Houston, TX

Posted: November 13, 2011 by o22ndp in Area reports 2011


About 75 people gathered at Market Square. The rally was bolstered by a group of people who marched from the Occupy Houston encampment (whose general assembly had endorsed NDP) in another downtown park to join the protest. After the rally people marched throughout downtown Houston, including to the several prisons on the north end of downtown.

Speakers included Ray Hill, long-time prison rights advocate and founder of the Prison Show on KPFT; Krystal Muhammad of the New Black Panther Party; Dean Becker, a leading opponent of the drug laws used to jail so many youth; Maria, representing Occupy Houston; and Dave Atwood of the Houston Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The October 22 statement from the RCP was read to the attentive gathering just before the protesters started marching.

A group of drummers energized the spirited march through a busier than usual downtown Houston. A highlight of the march was at a county jail. As the march approached the jail, people had to cross over Buffalo Bayou, where in 1977 Jose Campos Torres was handcuffed by HPD officers and thrown into the bayou to drown. The MC told the rally of that crime and of the heroic resistance of the Chicano masses in response.

A section of the march went straight up to the door of the jail with their signs, and one man who had done a lot of organizing for 022 in one of the city’s large ghettos took a banner reading “This system has no future for the youth, but the revolution does” and hung it across the jail’s main entrance.

The MC played an audio testimony from an older Black woman in one of the city’s housing projects earlier that day. She spoke of the everyday harassment of the youth…and older residents… by the police, and said that she is tired of all this. She powerfully exposed what daily life of people in the projects is, and the weight of it on people…”just because we’re low income, doesn’t mean we’re criminal.” She also related her own defiance of the police.

Then a Chicana just started speaking up from the outskirts of the rally. When she was invited up to the mic, she related how her sons are spending extended time in jail because the judge didn’t like her defiant attitude. He straight up said she was butting into something that was none of her business [!], and retaliated with a more severe sentence for one of her sons. This woman’s story unleashed a number of the youth and others in the march to get up and expose their outrageous treatment at the hands of the police.

Person after person spoke of being arrested, jailed, framed on minor or phony marijuana charges. One white woman from Occupy Houston was framed on a marijuana charge. She was a student, had never been in trouble with the law, and had no record, but had a million dollar bond set on her. She went on to say that she was lucky because she was able to afford one of the best lawyers in town, but that if she had been Black or Brown and didn’t have money for a good lawyer, she’d still be in jail.

Several people who didn’t come up to the mic nevertheless were eager to tell people flyering or selling REVOLUTION their stories.

Taking the march right to the “jailhouse doors” of the main County prison had a powerful impact on people; it really energized the marchers, unleashed a torrent of stories, and established some bonds with people going in and out of the jail visiting prisoners. Through this and the entire weekend’s activities, a strong basis was established for continuing and developing the fight to end police brutality and repression, and the mass jailing of the youth.

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