Carl Dix on October 22, 2000
Stepping Up the Fight Against Police Brutality--
Meeting New Challenges
Revolutionary Worker #1073, October 8, 2000
Oct. 22, 2000, the 5th annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation is almost here.
Oct. 22nd is the day to bring together the strength from the local battles against police brutality to declare powerfully our determination to resist the nationwide epidemic of police brutality.
It is the day when those whose loved ones have been cut down by murdering police courageously speak out.
It is the day when those who are forced to live their lives under the guns and billy clubs of brutal, murdering cops stand up and expose what's being done to them; and the day when many others from different sections of society stand together with them to oppose this official abuse.
It is the day when the youth bring their anger at the way they're treated by the cops out into the streets and a day when others have their backs.
It is the day when people of all nationalities, immigrant and native born, come together, seriously determined to STOP police brutality and the overall repressive program the authorities are bringing down on the people.
This year it's crucial that Oct 22nd be all that, and more. The authorities are continuing and even escalating their assaults on the people on this front. Look at what's gone down in just the past year.
* The murderers of Amadou Diallo were set free by a New York court in February.
* NYPD cops blew away five Black men in four separate incidents in March, and none of these cops even faced a trial.
* In just the 1st half of September:
• Cops in Detroit killed 2 Black men, one of them a deaf mute;
• Cops in the Modesto, California killed an 11-year-old boy who was getting up to go to school when the police broke into the wrong house while supposedly searching for drugs;
• Undercover cops in the Washington, DC, area tailed a Howard University student thru three different jurisdictions before blowing him away in a hail of bullets.
* Shaka Sankofa was executed in Texas despite clear evidence that his trial was a travesty of justice.
* Mumia Abu-Jamal remains on death row in Pennsylvania!
All this reflects how high the stakes are for this system to keep their murdering police in effect. The power structure needs to have cops who are ready, willing and able to kill and brutalize in order to maintain their unjust status quo.
The stakes are just as high for the people. We need to step up our efforts to build a resistance movement that can put these brutal, murdering cops in check.
We must do this because people's lives are on the line today. And I believe we must do this, because building this kind of resistance is an important part of getting ready and in position for revolution--which is the only way we can end police brutality and every kind of oppression this system brings down on the people, once and for all.
Over the past year, resistance to police brutality has been on the rise. Last year on Oct. 22, over 10,000 people took to the streets in 60 cities across the country in powerful demonstrations. Thousands more wore black in solidarity with the protests.
In NY and in other cities around the country, the outrageous verdict in the case of the police who murdered Amadou Diallo was met with massive protest. 10,000 people marched in protest after security guards choked a Black man to death in Detroit. Thousands marched to the funeral of Patrick Dorismond, one of the five Black men murdered by the NYPD in March, and when the cops attacked the funeral, people stood their ground and fought back.
Tens of thousands of people came to DC for the Redeem the Dream rally called by Reverend Sharpton and other religious leaders to target racial profiling and police brutality. Church groups and civil rights groups who usually don't deal with this issue are speaking out on it.
And in the streets outside the Republican and Democratic conventions thousands of youth denounced police brutality and forged new alliances of resistance to defy the enforcers. This was right on time given the vicious attacks on those protests by police in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. And many of the youth who are hounding the international capitalist institutions from Seattle to Prague are anxious to hook up with the basic people.
Our struggle is also breaking into the concert halls and onto the airwaves--with musicians like Wyclef, Bruce Springsteen, Rage Against the Machine, Black Star, Dead Prez and others doing songs about how the cops are murdering people.
So, our resistance is on the rise, but still the authorities keep coming at us. The police haven't stopped brutalizing and murdering people. The courts still almost never indict these brutal cops, and in the few cases where the cops do face a trial, they almost always get off. The politicians are still mostly silent about the nationwide epidemic of police brutality, preferring instead to talk about how they're for law and order, as Bush and Gore are doing right now. This underscores our need to take our resistance even higher. And October 22 is the day to do just that.
