The Call for the 18th National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation
October 22, 2013
“The Call for the 18th National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation is to bring forward the united, powerful, visual coalition of families victimized by police terrorism and to reach into all parts of our community. May our unity bring the change that our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren so rightfully deserve – freedom, justice, equality, humanity, respect, and a right to take BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] and a right to walk to 7-11 for Skittles and ice tea without being executed.”
- Cephus “Uncle Bobby” Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant
This year has seen a sharp escalation in a full spectrum of attacks on the people. Yet even through some of the most repressive attacks that the government has made, there are signs of hope in the nationwide eruptions of outraged people and communities who are fighting back. We have a heavy responsibility going into the 2013 National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation, to stoke these sparks of resistance into a movement that can not only stop but reverse these escalating attacks.
In Bakersfield, CA, 33-year old David Silva was hogtied and savagely beaten to death by law enforcement officers, who had found him passed out on a street. The vicious killing of 30-year old Melissa Williams and 40-year old Timothy Russell, shot down in a hail of 137 bullets by Cleveland police, has been described as a modern-day lynching. As of yet, the thirteen officers are still on the job. In an assisted living home in Chicago, 95-year old John Wrana was killed by police after being tasered and shot with a bean bag round. Witnesses say that Miami Beach police high-fived each other after tasering to death 18-year old graffiti artist Israel Hernandez-Llach. Police around the country continue to kill young Black men with impunity, such as 25-year old Cary Ball, Jr., killed in a hail of 25 bullets by St. Louis, MO police, and 16-year old Kimani Gray, shot seven times by NYPD, three times in the back. In Dallas, TX, the last time a killer cop was indicted was in 1973. Dallas police have killed 250 since, with 68 Black men killed since 2001. Over and over, we hear the justifications for police brutality and killing. The reason Miami-Dade police gave for restraining and choking 14-year old Tremaine McMillian, that he gave “dehumanizing stares,” shows just how much law enforcement expects impunity. This system also criminalizes certain communities by protecting from prosecution those who kill people of color. From the Bronx judge's overturning of indictments against the cop who killed the unarmed Black teenager Ramarley Graham, to the mistrial declared in the killing of seven-year old Aiyana Stanley-Jones by Detroit police, the system's prosecutors always seem to forget how to prosecute when one of their own is on trial. The soft touch that Florida police gave to Trayvon Martin's killer and the acquittal of racist vigilante George Zimmerman epitomizes the racism inherent in the justice system, as the trial was conducted and covered in the media as though Martin was the one on trial. As a Guardian columnist has written, the verdict of the Zimmerman trial declares “open season on black boys.” The rise in reports of sexual harassment of and assaults against women and transgender people by police in recent years is staggering, unfortunately nothing new for long-time female activists who have had close encounters with police. There are reports from all across the country of groping and verbal sexual harassment during arrests, especially prominent at recent protests for women's reproductive rights in Texas. Also in Texas, state troopers have subjected women to cavity searches during traffic stops. In addition, a recent U.S. Department of Justice report revealed that hundreds of teens have been sexually assaulted or raped in juvenile detention institutions across the nation.
