On Monday, December 14 the Philadelphia branch of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement launched the People’s Law School (PLS). The PLS is a new international program InPDUM is building across the U.S., Canada and Europe to provide free legal advice to the African community while at the same time building organizational capacity to challenge and ultimately destroy the colonial court and prison system that have millions of Africans locked up around the world. In Philly the PLS panel of lawyers consisted of Michael Coard (City Hall 2 lawyer) and Leon Williams (longtime legal and political activist).
The standing room only crowd at the Uhuru Solidarity Center was evidence of the timeliness of the PLS. Prior to the event, even more people called looking desperately for salvation from the court system that ravages our community. In fact, Philadelphia is the city with the highest incarceration rate in the U.S., and the U.S. is the country with the highest rate in the world. You do the math.
The dozens of voices who called InPDUM Philly’s “struggle line” became real life faces on the night of the 14th. There was the case of the middle-aged African mother who was charged with credit card fraud simply because she “fit the description” of an African woman with “extensions” in her hair. Then there was the case of the young brother, a junior at Cheney college, who was home on spring break when the cops stopped him and asked him, “should we fuck with you?” before framing him up on drug possession charges. And of course, there was the 22-year old brother, a longshoreman, who, while on his way to work, was viciously attacked by the pigs like a U.S. marine ambush in Afghanistan. After they stole his gun and his license to carry it, the pigs charged the brother with aggravated assault!
These were just three out of 1 million stories told by Africans held captive in the city of Killadelphia – all of whom are victims of the colonial court, prison and police system that comprise what we in the Uhuru Movement understand to be the State. These stories are not unique in themselves. You could hear similar testimonials by doing a random survey on any block in the African community. Usually these stories end with time in prison, parole or community service (aka slave labor). However, what is unique about these stories is they were being told in an institution controlled by the African working class – the People’s Law School. And through the political intervention of the Uhuru Movement, these stories now have the potential to be told as victories.
Unlike in the first and only meeting you might be lucky enough to have with your public defender in the courthouse hallway 20 minutes before your hearing, the People’s Law School is a forum in which the African working class can gain invaluable information about the U.S. colonial law necessary to build some type of strategy to defend themselves in court.
Through People’s Law School InPDUM calls for unity against neo-colonial city government
Beyond the political education provided for the community, the PLS also served as a forum through which InPDUM sought unity from the community and African democratic forces with struggle to challenge the neo-colonial State for REAL black power. Michael Coard, Leon Williams and other legal activists who spoke from the floor provided insight and valuable historical analysis on the struggles waged to get justice for the crimes police and other arms of the State commit against African people. Both had been involved in legal battles that file criminal charges against cops. Williams himself ran for District Attorney on a platform to prosecute killer cops.
- We demand the immediate arrest of police officers and military that murdered and/ or brutalized our people.
- We demand an end to public policies of police containment that put a political strategy in place to make it legal to arrest, harass, and violate the democratic rights of African people.
- We demand an end to the public policy of police containment of African people within the U.S. and its replacement with a public policy of economic development through massive capital infusion that would be used to uplift the entire community by supporting existing African businesses, establishing new African businesses, including cooperatives, and by contributing to the general self-reliance of the African community.
- We demand a trial by jury of peers for Africans, meaning people from the same community and class.
People’s Law School must organize the unorganized masses into InPDUM
Most importantly, we are building on the ground – among the masses. It is the people who are the primary targets of the State’s attacks and it is only the people who are capable of building a movement to destroy the colonial State.
In conjunction with the People’s Law School, InPDUM is working intensely to build organizational capacity around the questions with which the courts and prisons confront us. This is the basis for the Family Freedom Prison Shuttle service as well as the Legal and Political Self Defense program we have implemented in Philly to train masses of Africans with the skills and resources necessary to build and lead their own campaign to defend themselves in the courts.
In the coming weeks, stay tuned to UhuruNews to be kept up to speed on the status of the struggle to achieve the demands of the RNDP.
Beat Your Case Don’t Let the State Beat You!
Build the People’s Law School!
Build the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement!
Organizer’s Note: As this goes to print, InPDUM is carrying out a similar strategy in Toronto, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and New York City, building People’s Law Schools in each area respectively – gaining the organizational capacity necessary to build a strong revolutionary mass movement for black power within the belly of the beast!