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#INDICTAMERICA: National Day of Action for Mike Brown!

WHEN: DAY AFTER THE VERDICT
WHERE: YOUR CITY
Atlanta
Troy Davis Park (Woodruff Park), 7 pm
Baltimore
Mckeldin Square, 4pm
Boston
Detroit
Detroit Police Department- Eastern District, 7pm
Houston
MacGregor Park, 5 pm
Kansas City
Brush Creek Park, 7 pm
Minneapolis
Minneapolis Police Department, 3rd Precinct, 4:30 pm
NYC
Providence
Central High School, 7 pm
List of cities will be updated as more cities announce plans. If you are planning something in your city, contact us as trayvonoc@gmail.com. 

Darren Wilson is Innocent. Indict America.

America made Darren Wilson innocent. How long will we dispute these court rulings before we realize they’re telling the harsh truth? Killer cops are law abiding citizens. Darren Wilson says he was just doing his job. He’s right. Richard Haste, Ramarley Graham’s murderer, claims he did nothing wrong. He’s right. Cops who murder black and brown people in the name of capitalist white supremacy aren’t just innocent; they’re commended for a job well done.

We’re sick of pinning our hopes on the courts. Their justice system is a joke. White supremacist capitalism is the law of the land in the U.S., and no judge or jury can change that. Maybe a few cops will see some jail time if people get mad enough. But capitalist courts can never give us justice.

We’re sick of waiting for bogus legal decisions. We understand that people want closure, and our hearts go out to everyone who has lost someone to police murder. But the sooner we realize the courts are incapable of giving us closure, the better.

To America, Darren Wilson is innocent. George Zimmerman is innocent. Richard Haste is innocent. Paul Headley, Michael Carey, Marc Cooper, Gescard Isnora, and Michael Oliver — the pigs who pumped fifty bullets into Sean Bell — are only guilty of loving their jobs a little too much. They’re free to knock back beers with the pigs who murdered Amadou Diallo, and have a good laugh that we’re still holding out for a conviction, for capitalism to reform itself.

- Trayvon Martin Organizing Comittee
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrayvonMartinOrganizingCommittee
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TrayvonMOC
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Hands up, turn up for Mike Brown: August 20th nation-wide

Another Black man dead. This would be just another day like every other day in America, if it weren’t for one simple fact: Ferguson turned out, stood up, and has refused to get back on its knees.

Stand up around the country on August 20th for a national day of action:

New York City
Wednesday, 9pm, Tompkins Sq Park *Wear black in remembrance of #MikeBrown*
https://www.facebook.com/events/1441103616178894/

Atlanta
 
Houston
Wednesday, 6pm, 2202 St Emanuel St
https://www.facebook.com/events/577796015664871/
 
Philadelphia
Wednesday, 6pm, LOVE Park, 1599 John F Kennedy Blvd
 
Providence
Wednesday, 7pm, 325 Washington Street
 
Las Vegas
Wednesday, 6:30pm, Federal Courthouse, 333 Las Vegas Blvd South
 
Tuscaloosa
Wednesday, 6pm, TBA
 
Salt Lake City
Wednesday, 8pm, Wallace Bennett Federal Building
 
Detroit
Wednesday, 7pm, Hart Plaza, One Hart Plaza 
 
Denver
Wednesday, 8pm, Civic Center Park, 100 W. 14th Ave Pkwy
 
List of cities will be updated as more actions are planned.

Mike Brown was days away from college? Don’t care.

Didn’t he steal some cigars? Don’t care.

What about the looters? Don’t care.

Mike Brown was black, guilty of only this, which made him guilty of all else: (jay)walking while black, (back)talking while black, breathing while black. Black like Oscar Grant, black like Kathryn Johnson, black like Renisha Mcbride, black like Eric Garner, like Rodney King, like Emmett Till. All black, and all guilty.

Mike Brown’s life was of value–is of value. Full stop. No college degree makes that so; no robbery takes that away. The people of Ferguson recognize this. White supremacy’s subtle baiting of thievery, college degrees and saggy pants and talking back does not.

