In the Streets of South Side Chicago: Fighting for Justice After the Police Murder of Alfontish “Nunu” Cockerham

June 29, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |



From the Revolution Club, Chicago:

As the young man pulled up a Chicago Tribune article on his phone, he pointed to the white police officer in the photo and told us, “He said ‘die motherfucker'” as he shot Nunu by the alley on Chicago's south side. Nunu was this young man's friend. He told us Nunu had his hands in the air when the cop began firing. This conversation was on Saturday morning, June 20, only hours after Nunu was shot. There was a woman, who has seven kids, with us. She has lived in the area for many years, and she characterized the situation there as a "war" and described how the police are always on the youth, day in and day out. Only blocks away the police had murdered another youth, Jeffrey Kemp, known as JJ, in April.

The next day we were out in the neighborhood “bringing BA to what could potentially be a long hot summer.” We set up a table, taped up a local Stolen Lives banner and the centerfold poster about the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. We played audios of BA speaking over the sound system, mostly the clip “What if….” from the film mentioned above. And we did agitation about the police shooting of Nunu and the events in Charleston, the history of the oppression of Black people, how there is a way out of all this through revolution and “if you are serious about revolution, you need to seriously get into BA...” One man who had seen us there before joined us in getting out materials, in particular the palm card for the film Revolution and Religion film and Carl Dix’s statement “Outrage in Charleston—This IS America.”

Video from JJ's (Jeffery Kemp's) funeral when mourners forced police to back off from harassing them with whistles and outrage. JJ was shot in the back and murdered by police in Chicago, April 17 at age 18.

Many people told us they had heard the gun shots the day before when the police shot Nunu. An older man in the neighborhood told us that he had heard the same cops who did the shooting during the day on Saturday, telling the youth on the corner, “One of you is going to die tonight.” Another youth hung around quietly for awhile and then pointed to one of the pictures on the banner of people killed by the police, saying that was his friend and he started to tear up when he said he hadn’t been able to go to the funeral because he was in jail at the time.

Nunu remained alive for several days after he was shot as emergency surgery was done. He took bullets in the stomach and the groin. On Tuesday he was declared brain dead. Family members, together with others in the community and the Revolution Club, called a “Justice for Nunu” protest for Wednesday, June 24, at 6 pm.

Tuesday night the Revolution Club discussed the article “In the Wake of the Charleston Massacre: Get Organized for an Actual Revolution!” posted at and, among other topics, talked about what we should be doing at the protest on the next day. On Wednesday before the protest, the Revolution Club and some friends gathered nearby and boldly marched into the rally, carrying the local Stolen Lives banner and chanting: “Indict, Convict Send the Killer Cop to Jail, the Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell” and “This is the Rev Club, Get with the Rev Club.” There were 11 of us in all—this caused quite a scene.

At the rally’s height there were about 200 people. Overwhelmingly, it was people from the neighborhood, mostly young but there was an important section of older people from the community—including “OGs” who played a significant role in the evening. There was also a number of community-based social forces with various views and agendas but united in the demand of Justice for Nunu. And there were tons of police all over the area.

June 24 rally and protest against the police murder of Alfontish "Nunu" Cockerham. Photo: special to

After a the short rally it was decided to march to the police station the killer cop had come out of—about two miles away and through conflicting gang territories. The march stepped into the street with the Stolen Lives banner in the lead. There were lots of police SUVs and cars and pigs on foot as well around, but they did not stop us from being in the street. The crowd went down to about 150 after we marched across the street that is a major gang territorial divide.

The march kicked off with a youth initiating the chant “When I say 'Fuck 12' you say 'All Day'—Fuck 12! All Day! Fuck 12! All Day!” This was very popular with the youth. In the streets of Chicago “Fuck 12” is an increasingly widespread substitute for “Fuck the Police.” The Rev Club kicked off the chant “Indict Convict Send the Killer Cops to Jail, the Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell” and "Nunu Did Not Have to Die, We All Know the Reason Why—The Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell.” People really raised the volume on “The Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell!” 

