Revolution #246, September 25, 2011
All Out on October 22, 2011:
National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation
You can be walking down the street, on your way to school, the store, work—minding your own business. If you’re Black or Latino and in New York City—where every day, the police stop and frisk 2,000 people, mostly Black and Latino—you have a good chance of getting jacked up. Maybe you got a joint in your pocket, maybe you don’t. But anyway, this could end up really bad. This system already don’t offer you a future. But this could be the beginning of a horrible, brutal future under the U.S. [NO]Justice System. You might become one of the 2.4 million people imprisoned in the USA. Or you might just end up DEAD.
Look the “wrong way,” say the “wrong thing,” wear your pants the “wrong way.” Or don’t do anything even the police can say is wrong. Still, if you’re Black, if you’re Latino, and especially if you’re young, you’re automatically, already a criminal in the eyes of the police and the system they serve. You’re a target for police murder and brutality. And they can get away with MURDER. They can RUIN your life. They can TAKE YOU AWAY from your loved ones, for something as small as a little bit of marijuana, or for nothing at all.
October 22, 2011 is the 16th National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. This is a day for people all over the U.S. to take to the streets, act in many creative ways, and let it be known: We will NOT TOLERATE what the police do every single day.
Look at these outrages listed in the O22 Call for 2011 NDP [www.october22.org]—from just this past year:
- In Chicago, police have shot 44 people so far this year, mostly youth of color, including 13-year-old Jimmell Cannon, who was shot eight times.
- Twelve Miami cops shot at 22-year-old Raymond Herisse 100 times, then threatened those who recorded the incident, destroying their cell phones. A Tucson SWAT team shot at 26-year-old Iraq War veteran Jose Guerena over 70 times, then left him to bleed to death in his home. Their claim that Guerena was dealing drugs and fired on them was later revealed to be false. In New York and New Jersey, at least 28 people have been killed by police since October 22, 2010; at least 35 people have been killed by law enforcement in Washington State in the last year.
- In 2009 the cop, Johannes Mehserle, shot and killed 22-year-old Oscar Grant on a BART train station in Oakland. Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter—which is extremely unusual. But Mehserle was freed after only 11 months in prison. People protesting this outrage were brutalized and arrested by the police. Shortly before this, San Francisco cops killed Charles Hill, a 45-year-old homeless man, on a subway platform. They also killed 19-year-old Kenneth Harding after he supposedly didn’t pay a $2 train fare, then left him dying on the ground in front of a crowd of witnesses.
- Cops in Fullerton, California beat to death 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, a homeless and mentally ill man. In Fresno, California, 28-year-old Raul Rosas, Jr. died after being tasered by police. His girlfriend said “I didn’t call the Fresno County Sheriff to kill him. I called because he needed help with his mental illness.” Rosas went into cardiac arrest and was denied access to three ambulances that showed up to assist.
- Recently enacted anti-immigrant laws have given police in Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama sweeping powers to stop people “suspected” of being undocumented on no other basis than their appearance. 15-year-old Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereca was killed by a Border Patrol agent. La Migra beat to death 42-year-old Anastasio Hernández Rojas. More than one million people have been deported under the Obama administration.
- Sexual misconduct was the second most common complaint (following excessive force) against police in 2010, involving 618 cops [InjusticeEverywhere.com]
- Eight-year-old Aidan Elliot was pepper-sprayed and handcuffed by Colorado police. 10-year-old Sofia Bautista was taken from her elementary school to a NYPD precinct, handcuffed, and interrogated for hours. Police nationwide use tasers on students as young as six.
The KKK lynch mobs of the past have been replaced by the cops who occupy Black and Latino communities. In the days of Jim Crow, a Black youth could end up at the bottom of a river for looking at a white woman. Today a Black or Latino youth can end up beaten bloody or dead if a cop claims he thought a cell phone, or a bulge in a pocket was a gun.
Part of a Whole Trajectory
Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation is part of a whole trajectory the system throws people into.
