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Topics

Voices of Rise Up October: Quentin Tarantino, Cornel West, Victims' Families Decry Police Violence

StoryOctober 26, 2015
Watch iconWatch Full Show

Guests
Kadiatou Diallo

mother of Amadou Diallo.

Cephus Johnson

known as "Uncle Bobby," uncle of Oscar Grant.

Cornel West

professor at Union Theological Seminary. He is author of numerous books; his latest is Black Prophetic Fire.

On Saturday, thousands rallied in New York City against police brutality as part of three days of protest called "Rise Up October." Some 40 families across the country impacted by police violence participated in the event alongside scholars such as Dr. Cornel West and Chris Hedges, as well as celebrities including playwright Eve Ensler and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. We bring some of the voices from Saturday’s rally, including Kadiatou Diallo, mother of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed West African immigrant who died on February 4, 1999, in a hail of 41 police bullets as he put the key in his door. The New York Police Department’s Street Crime Unit would later be disbanded. "How many more victims were unjustly killed since Amadou Diallo?" Kadiatou Diallo said. "We can’t begin to count. I went to many funerals. I connected with many families. We’re not bitter. The law enforcement should know we are not against them. We are not against them. We are anti-police brutality."


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to come back to the streets of New York. On Saturday, thousands rallied in New York City against police brutality as part of three days of protest called Rise Up October. Some 40 families from across the United States impacted by police violence participated in the event, alongside scholars like Dr. Cornel West, journalist Chris Hedges, as well as celebrities like the playwright Eve Ensler and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. The rally took place one day after FBI Director James Comey said protests over police brutality may have fueled an increase in violent crime because officers are less aggressive.

Well, today we end today’s program by bringing you some of the voices from Saturday’s rally, beginning with Kadiatou Diallo, the mother of Amadou Diallo, the unarmed West African immigrant who died February 4th, 1999, in a hail of 41 police bullets as he put his key in the door in his own door in the Bronx in New York. New York Police Department’s Street Crime Unit would later be disbanded.

PROTESTERS: No justice for the black, no justice for the brown. So what we gonna do? Shut it down! Shut it down! No justice for the brown, no justice for the black. So what we gonna do? Fists up! Fight back!

Don’t shoot! Hands up! Don’t shoot! Hands up! Don’t shoot!

KADIATOU DIALLO: How are you doing, sisters and brothers? Hello, New York City. In the spirit of my son Amadou Diallo, I say to you: We will see the end of this brutality in our lifetime. My son didn’t die in vain. He died so that we can have change. But the change has been long coming. We are still waiting. How many more victims were unjustly killed since Amadou Diallo? We cannot even begin to count. I went to many funerals. I connected to many families.

We are not bitter. I told the world then, the day when they stood up and told me that the four cops who shot my son had done nothing wrong, that it was the fault of my son, I said to you, I say to you now, I said it then: We need change. Amadou has died. It’s too late for him. But we have to prevent this from happening again. When you have tragedies like that, you need to learn what went wrong and correct it. It never happened, because, nationwide, look at all these faces here. Look at all these families here. What happened?

Law enforcement community should know that we are not against them. We even feel for those who were shot just recently in Harlem. We are not against them. We are anti-police brutality. We are not anti-cop, because we know some of them are doing good job. But we need to root out those who are brutalizing our children for no reason.

REV. JEROME McCORRY: Brothers and sisters, Mr. Quentin Tarantino.

QUENTIN TARANTINO: Hey, everybody. I got something to say, but actually I would like to give my time to the families that want to talk. I want to give my time to the families. However, I just do also want to say: What am I doing here? I’m doing here because I am a human being with a conscience. And when I see murder, I cannot stand by, and I have to call the murdered the murdered, and I have to call the murderers the murderers. Now I’m going to give my time to the families.

CEPHUS "UNCLE BOBBY" JOHNSON: I am affectionately known to the community as Uncle Bobby. I am the uncle of Oscar Grant. How many of you have seen the movie Fruitvale Station? I’m going to be short. I just want to say this. One famous person that I know who’s standing behind me right now named Dr. Cornel West said this: If you want to hear the truth, you must let the suffering speak. Martin Luther King said it this way: "Cowards ask, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks, 'Is it political?' Vanity asks, 'Is it popular?' But conscience asks, 'Is it right?' There comes a time when neither safe, political or vanity is the reason why you stand. You stand because it is right."

PROTESTER: Do the right thing!

CEPHUS "UNCLE BOBBY" JOHNSON: Rise up!

PROTESTER: Do the right thing!

PROTESTERS: Rise up!

CEPHUS "UNCLE BOBBY" JOHNSON: Rise up!

PROTESTERS: Rise up!

REV. JEROME McCORRY: It is with great pleasure I introduce the people’s scholar, the people’s leader. Let’s give it up for Dr. Cornel West.

CORNEL WEST: My brother.

REV. JEROME McCORRY: I love you, Doc.

CORNEL WEST: I love you.

REV. JEROME McCORRY: I love you, Doc.

CORNEL WEST: Brother Jerome, we’re here because we have a deep love for those who have been abused by the police. Let’s don’t get it twisted: This is a love train. This is what the Isley Brothers call a caravan of love. How many of you all love the people? How many of you all serve the people? And we’re here because we want to keep the families center stage. This is not the time for a speech. We know that the capitalist system is failing us. We know the criminal justice system is failing us. We know that white supremacy is a lie, but it’s still alive. It is failing us. Male supremacy, too. Homophobia, too. Anti-Arab, too. Anti-Jewish, too. Anti-Muslim, too. But we’re here to focus on the family, y’all. This has been a major effort to bring families from all over the country, from every corner of the American empire. And we want to make sure we salute them.

AMY GOODMAN: That last speaker was Dr. Cornel West of Union Theological Seminary, speaking at the anti-police brutality protest Saturday in New York City. Before that, Oscar Grant’s uncle, Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson, and director Quentin Tarantino. The leader of the New York Police Department’s union has called for a boycott of Tarantino’s films after he participated in the Rise Up October protest Saturday. On the streets after the rally, when thousands marched from Washington Square Park up to Bryant Park, where the New York Public Library is, I spoke to Uncle Bobby further, the uncle of Oscar Grant.

CEPHUS "UNCLE BOBBY" JOHNSON: I am affectionately known to the community as Uncle Bobby. I am the uncle of Oscar Grant, the young man, as you know, that was killed in the movie Fruitvale Station.

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us what happened to Oscar Grant, when it happened.

CEPHUS "UNCLE BOBBY" JOHNSON: On January 1st, 2009, at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, California, as you know, Oscar Grant was laying face down in a prone position with his hands behind his back, before Johannes Mehserle stands up and shoots him in the back without any apparent reason. He alleged that he thought Oscar had a gun.

AMY GOODMAN: And tell me what happened. Who witnessed this?

CEPHUS "UNCLE BOBBY" JOHNSON: Of course, there was many on the platform that evening that saw what happened.

AMY GOODMAN: It was New Year’s night.

CEPHUS "UNCLE BOBBY" JOHNSON: It was New Year’s night. They, of course, videotaped what was occurring. And for the first time in California state history, because of the community, because of labor, the ILWU Local 10, longshoremen’s, who shut down the ports, and of course the community that embraced the family, we got, for the first time in California state history, an officer arrested, charged, convicted and sent to jail. We count that as historical, not a victory, because he only did 11 months, because of a technicality that the judge alleged. However, we know that the unifying of these families across the United States will bring about a real change.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Oscar Grant’s uncle, Uncle Bobby, in the streets of New York, though he’s normally in California, because thousands marched on Saturday.

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