A rousing benefit was held in Chicago for victims of police brutality on Saturday, Dec. 16. Forty people came out to listen to speakers, watch video of an LAPD attack against anti-racist protestors, and listen to politically driven spoken word and live music.
Donations collected at the meeting went to offset Los Angeles anti-Minutemen protestor Jose Villa’s $5,000 non-
The meeting was chaired by Heather Beneno of the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Stephanie Mitchell, an organizer with Youth & Student ANSWER, gave a report entitled, “Remember Fred Hampton.” Hampton, the Illinois chairman of the Black Panther Party, was murdered by Chicago Police on Dec. 4, 1969.
At the beginning of the benefit, Beneno read statements of solidarity with the family and friends of Sean Bell, and with immigrant workers who were rounded up in mass raids on Dec. 12. Sean Bell was killed by New York Police officers on Nov. 25, the day of his wedding.
Performing at the benefit were Tristan James and AJ Viola from Proletariat Productions and Bagwis, a Filipino pro-people folk rock group. Tristan James is a versatile artist who combines hip-hop, jazz and modern rhythms to deliver a message of resistance and revolution. Bagwis is a powerful ensemble that advocates for the liberation struggle in the Philippines and for immigrant rights here in the United States. AJ Viola’s spoken word, accompanied by Tristan James on trombone, was a poignant meditation on the source of violence and oppression in U.S. society.
One of the organizers, Stefanie Beacham, said about the benefit: “Tonight’s event is really part of a much larger struggle against violently racist, sexist and homophobic police forces in this country. Tonight’s benefit shows that there are many people in this country who are fed up and want to stop the daily repression in their communities, especially in African American, Latino, immigrant and LGBT communities.”
The benefit was organized by the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) in Chicago and endorsed by Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism (CCAWR), Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban Five, Committee on Pilipino Issues (CPI), Mexico Solidarity Network, National Lawyers Guild-Chicago, Nicaragua Solidarity Committee and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.