UChicago students and others demand: Drop the Charges on Maya Cruz!

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On April 25, a five-foot board signed by University of Chicago students and others in the UChicago community was delivered to the university president’s office demanding that the charges be dropped against Maya Cruz. For two weeks the board was taken around campus by Revolution Club members and by other members of the Free Maya Defense Committee, together with flyers about Maya’s case and the Points of Attention for the Revolution. Law school students and UChicago students more broadly signed the board. Teachers and parents at the Lab School, the elite high school connected to the university, signed it. Alumni and workers at the university signed it. The demand states, “University of Chicago, Drop the Charges on Diya ‘Maya’ Cruz! 1) Revolutionaries should not be persecuted for fighting for a better world, 2) A non-violent protest against Trump’s attacks on immigrants should not be criminalized.”

Maya, a member of the Revolution Club, was arrested by the UCPD on March 1, 2018 for participating in a silent protest in support of immigrants under attack by the Trump/Pence regime. She is outrageously being charged with a bogus felony of aggravated battery on a police officer, and faces potentially seven years in prison if convicted. Even more outrageous is that University of Chicago is supposedly the standard-bearer for free speech on campus, which in reality means enforcing the right of fascists to spout white supremacy, demonization of immigrants and Palestinians and other oppressed peoples, while people speaking out against injustice and in the interests of humanity are viciously repressed. In particular, the Revolution Club has been repeatedly targeted by the UCPD, and has faced what a profile piece on the Revolution Club in the April 17 edition of the UChicago student newspaper, the Chicago Maroon, describes as “hostile reception by the administration.”

At the press conference to deliver the demand, very heartfelt statements were given in support of Maya, condemning her arrest and prosecution. In addition to the Revolution Club, a representative of Refuse Fascism Chicago gave a statement, Bishop Gregg Greer of Freedom First International spoke, and Rebecca Ridenour, an actor and writer, read a beautiful poem she’d written called “Free Maya.” Written statements were read from a UChicago student, from active supporters Janet and Norris Larson, and from Maya herself, who is banned from the campus so was not allowed to be there for the press conference. One local newspaper came to cover the press conference, but it was ignored by the mainstream media and the Maroon.

UChicago police and security were a heavy presence at the press conference, emphasizing yet again the political repression of the university. They stood in front of the entrance to the building where university president Robert Zimmer’s office is located, and a representative came out to accept the signed demand. The challenge to UChicago students remains: What will be the character of their campus? Free speech for fascists and jailing of those fighting for a better world? Or will the demand be felt that the charges against Maya be dropped while more students step forward to take up that fight themselves?

* * *

Statement by Maya

Thank you to everyone who is present. As you probably already know, I am not there because besides the felony charges I face, I am also banned from campus as part of my bond! I’m banned but I am not silenced!

Look, this system is a nightmare for humanity!

There is the continuous wars for empire, the destruction and plunder of the environment, the demonization and persecution of immigrants, the criminalization and demonization of Black and Brown people, and women treated as sex-objects, breeders and raped just for being born females.

This is a system that cannot be reformed. To put an end to this nightmare, this system must be overthrown. I’m a member of the Revolution Club and we are working to make revolution at the soonest possible time, with the science, strategy, and leadership needed to make an actual revolution in Bob Avakian and the new communism.

We fight for a world without borders and wars for empire, a world where no more will anyone be considered “illegal,” a world where women are not seen as less than human, Black and Brown people are not shot down like dogs or mass incarcerated, and a world where the people are caretakers of the planet. I did the silent protest because it can’t be tolerated for our immigrant sisters and brothers to be dehumanized and rounded up by this fascist regime. All of us need to be standing up about this, and I’m doing this as part of getting ready for revolution.

There are only two choices facing humanity: we either let this nightmare go on for future generations, if there is a future at all OR we make revolution.

I want to invite and challenge all the students, everyone hearing this to be part of bringing a whole better world. Read the six Points of Attention for the Revolution, and if you want to see that kind of world, begin spreading them right now and organize other students to take them up and stand with me in demanding that charges be dropped.

A five-foot board demanding that charges against Maya Cruz be dropped was delivered to the university president's office.

At the press conference—to deliver the demand that charges against Maya Cruz be dropped—very heartfelt statements were given in support of Maya, condemning her arrest and prosecution.

Free Maya

by Rebecca Ridenour

Her ask was eleven,
Silent were the minutes,
for the eleven million souls
shadowed in the nightmare of yesteryear,
written in the papers of today.
Light the BBQ on Sundays,
to smoke the blood away.
The undocumented are in process.
We will dock your life story.
We’ll take your baby from your giving lap.
Eleven minutes silence,
for eleven million thoughts.
The henchman from the house of learning
pluck her quiet tongue
her whisper body,
her rebel blood,
and slam it along the University
cobble stone.
Seven years they’ll slam.
At Cook County Court House,
baby cooing on mamma’s lap,
the blind lady Justice plays peek-a-boo
weighing coffee brown fruits
for stone years.
The story they’ve written
renews the public’s faith in fate.
Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow,
shuffles away into the clerks papers.
For eleven minutes
for eleven million,
for seven stone years.
for a moment the baby laughs,
eyes fixed on mama’s face.
The story is written so the truth is erased.
The rest is silence.


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