Night for Justice at NYU: A Call and Challenge to Act

October 5, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Clerida Eltime

Clerida Eltime

Mia Thornton

Mia Thornton

Carl Dix

Carl Dix

Gwen Carr

Gwen Carr.

Photos: Revolution/


“The Night for Justice” at the Silver School of Social Work at New York University on October 1 started with a slideshow accompanied by live music from professional cellist Clerida Eltime. Horrific images from almost 100 years of lynchings—Black bodies defiled in the most inhuman and vicious way; the KKK smiling and walking free. Many, many decades of Black people being murdered and brutalized with cops and racist vigilantes walking free. The faces of Emmett Till, Eleanor Bumpurs, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown... and more. Mothers’ faces stained with tears of grief and anger. But also the people’s struggle against all this. People going up against fire hoses and dogs 50 years ago... and people facing tear gas and rubber bullets today in Ferguson.

The event was sponsored by Project R.E.P.A.I.R. and its founder Mia Thornton, a graduate student at NYU’s Silver School of Social Work, who opened the program saying, “I have invited you all here so we can explore the history of oppression and violence acted out in our communities across the country. As you saw from the opening video, today’s terror is nothing new. No, it’s old practices played out on a new stage, with new faces and new names. But this sort of terror is nothing new.”

The audience of about 75 included students at the NYU School of Social Work, as well as students from schools of social work at other campuses, including Columbia, Yale, and Stony Brook. The lineup of speakers exposed people to different, sometimes conflicting perspectives, including from Marc Morial, former mayor of New Orleans, and Carl Dix, an initiator of Rise Up October and representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

Angelo Pinto from the Raise the Age Campaign talked about how youth, especially those who are tried as adults, are being literally tortured in jails and prisons (see rush transcript). Krista Larson from the Vera Institute of Justice talked about mechanisms used to try kids as adults and hold them in adult custody. People stood as Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, walked to the stage. She talked about the pain she went through of losing her son and how she doesn’t want her son’s death to be in vain—that she truly hopes this will lead to real change.

Marc Morial, former mayor of New Orleans and current president of the National Urban League, gave the keynote address. He promoted the example of the reforms he made to the New Orleans police department when he was mayor. He talked about how it was young people who fought in the civil rights movement, resisted the Vietnam War, and got arrested challenging U.S. support of apartheid in South Africa. Within the framework of calling on people to not give up on working within the system, he said young people are now needed to fight for justice and then specifically pointed to efforts by his organization to provide jobs for 5,000 youths.

The next speaker’s remarks were in sharp contrast to this view. Carl Dix, from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and the Revolutionary Communist Party, ended the evening coming from the need for “Revolution, Nothing Less.” He challenged the students, saying, “Do not let people tell you we can’t do better than this. America is not eternal; we can do better than hope for itty-bitty changes in the way that the system dogs us. Don’t get sucked into framing what you’re trying to do in the language and terms of the system and limiting yourself to working within the channels that this system puts out there. We’ve seen this movie before and I know that they got all these horror movies out there, but the result is the whole genocidal situation we face right now—and yes, I said genocide. So I’m challenging everyone here, especially you young people—get into this revolution, get into Bob Avakian and what he’s brought forward about how to make revolution. Get with the movement for revolution the RCP is building. Keep your sights aimed on emancipating all of humanity.”

And then in that context he said, “We have to mobilize everyone we can, wherever they’re coming from and however they see the problem and solution, to fight this madness we face... Rise Up October is a way to take this fight to a much higher level, right now. To bring thousands upon thousands of people into the streets of New York City to declare to the country and the world that this must STOP! And you all here tonight have to rock NYU with the message—Stop Police Terror. You have to take it into classrooms and places where students gather and challenge people—Which Side Are You On? The march is gonna start out in Washington Square Park [which is right outside NYU]. NYU has to be out in force for this and you all have to make sure that happens.”

At the end of the evening, lots of people stayed around to talk and share ideas about how to put an end to this madness and horror of police murder and mass incarceration, and in the mix, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network was enlisting people to go and organize for Rise Up October.



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