Carl Dix on: Ferguson, Rise Up October, and Revolution

August 17, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Carl Dix, representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party and co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, was interviewed for The Michael Slate radio show. Dix was in Ferguson, Missouri. The following is from that interview:

Michael Slate: I’m pleased to welcome to the show Carl Dix. Right now, Carl is in the midst of a tour that’s going around the country building for Rise Up October/Which Side Are You On?, which is a plan to have, on October 24 in New York City, 100,000 and more people in the streets to shut it down. So it’s a crew of people going around the country building for this? Tell us about that.

Carl Dix: We have had people go to Cleveland. We’ve hit Chicago. And right now we’re wrapping up a stop of the tour in Ferguson, where we were for the activities one year after the murder of Michael Brown, August 7 through the 10th. Some of us are still here. We’re taking the message of Stop Police Terror! Which Side Are You On? through those cities. Along with me are some family members of police murder victims: Mertilla Jones, grandmother of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, the seven-year-old girl who was murdered by police who raided her grandmother’s house where she was sleeping on the couch in the room. They came in with a flash-bang grenade and shooting and shot Aiyana in the head, which was a SWAT Team raid that broke into the wrong apartment, and no police, no authorities, have been punished for that murder. Also, Andree Smith, the mother of Justin Smith, who was murdered by police in Tulsa, Oklahoma. in 1998, and Joshua Lopez, a young man from New York City, whose uncle, John Collado, was murdered by the NYPD in 2012. There are also some young people, some from the Revolution Club, touring with us, and Rev. Jerome McCorry, Faith Coordinator for the Stop Mass Incarceration Network has also been on the tour.

Michael Slate: As you guys are going around on tour, and as you said, you’ve most recently been in Ferguson, this is a very intense time. Particularly, we’re looking at a year that’s passed since the brutal murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson and all that was unleashed in response to that, both on the side of the system, and more importantly on the side of the people, in terms of standing up and fighting against it. What’s happened in that year, between the murder of Mike Brown and now?

Carl Dix: This has been a year, most importantly, of a level of resistance to the horror of murder by police that we have not seen in this country in decades, ushered in by the defiant young people in Ferguson who went into the streets after the police gunned down Michael Brown, who had his hands up when Darren Wilson shot him, but they left his body laying for four and a half hours in the street. And the young people were like, “This is it! We’re not taking this anymore.” They had seen police brutalize and murder people before, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

They went into the streets in the face of everything the authorities could throw at them: tear gas, rubber bullets, sound cannons, armored personnel carriers, police in riot gear with military assault weapons, curfews, National Guard mobilizations. These youth stayed in the street night after night, and it called forth a response from around the country, where other people―people who were tired of dealing with the police getting away with murder—began to step out in solidarity with the Ferguson protests, and in protest of the police murders happening in other parts of the country.

And then when the system slapped us all in the face by exonerating Darren Wilson, the cop who murdered Michael Brown, and by following that up very quickly by exonerating the cop who choked Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York City, to death, a murder that we all saw because it was videoed and seen not only across the country, but around the world, protest exploded on an even higher level. So that’s one big part of what’s been happening. But the other thing is that the killings have continued. Police have continued to kill people at a rate of more than 1,000 per year. They’ve killed around 700 people this year. They’ve killed 1,080 people since August 9 last year—since the murder of Michael Brown, 1,080 have been killed by police. And the system continues to exonerate killer cops, to give them a pass, to flash a green light to their brutal and murderous activity.

So those are the two things that have happened, and the coming together of that is what convinced Cornel West and I that we had to issue the call for Rise Up October. Because the system has doubled down on unleashing their cops to brutalize and murder people and on exonerating those killer cops. So we felt we had to take the resistance to a much higher level, not just responding to each murder that they commit, but to take the resistance beyond that, and that’s why we called for a national march that is going to be a huge outpouring of people in New York City under the theme of Stop Police Terror/Which Side Are You On? October 24, that’s the date.

Michael Slate: You’re out here on a tour. You’re talking to people about the need to rise up, to stand up against this. You made a very powerful statement: “It was right for the youth to rise up a year ago after the murder of Michael Brown, and it’s right for them to continue rising up today.” Is that controversial? How are people responding to that?

What the System Is Doing to People Is Genocide

Carl Dix: There is controversy on it. But one side of that controversy is that it is welcomed by a lot of people who are really tired of this, who see that they have not stopped, that getting cameras that record some of these horrible murders, while it’s led to a few indictments, there have been many more cases where there were videos of what the police did, where you could see that people were unarmed, where you could see that there was no criminal activity being carried out. And police have got away with literally murdering people.

In the face of that, it’s hitting people that they are killing us. I’ve been saying for a while that what the system is doing to Black people amounts to a genocide and that the epidemic of police murder and mass incarceration viciously targets broad sections of Latinos as well. This is something that is hitting home to people, and they want to see it stopped. When somebody comes to them and stands with them in standing up against it, they welcome that. And then when you say we’ve got to take that higher, they want to know, well, what’s the plan? How is this going to work? What are we going to do? How do we make this happen?

