One year after refounding the National Alliance Against Racist and Pollical Repression
Fight Back! Interview with Frank Chapman, the Executive Director of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Fight Back!: Could you say a few words about the refounding of NAARPR last year?
Frank Chapman: We convened the refounding conference of NAARPR last November 22-24, 2019. People all over the country are remembering these days because they are historic moments in the calendar of our movement. On the opening night of November 22, we packed 1200 people in the Chicago Teachers Union Hall to hear our keynote speaker Angela Davis talk about the importance of refounding the National Alliance.
The importance of the moment was attested to by the fact so many people, from 28 states, 101 cities and 150 organizations attended. They came to help set forth an agenda of struggle demanding community control of the police, free all political prisoners, the wrongfully convicted and all those who have been tortured into confessing to crimes and depopulating the jails.
Fight Back!: Could you say a few words about the Alliance work around COVID-19?
Chapman: Since the COVID-19 pandemic we have been demanding that state and federal authorities depopulate the jails, prisons and detention centers because they are simply death traps for the prisoners. This was one of principal demands of our first National Day of Protest May 30, 2020. We stated this demand in our call for the National Day of Protest.
Fight Back!: Please describe the work of the NAARPR after the murder of George Floyd.
Chapman: We actually issued a call for the National Day of Protest in the wake of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Atlanta, Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. We called for a national day of protest in these words: “The police and racist vigilantes continue to brazenly hunt and kill Black folks while they sleep in their beds and on open roads in broad daylight. We are protesting the murders of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Breonna Taylor in Louisville because they are outrages that demand justice. This lynch-style, racist terrorism must stop, and perpetrators must be punished.”
After the George Floyd murder, we updated our call but held on to May 30 as the day of protest. 22 cities and we were responsible for nearly 200,000 people coming into the streets. We did not stop, we had other days of protest on June 13 and July 18. Again, mobilizing tens of thousands throughout the country under the NAARPR banner.
Fight Back!: What’s ahead for the NAARPR?
Chapman: During the height of the George Floyd rebellion we were very busy mobilizing protest demonstrations, but what happened in Chicago kind of gave us a glimpse into our future.
In the midst of the rebellion some people began to organize in their respective wards for our CPAC ordinance for community control of the police. These demonstrations, sometimes involving over 1000 people, but always spirited, were putting pressure on the city council members in front of their homes, their ward offices or public parks in their wards. So, this is one part of what our future should look like locally. Continue to organize at the grassroots level in the communities.
Nationally, we need to proceed now to do all that we can do while this pandemic rages prepare ourselves for building the National Alliance. We have a projected conference coming up in 2021. Organizing for our national conference and building our organization must go hand in hand. As a matter of fact, we must turn this into a moment of consolidating what we have gained from our refounding and in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and the George Floyd rebellion. The refounding conference gave us the beginnings of national organization, the rebellion gave us the opportunity and the energy to act like a national organization. Now we are confronted with the challenge of building a national organization. That’s what ahead for us.