Workers World reprints here a speech by Palestinian activist, Rasmea Odeh, originally circulated by the Fight Back News Service. Odeh spoke to the historic Aug. 29 march in Chicago for community control of the police. Fight Back! editors have urged all their readers to go to Cincinnati, Ohio, on Oct. 14, when arguments on the appeal of her unjust conviction are to be heard in federal court. For more information go to Stopfbi.net.
It is incredibly powerful to see all these thousands gathered here to raise our voices to stop police crimes, to demand a Civilian Police Accountability Council, and to continue to fight for justice, because we all have the same hopes and dreams, and believe in the same principles of freedom, justice and equality.
We Palestinians have been struggling for close to 70 years under Israel’s illegal, colonial military occupation and its oppressive and racist practices. They continue to terrorize our people and commit brutal crimes. So we know the anger, the outrage and the motivation to rise up against racist law enforcement policies that push our communities to the margins of humanity.
The police crimes against Black people in the U.S. are almost identical to what we experience in Palestine from the Israelis. This is why we talk about joint struggle, why our responsibility is to support the struggles of those oppressed in this country, in Palestine, and all over the world. We Palestinians and Arabs stand in unqualified solidarity with brave Black community members like all of you, who are rising up against every instance of vicious police violence in this country.
In addition, we demand police accountability and an end to racial profiling. That is why we are here as endorsers of the campaign to establish a Civilian Police Accountability Council, why we are supporting We Charge Genocide’s challenge to the “Stop and Frisk” policies of the Chicago Police Department, and why my organization, the Arab American Action Network, has launched a youth-led campaign to stop repression and racial profiling against Arabs and Muslims as well.
I believe our challenges are tough. Deconstructing racism and national oppression is not easy. Stopping police crimes will not be a simple task. But we should not be frightened by the challenges, and as long as we believe in our rights and the principles that we stand for, and rise up together, we become stronger and more effective. Then we can achieve our goals and beyond.
We stand for social justice and liberation in this country, the same way my people have dedicated their lives to the liberation of Palestine. The struggle of the Black Liberation movement in this country, and anti-colonial struggles in Africa, Latin America and Asia, have always been an inspiration to us. We continue to find inspiration and strength from those struggles and today’s, and we recognize that Black Liberation in this country will lead to liberation for all.
Lastly, I want to say that I’m very proud to see that most of this crowd is young people. You are leading and providing fresh air that our communities need to breathe. Combine your resources with the wisdom of the older generation; with the experiences of your allies; and with other communities to ensure that you achieve the dreams and goals that belong to you and to all of us. Keep organizing today and every day until we achieve a Civilian Police Accountability Council. I know we will achieve this goal together!
Thank you all.