For Immediate Release
September 16, 2015
Brian Flores, Co-Solidarity Officer, Anakbayan New Jersey
Dan Santiago, Co-Solidarity Officer, Anakbayan New Jersey
Ana Robelo, Anakbayan New Jersey
(714) 271-2830, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Jersey — On September 9th, 2015, as members of Anakbayan and residents of New Jersey, we stand in solidarity with the Rally To Demand Justice For Abdul Kamal, Kashad Ashford, and Jerame Reid organized by the People’s Organization for Progress at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark. People’s Organization for Progress held a Million People’s March Against Police Brutality, Racial Injustice, and Economic Inequality this July, in Newark garnering the support of hundreds this July in Newark, including speeches from the families of Abdul Kamal, Kashad Ashford, and Jerame Reid. Less than a month later, 14 year-old Radazz Hearns was chased by two police officers and a state trooper in Trenton, NJ as he walked down the street with friends; he was then shot seven times. Radazz was hospitalized and suffered major injuries to the backs of his legs and pelvis. He is now being charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun, third-degree aggravated assault, and fourth-degree possession of a defaced firearm. The gun that Radazz is accused of reaching for was found on the scene twelve hours after the shooting and the Mercer County police department unlawfully released his juvenile record this week. We continue to denounce the killing and criminalization of Black youth under the U.S. Imperialist machine and white supremacist legal system.
While we understand that the law cannot be the only vehicle for justice, we join People’s Organization for Progress and the families of Kamal, Ashford, Reid, and Hearns in the call to demand that the U.S. Attorney’s Office charge and convict the officers responsible for their murders and open civil rights investigations. “The stories of Kamal, Ashford, and Reid are nothing new,” said Anakbayan New Jersey member Laura Emily Endaya Austria. “They are symptoms of the disease that is police brutality and racism. As members of the political mass organization Anakbayan NJ, we cannot stand for this. We support People’s Organization for Progress in their efforts to make the cases of Kamal, Ashford, Reid, and others more visible and to catalyze change in the criminal justice system that favors whites over people of color.”
Feeling safe is important, but that feeling is hard in the Jersey City community. The growing gentrification in Jersey City, along with police violence and harassment of Black folks and Black queer and trans people, has made our communities unsafe. As expressed by Shayla Cook, member of the Undoing Racism Committee and alumni of Peers Educating Peers at NJCU, this is a constant threat. “My people are continuously being exterminated,” she says. “My people have been forced to leave this country by being sentenced to prison, shot by law enforcement, or lynched. A genocide is taking place. Blood on the leaves and blood on the hands of those who claim to serve and protect. I am not asking you to leave, I am telling you. LEAVE THE SACRED SPACE THAT WE CALL OUR BODIES. In the name of Spirit, those of the shadow, LEAVE. Spirit, I asked that you bend their souls to the light. In the name of Kashad Ashford, Abdul Kamal, Jamal Reid; I BIND ALL ACTS OF VIOLENCE. I BIND ALL BULLETS.” We need space to heal because the intergenerational trauma is stuck in our bodies. Challenge anti-blackness in people of color communities.
We know that our struggles are not only connected in the United States, where the police hold the power to use lethal force and execute without reprieve. They have reportedly taken 821 lives just this year. It is important to us as Filipino-Americans because we see parallels between the state violence and terrorism we both face. Like the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program, COINTELPRO, developed to monitor and ultimately destroy the Black Panthers, Oplan Bayanihan was initiated by the US-Aquino regime in 2011 to further harassment, targeting, and extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders and other perceived threats under the guise of peace and national security. The truth is that Oplan Bayanihan was modeled with the same purpose to try to destroy the movement we have built because it has power, just like Black freedom fighters in the U.S. had and continue to have power.
Oplan Bayanihan is responsible for the forced disappearances, torture, and murder of the leaders of organizations and groups that only work to see our communities and nation to thrive. Last week three Lumad leaders, Emerito Samarca, Dionel Campos, and Bello Sinzo were murdered by paramilitary forces in Mindanao as the Philippine army and special forces terrorized civilians in Sitio Han-ayan. The attacks on Lumad schools, displacement from their ancestral, and mass killings in their communities continue to escalate. We see our communities under attack, whether it be peasants and indigenous peoples in the Philippines or Black people in the United States. We are disillusioned and brought up to see military and police officers as those that protect and serve. As we grow up, we see that the interests that they protect and serve are not of the people but of corporate and wealthy elite. We see that “doing your job” is processed through flawed lenses of a broken justice system and criminalizes progress when it means real change for our people. In the case of Radazz, we hear of trumped-up charges against folks that have done nothing wrong and, in the same breath, are found guilty of charges with irrelevant and unrelated materials.
We are not free until we are all free! Join the call! Put pressure on the US Attorney’s office by calling (973) 645-2704 and sending letters to
Hon. Paul J. Fishman
U.S. Attorney for New Jersey
U.S. Attorney’s Office
970 Broad Street Suite 700
Newark, New Jersey 07102
JUSTICE FOR ABDUL KAMAL, KASHAD ASHFORD, JERAME REID, AND RADAZZ HEARNS! JUSTICE FOR ALL BLACK LIVES!
STOP KILLING LUMADS!