Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

Taking the Reality of "Stop and Frisk" to Occupy Wall Street

Revolution received the following from a revolutionary communist who has been at Occupy Wall Street:

Last night Carl Dix with the Revolutionary Communist Party came to speak to us at Liberty Square about the day to "STOP Stop and Frisk" on Friday October 21. On this day Cornel West, Carl Dix and others will be carrying out non-violent civil disobedience to STOP Stop and Frisk. There are plans for high school students in New York to walk out.. People will be converging in Harlem at 125th and Adam Clayton Powell. Dix spoke about how the NYPD is on a pace to stop 700,000 people this year—that's 2,000 people a day, 75 an hour. He brought out how people at Occupy Wall Street (OWS) need to be in Harlem at 1 pm this Friday to support those carrying out nonviolent civil disobedience and for those who choose to, to join with them, to stand in support of our brothers and sisters who face this every day because this is illegal, unjust and unacceptable. He brought out how the police brutality against people at OWS, the peppers spray in women's faces, the cop punching a protester, was just a glimpse of what many people every single day in their daily lives and in their communities.

That evening hundreds of fliers went out at the OWS General Assembly and a call was read from the Stop, stop and frisk working group, a multinational group of occupiers who came together to build for October 21st (STOP Stop and Frisk) and 22nd (The National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation). The call said in part,

"We, occupiers of Wall Street, wholly challenge the New York Police Department's unconstitutional, racist, and inhumane Stop and Frisk policing practice, and we will voice our opposition and challenge this policing practice gathering at 11:30 in Liberty Square to join the Stop 'Stop and Frisk' rally on October 21, 2011 In Harlem. On Saturday for the 16th National Day of Protest against Police Brutality, repression and the Criminalization of a Generation we will wear black. We will march in solidarity on October 22nd at 12 pm from Liberty Square to join in this day of protest."

People began talking about the reality of Stop and Frisk, some learning about this for the first time, and they began making plans to be there, taking stacks of fliers to spread the word and get organized. Carl Dix also called on people to get out their phones and start tweeting right away about Friday.

Whether Friday is really a day where people stand up against Stop and Frisk and stand with the people on the bottom of society that have this savage inequality bearing down on them every day, could make a difference in actually stopping this. I'll be honest, some people have raised the question, will Occupy Wall Street stand with us? Many people don't know about the reality of mass incarceration and police harassment of minorities, or just what it means to be Black in America. They wrestle with how to compel their friends and comrades to stand for a moment in their shoes. It's true that many people don't know this daily reality, but they hate racism and injustice—it's in our call to occupy and it's part of why we've come out into the streets. But we still don't realize that this is not some distant thing—think about the youth sitting next to you on the train, serving you lunch at McDonalds, or standing next to you as we march in the streets, perhaps just one sleeping bag away in Liberty Square.

Early this morning I awoke after barely falling asleep to the sound of rain clamoring on the tarp over my sleeping bag. As the prospect of laying in a soggy puddle loomed I got up, threw on my emergency poncho and schlepped over to the nearest 24 hour fast food joint to find the group of friends I sleep near already chatting sleepily and drying off. We get to talking and I'm making sure everyone knows about Friday, I start to talk about the reality of this and most importantly the need for people here to act on their conscience and stand with this. A young man chimes in that he's personally experienced this many times and he agrees, it's time to stand up. At first he just mentions that it's happened before, but slowly the stories begin pouring out, and as they do others nod and another person chimes in, how they've been beaten by police, how they've been handcuffed to a hospital bed.

One young person, 25 years old, Black, has been in the military but is no longer with that and has been coming every day to the park, sometimes staying over, he decides to open up and tell these stories...

We were coming from the gym in east New York, me, my cousin, my father, they stopped all of us, maybe five of us, pulled us over randomly for no reason, he didn't pass a stop sign didn't do any illegal traffic moves, two cops came up to the car, I was in the passenger side, one of them was looking in the car, looking in the back, my father said, what are we being stopped for "we'll tell you in a minute." They say. My father works for the department of sanitation they got his work card. They came back and said you can go.

Another time was with my friend in my neighborhood, my neighborhood's quiet, a nice neighborhood. They pulled us over got out of the car, put us in hand cuffs told us to sit in the sidewalk while they searched the car and one of the cops came up to us, they said, the only way we'll let you go is if you dance for us, they said you heard of the dance "chicken noodles soup?" No we haven't, "the only way we'll let you go is if you do chicken noodle soup for us." They let us go when we said we didn't know. They were joking around but to me, it's no joke, they're trying to degrade us.

I've been stopped many times, they just pull up on the side walk. They went through my phone one time, that was a violation of my rights. One time I was waiting for my friend by myself they pull up on the sidewalk they search me take my wallet and phone out the cop goes through the phone sees pictures of my girlfriend "oh you've got some pictures in there." I don't know why you're asking me where I'm going, who I'm waiting for going through my phone.

Those are just a few, it's happened so many times, those are just stand out ones, happens all the time. The neighborhood I live in, it's upper middle class, barely any crime, why do they chose to search us. It's a predominantly Black neighborhood and it's a quiet neighborhood, it's peaceful, but it's a Black neighborhood. I got other neighborhoods they don't stop people like that. A lot of them [the police] too have no respect for the neighborhood they think they can come in and get away with it, a lot of people don't know their rights and even if you do they're still going to do it because it's you're word against theirs.

Multiply that by almost 2,000 times. Every day. That's the reality. Now that you know, it's up to you to act with conscience on October 21, to stand with our brothers and sisters in this struggle.

Think about how just a few weeks ago all the anger and frustration at what this society does to people was boiling beneath the surface on the economic crisis and the criminal actions of corporations and the government, the lack of healthcare, no jobs, no education, mounting debt and the feeling that we don't have a future, and now all of this has burst forth and we are impacting the political stage. It's time for the anger around illegal unconstitutional police stop and frisk and profiling to be heard and it's time to put a stop to this.

We at Occupy Wall Street have right on our side. We have created something beautiful and important and just—and we aren't going anywhere!!! If we aren't standing with people in Harlem on Friday at 1 pm, can people really continue to call out that "We are the 99%"?

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