October 24 Outpouring Against Police Murder: Which Side Are You On?

An Audacious Plan...
And the Ways to Make It Happen


July 20, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Carl Dix and Cornel West, joined by many others, have called for massive demonstrations in New York on October 22-24, and especially on October 24. Why come out then? And why stop what you are doing now and throw into it?

Stolen Lives poster
Poster PDF (for print) color | black & white       JPG (full size, for web)

Because police STILL kill Black and Brown children for playing with toy guns and choke Black men to death in Staten Island and Mississippi and then curse them at their last dying breath, because cops disappear a young Black woman into a Texas county jail and “somehow” she doesn’t come out alive, because 26 of these mad dogs stomp a young man for riding his bike the wrong way in Philly, because they shoot down and murder Latinos who have their hands in the air in LA or maybe throw a rock in Washington state while backing up... and it’s all on video and NOTHING IS DONE, still NOTHING IS DONE...

Why October 24? Because politicians now promise the moon while the system STILL keeps millions in prisons that bulge like the slave ships, and lock down and pen up whole communities... and there’s STILL one chance in three that the Black baby boy born today will end up in those cages... and talk is cheap but NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE...

Why October 24? Because you know it now, you’ve seen it, and you can’t be neutral, you can’t sit this out. Because last year people rose up and said NO MORE and that was great, that was fresh air at last. But it was all just a start and now they are trying to snuff this out with more murders and more lies, with jail terms and sweet talk and crumbs and snark—or else they try to change the subject to anything but police terror and the righteous struggle against it. And meanwhile the plague still rages... meanwhile the machinery of genocide grinds on, tearing and chewing up thousands each day, draining or wearing away, or blowing away the lives of tens of millions more over decades.

We have to either go forward—taking the resistance to another level—or we will surely go backwards...

Why October 24? Because we need badly, urgently, to reach and challenge and transform the thinking of millions, as we make clear to the whole world that there is a growing force that is determined to STOP this—a force which is not going to be turned back or deterred by confusion, lies, beatings, prosecution, and everything else they throw at it. Because we need urgently to reverse the whole direction of society.

And because right now the next crucial step to doing that is this: in New York, over three days in October, a massive effort to STOP this shit, to SHUT THIS DOWN... gatherings in the communities on October 22, in New York and all over the country... major shutdowns of the machinery of caging whole communities on October 23 in NYC... and a massive demonstration flooding the streets in NYC on the 24th. This will be anything but a passive demonstration where people are herded and marshaled—this will be people boldly in the streets, with banners from the communities hardest hit or from colleges or churches or unions... cultural crews... a serious festival of defiance that makes the city stop in its tracks. This will be those hardest hit by this plague alongside those willing to stand up for justice, putting a powerful political and moral challenge to the world.

As a reader wrote in “Reflections on June 30 Meeting to Stop Police Terror: October 24: We MUST Change Everything, Beginning Now," which discussed a major meeting attended by 150 people to launch this:

October 22-24 has got to take this ferment to another level—another level of breadth and another level of determination. These three days taken together must include people putting themselves on the line for this, as well as many thousands more out there in support of them, in such a way that it politically stops this country in its tracks and changes the terms and direction of society. It must call out to the world that there is a force in the U.S. that simply will NOT tolerate this... that this force is growing... and that “change is gonna come.” These days must put the rulers of this country back on their heels and give heart and a whole other level of initiative to the people.

This will be an outpouring aimed to force all of society to confront the question—WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? Are you FOR this horror? Or will you stand against it? All of society, everyone, will be forced to confront that question and will be increasingly compelled to answer it, with their actions and deeds, as well as their words. Because there are no neutrals... not when the murders and the locked-down, closed-down lives go on every single day... not when the hollow promises echo while killer cops walk free.

We have to make clear to the world the reality of this—and force this empire that brags of its human rights “at home” to stand before the world exposed for what it really is.

So that is the reason. That is the vision. And because our Party unites with this vision with all our minds and hearts, we want to offer our views on how everyone involved can effectively organize to meet the goal. We offer this because we think these ideas can help in pushing this forward into society... and at the same time, we eagerly want to hear from others, from everyone reading this, with your ideas.

Who Must Be There

First of all: those hit the hardest by this genocidal plague. Those from the Black and Latino communities who face the insults and guns and bullying and ugly physical abuse every day... those whose very conditions make it the hardest for them to take part... but those who—ONCE THEY RISE—can shake the whole thing up. The potential power of those who society casts off and demonizes has flared to life in Ferguson and in Baltimore, and when it did, it sparked and galvanized all of society. So on those days, there must clearly be a strong force from the hardest ghettos and barrios, from New York itself, and from people coming to represent from all over the country. And at the forefront: the loved ones of those murdered by the cops or locked down in the prisons, testifying and witnessing the truth. These loved ones already have played a powerful role in this new movement, and that role must be magnified in many ways through this whole process.

