Revolution #266, April 22, 2012

Oakland Day of Outrage

Revolution received this report:

As part of the nationwide Day of Outrage on April 10, a small but angry and defiant speak-out and march for Trayvon Martin took place in East Oakland, starting at the site of the police killing of Brownie Polk in 2009. With a banner reading "We are all Trayvon. The whole damn system is guilty" a very mixed group gathered—revolutionaries, World Can't Wait activists, students from community colleges, and residents of the East Oakland community who, having read the leaflets posted on the corner, were waiting for the revolutionaries. Also there were people who came after getting an email from Revolution Books, including a young white man from a mainly white area of the city who was concerned that there were not enough white people coming out.

After chanting loudly that "Trayvon Martin didn't have to die. We all know the reason why. The whole damn system is guilty," speakers stepped forward to respond and speak bitterness. After hearing that Zimmerman would not be charged with first degree murder, a prominent community leader said, "They let the murderer go just because Trayvon was a young Black man. This proves there ain't no justice in America. There ain't no justice in America. There ain't no justice in America."

A middle-aged Black resident of the neighborhood was clearly upset about all the violence in the neighborhood (this area has seen a lot of homicides); and while he called to "stop the violence," he made sure to emphasize "Justice for Trayvon Martin." He had been part of the protests against the murder of Brownie Polk in 2009, and had been waiting at the chicken shack an hour ahead of time to be part of the day of outrage. He called for "unity" to fight for Trayvon and announced that there were Black, white, Latino and Asian people there. A Native American woman shouted out her presence as well. He explained that he was against all the violence, but felt that non violence couldn't be addressed without getting justice for Trayvon! He was clearly happy to be speaking out, and loudly thanked us for providing the opportunity to respond to Trayvon's murder.

Earlier in the day, we had been at a local community college where the mood among many students was a bit subdued or resigned to saying "not much you can do." But, it was not ALL like that, eg, there was a young Asian woman who told us of having her student club do a Trayvon Martin fashion show with hoodies and skittles. An older student also gave a $20 donation to get out the vision and works of BA everywhere.

A couple from the community college arrived together and both of them spoke out about why they came. The young woman was there not just to respond to and to seek justice for Trayvon, but because she heard our revolutionary message earlier in the day. She said, "This murder is just too much, and you mean to tell me that there is a way to actually end all this shit? That's good to hear. I'm gonna leave class right now and hook up with my boyfriend and get right down to the neighborhood.. This is just too much." Later in the rally, her boyfriend (who called himself Trayvon Martin) said that he was there because of his 3-year-old daughter. He didn't want her to live in a world that he is living in now, where things hadn't changed that much in the 50 years since Emmett Till. "No child should even see something like this (murder of Trayvon)."

The lively and determined march took off down a main street to a very busy intersection. At this intersection, the contingent doubled in size when passersby were challenged to and felt compelled to join in, even if for a few minutes. One young Black woman from another community college agitated very strongly (atop 2 milk cartons donated by the corner store) that things were so wrong with this system, that Obama was no damn good, that we need a revolution to really make a change. Others of us agitated in the crowd for people to hook up with BA and BAsics.

When one young man asked how we were going to make this revolution, I showed him "On the Strategy for Revolution" with its important point that we must fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution. He said he was all for fighting the power as he held up the issue #264 of Revolution with Trayvon's picture on the cover; but he wasn't sure about revolution (still feeling that "they are too powerful"). Yet, for sure he felt that if we didn't fight the power especially around Trayvon, then it would be very bad for all of us. "It's already a green light on killing us; but they want to make it into the law of the land." He only stayed for a short time, but called on 3 of his friends to also hold up the paper on the opposite side of the street; and ended up giving a donation.

Our crowd grew, with paper sellers on all of the intersection medians. As people loudly honked their approval, we called on them to park their cars and "join us." In fact, 2 young men from the hood did just that and stood with us for a few minutes. This intersection is also a major bus stop; so we agitated for people to miss their next bus to join us in NOT being silent around this heinous crime. There was a challenge here that the passersby could not just say "this (racist murder) happens all the time" and then walk on by when here was an opportunity to join a revolutionary movement to end it!

Throughout the day, people responded to the leaflet with its quote in Revolution from the veteran who said "if I shot some white kid...." That particular quote hit a raw nerve about exposing the basic injustice of the system. But people also responded simply to the picture of Trayvon in his hoodie. One man who stood with us for a while said "I have six sons, the oldest about Trayvon's age, and looks just like Trayvon. How do you think I feel about this?" And more than one young mother expressed the sentiments in BA's clip about worrying that her son may grow up to be too big, and/or that he might be a target just for wearing the hoodie.

There was a strong sense among the crowd that this was the right thing to do, no matter what your nationality. The young white man who came from a different part of the city said, "I don't hear much sympathy for what happened to Trayvon from my neighborhood with a lot of professional white people. Its kind of bad they are so quiet. I really didn't know what to expect coming down here, but was glad to see a group of people from all nationalities. This is GREAT .. Seeing all the people honking their horns and all. Maybe I'll get to know this neighborhood and come down here more often."

A short report from the buildup to day of outrage:

On Saturday and Sunday we went out with papers and BAsics to the Latino immigrant area of the city. Out in front of the main Catholic church on Sunday, we got into a good amount of controversy.

At the table we had set up, a bilingual man was arguing about "why Trayvon, when all these homicides are going on all the time unanswered?" He was a little antagonistic that we were even bringing up Trayvon. We answered using the article in the current issue of the paper which addresses this very issue: Yes, its all bad, but if you truly want to rise up out of the muck and mire, you need to stand up right now against the murder of Trayvon.

Since he didn't have an answer to this, he then raised that Zimmerman was half Latino!!! What was this supposed to mean? We struggled with him pretty sharply that this didn't at all make the murder excusable and that it didn't change the fact that it was a racist vigilante who was doing this in the name of white supremacy. Our agitator responded, "The only thing worse than a satisfied slave is one who will defend his slavemasters whipping all the slaves." Then because of this response, a woman stepped forward to check out and then buy a copy of BAsics and also donate extra money as well for the BA Everywhere campaign.

Also in the cafeteria of a community college on Tuesday, April 10, we were loudly agitating inside away from the rain. One woman complained about our money can. "Is this money going to the family? This isn't doing any good at all. You're raising money for a very negative thing." Our response was that we were raising money for revolution and to get BA everywhere ... and this in fact was a very positive thing. She became even more agitated, inappropriately, that we were just getting money for ourselves. Then a young woman came up behind her and asked directly where the money was going. I said "for revolution, which means to pay for this paper and to get BA's name everywhere." She dropped $2 in the can. When another of us agitated that we do have a leader, BA, who can lead us in putting an end to this whole system, another older Black man dropped a $20 bill in the can! On the surface it might have looked like we were not having much of an impact at the school since most of the crowd was just eating lunch, but some people did listen, and 3 of them later joined the 4 pm rally in East Oakland.


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