The October 22-24 Demonstrations—Rise Up October

An Important Step Forward in the Fight Against Police Terror—That Must Now Be Taken Further

November 2, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


October 24
Rise Up October, October 24, 2015, New York City. The front of the march. Photo: Erik McGregor

The demonstrations on October 22 to 24 against police murder and terror said in unmistakable terms that THIS MUST STOP. The thousands who testified, resisted, and marched through the streets made clear that there was a force, a movement, that is determined to draw a clear line, challenging everyone, throughout the country, to RISE UP against this.

Last fall, the exoneration of the blue-coated murderers of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and then Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, provoked thousands to pour into the streets for weeks and weeks, and then in Baltimore in the spring people rose up in righteous rebellion. In response, the powers that be acted to both repress and derail the movement. The people needed to come back into the streets, determined to STRUGGLE to end the genocidal madness of rampant police murder and mass incarceration, and determined to reach out broadly to do so. The dual tactics of outright attack and the sugar-coated poison of misdirection actually intensified in the days leading up to and through these demonstrations. (See "Cops Can't Do Their Job on Video—Then What IS Their 'Job'?!" "No, Mr. President! Aiding and Abetting the Slow Genocide of Black People Is a Crime Against Humanity," and “Reality Check on October 20 Events in East Harlem, NYC: The REAL Problem,” which goes into how an incident with an NYPD cop just days before Rise Up October was used as a pretext to attack the protest.)

In the face of all this, all kinds of people came out. This included the force of over 100 family members who had lost loved ones to police murder, fighting through their pain to let the world know what happened and expressing a determination to put an end to this terror and murder. It included voices of conscience who joined with those parents and, in some cases, came under attack for doing so. It included students coming from scores of different colleges and high schools, often having made this a question on the whole campus. It included those, again sometimes in groups and sometimes alone, coming from the neighborhoods where the police terror goes on daily and where mass incarceration scars the lives and destinies of whole peoples. It included people from the suburbs, clergy and religious people of different faiths, artists and scientists and teachers, who refused to turn their heads or be silent. It included people from all the different regions of this country. And it also included the Revolutionary Communist Party and the Revolution Club: bringing out the full picture of WHY this was happening, pointing to the solution to this through revolution and the leadership of that revolution in Bob Avakian, and showing how this struggle contributed to that, and—at the same time—giving leadership and coherence to a movement that is capable of uniting with everyone who could be united right now to demand that this genocidal murder STOP.

As people testified in Times Square and sat in at Rikers Island prison and then poured through the streets on October 24, the full dimensions of the horror began to emerge. Its roots in the system of white supremacy and the centuries-long and ongoing oppression of Black, Latino, and Native American peoples in this country were exposed. And the legitimacy of this system’s violence began to be put on trial. What happened at these demonstrations, and the voices of some of those who came, are highlighted in this issue. (See "No More Stolen Lives: Say Their Names," "A Shout-out to the Courageous Fighters Who Put Their Bodies on the Line to Shut Down Rikers Island Prison," and "Thousands in the Streets of NYC for #RiseUpOctober: STOP POLICE TERROR! Which Side Are You On?") The key to the agitation and organizing that led to this was to sharply lay out the reality to people and squarely put the challenge to them: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

Shut Down Rikers, October 23

Protesters blocking the entrance to Rikers. Photo:

The outpouring hit with real impact. There were page-one pictures and stories in some of the major New York City papers, as well as broader coverage nationally and internationally. (See the Stop Mass Incarceration Network website,, for the national and international media coverage of Rise Up October). Then, directly after the demonstrations, forces in the police (including NYPD Commissioner Bratton) and the media (especially but not only FOX News) not only attacked the demonstrations but also specifically targeted film director Quentin Tarantino for coming to the demonstrations and calling out murder by the police. The movement hit back, and through all this began to pose the challenge to even broader sections of society: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? Now, in a certain sense, the struggle has been joined on certain terms—you’re either for keeping this shit, in some form or other, or you’re against it.

Now we all have to carry forward this whole “Rise Up! Which Side Are You On?” standard of uniting ALL who want to struggle to stop police murder. This means defending Quentin Tarantino in that context, mobilizing people against further outrages as they happen, and really getting people out there for the November 22 day of action to forcefully demand the indictment of the cops who murdered 12-year-old Tamir Rice for playing with a toy gun. (See "Voices of Conscience Step Up in Defense of Quentin Tarantino and Condemn the Police Union Threats and Boycott" and "November 22: Justice for Tamir Rice!"; and go to "Breaking News and Outrages" for news of ongoing outrages, like the videotaped police brutalization of a high school student, a young Black woman, in South Carolina.)

These three days in October were just a foreshadowing of the movement that we actually need and which in fact is possible. The thousands who came out, their spirit of militant STRUGGLE, and their determination to CHALLENGE ALL OF SOCIETY TO TAKE SIDES marked the emergence of what could be and what must be something new. The fact that at least in a beginning way new people worked and sacrificed to make this happen—donating money, throwing themselves into organizing and helping to lead—provides a foundation for this to really go forward in a more powerful way. The program of struggle called for by Carl Dix and Cornel West (“A Message from Cornel West and Carl Dix on October 24”) gives a focus. In the days to come, the movement needs to both dig into what we did right and what we did wrong—our strengths as well as our shortcomings and mistakes... but even more, it needs to do this in the spirit of going forward, united in even more powerful expressions, until this is actually STOPPED.

What we said in our editorial in September, applies to the task before us now:

There is a place for you in this. Your ideas, your support, your efforts are urgently needed... In fact, this can only happen on the scale that is absolutely necessary if many, many people throw in on this, now—people who have been fighting this, as well as people who are just now coming to the fight. You are needed. We face a decisive moment, a crossroads, where terms are being set as to what is legitimate, what will be tolerated and what will be opposed. Lives are at stake. Be part of determining the outcome.



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