The Rise Up October Tour Hits Chicago, August 4-7

August 10, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


This tour has key dimensions—the national leaders like Carl Dix and Reverend Jerome McCorry, who speak powerfully to frame the need for Rise Up October from different perspectives; the family members of people who have been murdered by police; and last, but not the least, the youth, most members of the Revolution Club who ran with the tour during its time in Chicago (and then went on to Ferguson, the next stop on the national tour).

For more on what Carl Dix, Rev. Jerome McCorry, family members of those murdered by police, and others said during the Chicago tour, see the articles online at on the August 5 press conference in front of the Police Department headquarters, and the organizing meeting that night. Among the many family members who took part in the press conference and the organizing meeting were Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, the seven-year-old murdered by Detroit police; Andrea and Sharon Irwin, mother and grandmother of Tony Robinson, murdered by Madison police; Joshua Lopez, nephew of John Collado, murdered by NYPD, and others.

One wonderful thing about youth is that when they are outraged at an injustice, they can jump into the fight very quickly, and when they are introduced to revolution, a world opens up. The youths from Chicago who joined the tour give a taste of what could be magnified many times over, including through the Rise Up Tour.

Chicago Sistas Stand with Sandra Bland, August 4Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, at “Chicago Sistas Stand With Sandra Bland” protest Aug 4.   The protest [initiated by the UHURU organization] was next to a major “El” train stop at a highway exit on the South Side of Chicago. #RiseUpOctober participated and spoke to the need to draw a line in society against police terror with the Oct 24 demonstration.  Hundreds of people in cars exiting the highway got cards for #RiseUpOctober and invitations to the next day’s organizing meeting. (Photo:

One young man from the South Side of Chicago had BA’s New Year’s message working on him as he went off to college this past year and he tried to take up April 14 at his campus, as part of the nationwide “Shut It Down” protests called by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. Returning home this summer, he let people know he was ready to get down with the revolution and jumped into taking the revolution out to these intense situations. After a few weeks he was ready to join the Rise Up October tour in Cleveland and recruited another young man who had been following the revolution at the community center where they both work but who had never joined up with the revolution. So he had BAsics to read on the way to Cleveland. Days later, climbing off the Megabus at 2 am in downtown Chicago... they looked like living, breathing advertisements for BA Everywhere, and they were ready for the Chicago/Ferguson leg of the tour. Back in Chicago he watched the first disc of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! They were joined by a “veteran” Revolution Club member who had gotten involved when Ferguson happened a year ago. They and others ran with the tour crew, who came from different cities.

There was a critical mass of youth, mainly Black youth wearing BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts, which was electrifying and a very dynamic factor building for revolution and Rise Up October.

The first day of the tour in Chicago, they rode the el trains down to the biggest station on the south side of Chicago for a “say her name” protest called by Chicago Sistas Stand for Sandra Bland. A Revolution Club member reported:

The trains were a lively scene as we jumped from train to train and it was a lot of fun. People were recording and taking pictures and video taping while the mighty revcoms spoke about October rise up against police murder and terror. They passed out lots of flyers and we chanted “Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell!” A real popular phrase was ‘fuck 12!’ A tour member said, “We questioned people: Which side are you on? Are you going to let a genocide happen and sit by on the sidelines? Or are you going to be the type of people that stand up and fight to stop this slow grinding genocide?” This presence and defiant stance against police terror and murder sparked lively debate and discussion on different train cars. Will God come and stop this? Will voting this away be the answer? Or will massive determined resistance be the answer? Lots of young people were happy to see us on the trains and a lot of them wanted to get involved so we gave them stacks of cards and invited them to come with us right then. “But if you can’t come now, go back to your neighborhoods and start organizing immediately.”

