The following speeches and excerpts are from the Car Caravan and Rally Against Fascism action and online panel held on January 9. You can read more about the action in this report or watch a recording of the panel and rally.
Ayomi Obuseh, Impact Demand:
Hello everyone, my name is Ayomi Obuseh and I am the Executive Director and co-founder for Impact Demand. I am speaking today to talk about the abhorrent threat to our democracy as we watched fascists try to initiate a coup within the US Capitol.
This was not a protest. This was not a revolution. This was an action that was spurred from seditious rhetoric from the President and other Republican leaders from D.C. to right here in Madison, Wisconsin.
This was a plan to redirect our focus from the real issues and shows us at a last resort those in power are trying to embolden violence to shake our democracy.
This display comes right after the officer who shot Jacob Blake not one or two but SEVEN times in the back wasn’t charged.
And it’s clear: Enough is enough.
There are countless images to come to mind when we ask ourselves, “What if they were black?” Images containing tear gas, noise munitions, rubber bullets, and people not only handcuffed and brutalized, but killed.
As a Nigerian American, I’m fighting police brutality not only here but back home with SARs, and I hold these identities as though they are reflections of each other — both of which are on fire.
I am tired of waiting for our representatives and institutions to stand up to call out these injustices. I am tired of “liberals” playing catch-up while we watch Black death on TV almost EVERY DAY. It is time we hold people accountable. To keep each other safe, we have to recognize that we hold the power, that we mobilize and move each other forward.
It is imperative that we analyse the structural characteristics of racism. Because there will always be a man that we need to remove from office; there will always be a threat. There will always be racism. What we need is to stand together as a community to pull ourselves forward.
We have to understand this is the manifestation of misogyny, racism, facism, and polarized government. The real America was on display yesterday. The real America is founded on white supremacy, and violence, and the systems which upholds it. It is not a surprise for every Black and Brown American, who have witnessed this time and time again: When you condemn silently kneeling, yet have kids in cages and steal Native lands — Shame!
Madison is angry. We are not asking for those who condone domestic terrorism to step down, we are demanding it!
We demand the removal of Ron Johnson from office.
We demand Breonna’s Law.
We demand the Hands Up Act.
We demand community control.
There is no trust between us and the police. It is imperative that we have the resources we need to build healthy and safe communities.
Brian Ward, DSA:
When we look at settler colonialism, we look at white supremacy, we look at capitalism – these are all destructive systems that have continued to ravage this land mass, the people on this mass, specifically Black and Indigenous people. The thing about the Capitol, when people were like, “Oh, White supremacists are invading it,” I’m just like, “Oh, they’re invading a building that was built by slaves.” That’s the origins of this country. We need to understand that to its core. Understanding that is the first step to this because this only is shocking if you do believe in the myth that America is that beacon on the hill. And underneath that hill are bodies and blood that built that country. That needs to be said pretty continually.
A point that Ananda made that I think I think liberals are going to gravitate towards, and that we’re starting to see, is state repression. There’s a call for more police in response to this. The FBI is going around starting to arrest people because these people are stupid enough to put their face all over social media. But we know that those institutions are not just going to be used against these right-wingers. Maybe they’ll be used against them right now. But we need to look back to the past. Like COINTELPRO. Who did that affect? That affected the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, the Young Lords. It affected people of color and other anti-war activists that were fighting a multi-racial fight against the systems that we’re talking about and that we’re calling out that are rotten to their core.
I want to urge a resistance to that idea. We saw on the congressional floor after all this everyone praising the police and everything. We need to understand the role of the police and those same forces that are used disproportionately on people of color and other people on the left. We need to combat that language that liberals and Democrats might start trending towards to protect things and we need to understand that’s not the way that we’re going to combat this. It’s not by increasing police forces and increasing funding for the FBI. We’re going to combat [fascism] with the numbers as we continue to say. I just wanted to make sure to bring out that point because I have a real fear that that’s going to be the response. A lot of my liberal friends are starting to talk about that lot.
