Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Occupy Wall Street: Showdown and Victory – This Is So Not Over!

In the damp predawn dark of Friday, October 14, an enormous roar of jubilation went up in the canyons of Wall Street as more than 3,000 people cheered the news that New York City had backed down from unleashing their police on the Occupation of Wall Street. A victory was achieved, new ground seized.

The Guardian UK headline read: "'Occupy' anti-capitalism protests spread round the world." Saturday, October 15, saw a massive demonstration in Times Square and there have been protests in over 1,000 cities across the world.

At the epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City, people started pouring into Zuccotti Park on Thursday night, October 13. People were prepared to defend the occupation against the threat of a brutal assault by the New York Police Department (NYPD) to clear the encampment under the pretext of cleaning the park. People came knowing of the hundreds of arrests of the preceding weeks, of the beatings, the pepper spray—which the chief of the NYPD boldly defended. Across the city and around the world people felt this was their fight—the stakes of whether or not this fresh wind of protest against the depredations of capitalism would continue or be set back. People stepped up. A Revolution newspaper correspondent described the scene:

"The young data analyst standing next to me at 6 am had driven two hours from Allentown, Pennsylvania: 'When I heard on the radio they were coming at 7 to take back this park, that was it. I had to be here.' He left the occupation in Allentown to come to NYC.

"The 40-year-old woman on my other side had gotten a call the night before from her union: 'I can't tell you what to do but I would be in the park by midnight.' Her husband gave her his subway card and said: 'Go for all of us!'"

Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said: "I woke up this morning to get down here, with the other National Lawyers Guild and Center [for Constitutional Rights] people, to be here for what we considered might be a bloodbath. I've been in these before. I was in Columbia in '68. And I was totally fearful of coming here." (Democracy Now!, October 14, 2011)

Thursday night, revolutionaries spoke with people filling the encampment about the workings and crimes of capitalism-imperialism. of how the rules of capitalist ownership would operate to evict Occupy Wall Street (OWS). This is a system that evicts hundreds from their homes in the U.S. every day. This is a system that has waged brutal war in Iraq, which has driven two million Iraqis out of their country. This is a system responsible for a refugee crisis that spans the globe. This is the same system in which students are saddled with huge college debt and little chance for a job, let alone meaningful work. This is the same system where 2.3+ million people are in prison, many subjected to the torture of solitary confinement, and who, if lucky enough to get released from draconian sentences, are stigmatized and often denied access to political activity, public housing, and the basic requirements of life.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has become a concentration point and magnet for growing numbers of people who are saying ENOUGH of all this, and standing firm in the face of threats and attacks.


The city had announced it would clean the park at 7 am Friday morning. With the protesters surrounded by police, searchlights focused on the park with 30 minutes to go. A young man jumps up on a bench and shouts: "Mic check" and his words are repeated four times by the crowd so people can hear, as the police forbid amplification. He says: "Cleaning the park we know is a pretext to stop this movement, to silence your voices, to stop us from doing what we have been doing, which is changing the world... But we know that we can change the course of history."

A woman comes next: "We will defend this park, brothers and sisters, in solid unity against injustice, oppression, inequality." Another speaker shouts: "If you stay in the park, you are arrestable. That being said, our time is now!" They call for a show of who is prepared to defend the perimeter of the park. A forest of hands flies up.

Then the announcement comes—the city has backed off. The cheer goes up, two spontaneous marches immediately take off, headed for different parts of Wall Street and are met by more brutality—with police scooters running over legal observers and cops furious at being denied the chance to sweep the park throwing punches, beating and arresting dozens. Meanwhile the police have launched assaults against occupations in other cities, including Boston, Seattle, Denver and San Diego.

But for now, the people have won a round in NYC, and the ruling class is rocked back a bit. Splits abounded in NYC ruling circles as they weighed the impact of a brutal crushing of the occupation further exposing their illegitimacy. Yet, letting the occupation continue to grow and give defiant expression to outrage at the vast inequities and sufferings of the people is also fraught with dangers for them. Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke for the ruling authorities in terms of how they look at clearing the occupation: "It will be a little harder, I think, at that point in time to provide police protection, but we have the greatest police department in the world and we will do what is necessary."

What has happened in this last week underscores two fundamental points: 1) Occupy Wall Street has sparked the imagination of so many and become a vehicle for expressing outrage at the deeply unjust impact of the economic crisis because the occupations have stepped out of the bounds of "politics and protest as usual" and the occupiers have put themselves on the line, coming back after each and every attack by the police and the media. 2) The ruling class finds this intolerable and is prepared to use its repressive force to attempt to crush this. The occupiers must remain vigilant and determined, while constantly reaching out to bring more people into the protest.

At the same time as Occupy Wall Street faces attempts to shut it down, enormous pressure mounts for the occupation to come up with "demands." Sections of the Democratic Party are seeking to get in front of this movement, to lasso it into their suffocating ruling class embrace. And pressure is being exerted from different quarters, including bourgeois commentators, some union leaders, various liberal advocacy groups, and politicians, to come up with realistic "demands." And within the Occupy Wall Street movement itself, there is debate over this.

It must be said: The basic demand to "Occupy Wall Street" is righteous and important—to seize public space to make known that people are suffering needlessly and unjustly and that we are refusing to put up with it; to have a liberated space to explore alternatives to the way things are. This must continue to be the focus of OWS and not be diluted or diverted. It is this character and thrust of Occupy Wall Street that has powerfully tapped into and is now a vehicle for expressing the widespread discontent of millions, with international impact. Further, this movement has shaken things up, brought something new to the political and ideological terrain, and has the potential to uncork even greater opposition and resistance to the way things are.

The Occupy Wall Street encampment has not only been a site of resistance—but also a place where people are forging and experimenting with new forms of community and cooperation in opposition to the dominant and suffocating values of this society. People are working together to clean up the park; holding mass discussions and cultural activity; reaching out and seeking to work with people and businesses in the neighborhood.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is presenting a challenge to the ruling class. In this context, it needs to be recognized that some who raise this "demand for demands" are expressing their desire for OWS to end—for some small concession to be "negotiated," in order to put a stop to this growing movement. The demand to formulate demands is wrong—other than the demand for the POLICE TO BACK THE HELL OFF.

Conscious political operatives of the Democratic Party are aiming to bring this vibrant political opposition back under the wing of sections of the ruling class. There are efforts to channel the righteous outrage of people into a program of reform, like more regulations on banks and changes in tax policy. A big ace in the hole for them here is to appeal to progressive-minded people to support them to prevent the return of the Republican Party—the likes of fascistic forces such as Rick Perry—to the White House. This is a killing and paralyzing choice for the people. The workings of capitalism—however it is "regulated"—continue to grind up humanity. What is really required is for this movement to get broader and deeper, to continue to link up with other streams of resistance in society and make common cause with people around the world—and to more clearly target the capitalist system.

Responsibilities and Challenges for Revolutionaries

Revolutionaries are and need to be even more in the swirl and process of this crucial struggle together with the people—bringing forward how communist revolution is the solution and that this revolution has a leader, Bob Avakian, who people need to learn about, and they need to get into his works. Revolution Books in NYC has tables every evening in the park and has donated books to the occupation library. The revolutionaries are spreading and wielding Bob Avakian's book BAsics, the Revolutionary Communist Party's (RCP) Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), Bob Avakian's Revolution talk DVD, Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible,  What It's All About (especially the section on "What is Capitalism" at, Revolution newspaper, and other important materials of the Party.

Revolutionaries must be working with people at every key juncture to help determine the direction of the movement that will best keep things moving forward, and should be in the forefront of determined and courageous action when such action is needed.

The occupation upsurge should be connected with other important struggles and other sections of the people, including taking up the action called by Carl Dix, Cornel West and others to Stop "Stop and Frisk" in New York City on Friday, October 21, and the nationwide actions on October 22, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation, standing together with those who are most suppressed and massively incarcerated in this country. Imagine if the occupations wore black on October 22 in unity with the National Day of Protest.

At every point, revolutionaries should be involving people—both in the encampments and more widely in society—in meaningful work to contribute to and build the movement for revolution—spreading and corresponding with Revolution, donating and raising funds for the newspaper and for the Revolution Books stores, organizing discussions of BAsics, the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America and other materials. People should be learning all they can about the changing thinking among people and developments in the world... and corresponding with Revolution newspaper.

The fresh breeze of Occupy Wall Street that is spreading around the world needs to become a sustained wind blowing away complacency, acquiescence, and conventional thinking, clearing ground for even broader, more determined resistance as well as the emergence of a new, growing movement for revolution that can sweep away the horrors of imperialism and set to work creating a whole new world.


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Prisoner Insights on "Occupy Wall Street"

The following letter was sent to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund:

Prisoner from the Midwest, Wed., October 5th, 2011

To whom this may concern,

I wanted to write to the paper and say a little bit about this new social movement, that started with only a dozen or so college students September 17th and now has tapped into a grassroot national sentiment amongst many.

The very name of this movement is insightful to me: Occupy Wall Street. This movement isn't primarily focused on "Occupying the White House" nor "Marching on Washington" as many reform movements tend to do, but instead they've chose to bring their message to the heart of capitalism—those who they feel are the true puppeteers behind the direction of this country and their declining conditions. Nah... this is something very different, I believe.

This particular shift in focus by the grassroots reminds me of a quote by Mao in which he once said that, "Tools are made by men. When tools call for a revolution, they will speak through men." What he meant by that in the simplest terms, is that when people find themselves facing the type of hardships economically, in the type of numbers we see today—after eight million officially lost their job during "The Great Recession" just because they were no longer profitable under this system, while many more are meeting the same fate still or facing similar worries—then, people began to question the legitimacy of the economic system itself, in revolutionary terms. And that's increasingly what we're witnessing today when we see protesters holding signs in front of Wall Street that reads: "Capitalism is the Crisis."

What I see in this Occupy Wall Street movement is a great potential, but the question yet to be answered, is in what direction will this movement ultimately seek to resolve its grievances?—in a reformist direction or in a revolutionary one. The answer to this question has yet to be answered; in which direction it will proceed, isn't inevitable by no means.

On the one hand, one can already find the bourgeois media and petty bourgeois unions, trying to co-opt this movement and contain it within "the acceptable perimeters" of bourgeois politics—in hopes that it will become a counter-trend to the Tea Party movement within a liberal Democratic form. While on the other hand, that outcome is all the more possible since the movement itself is being driven currently by a lot of spontaneity and economist trends—trends that tend to either deny the need for a coherent political line, to put forth leadership in fear that the movement will understandably be subverted from within, and/or is only limited to "economic fairness" within the existing economic system.

Anyone familiar with what Lenin had to say about these type of trends in What Is To Be Done? knows all too well that none of these tendencies are new to new social movements. What is and will be new for many in this movement, however, is to learn that there is another real alternative and solution to the direction of this movement—and that's proletarian revolution. As BA stated in BAsics 3:1:

"Let's get down to basics: We need a revolution. Anything else, in the final analysis, is bullshit.

"Now, that doesn't mean we don't unite with people in all sorts of struggles short of revolution. We definitely need to do that. But the proffering of any other solution to these monumental and monstrous problems and outrages is ridiculous, frankly. And we need to be taking the offensive and mobilizing increasing numbers of masses to cut through this shit and bring to the fore what really is the solution to this, and to answer the questions and, yes, the accusations that come forth in response to this, while deepening our scientific basis for being able to do this. And the point is: not only do we need to be doing this, but we need to be bringing forward, unleashing and leading, and enabling increasing numbers of the masses to do this. They need to be inspired, not just with a general idea of revolution, but with a deepening understanding, a scientific grounding, as to why and how revolution really is the answer to all of this." (p. 71)

Anything short of revolution, I agree, is bullshit. Just like I believe it's bullshit logic to play the board game Monopoly, and not think it's driven by a system of rules that encourages an ever-expanding gap between have and have-nots and unfairness—and actually demands such results. How could that game pan out, in the last analysis, any other way than that? So why do we pretend that capitalism will play out any differently with its system of dog-eat-dog incentives, values, and market demands? If there's anything that Monopoly should teach us analogously, is that all systems have consequences—no matter if that system is a board game or a politico-economical one, as capitalism fundamentally is. To expect any dog-eat-dog system to turn out any differently than the decline and ruin of the majority in relation to the minority population and class who profits from such relations, is tantamount to thinking that in the end, everyone can be a winner at the board game of Monopoly in actual fact and circumstance. Yet such irrationality and deception, though, is what the bourgeoisie constantly spoon feeds the general public about capitalism, when they tell us that all boats will forever rise under their class rule and hegemony. If that was even close to being true, then the average CEO's annual salary in comparison to the average worker's wouldn't had increased so disproportionally from 1980 (42:1) to 2011 (343:1) as it has.

I'm going to end this by saying, though, that I believe these new developments in this emerging movement has presented a very meaningful opportunity to introduce many more disgruntle youth and progressive people to BAsics, while thwarting the varying bourgeois representatives from suffocating this movement before it even gets a chance to reach maturity and become the solution we all desire. This is all a part of what BA means when he speaks about "hastening while awaiting." BAsics 3:7. If we succeed in doing so, Occupy Wall Street in time may morph into something more than just a spontaneous reform movement about joblessness and "economic fairness," but instead may come to represent a real proletarian "preoccupation" with achieving nothing less than state power.

In Solidarity, XXXX

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Occupy Wall Street Spreads Across the U.S. and World

The ongoing Occupy Wall Street action in New York City has caught the attention of people around the world. (See "Occupy Wall Street: Showdown and Victory – This Is So Not Over!") There have been protests and occupations inspired by and in solidarity with the Wall Street occupiers in many cities in the U.S. and all around the world. (See

Revolution newspaper distributors and Revolution Books have been out in the midst of all this, supporting and participating in the occupations—and getting out the special BAsics issue (#244, August 28, 2011), introducing people to Bob Avakian and the movement for revolution he is leading; and engaging in all kinds of discussion and debate over "what is the problem and what is the solution."

The following are brief reports Revolution has received from readers about "Occupy" actions in a number of cities in the U.S. This page will be updated as we receive new reports, with the latest at the top.

San Francisco and Oakland

Oct 16 - SF Bay Area. Thousands took to the streets in San Francisco and Oakland on Saturday, October 15, as part of an international day of protest. In San Francisco a crowd estimated by the local Pacifica station to be about 3,000 walked from the Occupy encampment in front of the Federal Reserve Bank to the Civic Center where a rally was held. In Oakland, the rally of several hundred at the City Hall plaza included the mayors of Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond as well as actor and activist Danny Glover.

In both places the crowds were diverse—all ages, nationalities and professions. People were excited that so many people had come out for the day. For many it seemed to be their first time at a protest or march. The emphasis on the international character of the day brought out people from other countries—France, Italy, Germany, Iran. One Iranian woman said she hears so many stories of people losing their homes through foreclosures, getting laid off after working many years, increasingly difficult situations around getting health care and mental health care. She commented that this bad picture is "not in accordance at all with what the government says this system is about—freedom and justice for all." The whole idea that there is a way out of this through revolution and there is a leader to get us there really moved her. She got a copy of BAsics to begin learning about this leader and wants to be part of the movement for revolution we are building.

Danny Glover and others said the movement needs to be bigger, that the day was good, but that it needs to grow and who knows how far it will go. What was happening Saturday, he said, was about humanity and treating people like human beings. That sentiment was echoed in a home-made sign in S.F. that said: "A new system is being born—All over the planet the people will be respected." One young man told us that "this is back to the roots. This is like the 70s again. This is cool." Others compared the day to Woodstock.

In Oakland, the encampment on the City Hall plaza is made up of about 70 tents (in S.F. tents have not been allowed). Most are young people who are wrangling day and night over what is the problem and solution. An "alternative" community is being set up there as in other Occupy sites with a library, food, first aid areas as well as their own security. Many say they are clear that capitalism is the problem but not so clear on the solution. And there is great openness to learn about what BA is saying, to engage, and BAsics was sold broadly.

On Saturday there were many new people from all walks of life who were coming to S.F. and to the Oakland encampment to check it out -- unemployed youth and workers, some professionals, City College students. It really attracted supportive curiosity from all kinds of people. October 22-NDP organizers [National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation] were there and one young man who has been part of the Oakland encampment from the beginning has been organizing people to be part of NDP on October 22. Some Occupy Oakland protesters signed a banner that said "Occupy Oakland fighters support the People from Bayview Hunters Point to Fight the Power." One comment on the banner was "stop hiding unemployed people in prison."

Many people we talked to thought the problem was the politicians being bought off by the corporations. Others thought capitalism was the problem while others said capitalism was fine but it wasn't working well. We showed one person the BAsics quote about how there is no right to eat under capitalism and how it would fall apart if there were such a right. He didn't agree but eagerly engaged with us. People seem to be open and excited to be talking about these topics -- as though a kind of dam burst and their thoughts and frustrations about the way things are come pouring out. One young man said the problem was that 'we're not organized; the banks own us; most of my friends are $20K in debt." There was a current throughout of disillusionment with Obama, and an often expressed demand to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many signs talked of revolution and thought what was happening in the streets the past month is the revolution. And many said they think this movement can continue to grow.


October 20—Five thousand people turned out on October 15 in Seattle at Westlake Park for the international day of solidarity with the Occupy movement. For three hours an amazing variety of people poured out their hearts about why this movement has spoken to them and moved them to act. There was a contagious, generous spirit passed among people as one man from the stage told everyone to look at those standing next to them and say, "I'm with you"—a little glimpse of what a cooperative world would look like. Isolation being broken down, a love for humanity and connectedness developed. A woman and her daughter came to the Revolution Books table and both were in tears. The staffer asked if they were alright, they could barely talk. The woman just held her heart and she shook her head, yes, she was just so happy.

Thousands marched to Chase Manhattan Bank. Youth burned dollar bills and cut up their bank credit cards while others tried to withdraw their money and close accounts. That evening over 100 tents were set up in defiance of orders and previous arrests by city authorities. All that night and the next day the park was a scene—"young high school kids making their own protest signs, parents with their kids, a huge banner stretching along a main street through downtown saying "Occupy Seattle" and another saying, "War is Terrorism." Intense discussions were going on among knots of people from very different walks of life—'"a teach-in on the Tar Sands Pipeline protests, workshops on racism, revolutionaries engaging people over the Revolution special issue on the environment and struggling over the difference between Bob Avakian's new synthesis communism and Castro's or Chavez's "socialism." A young college student holding a sign saying "This is the shit Marx was talking about" was excited to learn about Revolution newspaper and got the BAsics special issue. The issue got out to many who had never heard about BA or this revolution.

On October 17, the city moved against the encampment, removing all the tents and arresting eight people. Night after night police have moved through the encampment carrying billy clubs and dangling handcuffs, shining lights in people's faces, harassing people and waking them up so they couldn't rest. Despite arrests, harassment and threats, the encampment and the spirit among people continues despite disagreements and some sharp differences. There has been growing discussion and debate about what the police's role is in society and there are many questions. Won't the police have a reason to attack us if we protest them? Yes, they do bad things but they are part of the 99%, aren't they, and so can't they be won over in time? If the police are part of the system, what does that say about what kind of change is necessary? Everyone is learning a lot. The National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality on October 22nd has been endorsed by Occupy Seattle and will start at the Occupy site.

Los Angeles

October 13—It's been almost two weeks since Occupy Los Angeles (OLA) began in downtown L.A. at City Hall. In some ways it has the feel of a liberated zone, with all kinds of people forging an ever-growing community with tents now filling the North & South Lawns, where strangers have quickly become close friends, bonded by the common ideal of creating a different ethos based on cooperation and peace, not competition or commodities. On the OLA website's live feed that is giving 24-hour on-line coverage, a woman captured some of the sentiments represented here when she said, "This is not a movement of homeless and hippies; this is a movement of humanity...and homeless and hippies are part of humanity." And a little later, she talked about an issue very near to her, "I won't send my son to kill another mother's son. Are you kidding??" 

Committees have sprung up to meet the needs of the people and the encampment: education, food, political action, media, etc. Young people are stepping up to take responsibility for things they've never done before, and the genie is out of the bottle and there is great determination that it never be stuffed back in. The oppressive weight of "permanent necessity" has given way to an infectious spirit of "We can challenge and change everything."

Though the preconceived notion of communism has at times been contentious, the aspect of From Each According to Ability, To Each According to Need, often unconsciously, is very attractive to people who have been drawn to OLA. One woman drove a distance with her massage table, offering her services to those sleeping on the ground. After a tiring day she was beaming, saying that where she lives no one's thinking about others or the world, and she finds the atmosphere here invigorating. A man bought a BAsics button for $5 and asked that four of them be given to whoever wanted them but couldn't pay. There has been a continuous flow of donated water, food, and other items. Two students from France stopped by to soak up the scene, and were happy to see communists here. But many who have lost faith in the system don't see an alternative other than reform, and think communism can't work because people are too fucked up, that it's human nature. Others point to China as an example of how communism goes bad, and an anarchist chimed in, "I'm more anti-authoritarian than anti-capitalist!" All this has opened a wide door to introducing many people to the work of Bob Avakian and this re-envisioned communism, and there is a refreshing openness to revolution and communism. We're trying to get more creative in spreading these politics, and one fun thing we did was rent a small generator and at night projected a powerpoint cycle of quotes from BAsics, the book's covers, and the image of Bob Avakian on a wall of City Hall. 

Debate and discussion is a constant, late into the night. One issue has been about the police: are they part of the 99% or the armed defenders of the 1%? Many in OLA pride themselves on the fact that so far, unlike nearly every other major city's encampment, this one has not been messed with. Some of the organizers attribute this to the meetings that have been held and the agreements made with the police. But meetings and agreements have been held many times here, only to have police riots like that experienced at the immigrant rights march on May 1, 2007. Right now the behavior of the LAPD has much more to do with the in-fighting among various sectors of the state which has resulted in front-page stories of police brutality, and there is a scathing new ACLU report, "Cruel and Usual Punishment," documenting the savage gang of sheriffs in the LA County Jails who have committed many brazen instances of abuse for decades, even worse than the notorious Ramparts Division and the beating of Rodney King seen around the world. Right now all eyes are on these armed thugs, and there is some "good cop" public opinion that they are trying to create at OLA.

But there are many others at OLA who are well aware of the daily and systematic criminalization that especially targets Black and Latino youth, and they are waiting for the LAPD's real colors to shine through at any time. One young Black man we met has been a part of OLA from Day One mainly because of his outrage at the legal lynching of Troy Davis, and knowing that revolution is no game, asked who's going to be on the side of the revolutionaries when they inevitably get vamped on. He jumped at the chance to spread the word about a discussion on the Strategy for Revolution essay in BAsics, and told us how to include it on the line-up of topics that are advertised on the bulletin board at the camp. We chose a time, made flyers with the Strategy statement to distribute throughout the encampment, and made some human-amplified "mic check" announcements (when a person speaks, others shout the message phrase-by-phrase to enable many more to hear it). We met with a small group of people who wanted to dig into it. The discussion was very lively, and there was a lot of debate. What kind of revolution are you talking about? Does it have to be violent? How do you stop the reversals of revolutions, like what happened in the Soviet Union and China? What's the deal with leaders—do you need them, and if so, what kind of leadership? What do we do now if we want to make revolution? 

These are times that give a glimpse of Lenin's point, that during a revolution, millions and tens of millions of people learn in a week more than they do in a year of normal life. We can't stand aside of that!

And in the midst of all this wrangling around politics and ideology, people are seeking to act, especially with marches through the nearby financial district. Recently, with the consensus (after some back and forth) of the several hundred strong General Assembly, there was a very moving speak-out and vigil in support of the prisoners hunger strike on the steps of City Hall. Several hundred people listened to 20-30 speakers, including some who have family members in prison. One woman's son called from prison and with the cell phone pressed to the microphone he told the crowd how heartening it was to know that this support is out here. Wayne Kramer, co-founder of Jail Guitar Doors USA, said, "What we do is simple. We find people who work in prisons who are willing to use music as rehabilitation and we provide them with guitars. We also work for justice reform and prison reform. And that is why I am here today. I am known mainly as a guitarist, but for a couple of years, I was known as 00180-190. I am also an ex-prisoner. I can speak for all of the musicians, actors, artists and activists we know, when I say that we stand behind this historic hunger strike and we support the prisoners' courageous efforts." He brought his friend, singer/songwriter Jill Sobule, who sang a defiant song for the crowd.

Some passers-by stepped up to speak about their own experiences in jail; one white man said his jaw was broken because he refused to join the Nazi group in prison. Another former prisoner told the crowd not to believe the lies on the TV shows, like Cops, which portrays prisoners as less than human. A woman spoke about how even animals aren't caged like her brother is in the SHU. One of the letters in Revolution newspaper was read from a prisoner who answered Bob Avakian's "An Appeal to Those the System Has Cast Off." A candlelight vigil ended the transformative event, and family members spoke emotionally about how much it means to link up with others because they have felt very isolated.

On a very related note, there was consensus at the General Assembly to join the Oct. 22 march against police brutality, repression, and the criminalization of a generation, and a contingent will leave from OLA to the assembly point on that day. A participant at the speak-out called on people at OLA to go out to high schools in the coming week to build for a very strong Oct. 22 march. Imagine the power and significance of young people from neighborhoods which face police brutality on a daily basis marching together with some of these energized OLA'ers!


October 16—Approximately 250 people were arrested by the Chicago police in the early hours of Sunday morning as they attempted to establish a new Occupy Chicago encampment. They had marched to the new site from their previous set-up at the Federal Reserve Bank in the heart of Chicago's financial district, where they had been forced to move every few hours and sleep in their cars.

Hours earlier on Saturday evening, about 2000 people marched shoulder to shoulder with Occupy Chicago from their location at the Federal Reserve, taking the streets and chanting "We are the 99%" and "People over Profits." The crowd then converged at a spot on the edge of Grant Park, right off of Michigan Avenue. Many groups and organizations took the mic, including the Chicago Teachers Union and other local unions, immigrant's rights movement, Anti-Eviction Campaign, World Can't Wait, the Ad Hoc Committee for October 22, and Revolution Books. In the midst of the speeches and this roaring crowd, tents began popping, hidden under an American flag and surrounded by people, so that there was little the police could do to stop the brave encampment at that point.

The Occupy Chicago protestors linked arms and refused to leave their new encampment despite pronouncements from the Chicago Police Department. Their exuberant spirit inspired people on sidewalks across the street to join their chanting, and events at the new encampment were live streamed and twittered widely. The fact that this was part of a global day of protest added tremendous strength and determination to the crowd. One popular chant came via cell phone from friends protesting in Times Square New York: "We are unstoppable, a better world is possible." Another rallying cry was "One: We are the people. Two: We are united. Three: The occupation is not leaving." Both were set to conga drums. People who hadn't known each other a few hours earlier were assessing the situation together, debating moves and views, and sharing fears and dreams.

The police invoked a vagrancy ordinance and claimed that a large apron of concrete adjacent to the sidewalk was part of the park proper. After hours of deliberations and preparations, they surrounded the two dozen or so tents, cut some of them with large blades they had ready for the purpose, and carted the occupiers off to jail one by one, where they were held overnight and charged with ordinance violations.

