Voices from the BAsics Bus Tour
On Wednesday evening, the BAsics Bus Tour had a speakout, poetry reading and march around the BAsics quote 1:13.
People in the neighborhood who had been watching and listening to the revolutionaries both on the spot and the days leading up became compelled to take part in this movement we are building, tapping into the seething outrage many feel about the ways they are treating in this society, particularly what it means to have no future for the youth, especially the black youth. In the days leading up, we did much work to tap into this seething outrage by bringing people the word of Bob Avakian through BAsics and involving them in the movement for revolution we are building. The first day we rolled up, I met Donald, a young kid probably no older that 14 in the park. I show him the quotes and he tells us how he doesn’t think its fair how people are separated from each other and that if Avakian were up for elections he would vote for him. He is eager, full of life and honesty.
Later in the week, we go back to the area with BAsics and plans for our event. I heard someone call my name. It’s Donald, he runs up to me and we talk about our plans. He gives me a hug. I asked him if he wants to hand out fliers. He’s wearing a rainbow necklace and has pearly white teeth. He smiles excitedly and says “Yeah!” I ask him if he knows about stop and frisk and he says he doesn’t know. I think back to the woman we met on the train the day before who tells us that while her kids have not yet been stopped and frisked, she knows it’s coming. I wonder when Donald’s parents will have “the talk” with him. We continue through the neighborhood with the book, people are asking us for fliers for the event the next day. We run into people who used to run with Panthers, others who are very concerned that there is nothing out there for the youth to do.
The day of the event, we go through neighborhood marching and chanting holding up an enlarged cover of Revolution newspaper with the headline: “The Modern Day Lynching of Trayvon Martin.” We chant: “Brothers getting stopped and frisked, We say no more. Sisters being raped and dissed, We say no more. Stop the pigs from killing youth, We say no more. Exploitation round the world, We say no more!” We meet people who stop us and want to know what this is all about. One guy starts yelling at us. He says “Look, I agree with what you guys are saying but you gotta understand the police are the problem around here.” We yell “Yes, we agree!” It sounds like maybe he is misunderstanding what it’s about. We pull out the book and show him BAsics 1:24, “The role of the police is not to serve
and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.” He looks at it and is quiet for a moment and then asks, “How much is that book?” He goes inside and gets $10.
People are talking to each other on their porches about this book about how what happened to Trayvon Martin was so unfair and how the police do this to people over and over again and get away with it. A woman hearing the conversation comes up and says I want that book. She gives us all she has on her.
Another guy and his friend get the book in their hands. We tell them to flip to any page and read a quote. They read it together and are laughing and talking loudly saying, “Hell yes, that is right on.” We ask them to read it, they become suddenly shy. They show me the section they are reading, “Conservative, my ass these people are Nazis.” They comment on how they know somebody like that and they can’t wait to show it to them. When the woman buys the book at the table later, she asks to look at my book because I had that page marked and she wanted to mark it in her book. They got two t-shirts that said, “I am one of thousands building the movement for revolution.” People loved those shirts, we were getting stopped all throughout the day with people wanting that shirt and our stop “stop and frisk” buttons.
We handed out whistles and told people that they had to come out to the park to find out what the whistles were for. One young man, Quin, made a point of saying to video crew filming, “I’m down with this revolution, I am with this.” He then starts talking to his other friends hanging on the corner and tells them they have to get down with this. One of them wants one of the Stop “Stop and Frisk” buttons. He tells us he has been stopped 26 times and the corner they are hanging out on is near these checkpoints that get set up where the pigs stop and frisk people regularly. He then points us to his friend and says, “This guy has been stopped more than anybody.” The young man who has been stop and frisked 26 times is excited to speak out about his experience around stop and frisk, leaves his group of friends and starts marching and chanting with enthusiasm. When we get to the chant that talks about women being raped and dissed, he looks shocked. Are they really saying that? He looks uncomfortable, but continues to march. It is one thing to talk about people being harassed and murdered by the police, but rape is something that people only talk about behind closed doors. We end up at the park and finish setting up the sound system. People are now scattered around the park, doing interviews with our crew or hanging with their friends.
Our speakout started and it looked like there were few people participating. A young woman later told me that she doesn’t like to go outside of her house because of what happens in the neighborhood. So we begin our speakout, read quotes from BAsics, talked about the BAsics Bus Tour and we read real life stories of those who have been stopped and frisk and it is hard to tell whether people hanging out in the park are paying attention. Carl Dix then spoke about what the situation is for people here and all over the world, why we need a revolution, the leadership we have for such a revolution and how we are organizing people into the movement for revolution today. He told people about an action being planned against stop and frisk and how the whistles will be used to blow the whistle around stop and frisk, so if you see anybody getting stop and frisked by the police to blow that whistle to call other people out to stand up and say no. He also challenged people about why they had to get down with this movement for revolution, in all ways big and small and talked about the revolution clubs. After he spoke, the table was overwhelmed with people.
I went around to talk to people and I met a group of three young women with kids. I talked to a woman named Ella. She says that Carl was really on point. She talked about how the police stalk the park where children play. She says sarcastically, “Why are they here, my baby’s not carrying any heat.” Her story reminds me of what one high school age volunteer said when we were rolling in an outlying area, “What are all these police doing here?!”
Ella opens up more about what things are like, “They [the pigs] check our cups to see that there’s not alcohol in it. They treat us like criminals, like animals. I remember in high school, two girls broke into a fight on the street. It wasn’t a big deal. They were shouting. The police came in and maced everyone and started hitting people with batons. I remember us young girls sitting on the sidewalk with blood running down our face where they had hit us. We were young girls and they did this!”
I asked her if she wanted to march with us and she said she would really like to, but she was with her daughter. She gives us a way to stay in touch and says it is really good what you guys are doing. There were so many exchanges like this that I don’t even have time to write about them all. We start to march. It is mainly the revolutionaries and about eight kids with whistles. We stop at the corner and people start chanting with us, asking for the whistles. People join in. The revolution was on the scene and all these beautiful children chanting “No More!,” others being moved by these children speaking out for the future of humanity. Their parents encourage them to listen to what we are saying too.
We get back to the park; the table is once again swamped. We try to figure out how we are going to talk to everyone who is interested in what this about, who want to get BAsics, the Stop “stop and frisk” buttons and BA pins. People are waiting in line to sign up on our contact sheet. We play some of the dvd and in the middle of it one of the volunteers had to adjust the sound, so they had to turn it off. One man was pissed when we did that, “What, is that it?” You could tell he was hooked. We had two separate groupings of people getting into what the Revolution Clubs are about and to put forward before people the needs of the revolution. One woman I talked to told me how she worked hard, went to college, got a degree and now she lives in a shelter because she can’t find work. She is angry that she was lied to and resented the broken promises made to her by this system. She said, “I always tell people it’s a lie.” We put before them the needs of the revolution and read through the principles and purpose of the Revolution Clubs on the spot.
People are angry, but they are inspired and uplifted. Children were running around blowing their whistles. The guys across the way who were watching and listening get stop “stop and frisk” buttons and send their friends over to get whistles. It’s getting dark and you see the police rolling in on foot, like the gestapo regulating and intimidating people. We get in the van and as we roll out with lots of thoughts in our minds and hope in our hearts, we see the group of guys raise their fists at us and blow their whistles as the police ride by.
It feels like people are beginning to see themselves as the movement for revolution.