Troy Davis-NYC

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I apologize to the passionate and brilliant Hena Ashraf for failing to link this post to her blog.  My friend Saulo Colon shared her story with me and I wrongly assumed he had written it.

I woke up today as I’m sure many of you did thinking of how I get to wake up today, and Troy Davis doesn’t. I thought about how this country kills innocent people abroad and at home. And I felt immense frustration at the recent news of how much the NYPD targets and monitors the Muslim community. I went to the Troy Davis rally that took place last night at Union Square at 5pm.

It was quite a large crowd for a quickly organized demonstration. There were many chants against police brutality and I kept looking around to see how many police were present. I didn’t see any at first. A young Black brother spoke and said something that I have been thinking a lot about recently, and I wondered how many in the crowd felt the same: he asked ‘Where are our leaders? Where are the Fred Hamptons or Malcolm Xs of today?’  They have killed our organic leaders and allowed for the propping up of these funded middle class reformists.

Then there were chants of ‘March! March!’ and the rally that had much anger and sadness became a march. I decided to join and marched with my comrades from the PR Solidarity Network. By this time, the cops had shown up, but not many. When I realized that this was going to be a spontaneous march, with us stopping traffic, and no stupid permit, and that the police couldn’t control us, I became very enthusiastic and chanted at the top of my lungs. I directed my chants at the police. I chanted for Troy Davis, because ‘We are all Troy Davis’. I also chanted at the police because of all of my pent up anger and frustration at how much they target and monitor our Black and Puerto Rican communities.

At 5th avenue just a few blocks north of Washington Square Park, the police had gathered themselves and blocked the street. But we kept going, and there was a very tense moment where we shouted ‘We are all Sean Bell! NYPD go to hell!’ I have not seen a march like this or any direct confrontation or resistance to the police since the work we did in the 90s after Louima when we took over the bridges. It was amazing. We urged all to keep walking however to avoid a physical confrontation.
We kept zigzagging our way south. It was clear there was no leader and we were all in charge and that made it better and thus harder for the police to contain us.

On Thompson Street, south of NYU, the police had managed again to block off the road. We stopped. Suddenly, people started running back, and so did we. The police went into the middle of the street and we surrounded them! I saw the NYPD push people and we pushed back!. So much so that the videographer from Democracy Now! was holding up his press card to them. It was at this point that a few brothers from Malcolm X Graroots org, like Brandon, got arrested. This was a highly tense stand-off with the NYPD and we continued our chants for Troy Davis and against police brutality.

After a few minutes we changed direction again, and finally got onto Broadway. I’m sure many of us have been on numerous marches down Broadway before. But this was different. There was no permit, no plan, no steel fences. We had the street. We went past City Hall and went all the way down to where the occupy wall-street protestors were camped out. Once I saw them, I raised my fist in the air, for we had reached our spontaneous goal of joining them. I heard shouts of ‘Welcome!’ from the Wall Street protestors. The crowd was a crowd of love. By this time, after nearly 3 hours, it was clear this amazing march was over. Several of us went to the police precinct to bail out the brothers. The remaining crowd started an impromptu people’s assembly of sorts. Someone would shout ‘mic check!’ in order to be heard, and would say a few words, which the crowd would repeat, and in this way the person continued until their message was heard.

By now there were dozens if not a hundred or more police, and they were on the street, watching us. Some of the people who had spoken via ‘mic check’ said we should behave ourselves with the police. I sensed many in the crowd feeling frustrated at this, and a few started shouting of how the police had shoved them around just an hour ago. I got up on one of the stands and started to shout ‘mic check’, and as I started speaking, my voice became incredibly loud and angry. I said that the Wall Street protestors need to be in solidarity with anti-police brutality efforts. And I said that the crowd must also be against the targeting and surveillance of the Muslim and Black and Puerto Rican communities. I said we need to connect-the-struggles if we are ever going to win the transformations we are all fighting for.
I stepped down and listened to some of the responses from the camp people.

After a few responses about the camp being about the job crises and not “identity” issues, I knew I couldn’t stay in the camp. Most of us left. Anyway, I wrote all this to share what happened in NYC. I don’t think many of us who marched had ever seen anything like it before. 
Personally, I’ve been waiting for something like this for a long time, for some real resistance, and I’m sure a lot of us have. Who knows what will happen next, if anything does, but at least something did happen tonight, and our spark was the murder of brother Troy Davis.

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