Militant Journalism

Drop the charges on N.C. organizer Dedan Waciuri!

Dedan Waciuri, a Black organizer with deep ties to the community in Greenville, North Carolina, was unjustly arrested and falsely charged in the midst of the 2020 George Floyd protests. Despite any evidence that he committed any of the crimes he is accused of, he is facing charges of “inciting a riot” and “damage to public property.”

On May 31, 2020, Waciuri spoke to a crowd of over 300 peaceful protesters over a megaphone. He read a list of demands for change in the community and emphasized restraint saying, “We don’t want anybody to get hurt, we want everybody to come back the same way they came [here] … that’s without a scratch, without a bruise, or anything happening to anybody.” The police heard Waciuri’s words and still teargassed the peaceful crowd. Afterwards, they arrested Waciuri and charged him with inciting a riot and damaging government property.

Dedan Waciuri is clearly facing retaliation for being a leader in the fight against police brutality and white supremacy. He has been a consistent advocate for accountability for police abuse in his community, civilian-run police review boards with subpoena power, and is a vocal proponent of Black community control of the police.

Across the country, activists and organizers in the Black liberation struggle have been singled out by police and hit with a barrage of trumped-up charges.

There is a concerted political effort by police and judicial institutions, which enforce the will of the ruling class, to silence dissenting voices, particularly those from within the Black community. Beyond stifling the expression of dissent, the ruling class has an interest in keeping Black people within officially sanctioned political spaces. When potential leaders emerge outside of these spaces, they are deliberately targeted to send a message to fall back.

Earlier this year, the North Carolina General Assembly passed HB 805 to increase penalties for protesters charged with “rioting.” The bill was vetoed by North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper, but it is part of a broader and ongoing trend throughout the country since the summer of 2020. Such bills give the police even more power to charge protesters and punish them for expressing free speech.

Bills like HB 805 are designed to chill the movement and intimidate people from organizing for justice. However, activists like Waciuri advocate more organizing — not less!

Speaking to Liberation News, Dedan Waciuri explained that even if the tactics used by Black activists and revolutionaries are not always the same today as they were in the past, it is the same powerful forces which continue to keep political prisoners such as Sundiata Acoli and Mumia Abu Jamal imprisoned in cruel conditions that are behind today’s repression all over the country.

Waciuri also stressed the importance of defending democratic rights in the face of assaults such as HB 805 in North Carolina. While such rights have never been applied equally in the United States, their defense can still form a starting point for genuine democratic movements for liberation and self-determination in Black and Brown communities, to create institutions that serve the masses rather than the elites who cynically exploit the community.

Each Tuesday, organizers and community members are calling for phone zaps to let the District Attorney’s office know that the community supports Dedan Wacuiri and to demand that all charges be dropped. Follow this link for more information.

A petition to drop the charges against Dedan Wacuiri can be signed here.

All progressive and revolutionary people should stand in solidarity with Dedan Waciuri in the face of these absurd charges and demand they be dropped immediately!

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