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(en) US, Justice for Trayvon Martin: Anarchist Reports from Baltimore, Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul

Date Sun, 08 Apr 2012 10:20:40 +0300


The following reports are from organizers in First of May Anarchist Alliance. The Minneapolis report has contributions from IWW Fellow Worker, B. --- Baltimore Report -- Report by M.B. ---- A member of M1 attended a Trayvon Martin Rally and March in Baltimore Maryland. The route was a half mile, originating at the Baltimore Harbor/Former Occupy Baltimore Encampment and ended at 7pm at city hall. -- The estimated attendance was 1,200 – 1,500. The city and most of the activist community anticipated a few hundred people at most. The event was publicized by the local All People’s Congress/Workers World Party and progressive African American Religious Leaders rather than the traditional leftist milieu, the crowd was made up almost entirely of first time activists, families and youth.

Baltimore is approximately 78% African American and has a history of
influential civil rights actions coupled with a history of race violence
and oppression and profiling. Currently, they have coupled with raising
awareness and the march for Trayvon Martin with the saving of Reed’s Drug
Store. Reed’s was to location of an important civil rights era lunch
counter occupation by Morgan State University Students; the location is
slated for demolition for creation of a “superblock” gentrified
development. Their strategy and organizing efforts exceeded my
expectations as getting more than a few hundred to turn out to anything in
Baltimore is virtually unheard of.

The outpouring of nontraditional activists and the growing awareness of
such inexcusable crime and victimization creates a defined radical shift
in an ever-shrinking, economically strangled city. Coupled with the
staggering foreclosure rates, decline to employment and rising
uncertainty; the spontaneous outpouring of unrest in response to Trayvon
Martin’s murder creates a momentum that will not be ignored. It is
essential that the anger and outcry of racist murder not turn back to
complacency. Anarchists should work in support of their community’s
momentum and encourage dialogue rather than splintering off to themselves.
Trayvon’s cries for help shook the world and we as Anarchists should be
making sure no one forgets it.
Detroit Report

Report by C.R.

I went to the Trayvon Martin Rally on Monday. When I got there, around
6:20pm, there were already about 80% of the estimated 1000-1500 present.
The majority were black with some speckles of white supporters. From what
I could tell, there wasn’t an organized Occupy presence. I was somewhat
disappointed there weren’t more people there, but large nonetheless.

Speakers talked about voting, god, police protecting citizens, and that
we should all join together to fight injustice regardless of color. The
only thing that struck me was that a Latina woman, Jane Garcia spoke at
the rally. Couldn’t hear what she said exactly but I think I heard:
voting and god. It was a diverse crowd in terms of age, women, men, and
children. The crowd in general were in support of the speakers (who were
politicos, police, and from the religious community). I saw MECAWI
(Michigan Emergency Coalition Against War and Injustice) and BAMN with
their flags.

Report by M.P.

My neighbor who is a nurse at the city jail called and asked if I wanted
to go with her. Yes, and so we rode down together. She brought 2
posterboards and a green marker. She asked me to buy some Skittles and
Arizona iced tea. We got there about 5:15, as people were beginning to
arrive and setting up. We made our posters — hers said “I Am Trayvon
Martin” and mine said “Justice for Trayvon, Fight Racism Now”.

The leadership of the rally was extremely conservative — pledge of
allegiance, the Lords Prayer, Police Chief Ralph Godby (who said, “it
could have been my son”), NAACP chair Wendell Anthony, Detroit 300, City
Councilwoman Joann Watson, Rev. Ed Rowe, UAW, Jane Garcia as a speaker
from the Latino community.

Jessica Care Moore performed an excellent poem that tied this murder to
all the Black murders through time, lynching, etc. A student from Cass
Tech high school read a poem he wrote (“It could have been me”) that moved
us all.

The crowd — about 1000 — filled Hart Plaza. Families and children, junior
high and high school students, groups of teenagers. I saw people from all
races — mostly Black, some white, Latino, Arabic (women wearing habibs).
Moratorium Now had an organized presence, as did BAMN (By Any Means
Necessary) and UAW Local 600, also the Melanics (“If you don’t hate us,
why are you killing us?”) and members of Occupy but with no banner or any
other indicator of who they are. Occupy had called and held a meeting the
previous Thursday with the Coalition Against Police Brutality, Moratorium
and LRNA (League for a Revolutionary New America) people with the outcome
to have a rally that broadened the issue, but there was no indication at
this rally of that meeting. I saw 2 people from my union (UAW local 909),
one of whom had a pack of condoms along with his pack of Skittles
(referencing the death of Michael Haynes, killed over an argument about
the price of a pack of condoms at a local BP gas station).


Many people had pictures of murdered children, tying this violence to
Trayvon’s case. Some had signs referencing Michael Haynes. There were
mostly hand made signs. The crowd was pretty calm — cheering the
speakers, going with the flow, leaving quietly at the end of 2 hours.
That said, the mood was upbeat, as if something is stirring. People were
proud they came out and proud Detroit made this showing of respect. They
were responding to the increasing scapegoating of Black youth and the
devaluation of Black life. I believe Occupy has opened a public
discussion that includes the ideas of rallying and marching to get justice
and the Black community is utilizing this space. The angriest people in
the crowd were mothers — women with children who appeared ready to take
this whole thing further.

Minneapolis Report

Report by K.

Thursday, March March 29th 5,500 people (police estimates) gathered on a
plaza at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis to stand in solidarity
with Trayvon Martin and against profiling, police brutality and racism in
general – as part of the national call for “Million hoodie marches”.