Through the course of the march and rally, over 1000 of Revolution newspaper's Special Edition on BAsics were distributed through the crowd of mainly young people that also included families, veterans, and older activists inspired by this young movement. Many of the people in Occupy Chicago are very new to political struggle; for most it is their first involvement in protests.

People from the Ad Hoc Committee for October 22 held a banner with photos of people killed by the Chicago police that people were constantly taking pictures of.  They distributed over 2000 fliers for the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation and got many new contacts.

The Chicago Tribune reported that as people were arrested, some chanted that the police are the instruments for the 1%, while others urged the police to join them as part of the 99%. This was one of the most controversial issues among occupiers. As they were released from jail Sunday morning, the protesters said their civil disobedience marked a new stage in the movement and they would definitely be back.


October 16—The big news was the arrest of 141 people, which took place around 1:30 in the am Tuesday as hundreds expanded their encampment to a nearby park in downtown Boston. This came in the wake of a major march involving thousands of college students during the day which ended up at the encampment with a surge of new energy and supporters. People set up tents in the new area and hundreds rallied around the perimeter of the park anticipating that the authorities might try to evict them. More supporters came over as the night set in, including a contingent of Veterans for Peace. When the police made their move after closing off adjoining streets they immediately went at the Veterans contingent and pushed them to the ground and then went through the crowd arresting 141, including a legal observer, and later scooping up all the tents and gear and trashing it. People were held for hours and most were given the option of paying a $50 ticket or getting a court date, and a number of cases are pending. Adding insult to injury, Mayor Menino told the media "civil disobedience will not be tolerated in Boston," and blamed "a minority of troublemakers" for causing the problem.

Following the arrests people are angry. ( The sign "Boston cops are cool" no longer greets you at the entrance to the main encampment.) There is concern that the mayor will next try to evict the original camp and people are upset about the police taking videos of activists. (Thursday, a cop was seen walking by a workshop on civil disobedience training and panning the crowd with a video camera.) Many youth have taken to wearing bandanas over their faces. Thursday saw a support rally with a hundred union members, many from the Verizon group currently working without a contract, as well as Vets for Peace. Saturday saw an even larger rally and march of 3,000-4,000 people around opposing the wars which ended up at the plaza by the camp and involved many Occupy activists. Saturday evening at the general assembly facilitators called for a moment of silence for the 20 people killed in Yemen for standing up for freedom there. There is a growing determination to stay strong and people are working to strengthen the camp itself to stand up to the rain and cold, and a lot of support is coming in the form of blankets, ponchos, etc., as well as food. Efforts are being made to get the occupation to join in with October 22 day of protest, and people are very open to this initiative.


October 16—Occupy Houston continues; an encampment has been ongoing in Tranquility Park for the last week, and on October 15 several hundred people marched through downtown Houston. More activities are scheduled for this week. Central Houston is the home of many oil and energy companies, and they along with city officials had earlier arranged to hold an "Energy Day Festival" on the 15th. The Occupy Houston demonstration marched around the festival several times; some of them with home made signs with statements denouncing large corporations but upholding capitalism; others focused on the environment. Many of the protestors had put bandanas or dollar bills over their mouths, symbolizing the 99% of people with no voice in the political system. A banner carried by a team of revolutionaries saying "capitalism has no future for the youth, but the revolution does," was very popular. The demonstration was predominantly youth, but included professional people and a small number of basic masses. 

A range of political/ideological viewpoints are getting thrashed out – and solutions are being sought – by participants. There has been a lot of receptivity to revolution, and to October 22. People came up to the revolutionaries asking for Revolution and O22 flyers to get out. Some youth said they had just been talking about why police brutality and incarceration has been getting so bad. Several of them took up distributing flyers for O22 on the spot and took more to get out to their friends and in their neighborhoods. For them it was like, the problem is the economy and more – the repression, the environment, and the wars. There was also discussion and debate around whether capitalism would work without corporations, and can capitalism be "democratized."

A couple of other things that stood out: several people bought the special issue on the environment and said that they were surprised that communists have a solution to the environmental crisis. They said they wanted to read about how socialism can solve the environmental crisis, and they want to be a part of something that challenges the whole system. The other was that some people were very interested in the issue on the strategy for revolution, and how is it possible to make revolution, particularly communist revolution.

Eight people associated with Occupy Houston had been arrested earlier in the week, for "criminal trespass," during a demonstration at the Mickey Leland Federal Building. But the youth and others are undeterred. More events for Occupy Houston are planned for this week, including a talent show for October 16 ("One Rule: Thou shalt not bore – make it political, make it 'apolitical,' just don't make it boring"), and an art show for the 17th.

October 6: Report from Occupy NOLA

Revolution received the following report from Elizabeth Cook in New Orleans, who gave us permission to post this at

Over 100 folks turned out at the beginning of the march at Tulane and Broad, to protest the prison planet that New Orleans, and Louisiana, has become. New Orleans, with double the national average of incarceration, and Louisiana with the highest incarceration rate in the nation, made Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) an excellent starting point to expose the underbelly of the capitalist system. Sheriff's department staff were out and watching with curiosity. I shouted to one group of staff as I walked to the march that Sheriff Gusman allowed people to drown in OPP after Katrina. This is a cover-up that has never been exposed adequately. In the course of my activism after Katrina, I ran into many former OPP prisoners who witnessed drownings during the chaos of Katrina in OPP.

Some chants revolved around shutting down our school-to-prison pipeline system. Many more chants called for the rich to pay, and abolish the Federal Reserve. Personally speaking, the abolish the Federal Reserve folks, out in full force, got a bit annoying. More on that later.

Several African-American activists helped lead the chants in a spirited manner, including Malcolm Suber, Sharon Jasper and her two daughters, Kawana and Shannon, Reverend Brown, Leon, and Sam Jackson. Suddenly Sam and Reverend Brown led the marchers onto the street, and it began. I followed in my truck so that I could ride folks who couldn't march. As we turned onto Basin Street from Tulane Ave., I noticed that it took several minutes for the marchers to make that turn. The crowd had swelled impressively. I later estimated the crowd to be around 500 folks.

Once in Lafayette Square, marchers occupied the statue of Lafayette there and began handing around a bullhorn for folks to speak. A couple of folks who want to abolish the Fed tried to hog the bullhorn a bit but got shouted down eventually. Some of them declared themselves as Ron Paul supporters, and behaved as expected, with a bit of fanaticism evident. They got roundly booed when Ron Paul's name was brought up. In my view, abolishing the Federal Reserve as an antidote to our nation's ills just isn't enough. One of those same protesters tried to shut Sharon Jasper down at OPP when she tried to bring up affordable housing issues. New Orleans has the highest rate of homelessness per capita in the nation, since Katrina. Sharon brushed her off, of course. Ron Paul's shrinking government message is not the answer to our problems, and this country's problems, btw, didn't start with the creation of the Federal Reserve. Once you abolish the Reserve, you still have a cadre of politicians in Washington, D.C. sold out to corporate interests.

Students spoke about mounting debt, which prompted a great deal of cheering from these young protesters. I would say the average ages of the protesters favored the youth. Many spoke of corruption in the financial industry, and the need to keep this movement rolling. Spirited debates in the crowd broke out here and there. I happened to be standing at the base of the monument to Lafayette, near some of the old guard who obviously were advocating reform of the capitalist system, and near a crowd of young anarchists who successfully shouted down and led a chant against the message of "voting" as a form of protest. Their point was that the electoral system is completely compromised by capitalism, and voting is not going to solve our problems at this point. I have to say I completely agree with them.

One older man began chanting, "tax the rich, tax the rich," at which time I started chanting "eat the rich, eat the rich," and then a young woman joined in and chanted "snatch the rich, snatch the rich." It was a bit playful that way. An older woman standing near me preached about the need to vote, that if you don't vote, you won't be seen or heard. I interjected, vote for whom, which sold-out party or politician do we vote for? The young anarchists were in complete agreement.

I think that debate hinted at a broader division in the Occupy Wall Street movement that is flying below radar, which is probably a good thing at this point. The utilization of consensus building in the occupation gatherings gives folks of disparate views an opportunity to work together on projects. Clearly though, there is the camp of we can reform capitalism, and there is the camp of we need to oust capitalism and create a different form of self-governing system that isn't necessarily a representative form of government, but more related to direct democracy. These disparate groups have largely stayed clear of each other, but are now coming together realizing of course, that we can't ignore each other any longer. These encampments give the groups a chance to learn to work together on common goals, leaving aside differences for the moment. The differences aren't going to go away though.

Anarchists, college students, middle age activists like myself, mostly young though, attended an assembly at Duncan Plaza next to City Hall at 6 pm. Duncan Plaza was the scene of a homeless occupation for several months in 2007, before being disbanded by police on the day the New Orleans City Council voted to demolish public housing, after violent rejections and abuse of protesters in and outside of that meeting. We are returning to our contemporary activist roots by setting up in Duncan Plaza. I heard a news report this morning that stated the NOPD will allow protesters to camp there, for now.

About 150 people were in attendance; it was an impressive turnout. I spoke to a couple of women who had already moved out there with the intention of encamping. I also spoke to a college student from LSU who intended to sleep out there the first night. The meeting utilized the techniques developed in New York for running meetings without a bullhorn, mic checks, hard blocks, etc. The meeting kind of got bogged down with disagreements over process, consensus, the definition of nonviolence, etc. One young man suggested that rule by majority vote actually allowed for a platform that tolerated more forms of dissent within the group, which I found to be a fascinating analysis. Frustration at the slowness of the meeting and coming to consensus agreement was expressed, and one wonders how long the consensus model will last. Nevertheless, these discussions offer an opportunity for folks to get to know each other, exercise their own thought processes within a group, and learn what it means to function in a community such as this. I think the difficulties in communication have an opportunity to bond people, if they stick it out to work it out. There will be growing pains, and hopefully folks won't be discouraged by this. As one young woman said, the Arab Spring is changing into America's Fall. It's about time.

I couldn't stay for the entire meeting, but I suspect there will be a meeting each night at Duncan Plaza, probably at 6 pm, as long as the encampment remains.

Reports below were posted October 10, 2011.

San Francisco Bay Area

Occupy S.F. has been going on since September 17. The initial call for the encampment stated, "We are a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. The idea of protesting and camping in the square: 1) As a way of demonstrating against a dominant and oppressive system, lead by a political class working for banks and big corporations; 2) As a way to promote new initiatives of political, social, economical, artistic and cultural organization."

On Wednesday, October 5, there was a march that drew some 800 people. In the evening on Thursday, October 6, the SF Bay Guardian reported that the police distributed flyers to the 200 or so people: "The fliers stated that we were in 'violation of one or more of the following local ordinances or state laws,' and then listed six laws, including open flames on a city street without a permit, lodging in a public place, preparing or serving food without a permit, and violating the city's sit/lie ordinance."

Around midnight 60 riot cops descended on the camp, cordoned off the tents and supplies and proceeded to steal everything: from donated food and water to cooking supplies and equipment. But the people stayed, regrouped and more donations started coming in.

The numbers fluctuate. That Thursday (October 6), at the bottom of Market Street, we found about 50 people encamped and maybe 20 more hanging out (mostly ages 16-26) with tents, tables, music, picketing and in excited political conversations and debates. Some of the youth were "travelers" (young people who go from town to town) who have now become part of the core. On Friday, October 7, the antiwar rally protesting the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan—with many older people—marched to the encampment.

All of the people protesting seem to feel that the economic crisis is extreme, and the disparity between the 1% and the 99% is not only wrong but intolerable.

Los Angeles

Thousands of people gathered at Los Angeles City Hall Saturday, October 8, as Occupy LA entered its second week. Hundreds of tents and other shelters crowded the lawns around City Hall. Debates, meetings, workshops, and the random exchange of thoughts and ideas start in the morning and continue after midnight, including nightly General Assembly (GA) meetings involving hundreds. There are groups making signs and stenciling T-shirts, and other artists just creating beautiful works of art. Every day, there are marches, rallies and protests. Many occupiers participated in an October 6 march on the downtown banking district, blocking traffic. Eleven people from Make Banks Pay were arrested sitting in at a Bank of America. More actions in the financial district are planned.

People have come to participate from Riverside, Orange County, Whittier, Palm Springs, Rancho Cucamonga and other communities throughout southern California. People supporting the occupation drive by and drop off tents, tarps, bungee cords, donations of food and money. Ron Kovic, Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, Roseanne Arquette and Danny Glover have come to the encampment and spoken at rallies. Tom Morello, The Nightwatchman, played an energetic set Saturday.


"Occupy Chicago" started two weeks ago after people coming from the gathering of outrage at the murder of Troy Davis set up camp at the Federal Exchange Bank. The police stopped people from sleeping overnight on the sidewalk and the compromise was to let people sleep in their cars nearby. The number of people has varied, from a few dozen to a couple of hundred.

All of the originators had been following the Occupy Wall Street protest in NYC and felt they had to do something. This was expressed: "No one is happy out here but they don't know where to go to do something. We are giving people a place to go." A number of them said that they felt that they were starting a revolution right then—some thought it would be happening very soon, but there were a lot of different ideas about what that revolution meant.

We have heard quite a few people say, "Capitalism is the problem" and condemning the profit motive in the economy. "People over Profits! Occupy Chicago" is a major slogan of the encampment—along with "We are the 99%". [Windows in the nearby Board of Trade arrogantly displayed signs "We are the 1%."] One couple in their 30s welcomed the fact that finally one could criticize and condemn capitalism without being considered certifiably insane.

The overwhelming number of people at the Occupy Chicago are young and new to political action. Many are students from the University of Chicago, Columbia College, School of the Art Institute, DePaul, Loyola, and law students. There are also working artists, young professionals, and unemployed youths with at least some college background. A number of people have come from outlying areas in ones and twos; several said that they had felt they were all alone until they heard about this. One college student said he had just quit going to class because this was so important.

There is an attitude of solidarity with anyone struggling against the way things are. There is a lot of support for the prisoner hunger strike in California and many people joined a rally and demonstration on September 30 in support of the prisoners' demands. Occupy Chicago protesters also brought new vitality into the protest against the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan war on October 8 when 100 of them formed up a contingent in the march.


Occupy Seattle is going strong despite dozens of arrests for camping by Seattle police and other harassment. The arrests caused all kinds of new people from different backgrounds to come down to join the occupation and created debate and interest in the action much more broadly. Hundreds continue to occupy the center square in downtown Seattle at Westlake Park. The mayor outrageously tried to claim he supported "free speech" and then sought to justify moving against the occupation by claiming it would infringe on the rights of other protest groups who had upcoming protests! In response, World Can't Wait and ANSWER, who were holding a protest October 7 on the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan war, spoke to the press in support of the occupation and linking up the opposition to the U.S. wars of aggression to people standing up in the occupy movement. Hundreds from the occupation joined the antiwar marches on the 7th. One thousand people marched through downtown October 8. An "all city walkout" has been called for October 12 and Occupy Seattle has listed October 22nd National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality on its calendar.

All kinds of people are coming out to stay for a while or stay overnight and people who you don't normally see talking to each other are having serious conversations about big questions facing humanity. People are determined to see this through to some kind of change, even as their ideas of what kinds of change are needed and possible are transforming. A fresh wind is blowing indeed and people don't want to go back!

A sentiment we're hearing often, especially from young people, is a yearning for real human connection, where people come together to solve the problems they're facing as opposed to a society where people are walking around in their own isolated bubbles, sitting in coffee shops tuned into their iPods and smart phones and not even making eye contact, let alone talking with the people sitting beside them. The occupation is striving to relate to each other and the surrounding community in a way that is the opposite of all that. People are grappling with big questions: Is the solution to grow this occupation larger as an alternative society? Can capitalism be reformed or not? What's the relation of the corporations to the government? What's the role of the police? What will it take to have a totally different world? There is much concern over the environment, and the lack of a future for themselves in terms of jobs, their children, the planet.


Occupy Houston began in late September with a small assembly in a downtown square. A group of young people inspired by the Occupy Wall Street actions in New York called for people to reassemble on October 6 in the square. They spread the word via Facebook and Twitter—and on the 6th, hundreds of people, mainly youth but including people of very diverse backgrounds and all ages rallied in the square. They marched and rallied in front of skyscrapers housing the headquarters of various oil corporations and banks, and set up an encampment in a park at the end of the night. Similar events were held in several other Texas cities that day—Austin, Dallas, El Paso, McAllen, and San Antonio. The Houston encampment has continued despite heat and rain—holding assemblies nightly, dividing up responsibilities, planning further activities, and discussing issues they are confronting. People come in and out of the events, but the overall number of participants seems to be growing.

Many, probably most, of the people had never been involved in any type of protest before. A team of Revolution distributors reported "a real sense of openness and a welcoming atmosphere ... a real desire to work collectively, and to engage different ideas without the typical antagonisms that go along with this in U.S. society." A common theme among the protesters is "We are the 99%," and Revolution distributors reported that people "really loved" BAsics 1:5. Occupy Houston participants have been confronting and wrestling with a number of big questions—the wholesale destruction of the environment in pursuit of profit, the execution of Troy Davis, the undermining and under-funding of the public education system. Some topics that occupiers and the revolutionaries engaged included: the reality and lessons of the first wave of communist revolution, both its great achievements and its shortcomings, and how Bob Avakian's new synthesis can take humanity to a whole other place; how science and education will be different under socialism; is there a human nature that makes it impossible to eliminate the horrors of capitalism; and is there a system that is at the root of all this, or can we reform capitalism, or develop some mix of socialism and capitalism.

Occupy Houston continues as we go to press.


On Friday, October 7, in the wake of an all day antiwar presence marking the 10th anniversary of the war on Afghanistan staged by peace and justice groups in the heart of downtown Atlanta, the start of Occupy Atlanta attracted an excited and diverse crowd of up to 700 participants. Two signs among the many homemade placards grabbed our attention: one from a hip-hop group declared "Lock up the Wall Street Criminals," another from a middle-aged white woman declared "Know your real enemies, Know your history, It's past time for revolution." After several hours of speak-outs, tents were pitched in defiance of the gathering of police who normally clear all city parks at 11 pm, and the park was "officially" re-named Troy Davis Park!

During the speak-out, Democratic Congressman John Lewis wanted to speak, but a collective decision was made not to allow him to speak. An organizer explained the decision—that it was motivated in part by the movement wanting to distance itself from the Democratic Party and to reinforce the idea that everyone is equal. Their General Assembly formalized this when they passed out their draft of 11 demands and read their preamble: "We hold this truth to be self-evident: that the 99% deserve equal rights, equal protections, equal access and equal opportunity as the 1% who benefit disproportionately from the current system. We therefore freely assemble to assert our rights and demands." The last demand was that "we denounce a criminal justice and for-profit prison system that relies on mass incarceration, especially when it reinforces the marginalization and disenfranchisement of people."


Occupy Cleveland started on October 6, with up to 300 people gathering downtown. There have been rallies and marches ever since. We asked people why they were moved to hook up with this new movement. One young guy said that he's against all the greed in society. He works with Food Not Bombs, which brought food and beverages for the people. He also said that he had heard about the California Prison Hunger Strike from his minister, who did a whole sermon about it. Another young woman said that she never graduated from college and has a low level job with the county, and is very afraid she will lose her job. She added that a lot of her friends did graduate from college, and now they're sleeping on her couch since they can't find jobs. Two young women came all the way from Akron to share in this sense of community, against consumerism and waste. An older unemployed Black man who had been in prison twice came to see what the message of this protest was all about. An economics professor from a college an hour away took a day off from work to come observe and try to understand this in the context of a response to the economic crisis. There were many people who traveled a long distance to be part of this, including from some more rural areas. And a number of college students from Case Western Reserve University joined the protest, some helping to lead it. Overall, especially among younger people, there was a real sense of people hating the consumerism, the mean-spiritedness of society, and wanting to live in a world where we help each other. There was also a broad sentiment against war for empire.

Some people really connected with Revolution #247, "Voice of those cast off by the system"—with responses to the 3:16 BAsics quote from Bob Avakian.And people were very moved by the California Prison Hunger Strike, and saw this as being of common cause with them.


Hundreds of college-aged youth began their encampment in the heart of the Boston financial district last Friday (September 30) and are now in week two. Opening night began with a gathering of 1,000 on the site itself, with honk bands playing, drum circles, a number of groups talking politics and strategy, and a lot of electricity in the air. Around 100 camped out in the drenching rain and more have joined since. Each day marches take off from the site to the Federal Reserve Bank, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America offices, where hundreds have staged sit-ins and off and on blockades outside the main doors. So far there have not been any arrests. Wednesday a hundred youth sat down in the street for a bit before getting chased off by the police. Wednesday afternoon 100 Northeastern University students walked out and marched down to the encampment and a contingent from the Massachusetts Nurses Association. also joined in for a support rally that was addressed by Cornel West. A motion was passed to rename October 10 "Indigenous Peoples Day."


Check back at for ongoing coverage of the spreading Occupy Wall Street movement.


Send us your comments.

Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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A Night Under Skyscrapers and Stars at Occupy Wall Street

"A Dialogue Is On"

We received this correspondence from someone who has been out at Occupy Wall Street:

October 12—I spent my first night sleeping under skyscrapers and stars! The determination, joy, anger, and sense of love, sacrifice and communal spirit of the masses coming together in a new way to stand up and fight is wonderful and significant. I awoke in the morning to see a student from Georgia who was up working and conversating late into the night was already changed and on his third cup of coffee at his post behind the information booth. When I went up to say good morning an anarchist youth who had gone on the 4 a.m. silent march to the police precinct to protest the raid on Occupy Boston was there arguing that a seven mile march to today's protest on the Upper East Side would really have much more of an impact than just taking the MTA up there. His righteous anger was going in all kinds of wrong directions—particularly in the form of wanting rich people to pay.

The night before around 1:30 a.m. there was a stir of outrage and debate as we watched on the big projection screen a live feed of police raiding, arresting, brutalizing, pepper spraying people in Boston. Police threw their supplies in the garbage and basically went on a destructive rampage. Sharp struggle broke out around the information booth as to how to handle this. There was quickly a crowd gathered and some people were profoundly shocked by this, there was deep cognitive dissonance— why would the police act in this way? Were people in Boston doing something wrong? Did they provoke this action? Is there some kind of justification for this? No. I replied. This is what they do all the time, this is how they behave, it was only a matter of time, the rulers of this system have a problem and they want this to end, but if they crush it people could come back even stronger, so they haven't done so yet, but this is going to be a fight. I read the quote from BAsics on the role of the police [1:24] and kept making the point that they are serving and protecting the system of exploitation and oppression, and that it's going to be a fight to keep this occupation going and spreading and to continue to resist.

There was some confusion, Why aren't the police on our side? Their pensions are being cut too, how do we win them over or neutralize them? Or, no they can't stop us, they won't try and do that because people will just become angrier. It's true, they might and that's something they are weighing, but it could also successfully demoralize and disorient people, it depends on how we handle it. In the crowd some one started opposing what I was saying, "No, we're the problem, we are the police. Everyone has a police officer in their mind. We're the same as them, the problem is in us. Until everyone here recognizes that the problem is within and we have to start there, then this is going to continue to happen, you aren't recognizing your ego and it's really scary." I brought out how extremely wrong this was, and the real role of the police how there is a fundamental difference between us and a force whose role is to brutalize and repress the masses. There is a big difference between us and the police who put their hands on people every day, brutalizing and dehumanizing them. Thousands of Black and Latino youth are stopped and frisked every day in NYC and the police routinely kill people for being Black or even for no reason at all. A crowd gathered around, I brought out that the problem is the system, and that's why we have to continue to resist and prepare to make a revolution as soon as that is possible. He said this wasn't possible because of our human nature, several other people chimed in, there was intense back and forth with others weighing in. There was an overwhelming feeling that there was a basic reality to what I was saying.

Off of this a few of us raised that this questions of the police had to be further joined and clarified. A statement was posted on the Occupy website that reflects this debate. What all this points to is the process people are going through where lessons are being learned and questions are being debated out about what it is that needs to be done to bring about the desired change in the world. How to handle the repression is very sharply posed.

* * *

At the general assembly meeting I made an announcement informing people that the prisoner hunger strike was occurring and inviting people to help me write a letter from the occupation to the prisoners. The idea being we would present this at the GA, propose it be adopted as a letter of support and posted on the website. There was a positive response, especially from Black masses there.

Two young Black women, high school students from California, came and met me and took up writing a letter and found me a place to sleep next to them. We set up and invited in the young white guy, former student, young intellectual, who was sleeping next to us, into the project. We read the article from Revolution newspaper out loud together. People were shocked by the treatment of the prisoners, but even more shocked by the comments from the representative of the prison and the governor. One young woman said, "I'm ashamed of my state." They started talking about a walk out or protest at their school, people there writing letters to him, and also teachers they knew who would want to take this up.

We all wrote the letter together and the young guy from up north took responsibility for presenting it to the facilitators meeting to try and get it on the agenda there.

The group also got the newspaper and passed around BAsics, each reading sections of it. People are really glad that we are there, some looking to me and raising different questions, coming back from discussions to tell me about it and what's being discussed, wanting to know when we'll be back, when we're having meetings. Bringing their questions of leadership, revolution—does it start from within, do we have to change ourselves first in order to "sustain our activism" or do we have to "deal with reality" as another young Black woman was arguing very correctly.  

* * *

I talked with a young actor and Starbucks barista into the wee hours of the morning. Just barely a month ago he was utterly depressed. Not having acting work for nine straight months for the first time in his life and fed up with meaningless work, he said he threw a fit at Starbucks like something you would see in a movie, an angry tantrum throwing his apron into the garbage and then breaking down into tears. His father, who is a liberal high school teacher where he grew up, said to him when Occupy Wall Street got going, "why don't you go down there and see what's going on." He did and what he found was many other people who felt the same way he did and who didn't want to accept this any longer. More and more he wanted to be a part of it and he marched on the Brooklyn Bridge, and he got arrested and seeing how the arrests went down, something changed in him. He said he realized from that moment that this is exactly what he should be doing with his life; he loves acting still, but as a young person today, there's nothing more important than fighting this fight. He said it was like a part of him he didn't even know he had, that he didn't even know had been empty, was suddenly full. Since then he's thrown himself into this wanting to do everything he can to take responsibility for it. He told me that he is having to defend the occupation from his friends who are raising questions provoked by the backlash going on in the media.

We got into the need for revolution and the viability of communism, I read from BAsics, the quote on human nature and also the quote on "these beautiful children who are female in the world." He is also an atheist and very passionately opposed to the subjugation of women. I struggled with him to get the book, he didn't have money but he said he will as soon as he does. He asked about why after a revolution you could not just eliminate hierarchy, and we got into questions of state power what it's good for, the need to hold onto it and make it something worth holding onto and the new synthesis and who Bob Avakian is. Afterwards he went home and wrote a long essay, which said among other things that what he saw and heard in the park really filled him with hope, and that he saw it as not simply about Wall Street or any particular thing but about "presenting an idea to the world for consideration."

