The African People’s Socialist Party’s (APSP) San Diego Unit was the first organization to hold a local demonstration in solidarity with George Floyd and the Minneapolis uprising.
The APSP held a press conference and presentation in front of the San Diego police department (SDPD) mid city division on May 28, 2020 at 4PM. The press conference was attended by members of the APSP, the San Diego branch of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (INPDUM) and Union del Barrio. Muambi Tangu, APSP member and President of InPDUM San Diego delivered the official APSP press statement.
There were solidarity statements from local members of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement and Union del Barrio.
Muambi Tangu read a statement from Matsemela Odom, Chair of InPDUM’s Africans Charge Genocide Campaign. Odom’s statement proclaimed that the murder of George Floyd was an act of genocide.
It stated, “The only correct response to genocide is the demand for reparations to African people and a destruction of the colonial-capitalistic beast. Put a knee on the neck of colonialism.”
Members of APSP and InPDUM distributed dozens of copies of The Burning Spear newspaper, Africans Charge Genocide petitions and Africans Charge Genocide stickers. The press conference and rally grew in size as it continued. Around 5PM, the press conference and rally was followed by a caravan protest around the police station.
The caravan of cars swirled around the police station at least a half dozen times. The protest grew with each turn around the station. Residents came out of their homes and others stopped at green lights to let the members of the caravan proceed. Drivers honked their horns in solidarity.
One resident cheered from her home. By about the second turn, this resident had gone into her home and retrieved a political poster from her home that she joyfully displayed.
At least a dozen SDPD patrol cars surveyed the protests.
George Floyd murder highlights a history of colonial violence in San Diego
The support for the APSP-led action on May 28 was informed by a long history of colonial violence in San Diego.
Activists at the local protests have demanded justice for Alfred Olango, Aleah Jenkins, Lamontez Jones, Sagon Penn and other Africans abused and killed by San Diego police agencies. At least 50 people have been murdered by San Diego-area police with no prosecutions.
The official APSP statement on the murder of George Floyd states: “There has been a constant stream of murder, violence and oppression by the colonial State and white people dating back to when we were first kidnapped and brought here in chains from Africa.” This is not a novel event.
APSP leaders in San Diego took the fight directly to the police station during business hours—not at night and not on the weekend when many of these places are closed or understaffed.
The Mid City Division was specifically chosen as the site of protests because San Diego’s Mid City has a large African, Mexican and Southeast Asian working class population, and cops from the Mid City Division have killed many people in recent years.
On March 9, before the COVID-19 shelter orders were put in place, members of the APSP and InPDUM participated in an action for Dennis Carolino, an unarmed Filipino man murdered by Mid City Division cops in 2019.
The acceleration of insurgency in Minneapolis sparked a prairie fire throughout the United States and globally. The evening of May 28, protestors torched the Minneapolis Police Department Third Precinct.
San Diego protests heat up
On Saturday May 30, a mass demonstration was held in La Mesa, California—a suburb directly east of San Diego.
La Mesa was chosen as the site of the protest because of the video of the unjust arrest of 23-year-old African man Amaurie Johnson at the local transit center. Around 5,000 protestors marched through the streets of La Mesa, stopped freeway traffic for hours and then migrated to the La Mesa police department.
That Saturday and Sunday, there were many other protests in other parts of San Diego—notably, a concurrent protest and caravan through downtown San Diego, about 10 miles west of La Mesa.
The colonial media consistently reported that, while massive, the protests in San Diego were “peaceful.” For hours, protestors blocked the traffic on the nearby Interstate 8 and local highway 125 while also demonstrating in the popular Grossmont Shopping Center.
Members of the APSP and InPDUM were on the scene distributing The Burning Spear newspaper and other pertinent materials.
At sunset, the police turned violent and began to agitate the crowd. La Mesa police and San Diego sheriff’s deputies began to fire tear gas, flashbangs and projectiles such as rubber bullets and beanbags into the crowds of unarmed protestors, aiming at their heads.
Leslie Furcron, a 59-year-old African woman, was shot between the eyes with a beanbag round as she cried “Murderers! Murderers!” As a result of the head trauma caused by the shooting, she had to be put in a medically-induced coma and is now blind in one eye. The African community has mobilized in support of Ms. Furcron.
The violent actions by La Mesa cops and San Diego County deputies instigated the upsurge in resistance. Protestors torched the Vons grocery store and two banks and expropriated goods from the Walmart grocery store in righteous rebellion.
The Party must lead!
Uhuru Movement members in San Diego have brought organization and clarity to the protests they have attended since May 30.
APSP and InPDUM members have done outreach at many of the protests held in San Diego city limits and in East County communities of La Mesa, El Cajon and Santee. Many new people have been brought under the leadership of party organizations, including the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, as a result of this outreach.
On June 7, InPDUM San Diego held a Sunday Rally at the El Cajon Promenade which brought at least 100 people in attendance including an Union del Barrio color guard. This event hosted public speeches from Muambi Tangu, Kuante Tubaba Afrika, Tiana Afrika, Matsemela Odom and Jainabah Phillips-Lumumba. There was also a cultural presentation by Rinzalea Steward, a local hip hop emcee and InPDUM San Diego member.
Two young African women who have attended many of the protests in San Diego, including the La Mesa demonstration on May 30, remarked on the Sunday Rally. They noted clarity, seriousness and organization of the InPDUM event in comparison to the others they attended.
Saturday June 13, Odom, Tangu and Phillips-Lumumba spoke at the Defund the Police, Fund the People public rally and march held at San Diego’s Waterfront Park that had as many as 800 people in attendance. Beginning with Odom, who was the second person to speak at the rally, then Tangu and finally Phillips-Lumumba, the Uhuru Movement took control of the protests.
African Internationalist leadership redirected the crowd from the general liberal reformist pleas to the revolutionary demands, “Black Power Matters,” “Smash Colonial Violence” and “Black Community Control of the Police.”
The San Diego Africans Charge Genocide working group “Black Power at the Border” held an organizing meeting on June 12. The working group has begun to build around Black Community Control of the Police.
The way forward is to continue to build African Internationalist organization here in San Diego and build an InPDUM office in the African community. In San Diego and everywhere, the APSP and Uhuru Movement must lead at every level.
Join the African People’s Socialist Party!
Join the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement!
Become a part of the Africans Charge Genocide working group!
Sign the Africans Charge Genocide Petition!
Black Community Control of the Police!
Fists Up! Fight Back!