The Day That Malcolm Won Harlem Over…

August 12, 2012
[An excerpt from a pamphlet, An (Abridged) History of Resisting Police Violence in Harlem (PDF) by Mariame Kaba and designed by Eric Kerl (see http://policeviolence.wordpress.com/historical-moments/). It focuses on an incident that brought Malcolm X to national prominence in 1957.]

1957 Johnson X Hinton Incident

There are many versions of the story of Johnson Hinton. Even his name is contested; in some accounts he is called Hinton Johnson and in others he is Johnson Hinton. There are a few details of the story, however, that seem to be settled history.

In April 1957, Johnson Hinton came upon a couple of police officers who were clubbing a man named Reese V. Poe on the corner of 125th street and 7th Avenue in Harlem. Hinton called out to the officers: “You’re not in Alabama – this is New York! ” The police then turned their nightsticks on Hinton clubbing him and cracking his skull. The officers subsequently handcuffed Hinton and took him to the 28th precinct stationhouse. By the time the evening arrived, there were over 2,000 people surrounding the precinct demanding that Hinton be provided with adequate medical attention.

Johnson X Hinton, it turns out, was a black Muslim who belonged to Mosque Number Seven, the largest mosque in the country – led by a 31 year old preacher named Malcolm X.

At this point, the accounts begin to diverge. In some recollections, a woman who had observed the altercation ran over to the Nation of Islam’s (NOI) restaurant to report the news. Several phone calls later, Malcolm X, accompanied by a small group of Muslims, was at the precinct insisting to see Johnson X. At first they were denied by police but as the crowd outside grew to hundreds of people, they were finally allowed to see Johnson X who was in great pain and distress. The police allowed Johnson X to be transported by ambulance for treatment at Harlem Hospital. Remarkably, once he was treated, the hospital released Johnson X back to the police. By the time Johnson was back in police custody, the crowd outside of the 28th precinct had swelled to over 4,000 people.

When Malcom X returned to the precinct from Harlem Hospital, it was past midnight. He tried to post bail for Johnson X, but police refused to release him and said that he had to remain incarcerated overnight until he could appear in court the next day. By 2:30 am, Malcolm decided that negotiations for Johnson’s release were at a stalemate. With thousands still assembled outside the police precinct, Malcolm X gave a hand signal to his lieutenants in the Fruit of Islam (FOI) and within seconds the crowd silently began to disperse. The next morning, Hinton was dumped in front of NYC’s felony courthouse after a bail of $2,500 was paid by the Nation of Islam. He was promptly picked up and driven to Syndenham Hospital in Harlem to be treated for his injuries.

James Hicks, the managing editor of the New York Amsterdam News, offered his own account of the episode. He reached out to Malcolm X, asking him to act as a mediator between the police and community members. Peter Goldman, in his book “The Death and Life of Malcolm X,” remembers Hicks telling the story this way:

“I was chairman of the 28th Precinct Community Council at the time, and at two in the morning I got a call from the 28th to come over to my office. I went there and I met Inspector McGowen, Deputy Commissioner Walter Arm and Deputy Inspector Robert J. Mangum, who’s black. McGowen said, ‘I had a normal arrest, he was resisting, he got beat up and he’s over there in the 28th Precinct now.” He said, “They’ve got two thousand people out there,’ He said, ‘You know Malcolm X? I said, ‘Yeah, I know him’ – we were pretty good friends by that time. Got to be lunch buddies at the Chock Full O’ Nuts at 125th and Seventh. McGowen said, ‘You think you can get him up here?’ I said, ‘Yeah, give me a little time. Where is he?’ He said, ‘Over at the 28th.’

“So I got over, and there he is with his people – with them and the bystanders they must have had 2,600 people lining the sidewalks between Seventh and Eighth avenues on 123rd Street. I said, ‘Hey, Malcolm, Jesus. What’s going on? He told me one of their people was inside, he’d been beaten and needed medical attention. He said, “We’re going to stay right here, Brother Hicks.’ I asked him if he’d come back to my office and talk to the police people. He said, “If you think anything can be accomplished, I’ll go. But only on your word.’ So we went back and walked up to my office at the Amsterdam News – it was on the fourth floor.

