New from Sunsara Taylor

Calling All Students:
There Is a Need and There is Still Time to Throw in with #ShutDownA14 to STOP MURDER BY POLICE!

April 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


With just days/hours left until #ShutDownA14, momentum is building. Powerful voices of conscience like Alice Walker, Eve Ensler and others are joining with Carl Dix and Cornel West and dozens of families of police murder victims to shut down business-as-usual on April 14th. A buzz in the media has begun. And the whole country just witnessed yet another cold-blooded execution carried out by police against Walter Scott in South Carolina.

At the same time, precisely because the word is getting out so broadly, many people are only now hearing about #ShutDownA14 for the first time. This is very good—and there is a way and there is still time for everyone to throw in with #ShutDownA14 and this will really matter!

How? Just keep reading.

Bay Area High School Students Call for #ShutDownA14

Kenwood Academy (Chicago) students challenge University of VA students to walkout April 14 #ShutDownA14 #JusticeForMartese

NYC College Students Call for #ShutDownA14

“I'm a student and I just heard about this, what can I do?”

Showing up is standing up. So, look up the nearest protest to where you are (find the list here) and make sure to be there. Showing up tells the world you refuse to stand aside as Black and Brown people are gunned down by police. Showing up connects you to others who feel the same way. Do whatever you can to be part of one of the protests planned on April 14th.

“Is that all I can do?”

No, actually there is a lot more you can—and should—do. For starters, you can spread the word to others. Post info about the protest through social media and call everyone you know. Use this logo to make a poster with your local information and post it all over.

Even better: create a Facebook event with a meet-up time for everyone on your campus to go to the protest together.

Best yet: turn that “meet-up” into an on-campus protest and then travel together down to the main protest after that. Not sure how, read the next question.

“What if there is no protest planned in my area?”

Create one. Just pick a time and choose the busiest place on campus. Set up a Facebook event (you can post this image of the faces of people murdered by police, the videos of police murder victims, and videos from Carl Dix, Cornel West, Alice Walker and others) and start inviting everyone you know. When someone responds, ask them to do the same.

“What do I do when people show up?”

There is no one way to hold a protest. In Ohio, students at one school are starting the morning with a teach-in, following it with a poetry slam/speak out, and capping the day with a “surprise action.” In New York City, students at another school will gather on the main walk with posters of the Stolen Lives while taking turns reading the stories of those who died aloud, then they will travel down to the city-wide protest. In Virginia, some students plan to march through the cafeteria calling on others to join on the spot and then hold a rally where someone dressed as a slave in 1850 stands next to someone dressed as a prisoner today.

All you need for a successful protest are some signs that make clear what you are standing for and a plan to be as attention-getting and disruptive as you dare. Holding the pictures of those who have been killed and reading their stories is a good way both to bring alive the issue and to draw people together people who shows up into a group. Marching through classrooms (yes, while they are in session) and cafeterias are good ways to disrupt business as usual. So is taking over a building, doing a die-in, or blocking traffic. Do as much as you can. At the same time, if all you can do is hold the faces of those killed this is still very worth doing!

“What if no one shows up?”

Students in Madison, Wisconsin, protesting police murder of Tony Robinson, March 9, 2015. Photo: AP

While you should work to get as many people as you can, don't be discouraged—and don't call off the action—if very few people show up. Even one or a few people holding up these faces of police murder victims in public, bearing witness, and handing out fliers will make a difference.

In fact, if very few people at your school turn out for this, it is even more important that you represent on April 14th. This is how things change. Someone has to step out first and set a new standard of morality and justice. Everyone who hears about or walks by your protest is going to be impacted by what you do. And everything you do, even if it seems small, will be amplified in its impact because it is taking place together with others across the country.

Having said that, you had better also be prepared for what to do if a lot of people turn out. Think ahead about places you could march together, about chants, and about places you might “die in” to maximum effect.

“Are there other things I can do to have even more impact?”

Yes! Be sure to take pictures and, possibly even video, of what you do and send it in to the Stop Mass Incarceration Network at and to REVCOM.US at Also, ask everyone to wear shirts that represent for your college and make a sign or banner with your school name on it. Take a picture of people holding this banner and if you are coming down to a city-wide convergence be sure to bring this with you. In this way, your impact—and your school representing—will be seen and felt by others around the country. Showing how many schools take part is a critical part of calling forth a new student movement to escalate this fight even after the 14th.

“I care about this, but I am not that informed.”

Educate yourself. Start by visiting, the website of the movement which called for April 14th. Watch the speeches given on April 6th by Carl Dix and Cornel West as well as many of the films of the parents who have lost children to police murder. The website of the Revolutionary Communist Party, which Carl Dix is a member of, has a special page set up to analyze and report on the slow genocide of mass incarceration and police terror. Learn more about how Cornel West sees these issues at:

“What if someone asks me something I can't answer?”

Tell them the truth, that you are still learning about this but you know enough to know it is wrong to stay silent any longer. Tell people why you are taking action, what you do know, and then challenge them to join you in googling the names of the faces on the Stolen Lives poster. And if anything comes up as you are organizing or if you need to after your protest, do not hesitate even a little bit about calling the national organizers number for help (646-709-1961).

“Won't it take more than just protests to stop police murder?”

It will. And within this movement, people have many different ideas about what this will take. To get a sense of this diversity of views—and of some of the different visions of social change all the way up to revolution—check out the Dialogue that happened last fall between Cornel West and Bob Avakian. There you will see a revolutionary Christian (CW) and a revolutionary communist (BA) debating out their differences while also coming together and calling on others to come together to STOP this outrage of police murder as well as other injustices now. Or, watch the speeches and testimony from April 6th which brought together many different perspectives all calling for #ShutDownA14.

“Who am I to organize this protest?”

You are someone with a conscience. Someone who knows right from wrong. It doesn't matter if you are white, Black, Latino, immigrant, Asian or anything else. It doesn't matter how old you are or what your gender or sexual orientation. If you have a sense of right and wrong, you have to take a stand on this issue now. And if no one else is organizing on your campus, then it is the right thing to do—no matter who you are—to step forward and take this responsibility. And if you are worried about your “privilege” and whether it is “your place” to take up this fight, take a few minutes and listen to the pleas from these parents whose children have been murdered by police as they call on YOU to act on April 14th. Read this letter from an ex-prisoner who spent most of his life locked down in a ghetto or a prison as he talks about what a difference it makes for people like you to speak out.

Really listen to what these people are saying, think about what it means if you and others stand on the sidelines as the police continue to kill, and then act on what's right. And don't let anyone tell you its not your place, because it absolutely is.

* * * *

Finally, if you read all this over and would still like some help getting started, do not hesitate to call or write:



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