Bronson, FL — On July 7, 2012, the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) held a march and rally to defend Eric Oliver, the 18-year-old African who was arrested and jailed for defending his family against a white lynch mob.
Holding signs and chanting slogans such as, "The cops and the Klan go hand in hand!" and "Free Eric Oliver! End the New Jim Crow!", InPDUM members and supporters marched with Eric Oliver's family from the Levy County Jail House to the Courthouse and then held a rally at the St. John's Baptist Church.
The mobilization made a profound impact on the African community of Bronson. Several Africans joined InPDUM and expressed their eagerness to build the organization in Bronson.
Bronson is a small town located only 20 miles from Rosewood, the site of the 1923 massacre where white lynch mobs brutally executed dozens of African people and burned down the entire town.
The Rosewood massacre was one amongst countless examples of colonial terror waged by the U.S. government and general white population against African people that included thousands of lynchings in the early 1900s, as documented in the book "One Hundred Years of Lynching."
Many of the Africans who survived the Rosewood massacre fled to Bronson and other towns in the area, including members of Eric Oliver's family.
Nearly 100 years later, the legacy of white lynch mob violence is alive and well in Bronson.
On June 12, a white mob led by Chris Milton knocked on the front door of the Oliver family home and demanded that they "send out" one of Eric's friends, 16-year-old Mikey Vasquez.
As Chimurenga Waller of the Eric Oliver Defense Committee said, "History teaches us that when a white mob comes to the house of an African and says send somebody out, it's usually a lynching."
Eric Oliver protected himself and his family and was subsequently locked up for nearly 2 weeks before he was released on 100,000 bond, which was later reduced to 10,000 as a concession to political pressure from the Eric Oliver Defense Committee led by InPDUM.
Members of the Bronson community were joined by InPDUM and Uhuru Solidarity Movement members from St Petersburg, FL, as well as members of the Gainesville chapters of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the International Socialist Organization (ISO).
A powerful rally held in front of the Levy County Courthouse featured speakers such as Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People's Solidarity Committee, and Chairman Omali Yeshitela, leader and founder of the Uhuru Movement.
APSC Chairwoman Penny Hess expressed solidarity with the right of Eric Oliver to resist and called on other white people to join in solidarity with African people's struggle for self-determination and justice.
Chairman Omali Yeshitela gave a fiery presentation that raised up the stance of resistance embodied by Eric Oliver. Chairman Omali contrasted the Eric Oliver case to the Trayvon Martin case, pointing out that the Eric Oliver case has yet to receive the mass attention that the Trayvon case received because, unlike Trayvon Martin, Eric Oliver fought back and won.
For many, it is easier to support a victim of colonial violence than to support an African who stood up and successfully resisted it, and even now, there are some who attempt to use the possibility that Trayvon may have attempted to fight back against his gun wielding attacker against him.
Eric's case is a clear case of resistance to colonial violence, and he had a right to resist — just as Trayvon did, whether he fought back or not.
Denese Strong, Eric Oliver's mother, also spoke at the rally, in which she put forward the Uhuru Movement for leading the struggle for justice for her son and for all African people.
After the courthouse rally, a meeting was held at the St. John's Baptist Church about the Eric Oliver campaign. Chairwoman Hess gave a presentation on the complicity of the general white popluation in the U.S. government's crimes against African people.
Chairman Omali Yeshitela spoke on the history of parasitic capitalism, a social system born from the enslavement of African people and the genocide against the Indigenous people of the so-called Americas. He spoke of the crisis that the system of parasitic captialism is currently experiencing as a result of the trend of resistance sweeping the planet, including the small town of Bronson as exempflied by the courageous resistance of Eric Oliver.
Members of the community also spoke at the meeting, including Eric Oliver's family and friends. They expressed an eagerness to join the Uhuru Movement and build a branch of InPDUM Bronson.
"Build the Bronson branch," said Chairman Omali. "Roll up to St. Pete in September for the InPDUM Convention with the biggest contingent!"
Several Africans joined InPDUM during this meeting.
The struggle to defend Eric Oliver is one that is mobilizing Africans and allies of African liberation to take action and get organized.
Join the Eric Oliver Defense Committee!
Join the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement!
Forward to the InPDUM Convention in St Pete, Sep 29-30!