October 24, New York City: POLICE MURDER MUST STOP!

The Struggle to Stop Police Murder

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


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

Police murder of innocent people rages, unchecked. Every day, some cop rips away a Black person or a Latino, at any time, snuffing out their life for no good reason. Look at the video of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Washington state—the cops who killed him walked free this week. Or listen to the testimony of Latoya Howell or Sharon Irwin as they talk of the recent murders of their loved ones by the police, and then call on people to stand and rise up. Or look at the STOLEN LIVES POSTER—really look at it—look at the faces, think about what they meant to people, ask yourself why this outrage happens over and over and over again.

Nobody should have to live this way—no people should be subject to this kind of racism, this kind of arbitrary terror, this kind of systematic cruelty—and any system that does this and continues to do this, after hundreds of years and rivers of blood shed to change it, does not deserve to survive. We need a revolution. And right now, thousands and thousands and thousands of people need to stand up and march together in New York City on OCTOBER 24 to say: POLICE MURDER MUST STOP. This outpouring will draw a sharp line, posing the question for the whole world to see: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?




People have been resisting this horror in a way and with a power not seen for decades. Think about Ferguson, when people rose up against the wanton killing of Michael Brown—and yes, that WAS a wanton, unjustified, outrageous MURDER. Think about how people flooded the streets of the cities over the refusal of the grand juries to even bring to trial the murderer of Michael Brown and the pig who choked Eric Garner to death, for the “crime” of supposedly selling cigarettes. Go back to the spring—the powerful demonstrations on April 14, and then the uprising in Baltimore when yet another young Black man—Freddie Gray—was grabbed for nothing, his spine broken: murdered by a gang of killer cops. Think about the ways in which all kinds of people united in these outpourings—how the people who face this hell every day were joined by many others throughout society. It hammered at the legitimacy of the police to run roughshod in the Black and Latino communities; it put the U.S. on the defensive all over the world; and it gave heart and hope to millions and millions in the U.S. And powerful as it was, it was only the beginning of what is necessary and possible—including the potential for all this to be an important part of a movement FOR revolution, as things develop.

And this is something that the powers-that-be do not want. Bob Avakian has made the point that:

Even with the very real changes in the situation of Black people, as part of the larger changes in the society (and the world) overall—including a growth of the “middle class” among Black people, an increase in college graduates and people in higher-paying and prestigious professions, with a few holding powerful positions within the ruling political structures, even to the extent now of a Black president—the situation of Black people, and in particular that of millions and millions who are trapped in the oppressive and highly repressive conditions of the inner city ghettos, remains a very acute and profound contradiction for the American imperialist system as a whole and for the ruling class—something which has the potential to erupt totally out of the framework in which they can contain it.

BAsics 3:18

A Political War Over Their Legitimacy

Think about that: “the potential to erupt totally out of the framework in which [the imperialists] can contain it.” This potential frightens the capitalist-imperialist class that rules this society, profoundly. They do not want this eruption, at all, in any way, shape, or form. Not even a hint of it. They do, and have always done, for 400 years, everything they can to prevent it, to punish any expression when it happens, and if at all possible to nip it in the bud before it can happen. Why do you think they roll up as they do on 11-year-old Black children, brutalizing and intimidating them, trying to break the spirits of these beautiful youngsters—not as an exception, but as their standard operating procedure, part of their damn “playbook” in every major urban area?

Because they not only don’t want this kind of eruption, but because their system cannot provide a decent future for millions of Black and Latino youths and can only offer police terror and prison, the powers-that-be keep counterattacking the rising struggle against police murder, and they have stepped this up to a vicious pitch. Right now, there is what amounts to a political war going on. A war over whether it is “legitimate” for the police to murder Black and Latino people and then walk free because these bullying cops say they “were afraid” of an unarmed man, no matter what the actual reality of the circumstances were. When this defense stands time after time, when it is approved by the Justice Department as it was in Ferguson and then is used to exonerate the killers of Jonathan Ferrell in North Carolina, or last week, when those who murdered Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Washington state were exonerated—then this becomes the force of law. Is all that going to stand? Or will there be powerful force, even more powerful than before, that asserts and demands in the face of this absolutely illegitimate use of force: “NO! THIS MURDER BY POLICE MUST BE STOPPED NOW AND THE GUILTY ONES—ALL OF THEM—MUST BE PUNISHED.”

There is a political war going on over whether resistance to police terror and murder is not only justified but necessary, a matter of survival, or whether people must stay on their knees and beg for change. When FOX News devotes day after day to non-stop demonization of protesters and then when CNN picks this up by “raising the question for debate” of whether the protesters are “making it impossible and dangerous for the police to do their job” (their “job,” no one ever mentions, of hammering oppressed people into “their place”)—and when all this is coupled with endless, almost religious, news coverage of police funerals along with breathless accounts of the manhunts for people alleged to have killed them—this is the “free press” (that is, the ruling class media) at work, manipulating minds and numbing spirits, not only changing the subject, but delegitimizing the protesters.

There is a political and moral war very explicitly going on over whether Black and Brown lives do and should matter—and why they never have to the powers-that-be in this society. WHY do nearly one out of two Black children under six live in poverty in a society whose rulers love to brag about and flaunt their great wealth (wealth in large part pumped out of the bodies of people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and of millions of exploited in this country as well)? WHY are over two million people in prison, way the highest percentage in the world, with the majority Black and Latino? WHY on every single indicator of health and flourishing are Black and Latino people invariably in much worse shape than white people? Is it their fault? Or does it come from a system that since Day One has been synonymous with an economic system, a political system, and a culture that cannot do without white supremacy?

People must be confronted with all this and challenged in a powerful way: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?? And that is the point of October 24, and the demonstrations on the days leading up to it.

