International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement leads Rally for African Community Defense in Philadelphia, PA
This past Friday, April 13th, 2012, the Philadelphia Branch of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement led a powerful rally that stirred up the African community in North Philly, mobilizing hundreds against the daily police containment carried out against the community. Branch President Erica Mines-Simmons took to the bullhorn at Broad & Erie Ave, in front of the well-known African bookstore Black & Nobel, rallying the other members of InPDUM, Uhuru Solidarity Movement members, and entire families from the community to take a public, militant stand against not only the white nationalist vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, but also the countless murders of young and old Africans by police in Philadelphia and around the world.
People held up signs carrying messages like “Justice for Shareef Lee Jones, Abede Isaac and Lamont Norman,” “Justice for Lovelle Mixon, Oscar Grant and Casper Banjo,” and “Stop Philly’s $1 Billion War Against the African Community” — but the main visual of the rally was the arrangement of 7 distinct signs, all in red, each sign holding up one word of the statement: “PHILLY COPS HAVE KILLED 1000 TRAYVON MARTINS.”
This message, and the organization behind it, could be seen and felt from across the street and beyond. The intersection of Broad & Erie is the epicenter of the African community in North Philadelphia, one of the largest neighborhoods in the city, and where constant, relentless police containment, government-imposed drug economy, police murders, brutality and counterinsurgent activity can be seen on a daily basis — without even a hint of economic development for the community.
Even before the rally started, the people of North Philly — and probably beyond — were lined up outside Black & Nobel, a bookstore/institution in the community that has hosted “African Resistance Now” for the past year and a half in its space upstairs, to get an opportunity to meet and get an autograph from Styles P, a popular rap artist who has his roots in the conscious hip-hop movement. Part of the event for Styles P was an outdoor sound system playing his music and in-store performance for those outside to listen to, but unfortunately the music continued far longer than it had initially been planned to end, contending with the time of InPDUM’s rally.
After some powerful chants over the bullhorn to compete with the sound system, and even some moments of using the sound system for brief presentations in the rally, the music still continued to drown out the chants of “Philly Cops? Killed A Thousand Trayvons!” So, with the leadership of International President Diop Olugbala and local branch President Erica Mines-Simmons, InPDUM led the people from outside upstairs into Black & Nobel to confront the owner and demand the people’s voice be heard. The struggle was made to unite and encourage everyone — including the owner of Black & Nobel and Styles P himself — to join the rally outside and take the message out to the streets. The struggle cut across class divides in the African community, and the African working class mothers and children who had joined the rally were as adamant that the business owners they support join them in their struggle to build African community self-defense through organization.
Finally an agreement was made and the rally went back outside, and everyone participating in it was brought into organization — African people who had just previously come to see Styles P rap were getting organized into InPDUM, and North Americans who had come to speak out against Trayvon Martin’s murder were signing up to participate in the work of Uhuru Solidarity Movement.
As a result of the struggle made in Black & Nobel, InPDUM President Diop Olugbala conducted a one-on-one interview with Styles P that will be aired this Wednesday, April 18th on African Resistance Now on inpdum.org at 7pm EST, in which Styles P expressed unity with the Uhuru Movement and its bold actions to build African community self-defense.
We in the white community must take leadership from this successful action and stand in solidarity with the African community’s mobilization for resistance, struggle and action against police containment!