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by Rafael Renteria Friday, Aug. 18, 2000 at 8:25 AM



The August 16th March Against Police Brutality and Mass Incarceration, to Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu Jamal and Free All Political Prisoners

by Rafael Renteria

It was on the TV news. At night in the dark, when it was all over and everyone had gone home except ten stragglers, the pigs rode their motorcycles around inside Pershing Square in order to reclaim the turf they'd lost.

For two hours the people had held the Square against the will of the police, turning it into what the powers that be had most dreaded - "Red Square," a place where the people had complete control, the site of a real "festival of resistance." That's just what the organizers had promised, and the people brought it to life in the streets.

Thousands had been surrounded at the protest pen in front of Staples, split in two by a sudden police action, a quarter of them trapped behind the pig pen's concrete barrier's and the rest surrounded across the street on the north side of Figuroa. The police had suddenly cut the march in two after protesters siezed the corner of 11th and Figueroa. They refused to enter the caged area where the police bloodily siezed the initiative on Monday after the Rage Against the Machine Concert, firing rubber bullets and concussion grenades into a retreating crowd.

This time they used similar tactics, firing rubber bullets and swinging clubs. One man was smashed in the face with a club and a 60- something year old camerman from the corporate media had blood streaming from the front of his white shirt after being clubbed in the chest. But at this march, the only retreating was done by the LAPD. Despite the declaration of the march as an "illegal assembly", despite the rubber bullets and clubs, despite being cut in two, the people refused to back down. And they won.

The police tried to negotiate with the protesters to get them all together in the pig pen. While a few trapped in the pen shouted "let us out", those on the north side refused to enter. After a tense hour long standoff it was the police who backed down and walked away, letting those trapped in the pen go free to join their comrades.

Led by the youth, over a thousand people joined forces chanting "fight the power, not the people." They took over Figueroa without a permit, marched to Pershing Square, and occupied it.

After two days of police thuggery, this was one march the pigs were afraid to attack.

The pigs were in a pen of their own making, and the protesters bravely locked them in it and threw away the key. The Los Angeles police have a world wide reputation for murder and brutality, for racism and for cruelly framing up thousands on false charges, sending them to prison in cold blood.

If they attacked this march, they couldn't count on passive resistance. This time, they wouldn't be able to cover it up. The people were protesting against the police themselves, and indeed, today, the whole world was watching the LAPD.

The pigs were watching the protesters, too.

They were watching as the crowd raised their left fists high in the air, united in silence. They were watching at Parker Center as the people vowed not to let themselves be divided. They were watching as the people vowed not to let anyone be isolated and attacked by the cops, as they pledged to sieze them back to freedom and safety.

They were watching as the immigrant workers, crowded in downtown sweatshops, poured to the windows high above the marchers and waved and cheered them on, a reminder of how badly the oppressed hate the pigs, and what might be in store in the occupied zones of third world LA if the cops went too far.

The police were listening as the marchers chanted "Whose fuckin' streets- OUR fuckin' streets!" " Whose Streets- Mumia's Streets!" And they were watching as the protesters bravely marched into Pershing Square, back where they had started over 6 hours earlier, still undefeated.

They watched, and that's all they did, as an American flag was burned on the steps of the Square, as the people, flanked by riot cops, pointed to them, and called them out, pointing and chanting "cowards".

Then the LAPD accepted defeat. The riot clad pigs who had entered the Square turned and walked away as the people cheered.

And the people spoke, they spoke hope and bitterness. One after the other, the common people came to the stage to speak. They listened to one another, they listened as Jello Biafra spoke, just as they had listened to Saul Williams in the early afternoon.

And when darkness fell, they walked calmy together, to their cars, to the subway, to the occupied convergence center, they sat together on the sidewalk by a taco truck, laughing, talking, eating burritos and singing the "Internationale.". And the pigs, in their frustration, rode their trikes in circles in an all but empty Pershing Square.


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