Face-Off on the South Side of Chicago

by Members of the Revolution Club

July 23, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On Saturday, July 22, the Revolution Club in Chicago politically hit back at the brutalizing, fascistic police of the 7th District on the South Side. The Club, along with people from the community, rallied at the corner in Englewood where five of us were arrested the day before. Friday morning, the pigs had swarmed not once but twice. The first time with 10 pig cars and the second time with 20. These pigs filled the whole intersection and streets nearby in a massive show of force to arrest five people supposedly for “hanging a sign” on a pole and then for sound amplification.

These arrests were the latest act of political repression by the pigs. These pigs have been coming down on the people and the RevComs in what has been an intense battle in the neighborhood. Starting in June, when the commander of the 7th District police showed up at the Revolution Club street rally with a paddy wagon for intimidation, police have been working very hard to stop people connecting up with the Revolution Club message.

And what is that message? “This summer in Chicago will NOT be a bloodbath of killing each other; This summer will NOT be free rein for police to murder and terrorize Black and Brown people; This summer we get organized for revolution to emancipate all of humanity.” Obviously, by their actions, these pigs show that they HATE this message getting out and they are hell-bound to prevent people from even hearing it, let alone connecting with it.

When the Revolution Club led people to blow the whistle at the police to stand up against the terror they use to keep oppressed people in their place, the pigs threatened retaliation against the whole neighborhood. The retaliation hit almost immediately and has been ongoing and getting more intense. The same night the pigs made their threats, the vacant hang-out house where the pigs made those threats was suspiciously burned down. On top of handcuffing people for no reason and carrying out an outrageous raid on a holiday family party where 13 people were brutalized and arrested, about a week ago police started telling people they were not allowed to stand on the sidewalk from 7 am to 3 pm. People wearing BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts are being stopped and questioned about why they’re wearing the shirt. Some have been threatened with arrest if they did not take the shirt off. Those on parole have been threatened with violations. RevComs have been called “bitch” by police, filmed by police when just out talking to people, and pointed out by pigs in a threatening way.

Again, why? Because of the Revolution Club message: “This summer in Chicago will NOT be a bloodbath of killing each other; This summer will NOT be free rein for police to murder and terrorize Black and Brown people; This summer we get organized for revolution to emancipate all of humanity.”

Controversy and Struggle Among the People

There has been a lot of controversy and struggle throughout the neighborhood about all this and about the program and message of the RevComs. Is it right to defy the police—won’t it “just bring down more heat”? Should people check out, work with, and follow the RevComs even though communists don’t believe in god? Who is Bob Avakian, and is this the leadership people need? What is revolution, and is all this going somewhere that could really change things? People have put on the Revolution T-shirt and people have taken off the T-shirt. People have railed against us and then have started to check out BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. And all this is going on in the context of these vicious actions and threats by the pigs.

The Revolution Club Leads People to Take a Righteous Stand

In response to the unofficial martial law of police telling people they could not be out on the sidewalk during the day, the Revolution Club issued a notice that we would defy this illegitimate order. We said that we would be on the sidewalk beginning at 7 am and stay there until 3 pm (the “prohibited” hours), and that Joe Veale, supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party and former member of the Black Panther Party, would be at the corner to speak at noon. We put out the call to the neighborhood and others to stand with the people and the RevComs, defy the order, come out to hear Joe Veale, and wear the REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirt that day wherever they were.

All morning, the Revolution Club posted up on the sidewalk. One man yelled and ranted for the RevComs to leave, because he didn’t want his house getting burned down too—he had obviously gotten the message coming out of the 7th District sty. But he backed off when he didn’t get any support for that position from others on the block. A number of people took the occasion to stop and get into things with the RevComs more deeply, and one person left reading BAsics. A young woman joined in on the spot, put on a T-shirt, and ran with the Revolution Club the whole day.

About 10 in the morning the pigs moved in to make their first arrest. And then at noon, just at the time Joe Veale was scheduled to speak, they moved in again in an even larger sweep. Lots of people, younger and older, were out in the park and all around when this happened, and came over to witness and film and sometimes to speak out themselves against what the police were doing. A man who an hour earlier had been in a big argument with the Revolution Club members, with arguments that were taking the side of the police, was now filming the arrests and flipping off the police.

