July 4, 2020: A day of Black self-determination

The People’s Declaration of ‘Frederick Douglass Square’

Frederick Douglass Square. Photo: Jeff Antoine

On July 4th, the People’s Republic of Brooklyn rocked as the December 12th Movement led the community in a people’s street renaming. To loud cheers and applause from the hundreds gathered around Sistas’ Place, the covers were pulled off street signs proclaiming “Frederick Douglass Square” to replace those of notorious slaveowners Thomas (pedophile and rapist) Jefferson and Gerret Nostrand.

D12 spokesperson Iman Essiet said, “We deliberately chose the person [Douglass], the act [replacing the street sign], the date [July 4th] and location [Sistas’ Place, Nostrand and Jefferson Avenues]. Frederick Douglass fearlessly spoke truth in the 19th century, like Malcolm X did 100 years later. In his famous speech ‘What to the American Slave is Your 4th of July?’ he concluded ‘for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.’” She added, “This is still true today.”

Vinson Verdree noted, “Every July 4th, we place the Douglass speech in Sistas’ Place window. This year, where our community faces an endless wave of white-supremacist fueled police and vigilante terror, COVID-19 health devastation, unemployment and homelessness we decided to make his revolutionary message permanent in our community’s consciousness.”

The rally that preceded the unveiling was lively, inspirational and educational.

Kamau Brown introduced D12 members Frank Brown and Chimhwi Brown. Frank laid out the history of Black folks fighting for self-determination in the U.S. Chimhwi defined what self-determination meant for today and the future and the need for young people to be actively involved.

Attorney/activist King Downing explained what “defunding the police” truly means as a step towards abolishing the police and exposed the tricks politicians will attempt to sabotage the process. As an example, he cited Mayor De Blasio’s initial promise to cut $1 billion out of the Police Department’s $6 billion budget was even a bigger lie when you consider that the NYPD budget was actually $11 billion when you include the $5 billion in pension and health care benefits he “forgot” to mention.

Kazembe Batts of the Universal Hip Hop Parade was encouraged by the growing activism of youth and their willingness to learn from veterans in the struggle.

Several speakers addressed the importance of the Black Liberation Movement in their own national struggle for liberation.

Nerdeen Kiswani of the Palestinian support group Within Our Lifetime, drew the historical connections between the Black and Palestinian struggles for self-determination. “The best thing that we, who live in the U.S., can do for Palestinian liberation is to fight for Black liberation.”

Mark Torres of the People Pueblo Party and Radhames Morales of Fuerza de La Revolución stated that the struggles in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico could not succeed unless Black people’s fight in the U.S. did. They united on the need for an independent political party as key to a revolutionary solution.

Bill Dores of Struggle – La Lucha, highlighted the key role which the Black Liberation Movement plays in the struggle against imperialism.

New York State Assemblyman Charles Barron spoke about the Reparations Remedies bill (A3080A) he is sponsoring in the New York State Assembly. His bill provides for major community input in its composition and decision-making and will require constant and massive pressure from the community on their elected officials to have it passed.

New York City Councilwoman Inez Barron said the police cannot be made accountable for their criminal acts without a truly “independent prosecutor.”

April Raiford introduced D12 attorney Malik Callender whose overview of the case for reparations left people shaking their heads in agreement and with a deeper understanding of its revolutionary content.

Sistas’ Place music director Ahmed Abdullah began and ended his moving rendition of Douglass’s 4th of July speech singing the spiritual “Rivers of Babylon.” He later explained that the lyrics were part of Douglass’ 1852 speech.

For those who ask where do we go from here, D12 Chairperson Viola Plummer provided the answer by calling for people to stay in the streets and leading the crowd in chanting Black Panther Party chairman Huey P. Newton’s call for “All Power to the People.” She ended the rally by delivering the current indictment of the United States’ Crimes against Humanity which Douglass spoke so eloquently of 168 years ago, “They Stole Us. They sold us. They owe us. Reparations now!”

Video of the rally and unveiling will be posted on the website: www.d12m.com

Source: Amsterdam News