Defiance and Protest Since the Police Murder of Paul O’Neal

August 15, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


From the Revolution Club, Chicago:

The Revolutionary Communist Party IS ORGANIZING NOW TO OVERTHROW THIS SYSTEM AT THE SOONEST POSSIBLE TIME. Preparing to lead an actual revolution to bring about a radically new and better society: the New Socialist Republic in North America.

From Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution—Message from the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Since the murder of Paul O’Neal by Chicago police on July 27 (“Chicago Police Videos of Paul O’Neal Released: Black Teenager Was Unarmed—‘It was cold-blooded murder’”), there have been repeated outbreaks of protest, including among the youth in the neighborhood where he lived. The Revolution Club has been in the midst of this. This correspondence is to let readers know what has been happening and how the Revolution Club has been working to connect this with Message from the Central Committee of the RCP, USA, “Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution” and carry out the "three prepares"—prepare the ground, prepare the people and prepare the vanguard—get ready for the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.

Friday Night, July 29:

The day after the murder, youths from the South Shore neighborhood organized a vigil for their friend Paul O’Neal. Close to 100 friends and some relatives gathered on this quiet street of single-family homes. A memorial was erected and candles were laid on the sidewalk.

A couple of us from the Revolution Club went by the spot around midnight. About a dozen of his friends were still there. We expressed our condolences and then got into what became a pretty intense discussion. South Shore has a history of some intense gang conflicts. The Revolution Club had been involved in protests of two police murders of young men in South Shore in 2015. Some of Paul’s friends remembered us from this. They told us that they had been part of blowing whistles with us when the police tried to disrupt the funeral for “JJ.” JJ, Jeffrey Kemp, was a friend of theirs, but the other young man, Alfontish “NuNu” Cockerham, killed only a few blocks from where we sat, belonged to an opposing set (known here as “the Ops”). One young woman was vehement that she would never want Paul’s picture on a banner with one of “the Ops.” Others joined in with her.

We got into this pretty hot and heavy, bringing out the Message (and walking through some of its points as we talked). In particular, we pointed to—“The Problem,” including “This system locks down generations of Black and Brown youth, brutalizing and incarcerating them and even blowing them away—or else setting them up to fight and kill each other, when they should be fighting the REAL enemy.” We went round and round with some of these youths about what is the problem and who is the enemy.

Are the youths on the next block the enemy, even if they have been responsible for the death of one of your friends? Or are they, too, trapped by this nightmare of a system into this hellish “war” of seemingly endless retaliation? Who benefits from this? We argued that the system does. It has no future for the youth and those in power are terrified of these youth becoming conscious revolutionaries. Those in power remember the 1960s and how they came close to losing power and never want to see that happen again. Some of Paul’s friends were listening intently as we struggled with them to “pull the lens back” and look at the larger picture.

Are the police just another “gang” and is the solution to exact revenge? Or are they instead enforcers of this system of capitalism-imperialism? We read BAsics 1:24. We argued that they needed to get with the Revolution Club and that we were serious when we said, “The Revolutionary Communist Party IS ORGANIZING NOW TO OVERTHROW THIS SYSTEM AT THE SOONEST POSSIBLE TIME. Preparing to lead an actual revolution to bring about a radically new and better society: the New Socialist Republic in North America.” We need youths like them to step forward, take up this Message and learn the science of communism and the new synthesis Bob Avakian has brought forward. We left them with copies of the Message and plans to get into all this more, and some signed up to get with the Revolution Club.

Saturday, July 30—the Next Night:

The Revolution Club called on people to gather at the site of the memorial at 8:30 pm. Dozens of Paul’s friends showed up, including the youths we’d met the night before. Blowing whistles the whole time and carrying the Stolen Lives banner, the protest took to the streets. Police SUVs and Tahoes with blue lights flashing were at the front and back, but the police did not get out of their vehicles or attempt to stop the protest, which wound through the streets for over an hour. One of Paul’s friends called out repeatedly over the sound system, this is about “Justice for Paul and Justice for All.” What he said represented a beginning step, calling on the youth from different sets to stand up together. The significance of this was not lost on participants or on the police who know well, and often in fact fuel, the gang conflicts in this area. Cars honked in support and some older people said they were happy to see these youths “into something positive.”

Chicago, August 5, 2016 Chicago, August 5

Chicago, August 5. People across the city and country went from shock to outrage when the videos were released. By evening, many young people in South Shore moved to open defiance. All photos: Special to

Blocking a communter train, Chicago, August 5.

Youths from the neighborhood converged on a major intersection that includes a Metra commuter train stop. Approaching the intersection, a train stopped several hundred yards away as the track was blocked by protesters, then backed off in the direction it came from.

