Sunday, May 2, 2021

Mumia Abu-Jamal on the Meaning of May 13, 1985 (reprinted from All Things Censored, 2000)

May 13 Remembered

Written by Mumia Abu-Jamal

(Reprinted from All Things Censored, 2000)   

The muted public response to the mass murder of MOVE members has set the stage for acceptable state violence against radicals, against blacks, and against all deemed socially unacceptable. 

In the 1960s and ‘70s the Black Panther Party defined a relationship between the police and the black community as one between an occupying army and a colony. The confrontations between move and this system’s armed domestic forces has given that claim credence. 

An article in The Village Voice in 1991, quoted an anonymous white cop giving his prescription for bringing law and order to Los Angeles.  Consider this:

COP ONE:  “You wanna fix this city? I say, start out with carpet-bombing. Level some buildings. Plow all these shit [beeped] under and start all over again.”

COP TWO: “Christ, you’d drop a bomb on a community?”

COP THREE:  "Yeah. There’d be some innocent people, but not that many. There’s just some areas of L.A. that can’t be saved."

The twisted mentalities at work here are akin to those of Nazi Germany, or perhaps more appropriately, of My Lai, of Baghdad, the spirit behind the mindlessly murderous mantra that echoed out of Da Nang: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”  

As abroad, so here at home. For as the flames smothered life on Osage Avenue, police and politicians spoke of “destroying the neighborhood surrounding the MOVE house, in order to save it.” Now cops patrol neighborhoods across America, armed like storm troopers, with a barely disguised urge to destroy the very area they are sworn to “serve and protect.” Or perhaps we should say, “sever and dissect.” 

As they sit and sup and smoke what animates their minds? Are they an aid to the people, or a foreign army of occupation? May 13, 1985 should have answered that question decisively. MOVE founder John Africa wrote over a decade ago:

“It is past time for all people to release themselves from the deceptive strangulation of society. Realize that society has failed you. For to attempt to ignore this system of deception now, is to deny you the need to protest this failure later. This system has failed you yesterday, failed you today, and has created conditions for failure tomorrow, for society is wrong, the system is reeling, the courts of this complex are filled with imbalance. Cops are insane, the judges enslaving, the lawyers are just as the judges they confront. They are Harvard and Princeton and Cornell and Yale, and trained, as the judge, to deceive the impoverished; trained, as the judge, to protect the established; trained by the system to be as the system, to do for the system, exploit with the system, and MOVE ain’t gonna close our eyes to this monster.”

It was true then, it’s even truer now. This system has failed all of us. Indeed it is the problem. Organize this very day to resist it, to oppose it, to go beyond it. Demand that all imprisoned MOVE members be released and that all political prisoners be freed. That is a beginning. That is a first step we can all take today. 

Ona MOVE! Long Live John Africa!

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