October 22: National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality

Taking the Streets Against Police Brutality

Revolutionary Worker #1125, November 4, 2001, posted at http://rwor.org

The RW received the following reports on the 6th National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation:


Tension was high as 1,400 marched through downtown, surrounded by hundreds of cops. People remembered the batons and rubber bullets cops used to attack the march last year. But people were not going to back down after last year's police attack and everyone was determined to stand up against the current climate of repression.

Family members whose loved ones have been killed by the police, along with their honor guard, led the march. And members of Ozomatli and other musicians joined the kids in the Watts Drum Corps, the Watts Committee Against Police Brutality and the Aztec Dancers at the front. Everyone wore black and marched shoulder to shoulder and curb to curb all the way to LAPD headquarters at the Parker Center.

Most of the marchers were young, and they were all nationalities. There were as many sisters as brothers taking the streets. There were anarchists and members of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, Zapatista supporters, peace activists, Libertarians, religious people, and students. The flag of the RCP waved high. Along the way people drew chalk outlines of human bodies and wrote slogans. A contingent from Riverside demanded a federal Grand Jury investigation into the 1998 murder of Tyisha Miller. Refuse & Resist! carried a huge banner of Mumia Abu-Jamal, and there were many other flags and posters for Mumia. A contingent of people fighting California's three strikes law marched next to La Resistencia with their banner in memory of those killed along the border. A group of immigrant women from a church in Pico Union--who have been marching in NDP for years--carried their trademark umbrellas denouncing police brutality. Workers leaned out of the windows of garment sweatshops waving bits of cloth to show their support.

Police surrounded the march from beginning to end, in front and back and running alongside with their riot helmets, clubs, and rubber bullet rifles. But none of this could put a dent in the militant enthusiasm of the day.

The rear of the march was covered by a contingent of 40 members of the anarchist Black Bloc with shields made out of trash can lids and trash cans cut in half lengthwise to protect the people from a police attack.

This year's march was marked by the defiance and militant enthusiasm of youth who came from more than a dozen high schools and colleges and from neighborhoods all over L.A. and Southern California, including South Central and Watts.

When the march reached Parker Center the crowd erupted in cheers as a tape of Rage Against the Machine's song Testify blasted off the walls of the LAPD headquarters. A spirited set by the Watts Drum Corps kicked off a rally in front of police headquarters that included powerful testimony from the families of people killed by the police, statements from others and some powerful poetry.

Last year people were brutally attacked by the LAPD when they tried to march around Parker Center. This year people were determined to complete that march. Hundreds of cops lined the streets again but marchers pushed on, surrounded Parker Center and arrived back at the rally site to celebrate a very sweet victory.

As protesters were leaving the rally, organizers called on people to walk back to the beginning point of the march together, to prevent the cops from isolating and attacking people. Hundreds of protesters walked along the sidewalk, obeying traffic lights, but showing the same fierce spirit that had infused the whole day.

Scores of cops followed marchers and started messing with them for walking on the edge of the street. The cops then blocked traffic with their cars and vans, turning their sirens on to try to drown out people speaking on the bullhorn. Some people who got temporarily separated from others were violently attacked. One young man was kicked and beaten with clubs as he and others tried to protect a woman with a baby in a stroller. A six-year-old boy was also beaten. One 18-year-old man was arrested while he was sitting on a bus bench across the street. When people got back to the starting point they found over 100 police, but people were able to get to their cars and leave safely.


300 people marched from Union Square to Times Square during the evening rush hour led by parents and other family members whose loved ones have been murdered by the police. The action began with a rally at Union Square--which has been a center of collective grieving and debate since September 11. Candles were lit and a moment of silence held for the victims of the September 11 attacks and the victims of police brutality. In addition to the 300 who marched, over 100 others at the Square listened to speeches by family members.

The crowd was on the young side and very multinational. The rally was MCed by Miguel Maldonado of the Immigrant Workers Association, Nicholas Heyward, Sr. (whose son was murdered by a New York City housing cop) and Lakeesha, a youth active with the October 22nd Coalition. People in the march included activists from Refuse & Resist!, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, the ACLU, Asian Legal Defense & Education Fund, New York Free Mumia Coalition and other organizations. People carried dozens of signs with pictures of people whose lives were stolen by the police. There were also many signs and posters in support of immigrant rights and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Speakers included including Nicholas Heyward Sr.; Juanita Young and James Ferguson, Sr., whose son Malcolm Ferguson was murdered by the NYPD; Andree Smith whose son Justin Smith was murdered by police in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Jonsi Smith, Justin's sister; and Ricky Gordon, whose brother was murdered by cops in Atlanta; Carl Dix, national spokesperson for the RCP; Robert Rockwell from Refuse & Resist; King Downing from the ACLU; Sin Yen Ling from ALDEF (Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund); Lumumba Bandele, Third World Within/Coalition Against Police Brutality; Courtney Anderson from the NYC Free Mumia Coalition; Carlos Rovira from the Vieques Support Campaign; Daniel from the Student Liberation Action Movement; South Asians Against Police Brutality and Racism; and Carol Taylor, author of "The Little Black Book."