Chicago, August 5 Blocking a pig car, Chicago, August 5

Rage rippled through the people on the street and there was a very fluid scene as at times people linked arms to block the street, and other times the intersection was blocked just by the fact of so many people gathering in the middle of the street, chanting in smaller knots of folks.

During the next week, Club members went to where these youths hang out, got further into the Message with them and got them bundles to distribute. We showed clips of the leader of the revolution, Bob Avakian, up on, including “Bob Avakian Through the Years.” In this, BA talks about how the guards set up prisoners to fight each other in the Corcoran SHU and calls on people to “pull the lens back” and see how they are being played. This is an important concept we dug into with these youths. All through the week the Message and Stolen Lives poster were posted throughout the neighborhood.

Friday Night, August 5:

The horrific videos of Chicago cops gone wild and executing 18-year old Paul O’Neal (“Chicago Police Videos of Paul O’Neal Killing Released: Black Teenager Was Unarmed—‘It was cold-blooded murder’”) were released at 11 am Friday by the city’s cop “review” agency, IPRA. People across the city and country went from shock to outrage. By evening, many young people in South Shore moved to open defiance.

They gathered again at the memorial for him. At first there were 20 or so. One young man argued that people needed to take the streets. People had seen the videos—they were angry and wanted to confront the cops who had shot Paul down, then high-fived each other. There were handmade posters saying “Fuck Da Police” and “Justice for Paul.” Someone from the Revolution Club was there with a large Stolen Lives banner and posters from saying “America was NEVER great—we need to overthrow this system!” Youths took up the banner and posters and began to march in the street. A stack of Messages was already at the memorial and people took those with them, too.

The march grew twice its original size as it continued in the street. Cops drove up in SUVs with flashing blue lights. But they did not try to stop the youths, who draped the Stolen Lives banner over the window of police cars so that they had to confront what they had done. They would surround the police cars putting the picture of Paul on the windows. One youth threw a Message in the face of a police car. They ran alongside buses putting pictures of Paul on the buses. They sat on the bike racks in the front of the buses. They were getting out the Message to cars and buses. One woman stood up in her car and cheered the youths. The young man who had pushed to take the streets got on a bullhorn: “You all saw that video, you saw that video.” And he was challenging people in cars and on the sidewalk that they had to get involved. He agitated about the cop on the video who said, “I’m going to get 30 days of desk duty.”

Finally, the youths from the neighborhood converged on a major intersection in South Shore that includes a Metra commuter train track and stop. They were soon joined by activists against police murders who had held a press conference and die-in at Chicago police headquarters earlier in the evening.

At any given moment, at least 100 people were in the streets and organized themselves to shut down traffic in all directions for several hours. A Metra train approaching the intersection stopped several hundred yards away as the track was blocked by protesters. After over half an hour, the train did not attempt to continue down the track and backed away in the direction it came from. This is a first in Chicago!

Rage rippled through the people on the street and there was a very fluid scene as at times people linked arms to block the street, and other times the intersection was blocked just by the fact of so many people gathering in the middle of the street, chanting in smaller knots of folks.

Police cars were blocking the streets behind the protesters, but though flashing blue lights lit up the night, there had obviously been a political decision by higher authorities to not attack the protesters this time. Any time cops ventured out of their cruisers to approach the crowd, they were surrounded by people going right in their face denouncing their cold-blooded murder of Paul O’Neal. Several times a high-ranking police officer appeared on the street to wave the cops back into their SUVs. Some of the same cops that were in the video were there. One of these swine had the audacity to tell the youth that after the murder, “I slept good.”

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. Watch the entire film here.
Learn more about BA here.

A young man from Paul’s neighborhood told Revolution, during the midst of the shutdown, “We’re out here trying to live our lives and they trying to stop us from doin’ what we doin.’ I knew Paul, me and Paul been close and I knew Paul like a brother. Now I can’t call him on the phone and see where he at. It feels sad not to have Paul here. The police killing us for no reason. Like, we can’t go outside, go to the store and stuff, stopping us, searching our pockets, and we get shot, for no kind of reason. So we doin’ it right, right now, getting people to support us more, to stop police from killing us. I want to grow up. Instead of gang killings, we got police killing us one by one. I feel this ain’t right, so we doin’ this right, right now.”

When asked what he thought it would take to stop all this police murder all across the country, he said, “I think we need to come together as one unit, Black, white, I don’t care what color, and support each other. Stop killing us. Come together as one unit and fight.”

Paul’s cousin, a petite young woman, was relentlessly calling out the cops and agitating to the people over a bullhorn: “Paul was only 18! Everybody knew him and liked him! He was shot down for no reason! Everybody needs to unite to fight this! We have to stop killing each other and fight the police—Fuck the police!”

