Voices from the Crowd on October 24

October 26, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


October 24, New Yorko City

Photo revcom.us


Revolution reporters and volunteers talked to many people at the rally and march on October 24. The following are excerpts from some of the interviews.

Cephus Johnson, “Uncle Bobby”

I am the uncle of the young man named Oscar Grant who was killed on the Fruitvale BART platform on January 1, 2009, lying face down in a prone position with his hands behind his back, when Officer Mehserle stands up and shoots him in the back. As you know there was a major rebellion that took place in response to Oscar’s murder. And what was tremendous about that was the community embraced the family, they stayed with the family, they cried with the family, but they went back and forth with the family. Most importantly, they utilized their First Amendment right to speak to the very injustice. What we see here in New York City, with the community and families joining together marching… letting the world know that police terrorism is not going to be tolerated no more, and we’re here to speak loud about it, so that all can hear. That this must stop! And we’re asking you the question, “Which side are you on?” Join us in this movement to bring justice, freedom, and equality to all people.


30-year-old Black man from Ferguson

I came out to the protest because the police murders continue. I had started protesting in Ferguson but then the protests were dying down. So I knew we all had to come out to Rise Up October and support one another. I had been working on Rise Up October with other people in Ferguson. They were raising money so this protest could happen. And I was part of all that.

October 24, New York
Photo: Phil Buehler

What did you hope to accomplish?

To support one another. New York came through. Baltimore came through. California came through. All these places came through. I didn’t know all those police killings had gone on in New York City and all the other places! For all of us to come together in New York City and support the families of people murdered by police. It was a masterpiece, a masterpiece of a protest.

Was there anything the speakers said that struck you the most?

Yes, the woman whose son was killed by the police who said that the only way she could face the pain of losing her son was to keep using crack! She said she would continue do her best, but the pain that she is feeling since her son was murdered is bad!

What is your impression of who was at Rise Up October?

Myself, many others—it was actually a mass of people! And all different nationalities.

What do you think it would really take to stop police terror?

We have to address the Black-on-Black crime—so people will have a different focus than they do now. And we have to go to aldermen and other politicians to get reforms. But what we really have to do is get the revolution organized. We have to do much more to organize the revolution. We need billboards, all over, to get the revolution out there more, so it can be known to many more people. We need to make a really good pitch so that more people would actually see the advertising for this. Before Rise Up October, in Ferguson, we went to people’s houses and watched the videos of Bob Avakian’s speeches—but it has to be much more of this.


A person from the Green Party, New York

The Green Party has endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement for a long time… We have a Brooklyn representative here and we have a Manhattan representative and Long Island. Basically we’ve stood against the police state and against mass incarceration, and we think it’s really important to support as part of a movement. And we think it’s important to say it kind of ties into all these problems, whether you talk about the climate crisis or low-wage workers being exploited or Black people being killed by the police. It’s all about people being disempowered and we think big organizing is important to this.


Male student from Truman State University, liberal arts university in Kirksville, Missouri, studying sociology

I thought that [Rise Up October] would be a good opportunity for me to learn more, and to experience something like this. That it would help me to better educate the community, if I could experience a demonstration with other people. I was hoping to hear from the families, the stories that would resonate with me that I could share with other people, so I could spread the word.

What struck me was that whenever people spoke, they told how there was no accountability whenever their loved ones were killed by the police. In every case, not getting justice for their deaths!...

I feel like the entire capitalist system of America was built on slavery and genocide and that we have to recognize as a people that it continues today. And we have to get rid of the system that encourages that! 


Asian man, about 30 years old

October 24, New York City
Photo: Phil Buehler

I came out here because this issue is a serious issue that our country needs to pay attention to. I think there is more and more attention on it, but I still haven’t seen any real commitment from the government, from the people in power, to do anything about it.

Of the speakers and families, what has most struck you?

Just seeing the resilience of the family members; that they’re able to come out here in this weather and explain their stories… It takes a lot of courage to do that, it takes a lot of patience. Just seeing their strength, to do a lot more work for them. If I were in their shoes I don’t think I would be able to do what they do, and they are forever inspiring another generation of people.

What do you think it will take to completely stop police brutality and murder?

You know, I wish I had the answer to that. But all I know is that it’s going to take a lot more people to come out, and it’s going to take all of us to contribute to this effort. I think, like everyone has been saying, we can’t just go home and say it’s been a good day. We have to go home and do our homework and do something about it.


