Take it to the Streets and Fuck the Police -- No Justice, No Peace

By Anonymous, of NEAN & NEFAC-NYC

The spark: The acquittal of the three cops who fired 50 shots into an unarmed Black man on his wedding day in 2007.

The demand: Justice for Sean Bell and all victims of police brutality.

But the community of Jamaica, Queens knows there can be no justice for poor people of color under a system that has always stood for white supremacy, no justice from the state that sends occupying armies into the hoods of America to beat, kill, repress and terrorize the people.

So it was the day of the verdict, April 25, 2008, that crowds gathered by the hundreds across the street from the courthouse after the cops had pushed them back from the courthouse steps that morning. By the time night fell, the pigs could no longer hold the people back.

Led by survivors and families of the victims, and following a rally with People’s Justice Coalition, hundreds poured into the streets in an unpermitted march down Queens Boulevard. The streets seethed and echoed with the cries of rage and revolt:

“We are all Sean Bell, NYPD go to hell!”
“They say get back? We say fight back!”
“Take it to the streets and fuck the police— no justice, no peace!”

The militant march grew to over 2,000 strong—mostly Black and Latin@ youth— as it wound its way through the community of Jamaica (home of Sean Bell), shutting down traffic for over three hours and drawing cheers from just about every window, rooftop, storefront, and public bus.

When the crowd reached Liverpool, where the site of Sean’s assassination was marked with flowers and graffiti, they were given the order to disperse. While hundreds obeyed, including almost all the white people present, a group of over 500 youth of color refused to yield an inch.

This was their hood. These were their streets. They made the spontaneous decision, there and then, to stay in the streets of Jamaica and to meet repression with rebellion. These were kids from the community, Black Power activists, community organizers, gang bangers, and a supporting crew of anarchists and communists.

First, following the residents of Jamaica, we took it to the “40 Projects,” a public housing complex where Sean hailed from. The people leaned out their windows and spilled out of the buildings to join an impromptu rally in the project playground.

Police helicopters buzzed overhead, shining spotlights on the crowd which responded with the bird and the raised-fist salute. Up the block, the cops were waiting in their riot gear, in their wagons and golf carts, guns and batons and chemical weapons at the ready.

But the youth had seen enough. They were not going to take this NYPD terrorism anymore. They marched with determination out of the playground, and before a rain of rocks and bottles and whatever they could get their hands on, they forced the police to beat a retreat back up the block.

Then it was on to the 103rd Precinct, home to killer cops Michael Oliver, Gescard Isnora, and Marc Cooper. Alerted by a Level 1 Emergency on police radio, lines of riot cops stood behind metal barriers protecting the precinct from the “mob,” while snipers and suits manned the roof.

The people held their ground, standing off with the cops for another half hour, sending an occasional projectile landing and shattering behind police lines. But for the first time in recent memory, the NYPD, outnumbered and fearing a general revolt that could spread from hood to hood, was forced to stand down.

For once, the police could taste their own medicine: Fear. And for once, the people could taste their own power. Street fighting and limited looting continued for another hour up and down Jamaica Avenue. But unlike many riots, not a single spot belonging to the neighborhood was damaged. The target was not the hood, but whatever ground the cops were standing on. This was urban warfare. The youth continued to resist the riot police with rocks, bottles, poles, newsstands, and impromptu barricades, until a veritable army—probably over a thousand strong—charged in to make arrests, shields out and batons swinging, near Jamaica Center.

Yet most of the youth escaped up the side streets just in time. Only two were arrested all night—probably because the NYPD feared the consequences of their actions. The hood was swarming with roving riot squads all night long—but the rebels had dissolved, disappeared to safety.

The struggle continues, as it always will so long as the state occupies the hood. As Illvox of Anarchist People of Color (APOC) recently put it in a declaration on the murder of Sean Bell: “People of color are in the cross hairs of this system every single day. Now is not the time to mourn, but to build with determination for anarchist revolution.”

The actions of April 25, 2008 opened a window, shattered an illusion, and gave us a glimpse of what that revolution might look like on the streets of Jamaica, Queens one day.

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