Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

Thousands were gathered in front of the Georgia State capitol building, many holding signs and wearing shirts, all were there for the most infuriating of occasions –   another black male had been senselessly murdered.  Community leaders and politicians vowed that it would never happen again.  The masses chanted repeatedly, “No justice, no peace!”  There was talk about changing laws, about voting, about the necessity of belonging to an organization.  Prayers were prayed and ‘We Shall Overcome’ was sung.  Reaffirmation was given to the “everyday people” in the crowd – Don’t worry, the Big Guys are on the case.  Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Derrick Boazman, Vincent Fort, and other local Atlanta Big Men are speaking out!  Measured warnings about staying focused and seeing things through were given: “We’ve got to get organized, we can’t let this happen again!”  and “Don’t let this be a moment; make it into a movement!”  More praying, and more talk about law, voting, and vigilance followed.  Throughout the whole event, the crowd chanted 4 solemn words, simply voicing identification with the murder victim… “I am… Troy Davis!”

6 months and an Occupy movement later, and it’s more of the same.  Another black male killed.  Another rally at the capitol.  More ‘leaders’ speaking, more chants, more prayers, more calls to vote.  The only differences between the September 2011 Atlanta rally against killing black men and the March 2012 rally against killing black men were in the details of the latest killing that spurred the convergence.  This time, the black male victim was younger, by 27 years (although Troy was 22 when he was locked up on specious evidence).  This time, the victim was not killed after decades of litigation, bureaucracy, countless motions, petitions, and judicial orders, but rather in the time it took for a fair-skinned police-obsessed man to decide he would take a black man’s life.  Six months ago, the State of Georgia ordered and carried out the killing of Troy Davis.  Four weeks ago, George Zimmerman pulled the trigger of the gun that shot Trayvon Martin.  But our history – hundreds of years of racism, hundreds of years of coercion through the lash, the gun, and the law in a country forged by two genocides  – combined with our tired thinking in the present, our failure to do something about these murders each time they happen, have further emboldened the State, the Government, the Police, and the wanna-be-Police in their bloodlust, in their will to murder. 

Troy Davis fell to Georgia’s Death Penalty, but trusting the legal system, trusting leaders, maintaining nonviolent reactions enabled the murder to be carried out.  But just weeks after Troy’s murder by injection, a ‘movement’ sprung up across the country, even coming right here to Atlanta!  Maybe things were going to change.  Yet those who ran away with the Occupy brand enshrined the principles of legality (or at least legal ‘illegality’), leadership, and nonviolence.  October 15, Joetavious Stafford was murdered.  Meanwhile, the ‘movement’ stagnated.  In December, Ariston Waiters was shot in the back and killed.  While a handful responded in the streets with more forceful reactions, the Official Rallies held for these murder victims also functioned as safe spaces for prayer, politicians, and petitions.  Where’s our power? 

As today’s occasion has led us to recapitulate the list of the most recent (known) innocent black men to be killed in our area, it’s also necessary to point out that the overwhelming majority of Atlantans still are unfamiliar with the case of Dwight Person, the 54-yr old black man shot in the chest and killed in East Point in his nephew’s home when the East Point pig department served a no-knock warrant on the wrong house (again – remember Kathryn Johnston?).   He was killed in November, the month between the Stafford and Waiters murders, but the Georgia Bureau of Investigations covered that one up so fast hardly anyone heard about it (  And then there was Trayvon…  (And what about Ervin Jefferson – an 18-yr-old black male shot by more police-wanna-bes right here in Decatur just last weekend?).

So on the afternoon of Monday, March 26, 2012, I attended the rally.  But as thousands chanted “I AM… TRAYVON MARTIN!”, I decided not to join in.  I AM me, and I AM ANGRY.  I am angry that black men are still killed for sport in this country.  I am angry that justice never gets served – has it ever been?  I am angry that people still believe in petitions, prisons, leaders, voters… in America.  I AM ANGRY THAT NOTHING GETS DONE. 

