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The activism in Oakland today parallels both the activism to end police brutality in Oakland in the 1940s and 1950s and the Black Panthers’ activism beginning in 1966. A new source of activism has been added today: the victims’ families. “Policing in the 21st Century: Where Do We Go from Here,” uniting police victims’ families with Black Panther Party veterans will be held Saturday, Feb. 27, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at First AME Church, 530 37th St., Oakland; it’s free and open to the public.
It’s been 10 years since the watery carnage of Katrina, and one year since the fiery rage lit the night skies of Ferguson, Missouri, and between the two harrowing events lay the state of Black America isolated, demonized and damned. When the levees broke and the rushing waters of Hurricane Katrina swept into the wards of New Orleans, the 9th Ward – the Blackest ward – received the greatest damage, and the least relief.
I was the founding chairman and national organizer of the Black Panther Party. Our first organizing tactic was to legally observe the police in our Oakland and Berkeley Black communities. During those hard core late 1960s racist, fascist times, we took a big chance with our lives patrolling the police. It was a time of rampant vicious police brutality and murder of Black people by police that was 10 times worse than today.
Just five days after the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Watts Rebellion erupted, lasting several days. Today urban rebellion remains a key element in the struggle of the African American people against national oppression and economic exploitation. Since 2012, with the vigilante killing of Trayvon Martin and the resultant acquittal of George Zimmerman, a rising consciousness and intolerance for racism has been rapidly accelerating.
Why should we care what happened on May 13th, 1985? Because what happened then is a harbinger of what’s happening now – all across America. I don’t mean bombing people – not yet, that is. I mean the visceral hatred and violent contempt once held for MOVE is now visited upon average people – not just radicals and revolutionaries, like MOVE. A free screening of “Let the Fire Burn,” the documentary on the police bombing of MOVE in Philadelphia, takes place on the 30th anniversary of the bombing, Wednesday, May 13, 7-10 p.m., at Omni Oakland Commons.
The uprising in Baltimore has delivered an unmistakable and powerful message that the time is over when people will tolerate the unending and outrageous murder and brutality carried out by police. The torture and murder of Freddie Gray for nothing – and the ongoing, infuriating lies and coverup – is only the latest in a long line of such horrors in not only Baltimore but all over the U.S., from North Charleston, S.C., to Ferguson, Missouri, from Pasco, Washington, to New York City and beyond – THIS MUST STOP!
The message for the protectors of the white corporate and financial elite is that it does not matter if you execute a kid in cold blood in front of a dozen witnesses or you are caught on video murdering Eric Garner or 12 year-old Tamir Rice; you don’t have to fear prosecution from the state. It is now open season when it comes to policing and controlling the dangerous class of poor and working class Black people.
Rebellion is a fire that spreads quickly, can’t be controlled and illuminates paths mired in darkness. As children we are taught not to play with fire. Fire is dangerous. It will burn you. While the obvious consequences of being burned will not be questioned here, the recent burning of a few buildings in Mexico and the U.S. have been central in exposing the inherent violence and contradictions of the state and capitalism.
How can a group have over 3 million people with college degrees yet be so underdeveloped economically? How can a people have over 10,000 elected officials yet have so little economic power? Why do African Americans spend only 3 percent of their income with each other? Could that explain why only 9 out of every one thousand African Americans start a business, while other groups are above 100?
Our study group here has expanded exponentially since these demonstrations across the country. People here with me who only yesterday refused to come to terms with being victims of social injustice are now identifying with the forces of revolution. They no longer have a defeatist mentality. Ferguson has shown that RESISTANCE IS THE WAY FORWARD. We are moving – to what destination, only time will tell.
The marches in the streets are not done. The die-ins disrupting traffic are not done. Any kind of closure for the families of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley and so many others is far from done. Athletic protest actions have the effect of amplifying the impact of a new struggle for human dignity in the face of racism. It has found expression in all 50 states and in solidarity actions in cities around the world, all with the message that Black lives matter.
As I stroll on 3-STREET, within the blocks bounded by Newcomb and Palou, took time to get a close up look at the Community Christmas Tree on the grounds of the Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre. Ules Tabron Jr., who works for the Opera House, plays Santa every year – look for him during festivities; Dec. 18, 5-9 p.m., in the HEART of the PEOPLE’S Plaza, on Third, between Oakdale and Palou, decorated with beautiful lighting above.
Wait. Patience. Stay Calm. We’ve been waiting for dozens, hundreds, thousands of indictments and convictions. Every death hurts. Every exonerated cop, security guard or vigilante enrages. The grand jury’s decision doesn’t surprise most Black people because we are not waiting for an indictment. We are waiting for justice – or more precisely, struggling for justice. The young people of Ferguson continue to struggle with ferocity.
I was born and raised in Missouri, so hopefully I can shed some light on how Ferguson, a little Missouri suburb of 21,000 people, became the focus of the nation, and even the world. I am getting the stench that they’re about to pull the pin on another grenade to throw that community into upheaval, so first let’s take a hard look at what they’ve been through and why. First of all, when we think of racism, we tend to think of Mississippi and Alabama due to the events of the ‘60s. However, Missouri was one of the bloodiest states during the Civil War because it was so divided – and it is still that divided today, as we’ve seen in Ferguson.
NAAFRA, our family movement, calls for a youth vanguard to provide added strength for immediate results. The need for a youth vanguard is made very clear in Ferguson, Missouri, where the world has been watching our youth confront a militarized police force prepared to fire on unarmed Black citizens. With these courageous youth directly in the line of fire, at that moment we were too close to a line we do not want to cross.
Greetings, Brothers and Sisters. The events taking place in Ferguson, Missouri, present us with yet another opportunity to address the inhumanity of racism. But the country will again not take advantage of it because we will continue to treat this act of inhumanity as though it is an isolated incident and not an act that flows from the very structure of this nation.
While people were righteously rebelling in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, against police terrorism, a Center for Disease Control whistleblower confirmed something that has been on the lips of conscious ghetto dwellers for decades. International peace activist Cynthia McKinney speaks on the U.S. government spreading autism through vaccinations in the Black community, on Ferguson and much more.
What began as a local call for justice for Mike Brown has grown into a nationwide shout for justice. Mike Brown falls in a long line of others killed as a result of systemic racial bias and violence against Black and Brown communities. John Crawford III, Ezel Ford, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo, Marilyn Banks and countless others named and unnamed have been killed through the excessive use of force by law enforcement. If you want to join in this national fight, sign up to organize locally and come to Ferguson, Missouri, Oct. 9-13.
HOW SWEET IT WAS! DR. WILLIE RATCLIFF, our beloved Publisher, a VIRGO MAN, celebrated his 82nd birthday surrounded by his lovely wife MARY RATCLIFF, charming in a blue dress, staff and friends at a reception held in the lobby of the African American Art and Cultural Complex, prior to the BLACK MEDIA APPRECIATION NIGHT affair, sponsored by SF BAY VIEW, to HONOR UNSUNG HEROES who do not get their PROPER due for their outstanding work.
A broad coalition of activists and local organizations are calling again for Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson to resign after a new round of police attacks on peaceful protestors last night. Over 200 activists have been arrested in conjunction with protests calling for justice for Mike Brown. Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Mike Brown, still walks free.
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