Voices of Rise Up October: Quentin Tarantino, Cornel West, Victims’ Families Decry Police Violence
Cephus ‘Uncle Bobby’ Johnson, Uncle of 22 year old Oscar Grant, murdered by Bay Area Transit Police in Oakland, CA, January 1, 2009
Uncle Bobby, the Uncle of Oscar Grant and ‘The Love Not Blood Campaign’, believe Black Lives Matter everywhere and police accountability is a human right. Our vision is a world where no one has the right to take the life of another and be protected from the consequences of doing so by a system of structural racism, obfuscation and propaganda. Quentin Tarantino and many others like himself, have a right, as we families and community do, to call a “murder a murder” and call “the murdered the murdered.” For a system, such as the police agencies, police unions, and its culture to attack someone’s belief and freedom of speech, is a direct assault on ones First Amendment right. The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. It guarantees freedom of expression by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely. It also guarantees the right of citizens to assemble peaceably and to petition their government. The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. Quentin Tarantino, as well as those affected by police terrorism, has this right to assemble and right of expression. For a culture such as the police union to attack an individual or group for their expression and assembly is as heinous as a state that sanctions state violence. We, families, that have suffered this harm say: hands off Quentin Tarantino. For the United States to allow such an attack, people will ask the question, “What kind of country will allow people to be attacked for their expression by police officers that have a history of murder?”
he mission of Rise Up October was to mobilize thousands to be in the streets to put the demand Stop Police Terror before all of society here and around the world, raising the challenge: Which Side Are You On? when it comes to police getting away with murder. We set out to compel people to no longer tolerate this genocidal epidemic, and one important part of this was to force people to confront the actual reality and human cost by putting the stories of the lived horror of police murder in front of millions of people, with the objective of stopping these crimes.
Acting on the desire of these family members who answered the Call to be among the thousands in New York City for Rise Up October, a call went out to bring family members of 100 people murdered by police to NYC, and a Task Force was organized to work with many people to make this happen. Given the difficulties of cost of travel and housing for people to come from all parts of this country, this was a challenge. The fact that this is a grassroots movement funded only by contributions of individuals who support the cause meant that the only approach was to take out very widely the mission of Rise Up October and the need to make it possible for these families to be in NYC. And a key element of this was to combine the efforts of the families themselves with many others to do this. This not only helped raise the money, but it also was a means for breaking open the debate of Which Side Are You On?
Rise Up October to Stop Police Terror, three days of beautiful and powerful resistance, involved people from many different perspectives who recognize that stopping the epidemic of police terror and murder will take struggle and protest. Families of those killed by police murder, voices of conscience, clergy, students, revolutionaries and others joined together to say Police Terror Must Stop and challenged many others: Which Side Are You On?
Carl Dix, co-initiator of Rise Up October, representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party
The police threats against Quentin Tarantino amount to a mafia-style protection racket, only the payoff being demanded is toeing a political line, not cash. ‘Don’t dare criticize police who kill people, or we’ll make it impossible for you to work in our towns.’ It is aimed at sending a message, not just to Tarantino, but to anyone whose voice carries great weight in society: if you speak out, we will come after you, threaten your livelihood and attempt to scare you back into silence. They want the people who suffer the brunt of this brutality alone and ignored. This is unacceptable
For his participation in this mobilization, Quentin Tarantino has come under attack. Patrick Lynch, the head of the Policeman’s Brutality Association (PBA) called for a boycott of Tarantino’s films. Police unions in LA and Philadelphia have joined this call. The proven-racist, ex-cop Mark Fuhrman has gone even farther, calling for police to deny Tarantino permits or protection to do filming.
When Black and Latino lives are being stolen by the police in epidemic numbers-We Need More and More People Saying This:
One of the things about the movement that actually just means so much is that they have a powerful slogan: “Which side are you on?” If you’re not on our side, you’re on their side. There’s no straddling the fence. There’s no silent majority. There is none of that. You have to take a stand. If you believe it’s murder, then you gotta call it murder. And you gotta call the murderers, murderers.
– Quentin Tarantino, film director, actor
Cornel West, co-initiator of Rise Up October, Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary
Can we keep the focus on what I, Brother Carl Dix, Brother Quentin Tarantino, Sister Eve Ensler, and THOUSANDS of others tried to do – a moral focus on the unnecessary deaths of those killed by police. Of course the killing of police is wrong but the killers do go to prison. Ought not policemen go to prison when they kill us?
Video after video has shown unarmed Black, Latino, and Native Americans being tazed, stomped, brutalized, and shot in the back by police and almost never are the police even indicted. What kind of society allows this? What does it say when those who raise their voices against this are the ones who come under attack?
We must not allow the intimidation or silencing of those who use their influence to shine a light on the epidemic of police terror. Artists need to be able to express themselves on progressive causes without fear of retribution and attack. We will have Tarantino’s back and call on others to join with us.
