The Black Lives Matter movement, which sprang up in the wake of Michael Brown’s death, has gained national attention and has even become an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. Rise Up October, a group which has attracted supporters such as Dr. Cornel West, Quentin Tarantino and Gina Belafonte, Harry Belafonte’s daughter, organized three days of mass protests this month.
A Rise Up October march took place in Times Square over the weekend. Pix 11 reported that thousands of people marched from Washington Square Park to Bryant Park Saturday afternoon. Although Rise Up October says it’s a non-violent movement, protesters claimed police showed up prepared for a riot. There were several violent scuffles, and 11 people were arrested on Saturday. Many of the protesters later posted pictures and video of the clashes on social media. According to Gothamist, North Carolina radio host Russell Johnson said police shoved him violently over metal barricades and he later feared he would not be able to stand without medical assistance.
Democracy Now! reported that 40 families impacted by police violence took part in the march including Kadiatou Diallo, the mother of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant who was killed by New York police in 1999.
“How many more victims were unjustly killed since Amadou Diallo?” Kadiatou Diallo said. “We can’t begin to count. I went to many funerals. I connected with many families. We’re not bitter. The law enforcement should know we are not against them. We are not against them. We are anti-police brutality.”
According to Rise Up October’s website, its goal is to stop police killings.
“Rise Up October had an ethos, or a certain sense of the horrific nature of the problems we are up against – the fact that is it intolerable, illegitimate, and unacceptable that police get away with murder again and again,” said co-founder Carl Dix in an interview with Salon. “We are trying to forge a resistance that has very broad arms, that can encompass people coming from different ideological perspectives, but keeps the focus on resistance.”
Dix, a communist and veteran activist, said the group has taken to direct action because the political process doesn’t seem to be working.
“People used to say, ‘Look, you should get some Black politicians into office.’ We got mayors, Congress people, police chiefs, even a president, and still problems kept happening,” said Dix, who did two years in Fort Leavenworth military penitentiary for refusing to go to Vietnam. “My own opinion – and not that of Rise Up October – is that it’s going to take revolution, not conversation with the authorities to end problems.”