This year marks the 25th National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation, and it is taking place in a time of both great danger and enormous possibility. The explosion of righteous nationwide protest this summer has taken things to a level the coalition could have only dreamed of when it started the October 22nd Coalition back in 1996, but it is also happening during a time of growing fascism. The drive toward a unified national action against police brutality and political and racial repression that launched our efforts back in 1996 is even more important now, and the alliance is calling on all past NDP organizers as well as the new generation of rebels, revolutionaries, and dreamers to take up this national call.
The National Day of Protest aims to bring forward a powerful, visible, national protest against police brutality and the criminalization of a generation. It seeks to expose the state’s repressive program, brings forward those most directly under the gun of Police Brutality as well as reach into all parts of the society–bringing forward others to stand in the fight against this official brutality. The National Day of Protest aims to strengthen the people’s organized capacity for resistance in a variety of ways. The October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation has been mobilizing every year since 1996 for a National Day of Protest on October 22nd, bringing together those under the gun and those not under the gun as a powerful voice to expose the epidemic of police brutality.
When the first National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation was called 24 years ago, it would have been hard to imagine where we are today. A moment of immense possibility, but also an immense danger. The threat of the U.S. becoming a fascist state is more real by the day: federal forces kidnapping and even assassinating demonstrators on U.S. streets by orders of the president organized acts of terror carried out by armed white militias, openly white supremacist violence promoted at every level of government.
At the same time, we are also in the midst of the largest mass uprising against racist terror that this country has seen in decades, an uprising that has the potential to uproot the very foundations of white supremacist oppression and police violence. The police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off an explosion of protest that touched every state in the U.S. Cities like New York City and Portland, Oregon has been in a constant state of protest since early June. Even so-called “Trump country” towns like Loganville, GA, and Waxhaw, NC have seen hundreds of people take to the streets in protest of police brutality.
Despite the overwhelmingly peaceful nature of a vast majority of these protests, the response, both official and unofficial, has been heavily militarized, ruthless, and violent. Law enforcement dressed in armor fired rubber bullets rode in tanks, lobbed tear gas and flash-bang canisters. Racist whites, armed with baseball bats, lined streets in Philadelphia and attacked people they believed were protesters. In Seattle, a non-binary Black Lives Matter protester named Summer Taylor was killed when a car deliberately plowed into a protest there. In Kenosha, a white 17-year-old killed two protesters and maimed a third after responding to a call from a white militia to “defend businesses” during mass protests of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Many of these acts of terror were incited and condoned by the highest office in the land, and Trump continues to embolden and empower his base to intimidate with shows of force.
In the face of all this, a force that reaches the millions who have mobilized in every city and town must take the stage in a unified way on October 22, 2020. In the 24-year history of the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation (NDP), the call to wear black and take to the streets nationwide on October 22nd has never been more urgent.
Well before the word “hashtag” was even invented, the October 22nd Coalition made sure the world knew the names of Nicholas Heyward, Jr., Malcolm Ferguson, Tyiesha Miller, Jonny Gammage, Gil Barber, Justin Smith, and many other Stolen Lives. The first National Day of Protest took place in cities across the U.S. on October 22, 1996. We came from every community, a powerfully diverse network standing with and amplifying the voices of the families and loved ones of victims of police terror of every race, nationality, and background. We pointed to and condemned the hand of white supremacy and terror of U.S. law enforcement. We created the first nationwide documentation of people killed by law enforcement, laid the foundation, and built the environment for today’s movement against police terror, repression, and the criminalization of Black and Brown youth. Our vision of unity against police brutality and white supremacy, across all social lines, is one that did then and continues now to call people from all sectors of society into the struggle at this crucial time.
When the October 22 Coalition was formed in 1996, we worked hard and upheld the then very unpopular position of being critical of law enforcement to bring forward the kind of movement that we see now. Today, athletes, artists, and musicians feel compelled to speak out in defense of the Black and Brown lives that are in the crosshairs of racist police. The country has witnessed an unprecedented show of solidarity from the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, and hockey teams, to tennis star Naomi Osaka, canceling games in protest of police brutality. And even in the face of repression and murder, amid a global pandemic, people have filled the streets in righteous outrage, while showing care and community with each other.
The violence against the people, from official and unofficial sources, must serve to make the protests come back even more powerfully. A National Day of Protest, coming days before the presidential elections on November 3rd, will show the world that we refuse to accept a society where police kill with impunity, where mass incarceration is a question of race, where immigrant children remain detained and separated from their families, where it’s becoming more clear how many lives are considered and treated as disposable, and where political repression and violence against dissenters is carried out by cops, unidentified federal troops, and organized fascist killers. At the time of creating this call in mid-September, there already isn’t enough space to account for all the atrocities that we have been subjected to, and because there will be more, we all need to stand together NOW. It is infuriating that there should even be a 25th annual protest, but it is also crucial that we come together stronger while the violence from the state continues to be validated by the powers-that-be.
The Coalition also works on the Stolen Lives Project, which documents cases of killings by law enforcement nationwide. The second edition of the Stolen Lives book documents over 2000 cases in the 1990s alone. Volunteers are needed to help with the research and editing of cases since then. Please contact [email protected] for more information or October 22 Coalition-National at [email protected]
This October 22nd, stand with thousands across the country to express our collective outrage, creativity, and resistance in response to the crimes of this system. Uphold the tens of thousands of lives stolen by U.S. law enforcement over the past quarter-century. Join the Coalition if there is already an NDP event in your area. If there is currently no one organizing one in an area nearby, rise up and create one. WEAR BLACK, FIGHT BACK!
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
(Requested by Rise Up Coalition)
Rise Up: The October 22nd Coalition/#NDP25 Steering Committee
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