Voices From the Crowd
cousin of the late
Mother Clara Hale:
“We are survivors. We were always survivors. And we’ve been walking all our lives. All our lives obstacles have been set up to prevent us from getting the proper education. As long as they can put black youth in jail, they are not afraid. This morning at 6am, there were thousands of police officers on churches, on rooftops. I brought my camera for that reason. The camera is a form of protection. Our youth must keep a level head and walk with this kind of protection. (Looking around) This is like Nazi Germany. Now you must always look to the roof. We’ll march right into the Millennium; we’re past tired. You can’t stop tired, determined people.
Coalition for the Homeless
There were very positive speeches. Some rhetoric regarding the Jews which I did not totally agree with and some references I wouldn’t make… but we’ve been through this. First Amendment Rights is God-given.
But outside of that, there were positive messages: involve yourself, do something with your life, stand up for one another and work together. These were the messages I received. I wasn’t coming at first. I was on by way to meet friends at Coney Island. But I got off the train at 125th Street, when the conductor – a black man – told passengers that the trains were being diverted because of the “hate march”. I couldn’t believe it. When he said that I just got off the train. Why would anyone call this a hate march? Right then and there, I wanted to be a part of it, to represent the youth of the city.
But after the march I realized we’ve got a nation that thinks the whole thing was racist. I called my brothers in Spokane, Washington, my sister in Washington, D.C. and a cousin in Jacksonville, Florida, so they know the real deal and will pass it on. Apparently it aired live in all those states, except ours.
I would like to see a debate between Mayor Giuliani and Khalid Muhammad. The mayor would be stuck. Members of the Coalition for the Homeless showed up at a community meeting where he was speaking. I stood up during his speech and asked, ‘What are your views on the homeless, sir?” The Mayor looked at me, and said, “You have to go.” I said, “Wait a minute. Why not answer the question.” And the cops grabbed a bunch of us and took us out. The mayor knows me very well. I attack him on every issue. He’s not doing what he said he would do during his campaign.
One of the riot cops told me it wasn’t his fault he was there. If I was told to jump in some riot gear, I’d say, the Hell with you. They had a choice. They were out for blood. He’s not going to fire 3500 cops. And some of the cops were crying, a block from the March. I turned to one on the train and said, “Tell me this, and be honest. Why did he send the riot police in at 3:50?” This was the moment of truth for this one police officer. He gave me the evil eye. He looked me dead in the eye but he didn’t respond.
Dr. Jack Felder
Teacher, Biochemist, Author
I’m a fighter for black human rights, national and international… I believe that black people have to be conscious before they can liberate themselves. And liberation must have information and organization. So I was anticipating participating in the organization of black youth so they wouldn’t have to go through life making the same mistakes. If you were at the march you would have seen how people supported him and that most of the messages were messages of liberation, not about anti-Semitism or hate. A liberator for oppressed people is considered a terrorist by the oppressor. When Nat Turner was a freedom fighter for black people the white slaveowners in Virginia called him a terrorist; Toussaint was a freedom fighter for the Black Haitians, but he was called a terrorist by French slavemasters. George Washington was a freedom fighter for the white Americans who owned plantations, but he was called a terrorist by British colonialists. Even though Washington was a patriot in American, he was considered a traitor to England.
As one of the speakers at the March, I spoke about AIDS and vaccinations. We had a number of people with positive receptive messages. I realized from the moment I arrived on 125th Street at 9:30am, we were not supposed to be on stage at 9a. From the moment I arrived at 125h Street and Malcolm X Blvd. I knew Black people were going to be in trouble that day. The barricades were metal not steel. There were water cannons, tanks, horses. And I was told that they had the Army Reserve on the waterfront by the Hudson River. In fact, I did see the Army when the vendors were removed. They were waiting in case the police failed.
“At 9:30am, I could not get on Malcolm X Blvd. The police blocked me. I walked up Adam Clayton Blvd. to 123rd Street. The side blocks were barricaded. And I was supposed to be a speaker I even saw them blocking the stageworkers who had to set up the stage.
