A coalition of Black liberation groups has made a list of 13 demands to the City of Philadelphia, and is planning a series of actions to back them up.
The Black Philly Radical Collective’s demands include the defunding of the Philadelphia Police Department, the dissolution of the Fraternal Order of Police union, publicly destroying the statues of Frank Rizzo and Christopher Columbus, and the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal, Major Tillery, and Russell Shoatz, who they consider political prisoners.
“The Black community has the right to live safely without the threat of violence,” said Mike Africa, Jr., the son of Debbie and Michael Africa of the MOVE 9, both incarcerated for the killing of police officer James Ramp in 1978.
Africa was part of a group of people representing the Radical Collective who took turns reading the list of demands at the President’s House at Independence Mall.
“We demand the complete demilitarization of the Philadelphia police and the police occupation of Black communities,” he said. “The Black community is consistently targeted by SWAT teams armed with military grade equipment.”
As part of the list of demands, the Radical Collective wants District Attorney Larry Krasner to drop charges against people arrested at Black Lives Matter protests over the last few weeks.
A full list of demands is here. The first demand listed, to eliminate a planned increase to the Police Department the city budget, has been amended since after the demands were first written, City Council eliminated the proposed increase. The collective now wants to reduce the police budget by 20%, with deeper defunding in subsequent budgets. The demands say the school budget should be increased accordingly.
This summer, the collective is planning a public action for each demand.
“It is important to us that we apply pressure consistently on this illegal, illegitimate system until our demands are met,” said collective member Yahne Ndgo.
The first of 13 actions will be this Sunday, in Malcolm X Park in West Philadelphia focused on the demand to immediately free Black prisoners, including Arthur Cetewayo Johnson, Omar Askia, Joseph “Jo-Jo” Bowen.
Actions later in the summer are still being planned, according to collective members. A July 4 action is planned in support of Abu-Jamal.
The event on Friday announcing the demands was attended by about 50 people, spaced out on the lawn of Independence Mall, and began with a Yoruban ritual of pouring out libations to remember and honor ancestors.
Then Ishamel Jimenez, a collective member and public school teacher, put their demands in the context of a Yoruban concept for cooperation.
“This is a different type of worldview,” he said. “The Euro-centric worldview is based on domination, manipulation, and determination of how to use that. The African worldview is based on cooperativeness, of working together and holding people up.”
Another member of the collective praised the vandalism and looting seen in Philadelphia during the end of May and early June, which caused millions of dollars in damage.
“All the rebellions were legitimate. We don’t believe in the concept of peaceful protest as the only type of legitimate protest,” said collective member Megan Malachi. “When we saw our young people in the streets burning and what I call redistributing hoarded resources from corporations, that was a legitimate protest.”