After the five Revolution Club members were arrested, others—including Carl Dix from the Revolutionary Communist Party, and the anti-repression activists Rev. Gregg Greer and Mark Clements—gathered and held a press conference in front of the 7th District police station. Already the commander of that station came out to whine and complain, after he had ordered tons of cop cars to try to squash the rights of the revolutionaries and the people who wanted to talk with them.

The revolutionaries and community activists made clear: we would be back in the neighborhood the next day! There was no way the Revolution Club was going to back off of standing with the people and leading people to fight through the repression—as part of actually taking responsibility to organize people for revolution and lead the masses all the way through to making revolution. As it says in “HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution”: “We need to oppose and disrupt the moves of the ruling powers to isolate, ‘encircle,’ brutalize, mass incarcerate and murderously repress the people who have the hardest life under this system and who most need this revolution. We need to ‘encircle’ them—by bringing forth wave upon wave of people rising up in determined opposition to this system.”

Showdown on Saturday

On Saturday, the Revolution Club rallied forces to come be part of the 3 pm rally at the corner where the arrests had taken place the day before. People in and around the Revolution Club stepped up to meet the need. People changed their plans, put on their T-shirts, and came out to the corner, and—once again—some activists who are not part of the Revolution Club also came to stand with the people and stand with the RevComs. Before the rally started, people who had seen the arrests either in person or on the videos that are circulating, came up to greet us. They were glad we had been released, some coming up giving us hugs. Other people were scared to talk to us, intimidated by police having threatened to arrest anyone seen around us or talking to us.

In the face of all the police intimidation in the neighborhood, a group of people from the neighborhood came right to the corner and joined the rally. About five of these people put on Revolution T-shirts for the first time and stayed for the whole rally. Other groups of people gathered in front of a store across the street, sat on benches in the park, or leaned on the fence back in the shade, close enough to hear the rally without coming over to join it. Rev. Gregg Greer and police torture survivor Mark Clements spoke in support of what the RevComs have been doing and against the police clampdown.

The Police Are Nothing But Modern-Day Slave Patrollers and Klansmen

Carl Dix spoke at the rally about the Chicago police enforcing modern-day Black codes. “Now back in the slavery days they had these laws where they said if a Black person wasn’t on the plantation, he had to have permission from the slave master and laws that said if two or more Black people hung out together, that was illegal. They had a name for these laws, they called them the Black codes, and it was how they kept Black people down then. Well the Chicago police department is enforcing modern-day Black codes. They got their pigs coming out here and telling people that they cannot be out on the street around certain hours. That they can’t be in front of their own house. They’re threatening people who blow the whistle when they see the police abusing people. They tell people don’t let us see you talking to the revolutionaries, because you’ll get in trouble for it. They even raided a family party in the family’s house where they gathered the extended family on the Fourth of July. These are modern-day Black codes, this is part of the law whether it’s official or unofficial and it’s no damn good.”

“The People Out Here Are Gonna Make Revolution”

Carl Dix also talked about what we have going for us to make the revolution we need, but the need and potential for people to take this up and fight for it. He said, “We got the leadership [in Bob Avakian], we got the strategy, we got a vision of the future world we can bring into being, and I’ll tell you, sisters and brothers, what’s missing is you. You got to get with it, you got to get with this revolution. I know that when I say this, there’s something else sounding in a lot of people’s heads, because this system and its mouthpieces have told us again and again and again that people on the bottom of this society ain’t worth nothing, ain’t never going to amount to nothing. They tell us that so often that some of our people internalize that and oppressive words start coming out of their mouths. They be saying oh these people down here, they’re too messed up, they can’t never do nothing. That’s not true.

“Here’s what Bob Avakian says on that, ‘Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity.’ That is the potential that is amongst our people here in this community. We got to reach into these communities and tap into that potential.

