Black People Have a Right to Rebel

Lorenzo Komboa Ervin's analysis of the place of the 2001 Cincinnati riots within the history of US urban riots and the struggle against racism.

Submitted by libcom on July 29, 2005

A massive anti-cop rebellion has broken out in Cincinnati over the police shootings of 15 Black men, ranging in ages of 12-44 years old, all unarmed. The latest case of Timothy Thomas, a 19-year old brother, allegedly wanted for misdemeanor traffic offenses, was gunned down last week by a crazed white cop. The Black community has risen up in a massive protest against this racist occupying army, poverty, and other forms of mistreatment. Now, we are being told by various White politicians and their paid Uncle Toms that even more massive police violence should be trained on us "to keep the peace", and "stop the violence". Not the cop violence and murder, which has gone on for years, but the current rebellion by our people against police forces.

I have heard this garbage for years. Going back to the 1965 Watts rebellion, when Black folks rebelled after years of LAPD racist brutality, it was a line put forth by the white ruling class and its Negro spokespersons that we were "torching our own neighborhoods". Never mind that we didn't own a damn thing in the ghetto, that it was the cops themselves shooting and torching Black homes, and that this was a clearly a struggle with deep roots in historical oppression, the government's line was duly picked up by the negrosie, and passed off as "truth", along with "the police right to stop looters" and "we need peace". Not about justice justice, not about stopping police murders of our people, but that we must stop our resistance against our oppressors. That is their only concern, restoring "law and order."

We are an oppressed people, who have the moral and political right to rebel. We are fighting oppression, and seeking freedom. We are opposing terrorism by military agents of the white government. We have been historically enslaved, and our youth are being imprisoned and killed in massive numbers, so we must fight back or become an extinct species. There are those who say that if we will only be "peaceful" those in power will listen to us. This has never happened, and truthfully none of the civil rights bills of the 1960's outlawing Southern segregation, and other concessions of that period, would have been passed if the white government was not afraid of Black people erupting in the streets. So street rebellion is effective.

Neither I nor anyone else can say with complete accuracy, but I think we can soon expect to see other such rebellions in various American cities because similar contradictions exists, and even more murderous police forces guard the white rich of those places. For example, Detroit is a city which could go up at any time. It leads the USA in the number of fatal police shootings of civilians, most of whom are Black. It has a corrupt government, which allows violence by police, drug-peddling, robbery, and other offenses by officers. There are Detroit officers, like Eugene Brown, who have killed several persons, and yet never been punished. He is protected by the Mayor and the police union. Although worse in Detroit, police brutality goes on all over the country, along with political coverups to protect them. I hear white folks and middle class negroes say that if we arm ourselves and resist, "even more of us will be killed." I don't propose individual resistance, but rather community defense, and I believe then we will talk about funerals on both sides.

Our task, as an oppressed people, is to work to overthrow white supremacy and capitalist rule. That is the true nature of this government, not a so-called democracy" where we can expect fair treatment. This system is based on and maintained by our oppression. This is why I believe that the task of Black radicals is not to call for new federal legislation, an FBI investigation, or a citizen review board. We must educate our people about the truth of this system, and begin to build a mass resistance movement against racism and internal colonialism. This resistance should be by any means necessary, and we must have an armed self-defense policy. I have always rejected pacifism. We must seek to build dual power base, and begin to win over the masses of the people, build a militia to protect it, and push the police and white government out of the community entirely. We must begin to govern ourselves, and create a new zone of Black power. The activists have got to stop looking in from the outside and doing all our organizing on the comfortable college campuses or suburbs, and begin to organize in the impoverished neighborhoods where the action is taking place. As activists, we have got to stop waiting on crises like the Cincinnati rebellion, and begin to set up organizing projects to make sure they don't happen, and when they do we can effectively retaliate. Yes, we have a right to rebel in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and anywhere else we are oppressed.

We are a class of poor and oppressed peoples who are fighting capitialism and racism all over the world. We are not alone, and when we fight we will find that the people of the world support our struggle.