NYC’s New Generation of Militant Activists — And The Media Blackout That Has Followed
Over the past year and a half, New York City has seen the growth of an organized, militant grassroots movement, lead by young activists of color and completely ignored by the mainstream media. Gaining steam a few months after the Ferguson Uprising in 2014, tens of thousands of New Yorkers began taking to the streets to demand justice for Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Now, seventeen months later, a coordinated network has formed, shutting down the streets on a weekly basis in every single borough. If one only listens to the reporting by mainstream media, it would paint a naive, racist depiction of a movement that has seemingly “died down.” However, the reactionary behavior of the establishment and the NYPD, one of the largest police forces in the amerikkkan empire, reveals an entirely different narrative.
Activists on the ground in NYC are facing heavy state repression, including the targeting of organizers’ cell phones during protests, phone surveillance, false arrests, and political trials dragging on for months in the New York City court system. If this movement wasn’t a threat, if our organizing didn’t have a chance at the people’s collective liberation — then why are we flanked every single week by one of the nation’s largest counter-terrorist police units? Why are our communications being monitored and controlled by military grade surveillance technology? Why is the NYPD legal unit prosecuting violation charges, using resources to take summons tickets to lengthy political trials? When put into this context, the state and the establishment admit to a very different fight than they are letting on to the general public.
Groups such as Millions March NYC, Grand Central Crew: NYC Shut It Down, Cop Watch Patrol Unit, Peoples Power Assemblies, ICEFREENYC, Why Accountability, NYers Against Bratton, Justice for Akai Gurley, Afrikans Helping Afrikans, Black Lives Matter NYC, and the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers have organized major mobilizations and direct actions for a year and a half, bringing thousands of protesters to the streets on a consistent basis. These activists are young, radical and militant, with many of the aforementioned groups connected in large and expanding coalitions. Circumventing traditional respectability politics, themes of Fuck the Police are embraced, with organizing taking place on encrypted phone threads, allowing for quick and coordinated responses to push our revolutionary agenda against the racist, capitalist state intent on silencing us. We are young, we are revolutionary, we are absolutely not afraid — and the state wants more than anything to silence our momentum and kill this movement.
Major solidarity marches with Baltimore, Cleveland, Charleston, Ferguson, Minneapolis, Texas and San Francisco have shut down the streets with thousands of people, often organized in less than 36 hours. #PeoplesMonday has shut down the streets across all 5 boroughs every single Monday for over a year. Solidarity ties have strengthened between Black liberation and Palestinian liberation groups, building the groundwork for what could grow into an international proletarian struggle. Direct actions have targeted and disrupted Mayor de Blasio, Bronx DA Robert Johnson, DOC Commissioner Ponte, Donald Trump, and numerous local city government and jail officials. A newly formed grassroots coalition, The Campaign to Shut Down Rikers, has built momentum to shutter NYC’s most notorious jail complex, with coffins delivered to Mayor de Blasio at City Hall and to the home of Bronx DA Robert Johnson for Kalief Browder. Just this past November, DOC Commissioner Ponte was disrupted at a Board of Corrections Hearing, and the proposed harmful reforms were revoked shortly after. Justice for Akai Gurley and family organizing has led to the first conviction of an NYPD officer in 10 years. Typically there are multiple arrests every single week of lead organizers fighting back in the streets, and numerous trial dates and civil litigations are currently taking place.
The mainstream media has ignored all of the above for almost a year and a half. This is certainly not an accident — rather it is a strong indication to the extent of the fear on the side of the establishment. All we have as activists to fight back are our voices and our bodies. When we are then subsequently being silenced in the media and locked up by the counter-terrorist NYPD police unit — evidently, both our voices and our bodies are considered a high threat by those maintaining the status quo. To put it simply, clearly we are a threat of becoming free.
As state repression and racial tensions continue escalating locally and nationally, the stakes are too high for the media to exist as a deceptive “neutral” apparatus. Protesters today are being arrested for “walking on the sidewalk”, while demanding justice for a black man who was killed standing on the sidewalk. This is the amerikkka we are in today, and this was the amerikkka we were in 400 years ago when our country was built on the genocide of Indigenous people and enslavement of Black people. It is time to make the tough decisions, publish the uncomfortable truths, and make the radical choice of oppression or liberation. There is an active genocide happening in our backyard and all over the world of people of color and poor people. The united states of amerikkka has become one of the largest open air slave camps in the history of mankind, with over 2 million people in cages and 7 million under correctional control, backed by its imperialist allies waging exploitive wars and massacres abroad. The only ecological system that sustains us with life, the Earth itself, is imminently collapsing under the white supremacist, capitalist, hetero-patriarchy. The civilization built by the west, built by the white man — is now threatening the very survival of humanity, and with it, all forms of life on the planet. It is long past the time to face the truth. If we are to survive, the distinctions have to be made, the sides have to be chosen, and the fight has to be picked up immediately. Otherwise, only history will live to tell the truth, and the blood will be on your hands.
Which narrative will our civilization survive to tell?