"Let’s do all that we can to stop the horror of police murdering our people. And then let’s do even more because we gotta stop this."
The following is a rush transcript.
Okay, Okay. You have seen the faces of the lives that have been stolen by the police. Beautiful lives that were cut down too short. This is unacceptable and our demand is very simple: police terror, police murder must stop. Not be reduced a little bit. Must stop!
Now sometimes people say well, your demand needs to be more concrete than that, Carl. So let me give you a concrete demand:
Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell! [chanting with crowd:]
Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell! One more time.
Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell!
Now look, that’s a simple and just demand. But we need to be very clear that when we raise that demand we gotta fight for it. Because there is a whole system that’s behind those killer cops. It ain’t just a few killer cops on the beat with some rogue DAs, or corrupt DAs, district attorneys. It’s a whole system all the way up to the top, that arrested people en masse when we protested these killings over this last year, that demonizes our people, especially the young people to try to justify these murders.
Now when I say that, some people might be thinking, well wait a minute Carl, didn’t Obama say he was going to do something about this a couple of days ago? Didn’t he say that he supports Black Lives Matter? Well, let’s be clear. The Obama who said something about Black Lives Matter six months ago said that the youth of Baltimore were thugs and criminals when they rose up in response to the police murder of Freddie Grey. So let’s not get twisted by that. He’s trying to rope us back in. He also said along with saying I’m gonna do something, it has to be incremental. Now what does that mean? It’s gotta be small, slow steps to change things. That ain’t going to cut it. This has got to stop. We don’t want no small reduction of the people they warehouse in prison or the people that they kill. We want it stopped.
And look, we are going to fight to make that happen. Ain’t nobody going to do it for us. And we are doing that today. We’ve been doing that this week. Thursday, No More Stolen Lives/Say Their Name. Thursday afternoon, march and rally for the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality. Yesterday, some of us put our bodies on the line to pose the demand, Shut Down Rikers Island —that debtors’ prison and torture chamber. And that’s what we’re doing to do today and we’re going to keep doing that.
And we are delivering a very serious message: Stop police terror, which side are you on? Because don’t tell me no BS about “I’m in the middle” or “I’m neutral.” This is murder, this is genocide we’re dealing with. And in the face of a genocide there ain’t no neutrality. You’re either on the side of acting to stop that genocide or you’re on the side that says it’s ok for it to happen. That’s the two sides. Which side are you on? That’s the challenge we’re bringing to people.
And look, I can give you the numbers of how many people the police kill, more than 930 since January first. But this ain’t about numbers for me. This is personal. Look I sat with Mertilla Jones a few days after her granddaughter, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, had been murdered by the Detroit police. I met Sharon Irwin a couple of days after her grandson, Tony Robinson, had been murdered by the police. I’ve worked with many more families, many more than I can talk about now. I have to say, my wife’s brother more than 40 years ago was gunned down by the police on his mother’s doorstep, one day after they had told her she would never see her son alive again. So this is personal for me. And it is up to us to stop this. We have to take that on.
And when I say stop this, it’s not just the horror of what the police is doing to Black and Latino people although we gotta stop that. It’s also the attacks on women in this society; it’s the attacks on our immigrant sisters and brothers; it’s what happens to lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people; it’s the wars for empire; it’s the way they are destroying the environment of the planet. And I will tell you it’s going to take revolution, nothing less to end all those horrors once and for al. That’s what it’s going to take.
Now, some people tell me I shouldn’t talk about this. But I gotta talk about it because it’s what you need to hear. Fred Hampton, a brother that I really respected 40 years ago, said something that I’m going to repeat right now. He said: “I am a revolutionary.”
And I feel like some of y’all feel like that way too. So say it with me: I am a revolutionary. [with the crowd:] I am a revolutionary.
And look, I’m not just a revolutionary. I’m a revolutionary communist. I follow a man, Bob Avakian, who’s got a strategy for making revolution and a blueprint for bringing a new society into being. You need to check him out if you want to be free.
But look, all of us gotta be in this together. Cornel West, who you will hear shortly, is a Christian, a revolutionary Christian. I’m here with the clergy. I’m here with the students, I’m here with the people from the community. I’m here with the victims of police murder. We all have to be in this together. Our diversity, our different voices make us stronger.
Now let me say this. Fred Douglass said this a while ago, more than 100 years ago. I’m not quite old enough to go back to then, but I know what he said. He said power concedes nothing without a demand. That was true then and it’s true now. It’s gonna take struggle to bring about a change for the better. And that is what we’re doing sisters and brothers. But we gotta keep doing it. And we should not pat ourselves on the back for having been out here today and say we did a good job and feel good about ourselves. That ain’t it. We gotta be in this for the long haul. It says stop police terror, and that’s how long we gotta be in it.
There’s some next steps. Travis talked about it. November 22—Tamir Rice, one year ago murdered and no justice. We have to act on that. December 3, Eric Garner—one year ago they let those murdering cops go free. We gotta act on that. We gotta keep acting and not stop acting until this is stopped.
Now I’m gonna close with this. But I’ve been doing this for a long time. I am tired of putting together lists of victims killed by the police. I am tired of putting pictures on posters of people murdered by the police. I am tired of making hashtags for the victims. This has got to stop. I got an 8-year-old granddaughter. I do not want her generation to come up to be talking about what are we gonna do about the police killing our people. I want her generation to talk about this as history that really is history ’cause it don’t happen no more. Not the way that we have to talk about Emmett Till as history that echoes and reverberates today.
So let’s do all that we can to stop the horror of police murdering our people. And then let’s do even more because we gotta stop this. We gotta do it for ourselves. We gotta do it for our children. We gotta do it for future generations. Stop Police Terror! Which side are you on?
We know what side we’re on. We’re challenging the world and the whole country: Which side are you on?
Thank you sisters and brothers.