Revolution #265, April 8, 2012

Scenes from the Outrage at Trayvon Martin’s Murder

In cities across the country, ever since the story broke big in the national media, people have been pouring into the streets in rallies and marches to express their outrage against the murder of Trayvon Martin and to call for the arrest of George Zimmerman. Revolution newspaper has received many reports from different areas where revolutionaries have joined with these protests and distributed thousands of copies of the RCP Statement all over the country, as well as Revolution newspaper, the poster of Bob Avakian’s Three Strikes quote and other materials. These materials have tapped into, unleashed and focused up the outrage that people are feeling.  In addition to the accompanying correspondence from a team of people who went to Sanford, Florida, we are including some excerpts below of snapshots that have been sent in from different parts of the country: 

From Atlanta:

Monday, March 26: Today in Atlanta, thousands gathered in front of the State Capitol to protest the murder of Trayvon Martin. Revolutionaries distributed about 3,000 flyers to the crowd. The crowd consisted of hundreds of students from Clark, Morehouse, and Spellman Colleges, as well as Georgia State University, who marched from the Atlanta University Center to the Capitol. Revolutionaries distributed nearly a thousand of the Revolutionary Communist Party's statement on the Murder of Trayvon Martin. The crowd was receptive to the statement, many signed up to stay in contact with Revolution Books and hundreds took pictures with an enlargement of this week's paper. There seems to be a growing potential right now to connect this murder with the many crimes of this system and peoples' eyes seem much more open than usual.

From the Bay Area:

Thursday, March 22: 3000 miles away but feeling very, very close to the family and loved ones of Trayvon Martin, 600 people marched through the streets of San Francisco condemning the murder of Trayvon Martin and demanding justice.  The march included Occupy Oakland and Occupy San Francisco folks, many family members who had lost loved ones to police murder including: Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant, killed by BART police, Danika Chatman, the mother of Kenneth Harding, killed by the SFPD, and Dionne Smith-Downs, the mother of James Rivera, killed by police in Stockton, California, and many, many others outraged by Trayvon’s murder. 

The family members of loved ones murdered by the police talked about the similarities between the official cover-ups of murders by the police and the preferential handling treatment the murderer of Trayvon Martin is receiving.  The family members wanted Trayvon’s family to know they have their full support.

Joey Johnson (the defendant in the 1984 flag-burning case Texas v. Johnson) spoke at the rally, “Whether it is the massacre of 16 people in their village in Afghanistan or the murder of Trayvon Martin here, it’s the system that’s set these crimes in motion!  It’s a system of capitalism and imperialism that has to be overthrown.  And that is what we should all be working for and struggling for to bring about.  As Bob Avakian says, ‘No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that.’” 

As the march headed down SF’s Market Street a banner was in the front with a large photo of Trayvon in the center and the words “Justice for Trayvon Martin”, and on one side of the banner the words “Young Black Male (the symbol for does not equal)  A Death  Sentence” and the “No more generations of our youth” quote from BA.

As people were marching down Market Street two miles to the United Nations Plaza they chanted, “We are all Trayvon!”; “They don’t care if Black kids die!”, “Stand Up! Stand Up! Justice for Trayvon!”, “Join us, join us, Justice for Trayvon!”, “We stand up to the New Jim Crow!  Racist murder, Hell No!”, “Revolution is what we need – To liberate is humanity!”, “Our youth are under attack, What do we do? Stand up fight back!

From Chicago:

After weeks of unseasonably warm weather reaching into the 80’s, on Monday, March 26 the weather turned quite cold.  Still, following protests for Trayvon Martin on the previous Friday and Saturday, about 150 people came out for a 5pm rally at Chicago’s Federal Plaza.

The 5 pm rally was one of two events that had been called in solidarity with the national day of protest for Trayvon. People heard about it through Facebook, and friends calling friends.  A number of organizations were represented including ISO, SWP, PSL, and ANSWER. Supporters of the RCP were also in the house.

The rally became an opportunity for people to express their deep feelings about the murder of Trayvon Martin and the official disdain for his life represented by the free pass given to his assassin. People lined up to speak, many pouring their hearts out to a crowd appreciative of their expression of grief and outrage.

One teacher had brought four or five kids from Enrico Fermi grade school. One of the young students took the mike to ask if he were wearing a hoodie, would he be the next to be killed...

Three students from Whitney Young High School each spoke in turn. One, a young Black lesbian, talked about what the murder of Trayvon meant to her and what life was like for someone who had three strikes against her in this society: being gay, being a woman and being Black.

She was followed by a self-described “white male Christian” who expressed appreciation for the previous speaker, saying he had everything going for him but had to take a stand on this issue.  He spoke about the climate in the country that leads to things like the murder of Trayvon and the role in creating this climate played by right-wing evangelism. He no longer calls himself an evangelist because of what it has come to mean. He said he is proud to live in a mixed race community.  He excoriated the right-wing Christians especially in that they don’t have the love that, as he sees it, Christ is about.

A Mexican man talked about how he came here seeking opportunity and acceptance but what he found was bigotry and discrimination. He talked about how women are treated–with a woman killed every day by her partner.  He talked about the murder of Shaima Alawadi, a 32-year-old mother of five who was beaten to death in California because she had come from Iraq. He had recently adopted a Black/Puerto Rican child who had multiple mental disabilities. The cops recently grabbed the kid, handcuffed him and threw him into a cop car despite the pleas of this desperate father.  The kid spit on the police. In court they set a $100,000 bond for the child and charged him with five felonies!

