Our Attitude on the Question of Chicago Violence

By Frank Chapman
Field Organizer, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

Over the July 4th weekend 10 people were killed and 55 wounded. As usual this opened a one-dimensional discussion on “Chicago violence” that focused exclusively on violence in the African American community and “Black on Black Crime”. If a Black person kills a Black person, and particularly if it involves gang rivalry, then that always provides an opportunity for the Mayor, the Anti-Violence Movement and Police Superintendent McCarthy to come out and hold our community in moral contempt for allowing this state of affairs to exist. In fact the Opinion section of the Chicago Sun-Times (July 13, 2015) has an op-ed by Laura Washington that says, “My people are committing genocide”. Raphael Lemkin, an authority on the subject, defined genocide as “a coordinated strategy to destroy a group of people, a process that could be accomplished through total annihilation as well as strategies that eliminate key elements of the group’s basic existence, including language, culture, and economic infrastructure.” So clearly Laura Washington does not understand the gravity of her statement or is unaware of the genocidal policies perpetrated against Black people in America from slavery to the present.

As organizers who are fighting against police crimes and for community control of the police we are constantly challenged by defenders of the status quo to focus on Black on Black crime. How do we respond to that challenge?

First, we start with the objective conditions of oppression in our communities that exist independently of anyone’s opinion. These conditions include high unemployment rates and below poverty wages, massive evictions and foreclosures, inadequate delivery of health services combined with an epidemic of alcohol and drug addiction and high infant mortality rates, miles of dilapidated housing, school closings, and scarce or non-existent recreational facilities. Add to these a phony war on drugs combined with a massive influx of drugs and deadly weapons, mass incarceration, 70% or more of gang related homicides unsolved and the active role of police in some of these murders (never censured, much less prosecuted) , hundreds of innocent victims of police torture and families whose children have been murdered by the police. All of these above-stated conditions are the result of existing government policies (such as austerity programs and institutionalized racist practices) and are the breeding ground for the violence in Chicago focused on by the media. The conditions that breed violence are never honestly discussed by the Mayor and his official and unofficial supporters. In fact, the status quo power relationships in the city are maintained and perpetuated by not addressing the root problems.

The reason why we are agitating, educating and organizing in our communities is because we know that this system of racist injustice that habitually blames the victim is incapable of solving this problem of Chicago violence. We are constantly delivering the message that we must enact an all elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) that will hold the police accountable for the crimes they commit and the way they police our communities.

Police crimes and corruption are related to all crimes. That is why when we are petitioning/recruiting in the neighborhoods for CPAC and the response is overwhelmingly “Yes, I’ll sign”! “Yes, I’ll volunteer!”(To date we have about 500 volunteers). We see what the police do every day, and we experience the racist contempt they have for us first hand. The news media, the Mayor, Police Superintendent McCarthy and all their concocted schemes of community policing cannot and have not changed the harsh realities we face on a daily basis.

Finally let me say that the best response to those who would make us responsible for the breeding ground of violence that they created is to continue to build for a Mass March on City Hall this August 29, 2015. On that historic day we must make our voices heard like they have never heard before.

[For more information on the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, see http://naarpr.org .]

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Cleveland Uprising, Yet Another Battle Front For Justice

By Frank Chapman, Field Organizer
CAARPR (Chicago Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression)

First let us express our unconditional solidarity with the Cleveland protestors. Cleveland Officer Michael Brelo was a participant in a lynch style murder of two innocent Black people and the Judge, John P. O’Donnell let him go. So the Judge is just as guilty as the cop lynch mob.  And our government is making claims in the international community that there is no human rights crisis in the United States when they should be prosecuting all these criminals in Cleveland who sit in positions of authority.

Some of my comrades in struggle tell me that Cleveland is just another example of the fact that there is no justice for victims of police crimes. That is true; there is no justice and our communities exist in a constant state of harassment, racial profiling and murderous assaults by the police. But this observation by itself does not capture the essence of the momentous events we are witnessing in Cleveland and throughout the land. We are not witnessing in Ferguson, New York, Madison, Baltimore and now Cleveland just more incidents of racist injustice we are witnessing in conjunction with these incidents a continuous stream of protests and uprisings. If we confine our thinking to “this is just another example” of a decrepit, racist system doing what it was designed to do then our focus is not on the momentous fact that presently there is a significant mass uprising against this unjust system so it can’t continue to do what it was designed to do.