We talk back. We turn up. We stand tall. With Ferguson–for Mike, for every black body in America robbed of its right to live–for every injustice that we are growing sick and tired of. We are done with your police/media slander campaigns. We are sick with anger.

It is too late for containing it.

Not another. Not another. Not one more.

We will turn down for nothing until justice is ours.

To connect with the Organizing Committee and plan a local event, email TrayvonOC@gmail.com, or visit https://www.facebook.com/TrayvonMartinOrganizingCommittee

HANDS UP TURN UP NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION Wednesday, August 20!

Another Black man dead.  This would be just another day like every other day in America, if it weren’t for one simple fact: Ferguson turned out, stood up, and has refused to get back on its knees.

Mike Brown was days away from college? Don’t care.

Didn’t he steal some cigars? Don’t care.

What about the looters? Don’t care.

Mike Brown was black, guilty of only this, which made him guilty of all else: (jay)walking while black, (back)talking while black, breathing while black. Black like Oscar Grant, black like Kathryn Johnson, black like Renisha Mcbride, black like Eric Garner, like Rodney King, like Emmett Till. All black, and all guilty.

Mike Brown’s life was of value–is of value. Full stop. No college degree makes that so; no robbery takes that away. The people of Ferguson recognize this. White supremacy’s subtle baiting of thievery, college degrees and saggy pants and talking back does not.

We talk back. We turn up. We stand tall. With Ferguson–for Mike, for every black body in America robbed of its right to live–for every injustice that we are growing sick and tired of. We are done with your police/media slander campaigns. We are sick with anger.

It is too late for containing it.

Not another. Not another. Not one more.  

We will turn down for nothing until justice is ours.

To connect with the Organizing Committee and plan a local event, please email: TrayvonOC@gmail.com

Reportback from Oakland

*This was written by a collective out in Oakland who asked us to post it here. – TMOC

Vengeance for Trayvon: A Reportback from Oakland

Written on July 22nd, by a Collective in the Bay Area

“I’m tired of the marchin’, the rallyin’, the protestin’ 

We hoopin’ and hollerin’, still we gettin’ no justice

 Dead Prez, ‘Made You Die

            In the past week, the city of Oakland, along with the rest of the nation, has been shaken by a series of large protests and small-scale riots in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in Florida. The Oakland Police Department (OPD) and City Hall were largely taken by surprise by the massive outpouring of grief and rage of local residents, and both struggled – as a result of several high-profile court settlements which have forced the OPD to reconfigure its crowd control tactics – to contain a growing unrest which picked up greater and greater momentum as each day passed.

Even as Oakland business leaders applied enormous pressure on the OPD to restore order, whether through the use of micro-policing procedures (such as the increased enforcement of pedestrian or minor traffic infractions, which closely resemble stop-and-frisk techniques) or full displays of force, (seen later in the week, in which mobile cadres were supplemented by snatch squads and vehicular surveillance units) City Councilman Neil Gallo lamented their inability to quell the sporadic uprisings, commenting that “protestors are better organized than our Police Department.”

And, of course, we have seen the predictable return of the ‘outside agitator’ narrative, in which both ‘white anarchists’ and other ‘vandals’ are characterized as representing an alien and invasive force whose interests lie only in terrorizing the residents of Oakland as a whole, and hijacking otherwise ‘peaceful’ demonstrations.   Yet despite this focus on the threat of the white ‘outside agitator’ or ‘anarchist,’ the OPD continue to target and arrest more young black men than white ‘agitators.’  For example, of the nine individuals arrested last Monday night, only two were officially arraigned on felony charges. These two men are black.

As was also predictable a large proportion of Oakland residents have accepted the onslaught of the state’s TV, radio and newspaper campaign wholeheartedly and the effects of this strategy have, to some small extent, been witnessed in the dwindling signs of popular revolt – in the space of one week.  Some of that was to be expected as an embryonic movement decides whether to grow or even to exist.  But as a Bay area collective we have observed other things in the streets and in the media during the last week that need addressing. Specifically, we would like to tackle two key issues:

  • The emergence of black youth as organic leadership and the attempt to deny this reality
  • The emergence of white vigilantism in the defense of private property and against black urban rebellion

We will, to the best of our abilities as participants and observers, attempt to provide a brief overview of the most significant events of the last week, address each of the aforementioned points individually as well as explain why they are significant and, finally, offer some thoughts on how we might best confront and overcome the difficulties we now face in the aftermath of these brief flare-ups.