“When we got there, Walter Arm started talking. He was in charge of public relations: he’d been a police reporter, and a good one, but he was white. He said, ‘My presence here, and Inspector McGowen’s, and Deputy Inspector Mangum’s, indicates how much concern the police department has for this situation. However, I’d like to say that the police of the city of New York can handle any situation that arises in Harlem, and we’re not here to ask anybody’s help.’

“Well, Malcolm sat there and listened, and then he got up and put on that camel’s hair coat of his – he’d been a hustler and he always dressed sharp – and he told them, “There’s nothing more to be said,’ Just like that. And suddenly he was striding out the door of my office. I can still hear his steps – clump-clump-clump – going into that gloomy city room. All the lights were out; my office was in the back at the end of the corridor, and he walked out into the darkness. Someone said, ‘Where’s he going?’ And I said, ‘He’s leaving.’

“I followed him out. I said, ‘Wait a minute, Mr. X.’ He stopped out in the darkness there. He said, ‘Brother Hicks, I’m only here ‘cause you said something could be accomplished.’ He said, ‘They don’t need me. They say they can handle it. Well, let them handle it.’

“I said, ‘Wait a minute.’

“I went back to the room. Mangum said, ‘Tell him there must be some level we can get together on if he’ll only come back.’ I went back and told it to Malcolm, and he came back. He said, ‘I only came back because I respect Brother Hicks.’ And I said, ‘Have a seat.’

“This time, Arm shut up. Malcolm said, “I have no respect for you’ – Arm – ‘or the police department.’ He may have said something to Mangum, too. [What he told Mangum, according to a police source, was: “I don’t talk with white man’s niggers.” Mangum, this source said, was “very hurt.”] Malcolm said, “One of our brothers has been beaten, and all we are asking is that we be allowed to go in there and see him and determine if he is in need of hospitalization. The evidence we have now is that he should be in the hospital. If we find that he doesn’t need hospitalization, you can go on with your case. If he does, we want him hospitalized.’ So Mangum and Arm agreed. They hadn’t even seen the man themselves. They said, ‘All right, let’s take a look. If he does need hospitalization, we’ll give it to him. Would that be satisfactory to you?’ Malcolm said yes. They said, ‘Will you then get your people out of the block?’ Malcolm said, ‘this is all we asked for and this is all we want.’

“In effect, the police were saying, ‘We can’t handle it without you.’ Nobody got down on his knees. But they bowed.
“So, we walked the three blocks back to the station, and Malcolm’s people were still there. The men were standing in the gutter with their arms folded. Immobile. The women were on the sidewalk behind them with white kerchiefs on their heads. And nobody said a word. The light in the stationhouse was the only light in the block. I remember thinking, ‘Where did they all come from? – a movement like that growing up right under your nose. When we got to the station, there was a black sergeant on the door. I heard him saying, “Goddamn Muslims – who the hell are they anyway? Turn me loose with this club and I’ll clear this block.’ John X, who was with Malcolm, turned and just stared at him, and I said to McGowen, ‘You better get that sergeant off the door.’

“We went on in and saw the man, and they had torn his head off – [sic]. One look and McGowen said, “Get him to the hospital.” He said, ‘Mr. X, he’s going to be sent to Harlem Hospital – is that all right? Malcolm said, ‘That’s all we asked.’ McGowen said, ‘Would you take the responsibility of sending your people home? Malcolm said, “I’ll do that.’

“And then, in that dim light, Malcolm stood up and waved his hand, and all those people just disappeared. Disappeared. One of the police people said to me, ‘Did you see what I just saw?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, “This is too much power for one man to have.’ He meant one black man. I’ll never forget that.”

Johnson X survived his assault but had to have multiple brain surgeries and live with a metal plate in his head. Johnson X filed a lawsuit against the NYPD. An all-white jury awarded $70,000 to him; this was (at the time) the largest police brutality settlement in New York City.

In his book “The Savage City,” T. J. English writes of the Johnson X incident: “It was the beginning of a new kind of relationship between blacks and the police in the city of New York.” Malcolm X had stood up to the NYPD and won. No one in Harlem would soon forget that.

Israel’s Detention Camp for African migrants

[The appalling history of ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinian population from the exclusivist “Jewish state” of Israel has long been recognized and condemned.  But the ban on African migration (simultaneous with the welcoming — with open arms and US$ — of migrants from Russia and from New York) gives emphatic clarity to the recognition of Israel as a racist apartheid state which openly defies standards of human rights and reveals its contempt for its own claims of “democracy.” – Frontlines ed.]

