By Joan Hoch
On Saturday, June 26, Black activists held an event calling for justice for Jordan Walton, a 21-year-old Black man murdered by Austin Police Department (APD) on February 10 as he was experiencing a mental health crisis. The event, held along with Walton’s family, also served as a celebration of Jordan’s life and a call for revolutionary Black organizing against police violence.
The organizers, 400+1 (pronounced “400 and 1”), described the occasion as a “reparations marshal.” The event included a distribution of funds to Black community members and provided dinner, music, and recreational activities. Attendees took turns placing flowers on a memorial to Jordan set up at a pavilion in Rosewood Park, which 400+1 refer to as “Jordan’s Place.”
Walton was at the peak of a mental health episode when he was killed by APD in February. On June 17, APD released body cam footage of his murder after 120 days and pushing back the release date three times. This violated their own policy, that “Critical Incident Community Briefing” videos are to be released within 60 days of the incident.
In a statement released by 400+1 and the Walton family, the family’s attorney explains that she finds the video released by APD lacking: “It sheds no light on any effort APD made to deescalate a very volatile situation, nor does it show any attempts to negotiate a non-lethal solution.”
During Saturday’s event, two activists with 400+1 climbed into the rafters of the pavilion and hung a large banner reading, “Justice for Jordan.” As they sat in the rafters, they addressed the crowd with a megaphone and called for revolutionary organizing against racist police violence.
“We started a fight in February that we intend to continue,” said one of the organizers, “so we are out here to gather as Black folk, to have a good time, … but also raise some hell.”
“It is going to take drastic actions … to stop our killings, to stop the killing of Black people, Black men especially,” said another organizer. “Until we are willing to put our bodies on the line, it’s not going to stop. Until we are willing to say it’s going to take revolution.”
After their speeches, organizers led attendees in chanting “Justice for Jordan!” “Black people deserve revolution!” and “They shoot, we shoot!”
During the capitalist winter disaster in February, 400+1 set up an encampment in Rosewood Park, offering shelter, a canteen, and other resources to community members. Rosewood Park is located in East Austin in a historically Black neighborhood created in part by ruling-class segregation policies.
The activists occupied the encampment for a month, until they were forced out by Austin police under the orders of the racist city government on March 11. Activists with 400+1 stated at the rally that they are continuing their campaign to reclaim a section of East Austin, which they named “Orisha Land,” with the stated goal of creating a “cop-free” zone under the protection of the people.
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