Black Community Must Control the Police

Jeff and Rose Roby are Florida activists. They also publish the Saint Petersburg Independents

Black community must control the police

selma st pete

“The white man does not abide by law in the ghetto. Day in and day out he violates welfare laws to deprive the poor of their meager allotments; he flagrantly violates building codes and regulations; his police make a mockery of law; he violates laws on equal employment and education and the provision of public services. The slums are a handiwork of a vicious system of the white society.”

— Martin Luther King
September 1967

ST. PETERSBURG, FL, January 18 — The fight continues to this day. The fight, that is, over the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. — King as the uncompromising fighter for social justice, vs. King as the liberal reformer who implored his followers to “turn the other cheek” while “perfecting” the American system of colonialism and worldwide slaughter.

That fight played out on Monday, January 15, on the streets of St. Petersburg, and today in the hallowed chambers of the St. Petersburg City Council.

The MLK celebration has always been an important day for the South Side’s small businesses, with vendors selling their wares along the march route and at the after-march parties that traditionally followed.  For some, MLK Day sales make up 50% of their yearly income.  Not this year.  Citing “public safety,” the police had sent out notices that anyone vending without a license (most of the usual vendors) would face $143 fines each time they were stopped by an officer.

Without warning, entire streets were shut down for blocks around, to both vehicle and foot traffic.  The snarling police legions forcibly prevented people from leaving their own neighborhoods, and from even getting to their homes.  “For blocks and blocks and blocks, just police cars and yellow tape. People actually thought a crime had happened,” said one community organizer.

cop 2 rockwellBrother John Mohammad, president of the Childs Park Neighborhood Association, uploaded a video of himself being harassed by a white police officer accusing him of “trespass” in his own neighborhood!  That video went viral, and dozens of angry South Side residents packed City Hall on January 18 to express their outrage at the disrespect shown to the Black community during the MLK’s day of celebration.

A chorus of outrage.

“The police operation was reminiscent of the sundown laws, Black Codes and Jim Crow practices that Dr. King gave his life fighting to abolish.”

“What if I needed to get to a hospital, or to an elderly family member? … totally locked in … couldn’t get an ambulance or medical care to come.”

“It was like a crime scene.”
“The community was ambushed.”
“Psychological trauma and police violence.”
“The South Side was put under lockdown.”
“Entire Blacktown was punished.”
“Collective punishment and collective containment, the tools of tyrants and dictators.”
“Roads blocked miles away from the parade.”
“Occupied territory.”
“Military-type zone, you couldn’t move.”
“You felt like a caged animal, flashing red and blue lights were blinding.”
“Couldn’t get gas.”
“It was a police state, South Side residents were contained like animals.”
“I couldn’t even get to my home.”

One comment epitomized the protestors’ dilemma.  “I had a barbecue, and friends couldn’t even get to my home.”  Yet “I voted for you Mayor Kriseman, and I don’t want to take that vote back.”

There were requests, and plenty of suggestions:

“Build trust by collaboration and partnerships.”
“Create a police review board.”
“Hold workshops.”
“Police needed more training.”
“Move the dialogue towards a solution.”
“Talk, come together.”
“We must not erode the trust we have in our law enforcement.”

But despite the outrage, nothing was demanded and shockingly little of substance was even asked for.  Yet one comment above lingered in the air:  “I voted for you Mayor Kriseman, and I don’t want to take that vote back.”

Beyond Outrage.

A radically different perspective was offered by three speakers from the Uhuru movement’s Communities United for Reparations and Economic Development (CURED), which had been founded to continue what had been fought for in last summer’s campaign of Jesse Nevel for Mayor, and Akilé Anai for City Council District 6.

Diakiesse Lungasani

Diakiesse Lungisani.

“I don’t care what white liberals say,” said Black Power 96 radio station manager Diakiesse Lungisani, taking the mic before the squirming Council members.  “Dr. Martin Luther King is ours and is still ours. White people don’t even celebrate Martin Luther King Day.  Police containment is what we experienced this past Monday, which is a standard of colonialism.”

Jesse Nevel

Jesse Nevel.

