by Diop Olugbala
In 1989, rapper KRS-One made a song called “Who Protects Us from You?” The hook went like this…“you were put here to protect us, but who protects us from you?”
He got the question half right, but if KRS ever thought the pigs were put in our community to protect us, he needs to go back to the South Bronx and find out what’s really hood. Because in the real world, the police are placed in the African community as an occupying army to kidnap us, shoot us down in the streets and keep us from organizing to take back all the wealth that is stolen from us.
But the question still remains, who does protects us from po-po? Is it the supreme court? Is it internal affairs? Is it having 100 negroes in law enforcement? Hell no! How can you expect the same people who caused the problem to fix the problem?
The only way to defend yourself is to practice self-defense. If somebody walks up to you and swings on you, are you going to stand there and let him beat you? Are you going to ask somebody to step in and fight for you, or are you going to fight for yourself, block his punches and swing back?
The same principle applies to defending ourselves against the attacks that the U.S. government makes on us.
In the spirit of self-defense, the Brooklyn branch of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement has launched a campaign to defend ourselves from the police assaults on our democratic legal rights. We call this campaign, Keep a Black Eye on Jake (BEOJ).
If you live in the ‘hood then you know how the police get down. They randomly stop and search Africans on a constant basis in attempts to keep us in a state of terror and lock more and more of us up everyday.
Most of the time, the police don’t even follow the same laws that they claim to uphold. How many times have you been standing on the corner minding your own business, and po-po rolls up on you demanding to see your ID?
In a situation like that, the police are supposed to have probable cause for stopping and/or arresting you according to their own law. You have the right to ask if you are under arrest and whether they have probable cause for stopping you. If the answer is no, you have a right to keep it moving.
But when in that situation, be firm with your stance. The police take advantage of the fact that African people (especially young Africans) don’t know our rights and are unorganized.
Also, make sure that you speak loud enough for everyone around you to hear what is going on. The pigs try to pick us off one by one, but when we show unity, they back up.
We as a people have not been organized to have community control since the Black Power Movement of the Sixties. So when we distribute the BEOJ pamphlets among the people, a lot of times it is a foreign concept that just looks good on paper.
But the Uhuru Movement firmly believes in practicing what we preach. We don’t just tell the people how it is done, we show the people how it is done.
On a weekly basis, we patrol the African community in central Brooklyn on foot and in vehicles looking out for acts of police terrorism. When we find some (which doesn’t take long), we intervene in the process. We start agitating the people: “If you want to get the criminals you should go to city hall! The white house is the rock house! Uncle Sam is the pusher man! 911 for murdaaaa!”
We also pass out the BEOJ pamphlet to all those standing around, and sometimes to the Africans getting harassed. This often upsets the pigs, cuz they don’t like for their victims to have any weapons to defend themselves.
They will often demand that we step out of the way. A lot of times, they ask if we want to get arrested, too.
We give the pigs their little 15 feet ‘cuz we aint trying to get into no fights. But we don’t stop talking, and we make sure everyone can hear us.
A favorite tactic the pigs like to use is blaming the Movement for the reason why they are going to arrest their victim. “You better tell your friends to shut up, or else we’re going to have to lock you up!”
But everybody’s hip to their corny Jedi mind tricks. The police were locking us up way before the Uhuru Movement existed. In fact, it is because of things like police terror that the Uhuru Movement exists!
Law is the opinion of our oppressors set up to protect their interests
“We get out of this through struggle. You can’t write a good enough brief for white folks to turn you loose. The only way that works is if you write a brief, and then you go to court and say, “judge, look out the window.” And the judge looks out the window and sees a well-armed body of forces standing there. Then the judge will say, “well damn, I think this person is innocent, innocent, innocent!” — Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party
Some would argue that there’s no point in holding the police accountable for respecting our legal democratic rights because the police do what they want anyway. In a way they are right.
The law doesn’t mean anything to them. But our power through organization is an irresistible force — regardless of what the law says. BEOJ is designed to organize the people to create our own policy on how the police relate to us.
