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

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Do you agree with the "no snitching" code?

I think it exists in the police department. In fact, they've done movies on it. they call it the code of silence. I haven't heard any report yet of cops saying what happened that night, just this one cop.

When you talk about a code of snitching ... I believe that what this country does is what they cursed the Nazis for doing. They would have an informant on every corner just snitching on people inside their community for the benefit of the state. If it's bad when Nazis do it, it's bad when African people do it. You can't have it both ways. You can't say it's bad to turn a community into a community of informers and snitches when it comes to white people, and it's good when it comes to African people, that somehow we're supposed to be the informers.

The bigger question is this: Why is it that the police department has so alienated the African community that you have to be worried about a code of snitching? That ain't our problem. That's something wrong in the relationship that exists between the police department and the African community. The question really needs to be asked — why is it that there is such an animosity existing between the community and the police department that people seem to have a problem talking to them?

Do you worry that sometimes talk of socialism and revolution may turn off younger people from your ideas?

It doesn't worry me. the majority of people we come into contact with don't relate to us because of communism, socialism or capitalism. They relate to us because of the pain this system imposes on them. I think most people can relate to goodness, to try and make things better. So most people who we hear that discussion from, like some middle class folk. Ordinary people aren't debating that question. They're trying to feed their children and get them off to school safety and things like that. But I will tell you this — what we are discovering is daily young people, I n particular, are demanding revolution. They don't want some milquetoast reformist agenda. Young people are demanding revolutionary transformation. Again, it's not just here. All over other world that's our experience. Because we've been reformed out. For example, how many civil rights bills do you think will ever happen. It's not going to happen anymore and what has been the consequence of the last one, except for the middle class? Nothing.

For an organization for African-American self-determination, there seems to be a lot of white people in your group. What's up with that?

Let me tell you this. [Laughs.] It's an interesting question. We're called black nationalists by some folk, and then they see the white people they say, "Well, there's so many white people that something's wrong with them." I have integrationists, who in an attempt to slander me, spread the word that I'm married to a white woman. And I have the same integrationists who say they hate me because I'm for black power and this and that.

When the Nicaraguan revolution took off, before they got to Managua in July of '79, I didn't even know a Nicaraguan. But I went to find some, so we could put all of our organization resources at their disposal, because we could support the struggle of the Nicaraguan people. We did not require that they abdicate their struggle for self-determination. We did not require that they develop a taste for Ray Charles or anything like that. We were in solidarity with that movement.

We have a movement that anybody who wants to express solidarity with can join, but it is a movement for self-determination. And white people can actually join a movement that supports self-determination for black people. There's really no mystery to it.

The problem that we have is this whole racially-based politic that makes the assumption, somehow, that if there are white people or black people who are working in the same process that somehow it must be some kind of integrationist process, or it must be some process that white people are leading. That's usually how the thought process works.

There are white people that have tremendous solidarity. There have been people who have been in the movement 30 years or more. White people in solidarity with the struggle of African people.

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