Co-editors: Seán Mac Mathúna • John Heathcote
Consulting editor: Themistocles Hoetis
Field Correspondent: Allen Hougland


People of Cincinnati protest against police murders
Efia Nwangaza
Afrikan Frontline Network

International Concerned Family & Friends of MAJ

Cincinnati represented the eruption of youth, who see their position in grim, hopeless, situations. Cincinnati is a harbinger of things, to come. Cincinnati is the fire next time.
Mumia Abu Jamal, April 2001

The National Coordinating Committee of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and Criminalization of a Generation applauds the Cincinnati Community's protests and resistance to the police killing of young Timothy Thomas for traffic tickets. We also extend our deepest sympathies to Timothy's mother, his family and friends. We can only call this killing murder, and it is typical of the epidemic of law enforcement murders that is intensifying across the US. For too long cops have swaggered through our communities acting like they have a license to brutalize and kill. Yet when the people stand up and resist, they are condemned by the authorities and the media. The people of Cincinnati were right to resist, and we in the October 22nd coalition salute you.

 We express particular solidarity and support of the youth and those organizations which have taken to the streets in the assertion and defense of the human right of self-defense against years of murder, repression, and criminalization.  

The October 22nd Coalition also forcefully condemns Mayor Charlie Luken's attempt to quash dissent by declaring a State of Emergency. He adds insult to injury by imposing a curfew on a community already under siege in response to allegations that a policeman was shot at. For years, Luken and other government officials have discounted, disregarded, and turned a blind eye to law enforcement abuses, repression, humiliation, criminalization and brutalization of Black and Latino youth. Lukens allowed the police to kill, with impunity, 15 young men and terrorize their communities as he and others pursued personal power and profit. The blood of these youth and their communities is on his hands.  

The brutality inflicted on the youthful protesters in Cincinnati is part and parcel of the way a whole generation of youth is being treated in the US today. In Black and Latino communities being young, dressed street style and on the street in your neighborhood at "the wrong time" is reason enough for a cop to stop and frisk, beat up, jail or even murder someone. At the protests outside the Republican and Democratic conventions this past summer, the police rationalized their brutality by calling the protesters "rebels without a cause" and "trouble makers" out to provoke a response. The deal is that being young and not wanting to go along with the status quo is increasingly being treated as a crime by the powers that be.  

We are outraged that Cincinnati police, like law Enforcement attacking the anti Globalization/Militarization demonstrations in Seattle, DC, Detroit, Philadelphia, San Diego, and elsewhere, have beaten and sprayed demonstrators with "plastic" bullets, bean bags, tear gas and pepper spray. Demonstrators have been assaulted and subjected to mass arrest. Many of the protesters have been brutalized once in custody; denied food, water, and medical attention. People are being erroneously charged, disappeared by denying their arrest or location to family and friends, bail denied or set at astronomical levels.  

This is entirely in keeping with the increased federalization/militarization of US police departments since the 1960's. During the 60's Southern sheriffs sicked dogs on Black people marching for equality. While in cities like Philadelphia, cops beat Black school children and sicked dogs on them during protests for decent education. In 1982, Philadelphia police and the FBI played key roles in railroading Mumia Abu Jamal onto death row. In the 90's, we saw Rodney King and Alicia Soltero beaten by California police on national TV. Today the Los Angeles police department is being rocked by the largest police scandal in US history. Cops have been caught brutalizing and murdering people and framing innocent people and sending them to jail. And last summer, Philly police were caught on video tape viciously beating a Black man, and Amtrak cops shot and killed an emotionally disturbed homeless man.  

Fresh in our minds is the rising onslaught against the movement to stop police brutality, repression, and criminalization of a generation. In Los Angeles police fired rubber bullets at a march protesting police brutality on October 22, 2000. Family members of those murdered by law enforcement have been victimized 3 times. First when police murdered their loved ones. Again, when the media portrayed these victims of the police as criminals deserving what the cops did to them. And again, when they are targeted by the authorities for harassment for daring to stand up and call out what was done to their loved ones.  

Only Community resistance will end police abuses and violence. The politicians won't act to end it. The Republicans, Bush dripping with the blood of the more than 135 people executed when he was governor of Texas, including Shaka Sankofa (Gary Graham) who was railroaded to death chamber based on a trial that was a travesty of justice. The Democrats bragged about putting 100,000 new cops on the street and promised to put 10,000 new prosecutors on the street to put even more of our people in jails across this country.  

Many of the protesters in the streets protesting police brutality, fighting to stop the execution of Mumia Abu Jamal are calling this rising fascism. We say we are sick and tired of being treated like criminals. The October 22nd Coalition is in full support of these youthful rebels with righteous causes. We call on everyone else to support them too.  Mumia had this to say about the riots in Cincinati:

Black youthful rage explodes in Cincinnati, Ohio, and several nights of fire, rebellion and pain reminds us that the much-maligned and heralded '60s, were really not so very long ago.

For like the riots that rocked the nation in the 1960s, the precipitating event was an act of brutality and violence by police against black folks. Police violence against blacks has sparked rampages of rebellion from coast to coast, costing hundreds of millions of dollars in destroyed property, and hundreds of lost lives.

Over 30 years have passed, and in the intervening years we have seen the emergence of the black political class, and the entrenchment of the black poor in inner cities, projects, and ghettoes more desolate, more isolated and more hopeless than the 1960s. We have seen the explosion of the Prison Industrial Complex, at rates that would've been unthinkable in the 1970s, with upwards of 2,000,000 men, women, and juveniles in American jails. The U.S., with only 5% of the world's population, has 25% of the world's prison population!

And for black young men and women, the horror of prison has become a perverse rite of passage, marking one's transition from youth to adulthood.

So, while things have gotten better for some African-Americans since the 1960s, things have gotten demonstrably worse for millions of other, poorer blacks. Public schools, never quite outstanding in the first place, have gone into decline. City services have declined. Industries have fled cities for the South and the suburbs, leaving cities with less employment, and with remaining jobs paying for less money, while costs have gone up.

Cincinnati, sparked by the police shootings of a black man, could have happened anywhere in America. The social ingredients are all there, in every major city in America.

In every major city is economic and social despair, mixed with a militaristic police force that targets black life and liberty. In every such city are black politicians who function in the role of keeping the restless natives in check; keem them suffering in silence.

Cincinnati represented the eruption of youth who see their position in grim, hopeless situations. Cincinnati is a harbinger of things to come. Cincinnati is the fire next time.

Efia Nwangaza is a representative of the Executive Committee of the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression,and Criminalization of a Generation.