If You Must Bang…Some Reflections on the Plainfield Rebellion

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By ‘Baba Zayid

“Where are niggers when the people need some shots?
Niggers are scared of revolution…” Niggers Are Scared of Revolution, The Last Poets

“If you must bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!…Bang against police brutality!…Baba Zayid Muhammad, on the streets of Newark

I am known for saying the above when we rally against the madness of gun violence on streets who are scavenging our community of our youth like krazy!

‘For all the bangers within a earshot of this mic, with all the heaters you’ve got on the streets now, how in the hell do you let pigs come into your ‘hood and do our people like this?!…If we had it like that back in the day, our relationship with these pigs would be totally different than what it is today! So if you must bang,…’

And on and on.

Just days away from a national march against police brutality in Newark, less than a month from the massacre of some of the salt of the earth of our people in a Charleston, South Carolina church, including the assassination of an incredible leader, Clementa Pinckney, who got some real work done on police brutality that hardly anyone is even talking about, and just two days from the 48th anniversary of the epic Newark Rebellion of ’67, triggered by police brutality, today, I have to stop and give my hometown of Plainfield a shoutout!

Today, July 14th, marks the 48th anniversary of our rebellion. Ours, immortalized in Die, Nigger Die! by H. Rap Brown, now political prisoner Imam Jamil Abdullah Amin, was one of the most important, most unique, and most underappreciated of all the rebellions of that incredible, fiery period.

In the Plainfield Rebellion, a party of unseen and unknown urban maroons cleaned out a factory of nearly 50 rifles and ammo. Authorities offered a reward for the bold black underground to turn those rifles in response. Refusing to be hoodwinked into being left unarmed and played for stupid, that underground kept those weapons and told the white man and his reward to go to hell! As a consequence, unlike what happened in Newark and other major cities where state and federal occupiers moved in and shot down a lot of unarmed black civilians, wary of unseen black hands armed and capable of using these missing weapons, state forces did not come into Plainfield blazing away fearing little or no armed resistance. They came very carefully, one house at a time, and even backed down from that after about an hour of aggravating an angry community refusing to bow down!

Yet today, almost 50 years later, police brutality is a mindnumbing epidemic! Most incredible, it is an epidemic in communities that have young people dangerously well-armed, who tragically use those arms on each other and not on the state occupiers who shoot us down in spectacle fashion, incredibly while fearing no armed reprisals! I have heard of only one instance of an armed, equalizing resistance of this kind since then. That was the ‘St. Petersburg Uprising’ in the aftermath of the 1996 police killing of Tyron Lewis, a young man shot to pieces with his hands on the wheel of a car too good for a black man his age to legitimately have.

The Uhuru Movement* called out the pigs responsible. They put up posters of the perpetrators allover their ‘hood calling them armed and dangerous. They held a ‘people’s tribunal’ laying out their case against the state terrorists, and it was this tribunal that provoked a senseless, savage response from the police. As the tribunal was going on, a peaceful town hall meeting in format for the most part, an angry police force surrounded the gathering and began firing into the meeting with tear gas and live fire! Nothing unlawful was taking place! Nothing! But what happened next is what is instructive here.

All of a sudden, the pigs came under fire! Under heavy and meaningful fire!…A helicopter taken down! One wounded in their ranks!…Heavy, meaningful fire!…All of those serious and dangerous arms on the streets associated with socalled ‘black on black’ crime, all of those arms probably sold to our kids by corrupt pigs themselves, all of those weapons all of a sudden, in a rare coming together of courage and clarity of our young, were ablaze on our people’s real enemies. Totally taken by surprise, consumed with the arrogance of power, confronted with their own flesh and blood humanity, if they have any at all, these pigs were forced to retreat and abandon their attack! And it was the boyz in the hood, the ones everybody wants to talk about like a dog, but are afraid to talk to directly, those same unnamed, unknown boyz in the hood heroically saved the day and may have prevented some real casualties among our people in that brazen sick attack! This is what we mean when we say, ‘if you must bang!

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So since our so called leaders still lack the spine to do what Clementa Pinckney did in South Carolina before he was assassinated, that is mobilize the mandating of a state law making body cameras on all police in the state law, and since they sill lack the spine to do what Newark Mayor Ras Baraka did with his implementing a civilian review board with full subpoena powers over the Newark police, maybe our young, who are armed, maybe they may have to do what our beautiful, disciplined marching, but unarmed, young may not be able to do, ‘make’ black lives matter…by any means necessary!…

**’Baba Zayid’ Muhammad is a cub of the NY chapter of the Black Panther Party, and the founding press officer of the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee…

*Uhuru Movement leader Omali Yeshiteli will be in Newark on Friday at Source of Knowledge bookstore at 6pm signing his new book, An Uneasy Equilibrium:The African Revolution Versus Parasitic Capitalism. The Million People’s March Against Police Brutality takes place on Saturday, July 25th at 12 noon at the Lincoln Monument, Newark, New Jersey.


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