In the final analysis, the law ain’t nothing but the opinion of those who are in power. Slavery was legal at one point. If we respected their law and didn’t revolt, we would still be slaves!
“The law doesn’t mean anything to them. But our power through organization is an irresistible force — regardless of what the law says. BEOJ is designed to organize the people to create our own policy on how the police relate to us.”
Over the years, we have forgotten this. Now, Africans follow “the law” like its the best thing for us. But the reality is that the same law is used to keep us in chains. Only difference now is the chains are invisible (until the police lock you up).
How else could you explain the fact that over 400 years, we went straight from the plantation to the projects? How else could you explain the Rockerfeller laws in New York state that would lock up Africans for 15 years for a gram of crack, while white people, who are the biggest drug users in the U.S., hardly ever go to prison. How else could you explain a brother getting 10 years for taking $20,000 from a Brinks truck while Martha Stewart gets 6 months at “camp tiddlywinks” for stealing $20 million?
They make laws that are convenient to them. But we can’t expect the government to drop a hustle that has been working very well for them for centuries. African people have a responsibility to knock their hustle and break their hustle.
To do this, Africans must organize for power – so that we dictate our own laws that everyone is forced to follow when it comes to dealing with us. White people can do whatever they want in Europe – but when they come to Africa, they got to respect ours. When they deal with Africa’s citizens anywhere on the planet, they got to respect ours.
Such power will only come about if we have organization. The U.S. government is an organization that makes sure that everyone living in the U.S follows its laws. If you don’t follow their law then they send somebody with a gun to come and lock you up.
We need the same kind of power. We need State power. State power can only be won through mass struggle. The masses of the people must be in a position to seize the power. It won’t mean anything if just a hand full of people come with a list of demands. But if, like Chairman Omali said, there is a body of well-armed Africans outside the courthouse, we will be respected.
The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement is an organization that allows the masses to participate in such a struggle for State power. The people must be united in organization. We have to be our own liberators!
U.S. imperialism is a paper tiger
“All reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are really powerful.” — Chairman Mao Zedong of the Chinese Communits Party
Mao Zedong, who led the Chinese revolution in the 40’s and 50’s once referred to U.S. imperialism as a “paper tiger”. He was right. From the president to the NYPD — the entire U.S. government relies on the illusion of strength.
A good example of this is the struggle going on in Iraq. Despite the fact that U.S. soldiers are constantly being sent home in body bags, George Bush keeps holding press conferences announcing the progress the U.S. is making over there.
He does this to send a message to other oppressed peoples that they will be defeated if they challenge him, but we know the time. The truth is, if an army has to begin killing innocent children to contain its enemy you know it is desperately fighting for its life.
The African liberation struggle is inspired by the heroic struggle the Iraqi people are waging against U.S. imperialism because we have the same enemy. And just like the Iraqis, Africans witness the cowardice of U.S. imperialism around the world including right here in Brooklyn.
Every time we intervene in a brother getting harassed, the police back up. They know the potential the people have to rise up so they try to undermine that potential. They try to break the links of our chain because they know the streets are watching just like the world is watching Iraq.
Campaigns like BEOJ is training ground for struggles to come
Most professional boxers have to train for months before they are ready for a title fight. They have people to train them. A lot of prizefighters have a whole team of trainers, but at the end of the day, if the fighter himself has not done the work the trainers give him, he will lose the fight.
The same thing goes for revolution. The Uhuru Movement cannot be seen as a group of people who will do all the fighting while everybody else stands on the sidelines watching, hoping we win. The Uhuru Movement is the people.
The people should not have to wait for a group of organizers to come with some fliers and a camera to take a stand against the pigs. This is something anyone can and should do any time they see police messing with an African. We have to become our own liberators.
BEOJ is a campaign that, when embraced by the masses of African people who catch hell in the streets at the hands of police, will deepen our capacity to fight back against police terror in every sense of the word. It is a first step to getting the police off our backs and ultimately to driving this terroristic occupying army completely out of the African community.
Keep a Black Eye on Jake!
Join the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement!
All Power to the People! Black Power to the African Community!