Stop Mass Incarceration Network Marches in the Harlem African American Heritage Day Parade

September 26, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From people working with Stop Mass Incarceration Network:

African American Heritage Day Parade in Harlem, September 20 #RiseUpOctober was a powerful presence in the African American Day Parade, Harlem, September 20. Photo: Special to

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network marched in the September 20 African American Heritage Day Parade in Harlem, New York City, to spread the challenge of Stop Police Terror! Which Side Are You On? #RiseUpOctober and bring many more people into this battle. We made a huge impact with the almost 20 feet long by 10 feet high Stolen Lives float. It was a show stopper. People were cheering and clapping with big smiles on their faces and taking pictures of the Stolen Lives float and our contingent along with the Black Lives Matter NYC Coalition that marched with us. As we chanted, “If you refuse to live like this, let me see you raise your fist!” people along the march shot their fists in the air. People loved and joined in chanting, “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!” We sang the “Hell You Talmbout” song as we marched. People grabbed the #RiseUpOctober palm cards and Stolen Lives posters—15,000 palm cards were distributed along with hundreds of posters.

The following is an example of the back and forth between our person on the bullhorn and the crowd along the parade:

We got to get organized, y’all. October 24, national protest against police terror! Hundreds of families who lost loved ones to murder by the police will be in New York to be here with y’all. October 24 if you want to unite with them, let me hear you say hell yeah! [crowd: hell yeah!] If you want to unite like that to stop all these stolen lives, let me hear you say hell yeah! [crowd: hell yeah!] Why do we need to make a poster like this? Why? Because the police are killing people all over the country. It’s got to stop. They killin’ more people than got lynched back in the day, and it’s got to stop. Ain’t that right? If you feel that way, let me hear you say hell yeah! [crowd: hell yeah!]

The African American Heritage Day Parade on its website says it the largest African American parade in the country. We were invited to participate in it. This and our impact are all the more significant because the parade is full of all kinds of law enforcement contingents, including various permutations of the NYPD, New York State Police and the Rikers Island corrections officers. The Rikers Island corrections officer contingent had the outrageous audacity to have a bus they use to transport people to Rikers Island in the parade! And there we were calling out the police murder of Black and Latino people and mass incarceration with people cheering and clapping. When we arrived in front of the official reviewing stand, the person on our bullhorn chanted, “If you refuse to live like this, let me see you raise your fist!” and many in the reviewing stand raised their fist. The parade chairman, bright red sash and all, was pumping his fist in the air and came over to shake the hand of the person on the bullhorn. A woman on the huge sound system at the reviewing system boomed out, “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!”

Almost 20 of us were joined by about the same number of people from the Black Lives Matter NYC Coalition. We were both scheduled to march in the parade separately and on the spot decided to combine our contingents. The two contingents were led by the latter’s “Black Lives Matter” banner, which spread almost across much of the width of the street. The combined contingents included family members of people murdered by the police, including Nicholas Heyward, Jr., Akai Gurley, Eric Garner, and Shaaliver Douse. Others in the combined contingents included members of the Revolution Club NYC, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, the People’s Power Assembly, and Cop Watch Patrol Unit.



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