A Basic Clarification of Recent Events

“Fuck all that bullshit, protesting for justice

I feel like the Black Panthers, let’s start a fucking riot!”

Zoeja Jean, ‘All Black in My Hoodie’

            On the evening of July 13th, 2013 several hundred angry and saddened demonstrators gathered at Oscar Grant Plaza in response to the announcing of the Zimmerman acquittal that same day. During a particularly emotional speak-out, one speaker expressed her distress over the verdict, but told the transfixed crowd she was encouraged by the diversity of attendees, and was happy to see everyone there, “whether white, black, or brown.” After several other rousing speeches from attendees the speak-out began to taper off, and the crowd began to look around wondering what our next move would be. At this point, another speaker jumped atop the makeshift pedestal – a young, unnamed black man – and made a simple proposal: either we stay and continue talking, or we hit the streets and march. The crowd overwhelmingly responded that it was time to march. As we snaked through the downtown Oakland streets, numerous storefronts were smashed, small barricades dragged out and lit ablaze, and a BART patrol car destroyed. Folks driving by honked their horns in support and, on several occasions, individuals who had been waiting for the bus stood up and joined in the fracas. All told, the march would cause over $30,000 worth of damage in the downtown area and only one arrest was made.

On July 15th, scores of protests occurred across the United States, with large demonstrations taking place in New York, Atlanta, and elsewhere. But the most shining examples of militant black self-activity would take place in Oakland, Los Angeles, and Houston. While some groups in other cities called for Department of Justice (DOJ) intervention, court reform, or the repeal of Stand Your Ground laws, for many angry black youth in these cities, calls for ‘justice’ rang empty. Instead, these places would erupt in clashes with police, sporadic flash mobs and, of course, highway shutdowns which occurred almost concurrently.

In Oakland, organizers had scheduled a rally and march in response to the national call-out issued by the Trayvon Martin Organizing Committee days earlier. However a struggle quickly emerged within a small group of collectives over the question of destination and goal of the demonstration.  Following several speeches and some internal debate, the local black nationalist O.N.Y.X. Organizing Committee seized control of march logistics and explained to the crowd that we would march to the OPD station. Upon arrival, they told us, we would continue to rally, then return to Oscar Grant Plaza. As the crowd of one thousand approached the intersection outside of OPD headquarters a large cordon of riot police blocked our path, forcing demonstrators into the middle of the major downtown intersection and effectively blocking all lanes of traffic. However, OPD officers did not block off the I-880N freeway ramp, choosing instead to concentrate all their forces on preventing approach to the headquarters. As O.N.Y.X. spokespersons urged the crowd to stay put and allow the rally to continue as they had planned, a small group of black youth on ‘scraper’ bikes ignored their pleas. These youths broke away from the intersection and charged up the freeway off-ramp.

Some of the O.N.Y.X. organizers motioned with their arms to come back and seemed to disapprove with the decision to take the freeway, but hundreds in the crowd began following up the off-ramp with great excitement. Several cars honked in support of the exuberant crowd. Once on the freeway, a large section of demonstrators formed a human chain across northbound and southbound lanes, effectively bringing traffic to an absolute standstill. After nearly a half-an-hour, OPD and California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers began to mount the freeway, and demonstrators scattered in a disorganized manner.  When the police did not make arrests, concentrating on clearing the highway, marchers were able to regroup near Chinatown. This gathering weaved back through downtown Oakland, marched around Lake Merritt to Piedmont and eventually grew into a much larger march that would continue late into the evening, and culminated in an assembly before the steps of the Superior Court of Alameda County.

We Are All George Zimmerman: Drew Cribley and White Vigilantism

“The police said, ‘If they’re breaking in your property,

do what you gotta do and leave their bodies on the side of the road.”

‘Roper,’ White Vigilante from Post-Katrina New Orleans

“And the police are simply the hired enemies of this population. They are present to keep the Negro in his place and to protect white business interests, and they have no other function.”

