It has been over 20 years since NWA recorded the song “F**k The Police,” a protest song that criticized law enforcement for excessive force, brutality, harassment and more. Before the 80’s law enforcement groups and others have used their power to oppress and intimidate. Now, the Unites States and all over the Earth, we are seeing that there is a seeming rise in the number of murderous crimes perpetrated against people of color, homing in on Black men. Before the winter of 2014, unified people marched to reject the rash of brutality and, now that spring is here, the outward movements have started again. #ShutDownA14 (Shut Down April 14) takes place all over the nation with the New York City action going down in Union Square. The nation march includes Dr. Cornel West, rapper Jasiri X, Ev Ensler, actress Jasmine Guy and over 30 families that have lost loved ones at the hands of police. One of the loudest voices comes from Carl Dix of Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP). Dix, a fierce fighter against Mass Incarceration, talked to AllHipHop about the current movement
AllHipHop.com: It may seem like an obvious question, but why are you marching?
Carl Dix: We are taking to the streets on April 14 to disrupt business as usual; because what’s needed to deal with the emergency situation we face is nothing less than people standing up to say that murder by police must stop. We will be speaking for those who can no longer speak for themselves because their lives have been stolen.
Walter Scott shot in the back in South Carolina. Eric Garner choked to death. Now Eric Harris gunned down by a part time cop and when he cried out: “I’m losing my breath,” the pigs who were beating him as he died told him: “Shut the fuck up. You ran. Fuck your breath.” All of these caught on video. And before that there was Michael Brown. Look at the contemptuous disregard these murdering pigs have shown for the humanity of their victims. Ninety-one unarmed black and Latinos have been shot by police since the start of 2015.
On April 14, 2015: we’re going to revive the spirit of Ferguson, of refusing to suffer the brutality of the system in silence. And we’re going to TAKE IT HIGHER. The determined resistance that began last summer in Ferguson is why this epidemic of police killings is in the national/international spotlight. April 14 will be THE FIRST NATIONAL PROTESTS of murder by police since the upsurge last Fall.
We get told that we have to respect the decisions of the grand juries that let killer cops walk or of the Department of Justice to not prosecute the killer cops. No, we don’t have to respect that process and those decisions. Every day, the police come in and snatch our children away. Every day they lock them up. Every day they gun us down. Every day their killer cops walk free. Every day they try to shut us down. Then they tell us to respect their decision. Respect their laws. Respect their process. Respect their system …as they keep killing our Black and Brown youth. NO! NO! NO! When they do this again and again, tell me why we should: respect their process, respect their decision, respect a system that does this to people here and around the world. We respect the lives of Black and all oppressed people. We respect the pain of Michael Brown’s parents. We respect the future of our youth. So, on April 14, we are going to stand up and say this system giving a green light to cops to brutalize and murder people must STOP! On April 14, We Will NOT BE SHUT DOWN. On April 14, WE WILL SHUT THEIR BUSINESS AS USUAL DOWN. SHUT IT DOWN.
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Why do you think these sorts of shootings of (mostly) unarmed Black men is becoming more and more frequent?
What’s really changed is that these killings by the police are more out in the public eye today because people have stood up in a way we haven’t seen in decades to say NO MORE! This started in Ferguson and spread across the country, and it forced everybody to look at what was being done to people on the bottom of this society by the police and the whole criminal “injustice” system. We don’t even know for sure whether the killings are more frequent, or are we just finding out about things that have been going on for a long time because the police don’t even keep statistics on how many people they kill. And the Justice Department doesn’t require them to report this information.
This system has been brutalizing and stealing the lives of Black people since the first Africans were dragged to these shores in slave chains. It continued after slavery was officially ended by the civil war in the form of Jim Crow segregation and lynch mob terror. Today this has been replaced by a new Jim Crow of mass incarceration, police brutality and police murder, and widespread misery and degradation targeting Black and Latino people. Tens of millions of people are caught up in what amounts to a slow genocide that could easily become a fast one if we don’t act to stop it.
The resistance began by the defiant young people in Ferguson that spread around the country needs to be continued, pushed forward and taken even higher. Those of us saying no more to police getting away with murdering people, and there’s many, many people in society who feel that way, need to re-take the offensive. And that’s what April 14 is about.
Is there a lack of outrage because these are people of color/particularly Black men?
This system hates and fears Black people. Those who run it remember the 1960’s when Black people rose up against the savage oppression being enforced on them and rocked the whole system back on its heels. They want to beat Black people so far down that they could never rise up against the oppression that is still being brought down. A key part of that has been the criminalization and demonization of Black people which is used to justify treating them like permanent suspects, guilty until proven innocent, if they can survive to prove their innocence. As is all too clear, far too many don’t survive to prove their innocence.
