[This text was originally published in AREA Chicago #15 in December 2015]
Panzy Edwards called for an evening protest on Mother’s Day, Saturday May 9, 2015 at 6PM at the intersection of E 67th St and S Indiana Ave. This is the site where Panzy’s 15 year old son, Dakota Bright, was executed by the Chicago Police Department. The demands of the march included: Dismantle the Chicago Police Department—No Cop Zones in our communities; reparations for all victims of $tate sponsored police violence; a Civilian Police Accountability Council— can we fight to dismantle the entire Chicago Police Department while at the same time push for civilian oversight of Police Districts?
The action was organized by Panzy and families of people killed by the Chicago Police Department in recent years. These family members have worked autonomously to create networks of mutual support and to articulate their analysis of the ongoing crisis of systemic state violence in Black communities. They continue to organize actions and concrete support for families that are under attack even after the murders, often facing incarceration and legal charges, financial crises and character assassination in the media. Following are transcripts of just two of the testimonies offered at this action. To view a video documentation and full transcripts, please see the online issue.
Panzy Edwards: “Let them look down at us, and see us out here kicking ass for them”
Hi everybody. My name is Panzy. My son, Dakota Bright, was 15 years old, shot and killed right here, 6727 Indiana, shot in the back of his head. They had him shot and laying in the back yard for 4 to 5 hours. No medical attention. They handcuffed him and just left him laying there. November 8th  made two years. We tried to sit down with Rahm and he wouldn’t sit down with us. He said to Senior Staff to talk with us and of course, they couldn’t give us no answers.
This whole city, all the officials, are supposed to help us. You know. We put you all in this office, why can’t you all help us? Our kids are steady dying. I have a list of the names of the kids killed, just the young people who were killed:
Dakota Bright. Darius Pinex. Roshad McIntosh. Ronald ‘RonnieMan’ Johnson. LaQuan McDonald. Pedro Rios Jr. Jose Rios. Freddie Gray, Baltimore. JJ Kim. Desean Pittman. Justus Howell. Rekia Boyd. Flint Farmer. Cory Harris. Walter Scott. Mike Brown. Eric Garner. Tamir Rice. Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Oscar Grant. Michael Westley. Raason Shaw. Brandon Polk. Gary Jerome Smith. Treon ‘Tre’ Johnson. Jamaal Moore . Marcus Golden. Darius Cole-Garrit. John Ryan. Avery Xavier McCoy. Charles Brown. Stephon Watts. Freddie Latrice Wilson. George Lash. Willie Miller. Rakeem Nance. Tyron Johnson. Archie Chambers…
And it is sad that we have a list this long. And that is not even all of the kids and people who was killed by the police. If y’all are for the people, why are you all killing the people?
I did this march because, let them look down at us, and see us, out here kicking ass for them. On Mother’s Day. And that’s how I feel. My baby was fifteen years old and he was taken away from me. These people will bypass me, laugh, point, and take pictures, and everything—they have no remorse. All these people from the third district. You all want to laugh, you all don’t know what’s going on. And it is sad, because you all want to take pictures? What are you all doing, sending my picture around? Because you all riding past, taking pictures of my car and all of that—what are you all doing? Sending pictures of my car around? You know. You all terrorizing people.
You all don’t know—people want to stand up. This lady just walked up to me, and said, what is this about? She said aw, yeah, I remember that, I live right next door to there. She said they won’t let us look out the window, or come to the door but that baby ain’t have no gun. All these people walking around, investigators looking for somebody and hey, here goes a lady right here. But I can’t say, aw, here she go, because then it’s going to be like I just pointed out of the blue you know. And it’s sad. Because if you see us standing here—I’ve been doing marches here many times before, and nobody has said anything to me. I’ve been doing marches for two years, and now you’re saying something? I commend you for saying something, but—I’m the right person to say it to, but I’m the wrong person! Walk in to the police station and say: “I’ve seen what happened to that baby in that backyard over there. I know he didn’t have a gun. I was forced to move away from the window. I was forced to move away from my back door.”