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Saharonim Prison

According to earlier Defense Ministry statements, the detention compound being built for migrants was meant to house 12,400 people.

By Gili Cohen, Ha’aretz | Aug.02, 2012

The detention compound being built in the south for African migrants will accommodate up to 30,000 people, despite Defense Ministry statements that it would house 12,400, an Interior Ministry protocol shows.

At a discussion held by Interior Ministry officials last month about the sewer treatment facility at the detention site, officials explained that the professional water and sewage committee had received a plan for a “compound housing up to 30,000 people.”

The sewer treatment facility is also to serve other communities in the region. The Defense Ministry had stated during the detention center’s planning process that it would accommodate more than 20,000 people. In June, the National Planning and Construction Committee was informed that by the middle of next year the state would have accommodation for 16,400 migrants in the detention center.

A recent night of attacks against African refugees in Tel Aviv, Israel (May 25, 2012)

According to plans presented by Defense Ministry officials, the existing Saharonim A and Ketziot prisons have room for 4,400 migrants and the soon-to- be-completed tent town would add 4,000 places.

The first stage of the permanent detention center, due to be completed by the end of the year, will accommodate 3,000 migrants and the completion of Saharonim’s second stage, due in December, will house 1,000 more migrants. By mid 2013, the center is expected to have room for 16,400 migrants. When the authorities approved changing the sewer-treatment facility’s location for the migrants center in Ketziot, they demanded that it be distanced at least 500 meters from the migrants’ residential areas and that the treated sewage water’s quality be improved.

The Defense Ministry said: “The sewage planner for Ramat Negev Regional Council and the detention center believes that after expanding the sewage infrastructures, they will be able to serve up to 30,000 people. The ministry is acting only on the plan approved by the cabinet, i.e. preparing only 12,400 places.”

The High Court of Justice denied on Thursday a petition filed by the civil rights group Bimkom Planners for Planning Rights against the project’s exemption from certain planning regulations. The court also denied the NGO’s request for an injunction to stop the work. Continue reading

Police killings in USA: “Anaheim, Everywhere”

by nancy a heitzeg

In the aftermath of Anaheim — that anti-thesis of Disneyland – we will add the names of Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo to that endless list of those struck down by “extra-judicial killings by police, security guards or self-appointed law enforcers.”

Diaz is just the latest in a long line of police shootings of unarmed people of color. His name has come to symbolize the ongoing struggle against police violence in poor black and brown communities, for which authorities are almost never held to account. In Anaheim, where tension between police and the Latino community has been building for years, Diaz is the match that lit the fire which has spread throughout the city.

His shooting sparked an immediate protest by area residents who demanded answers from police. When some in the crowd allegedly hurled bottles and rocks at officers, police responded by shooting rubber bullets and pepper spray and releasing (apparently by accident) a K-9 attack dog into the crowd of mostly parents and small children. The chaos was captured on video by a KCAL news crew showing screaming mothers and fathers shielding their children in horror.
The following day a second Latino man, 21-year-old Joel Acevedo, was shot and killed by Anaheim police, who said Acevedo was shot after firing at police during a foot chase.

We say the names to honor the dead and the living — but their individual stories whatever their power, tell a collective tale as well. That is the story of unchecked — no routinized, normalized. even glorified – systemic structural violence targeting communities of color.

Lethal Police Violence and Communities of Color
While local state and Federal law enforcement agencies keep absolutely accurate records of the number of police officers killed or assaulted in the line of duty (typically less than 60 killed per year), there is no comparable systematic accounting of the number of citizens killed by police each year.

This data is not nationally gathered or reported, The task is left to individual researchers to cobble together local and state – level data (much of which has removed racial identifiers) and report what police only seem to be concerned about in light of potential litigation, Anywhere from 350 to 400 civilians are killed by police each year — an average of one per day. This number is certainly an undercount since it is based on police shootings and does not include deaths by choke-holds, hog-ties, tasers, reactions to chemical sprays or injuries sustained in beatings. Continue reading

Al Jazeera: African migrants in Europe speak out

Migrants all over Europe fight for their rights and try to improve their situation.
20 Sep 2011

What to do when you are mistreated as an African immigrant in Europe?

