October 29 Public Forum in Los Angeles

Building a People's Movement Against War & Racism
October 29 Public Forum in Los Angeles a Step Forward

Oct29 group
Panelists and participants in the October 29 forum in LA

On Saturday, October 29, a multinational crowd of more than 70 participated in public forum on the struggle against war and racism. The forum was sponsored by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and held at the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research in South Los Angeles. People from the surrounding community attended, along with victims of police brutality, progressive activists and others. 

The overall theme of the afternoon forum was how to fight racism in the United States. Speakers talked about the fight against police brutality in Los Angeles, the necessity of defending immigrant rights, racism in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and building a movement to demand real relief for the people of New Orleans and the Gulf region.

Muna Coobtee of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition kicked-off the forum by linking the struggle against racism to the war and occupation of Iraq and the U.S.-backed Israeli assault on the Palestinian people. She stressed that the goal of the forum was to provide a venue for the community to discuss racism and forge unity in all of our struggles.

 Keishia Brunston
Keishia Brunston speaks about police brutality

Keishia Brunston, aunt of Deandre Brunston who was brutally murdered by Compton sheriffs in 2003, spoke about how racist police violence has affected her family. She mentioned the need to continue to raise the issue of police brutality as a main demand in the struggle against racism. Brunston detailed how she has helped raise awareness about police brutality by mobilizing the community to protest the murders of Devin Brown and baby Suzie Marie Peña.

Carlos Alvarez, organizer with Youth and Student A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition talked about the need to defend immigrant rights. He outlined how U.S. neoliberal policies force people to come to the U.S. looking for work, especially from Mexico and Central America. Alvarez noted that immigrants, including all undocumented workers, are our natural allies in the struggle against racism and for a better world.

Hurricane Katrina survivor Derrick Williams recounted his families experience in New Orleans when Katrina hit. He spoke of the lack of any help from local, state and federal authorities, and blamed the Bush administration for criminally neglecting the African American people of New Orleans. His brother, political hip-hop artist Creó, performed his newly recorded song "Hurricane Katrina," as the audience clapped and sang along.

A.N.S.W.E.R. leader from San Francisco and union president, Gloria La Riva, then spoke about Katrina and screened her new film "Heroes, Not Looters: Eyewitness New Orleans and Texas." La Riva pointed out that the current system in the U.S. is racist to its core. She mentioned that A.N.S.W.E.R. is sending a delegation to work in New Orleans with local organizers to help build a political movement in the region against the racism and repression. She also noted that, no matter how difficult the struggle seems, people shouldn't lose hope. "We can organize ourselves and fight back together. Only the people can force the changes we need," said La Riva. 

For the next 45 minutes, audience members asked questions and discussed the topics raised at the forum. The speakers and audience pledged to continue the struggle against racism and to bring more people into the important discussions sparked by the forum. 

For more info call 323-464-1636 or e-mail [email protected].

Derrick Williams, displaced from New Orleans by Katrina
Derrick Williams, displaced from New Orleans by Katrina 

 Carlos Alvarez and Gloria La Riva

Carlos Alvarez and Gloria La Riva

New Orleans based hip-hop artist Creó
New Orleans based hip-hop artist Creó


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