I know that I am not Trayvon Martin.  I’m just me, just someone trying to figure out what to do to prevent us from becoming Trayvon Martin.  I hope no black person is ever again a Trayvon Martin.  I hope no minority, no woman, no queer, no one at all is made to feel unsafe, insecure, and ready to be killed at any moment simply for being who they are.  How can I do this?  I’m not sure.  But I have an idea that my hopes should never be trusted to the politicians that dominate us with the pen, the courts that shackle us with the gavel, and the police who kill us whenever they want.  I keep my hopes in my own hands – and I find others with similar ideas.  Then we see what we can make happen.

At Trayvon’s rally, some of my friends and I stuck out.  When a stack of student presidents from Atlanta colleges spoke, calling out their universities, asking people to “make some noiisssee” – what we thought was supposed to be a crowd gathering in response to a murder, took on the feel more of a pep rally, and we audibly groaned.  Still, we stood there, many of us in black from head to toe, some holding black flags.  Occasionally we let the crowd know what was on our minds:  “Tired of voting! Been voting – and they stay killin’!”  Some heads turned, others nodded in agreement.  “Joetavious Stafford!” we yelled.  Ervin Jefferson!”  More people turned to look – some people dressed similarly to me started feeling nervous as the overwhelmingly African-American crowd was coy with its feelings towards the mostly lighter-skinned black-clad bunch.  Some curious looks, a few stern gazes, some nods of solidarity.  And still, with black flags in our hands we had some conversations – and some common ground was found.

Yet, we were too few, too quiet, too unprepared, too isolated.  The takeaway for many of us was frustration and more anger (which bubbled over into despondency for some of us as on the way we were witness to 5 Atlanta cops picking up a hand-cuffed black-man only to drop him on his face on the sidewalk near Troy Davis Park).  And what can we do?  What can we do when a sea of people hold onto their leaders, hold onto the vote, hold onto America, hold onto the past – the past that contains all of the ways of thinking, being, organizing, and governing that started, accelerated, and maintained the genocide of Africans in this world to begin with?  We all need to do more, so that any of us can do something.  We need to bridge the divide between black-skinned people and black-wearing people in this city.  Our common ground is vastly more than either side can presently understand.  Only direct and honest, if painfully honest, exchange can bring us closer to one another.  This task falls to all involved, to all who rally, to all who wish to need rally no more.  As for me   I AM… ANGRY.  I hear there’s a rally outside the courthouse this coming Friday.  No justice?  No shit.  Now let’s get crackin’ on that no peace part. 


Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

I think the "black bloc" anarchist approach towards the rally has been thoroughly critiqued, and I agree with a lot of the concerns raised.  I do think it's good that anarchists participated in the rally, even if it was not in the most perfect way, and they shouldn't be criticized too harshly - after all, they did bother to make an effort, something few other white activists did at all.  But allow me to offer another story of anarchist involvement, not connected to the bloc:

Copwatch showed up to the rally with only 7 people.  I believe we were all white, which was obviously both a failing and a barrier to outreach at an event like that.  But rather than sticking together as a group, we divided into teams and dispersed into the crowd.  We wore shirts which clearly said "Stop Police Brutality", and passed out lots of fliers to anyone who would take them.  The fliers explained what we did, how to get involved, and included information about how to deal with a police stop.  We had people within each team dedicated to starting conversations and hearing what people thought about Copwatch.

When the police started being aggressive, rally participants we had never met before approached us and asked us to film what was happening.  We did.  There were at least a couple instances where our activity either distracted or scared the police into leaving someone they had targeted alone.

I'm hesitant to make assumptions, especially ones which happen to give myself a lot of credit.  But I assume that it was this combination of...