RiseUpOctober Tour, downtown Chicago.Members of the Revolution Club joined the #RiseUpOctober Tour in taking the call for Oct 24 to downtown Chicago and involving people on the spot. Police tried to shut the action down, insisting that the sound system be shut off but they just sharpened up the dividing lines. In the end, as more people gathered, videoing the action, taking up cards to get out and signing up to build for #RiseUpOctober, the cops settled for issuing 2 tickets for “generating noise louder than an average conversation at 100 feet!” Photo: Special to Revolution/

At the protest for Sandra Bland, the tour brought a lot of energy—getting out to the commuters coming off the el train and off a major exit of the freeway at the height of rush hour. Mertilla Jones—the grandmother of Aiyana Stanley-Jones who at seven years old was killed by the Detroit police—who is on the Rise Up October tour spoke at the protest. (For more on what Mertilla Jones said on the tour, see articles online about the August 5 press conference and the organizing meeting.) There was controversy when a young leader of the Revolution Club spoke about the leadership of Bob Avakian... a Black nationalist countered with the view that liberating theory had to come from Africa. On the train ride afterward, other people who had been at the protest wanted to know more about what the revolution and the Revolution Club and Rise Up October were all about. Regular vendors outside the el station got REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts and put them on and joined in passing out O24 palm cards and the new BA quote as a result of the tour coming through.

Later that same night, the tour went to a community center that hosts a regular spoken word for the youth. Around 150 youths were in attendance. The hosts of the event were hesitant at first about the tour taking the stage, but afterward had major thanks for it coming. One of the reasons this was a big deal was because most of the youths from Chicago running with the tour have roots in this center, and now they were up on the stage representing for the revolution as well as calling for Rise Up October. In the midst of the spoken word poets, rappers, singers, and dancers in a space where different sets from different neighborhoods can come together and have a lot of fun. It is a neutral ground for the youth of Chicago. A couple of poets’ pieces were about police brutality and how horrible it was that Black people are being killed in the streets. The mighty revcoms got up on the stage and pulled a Stolen Lives poster out and spoke about the genocide and what we are up against at this time in history, and that they might not know it yet but we are the force that is going to end this. Mertilla Jones spoke powerfully and movingly. People were shocked and some were in tears as she spoke. The tour told people the next stop was Ferguson and that they should come with us.

A veteran revolutionary who regularly speaks to the youth at this center said that it was electrifying. Youth not only took stacks of palm cards to pass out, but also many said they could see now is the time to get off the sidelines.

Joshua Lopez (left) with members of RiseUpOctober tour and people of Englewood communityJoshua Lopez on left with members of #RiseUpOctober Tour and people of the Englewood community.  After the RUO press conference in Chicago on August 5, organizers went to Englewood, a mainly Black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. People in the community joined in and many who identify with revolution put took up “BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less!” t-shirts from the Revolution Club.  Many people got cards to distribute and signed up to be part of organizing the tour.
Photo: Special to Revolution/

There were other outings of the tour, mainly the youth taking a van with sound equipment and marching through neighborhoods on the South Side, especially Englewood, where both youth and adults were drawn forward to represent for the revolution, putting on the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! shirts and taking up the palm cards (both for Rise Up October and new BA quote). Englewood is a neighborhood with some of the worst poverty and some of the highest rates of violence among the people and a burning hatred of the police. Some of the adults who got shirts are relatives of young men around the gang life who have been getting into the revolution.

The tour also reached out―on a beautiful summer day at lunch time in downtown Chicago—to a wide range of people. They met a close friend of Trayvon Martin. A homeless youth who hangs out downtown had gotten his REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirt at the protest on the anniversary of Eric Garner being killed. He came wearing it and joined with the tour as it held a speak-out with the Stolen Lives banner. The police galvanized the crowd when they tried to shut down the sound system... people were calling them out as hypocrites because louder sidewalk preachers are not hassled and people got that the police hated the banner of all the stolen lives. By this time the tour was running short of palm cards because so many had gone out, including in stacks, to many, many people.

As the tour traveled through the Chicago area, speaking broadly to people from all walks of life about the need for the massive protest in New York City on October 24, the commitment of the people on the tour—from New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and more—grew more solid and determined. Next stop: Ferguson, Missouri.



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