together with Samuel Jackson’s “I Can’t Breathe” song challenge and syncopated A14-SHUT IT DOWN. People stood and sang TOGETHER, contributing a vibe that was inviting and encouraging and joyful, while very serious.

Harlem, April 11

Why did all this burst out on this beautiful sunny day in the streets of Harlem? Because the image of these 44 faces tells the truth in a huge and unmistakable way about what people are forced to live with, day after day. Because it announced by its scale and boldness the seriousness of building a movement to STOP this—and within this atmosphere activists invited everyone to step forward themselves and increase their own active participation.

When have we seen people singing together, with beauty and joy and defiance, on the street? (Hint: in the fall and winter, North America, when thousands of complete strangers poured into the streets because they refused to live in a society that is sanctioning the genocidal killing of its Black and Latino young people... and many can never forget feeling that close to so many human beings at the same time.) Today voices were filling the Harlem air well beyond this famous thoroughfare, “I can hear my brother saying ‘I can’t breathe’, Now I’m in the struggle and I can’t leave,” and, “We are walking targets...We’re on the FRONT LINES...” “SHUT IT DOWN—A14!”

On Saturday, thousands heard and FELT the message “we won’t go back” and dozens, even hundreds, pledged to organize the many thousands more they are reaching out to. Organizers doubled down on plans for knitting together organized networks by phone, email, texts—strategizing and working with people stepping up to make A14 happen in the two days remaining. Again, the guiding words from the April 8 editorial: “When people give you their names, you have to stay in touch… you have to introduce them to others in their school or neighborhood and help them mesh… you have to listen and think and draw them out as they tell you what they’re running into—positive and negative, clarifying and confusing—and work with them to make sense of it all and traverse it. Even in the short time remaining, there is a need to work WITH people… solving problems together on how to reach out… and through that, laying the basis for this thing to really take off as the days get closer.”


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