I wrote him back with quotes from BAsics, and a dialogue is on. I am thinking a lot about how we need to be doing revolutionary work at the encampment, applying the statement "On the Strategy for Revolution" at the end of Chapter 3 of BAsics.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Interview with Carl Dix about October 22, 2011

Time to Intensify Outpouring of Resistance

The following is from an interview done on October 11 with Carl Dix:

Revolution: Going into NDP, what is it about the situation today you would like to highlight in terms of both the ongoing and accelerating police murder and brutality as well as the need for people to manifest resistance against that?

Carl Dix: This is the 16th annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. We formed this group [October 22nd Coalition] because there was an epidemic of police brutality and police murder that needed to be resisted on a nationwide level. And that brutality, that repression, that criminalization, has not only continued, it has intensified. I mean, look at the 2.3+ million people incarcerated in the U.S. And this has been really targeted at especially Black and Latino people. The police brutalizing and even murdering people has also intensified. In Chicago, as of last month, the police had shot 47 people, including people in situations where there was no claim by the police that the people had done anything wrong. But none of the police have been charged with crimes or disciplined in any way for shooting, maiming and even in cases of killing innocent people. Then you have things like the death penalty. The Troy Davis legal lynching very graphically brings that to the fore. Here you have a man who was railroaded into prison based on evidence that was concocted by police. And the Troy Davis case is really a concentration of how the criminal injustice system treats Black and Latino people, in terms of people being thrown into prison on the flimsiest of evidence or no evidence at all, given long sentences, or even given the death penalty.

So all of these things are going on. They're intensifying. But then the other part of the situation that's very important and that's very heartening is the way in which there have been significant acts of resistance. A very important one has been the hunger strike of the prisoners in California. People who are locked down in special housing units that amount to torture chambers, kept in solitary confinement, sometimes for decades, denied human contact. These conditions meet the definition of torture, as far as international law is concerned. These prisoners organized a hunger strike beginning July 1 that involved 6,000 people. The California authorities made a show of negotiating with people and the hunger strike was suspended on July 21. But then when the prisoners saw that the authorities weren't making any real changes, the hunger strike was started again on September 26 and has involved up to 12,000 prisoners. That's a very important example of resistance. As well as the response to the Troy Davis lynching. We weren't able to build the kind of resistance that could have stopped his execution, but there were large numbers of people all around the country and around the world who signed statements, marched in protest, and then marched in outrage after the murder of Troy Davis by the state. And you saw both large numbers of the oppressed who were saying, they're trying to kill us. But then you also saw people from diverse backgrounds, people from the middle class, white people, who were seeing this, shocked, but also outraged that it was happening, and joining in the resistance. And this is very, very important.

Revolution: I know you've been part of an effort around putting a stop to Stop and Frisk, a call has been put out, and there are some efforts leading into NDP to build resistance, to actually stop Stop and Frisk.

Dix: The call to stop Stop and Frisk was issued by Cornel West and me and it came out of a strategy session back in July which discussed how to take the fight against mass incarceration to a new level.

And what we determined coming out of that strategy session, was that there was a lot of work being done to expose this—Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow, is a very important work in that vein. And different groups have come together to spread some of that exposure and to work in various ways, either through the courts or through lobbying in the political arena to try to deal with the horrors of mass incarceration.

But we thought that a missing ingredient here is determined mass resistance. And in particular we felt the situation was analogous to the late '50s and early '60s in the struggle against Jim Crow segregation and lynch mob terror where a lot of people were being weighed down by these foul and very overt forms of oppression aimed at Black people. But then other large sections of people were not so aware that this was going on. And some of those who were aware bought into the explanations and justifications for it. And what was required to create a situation where things could be changed was a beginning small number of people stepping out and engaging in dramatic resistance. With the Freedom Riders, the students who started the sit-in movements at the lunch counters and other places like that, and there weren't a lot of them to start with. But they took very determined action, they stood up in the face of repression and delivered a message to the whole country and the world, that we're not going to take this anymore. And that determined action was a spark that spread throughout the country and launched a powerful movement against the oppression of Black people.

We feel that the situation today is analogous, in that there are people doing a lot of good and important work to expose mass incarceration, to talk about the consequences of it—but that mass resistance is needed to create a movement that can really fight for change around this.

We decided to, in New York, focus on Stop and Frisk, which is an important pipeline to mass incarceration—Stop and Frisk by NYPD—they're on pace to do 1,900 each and every day, five out of six of them Black or Latino and more than 90 percent of them, the cops can't find anything to write them up, charge, or arrest them on. So they're harassing and humiliating a lot of innocent people. And then we've also seen cases where these stops escalate to beat downs, arrests, and even people being killed. We wanted to focus on this because it is a burning injustice and we want to tap into what we feel is a supportive mood around resisting it and to link in with people who are trying to deal with it on other levels, whether that's through the courts, political, the electoral arena, or whatever—out of that to manifest determined resistance and to create a situation where the authorities are forced to back up on this policy.

On October 21, we are going to do nonviolent civil disobedience at the 28th Precinct in Harlem at 123rd Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard. And this action is the launching of such resistance, not a one shot thing. We're going to carry out this effort, we're going to take it to different parts of the New York area and launch a campaign of determined resistance to this unjust, illegal and unconstitutional policy.

It began with Cornel and myself determined to do that, but other people are signing on—the head ministers of Riverside and St. Mary's churches have joined, there are professors and lawyers. And we have developed a pledge to answer the call to stop Stop and Frisk which we're taking into college and high school classes and getting youth to sign up as well. And this October 21 action is the launching of the campaign, not the one shot of it. We're going to carry this campaign out, we're going to take it to different parts of the New York area and launch a campaign of determined resistance to this unjust, illegal and unconstitutional policy.

And through the course of this we're unleashing various people to take this up in the ways that they see it, understand it and want to stop it. Which then means that the ministers at Riverside and St. Mary's talk about it in relation to their Christian principles. But then at the same time myself and some others involved talk about things like Stop and Frisk being one aspect of a world that is just an unmitigated horror for the overwhelming majority of people. And that's not just in this country but around the world and that we are fighting this horror as part of building a movement for revolution, a movement that can get at the system that enforces things like this, that has its police forces out there, enforcing a status quo that has built within it the inequality that Black people and Latinos face—and as part of enforcing that inequality, has targeted Black and Latino communities for very unequal treatment by the criminal justice system.

We are bringing out that things don't have to be this way, that through revolution we could bring into being a world where we won't have pigs going through oppressed communities like occupying armies, where those who are maintaining order and seeing to the security of people would actually operate in a way that unleashes the masses themselves to be a part of not only helping to maintain safety and order, but also grappling over what are the ways to do that, what changes to the order need to be made and being unleashed to carry that out—some of the things that are pointed to in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) that the Revolutionary Communist Party released last year.

Not only has this kind of revolution been done before, but because of the work that Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has done— deeply studying the experience of previous revolutionary societies, in the Soviet Union and China, identifying the many great achievements of those revolutions, but also fearlessly looking at where they fell short or went wrong and developing a new understanding of revolution and communism—we're in better shape to make revolution and go farther and do better than those previous revolutions. The new understanding and new synthesis of communism that Avakian has developed is something that is part of what's motivating me around building up this resistance to stop Stop and Frisk because what you're looking at is an illegitimate society and order that's being enforced. And we need to expose that to people, that so many Black and Latino youth are in prison not because they are making "wrong choices" but that they've been criminalized by this system and we need to lay that bare and show the illegitimacy of that. At same time I feel the need to bring forward an alternative legitimacy, a different way that society and the world could be, a society that operates in the interests of the overwhelming majority of the people, a society that people would want to live in and could flourish in and one in which they would be unleashed and challenged to actually take the reins of power in their hands and to grapple with, not only bring that society into being, but how to further develop it.

Revolution: With all these different fronts that people are struggling around—mass incarceration, the execution of Troy Davis, Stop and Frisk, police brutality, the torture of prisoners—how do you see not only bringing people together who are involved in these struggle, but more than this, stepping back, and understanding why all these things are happening, what are they a part of, and how should we be looking at these different aspects of ways that the system is oppressing people.

Dix: The oppression of Black people that has been a feature of this country from the very beginning, but also the ways in which that oppression has changed and been intensified and today, having to do with the fact that the employment in the manufacturing arena that drew a lot of Black people into the inner cities, has been moved around the world in chase of higher profit—so you have this grouping of oppressed people that the system has nothing to offer. And it's in that context that the criminalization of the youth has intensified, that the massive incarceration has taken off— as the result of conscious policies of the authorities that can be traced back to Nixon back in the 1970s who is reported to have said that the problem is the Blacks and that we have to devise an approach to that problem that doesn't acknowledge that we're dealing with Black people. And then out of that comes wars on crime, wars on drugs, that specifically target Black people. So to me, that's how some of this comes together.

Revolution: Bob Avakian has talked about how the system is waging a counter-insurgency before an actual insurgency. And this relates to what you said about how Nixon looked at the problem of Black people.

Dix: This again comes back to how large numbers of oppressed people are concentrated in inner cities who the system has nothing to offer. And looking back at the 1960s, the system is aware of the way in which the resistance of Black people to the oppression that was coming down on them actually played a big part in sparking off a broader revolutionary movement that rocked the system back on its heels. The authorities are looking at this point for how to deal with that and what they've hit upon is actually this approach of what comes down to criminalizing large sections of Black and Latino youth, discriminatory enforcement of drug laws, policies like Stop and Frisk, that target Black and Latino youth especially. And it comes down to treating the youth like they are guilty until proven innocent, if they can survive their encounters with police to prove their innocence. And that's why we talk about the criminalization of a generation. And it's also why we talk about a counter-insurgency in advance of the insurgency, looking to trap people up in the criminal justice system, either warehoused in prison, or on parole and probation, and in a mood of feeling like there's nothing they can do about what is being done to them.

Revolution: One of the things that happened in the '60s is that you had a lot of other sections of society, including middle class forces who learned about and became supportive of the struggle of Black people on the bottom of society. And you don't have that today in that way. At the time of Attica you had people who were very supportive of the rebellious prisoners and saw the need for that kind of struggle. But now you have people within the Black community who have written these people off. And then you have the system telling middle class people, white people that these people are the worst of the worst, that we should be afraid of these people. There is no sense that they should support this section of society who are being fucked over by the system and who are victims of this mass incarceration.

Dix: That's a very good point that you raise. In the lead up to the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Attica uprising, I was in Harlem and talking with someone who was about 10 years old during the Attica uprising and what he remembers was that people were in the streets in Harlem throwing rocks at police, chanting "Attica, Attica, Attica." And that was kind of a sample and a concentration of the mood more broadly in society. But today it is something that is seen a whole lot different. We talked with a woman at a march we held to mark the 40th anniversary of the massacre of the Attica prisoners and her question to us that was direct and blunt was, why should I support those prisoners, they weren't supportive towards the people that they were robbing, beating, killing, raping. And this was a Black woman who was saying that. And then more broadly in society, among middle class and white people, saying this thing of well, things might be tough in prison, but that should be expected because people did terrible things to get there and then even beyond that there is an endorsement of whatever repressive measure the authorities are taking to keep prisoners and those not in prison, but the people who are looked at as the force of crime, under control.

We actually need to lay bare what's really at work here, and strip away the legitimacy of this repression that the government is bringing down in many different ways, through the cops and the courts. To show people what is actually at work here is an illegitimate system that's based on the vicious exploitation of the great majority of humanity and brutal oppression to keep that in effect. And to bring forward another way that the world and society could be, a way that would operate in the interest of the great majority of people, where the means to create all the things that society needs aren't monopolized by a handful of capitalists, but are in the hands of the people and the people themselves are unleashed to direct that, to produce what society needs and to see that it's distributed in ways that everybody's needs can be met. And to grapple over, to interrogate, including the revolutionary authorities, where you think they're going wrong, to oppose them and to raise a different direction and to struggle over that.

Revolution: On this point about the illegitimacy of the authority of the system—and this relates to the struggle to stop Stop and Frisk, where people both see the illegitimacy of the system but also see an alternative authority, that things could be done in a different way.

Dix: What we're going at here is a policy that has taken basic rights away from broad sections of people and very openly and clearly taken it away from Blacks and Latinos, especially the youth. And while they justify it as an anti-crime measure and things like that, we decided to go at it with this nonviolent civil disobedience as a way to strip away that veneer of, well, there is a social good being served by this. It's a way of baring naked that this is a way in which this system has consciously targeted Blacks and Latinos, and to strip away the veneer of legitimacy that has and expose it as a completely illegitimate thing. But also to bring people together to resist it, not just to talk about how it's no good, but to bring people together to resist it. And there are youth and students from oppressed areas who are signing up to be a part of this. There are also college students from elite schools, as well as prominent ministers, ministers from churches that are more rooted in the communities of the oppressed, but also churches like Riverside Church which is a prominent church with a large and diverse middle class congregation.

And while we're ripping away the legitimacy of the current set-up, we're also bringing a picture of people from various backgrounds coming together and standing together to resist this.

And while we're ripping away the legitimacy of the current set up, we're also bringing a picture of something different, of the people, and people from various backgrounds coming together and standing together to resist this. And it gives people a vision that things could be different and it opens it up for people to lift their heads. You get more of a sense of who you're in this with, what you're up against, but also what kind of struggle is required to break through.

And this is where we have to really tap into some of the favorable developments right now, the way in which large numbers of middle class people have come out to the Occupy Wall Street movement that is now spreading across the country. A lot of them have not had experience with the way that the police operate in the communities of the inner city. But for many of them, when they hear about that and get an inkling of what gets done there, they are horrified by it and some of them see it as related to the injustices that has moved them to camp out at Wall Street and other places all around the country. Also there is the intense outrage that was sparked by the state murder of Troy Davis and that is creating potential for an outpouring of resistance both around the stop Stop and Frisk and around the October 22, NDP—that it's very important that we tap into, because as I mentioned before, that some of what's coming down in the inner cities being a form of slow genocide with the potential that it could be speeded up—but on the other side there is also potential to bring the kind of movement of resistance into being, that could point things in the opposite direction, up against that genocide. And in the midst of that there's potential for communist revolution to bring into being a whole new world, a powerful pole of attraction. And that's what we're working on.

Revolution: Let's come back around to this year's NDP. What do you feel it needs to accomplish.

Dix: This year's NDP must and can tap into the outrage that has come to the surface and bubbled over.  The intensifying brutality being enforced in the inner cities is like a slow genocide that could be accelerated.  This must be met by unleashing resistance that is broader, fiercer and more determined.  And unleashing this kind of resistance around Stop and Frisk in NYC on October 21 and nationwide on October 22 would have a powerful positive impact on the situation.  It could speak to very real questions people have.  It can bring to the people occupying Wall Street a sense of how the police brutally enforce inequality and oppression 24-7 in the ghettos and barrios across the country.  And it can address the question many oppressed people have of whether there are any forces that would stand together with them in fighting the hell the system brings down on them or are they alone in this fight.  This resistance could contribute to creating a sense that things really don't have to be this way among a diverse and growing section of the people.

Doing this will require taking the experience of the oppressed masses with brutality and even murder at the hands of those who are sworn to "protect and serve" out to the people involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and bringing the spirit of defiance that infuses that movement into the communities of the oppressed.  A lot of the protesters down on Wall Street have not had experience with the way that the police operate all the damn time in the inner city. But when they learn about what goes down there, they are horrified by it and some of them see it as related to the injustices that have moved them to camp out at Wall Street and other places all around the country. Also there is intense outrage that was sparked by the state murder of Troy Davis, and that must be given expression around stopping Stop and Frisk and NDP. 

This is very important because it does contribute to creating a sense that things don't have to be this way among a diverse and growing section of the people.  This will be going up against people hearing and being battered from every different angle in society that this is the way that things are and there's nothing you can do about it. Well, we're going to be working to give them the exact opposite message, that there is another way the world could be, and we could bring a different and far better world into being through revolution. And the resistance that gets unleashed on October 21 here in New York with the stop Stop and Frisk and on October 22 all across the country on the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, will give that vision of a different way the world could be a certain dignity of actuality in the way that people join together to resist these attacks.


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Assembly Points for October 22, 2011—
National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation

The following are assembly points for October 22 events, based on info at the October 22 Coalition website,

New York, NY

2:00 pm Assemble at Union Square. Manhattan. Rally and March

Friday, Oct. 21:
Walk Out! STOP "Stop & Frisk"
1:00 pm, Rally at Harlem State Office Bldg. 125th St. and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.
1:30 pm, March to NYPD 28th Precinct at W. 123rd & Frederick Douglass Blvd.


1:00 pm JR Thompson Center (Illinois State Bldg), 100 W. Randolph St.

6:00 PM - Reconvene at Balbo and Michigan
To Protest at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Gala at the Chicago Hilton

Los Angeles

1:00 pm Pershing Square, 532 S. Olive St.
2:00 pm March to MacArthur Park
4:00 pm Rally
6:00 pm Stolen Lives candlelight vigil

San Francisco/Bay Area

12:00 pm 3rd & Palou Streets, Bayview - Hunters Point, San Francisco


Other Areas:

Albuquerque, New Mexico
October 21: Sit-in at the Mayor's Office
October 22: March along Central Avenue to the Police Department followed with a protest at the Mayor's house

Atlanta, Georgia
4:00 pm Assemble in front of 5 Points MARTA (Peachtree) for march to the ATL Detention Center for a People's Speakout (ending in Woodruff Park)

Boise, Idaho
March being planned. Email for more information or to get involved.

Central Valley, California
Caravan of Resistance:
11:00 am Stockton Police Station, 22 East Market Street
12:30 pm Manteca Police Station, 1001 W. Center Street
2:00 pm Stanislaus County Jail, 115 H. Street (Modesto)
3:00 pm March
4:00 pm Community Forum on State Repression at Cesar Chavez Park

Cleveland, Ohio
Saturday, October 22
12 noon Rally at Lee Rd & Euclid Ave
Then March to East Cleveland City Hall/Police Station
Wear Black!
more info: 216-778-0998 or

Detroit, Michigan

Freehold, New Jersey

Fresno, California
5:00 pm Assemble at corner of N Street and Mariposa, across from the Downtown Library/Fresno Police Department
Wear black, and bring candles, pictures of victims and noisemakers

Greensboro, North Carolina
2:00 pm Corner of E. Florida Street and Freeman Mill Road

Houston, Texas  
Takin' It To The Streets!
3 pm  Converge @ Market Square Park,
301 Milam (Between Congress & Preston)
Speak Out, Testify, Tell Your Story, bring drums, signs and banners.  We need to reach thousands who would want to act.
Get Involved! – Resistance Makes a Difference!

Humboldt/Eureka/Redwood Curtain, California

Kansas City, Missouri
Details TBA

Minneapolis, Minnesota
7:00pm Assemble at Peavey Plaza, 11th Street & Nicollet Avenue
March and copwatch at hotspots where police brutality frequently occurs 

New Orleans, Louisiana

Phoenix, Arizona
10:00 am  MCSO 4th Avenue Jail, 201 South 4th Avenue

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Raleigh, North Carolina

Richmond, Virginia

San Diego, California

Seattle, Washington
1:30 pm assembly at Westlake, 4th & Pine in Downtown Seattle
2:00 pm rally, in solidarity with Occupy Seattle, followed with march to hated sites of police brutality

Syracuse, New York
3:00pm Krip Hop Nation-Disability in the Hip-Hop Mix
Skybarn at South Campus, Syracuse University 


Montreal, QC


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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From Up Against the Wall to Up in Their Face

The NYPD is on pace to stop and frisk over 700,000 people in 2011! That's more than 1,900 people each and every day. More than 85% of them are Black or Latino, and more than 90% of them were doing nothing wrong when the police stepped to them. This is intolerable! It must be stopped. WE ARE STOPPING IT, AND YOU MUST JOIN US IN DOING THAT!

In the days leading into the Oct 22nd National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, the Network to Stop Mass Incarceration is calling for Stopping Stop & Frisk. We will target this illegal, unconstitutional policy with non violent civil disobedience.

If you are sick and tired of being harassed and jacked up by the cops, JOIN US. And if you are shocked to hear that this kind of thing happens in this so-called homeland of freedom and democracy—it does happen, all the damned time—you need to JOIN US too—you can't stand aside and let this injustice be done in your name.

This Call is issued by: Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party, & Cornel West, professor, author and public intellectual; Herb Boyd, author, journalist, Harlem, NY; Efia Nwangaza, Malcolm X Center, Greenville, SC; Rev Omar Wilkes.

Contact Us to Get Involved and/or to Sign This Call: Stop Mass Incarceration: We're Better Than That! Network c/o P.O. Box 941 Knickerbocker Station, New York, New York 10002-0900, Email:; Web:; Phone: 866-841-9139 x2670.

STOP "Stop & Frisk"

1:00 pm 
Rally at the Harlem State Office Building

1:30 pm 
March to the NYPD 28th Precinct at West 123rd and Frederick Douglass Blvd. At the precinct, we will deliver a message that we aim to stop police from violating people's rights through "Stop & Frisk."


Download, reproduce, and get out all over:



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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy

Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, published in 2008. The excerpt, and the work as a whole, addresses important questions that are on many people's minds in the situation today.

"Competing Elites"—and Moving Beyond "Elites"

The concept of "competing elites" is an important element of theories of bourgeois democracy and how it is the best system possible. The basic argument is that the existence of competing elites is crucial in order for people—and, in particular, those who are not part of the "elites"—to exercise initiative by being able to choose among, and thereby being able to influence, these competing elites. For example, Robert A. Dahl, in his book Democracy and Its Critics, speaks to what he calls an "MDP"—standing for Modern Dynamic Pluralist—society and how this best serves what he characterizes with the term "Polyarchy"—which, according to Dahl, involves "a set of political institutions that, taken together, distinguish modern representative democracy from all other political systems, whether non-democratic regimes or earlier democratic systems." (Robert A. Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics, Yale University Press, 1989, p. 218.)

Dahl argues that:

polyarchy provides a broad array of human rights and liberties that no actually existing real world alternative to it can match. Integral to polyarchy itself is a generous zone of freedom and control that cannot be deeply or persistently invaded without destroying polyarchy itself....Although the institutions of polyarchy do not guarantee the ease and vigor of citizen participation that could exist, in principle, in a small city-state, nor ensure that governments are closely controlled by the citizens or that policies invariably correspond with the desires of a majority of citizens, they make it unlikely in the extreme that a government will long pursue policies that deeply offend a majority of citizens. What is more, those institutions even make it rather uncommon for a government to enforce policies to which a substantial number of citizens object and try to overturn by vigorously using the rights and opportunities available to them. If citizen control over collective decisions is more anemic than the robust control they would exercise if the dream of participatory democracy were ever realized, the capacity of citizens to exercise a veto over the reelection and policies of elected officials is a powerful and frequently exercised means for preventing officials from imposing policies objectionable to many citizens. (Democracy and Its Critics, p. 223)

Well, let's look at things in the actually existing real world. [Laughter] Let's take what Dahl has said here, which expresses a fairly common affirmation of what is in reality bourgeois democracy, and see how this measures up to—and what it actually amounts to in—this real world. Let's begin with the assertion, which Dahl makes emphatically, that in such a society it is "unlikely in the extreme that a government will long pursue policies that deeply offend a majority of citizens" and that "What is more, those institutions even make it rather uncommon for a government to enforce policies to which a substantial number of citizens object and try to overturn by vigorously using the rights and opportunities available to them."

In regard to this, I cannot help paraphrasing Lenin here, to say that Dahl might wish that there were a law against laughing in public (and for all we know, the Bush regime may yet oblige such a wish). Otherwise, to make reference to significant current events, and specifically to the millions and tens of millions who have tried by "vigorously using the rights and opportunities available to them" to prevent and then bring to an end the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, and numerous other policies of the Bush regime which are not only opposed but deeply detested by a very substantial segment of the population in the U.S.—probably a majority—if Dahl's statement were repeated among such people, it would very likely be drowned out under a tidal wave of bitter laughter.

What does—and does not—happen through elections...what is—and is not—meaningful political activity

It is not just experience in this immediate period, but experience throughout the history of this country that has illustrated time and again the following essential truths:

  1. There is, in the U.S., a ruling class that has interests which are very different from and fundamentally in opposition to those of the masses of citizens.
  2. This ruling class in reality exercises a dictatorship—that is, a monopoly of political power backed up by and concentrated in a monopoly of armed power over the rest of society—and those who at any given time are administering that dictatorship will continue to pursue policies they are determined to carry out, even in the face of massive popular opposition, unless and until the larger interests of the ruling class dictate that it modify or even abandon a particular policy—or until that ruling class is overthrown.
  3. Elections do not provide an avenue for the realization of the desire of masses of people to see these policies and actions of the government change—although mass political resistance can, under certain circumstances, make an important contribution to forcing changes in government policy, especially if this takes place in a larger context where these policies are running into real trouble and, among other things, are leading to heightened divisions within the ruling class itself.

If we step back a few decades from the present, we can see how the experience around Vietnam provided a concentrated example of all this. As I have pointed out before, there were two elections in relation to Vietnam which involved significant contention and "soul searching" particularly among people strongly opposed to the Vietnam war, and which illustrate the basic point I am making—and debunk the notions that Dahl is putting forward.

First, there was the election in 1964 when the U.S. began to significantly escalate its "involvement" in Vietnam. To inject a personal element into this—but something which touches on a more general phenomenon—this is one of the two elections for president of the United States in which I actually voted. It was the first election in which I was eligible to vote, and after some agonizing I decided to vote for Lyndon Johnson in that 1964 election (I voted for Eldridge Cleaver in 1968, but that was a very different story). At the time of that 1964 election, there was a very intense debate in the "movement" about whether or not to vote—that is, whether or not to vote for Johnson. Johnson was coming out on behalf of civil rights, making concessions to the massive struggle around that, and at the same time, even while as president he was carrying out an escalation of the Vietnam war, he was not openly talking in the crazy and extreme terms that his rival, the Republican candidate Barry Goldwater, was. Goldwater was famous—or some would say infamous—for his statement, at the time of his nomination at the Republican Convention in 1964, that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. Of course, Goldwater conceived of liberty and justice in bourgeois and imperialist terms, and he saw the Vietnamese people's resistance to U.S. domination as a vice—a violation of and interference with imperialist liberty and justice. So Goldwater was talking in extreme terms about Vietnam—bombing the Vietnamese back to the Stone Age, or language similar to that. Many people in the broad movement of that time were arguing that, with all this in mind, you had to vote for Johnson—that it was absolutely essential, in terms of Vietnam as well as other key issues, to vote for Johnson—and I, along with many others, was influenced and finally persuaded by this. So we went and held our noses, as people often do these days, and voted for the Democrat, Lyndon Johnson.

Well, after the election was over—during which Johnson had run campaign ads talking about the extreme danger of what Goldwater would do in Vietnam—Johnson himself proceeded to massively escalate the war in Vietnam, both in terms of bombing that country and in terms of beginning the process of sending wave after wave of U.S. troops to Vietnam (which, by the late 1960s, reached the level of 500,000). And, of course, those of us who had been persuaded and cajoled into voting for Johnson felt bitterly betrayed by this. This provided a very profound lesson.