Things got really intense when we crossed the dividing line and entered another gang’s turf. Clumps of youth from this other set possed up on the other side of the street and were yelling at the marchers, “fuck Nunu.” Small groups of young men and women tore off from the march toward youth from other set as various organizers followed them, getting between the youth of the different sets and stopping the fighting, agitating about what this march was for and bringing the youth back in to it. Here the OGs played a very important role. Rev Club members were among those agitating to youth who were looking to get into it with other sets.

The police swarmed even more. This intense struggle over what some of the youth marching were going to do took place three times during the march. At one point the police had a very busy north/south intersection blocked with at least one officer in a flak jacket brandishing a military style automatic rifle holding back traffic.

We marched a long way and ended at the Third District police station. This, too, was wild scene. There were lots of police, and at one point an older man was in the street agitating about how the police “do us,” pointing his finger at a white shirt—a higher ranking cop. The commander was looking at him, and the man kept saying, “I am talking about you, yes I am talking about you!” Anger against the police was erupting from young and old alike.

There was concern about how we would get back. Some of the young men said they had rides but in the end the bulk of the group marched back chanting. There were no disruptions on the way back.

The march ended back where it started with a rally/speak out during which a lot of contending views were put out. A member of the Revolution Club initiated the speak out with a very powerful statement in the language of the youth, telling how the gangs had united in Ferguson and calling on the youth to take up that example to make this struggle against police murder as powerful as possible. Some of the older people were putting forward the need to vote, the need for Black-owned businesses. Family members expressed their grief and rage and demanded justice. A number of people from the Rev Club spoke talking about how we need to bring down capitalism/imperialism and make revolution. One thing we could have done better would have been to directly compare and contrast what we were talking about to the other programs, and call for people to get with the revolution on the spot. As the rally ended, people discussed how in Ferguson people had continued to protest for Mike Brown, so a next protest was set for Thursday.

There was a lot of hanging out and talking with people in the crowd afterwards. Some of the Rev Club members had copies of BAsics out and were showing different sections to people. At least one copy of BAsics went to a young man who was going to “get up with us” the next day. 

After the protest the Revolution Club and friends sat down to eat and sum up. One thing that we saw from the way various members of the Rev Club were agitating was that we needed to be clearer on the question of just what a revolution is. We read and discussed BAsics 3:3 over dinner. We also struggled over how elections are a trap with some of the friends of the Rev Club who had joined us. Something we didn’t discuss and really need to break through on was the point in the “Get Organized for an Actual Revolution!” article about giving people a way to “run with and represent for the revolution” on the spot and bringing people into working with the revolution “in real time.”

June 26 the Revolution Club and others gathered and marched in protest of the murder of Alfontish Cockerham. Photo: special to

Thursday there was a small crowd as members of the Revolution Club gathered at the corner where Nunu was murdered. One of Nunu’s relatives came up and thanked us for being there. He had been out the night before. We rallied and chanted. A member of the Rev Club did some sharp agitation, including talking about BA and reading BAsics 1:4 on the role of the police. The Rev Club distributed whistles and explained to people about blowing the whistle on police brutality. Some of Nunu’s relatives proposed that we do a short march.

While this march was smaller than the night before, it was very loud as everyone was blowing whistles. There were lots of police cars but they didn’t disturb us. We did not cross into the other gang’s territory this time. The crowd was about 50 people. The Rev Club was clearly providing the leadership and people were asking more what we were all about. Small clumps of us engaged people about this as things were winding down.

Members of the Rev Club have been in the area almost every day. We are getting to know people, especially the youth, and they are getting to know us and what we are about. We are especially working to challenge the youth in the gangs to get out of that and get into the revolution. Our proclamation has been getting out widely it is starting to get posted on walls.

We plan to make ourselves even more accessible in the neighborhood, hanging in the area as we make plans for the next action, playing parts of different DVDs and talks from BA, and digging in to those things and key quotes in BAsics with people. There is a solution to all the outrages confronting people. And if you are serious about revolution, you need to seriously get into BA.


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