We can’t forget the uprising this summer. The police are not on our side. Somehow we think we can wield the police to go after right wingers – I don’t believe that for a second. That same increased power will be used continually against the left and against people of color that are out there fighting to be rid of this system. Ultimately we need to fight for a system that doesn’t value profit, that values humanity and the planet and that’s what we need to be pushing towards.
Ananda Deacon, ACLU Student Alliance
Hi. My name is Ananda Deacon, I use she/her pronouns, I am the current leader of the ACLU Student Alliance on campus as well as a member of the newly formed Civilian Oversight Board, and these views are my own.
The events of this past Wednesday were a lot of things, particularly unreasonable, unsurprising, and unacceptable. However, these events were NOT un-American. If you saw what went down and it filled you with fear and disgust, and if you so badly want that type of domestic terrorism to be considered un-American, we need drastic change and we need it now.
Watching those events as a Black woman were triggering for several reasons. The first being that this country discovered this past summer what every black person grows up knowing: Black people are being hunted for sport in this country and are not afforded the same privileges as white people. Myself and many others watched these events with baited breath, because we knew had it been black and brown people pepper spraying the police, assaulting the police, destroying property, and causing an evacuation the Capitol hadn’t seen since 9/11, the last thing we would have been getting were selfies. To be clear, we did not want to see the pro-Trump rioters be shot, we wanted to see us having the same recognition of humanity given to them.
In 2017, when they tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, over 40 disability rights activists were arrested, with many more arrested in the days to come. In 2018, when women led the protest over the separation of families at the border, 600 people were arrested. According to The Guardian and Al-Jazeera, 9 to 10 thousand people were arrested in relation to the George Floyd protests.
On Jan. 6th, 2021, 14 people were arrested after an attempted coup.
If you haven’t caught on yet, the system in place is not broken, but fixed, and its sole intention is to uphold white supremacy above all else.
But as I said, this is unsurprising. Make no mistake, these events cannot be seen as separate from having had our first black president 4 years ago, having just elected our first black Vice President, and Georgia having elected its first black senator that very day. This harkens back to the 1898 Wilmington Insurrection, when Black citizens were murdered en mass, 100 thousand registered black voters fled, and over 100 Black politicians were removed from office. There are years and years of precedent for this country enacting violence over the idea of black people given the same, or similar to the same, things that they are given, because this goes against everything they were taught to believe in this country.
If we want so desperately for domestic terrorism, fascism, and white supremacy to not be considered as American as apple pie, we need to dismantle these structures now. We need to defund the police, have full citizen control over them, and then create a world where we don’t need them anymore. We need to include all people at the table, and amplify black, brown, neurodivergent, disabled, trans, and immigrant voices. We must reinvest into those communities, and protect them from such violence moving forward by actively condemning every sign of racism, fascism, and frankly any other -ism that upholds white supremacy.
We are past needing words, we need action.
This is fascism, but this is America. The system that needs to change. I call upon you today to do your part. To take one thing – this is what I did when the black lives matter movement started, is to say every day in the morning – what am I doing to change the system? What am I doing for Black lives today? What am I doing to end racism? So one thing you can do today is sign the petition calling for the resignation of Ron Johnson. Another thing is email your local elected officials, your state elected officials. Calling for the resignation. Emailing Tammy Baldwin, emailing Mark Pocan, emailing Ron Johnson himself to call for his resignation. And just continue the learning and unlearning. We’re making change just having this conversation.
Joanna Love, Reshaping Madison Together
I am a founder of Reshaping Madison Together. Reshaping Madison Together started with justified anger. Anger because these politicians are not doing their fucking job. Get to work! We are hurting. We’re dying. We’re going through a pandemic and nobody cares. All these politicians who have the power – they don’t care. They continue to see all of the Black and Brown bodies getting murdered by the police, getting brutalized, getting criminalized. Women like me go unprotected. Black and Brown women are the most unprotected group!
