All Power's Eve--Finale for Month of Resistance

Revolutionary Worker #881, November 10, 1996

"All Power's Eve": For the Halloween grand finale to the Month of Resistance, resisters and resisters-to-be--"All Ages," all walks of life--set their sights on celebrating, uniting, and persevering to take back the future from the powers who treat the people like animals.

When the evening was all over, a member of The Arsonists, one of the hip hop groups that performed that night, said this:

"Tonight--yo, I can't even find the words for it, it was incredible. It was one of the few times when you see unity--when you see a whole people just coming in one place, you know what I'm saying. It's rare for me to see that. There's lots of places I go to, you don't really see that much unity--everybody's on some ignorance, they got their minds on smaller things.... This show--it's a natural high. It's like wow!--there's actually other people who feel the way I do!"

The Knitting Factory, a New York City club, was the home for this night of celebration presented by Refuse & Resist! A hot poster featuring art work donated by Sue Coe had been seen in shops and on walls all over downtown Manhattan. That night the hall was decked in banners and as people began arriving, a big-screen video played footage from the Coordinadora 96 October 12 March for Justice along with scenes from a recent student battle against racism and police brutality at SUNY Binghamton.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the fearless resister who's locked down on death row, was everywhere in the house--his image and words booming from the video screen, big posters on the walls, and even the club's computer was playing the CD ROM which was created last summer by folks at the Voyager Co. as part of the battle to save Mumia's life.

Over 300 people came out for the celebration. It was a night that turned out to be wonderful and surprising in ways which no one could have expected.


The show opened with greetings from four youth who hosted the night. Then Real Conscious Venue took the stage, three musicians--Kid Lucky, Oracle, and Tomasia--in black warpaint who vocalized in a way that had you looking for the bass and boombox. Tomasia did the rapping:

"Got me blinking on the edge of the ledge of insight
Trucking my hindsight
Move beyond my fright
To find my might....
In spite of torrential political waters
To see a world without destructive borders...
And no girlchild's coming out of me
To inherit the same legacy.
Heiress, victim of patriarchy
That all ends right here with me.
That all ends right here with me."

A little later Tomasia told the RW: "We definitely are creating a culture of resistance... We are resisting all the way, in every way." Another member: "I think there needs to be a change in the way the system is working. There are many twisted people in power. We brought together different groups here. That's what Refuse & Resist! is about. We need to come together. Awareness, consciousness, that's what we need."

Danny Hoch describes himself as an urban griot, and on stage this evening he brought us a Dominican radio DJ kicking non-stop Spanish that sailed into the hearts of the audience, which was mostly English-speakers, because he made people pause and really listen to this voice of Latino culture, made everybody want to know the secrets and jokes.

Then he broke into a snarling character who you came to find out is capital personified:

"Forties, Blunts, Ho's. Glocks and Tecs
You got your `X' cap but I got you powerless....
I laugh at all your rap videos with your guns and ho's
While you strike the roughneck pose, I pick my nose
And flick it on ya, ya gonner, no need to warn ya
I got mad seats in government from Bronx to California
And I got the National Guard and plus the Navy,
Army, Air Force, son, I got n*iggers paid to save me
If it ever really gets to that but I doubt it
Cause the dollars that I print got your mind clouded..."
"Forties, Blunts, Ho's. Glocks and Tecs
You got your `X' cap, what's next?"

Some of the special invited guests this evening were families of people murdered by the police.

Iris Baez came before the crowd wearing a large button with a picture of her son, Anthony Baez, who was killed by a cop when his football accidentally hit the cop's car. His killer was recently found not guilty by a Bronx judge. "There are some people who think they are the only ones who deserve to be here. We have to show them no. The police, I call them the KKK. The only problem with them is they only change uniform, they don't wear the white robes. They now wear the blue uniform with a gun and badge that makes them legal... And I don't want to hear about this color thing or nothing. We are all equal. We the people can do a lot of things but we have to unite and stop pulling this way and that way..."

Margarita Rosario also spoke. Her son and nephew were shot in the back while in handcuffs. She is a founder of Parents Against Police Brutality and received a "Courageous Resister" award from Refuse & Resist! last spring. She announced, "I am collecting money for a mural with the pictures of my son and ny nephew and the names of all the victims in front of my house. This will be a good thing for the cops to see..."

