“THE AMERICAN people have this lesson to learn: Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe…Oppression makes even wise men mad and reckless; for illustration I pray look at East St. Louis.” The great Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass spoke these words in an 1886 speech on the theme of “Southern Barbarism.” And the city Douglass referenced so his audience would immediately understand what he was talking about is today ...more
Less than a month before Mike Brown became an international symbol of police violence and racism in American law enforcement, Eric Garner was choked to death in broad daylight on a sidewalk on Staten Island in New York City. As Officer Daniel Pantaleo literally squeezed the life out of him, Garner repeated 11 times, “I can’t breathe.”
The killings may have taken place half a continent apart and the causes of death were different, but Brown and Garner will be forever linked in people’s minds because grand juries in the two cases decided, within days of each other, not to indict a white police officer who killed an unarmed African American man.
African American students clad in Black Power sweatshirts blockaded one of the main campus dining facilities at the University of California (UC) Berkeley on December 4 for four-and-a-half hours to represent the time Mike Brown was left lying in the street after he was killed by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson.
“This is now a Black space. No one is going to eat today as long as we’re hungry for justice,” explained one student.
Organized by the Black Student Union (BSU), 200 African American students linked arms and shut down the Golden Bear cafeteria, while a multiracial line of least 100 Latino, Asian and white students stood together in solidarity with the BSU protest and faced off against campus police.
In Oakland, California, a young, multiracial crowd of 200 gathered December 4 at 14th Street and Broadway downtown and then marched toward the wealthy Rockridge neighborhood, where the protesters were blocked by a line of police.
“I’m out here because this happens every 28 hours, and we have got to take action,” said Jevon Cochran, a local activist against police brutality since the 2009 killing of Oscar Grant by a Bay Area Rapid Transit cop. “The most important thing is that this movement is creating an infrastructure. Young Black people didn’t have an infrastructure to plug in to, but now we have groups like the Dream Defenders and the Black Out Collective in Oakland.”
The parents of 28-year-old Alex Nieto are tired of police refusing to release information explaining why their son was killed by San Francisco police on March 21, 2014. “The police have been stonewalling us by withholding basic information. It can only be considered a cover-up,” family attorney Adante Pointer told me.
It’s true. The police have not released a witness list, not released a pertinent 911 call, not released the police reports, and not released the names of officers involved.
This makes an independent investigation impossible. As a result, Pointer filed a federal wrongful death civil lawsuit in August that would require police to stop withholding pertinent information.
Justice for Mike Brown! Justice for Eric Garner! Justice for all those we have lost at the hands of racist killer cops!
Marches have been called around the country for Saturday, December 13, including New York, DC and San Francisco. Let’s show our power in numbers and our unwillingness to settle for a world where we can’t breathe.
San Francisco: Ferry Building, 2pm
Oakland: Oscar Grant Plaza, 14th & Broadway, 2pm
We’ll discuss Trish Kahle’s article, “The political economy of low-wage labor”, in the Winter 2014-2015 issue of the International Socialist Review, and discuss what’s next for the Fight for $15.
Fifty years ago today, one of the most famous demonstrations of the 1960s took place: the protest and occupation of Sproul Hall at the height of the Free Speech Movement at the University of California (UC) Berkeley. This struggle was the start of the student rebellion of the late 1960s, in the U.S. and around the world.
The first part of our weekly branch meeting in SF will be to discuss the importance of Ferguson and the solidarity actions that continue to be planned as well as to plan for a bigger and more in depth meeting next week on these issues.
The second part of our meeting is a study group around “Patterns of Working Class Revolution” in preparation for the Marxism Day School scheduled for Dec. 6th at UC Berkeley.
There is an epidemic of police shooting unarmed African Americans, and it is intensifying. In Utah, police are responsible for a shocking 15 percent of all homicides in the state. The Ferguson grand jury decision to not indict Darren Wilson will give cover to police across the country to continue killing unarmed African Americans–unless we take the guns out of their hands.
The murder of Mike Brown has created a new urgency to build this movement. It’s clear that nothing other than a mass movement can stop the senseless murder of young African Americans at the hands of American police.