Tag Archives: Police Violence

The Story of Ahmed Evans and the Glenville Shootout

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Part 2 in our blog series on histories of resistance to racist police violence, as depicted in the pages of The Movement newspaper.

Fred "Ahmed" Evans

Fred “Ahmed” Evans

By the summer of 1968, tensions had been mounting between the Black residents of Cleveland and the police department for over a year. In the spring of 1967, riots broke out after the police shooting of two children, one Black and one white. That fall, a young Black lawyer named Carl B. Stokes rode a wove of Black disaffection into political office when he won the city’s mayoral race. Many Black residents had high hopes for a Black-led Democratic administration to usher in an era of meaningful change, but by 1968 some were becoming disillusioned as they witnessed police harassment of Black militants intensifying.

In the late 1960’s Cleveland had a vibrant Black nationalist scene, which centered around Fred “Ahmed” Evans’ Afro Culture Shop and Bookstore in the Glenville neighborhood. Evans had opened the shop after returning home from serving in the Korean War, and had dedicated himself to creating a meeting place for Black residents interested in Black nationalist culture and politics. Evans’ shop was burned down multiple times, and undercover police were permanently stationed across the street in order to monitor the activities of Evans and others who frequented the shop.

On July 23, Evans was in bed when he realized the cops were outside his house. He looked out the window to see what looked like officers shooting down a Black man who was running away from them. Evans took his gun into the bushes outside his home and began shooting. A fifteen-minute gun battle ensued, leaving 15 wounded and 7 dead. Police officers and Black militants on the scene offered conflicting accounts of the event, with Evans insisting they had been ambushed and police claiming they had been attacked by snipers from Evans’ home. After a stand off, Evans surrendered to the police.

National Guard on patrol in Glenville.

The next day, Cleveland broke out into rebellion. The Black residents of Glenville protested in the streets for three consecutive days. On the night of July 23, fires burned on ten blocks of Superior Avenue. Mayor Stokes called in the National Guard in order to quash the rebellion. On September 22, Evans was sentenced to death by electric chair for allegedly killing three officers. His sentence was later commuted to life in prison. He died of cancer in prison in 1978.

He remained unrepentant after his sentencing, stating: “I don’t think there is any doubt that the people of my race have every right in the world and have every reason in the world to resist and to reach out and become what they were created, men–not symbols, I mean–not half anything, but whole as I am whole. I fully understand the ways of life as they are now, and the truth of the matter is I have no regret….This is to be expected. I mean, you just can’t say that you are going to turn away from a world of iniquity and walk along a red carpet. It is not that way.”

Check out the full story here

-Laura

The Story of the TSU Five

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Hello,

This multi tsu-five-photo-2 part blog series highlights significant but relatively unknown moments of resistance to racist police violence as depicted in the pages of The Movement. When looking at the stories in The Movement, the continuity between historical events and the emerging movement against police violence comes into sharp focus. Police treatment of Black and Brown people has not changed much, if at all. The murders that are captured on smartphones today and streamed online are not a new phenomenon. They were happening in the 1960’s too, and they were met with rage and resistance then, just like they are today.

In early 1967, Texas Southern University (a historically black college) students and Black residents of Houston began organizing on and off campus. In March, students demonstrated against conditions on campus, which were significantly worse than those at the white college down the street. Their grievances included bad food, early curfews, and a lack of courses in fields like engineering and technology. The administration responded by throwing TSU’s Friends of SNCC chapter off campus, firing the group’s faculty advisor, and working with the local police to have a warrant issued for the arrest of a student organizer.

The administration’s crackdown only further angered students, and their protest expanded. They came forward with new demands, including an increase in faculty salaries, the disarmament of campus police, the removal of the campus dean from the local draft board, a student court for disciplinary cases, and the dropping of all charges against student activists.

In May studenttsu-5-photo-1s joined together with local Black residents to protest poor living conditions and city government neglect. A demonstration in the Sunnyside neighborhood was called after a child drowned in an unfenced city garbage dump. Another was held in Northeast Houston to protest the beating of Black high school students with ax handles and chains. The demonstrations gave city officials an excuse to retaliate against TSU students. On the night of May 16, police officers blockaded the campus. Students gathered and some threw rocks at the police. Soon, hundreds of armed police officers swarmed the campus. They arrested 489 students and opened fire on a dormitory. They shot between 3 and 5,000 rounds of AR-15 shells into the dorm. In the course of the raid, a student and a number of officers were shot, and one officer was killed, almost certainly from ricocheting bullets.