By the time the 1972 elections came around (and I spoke to this somewhat in my memoir*), once again there was, even within the Revolutionary Union (the forerunner of our Party) as well as more broadly among those opposed to the Vietnam war, a big debate and struggle about whether it was necessary to support the "anti-war candidate," George McGovern—or, to put it another way, to vote against Nixon. Within the RU itself, arguments were made that it was "our internationalist duty to the Vietnamese people" to vote for McGovern and get Nixon out, because otherwise Nixon would escalate the war in Vietnam again, but McGovern would bring an end to the war.

Well, in the end, I (and the leadership of the RU overall) didn't go for this. We did examine the question seriously—we didn't just take a dogmatic approach. I remember being up many nights wrestling with the question: Is this a particular set of circumstances which requires an exception to the general approach of not supporting, not even holding your nose and voting for, bourgeois electoral candidates? But I came to the conclusion—on the basis of a lot of agonizing and of wrangling with others—that, no, it was not "our internationalist duty to the Vietnamese people" to support McGovern, that instead our internationalist duty was better served by continuing to build mass resistance against that war and the overall policies of the government—and, more fundamentally, opposition to the system as a whole—which is what we set out to do.

But there were many who did get drawn into the whole McGovern thing. It might be very interesting for those of you who weren't around at the time (or were not yet politically conscious and active) to go back and look at films, if they are available, of the 1972 Democratic Convention. There was Jerry Rubin, and many other "movement people," who were being welcomed into the killing embrace of "mainstream" bourgeois politics, and specifically the Democratic Party—back within those suffocating confines. And, in truth, some of them were feeling a certain sense of relief in believing that, after years of struggling to change things from outside those confines—with all the difficulties, sacrifices, and, yes, real dangers, bound up with that—maybe there could be an avenue for changing things "from within." But, of course, what happened in reality is that Nixon trounced McGovern in the elections. Through the machinery of bourgeois electoral politics, and the dynamics of bourgeois politics in a more general sense, things were more or less set up that way. Without going into too many particulars here, it is worth noting that McGovern was barely out of the gate campaigning, after the Democratic Convention, when his running mate (vice presidential nominee) Thomas Eagleton was exposed as having been a "mental case," as it was popularly conceived at the time. Eagleton, it turned out, had at one point sought psychiatric help, and this made him "unfit" to be vice president and next in line as head of state. So they had to replace him with Sargent Shriver (of the Kennedy clan). And more generally, the whole McGovern campaign was a debacle, right from the beginning. Nixon ended up winning almost every state in the presidential election that year.

Many people were demoralized by this—essentially because they had accepted, and confined themselves within, the terms of bourgeois electoral politics. Yet a few months after the 1972 election, Nixon was forced to sign a "peace agreement" on Vietnam. While this took place in the context of larger international factors—including the contention between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (which was then a social-imperialist country: socialist in name but imperialist in fact and in deed), as well as the international role at that time of China, which was then a socialist country but was adopting certain tactical measures, including an "opening to the west," as part of dealing with the very real threat of attack by the Soviet Union on China—it was, to a significant degree, because of the continuing struggle of the Vietnamese people, and massive opposition within the U.S. itself to U.S. aggression in Vietnam, that Nixon was forced to sign this "peace agreement."

This agreement led, first, to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam—and an attempt by Nixon to carry out "Vietnamization" (getting the army of the U.S.-dependent South Vietnamese government to more fully fight the war, backed up by U.S. air power)—and then led, only a couple of years later, to the ultimate and very welcomed defeat of U.S. imperialism and its puppet government in South Vietnam. You all have seen the scenes of people scrambling to get on the helicopters leaving the U.S. embassy in 1975, as the National Liberation Front troops (the so-called "Vietcong") knock down the gate to that embassy.

Now, the important lesson for what we're talking about here is that in neither case—neither in 1964 nor in 1972—were the decisive changes that occurred brought about by the elections. Quite the contrary. In 1964 people massively voted for someone who supposedly wouldn't escalate the Vietnam war—and then he escalated that war on a massive scale. In 1972 many people voted against Nixon because he was going to escalate the war further—but he was forced to pull out U.S. troops, and that led to the ultimate defeat of the U.S. and its puppet government in South Vietnam.

In both cases, the compelling pull and the seeming logic that it was crucial to vote for a Democrat—or at least to vote against the Republican—in order to avert real disasters, was not borne out at all in reality. And the reason for that is very basic: Elections are not the actual dynamics through which essential decisions about the policies of the government, and the direction of society, are made—the votes of the people in elections are not the actual forces compelling changes of one kind or another. This is what is dramatically illustrated if you examine—and in particular, if you examine scientifically—these two elections, which in effect bracketed the heavy involvement of the U.S. in Vietnam (the 1964 election toward the beginning, and the 1972 election toward the end, of that involvement).

So, let's issue a challenge: Let anyone explain how holding your nose and voting for the Democrat (or enthusiastically voting for the Democrat) in either or both of those elections led to, and was responsible for, changes of the one kind or the other—negative changes in 1964, with the escalation by the U.S. of the war in Vietnam, and 8 years later the positive change of U.S. imperialism heading for decisive defeat in its attempt to impose its domination on Vietnam through massive devastation of that country and the slaughter of several million of its people. No, none of this happened through elections, because elections are not the actual basis and the real vehicle through which truly significant changes in society (and the world), of one kind or another, are brought about.

This is obviously extremely relevant now, when there is a widespread hatred, in certain ways unprecedented in its scale and in some senses in its depth, for the whole regime associated with George W. Bush, and yet people have great difficulty rupturing with the notion that the only possible avenue for changing the course of things is to get sucked once again into the dynamics of bourgeois politics—which are set up to serve, and can only serve, the interests of the ruling class, and which have not and do not provide the means and channels through which changes in the interests of the people can be brought about.

In light of all this, we can see the fundamental error reflected in Dahl's assertion that "the capacity of citizens to exercise a veto over the reelection and policies of elected officials is a powerful and frequently exercised means for preventing officials from imposing policies objectionable to many citizens." In fact, the means through which that happens is massive upsurge and resistance, in combination with other factors—including resistance, struggle and revolution in other parts of the world, as well as other contradictions that the imperialists are running up against, even short of revolution to overthrow them. That is the basis on which, and the means through which, officials are prevented from continuing to impose policies objectionable to large numbers of people.


*Bob Avakian, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, Insight Press, Chicago, 2005. [back]


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Watch online:

Bob Avakian on "What Is Capitalism?"

As many thousands are out in the streets of New York and elsewhere in a new wave of resistance, anti-capitalism is very much part of the discourse, with different views on what capitalism is, what is the problem and what is the solution. "What Is Capitalism"—an excerpt from the film of Bob Avakian's talk, Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About—is accessible online at and Take these 1/8 sheet fliers to Occupy Wall Street gatherings near you, to students and professors, to the neighborhoods, and everyone thinking about and debating these big questions. Use the QR code to watch and discuss on the spot.

For the complete Revolution talk audiobook, download from iTunes and at

Watch the clip, spread it around, hear what people have to say, get into discussions and debates—and write to Revolution about what you are learning.


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Sustain the Revolution! Sustain the Lifeline!
Give Every Month to Revolution Newspaper!

This world is a horror.

But it does NOT have to be this way.

There is a way out and a way forward, a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world. There is a leader—Bob Avakian—who has shown that way and a party determined to fight for it. Revolution is the voice of that party, and it is one key place where that leader's work—the new synthesis of communism—can be found every issue.

This paper opens up for you a way into that whole different way of understanding the agonies of the old world and the birth pangs of the new. This paper gives you a whole different sense of future possibility. This paper connects you to the movement for revolution that is working and fighting to bring it into being, keeping you up on what is going on and enabling you to find ways to participate.

Now it's up to you. Donate to and regularly sustain this paper. By doing this, you will play a critical role in enabling this paper to connect its message to tens of thousands more, and ultimately—as things go through great shifts and changes—millions.

Sustain this paper. Get this vision and this movement into every area of the country. Deep into the city cores... broad onto the campuses... into the new movements now fighting to be born... further into the hellhole prisons and dungeons... throw out this lifeline to those aching for something new.

Donate generously, and donate every month. Subscribe to this paper and read it each week. Join the movement. Be part of fighting for a different future.


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Support the California Prisoners' Demands!

On July 1 of this year, prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison and other prisons in California began a just, courageous, and unprecedented hunger strike against the criminal conditions they face, especially in the "security housing units," or SHUs. More than 6,500 prisoners joined this hunger strike, which lasted until July 20. They demanded: 1) An end to group punishment and administrative abuse; 2) Abolish the debriefing policy, and modify active/inactive gang status criteria; 3) an end to long‑term solitary confinement (which constitutes torture); 4) adequate and nutritious food; and 5) constructive programming and privileges for indefinite SHU status prisoners.

On September 26, nearly 12,000 prisoners, perhaps many more, resumed their hunger strike because the CDCR had not lived up to its promises. Instead the CDCR, with Governor Jerry Brown's full backing, retaliated against nonviolent hunger strikers risking their lives for their basic rights and humanity. This retaliation included: disciplinary warnings; denial of family and legal visits; taking away medications and canteen items; trying to freeze prisoners out; removing prisoners to Administrative Segregation, while steadily insulting and dehumanizing prisoners as "shot callers" and "gang generals."

On October 13, the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity website reported that prisoners at Pelican Bay had decided to stop their hunger strike after nearly three weeks. It said that the prisoners cited a memo from the CDCR detailing a comprehensive review of every SHU prisoner in California whose SHU sentence is related to gang validation (see At this point it is unclear whether or not the hunger strike is continuing at any other prisons. But what is clear is that support on the outside for these prisoners must continue and be stepped up.

The last round of the prisoner hunger strike in July also ended after three weeks—when the CDCR met with representatives of the strikers and said they would review their demands. The CDCR is now, once again, promising to review the prisoners' five core demands.

The prisoners resumed the hunger strike on September 26 because the CDCR had not taken any serious steps toward addressing the prisoners' core demands.

Instead prison officials launched a campaign of vicious disciplinary retaliation against and vilification of the hunger strikers. For example, they blocked family visits for hunger strikers, banned the key outside mediators from the prisons, and refused to allow human rights groups or journalists into the prisons to directly investigate conditions and interview the hunger strikers. For all these reasons, it is impossible to fully know the situation the hunger strikers have been and are facing—and under what conditions the strike at Pelican Bay was ended again. After three weeks, hunger strikers most certainly were getting very sick—in conditions in which they are systematically denied medial care and are kept very isolated, with little or no contact with each other as well as with their loved ones and supporters on the outside. At least one prison hunger striker wrote about how he was denied his medication and violently extracted from his cell. Prisoners have also reported that the CDCR has done things like turning up the air conditioners, subjecting the weakening prisoners to 50 degree temperatures. The hunger strike ended in the face of the most draconian conditions of continuing torture. And this may be especially true with regard to prisoners who have been the main organizers of the strike as they have been targeted by prison officials for punishment.

Support for Prisoners' Demands Must Continue

These prisoners continue to face the most brutal, inhumane conditions of torture. And in the face of this, they are waging a tremendously heroic struggle to let the world know about the barbaric U.S. prisons and pressing forward with their demands to be treated like human beings. The support for these prisoners MUST continue, and get even stronger, broader, and more determined.

This is a question of our moral responsibility: We on the outside must—and will—continue to wholeheartedly support all those prisoners. We must stand with the prisoners and let the world know about the outrageous, criminal conditions they face and the struggle they are waging! We must continue to wage a real struggle on the outside, to force the CDCR to meet the demands of the prisoners. And we must demand an immediate halt to the vicious retaliation and punishment prison officials are bringing down on the prisoner hunger strikers.


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Nonviolent Civil Disobedience in Sacramento: Protesting the Torture of Prisoners

by Larry Everest

A little past 8:00 am, on Friday morning, October 14, three of us—all supporters of the courageous hunger strike by California prisoners—walked up to the main entrance of the headquarters of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) in Sacramento, California, the state capitol. Then we chained ourselves to the front doors, sat down, and began a non-violent action of civil disobedience. We did so to support the just struggle and demands of the hunger strikers and to condemn the assaults of the CDCR and Governor Jerry Brown on the prisoners.

With me was Gregory "Joey" Johnson, a revolutionary communist activist, whose bold action in the 1980s of burning an American flag led to a rare Supreme Court victory for the people (Texas v. Johnson), and Maryann, a relative of a California prisoner and a World Can't Wait activist.

We felt it was imperative to take bold action to underscore the urgency of the situation faced by prisoners and to make clear our support for all the prisoners who have been on hunger strike—or who are continuing their hunger strike. And we felt that everyone has a moral obligation to step up their support for the hunger strikers and their just demands in whatever ways they possibly can. Anything less is unconscionable.

We made clear to the activists and bloggers who joined us at CDCR headquarters that we were demanding:

Outrageously, we were all arrested and each slapped with six different misdemeanor charges. As we were being dragged off, we all shouted our support for the prisoners, the demands of the hunger strikers, and our opposition to retaliation and ongoing torture. And we denounced the fact that we were arrested and dragged off to jail in order to ensure that the CDCR and the State of California could continue carrying on "torture as usual."

The charges against us are outrageous and we'll be mounting a legal and political battle for all of them to be dropped. These charges are certainly not going to stop us from doing everything in our power to continue fighting for the rights—and humanity—of the prisoners! And I call on others to join this struggle.


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Torture Is Unacceptable—Step Up the Struggle to Stop It!
Why I Chained Myself to the State Building in Los Angeles

Los Angeles. Shortly after noon on Friday, October 14, a man in an orange jumpsuit walked right up to the entrance to the California state building in Downtown L.A. and began wrapping a chain around the handles to the entrance doors. When he finished, he announced he had chained himself to the doors in support of the 19-day hunger strike by California prisoners. Eventually the state police came out with bolt cutters, and after managing to cut the chain the man was cuffed and taken into custody.

What follows is the statement by Keith James, a leader in the movement to build support for the California prisoner hunger strike, issued following his release:

Torture Is Unacceptable—Step Up the Struggle to Stop It!
Why I Chained Myself to the State Building in Los Angeles

In a word, torture... torture in a brutal and barbaric penal system hell-bent on the destruction of thousands of prisoners in high-tech torture chambers called Security Housing Units or SHUs.

In the SHU you're locked up in a small, windowless concrete cell 23 hours a day, with minimum human contact and maximum sensory deprivation. Imagine your only human contact with the outside world is the punch of a prison guard, or a violent gas explosion as part of "extracting" you from your cell. Imagine never hearing music ever again.

Think about everything that makes you human... that keeps you physically and mentally alive... that connects you with the world and other people... that gives you a reason to live, to love, to learn and think.... All this is what the SHU tries to extinguish.

Of the 1,100 prisoners in the SHU in Pelican Bay State Prison, over 500 have been literally buried alive in the SHU, entombed, for over 10 years; 78 for over 20 years. The cruelty and illegitimacy of the State of California's actions must stop and stopping torture requires such inhumanity becoming a MAJOR focus of resistance in society.

Prisoners at Pelican Bay and other state prisons have rebelled against all this; for 20 days in July and now for 19 days, from September 26 to October 14, upwards of 12,000 courageous prisoners have carried out a hunger strike. The prisoners stopped eating, risked their lives, and made their just and reasonable demands to end long term solitary confinement and torture, and snatched the initiative from the prison authorities, spotlighting a towering crime that has been for far too long covered up.

What these prisoners have done is truly heroic. They are an inspiration, setting an example for everyone fighting for an end to injustice, and we must come to their side.

Yet in California, the governor supports the prison officials in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). As the CDCR viciously intensified their almost unimaginably cruel treatment of prisoners who are on a hunger strike with even greater repression and violence these past weeks and months, Governor Brown fully backed the assault, saying: "We have individuals who are dedicated to their gang membership who order people to be killed, who order crimes to be committed on the outside. My recommendation is to deal effectively with gangs in prison." No, Governor Brown—torture is unequivocally unacceptable, no matter what labels are put on prisoners. This is why I chained myself to the State Building in Los Angeles.


The CDCR response to this hunger strike has been vicious, outrageous, and ominous: intimidation and retaliation against prisoners and their families; "general population" prisoners put into isolation for participating in the hunger strike; fluids and vitamins deliberately withheld to further incapacitate the striking prisoners; expulsion orders to two key mediation team lawyers who have been banned from Pelican Bay prison pending an investigation into whether they had "jeopardized the safety and security of the CDCR"; denial of family visits; further isolation of hunger striking SHU prisoners by placing them "down under" in Administrative Segregation Units, in extreme cold with no medicine and medical attention; brutal cell extractions of hunger striking prisoners, with the use of suffocating gas explosions in the prisoners cells....

What people do on the outside of prison will be a big factor in what happens now that the prison authorities have reacted with vicious reprisals against prisoners, families, and legal advocates. The hunger strike has been halted for now. The torture, despite an epic struggle, continues... the five demands of the prisoners have NOT yet been met... but many, many more people, millions more, learned about the SHUs and thousands today are looking for ways to act to put an end to such inhuman, punitive treatment.

We have a moral responsibility to act in a way that corresponds with the justness of the prisoners' demands and with what is truly at stake. In the words of Revolution newspaper, a determined and bold movement outside the walls of prison is urgently needed to expose and demand an end to these high-tech torture chambers called "SHUs." That's why I chained myself to the State Building in Los Angeles.


For photos of the action, see

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Announcing: A performance by The William Parker Quintet
excerpts from "Blueprint for a Cultural Revolution"
inspired by and featuring readings from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian

November 8, 8 pm at Nublu (24 First Avenue between 1st and 2nd streets, New York City). Tickets: $30; reserve yours now at

This will be a unique and powerful artistic piece sorely needed in today's world... creating space for radical imagining, critical thinking and basic revolutionary truths.

Proceeds from the night will go towards sending copies of BAsics to prisoners. Hundreds of copies have already been sent; for responses go to and click on "What People Are Saying."

Your support is needed to make this happen. $5,000 is needed for artists' compensation, promotional costs and a quality video to be made of the night.

Contributions can be sent to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund, given online at or sent to 1321 N. Milwaukee, #407, Chicago, IL 60622. Please specify it's for the Parker/BAsics event.

The William Parker Quintet includes: William Parker, bass; Dave Hofstra, tuba; Matt Lavelle, trumpet; Ras Moshe, tenor sax; Bernard Myers, drums; Dave Sewelson, baritone sax.

William Parker is a master musician, improviser, and composer. He plays the bass, shakuhachi, double reeds, tuba, donso ngoni and guembri. Parker is also a theorist and author of several books. As Steve Greenlee of the Boston Globe stated in July 2002, "William Parker has emerged as the most important leader of the current avant-garde scene in jazz."

Listen to an earlier piece, "All Played Out," with music by William Parker and words by Bob Avakian (


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Herman Cain, Booker T. Washington, and Barack Obama

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Herman Cain, the "Black conservative" candidate for President, calls to mind Booker T. Washington. Washington was promoted as a "responsible Negro" by the powers-that-be—and was actually the darling of open, aggressive white supremacists—during the period of Jim Crow segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror, because Washington insisted that Black people should not fight their oppression but should work to "better" themselves by accepting and working within their horribly oppressed conditions. Cain today, in this era of New Jim Crow and supposedly "colorblind" oppression, is treated as a serious political contender, and is a favorite of the—yes, racist—"Tea Party," because Cain acts the part of a 21st century Minstrel Show clown, posturing and proclaiming: that he made it all by himself...that America is the greatest country, and there are no racist barriers, no racist oppression to be angry about...And if you don't have a job and aren't rich—blame yourself.

And then there is President Obama, who uses his "blackness" to help enforce and "justify" the "modern-day" enslavement of the masses of Black people, along with the deepening divide between the haves and have-nots, the violation of the environment, the robbing of the future from the youth, the wars, torture and assassinations, and other abominations carried out by the ruling class of this country, and its machinery of violent repression, death and destruction, all around the world as well as "at home."

From Booker T. Washington to his "successors" today...from second-class servant of the system to actual or wannabe's all about perpetuating a capitalist-imperialist system based on exploitation and oppression—committing countless crimes against humanity.

The masses of people, and humanity as a whole, must and can do better.

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party on the Occasion of October 22, 2011

A salute to all those at the demonstrations nationwide to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation—to the families and friends of those who were viciously gunned down or beaten to death by the police, to the high school students who walked out of school to protest police brutality, to the protesters joining these demonstrations from Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Everywhere who have been arrested in large numbers and faced down the threat of a massive police attack, to those who are working every day to expose and fight the illegitimate use of force, and the many others who are joining these demonstrations from all walks of life and a range of organizations. A salute to the thousands of courageous prison hunger strikers and those who have supported their struggle to end what amounts to torture. And to outraged people here and around the world who took up the fight against the "legal" lynching of Troy Davis.  A salute to the immigrants and all the people who have stood up against the record breaking deportations and detentions being perpetrated by ICE and the U.S. government. A salute to all of those people of conscience who are here to say NO in bold ways to this whole program of mass incarceration.

As the Message and Call from the Revolutionary Communist Party says: "It is up to us: to wake shake off the ways they put on us, the ways they have us thinking so they can keep us down and trapped in the same old rise up, as conscious Emancipators of Humanity. The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be."

Daily across this country horrific crimes against the people, especially Black and Latino people, are being committed. This is both systematic and systemic. 2.3 million people in this country, mostly Black and Latino, are incarcerated. In Chicago, 47 people were shot in the first eight months of the year. Including 13-year-old Jimmel Cannon, who was shot eight times. In New York City, it is estimated that 700,000 people, mainly Black and Latino youth, will be stopped and frisked by the NYPD this year on pretexts like "furtive movement" or "fits the description" or "other." In Fullerton, California, Kelly Thomas was beaten to death by the police—and he is just one of the thousands murdered at the hands of the police across this country.

This epidemic of police brutality is unconscionable and illegitimate, and even according to the U.S. Constitution, illegal. This is urgent! What's going down in the inner cities of this country is a slow genocide. And it must stop. Think about this: if you know this is happening and don't do anything to stop it, silence equals genocide. Think of the example of the prisoners who have repeatedly risked their very lives to put an end to the conditions of solitary confinement they are kept in year after year. 

Yesterday something very important happened, marking a turning point in the struggle against police repression. Hundreds including residents of Harlem and many from Occupy Wall Street marched through Harlem in New York City to the 28th Precinct of the NYPD. Then, people coming from different viewpoints, but united in their determination to stop Stop and Frisk refused to move, stood up to the police and declared to the whole country and the world "This is intolerable! It must be stopped. WE ARE STOPPING IT, AND YOU MUST JOIN US IN DOING THAT!... If you don't want to live in a world where people's humanity is routinely violated because of the color of their skin, JOIN US." And for this, 30 were arrested. A determined struggle to force the authorities to back off Stop and Frisk was launched. The ways can and must be found to build on what has been done, to continue this battle—today, tomorrow, and every day after that. And many more people must step forward—and commit to carry forward—this battle. We can't—and won't—stop until they stop.

It is time and past build a fierce—and ongoing, sustained—movement against these outrages—and more than that, to put an end to the system of exploitation and oppression, of poverty, degradation and misery that these police "protect and serve."

The whole history of this country is one of the near genocide of the native peoples and their utter dispossession, the theft of land from Mexico and since that time, the continuing oppression of Mexican, Chicano and Latino people—and most centrally, the kidnapping of millions of Africans and their enslavement and exploitation. Oppression and exploitation which has continued in new forms down to today. In the U.S. today, one—and certainly not the only—manifestation of this is the criminalizing of millions of Black and Latino youth through the blatantly discriminatory enforcement of drug laws, programs like Stop and Frisk, Anti-Gang Injunctions, and more. This is nothing more than treating the youth like they are guilty until proven innocent, if they can even survive their encounters with the police to prove their innocence. Trapping them from an early age in the criminal justice system, with all that means for them and their families once they get out (if they get out)...and trying to engender a defeated mood among the people before they even rise up. 

To quote Bob Avakian:

Three Strikes

The book by Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, has shined a bright and much needed light on the reality of profound injustice at the very core of this country.

And this brings me back to a very basic point:

This system, in this country, in the whole history of its treatment of Black people, what has it been?

First, Slavery... Then, Jim Crow—segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror... And now, The New Jim Crow—police brutality and murder, wholesale criminalization and mass incarceration, and legalized discrimination yet again. 

That's it for this system:

Three strikes and you're out!

Bob Avakian is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party and the leader of the revolution. Because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal. Get into BA! Get into BAsics!

" IS the time to be WORKING FOR REVOLUTION—to be stepping up resistance while building a movement for revolution—to prepare for the time when it WILL be possible to go all out to seize the power."

Send us your comments.

Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Occupy Oakland:
Courageous, Determined Resistance in the Face of Brutal Police Assault

Revolution received the following report:

Thursday, October 27, 2011. As we post this report about developments with Occupy Oakland many things are going on. Oakland's mayor Jean Quan's first statement after the brutal police attack on Occupy Oakland Tuesday night had praised the police. But under widespread criticism, Quan issued another statement on Thursday expressing concern for those injured in the police assault and promising an investigation. She also said people would be allowed to return to the Occupation area. And Thursday night, there was a General Assembly in the Plaza and people had set up camp again. The courageous, determined resistance of the Occupiers, the broad outrage at the police violence, and support from others have forced the authorities to take back a step, for now. This is a real victory for the people.

In the wake of fierce resistance in the face of two massive police operations in one day, the Occupy movement in Oakland announced its decision to take its struggle to another level: a general strike and day of mass action for November 2. Across the Bay, in San Francisco thousands gathered at the occupy encampment Wednesday night to prevent a police raid, joined by some city supervisors and candidates for mayor—and though there were buses and police staging across town the attack never came. The authorities seems to be somewhat in disarray, under a spotlight after launching the violent police actions in Oakland on Tuesday—still wanting to crack down, still lying about why, and trying to blame the protesters for provoking the police violence. Meanwhile a young man, Scott Olsen, lies unconscious in critical condition in an Oakland hospital from injuries he received at the hands of the police on Tuesday. Revolutionaries have been involved in this struggle and filed this report.

At 4 pm, on Tuesday, a crowd of 500 people gathered in front of the library in downtown Oakland, just blocks away from Frank Ogawa Plaza, which the people have renamed Oscar Grant Plaza. A facilitator spoke from the steps and balcony, giving props to the librarians who had refused police requests to close. Different people, reflecting the diversity of the movement, gave short statements that were repeated peoples' microphone style. A homeless woman spoke of her love for the movement. A teacher said the system was broken and there is a need for revolution. An announcement was made that we would march to "reclaim the plaza," where the police had attacked and dismantled Occupy Oakland early Tuesday morning, and received roaring approval.

Scott Olsen, seriously injured by police projectile, Oakland, October 25, 2011 photo: Jay Finneburgh
Scott Olsen, seriously injured by police projectile, Oakland, October 25, 2011 photo: Jay Finneburgh
Scott Olsen, seriously injured by police projectile, Oakland, October 25, 2011
photos: Jay Finneburgh

Before the march left the plaza, rapper and musician Boots Riley said:

"I'm proud to see all of you shown' up here in Oakland to show that you are committed to that...All over the world, people are wondering what's goin' to happen here in Oakland. People that are not involved in the movement are looking to see if this is a movement they want to join. People that are in the movement want you guys to win. We are the 99%. We will stop the world and make those motherfuckers jump off. I've been told that we are going to march and take back Oscar Grant Plaza for our comrades that are in jail for the people watchin' all around the world and for your grandchildren who you'll want to tell that you were here."

