No Jail Time for Political Resisters!

LA Fighters Against Police Terror on Why They Acted

November 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On November 19, three young determined fighters against police terror and murder were each convicted of three misdemeanor charges in LA Superior Court and face up to three years in jail. These protesters had dared to hit the streets April 14, 2015—along with thousands of others in over 30 cities across the U.S.—to demand that cops STOP murdering people. In L.A., over 1,000 people took part in protests that included high school walkouts, a march through Skid Row and the shutting down of the Blue Line train for over an hour.

The following are from recent interviews with the three #ShutDownA14 protesters.

Michelle: “I knew my life had to be about something meaningful”

I grew up in South Central. Growing up, seeing people I knew getting harassed and locked up for bullshit, I started questioning why. I knew them personally and knew they were not bad people—why are they getting fucked with? When I was 18, I heard about Trayvon Martin who was one year younger than me, was racially profiled, stalked and killed by a wanna-be pig, and I was outraged. I went to a protest and heard Clyde Young [a member of the Central Committee of Revolutionary Communist Party who died in 2014] speak. He spoke about white supremacy, that this is not just one incident, it’s just one example that came out, but it happens all the time, happens with cops. It was the first time I heard cops kill Black people and get away with it. I started looking into it. I read Revolution newspaper and thought I had to get involved. I found out all over the world things are happening you don’t get told about. Zimmerman was influenced with thinking like a pig and a white supremacist. Going through the paper, I learned about mass incarceration, wars, shit I’d never heard before.

After a year of reading Revolution newspaper, where I’d heard about Bob Avakian, I watched BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! After sitting through six hours, I thought this is what I want my life to be about, not about myself. What he said at the end was very inspiring. I knew my life had to be about something meaningful.

When I decided to stay on those tracks on April 14—it was a statement, we’re not getting out of here until they stop getting away with murder. The cops keep getting away with murder. Going into April 14, I kept hearing new names, stories, seeing videos every day of people killed by police, and then Walter Scott. I would tell people, this happened and what are you doing about it? You see in the video a Black person is running from a pig, the pig shooting him in the back and planting a weapon. What are you going to do?

Felix: “People were willing to put something on the line and it was inspiring”

I grew up in L.A., near downtown, grew up in the same area my whole life. I’ve seen it change a lot. There was a lot of oppression going on, and I thought it was normal: poverty, gangs, police brutality. I thought everywhere was like that. In middle school I started seeing a change with gentrification and then I realized there was inequality. I started connecting things. It made me realize we don’t matter. I never saw things change until people came in with more money.

In 1992, I was five years old. They beat up Rodney King. I remember seeing places boarded up and burned down. I kind of always knew there was police brutality and just accepted it. I thought: stay out of trouble and get good grades and that will save you. Then I had my first bad experience with cops.

I was at home doing homework and realized I had left a book at school in my locker. I went out to go get my book. I was wearing basketball shorts and a black shirt. I was 14 years old. As soon as I went out of the building, I guess I went out quickly. The cops pulled in front of me, told me to stop. They got out and had their hands on their holsters. It was really intimidating. All I had was my keys. I lived across the street from my high school. I was just going to get my book because I was doing my homework. They said we want to talk to you. They started asking bullshit questions, trying to get something from me, guilty by association because of the neighborhood, the building I lived in. Who do you hang out with, asking about all the gangs, saying “tell me names.” I told them I don’t know about that, I stay out of it. They had no reason to stop me. Two big cops and a scrawny 14-year-old. I answered all the questions. Then they said, OK, turn around. I just responded without thinking, “What, are you serious, I answered all your questions!” They said turn around, we’re going to search you. I had to turn around and put my hands on my head, it was like a spectacle in front of my neighbors.

Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?

"Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?" is a clip from the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. The film is of the November 2014 historic Dialogue on a question of great importance in today's world between the Revolutionary Christian Cornel West and the Revolutionary Communist Bob Avakian. Watch the entire film here.

I had thought, do what you’re supposed to do and nothing will happen. But anything can happen. I would come out of my building and they would follow me to the bus stop in a really obvious way. I remember thinking, should I run, but I haven’t done anything.

I always wanted to do something to have an impact, volunteering. I always wanted to help people. I didn’t see anything better to do. If you’re helping people, you’re doing something right. I heard about Trayvon, Oscar Grant, those stories stuck with me. At the moment I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know what to do. I just continued with my life until I heard BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! at Revolution Books and that stuck with me. I remember him talking about police brutality and at a time when so much things going on. I went to different events at Revolution Books. I remember an event when people came back from protesting for abortion rights in Texas and had been arrested. People were willing to put something on the line and it was inspiring.

