Protests against police brutality that forced the issue onto the national agenda over the last year were just a precursor to what’s to come this fall, say a group of veteran criminal justice reform activists. “Rise Up October,” a mass demonstration planned for Oct. 24 in New York City, could attract an unprecedented number of protesters, according to the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, a national protest group.
The activists predict that some 100,000 people will disrupt normal business and shut down street traffic in the Big Apple to keep police brutality in the public consciousness. Organizers had already made #RiseUpOctober a trending topic in the U.S., with more than 2,300 Twitter mentions in the last month, according to the social media analytics site Topsy.
R&B singer Janelle Monae joined organizers at a rally in Chicago Monday to promote the demonstration. She also participated in a New York City rally last week.
— The Chicago Reporter (@ChicagoReporter) August 17, 2015
Following the police-involved deaths of unarmed African-Americans in places such as Ferguson, Missouri; Staten Island, New York, and Baltimore -- to name just a few -- the resulting civil unrest and peaceful protests did not adequately move most Americans beyond mild sympathy for the victims, one organizer said. Stopping “police terror,” a catch-all term activists use for racial profiling, police brutality, use of lethal force and mass incarceration in communities of color, merits sustained disruption and civil disobedience, they say.
“What I see [the New York City demonstration] accomplishing is radically transforming the way people look at this question -- [which side are you on?]” said Carl Dix, a Rise Up October organizer and co-founder of the national Stop Mass Incarceration Network, during an interview on the Michael Slate radio show in St. Louis Monday. “[It’s about] getting them to go from sympathy with people who are suffering this to actively siding with them and acting together with them.”
Dix and other activists have been touring the country to prepare other communities for Rise Up October demonstrations that would be staged on the same day as the flagship New York City event. The Alliance for Global Justice, a social and economic justice advocacy group based in Arizona, has raised tax-deductible funds for the activists’ tour. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network, which is supported by the Alliance and the Chicago-based Revolutionary Communist Party, has provided a kit of promotion materials online for activists.