Next up was Jesse Nevel, co-chair of CURED and chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement.  “I am here to denounce the aggressive display of police containment of St. Pete’s Black community on the South Side by the St. Petersburg police.  I’m also here to support those who spoke before me who suggested there’s got to be a better way.  What we saw this week was the policy and agenda of the Kriseman administration, and I’m here to speak on behalf of white people in this city who are outraged at this Ring of Steel around the Southside.  White people are not going to be pawns in your agenda, which is like putting a White People Only sign above progress.  You do not speak for me.  You do not speak for white people in this city.”

Akile Anai.

Akile Anai.

CURED Chair Akilé Anai put forward their demands:  “We demand reparations and economic development for the Black community.  We demand the return of the Tropicana Field baseball stadium to the Black community.  We demand that they return that land so we can use it for genuine economic development, to build affordable housing, so we can feed, clothe and house ourselves.  Kriseman and the Democratic Party have turned their backs on these demands.  They and the sellouts in our community like Police Chief Anthony Holloway — who is clearly white power in Black face — willingly and dumbly carry out the dictates of the Kriseman regime.  We were encircled on MLK Day.  We couldn’t get into our community, and we couldn’t get out.  This is military strategy and tactics.  It is colonialism and we won’t stand for it anymore.  We demand Black community control of the police, so we can prevent these thugs from invading our community and brutalizing us, murdering us.  We reject Kriseman, we reject the Democratic Party, and we’re voting for ourselves!”

In the aftermath, Holloway himself underscored the priorities of the Kriseman administration, by offering no apologies for the lockdown.  “Am I going to apologize for keeping us safe? Am I going to apologize for the plan working like it always worked?  No, I am not.”  His only vow was to communicate better.

Meanwhile, as reported by ABC Action News, “Mayor Rick Kriseman said moving forward the chief will have to brief him on plans for future events in the city. The mayor also said they will start a task force of community members to help plan and organize the event for next year. Kriseman said he wants to make sure the city addresses the concerns about such a heavy police presence in St. Pete.”

Green Support.

Rose Roby.

Rose Roby.

“More of the same bullshit!” explained Rose Roby, co-chair of the Pinellas County Green Party and a member of the CURED Executive Board.  “These same community leaders who helped elect Kriseman will now gather and complain, and Kriseman will smile and nod, and they’ll come up with a few cosmetic measures so these leaders will be a little less embarrassed next year.  But white power will still be the power occupying the South Side, and it’s long-term goal is to gentrify the Black community completely out of St. Petersburg.  As CURED demands, what we need is full Black community control of the police.  That is an essential part of empowering the Black community in every way, from Black economic development, to Black community control of their schools and to Black Power!

“I have reviewed the platform of the Green Party of Florida.  It calls for ‘The creation and funding of civilian police review boards that have the power of subpoena.’  That is good, but it hardly goes far enough.  Police departments are totally out of control and are not about to submit to any review board as long as White Power is in control.  I intend to propose that we add to the Green Party of Florida platform an uncompromising plank calling for full Black community control of the police.  We can do no less.”

— Jeff Roby
January 18, 2018

 

“I will give propagandistic cause for the release of the war, whether convincing or not.  The winner is not asked later whether he said the truth or not.”

— Hitler to his generals, August 22, 1939

It started out with dead Polish soldiers, or at least their uniforms were Polish.  The bodies were strewn around a German radio station, and the story went that that they had snuck into Germany from Poland, seized the station and broadcast an anti-German message, only to be cut down by heroic German soldiers defending their sacred soil.  Such an outrage could not go unpunished.  On September 1, 1939, the Nazi divisions rolled over the Polish border and the war was on.

Cui bono?

The media’s hysterical response to the scrambled reports of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) using nerve gas was immediate and predictable.  “Assad did it!  We must …”  Well, something drastic.  U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley thundered, “When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action.”  Her proof that Assad did it?  It “bears all the hallmarks of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons.”

Superhawk John McCain threatened, “We need to stop Bashar Assad’s planes from flying. And we can do that easily. Just say don’t fly, or you’re gonna get shot down, and if you start operating out of the six bases that they have, we’re going to crater your runways with cruise missiles and other weapons.”  A prescription for World War III.

The entire mainstream media chorus (you know, the chorus that proclaimed the inevitability of Hillary Clinton and Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction) went into action, writing virtually the same article over and over almost word for word.  The line “but of course we have no real proof yet” slips in to cover their asses, but who reads the small print?

