In Response to the Charleston Massacre:
Build the July 25 Million People’s March in Newark, NJ, Against Police Brutality, Racial Injustice and Economic Inequality!
by Thomas Bias, co–managing editor, Labor Standard
The June 17, 2015, massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, is just the latest—though possibly the worst—racist murder in a recent wave of police, vigilante, and terrorist violence directed against Black communities throughout the United States. Nine parishioners of Mother Emanuel, as the church is commonly called, were gunned down, allegedly by a twenty-one-year-old white supremacist named Dylann Storm Roof. The crime has broken the heart of every American with a sense of decency.
In the immediate aftermath of the Charleston massacre, people gathered in churches, on the streets, and in other public venues to pray, grieve, and be together in solidarity with the Black community of Charleston. They gathered to remember the victims: the church's pastor State Senator Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, and Susie Jackson.
Grief inevitably gives way to anger, and anger must give way to sober thought and discussion—what can be done in response to these horrific crimes? What must we do to stop future acts of violence by white supremacists? What needs to be done next in the struggle to tear racism out of our social fabric, root and branch?
Mass action by the African-American community and its allies in the labor movement and other communities of color is a necessary first step in organizing people to fight back against racist violence by police and white supremacists. The People’s Organization for Progress (POP) is a New Jersey–based and predominantly African-American organization which is dedicated to the struggle for racial and economic justice, stopping police brutality, and bringing troops home from foreign wars and occupations. POP has called for a Million-People’s March to be held in Newark, New Jersey, on July 25, 2015. Its demands are an end to police violence, an end to racial injustice, and an end to economic inequality. It is the appropriate next step in fighting back against the attacks coming down on the Black community. Additionally, POP’s Chairman Lawrence Hamm made it clear in his remarks to a prayer vigil for the Charleston victims on June 19 in Newark, that it is long overdue that the Confederate battle flag stop being flown in any public space in the United States. It is a symbol of slavery, racism, and hatred, and it should be taken down, in Columbia, South Carolina, and throughout this country.
Bringing a million people to a city whose entire population is under half a million is an ambitious goal indeed. For that reason, the time to begin organizing is now, and it is up to the entire labor movement and its community allies to do the work. The slogan made popular by the Industrial Workers of the World a century ago—“An injury to one is an injury to all!”—is as valid now as it was then. The organizing effort that brought hundreds of thousands to Washington in 1963 and 2013 must be repeated to fill the streets of Newark, New Jersey.
So what can you do right now to build the July 25th march?
- Make it your priority, especially if you live on the East Coast, to turn out as many people as possible! We need union contingents. Invite everyone in your union and all the other organizations you or your family may belong to, such as faith communities and student, issue-based, and community groups. Help organize carpools and buses to ensure that getting there is as easy as possible.
- Get endorsements. Get endorsements from national and local unions and labor councils. While West Coast and Midwest supporters might not be able to attend, we all can seek endorsements. We need to start now. The sample resolution below would be a good one to propose to union locals, central labor councils, and state federations.
- Publicize the march in your union newsletter and on social media.
- Organizing takes money — consider asking your union, congregation, or community group to donate to POP to help build the march.
Please let POP know if you get labor or organizational endorsements and commitments to attend. Contact:
People’s Organization for Progress:
Postal mail: P.O. Box 22505, Newark, NJ 07101-2505
Telephone: (973) 801-0001
Million People’s March on Facebook:
Sample Resolution to Endorse and Build the July 25 Million People’s March Against Police Brutality, Racial Injustice and Economic Inequality in Newark, New Jersey
Police brutality is an ongoing, growing and deadly problem in the United States of America.
It includes the unwarranted and unjustified killing of unarmed people, the use of excessive force, the violation of peoples’ constitutional rights, racist and discriminatory practices, criminal activity, corruption and misconduct, increased militarization of police forces, and the failure of the criminal justice system to hold police accountable.
Police brutality is not an isolated problem. It is an historical problem with roots that are deep in the social fabric of this country. It must be seen within the broader context of racial and economic injustice and inequality.
While the victims of police brutality come from all racial groups in society, the vast majority comes from African American, Latino, Native American and other communities of color. They are overwhelmingly poor and working class.
The People’s Organization for Progress (POP) is calling a MILLION PEOPLE’S MARCH Against Police Brutality, Racial Injustice, and Economic Inequality on July 25, 2015, in downtown Newark, NJ (meeting at 12 noon at the Lincoln Monument, located at the intersection of West Market Street and Springfield Avenue).
The call for the Million People’s March demands an end to police brutality and justice for all of its victims, police reform, and an end to the problems of racial injustice and economic inequality, which lead to police brutality.
Therefore be it resolved that:
We [list union or organization] demand an end to police brutality, police violence, police torture and police terror.
We demand the firing and prosecution of police officers involved in unjustifiable killing of unarmed civilians, use of excessive force, and violation of citizens constitutional rights.
We demand community control of the police. We demand the establishment of Civilian Complaint Police Review Boards with subpoena and disciplinary powers over police forces.
We demand legislation at the federal, state, and local levels that will punish police that engage in the unjustifiable killing of unarmed civilians, use of excessive force, and violation of citizens’ constitutional rights.
We demand an immediate halt to all efforts to further militarize the police in this country. We demand the immediate termination of the federal government’s 1033 program that provides military equipment and hardware to local police forces.
We demand justice for all victims of police brutality. We demand justice for every person who has been unjustly abused, brutalized, and killed by the police.
We demand that the police stop the mass arrest of protestors.
We demand an immediate halt to all police actions and policies that impair, limit, attempt to control, or aim to prevent the exercise of freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, other civil liberties, and the right to protest.
We demand an immediate halt to police efforts to spy on, infiltrate, disrupt, and destroy organizations, associations, political parties, unions and dissident groups that are not involved in illegal activities.
We demand local, state, and federal legislation that will give Civilian Complaint Police Review Boards the power to discipline police officers.
Therefore, be in finally resolved that [list union or organization] endorses and will support this March.
On Juneteenth, Build the Struggle Against Racism
by Kshama Sawant