The People rally for Racial Justice Locally and Globally

by tiny/PoorNewsNetwork/POOR Magazine on June 10, 2004

Raise your voices
Raise your Fists
Against the real terorists
Its Uncle sam y’all

Excerpt from poem by Son:a performed at the Racial Justice Rally

“See those men in ugly blue polyester over there – they all have one thought, Obey , obey obey” As I listened to the incisive words of Van Jones from Ella Baker Center for Human rights address the police who stood in attention in massive presence around our small crowd gathered at the Racial Justice Rally held in front of the Federal Building in SF, I shook my head in agreement but didn’t realize how much of a prophesy his words were to become.

As the rally progressed there were many amazing speakers, poets, organizers and folk committed to seeing racial and economic justice happen locally and globally.

” I am here to speak on behalf of Iraqi people who don’t have any voice right now,” Samina Faheem from the American Muslim Voice spoke softly to the crowd, ” I was part of anti-war rally on Saturday , this was the first rally organized after the torture of Iraqi prisoners unfolded, to my surprise there were ten thousand people, I was hoping that there would be tens of thousands of peopleS”At this point Samina broke into tears and couldn’t continue speaking, the crowd stood in mourning with her. After several more minutes Samina continued, “I needed to see thousands of Americans screaming about the torture of Iraqis” George Bush said at a recent celebration, ‘The children are doing such a wonderful job collecting school supplies for Iraqi children’, does anyone know that the Iraqi children don’t have schools, they don’t have fresh water or teachers or food, what are they going to do with Bush’s schools supplies,”

The Racial Justice day organized by Books Not Bars in collaboration with Reclaim the Commons- a movement to teach & demonstrate sustainable, life-affirming alternatives to corporate power. The organizers had planned a series of events starting June 6th in San Francisco to protest the G8 conference (group of Eight largest economies in the world) being held in Georgia and the huge biotech/ pharmeceutical industries conference held in San Francisco

“We are here to recognize the intense parallel between global oppression and local oppression – do not forget that the torturers in Iraq were trained in the prison system here, Mesha Irizarray from the Idriss Stelly Foundation described the days’ purpose.

After Samina, the mic was given up to a young rapper, LINX, who critiqued mainstream rappers commercial interests.

“They put us in institutions , they separate our families, they spend money incarcerating and destroying us and then they kill us’ After linx we heard from a truly inspirational elder, Allen Feaster who had lost his son to the racist, classist California youth Authority on January 19th , 2004, ” I cannot touch my son ever again, but I can touch the minds of America” and then Mr. Feaster became my personal hero, ” America, you need to wake up, stop putting your money into prisons put it into education, put it into child care so mothers don’t have to work 24 hours a day just to support their kids”

As the speakers one by one continued to tell the truth I became increasingly aware of the growing police presence that surrounded us, and when the rally ended it was decided that the group would walk to 850 bryant in solidarity with a woman named Laurie who as one of the organizers of the event was arrested by the cops for some ancient traffic violations. As the group walked peacefully towards the police station we were escorted by several hundred cops, on bikes, on foot, in cars. When I reported this to Dee, co-editor of PNN, she called the Mayors office, who when she asked, why is there all these cops on the streets, was told by one of Gavins’ assistants, “Because the community wanted it”

“Whose community?”, dee responded

And then the woman hung up on her.

This interchange reminded me of Van’s inspiring closing words said at the rally, ” We gonna fight together and love together and liberate these blue polyester fools too”

For more information on Reclaim the Commons movement for economic and racial justice go to reclaimthecommons.net. To support the work of Samina Faheen and The American Muslim Voice you can check them out on-line at www.amuslimvoice.org. To read more journalism on issues of poverty and racism from the folk who experience it firsthand go on-line to www.poormagazine.org

Filed under: Bay Area / California