National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression brings CPAC demand to Minneapolis
Speakers on the panel at the June 18 event: From the left, Jamar Clark Coalition members Loretta VanPelt and D.J. Hooker with Frank Chapman of NAARPR on the right. | Wayne Nealis / PW

MINNEAPOLIS—Community control of the Minneapolis police took a step toward that goal at a forum hosted by the Twin Cities Justice for Jamar Clark Coalition on Thursday, June 18. The Coalition has played a leading role in organizing protests and actions demanding justice for George Floyd, murdered by MPD officer Derek Chauvin.

Special guest Frank Chapman, leader of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) in Chicago, came to meet in person with those at the epicenter of the rebellion against police violence sweeping the nation.

His 20-minute address ranged from the history of police violence and repression of the Black community to strategies to further the goals of the rebellion touched off by the murder of George Floyd. He said he came to Minneapolis “to express gratitude for the rebellion that started in this city and spread throughout the country. Because what you have done for our movement, we haven’t even finished measuring. It’s immeasurable.”

Chapman shared the Chicago movement’s experience in organizing to pass an ordinance to form a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) that would govern the conduct, policies, and hiring of Chicago’s police officers. A 15-page Minneapolis version of such a council, modeled on Chicago’s, was distributed at the forum.

Sharing the microphone with Chapman were Loretta VanPelt and D.J. Hooker, members of the Justice for Jamar Clark Coalition members and activists who were on the front lines and leading protests. The coalition was formed after the murder of Jamar Clark by the Minneapolis Police Department in November 2015. Organizers work in solidarity with all victims and families of police crimes. In addition to Jamar Clark, the list has included Marcus Golden, Philando Castile, Terrence Franklin, Justine Damond, Marcus Fischer, Map Kong, Phumee Lee, Cordale Handy, Phil Quinn, Jaffort Smith, Justine Damond, and others.

During the question-and-answer period, Chapman responded to queries from the estimated 60 people attending and those viewing the livestream. One question dealt with what some see the conflict between those calling for community control and others organizing around the slogans of abolish or defund the police.

Chapman responded that his organization fights for unity with all the groups in the movement but it is his position that no progress can be made unless people have a very specific program they can fight for, and that the Alliance’s demand for community control of the police fits that bill.

Chapman explained, “You gotta give people definite, clearly defined objectives in terms of what are they fighting for. So when we demand community control of police, we are demanding…defund and demilitarize, as well.” Further outlining what winning CPAC would mean, Chapman said, “We will control what the police do in our community; we will decide who polices our communities and how our communities are policed. That means we can also have a decisive voice in what the budget is.”

Another person asked about the relationship between the movement and the families of those killed by the MPD. Coalition organizer, VanPelt, said they maintain close contact. She said many of the families support CPAC, and they recently called for reopening the murder cases of their loved ones as no officers were indicted. Adding to these families’ frustration and anger is the fact that the officers responsible for these murders remain on the force. The indictment of Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd has raised the demand that justice denied in the past must be revisited and won by the force of this rebellion.

Responding to a question about how to keep the momentum going, D.J. Hooker characterized the rebellion as a “sprint,” a period in which it is necessary to “get as much as we can get right now.” He compared this opportunity to “a revolution that is a marathon.” It was clear however, that the spirit in the room, as it has been on the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul and the nation, that this rebellion is part and parcel of winning the marathon.

Chapman summed up the rebellion as being on a scale he has not seen in his 50-plus years in the struggle:

“I have never seen a protest this broad and this deep and lasting this long. People are sick and tired of being sick and tired of police killing us. What should we do? We must raise high the banner of community control of police. But we must not limit ourselves to community control of police, because the rebellion is not limiting itself to just stopping the killing.”

He referred to demands for jobs, housing, de-incarceration, and health care arising on the streets among those protesting the murder of George Floyd.

“We want the whole damn system changed,” he said.


CONTRIBUTOR

Wayne Nealis
Wayne Nealis

Wayne Nealis is a left political activist and writer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, focusing on communications and strategies for social change. He was a toolmaker and union activist in a Minnesota industrial union. Nealis earned a degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota and practiced journalism and public and media relations.

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