Carl Dix, co-founder of the Stop Mass
Interview with Carl Dix
Editor’s note: People in Baton Rouge and around the country are continuing to stand up and fight for justice. They are not letting the focus be changed, not backing down, not buckling under to calls to go home. Carl Dix is in Baton Rouge as part of a crew, including members of the Revolution Club, from around the country to bring the message that we are organizing for an actual revolution. As a crucial part of preparing for that, we are joining with and encouraging people to continue to fight. Revolution talked to Carl Dix on Sunday night, July 10.
Baton Rouge, July 9, 2016. Carl Dix, from the Revolutionary Communist Party, at protest against the police murder of Alton Sterling. Carl Dix: “I’m here as part of a crew, including members of the Revolution Club, from around the country to bring the message that we are organizing for an actual revolution. As a crucial part of preparing for that, we are joining with and encouraging people to continue to fight.”
Revolution: How is the building the movement for an actual revolution going?
Carl Dix: The revolutionaries are out in the streets, out among the masses, bringing them the message that this horror is built into the fabric of the system. We’ve been coming off of Bob Avakian’s quote about the role of the police: “The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.”
And we are challenging anybody to look at those videos of the murder of Alton Sterling and the aftermath of the murder of Philando Castile and challenge the truth of that statement on the role of the police.
We were at, and part of, a march today that was organized by high school students in Baton Rouge to the State Capitol (which is in Baton Rouge). The march drew out hundreds of people. As people were gathering we took out the loudspeaker and I began to speak on that point and saying that this tells us the role of police and it tells us that this horror, that’s concentrated by these two incidents, these two murders—but is actually in the context of police getting away with murder again and again and again. And this takes us back to the history of centuries of savage oppression—from the slave chasers to the lynch mobs to the police today. That this horror is built into the fabric of the system. And the way to end it and all the other horrors is to make revolution, overthrow this system and bring in to being a totally different and far better system, and that we in the Revolutionary Communist Party are organizing right now for an actual revolution. I was also able to speak to the leadership that we have for this revolution, in Bob Avakian. And that people need to go to the website revcom.us. After that, several people from the Revolution Club spoke. And we kind of opened the thing up.
And it was actually very interesting—a couple hundred people gathered around and listened eagerly. And I wound my part up with saying you gotta get a copy of this Message from the leadership of the Revolutionary Communist Party, “Time to Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution.” And then I said to people, “hold up that message.” We had a few people out there distributing it and they held it up. People started going to them to get it.
Baton Rouge, July 10, 2016. Carl Dix challenged high school students to get a copy of the Message from the leadership of the Revolutionary Communist Party, “Time to Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution.”
And then some of the mentors of the high school students who had organized this were saying, you don’t want to steal their thunder. They were telling us, this is a high school students’ event and you shouldn’t be trying to take it over, etc. etc... But then even this divided up because one of the mentors came up to me and began telling me that—and I said well, we’re not trying to take it over, but first off, I’m Carl Dix. And she goes, “Ooooh, I’m a fan!” As it turned out, two of the high school students that she had been mentoring had interviewed me at Louisiana State University. That was on the day we got into town and we went to a meeting of a couple of hundreds students. We went to the meeting and then afterwards these high school students interviewed me and they were really excited by what they heard and by getting the Message from the Central Committee and they had this woman excited. So she was like, “oh, that’s who you are, I’m a fan, I’m excited to meet you.”
There’s also this thing of different kinds of people in motion around this murder. All of the speakers at the formal rally were high schoolers. They had told us that at the beginning as part of telling us that I wasn’t going to be allowed to speak. And we thought maybe that’s true, but maybe that’s the way to say, we’re not going to let you speak. It turned out that all of the speakers were high school students. And there was talk about the main thing is you gotta vote, that kind of stuff. But at the same time people were talking about dreaming about a world where this doesn’t happen. And there was a poem about how terrified people are, but also how that terror has motivated them to act because this has gotta stop. So there were a lot of very good expressions from the stage.
Revolution: Can you tell us a bit more about their dreaming of a world where this didn’t happen?
CD: Dreaming of a world where this kind of stuff doesn’t happen—referring to the murder of Alton Sterling. So there were different ideas in people’s minds and people are waking up to stuff and grappling with what it’s gonna take. And expressing some things that aren’t gonna to do anything about it, but aspiring to do something about it. It’s a very fertile scene.
This march also brought out a lot of college students, a lot of professional people, and it was very multinational. There were whole lot of Black people, but also a good number of white people, people of other nationalities; there were professional people here. It very much was a diversity of people, coming out to stand against this murder.
It isn’t yet the case that these kinds of people have connected with the people from the base who are out at the site of the murder and down at the police station in the face of the cops around the murder. But they were marching. They are still in motion. People have not been swept aside by the way that the events in Dallas are being used. That’s something that’s pretty evident in everything that’s happened since Dallas.
Baton Rouge, July 10, 2016. March to the State Capitol led by high school students to protest the police murder of Alton Sterling. The march also brought out a lot of college students, a lot of professional people, and was very multinational.
Baton Rouge, July 9, 2016. Protest against the police murder of Alton Sterling. Hundreds of people—overwhelmingly Black youth—grouped and regrouped in their repeated efforts to take over Airline Avenue in the face of a heavy, aggressive, and heavily armed police presence. Over 100 people were arrested before the night was over; police brought out armored personnel carriers and carried automatic weapons; they pointed guns in the faces of angry crowds who tried to prevent fellow protesters from being dragged away. But the people were not cowed or intimidated.
Revolution: So let’s go to the resistance. How is that going? The world has seen on TV how police there are aiming rifles, shotguns, pistols at people for demanding justice.