Although the ballistics and coroners reports confirmed that the officer was killed by a .30 bullet (the caliber used by Houston PD), the city used the death as a pretext for crushing the Black movement. They arrested five students known for their political activism–one of whom was actually in jail the night of the raid–and charged them with the murder of the police officer. The students became known as the TSU 5 among activists, who organized support for their defense. Despite the lack of evidence, it took over three years for them to be cleared of charges. In November 1970 a Houston judge finally dropped the charges and the state admitted that the officer probably died from a ricocheting police bullet.

The story of the TSU 5 is told in the pages of The Movement, check out the newspaper here: Page1 Page2

Please help us continue our educational work at the Freedom Archives. You can make an online donation here. Your support really makes a difference!

 

-Laura

New Arrivals at the Freedom Archives

Hello,

clifford-glover-school

Over the summer we’ve been going through old piles, re-organizing the archive space and re-arranging book shelves. Needless to say we found some cool stuff.

This image is taken from the Clifford Glover Contingent’s Coloring Book published by the May 19th Communist Organization. Clifford Glover was a 10-year-old black youth murdered by Thomas Shea, a white on-duty, undercover policeman, on April 28, 1973. His death, and the policeman’s later acquittal for a murder charge, led to an urban rebellion in the South Jamaica section of Queens, New York. The inside cover of the coloring book reads:

“We want our children to be part of building this new socialist society. That is why we built the Clifford Glover Brigade for our young people to march with us today, under the leadership of the Black Liberation struggle. We want them to understand that a system that survives through the murder of Black children by killer cops and the klan provides no future for them. But for them to live in a better world, they must start fighting for it by fighting white supremacy now. That is the way that they will learn new values and can grow into young revolutionary women and men.”

-Solidarity Statement from May 19th Communist Organization in recognition of New Afrikan Freedom Fighter Day, July 18, 1981.

Stay tuned, more new arrivals to come…

-Nathaniel

All Power to the People

Black Panther Party Member Selling Newspapers

Six months ago we announced that a project to catalog and at least partially digitize our collection of Black Panther Party Newspapers had begun. Today, we are proud to report that our entire collection has been cataloged, and we have digitized the front and back covers of each paper! Almost all of the brilliant artwork on the cataloged newspaper covers was created by former BPP member and Minister of Culture Emory Douglas and represent a sizable cultural achievement in and of themselves. Each paper’s annotation contains its main features as well as comprehensive key words representing the articles and topics within. The collection is now available to view on our search site here. This important contribution would not have been possible without the hard work of our volunteers, interns and supporters. Please contact us at info@freedomarchives.org if you would like more information about the collection and specific materials within it.

Also, please join us in celebrating 15 years of this type of work on October 16th at the African-American Art and Culture Complex at 762 Fulton Street in San Francisco. Program begins at 7pm, with a $15 suggested donation. Festivities for the evening include Rico Pabon and Friends, Joan Tarika Lewis and the Youth Ensemble, members of the San Francisco 8, support statements from political prisoners, and more! Check out our Facebook event and we hope to see you on October 16th!!

-Nathaniel

Young Oakland!

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oscar-guayoHello there! We are Oscar and Guayo, and we have been interning at the Freedom Archives since October 2013. We are two students from MetWest high school, which is out in Oakland, a short walk from Laney College. We are both seniors at MetWest, and in addition to our internship, are conducting our very own senior projects. Each senior project must choose and tackle an issue that we feel is important and create an end product which addresses that issue.

Our project is to create and maintain an online news source for youth in  Oakland called Young Oakland. The issue we are trying to address is the lack of youth awareness and interest in both local and global news and issues. This is important because historically social movements have been fueled by the hope and passion of the youth. However, how can a young person engage social issues without being well informed?  

Our time at the Freedom Archives has proven helpful with our project. One of the main things that we have learned is that things that happen today connect to events from the past. The Freedom Archives has a large collection of documents and audio materials about historical social movements and events. Since we’ve been here, we’ve both learned a lot of specific events in the past and their relevance today. This has expanded our perspective on society and provided us with important historical context. For instance in the case of Oscar Grant we see a connection to events of the past. We learned how police violence has historically been used to destabilize black and brown communities. After learning this we now realize that the case of Oscar Grant was not an isolated incident. In fact, these sorts of killings have been happening for years. We want to take what we learn here and share it with the rest of our community, more specifically with youth in Oakland.

We have partnered with Oakland Local; KDOL TV, and Chapter510 to create a student led news class at MetWest high school. The students learn the basics of journalism and news reporting. The skills the students acquire will then be applied to the creation of content for Young Oakland. So far our class has been a success. The class seems to be engaged as we gear up for the official launch!

Although our class takes place at MetWest, it does not mean that youth from other high schools or the city cannot contribute. We want young folk from all over Oakland to contribute to the site to in order to include our entire community. We chose the name Young Oakland because it is more inclusive to other youth rather than just MetWest students.

Head over to Young Oakland to read and learn more!

-Oscar and Guayo

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