The march took off towards Broadway, where an army of police, standing behind metal barricades occupied the plaza, the march turned left toward the police station. It was clear the people would not stand for being bullied. On one corner near the station riot police brandishing huge shotguns with belts displaying shiny shells stood posing. People yelled at the police, "shame, shame" and got up in their faces. There was an arrest. The march split into two. On a smaller street, police grabbed and handcuffed two people and then were surrounded by a crowd of hundreds of angry people demanding "let them go!" Eventually, more cops came in and set off some kind of small explosive. The march scattered briefly, only to reunite with another crowd that had been split off before.

People were determined to go to the plaza and started marching toward it. A chant initiated by revolutionaries resonated with the crowd and rang out again and again: "Rise up with the people of the world. Rise up, rise up, rise up." The march filled the area in the intersection, in front of the line of heavily armed police blockading Oscar Grant plaza. The crowd was chanting "The role of police: to serve and protect—not us—but the 1 percent!"

Suddenly there were extremely loud noises, flashes and sounds of shots. Sparks flew on all sides of us as we ran, people were getting hit. Then the tear gas spread, and people were coughing and covering their faces. In this first big attack, a member of Iraq Veterans against the War was hit in the head at close range by a police projectile.

We talked with photographer Jay Finneburgh who witnessed and photographed the police attack:

Occupy Oakland - October 25, 2011
Photo: Special to Revolution
Occupy Oakland - October 25, 2011
Photo: Special to Revolution
Occupy Oakland - October 25, 2011
Photo: Special to Revolution
Occupy Oakland - October 25, 2011
Photo: Special to Revolution
Occupy Oakland - October 25, 2011
Photo: Special to Revolution

"I was at 14th and Broadway about 15 feet from the police line. Without warning they started lobbing flash bang grenades into the crowd. Several went over our heads in the middle of the crowd, they released tear gas.... Scott Olsen, who was directly behind me, got hit in the head and crumpled to the ground. I thought he had tripped and was going to get back up, but I turned around and noticed he was still on the ground and he wasn't moving. Several and myself went back to him. I took several shots while protesters, who were trying to figure out what was wrong with him, started screaming for a medic. And then they lobbed another flash bang right into the group surrounding Scott Olsen. In one of the images I have there is a large flash of light and one of the activists is cringing, and that is when the flash bang grenade went off. At that point there was so much gas I couldn't breath. Three or four people were carrying Scott Olsen, they got him to 15th and set him down. He was bleeding from the head and looked dazed. Somehow people got him to the hospital and I hear he is in stable but critical condition with brain swelling and a two inch crack in his skull. Later I noticed the blood stains where Scott Olsen had gone down and a few feet away I picked up a police projectile, a bean bag. But I heard that police are saying it was a tear gas canister which meant the police must have shot it, not into the air but at head level from only 15 feet away."

During the evening and late into the night many people were hit with projectiles that were shot or lobbed by police, but the people did not go away. Some people reported they heard that tear gas canisters were picked up and thrown back at police. Youth of all backgrounds were predominant in the crowd. There were many people of all ages from the bottom of society. And there was a general sense of comradeliness among people in the huge crowd. Again and again people regrouped, marched, and fearlessly faced the army of riot cops. They chanted "Who are You Protecting?" and "We're still here!" They also put a sports-type chant to good use: "Let's-go, Oak-land!"

There were at least five, maybe seven more attacks that night by police who came from many different cities, and the Internet is filled with photos of protesters with bruised backs, stomachs and legs and some bloodied faces. The National Lawyer's Guild and the ACLU have both issued statements condemning the police actions in Oakland demanding an investigation. They told Revolution that they are getting calls from people who were injured by police projectiles and some from people who fell sick from being tear gassed at close range, including a woman in a wheelchair. They do not yet have figures on the numbers of people injured, nor the extent of their injuries. They are trying to document the different munitions used by the police.

An official police press released blatantly lied about the use of force and made up a ridiculous story that the protesters were the ones using explosives:

Q. Did the Police deploy rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades?

A. No, the loud noises that were heard originated from M-80 explosives thrown at Police by protesters. In addition, Police fired approximately four bean bag rounds at protesters to stop them from throwing dangerous objects at the officers.

Q. Did the Police use tear gas?

A. Yes, the Police used a limited amount of tear gas for a small area as a defense against protesters who were throwing various objects at Police Officers as they approached the area.

In spite of repeated attacks protesters stayed in the streets late into the night, and thousands showed up for the general assembly in the plaza the next evening on Wednesday. The fences were taken down by the people. The police had backed off, for the evening. There were vigils for Scott Olsen. And there were reports of demonstrations from New York to Cairo in support of the people in Oakland. After consensus was reached for the November 2 general strike, people again took to the streets and marched until the early hours of Thursday morning. Occupy Oakland's announcement for the November 2 general strike and mass action ends with the words, "The whole world is watching Oakland. Let's show them what is possible."


The following was posted at the Occupy Together website

Call for Vigils for Scott at Occupations Everywhere

This morning Occupy Oakland and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) put out a call for occupations across America and around the world to hold solidarity vigils for Scott Olsen, a former Marine and two time Iraq War veteran. Olsen sustained a skull fracture after being shot in the head on October 25 with a police projectile while peacefully participating in an Occupy Oakland march.

Occupy Oakland and IVAW—an organization that Scott Olsen is a member of—are organizing the Oakland vigil. It will be held today, Thursday, October 27, 7:00 pm PST, during the General Assembly of Occupy Oakland at 14th St. and Broadway.

They are also calling on other occupations that are part of the 99% movement to take time to vigil for Scott this evening. Some occupations will take a few moments during their General Assembly to hold Scott in their thoughts, to honor his commitment to social justice, and to hope for his strong recovery.

Scott joined the Marines in 2006, served two tours in Iraq, and was discharged in 2010. Scott moved to California from Wisconsin and currently works as a systems network administrator in Daly City.

Scott is one of an increasing number of war veterans who are participating in America's growing Occupy movement. Said Keith Shannon, who deployed with Scott to Iraq, "Scott was marching with the 99% because he felt corporations and banks had too much control over our government, and that they weren't being held accountable for their role in the economic downturn, which caused so many people to lose their jobs and their homes."

People across the country reacted with outrage yesterday to the police brutality unleashed against peaceful people engaged in protest in Oakland—and particularly to the injury of Scott Olsen. Occupy Oakland has been a public forum, set up on public land, concerned with critical public issues about the nation's financial crisis, consolidation of wealth and power, and the ability of citizens to meaningfully participate in the democratic process. The brutality they were met with sends a chilling message to those who want to serve their country by working for social change.

Scott is currently sedated and in critical condition at a local hospital.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Iraq:

An Imperialist War of Lies and Horrendous Crimes Against the Iraqi People

by Larry Everest

On Friday, October 21, President Barack Obama announced that all 40,000 remaining U.S. military forces would be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year: "After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over," he said.

Obama presented the end of the war as the fulfillment of a campaign promise, and a proud moment for the U.S. in fulfilling a noble mission:

"The last American soldier[s] will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops...This December will be a time to reflect on all that we've been through in this war. I'll join the American people in paying tribute to the more than 1 million Americans who have served in Iraq. We'll honor our many wounded warriors and the nearly 4,500 American patriots—and their Iraqi and coalition partners—who gave their lives to this effort."

Obama also called the withdrawal from Iraq part of "a larger transition." He said, "The tide of war is receding...Now, even as we remove our last troops from Iraq, we're beginning to bring our troops home from Afghanistan..." He claimed "the United States is moving forward from a position of strength."

While Obama talks about "the tide of war receding," the U.S. is increasing its military presence and aggression in Libya and Africa. It's escalating drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. It's waging a bloody war in Afghanistan, where there are still close to 100,000 troops. And no, the U.S. military role is not being ended in Iraq either. The U.S. has been forced to withdraw its military units—in part because it couldn't forge a new "status of forces" agreement with the Iraqi government. But thousands of U.S. diplomats, military contractors, CIA operatives, and other support personnel will remain in Iraq after the end of the year. The U.S. will still have tens of thousands of troops, as well as air and naval power and various military alliances in the Middle East and Central Asia. And it continues to rattle its sabers against Iran and Syria.

The 2003 Iraq Invasion—A Towering War Crime, Based on Lies

This announcement by Obama should make people reflect—on how and why this war was launched, what it was actually about, and what it says about the nature of the U.S. capitalist-imperialist system. Obama and the ruling class and media have deliberately obscured, covered up, and lied about these issues for a decade—ever since the run-up to the Iraq war began in the hours after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

This war was justified on the basis of bald-faced lies that were cooked up through a deliberate campaign of deceit that began soon after Sept. 11. There was the lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Then there was the lie that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda and was somehow involved in September 11. U.S. government "investigations" and the media have blamed "faulty intelligence" or being "suckered" by Iraqi sources for their failure to find a single cache of WMD in Iraq. This is just another cover-up.

There is overwhelming evidence—from many sources—that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that these were deliberate lies—concocted at the highest levels of government, repeated endlessly by both Democrats and Republicans, and by the imperialist media, which served as cheerleaders for the war. And these lies were enforced by threats, smear campaigns, and retaliation against any government and/or military officials or former officials who tried to challenge or expose them. (For instance, government officials and experts knew full well that Hussein was hostile to Islamic fundamentalism and that Al Qaeda essentially didn't even exist in Iraq before the U.S. invasion—it was only until after the invasion that they arose within Iraq.)

Obama and the rest of the rulers want us to forget about all this.

These lies were designed to cover up the nature of the U.S. invasion: a naked act of aggression against a small, weak, Third World country which had not attacked the U.S., and which had been subject to over 20 years of U.S. military assaults, covert attacks, and political and economic strangulation. This aggression included the Iran-Iraq War (green lighted and prolonged by the U.S.), the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and a decade of U.S.-UN sanctions. These sanctions were responsible for the deaths of at least 500,000 children and perhaps as many 1.7 million Iraqis overall.

In short, the U.S. invasion of Iraq fit the textbook definition of a criminal war—a war crime. This basic—and obvious—truth has systematically been censored, suppressed, and covered up by a decade of ruling class lies and double-talk.

These lies—and the lie that this war was about "liberating" the Iraq people—twisted the truth inside out, in true Hitlerian fashion. In reality, this was a war launched by the world's most violent and globally oppressive power. It was part of a plan to seize on 9/11 to launch a war to strengthen and extend its empire of exploitation and military domination. The U.S. imperialists aimed to turn Iraq into a U.S.-controlled military and political outpost—and imperialist gas station—in the heart of the Middle East. It was to be a first step toward reshaping the whole region to suit U.S. capitalism-imperialism. It was meant to be part of defeating and socially undercutting Islamic fundamentalist forces in the region, which were posing obstacles to U.S. plans. The U.S. rulers planned to use this oil-rich and strategically located region as a club against any rivals—regional or global. They were driven by a real fear that their "unipolar moment" of global dominance—when the U.S. was the only imperialist Superpower after the demise of the USSR—could be slipping away. And the U.S. was intoxicated with imperial hubris—they dreamed of creating an unchallenged, and unchallengeable empire—dominating the planet as no other power ever had before.

As Bob Avakian puts it, "These imperialists make the Godfather look like Mary Poppins." (BAsics 1:7)

Horrendous Impact on the Iraqi People

Obama talked of honoring "our many wounded warriors and the nearly 4,500 American patriots—and their Iraqi and coalition partners—who gave their lives to this effort"—the reference to the Iraqi people inserted in passing, a throw-away line, with no content.

But what has the impact of this war been on the Iraqi people? This reality—while well documented—has been deliberately ignored and lied about by the imperialist state, and the ruling class' multi-faceted apparatus for shaping public opinion.

The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has led directly to massive slaughter, displacement, torture, sectarian violence, suffering and death. While the U.S. media occasionally mentions that 100,000 Iraqis have died during the U.S. war and occupation, this number vastly understates the actual number of Iraqis directly murdered or who died as a result of the war—as well as those whose lives have been drastically shattered.

A 2006 survey published in the British medical journal Lancet found that there had been more than 650,000 "excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war" up to that point. In 2008, a study by the polling firm Opinion Research Business put the number at over 1 million.

According to the UN's Refugee Agency, over 4.7 million Iraqis have been driven from their homes—two million forced out of Iraq entirely. Three million Iraqi women are now widows, according to Iraq's government—many forced into prostitution.

When government officials and the mainstream media do mention the fact that the war has left 100,000 Iraqis dead, what's left unsaid is who is responsible—making it seem as if these deaths were accidents or unfortunate "collateral damage," or the fault of "terrorists" or "age-old conflicts" among Iraqis. In fact, the U.S. imperialists are directly responsible for most of these deaths—even as reactionary Islamists (whether inside or outside the Iraqi government)—have carried out atrocities was well. First, many of these millions were killed or displaced directly by U.S. forces. Second, since 1990, the U.S. had systematically shattered Iraq's civilian infrastructure (water, power, etc.), and then violently dismantled Iraq's governing structures after the invasion; both actions had catastrophic impacts on life in Iraq. Third, the U.S. empowered reactionary forces, including Islamist parties, to govern Iraq—butchers who have carried out widespread massacres and campaigns of religious sectarian cleansing against the Iraqi people, particularly against the Sunnis, as well as campaigns to forcibly impose reactionary Islamic strictures on Iraqi women.

The U.S. military has committed widespread war crimes and crimes against humanity. They have tortured and sexually degraded and abused countless thousands of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other torture centers. They've turned prisoners over to the reactionary U.S.-backed Iraqi regime knowing they would be tortured. "US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished," the Guardian UK reported. ("Iraq war logs: secret files show how U.S. ignored torture,", Oct. 22, 2010).

In November 2005, U.S. Marines murdered 24 Iraqis in cold blood in the city of Haditha, and then blamed it on "insurgents." In 2006 in Ishaqi in central Iraq, "U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence." In July 2007, a U.S. helicopter gunned down 11 civilians in Baghdad. Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar wrote, "A video posted this week by WikiLeaks [of the helicopter massacre] is not an exception to how the U.S. occupation operated in Iraq all along, but rather an example of it. While the video is shocking and disturbing to the U.S. public, from an Iraqi perspective it just tells a story of an average day under the occupation." ("The Haditha Massacre, and the Bush Regime: Illegal, Immoral, and INTOLERABLE," Revolution #50, June 11, 2006; "WikiLeaks: Iraqi Children in U.S. Raid Shot in Head, U.N. Says," McClatchy Newspapers, September 1, 2011; "Video Shows U.S. Killing of Reuters Employees," New York Times, April 5, 2010; Raed Jarrar, "Iraq: Seven Years of Occupation,", April 10, 2010)

These are the actions that Obama says Americans should "be proud of."

Not one single major U.S. military commander, U.S. official, political leader or war-leading media talking head has been held to account for any of this.

The U.S. and its military forces are not beloved by Iraqis as "liberators"—they're hated by millions of people around the world as savage, violent foreign imperialist occupiers.

Withdrawal of U.S. Troops Amidst Mounting Contradictions

For all this violence, the U.S. has not been able to achieve its grand strategic objectives in Iraq, or even its scaled-back objectives. When George W. Bush signed the status of forces agreement in 2008 calling for an end to the U.S. presence in Iraq by the end of 2011, it was assumed (perhaps even directly agreed upon) that U.S. forces would remain in Iraq for sometime after that "withdrawal date."

For over a year under Obama, the U.S. has been trying to negotiate a treaty with Iraq under which as many as 18,000 U.S. military forces could remain in Iraq. This summer, the U.S. scaled down its demand to some 5,000 military personnel. But when the U.S. insisted its military forces be given immunity from prosecution by Iraqi authorities for crimes under Iraqi law, the negotiations broke down. This breakdown reflects, and is a product of, the many complex, shifting contradictions the U.S. faces in attempting to more forcefully assert its domination in the Middle East—and how its "war on terror" to forcibly reshape and more directly control Iraq, Afghanistan, and the region has ended up exacerbating the very contradictions and obstacles the war was designed to resolve. All this has also intersected with new, unanticipated developments across the region and globally.

So it was this breakdown (and ultimately these deeper difficulties)—not a deliberate plan—that forced Obama's hand (even as he had strategically aimed to scale back U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, in an attempt to better deal with the deep stresses and strains on the empire).

This is but the latest chapter of U.S. ambitions in Iraq being thwarted, then scaled back, and then thwarted some more. It is important to recall what exactly the Bush regime dreamed of in Iraq. A March 21, 2003 Wall Street Journal piece spelled some of it out:

"[Bush's] dream is to make the entire Middle East a different place, and one safer for American interests. The vision is appealing: a region that, after a regime change in Baghdad, has pro-American governments in the Arab world's three most important countries, Egypt, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In the long run, that changes the dynamic of the region, making it more friendly to Washington and spreading democracy. Reducing the influence of radicals helps make Palestinians more amenable to an agreement with Israel."

But the U.S. began to encounter big problems within a few months of invading Iraq. The Bush regime thought it could quickly and totally remake Iraqi society and start "fresh"—creating a fully subservient neocolony, designed to fit the global needs of U.S. capital and the regional needs of U.S. power. The U.S. disbanded the Iraqi Army, barred most Sunnis from holding government positions, and attempted to install a hand-picked U.S. puppet council to rule. It even tried, under Paul Bremer, the U.S. "Administrator" of Iraq, to ram through drastic "free market" capitalist economic restructuring.

These predatory and nakedly imperialist measures soon sparked a growing armed resistance, centered among Iraqi Sunnis, that led to a 5-plus year civil war and threatened to both tear Iraq apart and render the U.S. occupation untenable. The American invasion, coupled with the end of Hussein's essentially secular regime, fueled Islamic fundamentalism—both Sunni and Shia. It provided an opening for Al Qaeda and other Islamist forces to gain a foothold in Iraq. The U.S. was forced to abandon its chosen lackeys (who had little following inside Iraq) and turn to reactionary Shia religious forces and parties, willing to work with and under the U.S., to attempt to govern and stabilize the country. (A majority of Iraqis are Shias, and these parties have a long history in the country.) These forces have varying ties to and tensions with Iran; and they have tensions and differences, as well as common interests, among themselves and with the U.S.

Being a foreign occupying power and creating a new state from the ashes of the Hussein regime proved to be extremely difficult. Toppling the regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, other regional developments, and the hatred the U.S. wars spawned across the region ended up strengthening Iran. Such tensions and contradictions, including the mood of the people in Iraq, and the Iraqi rulers' fear of the kind of popular uprising sweeping the region (perhaps triggered by a too-close public embrace of the U.S.) factored in to the impasse in negotiations over U.S. forces continuing in Iraq.

None of this is to say that the U.S. is giving up on control and domination of Iraq, or that it won't continue to have a presence and shape events there—including with new assertions of political and military intervention. Iraq's economy, politics, and military remain subordinate to and dominated by imperialism (even as there are complex, shifting, and multi-layered contradictions at work). The largest U.S. embassy in the world is in the heart of Baghdad, Iraq's capital. ABC News reported that the State Department will continue to have some 5,000 security contractors and 4,500 other support contractors in Iraq, as well as a significant CIA presence. And U.S. officials have stated there will be a continuing military relationship with Iraq that will include the training of Iraqi forces. "So we are now going to have a security relationship with Iraq for training and support of their military," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, "similar to what we have around the world from Jordan to Colombia." (Democracy Now, 10/24)

Further, the U.S. has built up a regional military infrastructure over the past 30 years, and officials have made clear they are not leaving the region: "We're going to maintain, as we do now, a significant force in that region of the world," Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta stated, including some 23,000 troops in Kuwait and about 100,000 in Afghanistan. "So we will always have a force that will be present and that will deal with any threats." ("U.S. Withdrawal Plans Draw Suspicion, Fear in Iraq," Wall Street Journal, Oct 23)

Containing, weakening, perhaps overthrowing Iran's Islamic Republic of Iran has been a central objective of U.S. strategy since the launch of the "war on terror" in Sept. 2001. Yet in many ways, the U.S. war and other events have strengthened Iran. And now, it's possible that the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq may strengthen Iran further—in Iraq and regionally. 

"The withdrawal from Iraq creates enormous strategic complexities rather than closure," one imperialist think tank analysis posed. "Therefore, if the U.S. withdrawal in Iraq results in substantial Iranian influence in Iraq, and al Assad doesn't fall, then the balance of power in the region completely shifts. This will give rise to a contiguous arc of Iranian influence stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea running along Saudi Arabia's northern border and along the length of Turkey's southern border." ("Libya and Iraq: The Price of Success," STRATFOR, Oct 25 2011)

This possibility has driven the U.S. to ramp up its threats against Iran. As soon as the troop withdrawal was announced, Secretary of State Clinton warned, "Iran would be badly miscalculating if they did not look at the entire region and all of our presence in many countries in the region." (CNN—State of the Union, 10/23)

Grand Schemes.... Profound Difficulties

Obama's hollow claim that "the United States is moving forward from a position of strength" cannot hide the fact that this entire decade of war has cost the U.S. enormously. It has greatly aggravated deep stresses in the U.S. empire, and it has intensified a whole cauldron of contradictions the U.S. faces in the strategically crucial Middle East-Central Asian regions. Dominance in this area has been a pillar of U.S. global power in the post-World War 2 era, and to its current and future status as the world's superpower. So the U.S. imperialists are compelled to attempt to find ways to maintain their power, presence, and preeminence in the region. But they're finding this an increasingly difficult and uncertain endeavor.

So yes, let's reflect on these nearly nine years of war and occupation in Iraq. They demonstrate that the U.S. is willing to employ massive violence and commit savage crimes to advance its imperialist interests and stave off reversals or defeat. It shows that the rulers of this country are chronic liars who will say anything—including the most blatant and obvious lies—to bamboozle people into going along with their program.  These eight plus years prove, once again, that nothing good can come of U.S. intervention and aggression—no matter how it's dressed up. And they underscore the moral imperative of exposing the crimes and opposing the aggressions committed by this country.

At the same time, the war's unfolding and now the U.S. military's ignominious exit from Iraq, also illustrate the empire's profound and growing vulnerabilities, and how quickly its grand schemes can backfire. All this points to the potential for even deeper shocks and crises to jolt U.S. capitalism-imperialism, and the urgency of revolutionary work today to prepare for such a moment in order to be able to seize such an opening to sweep this war-mongering system away. Then we won't have to mark anniversary after anniversary of imperialist war after imperialist war.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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It feels like the early days of Nazi Germany

The Alabama Immigration Law Goes Into Effect

A new law aimed at driving immigrants out of Alabama or forcing them into hiding from state and city authorities went into effect in early October, upheld in part by two federal court decisions. The dramatic and horrible effects of this began right away:

Gonzalez is a taxi driver. Soon after the law went into effect, he began getting calls from Hispanic families. "People started asking me for prices. How much would it cost to go to Indiana? How much to New York? Or Atlanta, or Texas, or Ohio, or North Carolina?" At about 2 a.m. one night, he was woken up by a woman who asked him to come and pick her and her family up immediately and drive them to North Carolina. At the apartment where he picks them up he finds two parents, three children, and a small number of bags waiting for him. "Can you hurry up, we're very scared," the woman said. "The police followed my husband on his way back from work and that's why we're leaving." It took eight hours to get to North Carolina. The children slept the whole journey; the father sat in silence; the mother cried all the way.

A hundred families a day visit the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama. Many are parents who have come to get legal papers that will give guardianship of their children to a relative or close friend in case they are picked up and deported. In many cases, while the parents are undocumented, the children are U.S. citizens.

There is a sign posted outside the public water company office in Allgood, Alabama: "Attention to all water customers, to be compliant with new laws concerning immigration you must have an Alabama driver's license or you may lose water service."

Isobel has barely left her apartment on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama, since September 28 when the law was upheld by the District Court. She is cooped up, shut off from natural light and almost all contact with the outside world. There are boxes of bottled water, rice, beans, and tortillas stacked against the living room wall—sufficient to last her family of five several days. The curtains are drawn and the lights on, even though it is early afternoon. She leaves the apartment only once a week, to stock up on those boxes of essentials at the local Wal-Mart. The day after the new law was upheld, Isobel saw three police cars driving around her housing complex, which is almost entirely Hispanic. Word went around that the police asked men standing on the street to go inside their homes or face arrest. From that moment she has barely set foot outside. She no longer drives. Under the new law, police have to check the immigration papers of anyone "suspicious" they stop for a routine traffic violation—a missing brake light, perhaps, or parking on the wrong spot. "If they see me they will think I'm suspicious and then they will detain me indefinitely," Isobel says.

(These stories are taken from "The grim reality of life under Alabama's brutal immigration law," Ed Pilkington, Guardian (UK), October 14, 2011.)

One day the law goes into effect and you are no longer a person. No contract you sign will be upheld in court, so how can you rent a home? Any contact with the police or any governmental authority requires proof that you are here legally, and if you don't have that paper, it could mean you are immediately and indefinitely detained. Frightened and fearful, your take your family and whatever you can carry and hurriedly move out of the state, leaving in the middle of the night, less likely to be noticed. "We have to move. We have to leave everything. We can't take anything because I'm afraid they can stop us and say why are you moving?" ("Latino Students Withdraw From Alabama Schools After Immigration Law Goes Into Effect," Olivia Katrandjian, ABC News, October 1, 2011) Other families are torn apart as parents take young children and move back to Mexico or Central America while leaving their older children with U.S. citizenship, believing their children will have a better life here.

This is Alabama in 2011. It feels like the early days of Nazi Germany.

The Alabama law, HB 56, called the "Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act," is part of a campaign of cold, vicious, relentless repression against immigrants that took a leap in Arizona in 2010 with SB 1070, has gained momentum with similar laws in Utah, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and is now at its sadistic worst in Alabama.

While a few of the most cruel sections of the law were enjoined by the courts, the heart of it remains intact. The U.S. District Court in Alabama and 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of the law passed in Alabama earlier this year.

The bill was signed into law June 9, 2011 and was set to go into effect on September 1. Church leaders, civil rights organizations, and the federal government filed a challenge in U.S. District Court. Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn halted the implementation of the law for a month, until September 28, in order to have time to issue a ruling. On September 28, she enjoined several sections of the law—the sections that made it a crime for undocumented immigrants to solicit work; made it a crime to harbor, help, or transport undocumented immigrants; and that prevented undocumented immigrants from attending public colleges or universities.

The remaining sections of the law, including the sections that required schools to determine the immigration status of "suspect children," and that required law enforcement to check immigration status of all people they stop and to hold people in jail until they determine the immigration status of these individuals were allowed to go into effect even though it was clear that there would be an appeal.

