From members of the Revolution Club, Los Angeles

Nickerson Gardens: Connecting the Real Revolution with People Rising Up and Defying Police Repression

August 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


Over the past few weeks members of the Revolution Club have been out in the Nickerson Gardens housing projects in Watts standing with residents, activists, and others who have been standing up to police repression, murder, and terror. We’ve also been going deep with some people into what’s the source of the problem and what’s the real solution to this and the many other outrages in society. 

July 25 marked one year since the brutal murder of 18-year-old Richard Risher in the Nickerson Gardens. In late June the L.A. Police Commission justified this murder and cleared all the pigs involved. Lisa Simpson, the mother of Richard, gathered with over a dozen friends and activists to commemorate her son on the one year anniversary of his murder, and led them on a march from a nearby park to the housing projects. As we marched we came across two pigs harassing a group of Black youth who were filming a music video that later we learned was a tribute to Richard. The pigs had the two Black youth up against the wall and in handcuffs and the protesters got out their phones and started filming the cops and chanting “Let him go!” The pigs were surrounded and slowly began to back off and soon let the Black youth go. Everyone cheered, some yelling, “No! Not this time motherfuckers!” The pigs were driven out of the parking lot of the projects. People felt very defiant and decided to take the streets, which brought traffic to a halt. A number of pig cars showed up and both pushed people back on the sidewalk and tried to do their “community policing” bullshit routine, at one point a Black pig claiming he was known and liked in the projects to which one person asked the crowd whether that was true and people replied, “Hell no!” People were calling them murderers and racists. At some point the pigs decided not to remain on the scene and left. The evening ended with a beautiful ceremony where Lisa and others released lanterns into the air in honor of her son.

On August 9 people in the Nickerson Gardens stood up and rebelled against the police once again. Several people were arrested and several cop cars damaged. The Revolution Club went down to the Nickerson following this incident to talk to people and learn more about what went on. We learned that residents and friends had gathered to celebrate the birthday and memory of someone who passed away a couple of years ago. They do this every year, hang out and have a good time. People were eating, friends were chilling outside, children were running around playing. Everyone we talked with said the same thing over and over, “It was peaceful, everything was peaceful” until the pigs decided to crash the party. They detained and arrested two people, one of them was Zach Randolph a veteran two time NBA All Star who this year signed a huge contract with the Sacramento Kings. He was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to sell which everyone we spoke to thought was outrageous and ridiculous! As they arrested the two people the crowd grew larger and angrier at the harassment and so people stood up to this. According to the Los Angeles Times, the tires of several police cars were slashed and their windows broken. The pigs had to call for backup and in a matter of minutes dozens of police cars came storming in. They made skirmish lines to disperse the crowd. 

In the days that followed many people we talked with were still angry about all that had gone down. One Black man we spoke with said the police do this all the time, and recounted how last year he’d been arrested at a similar gathering where people were kicking it and having a good time. He said he knows about Zach Randolph and knows he is not a drug dealer. Others felt Zach was targeted because as a successful person he is not supposed to be hanging out in places like the Nickerson. One person who saw the front cover of Revolution newspaper “This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!” said, “We cannot have eight years of Trump!” and talked about how many people are not going to make it if he’s allowed to stay in for all that time. Another person yelled out that white supremacists and the KKK are really running the White House. 

We ran into some Black youth hanging outside. We talked to them about what was, at the time, unfolding in Charlottesville. We had just learned that one person, Heather Heyer, had been killed and many others injured by a white supremacist who rammed his car into the protesters. One person took out his phone and looked up the video. A member of the Revolution Club did agitation on what is represented by what’s going on in Charlottesville and all across the country and what’s really at the root of the problem and what’s the real solution to all this. One person in his 20s said he’d come across some things online about the Klan in Virginia and was outraged that all these white supremacists were going around with torches and defending the Confederate monuments. There was a whole discussion with him and others about who are these modern storm troopers, the role they are playing in consolidating fascism in this country, the genocidal plans against Black and Brown people that the Trump/Pence regime is trying to accelerate, and the need to get organized for an actual revolution to overthrow this system at the soonest possible time... and as part of that working now to oust the current regime before it’s too late.

One person who’d been quiet but listening asked, “OK, but what do we do then?” We pulled out the pamphlet “How We Can Win—How We Can Really Make Revolution” and talked to people about how we are working back from making revolution, what is meant by revolution and a revolutionary situation. We got into some key things in the pamphlet, including the section on “how we could defeat them” and what we need to do now to get ready for that time. Big questions having to do with winning when the time comes to go all out for the revolutionary overthrow of this system came up and were gotten into in a serious way. At one point we challenged one person we’d been talking to about joining the Revolution Club. He said he felt him and others would join “when it’s right in front of our face, if the white supremacists were right in front of us then we would join.” We told him that by that time it would be too late! We struggled some more around the need for him and many others like him to confront what’s represented by the current situation and the outlines of a civil war we’re seeing. And as part of challenging some of these youth in the Nickerson to get out of killing each other and get into the revolution, we talked to them about the crucial work being done this summer in the South Side of Chicago by the Revolution Club.

Then on August 16 the L.A County Sheriffs shot and killed 34-year-old Kenneth Lewis Jr. These pigs claim he had a gun and took off running. The pigs chased him and as he entered the Nickerson Gardens he was shot numerous times. People we talked with in the aftermath of all this say he did not have a weapon. We spoke to a family member who showed us a video that was uploaded on social media that was recorded right after Kenneth had been shot. It’s very hard to watch because you see Kenneth on the ground with his hands cuffed as he keeps sitting up and falling down and fighting to stay alive. No ambulance during the whole video clip. All you see are a bunch of Sheriff pigs with loaded weapons “securing” the area as Kenneth breathes some of his last breaths. He died later the same night. 

Family and friends had a candlelight vigil the next evening. They were seen visibly upset, many crying and mourning the loss of their loved one. A member of the Revolution Club had a Stolen Lives poster which shows the faces of a few of the many thousands and thousands of people who have been murdered by the police throughout the years. People stopped to see the poster and look at the faces, many people shocked to learn that children and grandmothers were on there. Some pointing to the teenagers on the poster kept asking in disbelief, “they were killed by the police?” We talked to some of the people about the urgency to get organized for an actual revolution, a revolution that would do away with the system that gives rise to the oppression of Black and Brown people, an actual revolution that emancipates ALL of humanity. 

On August 19, Lisa Simpson held a rally and protest in response to the murder of Kenneth Lewis Jr. She was joined by members of the Revolution Club and other activists. The rapper Lady of Rage was also there to stand up against police terror. We marched through the projects calling on people to join, to step out of their houses and take to the streets. Some of the people came out to see what was going on, people raised their fists in support, others gave a thumbs up, and others chanted along. At the end some of us had a discussion about the role of the police. One Revolution Club member pulled out a copy of Bob Avakian’s book BAsics and read 1:24 on the real role of the police:

The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.

Everyone nodded and applauded. We then talked about the work the Revolution Club is doing in the South Side of Chicago and called on people to contribute to this effort.

These have been some tense times in the Nickerson Gardens projects, with the pigs harassing and murdering and with the people rising up and defying the police and their repression. There is such a need right now to be joining with, and taking further, the ways people begin to rise up and not accept what this system does to them. And to take this where it needs to go, we need to be bringing people the strategy and leadership that exists for an actual revolution and the leadership for that revolution, Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism.


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