February 15, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
On January 23, 2016, in an important talk titled “We’re in a Genocidal Emergency and We Gotta Stop It,” to the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) Midwest Regional Conference, Carl Dix made a call for the No More Stolen Lives Tour to reach out to campuses all over the country. He said, “Now this No More Stolen Lives Tour is something that’s gonna take activists, family members of people murdered by the police, students, and voices of conscience, especially to college campuses. The aim of this tour is to issue a broad challenge to the students to join the movement to stop police terror. This is an important strategic step that our movement has got to take. Any movement fighting for fundamental change on major social issues has to have broad numbers of students on the front lines of their fight.”
Thursday, February 11, was the first stop on the No More Stolen Lives Tour—at Loyola University in Chicago. It was sponsored by the Advocacy Committee for students in the School of Social Work after a member of SMIN reached out to them. The chair of the committee welcomed the chance to host the tour, saying she was thrilled to work on the event because she feels strongly that social workers need to advocate for their clients, many of them affected by police violence. She said taking a stand on this issue is not “off to the side” but goes to the heart of what social work should be.
Images of beautiful Stolen Lives banners flanked the podium. About 40 people came to the program—most were social work students, along with a couple professors as well as other students and some Stop Mass Incarceration Network members and Revolution Club members. Speaking on the panel were Jess, a social work student who is active in protests against police murder and went on the bus to RiseUpOctober in New York; Ryan, co-founder of the Black Tribune, a radical online news publication; Marge, from Stop Mass Incarceration Network Chicago and supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party and follower of Bob Avakian; and Gloria Pinex, mother of Darius Pinex, murdered by Chicago police; and a member of the Revolution Club of Chicago. D’man Pinex, Darius’s brother, also sat on the podium—in front of him was a large poster of Darius.
Sheila, the chair of the Advocacy Committee, gave a warm welcome to the event, saying it was to “raise awareness to the very real issue that some police are murdering people of color.” She encouraged the audience to have “an open mind and open heart” and to listen and ask questions.
The first speaker was Jess, who had been in the Peace Corps in West Africa. She quoted an African proverb: “A boat cannot go forward if each rows his own way.” And she emphasized, “Those of us who believe in social justice and that we need a change, we’re going one way, and there’s only one other side: those who don’t want a change and don’t want to acknowledge police brutality and don’t want to acknowledge the reality. Those of us who are here, we’re in the same boat, we gotta paddle together.” She described the experience of being at RiseUpOctober: “We get to NY, we’re marching and screaming and the whole time we there were family members telling stories, back to back of how the police killed people in their family, for hours, non-stop.” She spoke passionately about the need to stop police murder and how she had been at the protests in Chicago against the murder of Laquan McDonald. “We all know that when Laquan McDonald was killed, there were five other cops there and none of them pulled their guns out, none of them said anything. This happens every single time. The cops don’t want to say anything, the general public doesn’t want to say anything, everyone’s scared of the police and what’s going to happen. We have to say something. We’re all ‘Which Side Are You On,’ we’re all on this side, and until people start speaking up it’s not going to change.”
Ryan was one of the organizers of national protests in support of the students at University of Missouri fighting racism, including a protest of 700 at Loyola. He described how the administration of Loyola, an institution that claims to be for social justice, tried to punish him and other organizers for breaking the school’s “demonstration policy” but that support from students, community, and faculty forced the administration to back down. Ryan described himself as a “Black radical in philosophy and Black nationalist in ideology...Dr. Cornel West teaches us that Black nationalism, being a Black radical means having a radical love for your people. It means being able to give everything you have for your people and your communities.” He called for massive civil disobedience: “Cause havoc and stop the system till the system pays attention to us. Whether it be a university administration or whether it be Rahm Emanuel, they’re going to try to ignore us for as long as possible. That’s why we have to continue massive civil disobediences that will hinder the system unworkable till they address our concerns.”
Marge posed the question to the audience: “What kind of system breeds a police force that callously murders teenagers, children, over the years and then covers it up? What kind of system covers and lies and buries evidence to keep serial murderers on the job? What kind of system requires a police force to act like an occupying army in communities of the oppressed?” She called on “anyone who strives for a world without slavery of any kind to get into Bob Avakian and his new synthesis of revolution and communism, and get into this movement for revolution.”
