In recent months, thousands of African-Americans have taken to the streets to speak out against the deaths of men and women of color at the hands of police officers. For the millions aware of Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown, there are just as many who haven’t heard of Amadou Diallo, Reynaldo Cuevas, and Prince Jones.
Their names are just a few featured on Stop Mass Incarceration Network’s walloping poster, taken to almost every single protest this year in New York City and beyond.
Stop Mass Inc., created by Dr. Cornel West and activist Carl Dix, have marched endlessly for racial injustice and now introduce “Rise Up October,” a three-day event (Oct. 22 to Oct 24) in New York that will continue to fight against police killings.
Speaking exclusively with NewsOne, Dix explains why Black America shouldn’t look towards presidential candidates to end police killings and how mass resistance plays a crucial part in the march.
Dix has been fighting against police brutality nearly all his life. His first-hand experience with faulty police tactics happened before he was even able to obtain a driver’s license. At 13-years-old, he was beaten by police officers in Baltimore after they mistook him for a robber.
Since then, the activist has made it his mission to stop unlawful police tactics, beginning with the creation of October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality in 1996. “Rise Up October” falls in line with his vision from 20 years ago. Check out our interview with Dix below.
How did Stop Mass Inc. begin?
“Cornel West and I co-founded it in 2011. We did it because we looked at the reality of 2.3 million people–mostly Black or Latino–being warehoused in prison. Here in New York City, we saw “Stop and Frisk” policies by the NYPD, and how it basically came down to treating Black and Latino people like they were criminals. Guilty until proven innocent, if they can survive to prove their innocence. As we’ve seen far too often, if you’re Black or brown, you may not be able to do that when you’re confronted by the police.
“We began a campaign of civil disobedience to end “Stop and Frisk,” which played an important role on how people had to confront it. It’s exemplified in the call of “Rise Up October.”
There have been advocacy groups (Justice League NYC, Black Lives Matter) and celebrities (Janelle Monae) pushing the need for better laws for police officers with marches and demands to Congress. What else is it going to take for the country to realize this is a serious problem?
“The key thing that has to happen is that people have to take to the streets. There would be no discussion of all of this at a mainstream level if people didn’t speak up in Ferguson. They stayed in the streets in the mist of rubber bullets and tear gas. Now, the system is trying to suppress that. They’re hitting people with bigger arrests. They threaten with heavier charges. There’s also a propaganda war going on when they claim Black Lives Matter is a hate group.
“We feel people shouldn’t get intimidated by that. This why the theme is “Stop Police Terror: Which Side Are You On” because we want to confront all of society.”
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders became a favorite in the Democratic National Debate for acknowledging “Black Lives Matter.” Do you think the movement has political allies within the 2016 Presidential candidates?
“I do not expect them to be the ones to change this. What’s actually happening right now is people doing “try-outs” to be the one who gets to preside over what this empire does to people. A lot of people felt that way with Barack Obama. If people are looking at that as the solution, it’s not going to work. The key thing is that there has to be a mobilized group of people who have to say they aren’t taking this anymore. That is what brings about change. Frederick Douglass got it right, “Power conceits nothing without a demand.” It was true back then and it still rings true.
“I think it’s going to take revolution, nothing less.”
Do you think we’re close to a solution?
“We have seen some things that I haven’t seen in this country before. I was inspired about what came forward after Ferguson. We have to make sure it does not get pushed back. Through that kind of resistance, we have the basis to really change things. People will see that there is a large amount of those who won’t allow this to go on and in fact, are challenging all of society to stop ignoring it. To stop swallowing the lying justification the authorities have given us for this and to get involved. ‘Which side are you on?’ You’re either on the side that wants to stop this injustice, or you’re on the side that’s says it’s OK for it to continue.
“It’s a crucial period and the next three days will show that.”
“Rise Up October” begins Thursday at 10 a.m. in Times Square. Over 40 families of people of color killed at the hands of police will rally with Dix and other notable supporters like Eve Ensler, Gina Belafonte, and Quentin Tarantino.
Check out the rest of the details below and more from Stop Mass Inc. here. Their phone lines are also open at 1(929)-249-7996.
10:00 am No More Stolen Lives: #SayTheirNames
47th & Broadway in Times Square
2:00 pm Borough Hall Brooklyn; MARCH to Barclay’s Center
9:00 am #ShutDownRikers
non-violent direct action to shut NYC’s debtors’ prison
11:00 am Washington Square Park, NYC
1:00 pm March
3:00 pm Closing Rally at Bryant Park
PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter, Getty | VIDEO CREDIT: Instagram
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