Report on Monday, October 12, 2015

From the Student Task Force for #RiseUpOctober

October 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Early that morning everybody on the team read three articles on (along with other articles): Carl Dix’s statement “Authorities Greasing Skids to Exonerate Tamir’s Murderers!,” along with the accompanying article, “Tens of Thousands Come to DC for Justice or Else Rally - What Is Really Needed for the Movement to STOP Police Terror?,” and “Some Lessons in Building the Rise Up October Event at Columbia University.”  Going into Monday we knew that the first two articles were societal questions that were ruminating in people’s minds.  So we made sure to get ourselves oriented for the big day ahead of us.

A team traveled to Sarah Lawrence University, which had a contingent at the Justice Or Else Rally.  They went without knowing anybody but were very bold and agitated on the above points (in the articles referenced) and quickly drew forward very serious students who wanted to organize for #RiseUpOctober.  They spoke to a young woman from Turkey who introduced herself as an anti-capitalist and the team briefly walked through BAsics 1:3 with the side by side pictures of the police beating down a Black man protesting police murder and U.S. troops in Iraq ganging up on residents in Fallujah rebelling against U.S. occupation.  There was an immediate attraction even as there were all sorts of beginning questions to get into, like “internationalism—­the whole world comes first.”  They then attracted an organizer who organized a caravan to D.C.  The team really got into the “Justice Or Else...” article and drew from BAsics 3:22.  The heading in the second part of the article of “What Is Really Needed for the Movement to STOP Police Terror” was a point of departure—particularly in the need to not settle for anything less than STOPPING this genocide.  This organizer quickly got into motion to get transportation for NYC and potentially book the #RiseUpOctober Speaking Tour on campus.   The team also interacted with several groups on campus who were very excited to take #RiseUpOctober to their organizations and work with the person there taking responsibility to organize (whom we met that day) to make it happen and travel to NYC for #RiseUpOctober.  This team was summing up the great potential that exists broadly throughout society where they can go on to a campus and not know anybody but quickly draw forward and organize people who are serious about STOPPING POLICE TERROR and MURDER!

Another person in our team went alone to a private university in NYC.  She met up with a student who attended the “Night for Justice” at NYU where Carl Dix had been a keynote speaker.  While this newly-met student was very passionate, she’d never done anything as bold as talk to other students about the burning question of police murder.  The person in our team was summing up that they had to be quick on their feet.  They tried a variety of different tactics to interact with the student body: agitating, one-on-ones, passing out palm cards, etc..  A big part of proceeding on this approach was the reality that we’re quickly approaching #RiseUpOctober and if these students don’t step into the fight to stop murder and terror by police this genocide will continue (and accelerate).  In addition, this is the first time this person on our team went off by themselves with another student and they really had to rely on what they understood to be true and what they’ve been learning in how to lead others.  Along with the student at this school they made beginning plans to get the Stolen Lives Poster around campus and work on making a meet up point on the campus for students to travel together to Washington Square Park.

I spent the day interacting with students in different parts of the country.  Off of some of the above but even leading into the day itself I knew the articles I had the team read were important because of their social impact and because of the importance in us intervening and leading others to fight all the way through to STOP Police Terror and Murder.  I talked to some students who have “checked out” and I will say an important point of orientation was clearly setting the terms of the discussion.  While these students had been following and paying attention to all of the above there was a reality check moment: they could not avoid the character assassination of Tamir Rice and how wrong the “expert reports” were.  At the same time, the 10-10 rally had had an effect on them.  In the main, for different reasons, this seems to have sparked people’s hunger to fight back, concretely, against police murder.  At the same time, I did think it important to get into how this rally divided into two—including the content of the criticism in the article we had.  In different discussions we got into the question of patriarchy, of boycotts, and kept coming back to the need to actually FIGHT this. 

In reflecting on these particular experiences there were several things I learned: (1) we can’t be afraid to challenge others to act on their convictions (even those who say they are “with it”) and even with their differences on how to ultimately stop police terror and murder—that is, we should struggle over people around what it’s going to take to end this, but we should even more right now struggle with those who think that programs of reform may be the answer that whatever they think they need to be out there October 24, since without tens of thousands and ultimately millions struggling nothing will change; and (2) the objective situation (the larger reality that we’re all part of) is constantly transforming in unpredictable ways and we have to be ready to get into the middle of all that and struggle thru what is truly needed at this moment and at this time and how NEW, different, and ATTRACTIVE what we’re bringing forward and represent truly is.

The above was further concentrated on our conference call.  We drew from the above referenced articles and the biggest question on the call was the need to struggle sharply with everybody.  A young activist raised that she doesn’t know how to bring people forward when she’s being so sharp.  A high school student on the call (who has organized walk-outs on her campus) said with a lot of certitude and clarity “we just have to be real with people if they don’t want to confront that reality then they’re on the wrong side and that on the basis of compelling people to face reality, we need to keep challenging them to act.” And this was very helpful for everybody on the call to hear.  There’s more to sum up; but an important element of the call was peers struggling with each other to understand the importance of #RiseUpOctober and struggling with each other to throw all in these next several days. 

A student from Columbia University was going to join the conference call but we came to a collective decision that it’d be more important to attend an indigenous day open mic on campus as this would be an important opportunity to interact with students and organized them into Columbia’s #RiseUpOctober plans.  In addition, part of what we’re learning from students off of the October 7th program is the deep effect of the overall process in booking a room and in hearing these speakers.   People have been going through different kinds of changes coming off this.  Its been very important to not lose sight of what’s been opened up and work with people through sorting out the larger questions of “what’s my life going to be about” even as they’re figuring out the ways to act in ways that are commensurate to today’s reality.

By the end of the day our team stepped back and filled each other in on our day’s activity.  We posed questions to each other in striving to build off of our experience and max out in the days leading into #RiseUpOctober.  In addition, we took the time to get into BA’s quote “There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness...”  This was very important as it helped re-ground our team of why we’re doing all this.  People walked through their day in trying to lead people to a more scientific understanding of the oppression of Black people even as they’re wrestling to more deeply understand and proceed from the materialism of why nothing short of a revolution can resolve this contradiction and open up a pathway towards emancipation.  Somebody else reflected on why nothing short of a communist revolution will even have a fighting chance in people getting free and got into some of their understanding of why that argument is true.  Our discussion wasn’t long but it was important for everybody to step back and further contextualize what we’re doing.  It emphasized the importance that if we’re serious about making revolution we have to (continuously) get into BA. 


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