Marge put out a powerful challenge to students: “Students are a crucial force in this battle. A lot of people say that in the 60s students opposed the Vietnam War to keep their own asses safe, but that’s bullshit, they opposed it because they knew it was wrong, and rose up in the millions, shutting down campuses, whole cities, and awakened and challenged millions broadly in society to fight until the government was forced to end the war. That’s what has to happen today on campus, like the students across the country, including here at Loyola, who rose up around the racist attacks on students at Mizzou in November. There will never be a serious movement of resistance without students, much less a revolution.
“What can you do? First, reach out to other students with the challenge POLICE TERROR MUST STOP. WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? This Stolen Lives Tour needs to reach very broadly, including students on other campuses. Organize a student chapter or affiliate your organization with Stop Mass Incarceration Network. Second, take this out to other people from all walks of life: your churches, the communities you live in and those you serve in as social workers, your friends, relatives, EVERYONE who is disturbed by police murder.”
She called on everyone to build for Wednesday, March 2, a Day of Major Resistance to Stop Police terror in Chicago.
Gloria Pinex spoke last. Her son Darius was murdered at age 27 by Chicago cops, and even after it came out in court that they had lied about the justifications for stopping and murdering Darius, the judge refused to charge them. She has been fighting for justice for Darius these 5 years, and with her sons and dozens of other families spoke out in New York Rise Up October on October 22 and marched and spoke on October 24.
She spoke quietly, reminding all of the tremendous courage it takes to speak through enormous pain to end the police terror that took her son, so that others will not suffer as she has. “I knew all along they were lying to me, I decided to fight, for 5 years I’ve been fighting. I’ve been to NY, met a lot of moms going through what I’m going through, with no justice. The city lawyer didn’t think I deserved a fair trial, he withheld evidence. So I got ordered a new trial... I’m still fighting, still have no justice for Darius, even though they know the officers were lying. One of the officers, that was involved in murdering my son, after they justified my son’s murder, they put him back on the street. June 7 of that year he encountered Flint Farmer, shot him multiple times, it’s on dash cam, like Laquan McDonald’s, they can’t justify that murder.”
“The reason I think we need to stand up, in 2015 more than 1134 people were murdered by police, only one officer charged, the one for Laquan McDonald. All the cases are being covered up. So that’s my reason for standing up and fighting back. If we don’t stand up, no one’s going to stand up.”
Though there were differences in how speakers saw the solution to police terror and other horrors of the system, they were united in the need to continue the struggle to stop police terror and take it higher, all speaking for the need for many more people, and students in particular, to stand up in massive, defiant resistance.
The panel was followed by a Q and A with very thoughtful comments and questions. One Loyola social work student pledged the support of Loyola social work students for Gloria, asking for her court date so they could be there for her. Other people asked what specifically should they do to act. Another question was is there any hope that anything will come of the special task force to investigate the police or the Department of Justice investigation. Marge said “there has never been any justice from the Department of Justice,” and repeated the call for March 2 to be a day of massive, defiant resistance. A member of the Revolution Club put out a heartfelt call for people to visit the table with Revolution newspaper and other revolutionary literature, urging people to “go over there and look at it,” that he had been in a gang and dealt drugs but Bob Avakian and the book BAsics changed his life. Half the crowd stayed to talk and several visited the table. Along with Stop Mass Incarceration material and flyers for March 2, Revolution newspapers and a copy of the film of the Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian on Revolution and Religion went out.
The first stop on the National Stolen Lives tour was an important start for the Tour and shows its potential. It should be noted that the Columbia University Rise Up event that played a crucial role in building for the Rise Up October protests was also sponsored by social work students; they are a section of students that comes face to face with oppressed people and the horrors they face. It makes me think that in mobilizing all positive factors for this Tour, and in the movement to stop police terror, and the movement for revolution, like the campus tour by Carl Dix and Sunsara Taylor, we shouldn’t see students as a monolith, but should pay attention to different sections of students who stand up against injustice, like the football players at Mizzou, who knew? And we should fully appreciate how much it means for students to learn about and meet basic masses who bear the brunt of police terror. We should find all kinds of ways, statements from family members to students, videos, speakers’ bureaus, etc. to connect students with the reality, the human cost, of this system’s savagery towards those on the bottom of society. And as revolutionary communists, to more aggressively bring BA and the full out revolutionary solution he represents to students, looking for answers, who have such an important role to play in fighting for a future worthy of human beings.