Revolution #279, September 2, 2012

Getting the Whistles Ready in the Bronx

It's Whistle Time!

The following is from an interview with "Noche" Diaz, a young revolutionary who is facing unjust charges and faces years in jail if convicted. Noche has been arrested five times since October 2011 and has had 11 charges piled on him in four New York City boroughs, all for observing and protesting the illegitimate actions of the NYPD. Noche was one of the first members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and helped organize protests that kicked off a citywide struggle against stop-and-frisk. He is well known to the people—and to the NYPD—for being a member of the People's Neighborhood Patrol of Harlem.

One late afternoon, me and a comrade went to the Bronx to follow up at a playground where a lot of youth play basketball and skate. It's a half-court and skating area they're allowed to use because the janitor who is supposed to keep it locked up leaves it open for them. He's a very cool guy. We had done some work up there with the BAsics Bus Tour and were following up. We knew that some of the youth hang out there, so we went with Bob Avakian's Revolution talk, whistles, STOP Stop and Frisk buttons. We didn't even have fliers for the whistle day yet. We went there cold, and sat down on a bench and took out the DVD player.

One of the youth recognized us and said hello, and we started playing the Revolution talk. Some youth gathered around. We played the clip about how the police are the enforcers of all this. BA gets into what a system is. He gets into the history of police murders, and we were right in the neighborhood of one of the murders BA talks about, where Amadou Diallo was killed by police. It's also right where the viejos are playing dominoes, which BA is also describing, and right where the kids are playing basketball, just like he talks about in the Revolution talk (Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About) in terms of the rules of the game. So it's a very interesting scene. We played that part where he gets into "it's a system." A lot of the young people were talking about, even when we got there they were stepping to us with like, what do you think about the police? They were testing us about it.

A lot of them have some bitter experience. There was one guy who when he was 15 he caught a case for assault. He's 16 now, and dealing with his legal case. There was a fight that happened, and because he was friends with the kids fighting, now he's got charges. It was a fight—I'm not saying kids should be fighting—but it was a kids' fight. So now he has a case open. They have a lot of visceral experience. So they were listening to that part of the talk, and that part was more like confirming what they already know a lot of. Then we showed them the part on how the youth deserve a better future, where BA talks about, yes, this is a horror—but no more of this, we're trying to get to a whole other place. That was cool, there was conversation about that. We said, "What about the fact they set up all these prisons? And the schools are built like prisons." We're at a school that looks like a penitentiary. It was so literal, at the same time, artful.

So we're talking to them about how we're coming into this fight against stop-and-frisk from this standpoint. We think this whole system has no future for youth and we need a revolution to get rid of the whole thing. But as part of making that rev, we see the importance of people getting together from different understandings, to lift their heads, and look at the whole world. So we're part of building for this whistle day coming on September 13. And some of them knew about it because people had been out there. They would come up asking for a whistle, and we'd say, "You have to know what it's about." So they would recite, "The whistles are for when you see the police, and when people aren't doing anything wrong, and the police are just messing with them, you blow the whistle." It became a thing they all knew. It was pretty cool. They're young; some are seven, and some are 20. We only had 10 whistles that day. Every time a patrol car would pass through the playground, everyone would kind of play the whistles, but it was sporadic.

There was one point where this large police van comes through, and this 8- to 10-year-old on a scooter rides through the playground and yells, "Alright everybody, it's whistle time!" And the people who are taking their basketball shots on the court, the guys doing their skating thing, everyone kind of stopped what they were doing. They all started blowing their whistles in harmony. I'm sure it sounds cool, but when you were there it was electrifying. It lifted you up and straightened out your back. Pretty intense. It brought them all together. They were all spread out, but they were acting and working together, and communicating with each other. It was a very cool scene.

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