New York Meeting Calls for Rise Up October—To STOP Police Terror

June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Editors’ note: After the May 26 meeting to call for Rise Up October to Stop Police Terror, had the opportunity to talk with Carl Dix. This article is based on that conversation.


On May 26, 80 people met at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City at the invitation of Dr. Cornel West and Carl Dix to discuss a proposal for Rise Up October to STOP Police Terror. There was wide-ranging discussion among families of people who have been murdered by police, high school and college students, religious leaders, representatives from justice-based organizations and unions, and numerous activists.

Coming off the meeting, a call was issued for Rise Up October to take place on October 24, 2015, in New York City. The aim is nothing less than changing the whole social landscape in the U.S. to the point where a growing section of people all over take ever-increasing initiative and make it unmistakably clear that they refuse to live in a society that sanctions this outrage, and where those who do NOT feel this way are put on the defensive.

The meeting opened with presentations by Carl Dix and Cornel West.

Dix made the point that “this is a crucial moment, with high stakes for both sides. On the one side, there are the people who are determined to stop this [and] who have been standing up. But the authorities are doubling down, unleashing their cops to commit murder and giving license to law enforcement to carry out the kind of savage brutality and torture that the slave-catchers carried out on people who escaped from slavery.”

In the week leading into this meeting, murdering police went free all over the United States. In one case, in Cleveland, a judge acquitted the only policeman charged in the horrific murder of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, a Black man and woman. Thirteen Cleveland cops shot 137 bullets at their car, 23 bullets hitting Russell and 24 bullets hitting Williams. Yet the judge acquitted the one cop charged because he said he could not determine which of the cops fired the fatal shots.

Dix said there is genocidal repression coming down and genocide is the answer of this system to this situation. OUR people, human beings, are being shot down and our humanity demands we stop it. The call is for people to continue the resistance and struggle this summer, to spread and intensify it, and to bring it all together in NYC on October 24. “We have to answer this challenge! Hundreds of thousands need to be in the streets in NYC this fall with a very simple demand: STOP police terror.”

Cornel West recognized the significance of holding this meeting at Union Theological Seminary, where there is a history and present-day struggle to keep alive the spirit of revolutionary Christianity and concern for “the least of these.” He said we must “create a sustained social movement that focuses on the vicious legacy of white supremacy, especially as it manifests in police terror against Black and Brown brothers, and we are as concerned with Black and Brown sisters as with brothers.”

“We’re at a moment now in the history of this American empire,” West continued, “when ordinary people are waking up, especially Black ordinary people. White supremacy has always been not just at the center of American capitalism, but it has been the lightning rod. When Black people wake up and begin to oppose white supremacy and then have a critique of class, and patriarchy, and of imperial policies—the drones dropping bombs on innocent people... Now with the Ferguson/Baltimore moment, Black masses are straightening up their backs. And it becomes a different day, a new day. Once you break the back of fear you’re in a new moment. That’s what Ferguson, that’s what Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore mean especially. They’re not scared in the face of the system. It’s a whole new day. And the system understands that. The last thing they want is people coming together; colors and regions, religious and not religious, but with a revolutionary love.”

Carl Dix asked, “Can this be done?” He answered that it may not look that way on the surface, but underneath the surface you can sense the volcanic potential. The resistance that has developed needs to spread, it needs to be brought together on a national level, hundreds of thousands, to put before all society and the world that there is a huge force determined to stop these crimes, and that significant change for the better has always required determined massive resistance from the people. Dix said that what is being envisioned and planned is beyond the capabilities of one organization. This mass mobilization is a call for everyone who wants murder by police to stop to get involved and fight for that.

He added, “Every radical movement that’s out to make significant change has to have youth in the forefront,” and he posed that the most important element to build a huge outpouring in October is a cadre of youth coming to NYC this summer. “We need to get a bunch of them here in NYC to go everywhere to spread the message of coming to NYC October 24 together to say police terror must stop. The youth can go among people most targeted by police. We need whistles. This is not just a style question. They can be used to alert a community, and equip people to get involved in the resistance.”

He said the cadre of youth “need to spread the call and mobilize faith communities, posing to religious leaders and the congregations, in a way they haven’t done so, need to take a stand. They can call on unions and rank-and-file to stand together. There are many concerts over the summer where they can speak with musicians, and go among the fans. They can go to conferences of professional organizations, sororities and fraternities. And then be poised to swing into the schools in the fall.”

The Call for Rise Up October issued by Carl Dix and Cornel West is being circulated now. Dix stressed that Rise Up October must be the most powerful mass outpouring of resistance to police terror that has ever happened in this country. We are in a moment where there is a bright flashing green light for police to kill people and walk free. No matter what issue people work on, no matter what color people are, we are human beings and no one should stand aside when these killings by police continue every day in every city and town in this country. People need to have the backs of the people being targeted; and if others who are targeted feel this and know this support is there, it will strengthen the fight. Rise Up October will be resistance-based, uncompromising in spirit and, at the same time, pluralistic and diverse, involving hundreds of thousands of people. Reaching into every corner of this society is what it will take to powerfully impact the whole world: NO! THESE MURDERS BY POLICE MUST STOP—NOW!!

For this demonstration to be the powerful outpouring it needs to be, hundreds of people need to step into this effort now and develop a framework to publicize the call and take it to and enlist student and youth groups, religious leaders and congregations from churches all over this country, justice-based organizations, people who are active in opposing outrages from the devastation of the environment to the horrific attacks on women to opposing the U.S.’s deployment of troops and occupation of countries the world over, and individuals from every corner of society. Artists and intellectuals in this society who have a platform to speak to and influence millions need to be reached and won to join in making this demonstration a reality. Creative plans must be developed to bring busloads of people who endure police brutality every day and are treated as criminals, guilty until they can prove their innocence, to demonstrate in New York City on October 24. Broad efforts distributing the call to people throughout society unleashing them to join Rise Up October need to start now. And if you stop and think about what is needed to make this demonstration in New York City a reality, substantial funds will be needed. So let’s get to it!

The next step: a mass meeting on Tuesday, June 30, in New York City, drawing together hundreds to develop this framework and more, to actively and urgently continue work to find every avenue and opening to make Rise Up October what it needs to be. You need to be there!



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