Hip hop artist K-Nel presents reports about migrants all over Europe who fight for their rights and try to improve their living conditions.

Sissoko Azoumane from Mali is the spokesman for a protest movement in Paris, that fights for papers for the undocumented migrants who have been living in France for years, contributing to the French economy. But a new law has eroded all of their hopes for papers.

Sorious Samura checks out how some migrants even clone identities in order to try to get a job.

Wahabou from Senegal survived a devastating fire that killed 20 people in an apartment where migrants were housed, and decides to do something about fire safety in Parisian buildings.

In Brescia, Italy, Africans unite to improve housing conditions when they get evicted as a result of anti-immigration sentiments.

Libya: Better Not Be Black

[The pro-US/EU interventionist media has routinely failed to provide news coverage to the widespread attacks on African migrants and black residents and citizens of Libya, other than to characterize, falsely, that all such black Africans have been mercenary soldiers for the fallen Gaddafi regime.  The history of sub-Saharan migration to Libya–and by way of north Africa, to Europe–has not been told in non-xenophobic or non-racist terms, nor have the imperialist efforts to foster divisions and antagonisms between Africans and the Arab world been exposed.  Genuine revolutionary and anti-imperialist forces must challenge such xenophobia and manufactured antagonisms. — Frontlines ed.]

The New Libya

by PATRICK COCKBURN, Counterpunch

Tripoli, August 30, 2011–Yassin Bahr, a tall thin Senegalese in torn blue jeans, volubly denies that he was ever a mercenary or fought for Muammar Gaddafi.

Speaking in quick nervous sentences, Mr Bahr tries to convince a suspicious local militia leader in charge of the police station in the Faraj district of Tripoli, that he is a building worker who has been arrested simply because of his color. “I liked Gaddafi, but I never fought for him,” Mr Bahr says, adding that he had worked in Libya for three years laying tiles.

But the Libyan rebels are hostile to black Africans in general. One of the militiamen, who have been in control of the police station since the police fled, said simply: “Libyan people don’t like people with dark skins, though some of them may be innocent.” Continue reading

The BLM and BDS: Lessons and Applications for the Palestinian Liberation Movement

The Black Liberation Movement and Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions: Lessons and Applications for the Palestinian Liberation Movement

By Kali Akuno

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions or BDS movement, launched in 2005 to uproot the zionist settler-colonial project and dismantle the Israeli apartheid state following the various setbacks to the Palestinian liberation movement stemming from the Oslo accords, is rapidly growing into a powerful international political force. As the movement continues to grow and expand it is bound to encounter more obstacles and roadblocks. One way to defeat these limitations is to study and learn how other peoples’ movements that have employed BDS strategies and tactics on an extensive level organized themselves to overcome or maneuver around the roadblocks on their path. One such movement is the Black Liberation Movement (BLM) in North America. The BLM has employed BDS strategies and tactics extensively for the greater part of the last 200 plus years in its unfinished question for liberation. What follows is a brief summary of the BLM’s experience and a short exploration of some of the lessons learned from this extensive experience. Continue reading

The US Black Left Must See the Struggles throughout the Americas as Core to an Anti-Imperialist and Revolutionary Strategy

[Throughout the world, and throughout the Americas, serious revolutionaries are focusing attention on strategic issues–analyzing the basic forces and alliances, and the changing landscape we face today.  The Black Left Unity Network, with this discussion paper, is considering these questions with a fundamentally hemispheric orientation, as anti-imperialist and revolutionary strategies are sharply debated. — Frontlines ed.]

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Black Left Unity Network Discussion Paper

There are more than 150 million African descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean and 50 plus million in the US, Canada and throughout North America. The conditions, contradictions, consciousness and social movements of African descendants throughout the Americas, have been shaped by the colonial and capitalist development, the domination of US imperialism, and by the resistance by to the economic, political and cultural subjugation that shape their particular forms of oppression.

The development of capitalism throughout the Americas shows a colonial history of societies that built their primitive base of accumulation of capital on the basis of the sale, reproduction and exploitation of the labor of enslaved Africans and Indigenous peoples. Wars were waged by the European colonial powers against the Indigenous peoples resulting in genocide, as they resisted drives to take their lands and to destroy their communities. Continue reading