A DAY OF RESISTANCE: NEW CHALLENGES
Back in 1996, by initiating a National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, the Oct. 22nd Coalition helped to give more of a nationwide character to the fight against police brutality. This national protest draws strength from all the local battles against police brutality and gives strength back by putting them in a national context and drawing national attention to them.
The reading of the names of the Stolen Lives--those murdered by law enforcement--gives great power to what happens on October 22nd. The Coalition's Stolen Lives Project and the Stolen Lives Book, which documents over 2000 deaths at the hands of law enforcement in the U.S. in the 1990s, is an eye-opening indictment of the depth and extent of the problem. This year the Coalition is announcing the upcoming publication of a Spanish language edition of the Stolen Lives Book-- which is crucial to build unity between immigrants and those born in this country in the fight against police brutality.
In the past four years, our movement has raised the level of awareness and resistance to police brutality. And it is a movement that has stayed true to the grassroots--giving voice to the truth about what this system does to the masses of people.
We have, as Mao said, created favorable new conditions through struggle. And now we confront new challenges.
I believe we can meet these challenges by building on the unique and powerful features of October 22nd--giving a platform to those under the guns of brutal, murdering cops; honoring those lives that have been stolen from us; bringing together broad and diverse forces in this fight and focusing the fight on stopping police brutality.
Now we know we're up against a difficult fight, and it will take a lot to beat back everything the authorities are throwing at the people on this front.
This is brought home by the fact that a number of the parents who've been fighting for years for justice for their murdered children have been told by the federal justice department that they've closed the investigation into their cases. And other parents have had to deal with the fact that the authorities refused to even open a case after the pigs murdered their loved ones.
Think about this. The police murder your child, and the system's media mouthpieces slander them as having deserved to be killed. And then you get a notice in the mail saying that there ain't enough evidence to charge the murdering pigs who stole the life of your loved one with any crime. Just imagine the kind of frustration and pain that this brings down on these family members.
All this has a lot of those involved in this fight hungry to know what it's going to take to finally stop all this from coming down. This kind of impatience is a necessary ingredient to advance this fight. The way the police are being given a green light to brutalize and murder people is intolerable. It's intolerable that Mumia Abu-Jamal is still on death row facing execution for his revolutionary political stand. It's intolerable that the authorities are treating our youth who represent the future like criminals, guilty until proven innocent--unless some pig blows them away before they can prove their innocence. And the people should not tolerate this.
We're going to need even more mass resistance than is being mounted today to take on the police terror that's being unleashed. And I believe we need to go beyond resistance and get rid of this system thru revolution in order to end all the police brutality, the warehousing of our youth in prison, the degrading treatment women are subjected to, and everything else foul about this set-up. Because revolution is what it's going to take to end all this oppression once and for all.
To do this we need to organize the places where we live and work into strongholds of revolutionary resistance to the system's attacks. We need to create an atmosphere of fighting back that will embolden many more of the sisters and brothers on the bottom of society to stand up and resist. We need to unleash the ferocity of the youth against the system that's exploiting and oppressing us. We need to rally allies broadly from the middle class to stand with and have the backs of those who step to the front lines of the fight against the enemy. We need to expose the system in the eyes of the people. And we need to build strong revolutionary organization, especially among those the system has targeted for the most vicious attacks--with roots so deep they can't be dug out. We need all this and more to get to the point where we could go for revolution in a country like this.
It isn't time yet to launch an all out revolutionary assault. The system ain't deep enough in trouble yet, with the capitalists who rule over us divided up and fighting amongst themselves. And the people aren't ready yet to put it all on the line to fight for change. But this could change, and we have to be getting ready now.
The struggle we wage today and the resistance we build today--including thru mounting a powerful National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality on Oct. 22, 2000--are an important part of getting ready.
