Newark: The Million People’s March

March against police brutality, racial injustice, and economic inequality: Saturday, July 25, 12 noon. The march begins at the Lincoln Monument, Springfield Ave. & W. Market St., Newark, N.J. Below are articles about the march by Lawrence Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress, and Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report:

 By LAWRENCE HAMM

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 a 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 come from African American, Latino, Native American and other communities of color. They are overwhelmingly poor and working class. Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Abdul Kamal, Kashad Ashford, and Rekia Boyd are among the recent victims.

Police brutality has been and continues to be the cause of social unrest in the country. Throughout contemporary U.S. history incidents of police brutality have sparked explosive episodes of civil rebellion and unrest, with the most recent being that of Ferguson, Missouri.

The failure of the criminal justice system to hold police officers accountable is causing a political crisis as more people discover that police brutality goes unpunished. Police kill unarmed civilians and are not even charged.

One grand jury after another fails to indict police officers. The cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner being the most recent examples. This is perpetuating a growing belief that the criminal justice system is racist and illegitimate.

Police brutality is a serious and longstanding problem. For decades attempts have been made to reform the police. These efforts have only been successful when tremendous sustained political and social pressure have been brought to bear upon the appropriate government institutions.

For these reasons the People’s Organization For Progress (POP) is calling a MILLION PEOPLE’S MARCH Against Police Brutality, Racial Injustice, and Economic Inequality. We will march to demand 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.

Do everything you can to spread the word about the meetings and the march. This is a huge project, and we are going to need all the support we can get to make it happen.

For more information call the People’s Organization For Progress (POP) at(973) 801-0001.

By GLEN FORD

These are the remarks of Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report, who spoke at a news conference in Plainfield, N.J., to help build the July 25 Million People’s March in Newark.

I know that everybody here, because you care about justice enough to be here, probably saw the movie “Selma.” And of course, Selma was the great moment, in 1965, that pushed the country over the hill in terms of getting the Voting Rights Act.

Now, there are many folks who think that that was all that Black folks needed—to get the vote—that the movement was over, that there was no need for Black Power, there was no need for an end to income inequality. There was no need to agitate for the kind of country that doesn’t participate in wars 24 and 7 all year long!

Some people thought that all we needed was the vote, and all we needed to do was get some congressmen and mayors and city council people elected—and maybe a president one day! To get folks into corporations, and get more generals appointed in the military—and everything would be fine. Black folks would just be regular citizens of the United States.

But they were wrong. Because the folks that we were agitating up until 1965 did not change after ’65. They had allowed us some demands like the right to vote and public accommodations and such—but it was very grudgingly.

And they said that if we were not going to stay in our place, then they were going to create a place for us. And that place was the prisons.

Their response to the civil rights movement, to the Black Power movement, to the general movement for economic justice was the mass Black incarceration state. So we go from 1970, when there were only about 250,000 people in the federal and state prisons of the country, to a high point just a little while ago of 2.4 million. We go from a situation in the mid-1960s, when 70 percent of the prison inmates in the country were white, to a situation in which 70 percent of the prison inmates are Black or Brown.

This is pay back for our movement. And many of our elected officials and our dignitaries—our rich folks, the folks who many of us would like to look up to and wish we could dress like, wish we had the privileges they have—many of these folk think that we don’t need a movement, as if they are oblivious to the fact that one of eight prison inmates in the world is an African American. That there are more Black and Brown people in U.S. prisons than in the entire prison system of China, when China has four and a half as many people than we have.

What does that mean? It means that if you go by the raw numbers, the United States is the biggest police state in the world. I know that Plainfield doesn’t have as grave a police problem as lots of places, but it is part of the United States—and that means it’s part of the biggest police state in the world! And our people are all over this country, and they’re catching hell!

So we need to be going to Newark, just like folks from all over the country are going to Newark, to not just speak about the conditions in Plainfield but the conditions of our people all over. Thank you.

Photo: Tony Savino / Socialist Action