The crowd was more than half Black, with lots of whites, Asians, Latinos,
and other nationalities as well. This was the largest mainly Black protest
in the Twin Cities since the Rodney King verdict and Rebellion in 1992.
There were lots of Black students, but also many youth and families that
were clearly not students. Most attending wore hooded sweatshirts. Some
brought their own signs. The energy was amazing as people felt their
power.

Many different people spoke and it wasn’t always easy to hear who each
person was. An African-American woman wearing an “Occupy the Hood”
sweatshirt was the main MC. There were speeches by Black faculty, Black
fraternities, an Asian poet who mentioned the case of Fong Lee a Hmong
teen killed by the police, Occupy our Homes campaign, and many others. The
main message was “No More!” “We must stand up against these injustices”.

No politicians spoke that I saw (I could be wrong). Brother Ali, a popular
local rapper who is Muslim and white (albino in fact) spoke. It was one of
those speeches that was a pretty eloquent call for white folks in the
audience to acknowledge racism and take action against it.

SEIU staff and their “Workers Center” spin-offs (who were mostly white)
provided the identifiable security, which was kind of weird. The Nation of
Islam was thanked from the stage for providing Medics. Socialist
Alternative and the SWP each had literature tables. The IWW had one of our
big banners and about a dozen-person contingent. I saw several other
friends, anarchists, Wobblies and members of FRSO(Freedom Road Socialist
Organization).

I attended with J—, a co-worker and Wobbly. We saw but could not get to
the IWW contingent flying red & black flags on the other side of the
plaza. It was too packed. One of J—’s close co-workers was planning to
attend with her family.

At one point I thought I heard folks from the front (The IWW, I think but
not just) chanting “We wanna march!”. The organizers let the huge crowd
march, and many groups of marches including folks around the IWW were
chanting militantly, but the mach was circled harmlessly back to the rally
plaza without getting out on to the streets and off of campus. J— and I
left after that to catch the bus.

I had got a feeling that this rally was going to be huge, when some of my
non-activist friends started buzzing about it on Facebook. From what I can
tell Facebook was the main organizing tool of the rally, although there
may have been some leaflets on campus or some promotion on Black radio
that I missed.

Earlier in the day I had asked my union Local (I am in an oppositional
relationship with much of the union executive) to endorse the rally and
allow the Local’s Solidarity Committee to bring the Union’s banner to the
event. The Local President tried to rule my motion dead. As a result the
motion lost with a close vote but it was good that it happened and got on
the record.

I was very encouraged by this rally. It was a great show of force for
Black solidarity and an expression of the growing desire for the Black
community to put its stamp on the emerging movements.

After I left a break-away march was initiated that got out into the
streets. Here is a report (with permission) by Fellow Worker B. of the
Twin Cities IWW:

A group of about twenty IWWs, Occupiers and assorted radicals who all
gathered around the IWW banner found ourselves towards the back of the
march around the plaza that K. mentioned. As we got towards the far end of
the plaza away from the speakers stand, some folks decided we were going
to break off and continue into the streets. We walked passed a marshal and
stopped to make our next move, encouraging folks to come with us. The
break-off group was initially about 20 folks, mostly white youth. Very
quickly though, a couple of black folks responded to the calls to march
elsewhere and joined us, and encouraged other folks to come with them.

Before long, we had about 300 people and marched through the University
for a few blocks. We then swung back towards the rally, which was just
about ending, and headed northeast passed very edge of the rally and onto
University Ave. We picked up more people at this point, despite marshals
from the rally screaming at people not to join us.

By the time we hit the streets for real, I would estimate we had at least
500 people, about 75% black youth, 15% families with kids and the rest
mostly-white radicals. We took all three lanes of 4th St SE and then after
doubling back, all three lanes of University. It was a ton of fun,
shouting militant chants about Trayvon Martin and racism as well as
explicitly revolutionary slogans which were quickly taken up by much of
the crowd.

Initially, the radicals who proposed the breakaway march had talked about
marching downtown, but before long the IWW banner and most of the radical
contingent were scattered throughout the march and decisions were being
made by the younger black folks who were running the march. Instead we
went up the length of Dinkytown, raising hell on Frat Row and generally
having a blast.

There were a few minor incidents during the march. A few of the marshals
from the main rally, mostly Occupiers, took off their vests and joined us.

One, a person who I don’t know, got into an altercation with an Occupier
and UAW grad student organizer that ended up with the grad student getting
attacked and put into a headlock by the marshal’s friend. They were
quickly separated (I didn’t see this, just heard about it afterwards) by
others and things continued on. A few drivers were not interested in
letting us take all three lanes of a one way street and tried to push
through the crowd but were stopped by persistent marchers and in at least
one instance, had ice tea cans tossed at them (appropriately enough).

The march was a really great experience and for me was an awesome way of
taking issues like racism and responses to racist violence away from the
“professional organizers” and towards average working people of color.

While initiated by mostly (but not exclusively) white radicals, the march
quickly took a turn towards being organized and run by black youth, many
of whom it was clear had never participated in a march or rally before. I
personally have gotten a bit of flack from folks I know who were either
marshals or speakers, and am continuing to hear from them. . . . Some
apparently want to have a meeting with me and other folks who were
involved in the march to get a sense of why we did the breakaway. To be
blunt, whatever. The meeting will probably happen but we made the right
call and I would do it again in a heartbeat, it’s the most fun I’ve had
since marching in Madison last spring. I think the professionals on the
left are mostly pissed because a group of radicals worked with a large
mass of politicized people of color in ways that outflanked their
preplanned (and frankly rather long) rally. I guarantee you that if you
polled the people who attended the rally last Thursday, everyone who went
on that march would tell you it was the highlight of the event.

Respectfully,

B.
_________________________________________
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