The federal government appealed the ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal on October 12, and on October 14 the Circuit Court issued its ruling which prevented the enforcement of two more sections of the law: the sections requiring public schools to determine the immigration status of its students and the section making it a crime not to have registered as an alien with the government. But the law as it stands requires the police and other law enforcement to check the immigration status of all individuals who they "reasonably suspect" are undocumented. If a person is arrested for driving without a driver's license, the police can hold the person until they determine the immigration status; if found to be undocumented, the person will be turned over to immigration authorities. The law bars Alabama courts from enforcing contracts made with someone who is undocumented—a loan, a sales agreement, an employment contract, a rental agreement—none of those will be enforced by an Alabama court if you are undocumented. The law makes it a crime for an undocumented individual to enter into a "business transaction" with the State of Alabama or any subdivision of the state. It is this section of the law that allows the public water company to demand to see a driver's license as proof that a person is here legally before turning on their water.

The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) plays the role of aiding entities—from Congress, to states, to individuals—in crafting fascistic and racist anti-immigrant laws and shepherding them through the courts. It helped write the Alabama law and calls it a model. The law includes extreme measures aimed at driving Latinos out of Alabama—the law's supporters call it "self-deportation." And learning from the problems Arizona's SB 1070 had in the federal court, Alabama's law was carefully written to include explicit language upholding federal immigration laws and stating that it will not allow any state official to violate those federal laws, the better to withstand court challenges. "If the trend of the past five years persists, the Alabama model will be a touchstone for other states in the 2012 legislative sessions, and also serve as a influential guide for nationwide reform by the Congress," said Trista Chaney, an IRLI staff attorney who has worked extensively on anti-immigrant legislation appearing in states throughout the U.S. "This is why they call the states laboratories of citizen democracy," Chaney added. ("Alabama Passes the Most Advanced State Immigration Law in U.S. History,"

The fascist anti-immigrant forces are enforcing this ethnic cleansing state by state, sometimes town by town, passing laws and ordinances that make it impossible for immigrants to work, rent homes, get a driver's license, speak their language, send their kids to school, get medical care. In the first quarter of 2011, 30 states introduced immigration-related bills modeled on Arizona's SB 1070. At the same time, these fascistic forces have worked to create the poisonous atmosphere that demonizes immigrants as drug smugglers, gunrunners and narco-gang members, and scapegoats them for the economic hardships facing a large swath of U.S. society today.

Intended Consequences

The results of this law have created disruptions and tensions among other sections of the population as well. Farmers in Alabama have been used to finding immigrants who because of their undocumented status are willing to do the grueling, back-breaking labor of harvesting tomatoes and other crops for horribly unfair wages. But now that cheap labor is hard to come by. Lana Boatwright, a tomato grower said she and her husband had used the same crews for more than a decade to harvest tomatoes, but only eight of the 48 workers they needed showed up after the law took effect. "My husband and I take them to the grocery store at night and shop for them because they are afraid they will be arrested," she said. Chad Smith, another tomato grower, said his family would normally have 12 trucks working the fields, but only had the workers for three. He estimated his family could lose up to $150,000 this season because of a lack of help to pick the crop. ("Immigration law author tells farmers: No changes," David Martin, Associated Press October 4, 2011) Farmers are being driven out of business and some talk about not planting next season if they cannot be assured labor will be available for harvest. The same kinds of disruptions are taking place in other industries dependent on immigrant labor.

Commentators talk about these economic losses as unintended consequences of this law. But the people who wrote and fought to pass HB 56 are very clear. They knew these disruptions would come. Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, former IRLI attorney, and the behind-the-scenes author of Alabama HB 56, Arizona's SB 1070, and other anti-immigrant bills across the U.S., says the law is working as intended, "We're displacing the illegal workers. That may cause short-term pain for some, but the markets will adjust....  It may be they have a season with some losses, and it may be that they have to increase their wages. But you've got something like 200,000 unemployed people in Alabama and many of them are going to find jobs as a result of this." In response to the suggestion to hire the unemployed, tomato farmer Jamie Boatwright said, "Since this law went in to effect, I've had a total of 11 people that were Americans come and ask for work. A total of one of those actually came back the next day... that person picked four boxes of tomatoes, walked out of the field, and said 'I'm done.'" Other supporters of the bill propose using prison labor in place of undocumented immigrants.

The sponsors of this fascistic law know they are creating economic hardships among sections of people who are part of their base. And even while they offer up "solutions" like the unemployed and prison labor as the new underclass of workers, they have a more strategic objective and are determined to push through whatever obstacles may get in the way. These die-hard racists are being fomented and financed by a section of the ruling class that envisions a return to the white-supremacist, male-supremacist social contract as the glue holding America together. They are incensed that people from other parts of the world are turning the U.S. into a multi-cultural, multi-lingual society; they see it as degrading and as a dangerous centrifugal force that is pulling America apart. In their view, if it takes establishing a fascist regime to restore those traditional values and to return America to its former greatness, then so be it.

What is the answer the Obama administration and the Democrats offer—these so-called allies of the Latino people? According to Maria Hinojosa, Frontline reporter for the October 2011 documentary "Lost in Detention," Obama has overseen the deportation of more immigrants than any other president in history—it will soon hit one million. Obama promised that his "Secure Communities" program would focus on deporting "criminal aliens" who committed violent felonies. But the only "crime" committed by the vast majority of the 226,000 people being deported under Secure Communities this year, is having come to the U.S. in search of survival for themselves and their families. And why? Because, as Bob Avakian so succinctly put it, "Because you [the U.S. imperialists] have fucked up the rest of the world even worse than what you have done in this country. You have made it impossible for many people to live in their own countries as part of gaining your riches and power." The U.S. immigration laws that are being broken by "illegal immigrants" are completely unjust and illegitimate.

During the battle against SB 1070 Revolution described the dangerous trajectory we have been on.

Obama and the Democrats too want "order" above all else, but most of all they do not want to call the people who are horrified by what is happening into the streets to stand up to and oppose these fascists. The damage this repeated compromise and conciliation with fascism has caused, over several decades, is incalculable. It has for far too long encouraged and influenced progressive people to accommodate to a dynamic where, as Bob Avakian has pointed out, "[Y]esterday's outrage becomes today's 'compromise position' and tomorrow's limits of what can be imagined," and it has contributed to the disorientation among progressive people in the face of this growing, fascist movement. Remaining on that path, the future can only mean watching while things get worse and worse, while the masses of immigrants are put continually in a more locked down and super-exploited position, with no way out. ("Stop the System's Fascist Attacks on Immigrants," Revolution #208, July 25, 2010)

The savage, relentless exploitation of millions of immigrants, documented and undocumented, is essential to the functioning of the system of capitalism-imperialism in this country and to its dominant standing in the world and how immigration to the U.S. has served the U.S. as well as Mexico and the countries of Central America. Not only does the money sent home by immigrants work to alleviate the tremendous economic suffering, but the so-called promise of a better life in the U.S. becomes a "way out" of unbearable conditions for millions. But this poses intractable problems for the U.S. ruling class. The 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country are a potential source of instability and "disloyalty." All sections of the ruling class see this contradiction and agree that this section of the population must be brought under control, but they differ on how exactly to do it. Neither fascist laws nor Obama's hundreds of thousands of deportations offer a "better" choice for immigrants.

The Need for More Resistance!

In Alabama some of the masses targeted in the sights of this law have refused to obey the self-deportation order. On October 3, a week after the law went into effect, five mothers—all of them white U.S. citizens—demonstrated against HB 56 in front of the federal district court in Birmingham. Their partners, the fathers of their children, are undocumented and could be torn from their families at any moment. ("HB56: American Kids Pay The Price," Maribel Hastings, Huffington Post, October 6, 2011)

On October 12, hundreds of people in northeast Alabama stayed home from work, school, and shopping to protest the law and to demonstrate the critical role Latino workers play in the economy. The boycott, called by Spanish language radio and television, was strongest in the part of the state where the poultry industry is concentrated. At least six poultry plants closed or scaled back operations. The Wayne Farms poultry plant, which normally employs 850 people, was idle and many businesses that catered to Latinos closed in support. ("Alabama Latinos Protest New Law on Immigration," Jay Reeves, Associated Press, 10/12/11)

On October 16 in the little town of Athens, in northern Alabama, a courageous march of 200 took place to protest the law. Tamitha Villarreal and her boyfriend, Armando, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, decided they would stay and fight to overturn HB 56 rather than leave as many of Armando's friends did. Tamitha posted the protest march on her Facebook page. At the appointed time more than 200 people—legal and illegal immigrants from Mexico, Colombia, and Guatemala—massed in the parking lot of a supermarket which was closed down because so many of its immigrant customers had left. People came with homemade signs and "fire in their bellies" as the news story described it. They marched through the streets of Athens for three hours, shattering the post-church quiet with shouts of "No more HB 56!" (From "Hispanic Limestone County Residents Protest Against Alabama's New Immigration Law," Steve Doyle, Huntsville Times, October 16, 2011)

Standing with them, church leaders, civil rights organizations, teachers and students at the University of Alabama in Birmingham and other campuses have protested HB 56, and continue to speak out in opposition to the law. Scott Douglas III, a Black minister and Executive Director of the Greater Birmingham Ministries, issued this challenge to the youth, "If you missed the 60s, guess what, now is your time. Now you can make the same kind of contribution that young people made in the 60s. And that is to be out front in saying 'no' to this system that will allow people to be treated worse than animals and denying basic human rights. And all in the name of instilling fear in people."

To all people who hunger for a different and better world—immigrants and native born, documented and undocumented, young and old: What is now urgently needed, on a scale much wider than now exists, is a determined resistance to these fascist laws and the stepped up detentions and deportations, aimed at creating a world where all human beings are treated with respect and dignity.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Hawai`i: Resistance Gearing Up Against APEC Meeting November 7-13

We received the following from a reader:

The City of Honolulu, Hawai`i, is bracing for the 2011 APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit, which is scheduled to meet here from November 7-13. The 7-day meeting will culminate with a CEO Summit from November 10-12 and a Leaders' Summit from November 10-13. The CEO Summit will include CEOs representing hundreds of corporations, including Walmart, Microsoft, Freeport Copper, Dow, Boeing, and Chevron. The Leaders' Summit will include government leaders from the 21 member countries, including President Obama and Hillary Clinton from the U.S., President Hu Jintao of China, and President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia.

Leading up to and during APEC, a variety of events and actions in opposition to APEC are also being planned. Art exhibits, workshops and talks are being held leading up to the conference, and an alternative conference with a full slate of speakers and workshops will be held from November 9-11 ( World Can't Wait-Hawai`i has taken the lead in organizing a staging area from November 10-12 at Old Stadium Park (Isenberg and King), and marches, banner drops, sign-holding, drum groups and art happenings are being planned.

The 2011 APEC meeting is taking place against the backdrop of 1) continuing instability and crisis in the world economy, 2) a situation in which East Asia in particular represents one of the few regions of dynamic economic growth in the world, and 3) a time when China has surpassed Japan to become the world's second largest capitalist economy, and is asserting its strategic interests in the world, and economically challenging the United States.

APEC has 21 member countries and has been historically dominated by the United States. Using code words like "free trade," "deregulation," and "liberalization," APEC's policies pry open the economies of its member countries to foreign investment and control, and give imperialist powers and transnational corporations the "right" to take out whatever resources they want. Deregulation of industries, environmental laws, and labor laws enables corporations to move more freely between countries, chasing the regions where profits are the highest, and privatization opens up government-owned and/or government-controlled lands and companies to private ownership and control. The major economic powers, particularly the U.S., Japan, and China, use APEC to advance their geo-economic agendas.

As a result of policies established by APEC, small-scale, sustainable and indigenous agriculture has been destroyed; huge silver and copper mines in Papua New Guinea have displaced entire villages and created enormous regions that are uninhabitable due to air and water pollution; and subsistence agriculture has been greatly undermined in the poorest countries, forcing people to migrate to cities where they are caught in a never-ending cycle of either unemployment or work in slave-like conditions. Environmental restrictions have been lifted, allowing uncontrolled plunder of natural resources. APEC policies of deregulation and privatization have accelerated the destruction of the environment. (See accompanying article, "What APEC Is and Why People Should Protest Against It")

In 1999 huge protests disrupted the 2000 World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Seattle, and this was a time of protests all over the world against imperialist globalization. After this, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which facilitates imperialist economic development in Asia, announced it was moving its May 2001 meeting from Seattle to Honolulu, Hawai`i—where it would be much more difficult for protesters to mount significant opposition. To prepare for the ADB meeting in 2001, Hawai`i mounted a concerted campaign of repression including special training for 1800 officers, the purchase of special equipment to deal with protesters, and a whole set of repressive rules and ordinances aimed at limiting the freedom to protest (which remain today). In spite of this concerted campaign of intimidation, more than 500 people marched to protest the ADB meeting.

In the wake of the ADB meeting, Hawai`i's governor issued an open invitation to the WTO, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and APEC to hold future meetings in Hawai`i. APEC, which has been confronted by protest wherever it has gone, accepted the invitation and announced it would hold its November 2011 Summit in Honolulu.

Hawai`i is now working at a fever pitch to roll out the red carpet to welcome 20,000 government leaders, dignitaries and the CEOs from some of the most hated corporations on the planet. Hotels are being upgraded. Public sidewalks and streets in Waikiki are being repaved. Sand is being dredged up from the bottom of the ocean to expand beaches fronting the hotels, and 205 palm trees are being removed from less visible locations on other islands, shipped to Honolulu, and replanted along the corridor from the airport, along with two miles of grass. As Lt. Gov. Schatz said, "First impressions are everything." At the same time, security measures are being taken to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation should anyone dare protest.

"APEC is the linchpin for our future"

According to a local tourism official, "APEC will be a linchpin for our future. It creates excitement and provides a vehicle to solidify future international conferences in Hawai`i. Everyone is starting to feel more optimistic."

The local media is hyping APEC as a vehicle to promote Hawai`i as a high-end tourist destination. Visions of 2,000 members of the international media beaming images of palm trees and white sand beaches around the world have the tourism authorities, hotels, and shop owners salivating. Small businesses are vying for space at an APEC trade fair showcasing Hawai`i -based companies in hopes that their business will be chosen to expand into the global market. High schools are organizing simulation conferences, with students jumping into roles as senior officials from participating countries. Cash prizes are being offered to high school students in an essay contest on "sustainability," and college students will be rewarded with cash and Apple products for submitting videos on "what APEC means to them." Huge billboards have sprung up on the University of Hawai`i campus, and the president of the University is on the host committee. One thousand two hundred volunteers are being lined up to greet delegates at the airport with flower leis and to give directions. In an effort to create the illusion of promoting "sustainability," local organic restaurants are being invited to cater, and indigenous Hawaiian artists are being paid for creating artistic pieces to decorate the walls of the Summit venue.

All of this is happening when austerity measures are hitting Hawai`i's people hard. Small businesses are being shuttered. Last year state employees (including teachers) were furloughed every other Friday, and this year they were forced to accept lower salaries and cuts to their benefits. Social services to children and seniors have been drastically cut, and low-income residents are being forced to move from "affordable housing" because they can no longer afford the rents. Fees for school lunches and city bus services have been increased, causing many children to go hungry or miss school altogether. Unions are being busted, including the state teachers union, whose rights to collective bargaining were overridden by Hawai`i's "liberal" governor. Funding for environmental protection, including the monitoring of alien species (animals/plants brought into the state from the outside), has all but disappeared. The infrastructure is so broken that in many parts of Honolulu, the stench rising from broken sewer pipes causes people to gag, and potholes in streets bring traffic to a crawl. Consequently, the exorbitant amount of money and resources being spent to host APEC elicits a schizophrenic response from most people, who are disgusted that taxes are being spent to host the most rich and powerful but hope that the meeting will strengthen Hawai`i's economic future.

Police State Paradise

While the state is preparing to greet APEC delegates with leis and hula, it is creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation should anyone dare to protest. The City and County of Honolulu alone have budgeted $45 million for security, including $18.3 million for the police, and it was recently disclosed that the Honolulu Police Department has purchased an arsenal of "non-lethal" weapons and 25,000 additional pepper spray projectiles, 18,000 units of bean bag ammunition, 3,000 Taser cartridges, and hundreds of smoke grenades. More than 5,500 Army and National Guard troops are being trained to assist the Honolulu police. Hospitals are making plans to be on "lock-down," although it is as yet unclear what measures would be taken if they were. Eight million dollars is being spent by the Fire Department to purchase "special devices, multi-agency communications, decontamination, hazardous incident management," etc. Surveillance cameras are being installed along the streets and roadways APEC delegates are expected to use. Public sidewalks in Waikiki have been torn up and replaced with exotic plants, and sidewalks in front of hotels and Waikiki businesses have been privatized. As a result, areas which appear to be "public" are actually off-limits to demonstrators. Reactionary talk show programs and on-line newspapers are spreading lies and rumors, and are targeting activist groups and individuals by name.

The security measures being taken to "ensure the safety" of the delegates is mind-boggling. The air over the entire island of O`ahu, where the city of Honolulu is located, is restricted. Scheduled commercial airlines are allowed to take off and land, but all private aircraft (including planes, helicopters, hang gliders, and parachutes) are banned. More than half of Honolulu's huge boat harbor has been designated a "restricted area," and boat traffic will be banned. The Ala Wai Canal, which runs along one side of Waikiki, will be patrolled by heavily armed security forces in boats. A huge expanse of ocean near the venues that extends 2,000 yards from land has been designated a "security zone" and will be off-limits to swimmers, surfers and boaters. Beaches in the same area will be closed. Access to the five venues hosting the Summit will be closed, and 10-foot high chain link fences, covered with black tarp, will be set up far beyond the sites. Hawai`i's world-famous international hula competition has been kicked out of its venue fully two miles from the Summit venue to make way for security staging. Three of Honolulu's largest public parks will be largely closed; many of Waikiki's roadways will be closed, and parking will be severely restricted. New and restrictive plans are being disclosed almost daily, and increasing numbers of people are beginning to question whether hosting APEC is really "worth the trouble."

Throughout all of the preparation, the single issue getting the most attention is "What are we going to do with the homeless?" Thousands of homeless people live in tents on Honolulu's sidewalks, under hedges, on benches, and in beach parks. Shopping carts piled high with belongings form sidewalk parades, as their owners move from trash can to trash can to search for food and cans to recycle. Hundreds are in Waikiki and the area surrounding the convention center, and there is a relentless debate being fomented over "what to do with THEM." Should they be removed to an isolated area en masse? Should a special tent be set up? Governor Abercrombie has a 90-day plan, whose first step is a new regulation prohibiting the feeding of the homeless in the parks. Honolulu's Mayor Carlisle likened the homeless to "rats" who had to be removed. The heartlessness of the attacks against the homeless has rightly outraged many people, but this has not prevented the massive sweeps against the homeless that are currently happening and are sure to increase.

In spite of a daily barrage of media hype about APEC in Hawai`i's media, one question is seldom heard. "What is APEC, and what is APEC's effect on the world's people and its environment?" When asked, many just shrug their shoulders and say they don't know. Some say they've heard it's "just a bunch of rich guys who get together in order to vacation in luxury." Others say they don't care, as long as it's good for Hawai`i's economy. But all of this is beginning to change because a very a small minority has been trying to dig into deeper questions about the effects of globalization, and are ferreting out facts about APEC's agenda and finding ways to expose it.

Revolution Books has hosted four well-attended forums on APEC's policies. Hundreds of copies of Raymond Lotta's recent talk at Occupy Wall Street ("Are Corporations Corrupting the System...or is the Problem the System of Capitalism") have been reproduced, as well as his longer analysis of the world financial crisis ("Shifts and Faultlines in the World Economy and Great Power Rivalry," in Revolution #136). Posters of Bob Avakian's quotes from BAsics, and ads for "What Is Capitalism"—an excerpt from the film of his talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About (accessible online at and—have been posted broadly. The store has also expanded its selection of books on globalization and is becoming a real center for discussion and debate over the future.

A sharp but friendly debate is being waged about the future: Is the problem capitalism/imperialism, and is it going to take revolution to begin to build a better world? Or is the problem that corporations have taken over the government, and we need a combination of government laws to "control the corporations," along with more "personal responsibility"? What's clear is that many are disgusted with capitalism as it is, and are much more open to ideas of socialism than in the past, even while having a knee-jerk reaction against communism. It is in this conversation that the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) plays a powerful role, as we challenge people to compare THIS with the horrors of the capitalist-imperialist world we live in.

World Can't Wait-Hawa`i is also playing a key organizing role. They have distributed thousands of pamphlets about APEC, have done PSAs calling on people to protest, which are running on community television stations, and have organized an anti-APEC festival at the University of Hawai`i campus. It has secured a permit for an organizing center in a public park during the 3-day Summit, and is uniting with other organizations around plans to hold protests.

"Eating in Public" has collected more than 1,000 used T-shirts, screened them with anti-APEC slogans, and distributed them free. A group of artists are holding anti-APEC workshops at a popular downtown nightclub, and an art show is being set up at a downtown studio. An advertised visit by the Yes Men is creating a buzz, and new plans are springing up seemingly out of nowhere. Sovereignty activists and academics, along with the International Forum on Globalization (IFG), are planning an "Alternative APEC" conference focusing on their vision for the future. A new website ( carries news of the latest plans and actions.

ACLU-Hawai`i has been playing an important role in the mix and is training protest monitors, disseminating information on the right to protest, is making public records requests of the city demanding disclosure of police preparations, and protecting the rights of the homeless. According to Dan Gluck, attorney with ACLU, "We're very concerned that if HPD believes it's in for a war, then officers will be hostile to all members of the public, even those who seek to peacefully exercise their First Amendment Rights." Consequently, the ACLU has been monitoring the police and state closely, and has been waging a media campaign encouraging people not to give up their right to protest in response to the atmosphere of intimidation being created.

The sudden emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement has infused new energy into all of this, and there's a growing "Occupy APEC" spirit. The involvement of young people, newly interested in activism, is creating a freshness to the movement that we haven't seen in decades. The connection is being made: APEC is the 1%.

In only a month, the shift in attitudes toward APEC is palpable. People are hungry for information and are grabbing up leaflets. Many who had volunteered to help at APEC or had contracted for services with APEC are questioning their decisions.

All this is not being lost on the police, who are openly boasting of monitoring organizing meetings and actions. Many are new to protest, and have not personally witnessed police brutality against protesters, so they don't recognize such illegal blatant violations. Police regularly approach activists and greet them by name, asking them for private personal information and about upcoming plans. Consequently, it is relatively easy for the police to gather information on protesters. A new "Civil Affairs" police unit sporting aloha shirts is passing out calling cards to protesters which promise to "protect First Amendment Rights to Protest" and are stamped with "2011 APEC USA."

Images of police brutality beamed from New York, Minneapolis, or Philadelphia have long seemed remote, and we often hear people say "at least we don't have THOSE kinds of protesters here," blaming the protesters rather than the police. Consequently, when police show up at organizing meetings and openly listen in on planning meetings, few people object. When the police announce that the surveillance cameras will be used to identify protesters, few voices of concern are raised. When security forces boast that they are closely monitoring "outside protesters" who might arrive in Hawai`i, too many people accept it.

One of the real challenges is to change this situation, and it's beginning to happen. As the Occupy movement is growing on Hawai`i, people are more closely identifying with protesters in the Occupy movement who are coming under police attack. As the federal government and the Honolulu Police Department issue joint statements disclosing the latest repressive measures being implemented to quash protest, the real role of the police is becoming clearer to some people.

But there is a crucial need to bring out to people the whole history of the political police in the U.S. in the targeting of movements of resistance and revolutionary forces, and how political repression has been greatly expanded and intensified since 9/11. Revolutionaries must take the lead in setting standards on the question of the political police. As the Revolution article "Don't Talk" pointed out, "Part of building a culture of defiance and resistance, based on mass movements of people, is refusing to allow the government to either intimidate or bamboozle people into giving up resistance, and refusing in any way to enter into complicity with such intimidation and repression. The authorities are not interested in the truth; they are not out to seek justice. They have an agenda—using the legal system (as well as illegal means) to repress serious movements of resistance of all kinds. As bitter experience has shown, not only will they outright murder revolutionaries (as they did with Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was gunned down as he slept in his bed), but they will spin a web of lies and fabricated evidence in order to use the courts to frame and railroad those whom they want to silence. When facing agents of government repression (here we are talking about the local police and prosecutors, state or federal law enforcement or various government agencies), the principle of 'Don't Talk' is an important legal principle which is crucial in fighting to protect the various movements of resistance and of revolution from government repression."

On October 17 the first APEC forum on Climate Change was held at the University of Hawai`i and was met by a small group of protesters. Significantly, among the first signs picked up by college students were "Capitalism Sucks! We Need a Revolution" and "Capitalism IS the Crisis!" As APEC 2011 draws closer, many people are becoming newly conscious of the horrors of capitalism/imperialism and are debating what it's going to take to realize a better future. Huge questions are being thrown up, the system itself is being questioned, and momentum for a spirited protest during the APEC Summit is growing. Such protest is absolutely necessary—and must become a reality in the coming weeks. We here in the "belly of the beast," in the most criminal imperialist country on the planet, have a special responsibility to step up and struggle against the moves of the U.S. and all those who will be at this summit to strengthen their domination, exploitation and oppression of the people of the world and the further destruction of the environment. 

As events unfold we'll keep Revolution readers informed of the latest developments.

Stop Thinking Like Americans! Start Thinking About Humanity!

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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What APEC Is...And Why People Should Protest Against It

The 2011 APEC meeting is taking place against the backdrop of 1) continuing instability and crisis in the world economy, 2) a situation in which East Asia in particular represents one of the few regions of dynamic economic growth in the world, and 3) a time when China has surpassed Japan to become the world's second largest capitalist economy, and is asserting its strategic interests in the world, and economically challenging the United States.

APEC was established in 1989 and currently has 21 member countries (or "economies," as they like to call them) with borders on both sides of the Pacific Ocean1. APEC's member countries account for approximately 40% of the world's population, 54% of the world GDP and about 44% of world trade.

APEC's stated mission is to "champion free trade and open trade and investment" to "facilitate a favorable business environment" and to establish a Pacific "free trade zone" similar to NAFTA (North American Free Trade Zone). Using code words like "free trade," "deregulation," and "liberalization," APEC's policies pry open the economies of its member countries to foreign investment and control, and give imperialist powers and transnational corporations the "right" to take out whatever resources they want. Deregulation of industries, environmental laws, and labor laws enables corporations to move more freely between countries, chasing the regions where profits are the highest, and privatization opens up government owned and/or controlled lands and companies to private ownership and control. The major economic powers, particularly the U.S., Japan, and China, use APEC to advance their geo-economic agendas.

The United States has historically played the dominant role in APEC and promotes a package of economic policies known as the "Washington Consensus." Its central features include free markets, trade liberalization, deregulation, financial liberalization and "structural adjustment" or "fiscal discipline." This economic policy shifts government funding away from social spending and toward the privatization and liberalization of the economy. As a result of policies established by APEC, small-scale, sustainable and indigenous agriculture has been destroyed and replaced by corporate agribusinesses Small rice farmers in Vietnam and the Philippines have been driven out by agribusiness. Huge silver and copper mines in Papua New Guinea have displaced entire villages and created enormous regions that are uninhabitable due to air and water pollution. Subsistence agriculture has been greatly undermined in the poorest countries, forcing people to migrate to cities where they are caught in a never-ending cycle of either unemployment or work in slave-like conditions. Environmental restrictions have been lifted, allowing uncontrolled plunder of natural resources. Regulations controlling the energy sector have been removed and the cheapest and most destructive forms of energy (petroleum, coal, hydro and nuclear) are being promoted.