“Now when I say that, though, let me say one other thing: you cannot do that as you are. You cannot be involved in fighting and killing each other, you cannot be involved in treating women like they’re punching bags or sex objects or baby-making machines, you cannot be involved in looking across the street at another group of brothers and sisters who are just like you and thinking that they’re the enemy. You got to get out of that and you got to get out of the system’s way of thinking that has us caught up in all that. Because they want us fighting each other, they want us fighting each other because that way it’s easier for them to hold all of us down, so we got to get out of that and get into this revolution. And this is something you can start doing now, right here today. Put on this T-shirt, BA SPEAKS: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, get a copy of BAsics, get a copy of the Constitution [for the New Socialist Republic in North America], get with this revolution and get with its leadership and become a part of the emancipators of humanity.”

When Carl said people could step into the Revolution on the spot by putting on the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, T-shirt, one man who was listening to the speech immediately walked away to go get his Revolution T-shirt out of his car and came back and put it on.


Carl Dix Lays It Out to 7th District Commander

Carl Dix ended his comments saying, “To one and all: Look, Mr. Pig, Chicago Police Department, Kenneth Johnson, district commander, we know why you have your pigs out here enforcing martial law on people, it’s because you’re scared. You are scared that if people here stand up, if they stop fighting each other, if they get together, and especially if they get together with the revolution, you won’t be able to hold them all down. That’s why you arrested the revolutionaries. And we’re going to be out here organizing people to stand up, we’re going to be bringing this message that this will be a different kind of summer, not a summer of Black and Brown people killing each other, not a summer of the police having free rein to terrorize, brutalize, and murder people, instead it will be a summer of organizing people into the revolution. We are determined to do that, we will not back up, we will not be driven off, we will continue to dig in with the people, organize the people, stand up together with them and say no more to this brutality, no more to this terror, we will do that as part of organizing for a revolution to emancipate all of humanity.

As Carl Dix was finishing, who should pull up in a pig car but the commander of the 7th District police, Kenneth Johnson! Johnson showed up with an entourage of pigs and a paddy wagon behind him. The pig commander came over running out some really pathetic bullshit about how the police are doing good things for the community and the revolutionaries are there messing all that up and are not wanted in the neighborhood. Johnson sounded like he took his lines from an old Southern KKK sheriff out of the 1950s, threatening the civil rights workers of those days.

Sides Line Up, People Come Forward

Carl stepped up to take on the bullshit of this so-called “commander,” and started speaking on the reality of what the police have been doing in that neighborhood. As he did, more people started to come over and line up with the RevComs. Six or seven people who had been listening in the park walked over and grabbed Revolution T-shirts and put them on right there.

When the commander was reduced to oinking that the revolutionaries don’t even live in that neighborhood, one person in a Revolution T-shirt jumped up on a milk crate and threw his hand in the air and said, “I do! I live here!” Others chimed in saying the same thing. An old man who had been listening from across the street and had told us earlier how he too had been ordered off the sidewalk by the police, came over to join in getting in the face of the commander. And when the commander told Carl if he wants to talk to the neighborhood he should sit down and talk with him, one of the people at the rally (who had been working with the Club) said, “Why would we want to talk to you, we want to talk to the people, but you don’t want us to talk to the people, don’t nobody want to talk to you!”

After the confrontation with the commander, the RevComs gathered people who had been at the rally and marched together through the neighborhood. As we stepped off just starting to march, one woman passed by with her fist in the air and yelled out insults against the police. Along the march, others expressed support, including some who earlier in the day in one-on-one conversations had not been supportive.

This was a good day. But it was only one good day. And “good days” aren’t enough anyway. We should cherish victories, but even more than that we should build on them. We need to take this forward to building a movement for revolution, a revolution that can take down this whole system and get us to a whole new world. That is the challenge. Important lessons were learned about the importance of standing firm in the face of the enemy... about struggling hard among the people for what is true and right... about going back to the people and challenging them and organizing them to come forward and stand up, not just against these murdering pigs—but against the system these pigs enforce. And most of all, to fight for something bigger: for the emancipation of all humanity.

The Revolution Club, Chicago, says this: We mean what we say, and we will not back off or turn our back on what we have started, on the people who need this revolution. We will keep coming back and digging in, to strengthen this movement for revolution, to build up the bases, spread the influence, and organize the forces we need to make revolution. We will not be scared off, backed down or driven away.




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