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!
2012-07-05 "Defend Eric Oliver! Join the March on Bronson on July 7 against white lynch mob violence! (Watch LIVE broadcast 11am-3pm U.S. ET)" from "UhuruNews"
Tune in to live broadcast of the Eric Oliver March for Justice in Bronson, Florida
Saturday, July 7 on Uhuru News (live video) and on Uhuru Radio (live audio)
Approximate Schedule (U.S. Eastern Time)
11:30 a.m. — Rally at Levy County Courthouse
12:00 p.m. — African Resistance Now! Commentary and discussion hosted by International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement President Diop Olugbala
2:00 p.m. — Rally at St. John's Baptist Church (496 West Main Street, Bronson)
What does it mean when a white mob comes to an African’s home and demands that you send somebody out? Usually, it means there’s about to be a lynching… but not this time!
Join the March on Bronson, Florida on July 7 to defend 18-year-old Eric Oliver who beat back a white lynch mob!
On June 12 in Bronson, Florida, a white lynch mob came to the home where Eric Oliver lives with his wheelchair-bound mother and his younger brothers and demanded that they send out 16-year-old Mikey Vasquez from the home.
But on that day, these Africans weren’t about to let a lynching happen. Eric heroically defended his family and fought off the mob. Then, instead of arresting the mob that attacked the family’s home, the Levy County Sheriff's Department arrested one of the mob’s targets, Eric Oliver, and demanded a $100,000 ransom bond for his release.
They didn’t even bother to interview neighbors who witnessed the mob attack. They just took the lies of the mob members and locked Eric up. Eric was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. They said he knocked out the leader of the lynch mob, Chris Milton.
Lynch mob violence a legacy in Levy County
White lynch mob violence is nothing new in the Bronson, Florida area. Bronson is a town only 20 miles from the site of the Rosewood massacre that happened on New Year's Day in 1923. In that white mob attack a whole African community was burned down out after a white woman falsely claimed to have been raped by a black man. The black survivors of Rosewood had their property ripped off by the same attackers who destroyed the thriving black village.
Some descendents from the Rosewood massacre are in the Bronson area today. Eric Oliver’s great uncle was one of the last living survivors of the Rosewood massacre, and that white lynch mob legacy is still alive today and supported by the Levy County Sheriff’s Department and State Attorney.
The arrest of Eric Oliver for defending himself and his family is just the Sheriff's Department's way of trying to finish the lynching that the mob couldn’t. There’s no other way to explain how an African teenager could defend himself from a white lynch mob and end up being victimized by the State, arrested, and imprisoned for 13 days on trumped-up charges.
It’s that same old “down south justice” that we saw with the Emmett Till lynching, the Troy Davis legal lynching and the case of Trayvon Martin.
The Levy County Sheriff's Department and State Attorney William Cervone are no different than the Sanford Police Department who sat around for 44 days allowing George Zimmerman to hide and manufacture evidence after he murdered Trayvon Martin. The case of Eric Oliver is Trayvon Martin all over again, except this time the victim fought back and got locked up.
Organized resistance pushing back “down south justice”
A campaign to defend Eric is being organized by the Eric Oliver Defense Committee, which was built by the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM).
After call-ins, write-ins and demonstrations, the State backed down on the $100,000 ransom they had on Eric. Right before the bond hearing started, Eric’s lawyer told everybody who was inside the courtroom supporting Eric Oliver to stand. Almost the entire courtroom stood up.
The judge, still attempting to defend the system and the white mob that attacked Eric in the first place, refused to grant the defense’s motion for Eric to be released on his own recognizance. Instead he reduced the bond ransom to $10,000, and he was bonded out on Tuesday, June 26.
It was clear in the attitude that the judge had with Eric’s lawyer that he was disgusted at the thought of African people resisting that old down south justice.
But the resistance ain’t stopping no time soon. This struggle isn’t just about Eric Oliver. It’s a struggle against white lynch mob violence against African people and the system that these mobs attempt to protect.
Africans have a right to resist oppression, whether it comes from lynch mobs or lynch mobs with badges, and it’s going to take getting organized to stop that oppression and get power to defend our communities and control our own lives!
Join the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement and join the Eric Oliver Defense Committee!
No more Rosewoods! No more Emmett Tills! No more Trayvon Martins!
What You Can Do:
March on Bronson on July 7! The march will start at the Levy County Jail at 9150 NE 80th Avenue and will march to the Levy County Courthouse.
Join the Eric Oliver Defense Committee: Contact the committee at (727) 851-3659 or email@example.com. Also find us on facebook.
Call, email and/or fax State Attorney William Cervone:
firstname.lastname@example.org · (352) 374-3670 · Fax (352) 338-3218
* All charges against Eric Anthony Oliver must be dropped and a public apology made to him for this frame up
* Reparations must be paid to Eric Anthony Oliver for his frame-up and incarceration
* All officers associated with this arrest must be fired for this frame up
* An immediate investigation of the Levy County Sheriff's Department and State Attorney William Cervone concerning their treatment of the black community in Levy County must be held