James Baldwin, “A Report from Occupied Territories”

            As demonstrators filed back toward Oscar Grant Plaza following a brief interlude in front of the heavily guarded courthouse, a large section of black demonstrators began filing home. Some remained, though, and another segment of the march began to ‘bloc up’ to prepare for another run through downtown Oakland. Several windows were quickly smashed, including one belonging to the Men’s Warehouse building.  The OPD had quickly amassed near the courthouse, following behind the remaining protestors before launching a flash bang grenade and arresting several individuals, the majority of whom were black and brown. Following these arrests, a white man who was originally arrested on the most serious charges had them reduced to misdemeanors while a young black man would be arraigned on a felony.

Demonstrators fought back against OPD officers, and the police lines would soon retreat slightly. The march then continued its way back towards the ‘Uptown’ zone (a name given by developers to a recently gentrified section of downtown Oakland), where marchers would be met with a sight not seen in recent years. Outside of a nearby storefront along Broadway stood a string of predominantly white workers and business owners – side-by-side – wielding an assortment of blunt objects and weapons, including hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, bats, and Tasers. In an instant, a young ‘bloc-ed up’ youth sprinted out of the march and attempted to knock out the window of Flora, a local small restaurant. This individual was met by two white waiters, one of whom attempted to grab the protestor and the other following with his weapon raised high. The youth, in an effort to avoid being hit, swung their small hammer and hit the first waiter firmly across the side of his face.

Much has been said about Drew Cribley, the young white Flora waiter who was hit with a hammer. In media coverage, Cribley is portrayed as an innocent worker who was trying to ‘deter’ protestors from breaking Flora’s windows when he was viciously attacked with a hammer. Even self-identified leftists and progressives have taken to Twitter and Facebook to condemn the attack as ‘anti-working class.’ Yet, what the media didn’t say is that Cribley was doing more than simply trying to deter protestors from breaking windows. In reality, Cribley and his co-workers decided to team up and arm themselves with wrenches and hammers to attack protestors, the majority of whom, of course, were black youth.

In defending Flora – a self-described “Art Deco restaurant” in the heart of Oakland – from the rage of black youth, Drew Cribley was defending the private property of his boss. By doing so, Cribley made the conscious choice, a choice that many white workers have made before him, to organize himself and his white co-workers to violently police working-class and black youth in order to preserve and protect the racial and economic order. In this sense, it was Cribley’s actions that were ‘anti-working-class.’ Like George Zimmerman, Cribley has been portrayed as a victim who acted in self-defense when he decided to physically confront those who were breaking Flora’s windows. But Cribley is neither a hero nor a victim. He is a white vigilante desperately attempting to hold on to what Dubois called the ‘wages of whiteness’ in the face of black rebellion and economic precarity.

So while we may never know why Drew Cribley decided to arm himself in order to defend the private property of his employer, we think it’s equally important to ask, why didn’t he join up with up those who were attacking Flora, or at the very least, why didn’t he stand aside? Above all, what we find most important in Cribley’s action is that he was not alone. On the night of July 15th other white workers in ‘Uptown’ emerged not to fight their bosses or sabotage their workplaces but, rather, to defend the private property of their bosses, through the threat of violence. In essence, some of these workers acted as a vigilante force (whether this was an intentional and coordinated effort is, to date, unknown and would require further investigation) who took it upon themselves to do what they felt the police wouldn’t.

While the media, the Chamber of Commerce and local business owners decried the Oakland Police Department’s supposed ‘hands off approach’ during the riots, they seemed to have no problem with the group of white people who decided to arm themselves to police rioters. This contradiction can only be understood as tacit approval of the use of a semi-organized, white vigilantism as a strategic tool.

The Outside Agitator and the Invisibilization of Black Self-Organization

“…Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.  “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” 1963.

            In recent weeks, we have seen several variations of ‘outside agitator’ discourse deployed by different state actors and agencies, all with similar strategies of fragmenting and separating-out the ‘disruptive’ elements from those recognized as engaging in more appropriate or legitimate political activity. The OPD (and even co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale) pointed their fingers at violent ‘anarchists,’ many of whom, according to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, had most likely come from San Francisco to “get off” on the spectacle created by their actions. And we should not omit Kevon Paynter, Kazuu Haga, and Black Men United who, in a particularly disgusting reformulation of the illegitimate/legitimate protestor dichotomy, insisted that “radical” black protestors were portraying “negative stereotypes” about black youth, and that it was these same images or representations which ultimately led to Trayvon Martin’s death.

