Weeks after the first meeting, the "Purification and Standardization" began. The coalition was structured by Ada and her supporters into many committees all led by those who supported Ada. There was a media committee, a PR committee... it felt more like a marketing firm than a grass roots coalition.
But the one committee that I hated the most and what got the most love from the leadership was the so-called 'Legal' Committee. This group was mostly brothers and sister who were either paralegals and or actual lawyers. Now I'm not putting down people for being lawyers, but really, if you want something to be dragged out, watered down, and just plain overly complicated, then all you have to do is get lawyers involved. The committee was seen as the real engine behind the organization because they were working on putting together and putting forth the proposal for a Citizens Review Board for the "Powers That Be". This CRB was envisioned by the leaders of the coalition to be made of people of color, women, men, etc., so that if an incident involving police would ever come about where someone was murdered by them (for brandishing a hair brush for example), the Citizens Review Board would have the "power" to discipline the police rather than leave it to Internal Affairs and the Police management who uphold the "Blue Wall of Silence". But what was worse was that this committee was to be reported to by the other sub-committees; so if the media group or PR group came up with fliers, or proposals to talk to the media, it all had to go through the Legal Committee.
Why? Because Ada loved her some Suits. She, like Jew Don (who proved this tendency later) was at a point in her life where she saw being a street activist as a powerless role; a loser who rages outside of society. I think Ada saw herself and those she sought alliances with to be activist dipped in dandyism; savvy in law and media.
While it does not hurt for activists to know some aspects of the law for protection and self defense in the courts, or activist to have the basic skills in writing press releases, I think we should strive to have a balance in all skills from designing Websites, coming up with tactics to outwit the police at demos, and make a good vegetarian burrito during brainstorm sessions.
But Ada wanted to put all her eggs in the Legal committee who would come up with some brilliant blueprint of a civilian review board. The thing is, Civilian Review Boards have been proposed in Berkley, Boston, New York and each one of those proposals brought forth to the Mayors of each of those cities have either been rejected or ignored. Why? In this society where the police's main role is to protect property and make sure that those who don't own anything don't fuck with those who do, we will never see the ruling class give regular folks power over the police.
There has been more than enough documentation that covers police response time for suburban dwellers vs. those who live the black community or barrios, so it's obvious who they truly answer to. I've heard of police that when they talk amongst each other they describe the non-ghetto denizens as “Tax Payers” or “Citizens”.
As I conclude this blog entry I wonder how effective my writing would have been if Weblog technology existed in the fall of 1989 when, at the onset of angry people of color forming to organize a movement to have the murderers of Ida Lee Delaney jailed?
Would the micro-managing, Democrat-shilling, Back-door Stalinist, public image-obsessed leadership have read this blog and saw that they were heading for failure and dragging all of us who thought we were fighting the good fight into the dark pit of innocence lost? I doubt it. If anything, me blogging about that movement and the leaders would have gotten me gas faces and physical threats.
The jury convicted Mr. Gonzales of voluntary manslaughter a year later. Thanks to Ada and friends' reformist manipulations with their straw man issue of chasing the CRB or fighting it, we never thought about the fact that we should have been focusing on how the cops should have been convicted knowing that this is a culture that doesn't jail the rich, the powerful, or the drones who protect them; the police. But there you go, Gonzales gets a conviction of manslaughter. If someone died on your wet front porch from a fall you can liable for it and get a manslaughter conviction.
But Gonzales and his accomplices chased somebody down for thirteen miles, emerged from their cars with guns and even though Ida had a gun and was even shooting first, they never identified themselves or even called for back-up of officers who REALLY were ON duty and not drunk.
It did come out during Gonzales's trail that he got into an argument with Delaney provoking her into the round of shooting that resulted in her death. Ada and Jew Don did ultimately become elected officials. They both served on the city council and yet killer cops have been able to continue their god work killingPOC and working class people without worry of them going to jail. This disproves that "working within the system" thing.
If you want to see a movement that seeks justice for victims of police brutality have a fighting chance to see a positive end to their goals whatever they may be, then there needs to be a few factors involved:
1. Democratic Process - wasting valuable meeting time with "Who is too radical", and "Who will get us bad press" just so you can purge undesirables is bullshit. It demoralizes people and those who have no idea of the past histories of one radical group vs. the moderates will confuse and run of the fresh faces.
2. Ok, so you want a Civilian Review Board. Cool, but we can chew gum and walk at the same time; let's look at all of our options from CBRs to jailing cops and raising consciousness in the community regarding the one-sidedness of the law regarding police murders. There should be something for everyone in movements like these.
3. We Autonomists talk about the vanguardist left and the shit they do in grassroots movements. Yes, but what about the 'cult of personalty' leadership that always assumes leadership among the grassroots? We need to give ourselves the confidence it takes to to rise up and take ownership of causes without waiting for the usual suspects to come and save us. These are people who have in some ways become "brand names" and if they see themselves as products with brand names, then they will do what ever it takes to protect their names - that means no direct conflict with the state by demanding the powers to jail their protectors the cops. It's best quell the anger and creativity of a community than to fight the impossible fight.
But the fight is not impossible if we really put forth consciousness-raising efforts to get people to understand who the police really are and why they don't get jailed. If we do this, then people will understand what they are up against and there is no telling where they will be willing to go to get justice. It may seem to be an open-ended solution, but shutting them down and making them chase carrots is not a good alternative.