Revolution #272, June 17, 2012
Around the Country:
June 5: We Are All Trayvon—
The Whole Damn System Is Guilty!
June 5 marked 100 days since the vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. A call had gone out to make June 5 a day to demand justice for Trayvon—a day to wear hoodies and defiantly declare “We Are All Trayvon.” These actions were important, in the face of the mouthpieces of the system telling people that with Trayvon’s killer having been indicted, it’s time to get out of the streets and rely on the courts. Right now it’s critically important that we not sit back, but instead find the ways to express our determination to get justice, that we not be silent.
On June 5, there were speak-outs, marches, and other actions around the country. The following are snapshots from several cities.
At one high school, many scores of students wore hoodies to demand justice. Many said they wore hoodies because Trayvon Martin was just like them, and they too feel racially profiled all the time. Students said that by wearing a hoodie on June 5 and passing out stickers saying “We Are All Trayvon Martin—The Whole Damn System Is Guilty,” they were showing respect to Trayvon and his family. When asked how they found out about the day, students pointed to the slogans chalked on the ground, leaflets, and stickers, and said “everybody knows about this in school” and that students were texting each other about it during the days leading up to June 5.
In the afternoon, at Leimert Park in the Crenshaw District, a historically Black cultural hub in the city, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network organized a speak-out. The Cuauhtemoc Dancers opened the event with a ceremony calling for “equality and justice for everybody,” and then danced, drummed, and chanted all afternoon.
Numerous speakers condemned how this system in the U.S. treats youth, especially youth of color, as criminals. They voiced great concern for the future of these youth, and spoke to how Trayvon’s murder concentrates this criminalization...and that the stakes are high and people need to stay mobilized. Street poets, musicians, teachers, and everyday people took the bullhorn to pour out their hearts. One teacher urgently explained how Trayvon’s murder and “the school-to-prison pipeline” are intimately connected.
Speakers included: Caree Harper, attorney for the family of Kendrec McDade, a 19-year-old Black youth killed by Pasadena police in March; the Rev. Dr. Lewis Logan, co-founder of Ruach Christian Community Fellowship; and Clyde Young, revolutionary communist and former prisoner. Young called Trayvon’s murder a “modern-day American lynching” in the context of the historical and present-day oppression of Black people in the U.S. He read the BAsics 1:13 quote, which was distributed to the crowd.
The LA Spanish-language newspaper La Opinion ran an article on the Day of Justice for Trayvon with a picture featuring two youth, one with a T-shirt with a big picture of Trayvon and the words “Justice for Trayvon Martin” and the other holding a poster featuring the BAsics 1:13 quote.
Excerpts from a longer snapshot posted at basicsbustour.tumblr.com on June 6:
Yesterday’s march “100 Days—100 Hoodies” was greeted with great enthusiasm by people in Harlem. People expressed over and over that the system is once again making the victim out as the criminal. And they want this to stop! We carried a life-sized wooden cut-out of Trayvon and a 40 x 60 inch display of the BAsics 1:13 quote, and passed out 100s of the quote palm cards.
All along the route of the march groups of people came out to support. When we read them the quote and told them that we’re getting out 1000s of these to make “no more of that” real, to make that THE topic of conversation and asked them to donate to make that happen, people pulled out their wallets. One guy in front of a barbershop gave $10 and then the others standing with him pulled out $10s and $5s. A nearby café owner donated another $5 and took a stack of palm cards to give out to customers. An African woman opened her purse and pulled out $30. “I have SEVEN sons,” she said, “and some of them are in jail.” She said this as she raised her arms in an expression of fury and heartbreak—conveying that she had come to this country expecting a better life for her children and had found instead another form of oppression and brutality. By the time the day was over we had raised almost $100.
SF Bay Area
At a high school in the ’hood many students were wearing stickers for the June 5 Day of Justice: Some young women students walked up to the banner and began leading chants on the bullhorn. Three young women read the quote 1:13 from BAsics on the bullhorn. Two others posted it up in the street in front of the school, thrusting a flier with a picture of Trayvon and a BAsics 1:13 quote card into the window of every passing car. Soon there was a small protest of a couple dozen students and some revolutionaries.
A spirited rally came together at the Oscar Grant Plaza in downtown Oakland at 5 pm. It included a mix of different people, including families of those gunned down by the police. Students from a couple of high schools sported stickers they had gotten earlier in the day at school. One of the young women who knew Alan Blueford, a high school senior recently killed by the Oakland police, said, “They took his life for nothing just because he was standing on the corner. Now I can never see him again. They took his life for no reason—because he was young and Black. NO MORE KILLING OF YOUNG AND BLACK!”
Ron Ahnen, President of California Prison Focus, sent a statement of support. Among those speaking were Joey Johnson, recently returned from the BAsics Bus Tour through the South; Cephus Johnson, uncle of Oscar Grant; and the family of Kenneth Harding, killed by the San Francisco police last year. Three members of a Berkeley Unitarian church brought a banner signed by many of their congregation.
In the early afternoon we went out to a nearby high school where the Day of Justice had been built for several days. We joined with some students out in the street, stopping traffic, handing out posters that have the photo of Trayvon with the day’s slogan, and then marched through the ’hood.
A team from Revolution Books went out to a high school where a lively scene developed as students streamed out of school. Several groupings, mainly Black women, expressed in various ways their support for the struggle to get justice for Trayvon. Some stepped up to a bullhorn and spoke out. One began a chant, “the whole damn system is guilty as hell!” which was joined in by others. Some pulled their hoodies up to be part of the day. Others stopped to look at a poster about the BAsics Bus Tour. Leading up to June 5, students from four other high schools and middle schools visited Revolution Books and took stacks of Trayvon fliers and BAsics 1:13 pluggers, which they planned to get out in their schools.
During the noon hour there was an action downtown in front of the King County Jail, a major center of mass incarceration connected to the racial profiling, killing, and imprisonment of oppressed nationalities. A banner of the BAsics 1:13 quote, with larger words saying “WE SAY NO MORE!”, poster boards of the “An American Lynching” Revolution newspaper cover, and a large “Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide” sign were set up. People of various nationalities stopped to talk, read the poster boards, sign the banner, and at times participate.
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