Cadine Williams, sister of 26 year old O’Shaine Evans, murdered by Oakland Police, October 7, 2014
Quentin Tarantino’s stand at Rise Up October is great, and I mean that with all my heart. More people should be saying NO MORE to this system and its police brutality. More people like Quentin Tarantino should stand with us. And Rise Up October with Quentin Tarantino participating should wake a lot of people up! How can people just sit back and let this happen to innocent people? Quentin’s stand is awesome; it means a lot to us. Boycott?! That’s crazy. It shows what this country is about and what kind of system this really is. A call for boycott because someone steps out and says what he believes in? That’s bull. We need Quentin Tarantino and more people like him in this world. I am willing to be on the front lines marching for him. He has our back and we have his back!
Meko Williams, mother of LaReko Williams, tasered to death by Charlotte, NC police, July 20, 2011
It was an honor to meet Quentin Tarantino at Rise Up October in New York City, to meet someone who understands what we are going through as families who have lost loved ones to murder by police. This is what Rise Up October is about, saying the truth. Quentin Tarantino said “I am a human being with a conscience and when I see murder, I cannot stand by and I have to call the murdered, the murdered and the murderers, the murderers.” That is the truth. The police unions are trying to deface our movement, because it’s now national and international. They say “”it’s the worst thing” – NO, it’s the greatest thing. What Tarantino said is no different than Cornel West, Carl Dix or Meko Williams saying the same truth. They want to separate him, put him in a box, but his voicing of the truth is no different than others who voice the truth. Writers and movie directors express themselves through their art; they go off of what’s happening in history, in society – just like Django Unchained. This is freedom of speech. And it’s ignorance on behalf of the police unions. We know well what the police have done and what they do. Quentin Tarantino was by my side, he was with me, and it was an honor. This boycott is just plain ignorance, because what Rise Up October is, and Quentin’s comments do, is bring light to the Stolen Lives and to mass incarceration. Let’s focus on that! The use of guns, Tasers, and chokeholds to murder people, like my son. Let’s focus on the truth. Tarantino’s words… calling the murdered the murdered and the murderers the murders is just simple truth – it is what it is. And I feel the same way he does.
Edward Powell, father of 27 year old Martice Milliner, murdered by Chicago police, July 9, 2015
I feel like Mr. Tarantino was standing by a group of many who have lost loved ones due to the excessiveness of Law Enforcement across the U.S. As someone who has lost a son to excessive force by police I felt that comfort and I felt at ease knowing Mr. Tarantino felt my pain.
I’m appalled that the Police Department of New York City would do such a thing to Mr. Tarantino because he felt the pain of many. If standing with people is that wrong to try to stop a person’s way of living we have a problem with the American Justice System.
Ishtyme Robinson, mother of Ahjah Dixon, killed in police custody in Texas, March 2010
I celebrate Quentin Tarantino’s presence at Rise Up October in New York City — all three days! It was moving for me as a mother, who has lost a daughter (in jail custody) and a son, and who up to now has received no support from the surrounding community, to now have support, including from Quentin Tarantino. This movement is helping to create a new story of resistance, of resilience, announcing to the world that our children matter. Many people who are killed by police are poor people, with no value placed on their lives by the judicial system. In most cases these are marginalized groups with no voice. If all lives mattered, we wouldn’t have to say Black Lives Matter. For Quentin Tarantino to come to Rise Up October, in a most sincere way, to come and stand up with us, to challenge societies standards, made a world of difference and I say that with all my heart. Boycott Tarantino movies? This is supposed to be a democratic society. Freedom of speech is suppose to be woven into the fabric of society. Families of murdered and lost victims and Quentin Tarantino have a right to voice our opinion regarding any type of infraction, injustice or pathology and no one has the right to rob us of freedom of speech, here or anywhere else in the world.
Chris Silva, brother of David Silva, murdered by Kern Co. Sheriffs and California Highway Patrol, May 8, 2013
Quentin Tarantino showing up to Rise Up October is a great thing. Rise Up October is “trending,” there’s big attention and popularity, including because of Quentin Tarantino’s participation (and I didn’t expect it). It shows he cares. He knows he had to stand up to murder by police, and I thank him for being with us. He probably expected the “negativity” because we get it everyday, the families, and myself with David’s murder over two years ago – all these internet trolls with their negative comments aimed at us… Quentin called out the NYPD and LAPD and all the cops who kill unjustly. He is not saying anything more than what these cops have done. I’m so glad he stood up, because many celebrities may wear a t-shirt but don’t always show up and stand up for what they believe. This boycott call is ridiculous and it makes it sound like Tarantino means all police are killers… he didn’t say that. He said there are murders and murderers, cops killing blatantly and for no reason at all. Recognize and hear the truth. I am sure many are telling him to stay quiet but Quentin Tarantino should know he has the backing from us families and many others!