1) active outreach in approachable groups

2) clear info on what we're about and how to connect with us

3) direct action which concretely benefitted the people at the rally

...which led to people from the rally contacting us afterwards with questions, stories, and desire to connect.  Someone we met there has even gotten involved with other anarchist projects as a result.  It wasn't a lot of people who followed up, mind you.  But comparitively speaking, I would go so far as to say that those 7 copwatchers were more effective at connecting with the broader rally participants than the entire black bloc.  Our effort was still very weak, and we have a lot to improve.  I don't mean to be perscriptive or competitive in this comparison, just to point out another approach which I think got better results, so that hopefully we can all improve next time.  If anyone has other stories or recommendations, I would love to hear them.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

 You know, it's a better tactical skill to fit in in appearance and speak differently.   Seriously, "who are those goth kids."  The symbolism is weak, VERY weak.  People who aren't Anarchists probably don't even get it.  The rest is great, trying to disrupt the general tone of the rally, dialoguing with people, but maybe that will be easier if people feel they can relate to you as human beings outraged, instead of part of the Anarchist outreach program, which we might be acting as in situations like this but still...That makes it all the more imperitave that we try to fit in.  If not, it's the same dynamic as if Trotskyists showed up to an attack on a capitalist enterprise and started distributing Marxist literare and talking about the worker.  What the fuck are you doing, and time and a place.  You can't be polarizing in a situation like that, most of the people there are on their lunchbreaks for fucks sake.  


Maybe it's because we're too scared too.  Maybe that would force us to engage people as people who adhere to an ideology, as opposed to an ideology with a face behind it.  I'm a fan of the bloc...when it's the bloc.  This was a bullshit rally, but when you're in all bloc, with working class folk on all sides, you probably are going to find that most of the people there are going to lump you in with the college prep kids. "Oh, those are the kids that sit on the OTHER end of the caffeteria."  We have to stop doing this if we're going to alienate people before we can even communicate with them.  Because we look like idiots. It's great that you went to try to dialogue, that's awesome, good for you, and I'm not in any way saying your'e an idiot.  I've done this, though, and when I've done this in bloc people look at me like an idiot, when I do this looking like another dissatisfied member of society like they are, it doesn't go great but at least they don't sneer "oh wow, another white person who has no answeres but for how he's able to get on with his day.  Did you see anyone there in their alter boy outfits, anyone wearing a Yamulke? and if they were would you be more interested in their ideology if they were?

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

Identities never fully fall by the wayside - not even in moments of rupture.  If there's a massive wave of violent energy, enough to turn a city upside down, not all of it is going to hit its mark (some violence will be revolutionary, some reactionary, and some arbitrary).  When some of that energy is misdirected - who gets targeted?  If there's a 'rupture' and sexual violence, or x number of rapes occur in a space, who constitutes the victim pool?

The Atl rad community is white... culturally, linguistically, behaviorally, and so on.  That's the barrier.  Talk white, listen white, walk white, fight white, party white = stay white. 

Intentionally expand your cultural horizons, references, ways of being.  Don't talk about it, be about it.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

Dude, sometimes people need to get together and talk about how to effectively strategize an action. It's not about rules and shit, it's about needing to do the work and planning that's necessary for pulling off cool shit. The attitude that we don't need meetings is childish, amateur, and above all ineffective.

Also, some of the peeps in this thread are super trolls lol.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

The question is whether or not being a "white ally" at meetings and actions is how we encourage anarchist participation by POC. I am not convinced but I don't know many other options. I have been a part of  organizations who met very regularly and promoted very intensely to a demographic made mostly of POC. The process we used privileged POC in the stack etc.
It didn't work though.
There are cultural barriers on top of structural ones.

Meeting people at actions is notoriously hard (maybe for some good reasons). The POC we do meet through our projects are largely disenfranchised/homeless etc. because of the nature of those projects.

Finding affinity spontaneously is a very beautiful thing and it is what makes actions work for the most part. The down-side is that you don't get to smoke cigarettes and attend meetings with those people which may mean that you don't get to "invite" them to the next action.

A lazy critique of this is that promotion is too clique-ish and insular and you shouldn't have to be friends with someone or know someone to show up. But how many events do you go to without having any clue who organized it unless it's gonna be a massive rally? People are busy and it's not good enough to wheatpaste posters outside of West End Mall, drop some leaflets off at a meeting or Facebook "invite" random people for them to show up. Some will maybe, but that's not a good strategy by-and-large.