“Also, the program did not start at 12 noon. The city did not allow the people in until 12 noon. Then I saw the menacing helicopters overhead, and I saw the thousands of police lining Malcolm X Blvd. We were surrounded by metal, penned in like cattle. Finally I was able to get behind the stage, by going under a truck. All the speakers were hemmed in by cops behind the stage, and Khalid Muhammad had to personally bring in the speakers, one and two at a time to the stage area. You could tell that some of the police wanted some kind of confrontation. That’s what was going through my mind. I felt something was going to happen so I interspersed with warnings. I saw a lot females with children and babies in carriages. The cops were waiting on one side. The audience was calm, well-behaved. There was something in the air. Everyone on stage felt there would be a bloodbath in Harlem. Khalid said he wasn’t going to speak because so many people wanted to speak. At 3:45 I knew he was not going to speak. He would close it and that would be it
“A most dangerous thing: at about 3:50, the cops formed a phalanx behind us. All white cops with guns batons, face shielded by helmets, lined up behind the stage, to bumrush it. Officers were giving orders. We saw them preparing. Khalid got all the women and children off the stage. At 3:52 the cops were in attack mode behind the stage. I took out my camera. At 3:54, Khalid took the microphone to warn people about what was happening. He warned them the in a way that they knew this was serious business. The last thing he said was “Go in peace.”
“The last few minutes all women and children were gone. There were a few guys on stage; everyman was for himself. We felt they would beat us and take us to
jail. At 4pm, I was taking pictures as cops charged up the stage. I jumped to the right. Then, jumped off before they took over the entire stage. Khalid was surrounded by his security guard. and probably went off to the side. They would have done damage to that man.
Cops were rushing towards me. They were moving towards the epicenter and the stage was epicenter. Anyone on the stage they were going to beat. Some young Black brothers from security and some who were in the street, surrounded me and grabbed me out of the way. They said, “We got to get you away from here, you are our alert elder. We can’t afford to lose you.” These young men surrounded us – me, Dr. Barashango and other speakers. They formed a circle around us, and got us out of the back area. I didn’t even know them. But they knew us. They took us to a car and it made me realize, we are valued by our youth.
Black people showed great calm and restraint in the face of being attacked and intimidated. I was very proud of my people that day.”
“I am thankful that the situation didn’t arise where anyone was punished for doing viable community work. I think the event overall was a good event. It was a good event despite the fact that it was not funded to the degree that the previous marches were. It lacked some of the structure of previous marches. That’s only because this March was organized under the extremely adverse conditions put forth by Mayor Giuliani.
“The Mayor was a Federal Prosecutor before he was elected into office. He’s aware of the limits of his office as it relates to Constitutional issues which means he willfully and knowingly denied these people their Constitutional rights to peaceful assembly; he prevented them from having a march, in clear violation of the agreement reached by the Judge. The restriction of access came to a point where I had to intervene for a handicapped individual trying to get home. He lived on the block for 40 years. Police was denying him access. He was in a wheelchair, and would have had to wheel 6 blocks out of his way. I wanted the captain’s information to file a complaint. I let the captain know it was inexcusable to engage in the fine-line policing that would not be done in another community just because this person did not have ID.
I have been on the job for 12 years. I have spent time on the Borough Task Force. My responsibilities have included responding to civil unrest at parades. Never in my career have I seen or heard about an event like this where people are denied access. Black people walked blocks and blocks out of their way. I have never seen court orders that limited the scope of a particular event. It’s either you can have it or it you can not have it. People were moved from one block to another: These idiosyncrasies were imposed upon the event organizers, but they prevailed despite all of it
“Black youth are the most vilified group of individuals on the planet. These are supposed to be the cutthroats. I was there from start to finish. I didn’t see any alcoholic beverage, one puff of marijuana. These are supposed to be uncontrollable young people. Yet, there was a message they wanted to hear. Conceptually, it is all African. No matter how much light is shone on others, sooner or later we’ve got to shine light on ourselves.
“(Regarding some of the complaints of Black Elected officials) The Black Elected officials have to do a little self-check. If they were in fact so virtuous, that type of dialogue would not be entertainment to our youth. If you make an indictment, you must also consider what are the conditions that make this type of profane dialogue acceptable, what are the conditions that bring about this type of profane dialogue. If it’s truth it is truth. We live our lives in such a way that when someone affects our lives, we have to look at the validity of their argument. If their language is couched in a context we like but is disturbing we have to look at in this light: Are the elected officials really doing our bidding? Are they doing our bidding? Are they consistent with democratic ideals? Or are they doing something other than what the community wants them to do? Khalid is really a powerless individual. He does not enact legislation. He does not enforce anything. The conditions in the African community give him power. Eliminate poor education, heavy-handed police, and all the isms, and Khalid would have no platform.”