Response to the Village Voice:

People Rose Up in Righteous Protest Against Murder of Kimani Gray—And They Should Be Supported

March 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


The righteous uprising of the youth of East Flatbush and others from across the city of NY who were outraged by the murder of Kimani Gray has been met with riot-clad, baton-wielding cops and mass arrests. Accompanying these assaults has been a chorus of NYC elected officials, "community leaders" and others in NY and across the country who are "appealing for calm" and "furious" over those from "outside the community" who supposedly are inciting very angry youth to resist. The message? The youth are easily manipulated and NOT actually fed up with the dead end future they are trapped in and seeing and protesting the murder of Kimani as a concentration of that ugly future. And the further message: The youth should refuse to unite with those who are joining them in struggle.

But this is wrong…this struggle—which is just and not futile or destructive—is most welcome and in the interests of all the people. It is right to stand up and resist.   

Now, this chorus has been joined by the Village Voice, a paper which began as an alternative and progressive paper, but this week joins in on the reactionary attacks on the people who are rising up in East Flatbush. In a major article published in March called "Everybody Wants a Piece of Kimani Gray" the Village Voice characterizes the outraged youth as emotional and basically unthinking in their struggle while at the same time describing the situation with Kimani’s murder as "complicated." It ridicules the struggle: "The rolling protests and unrest that have roiled East Flatbush for the past week have at times felt like a 21st-century Bonfire of the Vanities, a dysfunctional and tragicomic variety show, as postures of rage and ideology, solidarity and self-promotion share the stage, and moments of dark absurdity overlie stark calamity.” Fuck you Village Voice. It’s a fine thing that people are rising up against yet one more outrage perpetrated on the people.

First, ask yourself: In a country where the police murder of a Black youth is so routine that most people are not aware of how often this happens, if there had not been the outpouring of resistance in response to this callous murder, what would be the outcome? Would anyone even know about it? Would this murder and uprising be a subject of discussion on airwaves across the country? Wouldn't the only story out there be the enforcers' picture of Kimani as a gang banger with a gun who deserved to die and the police as heroes? Would there be any hope of justice?

And then think about this: Is it a bad thing or a good thing if youth are joining with each other and others, raising their heads and beginning to go up against those who maintain a boot on their neck? Is it a bad thing or a good thing if, now, the youth are acting on their outrage and hopes for something different? Is it a good thing or a bad thing if people from different backgrounds and from across the city are a part of the struggle to demand justice for Kimani and calling out the continual brutality the police inflict on people?   

Let’s be real: The powers-that-be, including elected officials, like city councilman Jumaane Williams, fear this kind of awakening and rebellion on the part of the people on the bottom. They also fear the unity that is being built between different kinds of people. With such outbreaks of struggle the nature and legitimacy of this whole set-up/system get called into question. People begin to ask big questions. And those defenders of this system also go into high gear, working overtime to shut down the struggle and steer and confine the resistance of broad numbers of people into "acceptable" channels which don't challenge the whole set-up.

So, what's the real deal? What riled up the youth—and broad numbers of people—was the murder of Kimani, and the brutal—and constant—repression the Black and Latino youth face at the hands of the police. People were saying NO MORE! The source of the unrest is the actions of the police, not the actions of people in the community "riled up by outsiders"! And to these mouthpieces for the system (including those who speak in the Village Voice), we say there are no outsiders in the struggle against injustice and oppression. If you didn’t live in Sanford, Florida, should you not have said anything about the murder of Trayvon Martin? If you are the parent of a child killed by the police in a DIFFERENT neighborhood, are you supposed to be silent? Are you an "outsider" stirring up trouble if you speak out against injustice, the thousands of murders of Black and Latino youth by the police, if you join in protest against these crimes which happen every day in this society? 

Actually, we need to squarely face the fact that far too many people have stood aside and been silent when Black, Latino and other youth have been gunned down by the police and/or railroaded to prison. It is a very good thing that people from across the city of New York—from beyond the community of East Flatbush—have joined in the protests and uprising. And many more need to protest this murder and the massive incarceration of over 2 million people in this society, mainly Black and Latino.   

And to the Village Voice we say: NO, IT'S NOT FUCKING COMPLICATED. As Carl Dix said: "There are only 2 sides in this struggle—either you stand with the people against the repression they face or, whatever your intentions, you're siding with those who carry out this repression." The Village Voice should be ashamed for giving its backing to those who are condemning these actions and calling for an end to the righteous struggle. The police murdered Kimani Gray as a part of their ongoing terror and brutalization the people—and the people from that neighborhood and across the city rose up in protest and they should be supported. 


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