You’re Driving while Black, Breathing While Brown, Walking while Black, Talking While Brown… Being Black or Latino and young. All CRIMES under this system. Guilty until proven innocent. But you probably won’t get a chance to even argue your case. The cops, the courts, the prison system are all unjust, working against you from the git. You end up in prison, even for something minor. Things like “three strikes” laws and mandatory sentencing mean you’ll probably get a very long sentence. Once in prison, you get “validated”—labeled a “gang member” on the most capricious, flimsy “evidence.” So they throw you in solitary confinement subjected to what amounts to torture. IF you ever manage to get out, you’re branded an “ex-con”—which means you can’t get a job, access to public housing, food stamps, government loans for education, the right to vote, and more. All this is the result of conscious policies adopted by the ruling class.
The fact that THIS is the future for millions of youth in the USA is an outrage that shows the total illegitimacy of this system.
For a whole section of people in society the system is basically saying: You have NO rights, we can do all kinds of things to you that even under the stated laws of this country are illegal and illegitimate. The U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights and supposedly foundational to the American rule of law, protects against “unwarranted search and seizure” (that is, unreasonable search and arrest). The Fourteenth Amendment, passed after slavery was ended, says that rights under the law and due process apply equally to all, meaning that anyone accused of a crime is entitled to a legal process where they can defend against the charges, and no one is supposed to be punished (by the police or anyone else) when a crime has not been proven. All kinds of statistics and analysis show that these laws and rights do not exist for an entire group of people. For this group—African-Americans, Latinos, and other oppressed nationalities—there is the sharp edge of force, with no effective due process.
This is slow genocide that’s getting faster every day. And as Carl Dix says, “If things are allowed to continue on this trajectory, the reality of millions of the oppressed penned up in the ghettos and barrios without opportunity or hope will intensify. Going in and out of jail will remain a rite of passage for millions of oppressed youth, many of whom already look to their immediate future and can see nothing more than prison or death.” [Taking the Movement of Resistance to Mass Incarceration to a Higher Level Thru Unleashing Determined Mass Resistance, by Carl Dix of the RCP and the October 22nd Coalition, in Revolution #242.]
All this is being disguised with the lie that “the law is the law” and it’s being equally applied—that Black and Latino youth are getting brutalized, murdered and imprisoned because they do more crime. But this is a LIE. For example look at the huge racial disparities in how marijuana laws are enforced, even though usage of marijuana is no greater among Black and Latino people than among white people [see centerfold in this issue].
The Need for Mass Resistance
All this needs to be exposed. Those who say “the youth themselves are to blame” must be challenged with the actual facts and truth of the situation. There must be powerful resistance to STOP all this.
Already many people around the world see the hypocrisy of a USA that goes around claiming to be the home of “freedom and equality”—while its armed enforcers gun down people with impunity, while it has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Mass resistance to all this, right in the belly of the beast, can send a message to the world, exposing the ILLEGITIMACY of this system.
We need varied and creative expressions of determined resistance which demands an end to police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation. And which boldly confronts the powers-that-be. And within that mix of resistance and protest there needs to be a powerful revolutionary current. We need to: Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution. We need resistance where people really stand up to, question the legitimacy of the current order and bring forward a different way things could be. And this can play a role in unleashing more resistance and among broader forces, including people who may not be ready to take such action and/or do not think revolution is the solution. This could dramatically transform the political terrain—uniting many different sections of society, and emboldening the victims of this brutality and murder who feel isolated and demonized.
People standing up and working to bring a whole new world into being, heartens other people and gives them a sense that they too can stand up and that such resistance could really matter.
As the RCP’s statement, “The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have,” says: “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.”
The O22 Coalition encourages people to: “JOIN US if there is already an October 22nd event in your area. CREATE one if you are in an area where there is currently no group organizing. For listings of activities in your area, check the website www.october22.org. To start building for an event in your area, email email@example.com”
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