The social consequences of these policies have contributed to an ever-growing economic gap between rich and poor. In Indonesia, which APEC upholds as the poster child of economic growth, the number of poor people has soared, and more than 80 million live on less than $1 a day. Urban China has experienced enormous income growth over the past decades, even while there has been a huge increase in urban and rural poverty. Education, housing, and medical care, which were previously either free or subsidized by the state, have been privatized. Grain and fuel prices have been deregulated, causing enormous price fluctuations.

Many APEC countries point to rising income levels of sections of the poor as proof of reducing poverty levels. But this rise in income is often the result of massive migration from rural areas to the cities, where food, housing and health costs are higher. So the statistics about rises in income does not give a full or accurate picture of the real situation. For example, fuel prices have risen more than 100% in both Indonesia and the Philippines, while wages have increased only marginally.

APEC policies of deregulation and privatization have accelerated the destruction of the environment; for example, 65% of the native forests of Sumatra have been deforested.

While APEC boasts of its successes in creating a "favorable business environment" in Indonesia, 1.8 million hectares of land have been deforested annually for the international timber and palm oil industries. The government of New Zealand has privatized its national energy sector, and its mountaintops are being removed to extract coal for China. In Papua New Guinea indigenous villages have been evacuated to make way for silver mines, where native people now work in conditions that condemn them to an early death.

The APEC 2011 Summit in Honolulu is of strategic importance to the U.S. imperialists in the face of the current world financial crisis, the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating, and increasing competition from China. And the compulsion at this meeting will be to introduce and promote even more destructive policies that will protect and strengthen U.S. domination at the expense of the majority of the people in the region and the planet's environment.

1. Member countries include: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United States and Vietnam. [back]

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Occupy Chicago: Thousands Take the Streets, Hundreds Arrested

Revolution received the following report:

It's been no business as usual in Chicago's downtown Loop over the last month. On September 23, Occupy Chicago set up on LaSalle St. in front of the Federal Reserve. Occupiers have established a 24-hour presence on the sidewalks, often facing harassment from the police and being ordered to "keep moving." The occupation with its chanting, drumming and frequent marches has been a defiant statement witnessed by thousands of people daily. And it's been a magnet attracting hundreds to come down and join the encampment as well as participate in daily General Assemblies.

On the last two weekends, thousands converged at this occupation site and then took to the streets, streaming across the downtown Loop area to Grant Park to try to establish a "new home"—a larger, sustainable and permanent encampment. The marches were jubilant! There were contingents from colleges, including 30 University of Chicago students wearing ghostly Milton Friedman masks. (Friedman headed the Chicago School of Economics at Univ. of Chicago and is credited as a founder of neoliberal policies.) There was a contingent of "Masked Superheroes," high school students who say they patrol in their community to fight injustice. There were teachers, including from the Chicago Teachers Union. There were contingents of medical workers, people fighting against the shut down of mental health clinics, and more union contingents. 

Chants reverberating through the concrete canyons in the south Loop included: "We are the 99%," "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out," and "One, We Are the People! Two, We Are United! Three, the Occupation is not Leaving!" 

At the first rally in Grant Park on October 15, a huge American flag suddenly appeared over the heads of people in the center of the crowd. Hidden underneath it, 25 tents began popping up. After 11 pm, police began issuing orders to leave the park or risk arrest. Hundreds defied the order. People set up sleeping arrangements, got to know their new neighbors, and there was singing of songs and political debate circles. Only after 1 am when most of the crowd had gone home did police sweep in, cut down the tents with knives, and cart away175 people in paddy wagons and one commandeered transit authority bus. Occupiers arrested on October 15 (and from what we know those arrested on Saturday, October 22) were charged with a park ordinance violation.

On October 22, 2000+ once again marched joyously in the streets from the LaSalle St. encampment to Grant Park where a new encampment began to be set up. A highly visible sight was a large white medical tent put up by National Nurses United in order to provide medical care for protesters. Once again the police waited until after 1 am. They arrested 130 people, including the nurses.

Hundreds of protesters stayed for hours to witness and protest the arrests. Then many protesters went to the jail where protesters were locked up, staying for many hours on the sidewalk demanding the release of arrestees and cheering and hugging them when they were finally released.

These protesters as well as arrested nurses faced harsh treatment in jail. And they are speaking out angrily about it. They were kept for many hours—some through two nights—on a park ordinance violation. Jail guards refused to give people phone calls, their medications, or food for a long time. Jailers removed mattresses from their cells. One female protester who was challenging the mistreatment was pulled out of her cell and isolated in a small empty room with nothing in it except a hole in the floor to go to the bathroom, fully visible through a window in the cell door to any cop passing by. 

National Nurses United quickly called a protest at City Hall to expose the treatment of arrestees and demand that all charges be dropped against Occupy protesters.

In demanding an end to the arrests and attacks on the encampment, people are pointing out how what the police are doing clearly violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on the right to free speech—how the right to free speech should trump the park ordinances being employed to suppress the protests.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the police were blocking the creation of a new home base for Occupy Chicago in Grant Park on orders from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who may fear the effect the encampment could have on the NATO and G8 summits scheduled for Chicago in May 2012.

Occupation at Midwest Wall Street

The Occupy Chicago movement has been both a defiant statement in the middle of the financial district as well as a magnetic attraction for many angry and inspired people from far and wide. Encampment occupiers march through the Loop everyday. They have protested the banks, evictions, police brutality and in support of California prison hunger strikers. University professors have brought journalism and political science classes to visit the encampment. Across the street in the shadow of the Board of Trade there have been regular teach-ins featuring prominent professors where people wrangle with questions like the relationship between corporate greed, human nature, capitalism, and Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto. John Carlos and Dave Zirin appeared on October 22 and talked about their new book, The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World. The hip hop trio Rebel Diaz joined Occupy Chicago that day also.

A community is being built right in the middle of the Wall Street of the Midwest. It has sustained itself under often harsh conditions of weather and police harassment. Teams of people organize meals, take responsibility for safety & security, and schedule educational events. Donations of food are being constantly delivered. A student from a nearby massage therapy school came down to offer massages for occupiers. And there is lively, intense political debate around lots of questions, big ones and immediate ones. Is the problem corporate greed and corruption, or is that symptomatic of a deeper disease? What kind of solution could solve humanity's problems and be liberating to human beings? How to have a participatory process of decision-making and solve problems in the midst of a lot of things coming at you and new people coming in all the time? How do you deal with rain and cold all night, and prepare for a Chicago winter? 

Many people talk about being inspired by the feeling of community, of working together instead of the isolation and self-centeredness typical of their experience. One of the occupiers posted the following expressing his/her vision and ethos: "The Occupy movement is different from anything that's ever happened in America before. It is not simply a protest, it's about building a community."

You'll find a wide range of people and stories here. Small businessmen and people who have lost their homes. People from farming communities and suburbs who have never been to a protest before. High school students from a Christian commune and unemployed university graduates.

A high school student who came in from a distant suburb alone talked about growing up in a home where her mother's whole world is Fox TV and how she phone-banked for George Bush when she was 10 years old. She said the problem is greed, and she's very concerned about the huge inequality affecting her family and everyone.

A group from the suburbs talked about how isolated they have felt and thinking they're nuts. After being at Occupy Chicago they felt they had met people like themselves, and they plan to bring more friends back.

A small contractor spoke about courage, telling about a formative experience where he witnessed firemen beat up an elderly man for lodging a complaint, and then how he backed down from witnessing after police investigators threatened him, and how he won't ever do that again.

A group of young women college students drove three hours to get to Occupy Chicago. One said, "Knox is a very liberal college. But because of the lies from the media, a lot of people don't know what's really going on. We talk about change all the time, but it's so exciting to be here and see people really changing things."

Many middle aged people talk about the horrors of the health care system and about how they worry that their children in college will be trapped in a life of debt they never escape from.

There's enormous disgust with the electoral process. This includes  both people arguing for campaign finance reform as well as many who feel that the current political process only makes people powerless and it's breaking out of this that is what gives the Occupy movement great potential.

Confronting Repression and Facing Big Questions

There has been great controversy over the role of the police.  Are police part of the 99% as a popular chant says, or is it that "the police are the instrument of the 1%" (reported by a local newspaper as a chant heard during arrests)? Protesters have appealed for the police to join the movement, and even chanted "pay raises for the police," as cops surrounded and prepared to arrest them.

Things have shifted around this. People are learning through their own experiences seeing the police shut down their encampment twice. Revolutionaries, prison activists, and masses with first hand experience have been getting into this question from various perspectives, including RCP supporters popularizing Bob Avakian's quote from his book BAsics on whom the police serve and protect: "The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness." (1:24) Revolution Books organized a teach-in on police brutality and criminalization of a generation, held at the LaSalle Street encampment and attended by 50 people. October 22nd National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation was taken up by Occupy Chicago.

On October 22, as police prepared to once again carry out mass arrests and shut down the occupation, three young women jumped up on the huge stone planter box and called out over and over in unison—"We're Done! We're Spent! The Police Are Part of the 1%!" This challenged both illusions of fellow occupiers as well as political lines in the movement which act to hide essential lessons about who the state represents and how it functions.

At the showdown during the second attempt to establish an encampment in Grant Park on October 22, an unscheduled and heated public debate broke out during the rally. In the face of police orders on loud speakers threatening arrests in minutes, and in the face of fewer numbers than some organizers had anticipated, people debated about how to make decisions and what course of action to take. Protesters pulled together to make a decision and carry out a powerful civil disobedience.

Questions are being posed to the Occupy movement, and there are lessons to be drawn. For example, how to advance in the face of state repression, including by further exposing the illegitimacy of the system and unleashing broad new forces to act including by coming out into the streets. For revolutionaries there is a need to tackle new challenges and seize new openings to build the movement for revolution.

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Black Attorney at Occupy Wall Steet

"It is time. It's time."

On October 20, Carl Dix spoke at Occupy Wall Street about the importance of people joining the struggle to STOP Stop and Frisk—calling on them to come to Harlem for the October 21 rally and civil disobedience action at the police precinct. This is one of the interviews Revolution did with people that night in the park.

Revolution: What do you think about the struggle to STOP Stop & Frisk?

Older Black woman: The issue of stop and frisk, of unlawful detention, of holding people without any reasonable cause, looking to search them, all of that particularly as it impacts Black and Latino youth, that's been going on a long time, there is a whole history to this. In all movements there are cyclical advances and retreats and I think that my experience with former mass movements, or mass outcry against stop and frisk would probably go back to the 1960s during the period of really mass demonstrations, the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, the women's movement, where combinations of people of color who are always suspect anyway, regardless of whether they're rising up or not—when people of color are also in a period of where there is populous anger and organizing, they are going to be more susceptible to being stopped and frisked. That's the last time I remember effort to mobilize against stop and frisk, police brutality, and those kinds of things. And so I think that's a kind of re-raising of consciousness, awareness of the illegal police practices, of the state's efforts to repress the voices of people in revolt. It's just great to see that again. And I am very glad to see that there is going to be a rally, a big demonstration about this tomorrow, we need to do this we need to do more of this all the time.

Revolution: I was talking to someone about this yesterday and they said a lot of people support this, but this person was saying well, if a small number do this, what good can it do, even if it's a hundred people, is that really going to change anything? What do you think about that?

Older Black woman: A single spark can start a prairie fire.

Revolution: Mao said that, right?

Older Black woman: That's right.

Revolution: When we talked earlier and I had mentioned this analogy between what is needed now and the Civil Rights Movement. When people think about the Civil Rights Movement, they usually think about the big mass demonstrations, like in Washington D.C. But it didn't start out like this.

Older Black woman: People don't even realize that Rosa Parks did not just happen to sit down on a bus one day and just say I am tired. Rosa Parks was a trained organizer; she had been planning for a long, long time, to pick the right place and the right time to raise the public. She was part of other people who knew that there had to be a right place and a right time to begin the action. Even this as a beginning, we're here, we're here at day 31, this is only the beginning, even as we're seeing this thing getting replicated around the world. This again is only beginning of it. But I think there is a difference here. This is what is exciting to me. We did not have... last time I remember seeing this kind of action of people in the streets, we didn't have the kind of technology that we have today, Twitter, Facebook, etc. We didn't have it, so there wasn't the capability of getting the word out in this kind of way. And as I said, see what's happening, not just here. There are all these other places that have occupations going on. I think this is very symptomatic of the times. It is time. It's time.

Revolution: You mentioned that in the '60s there was this kind of coming together of people from different struggles, do you get that same feeling here?

Older Black woman: Look at it. I think the interesting thing... and I'm so glad that I finally got off my couch, got my baby boomer ass off my couch and finally got down here. I'm in Brooklyn. But you have to be here because how the media portrays it, you do not get that it is as diverse as this. Most of what you see on TV it looks like it is primarily the white left. But if you are here, you can see that this is an incredibly diverse crowd. This is the people at every single sector. We represent, my three friends, we represent—can I tell? [absolutely] I'm 62, she's 72, and she's 84. We're out here and just the idea that we three would be out here, these are things for which we've always believed in.

Revolution: What do you think would be the effect, if people here at Occupy Wall Street went to Harlem and participated in the STOP Stop and Frisk?

Older Black woman: I think that's what is called for. I think that is required. I understand that this group has been marching and been expanding and going into other areas. But, let me say this, as I understand it this is still a movement... this is really a coalition of mass movements, this is raw, this is not an organized single party, single line, single platform. There are a lot of people I know who are in this group who have either been victims of stop and frisk, have children, relatives who have been victims of stop and frisk, are likely just by being here, becoming victims of stop and frisk—to go to and support this rally in Harlem, I think this would make a huge difference. And I think it would also let the people of Harlem know that it's not just Downtown, it's Uptown, it's the, East Side, the West Side.

I am, boomer that I am, I'm like one of these people who started off in mass movements and then got, you know, I became a professional in the non-profit sector.

Revolution: Can I ask what your profession is?

Older Black woman: There have been a number of professions, but I'm actually an attorney. So that's why I do know something about stop and frisk.

Revolution: There are "people's lawyers" who are extremely important.

Older Black woman: That's how I actually became... coming out of the movements is how I decided I wanted to be a people's lawyer.

Revolution: You probably know the other saying by Mao, serve the people.

Older Black woman: Of course. Of course, are you kidding? But then I moved out of litigation to non-profit, but the problem with that is that it has become so professionalized, so bought off. What keeps the non-profit sector alive is big money, so that is an inherent contradiction. There was some point I was trying to make some point.... Oh, yeah, I became a professional, but this is what I live for. I come and see this, and this is what I live for. I hope that I see you tomorrow.

Revolution: You will see me tomorrow.

Older Black woman: OK, alright.

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Police attack Occupy Oakland with massive force: over 100 arrested

From Bay Area Revolution Writers Group

Barricade, Police raid on Occupy Oakland, Tuesday October 25, 2011
Photo: Dave Id
Police raid on Occupy Oakland, Tuesday October 25, 2011
Photo: Dave Id

Tuesday, October 25: At 3 a.m. word went around that the encampment would be raided. Later they would learn that hundreds of cops began staging at the Oakland Coliseum at around 1 a.m. Back at the camp, a couple hundred people prepared to stand their ground. Two youths told me that they waited for the raid but that when it happened it was swift and overwhelming—much more violent than anyone expected: a military assault.

At 4 a.m. hundreds of police in riot gear from many different cities cordoned off the blocks of the area around City Hall and Oscar Grant Plaza (Frank Ogawa Plaza), kept the media out, and completely surrounded the camp.  Police made a dispersal announcement and simultaneously moved on the camp, ripping up tents, scattering belongings everywhere. Flash grenades went off and smoke filled the air. Someone tweeted that as the attack ensued, the encampment marching band was playing, hard. About 70 people were arrested. As word spread of the attack, others came to downtown Oakland to protest. Police made more arrests—we witnessed incidents of police suddenly swarming in on people and taking them away.  This afternoon the National Lawyers Guild told Revolution that a total of over 100 people had been arrested. 

The second encampment (Snow Park) near Lake Merritt was also raided. People told Revolution of beatings they witnessed, including one involving a disabled woman. One man was beaten so bad he could not walk to the paddy wagon and an ambulance had to be brought in to take him away. For a few hours after the camp was destroyed people continued to stay in the street, to gather in groups, confronting the police and denouncing the assault. Black, white, Asian, Latino, old, young, homeless and well-heeled: the crowd was diverse and deeply angry.

Oakland Mayor Quan defended the raid in the name of “sanitation” and “public safety” in a press conference she held with the chief of police in City Hall, behind police barricades after this violent raid was carried out.  No one from the public was allowed in. Mayor Quan issued a statement defending the raid and praising the police. “I commend Chief Jordan for a generally peaceful resolution to a situation that deteriorated and concerned our community. His leadership was critical in the successful execution of this operation.”

This is not over.  There is a planned regroupment at 4 p.m. today at the Main Library in downtown Oakland, followed by a march to a City Council meeting scheduled for this evening. Protesters are reportedly being held on $10,000 bail each until a Thursday morning court date. People are being urged to call the mayor (510-238-3141) and the Sheriff (510-272-6878) to demand their immediate release.

Police raid on Occupy Oakland, Tuesday October 25, 2011 Police raid on Occupy Oakland, Tuesday October 25, 2011
Police raid on Occupy Oakland, Tuesday October 25, 2011
Police raid on Occupy Oakland, Tuesday October 25, 2011
Occupy Oakland camp after police raid
Police raid on Occupy Oakland, Tuesday October 25, 201
Occupy Oakland camp after police raid


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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New Attacks on Prisoners, Response Needed Now

The Courage of the California Prisoners and the Responsibility of the People

By the Bay Area Revolution Writers Group

“These attempts to further brutalize my mind and isolate my body have only set my resolve in stone.”

—a Pelican Bay Prisoner

Tens of thousands of prisoners in Security Housing Units (SHUs) and Administrative Segregation (Ad-Seg) in this country face the most brutal, inhumane conditions of solitary, long-term confinement and denial of other basic human rights. Twice in the last few months, California prisoners in such horrendous conditions, along with others not in solitary, launched hunger strikes—each lasting three weeks. Over 6,500 prisoners took part in the first wave (July 1-20), nearly 12,000 during the second (September 26-October 13).

These prisoners put their lives on the line and have courageously stood up—despite attempts by the prison authorities to suppress their struggle through lies and repression—to let the world know about the barbaric U.S. prisons and to demand to be treated like human beings. And now, after the second round of the hunger strike has ended, with many prisoners in a physically weakened state, the prison authorities are coming down with a new wave of repression.

The website Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity wrote of one of the reasons the prisoners called off the strike this last time: “The prisoners have cited a memo from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) detailing a comprehensive review of every Security Housing Unit (SHU) prisoner in California whose SHU sentence is related to gang validation. The review will evaluate the prisoners’ gang validation under new criteria and could start as early as the beginning of next year.”

“This is something the prisoners have been asking for and it is the first significant step we’ve seen from the CDCR to address the hunger strikers’ demands,” said Carol Strickman, a lawyer with Legal Services for Prisoners with Children. “But as you know, the proof is in the pudding. We’ll see if the CDCR keeps its word regarding this new process.”, October 13]

The mood of the prisoners remains strong.  A visitor to one prison where prisoners had been on hunger strike told Revolution: “The amazing thing is that they’ve been through such an ordeal, but they still managed to smile. They still managed to stay positive like good warriors in the belly of beast.  They’re standing united and will not let anything divide them.  There is so much positive energy. Their determination kept them going.  They are tired of being treated like this and they have to do something about it.  Prison to me is to break your spirit and dignity and everything about being human.  These guys are standing up to it—it’s amazing, you can’t break them. Whatever you do to isolate them—put them in a box and tape the box—and these guys come out of the box even stronger.”

Some of the retaliation being taken against the prisoners:

All attempts by authorities to retaliate or punish the prisoners for participation in the hunger strike must be opposed.  The prison authorities must be made to keep the promises that they have made to the prisoners.  The just demands of the prisoners must be met—in full!  IT IS NOT A CRIME TO DEMAND TO BE TREATED AS A HUMAN BEING.

Shock waves from a courageous stand

While the prisons remain locked down in horrific conditions and subject to new brutal tortures and humiliations, the prisoners’ daring stand has inspired many to take important actions in support of their demands. 

On October 14, three supporters of the hunger strike prisoners chained themselves to the front door of the headquarters of the CDCR in Sacramento.  Stating why the three engaged in this non-violent act of civil disobedience, Revolution writer Larry Everest, one of the three arrested, wrote, “We felt it was imperative to take bold action to underscore the urgency of the situation faced by prisoners and to make clear our support for all the prisoners who have been on hunger strike—or who are continuing their hunger strike. And we felt that everyone has a moral obligation to step up their support for the hunger strikers and their just demands in whatever ways they possibly can. Anything less is unconscionable.” The three were arrested and each slapped with five different charges.   

The same day in Los Angeles, Keith James was arrested for chaining himself to the State Building, declaring “Torture Is Unacceptable—Step Up the Struggle to Stop It!”  “What people do on the outside of prison,” James said, “will be a big factor in what happens now that the prison authorities have reacted with vicious reprisals against prisoners, families, and legal advocates.  The hunger strike has been halted for now.  The torture, despite an epic struggle, continues... the five demands of the prisoners have NOT yet been met... but many, many more people, millions more, learned about the SHUs and thousands today are looking for ways to act to put an end to such inhuman, punitive treatment.”

More bold actions like these are needed by people on the outside in support of the prisoners—to bring attention to the struggle of the prisoners as well as to let the prisoners know that they are not alone.  One mother after visiting her sons in Pelican Bay said that they were very happy to hear about the civil disobedience at CDCR.  She said one son “didn't know people on the outside cared so much about the prisoners."  It is important to defend those who take bold stands in support of the prisoners.   

In a letter to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund, dated October 4, a prisoner wrote: “It is my hope that through this struggle more people come to recognize the true nature of this system. That any ‘disciplinary action’ taken against us only serves to awaken us out of the complacent stupor in which we’ve found ourselves for far too long. That we recognize not only the need for change but our collective capacity to bring about that change. That we raise our sights, come together in even greater numbers, and ‘Become a part of the human saviors of humanity.’ There are sacrifices to be made but we’ve had very little to lose for a long time. I for one welcome the struggle ahead.”

These prisoners continue to be subjected to the most brutal, inhumane conditions of torture. And in the face of this, they are waging a tremendously heroic struggle to let the world know about the barbaric nature of U.S. prisons and pressing forward with their demands to be treated like human beings.  We on the outside must—and will—continue to wholeheartedly support all those prisoners. We must stand with the prisoners and let the world know about the outrageous, criminal conditions they face and the struggle they are waging! We must continue to wage a real struggle on the outside, to force the CDCR to meet the demands of the prisoners. And we must demand an immediate halt to the vicious retaliation and punishment prison officials are bringing down on the prisoner hunger strikers.


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Initial Reports on October 22 National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality

New York * San Francisco * Chicago * Seattle * Los Angeles * Boston * Houston * Atlanta * Greensboro * Cleveland * Minneapolis

Updated October 29: report from Minneapolis
Updated October 24: reports from New York, Greensboro and Cleveland.

October 22 was the 16th National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and Criminalization of a Generation (NDP). Protests took place around the country. The following are initial reports Revolution has received from some of the cities. We will post further reports and photos as we receive them.

* * *

New York

From a Revolution newspaper distributor:

Several hundred defiant and angry people rallied in New York's Union Square for the 16th Annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. This was the largest October 22 gathering in several years. A palpable determination of "we're going to stop this shit" was in the air. I was with a crew of Latino and Black people that came down from Harlem. Most had been at the 28th Precinct the day before when Cornel West, Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Reverend Stephen Phelps from Riverside Church, Reverend Earl Kooperkamp from St. Mary's Church, and others, more than 30 in total, had carried out non-violent civil disobedience. (See "Harlem October 21: An Audacious Start to the Movement to STOP Stop and Frisk")We marched out of the subway and joined the crowd as we chanted, "We say no to the new Jim Crow. Stop and frisk has got to go." At the edge of the crowd, about ten people held up hand drawn pictures of people killed at the hands of the police.

The crowd was mainly young and multi-national. We met people from the hood in Harlem that had joined Friday's march to the 28th Precinct to Stop, Stop and Frisk. They heard about October 22 and said they had to be there. About 70 people marched up from Occupy Wall Street and others took the subway. Occupy Wall Street has had an electrifying effect on many and this spirit of justifiable rage at the system was felt throughout the day. In the projects where the march went, people were very happy to see and hear it.

People poured out of the park in a march of about 500 in the street down Broadway before being forced onto the sidewalk at East 8th. The march snaked though the East Village, through Tompkins Square Park, stopping at projects near where police, in a case of mistaken identity, chased Makever “Keba” Brown into traffic on the FDR Drive and he was hit by several cars and killed. The march ended up for a second rally at the Jacob Riis Houses, projects in the Lower East Side. At the rallies and along the march people chanted, "NYPD, KKK, how many kids have you killed today?", "Policia, asesinos," "What do you do when you're under attack? Stand up, fight back!", "No justice, no peace. Take to the streets and fuck the police," and "Stop and frisk don't stop the crime. Stop and frisk IS the crime."

The police were out in major force, with at least 200 cops that marched along single file in the street next the march. They had metal barricades in the street all along Broadway to keep people penned into a narrow strip of the street.

Speakers included Juanita Young; mother of Malcolm Ferguson who was gunned down by the NYPD in 2000; Carl Dix; a cousin of Nicolas Heyward Jr, a 13-year-old honor student playing cops and robbers in a stairwell in Gowanus Houses when a housing police officer shot and killed him; the family of then 17-year-old Elijah Foster-Bey who was shot three times (but not killed) by cops; Debra Sweet of World Can't Wait; Ignite; Jean Griffin, the sister of David Glowczenski, who suffered from mental illness and was pepper sprayed, maced and beaten to death by Southampton Village police in 2004; Occupy the Hood; and others.

Carl Dix spoke at both rallies about the importance of October 22 and the launching of the movement to "STOP Stop and Frisk" and what had happened the day before. He put this in the context of building a movement for revolution. At the Jacob Riis Houses he received a loud round of applause and whoops from the crowd when he said, "I am a revolutionary communist."

Throughout the course of the day, our team sold over 300 copies of Revolution. During the rally at the Jacob Riis Houses, a Black woman from the projects came up to our truck. It was decorated with enlargements of the front page of the BAsics Special Issue of Revolution, the back page in Spanish, and the poster of the "Three Strikes" quotation from BA. She asked, "Do you have that paper?" pointing to the side of the truck. In two trips to the truck, she took about 150 copies of the Special Issue in English and Spanish along with 75 copies of the "Three Strikes" poster. She passed these out to people living in the projects mainly and some at the rally. On her second visit, she pointed to the projects and said, "These people need to see this."

