June 14, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Other participants included Wayne AmonRa, outspoken voice in West Baltimore with a radio show on WOLB-FM; Rosemary, a retired nurse with years of experience with spinal cord injuries who has been monitoring the trial; Derek, who has protested every day of trial and Montrell, an outspoken victim of police brutality from East Baltimore; and Darlene Cain, whose son Dale Graham was shot and killed by Baltimore police in 2008.
From the June 13 Baltimore Press Conference:
The following are rush transcripts of three of the speakers and a statement that was read at the June 13 press conference and speak-out.
Carl Dix, representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party, co-founder with Dr. Cornel West of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network
Look, it’s important that people are out here today while this cop—the one who administered the rough ride—is on trial. Because look, what happened to Freddie Gray was murder plain and simple. That’s all it was. That’s what it was—no other description. Freddie Gray was plenty healthy when he encountered those cops. After he encountered them, after they beat him down, after they threw him down bent like a pretzel, in that police van, after they gave him a rough ride, his spine was nearly broken. And those injuries led to his death. In the old days it would’ve been a racist white lynch mob doing a Black man like that. Well today, it’s police officers, individually or in groups, who do that, and who get away with it. And this has to stop!
Carl Dix (right), of the Revolutionary Communist Party, co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network with Dr. Cornel West; Tawanda Jones (center), sister of Tyrone West, who was murdered by Baltimore police on July 18, 2013; and Rev. Carl David Olson (left), Minister, First Unitarian Church of Baltimore.
And look, it ain’t just the cops. It’s the whole criminal in-justice system. The DAs who refuse to charge the cops. The courts who won’t convict them, while they continue to send Black people and Brown people into prison. That’s what we are up against. And it’s a statement from this system that Black life does not matter. Black life mattered when they could enslave Black people on the plantation and work them for nothing and they profit that way. Black life mattered when they could work us in the factories at the bottom-level jobs. They got nothing for these young Black people out here today. No jobs. A broke education system. What they got for them is cops, courts, prisons and early graves. And it ain’t a question of which individual cop of which individual DA. It’s a question of a system.
And look, I’m Carl Dix. I’ve been involved in the struggle for a long time. I’m also a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party. And I co-founded the Stop Mass Incarceration Network with Dr. Cornel West. But I’m gonna tell you where I’mcoming from. And where I’m coming from is that this horror is built into the fabric of this capitalist-imperialist system. It’s how the system works. Unless and until we make revolution and get rid of this system these horrors are going to keep going on. We’re going to have poisoned water pumped into the homes of Black people in Flint, Michigan and other cities around the country. That’s what we gonna have and that’s what’s going on.
And look, we in the Revolutionary Communist Party are organizing right now for an actualrevolution to get rid of this system at the soonest possible time and bring a totally different and far better system into being. We’ve got the leadership for this in terms of Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, who has said the role of the police is not to serve and protect the people but to serve and protect the system that rules over the people.
And a crucial part of organizing this revolution is mobilizing people to stand up and refuse to accept horrors like killer cops getting away again and again and again. That’s a part of mobilizing and preparing for revolution.
I got one more thing I got to say. Because my man Mohammad Ali died last week. This man meant a whole lot to me. He refused to go into the army in 1967, because he said, I ain’t going to go fight no Vietnamese people, they’re not my enemy—my enemy is right here, my fight is right here. Couple of years after he did that, I got drafted into the army and they gave me orders to go to Vietnam. I said, ain’t no Black man got any good reason to go to Vietnam to kill Asian people for this system. And if I gotta fight, I gotta fight here. They threw me in jail for doing that, in the military penitentiary. But that’s what led me to becoming a revolutionary. So I really love Ali and I embrace his legacy from that point. But all these people went on TV—Bill Clinton, all these other people, talking about they love Ali, they embrace his legacy. Well I got a question for all of these people. If Ali put it all on the line to resist the injustices coming down on Black people then, and you embrace his legacy, what are you doing about the injustices being put down on Black people today? And if you ain’t doing nothing, take Muhammad Ali out of your mouth. You ain’t got no right to talk about that man. That’s what was inspiring about him. If you ain’t ready to do that, stop talking about Muhammad Ali and his legacy.
So look, I’m going to wind this down pretty quickly. These cops murdered Freddie Gray. This system is letting them go on the installment plan—one by one by one. That is unacceptable. It’s got to stop. And it’s really up to us to stand up and say it’s got to stop and act to stop it.
Tawanda Jones, whose brother Tyrone West was beaten to death by Baltimore cops on July 18, 2013
So basically, me and my family and my supporters, we’ve been fighting now for 1,055 days—1,055 days. And this Wednesday will be 151 weeks. Nobody’s family deserve to be fighting like this. Nobody. Because why? Because you all should protect us. We didn’t ask for this fight. But we was pulled in. My brother was brutally murdered on July the 18th, 2013. Beaten worse than Rodney King. Beaten worse than any animal. By 11 to 15 Baltimore city stinking animals. They brutally murdered my brother. And like my family always say, they killed the wrong man, but they truly got the right family. Y’all should’ve did your homework before y’all put your hands on my brother. I just literally got off the phone on my way riding here leaving from Brown’s Funeral Home.