But the most potentially destructive variation of the ‘outside agitator’ discourse has not come from the mainstream media or the OPD. In a recent Indybay article entitled “A Basic Explanation of Recent Events (July 13-15, 2013) in the City of Oakland (Classified),” the anonymous author (whether intentionally or not) uncritically takes up this discourse, essentially verifying an outright fiction – what’s more, a fundamental staple of counterinsurgency procedure – to champion the actions of ‘white anarchists’ which they claim make it possible for black people to revolt.

Given the brutal ways they are treated by the police, black people are less likely to commit random acts of vandalism in public. However, when people in a crowd begin to smash windows, write on the walls, throw rocks, burn garbage, and successfully avoid arrest, it encourages a sense of safety amongst all who wish to express their anger and rage. This sense of safety is founded on the trust amongst the crowd and the solidarity amongst them, but it is informed and shaped by the first acts of rebellion.

Let it be clear, the white anarchist outside agitator is not always white, nor are they always from outside Oakland. But they are often not from Oakland, happen to be white, and have a fixation on the most basic actions that have come to signify rebellion. Freedom inspires freedom, but some people are freer than others. Those with more freedom in this country can choose to either use it or squander it.

Now, we are in agreement that it is necessary for white revolutionaries or insurrectionists to evaluate their abilities to move and act in certain political situations in relation to those who cannot (or feel that they cannot) always do the same. These are crucial conversations and should be given serious reflection. However, taken to its logical conclusion, the author’s central argument boils down to this: without the vanguard activity of ‘white anarchists,’ black people would not have engaged in forms of militant protest. In this strange inversion of Fanon, what we are presented with is not just a profound erasure of the last half-century of political struggle in the United States (not to mention the last near-decade of revolt in Oakland), but simultaneously a re-articulation of the colonial relationship in which whites are recognized as active subjects or creators and ‘non-whites’ as passive objects, who can only become political subjects as a result of the acts of their benevolent gatekeepers.

This is a terrible falsehood. How can we accept such an absurd proposition when the events of July 13th and July 15th, not coincidentally the occasions in which the most militant demonstrations took place in Oakland, tell us different? How could the author, if they were in fact present, so willfully ignore and invisibilize the most significant emergence of black self-organization and organic leadership since the Oscar Grant rebellions? We must be clear about one thing: if there was any feeling of ‘safety’ or power created in the streets of Oakland in the last week, it was largely made possible by the self-activity of these presumed ‘fearful’ black youth – not by a self-appointed white vanguard force.

This is not to say that black youth acted monolithically, nor are we attempting to diminish the acts and leadership of our ‘white’ anarchist comrades. But we hold that it is this re-emergence of self-organization of black youth in Oakland that will, as we saw during the Oscar Grant rebellions, help reshape the trajectory of class and social struggle in the coming years. Additionally, we believe it is an unavoidable task for all those consciously engaging in a revolutionary or an insurrectionary project to encourage, learn from, participate in, and help to strengthen the autonomous, organic self-activity of all working-class and poor peoples. And if we make the mistake of positioning ourselves on the wrong side of these developments, we will be faced with great difficulties indeed.

Some Concluding Remarks

“Sick of the ride
It’s suicide
For the other side of town
When I find a way to shut ‘em down”
Public Enemy, ‘Shut Em Down

            Throughout the course of this long-form reflection and analysis – however incomplete or fragmented – we have attempted to clarify and explain several issues which have been distorted by a number of sources. We have tried to emphasize the spontaneous self-organization and activity of black youth as crucial formative elements of recent events. Whether this activity continues to grow and develop into a broader political tendency is another question that remains unclear at this point. Without reservation, we believe that if it were not for this leadership we would have been faced with an entirely different set of circumstances – or defeats.  No one who was present in the streets in the last week feels like these were battles without a cause.