But what is the solution? If attending meetings of black-led organizations doesn't seem to yield material results (or at least results that are being taken advantage of) and attending actions at best creates space for an ephemeral political friendship and if the projects we do have that introduce us to POC are not quite good enough then what is there left to try?

  • Political boundaries are one thing altogether and then the cultural boundaries are on top of that.
  • Political boundaries can be overcome relatively easy but without cultural harmony there will not likely be much traction.
  • Cultural harmony is pretty easy too sometimes but usually at the cost of politics  (except in very specific experiences in the streets but once again that is ephemeral).

Traditionally, interracial solidarity is most present in moments of rupture. In fact, it is during ruptures that all identities tend to fall to the wayside - all that matters is the flow of bodies and their gestures; all anyone is concerned with is their shared project of rebellion.

Prison revolts and anti-police uprisings are famous for creating interracial solidarity. But now there's the same quandry we find ourselves in all the time: you need interracial solidarity to create a rupture and a rupture is the best way to creat interracial solidarity.

I'm reminded of the high school student who desperately needs a job so that they can get a car but who can only find jobs at driving-distance.

I believe that our best bet is going to be to continue discussing these things and to figure out what kind of projects we need to be involved in that are most likely to help up develop long-term bonds with black youth and older black radicals. Solidarity bonds, not charity bonds.

But Earthworm should know better then to assume that any anarchists were attempting to "lead" the march or chants or anything like that. It is possible to act out your desires and to offer space for those who share those desires to join in without being compulsory or vanguardist.

When someone starts cooking food in the kitchen they aren't forcing others to eat even if everyone can smell it and they aren't making everyone else cook - maybe this is a functioning analogy.

This is a really really really important thing for us to focus on as Marlon alluded to below. It isn't enough to purify the processes of our meetings or to feel guilty when we show up at actions organized by black-led NGO's: we have to seriously internalize the reality that an uprising in Atlanta will be mostly black and that if we want to create those insurrectional friendships we are going to need to more seriously prioritize our efforts.


As a side note, there is nothing wrong with not wanting to mediate an interaction with a process. I would say that most anarchsits in Atlanta attend meetings all of the time and a few of them find them to largely privilege the assumptions of the process and don't prefer to attend large, formal, meetings. That doesn't mean they don't "meet". Meetings do not teach us how to respect each other, they teach us how to follow rules. Respect is something we desperately need to get better at.

Shit gets done and it doesn't take meetings.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta


As much as I agree with you, unfortunately you just said "work" and effectively scared away 90% of Atlanta's A-Team.

You know...  they don't DO meetings.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

You know about the phenomenon of derailing, right? where if someone's like "I have a problem with something you guys did..." and someone's like, "you said you GUYS! We're not all guys, that's sexist, I'm not listenimg to anything you say." It discards a valuable opportunity to hear a critique and to learn and become more effective. Why not consider what someone is saying and accept what's valid from it?

If it's so obvious that Atlanta's A Team needs to be building connections with activists and people of color, why aren't we putting in the work to make that happen? It's not the fun stuff, it's hard and unglamorous work. It seems like there's a massive focus on having days of rage without the focus on having conversations that need to happen for us to form a unified movement. At this point the A team needs to start listening rather than calling shots. I was annoyed at the breakaway march to see all white kids leading the chants, leading mic checks, calling the shots about where to go and urging people to march in a certain way. Let's find groups of color we are generally on board with and support their work in ways that they want. It doesn't have to be the liberal prayer stuff, there are plenty of militant folks of color. It's just troubling for a tiny, almost all white group to come to a massive, almost all black event and try to start calling the shots.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

I appreciate this write-up. It's well thought out and well written.


As a side note, I really appreciate all of the critiques but ultimately these types of actions are always great for helping us understand the more nuanced desires and positions of our friends.

