The work of the Community Alert Patrol, formed in the aftermath of the 1965 Watts Rebellion in Los Angeles, will be the topic of the next Conversations on Race and Policing, and will feature longtime community activist and civil rights leader Ron Wilkins and UC San Diego history professor Danny Widener.
“Reflections on Resistance: The Community Alert Patrol and the Struggle Against Police Terror,” which is open to the public, will be livestreamed on Zoom beginning at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17. It can be accessed from a PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android at https://csusb.zoom.us/j/97960458784.
Using the 1965 rebellion and the civilian police monitoring group known as the Community Alert Patrol, or CAP, as starting points, the program will address community-based efforts to resist police terror from the 1960s to the present day.
Wilkins led CAP, which was founded in 1966. In a June 17, 2020, article, he wrote, “CAP volunteers constituted the first community organization in the U.S. whose members put their lives on the line to police-the-police in an effort to end law enforcement’s campaign of terror against Black people. … Wherever police were seen interacting with our people we emerged from our vehicles with camera in hand to prevent foul play.”
Wilkins has been a force in the struggle for the liberation of Black people for more than 50 years. In addition to his work with CAP, he was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and was the target of extensive police harassment and surveillance. Later, he was active in a variety of Pan-African causes, including support for the revolutions in Grenada and Zimbabwe. During the 1980s, he played a critical role in solidarity work around South Africa and Namibia. He has conducted extensive research and political work around the themes of Black/Brown unity and has produced an extensive photographic library on African people, both on the continent and throughout the diaspora.
Widener is the author of “Black Arts West: Culture and Struggle in Postwar Los Angeles” (Duke University Press, 2010), and the co-editor of Another University is Possible. His past and current political affiliations include the Venceremos Brigade, Community in Support of the Gang Truce, the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, the Labor Community Strategy Center/Bus Riders Union, and Pillars of the Community.
Conversations on Race and Policing began in the aftermath of the May 25 death of George Floyd while in the custody of four Minneapolis, Minn., police officers. A video of the incident posted on social media has led to widespread protests, the firing of four police officers, the arrest of one officer on a second-degree murder charge, the other three on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder – and a spotlight worldwide on race and policing.
Previous forums also are posted online (more recordings will soon be available for viewing) on the CSUSB History Club Lecture Series YouTube channel.
The ongoing Conversations on Race and Policing series is hosted by CSUSB students Marlo Brooks and Yvette Relles-Powell.
The series is organized by Brooks and Relles-Powell, CSUSB faculty members Mary Texeira (sociology) and Jeremy Murray (history), Robie Madrigal, public affairs/communication specialist for the CSUSB John M. Pfau Library, and community member Stan Futch, president of the Westside Action Group.