We need to fight, we need to organize, we need to come together. We need to hold these politicians accountable because we all in this together. And if we don’t do it, then we have people like Ron Johnson. Then we got people like Skidmore on our Common Council, we got people like Carter. They need to go.
Rehsaping Madison Togehter started organizing all of the activists and community members. We started inspiring with the support and resources that we have so [people] can run for office and take over the Common Council. I believe that we will be the first city in the history of America with the most Black Lives Matter activists and people of color community leaders, running for office, taking over our city. Reshaping. Reforming. Retaking our justice and our peace.
I am really inspired by how people continue to pay attention. The way that we get treated, it’s way different. I mean look at what happened in Washington D.C. Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer were peaceful. They had children. We had homeless community members on State Street that were tear gassed for no reason. For literally screaming, with nothing in their hands. Maybe a megaphone. This is ridiculous, the way they continue to treat us. The way they continue to treat the undcoumented community, the immigrant community, when right now they’re the essential workers. They’re the ones feeding America. Then we got people like Robin Vos and Ron Johnson continuing to attack them. Continue to deny relief funds. [Undocumented workers] are not getting any relief funds. They didn’t get no stimulus, nothing.
We need to come together, we need to talk about these things. We need to address all of these issues. We need to hold them accountable. Demand that they resign. Or take over their seats. We need to organize and take over the seats. Right now it’s the Common Council, next year it’s the County Board and the mayor. We’re coming. Reshaping Madison Together, we’re retaking, we’re reforming, we’re bringing back the power to the people. We’re bringing back the power to the people where it belongs because we got the power.
Benji Ramirez Gomez, DSA & Reshaping Madison Together
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for going out today. Because what this shows me is that you care. You fundamentally care about the people around you. Wednesday’s action terrified you because it shook the foundation of what our nation’s built on, on what Madison values. We look around and we care about one another. We love each other. We understand that when we have unity, we have power. I want us to hold that in our hearts because that is what the work is built upon.
We don’t do this for free, we do this because we are coming together because this is for you, this is for me, this is for all of us. So when we look at fascists, when we look at the symptoms that have given way to embolden fascists to come out and to strike fear in the heart of the nation, we have to look into our hearts and look into each other to understand that this isn’t okay. This doesn’t stop today. This is something that has been festering for a long time.
We are out here because we are saying no more. We are out here because it is time we build something. Don’t let today be the only time you come out. Engage in something. Take those values that make us Madison, that curve the sidewalk around the tree, and put them to something. Whether that’s joining the DSA, as I did this past June, or starting your own coalition, as I did with Joanna a few months ago – shout out to RMT! I’m asking you to do something, to keep doing something. Because otherwise they’re going to keep building, they’re going to keep organizing. The extremists who want to take everything away from us, who don’t recognize people who look like me, people who look like my Black brothers and sisters out here. They don’t see us as humans, but ya’ll do. And ya’ll have to keep fighting for that. So thank you. Thank you for being out here today. Thank you for continuing to commit yourself to a better tomorrow.
I thought that it was important that I came out here to speak today because I thought I would touch on a few points that maybe people haven’t been thinking about recently because of the events that happened on Wednesday. Even though people keep saying they weren’t surprised, it actually is surprising. At the end of the day it’s surprising. We expect something like it but we never know when it’s going to come or how it’s going to come so yeah, it’s still surprising. I also think a lot of people keep saying, “Yeah, we need to end white supremacy,” and that is 100% true, I’m down with that at any time, any place, anywhere. But I think that something that we really need to focus on is the fact that people feel comfortable.
That’s what we really need to end. White people feeling comfortable. Cause too many people feel comfortable in the world that we live in. The fact that people say the events that happened on Wednesday aren’t surprising – that’s a problem. Because we’re too comfortable with the fact that they reflected what America really is. People say it’s embarrassing a lot of times. Whenever America is in the news, it’s about something embarrassing. It’s embarrassing to be from this country. Yeah! I’m happy to feel embarrassed because at least that means you don’t feel comfortable. But I don’t even think that feeling embarrassed is enough. Embarrassed isn’t enough. You should feel disgusted. you should want to do something. Because tweeting “I feel embarrassed isn’t enough. It never has been and it never will be.
