We Need More Than Marches

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On December 16, more than 60,000 people marched to protest the killing of Sean Bell whose life was extinguished in a hail of 50 shots, hours before he was to have been married, by police officers of The New York Police Department, some of whom had been drinking alcohol.

The march started at Fifty-Ninth St. and Fifth Ave. and ended at 34 St. and Sixth Ave. This march came one week after two marches in the Jamaica Queens area, one by the N.A.A.C.P the other by the New Black Panther Party. Bell was killed in Queens. Before that the militant December 12th Movement organized the first march at City Hall.    

Many more marches are planned to protest police brutality and murder of Black people, as they should. In addition, many different groups are planning marches. However, a fundamental question must be asked: how will we translate these marches into meaningful policy changes that will prevent future killings of our people at the hands of police?     

Because, when all is said and done, we should settle for nothing less than the eradication of police brutality in Black communities. Anything less represents failure. Police brutality as it relates to institutional racism is, and always has been, the major reason why our communities have been besieged with tragedies such as those that were perpetrated upon: Anthony Baez, Elenor Bumpers, Abner Louima, Patrick Dorismond, Timothy Stansbury, Amadou Diallo and now Sean Bell.    

All of those times we marched, and yet, police murder of Black men in particular continue unabated. So, what must we do differently this time around, besides, marching to maintain the pressure on those who influence policies that kill our people? Many talk about boycotting elements that have influence upon those who control the machinations of the police.             

Boycotts are always an effective tool if applied properly. That means we scrutinize and identify the proper targets. Dr. King and the members of the Civil Rights Movement showed us the correct way to use the boycott, as in the legendary year-and-a-half Montgomery Bus Boycott. Unfortunately, today, our people are not as organized as we were in those days.      

Yes, we can regain the unity of those great days. However, we must commit ourselves to that sacrifice. Otherwise, all our efforts will fail. To end the scourge of police brutality and murder we as a people must keep the pressure on. Marching represents only a first step in this fight against police racism, stereotyping and murder. If we are to break new ground and reclaim our communities from the thuggery of cops who are either racist, or, engage in stereotyping we need much, much more.

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