At one of those events, I got a flyer for a Stop Mass Incarceration Network meeting. I had always wanted to get involved with something. I had thought maybe it would be an anti-corporate movement or with the teachers' union because my sister was a teacher and after she died I thought it would be a good way to honor her. She used to talk about the school system and how she was forced to teach to the tests, so I thought maybe I would do something against No Child Left Behind. I still think the school system is really fucked up. But I found something more urgent with Stop Mass Incarceration. I had seen people protesting on the news, protests in Crenshaw, but that seemed far away. I got involved towards the October Month of Resistance in 2014. I was asked to be a monitor for the October 22 protest and that gave me a sense of responsibility—I wasn’t just attending, I was part of it and I was doing something right. It was the month of resistance and we were going to detention centers and prisons and protesting police brutality and this is when I knew I wanted to keep going. I had found a purpose, a just purpose.

On April 14, I didn’t know if I was going to stay on the tracks. I remember thinking, “I have to do my taxes.” But this time was about taking it all the way. Not just hearing inspiring stories, but being one who inspires others. At the moment I felt that was the right thing and I still do and I haven’t changed my mind about it.

Diego: “I decided to dedicate myself to the struggle to emancipate all humanity”

I grew up in South Central, the only Latino on my block to have Black friends so I was ostracized. Before the rebellion of 1992, I didn’t know shit about Black people other than the racist caricatures I heard from people close to me. Then the rebellion happened. I was young at the time, about 9 or 10 years old. I remember seeing how happy people were and it was a shock to me. All I had been told was about raging Black people and all around me they were happy, as buildings were burning down there was this beautiful scene of people being joyful, literally dancing through the streets, with full shopping carts. I wanted to get to know these people more. I have a deep appreciation for Black people, I grew up with them, was educated by an older Black couple who lived on my block. I developed an openness to what people go through.

In my neighborhood I constantly heard about gang violence, but the only violence I ever saw was by police. Much later in life, a close friend was killed in gang violence, and another guy who lived on my block was killed in what police say was also gang violence. There was a lot of poverty in my neighborhood but growing up I never it saw it that way, maybe I was too desensitized. After ‘92, the cops would come up to kids in the park passing out baseball cards, and them come back and harass them for playing football in the street. They would kick your ball away or throw it away.

At the time I was growing up, South Central was mainly Black, with a few Latinos. I ended up going to a school where I got out of the neighborhood and I ran into Armenians, Iranians, Cambodians, Koreans, Vietnamese people. Even different Latinos who weren’t Mexican or Guatemalan—people from Nicaragua, El Salvador. I was inspired by the breadth of what was out there. I realized I didn’t know a lot of stuff. I felt I didn’t know enough about people. I hadn’t done a lot of reading prior to that. I wanted to learn so I went to a place I imagined they sold books and that was USC campus. I was about 14 years old and I was going there trying to find some stuff to read. It was scary to do that because it took me out of my comfort zone, all these white students. And then I saw books after books after books of all these different things. It was fascinating—all this stuff out there. I started digging in. Asking questions.

First I got into Che through a teacher. There was a swath of people that inspired Che: Mao Zedong, Marx, Engels. I found The Communist Manifesto at the USC bookstore and I read that. Then I found Revolution Books. I liked Revolution Books because I found non-conformist ideas, radically different than what was going on in society.

One of the things that became clear to me is there wasn’t a lack of struggle and sacrifice on behalf of humanity to better conditions to end tyrannical societies. I came to learn why these tyrannical societies existed and how these divisions came about. I was able to see where they arose in human history and that without leadership there would just continuously be a beautiful struggle and heroic sacrifice but that’s all it would be. I came to understand the need for revolution and communism, and I came to appreciate the role of Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party to bring about the conditions to liberate humanity. And I decided to dedicate myself to the struggle to emancipate all humanity.

On April 14, there was a need for a resurgence of protest that had been opened up by Ferguson and what it inspired in people. There were a lot of attacks coming down and they were trying to pop the bubble of resistance. People needed to see that in order to  stop this requires people in the streets. I did what I could to build for that day and on the day itself I wanted to take it as far as I could.

To learn more about and get involved in the fight to defend these three fighters, and others who were arrested on April 14, check out the leaflet from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network So Cal: “It’s right to protest murder by police! Oppose the Convictions of April 14 Protesters and Drop the Charges Against All Those Arrested for Protesting Police Terror



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