Aug. 28 Trayvon Martin justice assemblies

Stop the racist war at home

A national call for Justice for Trayvon Martin assemblies in U.S. cities on Aug. 28, initiated by the People’s Power Assembly Movement, could not have come at a more crucial juncture.

The devastating “not-guilty” verdict that came down on July 13 in the Sanford, Fla., trial of wannabe cop, George Zimmerman, in the Feb. 26, 2012, fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, was not only a blatant travesty of justice for this young African American. It was another wake-up call about the heinous racist war on people of color, especially the youth.

The verdict was also a grim reminder that, especially with growing unemployment, Black, Brown and Indigenous young people’s lives are viewed as totally expendable by the powers-that-be and their legal and extralegal apparatus like the police, the courts, the prisons and vigilantes like Zimmerman.

Countless Trayvon Martins exist in every city and town and in every region, no matter the place or the age.

Take these two recent examples: In the Bronx, N.Y., in the early morning of Aug. 4, a Black 14-year-old, Shaaliver Douse, was shot to death by a New York Police Department rookie. The New York Daily News described the youth as a “thug,” for allegedly having a gun while chasing someone. Regardless of whether these killed youth had guns or not – Trayvon Martin was unarmed – they are demonized by the media. This criminalization helps give the police the green light to kill youth with impunity. The mentality of the police is to shoot to kill first, not to disarm, and ask questions later.

The second example is another police killing that took place in Durham, N.C., on July 27. José Adán Cruz Ocampo, a 33-year-old immigrant from Honduras, was shot in front of his home after he called the police there following a stabbing.

According to an investigation released Aug. 2 by a North Carolina Central University law clinic, as Ocampo reached into his back pocket to hand over a knife to the police, with the blade pointed to himself, the police yelled in English for him to drop the knife. As a witness attempted to translate into Spanish for Ocampo what the police were saying, the police opened fire, hitting him in the head, not the chest as the Durham police version claimed.

Ocampo had been forced to leave his spouse and young daughter behind in Honduras to look for work in the U.S.

Generalizing Trayvon Martin

The case of Trayvon Martin, which is politically front and center for most of the U.S. movement, cannot be isolated. The two previous examples are living proof. While “Justice for Trayvon Martin, jail Zimmerman” will always be a legitimate demand, the Aug. 28 assemblies must be generalized to include the following demands: Jobs and education, not mass incarceration; End racial profiling of all forms; Stop racist police terror, including stop-and-frisk; Immigrant rights now, stop deportations; and A living wage and union rights for low-wage and all workers!

Since the Aug. 28 call was first released on July 25, hundreds of organizations and individuals representing diverse political struggles and views have endorsed, including the Baltimore People’s Power Assembly; the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, St. Petersburg, Fla.; the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, New York; Haiti Liberté, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Occupy Wall Street (occu-evolve), New York City; the Muslim American Society Immigrant Justice Center, Raleigh, N.C.; Casa Las Américas de Puerto Rico, Carolina, Puerto Rico; School Of The Americas Watch – Los Angeles; the Community Organizing Center, Columbus, Ohio; and the International Action Center, to name a few.

Many organizers will be attending the massive Aug. 24 rally in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom led by Dr. Martin Luther King. Connecting this historic anniversary with the current crisis, the Aug. 28 call reads: “We must turn our anger over the lynching of Trayvon Martin into a new nationwide struggle to stop the war against Black and Brown youth.”

The Aug. 28 assemblies will include marches, rallies, speakouts, vigils and other kinds of protests at police precincts, federal buildings and other important venues to help give voice to those who are victimized by U.S. racist policies and to help unite and strengthen all of the struggles for social justice. Go to peoplespowerassemblies.org to endorse Aug. 28 and to list your local events. Join us at facebook.com/PeoplesPowerAssemblies.