On July 22, the New York City Chapter of the Peoples Power Assemblies held a spirited rally and march in solidarity with Sandra Bland and Kindra Chapman. The PPA demanded justice for these sisters’ deaths. The two Black women had both been found dead by hanging, in Texas and Alabama jail cells respectively.
Despite a heavy police presence, about 1,000 people began to gather around 5 p.m. in Union Square where PPA organizer Terrea Mitchell opened the rally. She welcomed everyone with an emotional explanation of why the PPA had called the protest on short notice.
Mitchell’s rage at yet another Black person killed as a result of detention by police was vivid, as it was for every person who spoke out at the rally. Organizers from several Black Lives Matter groups added their voices, including NYC Shut It Down, trans activists and families of victims of police brutality.
PPA organizer Larry Holmes said that “the killing of Sandra Bland is the killing of an activist. She was one of us. This is why we must fight until victory is ours.” The crowd responded militantly to all calls for fundamental change and revolutionary struggle.
After the short rally, thousands of protesters marched through midtown Manhattan, first on the sidewalk and then in the streets. Once the demonstrators reached Penn Station and marched into it, they got a great response from people waiting for trains.
The protesters then went to Grand Central Station — where Black Lives Matter protests take place on a weekly basis — with their demands for justice and solidarity.
During the march some people sat down in a crossing area. The cops arrested 14 people, including one PPA organizer, who was dragged through the street before being arrested and put into a police wagon.
All those arrested were given desk warrants and were released the same night, some after midnight.
The next step in the struggle in cities around the country will be Aug. 8-9, the first anniversary of the murder of Michael Brown and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. In New York a PPA protest, “One Year Commemoration of the Murder of Michael Brown, the Ferguson Rebellion, & the Black Lives Matter Uprising,” will be held on Aug. 9 at 12 noon at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
For more information, visit peoplespowerassemblies.org and Fergusonresponse.tumblr.com.
Claudia Palacios contributed to this report.
Photo: Outrage over deaths of Black women in police custody.
Credit: Claudia Palacios