(The following article first appeared in the September 25, 1996 issue of Downtown/Aquarian)
Near the end of the Wicker Park rally, the former New York City Panther Trial 21 Defendant Dhoruba Bin-Wahad—who was later wrongfully imprisoned on a trumped-up charge for 19 years in Upstate New York—argued that we now live under a system of “Democratic Fascism” in the United States:
“Power To The People! Power To The People!
“This is Chicago 1996. And everyone is acting like they’re totally intimidated. And the reason why people are acting like they’re intimidated today is because in the United States we have a new form of democracy. Let’s say we have a new form of direct democracy. And that form of direct democracy is called: `Democratic Fascism.’
“It’s called Democratic Fascism because it’s aligning the Corporate Interest to the Racist State. And the Racist State carries out the policies of the Corporations and the Rich White Males who control this society.
“These policies are translated into a vehement hatred of the poor, a criminalization and degradation of people of color, and an increased hysteria perpetrated by law enforcement agencies against drugs.
“Now we know in the African community in the United States that drugs is a problem. But we also know that, as reported just recently [in 1996] in the newspapers on the West Coast, that the U.S. government has always been heavily into importing drugs into the African community in the United States. They did this during the Vietnam War in order to cool Black people out. In order to divert the militancy of organizations such as the Black Panther Party, the Republic of New Afrika and SNCC.
“In those days in the African communities there was an increased awareness, an increased heightened consciousness of racism, of institutionalized racism and sexism. Lest we forget, African people have always led the greatest human rights struggle for civil rights in this country. It was the civil rights movement of Black people’s struggle for liberation that emancipated women, that led to the freedom of gays to stand up, and speak out, and come out. It was the struggle of Black people in the street from Selma to Chicago that galvanized and made the peace movement militant.
“Don’t let CNN re-write our history!
“Don’t let Channel 4 re-write our history!
“Fred Hampton was murdered in Chicago. By an administration headed by the father of the current mayor. Let’s not be blind to our history.
“The city of Chicago worked hand-in-hand with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its Counter-Intelligence Program to destroy the Black Panther Party in this city. And what did we have in the wake of this destruction? We had people come forward to mislead the African community. Or had people come forward who ignore the repression that was visited on the African community by the police departments of the United States.
“All throughout this country, as I speak, a war on drugs is ravaging the African community. It’s not a `war on drugs.’ It’s a war on us.
“The street that these cops patrol in our community—harassing young Black males, locking them up, running them through the criminal justice system, creating a military state and jail cells by 30 billion dollars—is a crying shame. But it’s part and parcel of a new form of democracy: `Democratic Fascism.’
“I said `Democratic Fascism.’ Where you get to vote, but you can’t vote for anybody. Where you get to hoop and holler at the Republican or Democratic Convention, and then you got to go on to business as usual.
“You know Dole is attacking Clinton because he says `the war on drugs is not successful’ and Clinton is ‘soft on drugs.’ But Dole and the Republican Party know full well that 100,000 new cops in the street is not going to translate into safety for African people in their communities. When these cops are racist, when these cops don’t live in their community, when these cops don’t take care of business in our community.
“What we need is a National African Defense Network. We need to defend ourselves on every level in the Black community. What we need is decentralization…of police departments. What we need is community control of the police. And I’ll tell you how to get community control of the police: by using the ballot. By putting it on a referendum in every major city in this country. Community control and civilian control of the police department. And watch how quickly these cops turn rabbit on you. Because they don’t want to be accountable to the community. They don’t want to live in the community. They want to be outside the community and be the biggest gangs on the streets of Chicago, New York or L.A.
“The message that I’m trying to bring to you today is to understand that the `war on drugs’ is a war on us. And is an excuse to remove all the civil and legal rights of every citizen in the United States. And tomorrow, when you wake up, the cops will be kicking in your door and jackboot you upside the head. The way they did to us 25 years ago.
“The issue of political prisoners…is very important. The use of the death penalty in a racist and calculating fashion is very important…
“But the murder of Black people, and especially now, the impending murder of Mumia Abu-Jamal, is something that we have to understand in the context of `Democratic Fascism.’ I said understand the context in which Mumia is going to be put to death if the State has its way. It’s the context of `Democratic Fascism.’
“The political prisoners are in prison because of the courts in this country. And we have to understand that we must mobilize not only today. But tomorrow and the next day and the next day.
“Power To the People! Power To The People! Free Mumia! Down With The Death Penalty! Death To The Death Penalty! Free All Political Prisoners!”
(end of part 4)
Next: The Clintons’ 1996 Chicago Democratic National Convention Revisited—Part 5