By Maitefa Angaza
Thousands of protestors rallied outside Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza on Monday afternoon, June 12th. They were there in opposition to police brutality that has taken the lives of countless Black and brown people. They were addressed by disciplined longtime revolutionaries and given their literal marching orders. The protestors carried signs that read, “Black Lives Matter!” “Say Their Names” and “I Can’t Breathe!” Some white marchers, perhaps aware of the irony of the latter, carried signs like, “Silence Is Complicity” and “I’ll Use My Privilege to Protect.”
Expertly organized and facilitated by the Brooklyn-based December 12th Movement, the march arrived— unannounced to the media— at the 77th Precinct on Utica Avenue at Bergen Street. There, protestors heard more rousing speech while a phalanx of cops in riot gear and facemasks stood guard outside.
It was not a peaceful protest, but an outraged and outspoken one with pain, purpose and inspiration. There was no violence, no burning or looting, and any agitators or agent provocateurs present were put on strict notice. However, no violence yielded little media mention of the demonstration.
There was an alleged incident of hate speech, however — coming over police radio — according to online news site Gothamist. It reported that overheard on the citywide police scanner at 6:20 pm, was a voice saying, “Shoot those mother——-!” with a voice responding, “Don’t put that over the air.” A little later, at 7pm, another voice says, “Run them over!” Gothamist could not confirm that the voices belonged to police officers. The NYPD did not dispute it however, and said the scanner audio would be reviewed.
At the precinct, protestors heard from the ever-impassioned Viola Plummer, a founding member of the December 12th Movement. She led cries of, “Defund the Police!” and the crowd chanted, “No Justice, No Peace. No Racist Police!”
“We will never be able to effect what we want to effect if we’re not organized!” said Plummer. “There cannot be any spontaneity, because all that does is get a lot of people arrested, and then we come back the next time with fewer people!”
“Comrades, we have done our work… We’ve gotta stop cops killing us! We’ve got to be serious. So we thank those of you who have come to support what we are doing… From this day forward, we’ve got to stay in the streets!”
The crowd, still in the thousands, headed back to Restoration Plaza, chanting, “George Flyod! Say His Name!” along with “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” and, “No Justice, No Peace! No more Black blood in these streets!” Along the way, cars on Atlantic Avenue and bus drivers on Fulton Street honked their horns in support.
Once back at the starting location, December 12th Movement cofounder Omowale Clay had bracing words for the crowd.
“This is not a walk in the park,” he said. “This is not a cameo appearance because it’s something nice to do. ‘Cause you see, the police are not playing. They are a military operation… It’s about submitting to their will. You come to learn, to fight, to struggle and to go back with what you learned and build on that. If you’ve learned anything here, you’ve learned that we can don anything if we unite.”
Councilwoman Inez Barron talked to Our Time Press about the imperative to stop murdering police.
“And they flaunt it,” she said. “They know we are filming them and they don’t care, because they know the consequences are minimal. They may lose vacation days; very seldom do they get sent to jail. So we’re here saying this has got to change and we’re here saying also, we’ve got to establish an elected Civilian Review Board and we’re calling for that legislation to be brought forward and to become a law.”
Assemblyman Charles Barron told those gathered, “Today we took over the streets. Today we showed what power to the people looks like… Organizing for Black Power. That is the solution to our problems. When we control the politics, the economics, the social culture institutions, the land, the means of production in the Black community, and especially the police and education, housing and health care, we will be a liberated people. And that’s what’s going to happen. And that’s the value of today. Power to the People!“