Revolution Books, Berkeley:

Timely Showing of Film on the Railroad of the Central Park 5

July 23, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Around 50 people packed into Revolution Books in Berkeley on Tuesday night, July 19, for a showing of the film Central Park Five by Ken Burns, David McMahon, and Sarah Burns. The film documents the outrageous framing of five young Black and Latino men in New York City, including the efforts of the police, prosecutors, courts, and media in combination to falsely convict and steal the lives of these young men for the assault and rape of a white woman in Central Park in 1989. The film reveals how this was part of a vicious offensive to criminalize a whole generation of youth, orchestrated from the top levels of society. And it exposes the role that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump played at the time in whipping up hysteria and demanding that the death penalty be restored in New York State, a barely disguised call for these youths—who were proven to be completely innocent—to be executed.

This showing was very timely—both in relation to the murder after murder of Black people by police that have been spotlighted once again, and to the ugliness coming from the candidates for U.S. president. It attracted a diverse audience, many new to the revolution, and quite a few coming based on seeing signs advertising the film placed in key areas of Berkeley. There were visitors from as far away as Australia, Maryland, and New York City... Cal students, including a couple of Cal women athletes... and a Black family that included young Black men whose mothers spoke of the fear they have for their sons’ lives every time they walk out the door. Another Black man spoke to how what was revealed in this film is part of the whole mass incarceration that has destroyed so many Black and Brown lives, citing Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow. A white special education middle school teacher shared her experience about the disproportionate number of young Black men in her classes and how this relates to the oppression of Black people revealed in the film. Everyone was given a copy of Bob Avakian’s “Propaganda Instruments of the Ruling Class... And the Railroad of the Central Park 5.” Exposing how the media works under this system, BA gets into the specific example of the case of the Central Park 5, including the role Donald Trump played.

During the discussion, following statement by BA—speaking to the reality of the lives of Black people that had been so movingly portrayed in the film—was read:

There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness: Black people playing a crucial role in putting an end, at long last, to this system which has, for so long, not just exploited but dehumanized, terrorized and tormented them in a thousand ways—putting an end to this in the only way it can be done—by fighting to emancipate humanity, to put an end to the long night in which human society has been divided into masters and slaves, and the masses of humanity have been lashed, beaten, raped, slaughtered, shackled and shrouded in ignorance and misery.

The BA quote introduced the audience to the leader of the revolution that the Revolutionary Communist Party is actively working on right now. People heard the Message from the RCP Central Committee, “Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution,” which declares that it is totally unacceptable for people to live in a society that condemns the youth, even before they are born, to being suspects and potential prisoners, victims of state-sponsored brutality and terror—and that there is a way out through revolution.

For many in the audience, this was the first time they had been to Revolution Books. Some expressed great appreciation for the store and the fact that there is a place where these kinds of films and this kind of discussion can take place.



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