Revolution #216, November 14, 2010

October 22, 2010—A Spirit Of Defiance

The 15th National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation was marked by a spirit of defiance in the face of the epidemic of police brutality and murder ravaging this society. NO MORE! In nearly two dozen cities and towns across the U.S., and in Montreal, protesters marched and rallied. Many, many people wore black that day. Families and friends of those who have been murdered by the police came together with youth, oppressed nationalities and others who are routinely denied their basic rights, wantonly and illegally brutalized by the police. High school and college students joined with others who are full of anger and outraged by this treatment. A number of organizations endorsed the National Day, joined the demonstrations and spoke out. Revolutionaries and communists were in the mix, bringing out the reality that we can do away with all the horror people suffer in this society and the world. A whole different world is possible—we have to fight for that world, that future.

Heart-wrenching testimony from families and friends of people murdered by the police like Oscar Grant, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Manuel Jaminez, and John T. Williams hit people hard. The demonstrations were punctuated by groups of people gathering to bear witness and speak bitterness about how they are treated at the hands of the police. There were many stories like that of a 15- or 16-year-old woman in New York who spoke of being slammed up against a police car for nothing. Handmade signs documenting police abuse stood out in the marches.

And on the 15th National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, there were some significant new shoots of resistance—and a dynamic between students and basic people. (See "A Significant New Thing" and "Correspondence: Mixing It Up at UC Berkeley.")

Among the highlights:

In the San Francisco Bay Area, activity began October 21 when a group of family members and others from the barrios and ghettos made their way to UC Berkeley. A giant "wall of stolen lives" confronted students with the reality of systemic and systematic police brutality. Students responded by writing heartfelt messages on an October 22 banner. The people from the neighborhoods were inspired by the experience of coming to the campus and having an impact on the students. (See "Correspondence: Mixing It Up at UC Berkeley.) On October 22 itself, there were gatherings at the Fruitvale BART plaza (this is the station where Oscar Grant was murdered by BART cop Johannes Mehserle) and later in East Oakland near where Brownie Polk was murdered by the Oakland police, and where Cephus Johnson (Oscar Grant's uncle) spoke. In East Oakland following the rally, there was a spirited and militant march which electrified the normally quiet neighborhood.

In Los Angeles, about 500 people, mainly youth, marched with family members and activists. Many carried pictures of Oscar Grant, Manuel Jaminez and others killed by police, as they marched from downtown LA through the immigrant neighborhood of Pico Union where people had risen up against the murder of Manuel Jaminez. Several dozen Black students from four University of California campuses—including a contingent from UC Merced who drove 300 miles to be there—came because of the murder of Oscar Grant and what it concentrates about police violence against Black people. A group of high school students from Watts brought a sign pasted with pictures of Oscar Grant, Manuel Jaminez, Aiyana Stanley-Jones and others which said: "Stop Police Brutality, No More Criminalization—Fighting for those who are gone!" At the end of the march, there was a rally where people spoke out about their loved ones killed by the police, and they were joined by members of the Afrikan Black Coalition, the coalition of Black Student Unions and Afrikan Student Unions who had mobilized all the UC students, along with teachers from the Association of Raza Educators and their students, and Michael Slate of Revolution newspaper.

In New York, in the Harlem area, Black and Latino students recorded and wrote their experiences with police abuse in preparation for October 22. When schools let out on October 22, seven of those stories—handwritten on large boards—were displayed prominently in an uptown park. Groups of up to 25 people gathered at the display to speak out about how they had been abused and brutalized by police. Later, seven families whose relatives were killed by police spoke at a rally in Union Square. Following the rally, between 150 and 200 people marched through the area chanting, "We're all Oscar Grant! The whole damn system is guilty!..." and then changing the name to other victims of police murder.

The following day, October 23, demonstrations were held on the West Coast demanding justice for Oscar Grant. The cop who murdered him was sentenced on November 5 in Los Angeles. (See "Token Sentence for Oscar Grant's Killer, Anger in the Streets of Oakland.") San Francisco Bay Area ports were shut down by the ILWU (Longshore and Warehouse Union). In Oakland, 1,000 people—including Oscar's family, union members, students, activists, and basic people—attended the demonstration.

For additional correspondence on October 22 events, go to "Correspondence / Additional Coverage from the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, Repression and Criminalization of a Generation, 2010."

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