by Timothy Farrell
On Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, the National Black Accord (NBA), based in Cleveland, Ohio, held a rally and political education event in honor of Black August and in support of the liberation of all people oppressed by imperialism, colonialism and capitalism. The organization was established in May 2021 around self-determination – not simply through ideology, but through an effective implementation of plans that build a self-sufficient community.
In addition to having speakers talk about their important work, the NBA provided a packet of revolutionary resources that included information on the work of key organizations as well as recommended readings and podcasts to enhance the political education necessary to bring about revolutionary goals and ideals.
Keshawn Walker and revolution in Cleveland and beyond
NBA co-founder and spokesperson Keshawn Walker is currently being mentored by Indiana’s Wabash Correctional Facility political prisoner Kwame Shakur, a disciple of former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member Jalil Muntaqim, who spent nearly 50 years in prison before being released in October 2020.
Walker opened by acknowledging Shakur and his influence as well as the NBA’s working in concert with Spirit of Mandela and National Jericho Movement, Prison Lives Matter (PLM) and the New Afrikan Liberation Collective(NALC).
The Spirit of Mandela is charging the U.S. government, its states and its agencies with human and civil rights violations against Black, Brown and Indigenous people at the October 2021 International Tribunal in New York City. Kwame Shakur is the founder of PLM and co-founder of the NALC along with longtime political prisoner Shaka Shakur.
“Thank you to everybody for being here. It is a prime example of a revolution. Everybody here in their own right is taking part in a revolution – whether they know it or not. That’s what we need. Cleveland is a revolutionary city, and we are going to show that it is,” Walker stated.
In the beginning stages of the revolution, it is more important to have a small number of totally committed members and build that cadre than to appeal to the masses who aren’t ready or prepared for action.
He acknowledged the significance of Black August and of holding one of the organization’s first events in the middle of one of the most important months in the history of Black resistance. Cleveland has had a long-standing tradition of racial uprisings against white supremacy and police corruption. In November 2018, the U.S. marshals determined that incarcerated people’s constitutional rights were routinely violated and that their basic necessities for living were often withheld.
“We are going to set a revolution in Cleveland and turn this thing over into a utopia. This dystopian America overall will be turned into a utopia by correcting all the wrong information out there and eventually dealing with all these capitalistic politicians, who are another part of the problem,” Walker remarked. “We have to be scientific with this thing; we have to be strategic. We are going to start it here and work with others nationally.”
Shakur’s hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana, has served as a hub for the dual purposes of self-determination and community control. Plans for the New Afrikan People’s Center and Social Cultural Development Office are continually being developed. The NALC has already purchased the land and is now fundraising to build the center. You can contribute to this important work by donating to the NALC Land Fund.
Keshawn Walker is one of many who will be at the assembly where plans for the New Afrikan People’s Center and Social Cultural Development Office will be developed. The NALC has already purchased the land and is now fundraising to build the center. You can contribute to this important work by donating to the NALC Land Fund.
“We know the problems. We have been talking about these problems forever. It is time to bring together comrades with a solution-oriented strategy,” explained Walker before turning over the microphone to the guest speakers.
Lead poisoning and incarceration
Robin Brown, whose 4-year-old daughter suffered numerous physical difficulties from lead-based paint poisoning in 1999, founded CCOAL in 2005 after discovering how little help was available to her daughter and others diagnosed with lead poisoning. In addition to sharing her personal story and her advocacy for the past few years, she noted that several studies have shown a link between lead poisoning and subsequent “criminal” behavior.
The 1990 book “Biology and Violence: From Birth to Adulthood” by Deborah Denno first showed a link between lead poisoning and criminal behavior from a study of Philadelphia youths. Since then, numerous studies and literature have shown a clear connection between lead poisoning and later incarceration.
Until 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified a blood level of 10 or more micrograms per deciliter of lead in blood as a “level of concern.” Since then, the CDC has made it clear that any level of lead is unsafe and uses five micrograms per deciliter to identify children who have more lead in their blood than most children.
Mariah Crenshaw, CEO and founder of Chasing Justice, LLC, through public records discovered that many of those acting as police and peace officers in Ohio have no legal authority to do so – these particular officers are labelled with “cease function” status for failure to take legally mandated Continued Professional Training (CPT).
Public records revealed that many of those acting as police and peace officers in Ohio have no legal authority to do so.
Ohio Administrative Code 109:2-18 on Continuing Professional Training for Peace Officers and Troopers from 2007 clearly states: “Any peace officer or trooper who, in any calendar year, fails to comply with the continuing professional training requirements set forth in rules 109:2-19-01 to 109:2-19-07 of the Administrative Code shall cease carrying a firearm and shall cease performing the functions of a peace officer or trooper until such time as evidence of compliance is filed with the executive director.”
Crenshaw pointed out: “Cease function and its relation to qualified immunity is one of the best kept secrets in the law community. These cease function letters are sent to chiefs of police, the officers, and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor, who do absolutely nothing and still allow them to work even though they are prohibited by law from engaging in law enforcement.”
In October 2020, she and former Euclid, Ohio, mayoral candidate Robert Montgomery II filed affidavits charging the officer who killed Luke Stewart on March 13, 2017, with multiple felonies based on an Ohio law that allows citizens to bring charges against anyone known to have committed a crime.
Ohio’s Canton House Representative Thomas West introduced House Bill 332 on June 1, 2021, to take Ohio’s laws even further, allowing police to be sued – depriving any individual of their rights without any possibility of qualified immunity as a defense. This would include up to five percent coming directly out of the officer’s pocket.
Two states have removed qualified immunity in sweeping legislation. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill in June 2020 that allows an individual to create a cause of action against any police officer for violations of certain rights established in the state’s Constitution without the officer being able to claim qualified immunity as a defense.
In April 2021, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Grisham signed similar legislation stating that no public official may use the defense of qualified immunity for depriving rights or privileges secured by the state’s Constitution.
The education is a full clip, and the people are the gun.
Crenshaw has received literally thousands of public records from throughout the state of Ohio and found that the issue of unauthorized and illegal police or peace officers is not limited to Cleveland, but is rampant throughout the state. She used a biblical reference to illustrate what it means to use the law against those who claim they are upholding the law while routinely abusing it – particularly against Black and Brown people:
“David got a rock and a slingshot and knocked Goliath out. That is not how he killed Goliath. He climbed on top of Goliath and pulled Goliath’s sword out of his sheaf, and then cut Goliath’s head off with his own sword. We need to cut this giant’s head off with his own sword. We use the same laws that are in place to start taking them down the same way they are using those laws to take us down.”
Walker: ‘This is only the beginning’
“We need to formulate and follow-up. We need the people to follow up with what we are learning. The education is a full clip, and the people are the gun,” Walker described. “We will kill every part of this imperialist system. Any part that is already dead, we will dig up because it didn’t die hard enough.”
Walker heeds Shakur’s advice that in the beginning stages of the revolution, it is more important to have a small number of totally committed members and build that cadre than to appeal to the masses who aren’t ready or prepared for action.
“We are surrounding ourselves with comrades who have been doing this work and those who will do the work that is necessary,” he articulated. “The system is just using us as stats to please a certain quota up their chain of command, so we need to have a chain of command in this revolution. We are going to be a problem for the establishment. We have solutions. We may even have some cases thrown on us because of this work, but it’s all a part of the revolution. We are down for it all.”
Timothy Farrell is a freelance writer who also has more than 25 years working in college athletics. He is a member of the Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition based in Cleveland, Ohio, and a member of numerous national organizations including Prison Lives Matter and Spirit of Mandela. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.