Call-out from the October 22 Coalition at www.october22.org:
Across the U.S., Black, Latino, and poor neighborhoods are treated like occupied territory by increasingly militarized armies of law enforcement. People are criminalized and brutalized for their perceived status – socioeconomic, immigration, mental health, and/or racial, gender, or sexual identity. People living in our communities, especially youth, are routinely stopped, harassed, beaten, and even killed.
In Chicago, the home of the first Black president, police have shot 44 people so far this year, mostly youth of color, including 13-year-old Jimmell Cannon, who was shot eight times.
NYPD continues to stop hundreds of thousands of youth of color every year for the most minimal suspicion, fewer than 10% of which result in arrest, and far fewer in charges or conviction.
Police nationwide continue to kill with very little consequence. Twelve Miami cops shot at 22-year-old Raymond Herisse 100 times, then threatened those who recorded the incident, destroying their cellphones. A Tucson SWAT team shot at 26-year-old Iraq War veteran Jose Guerena over 70 times, claiming that he fired at them and then leaving him to bleed to death in his home. Both their allegations of gunfire and drug-dealing were later revealed to be false. In New York and New Jersey, at least 28 people have been killed by police since October 22 of last year, while at least 35 people have been killed by law enforcement in Washington State in the last 12 months. The killing of 22-year old Oscar Grant in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2009 resulted in a rare conviction for the officer who shot him; however, he was freed after mere months in prison, while people protesting the outrageous verdict were met with police violence and mass arrests. In the weeks following that cop’s release, SF cops killed Charles Hill, a 45-year-old homeless man, on a subway platform and 19-year old Kenneth Harding after he supposedly failed to pay a $2 train fare, then left him dying on the pavement in front of dozens of outraged witnesses.
Police routinely abuse the mentally ill and disabled. Fullerton, CA cops beat to death homeless and mentally ill 27-year-old Kelly Thomas, described by many in the community as “a gentle, childlike soul.” In Fresno, CA, 28-year-old Raul Rosas, Jr. died after being tasered by police. His girlfriend said "I didn't call the Fresno County Sheriff to kill him. I called because he needed help with his mental illness.” Raul went into cardiac arrest and was denied access to three medical ambulances that showed up to assist.
Recently enacted anti-immigrant laws have given police in the states of Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama sweeping powers to stop people "suspected" of being undocumented on no other basis than appearance. The hostility and racism stoked by these policies have already culminated in violence, as seen in the killing of 15-year-old Sergio Adrián Hernández Güereka by a border patrol agent and the beating death of 42-year-old Anastasio Hernández Rojas at the hands of La Migra. More than one million have been deported under the Obama administration.
Racially targeted mass incarceration exacerbates the criminalization and marginalization of Black people, playing the same role as the Jim Crow laws that sprang from the Virginia slave codes of 1705. In 1954, 90,000 Black people were incarcerated. Now, over 900,000 Black people are imprisoned, a tenfold increase, while the total U.S. Black population has merely doubled in the same period. The U.S. also has the highest incarceration rate worldwide, with 2.4 million people in prison.
Law enforcement continues to harass and sexually assault people, most especially women and the transgendered. According to the website InjusticeEverywhere.com, sexual misconduct was the second most common complaint (following excessive force) against police in 2010, involving 618 cops.
Young schoolchildren are increasingly labeled and treated as criminals by school security and local police. Eight-year-old Aidan Elliot was peppersprayed and handcuffed by Colorado police, and ten-year-old Sofia Bautista was removed from her elementary school, then taken to a NYPD precinct, handcuffed, and interrogated for hours, while police nationwide continue to use tasers on students as young as six.
Meanwhile, repression against those who take action against injustices continues to escalate. Over a dozen activists with Food Not Bombs have been arrested in Orlando for feeding the homeless in public parks. The killings of Oscar Grant, Kenneth Harding, Kelly Thomas, Raymond Herisse, and John T. Williams (in Seattle) were all caught on video. Now, as if in retaliation against the subsequent public outrage, police in cities and towns nationwide have attacked and arrested people merely for recording their activity, while in Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts, video-recording the police is now explicitly illegal. Cops haven’t stopped killing and brutalizing people—they’re just making it a crime to record them while they do.
Repression against progressive and antiwar activism has intensified: simultaneous FBI raids on activists from numerous antiwar and international solidarity organizations in three U.S. cities took place on September 24, 2010. Twenty-three activists now face serious jail time for refusing to participate in the ensuing grand jury witch hunts that clearly intend to discourage and intimidate would-be dissenters.
These vicious attacks are not going down without opposition. Whether standing up to police violence when it happens, as we saw in the video of Kenneth Harding's shooting, or organizing inspiring prison strikes in Georgia and California, people are uniting to fight back. Determined outcry from people nationwide against the shooting of unarmed men crossing the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina has finally brought convictions of the guilty cops and exposed the sort of extensive cover-ups that are routine with police shootings.
More and more crimes against the people are being revealed, as we have seen with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ Operation Fast and Furious, which intentionally provided weapons to Mexican drug cartels, and the overturning of over 4,000 convictions of youth in Pennsylvania after it was found that juvenile judge Mark Ciavarella received kickbacks from private for-profit detention centers. Once we have seen the man behind the curtain, how can we pretend he is not there? One thing we know from years of experience is that when this system has to answer to organized people, it can’t easily get away with all the things it's used to doing. Resistance matters.
THE VIOLENCE OF THE COPS, THE COURTS, THE FBI, LA MIGRA, AND HOMELAND SECURITY IS INTENSIFYING. OUR RESISTANCE MUST INTENSIFY AS WELL! Every year, thousands of people nationwide express their outrage, creativity, and resistance in response to the crimes of this system. People speak out and perform, they march in the streets, and more. The October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation embraces and encourages any and all such expressions of people’s righteous outrage.
As said by the mother of Gil Barber, gunned down by a deputy in High Point, NC in 2001, “October 22nd is our day.” ORGANIZE against these injustices! BREAK DOWN the barriers between communities that these crimes seek to strengthen! MOBILIZE people of all communities in the most visible way…and on October 22, 2011, WEAR BLACK! FIGHT BACK!
JOIN US if there is already an October 22nd event in your area. CREATE one if you are in an area where there is currently no group organizing. For listings of activities in your area, check the website www.october22.org. To start building for an event in your area, email firstname.lastname@example.org