Fighting for unity among the people against the system was a real factor and continuing struggle in this protest. An activist who works with the Revolution Club in South Shore told Revolution that it actually took a lot of work to bring people together for this protest. He said many youths in the neighborhood were scared of the potential for conflict between the young people who are associated with competing sets of youths in South Shore. “We had to fight for this,” he said.

As one club member reported: “As people came up to a street that divides gang turf, some people from the other set came out and there was kind of like this tension. I was struggling with the youth on the bullhorn, we have to chant, ‘Justice for all.’ There was kind of a process that went on. I got on the bullhorn and said, ‘The Ops are the Police and the System. Not other people. Justice for Paul, Justice for JJ AND Justice for NuNu, Justice for All.”

There were people on the sidewalk and there was some taunting between the sets. The closer we got to the dividing line, the more the police presence went away. I was agitating to the youths, pointing out that “they are all over you until you get up here... They want you to be at each other.” And some youths were saying, “Listen to her.” After some hesitation, the crowd crossed the gang divide and marched on a way and then turned back around. It did not develop into a confrontation. Club members felt that within this were some important seeds, embryonic, beginnings, of what needs to and must change. We saw the potential for this, something BA points to when addressing the question of the youth in REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! These youth need to get out of the gang life and get into the revolution.

This potential will not become reality without a fight. The struggle with the youth to break with the oppressor’s way of thinking and acting and fight the real enemy will be sharply contended, over and over... including as we go up against the ways in which the pigs try to foster conflicts as they did on this day. Transforming the thinking of the people is a key part of forging a critical mass of people who bring forward a different way and as they fight the power, show people what the road forward out of this is and fight for them to join the revolution.

The Revolution Club was present the whole time with the Stolen Lives banner. A Club member agitated over a loudspeaker about how this whole system that murdered Paul in Chicago, Alton Sterling in Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Minnesota needs to be taken down, and a new one serving the people put in its place. He told the people that “there is a leadership to do this with Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party he leads.” He also picked up on the outrage from Paul’s cousin, telling people that “You go to school together, you go to the same stores as each other, you take the same bus as each other—but you fight each other over bullshit. Don’t tell me you can’t come together to fight this system!” And he led people in the chant “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!” A small posse of young people from the neighborhood followed the agitating team as they walked through the intersection to address different knots of people, nodding their heads in approval. Copies of “Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution” were also distributed.



Chicago, August 7,2016

Chicago, August 7, 2016Chicago, August 7, 2016Chicago, August 7, 2016

Chicago, August 7Chicago, August 7August 7—A crowd of hundreds, mainly young and including many high school and college students, took the downtown streets and shut down the area for over four hours. Photos: Special to

Sunday, August 8:

There was a protest downtown of hundreds called by high school students who are part of Black Lives Matter. Before it began, the Revolution Club boldly marched through parts of downtown chanting and doing the “mighty, mighty revcoms” chant. When we got to the rally site we caused a stir, many cameras captured our entrance.

The crowd was mainly young and included many high school and college students. It was diverse, with a large representation of white youths. The club felt that the participation of these white youths was of strategic importance. We have been listening to BA’s talk on the importance of being able to “break out of the encirclement” when the actual revolution comes and how our work today must be rooted in that understanding. There was a small group of friends of Paul’s from South Shore at the march also.

The march took the streets and shut down downtown streets for over four hours. At different intersections there were die-ins and sit-ins. The size of the march would ebb and flow as tourists and shoppers joined the march for a block or two. Chants of “No Justice, No Peace” and “Black Lives Matter” rang out as did calling out the names of men and women killed by the police. At times the whole march took up the Revolution Club’s chant, “Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail, the whole damn system it guilty as hell!” Smaller numbers joined with us as we chanted, “How do we get out of this mess? Revolution, Nothing Less!” Hundreds of copies of the Message “Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution” went out to marchers and people along the sides. Many protesters carried Stolen Lives posters, and “America Was Never Great, We Need to Overthrow This System” picket signs which revcoms had distributed. We got contact information for almost 50 people, some who were very interested in learning more about the Club.

A young white man who was interviewed on the news said he had sat on the sidelines too long and he had joined the march as it passed by because he wanted to be part of the solution. As the march passed Trump tower, the whole crowd chanted, “America was Never Great.”

Wednesday, August 10:

Youths from South Shore called for a midday protest on Lakeshore Drive, a busy thoroughfare. Joined by some Revolution Club members and anti-police brutality activists they gathered, about 20 people total. When there was a break in the traffic, they boldly jumped onto the drive and blocked it at a busy intersection for 30 minutes. They got a mostly favorable response from the drivers forced to wait. When the police finally forced them off, one young man who refused to go was handcuffed but then let go by the police. The crowd then moved to another busy intersection and blocked traffic there for 15 minutes.

Club members are planning recruitment meetings with some of these youths and making plans to show key chapters of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

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