Reality Check on October 20 Events in East Harlem, NYC

The REAL Problem

Updated October 26, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


The reactionary New York press—from the Daily News to FOX News and the New York Post—wasted no time slandering the extraordinary culmination to the three days of Rise Up October actions in New York City—the powerful, stunning rallies and two-mile march of thousands of people from all over the country up 5th Avenue, demanding “Stop Police Terror” and challenging the thousands on the sidewalks riveted to it to join this battle and take their stand: “Which Side Are You On?”

These media hitmen ridiculed and degraded as a “gripe-fest” the family members of dozens and dozens of people murdered by police in cold blood who courageously traveled from across the country to tell their stories describing their devastation at the wanton killing of their loved ones and the determination to stop this from happening to anyone else. And these media are using the death of a policeman in Harlem four days earlier to say this event should never have happened.

In light of the controversy fueled by the media in the wake of this important and controversial Rise Up October, and the attacks on the demonstration, we are re-issuing this statement: The Real Problem.

* * * * *

Last night a policeman named Randolph Holder was killed in Harlem. Nobody knows the circumstances of what happened last night, including whether self-defense was involved. But already the politicians, media and police are trying to make this the center of attention of everyone. They declare that "there is a war on police," that "people must support the police all the time and on every corner," and say that people should stop protesting the rampant, ongoing, systematic murder carried out BY the police.

Rise Up October

No. This is wrong and upside down.

Let’s talk about reality. This year, police have killed at least 923 people. This figure does not count instances of people dying in custody, like Sandra Bland—the young Black woman found hung in her cell in Texas after being arrested for changing lanes. Of those people, at least 187 were unarmed. (This figure is conservative, for it leaves aside instances where the police claim the murdered person was armed but in which this claim is either false or distorted.)

Very, very few of the cops who inflicted these homicides will ever face charges. On those rare occasions they do go to trial, it is only due to either powerful mass protest and resistance OR the existence of dramatic video evidence, and fewer still will be convicted. And sometimes even THAT is not enough. In New York last year, a gang of police choked the unarmed Eric Garner to death for selling loose cigarettes, with the whole heartless, excruciating lynching caught on video. No cop was even charged. The same kinds of things go on day after day after day. And these murders are only the concentration point of a daily rule of verbal abuse, bullying, harassment and violence.

Over half of the 900 plus people that police have killed so far this year were people of color. This is no accident. One out of three Black males born in 2001 will end up spending time in prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Over 40 percent of Black children live in poverty. Black women in New York City are 12 times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. If this were happening to any other people in any other country, people would call it by its name: genocide.

THIS is the real war going on, a war against people of color. The police are the institution that enforces, with violence, this genocidal program. The police are the institution that enforces with violence a law and order of exploitation and degradation, of white supremacy and discrimination. The police play the role of an occupying army in the Black and Latino communities, 24/7/365. They play the role of modern-day slave-catchers. Any individual cop must fit his- or herself into that institution and do that enforcement—and if they don't, they don't last.

The mass political activities calling for an end to police terror and mass incarceration, called for October 22 to 24, absolutely must not only go on but be built as powerfully as possible. The thousands who will gather on those days will remember the thousands and yes millions who have been victimized by this, or who face the prospect of this every day, to insist that this MUST stop.

Which side are you on?


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