Durham youth vs. cops

We live in a society where cops can kill an unarmed Black man, and the only person that gets indicted is the bystander who videotaped the lynching. It is a society where a seven-year-old Black girl is shot by police while asleep in her home. One where a single mother is shot by a deputy when she opens her door. Although police officers claimed she was armed, there was no evidence of that, and the police later altered their statement.

This is a society where unarmed youth of color are murdered for no other reason than existing. This is why we took to the streets on Dec. 5 — for Eric Garner, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Yvette Smith, Mike Brown and countless others. The reality is that people of color are lynched each day by the racist state.

Our injustice system inflicts its white supremacist violence without repercussions or accountability. Despite the slogan and hashtag “Black lives matter” and the assertion that “lives of color matter,” they do not actually matter in this society — not to state authorities, not to the police, nor to the ruling class they serve.

More than 200 of us took to the streets of Durham, N.C., on the chilly night of Dec. 5. There were die-ins in front of the gleaming glass of the Durham Performing Arts Center. We built a human shield between it and the looming county jail on the adjacent block.

Our incarcerated sisters and brothers watched out of their windows as we demonstrated in solidarity with those who have been victimized or brutally lynched by the state, the apparatus of violence. We shut down both lanes of Highway 147 for more than an hour, chanting “Black lives matter!” between the idle cars. For over four hours, we challenged the Durham police. We were not deterred by their riot gear, clubs, assault rifles and sound cannons. In the end, 31 of us were trapped, corralled, beaten and arrested by these racist cops.

For years, Durham has felt the burning pain of systemic police brutality and murder, particularly against people of color. Derek Walker, a Black man, was killed last year by the Durham cops in the very square where we began our march. In 2013, Chuy Huerta, 17 years old, was shot to death while handcuffed in the back of a cop car. Also last year, José Ocampo was gunned down on Park Avenue No cops were punished in any of these cases, not even indicted.

It is in these moments that our collective rage is too much to contain. It is when our anger pours into the streets that we are reminded of who our real enemies are, and just how much it will take to win. One arrestee, a young woman, told us that during her detention, five male cops took her into a room and lectured her on why her actions were wrong. These cops contend that “white supremacy does not exist,” and police exist to “serve and protect.” They try to justify the murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner by claiming they were “criminals.”

The reality is that the police state is our class enemy. It is they who imprison us, beat us, lynch us. They enforce the status quo by any means necessary. Their overwhelmingly violent response to protests shows us clearly that we do not own the streets. They simply allow us to use them, forcing us to adhere to their rules that maintain capitalist class society. The cops function to serve and protect the capitalist class and their property. In every strike, protest and revolution, the cops are positioned against the people.

The Dec. 5 protest, however, showed us the power and strength that comes with unity. When we are in the streets, we scare the shit out of the cops, the police chief and the ruling class. We know this because of their responses with riot gear, guns and tear gas. They are threatened by our presence — for history proves that when people are organized and in the streets, change occurs.

They taunt us with their oppressive, capitalist police state violence, but we fight back. We are here to disrupt and challenge the system and shut it down. We are here to make change — as their “justice” is an illusion. Since the cops won’t stop killing, we won’t back down. Fight Imperialism, Stand Together will be fighting and organizing in the streets, from Durham to Baltimore and from New York City to Detroit. We hope to see you at the barricades.

The writers are organizers for the revolutionary youth group “Fight Imperialism, Stand Together,” and below they describe a militant protest in Durham, N.C., on Dec. 5 against racist police terror.