Revolution #175, September 6, 2009

August 21, 2009


Six of us went back out last Friday night to the neighborhood in East Oakland where the police recently killed Brownie Polk (see Revolution #173, August 16, 2009, "Serial Killers of the Oakland Police Department Strike Again"). Since we first went out to this neighborhood, a few days after Brownie was gunned down by a cop at the corner liquor store, the Party's call and message about the revolution we need, the leadership we have, and our call to resist police murder and brutality has resonated with the people. The first time we took it out people's anger at this heartless police killing erupted into a protest through the neighborhood with 30 to 40 people gathering with us on the corner where he was killed to challenge cars driving by and anyone who passed that they were determined to have their voices heard, that they were not going to let this go down without a challenge, that people would not be silent.

There was unleashed a real spirit of defiance, especially that first night we went out. Dozens of newspapers went out, cars honked in support and stopped to take the newspapers and contribute, as people from the neighborhood took turns on the bullhorn to demand "Justice for Brownie Polk!", shouting out with us "The whole system is guilty!" and joining in shouting out "What do we need? Revolution!" "Who's the leader? Bob Avakian!" As the rally went into the night, even a Channel 2 camera crew showed up and the protest was aired on the 10 o'clock news.

We've been back to the neighborhood repeatedly, joining in and speaking out at Brownie's funeral about the crime of police murder and the need for revolution, joining people after the funeral for a community gathering of 50 to 70 people, where we set up the Revolution DVD (Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About) for people to watch that was interrupted when someone from the community heard that the police were jacking up a youth at gunpoint just down the street. On the spot, we called on people and organized a small crew to march down with our placards and find out what was going down. At that point the pigs had the youth sitting in a car and we observed the scene from across the street until we saw that they were letting the youth go. So, in all this, and the fact that many were very glad the revolutionaries were on the scene and giving leadership, there were glimpses of what it could mean for there to be a contending political authority developing among the people. But, still there has been way too much of people saying: "Hey, you guys are doing a great thing!" but not seeing it as what THEY need to be doing. So there's a lot of work to do to lead people to dig into and take up this revolution and this revolutionary leader, Bob Avakian.

This past Friday, two weeks after the murder, we went out with the orientation of sharply challenging people to become organizers for this new movement, to find many different ways to be part of this revolution, to contribute $3 and to take up a packet of organizer materials to spread the word and get others involved. The packet had a couple of copies of the Revolution issue [#170] with the party's message, a few copies of the short version (we were running very low on these), a copy of special issue #144 ["The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need," October 5, 2009],  the issue with the declaration on liberation of women ["A Declaration: for Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity," #156, March 8, 2009] and a DVD sampler.

We also took out 11x17 posters of Oscar Grant and Brownie Polk with the slogan "The Whole System Is Guilty" and the quote on it from the call that says: "It is up to us: to wake shake off the ways they put on us, the ways they have us thinking so they can keep us down and trapped in the same old rise up, as conscious Emancipators of Humanity. The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be."

We marched around the neighborhood making a special point of stopping the agitation at various points when people came out on their steps, or stopped in their cars, and challenging people to make this movement become what it needs to become, a movement that can sweep away this system as soon as it is possible, that, as the statement says: "...yes, it is true—now is not yet the time, in this country, to go all-out to seize the power away from those who rule over us and to bring a new power, serving our interests, into being. But now IS the time to be WORKING FOR REVOLUTION—to be stepping up resistance while building a movement for revolution—to prepare for the time when it WILL be possible to go all out to seize the power."

While most of us marched, another person went around in his car and stopped at different spots in the neighborhood to post up the 11x17 poster on light poles. He ran into several youth around 10 or 12 years old who knew about Brownie and Oscar Grant and helped put up these posters everywhere. They were still putting them up when we left and when I was at the neighborhood a few days later, all the posters were still up. A 16-year-old from the Revolution Club engaged more deeply with one of the 12-year-olds and invited him to be part of the movement and work with the Revolution club.

At the beginning there were some problems with the agitation on the bullhorn. But then someone else got on the horn and really put the challenge to people that THEY need to do this, that they are the ones who are capable of doing this, and that we do have the leadership, a very precious leadership in Bob Avakian, but without them we don't have a chance of making this revolution known to many others and making this leadership known to millions, that without THEM it won't happen.

This connected with what a lot of people are feeling, including that there is way too little resistance going on to what the system does to people every day. People really united with the spirit of fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution. People came out of their houses. Cars stopped and we were able to get out the 12 packets that we had in about an hour. Most people had no trouble finding $3 for the packet, sometimes asking a friend or someone else in the house to borrow it from.

We also stopped at the corner and played a CD with Joe Veale reading the short version through some small loudspeakers. We brought it over to where a crew of women in their late teens were hanging out together on this block. A couple of them were part of the march and protests when we first went out there around the murder of Brownie. We invited them to listen to it, agitating that this is from the call that we are distributing and it speaks to how we people need to be a part of this revolution and people CAN do this, that is has been done before, but they don't want YOU to know about it, or they lie and tell you that this communism stuff is a horror, but don't tell you the truth, about how liberating it has been and how we can do even better.

Right away, one of them said, "we don't want to listen to that shit!" But then, two other young women said: "I want to hear it, go ahead and play some of it." So, we played some of it and there was some intent listening for about four or five minutes and then other conversations started breaking out about something else, and one of the women who had marched with us before spoke out and said, "Hey, come back later and look for us, the thing is we are off to do something, but we'll be back." It's bad that we weren't able to kick off more discussion right then and there on the content of the call, but we need to come back and keep looking for opportunities like this.

There is a real impatience among these youth. What they demand is that we give them a way to fight right now, and that it is really ways they can take up. They liked the poster and took posters to distribute and put up. Some of them, especially young women, DID march with us the previous week... but to sit down and listen to a talk, many of them don't have the patience for this. We have to figure out ways to break through with the deeper content of this revolution and this leadership. But the overall scene that night was the kind of scene we need to have when we go out. People coming out, taking up materials, joining in on-the-spot discussions—focused on the challenge to take this up.

Next Stop... Revolution!

One fun incident that night was that while we were near a corner talking with several older Black women who had gathered and we were struggling for them to do a DVD showing that night, a bus stopped (we were near the bus stop) and the driver asked what was going on. I went on the bus and showed the bus driver the poster and the call and said that we were organizing a revolutionary movement to sweep away this system and replace it with a system where this doesn't happen anymore, and challenging people to be part of it. She invited us into the bus to pass out copies to all the passengers on the bus, so we passed out copies on the bus and she bought the paper, took extra copies of the poster and the short statement, made a contribution and gave us her name and continued on her route. At that point we had run out of packets.

We looked at each other and said, "Wow, for people riding the bus that night, little did they know... next stop on their bus ride was... REVOLUTION!"

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