CD: Yeah, exactly. I remember being out in the midst of the youth, standing up Friday night at the Police Station. There was the battle between some of the “responsible leaders,” including people who are actually quite close to the youth. At one point a guy who said he was a principal pointed into the crowd and said, “I see a lot of my students here.” And a lot of people were nodding their heads, like, “yeah I am one of your students.” They had a coach get up there and talk about he cared about all of these young people and that’s why he wanted them to go home because the police were gonna F- em up if they didn’t go home and all of this. But then a lot of the youth started saying, “the police are already fucking us up. Us going home ain’t gonna stop that. That’s why we’re here. We’re tired of that and we’re not gonna take it any more.” And these more defiant youth weathered that storm of all the entreaties and pleas, plus the intimidation to get them out of the scene. They stayed in the street, blocked traffic, and 30 of them ended up being arrested.
Then about 50 people came back the next day. And it was put on TV. At first, it was just these couple dozen people. And within an hour or two it was like 700 people. And we were out at it and we asked people, what brought you out here? And all kinds of people said, I saw on TV that there was people out here. And that’s an expression of the mood: that when people see that there’s somebody out there doing something, they want to connect up with it, they want to run and rush and be a part of it.
And there is a great degree of openness to the message of the revolution. I mean we came down with 2,000 Messages and we had to re-order because we were out of them. We had to get thousands more down here. People want to get it. A number of them have wanted to connect with the revolution but they also need to know what the revolution is. We’ve been working at bringing that out to people and engaging people. Much more needs to be done on that front and, can be done.
Revolution: What about the dimension of peoples’ response to there being a leader, BA, who has dared to identify and beyond that actually answer what it says in the Message: “BA has developed answers to why this system can’t be reformed…how revolutionary forces could grow from weak to strong, and actually defeat the enemy...how people could then build a new society on the road to emancipating humanity throughout the world ...and how to wage the struggles of today to reach that goal.
“BA’s leadership is a huge strength for the revolution: to follow, to learn from, to defend.”
CD: It starts with nobody knowing who he is. But also, mainly, OK, so, who is he? What does he have to say? What has he done? And people are interested in hearing aboutBAsics. We’ve been doing some BAsics quotes, we need to do much more of that.
And we’ve been emphasizing the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which was written by BA. And we’ve been using this thing about how after the revolution people will not be shooting down people—people will no longer be shooting down Black people because we will have defeated these police departments, broken them up and the new public security force would operate on totally different principles—would sooner lose or risk their own lives than kill or injure an innocent people. And we trace that to the BA quote that’s inBAsics around Tyisha Miller, we point people to the Constitution.
Revolution: Is there anything to add in terms of who’s coming forward? You were describing different ways and different levels in which people are coming forward. What’s the mix out there? Seems like a lot of those who catch the most hell every day under this system are in the streets at night. But from what you’re saying, others are taking a stand there as well.
CD: It shifts a little bit with different activity. Here, this march today, that went to the State Capitol, there was a good representation of white people. I was struck by the diversity of it. This is the march that was called for by the high school students and some college students took it up as well. There were professional people. Three bus loads of people came from new Orleans. There were hundreds of people.
Now the thing at night, it is largely Black, maybe overwhelmingly Black. It’s not like there aren’t any white people. There have been some Black college students who have come out. A Black fraternity came out last night to the protest in front of the police station. And it was significant when they came—they came out at 11 PM because they saw it on TV. And what they saw was a confrontation that was a scene of largely basic masses facing off with the police. And this college fraternity, about half a dozen of their members, they came out sporting their fraternity T-shirts. We saw some students from Southern University (Baton Rouge) and from LSU (whose main campus is in Baton Rouge). They were out the night before—again with the confrontation with the police. So there is some mixing.
Revolution: Let’s go back to what questions people you see people being up against?
CD: In a very real sense people are up against a lot of different ways that they should not confront the system over this. There’s the view that don’t do it because it’s not safe. I mean the high school students got told straight up, you don’t want to do anything, because they were going to march to the police station and they got told, don’t do that because you could end up in the same kind of situation as Alton Sterling ended up, so back away from that. That’s also something that people were told at the police station.
And like I said, there’s a very vocal section, of mostly young Black people, but some older Black people as well, who are like, “they are already coming after us.” A lot of the people who are most vocal have been young Black women. When we started with the speak-out down at the police headquarters, I spoke, a couple of people from the Rev Club spoke and then we began to offer the mic to other people. And the most eager takers were some of the young Black women who were there.
It was really striking, the way in which people spoke of their fear of what the police murder of Alton Sterling meant for them, for their children, for their brothers, for their fathers. But it was interesting to see the way in which their fear motivated them to act as opposed to fear paralyzing them. It was pretty striking. And one of the things that I think we should do, because a lot of those vocal young Black women signed up that they wanted to find out about the revolution and get connected up with the revolution—we should interview them. That’s one of the things that we have to do more, actually connect with, and talk to some of these people more about what they’re thinking.
Revolution: Thank you Carl Dix. We look forward to hearing more reports from you and the people from the Revolution Clubs that are down in Baton Rouge. From what you’ve said, the struggle there has great potential. We will be updating from Baton Rouge and from cities all around the country.
Editor’s note: After this interview was concluded, hundreds of youth and others of all nationalities, who were part of the march to the State Capitol on Sunday continued to protest in Baton Rouge. They were viciously attacked by police with assault rifles, high-pitched sirens with ear-splitting sound, armored vehicles, riot gear and gas masks. Dozens were arrested. Stay tuned to Revolution for ongoing coverage.