Experience is always good. I'm glad to always be meeting new people like we are and I'm glad we aren't insular and only 5 people.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

Also, you're all fucking insular. Good luck having a revolution with five people, morons.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

Man yall are fucking pretentious. It was a stupid and ineffective rally. We all know that. Nobody gives a shit about your wannabe legit crap. Go out and organize something fresh, you stale turds.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

Since others have already responded to 11:44's shortcomings and fabrications, I'll just add this: 11:44 is clearly that dickless burn out, Keith Mercer.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

The author has great writing skills.

You know, the worst part is: radicals are called out because they call for escalation, an end to speeches, and actual movement of the masses.

But the liberal assholes are never called out for co-opting rallies, and using a black boy's murder as a vehicle for Obama 2012.

Eat shit

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

Your anger is a gift.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

 agrees with 3:26am.

More noise demos!

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

To 11:44
For one, your leftist garbage is condecending.  But...  You're a racist.  And I for one don't appreciate the way you clump us brown people into some fabricated monolith so you can more easily speak on all of our behalf.  I never gave you that nor will I ever.
I also didn't show up to the capitol to be part of any community.
What community?
Next time speak for your self because I have my own opinions and they definitely disagree with yours and they sure as hell remain antagonistic to the organizations and leadership that seek to manage our struggles. 
I'm going to continue to attack those who opportunisticlly take a leadership role over my life and resistance based on skin, our histories, or our struggle. 
Fuck them.
If you have the time and don't feel the weight of late capitalism ripping your life to shreads, go right ahead and take it slow and easy.
I don't have that luxury.
Occupy, communize, attack
One socially defined person of color from the black block
PS: Quit making up stories about the black block being surrounded, confronted and told to leave.  It never happened.


Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

dammit there are more than just white people and black people in atlanta and in the a-rad community.


what needs to happen is a noise demo for the black panther being held on $10,000 bail in DEKALB CO JAIL for having a gun.

Hashim Nzinga holds and gets locked up - Zimmerman kills and walks.

Wednesday night and Friday evening noise demos?  Let's build some bridges in a space where we can appreciate each others' rhythms.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

dammit there are more than just white people and black people in atlanta and in the a-rad community.


what needs to happen is a noise demo for the black panther being held on $10,000 bail in DEKALB CO JAIL for having a gun.

Hashim Nzinga holds and gets locked up - Zimmerman kills and walks.

Wednesday night and Friday evening noise demos?  Let's build some bridges in a space where we can appreciate each others' rhythms.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta


*flames we fan

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

To 11:44

Your comments about the need to be sensitive around black and white issues are very important and I could not agree more. Your critique offers important points to consider for every action and “organizing” attempt. The way in which you reach this conclusion I have some critiques of. You generalize the "black community", and mis-categorize actions taken by those in the crowd, their intentions, and the reaction of others to these actions. Your comments appear aimed throughout specifically at the “bloc” and the individuals present in the bloc, so I will assume that is the case in the sentences in which you use an (not-quite-so) understood subject

This Rally was not initially called for specifically by the black community. Nor was it intended to be a rally. The original callout was made by an individual on facebook through occupy Atlanta. Many organizations soon swooped in on the prime rally time, completely co-opting the announced march first into a rally then march, and then into just a rally.

We cannot assume that all in the crowd came to support the presidents of their sgas and pastors or whatever else as they stood on the podium and delivered passive messages about urging legislators to atone for killings they have never managed to stop, and never will manage to stop. Undoubtedly many came because they were pissed about the murder of a young black male by neighborhood "police." Hopefully most in the crowd came out because they were pissed off about the murder, or all the murders, or all the shit that has ever happened to them ever, and not because their "leaders" asked for their support.

