Stop the Racist Curfew
Forum at Revolution Books
Wednesday, July 13 @ 5:30 pmThere is huge controversy over the current curfew in the Coventry and Lee Road business districts. No youth under the age of 18 can be in these areas between 6 pm and 6am, without adult supervision or a note from a parent (to go to a job or the library).
What kind of society do we want to live in? Is repression and isolation the solution to the problems of our youth? NO. It is a glaring example of the standard operating procedure of this system and the outlook that prevails. What IS desperately needed is a generation of youth taking the lead to bring forward a culture and morality that projects a world without oppression: endless wars, a planet dying from pollution, and epidemic police brutality, murder and imprisonment, particularly of people of color. We need real revolution to change all that, and right now is an opportunity to join in a movement that represents an alternate, liberating authority. Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!
Many people, both Black and white, are arguing that this has nothing to do with racism. But let’s be real. Coventry has been known for decades as a place for youth to come and interact, meet up with artists, musicians, poets, people different from themselves and people of all nationalities. The sixties, the punk movement of the 80s, the protests against Reagan’s Star Wars, were all periods of converging youth, at times out of control and very rebellious and lively. It was a good scene! It never led to emergency curfews. But these were crowds of mainly white youth. At the same time, many can testify to a history of ongoing singling out of Black youth in one way or another to discourage them from coming “south of Mayfield Road”. One quote in the Plain Dealer nailed the situation: “The new ordinance is a reflection of long standing racism in Cleveland Heights.”
Black youth have been coming out in big numbers to Coventry to hang out, with lots of laughing, having fun. This was a wonderful sight to see. But to the authorities and some others in Cleveland Heights, it was a nightmare to have hundreds of Black youth on Coventry. Using the excuse of some disruptive incidents, and a crime that took place on Lee Road, the cops descended on the strip beginning Saturday June 18 and then at the Coventry Street Fair the following Saturday, chasing the youth, aiming to remove them, and ultimately arresting at least 13. In a few days, the emergency curfew was put into place.
The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in.... Bob Avakian, BAsics, chapter 1 #24 p. 18
People are divided over this curfew. Many see it as clearly racist. Some deny it’s racist and won’t admit that they want Coventry to be mainly white, or at least, not to “go Black”. Many others, including some Black teens, are disturbed by a minority of unruly youth (who are Black) who came to the area challenging other groups to fight and generally “acting the fool”. Many youth support the curfew because they don’t want to be identified with that kind of behavior.
The incidents that happened in Coventry were not serious. But people have been calling it a “riot” and acting as though every young person, and implicitly every young Black person, is responsible for the disruptive or violent acts of a few. A false sense of fear and danger has been spread against Black youth, under the veil of “they” did this and “they” did that. The system’s solution has been what amounts to a new Jim Crow law. Now the authorities are calling for a broader clampdown.
Look at the current climate of social control overall, and the vapid culture of consumerism, focus on image, fronting, and being “out for yourself” amid a swamp of unemployment, drugs and crime. What do these youth have to hold onto that has any meaning? Why can’t Coventry take its legacy to a new level, and be a place where youth of all nationalities can come to explore whole new ways of being and acting?
It’s high time something new came into being in Coventry, and the world. It won’t be easy. It will take our youth at the forefront to make it happen, with all the boisterous, creative energy that implies.
FIGHT THE POWER, AND TRANSFORM THE PEOPLE, FOR REVOLUTION!
Revolution Books Cleveland
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Wednesday July 13, 5:30 pm
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