The Revolution Clubs that are led by our Party, while wide open to all ages, will make a special effort to reach—and challenge—the youth of the ghettos and barrios, including the desperate ones up against the hard edge every day, at the same time as we reach out to others working and organizing among these youth from their perspectives. But we don't see this as "our thing"—no, the more that everyone of all political views among those working for October 24 does this, the better.

The students. From the colleges and high schools, the youth whose critical eyes have not been dulled, whose voice and heart can challenge society. Walking out in the days before, shutting down and disrupting, making clear that a new generation is willing to put itself on the line to STOP this... to stand with those hardest hit... no matter what the powers throw at them.

The immigrants. Pushed into the shadows, living in terror of their families being torn apart, demonized and scapegoated and attacked for political gain, themselves victimized both by police and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement)—standing up that day with those who have their backs.

Religious communities, including clergy, and people of conscience. Clergy and religious people have already begun to play an important role in this effort, and this too must grow. Clergy organizing their congregations to bear moral witness on those days will make a powerful statement.

And all kinds of people way beyond that. Prominent people in the arts and sciences and other arenas, wielding their influence and using their platforms to make clear their stand, to call on others... unions... legal and civil liberties organizations... all kinds of groups and organizations of people who have been active around this... fraternities, sororities, and other social organizations of Black and Latino people... people coming from the cities and suburbs, and also the small towns, from the East and all over... those who fight for the Earth, who fight for women and the LGBT community, who resist the war crimes... all there, saying NO MORE.

We Must Take This to the People and ORGANIZE

To make this real, we need to organize. The first big steps have been taken. Since Cornel West and Carl Dix issued the Call for this in June, it has been signed by many prominent people—voices of conscience and witness and struggle—and begun to be circulated. Scores of people have come to organizing meetings and set about the hard work. Word is getting out, including through people standing up and fighting on the anniversary of the unpunished chokehold murder of Eric Garner by police and going to other sites of struggle. But more must be done. We have to take this to the people and we have to get people involved. To do what is being envisioned will require thousands of people pitching in, in one way or another.

We ALL of us have to organize, and on a whole other level. Our Party... and everyone else who wants to see this stop. However you see stopping it... whatever your goals... coming together NOW for October 22-24.


We have to bring the reality of this before people, in ways that let them see the true scope and horror of this. Most people—even people who hate this injustice—still don’t get the full scope and scale of what is being done to the masses! Let’s go to people with the Stolen Lives poster, either in organized groups or just passing it out wherever we go, on the subway or wherever, pinning it up in stores and schools and laundromats. The point is that this has to blanket everywhere, and especially the NY area and East Coast. Even if you work all day and all night and don’t have a minute to spare, then pass these posters out on your way to and from work... but get them out and get them up. (And the same goes for other materials: palm cards... copies of the Call... and so on.) By the time fall rolls around, everyone should have seen these materials much more than once and they should recognize the Stolen Lives poster and what it’s about.

And let’s find platforms for the loved ones of the victims, letting them testify wherever they can. A start: reach every church, mosque, synagogue, or other religious site and ask them to have a Stolen Lives relative speak to their congregation. Reach every progressive or decent teacher/professor and ask them to do the same in their classrooms. And so on.

We have to draw the lines sharply—precisely to draw in the greatest numbers. This may seem counter-intuitive, particularly as many will resist a sharp challenge at first. But if we DO take people to the reality of this genocidal plague and to the actual stakes of this moment... to what it means to let this keep dragging on, to effectively consign future generations to the same—or a worse—fate... to the rare opening that now exists to radically change the terms... then there is every basis to win people to really sacrifice and make this happen. In fact, there ARE no neutrals—to do nothing, to take a time-out or a “pass” on this, is to be complicit in something very ugly and utterly intolerable. So, yes: which side are you on? must be the question and the moral/political challenge we pose to one and all. Silence... standing aside... is complicity.

We have to give people ways, big and small, to be part of this. Everyone who is interested should be given materials to get out, asked for donations, and given a way to get in touch. If you are out in a group, encourage people to join with you—even if they are there to stand around and observe at first, that’s part of getting this going and part of them “learning the ropes.” Take time to sit down with people on the spot—or let people know a McDonald’s or Starbucks where you will be later. Learn from people what is up in the neighborhood and who to go to and how to approach them. We are giving people a chance to do something great, to be part of standing up against this horror in a way that has never been seen in this country, a chance to bring in a new day. Give people whistles and explain how they are used, to alert everybody when the pigs begin messing with people. If you are housebound or for other reasons should not be passing out political literature on the street, then get lists from the committees and phone-bank or use social media—to get out the word and especially to raise money.