The bloc WAS NEVER surrounded and “basically told” to accept the terms or leave. This is just not true The bloc moved towards the center of the crowd willingly and attempted to understand the views and anger held by those around them. Those in the bloc were not there to “change the direction the community has chosen.” This supposes first that everyone present at the rally had the same views, and second that the opportunists who had stolen the stage of the rally had a monopoly on the “message” or “tone” of the rally. The bloc was there, at least for some individuals, to express their personal rage, to express intentions of how they group felt acting on this rage, and to seek out any others who may have shared a similar or friendly position. Leaflets were supposed to be printed that would’ve helped those in view of the bloc better understand its intentions. Unfortunately leaflets were not finished in time and not passed out. This was certainly a mistake. Literature will hopefully be ensured for any future cases in which its spreading would be beneficial. The bloc certainly did not recieve an exceedingly warm welcome. But it did not recieve an exceedingly cold one either. Many discussions have already occured over the appropriateness of concealed identitys at the rally. In the future this could also be considered more before any action is taken.

The fans we flame have only made the waters lukewarm, but soon they will come to a boil.

I don’t think anyone could possibly deny the need for stronger relationships, as your comment suggests. I certainly desire strong affinities with all of those repressed by capitalism, including all marginalized communities. Efforts should always be made to ensure those who would historically receive increased oppression from police and the state, and in their everyday lives, do no not do so in action, “activist” and “movement” spaces.

There was a group of people dressed in all black present at this rally.  That group of people attempted to gauge the mood of the crowd and try to provide opportunities for those who felt similar views to find one another. These attempts were not met with a very positive response. Many in the bloc recognized this, some left before the end of the rally. The bloc was never told to accept someone else’s conditions or leave. The rally’s speakers should not hold any legitimacy over the message of the rally. The bloc attempted to express its own tone to those present. There is nothing wrong with attempting to find others who share your similar sentiments. There should have been literature. There is no homogeneous “black community” that could possibly account for every black identifying person in the area. Efforts always need to be made to build relationships between people of color and white people. This bloc did not make any terribly blatant mistakes in attempting to build these relationships.


Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

we're all angry. but nothing changes over night.  its takes time and organization to make change. not only that it takes building trust and working relationships. i understand your frustration but some of that frustration stems from actions taken in attempts to streer others into doing what you'd like to see happen. as white radicals you can not just walk into event organized by the black community and expect to change the direction that community has chosen. this is apart of why the bloc was surrounded and basically told accept what we're doing here or get out.

the black community knows what goes on in their community they are keenly aware of their position in this country.  they know the lay of the land. don't just assume you know how to fix their ills or heal the rifts between black and white. that will take a LOT of time and LOT work.

you have to build a relationship and build trust with the black community and those that take leadership roles. not just walk in and start telling them to "resist" or "revolt" or to do something that they are not prepared to do. walking into someone else's community and attempting to lead them in another direction will just lead you to frustration and alienation. this was a lesson learned by the group of college age radicals that treked on down to the Laconda Jungle in Chiapas, they went down with the idea that they would organize the indiginous people only to be ignored and ostracized until they eventually began to sit down and listen and build.

you want change. you have to change yourself first and watch and listen and build stronger relationships.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

"it will shake the very foundations of this city."



Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

I appreciate the thoughtfullness of this article.  Where many of us might just condemn or glorify, it acknowledges the complexity of being a white radical trying to participate in black struggles.

The blunders and failures to connect are awkward and disheartening, but nobody ever said struggle would be easy.  Bridging the systemic divide between white radicals and black radicals (including those who don't think of themselves as "radicals") is such a huge endeavour, it's hard to believe it can happen.  But when it does, it will shake the very foundations of this city.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

 I mostly agree with this. The sad reality is that people have been placated and pacified all of their lives. So while some are ready, some or not. From what you wrote the rally yesterday it seems that these people still need to be pushed and many even just talked to. Maybe in the futher connections can be made and conversations had to try and get people on your side and then things can move forward.


Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

Tired of waiting.

Re: Reflections on the 3/26 rally for Trayvon in Atlanta

 I was grabbed by an officer very forcefully on my right arm, both the upper and lower parts.  The officer squeezed my arm with each of his hands and told me he "thanked me for cooperating with him."  pigs.