The sad part is there’s so many people that see stuff and they won’t say anything. You know we’re standing out here, there’s a whole block. We’re on a whole block. Why did nobody come out here? It is sad. And I don’t know what more to say. I’m not asking for help any more, because we ain’t going to get it. It has been two years and a month since my baby has been dead so I’m done asking for help. I’m going to fight until I get it. That’s just how I see it.
Daphne Jackson: “Black people, arm yourselves, defend yourselves!”
I’m Daphne, and I’m sorry, but it’s going to be loud now. I wanted to draw your attention to that sign there, because one of the things that we’re calling for is Black community control of the police. What we have to understand is, if you’re in this neighborhood, or wherever you are in your neighborhood, that we have to… we as a people, I’m talking to Black people, African people […] we have to start by focusing on ourselves as a people. They are murdering our sons, our brothers, our fathers, our cousins, our children now, they will not have grandchildren. At the rate it is going they are literally wiping our people off the planet and it is done more than just by police shootings. They’re killing our babies in the hospital, our elderly are not coming out of these nursing homes and hospitals. The children, in school, they are being pushed out of school and pushed on to the streets. They’re being jailed at 9 or 10 years old, to harden them to become criminals, to come out into the streets, to become disenfranchised and that’s what they’ve done in our communities. … There’s a war on young black men… there’s a definite attack world wide—not just here in Chicago, in Ferguson, Baltimore, they’re killing our sons. And sister says she’s been asking for help and there’s no help coming. We are our help. And we as a people, we have to stand up. We have to defend ourselves. There is nothing wrong with defending yourself. I tell my young brothers all the time, because I told my sons, always think that it’s you or them. Because that’s where we’re at right now. And as soon as we realize that, we’re going to realize that we have to defend ourselves by any means necessary. What do you think brother Malcolm meant by that, “by any means necessary”?
Black people, defend yourselves. Don’t go sit there, “Oh, I’m going to give you a 100 dollar gift card if you turn in your weapons and all that” — defend yourselves! Because we are under attack and our sons should not be murdered in the street like animals. That is not living. What do you have to lose if you’re already dying? What do you have to lose if you’re already dying?
These aren’t our communities, we’re just here. No one owns anything here. And if you own your home it is attached to a mortgage or something. We don’t own nothing, we have nothing. And we are slowly being taken away from here, because when they take our young soldiers away, they are our vanguard. They’re coming after us. They’re coming after us. And we have to think about that, we have to remember that. We are proud, African, Black people. Let’s start acting like it, let’s start being it. Looking out for each other. Arm yourselves. Defend yourselves. What does it have to take, for it to come to your door? All the residents on this block should be out here. It could be your child next. No one’s exempt. It could be any one of us next. This is where we are right now. Just for being black your ass can die. And that’s a problem. And we have to look at it as a problem.
[…] And we’ve got to look at them and start teaching ourselves the right things. They tell them all they shouldn’t run and they shouldn’t do all of this, but they’re not doing anything. They’re living what you gave them. This is what you gave them, this is what society gave them. Stop blaming them for it. Because you’re not trying to help them fix it. But we have to teach them to defend themselves. The only way we can do that, the only way we can do that is get out on the street. Get with these young brothers, talk to these young brothers. Get with them and not just telling them what they’re doing wrong. Stop telling them to stop the violence when all they know is violence being brought upon them. We’re so quick to get out there and tell them what they’re doing wrong. Show them why things are wrong for them. That’s Black community control of the police and Black community control, period. We have to take back control of our community. We have to get the pigs out of our community. They have colonized us. They have militarized the police force in Chicago and in every other city around this country and around this world. And get an understanding that it is not just happening here. It happens all over, and they are escalating. They want to escalate. They’re showing us. They’re showing it all. They’re doing it on tape. They’re mocking the parents, they’re mocking the organizers. They’re making jokes about it, games. They’re getting tattoos for every killing and all types of stuff that they do to mark it up. Come on! Are y’all serious? Are we going to take that? No, no, no. No, no, no. Can you all please say it for me? Say No! (Crowd: No!) Say no! (Crowd: No!) (Crowd Singing: We can’t take it no more!)