As organizers and fighters for justice and freedom it is our job, our responsibility, to focus on the mass uprisings but not like chroniclers, pundits or distant observers. The establishment newspapers, media and official society as a whole continue to describe the uprisings as “riots, and breakdowns in law and order that cannot be tolerated”. They don’t understand that so long as the police murder our people with impunity there can be no peace between the people of oppressed communities and the police. The cries of our people have been (for decades) “No Justice, No Peace!” Today these words are not just in the mouths of a few, it is in the mouths of millions. As participants in the struggle we see in the present uprisings a turning point in the struggle against police crimes, we see the beginnings of an organized resistance movement of national and international significance. Yes this is the struggle developing before our very eyes and those of us immersed in these struggles need to pause for a moment and sake the dust out of our eyes so that we can clearly see the point that has been reached.

The unrestricted power of the police is presently being challenged in Ferguson, St. Louis, Cleveland, Baltimore, and Chicago and even in places we haven’t heard of by a mass demand for community control of the police. These are all different battle fronts with uneven advances toward the goal of empowering oppressed communities to hold the police accountable and to determine how their communities are policed.

We must pay close attention to the dynamics of all the present struggles. We must acknowledge where we have made advances and where there have been set backs. We must always be summing up our experiences and preparing for the next battle. We must keep before the people concrete political objectives like an all elected Civilian Police Accountability Council and consistently engage our people in this political struggle. We must focus on the solution part of the problem of social misery and racist injustice. We must see ourselves not just as victims of police tyranny but as freedom fighters, as strategists and tacticians in the struggle for democracy and freedom for our people.

We have entered an era of uprisings of the people where contradictions that have been ripening for decades (with Black people for centuries) are coming to light. The Black masses who have long been ignored by official society, and frequently miss led by pretended political saviors, are now entering upon the stage of history to claim their rightful place. We are learning in the dirt and blood of battle, as the world watches and often joins in solidarity with us, how to take necessary steps in the struggle against police tyranny. We have known the pain and agony of a cowardly and trivial pass of racist and political repression, we have crossed rivers of blood to get to this time and place in our movement where we say

NO MORE! THIS STOPS TODAY!

Baltimore: Race, Class and Uprisings

A protester on a bicycle thrusts his fist in the air next to a line of police, in front of a burning CVS drug store, during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland April 27, 2015. This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address: http:/, Reuters

By Bill Fletcher Jr
TeleSUR via Portside

April 30, 2015 – A broad united front for justice and power, in addition to protesting atrocities, is guided by a sense of hope and a vision of a new day.

It is not enough for us on the Left to comment favorably on the right of oppressed to rebel, to validate the rage that took a very destructive form. Rather, we must support those that engaged in efforts to redirect the rage to preserve their communities as part of a larger movement for justice for Freddie Gray.

A protester on a bicycle thrusts his fist in the air next to a line of police, in front of a burning CVS drug store, during clashes in Baltimore, Maryland April 27, 2015. This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address: http:/, Reuters,

There was little about the Baltimore uprising following the funeral of the murdered Freddie Gray that surprised me. Tensions had been building ever since word broke that he had died after his spine was severed while in police custody. It was not just that this atrocity had taken place under the most suspicious of circumstances, but that the city government appeared nothing short of anemic in its response.

It did not surprise me that Black youth took to the streets in rage or that there were opportunists within the mobs that took advantage of the strife in order to carry out thefts. It was a riot or uprising. It was not an insurrection and it had neither an ideology nor coherent leadership.

What I found most noteworthy in recent events is something that received limited coverage: the fact that there were organized groupings of men and women who were actively working to redirect the anger of the youth away from the destruction of their neighborhoods. The Nation of Islam, for instance, deployed its members to walk the streets, speak with the youth, and attempt to dissuade them from violence. It was not alone. There were other groups, including gangs as well as ad hoc community groups that set out to both protest the police killing of Freddie Gray but also to try to convince the young rebels that there needed to be a different path. (Continued)

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