Letters on the Movie Detroit

August 7, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


From a member of Revolution Club, Chicago:

“Watching the movie Detroit—I felt like my heart would pound out of my chest”

August 6, 2017

Watching the movie Detroit felt like my heart would pound out of my chest and the rage at the system with their enforcers, police and military, damn near boiling over. The mixture of “good ol’ boy” Klansmen-esque torture, eager militarism of the police locked and loaded, and the assertion of male domination made it hard not to throw up. One scene that stuck out as well was when the pigs asked a young white woman why she wanted to be with Black men, and she responded, it’s 1967... In 2017 there are officers like Wayne Welsh of the Estherwood, Louisiana, police—recently forced to resign because of widespread outrage at his tweeting an image of a white woman pushing down the head of her daughter in the bathtub with the caption, “When your daughters first crush is a little Negro boy”—are still on the same racist shit. As a lawyer for the police in the movie said, the police were doing their job.

The theatre on the South Side was packed, with few seats open. Gasps and anguished sighs were heard at some of the intense moments of the film, like when the friend tells the truth with his life on the line, and later on as well in court as the courts of injustice read out the verdict. The movie finished, leaving people in a stunned state, when some of the Revolution Club members started agitating, enraged tears still wet on their faces. Trump is saying to the pigs they’re being too nice—was that nice? That was years ago, and they haven’t let up. “Philando Castile, cover-up! Alton Sterling, cover-up! ... This system has had 400 plus years to make right. It’s time we stop taking their bullshit and get organized to overthrow this system at the soonest possible time!”

As this went on, we passed out copies of HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution and our Declaration (“The Revolution Club Declares: This Summer in Chicago Will NOT Be a Bloodbath of Killing Each Other...”) to eager hands and nodding heads. One woman was yelling in agreement as she was coming down the stairs. We talked with people who stopped in the middle of the theatre and in the bathrooms, getting into the solution and what we have—the leadership in BA and the RCP, and the work that’s been done on how a revolutionary force could end centuries of heartache through revolution. A middle-aged woman asked for a stack to get out in her neighborhood and others opened their purses to have a pamphlet stuffed in, asking about how they could be a part this solution. Half an hour later, we were tying it up with people lingering after midnight, eager to get into BA and stop by the Revolution Club’s South Side organizing center.

Just as the revcom.us “Check It Out” says, Detroit is a must-see movie. And people who know something of the solution, of BA, and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America and what’s needed to get to another society, need to come out and bring the only solution to fight for to the fore.

Letter from a reader:

Detroit—the movie

August 6, 2017

I just saw the movie Detroit and am still reeling from it emotionally—it brought tears of heartbreak and fury. It’s hard to put in words, but here goes. It feels so real because it IS real. There is a continual kick in the gut—there is no historical or emotional “distance”—as you watch the movie because although the Algiers Motel Incident happened 50 years ago, the same police murder, brutality, and the whole systemic approval and cover-up the movie depicts so up-close and unflinchingly are still happening today.

The movie shows the terror of a young Black man in Detroit running for his life AWAY from the cops and desperately trying to climb a fence when the cop cold-bloodedly takes aim and shoots him and then congratulates himself and walks away as the young man crawls under a car to die. How many times have we seen this in the last three years alone? And in Detroit when the body is found, the murdering cop flagrantly justifies it to his superior officer who sends him right back out on the street to murder again.

The Detroit Rebellion of 1967, which the movie depicts, was one of the largest and most impactful rebellions of Black people of the ’60s. In response, not only the Detroit police, but the Michigan state police, the National Guard, and army troops were sent in to smash the rebellion and punish the people. The movie does not pull any punches about the role of the National Guard, a literal invading army with tanks and machine guns, who (along with the State Police) were complicit in the atrocities of the police at the Algiers Motel and give them free rein. There are references to the war in Vietnam in the movie that in my mind connect the oppressor role and mind-set of the U.S. military’s wanton war crimes going on at the same time in Vietnam where the people were treated as subhuman enemies to be crushed, with the openly white supremacist police view of the Black people of Detroit. The sick “game” the police play in the movie which leads to the murder of three people and terror and torture of many more is but one example.

The movie makes you feel you are “in the room” with the terrifying police torture and executions. You feel the naked and intentional cruelty, the bitter unfairness, the vicious white supremacist culture of the enforcers of this system. The power of this movie is what it made me feel about how wrong this is, what a basic violation of the humanity of Black people, how unjust, how much suffering it causes. It filled me with fury, at the same time I was crying for the pain this caused to the victims and their families in Detroit but also the thousands and thousands across the U.S. in the decades since.

There is no justice in this movie just like there is none in real life in the IN-justice system of the white supremacist USA, a capitalist-imperialist system where the oppression of Black people is built into its foundation since slavery days. In Detroit the murdering cops actually get put on trial in the context of the outrage and rebellion of Black people across the country. But the movie shows how the victims and witnesses against the police were treated like THEY were on trial and abused and criminalized in court and how this resulted in the all-white jury setting the murdering police free. There is a great scene where people in the courtroom call this out and stand up against this, but in the end the fucking pigs still get off. As I watched this my blood was boiling, I kept thinking over and over how true are the words of Bob Avakian in BAsics 1:24:

The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and order that enforces all this oppression and madness.

Today fascists are in power with a genocidal program which, like the police and feds in Detroit, lauds white supremacist, above-the-law, lynch-mob, officially sanctioned fascist terror. Just last week Trump made his speech to cheering cops on Long Island, calling on them to be more vicious, calling immigrants and Black people “animals” and telling the cops that he’s behind them 100 percent in brutality and murder. This is what he means by “make America great again.”

At the end I was thinking “this is the one of the truest movies I have ever seen.” That truth is ugly and bitter—it tells the truth about America that people of all nationalities need to know. And I was thinking how badly people need to know that there is a way out of this madness through total revolution and that it is actually possible to bring into being a radically better world for all of humanity where this kind of oppression never happens again to anyone. They need to know that Bob Avakian is the leader of this revolution who has forged a new framework for revolution—the new communism. And that he is leading a revolutionary communist party that is preparing now to bring down this system at the soonest possible time.

I have to say I couldn’t speak for a couple hours after the movie. But I do think there would be tremendously worthwhile to go again to the theater and after the movie is over take Revolution newspaper and the pamphlet “HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution” and tell people “If this movie moved you to pain and anger and you feel that there is something really wrong with what this system does to Black people in 1967 and today 50 years later, and if you can’t stand it, and you want to find out about how to end this once and for all, talk to me, go to revcom.us, and find out about this revolution and its leader Bob Avakian.




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