Omali Yeshitela: "I ain't speaking to City Hall or the police department."

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There's a lawyer now that's working with the family. Her name is Maura Kiefer, and she is trying to interview witnesses that people give to her so that she can have an approach of taking these witnesses, so these youngsters won't have to face the same cops they saw gun down this boy, their parents can be there and this is a condition that she is trying to establish with the state's attorney when she goes to them. We have nothing to do with keeping witnesses from testifying at all.

Would this be as big of an issue with you if this was an African-American cop that shot Javon Dawson?

It'd be more of an issue. His young brother had gone to try and help his brother, and I'm told it was a black cop that told him to "get back or you can get shot too" or something to that effect.

The state is the state, and you know people who work for that institution are just as capable. The police is a military organization. Its job is an occupation force in this community. Just like you got Iraqis who work with the U.S. to occupy their country, there are black people who do it here. Just like you had Indian scouts that helped the calvary to track down the indigenous peoples here and wiped them out, we got Africans that will do the same thing.

It would be just as serious for us, and in some ways it would be more serious if it were an African that did it.

But it is worth noting that in every instance these shootings have happened up until now, they've been white cops that have done it.

I think you had a cop that was afraid. He might have even flashed back to Iraq. You know, that's their job to subdue communities. You're in Fallujah again. You've got all these people who know nothing about, in a community about which you know nothing. Listen, when police were called they were called because of too many youngsters in the street and noise from a party. They weren't called to it because of a robbery, mugging, a rape or a killing; they were called because of too much noise at a party. You could send a social worker to take care of that. But they sent the Save Summer guys out there, and one of them knew what occupation really meant and killed that boy.

How come you and the Uhuru don't come out more strongly against black-on-black crime?

We do. We just don't call it black-on-black crime. Most of what you call black-on-black crime is white-on-black crime. It's a façade.

I mean, it's a thing we're concerned about. On a regular basis we challenge the community about violence, but we have a relationship with the people. We're not the police working against the people and preaching at the people; we work with the people to try to change from within. The solution is not the police and not the church. The solution is organizing people to change their circumstances, that's a long and difficult thing. But believe me when I tell you that we challenge this community in a serious way.

If you had the opportunity to move with me in this community, you would see the relationship that we have with young people and the respect that is there with young people. And the fact is if people thought we were in the vicinity where something illegal or violence against somebody else was about to happen, they would cease and desist. We have that kind of respect, because we struggle against it. But we don't call the newspaper. We don't work like that.

It's like Barack Obama suddenly discovering that fathers need to take care of their children. That was his Sister Souljah moment. That was his way to speak to the so-called white social conservatives. I ain't speaking to white social conservatives, I ain't speaking at city hall or the police department. My discussion happens in this community. ... Our attempt is not to have that discussion with white folk, it's to have that discussion inside our community.

We don't want violence in this community; in fact, we have campaigns and programs that say if a brother kills another, you are the police. You are working with the police, you are doing the very same thing they are doing. We have produced DVDs that are not only distributed here against that kind of stuff but all around the world, but we place the violence in the proper context. ... It's pandering. It's pandering to a racist, colonialist assumptions about this community. It's pandering, and it's contributing to this whole notion of the need to have this external force to control our community. it liquidates the contradictions inside this community caused by policies outside this community. so this whole discussion as it would happen on black-on-black crime places the onus of responsibility for the conditions of existence on its victims. So we won't participate with that. We won't participate with that.

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