But that’s not all. Returning to “Reflections,” the point was made that:

Getting people’s ideas onto the floor and recording their names and ways to contact them is just a beginning. People’s efforts and ideas need to be drawn on and sifted, cross-fertilized and knit together into something very powerful—and not in two or four weeks, but now. In fact, we have to be not only ready but aiming, right on the spot, to draw people into things—whether people from this broad movement are flyering or mounting some kind of resistance to police terror, either planned or spontaneous. They then in turn become part of things then and there, and work to draw in others. That has to be much more the “style,” or the “signature,” of this movement.

This must especially be done in the communities of the oppressed, where the people are hit the hardest. And we must go back over and over again, and stand with people and help organize it when they “blow the whistle” or otherwise stand up. But it should not only be done there. Even now, before school is in session, let’s seek out young people in the parks, on the beaches, at festivals and shows and clubs... again, saturate people with materials and give them ways to be part of this.

Every organization sincerely trying to end this plague should be invited into this. Here again we’ll quote “Reflections”:

There can be and needs to be all kinds of views [among the people building for this] about what kinds of changes are needed in society and how to go about them and how to view the police themselves. We can and certainly should talk frankly, and struggle about, larger questions as we work together (and we can and certainly will wrangle out differences over HOW to best mount these days of action). We can talk with some of the leaders at the same time as we reach out to the people in these groups. And we can’t take “no” for an answer—there is too much at stake here, for millions, and we have to keep going back to that. The point is this: everyone must get together to end police terror and this means uniting the broadest number of people around that, even as we bring forward our full understanding.

Make the “Which Side Are You On?/Rise Up October Tour” a Really Big Deal

This week, some people are going to Cleveland on a tour to promote October 24. They are going to talk with different organized groups and prominent individuals... they are going to the Movement for Black Lives national conference ... but most of all they are going to those who are hit hardest by this every single day of their lives, and they are also going to raise hell about the outrageous crimes carried out by the Cleveland police—like the murders of Tamir Rice, Timothy Russell, Malissa Williams, and too many others. This crew will bring a powerful message, getting out materials and organizing people on the spot... getting the word out. In two weeks or so, they will be going to Chicago and on to Ferguson, marking the important anniversary of the murder of Michael Brown and the resistance that followed. Then, sometime in late summer or early fall, the tour should go to Baltimore, before the trials begin of the killers of Freddie Gray, and on into the five boroughs of New York and other major cities. These tours should be made up of both longtime and brand-new fighters, and should draw people in on the spot. And here too there should be a special and amplified role for the loved ones of the victims of this system.

Breaking This Out in the Media

October 24 should be operating on a lot of different levels—including in the media and social media. One big tool in this is the Call for October 22-24. This Call is compelling, and many people—including many people with influence among different kinds of people—have stepped out on this. Plans should be made now to 1) get this out to even more people of prominence, 2) raise money to print this, and 3) figure out other ways to get this into the media and social media, including urging those who have signed to write and speak about it.

Artists and people who work in culture—including those who have signed the Call, as well as many who have not yet done so but could be won to this—should be consulted and worked with.

A big part of breaking this out is making the website for the Stop Mass Incarceration Network much more dynamic AND getting this into social media.

But this is connected to a larger point: the larger coalition sponsoring this is going to have to get much better organized, and everyone who sincerely wants to see this happen needs to take a hand in that. To quote again from “Reflections”:

There have to be simple ways for everyone to take a hand, and to communicate their ideas. Again, there simply cannot be a situation where people are made to wait “until someone gets back to them”—things are too urgent, people’s ideas and enthusiasm at this meeting were too alive, and no effort or positive impulse can be squandered or left on the vine.

This does require things like major fundraising and a central office that acts as a nerve center, ready to knit together every initiative, every desire to help. It would be very important, for instance, to be able to call volunteers en masse to New York beginning in September—but this will require funds, housing from supporters, and all kinds of coordination to make it happen. But happen it must. And soon—like now.

One final thought for now: We should start getting ready, beginning in a few weeks, to hit the freshman orientation weeks on campuses, and to be there when the high schools open—with stickers, posters, palm cards, and organizing kits. A student network should begin soon, taking the lessons of the April 14 #A14Shutdown outpourings this past spring and learning from those, and doing exponentially better this time.

None of this is meant as any kind of last word, but a beginning. Write to our website or newspaper (at revolution.reports@yahoo.com) and let us know your thoughts and what you are learning, what you are running into and what is moving people. Together, let’s fill a great need and turn this whole society around.




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