Who Are the Real Outlaws?
A Statement By H. Rap Brown (Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin)
Chairman of the Student NonViolent Coordinating Committee
July, 1967

Brothers and Sisters,

White people are saying that the uprisings of our people in almost 100 American cities, "must be a conspiricy." Where is the real conspiracy? Black people across this country have known that the real conspiracy in this country is to run us out, keep us down, or kill us, if we don't act like the honky wants us to act.

We're fighting for our survival and for this, we are called criminals, outlaws and murderers. Who are the real criminals? Who stole us from Africa? Who has been stealing our labor these past 400 years to build this country? Who are the real murderers? Why don't they call the police who gun us down in the streets every day, all year 'round, .... why don't they call them murderers?

Why don't they call Lyndon Johnson a murderer and an outlaw? He fights an illegal war with our brothers and our sons. He sends them to fight against other colored people who are also fighting for their freedom.

Who are the real outlaws in this country? They say I am an outlaw. I am charged with inciting black people to "riot". It is against the "law" to riot. But did you or I have any say in passing this law? Do we have much of a say in any of the laws passed in this country? I consider myself neither morally nor legally bound to obey laws which were made by a group of white "lawmakers" who do not let my people be represented in making those laws.

That government which makes laws that you and I are supposed to obey, without letting us be a part of that government... is an illegal government. The men who pass those laws are outlaws; the police who enforce those laws are outlaws and murderers.

It should be understandable that we, as black people, should adopt the attitude that we are neither morally nor legally bound to obey laws which were not made with our consent and which seek to keep us down and keep us in our place. Nor can we be expected to have confidence in the white man's court which interprets and enforces those laws. The white man makes all the laws, he drags us before his courts, he accuses us, and he sits in judgement over us.

White America should not fool itself into believing that if it comes down harder on us that will keep us from doing what we believe is right. History has shown that when a man's conscience is aroused, when a man really believes what he is doing, threats of jail and death do not turn that man back. The threat of jail or death will not turn me nor others like me from the path we have taken.

We stand on the eve of a black revolution. These rebellions are but a dress rehersal for real revolution. For to men, freedom in their own land is the pinnacle of their ambitions, and nothing can turn men aside who have conviction and a strong sense of freedom.

More powerful than my fear of what could happen to me in prison, is my hatred for what happens to my people in those outside prisons called the black ghettoes of this country. I hate the practice of race discrimination, and in my hatred, I am supported by the fact that the overwhelming majority of mankind hate it equally. There is nothing any court can do to me that will change that hatred in me; it can only be changed by the removal of the racism and inhumanity which exists in this country.

A society which can mount a huge military action against a black youth who breaks a window, and at the same time pleads that it is powerless to protect black youths who are being murdered each year because they seek to make democracy in America a reality is a sick, criminal and insane society. They talk about violence in the country's streets! Each time a black church is bombed or burned, that is violence in our streets! Where are the troops?

Each time a black body is found in the swamps of Mississippi or Alabama, that is violence in our land! Where are those murderers?

Each time black human rights workers are refused protection by the government, that is anarchy!

Each time a police officer shoots and kills a black teenager, that is urban crime! Where is the national leader who will go on TV and condemn police crime?

Black people see America for what it is. It is clear now that white America cannot condemn itself cannot see the reality of its crimes against mankind. We see America and we recognize our course of action.

Copyright © H. Rap Brown. 1967.

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