Therefore, just as we fight to establish a counter-narrative to the state and mainstream media discourse which deliberately distorts the nature of a struggle for vengeance, we also feel compelled to fight against a false characterization of these uprisings amongst our own comrades, if necessary, especially to the extent that they persist in invisibilizing the self-directed activities of people who are also comrades, friends, and family.

We have also sought to demystify the actions surrounding and involving the attack of white vigilante Drew Cribley. The emergence of white working-class vigilantism and the temporary alignment with management against working-class and poor black rebellion are not – historically speaking – altogether new developments. Yet these moves, set against the backdrop of a continuing crisis in city leadership and policing, are likely to open up new and complicated terrains of political conflict (especially if these manifestations become generalized in some recognizable way) which will require careful conversations about how we engage future campaigns and how best to defend one another in the process.

These questions take on a greater relevancy in Oakland as we quickly approach July 26th, a day which has been declared a national day of action to “Block for Trayvon.”

The murder of a black teen is not the exception, but the norm; we are coming to fists with normal life in America. Hence, #hoodiesup must disrupt the places that sustain this normal: cities, highways, trains, ports, social media—all the flows that compose the false harmony of America. The sit-ins in Pittsburgh and Florida, the marches blocking streets around the country, the highway takeovers in Oakland, LA, and Houston, all share a wisdom: every place that politics and commerce carry on as if nothing has happened is ripe for disruption. Block everything!

While we wholeheartedly support actions and calls that to disrupt the flow of labor and capital, we also know – as direct participants and observers – what it took in 2011 to mobilize for a general strike in Oakland and, later in 2012, for a shutdown of the West Coast Port system.  It was an effort of thousands of people, of scores of planning meetings and hours upon hours of outreach.  This call to action leaves us with less than a week to cobble together a coherent strategy and plan for attack, one which must be especially well-honed if we are to find ourselves in direct conflict with a police force (aided by a growing manifestation of white vigilantism) becoming increasingly concerned with losing control of the Oakland streets.

We can’t help but wonder if, in our particular context and political situation, whether it would make more sense, strategically, to exercise patience and wait for the beginning of August when BART workers will likely strike for a second time in several months? We ask all in Oakland to seriously consider this question. Such an approach, properly navigated, would open up many opportunities for a much wider social strike and establish crucial linkages between the BART worker’s struggles – many of whom are black – and the recent ruptures created by the actions surrounding the Zimmerman verdict. At the junction of these seemingly unrelated political battles we see the operation of a similar logic of economic exploitation and white supremacy and, if we hope to offer a serious challenge to this power, we must seek creative and potent mechanisms of resistance that sustain and embolden us in our fight. We hope that we have constructively provoked our comrades, and we look forward to discussing and debating these issues in the coming days.

See you on the barricades.

Contact: Oaklandunity510@gmail.com

Report Back From Philly

With No Justice in the Courts, People Will Look to the Streets

Last Sunday over 1,000 people took their anger to the streets of Philadelphia in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin.  A handful of groups, including the National Trayvon Martin Organizing Committee had called for a rally against what was so clearly a racist verdict.  After a few short speeches by various groups that called the rally, it quickly turned into a spirited march from Love Park flowing around City Hall, through Independence Mall, and to the Liberty Bell. 

At this ironic location, perhaps chosen to highlight the lack of justice, equality, or liberty for Black people in America, many people got on the mic to voice their rage, sorrow, and ideas for how to get justice. Although there were many different ideas of how to move forward, it was inspiring to see a free and open public discussion as opposed to the tightly controlled rally in Spring of 2012, where a small group of conservative clergy laid the blame for Trayvon’s murder squarely on Black people themselves! This time, most of the conservative folks didn’t show up (choosing instead to attend the Saturday event), and rather than physically forcing those with different opinions off the mic, those running things simply tried to provide a space for people to speak their minds. 

Upon returning to Love Park to meet up with the hundreds of people who had missed the march, it slowed upon passing a memorial to Trayvon Martin as people lit candles and took pictures.  What made this memorial even more powerful was that it was located at the statue of Philadelphia’s notoriously racist ex-Mayor Frank Rizzo.  What could be more appropriate than a memorial that rejects the brutal and racist history of the Rizzo years?  Also, as a result of this memorial and the vigil that went along with it, an annual memorial for Frank Rizzo himself was called off, a small victory.

