Ethnography as Resistance: These Streets are Watching

As part of its Urban Uprisings series of screenings and discussions, the Brecht Forum is hosting a panel around Jacob Crawford’s These Streets Are Watching (2003, 53 minutes) on Monday. From the Brecht Forum:

“2012 saw an upsurge in protests against the NYPD’s policy of “stop and frisk,” a tactic aimed at criminalizing Black and Brown youth. These protests were augmented by the use of video cameras (e.g., Jatiek Reed, Jospeh Jazz Hayden and others) to document instances of police brutality. This tactic harkens back to the tactics of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in developing community control of the police. It also opens space within cinematic history as well, considering the use of film and video pacs in documenting the police from Fredrick Wiseman’s Law and Order (1969), to John Marshall’s Inside/Outside Station 9 (1970), to Pacific Street Films’ Red Squad (1972), to Alan & Susan Raymond’s The Police Tapes (1977). Tonight’s screening/discussion will bring forward the work of cinematic ethnography as revolutionary tactic, as communities gather to demand an end to racist brutality.”

Monday February 4th 2013 – 7:30PM
The Brecht Forum
451 West Street, New York, NY 10014

These Streets are Watching – Jacob Crawford, 2003, 53 minutes

Discussion with:
–Shaun Lin, Civil Rights Organizer, Picture the Homeless
–Luke Aidge Patterson, October 22nd Coalition/People’s Justice Coalition
–Linda Tigani, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement/People’s Self-Defense Campaign

Last July we organized another screening at the Brecht Forum, “From Insurrection to Wildcat, from wildcat to insurrection,” which showed films and videos on “The Long, Hot Summer” of 1965-1967, named for the dozens of urban rebellions which took places throughout America in those years. Films such as Anarchy USA (1966) documented the right wing paranoia that the civil rights movement and urban rebellions were part of an organized international communist plot to destroy America (if only this were true!). Others, such as Principles of Control (1968) and Collective Behavior Civil Disturbances (1975) were U.S. Army training films, showing the beginnings of a militarized police response to protest and unrest in our cities (seen most recently in frightening training exercises occurring in Miami). Another documentary, Perfect Storm (2011), was a response to recent riots in London, following a police killing.

Later that month we published a text, “Fuck the Police, Coming Straight from the Underground,” for the occasion of an “FTP” march occurring in Harlem, one of the first follow-ups to the Wildcat march organized by Strike Everywhere as part of the Occupy movement’s May Day General Strike, and a response to recent police killings of Latino men in Anaheim, CA. Following the May Day organizing, a number of radicals in New York City decided to shift their focus to the NYPD.

In August, on the 45th anniversary of the East Harlem riots, we published a zine, A Brief History of the 23rd Precinct, which collected news articles from the last century documenting police brutality and harassment in one particular battleground, community, geography, neighborhood, space, territory, zone. In November, we published a text by Aqua Regis, “Who is the Man with the Gun?”, which articulates an anarchist perspective on police abolition as a part of an anti-state politics.

On December 7th, we put out a call for people around New York City to send us their writings on the police, to be compiled in a journal as a resource to contribute towards ongoing anti-NYPD organizing in our city. The call was for many different analyses, experiences, tendencies and voices to write in any genre on the police and race, gender, violence, crisis, capitalism, class struggle, social movements, and revolution. As of today, we are still working through the submissions, and figuring out how to best put this collection together. Following its publication, we hope this document will facilitate ongoing discussions and assemblies towards a stronger and more organized force against the police.

A “Stop the Cops” march has been called for Saturday February 23rd on the Madison Avenue Bridge on East 138th Street, connecting Harlem and the Bronx. The call is to “Stop the Cops from frisking and brutalizing our youth! from targeting immigrant and Muslim communities! from harassing women and LGBTQ people! Instead of constant harassment and brutality, it is time for our communities to get organized and reclaim our blocks!” The question around all of the calls, events, campaigns, coalitions, committees, organizations which presently exist in opposition to the police, is what needs to be done to make us stronger.

Please join us Monday to continue this work.

Brecht Forum
Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
October 22nd Coalition
People’s Justice Coalition
Picture the Homeless

The Brecht Forum, founded in 1975 as The New York Marxist School, is a cultural and educational center for people who are working for social justice, equality and a new culture that puts human needs first. Through its programs and events, the Brecht Forum brings people together across social and cultural boundaries and artistic and academic disciplines to promote critical analysis, creative thinking, collaborative projects and networking in an independent community-level environment.

The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, founded in the 1990s, is an organization of Afrikans in America/New Afrikans whose mission is to defend the human rights of our people and promote self-determination in our community. We understand that the collective institutions of white-supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism have been at the root of our people’s oppression. We understand that without community control and without the power to determine our own lives, we will continue to fall victim to genocide. Therefore, we seek to heighten our consciousness about self-determination as a human right and a solution to our colonization. While organizing around our principles of unity, we are building a network of Black/New Afrikan activists and organizers committed to the protracted struggle for the liberation of the New Afrikan Nation – By Any Means Necessary!

The October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation has been mobilizing every year since 1996 for a National Day of Protest on October 22nd, bringing together those under the gun and those not under the gun as a powerful voice to expose the epidemic of police brutality.

Peoples’ Justice was initiated by the NYC Coalition Against Police Brutality (CAPB) and allies in 2000. We are a coalition of NYC-based grassroots organizations that have joined forces to win community control and police accountability.

Picture the Homeless is a grassroots organization, founded and led by homeless people since 1999, organizing for social justice around issues like housing, police violence, and the shelter-industrial complex.

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