Stop Mass Incarceration Network Midwest Regional Conference

Updated January 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


More than 80 people came together at the Midwest Regional Conference of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) on January 23. They made plans and took steps to get organized to take the resistance to STOP police terror to a higher level as part of nationwide efforts focused on the No More Stolen Lives tour on key campuses and a National Student Strike against Police Terror in April. Plans were also made for a powerful day of resistance in Chicago on March 2 that draws the line: Stolen Lives Families Demand Justice, STOP POLICE MURDER—WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? Indict ALL the Killer Cops and Everybody Who Covers Up Their Crimes.

The national SMIN call for regional conferences painted the picture of why we must act in the face of the attempts by the powers that be to suppress the movement to stop police terror: “Police continue to murder people all across the country without letup, and the whole system continues to go into gear to exonerate these killer cops. The more the truth of how widespread this horror is gets brought out in the open, the more it calls into question the whole way this system carries out policing and law enforcement. The horror of police getting away with murder concentrates the genocidal assault of mass incarceration, police terror and the criminalization of whole sections of people. All this is illegitimate and unacceptable. It must be STOPPED! Stopping this is going to take a movement of mass, defiant and determined resistance, one that ultimately numbers in the millions.”

More than 30 people drove in from St. Louis, Cleveland, Detroit, Waukegan, Illinois, and Madison, Wisconsin, and one person flew in from Florida. There were 18 family members of 13 loved ones killed by police, four from Chicago and 14 from other cities, who have been fighting for justice for their own—some for years and years, and for all the victims of police murder. They gave a powerful and moving picture at the beginning of the conference of the human loss and devastation caused by police murder and a living testimony that these are not “isolated incidents.” There was a strong voice from family members that THIS MUST STOP and that it will take nationwide determined resistance among broad sections of the people to stop it. This was echoed by a heartfelt positive response from the audience that included members of the Revolution Clubs from Cleveland and Chicago, people who participated in RiseUpOctober, and those who have been part of the upsurge of protests in Chicago and Cleveland. Well over half the crowd was African-American, including people from the most oppressed neighborhoods, as well as middle class people.

Carl Dix, Keynote Speech

The keynote speaker was Carl Dix from the Revolutionary Communist Party and co-initiator of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and RiseUpOctober. (See video of the speech on this page.) He spoke to the emergency situation we are in where police terror is the spearhead of the genocidal assault on Black and Latino people that includes mass incarceration of more than two million, the criminalization of youth, and even the poisoned water in Flint, Michigan. He exposed the situation in Chicago after the Laquan McDonald video was released, how the people poured into the streets, and how the authorities, chiefly Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who seemed to have it so together have been scrambling to try to deal with the crisis of legitimacy by promising a few reforms as more and more of their crimes and cover-ups come out. (See coverage at The Police Murder of Laquan McDonald in Chicago and the Coverup—The Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell!) Dix spoke of the youths to whom the system has denied any decent education or jobs or future, and who are pushed by this situation to fight each other, and then the authorities use that to justify using the police as an occupying army.

There is an answer to all this, Dix said. The only real chance, not only for our youth but for billions of oppressed people around the world, lies in revolution, communist revolution, as envisioned by Bob Avakian (BA), the leader of the revolution, who has deeply examined the biggest questions facing humanity of how we can actually take on this system and make a revolution to free humanity. Dix said, “If you like the work that I've done, who do you think led us to take up this fight? BA.” He said that BA has given his heart to the people, and challenged people to get into BA’s new major work, The Science, the Strategy, the Leadership for an Actual Revolution, and a Radically New Society on the Road to Real Emancipation.

Plans for No More Stolen Lives Tour and National Student Strike Against Police Terror

Carl Dix then put forward the national plans for a No More Stolen Lives tour on campuses and a National Student Strike against Police Terror in April, plus a powerful day of “No Business as Usual as Long as Murdering Police Walk Free” in Chicago: STOP POLICE MURDER—WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? And Indict ALL the Killer Cops and Everybody Who Covers Up Their Crimes. He said, “There is a place for everyone in this fight against police terror: religious people and atheists, communists and nationalists, young and old. The only test is: DO YOU WANT TO SEE POLICE MURDER END?”

Work groups made plans for the national No More Stolen Lives tour and the National Student Strike, focused on campuses in Chicago and other places in the Midwest, and for fundraising and social media for the tour. The Stolen Lives families were a strong moral force at the conference, as they were at RiseUpOctober, in bringing out the reality of the epidemic of police murder and why everybody must stand up against it. A number of family members volunteered to be part of the national tour and will play a crucial role.

Some key schools to focus on for the tour were identified, and people volunteered to go to students and professors on those campuses. A sharp contradiction at the conference was that the student presence was very weak. There is great need to immediately transform this situation by reaching out to and struggling with students to oppose police terror and pose why “Which Side Are You On?” needs to be a sharp dividing line on campuses, and on the role students must play in standing up to stop police terror. This tour must shake things up on the campuses, and far beyond that, to build resistance at other campuses and much broader into society so that nobody can stand aside from taking a stand.

Some of the discussion and contention among groups at the conference was over why the focus of the national plans for the tour and strike is to STOP POLICE TERROR—what is the urgency of that question as the spear point of genocidal attacks on Black and Latino people affecting all of society versus why not make the focus school closings and cuts, or violence among the people? Why make colleges the main focus of the tour and not high schools? Should the tour go to campuses where most of the students are white? How can it be a major galvanizing factor in building for a nationwide student strike against police murder in April?

People enthusiastically volunteered to make this happen in cities in the whole region. The fundraising and social media group planned for an online campaign to raise funds specifically for the regional No More Stolen Lives tour, reaching out broadly with what this tour is about and what the money will specifically fund, such as travel expenses for speakers and materials. People shared local fundraising experiences and there also were plans for local fundraising projects.

The second session at the conference took up two things: 1) building ongoing organization for local and campus SMIN chapters, as well as regional and national SMIN chapters, and 2) plans for powerful actions in Chicago on March 2. The group on organization discussed the question of why it is necessary to form SMIN chapters, and what's the relationship between SMIN and the revolution. There was a need to make clear what the mission of SMIN chapters is, and the basic guidelines for what to do to get organized and recognized as a chapter. 

The conference decided to make Wednesday, March 2, a powerful day of resistance in Chicago in answer to the attempts by the powers that be to suffocate the anger and resistance of the people through repression and false promises. We have to say “NO, WE WILL NOT GET USED TO POLICE TERROR, WE ARE NOT WAITING FOR REFORMS.” There was some controversy about disrupting the routines of those impacted by the Day of Resistance. Most people agreed that this is an urgent situation and the line needs to be sharply drawn for everybody from all ages and all walks of life—city, suburbs, and beyond to take a stand to STOP POLICE MURDER—WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? Indict ALL the Killer Cops and Everybody Who Covers Up Their Crimes. The whole system is guilty.

This day will have two major actions:

  1. Stolen Lives Families Demand Justice. This action will bring together many families whose loved ones were murdered by police to demand justice. It will give a dramatic picture to the world (through banners, pictures, testimony, song, and art) of the scope of police killings and shootings, the devastation it has brought to so many, and the fact that not one family has gotten justice.
  2. “No business as usual as long as murdering cops walk free,” a powerful action where everyone is confronted with WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? The call for this will be coming soon.


To learn more about the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and get involved, go to


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