I’m tired of playing games with these people. I’m trying to get my brother’s body exhumed right now. Everybody playing this dog and pony show. All you all gonna know, the West family is not to be played with. So you all better throw some respect on my family now. I’m not playing with you all. Because the saddest part—those two animals, Nicholas David Chapman and officer Ruiz, they almost killed Abdul Salam 17 days before, with his baby in the back seat of the car, in that same neighborhood, two blocks over. Was anything done? Nothing! Not the fact that Abdul didn’t do everything. He did everything humanly possible to save my brother’s life without knowing he was saving another victim’s life. But his calls went on deaf ears. Nobody listened to him. And they let them save two killer cops, them animals. They let them animals back on the street to try and murder one of our men—to pull my brother out by his dreadlocks and start beating him, hollering out the “n” word on numerous times with witnesses. And the saddest part after he was beaten to death, pepper sprayed, tased, kicked, stomped, he was beaten to death. After he was laying there already dead faced down on the ground—face down.
Nobody did nothing. The witnesses tried. They got threatened. And I love those witnesses because they stood their ground. They got threatened. “Get the F out or the same thing can happen to you.” But if that wasn’t enough, if that wasn’t devastating enough, that we didn’t get that one phone call. And when I think about the tragedy that happened to the people in Orlando, my heart goes out. Because I know how it feels, to have to wait for hours, wait 12 to 13 hours before you can say, that was my brother. We tried to identify my brother. We never got that phone call. We never got nothing.
I saw my brother’s dead body on the news. And when we went to them, they still won’t let us see him. And if that wasn’t enough, they hid my brother’s body for five days. Why would you hide his body? And before we stopped at Brown’s funeral home, we told them not to put any embalming fluid in him, not to touch him, we want to see him. Because witnesses told my family, he was beat so bad we was gonna need a closed casket. You don’t know my family walking into Brown’s funeral home, down that hallway, to see a nightmare. And when I got there, what really messed my mind up, it looked like my brother’s face was reconstructed.
They put a little smirk on his face. I knew something wasn’t right. And then it took them 154 days to tell my family some foolishness. But before the 154 days, a reporter from Morgan, she told my family that my brother died—she made a public speech, it wasn’t that she just talked to my family, she told my family and the world that my brother died of positional asphyxiation, which we know to be true. Some of the truth. And it took them 154 days, the medical examiner’s office, all of them, the whole damn system is guilty as hell. The medical examiner’s office, everybody. It’s a system that keep covering up. And the cover-up is worse than the murder. The bloody murder. The damn cover-up. They were gonna hell in and come back before they let the cover-up be revealed.
But it’s snatching sheets off of you all, one by one. Trust me, all y’all going down. You all thought you could hand my family a check and send us on our way. Keep your hush money! Money can’t bring my brother back. It’s not about the income. It’s about the outcome. I want to make sure they don’t kill nobody else. That’s why I’m out here. That’s why I put my life on the line. Let’s not forget that same unit killed Anthony Anderson. Let’s not forget that all this happened before Freddie Gray. Freddie Gray should not be dead right now.... We got that States Attorney kicked out of office. We did that. We said bye-bye Greg Bernstein…So I’m telling you. We will never stop till these killer cops are in cell blocks, flat out.
Reverend Carl David Olson, minister, First Unitarian Church of Baltimore
I want to thank you all for being here today. I’m just here to stand with you. I want to tell you a little story. About a year and a half ago I went to a Black Lives Matter meeting and I did the great white liberal thing. I went and told some people, I want to be a good white ally in the struggle, and I was so pleased. And a sister walked up to me, got right in my face and said, I don’t want no white allies. I want freedom fighters who want to see the liberation of the whole of humanity. And I said, sign me up for that.
I gotta say Brother Dix, you said it all. It feels like, pulling this case apart, piece by piece, and then trying to examine just one little piece at a time, and coming up with a thing that says, oh, everything is bright and shiny in America and nobody is guilty of no shit. There’s a man who’s dead who shouldn’t be dead. And so you can’t tell me everything is bright and shiny. This is part of a story that says, “This is the land of the free and the home of the brave.” This is a story that is a lie. The truth is that this country has been built on oppression from day one. This country has been built on thievery, stealing people’s land, genocide, annihilating people, and slavery. A war going on between Europe and Africa, and who wins? America wins, by the deportation of millions.
I am so angry at the way we claim innocence in this country… we call ourselves “Number one.” And I gotta say: It’s all a lie. Until there are cops in jail, it’s all a lie. And even if just one cop gets sent to jail, we have to say that there was complicity among forces, that his back was not broken in one moment in a rough ride. He was manhandled from the start. He appealed for help. And it was denied him. He was examined by people and they pushed him back in and shut the door and kept driving on the way when they should have gone immediately to the hospital. This is a criminal event, and I think it’s a criminal conspiracy. And this system does not know how to give us the truth. This system is built to protect the lie. And I’m just so glad that you are here. I hope that we can find the ways to build because it’s exactly true: The system is guilty. The system is guilty. And until we replace the system, we will not know justice. Thank you.
A message from Dr. Cornel West (read by Carl Dix):
I stand in deep solidarity with my dear brother Carl Dix and all of those who focus on the precious life of brother Freddie Gray. His life demands justice. His death demands justice. But real justice. Full-scale accountability of police who abuse, maim and murder.