Through all the different perspectives at the march, many people quickly connected this case of individual racist violence with the daily, systemic racism that they deal with in their lives.  One speaker drew attention to the gutting of public education in Philly, asking “Where did the money go?” The answer lies in the 100 million dollar youth prison recently opened at 48th and Haverford Ave, or the 90 million dollar proposed new police headquarters at 46th and Market St. These funding priorities point us to the more serious problem of official state murders carried out by the police.  

Most people expressed a belief (or hope) that Zimmerman will be killed sooner rather than later.  While we certainly aren’t opposed to this, it is not a real solution.  Any action against Zimmerman must be decided on collectively, not individually, and must point toward a systemic solution. We must build the independent organizations that can guarantee justice without relying on vigilante retribution or the legal system.

Despite the enthusiasm of the crowd, as expected there was very little political clarity  or unity from the rally.  Obviously everyone understood that Trayvon was murdered because he was Black, but further than that many different perspectives could be heard.  Some speakers called for an economic boycott of Florida, others for Black people to register themselves to vote or get involved in community centers, and still others argued that this case was just one example of system of white supremacy.

The most hyped action was the boycott of Florida, which received a mixed response from the crowd.  People wanted to do something, but this seemed so removed from their daily lives.  While Florida certainly deserves to be boycotted, we must ask ourselves what state government doesn’t deserve economic sanctions for racial injustices that happen there?  This is America, after all.

What about Rodney King, Oscar Grant, and Alan Blueford in California? What about Rekia Boyd in Illinois, or Sean Bell, Ramarley Graham, and Kimani Gray in New York?  What about the MOVE bombing, Hassan Pratt, and Derrick “Browny” Flynn here in Pennsylvania? What about all the others whose names never even make it on the news? Registering to vote becomes an exercise in futility for Black people when their self-professed allies in power betray them so consistently.  In Philadelphia we need look no further than Democratic Mayor Nutter’s agenda of school privatization, prison expansion, and racist youth curfews to see that Black politicians don’t give a damn about ordinary Black people any more than white politicians do. 

The question now that so many thousands of people across the country have stood up against this latest outrage is: where does that anger go?  Al Sharpton called for the rallies Saturday outside federal buildings to get the Federal Government to press civil rights charges against Zimmerman.  It is obvious to the whole damn world by this point that Zimmerman violated Trayvon Martin’s civil rights.  We doubt, however, that even if Zimmerman is convicted on these charges any sentence he receives will be close to what he deserves for murdering an unarmed 17 year old boy.  The American justice system already gave George Zimmerman a free pass on murder. 

Rather than debate this specifics of the case, or the “stand your ground” laws that viciously exacerbate racism (while not causing it), we must acknowledge that the system isn’t broken.  It functioned exactly as it was intended to.  If we want to prevent another Trayvon Martin and avenge all those who have been taken from us before and after him, we must realize that only we can save ourselves.  It is too late to get justice for Trayvon Martin. He is dead and his killer walks free. What we can do is organize every block, every street, every ‘hood so that the George Zimmermans of the world don’t dare show their faces.  The problem is not just random Gun-toting wannabe cops, but a system armed to the teeth.

It is one thing to say these things must be done and it is another entirely to do them.  While we offer this critique and analysis to those who are interested in justice, we recognize that this fight is beyond the scope of any one organization. 

Report Back from Durham, North Carolina

 There’s no justice, just us: The Durham Report

We in Durham who joined in the national call out for a rally in support of Trayvon Martin and against white supremacy at 6 pm on Sunday want to thank you all for coming out. The sorrow, energy, the courage and the outrage we all expressed was something to behold.

