Rule through terror and death has plagued people of color all over the world, since the onset of colonialism. This is precisely the reason why Professor Angela Y. Davis calls for international unity amongst social activists at home and abroad.
Recently, the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression hosted a welcome home Rally at Trinity United Church of Christ, with keynote speaker Professor Angela Y. Davis. The Rally celebrated the recent prison release of 50 people wrongfully convicted of crimes, and the triumphs of the civil rights movement so far. The large crowd eagerly anticipated Davis’s speech, which provided motivation for the campaign to pardon all victims of police torture, encouragement to continue the struggle to free all political prisoners, and the call for international solidarity among social activists.
“The struggles that we have engaged in against institutionalized police violence are very much related to what is happening in Europe, and Australia, and Latin America, and Africa, and Asia, and the Middle East,” said Davis. “We have to learn how to value those who have expressed solidarity for our struggles in the U.S. —We need to not think of ourselves as so ensconced in domestic struggles that we fail to recognize how important international solidarity is.”
Education Director of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Frank Chapman fully endorses the idea. “Angela knows from experience that international solidarity is important,” said Chapman. “Before her acquittal, we had over 200 Free Angela Davis committees in the United States and committees in 67 different countries. We have been involved [with freedom and activism] for over 45 years. We maintain the stance of international solidarity to this day.”
Forty-six years ago, Angela Davis served 18 months in jail for charges associated with assisting in the attempted prison escape of George L. Jackson and the Soledad Brothers. In 1973, The National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression was founded by members of the United Committee to Free Angela Davis. She was acquitted of those charges on June 4, 1972. After Davis was released, she continued the fight to help others gain freedom. Professor Davis and the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression also fights against racist violence, mass incarceration, and family separation by immigration policies.
“I don’t know how the movement for Black Lives would have unfolded had it not been for the fact that Palestinian activists immediately offered solidarity and were at the forefront of an international solidarity movement that further emboldened people in this country to stand up and fight police violence,” Davis said.
Black Lives Matter Activist Aislinn Pulley said one of the most remarkable accounts of international solidarity on U.S. soil includes the fact that “Palestinian organizers were some of the first responders to tell the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, how to respond to tear gas. Providing instructions on using milk – not water, to offset the burning caused by the tear gas fired at protesters.”
Pulley said, “Another connection was the fact that the tear gas canisters used in Ferguson [on people demonstrating against the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown] and in Baltimore [on people protesting the death of Freddie Gray] were the exact same canisters [brand of tear gas] used on the Palestinians in Gaza [trying to observe Nakba Day]. We must support each other against military repression, domestically and around the world.”
International solidarity is the call to action. “I wanted to say a few words about the importance of linking up with struggles around the world,” said Davis. “Anti-Muslim racism, Islamophobia has to be understood as intersecting with and reinvigorating anti-Black, anti-Asian, anti-Latinos racism.”
She also stated that “people in struggle all around the world can look to the Palestinians for that steadfastness and that persistence and that belief that freedom is still on the horizon.”
“Mondo we Langa died [in prison],” said Davis. “Ed Poindexter is still in prison [Mondo, formally David Rice and Ed Poindexter of the Rice/Poindexter case, (1970 bombing that killed local police officer Larry Minard). Both members of the Black Panther Party. Leonard Peltier – one of the longest held political prisoners, is still behind bars and we really need to bring Leonard home [Native American activist and member of the American Indian Movement. Convicted for the deaths of two FBI agents who died in a shootout at the Pine Ridge Indian reservation.]” She paused dramatically before acknowledging Mumia Abu-Jamal [Former Black Panther Party member and MOVE organization. Sentenced in the 1981 case of police officer Daniel Faulkner’s death].
Davis spoke about some of the recent cases worked on in Chicago. “We worked to prevent the deportation of Rasmea Odeh [Palestinian activist deported to Jordan for failing to disclose an Israeli military court conviction charging involvement in two bombings in Jerusalem in 1969 that killed two people and claimed she was a member of a U.S. listed terrorist organization.], and we were not entirely successful in that battle but Rasmea continues to fight back,” said Davis. “We who believe in freedom can not rest until it comes.”
Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression’s Welcome Home Rally was endorsed by Black Lives Matter Chicago, Black Caucus of the Chicago Teachers Union, National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, Pilsen Alliance, U.S. Palestinian Community Network, and UIC Graduate Employees Organization. For more information on the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, please contact Frank Chapman at 312.939.2750.