One Way or Another, Things Won’t Stay the Same—the High Stakes

These conditions and this suppression of a movement are not coming from the imperialists’ strength; it is coming from their understanding of their own potential weakness and the still only-beginning-to-be-tapped potential of the people. And that makes them even more frenzied in their attacks, and it actually raises the stakes of this political war. If this whole counter-attack of stepped-up police violence and the justification of that by politicians and media, if this whole thing of letting these police who murder our people go free because they say “they’re scared,” goes unchallenged or is challenged but on too small a level... if the movement to STOP POLICE MURDER is isolated or put on the defensive... if the resistance is crushed and if, through all of that, the people on the bottom of society find that their hopes, so painfully raised, are once again dashed... then the negative consequences will be deeply, deeply felt for many years.

This political war is not staying static—one side or another will win out. History has examples where a determined minority of society, facing oppression but on fire with justice, refused to back down in the face of force and lies and went on to transform the thinking of millions and change everything; it has even more examples in which people try to get by, to duck their heads, to survive—and end up swallowed up by a horror greater than they ever imagined.

In fact, there has been a slow genocide going on for decades now, with the mass incarceration and police terror that has been waged against Black and Latino people. That is not exaggeration or hype. Look at the logic, dynamics, and momentum of the last few decades—with the massive, relentless demonization of Black and Latino people, the institution of mass incarceration, the growth of an armed, fascist-racist movement, all against the “backdrop” of the history and structure of this society: Things could go there faster than many people realize. These are the potential stakes if October 24 is not what it must be.

Needed, Urgently: A MASSIVE Demonstration on October 24 Against Police Murder

5 Stops

In short, it is urgent that the people’s side of this political and moral war make a major leap, with thousands and thousands and thousands flooding the streets of New York on October 24, saying POLICE MURDER MUST STOP! And challenging millions, here and all over the world, with the simple but fundamental question: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? This demonstration must be large enough and determined enough, it must speak the truth with enough certitude and boldness, to actually change the terms of how millions and millions of people are thinking about this... and what they are willing to do about it. This demonstration must come back at all the repression, the slanders, the distortions, all the more powerfully, enabling people to see through the lies to the real truth, challenging them, awakening them.

The basis for this exists. It exists in the turmoil through society, it exists in how sharply this battle is now joined and how many people are paying attention to it and aching to do something about it. And this basis can also be seen in the beginning response to the plan for October 24. Look at the video of August 27, and listen to the speakers—these speakers, coming from a whole variety of experience and understanding, let you know the real deal, they tear the cover off the lies, and they could move all kinds of audiences. There was certitude in what they said and how they said it, in the justness of their cause, and the audience of hundreds responded powerfully. Beyond that, there is the increasingly diverse list of signers of the call for #RiseUpOctober, and that reflects the potential to bring the spirit and views and fighters from other struggles against a common enemy together against this outrage. There are people reaching out to the coalition that is organizing October 24 from campuses and unions, people wanting to learn about it, people wanting speakers. Look at that Stolen Lives Poster and think of the ways that it could be used to make the question come alive to those who don’t know about it or don’t want to know about it.

But all this has to be marshaled and raised to something on a different level, it has to be organized, and the people who are willing, or would be willing if they knew about it, have to be challenged and welcomed to take part, to bring their ideas and initiative and energy into the mix. What has happened shows the potential, but that’s all it shows. But IF that reaching out and organizing is done, in a way that lets people into things and gives them a framework in which they contribute their fullest, then this movement can bring out people with determination and certitude from all over, in numbers not seen before around this battle, and change the terms of how people see it, whether it’s after all OK... or whether it must STOP. Again, all of society will be challenged: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

Think of what would be changed if October 24 is what it needs to be: What if the hundreds of people who already do want to see this happen and want to work for it, and the thousands who could be won to work for it if only they were reached and mobilized—what if they DO go all-out and accomplish this? And what if thousands and thousands and thousands pour out in New York on October 24, in a tremendously diverse and extremely determined manifestation and through that influence millions, all over the world? What if there are banners in the crowd from school organizations and unions, from churches and professional associations, combined with strong organized showings of those sections of people most oppressed by the police—with the families of police murder victims at the forefront? What if there are all kinds of people and nationalities, from the suburbs to the mean streets, joined by famous artists and prominent people of conscience? What if revolutionary communists are deep in the mix, boldly bringing forward Bob Avakian’s analysis of the problem we face and the work he has done on the solution to it, raising people’s sights and pointing to the real possibility of revolution and a whole different future? What if the efforts are made even more forcefully to reach out to those who are fighting against the oppression and degradation and dehumanization of women and all victims of gender oppression... those battling against the way the U.S. lays waste to the whole world and rains down terror from the skies in doing so... those working against the lunatic, profit-driven plunder of the environment... the fighters for the rights of immigrants...and if these folks come out and join their voices and bring their “fronts of battle” and experience into the mix? And what if revolutionaries, radicals, liberals, and people who may not have a whole worked-out view but just know in their hearts that police murder must stop—what if all those people march together?

Then the so-called legitimacy of this murder and violence by the police will be put on the defensive... the people will get a greater sense of their potential fighting power and potential alliances and can become more organized and their sights will be raised to the possibility of larger struggle... those who rule will be pushed back, politically, and increasingly fight amongst themselves... and we will be closer to ending this terror and, yes, to revolution and human emancipation.

Which Side Are You On?

Everyone, no matter what you think about any other question, has to decide: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? The side of those who violently bring down police terror and then let these police go free... or the side of those who will not tolerate that and are ready to act to STOP it?

We are at an important moment, a crucial crossroads. Terms are being set as to what is legitimate, what will be tolerated and what will be opposed. Lives are at stake. Be part of determining the outcome. Take that step, and help make it happen.



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