The Demand for ‘Justice or Else’

Oct 8, 2015
10:26 AM

Justice or else

On the cusp of this weekend’s Justice or Else March, “10/10” is being recognized as a revitalized Million Man March but with a new focus. Twenty years ago, the original Million Man March took place as a million men, nearly all African American, marched on Washington D.C. The premise of this march was for atonement, to reconcile differences with and accept responsibility for these men’s families, children and communities. This year, on the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, Minister Louis Farrakhan reintroduced the idea of the march but this time for justice — justice for the hundreds of deaths at the hands of police, for those who have been subjected to a corrupt government, and for all victims of inequality.

What I find intriguing about this march on Washington is that it seeks to unite the many movements, from Blacks and Latinos to the indigenous, women, the poor and the incarcerated. Chicago-based Minster Abel Muhammad, who is of Mexican descent, says there hasn’t been enough of us coming together to fight for justice and calls on all oppressed people to unite in order to be taken seriously. “This is the people’s call; this is everyone’s voice against the world. We all share a common struggle and we are unifying our voice. People from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Native Americans,” Muhammad shared. “10/10 is a gathering to mobilize; people are going to take this energy back to their communities and better all of our conditions.”

Muhammad also quelled any of the mainstream media’s critical remarks against Minister Louis Farrakhan, as some have suggested that he is inciting a violent race war by calling for “10,000 fearless.” In fact, Minister Louis Farrakahn has reminded everyone that will be attending the march to leave all weapons, alcohol and drugs at home. This march is for peace; to uplift people of color and fight for justice… or else.

The “or else” declaration actually comes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s plan for economic withdrawal. This holiday season, Minister Farrakhan is calling on all Black people and those who are willing to assist in boycotting Black Friday and beyond. Popular opinion is that our government and major corporations are infatuated with their own economic stimulation and personal profits. These companies have to do better by their communities or they won’t receive our dollars. And the Black community’s buying power is said to be well over a trillion.

Will the Latino community also withdraw their dollars? Certainly Donald Trump has unified, to some extent, and rallied an unsuspecting Latino community to vote at the polls. However, many feel that the Black and brown community must unite in order for justice to manifest for immigrants, impoverished people of color and women. If your vote is your voice, then your dollar is your action; how will you use it? Additionally, in a time where it feels that many of the world’s social ills have come to a boiling point, people who are unengaged are part of the problem. Will you join the fight or will you stand on the sideline to only watch (or worse, criticize)? Certainly NCLR’s new blog series on Latinos relations with the police reinforces a well-known problem within our community and calls for increased law enforcement accountability. Will this be the spark to ignite Latinos in officially joining forces with the Black community in these efforts?

Brother Abel Muhammad also calls upon our youth to unify the Black and brown communities, saying “young people have the power to bind us.” San Antonio resident Marisa Martinez is also inspired enough to travel to Washington D.C., as she is assisting in the coordination of the trip for San Antonio residents and advocating for justice on her own accord:

If we don’t come together in a major way we will continue to be devalued, killed or incarcerated in America. It’s time to take a stand and show fellow Black, brown, and indigenous people that if we truly want justice in our communities, we must do more to get it. … This march will bring all the issues that we care about under one umbrella and it will also transform young lives. We have more work to do once the march is over but in the meantime, its time to go to Washington D.C., tell America and our government ‘enough is enough’ and unite as one people!

Whatever it is, I’m with it. Particularly when it comes to the overcommercialization of the holidays. I’m disgusted with the ideas of major holidays being about spending money, making retail assistants work during the holidays and subsequently forcing them to spend less time with their families, in addition to minimizing individuals’ spirituality due to it all. Remember when the holidays used to be special? Now, the holidays are about who can snag the best deals at Wal-Mart. Instead of buying me a gift this year, use your voice and your action for justice.

The Justice or Else movement has come in the wake of several high-profile police brutality incidents across the country in the past few years. My community of San Antonio has also felt the effects of such incidents. Gilbert Flores was recently shot by Bexar County Deputies; a startling video depicted Flores surrendering to police with his hands up. Officials have said a second video shows the incident in a clearer light and perhaps justifies the killing. This video hasn’t been released to the public yet, and the Flores family is now suing the police.

Additionally, the killing of Marquis Jones, a young Black man who was shot by an off-duty police officer in 2014, has not yet seen any resolve. The incident took place well over a year ago; the family, community and country are still waiting for justice. District Attorney Nico LaHood has said that the case of indicting the police officer who shot Jones will more than likely go before a grand jury. However, there is no time table for the indictment and people are becoming antsy.

All the more reason why the Justice or Else movement is taking an urgent tone and making history once again. The people united will never be divided.



Máximo Anguiano is a scholar, organizer and activist based in San Antonio, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @blurbsmithblots.