Tessa E., DSA
Thanks for coming out, everybody. I’m so excited the caravan was as large as it was. Thanks to all of the amazing speakers. I just wanted to quickly say – you know we’re watching these news streams and we’re seeing how the police are treating the fascists and everyone goes, “That’s not how they treated the Black Lives Matter protests,” and making all these comparisons. And I just want to stress how not similar those protests were.
When the Black Lives Matter protests are in the street – when leftists are in the street – we’re fighting for life. We’re fighting for dignity. We’re fighting for the police to not murder people. That’s an important thing, that’s something that should get us out in the streets, that we should be protesting. When fascists go out, that is an act of violence in and of itself. Because they want to kill people. They want to take away people’s rights. And they should not be allowed to do that. So yeah. The police shouldn’t just respond the same way. They should actually stop them because being a fascists is a violent act. Throwing a brick through a window is not a violent act. That’s property. Violence is against people. What we have seen this last year is police brutality against peaceful protesters in the Black Lives Matter movement and violence from fascists to our state capitol. And all of that is not okay.
So we need to keep showing up, we need to keep showing solidarity between the working class and turning up for these things. So Ron Johnson? He’s gotta go. But so do so many other elected officials including on our city council, last week, where they tried to pass a bullshit resolution to support “non-violence” as a thinly veiled white supremacist attempt to stop people from protesting in Madison. Luckily it didn’t pass, but it didn’t pass because everyone abstained. Even our council members are not willing to stand up and say that that is not okay. So keep fighting. Keep showing up. Like everyone said before me, there are multiple ways to be involved.
Cherry, UW BIPOC Coalition
I may be half-Asian, my mom may be from South Korea, she may be a dark-skinned Brown woman, but I am still here because I’m white. I have the privilege to be speaking. Right now, there was another member of the UW MAdison BIPOC coalition that couldn’t be here today who had a voice that I would have loved to have here anyways. Because it’s not my voice that deserves to be heard in this situation. Asians have a very different history in this county. Yes, we were oppressed. Yes, you put us in camps. But you still used us as a weapon against Black and Brown bodies. you brought us in to break up your strikes. You brought us in to do your labor. The reason why you call us Chink is because we built your railroads and that’s it. That sound is the sound that echoes in all of us every single one of us has to get there. I have been called chink, I have been called gook, but it doesn’t matter to me.
What matters to me is if I am at a protest and a white man on a motorcycle rolls up on my friends that are visibly darker than me, that are visibly more people of color, the only reason why I feel like I’m not about to get shot is because I look white and [people are] going to care more if I get shot. So I’m going to put my body in between and I’m going to get my foot ran over. I’m gonna get, you know, told by several of the members of the administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, congratulations and thank you for your activism but we’re not going to do shit. And they didn’t. They waited until [the white motorcyclist and UW employee] dug himself into a hole deep enough that he couldn’t get out of so that they could fire him. They didn’t care that he ran me over. They didn’t care about the fact that he called my friend the n-word. They didn’t care that he later racially profiled people that I care about. They didn’t care about any of that. Because they don’t care.
UW Madison is one of those systems that – just like Ron Johnson, we don’t do anything about. We let it happen. We keep putting them in power because, like Tatianna said, it’s comfortable for you. It’s comfortable for you to look at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and have the face of that be Becky Blank. It’s not comfortable for you to look at the University of Wisconsin Madison and see my face. Because when you google that you start seeing “UW Madison Power Plant Employee Runs Over Protesters.” They hate me because I give them bad press. And that’s fine. But imagine what they would have done if it was a Black person giving them bad press. I wouldn’t be able to stand here if I was a Black person. They would’ve gotten me already. And that’s the fucking fact that we have to deal with every single morning.
Madison Area DSA is continuing to organize against fascism and for COVID-19 relief. Join us on Sunday, January 24 for a Freeze Out Fascism event. Find more information on Facebook.