Times Square: A Powerful Launch for Rise Up October
No More Stolen Lives: #Say Their Names

A Public Reading and Remembrance: A Demand for Justice

October 22, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Rise up October launched powerfully on October 22. Relatives of 40 different victims of police murder, joined by powerful and prominent voices of conscience, came to the heart of New York City’s Times Square from across New York—and also from California, from Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Michigan, North Carolina, and other states.

They told heartbreaking, painful stories of loved ones murdered by police, and the killers walking free. They told of the anguish and ache that time doesn’t cure. They expressed the largeness of their hearts in the face of all their pain, and their fierce desire to keep any other families from enduring what they have endured. Some family members have been demanding justice for years, and have lost none of their fire and conviction. Others were doing it for the first time, and found heart in those who had gone through the same excruciating experience. All spoke of their determination to keep fighting for justice, and forcefully challenged others to do the same.

Several people made the point that they had become part of a group none of them wanted to be part of—those who had lost loved ones to police murder—but they drew strength and love from each other. Paris Bey, whose niece Janisha Fonville was murdered by cops in North Carolina, said, “We Won’t Stop, We Won’t Stop, Until Killer Cops Are in Cell Blocks”!

Hundreds of people were part of this amazing experience, some for the whole time, others at different points in the four-hour event—young, middle aged, and elderly. They were Black, Latino, Asian, Native American, and white. They were students, activists, and people from the projects. A group of clergy, many in full vestments, participated as a contingent. People brought beautiful and deeply moving art, and read poems. They raised their fists and expressed their determination to continue this fight.

“No More Stolen Lives: #Say Their Names,” reverberated and challenged people in Times Square—the ugly, glitzy, depraved heart of American consumerism that is life in America. Crowds of pedestrians, tourists on double-decker buses, people watching live stream video and social media, were confronted by the challenge—which side are you on? The side of the murdering, brutalizing police, or the side of the victimized families and others determined to STOP this shit.

Passionate, deeply felt readings of the names of Stolen Lives were given by prominent voices of conscience in education, the arts, clergy, and the legal arena. They presented the lives, and the humanity, of some of the thousands of people murdered by police over the past decades. The names and stories they read painted an infuriating panorama of the people murdered by police—ranging from an 11-month old baby to a 92-year-old Black woman murdered by police who got the wrong address on a drug bust.

Those reading names included Eve Ensler, Gina Belafonte, Naomi Wallace, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Garbus, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and others. They repeatedly challenged people: Say Her Name! Say His Name—with conviction.And the crowd responded... people repeatedly raised their fists and shouted RISE UP!, and the names of the Stolen Lives.

This was an historic and unprecedented coming together of a whole tapestry of voices demanding a STOP to police murder and terror. It shined a spotlight on and condemned systematic, pervasive police brutality and murder, and posed a challenge to confront this with the determination to stop it.

This beautiful, powerful manifestation took place in the face of a storm of politicians and media attempting to turn reality upside down in the wake of the death of one NYC cop, and rule out of order any acknowledgement of an epidemic of police terror. Many family members and others spoke to this and refused to be silenced. Eve Ensler was quoted saying “That murder does not discount the hundreds of deaths that we are seeing and continuing to see and the lack of any indictments and the lack of any justice and that’s why I’m here today.”

Stolen Lives—#SayTheirNames drove home two truths. There is an epidemic of murder and brutality by cop in this country; it is a plague upon Black and Latino people everywhere in the U.S.; murdering cops routinely get away with murder.

But it also cohered and expressed the truth that there is a growing movement that is out to STOP this, once and for all. It is bringing together deeply religious people and revolutionary communists; it is bringing together people who think that there are “good cops” and “bad ones,” and people who think not just the police but the whole system of oppression they enforce is the problem; it is bringing together students from privileged backgrounds at elite universities and youths from the hard projects of the inner cities.

It is bringing all these people together to act, to move together, to put an end to the situation in which cops can gun people down, or choke them till they can’t breathe, or beat and tase them to death, and get away with it time after time. All that and more came together in Times Square on October 22—but it needs to go much, much further. It needs to reach all corners of society.

The powers that be are out to silence these voices who dare to speak out. They are out to crush and confuse opposition to their regime of police violence. They must not be allowed to succeed.

What began on October 22 can and must be a powerful platform for taking that movement to a whole other level of social impact, and to actually STOPPING murder by police.



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