In the Streets August 16th: Justice for Abner Louima

Revolutionary Worker #921, Aug. 31, 1997

In New York City the outrage over the torture of Abner Louima produced a major street march on August 16. This march was a wild scene that blocked traffic on main streets in central Brooklyn all afternoon. People were not in any mood to take any shit from the police. They chanted "7-0 Shut It Down!" and "We'll Be Here Every Day Till We Get Justice." Police at every intersection were confronted by thousands of marchers who waved plungers, posters and flags in their faces. There were drummers and dancers, as well as guerrilla theater. One group re-enacted Abner Louima's torture. One popular sign turned Giuliani's slogan for the NYPD, "Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect," into "Corruption, Police Brutality, Racism."

People hung out of their windows and many joined en route. The entire community was electrified and, throughout the city, everyone knew something important was happening. For example, on a bus in Brooklyn, the driver used his loudspeaker to urge passengers to overcome their fear of police and attend the march: "What would Martin Luther King think?" he said, "What would Malcolm X think? People back then were scared, but they did what they had to do and so should people today."

Haitian immigrants made up the largest section of the march. The protest was endorsed by many different Haitian organizations as well as a broad array of other political forces, including National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, Refuse & Resist, Asian-American Legal Defense Fund, Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Revolutionary Communist Party. The participation of many nationalities manifested a growing desire among the people to fight together against police atrocities. Speakers were well received, including Miguel Maldonado, a Dominican who organized last year's nationwide immigrants' rights march in Washington, D.C., and Omowale Clay from the December 12th Movement, who spoke briefly in Haitian Creole. A member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade announced the plans for this year's October 22nd National Day of Protest and raised the need for revolution to put an end to the system that creates police brutality.

At the notorious 70th precinct, the mood got even more intense. People waved plungers and yelled in the faces of the police line. Hundreds sang the theme from TV's Cops in the pigs' faces: "Bad boys, bad boys, what you gonna do, what you gonna do when they come for you?" Since August 16, demonstrations have continued to take place at the hated 70th precinct.

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