Like our original call stated (trayvonoc.wordpress.com), we never believed the courts could deliver anything resembling justice. Because of this, justice must be conducted in the streets. To that end, we support any and all demonstrations of people power and rage against the system that oppresses and dehumanizes all of us. We invite anyone to  make a call to action, at any time. We cannot expect anything from a court system that continues to lock up black and brown youth and others, warehousing them in the filthy jails and prisons because of the color of their skin, and the want of some cash. “No justice, No Peace” we shouted Sunday, and then again Tuesday, but we must take that chant seriously. Because there was no justice or peace to be had before the verdict came down at 10pm ET Saturday. And there can be no peace so long as Trayvon’s life is valued at nothing and so many hunger for food, health, meaningful work, and a life worth living.

The verdict reopened a wound for Black Americans, but for the many thousands of poor and marginalized black and brown folks that wound is opened fresh daily by the conditions where they live, the so-called job market, school, or the police. The verdict was business as usual. TV talking heads and cracker pundits have said that it shows the system is working. Indeed, the system is working. And it is high time to stop business as usual and time to shut down that system.

Now is not the time for sorrow, it’s the time for rage

In the early days after Trayvon’s death, there were vigils and prayerful gatherings. But a similar call now, as the National Action Network is making, seems odd to say the least. We support any and all rallies, speak outs and marches anywhere and at any time in Durham, especially ones that don’t ask for anyone’s permission. As was suggested on Sunday, we can conduct justice in the streets, keep each other safe, gain confidence, and build power on our terms.

We do not have to call into question the legitimacy and power of the Seminole County Courthouse, where Zimmerman got acquitted for cold-blooded murder, nor do we have to call into question the legitimacy of the so-called Durham County Justice Center, brand new and green, or “environmentally friendly” but not in the business of justice; those halls of corruption and power are designed to divide us and to make it easier for rich folks to get richer and white folks to be white and hide behind the veneer of “color-blind” justice. There is nothing to celebrate in a bankrupt hall built on our backs, paid for by our labor, and sending black and brown folks to the jails and prisons built for them to go after they check out or are kicked out of school.

 Here in Durham, there are clear and identifiable targets for our collective rage and desire for justice, democracy and equality: the so-called  “justice center”; the jail next door, where more than 550+ souls are left to rot daily and are fed food with roaches and brutalized by guards (http://amplifyvoices.wordpress.com) ; and the police station and substations all around the city, which give legitimacy to all cops, such as Kelley Stewart, who profiled, accosted, brutalized and pulled his gun on Carlos Riley, Jr.(http://carlosrileyjr.weebly.com). The circumstances of his being pulled over are ‘routine’, but the courage Carlos showed was remarkable. He stood his ground and is locked up right now for it. The struggle to free him is the struggle for the city.

No Morality Play, Just Play

At present, North Carolina is abuzz with the weekly demonstrations known as “Moral Mondays.” While we applaud the conviction demonstrated by those who have attended and the conscience that backs it up, and we can only hope the protests grow bigger and cannot be contained, especially by those calling for the them, we must wonder for a moment at the form they take: lining up to get arrested because the GOP-led legislature won’t listen to you. Why would we expect Republicans to listen when the Democrats who used to control the legislature sold everyone out long ago, if they ever had any accountability at all. Showing up at the legislators’ house of power, on their ‘legal’ terms, only legitimizes them.

 Long-term unemployment benefits have been cut; rather than line up to be arrested, perhaps surround, occupy, and shut down the ESC offices throughout the state. Reproductive services have been severely restricted. Keep the clinics open by any means necessary. North Carolina is open for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking: confront those who stand to benefit from this threat to our short and long term health (as here:  http://croatanearthfirst.com/). These struggles, to name a few, are all inseparable, and are inseparable from the struggle against white supremacy.

 If you forgive the analogy, in the case of earthquakes, there are seismic shifts, but there are always tremors that presage the coming of the quake. Sunday, July 14 in Durham was one of those tremors, where those who were out could almost feel the ground shift beneath our feet as those of us marched on Main and Mangum streets and didn’t ask the cops if that was ok. The earthquake is coming because it has to come in a country where Black and Brown people’s lives are simply not valued and won’t be valued by the so-called justice system. There will continue to be rallies, demonstrations and marches throughout this land. The energy and spirit we collectively displayed Sunday and Tuesday are a great beginning. We need commitment and creativity, a strong dose of militancy and equally strong sense of play to keep it up. We owe it to Trayvon, his family, and ourselves.