Date: Thu, 22 Jan 98 16:08:02 CST
Workers World <email@example.com>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: Return to Plymouth After Mass Arrests
Plymouth, Mass.It was a militant display of unity from the four directions--400 people, Native, Black, Latino, Asian and white, young and old, straight and lesbian and gay.
The Jan. 19 Rally Against Racism here was organized by the United
American Indians of New England in response to an unprovoked police
assault on peaceful Native demonstrators and their supporters on
Nov. 27. That was
Thanksgivingbetter known to Native
people as the National Day of Mourning.
UAINE elder Sam Sapiel, one of 25 people arrested that day, opened the program with a greeting and prayer. He was followed by Danza Azteca's ceremonial dances.
Mahtowin, co-leader of UAINE, opened the rally. She pointed out that it was taking place in First Parish Church in Plymouth, which traces its roots back to the congregation founded by the pilgrims.
Mahtowin discussed the massive, unprovoked police assault against the United American Indians of New England and their supporters. She pointed out that for the previous 28 years, National Day of Mourning demonstrations had involved no violence.
She spoke of the cops' refusal to negotiate; their attacks on and arrests of elders as well as youths; how they sprayed pepper gas into the eyes of children 8 and 10 years old; that they ripped dreadlocks out of the head of a Wampanoag man; that they dragged another Native man by his hair through the streets of Plymouth; that they refused to take the handcuffs off the Black sisters arrested until nearly an hour after freeing the other women's wrists.
Mahtowin reported that several elders who had marched with Dr. Martin
Luther King years ago called her to compare the Plymouth attack to
Selma, Ala., in 1965
Selma, Ala., and Plymouth, Mass., she
are towns on a continuum of racism and hatred and violence
that leads from slavery and lynchings and massacres at the Great Swamp
and Wounded Knee, to our neighboring state of New Hampshire, which
refuses to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday, to a tiny
village in Chiapas called Acteal, where last month paramilitary forces
massacred one infant, 14 children, 21 women (nine of whom were
pregnant), and nine men.
Imani Henry of the National People's Campaign, a poet and actor from the lesbian/gay/bi/trans community, co-chaired the rally. One of the two Black women arrested at the National Day of Mourning, Henry spoke of the long history of solidarity between the African American and Native struggles, from the Seminole War to the government repression of the Black Panthers and the American Indian Movement.
Henry said of the media:
It is almost laughable to mention
Dr. King's legacy of non-violence without mentioning the racist
violence with which he was constantly met, including his finally being
gunned down. Racism as systemic and systematic oppression is itself an
act of violence.
Moonanum James, co-leader of UAINE, showed how the pilgrim mythology continues to be used to justify murder, theft, racism, repression and genocide against Native people today. He described current conditions on reservations. The crowd cheered when he called for freedom for Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal and all political prisoners.
Juan Gonzalez, spokesperson for the Council of Maya Elders, saw links between the massacre of Indigenous people in Chiapas at the instigation of the U.S. and Mexican governments and the attack on Native people in Plymouth.
Larry Holmes of Workfairness in New York thanked the organizers for rescuing the struggle essence of Martin Luther King Day from empty platitudes and corporate co- optation.
Holmes said that instead of grandstanding and pandering to the right
dialogue on race, President Bill Clinton should
investigate the police attack on the National Day of Mourning.
Other speakers included Brian Shea of the Disabled People's Liberation Front, Myke Johnson of the Unitarian Universalists, Anita Mukarji Connolly, and John Perry Ryan-- a gay man arrested at the National Day of Mourning--of Cape Codders Against Racism.
Juiza Gimeno, a Puerto Rican high school student from Boston, said:
I was at the National Day of Mourning. I cried because it was so
painful to me to see my people be oppressed like that. But this
experience will not shut me down.
Solidarity messages were read from several chapters of the American Indian Movement, the Texas death row prisoners' group PURE, and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Chicano/Mexicano activist Raul Ruiz closed the rally.
an affront to justice
To my brothers and sisters of the United Indians of America:
For over five centuries, Thanksgiving has been neither a day of thanks
nor a remembrance of giving for the scattered remnants of
America's aboriginal peoples. To date, not one single treaty has
been honored by those millions who claim to bring
law to the New
This land was not given. It was stolen. That brothers and sisters of
the UIA could be beaten, shackled, humiliated and imprisoned by the
State for the practice of a so-called
constitutional right is
an affront to true justice and a sacrilege upon human dignity.
May your voice continue to sound as you speak an ancient truth to the ignoble power. As treaties have never protected Native peoples, neither can the Constitution, for your right to speak, to be, to stand free is rooted in human rights, not paper rights. We salute you all in your struggle!
Long live John Africa!
Long live the original people!