Then the crowd heard a moving message from a woman, Vanessa Maldenado, whose fiancé was killed over a parking space earlier this month by an off-duty cop in upstate New York. "I am not a revolutionist but they did this to the wrong man, and they have messed with the wrong woman. Things have got to change, we are not animals. They cannot use us as target practice. People, if you believe in what I'm sayin', then we must unite because united we stand we can never be defeated. And if it means a revolution then so be it. And if it means that I have to die for what is right, then so be it."

Spoken word artist Tracie Morris performed this evening with guitarist Marvin Sewell--dedicating her set to Iris Baez. "I was very disturbed when I heard what happened to your son. Please accept my condolences." She launched into a sound poem, never before performed, playing on the words "Baez" and "bias." Later she told the RW: "... I wanted to be part of this month of resistance.... This seems something worthwhile and it was an honor to me. Iris Baez, she just seems so optimistic. You see something like that and it breaks your heart because you know she's not acting. That's why I wanted to dedicate this set to her because she's coming from the heart, and for a mother to continue to have to relive the death of her son under those circumstances is just heartwrenching and so I respect that."

Leonard Weinglass, the lawyer for Mumia Abu-Jamal and an initiator of Refuse & Resist!, was on hand to greet the audience: "Mumia told me to come by and express his appreciation to all of you who have worked hard to make the continuation of his life possible. He wanted me to express to you the fact that it's not just his case or his life. It's 3,200 people who face a legal execution. He wants people to know that their work should be done on behalf of all, as well as on his behalf. So it's important for all of us to stay together, become part of a movement to oppose this legalized murder."


Then the first of the hip hop groups, Punk Barbarians, hit the stage. They spoke later to the RW about resistance in these times: "Same thing going on now as in Alabama when they were spraying those hoses, Bull Connor, back in Birmingham. Basically what we dealing with is retroactive, it's the whole thing happening again.... There's a lot of powers forming to trying to break up a lot of different things, individuals, families, a lot of agencies that will try to break up a family unit, break up anything that is positive. You got to do things to bring the movement out and let people focus on it because if you don't speak it out and talk about it, ain't nothing going to change. We need to build on our own, of protecting in our own ways, if they can't protect us properly. With police brutality, seems we getting no respect, seems we always the ones being looked on in devious ways, every day. We get no chance to breathe, like leave us alone..." Another member: "Like the poet said, `Baez, bias', it's a bias against. It's all about drama, the police brutality situation is drama and that's what we're focusing on, not just police brutality but everything that has to do with living in the United States in general. There are a lot of liars out there, so what we try to do with our album is cover both sides of the story and explain the drama... Because it's not all rosy but it's not terrible all the time. You can't walk around defeated."

Between sets other voices were heard. Mid-evening, Dr. Robert Rockwell, the National Secretary of Refuse & Resist!, and some of the at-large members of the National Council of Refuse & Resist! presented the audience with a gigantic cake decorated with the dancing Keith Haring fist.

At one point, the image of an older white woman came onto the big-screen video. She spoke strongly and with emotion: "My name is June Barrett. I am a retired Captain of the U.S. Public Health Service... I am here to express my own appreciation for the doctors nationwide who provide all kinds of reproductive health services. And I am here especially to honor two brave doctors and my husband who were murdered in Pensacola for their services and their commitment to women." The tape was from a Washington, DC press conference held by Refuse & Resist! for Abortion Providers Appreciation Day. June Barrett and her husband were doing clinic defense in July of 1994 when Paul Hill murdered the doctor at that clinic, as well as her husband. She herself was also shot. "I survived that horrible nightmare. I am intact, and my beliefs are intact."

Get Open hit the stage with a whole other voice of resistance. Members of this hip hop group come from all over the world and are known for rapping in many tongues--their sound is like a militant street opera, dramatic and majestic. One member, Sebastian, dedicated "Mad Controversy" to the Attica Brothers and friends of his from the Black Panther Party who are still in exile in Europe.

The band Ricanstruction was next--four Puerto Rican brothers who've become famous on the Lower East Side for creating a new mix of hardcore/salsa/reggae/jazz, loud and passionate and uncompromising. Their set ended with a version of the Bob Marley "War" song, transformed from a warning into a celebration of the possibilities.