3ebe4a7869d2d659d8cb0a12d55afdc0Yet the reaction “out there” has not been quite so gullible, some joining the hysteria, others pointing out that this “bears all the hallmarks of” the neocon media’s usual hatchet work.  Respected and reliable sources have picked apart the atrocity reports with devastating effect.  For detailed refutation check out Moon of Alabama, which has been regularly delivering the lowdown on the White Helmets as U.S./European tools embedded with the jihadis in Syria, and the pictures of the same victims appearing over and over in their Al Queda produced videos.  Or read out the site Sic Semper Tyrannis, run by Colonel Pat Lang (ret.), a Vietnam combat veteran with background in the highest level of military intelligence circles.  His contributors are similarly experts in these matters, and neither he nor any of them could be considered leftists by any definition.

Says Lang, “The rebels have proven themselves extremely capable of staging propaganda pageants and they do have chemical weapons.  They make them in Syria.  These are not ignorant people.  The ‘White Helmets’ were a fraud.  This is probably another, but the Borg [neocon Establishment] loves the noise, especially the hysterics on CNN and MSNBC.  These AQ connected rebels in Idlib have been conducting an offensive in northern Hama.  This has been turned back and the rebels are being driven out of Hama in the direction of Idlib having lost many men.  As someone observed here the standard rebel reaction to severe adversity is to claim a chemical attack.”

Much has been written in great detail already debunking the charges against the SAA, and I see no need to get into its intricacies.  Charges of false flag have been thrown all over the place.  “Fake news” is the new mantra against any and all sides.  The mainstream media is held in general contempt.  Rational discourse is drowned out by the headlines and the commentators.  So I will simply ask one of the oldest, simplest and most germane questions in investigating criminal matters:  cui bono?  Who benefits?

Assad is winning.  A new peace conference on Syria was just coming up.  The U.S. had publicly dropped its demand that “Assad must go!”  Assad’s strategy has been to negotiate local settlements.  As an Alawite, Assad represents a small minority of the population, and the balance of forces is such that only a wide coalition of ethnic groups and sects can bring peace to Syria.  Assad knows that.  He says only a political solution can bring peace.

Assad has been negotiating local agreements across the country, bringing back into the fold those militants who agree to drop their attacks on the SAA and their alliances with ISIS and Al Qaeda.  Assad’s approach has been working quite well, as village after village re-enter Syrian society and die-hard jihadis are shipped out.  This is despite terrorist attacks and murder of civilians entering into talks with Assad.  Assad’s successful siege of Aleppo was marked by ceasefire after ceasefire, to give space for successful negotiations on a block-by-block and even building-by-building basis.

ONLY the jihadis and the neocons could possibly benefit from this incident.  The support for Al Qaeda and ISIS by the neocons is well known (for those who read), and we see that both jihadis and neocons are making the most of it.  The only argument put forward to explain why Assad would make such a reckless move against women and children would be to show how vicious he was.

It doesn’t pass the dead-rat smell test.

Sowing the wind …

How did it come to pass that what should have been the Left Opposition to the bipartisan 1% is now pounding on the war drums today?  Leftists think themselves clever, but they are too clever by half.  They promised they could support Hillary in 2016, and then hold her feet to the fire in 2017.  Betrayed by the DNC, told to their faces that Hillary could do perfectly well without them, and steam-rolled at every point, millions of Sanders supporters fell into lockstep.  Grudging or not.  Going along with the Russian hacking frenzy, even Bernie himself stated:  “To temper Russian aggression, we must freeze Russian government assets all over the world.”

KAMIKAZEAfter Hillary went down in a blaze of infamy, Democrats poured into the streets for the anti-Trump post-election mobilizations, mobilizations which — even had they been successful in either preventing Trump’s ascension into the White House (failed) or crippling him around the issue of avoiding war with Russia (successful) — would have led to Mike Pence being president or, in alliance with Paul Ryan, functioning as president.  On the face of it, those outcomes were obvious.  Did progressives have dreams of continuing the wave of protests and moving it left after Trump had been disposed of (and Pence installed)?  Yes, they did.  Idiot dreams.  Once the Democratic Party Establishment settled down for business-as-usual, and the media returned to playing inside poker with the big boys, they folded up like a busted accordion.

