By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
LOS ANGELES – The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan met with L.A.’s community leaders during his “Justice…or Else!” national tour to promote the 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March, slated for October 10 in Washington, D.C.
The June 17 meeting, held at Holman United Methodist Church, was hosted as part of a special Urban Issues Breakfast Forum founded by author and professor Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad. NOI Western Region Representative Tony Muhammad, Holman’s Senior Pastor Kevin Sauls, Dr. Melina Abdullah (California State L.A. Black Studies Professor), Dr. Maulana Karenga (Chair, Us Organization and Professor-Africana Studies California State University Long Beach) and Danny Bakewell (Los Angeles Sentinel publisher) fired up the audience before Minister Farrakhan arrived.
A diverse coalition of clergy, grassroots activists, street organization leaders, educators, gang interventionists, homeless activists and entertainers were among the more than 1,500 present.
“This is not a Million Man March. That’s what was! This is a movement of human beings for justice or else,” Minister Farrakhan declared.
He told the gatherers he wasn’t looking for people who are frightened by the “or else” part of his call. “The reason we’re still looking for justice is there never was a threat in your cry for justice,” he said.
The world is in a brand new reality, Minister Farrakhan continued. He said it’s finished and has come to its natural end. Bodies rocked from side to side, heads bowed and shook, and arms raised and hands waved in the clergy section, as Minister Farrakhan used scripture after scripture and the teachings of Jesus Christ to lay the base for his address.
He explained why humanity has fallen from where God intended it to be and why it must now be raised back to life. He also explained that people must understand what justice really is.
“We’ve been going to Washington a long time, asking for jobs and justice and haven’t gotten either, but a few of us would get an offer,” he said.
He urged attendees to study the last two years of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, his evolutionary and revolutionary development, and why he was really assassinated. It wasn’t because he had a dream in 1963, but because he talked about the power of economic withdrawal in Memphis until the garbage men got justice.
“It was garbage men in Memphis, but it’s the Black man and woman in America today. It’s our Indian, Native American family that’s in pain today. It’s our Latino brothers and sisters that are in pain today. It’s women who can’t get equal pay for equal work that are in pain today,” Minister Farrakhan said.
He listed soldiers fighting unjust wars on the basis of a lie, and Palestinians and Muslims that want to practice their religion and live freely as others who are also in pain and seeking justice.
Many in the audience hurriedly pulled out pens and paper to write as Minister Farrakhan began to highlight the key points of “Justice or Else” and underscored individual and group accountability.
“Do you deal fairly with each other,” he asked. He asked husbands and wives if they deal fairly with themselves, their children and neighbors. He asked businessmen if they were cheats, and auto mechanics if they lied to women about needless repairs. And he asked Palestinian store owners in the Black community if they offer his people swine, wine, crack, and women and girls for sale.
“We can’t just go to Washington talking about the government when killing is going on in our community,” Minister Farrakhan said.
On all levels, the community leaders present told The Final Call conditions were ripe in L.A. for the Minister’s visit and his call for justice.
For instance, days before he arrived, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and LAPD Inspector General Alexander Bustamante announced that two officers acted within policy when they killed Ezell Ford, an unarmed 25-year-old, mentally ill Black man who was walking near his home on August 11, 2014.
Days later the LAPD Commission ruled one officer violated policy and one did not, yet no discipline has yet been taken against the officer.
“We’re pretty happy about the decision that the commission came up with it, but we know that we still have a lot of fight ahead of us to try and get those charges pressed against the officers that killed my son,” said the slain youth’s mother Trattoria Ford.
She said her family’s holding up and faring well in spite of all that’s happened, she said. She said they feel blessed to have the community’s support.
“We came out today because we were aware that the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan would be here speaking on issues that are going on around the world, and we know that it’s a great, a rare opportunity, so we wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world,” Ms. Ford told The Final Call.
Justice for her son would mean District Attorney Jackie Lacey stepping up and filing charges against the officers who shot her son, at least the one unanimously found to have violated policy, she said.