A Latino from South Chicago said he “came for selfish reasons.”  A friend of his had recently been murdered and when he heard about Trayvon, he was reminded of his friend. He named several youth who had been killed in South Chicago, including Meliton Recendez, shot in the back by Chicago police in 2007 at age 16. He said “when you see on the news that one of these people killed was a gang member, remember they are only children.”

The family of Emmett Till read a statement.

From Houston:

On Sunday our Revolution crew was out among hundreds of people at two events.  "Fight the Power and Transform the People for Revolution!" and "This System Has No Future for the Youth But The Revolution Does" banners drew one after another at both the demonstrations, with many wanting to pose with the banners and take photos. The people were mad and the atmosphere was tense. At the first event, the NAACP and numerous pastors and city officials came out to speak. The majority of people were church congregations and families outraged by the murder of Trayvon, demanding an arrest, and that justice be done. One sign read, “Don’t shoot me!” and had a bag of skittles attached to it. Speakers pointed to Emmett Till and to the white supremacy Black people have endured for so many years. Even a Congressman had to speak to the outrageousness of all this–he got a heartfelt response when he compared the blaming of the victim as nothing new–justification for shooting Trayvon because of what he was wearing is like saying women are "asking for it" by wearing "provocative" clothes.

Monday, March 26:  A crew went to Texas Southern University, a historically Black university, where about 300 people rallied. The crowd was overwhelmingly students, and almost everyone got the Party's statement, with many people coming up to us to get it, and a few students took stacks of leaflets to get out. A number of students remembered the special issue on BAsics that got out very broadly last semester. A lot of BAsics cards got out, and some copies of Revolution as well. One person said that the system isn't working, but many responded with recognition, particularly off Basics 1:1 ("There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth"), that the problem is that the system is working exactly the way it was set up to work, and we need a revolution.

A short distance from the TSU campus, another rally was held at the S.H.A.P.E. Community Center, which has been a center of activism for many decades. This crowd of between 200 and 300 was a concentration of activists both from the Black community and more broadly, a mix of older people from the 60's as well as youth.

Speakers connected the Trayvon murder with a broader war on Black people, including several who had been brutalized or lost family members at the hands of police. One described how he lost six teeth and nearly his life just for riding his bicycle down the sidewalk. Choking with emotion, Robbie Tolan, son of Cincinnati Reds Baseball veteran Bobby Tolan, spoke of his encounter with police, where he was shot in the stomach in Houston's affluent Bellaire neighborhood.  Numerous student speakers from TSU, the University of Houston and Prairieview A and M expressed determination to intensify this struggle.

From Seattle: 

 In Seattle on March 24th, at least two thousand people poured out in protest of the murder of Trayvon Martin. The protest was called by the NAACP, American Friends Service Committee and others. Whole families were there from old to young. Many people came with groups of friends, lots of kids and youth. Throughout the march people chanted, “Who are We? Trayvon Martin!”, “Being Black is not a crime!"  and “Hey hey, ho ho, the new Jim Crow has got to go.” Many people wore hoodies.  A unanimously-felt expression from people was that what had happened to Trayvon was “ridiculous” and that what had happened to him could have easily happened to themselves or any other Black young person, anyone’s son or loved one. And that the injustice of it can’t be allowed to stand. A woman who works with the public school system said “I am so glad people are finally getting out here in large numbers and we need to have a march every week until Zimmerman is arrested and tried for murder”.
Outside the church where the rally started people overflowed onto the street. Friends and families gathered in groups discussing things.  All kinds of flyers were passing around and being eagerly taken and read. Revolutionary agitators read from the Revolutionary Communist Party statement on the murder of Trayvon and held up and read from posters of the statement from Bob Avakian on “Three strikes and you’re out!” about the system’s continuing oppression of Black people from slavery down to the new Jim Crow of today. As we spoke people came forward to get the statement, which was widely distributed.

Trayvon's cousin, Cederic President-Turner who lives in Tacoma, spoke at the ending rally. He said Trayvon's mother asked him to deliver his message.

Cederic said, "For African Americans as myself, we should not be able to walk down the street and live in fear of police officers harassing us or a watchman thinking he has the authority to kill us just because we look suspicious….That is one thing I'm not going to stand for and we should not stand for–period."

From Cleveland:

On Friday, March 23, a student at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland organized a rally in 24 hours through social networks. As 200 people gathered at Public Square, people held signs “Walking while Black,” and with hoodies on held signs “Am I suspicious?” –many with signs with the picture of Trayvon. After a moment of silence was observed for Trayvon, people sang the Black National Anthem and then marched to the Justice Center. Almost everyone wanted the statement “A Modern-Day Lynching/The Vigilante Murder of Trayvon Martin!” by Carl Dix and some bought Revolution newspaper. One woman said how much she worries about her grandson and the danger she feels he is in either by some racist vigilante like Zimmerman or the police. She said how she doesn’t understand why racism is so deep and constant. She said, “Why are we so hated in this country.”  We talked about what Carl Dix says in the statement and how murders like that of Trayvon happen again and again because the system is still intact that spawns it. There were lots of college and high school students who came out and were reading Carl Dix’s statement. Then a man was passing out a flyer about his son Kenneth Cyree Smith, 20,who was killed by the police on March 10, 2012. He told me how his son was murdered unjustly by the police and he sees Trayvon like his son, one murdered by a racist vigilante, the other by the police, both racist killings. As the rally ended people were still talking about their own experience as Black people, and how deeply they anguish over their sons being a racist target by the police or racist vigilantes.

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