Revolution #216, November 14, 2010
A Significant New Thing
A significant new thing—People's Neighborhood Patrols—was boldly announced at a number of the actions that took place on the 15th Annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.
On October 22, 2009, groups of people in some major cities began to patrol in neighborhoods in an organized, highly disciplined way, observing police activity with the intent "to witness, call out, and stand up to any and all illegal actions by the police against the people." They have continued doing this throughout the last year, making their presence and intent known in some communities and beginning to set a different standard.
The speaker from the patrol in New York City read a statement saying, "Our patrol does not and will not initiate any acts of violence or engage in unlawful acts, or any activity that is against the interests of the people, but we WILL stand up to illegal actions of the police and violations of the rights of the people and WILL constantly uphold the interests of the people."
These patrols have been launched in a context where the police are running roughshod over the people, and over the laws themselves in doing so. But the courts do nothing to prevent this and everything to enable it to go on. These patrols are beginning to project an "alternate authority," one that challenges through its actions and moral code the illegitimate and abusive current authority.
In several cities, members of People's Neighborhood Patrols were present at the National Day of Protest—and encouraged and welcomed people to join in observing their patrol at the close of the rally or soon after. In one city, 20 people joined enthusiastically in this effort, holding up their cell phone cameras to notify the authorities: We are watching you and we are going to catch on video anything illegal you try to do.
The following statement was read at the New York City demonstration by a member of the People's Neighborhood Patrol:
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.
Every day, in the barrios and ghettos of this country, Black and Latino youth, immigrants, and poor whites are brutalized by police, and their basic rights violated. They are stopped, searched, detained, cuffed—and all too often routinely subjected to lethal use of force as a matter of police procedure. Two people gunned down in a weekend in LA; four last month in NYC—children and old women slain in their own homes. It's not even a headline anymore—but something we're supposed to get used to. For what? For no good reason, no good cause—the police routinely act as judge, jury and executioner.
Two thousand people stopped in NYC a day—for WHAT? The police captains in Brooklyn call this "owning the street." They give orders at the beginning of the shift to go out and "ground and pound." Under the stop and frisk program they say they can stop you for "probable suspicion." Like what? Like putting a sandwich in your pocket on the way to school, as one 14-year-old testified. Or stopped and killed because you had an asthma inhaler in your pocket. Or killed for celebrating with your friends before you were about to get married like Sean Bell or celebrating a big college football game like DJ Henry [a student at Pace College near NYC] or coming home on public transportation on New Year's Eve—like you are supposed to—and being shot lying face down on the platform in front of hundreds of people like Oscar Grant was. To not be free just to return to your own apartment after work—without having to worry about being stopped on the way home. To know that a chance "encounter," in police parlance, can result in your life being snuffed out—and then you and your family slandered and lied about.
All of this is illegal and illegitimate.
Let me say this again... ALL THIS IS ILLEGAL and ILLEGITIMATE.
Last year on October 22, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation, we began a form of disciplined and organized activity that can greatly contribute to people being inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and that can certainly help people build up the strength to put an end to this madness.
We in the People's Neighborhood Patrol have been walking neighborhoods of the oppressed—where police abuse under color of authority is rampant—to witness, call out, and stand up to any and all illegal actions by the police against the people.
Our patrol does not and will not initiate any acts of violence or engage in unlawful acts, or any activity that is against the interests of the people, but we WILL stand up to illegal actions of the police and violations of the rights of the people and WILL constantly uphold the interests of the people.
Bitter experience has shown over and over again that their courts and procedures do not prevent the illegal actions of the police. It's time we stood up and acted on our own behalf. And we have begun to put that into effect! And we will continue.
We insist that the rights of the people be upheld and defended. Being young and Black, being Latino or being an immigrant does NOT constitute probable cause for police action, let alone brutality and even murder.
We call on everyone who believes in justice and hungers for emancipation to support this and to get organized so that this can go forward from here.
Read our proclamation and check out the points of discipline for our patrol.
We will be going on patrol tonight and we invite you along to observe—to find out about the impact this IS having and the difference this IS making. We say to you that you do not have to suffer these indignities of being treated as if you and your whole community are criminals. You do not have to suffer these humiliations as an individual who feels isolated and alone. You are not someone lesser with no rights, deserving of no respect. And you do not have to put up with this just because it seems like nothing can change... because it can. You are people whose lives mean something and whose lives now really can count for something. That's why I say, "Fight The Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution."
We encourage anyone who witnesses illegal acts by the police, or who recognizes threats of illegal activity by the police against the people, to report it to the Bear Witness Project (email@example.com) so that it can become known to all.
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