Closing Speech by Tristan Taylor on the State of Movement. Justice for Yemen March. Hamtramck, MI.
Not to be rude, I should introduce myself. My name’s Tristan Taylor, an organizer with Detroit Will Breathe.
Audience: Come on, uncle!
So, I just want to say how happy I am and how, in reality, historic this moment is. It’s historic because we who are fighting for freedom are actually fighting for freedom for ourselves and each other here and abroad.
Audience: Yes, sir.
For the first time in a long time we made the decision as siblings, brothers and sisters in this struggle that we would not — that we would not — fall for the old tactics of division. That we understood, because we’re fighting for real freedom, what real freedom looks like. That real freedom for us has to be freedom for everyone else. Because the truth is, the same policies of hyper-surveillance, of massive assaults, starvation of our communities of resources we deserve, questioning our right to sovereignty: these are things that we are all facing. And we know we have a common enemy. That our government here is the perpetrator of violence here and abroad everywhere. So now, we actually stand where we should have been all the time, and that is with people who have been fighting every day of their lives.
Who, though tragedy some of us can’t even imagine, are still here standing, a testament to the strength of the people of Yemen, of the people of the middle east, of the people of southeast Asia who are all fighting for freedom
What our movement has to do is to be a conscious movement that is clearly articulating a political program and perspective that includes freedom not just in a superficial way but freedom that allows for every life no matter where it’s at to flourish. So instead of spending billions of dollars on bomb we spend it on schools, right? We spend it on hospitals, right? We spend it on housing, right?
And all of that energy that it takes to destroy villages, to bomb cities, are energies that we can use to build a really free society that is allowing all of us to bring out our best and most creative selves. Now this unity that we build is going to be challenging because it means that we are going to have to learn to be together in a way that we never have. And we’re going to make mistakes and we’re going to fumble but it’s ok. As long we keep moving together, it’s ok.
So thankfully we have the opportunity to do this again! So we’re going to meet up and I know you’re going to tell people how much fun you had today and you make sure you bring more people out tomorrow, right? Tomorrow at 6 o’clock. Same place. Gonna do the same thing: and that is standing shoulder to shoulder as people united expressing our power to take these streets how we want to. And tell everyone out there — so, we’ve been — what day is this y’all?
83 days in these streets. How historically unprecedented. Now some people may ask the question, especially now that we’re going to have elections, “But what does yelling do?” They’ll say, “But you can only expect so much if you march. That only does so much.”
Well let me tell you what it does. See this movement has been fighting for real justice, we’ve been fighting against police brutality. So that means we’ve been fighting for justice for George Floyd, justice for Breonna Taylor, we’ve also been fighting for justice for Hakim Littleton just killed by Detroit police a month ago, and justice for Priscilla Slater who was killed by Harper Woods police. Now, we marched a couple times in Harper Woods demanding justice. So let me read you a headline of news that just came out of Harper Woods. Today Harper Woods fired their deputy chief and a police officer for concealing and manipulating evidence related to Priscilla Slater.
So you heard it from the people who have been in these streets 83 days. When someone asks you, “What does marching do?” When someone asks you, “What does yelling do?” You say it gets us justice, that’s what it does.
It gets us justice the way we’ve never had it. And so the lesson that needs to be learned is that if we’re going to get justice for ourselves and each other that is because we are going to learn to rely on the power that we have collectively yelling, marching, screaming in these streets.
So make sure when you go home, or wherever you go after that this, when you talk to people and they ask you, “What did you do today?” You tell them, “I stood with the movement that has been winning justice the moment it hit the streets.” And if they ask you, “But when are you going to be over? When are you going to be done?” Until we’re free. From Lebanon to Yemen. From Palestine to Belarus. Until we are all free.
To be the best that we can, free from tyranny, free from uncertainty, free from the bloodbath that US imperialism and capitalism only knows how to give. Then we’ll stop. And we have to make sure that’s the only time we stop. Because we actually have power, y’all.
So, I just have to say a special thank you to people much younger than me —
Audience: Alright, uncle
— who keep this movement going in these streets every day. Days when, let me tell you and I’ll be honest — I just don’t know. I just don’t know how long I just don’t know how much. I just don’t know. But I can’t give up because I’m with people who refuse. It gives me so much energy. It fills me with so much pride.
Audience: Never stop
Never stop, and I know that. And you know why we can do that? It’s because we have each other. That’s what you need because there’s always going to be that moment of doubt. There’s always going to be that moment of confusion where you’re just so tired because you’re so tired. And yet when you’re in a movement like this you can still stand because you can lean on others. A special thanks to all the organizers and people who are part of this movement taking the streets every day, y’all.
Audience: every day!