Yesterday, “National Moment of Silence” rallies were held all over the country to both honor the memories of those who have become victims of police brutality/murder and to show solidarity with the people of Ferguson. Outside of the old courthouse in Durham, NC, a group of young people, myself included, helped organize hundreds for a beautifully angry display of solidarity!!
Below is a recording and transcript of the speech I delivered yesterday:
Over the past two days, I and a group young people in the area, some born and raised here and others who have only been here a few months, have been meeting and organizing in preparation for today’s event. As we were discussing who the speakers would be today, I observed the lack of women slated to speak so I asked, who were the women that would speak? In that moment, everyone turned to me and there was a unanimous agreement that I would speak.
I was very apprehensive about speaking because speaking in front of large crowds makes me nervous… I wanted people to be moved to action by the words spoken here today and I wasn’t sure if I could do that. Then, I was reminded by my father that whether we think we are ready or not, when the moment arrives we must do our part when we are called because it is possible that no one else will and that our silence or indecision could be perceived as betrayal.
I realized that this moment is a moment that has been repeated for generations, a moment that demands our action, a moment that we are seeing in Ferguson and all over the country. According to a 2012 Annual Report published by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, an unarmed black person is murdered every 28 hours by police or security forces in this country.
In his insufficient address to the nation earlier today, Barack Obama mentioned the “death” of Michael Brown. A death has no responsible actor, a death occurs by accident or the shut down of all bodily functions. We must be mindful and ever vigilant with our language, Mike Brown did not die by accident nor of natural causes, he was gunned down, murdered in cold blood by a Ferguson police officer who acted with impunity, who believed that there would be no repercussions for his actions because there have been none historically. The people of Ferguson have had enough, we all have had enough.
Police terrorism affects us all, no matter how we dress, speak or behave, whether we are employed, in school, active in our various religious communities or not. The police do not need a reason to take our lives and what little liberties we have, so we need to stop telling ourselves and our communities that if we behave differently… or dress differently… or speak differently or “stay in our place” that it will take the targets off of our backs.
Your president told us today that there is never an excuse for violence against the police, there is never an excuse for violence against the police which should let you know where he stands and where this country stands in relation to the genocide of black, brown and poor people in this country. This statement instructs us that no amount of predatory violence on the part of the police can justify the use of defensive or offensive violence from their victim. THIS IS GENOCIDE
As we gather here today to observe a moment of silence in honor of the innumerable fallen victims, only the latest of which are Mike Brown and Ezell Ford, and I’m sure there are more that I cannot name… IF we are silent as we gather here today, we must pledge to never come together to be silent ever again. Silence is something we can do alone. When we come together, the time for being silent is over and we must be prepared to act.
We should not be surprised that a nation that protected slave owners after the Civil War protects murderous police by covering up and falsifying evidence.
We should not be surprised that a nation that upheld plessy v ferguson, a ruling that upheld separate but equal, is a growing apartheid state.
We should not be surprised that a nation that sanctioned the tuskeegee experiment, an experiment that exposed African Americans to syphillus, and researchers intentionally withheld treatment would turn Furgeson into a militarized no-fly zone.
We should not be surprised, that a nation that enacted CoIntellpro, supports a viciously racist and classist war by tear gassing and shooting wooden pellets at the people of Ferguson.
We should not be surprised by a nation that, in 1999, was found guilty of the conspiracy to assassinate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, is turning a blind eye to the police enforced genocide of black, brown and poor youth.
We should not be surprised, that a nation that unleashes volatile, murderous and corrupt police in our communities, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of innocent, unarmed human beings, doesn’t care if you are two steps or two miles from your own home when they gun you down.
We should not be surprised, that a nation, that has a congress that has ignored the needs of the people for the fulfillment of their own personal agendas is led by a president that gave more attention to the unfortunate death of Robin Williams than the slaughter and terrorizing of an American city.
We should not be surprised that in a nation who’s police force has, on average, an eight-grade education, that the police are often more uneducated about the laws that govern than everyday citizens.
We should not be surprised that the same militarized police state that occupies and terrorizes black, brown, and poor communities in the United States, holds Central and South American children at the border as if they are criminals, and supports the Israleli Defense Forces that terrorize and murder Palestinian children while they are at school, lying in hospitals and playing on the beaches of Gaza.
We should not be surprised when police forces organized to enforce “law and order” from outside of our communities do not act in the interest of our communities.
We should not be surprised if Durham or any other city near you is next.
WE SHOULD… BE ANGRY!
To be black or brown or poor,or gay or lesbian or transgender and relatively conscious is to be in a constant state of rage, a perpetual state of rage. But I am here to tell you not to fear that rage. We must engage our rage because it is a righteous anger that should move us to organize.
A social movement that only moves people is merely a revolt BUT a movement that fundamentally changes both people and backward institutions is A REVOLUTION and a revolution is what we need. But a revolution is more than a spontaneous reaction to unjust actions or events, no matter what you might have been taught to believe. In order to bring the change that we can believe in, we must agitate, educate, and organize ourselves on a permanent basis for revolution!
And we would like to begin that process with anyone who is committed to the cause and willing to work. Please join us next Thursday, August 21st at 6:30pm at the Hayti Center.