The October 22nd action in New York City was very controversial this year. Since September 11, the authorities have waged a relentless public opinion campaign to "reform" the image of Mayor Giuliani and the NYPD. The New York Post called one parent who organized the protest "deranged." Many speakers at the rally noted that though the numbers were smaller than previous years, it was critically important to step out against police brutality--especially because those in power are trying to silence all voices of dissent. Quite a few pointed to the outrageous verdict in Cincinnati (where the cop who murdered Timothy Thomas went free). Many talked about the racial profiling and attacks on Arabs and other people of color as examples of how very much police brutality and murder are still in effect--and on the rise. The march reflected people's determination not to be silenced. Everyone chanted in a loud, spirited way the entire route. The night ended in Times Square with the reading of the names of people murdered by the police, with the crowd responding "Presente!"


Over 600 people participated in a rally and march through the streets of downtown Oakland. The crowd was mainly youth. Over 100 of the demonstrators were students from area high schools, joined by many college students. Relatives of 13 victims of police murder were present, including: the family of Chila Amaya, killed by the Union City police; Rashida Grinage, whose son and husband were killed by the Oakland police in a dispute over their dog; Richard Allard, whose uncle Dale Robbins was shot inside the Santa Rosa Police Department; Cornelius Hall whose son was killed by the BART police; Robina Jackson, whose son Quincy was killed by the San Jose cops, Alade Djuhti Mes whose father, a retired school teacher, was killed by the cops in Seaside, California; LaTonya Dykes, whose husband Verlon was killed by the Oakland cops; Frank Rosenberg, the father of Richard Rosenberg, who was gunned down by Fremont cops; and several relatives of Jamil Wheatfall, who was beaten by six Oakland cops.

A number of immigrants from the day laborers program and INS Watch sold blue triangles with the names of people killed by the INS or while crossing the border. There were activists with People United for a Better Oakland (PUEBLO), Copwatch from Berkeley, the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, AYPAL (Asian/Pacific Islander Youth Promoting Advocacy and Leadership), anarchists, attorneys and others.

The rally was MC'ed by Jose, whose cousin was shot by the Denver police. Speakers included many family members; attorney John Burris who has represented many victims of police brutality in the Bay Area; former City Councilman Wilson Riles, Jr., who is Pacific Regional Director of the American Friends Service Committee and a candidate for Mayor of Oakland. There were also cultural performances by Prophets of Rage and spoken word by students from Berkeley High and Skyline High. Malik, one of the stars of currently running episodes of MTV's The Real World, DJ'ed providing a steady beat.

As the march pulled into the street it was led by a large flatbed truck with sections of the Stolen Lives wall, with the names and pictures of hundreds of those who have been killed by the police. A contingent of family members, many carrying flowers and pictures of their loved ones, led the march flanked by an honor guard of youth.

The march went through the downtown area of Oakland, by the County Courthouse, the Police Department, the City Jail and through Oakland's Chinatown. As the march went by the jail, the chants grew louder and marchers could see fists and scraps of red cloth being waved through the small slit windows of the jail. Youth chalked the names of those killed by the police on the sidewalk outside the police station.

As Prophets of Rage performed a fierce rap against the police, many high school youth started break dancing on the concrete outside of Oakland City Hall.

An organizer for the October 22 Coalition told the RW that the unity of the day was forged in part when a wide array of forces rallied when the city initially refused to grant a march permit. Activists said that the office of U.S. congresswoman Barbara Lee (who was the one dissenting vote in Congress opposing the U.S. war in Afghanistan) intervened with Oakland police officials in support of the right to have a demonstration in the streets against police brutality on October 22. A press conference was organized with speakers from PUEBLO, the mother of a young Black man murdered by the SFPD, Wilson Riles Jr. and hip-hop DJ Davey D. The press conference was covered in the Oakland Tribune, and Davey D, who was fired from hip-hop station KMEL for allowing youth to air their views on the war, put organizers for October 22nd on his public affairs show on the local Pacifica station. Six days before October 22 the city backed down and granted a permit.


300 marched, defiant in the face of the city's refusal to grant a march permit. Demonstrators had been banned from the federal plaza by the General Services Administration and a federal judge had ruled in the government's favor. But people were determined to take the streets anyway.

