Travis Morales, steering committee member of the NY Chapter of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah, who was killed by the NYPD in 2014,and Noche Diaz of the NYC Revolution Club.
-- The No More Stolen Lives Tour came to the College of Staten Island by way of Staten Islanders Against Racism and Police Brutality, a local organization which came into being after the NYPD killing of Eric Garner. Featured speakers included Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah, who was killed by the NYPD in 2014, Travis Morales, steering committee member of the NY Chapter of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and Noche Diaz of the NYC Revolution Club. The panel was joined by SMIN activist and Staten Island resident, Sister Shirley.
After the welcome from SIARPB, Travis Morales opened by asking, "Why are we here?" He showed three disturbing videos from the revcom.us website of several police killings, and this was followed by a video of Gil Scott-Heron reciting his “A Poem for Jose Campos Torres”. Jose Campos Torres was a 23-year-old Chicano murdered by Houston police in 1977, and Scott-Heron's reading had a riveting effect on the audience of just over 50, mainly students and some members of the community.
Fresh from an earlier protest in Brooklyn where Peter Liang, the killer cop who shot the unarmed Akai Gurley at the Pink Houses in Brooklyn, where a judge helped Liang avoid a prison term with a reduction of charges with a sentence of community service (!), Travis and Noche surveyed the political landscape today where police terror continues unabated and killer cops continue to walk. Both speakers posed the question of 'what is the problem, and what is the solution': that there is a slow genocide that is escalating and demanding of a revolution, but short of that requires the outpouring of resistance from broad sections of the people to beat it back. Travis, drawing from the historic role students play in building social movements that reverberate throughout society, called upon students to shake up the campuses in face of this growing genocide, and urged action on April 21 National Student Day of Action to Stop Police Terror.
Hawa Bah, an immigrant from Guinea and mother of unarmed Mohamed Bah, recounted the story when she called for an ambulance when Mohamed suffered an emotional episode. Instead the cops arrived, who told Ms. Bah not to worry because everything would be alright. The reality was that the three NYPD Emergency Service cops ended the situation by shooting Mohamed. Several of the audience cried as Ms. Bah told this story. [See article on the NYPD cover up of the killing of Mohamed Bah here.]
Undergirding his forceful presentation, Noche Diaz read a poignant quote from Bob Avakian, leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, “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.”
The lively Q&A and discussion was followed by a reception with pizza and soda.