But at the same time, you got voices coming at it the other way, saying, well let’s get practical. Let’s come up with some concrete policies and programs and laws that the authorities can enact that will deal with this problem. This began even before the grand jury results that exonerated the killer cops in the Ferguson and Staten Island cases. You had Obama call people to the White House, and say, well, you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to get body cameras and put them on the police. Then that way we’ll know what happened and that will allow us to deal with this problem. And then a couple days later, the grand jury looking into the murder of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, where there was a video, and you could see what happened, decided to exonerate all the cops who killed Eric Garner.

They told us, well, we’ll get special prosecutors. That will take care of it—leaving out the fact that John Crawford, the young Black man who was gunned down by police in Beaver Creek, Ohio, while inside a Walmart where he was purchasing a toy gun that he had on his shoulder while he talked on the phone and it was a special prosecutor who looked into that case, who watched a video of the cops storming into Walmart and gunning him down and then saying to him, “Drop it!”

It was a special prosecutor in Wisconsin, which is a state that has a law mandating special prosecutors, in the murder of Dontre Hamilton, a young man who was asleep in the park in the afternoon, accosted by a cop who began to beat him and then shot him to death. The special prosecutor exonerated that cop. Then in the case of Tony Robinson, a young man who needed help. Somebody called the cops, they came, kicked in the door to Tony’s apartment and then shot him through the door even though he was unarmed. A special prosecutor exonerated that cop, too.

So every policy change that they say is going to deal with this, every law that they say is going to make this stop, continues to allow this to go on. And what it points to is that there needs to be a sea change in how people in this society look at the question of policing, police being unleashed to wreak violence, especially on the ghettos and barrios and the people who live there. in this country and the way that this system does not punish any of these killer cops. There needs to be massive outpouring, like we’re calling for October 24 in New York City, and we have to challenge people over Which Side Are You On?

Defiance in Ferguson

Michael Slate: I want to talk more about October 24 in a minute, but I wanted to talk to you about what’s going on in Ferguson right now. You’ve been talking about this, especially after we’ve just been talking about the point that it was right for the youth to rise up a year ago after the murder of Michael Brown, and it’s right for them to continue rising up today, and sort of the situation in the country overall, where it’s not a backing off, it’s not a lessening of the oppression and repression that’s coming down, but actually, there’s a steady intensification of this. I wanted to talk to you about what’s happened in Ferguson over the last few days. It’s been jarring for many people to see on the very anniversary of the murder of Michael Brown, that there were all kinds of things going on, not just the people in the streets, but the response of the police and the authorities to it was pretty brutal, right?

Carl Dix: Exactly. When we hit Ferguson at the beginning of the weekend, the police put on Officer Friendly masks and were handing out water and popsicles to people out on the street. But then, when people took to the streets in protest, those masks came off and it could have been last year in Ferguson, because you had cops out there with armored personnel carriers, you had people being maced for wanting to protest.

A state of emergency was declared in St. Louis County, but it was a particular kind of state of emergency, one that meant that you couldn’t protest in the area where Michael Brown was murdered. You would be corralled on the sidewalk by an outpouring of police. You could get maced or pepper-sprayed, smoke grenades thrown at you. However, the Oath Keepers, right-wing fascist folks, could come into that area armed during the state of emergency and were welcomed by the police and in fact collaborated with them as a message of suppression to people, that “You can’t stand up. You can’t bring your righteous anger to the streets.”

And the youth weren’t having it. They came out in numbers. They came out in the face of massive police mobilizations. They rejected this thing of, oh, it’s the criminal element that’s coming out and we have to suppress them. They’re not legitimate protestors—which is a narrative they try to put out, demonizing and criminalizing the youth to justify the violence that they direct at them in order to suppress them. But it was very powerful and very positive that the young people, especially the defiant young people came out, and that other people also were active this weekend. Because Monday, there was a civil disobedience activity in different parts of St. Louis, starting with a march of hundreds of people on the Federal Building in downtown St. Louis, where about 60 people were arrested for engaging in civil disobedience. I was among those 60 people, along with Dr. Cornel West and others, and along with some bloggers and live-streamers who were recording what was happening, who got arrested for doing so, including DeRay and Neta, two of the people who rose to the forefront a year ago in the response to the murder of Michael Brown.

The cops were very brutal, but people came out against that. There were also concerts by a number of artists. I’m going to name a few of them, and probably forget some, but Talib Kweli performed at a hip-hop concert. Tom Morello was part of a rock concert, the band Outernational. Boots Riley performed, Immortal Technique, Common, and I’m probably forgetting some people. A lot of people felt they had to be here, and they had to be here to remember Mike Brown, but also to say, this murder by police and the exoneration of these killer cops has got to stop. And that’s an important step, because the dogs are still in the street. The police are still killing people. It was right and important for people to stand up and rebel against that a year ago, and it is just as right and just as important that they continue to stand up.

