HUNDREDS MARCH AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY
The March Against Police Brutality, for Community Control of the Police, and for Justice for Jonny Gammage, held in Pittsburgh on June 29 and sponsored by 33 groups, was a great success! Despite the fact that it was a hot and humid day, and that there was a funeral at the same time for one of the people shot to death by officer Wilbur, about 500 spirited people turned out - a huge rally by Pittsburgh standards. It was a diverse group, with young and older folks and about an equal mix of Black and white. The speakers were good, talking about a range of attempts to hold the police accountable, including the ACLU lawsuit against the city of Pittsburgh and its police department, the Civilian Review Board hearings and freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. The keynote speakers - Mr. and Mrs. Gammage - where welcomed by emotional chants by the crowd for Jonny Gammage. This marked the first time that the Gammages spoke at a demonstration in Pittsburgh, and they expressed interest in returning for any rally around the trial of the officers who killed Jonny Gammage which starts in October. Between 150 and 200 Justice for Jonny Gammage buttons were sold.
The press coverage was extensive - it was seen on CNN and the Syracuse TV stations, as well as on the front page (with photo) of the Tribune-Review and local section of the Post-Gazette (with accompanying poor article), the McKeesport Daily News and the Pitt News. It was also covered by all the local TV stations and several radio stations.
This was an important march, showing people that we can fight back and that we aren't alone in opposing police brutality, as well as showing the powers that be that we can organize an effective, diverse and unified coalition. A hearst and authentic coffin were part of the march, representing all of the martyrs of police brutality in the last several years. There were several chants critical of Mayor Murphy who has made himself unpopular with large segments of the Pittsburgh population by aligning himself with the Fraternal Order of Police with his denial that there's a problem with police brutality in response to the ACLU suit, and his irresponsible claim that the two young men who were killed by officer Wilbur, in an event in which the officer was dragged by a car for almost a mile, "deserved it" before finding out the facts in the case. In an extraordinarily rare move for a Mayor, Murphy has organized a rally in support of the police on Wednesday at Market Square.
The issue of police brutality has come into the forefront in Pittsburgh and is starting to polarize people. This is a good opportunity for us to deepen people's understanding of the pervasiveness of the problem and the importance of doing something political about it. The CCPJ will be meeting on Friday at 5:30 pm at the Community of Reconciliation to tie up any loose ends associated with the rally and to plan our next steps.
CONGRATULATIONS TO EVERYBODY FOR DOING SUCH A GREAT JOB WITH THE MARCH!!!