InPDUM Brooklyn Organizes the Court for Black Justice and Reparations; Putting the NYPD on Trial!
by: President Diop Olugbala
On Sat. May 18, at the corner of E. 55th St and Church Ave in Brooklyn, NY, the Brooklyn Branch of the International Peoples Democratic Uhuru Movement (INPDUM) will hold the pre-trial hearing for the Court for Black Justice and Reparations (CBJR). At the CBJR INPDUM and the African community as a whole will put the NYPD on trial for colonial crimes committed against the African community.
InPDUM is charging the NYPD with the following crimes of colonial oppression:
1. The murder of Kimani Grey, Shantel Davis and many others
2. The brutal and terroristic repression imposed from five million incidents of “Stop and Frisk” on Africans and Latinos since 2001.
3. The assaults on the East Flatbush protesters.
4. The ongoing colonial military occupation of the African community.
Why Do We Need a Court for Black Justice and Reparations?
The CBJR was inspired by the World Tribunal for Reparations to African People that was established by the African People’s Socialist Party in Brooklyn, NY in 1982. Since 1982 the Party has consistently held Tribunals throughout the world to put U.S. and European imperialist governments on trial for their colonial crimes committed against African people.
For 500 years African and other oppressed peoples have been forced to participate in a colonial court system that functions according to law and policy established by our oppressor and which reflects the opinion of our oppressor.
For example, during slavery, it was illegal for a slave to runaway or resist the system of slavery itself. When they caught Nat Turner, the man who led the largest slave rebellion during that period, he was put on trial, found guilty and ultimately executed by the U.S. court system.
During the Black Power Revolution of the 1960’s leaders like Huey Newton, Assatta Shakur and Omali Yeshitela were constantly in and out of the court and prison system, precisely because of the stance of organized resistance that they took against the U.S. colonial state and government and an economic system that was built and sustained off slavery, colonialism.
Today, 1 out of every 8 people who is in prison in the world today, is an African man in the U.S. There are millions of African women, men and children who are languishing in the U.S. colonial prison system or are fighting for their lives in the colonial court system. Their relationship to the court and prison system is informed by the need for white power to lock up that same African population who has been known to produce the Nat Turners and Huey Newtons of the past.
Further, the present day colonial court and prison system serve as instruments through which white power generates billions of dollars of wealth for this blood sucking economy, on the backs of Africans.
Therefore, the laws that the U.S. colonial courts, prisons and police are in place to uphold are essentially the opinion of the white ruling class, the slave master. It is the white ruling class that controls over 90% of the world’s wealth and resources, resources and wealth that were stolen from African and other oppressed peoples. The white ruling class not only controls wealth, but it wields state power: control of police, prisons and courts. Therefore, the laws that the police, prisons and courts enforce are essentially the opinion of the white ruling class itself.
Through the Court for Black Justice, African people ourselves achieve the ability to put the North American and European imperial powers on trial for colonial crimes they commit against African people – including slavery and colonialism itself, genocide, police violence, theft of resources, forced poverty and unemployment, the education system attacks on our children, etc etc.
At one point the CBJR functioned according to international UN law. However, in this period we are functioning primarily according to INPDUM’s Revolutionary National Democratic Program (RNDP). You can find the RNDP here:
We made this shift from UN law to the RNDP for the following reasons:
1. The UN is essentially a puppet for U.S. and European imperialism, and therefore its laws can never truly represent the genuine interests of African and oppressed peoples.
2. African people ourselves must define what the law and crime is, according to principles that represent our interests. The Revolutionary National Democratic Program is the document which, in our view, articulates the genuine interests of the colonized African nation in the best way. We determine the criminality of the U.S. government and, in this case, the NYPD, according to its attacks on the democratic rights and aspirations of African people as they are defined in the RNDP.
The CBJR is conducted the same way any other court of law is conducted. We will have a prosecuting attorney (Peoples Advocate) and a panel or tribunal of three judges who should be people who are well respected in the community.
The defense (the State) is entitled to its own lawyer and/or representative.
The following link is an excerpt of the most recent Court for Black Justice we held in Oakland, CA. This particular link shows testimony provided by Enjoli Mixon, sister of Lovelle Mixon, the 26 year old African who killed 4 Oakland Police before being assassinated. In that same stream of vimeo videos can be found other testimonials provided by victims of police murder and brutality. http://vimeo.com/42156316 Among such testimonials was the uncle of Oscar Grant and the mother of Kenneth Harding Jr, an African man who was shot by San Francisco police over a $2 bus fare.
We will subpoena the State (in this case the NYPD) in the same way they subpoena us. We either mail them a subpoena in the mail or we physically serve the subpoena to a representative of the state in a highly visible manner. The latter of these methods is used for political and propaganda purposes more than anything. The following is a video of INPDUM serving Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Police Chief Charles Ramsey subpoenas to appear at the CBJR held there in 2008: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmmx_tkupgk
In the process of building for this Court for Black Justice Reparations INPDUM will organize a press conference and demonstration outside of the precinct that murdered Kimani Grey. At that demo we should physically serve the captain of that precinct with the People’s Subpoena. This should be carefully planned.
Testimony and Participation from the Masses Key to Success of CBJR
Each of the charges INPDUM and the African community is filing against the NYPD will be validated through testimony provided by the masses of the people as well as key witnesses who had some relationship to the charges in question. Ideally, we would have testimony from people who saw the murder of Kimani Grey. We should have testimony from people who saw the pigs drag Shantel Davis out of her car and bleed to death. We should have people who have been stopped and frisked for no reason but being African and Latino. We should have testimony from people who were at the rebellions and protests that followed Kimani’s murder.
To get these testimonies and general participation from the people will require a tremendous amount of outreach, which includes distribution of pre-testimonial forms (that also serve as contact sheets), as well the As we build for the tribunal we must also engage in numerous marches, demonstrations and other political actions designed to mobilize mas participation around the question.
We have created “WANTED” posters for the police who murdered Kimani Grey and Shantel Davis, as well as NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly.
We have forces that are on the ground every day, having sign up tables, soapboxing, educating and agitating the community. We are signing up the masses of the people up to participate. Like everything else in the revolutionary process, mass participation will ensure we have a successful CBJR!
On a concrete and immediate level, the CBJR must result in a People’s Verdict and a People’s Sentence. The People’s Sentence must come in the form of a real program – a set of demands – that would speak to the genuine interests of the African community, as it relates to the issues dealt with at the CBJR. In the case of the NYPD, the people’s sentence should come in the form of these types of demands:
1. Immediate release of all those who were arrested in the protests against the murder of Kimani Grey, and dropping of the charges against them.
2. Reparations to the families of Kimani Grey, Shantel Davis and other families of police murder victims.
3. Immediate abolishment of stop and frisk and harassment of African people in our community.
4. Freeze on the budget of certain programs allotted to the NYPD that encourage heavier handed, violent tactics – such as the arming with assault rifles, tanks and other combat equipment.
5. Reparations to the African Community in the form of economic development programs controlled by the people.
6. Immediate closure of the police precincts that, through an investigation conducted by the CBJR, have been determined to be criminal and unaccountable to the community. The basis of such claims should be found in the relationship those precincts have with the people as revealed through empirical data (ie rate of brutality, murder, frame ups, robberies and other complaints).
7. Immediate arrest, prosecution, conviction and punishment of NYPD Sgt. Mourad Mourad and rank and file cops Jovaniel Cordova and Phil Atkins.
8. African community control of police: immediate withdrawal of the NYPD and its immediate replacement with forces that protect and defend the African community.