Members of Ricanstruction had all been involved in different ways in making "All Power's Eve" happen. Eddie told the RW: "We want to be part of resistance and fulfill our role as artists. We understand that change is necessary and we want to be a part of that change. We go to all kinds of people, ghettos, to homeless centers, to squatters, and the response is positive. People are looking for something and they are looking for something that speaks about change. It's really been good for us. We want to be part of this. The Mumia piece we did was an emotionally composed outburst. It was done during the time when people still had not heard about Mumia in all the neighborhoods, the ghettos, and even some of the squatters... I am impressed with the number of people that showed up tonight for everything, not just for Mumia. If we could do it at this level, it is the beginning of a very large movement."

MC Serch, formerly of the hip hop group 3rd Bass, now runs Serchlite Music. He was involved from the beginning in producing "All Power's Eve" with Refuse & Resist! For the finale of the show, Serch gathered together four groups from Brooklyn who represent a new generation of hip hop--artists who take their stand with the people, rather than going for self. The theme was announced by a member of the Arsonists, an eight-member group of Puerto Rican rappers, who opened with a poem: "Fuck real, keep that shit correct. Turn left because you have no rights! Palante siempre!..." The other seven members then spilled onto the stage and did their well-known underground track "Halloween"--performed with precision and a lot of humor. A member of the Arsonists said later about the show: "The theme was the politics, but the thing was it was done so greatly, because usually when people try to do politics they push out this angry negative vibe... but tonight it was on a positive level, uplifting."

Non-Phixion, a group which includes MC Serch, came on next and their set featured a heavy track called "Know Your Enemy".

Ill Bill: "They GOT
Billions of dollars invested in crack
Not to mention cigarettes and alcohol on top of which they tax.
They GOT
Professors teaching only half the story
In 1975 they created AIDS in a laboratory.
They GOT
me feeling like I'm on parole
They GOT
Excuses for all the people they kill..
MC Serch: They GOT
The Internet so they know what side you're on
Every time you speak your mind they can inspect it
They had me thinking that shit was fly
Now it's just disconnected.
They GOT
The law to do the job to kill the Panthers...
They GOT
Non-Phixion and we forming our own troops...!"

The stage got crowded as Non-Phixion was joined by the crew of D.V. Alias Khrist, the hip hop artist from Brownsville Brooklyn who sings and raps in a beautiful down low growl. Khrist, who records for No Doubt (a label affiliated with Def Jam), told Refuse & Resist! before the show, "I left school when I was 13 years old, cuz half the teachers don't care if we educated. I got my GED on my own later. You an outcast when you don't go along. I know they're gonna come at me cuz I am for freedom, justice and equality. But I figure if I go platinum, I'll be waking up a million people. That's all I care about. Cuz I been poor all my life..."

Trigger the Gambler, another well-respected hip hop artist on No Doubt, jumped in next and addressed the crowd:

"There are lots of Black brothers out here, am I right? And lots of Black sisters. There are lots of white brothers out here. They're always saying we can't get along. Well we're here. And ain't no fighting going on. No bullshit. Much love straight up and down to the house, for the simple fact that they showed us artists love. They didn't search us down, throw us against the wall. It's like going home... Peace out to all of you. When I heard this was going on I had to stop what I was doing in the studio and come out here. Cause this is love, mad love. This is what needs to be in the magazines, all the press, TV, MTV, rap magazines. So worldwide the people can see what's going on."

The show finale was spectacular as MC Serch led a freestyle session with Rican-struction jamming in the background and about 25 rappers of all nationalities jumping up on stage. Suddenly the poster enlargements from the RW--"Killed in Cold Blood"--appeared on stage in English and Spanish, listing all the people killed by the cops. Then the Mumia poster showed up as the whole crew went into the chant:

"Sign the List! Refuse & Resist!
Resist & Refuse! All your mentality-- that you must use!"

Little yellow patches with the Keith Haring logo flew into the audience from the stage and the balcony--a souvenir for all of a night to remember: "We made October a National Month of Resistance."

TV Watch: Readers in New York Area should check Manhattan Cable TV for coverage of the show.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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