Worst of all, they gleefully leaped onto the anti-Putin, anti-Russia bandwagon.  As many of them admitted, “We don’t really buy this Russia Russia bullshit, but it’s a way to hurt Trump.”  They let Wall Street scum like Chuck Schumer be anointed leader of the resistance.  Sanders, posing as the voice of moderation, is saying, “Syria’s Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against the men, women and children of his country makes him a war criminal.”  They played not only a contributing role, but a leading role in paving the way for Trump to reach for the button.

And their champion, Hillary, is saying, “I really believe that we should have and still should take out [Assad’s] air fields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.”  The headlines blare, “Hillary Clinton calls for destruction of Syrian Air Force

“This is not the time for recriminations!” some cry.  No, this is EXACTLY the time for recriminations, just as when a dog shits on your carpet and you rub its nose in it.  We have to recognize, as 2016 Green Vice-Presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka put it, “If you call yourself a progressive or even a leftist and you believe that insulting propaganda on Syria, you now have no grounds to ever question the rationality and intelligence of those folks who voted for Trump.”

The missiles are flying.  Now we reap the whirlwind.

Sowing the seeds of peace.

seeds of peaceOn March 25, about 20 members of St. Pete for Peace went up to Clearwater, Florida to confront a Make America Great Again rally held by some 150 Trump supporters.  Holding our banners and signs for Peace like “26,171 Bombs Dropped in 2016” and “Bombing Kids Makes Terrorists,” we weren’t sure what we would face, given the media hype about violence at Trump rallies, crazed fascists running amok, and all.  There was no confrontation.  We held our signs, Trump people listened to their speeches.

It was a blazing hot day.  Some Trump people came by to offer us cold bottled water.  I said no, it would make me pee.  She laughed and said that was their clever plan.  We both laughed.  Though we had been fearful of them, they may have been just as afraid of us, not physically of course, but that we would try to cause a disruption.  They did not want to project the image that had been cast for them by the media and what is, frankly, deliberate provocateurs working for Hillary.  It seemed genuine  One passer-by snickered about all the bombs Obama had dropped.  We commented that the 26,171 bombs dropped in 2016 were all Obama’s.  He nodded.  Another couple explained that they had been Sanders supporters.  But buying into the all-American logic that one should only vote for “real” candidates, they had ended up voting for Trump.

A couple days ago, I was talking with some friendly acquaintances I had been meeting at a local street market in Gulfport.  (They have these two utterly adorable pug dogs, Bonnie and Charlie.)  Turned out they were Trump voters (my god!  Deplorables!).  We talked about Syria, the Establishments, healthcare, the problems we all faced in getting healthcare for all.  We had some disagreements, duly noted.  They had no problem whatsoever with me being Green.  We moved on to baseball (they were Red Sox fans, I’m a broken-hearted Indians fan, but we have a “principled united front” against the Yankees).

chthulhuHad any of the above conversations begun along the lines of “What do you think of Trump saying [fill in the blanks]?” those conversations would never have happened.  No common ground could have been found over healthcare and neocon war-mongering.  Yes, there are monsters among Trump’s supporters (or is that “former” supporters).  But as we have seen, there are monsters a’plenty as well among the so-called progressive camp now praising Trump for taking such “forceful action.”  We live in monstrous times.

The neocons seem to be reigning supreme.  They want us each to feel alone as they play Dr. Strangelove, but the only way we are alone is if we fail to stand up.  Even as the rattling of the sabers becomes deafening, there is the foundation for building something new.  That is a good place to start sowing the seeds of peace, not just for ourselves but for the world.

— Jeff Roby
April 7, 2016

References:

1-Widespread Police Misconduct and an Expanding Prison Population

2-Cautionary Tales by Jeff Roby

3-Jeff Roby on Strategy and Tactics 

4-An Interesting Conversation on the Way Forward by Rose Roby

5-On Becoming Dependent Upon Incarceration by Rose Roby 

6-The Democratic Party is the More Effective of Two Evils by Rose Roby and two others

7-An Interview with Don DeBar about Jill Stein's Strange Support of Clinton by Jeff and Rose Roby 

8-We, too, are “Deplorables” (Part 2 of An Interview with Don DeBar about Jill Stein's Strange Support of Clinton) by Jeff and Rose Roby

9-A Hard Look at Where We Are After the 2016 Election

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