Vera Love was present for her son, Robert Russ, who was murdered by Chicago police. Two African-American women, Sharon D. Lee and Charlotte Thomas, told the rally about their younger brother, Jesse Lee--strangled by a guard in Cook County Jail a few days after his arrest, his death officially ruled a suicide. Mary L. Johnson told how her son Michael was "entombed" in the Tamms supermax prison in retaliation for her outspokenness around police brutality. Debra Guy came for her nephew Eugene, gunned down by police on the south side of Chicago. Azhar Usman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago denounced the beating of Yahya Hussain, a Muslim youth attacked by a police officer inside a Chicago high school. A contingent of Latino women and men from the Comité Exigimos Justicia carried poster-size photos of Armando Serrano, Nick Escamilla, Jaime Hauad, Rene Aquino, Juan and Rosendo Hernandez, Nelson Gonzalez and others--family members locked up and imprisoned after being framed by police. A group of 30 high school students came from Francis Parker, an upper-middle class private high school. Statements were made by representatives of Refuse and Resist, the RCP, the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network, Amnesty International, and the Justice Coalition of Greater Chicago. A number of ministers, including Rev. Michael Yasutake, Calvin Moore and Martin Deppe, spoke out against government efforts to silence dissent in the wake of September 11.

Chanting "2,000 stolen lives--we refuse to close our eyes" protesters took to the streets, led by a group of Black youth from the Kenny Mac Dance Posse--who have done special performances at October 22nd protests in past years. As the march went through downtown, people hung signs to rename the streets in honor of victims of the police and the criminal "justice system."

Police on horseback worked to hem in the march, bumping people, but there was little fear in this crowd. At one point traffic was tied up for over 30 minutes when protesters formed a big picket line--circling up and down a main downtown street.

A special remembrance ceremony was held at the closing rally held outside the State of Illinois building. Three candles were lit. One for the thousands who died at the World Trade Center. One for those dying from U.S. bombs in Afghanistan. And one candle for the thousands of victims of police murder. Flowers and certificates of "recognition, appreciation and honor" were also given to family members of those killed or framed by police.


200 people protested and rallied. Speakers included family members of those killed by the police, ministers, members of the local Cop Watch group, a representative of the new Black Panther Party, and people from the Over-the-Rhine community - where a rebellion broke out after the police murder of Timothy Thomas. A number of students came from Antioch, Kenyon College, Earlham College, Xavier & U of Cincy.

Reverend Scott, the leader of the Coalition for a Just Cincinnati, was the MC. Speakers included: Shiela Olvera, the wife of Rigoberto Olvera who was gunned down by police in Hendersonville, North Carolina; Effie Hurt who described how a cop shot her son, Ricky Moore, seven times and then went to his car and pulled out a shotgun to finish the job; a young storeowner who was assaulted by police when he ventured out of his store during the rebellion following the murder of Timothy Thomas; Victoria Staughn, a young Black woman with the Concerned Citizens for Justice; Molly Lyons, who was attacked by the police with tear gas at a civil disobedience protest at Mt. Adams; Diallo Walker, whose cousin, Roger Owensby, was killed by the police; David Mitchell, a police brutality activist, who was also arrested at the Mt. Adams CD action; Life Allah, a 25-year-old Black barber from the OTR area, who spoke about Cop Watch; and the national spokesman from the Black Panther Nation, Minister Malik, who is a founding member of the Detroit O22 Coalition.

Other Cities:

The crowd of 150 in Houston was mostly youth and included: anarchists and those involved in the anti-globalization movement, supporters of the RCP, and people from the Justice for Pedro Oregon Coalition, Workers World Party, the Houston Independent Media Center, the American Indian Movement, Black Bloc, Food Not Bombs, Harris County Green Party, Radical Cheerleaders, and Houstonians United for Mumia. Activists from La Resistencia passed out blue triangles that said "illegal" with names of people who have either died or been killed while attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexican border. Speakers included Lawrence Sampson for the American Indian Movement, Anarchist Black Cross, Travis Morales of La Resistencia, and someone from Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement.

120, mostly youth, rallied at a park in downtown Phoenix, then marched to the jail, police headquarters, and a plaza named after Cesar Chavez.

100 people marched in Seattle, led by families of those killed by the police, including relatives of a recently slain black actor and a football player in California. There were dozens of black clad anarchist youth, many who were beaten up by the police at the anti-WTO protest and are now up on felonies.

At Spelman College, an all Black women's college in Atlanta, some students woke up very early on the morning of October 22 and chalk outlined bodies inside the very busy quad area. They wrote names (from the Stolen Lives book) of those killed by police. They also drew the MOVE house with all the people who were murdered by Philly cops and wrote all the names inside the house.

As we go to press we have heard of October 22 protests and events also taking placed in: Albany, Georgia; Asheville, North Carolina; Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Detroit, Michigan; Fresno, California; Greenboro, North Carolina; Honolulu, Hawaii; Kansas City, Moussouri; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Philadelphia; and San Diego.

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