The TRUTH About What Happened at the June 10 Rally for Justice for Trayvon Martin, responding to AJea L.
from Keith James, Stop Mass Incarceration Network and Revolution Books volunteer
An article posted on The Leimert Park Beat (a website about the Leimert Park community), by AJea L on June 14, 2013 about a protest that took place in Leimert on June 10, 2013 – the first day of the trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin – is completely inaccurate and full of irresponsible fabrications.
As the trial of George Zimmerman unfolds and unleashes a sick racist barrage against Trayvon Martin and his friend Rachel Jeantel from the mainstream media to social networks, the need for mass protest and resistance against this comes even more sharply into focus. A whole generation of Black and Latino youth are treated as suspects, walking around with a target on their backs put there by a system that has no future for them: murder after murder after murder by police which is almost always declared “justifiable homicide;” kids as young as 10 years old being added to gang databases and shoved into the pipeline to prison, where more than 2.4 million people are currently incarcerated. This has to STOP.
Urgent protest is needed. Protest that is built as broadly as possible – uniting the anger of the youth who are targeted in this way with all those who want to, and should, stand against this oppression. Coming together and delivering this kind of powerful message brings strength to the people. The only people who should oppose this kind of standing up and uniting together are those who want to keep the system in place and keep things as they are.
So, that being said, for those who missed it...
The Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) called for demonstrations across the country on June 10th, the starting day of the trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin – including in Sanford, FL. SMIN is a national organization started by Carl Dix (a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party) and activist and theologian Cornel West. The local chapter of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network united with others in LA as part of this in a powerful march and rally of Black, white, Asian, Native American, and Latino people in Leimert Park led by the slogans “We Are All TRAYVON!” and “The Whole Damn System is Guilty.” Over 70 people came together from different perspectives and different parts of the city – many from Crenshaw and some coming from as far as Palmdale. Revolution Books had a table and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party were present, uniting with all those who appreciate what is concentrated in this fight for justice: whether Black and Latino youth will continue to be criminalized and murdered, while the killers get off scot-free.
The march on June 10 was warmly welcomed and embraced by people up and down Crenshaw. People came out of storefronts to give fist salutes and take pictures, and cars by the dozens honked their horns in unity. After this powerful march, there was a rally in Leimert Park. Speakers included Rev. Meri Ka Ra Byrd from KRST Center for African Spirituality in South Central; Joe Veale, long time member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and former member of the Black Panther Party; a teacher speaking about the schools to prison pipeline and how this affects Black youth; a Stop Mass Incarceration organizer; and a young member of the Revolution Club. Statements of support were sent from Blase Bonpane, Executive Director of the Office of the Americas, and writer and journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan.
A small handful of people with their own agenda, who apparently were bothered by this strong outpouring of protest that united and inspired the people, did everything they could to stop this rally from going forward, rudely interrupting speakers with foolish insults and lies and at one point launching a physical attack on the stage. The MCs on the stage rallied people at the event to stand up and defend this important event and rebuff this attack, repeatedly stressing why we were there and why this mattered. The people at this event, who had just completed a significant march, wanted to hear the speeches from special guests, and weren't going to and did not tolerate this effort to break up and wreck this. This attack was outrageous, but it was not successful and the rally continued, including with an emphasis on getting organized to build the muscles of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network throughout the country and in LA.
To speak directly to two of the outright fabrications in this article:
- at no point was anyone “physically attacked” by the organizers of this demonstration. The irony of this falsehood is that it was the organizers who were attacked, including by someone who ripped the mic cord out of the sound system and overturned the Revolution Books table.
- there was not a “police escort” for the march as AJea outrageously claims. As anyone fighting for justice knows, the police do not look kindly on people coming together in protest. At this march, people took to the streets and the police actively followed them. The LAPD has a long history of political suppression and those speaking at this event have at different times come under direct attack by the LAPD. In fact, when the police attempted to arrest the person who overturned the Revolution Books table, the bookstore volunteers made very clear they would absolutely not press charges and demanded her release because the police are the armed enforcers of the system that is brutally oppressing the people, not friends of the revolutionaries or the masses of people.
Bob Avakian (or BA), who AJea mentions a number of times, is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party. BA has been a revolutionary leader for decades – dedicating himself at great personal sacrifice to the cause of human emancipation. He has developed a new synthesis of communism and a strategic approach to making revolution in this country – a viable vision and framework for a radically new, and far better, society. He is, as Cornel West describes, “a long distance runner in the freedom struggle against imperialism, racism and capitalism.”
Whatever AJea means by “menacing whiff of misguided turbulence” has nothing to do with the vision and work of Avakian, or the Party he leads. If any honest person wants to see this for themselves, they can check out the aims and views of the Revolutionary Communist Party and Avakian’s work at revcom.us A powerful example of what BA is about is concentrated in this quote from BAsics, a collection of quotes and essays from his work for over 30 years. This was carried on a banner in Sanford itself on June 10, in front of the courthouse and was read from the stage at the Leimert Park rally:
“No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that.”
What is needed – now more than ever – is mass protest, uniting people as broadly as possible to stand up in the fight for justice, resisting the brutal crimes of this system. Right now this need is highlighted by the trial in Sanford where they are rapidly creating public opinion in Zimmerman’s favor and by the fact that prisoners in solitary confinement are going on a hunger strike on Monday, July 8 in protest of the torture they suffer. We have a great responsibility to have their backs.
In this struggle, there will – and should be – different political programs and views identifying the source of these outrages, and their solution. But there also need to be standards for handling these with principle and honesty. In this regard, I encourage everyone to read a recent statement from the LA Branch of the Revolutionary Communist Party (http://revcom.us/a/306/statement-from-los-angeles-branch-of-rcp-en....) which speaks to this, and is relevant to the incident that happened on June 10 and on other occasions.
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