They came again.
In numbers and in passion.
They came determined to once again make the center of this metropolitan area feel the fury of a people who are saying that the system got it wrong… wrong, bigtime!
They came mostly young, overwhelmingly of African descent.
Yet in the end, there were all ages and from a range of backgrounds.
They came absolutely unafraid of authority that they have had to view with hostility and distrust because it was that same authority that betrayed them, that historically abused them, that enabled this incredible injustice to play out and that now wanted them to accept.
But the people, angry and armed with a surging dignity and courage, would have none of it.
To the people, George Zimmerman was anything but innocent and the system that let him off and ready to return to him the gun his used to slaughter Trayvon Martin was going to feel it today, demanding federal intervention into the case that they refuse to let go away.
For the second day, the people, led in this instance by the Newark AntiViolence Coalition and the New Black Panther Party and then joined by the highly-regarded Peoples Organization for Progress, shut down Broad and Market Streets in Newark’s commercial center inconveniencing the entire area in the name of Trayvon Martin!*
They took the classic working class notion of Stormy Monday Blues and in a very pointed and revolutionary way, turned it all on its head!
Initially, they came in an intergenerational divide.
On day one, it was an odd tale of two protests.
The elders, embodied by the People’s Organization for Progress and their ol’ school longdistance runner Larry Hamm, who initially made the call for the gathering, wanted to simply rally on Broad and Market, and if numbers permitted, do a conventional march through downtown Newark to the Federal Building and back.
The young people, best embodied by the Newark AntiViolence Coalition, wanted to shut the same intersection down and disrupt traffic and commerce as has been their bold standard practice instead.
Bashir Akinyele, former local chair of the New Black Panther Party and press person for the NAVC attempted to negotiate their elders’ joining the takeover. The elders, feeling slighted by the unplanned tactic, went on and did their conventional march.
It was Amiri Baraka, however, Newark’s legendary elder statesman of struggle, who tipped the tactical disagreement in the favor the young people when he joined them and said very plainly.
“This is where we need to be today.”
Luckily, for both factions, each side was more than deep enough in numbers of people who wanted to raise hell for Trayvon no matter the tactic.
Today, however, the young people pushed the issue of uniting forces.
Sharif Amenhotep, field marshall for the New Black Panther Party, said to everyone “we’re not having that today,” referring to the divided actions from the day before. He then went and confronted the elder leadership and told them “we want yall with us.”
To everyone’s pleasant surprise, the elders fell in and their signature yellow shirts and protests signs suddenly saturated the proud crowd.
Jineen Holmes of the Elizabeth branch of POP may have said it best when she said simply “good job NAVC and POP.”
*The NAVC went on to stay in the streets for six straight days…