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Crime Prison and Punishment

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Statement from NYC Local of Black Rose Anarchist Federation regarding Cecily McMillan

category north america / mexico | crime prison and punishment | policy statement author Sunday May 11, 2014 11:09author by M. Cinelli - Black Rose/Rosa Negra - NYCauthor email blackrosefednyc at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

We stand in solidarity with Cecily McMillan and will in the future. Cecily has been punished in order to make an example out of the Occupy movement. At the same time we must look at the bigger picture. By the end of today, another life, activist or not, will have been snuffed out by state violence. These include attacks against active militants involved in the struggle for liberation of oppressed peoples like Mumia Abu-Jamal, Maroon Shoatz and Leonard Peltier, as well as everyday people of color and undocumented migrants struggling to survive against the racist class divisions perpetuated by capitalism. There have been 239 people killed by the NYPD since Amadou Diallo in 1999, and 107 since Sean Bell in 2010; nearly all of them have been people of color. While we see that Cecily is a political prisoner, we recognize that the black and brown men and women who are systematically beaten on the street and thrown into prisons are political by default. Having historically been the most exploited of the exploited class, their well-being, survival and resistance to the widening gap between classes poses a threat to the capitalist status quo that the state seeks to insure.

We, the New York City local of the Black Rose Anarchist Federation, are deeply saddened and outraged by the conviction of our comrade and friend Cecily McMillan. While we are disappointed by the jury’s ultimate verdict, we are not surprised given the anti-democratic nature of Cecily’s trial, and the initial sexual assault and arrest on the night of March 17, 2012. Judge Zweibel’s refusal to allow the jury to consider Grantley Bovell’s violent and illegal past behavior while on the job, total gag order placed on Cecily’s lawyers, and the dismissal of multiple people of color during the jury selection because of their admittance of personally experiencing police brutality, are only some examples of how the guilty verdict was a certainty from day one. It is clear to us that the brutal police repression on the night of M17 (which many of us witnessed first hand and are still shaken up from to this day), the trial, and the ultimate incarceration of Cecily are all examples of how the capitalist state suppresses dissent and punishes those who dare to challenge it. We respect the efforts of Cecily’s legal defense team, but affirm that Judge Zweibel, the prosecution, and the court system as a whole are simply extensions of the same state that physically assaulted our friend to the point of seizure, and will likely keep her in a cage for the next two to seven years after turning the blame around on her.

We stand in solidarity with Cecily McMillan and will in the future. Cecily has been punished in order to make an example out of the Occupy movement. At the same time we must look at the bigger picture. By the end of today, another life, activist or not, will have been snuffed out by state violence. These include attacks against active militants involved in the struggle for liberation of oppressed peoples like Mumia Abu-Jamal, Maroon Shoatz and Leonard Peltier, as well as everyday people of color and undocumented migrants struggling to survive against the racist class divisions perpetuated by capitalism. There have been 239 people killed by the NYPD since Amadou Diallo in 1999, and 107 since Sean Bell in 2010; nearly all of them have been people of color. While we see that Cecily is a political prisoner, we recognize that the black and brown men and women who are systematically beaten on the street and thrown into prisons are political by default. Having historically been the most exploited of the exploited class, their well-being, survival and resistance to the widening gap between classes poses a threat to the capitalist status quo that the state seeks to insure.

Such persistent violence has shown that we can not include cops as part of the 99%. Now is the time for those who have and have not been harassed by a cop at a protest to unite with those most affected by police brutality like the families of Kimani Grey and Ramarley Graham. We will not be able to adequately end this violence if workers and various community based organizations fighting against oppression on the streets, in the courts and in the prisons act in isolation. Now is the time to come together to both immediately defend our communities and activist circles under siege in the short term, with the goal of disbanding the century-and-a-half old institution of police in the long term. We will never be at peace if a small but significant portion of the population is enlisted to police, spy on, and terrorize groups it perceives as “threatening” to the state and the capitalist agenda. And we will never win the struggle to find that peace if people do not act in concert to this outrageous verdict, and the next verdict, and the next one.

We are not calling for people to “wake up,” so to speak. People already know how profoundly violent and suffocating the police state is; even people who do not talk about it are aware of its power. But in order to activate more people to the struggle against police repression, the prison-industrial complex, and the school to prison pipeline, we need to actively form networks of resistance.
Network is a verb. An essential one if we are to build power against those who have power over us. If white activists in downtown districts and communities of color on the periphery are not exchanging information with the same intensity as the police, military and surveillance agencies, then we will lose.

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