When people take to the streets on Oct. 22nd, when the family members of police murder victims tell the real story of how the pigs are spreading terror in our communities, when the youth take their rage at being treated like criminals to the street: all this strengthens our fight today against the system and their enforcers. And it also helps create the conditions needed to build a stronger revolutionary movement, a movement that can not only lead people in fighting back today, but can also lead people in rising up in revolution when the time comes.
I know it's hard to keep at this kind of fight. It's especially hard to persevere in taking all this on when our enemy tries to make it seem like we're powerless and that we aren't accomplishing anything. But this ain't true. Our actions have contributed to building this powerful movement, and our continued resistance can help take things higher.
The example of family members of police murder victims persevering thru the grief and devastation of burying a murdered loved one being out in the streets on Oct. 22nd has inspired others to join in the fight. When they speak out at the Oct. 22nd rallies, delivering a powerful indictment to the system that's responsible for all this official brutality and murder, this has helped create conditions for more of the youth--the criminalized generation--to step out and fight back.
Seeing these family members go from fighting for justice for their murdered loved ones to fighting for justice for all the victims of police brutality has challenged many to step up and sharpen up their resistance too. And seeing ordinary people like them--who were forced into this movement when the cops, and the system, murdered their loved ones--become leaders in this movement of resistance gives us a vision of a totally different kind of society and world we could build if we could get out from under this dog-eat-dog set-up.
ALL OUT FOR 10/22/2000
All of this gives us even more reason, more necessity, to be out in the streets on Oct. 22nd in massive numbers. We have to be out there saying loud and clear--thru our unity between people of different races, between immigrants and native born people, between people of diverse backgrounds--that this injustice is intolerable and that we refuse to accept it any longer. The authorities and their courts may have closed some of these cases, but the people haven't. We're going to continue and step up the fight for justice. And we have to be out there on Oct. 22nd because we've seen the impact we've had thru our actions on this day.
I know everyone building for October 22 doesn't share my revolutionary viewpoint. There are many different groups and individuals who come together in the Oct. 22nd Coalition and many more forces who come together on the day to make Oct. 22nd happen. And we have different views and different programs and agendas. What unites us all is a common slogan and demand: STOP POLICE BRUTALITY, REPRESSION AND THE CRIMINALIZATION OF A GENERATION! Within this framework of unity, everybody can put forward their own ideas and demands and pursue their objectives, while also working together against the common enemy. This diversity and the dialogue it can bring about is a strength of this coalition.
But for us, as revolutionary communists, October 22 has a dimension beyond building resistance to police brutality today. As we join with others to fight back today, we are also preparing for revolution in the future, when the time is right.
From this revolutionary perspective, October 22nd is a day for the people to stand up and strengthen our fight against being brutalized and crushed by the powers and their enforcers. At the same time, we see the unity of different sections of people, the energy and creativity of the new generation, our fierce struggle against a common enemy forged on this day, as part of building up a revolutionary movement to put an end to a system that brings police brutality and a thousand other daily abuses down on the people.
Let October 22nd be a most powerful day of resistance. Let it be a day when we condemn the death sentence facing Mumia Abu-Jamal. Together with the new generation, we will fight for a better world in the new millennium where all the madness of this system is history!
As the Coalition's Call for Oct 22, 2000 puts it:
"This year we must come out even stronger. We must do this for all the victims whose lives have been stolen by law enforcement. They can no longer speak for themselves, so we must speak, and act, for them. We must do this because any of us could be victimized by police brutality. And we must step out on Oct. 22nd for the future. Be out there to change the situation where police can brutalize people for being in the wrong neighborhood, speaking the wrong language or being the wrong color. Be out there to change the situation where cops can murder someone for pulling out their wallet or their cell phone."
You need to be out there on Oct. 22nd. Standing together with many others saying loud and clear: STOP POLICE BRUTALITY, REPRESSION AND THE CRIMINALIZATION OF A GENERATION! You need to be wearing black on that day. You need to be organizing others to take part.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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