“Other than that I feel very honored, you know, I miss my son and I hate the circumstances that this is happening in but I feel very honored that he’ll be a part of 10-10-15 Justice…Or Else,” Ms. Ford said.
Community activists continue to call on D.A. Lacey to charge the officers.
Other police brutality cases as well as gang-related murders sat heavy on people’s hearts as Minister Farrakhan spoke about the call for justice.
A jury unanimously recently convicted LAPD Officer Mary O’Callaghan of assaulting Black South L.A. mother Alesia Thomas in the line of duty, but the conviction carries only a three year sentence, perhaps probation with time served, legal analysts told The Final Call.
That’s barely a slap on the wrist for her role in striking in the throat and stomping the 35-year-old mother, who died a short time after, in the groin during an attempt to arrest her July 22, 2012.
And former California Highway Patrol Officer Daniel Andrew has yet to be charged for his freeway off-ramp assault of then-homeless woman Marlene Pinnock. He was allowed to resign as part of his and the CHP’s settlement with Ms. Pinnock. Community activists, including the Black Defense Network, are demanding D.A. Lacey to add him to the list of officers they insist she is duty bound to criminally charge.
“There has to come a time in ourselves when we can’t take abuse like that no more,” Minister Farrakhan stated. He admonished people to not be aggressors, but said to fight with everything they have to ward off the aggressor and, if necessary, take the life that’s trying to take theirs.
“And we’re not going to die peacefully,” Minister Farrakhan warned. He said some of the elders that don’t have that type of spirit will not see the promised land.
“I love you elders, because I’m one of you, but I ain’t that kind of elder. I don’t want you to be a weak, cowardly, punktified elder,” he continued.
Reflecting on the police assault of teenagers in McKinley, Texas, Minister Farrakhan chided, “We’re not men if we don’t rise to the protection of our women. When we see the police beating our women, we beat the police.”
The audience exploded in applause as Minister Farrakhan issued a stern warning to law enforcement through members of the Black Press in attendance.
He stated, “…Tell the police chief when you see our women, if they did something wrong you can arrest them, but you can’t mistreat them–not in our face. And if you mistreat them behind the door, you’re going to have to pay for that.… There comes a time now that sweet talk and B.S. are over.…We die. They die!”
Minister Farrakhan is absolutely correct, said Melvin Farmer, a leader with the Crips street organization. He said Minister Farrakhan’s message about Black lives and accountability resonated most with him, particularly when he reflects on his own community.
“While people are shouting over one murder in Baltimore, there have been more than 21 killings in the last 14 days,” Mr. Farmer told The Final Call. He was referring to the infamous “Death Alley,” a one and a half mile stretch in South L.A. plagued with gun violence.
“It’s imperative that Black on Black murders be a part of the conversation,” Mr. Farmer said.
“Justice for us is a hard justice! Black lives matter. White people. When White people join our marches, don’t say all lives matter. Say Black lives matter. That’s what makes all lives matter, because all lives came out of Black life,” Minister Farrakhan emphasized.
Before he was whisked from the church to an interview with popular radio DJ Big Boy of 92.3 FM-The Beat and a meeting with celebrities in Hollywood later that evening, Minister Farrakhan wished a Blessed Ramadan to the Muslims observing the Muslims’ Holy Month.
“Ramadan won’t be a Ramadan if you only go to the masjid and pray and study the Qur’an and put it down without understanding what’s in it,” Minister Farrakhan said.
“This Ramadan we should come away with the spirit of Muhammad, the spirit to challenge tyranny and injustice wherever it is, so let’s get ready. On to Washington! Justice!”
“Or else,” the audience cried out.
“Justice!” Minister Farrakhan again called, with his hand behind his ear.
The people roared, “Or Else!”
Maulana Karenga told The Final Call he’s not concerned about those who fear the “or else!”
“The oppressed should not worry about that, let our oppressor worry about that,” said Dr. Karenga.