October 24: Taking the Fight to STOP Police Terror to a Whole New Level

Michael Slate: Let’s talk about October 24 now. You mentioned that earlier, and I really wanted to pursue this, because a lot of the stuff we’re talking about raises the question of really taking things to a whole other level, to really create a situation in society where this whole assault on Black and Brown people is pushed back. This kind of development around October 24 seems to be something that could be pivotal. Why don’t we talk about how important October 24 is, and who are you looking to be involved in this?

Carl Dix: Let me start with the second part first. Everybody who sees a problem with police murdering people, and disproportionately Black and Latino people, is who we’re looking to get involved. We’re looking to get involved the young people who are being criminalized and demonized by the system to justify the brutality and murder that gets unleashed on them. We’re looking to involve students, young people who are growing up in a world where this goes on and targets people because of the color of their skin, and find that kind of world intolerable. We’re looking to involve professionals who don’t want to stand aside and see this happen to others and stay on the sidelines. We’re looking to involve the clergy.

We’re looking to go into the communities very broadly and bring people out to stand with the young people who are being targeted. We want to bring forward family members and other loved ones of those who’ve lost their lives at the hands of the police, and bring them forward in large numbers to speak from the heart about the devastation that the horror of police murder has wrought on their lives, and give them a platform to call them out, to condemn it, and to call forward people to stand with them. We’re launching a project to bring hundreds of family members of police murder victims to New York City, and that’s going to be out there in the days to come.

That’s who we’re looking to get involved. And the point is, we’ve just got to change the way people look at this problem. It’s got to be a thing of people seeing this and getting that these are not “isolated incidents” that seldom happen. Nor are they the result of bad choices, criminal activity or suspicious movements that the victims face, but it’s the result of police being unleashed to inflict brutality, violence and murder on sections of people that this society has no future for, especially the young people growing up in the inner cities that they don’t have legitimate ways for them to survive and raise families.

This is the backdrop for this program of punishment that’s concentrated in these police murders. We have to put that out there for people and bring out to them that it is intolerable that this is going down, and that everybody with an ounce of justice in their heart has to stand up, has to join the side that’s saying “This must stop!”

There is no neutrality or middle ground here. You can’t say, well, I can see points on both sides. That’s kind of like going into Nazi Germany and saying, well, I can see why the Jews are upset about being put into concentration camps, but on the other hand, I can see why the Nazis are putting them there. No, there was no middle ground there, and the Germans who stood aside from these horrors being committed, closed their eyes, stopped up their ears, they were facilitating the genocide that was carried out there. And it’s the same today, and we have to bring that to people. That’s the point to grouping Stop Police Terror and Which Side Are You On?—challenging people with the reality of police getting away with murder, and challenging them to get on the right side of that, the correct side, the side of acting to stop it.

Michael Slate: When you were talking about October 24, what do you see it accomplishing?

Carl Dix: What I see it accomplishing is, radically transforming the way people look at this question, getting them to go from sympathy with people who are suffering this to actively siding with them and acting together with them, and then getting other sections of people to go from, “This doesn’t have any effect on me. It’s not my problem,” to seeing that it is all of ours problem. Because when you hear about a 12-year-old boy like Tamir Rice gunned down in less than two seconds by cops because he was playing with a toy gun, and they rolled up on him like he was a criminal that they had to blow away. You have to feel like, that was my child out there; that’s our children that are being hit like this. It is our sisters who are being killed in police custody, when you hear about Sandra Bland or Ralkina Jones in Cleveland.

That’s what people have to feel, and here’s the other thing that people have to feel. People have to feel, how many more victims of loss of life at the hands of the cops are we going to have to make hashtags out of? How many more anniversaries like the anniversary of Michael Brown, or before that, the anniversary of the murder of Eric Garner, are we going to have to mark?

We’ve got to get rid of this, and it’s going to take revolution, nothing less to do that. There is leadership for that. There’s Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, who has worked on and brought forward the way out of this, how we could actually make revolution for real, and what needs to be done now to build up to that. People need to check that out. And while they’re engaging that and digging into it—and they can do that at the website—and while they’re doing that, they need to throw in to make October 24 happen, while they’re still working out whether revolution is what they want or not, whether it’s possible. While they’re still digging into all that, they need to throw in to make October 24 Rise Up October to Stop Police Terror/Which Side Are You On? as powerful as possible. They need to be mobilizing people to come, organizing transportation to get people there, raising funds to make all of this possible.

They can find out about that and get hooked in with that process at the websites and

Michael Slate: You’re on this tour. Where is it headed now?

Carl Dix: It’s going to be headed to the Baltimore/DC area. We’re going to touch in with people who rose up in response to the murder of Freddie Gray. We’re going to be going down into the Southeast, hitting Atlanta. And there’s going to be a tour going along the West Coast at the same time, which means they’re going to have two different tours going, because the same crew can’t get everywhere that it needs to with the message that Police Terror Must Stop, and Which Side Are You On? Be on the lookout for the schedule that the tour’s going to put out, and also be on the lookout for the fact that on August 27, Cornel West and I and others are going to speak to the question of how do we stop police murder in New York City, August 27 at a church in Harlem, and that’s going to be live-streamed. So it’s going to be available to people all across the country.



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