Scores of political prisoners continue to languish in state and federal prisons, many aged and infirmed. At least four are terminally ill: Maumin Khabir, Mondo we Langa, [Herman Wallace - R.I.P.], and people’s attorney Lynne Stewart. Their conditions demand our immediate concern, as the federal and state prison systems refuse to grant any of them compassionate releases. We cannot allow the denial of their immediate release nor the continued incarceration of any of our freedom fighters. Meanwhile, as the culture of cop watching becomes more pervasive and more people document the violent acts of law enforcement, the criminalization of recording police intensifies. Among many incidents across the country, a West Palm Beach man was arrested and charged with eavesdropping after trying to film police detaining someone, three NYC cop watchers were arrested during the unrest after Kimani Gray’s killing, a Hawthorne, CA man’s dog was shot and killed by police after the man was arrested for filming a police barricade, and Detroit police roughed up and arrested a newspaper reporter for filming an arrest even after she identified herself as press. The intrusion of the national security state has reached mind-boggling, unprecedented levels. This year, whistleblower Edward Snowden, a contract employee of the National Security Agency, revealed that the U.S. government has been conducting the largest, most coordinated, and most intrusive surveillance of citizens in human history. Instead of these revelations being treated as evidence of massive governmental wrongdoing, Snowden has been treated like other whistleblowers, such as Chelsea (née Bradley) Manning, who uncovered widespread U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now facing 35 years in prison as a traitor. With evidence that law enforcement has singled out for surveillance and harassment groups and mosques simply for being Muslim, and individual and groups of activists for being progressive and leftist, we must not accept these intrusions and these attacks on the people who expose them as the "new normal." In the face of escalating brutality and repression, people’s determined resistance must grow not just to fight for justice and against repression, but also to change people’s understanding of what is needed and possible today. The critically acclaimed film about the 2009 police killing of Oscar Grant, “Fruitvale Station,” has burned into the minds of many the utter devastation and outrage of Stolen Lives cases. Advocacy and public debate to decriminalize marijuana/cannabis has clarified the epidemic of criminalization and demonization of whole groups of people through unconstitutional raids and mass incarceration, and how the “War on Drugs” is really a war on the poor and people of color. Other efforts seek institutional changes through legal and legislative means, such as the Community Safety Act reform bills and "Floyd" lawsuit victories against the NYPD and the Committee for Professional Policing political action committee in Minneapolis. Efforts by activists and civil rights organizations have also resulted in calls from the UN Human Rights Committee that challenge police violence and impunity. These efforts contribute to the needed societal discourse about the racist reality of “Stop-and-Frisk” policies, police brutality, repression, and the criminalization of Black and Latino peoples, breaking the silence and strengthening the resolve of many to take independent political action to end these daily horrors for so many people. The National Day of Protest welcomes and must give voice to the greatest concentration of diverse and disparate voices and forces in order to beat back the genocidal trend of vicious police brutality and repression, and change the current equation. Most importantly, people have been rising from the ground up, the most oppressed of our communities grabbing the reins and fighting forward, unafraid! Prisoners have organized with inspiring unity around demands for basic human rights, under conditions internationally condemned as torture, such as confining prisoners for decades in solitary confinement, a deadly lack of concern for their health that kills on average one prisoner per week, and illegal, coerced sterilization of incarcerated women. Most notably, a hunger strike that spread throughout California had up to 30,000 prisoners participating. Families of people killed by police are standing strong and building together for a national movement for their Stolen Lives. Undocumented youth are heroically outing themselves, often getting arrested and deported, in order to fight for their entire community. Tens of thousands rose and continue to rise up in powerful ways for Trayvon Martin, and against racist killings by wannabe cops, cover-ups by real cops, and injustice by the justice system. Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities are speaking out against unwarranted governmental surveillance and criminalization. People in even the most conservative areas are finding strength in organizing together, such as the growing movement in Dallas, TX and the uprisings in Anaheim, CA. Videos exposing police brutality and misconduct appear every day from all over the nation, made by organized cop watchers as well as everyday people who are fearlessly recording even as police try to intimidate them. All over the world, people have had enough and are rising up in exciting and visionary ways, and this October 22nd is where we bring all our struggles and victories together!
October 22nd is a day that people around the nation have mobilized every year since 1996 for a National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. It is crucial that we bring forward a powerful National Day of Protest in cities and towns across the U.S. to challenge the ongoing violence against the people. This October 22nd, stand with thousands across the country to express our collective outrage, creativity, and resistance in response to the crimes of this system. On October 22nd, WEAR BLACK, FIGHT BACK!
Join us if there is already an October 22nd event in your area. Create one if you are in an area where there is currently no group organizing. For listings of activities in your area, check the Assembly Points page.To start building for an event in your area, email firstname.lastname@example.org
TO ENDORSE THIS CALL, EMAIL THE ABOVE ADDRESS OR SIGN BELOW AND MAIL TO: October 22, P.O. Box 2627, New York, NY 10009, along with your tax-deductible donation to the national organizing effort. Suggested donation $15.00 (paid to "IFCO/October 22")
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