This system has no answer to this. The only thing that the powers that be can do is to keep on enforcing and reinforcing this oppression and continue to spread their justifications for it. But others can be won, and are being won, to stand with Black & Latino people. This happened in a big way in the protests in the fall. And it is happening with April 14. People like Eve Ensler and anti war activist Cindy Sheehan have pledged to join us in the streets on April 14. Alice Walker, Arturo O’Farrill, the actress Jasmine Guy, noted anthropologist Richard Leakey and others have issued statements of support for April 14. And everybody who doesn’t want to live in a world where this goes on, who what their life to be about something that matters needs to join them and everybody in the streets on April 14.
What is the temperature to the masses of people on this issue?
People are boiling with rage over the way these killings have continued to happen again and again. And the system keeps exonerating these killer cops. People want to see something done about these horrors. Many, many of those who bear the brunt of this savage oppression don’t want to see future generations having to continue to deal with this shit. They are in a mood of standing up and calling for this shit to STOP. They want to see something done about the hell they have endured for so long.
All this resistance and the non stop killings, the videos of another Black man murdered, or another person brutalized, and the system telling us to wait and let the system work is opening the eyes of many people who have been shielded from what is being done to people on the bottom of society, horrifying them and challenging them to join the resistance to it. All this is ripe to be tapped into and given powerful expression. What’s needed is determined action aimed at STOPPING all this, not lessening it or taking the rough edges off it, but STOPPING it. This is what the April 14 day of disrupting business as usual is all about. And it underscores the importance of powerful outpourings in the streets on April 14 – to keep giving those suffering this hell the sense that they are right to stand up, and to keep awakening everybody to that hell and challenging them to join in acting to stop it.
Hundreds of thousands marched in the fall, but the winter has cooled things off. Are people
What happened is the system came back with its fangs bared at the protests. The authorities hit back at the beautiful, powerful and very necessary protests of the fall with mass arrests and threats; and with lies and false promises. They worked very hard to change the story from cops killing innocent, unarmed people to cops being heroes who do a tough job well. There’s nothing heroic about gunning down unarmed people, about choking people to death, about responding to calls to help people who are mentally unstable and killing them instead. This has brought society to a crossroads. Will the system’s rulers get away with suppressing the protests and reinforcing the normal routine of American society, a routine that includes police getting away with murder? Will future generations still be dealing with police brutalizing and murdering people and getting away with it? Will Black and Latino youth still have to go thru life with targets on their backs? Or will people again stand up all across the country and say in a loud powerful voice that police getting away with murder must STOP! Thru mobilizing powerful resistance on April 14 we will be making a big advance toward getting rid of this shit and all the horrors this system enforces on people here and around the world.
How have different organizations/individuals been working together?
Cornel West, a man motivated by deep Christian faith, and me, a revolutionary communist, came together to issue the call for April 14. The actions tomorrow have room for everyone who wants to see police getting away with murder stopped. If that’s where you’re coming from, you need to, and can, get involved.
And this is happening. I mentioned some of the people who joined with and supported April 14. Also people like the rappers Jasiri X (who just dropped a slamming video – “Don’t Let Them Get Away With Murder”) and Immortal Technique have supported it. Talib Kwali has tweeted about it. Tom Morello is is supporting. There are people from different backgrounds; Blacks, Latinos, whites, Asians; have taken up the call for April 14. Many, many family members of people killed by police will be in the streets in cities across the country. People are planning to act on April 14 in more than 25 cities and on campuses across the country.
At the same time, there are people and groups who should be part of this who have stood aside. This reflects some leaders being cowed by the system that has hit back at the protests, and by some leaders buying into thinking that discussing body cameras, special prosecutors and the like with the authorities could really stop this ongoing murder by police. This system is deeply committed to unleashing its police and its criminal “injustice” system to beat down, pen in and kill off people it hates and fears, especially Black and Latino people. Reforms and policy changes won’t do anything to stop the genocidal program being brought down on people on the bottom of society. It’ll take revolution, nothing less to end this and all the other horrors this system enforces on people in this country and around the world. And, everybody with an ounce of justice in their hearts, whether or not you agree now that we need a revolution, needs to join the resistance to these horrors, beginning with taking to the streets on April 14.
The system has no answer to the horror of people being murdered by their police except more of the same and worse. It’s up to us to stand up and say we refuse to accept this any longer. We will take to the streets on April 14 – to disrupt business as usual… because business as usual in America means police getting away with murdering Black and Latino people. Everyone who’s tired of living their lives under the guns and billy clubs of brutal, murdering cops; and everyone who refuses to stand by while savage oppression is being inflicted on people because of the color of their skin needs to join us. Get involved. Go to the web site: stopmassincarceration.net. People’s lives, and our very humanity are at stake here. Everyone with an ounce of justice in their hearts needs to be part of this.