A male student at Columbia College, Chicago, studying game design

I came because [an organizer with #RiseUp] came into class and made an announcement: We are going to NYC, this is why, this is what it is about, this is when we are going, this is how much it costs—and at the end, he asked all of us, “Which side are you on?” And I said, “Shit, this is the side I’m on!”

Previously, in that same class, I had seen the 11-minute video of Cornel West talking, with some of the families of people killed by police. I had known that people were murdered by the police but I had not known the extent of it. The video helped me to understand.

What did you hope to accomplish?

Getting a lot of people out there and getting it visible, so that all the people like me, who didn’t know about it, would get a wake-up call. We did get a lot of visibility! In New York, due to the numbers we had, traffic was snarled on a lot of streets and just came to a halt. So I think that a lot of people did find out about Rise Up October. A side point: the police had put up tall metal fences along the route of the march to cordon it off from the people passing by. People on the street just jumped over the fences to join the march.

Was there anything the speakers said that struck you the most?

What struck me the most was that I thought it was going to be a lot of sad stories, sort of like a memorial service, but instead, the speakers were stone-cold angry!

What is your impression of who was at Rise Up October?

I expected that all those types of people would attend. But what surprised me was the quantities! As far as what was new to me, all of it! It was my first protest!

What do you think it would really take to stop police terror?

Well, a complete overhaul of the whole system of policing—to utterly stop this in its tracks. It can’t be just a few reforms, but a complete change in the whole structure of policing.


Deonte Davis, cousin of Tony Robinson, murdered by Madison, Wisconsin police

I’m just here supporting, getting the justice I need for my family. [Tony’s] mom’s here, this is something big that we’ve been waiting for this moment for a while. We just want to get our justice.

What do you think about what’s happening here today?

Oh it’s amazing. We got a lot of people coming together, coming together as one, one voice, getting shit done. I mean it’s amazing.

What are you hoping to accomplish?

Hopefully to stop killing us, and actually hear our voices, so that we’re heard.

How did it feel to be connected to all these families?

I mean, to know I’m not the only one who goes through this, and it’s more people than I expected. It’s amazing.


Students from Prairie View A&M University in Texas

We came up here, we knew we had to do something to try to move the student body in Texas.

How many of you?

We had 15… and we’re trying to get our numbers up.

How did you organize it?

X came to the school and helped us out. And they told the students what to do, and then the kids just worked together and took it on.

Do you feel we’re accomplishing something important here?

Oh, yeah. This is going to be historic and I hope that it keeps on going. I can’t wait.

Are you going to take it back to Prairie View?

Oh, yeah! Oh, yeah! We got to get more people out here.


Donna Kay Williams, member of Orange, New Jersey City Council and People’s Organization for Progress

People’s Organization for Progress is in support of the march and we came out to support the effort, the Rise Up October.

What struck you about the speeches and the rally?

I will tell you, just watching the murders that are going on and the lack of responsibility on the person shooting, in this case the various police officers, and them being held accountable is what brings me out to say we have to do something about this. While I am a city legislator I’m a person too who has family members, and this is something that you can’t stop thinking about. And I’m telling you I’ve been thinking about it more because after seeing all the pictures of all those people killed there’s a portion of people as far as the West Coast, Chicago, everybody here, so when you accumulate a combination of all those pictures together you say, “wow.”


Cadine Williams from Oakland, California, whose brother O’Shaine Evans was killed by San Francisco police, October 7, 2014

It's time to rise up. This is well overdue. This is well overdue people. Get off that couch. Shut that big screen off. Stop being comfortable with them killing us. Stop being comfortable with being oppressed. Get out, fight for your rights. Stand up, fight back against this system. Tell the system we'll no longer have this. No more stolen lives. No more stolen lives.

What did it mean for you to get up on that stage and speak today?

It means a lot for hundreds of people to hear my story about my brother. Because if you don't make it to the media too much, your story will never be told. No one will have known who O’Shaine Evans is, was. You know that's my brother and I am my brother's keeper, and I'm going to keep on. Keep on fighting for my brother.

What do you hope will be accomplished today?

I hope more people will come out. I hope everyone will rise up against this system, and say no more. Enough is enough. I hope they will... people will stop being comfortable with them just killing us like that. People will unite, and get together, and overthrow this system!

What do you think it's going to take to finally put an end to this police murder?

For more people to come out. More people to come out and take these streets over and say enough is enough. Take the whole damn street over! Fuck half of the street! Let's take the whole street over!



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