New York Correspondence

(Posted October 24) Revolution received this correspondence from a reader about October 22 actions in New York City:

Hundreds of people took to the streets of New York City on October 22, for a defiant and very diverse 16th Annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation. This 16th annual National Day of Protest featured a teach-in in Union Square, followed by a spirited and visually powerful march that wound through the busy streets of the East Village and then through Tompkins Square Park, ending in front of housing projects in Alphabet City where people took the mic to speak out and perform artistic pieces on the themes of the day. 

There was very significant momentum going into this year's October 22 as it took place one day after a historic action in Harlem in which more than 30 people—including Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party and radical public intellectual Cornel West—had been arrested as they engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience to STOP “STOP  & FRISK,” linking arms in front of the NYPD's 28th Precinct. Hundreds of others, including dozens who traveled uptown from the Occupy Wall Street movement, demonstrated at the precinct to show their opposition to the NYPD's criminal and illegitimate stop-and frisks of hundreds of thousands of innocent African-Americans and Latinos each year and to express solidarity with those getting arrested.  The action was widely covered by local and national media, including The New York Times; The Daily News; NY1 and several other New York City television stations; Associated Press,, The Wall Street Journal, and the Spanish-language newspaper El Diario.

As Dix told people in Union Square about the call he and West had issued to STOP “STOP & FRISK,” the crowd cheered.  He said those who had engaged in the nonviolent civil disobedience the previous day were part of kicking off something new, that they had put their bodies on the line and were this era's version of the Freedom Riders and the sit-ins, referring to the first resisters who stepped forward in the 1960s to fight back against Jim Crow segregation and racial oppression more broadly. He announced an organizing meeting the next day in Harlem for those who want to be part of stopping stop-and-frisk and urged people to come.

One aspect of October 22 that was striking was the mix of nationalities and ages in the crowd: At one point in Union Square, I looked around and, just in the immediate area where I was standing, saw a white woman with white hair; a young Asian man;  two young white men; a white man who appeared to be in his 60s; a young white woman; and a Black man who seemed to be in his 30s or 40s. Overall, there were many youth of different nationalities in the crowd.  Some people had come from Occupy Wall Street to be part of the day, which was clear both from talking to demonstrators and from the substantial cheer that went up when the day's emcees gave shout-outs to OWS.

A Revolution Books table displayed and sold copies of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, Revolution newspaper and other materials, and a crew of revolutionaries—some wearing the T-shirt with Avakian's image—wove through the crowd and on the sidewalks of the march route, selling books and newspapers and talking to people.

To give a sense of the breadth of signs and other visuals on display, here is a sampling: The centerfold of Revolution #248 that features the names and faces of a handful of people murdered by the police just this year, other depictions of police brutality, repression, and the criminalization of a generation, and a photo of people in Washington Heights protesting the police murder of John Collado last month. At the bottom of this centerfold is the excerpt from “The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have: A Message, And A Call, From The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA,” which states: “The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.” ...

On the south steps of Union Square, a multinational group of more than 20 people stood in a line, each one holding a sign featuring the name and drawing of a person murdered by the police, along with the date that person was killed. (These signs were later shown on local news coverage of October 22.)

One demonstrator held a two-sided sign that served to powerfully unmask the illegitimacy of this system, the interconnectedness of its different crimes, and the role of the police as enforcers of that system.

One side of the sign read: My best friend has spent 14 of his 28 years on earth in prison for minor drug offences. Meanwhile... The “man” that abused me for 3 years after 3 dismissed cases received only a 6 month sentence... He has already assaulted his new girlfriend.

The other side of the sign read: STOP INSTITUTIONAL VIOLENCE.   WHEN I STOOD UP FOR THE FREEDOM OF HUMANITY... YOU WERE THERE (and accompanying this text there was a picture of her being arrested)WHEN I WAS GETTING BEAT DOWN JUST FOR BEING ME... WHERE WERE YOU (accompanying that text, there were photos of her taken after she was beaten).

Among the other homemade signs and visuals observed in the crowd and march: “Pigs are human too. Sike.” (held by a young white woman); “The audacity of war crimes” (held by a Black man with dreadlocks); “We are the 99 percent”;   “End corporate personhood” ...“Support and respect our youth. No police brutality”; “Hey NYPD You Are Not the Law. Abide By It. Don't Compromise What's Right to Follow Orders” ... “Justice for Oscar Grant”...“End All War”... “Anatomy of a pig” (featuring a drawing of a pig, inside of which were written different phrases, such as “School to prison pipeline,”  “4000 killed by police since 1990,” and “Criminalization of hip hop”)... “Imagine a future where this all can change”... “I know how the NYPD feels – I served America in the Gulf killing the 99 percent”... “KKKops Defend the 1%.

A group called the Peace Poets performed several pieces.  One of them began: “When I was a child, I fantasized about being a police officer. A beacon of all that was good in the world.” Until, the poet continued, he came to discover that he “looked like the bad guy” in the eyes of the cops. The way he looked, where he lived, the type of music he listened to—“all of these things betrayed me,” the poet said.

At one point in the poem, he listed in succession the things cops say to him as they violate his humanity: “Hands on the steering wheel. Face the wall. Spread 'em. Step out of the car. Get on the ground. Do you have any weapons?

The Peace Poets dedicated another poem to “everyone locked behind bars because of who they are and how they look,” and referred to prisoners locked away “like commodified cattle.”

Throughout the day, family members of people murdered by the pigs spoke bitterness. Their speeches brought to life the heartbreak, agony and fury of having the lives of their loved ones violently, senselessly, and eternally stolen from them; the defiance and determination that comes with speaking out and fighting back against a situation that is urgent and intolerable; and a sense of optimism that change is in the air and people increasingly are fighting back.

“You are remaking history in New York City,” Margarita Rosario told the crowd. Her son Anthony Rosario, and his cousin Hilton Vega, were shot in the back 14 and 8 times, respectively, by pigs in the Bronx in 1995.
Juanita Young, whose son was executed by a pig in the Bronx in 2000 and who—along with other surviving members of her family—has been repeatedly and viciously brutalized by the police since then, held up the Stolen Lives book documenting the thousands of people murdered at the hands of the pigs just in the 1990s. Noting the turnout at this year's October 22, she noted, “People of New York are finally standing up!”

She said that cops go home and are asked what they did that day, and reply, “Oh, we caught the bad guy.”  Young drew cheers from the crowd when she angrily countered: “Fuck no, you are the bad guy!”

Allene Person, the mother of Timur Person, described how her son was gunned down by pigs in  December 2006 in the Bronx.  She found out what happened to her son from her daughter-in-law; to this day, almost five years later, the pigs have never told her what happened to Timur.

“I wanna curse every blue shirt I see out here,” Person said.

Jean Griffin held up a picture of her brother David, as she told the crowd how he was tortured and murdered by Southampton pigs in broad daylight in 2004. David had no weapon and committed no crime. He was mentally ill and did not understand an officer's command to get into a car. He was carrying a Bible and was on church property.  Police proceeded to pepper spray him and tase him repeatedly; Jean noted that he had 18 sets of burn marks from a taser on his body. Those marks were on his back, thighs, and buttocks, clearly indicating that he was not trying to fight.

Jean further explained that her brother was delivered to the emergency room handcuffed behind his back. “Can anyone describe to me,” Jean said pointedly, “how you provide CPR to someone handcuffed behind his back?”

She ended by saying: “Let's all observe and not allow this to continue in the society that we live in. It's disgusting.”

The son of John Collado, who was murdered by an undercover pig in Washington Heights just last month, said that the cop who killed his father goes home to his bed and sleeps comfortably, while he will never see his father again.

“I'm just here for justice,” he said.

Some people in the crowd held bilingual signs that read, “Justice for John Collado/Justicia para John Collado.”

Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party took to the microphone next.

“Our youth are the future,” he said, “and this system has been treating them like criminals: guilty until proven innocent.”

Dix noted that some people in the crowd might know him, and therefore would know that he tells people the truth.

“All this bullshit here and around the world is built into the rotten fabric of this capitalist system,” Dix said. The crowd cheered.

Dix then talked about the need for revolution and the fact that revolutions have been made in the past.  Dix told the crowd that Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party and the leader of the revolution, has deeply studied the past experience of these revolutions, identifying both their great achievements and also where they fell short, and on that basis he has come up with a new synthesis of revolution and communism. People need to engage that new synthesis.

And even if people are not with revolution yet, he said, they need to be part of resisting police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation. He reiterated the organizing meeting the next day in Harlem around stopping stop-and-frisk. 

Dix received enthusiastic cheers as he ended his comments at Union Square by saying that the capitalist system is the problem and revolution is the solution.

Christina Gonzalez, a Wall Street Occupier, described being brutally arrested, along with many others, on a September 24 march to Union Square (this was the march where a pig infamously pepper sprayed several women).  She said she had been handcuffed so tightly that she still had no feeling in her thumbs, while others arrested had gashes on their eyebrows and face.  She spoke to how this brutality was a small taste of—and had caused people to increasingly confront—what people in oppressed communities experience constantly at the hands of the police.

As demonstrators prepared to march down Broadway towards the East Village, I spoke to E., a 33-year-old Black woman. E. had not planned to come to the October 22 National Day of Protest; she stepped out of a subway station and her attention was caught by seeing signs about people killed by the police.  These victims of police murder, E. said, are part of the “99 percent” and they've died “because of a system gone wrong.”

E. said she was struck by the mix of generations at October 22. “You have people in their 60s and kids in their teens,” she said. 

Soon, the crowd of hundreds took off marching down Broadway, then turned onto 8th Street, trailed by a line of cops on motorcycles.  Onlookers watched as they stood on East Village sidewalks and sat in cafes, some taking pictures on their cell phones; it was a sunny Saturday afternoon, and there were a lot of people hanging out.  Later, as the march wound its way into Alphabet City, people observed as they stood in front of laundromats and barber shops, or looked out their windows. A drum corps, a tambourine, and hand claps contributed to the liveliness of the march.

Some of the chants on this day included: “We are all Sean Bell/NYPD go to hell!” ... “No justice! No peace! Fuck the police!” ... “Tell me what a police state looks like? / This is what a police state looks like!” ... “The cops/are NOT/the ninety-nine percent!  The cops/are NOT/the ninety-nine percent!” ... “From Harlem/to Greece/Fuck the police!

As the march culminated at housing projects on the Lower East Side, a large crowd remained and continued to chant.

“Word, stay up, G,” a young Black man in front of the projects said. “Fuck the pigs!”

People continued to speak out or perform poetry, music and spoken-word pieces.  This time, demonstrators used the “amplified sound” method used at Occupy Wall Street, where the crowd repeats what each speaker says. 

“We are not gonna take this anymore!” said Rev. Omar Wilks of Unison Pentecostal Church, addressing the crowd. “Now is the time—tonight! We have the power... We will not bow down! We will not bend down!”

Wilks, like Juanita Young earlier, recounted the vicious murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, a 7-year-old girl shot in the head and killed by a Detroit pig in May 2010 after cops threw a flash-bang grenade at her.

A young man of color from the Lower East Side said he wanted to address the Bloods, Crips, and other gangs in the area: “Stop killing each other! Stand up! Stand up!”

The cousin of Nicholas Heyward Jr., a 13-year-old boy executed by pigs in Brooklyn in 1994 after they claimed to “mistake” his toy gun for a real one, spoke of the heart-wrenching pain of his absence.

“I lost my dear friend,” she said. “He would have been 30 today.”

He would have been 30 today. Hearing her state this simple fact drove home, and brought to mind, just how much—and how many years—had been senselessly stolen from Nicholas Heyward Jr., from each and every one of the thousands of victims of police murder in this country, and from all those forced to live the rest of their lives without their loved ones.

Outside the projects, I asked some people in the crowd what had brought them out on October 22 and for their impressions of the day.

J., a 25-year-old white man who has been part of Occupy Wall Street—he added that OWS was his first protest—replied: “How can you see such injustice taking place in what's supposed to be the land of the free and not do something about it, or at least bear witness?” He added that he thought the 99 percent needed to join together and discuss and figure out what kind of world they wanted to live in.

“I think it is a good thing,” said an 18-year-old Black man. “We're tired of Blacks and minorities being attacked by the police, accused by the police.”

He also mentioned the earlier story recounted by Christina Gonzalez about being brutalized by the police, adding, “She didn't do nothing.”  He then proceeded to tell his own stories of being harassed and humiliated by the pigs. In 2007, he was on a subway and arrested by cops who claimed he had killed someone.  Then, this year, he was heading home when cops grabbed him and pushed him against a fence.  He asked what he did wrong, and was told “Shut the fuck up,” before being searched in a humiliating fashion.

“They're racist,” the man said. “They're the new Ku Klux Klan.”

Asked how he saw the significance of Wall Street occupiers showing up to be part of October 22, he said: “I think they're here for the same reasons we're fighting for. The billionaires attack the poor, police attack us minorities. So we decided to fight back.”

An enthusiastic white student who was at Occupy Wall Street earlier this week said she felt it was really important to be part of October 22 and was glad that other people from OWS had come out as well.

“It's about building communities and working together,” she said.  “I think it's really great because it's emphasizing two movements coming together.”

Carl Dix addressed the crowd again as it gathered in front of the projects, during the amplified sound portion of the day.

“Let me tell you something,” he said, as the crowd repeated. “From up here, y'all look good.”

It always looks good, he continued, to see people standing up against injustice, saying no to police brutality, saying “Stop stop and frisk,”  protesting the inequality in society.

“I must say one more time that I'm a revolutionary communist,” Dix continued, and the crowd responded with enthusiastic cheers, “and that I am clear that problems like police brutality, police murder, wars for empire, starvation all around the world, women being sold into sexual slavery are built into the fabric of this goddamn capitalist system.”

Dix made the point that the “folks in blue behind us” are the enforcers of all that misery and brutality.

Dix continued, as the crowd repeated, saying that revolution is the solution but we can't just wait around for revolution to happen; we need to get busy fighting the power and transforming ourselves and others for revolution.  Standing up against police brutality is part of that, he said. Stopping stop and frisk is part of that.  Being down on Wall Street representing the 99 percent against the 1 percent is part of that.

“Damn,” Dix concluded. “Y'all look good!”

* * *

San Francisco

On October 22, hundreds of people took part in two separate actions against police brutality. In the Bayview District, where the masses rose up against the police murder of Kenneth Harding Jr., more than 100 people marched through the community in the October 22 National Day of Protest To Stop Police Brutality, Repression & Criminalization of a Generation. Later that afternoon, Occupy SF staged a "Solidarity March for National Anti-Police Brutality Day."


The Bayview is one of the many mainly Black communities in the U.S. which are "occupied"—where police are constantly coming down on the youth and others. But it's also one where there is a growing mood of defiance and resistance. On October 22, over 100 people—relatives of those murdered by the police; people from the Bayview community, as well as the Mission District and the Western Addition; a contingent from Occupy SF; revolutionaries; former prisoners; and students—including from high school and SF State—took part in a spirited march through the neighborhood, with people stopping at various points to rally—with many people stepping forward to voice their outrage at the police and the way people are forced to live—and their determination to fight back.

Kenneth Harding, Jr., 19, was murdered by San Francisco Police on July 16 for allegedly trying to avoid paying a $2 bus fare. Videotapes showed Kenneth lying on his stomach on cold concrete bleeding to death while cops pointed weapons at the people who had gathered. Kenneth Harding's picture was held up by protesters and his name rang out along with other names of those killed by the police: Charles Hill...Oscar Grant...Raheim Brown...Brownie Polk...Derrick Jones...Andrew Moppin...Gus Rugley...Mark Garcia...Idriss Stelley.

Denika Chapman, Kenneth's mother, spoke at the protest. Denika, who moved to the Bay Area from Seattle after the killing of her son, told Revolution, "My life literally changed overnight. It's no longer about me. I'm here in this Bayview community almost every day, going to the high schools, to the colleges, reaching out to the youth, trying to create awareness and prevention so no one else has to suffer another loss like I did. It takes more than just me to stand for justice. We all have to unite together if we want to create any type of change."

"I'm not going to stop. This is my mission. This is my purpose," Denika said. "When we all leave here and cross that bridge and go home to our own communities, these people who live here in this community, the Bayview-Hunters Point, they have to continue to go through this and that's why I'm going to continue to be out here every day, every chance I get."

Anger in the community and aggressive counter-attack by the authorities has been building in the community leading up to the protest. DeBray Carpenter, known in the community as Fly Benzo, a City College student, hip hop artist, has been outspoken in opposing police brutality, in particular the murder of Kenneth Harding, was arrested on October 18. An article in the San Francisco BayView by mesha Monge-Irizarry, founder and director of Idriss Stelley Foundation, reports how Fly was knocked to the ground by police and beaten after the police told him to turn down his boom box (ripping out the power cord) and knocking down Fly's video camera which he was using to film the police. Outrageously it was Fly who was charged with aggravated assault on a peace officer, resisting arrest, interfering with police business and inciting riot. He is being held with a bail of $73,000.

On October 17, a day before his arrest, Fly performed a rap and spoke at a press conference for October 22. Fly's performance is available on You Tube at The video begins with the voice of Black Panther founder Huey Newton comparing the police to an occupying army. At the end of the video Fly says, "Whoever stands with the police does not stand with the community, period!" The San Francisco BayView wrote, "Fly's latest arrest Oct. 18 is probably to silence him on Saturday, Oct. 22, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality."

Fly was still being held in jail on the day of the protest. But his presence was felt. Shouts of "Free Fly Benzo!" and "Hands off the Truth Tellers!" rang out. Fly's father Claude Carpenter spoke at 3rd and Palou as the demonstration began saying, "They just can't kill our children down in the street and have no one say anything about it or do anything about it."

Also speaking at the protest was Kilo G, an educator who founded the community group, "Cameras Not Guns." Kilo was arrested after videotaping immediately after the murder of Kenneth Harding. His charge: obstructing justice. "They don't want me to talk," Kilo said. "I got pepper sprayed, I got arrested. I got my arm twisted. I got choked. The police did this in front of my three year old son. So I know for a fact that we are standing up for justice because they are mad."

Jerry Elster from the ex-prisoner group All of Us or None spoke of the hunger strike waged by thousands of prisoners in California who are kept in solitary confinement for years and decades in conditions that meet international standard of torture. "Our society and us are guilty of conformity and we ain't doing it no more. We not going to acquiesce with the bullshit no more," he said. Jerry who spent 27 years behind bars said, "Before I went into the penitentiary I was a product of the system. Now I am a threat to that system because I'm educated, I think and I can see."

The Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party on the Occasion of October 22, 2011 was read and punctuated by raised fists and cheers at each of the "salutes" to those fighting the power—and drawing serious attention, and Revolution newspapers circulated among many in the protest, as well as some of the onlookers. 

The Peoples' Neighborhood Patrol was present throughout the march, and one member gave a statement—and then a spoken word poem. 

Other groups and individuals speaking at the demonstration included Willie Ratcliffe, publisher of the San Francisco BayView; Cephus Johnson, uncle of Oscar Grant; an activist in World Can't Wait who was recently arrested for doing civil disobedience in support of the prisoner hunger strike; representatives of Poor Magazine Poets; a representative of the Oscar Grant Movement in San Francisco. Terry Joan Baum, the Green Party candidate for mayor of San Francisco was at the protest and spoke at the press conference endorsing the protest.

From Occupied Territory to Occupied Territory:

As the march began, a crew of youth chanting and carrying banners jumped off the MUNI T line banging drums, wearing face paint, covered in stickers denouncing police brutality. Occupation San Francisco had arrived! The contingent of some 15-20 mostly youthful people had been organizing for October 22 at the encampment in the San Francisco financial district, where they had been subjected to two raids and daily harassment by the police. Denika Chapman, Kenneth Harding's mother, was invited to speak at occupation on October 21.

Revolution spoke with Charlie, a 25-year-old white man who spoke to why he was taking part in Occupy San Francisco and the links with opposing police brutality: "I don't see a future for me that isn't hopeless and morally bankrupt. In order to survive I would either have to work a dehumanizing job or a morally repellant job and I don't want to have to choose between those two options. This protest against police brutality is very important because it's tied in because police seem to be an armed wing of the rich than people who serve and protect."

Charlie commented on the moving accounts that people from the community gave of brutality by the police saying, "I've never been to this neighborhood before.  What people are saying is that this is occupied territory.  We are occupying for the 99% but this is territory occupied by the military wing of the 1%." 

No More Stolen Lives

The march ended at the spot where Kenneth Harding was killed. mesha Monge-Irizarry, whose son Idriss Stelley had been killed by San Francisco Police, built a memorial for Kenneth. Several family members spoke there. Elvira Pollard whose son Gus Rugley was killed seven years ago came because she was moved by many similarities between the way the cops operated when they killed her son and the way they operated when they killed Keith Harding.  She bitterly recounted how 20 police officers fired more than 500 rounds at her son, an unarmed construction worker. "I'll always hate them motherfuckers," she said. "I'll always talk shit. I'm always one who will say fuck the police to their face. I'm not somebody to talk behind your back."

At the end of the demonstration Danny Garcia, whose brother Mark was pepper sprayed and killed by San Francisco police, read names of some of those killed by police from the large wall. The police officer who was in command at the scene at the time when Mark Garcia was murdered, Greg Suhr, is now Chief of the San Francisco Police Department.

Occupy SF's "Solidarity March for National Anti-Police Brutality Day"

Later in the afternoon, several hundred people from Occupy SF militantly marched through downtown San Francisco to the main police headquarters and jail at 850 Bryant Street. Occupy SF has been repeatedly threatened or attacked by the police, and today the demonstrators went right to this notorious "Hall of Injustice," and took over the street in front —forcing the police to block it off. One protester emailed Revolution that “Occupy SF protesters stood in front of the building on Bryant Street with a double phalanx of police officers on the steps of the Hall facing their fellow citizens.”

A contingent of people from the Bayview action—which included both members of the Oct 22 Coalition and the youth from Occupy SF who had come to the Bayview—joined the action on Bryant Street.

There are different views about the role of the police among people at Occupy SF (including that police are part of the people—or the "99%"). It was very important that people from Occupy SF came to the Bayview and heard the voices and stories of those with a lifetime of experience of what the police are all about – brutal, murderous enforcers of a system of exploitation and national oppression. As one young white woman from Occupy SF who came to the Bayview action said to Revolution, “Listening to mothers like Denika was very important. What they've lived through—people should hear this. I'd never heard this before."

The protesters then marched from Bryant Street back to Occupy SF in high spirits—right down the City's central artery—Market Street. It was one of the largest protests against police brutality in SF in recent memory.

* * *


January 1, 2011: Police shoot and kill Tory Davis...

January 7, 2011: Police shoot Darius Penix, 27-years old. Shot at 16 times, killing him at a traffic stop...

June 7, 2011: Police shoot Flint Farmer numerous times, killing him while he holds a cellphone...

July 25, 2011: Police shoot 13-year-old Jimmell Cannon four times...

October 5, 2011: Amit A. Patel is chased into Lake Michigan by police. He died a few hours later. Age 31...

Names and stories from the list of 57 people shot and/or killed by the Chicago police this year ring out in a striking indictment of these crimes of the system, reverberating off City Hall and the State of Illinois building.

The front page of the Chicago Tribune on the morning of October 22nd carried an expose of the cover-up of the police murder of Flint Farmer, including police video showing the cop shooting him three times in the back while he lay face down in the grass and killing him.

As people streamed into the plaza and the stage was being set up, the electricity of the day began to course through the air. Revolutionary music from Outernational and conscious hip-hop thundered off the skyscrapers overlooking the plaza. Curious bystanders and tourist were drawn into the growing scene of resistance, as protesters unfurled Stolen Lives banners and posters condemning police brutality and murder, and passing out flyers with the faces of victims of police murder.

Once the rally started, a statement from Flint Farmer’s father was read to the crowd of 100 people of all different backgrounds gathered to demand an end to police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation. Family members of victims of police brutality and murder, young folks from Occupy Chicago and Occupy the Hood, people who were outraged by the execution of Troy Davis, as well as college and high school students stood shoulder to shoulder to demand that this must stop.

A former prisoner who spent many years in solitary confinement and who has been involved in the movement for revolution since his release from prison condemned the historically unprecedented explosion of racist mass incarceration in the U.S. and the spoke about the courageous example of the prisoners on hunger strike in California (see below).

An uncle of Jimmell Cannon, a 13-year-old shot by Chicago police 4 times (see Revolution #242, Chicago Police on a Murderous Rampage: 42 people shot - We Say NO MORE!), spoke passionately about the outrage of these police shootings and murders.

After the Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party on the Occasion of October 22, 2011 was read, others spoke out. Relatives of Jose Diaz, killed by Berwyn police, spoke; one relative said that "even though it was 11 years ago, it feels like yesterday." Jamia Smith, the teenage sister of Devon Lee Pitts—who was killed by a police officer driving drunk—brought the crowd to tears as she read a poem with the lines: "Even as I write this, I still feel you around, my big brother, my guardian angel" with tears of sadness running down her face. Mark Clements, a survivor of police torture and activist with the Campaign to End the Death Penalty who spent 28 years in prison on a wrongful conviction, condemned the legal lynching of Troy Davis and led the chant, "Remember Troy Davis!" Occupy Chicago voted at their General Assembly to attend and send a representative speaker to stand in solidarity with O22, who said, "We have to end the suffering. It has to stop now!"

The rally concluded with a member of the People’s Neighborhood Patrol reading their founding Proclamation and calling on people to join the patrols. Several people signed up.

The crowd defiantly marched out of the plaza, chanting "Egypt, Wall Street, Pelican Bay –We refuse to live this way!" This spirit was heightened musically by a raucous anarchist brass band. The march grew as it snaked through the Saturday afternoon crowds on State Street. A banner with pictures of people killed by Chicago police stretched across the sidewalk side by side with a banner of Troy Davis brought to the rally by students from Columbia College. People stepped aside to let the protesters through, with many smiling widely that this question was being addressed and some even joining chants including "Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail—The whole damn system is guilty as hell!" After moving through the crowded streets of the Chicago Loop, they marched into the occupation surrounding the Federal Reserve Bank building, mingling in with the chanting, drumming scene at Occupy Chicago.

Marching Against Police Chiefs

The Chicago Ad Hoc Committee for Oct 22nd, joining with World Can’t Wait and the Midwest Anti-War Mobilization, called for protesters to reconvene at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Gala taking place at the Chicago Hilton later that evening. This was part of the IACP convention, a convention of police commanders who order murder, torture and rape. Their members include 20,000 commanders of police forces that rain brutality and terror down on civilians from Saudi Arabia to London, England, where police brutality helped spark major uprisings this spring.

As the time to reconvene approached, a "mic check"* was called at the HQ of Occupy Chicago and the crowd was challenged to join a march down to the Hilton. About 30 people marched out of the HQ bound for the IACP gala, chanting "Cairo, London, Chicago—Police brutality has got to go!" to the accompaniment of the anarchist brass band. 

Once the march arrived at the Hilton, the march had grown in numbers and it was greeted by police lines and barriers. Protestors responded creatively to the police repression by positioning themselves on the other three corners and a determined and defiant protest ensued, denouncing the IACP in English and Spanish.

The October 22nd action concluded with the IACP protesters marching up Michigan Avenue to Grant Park, where they greeted thousands of people marching in to occupy the park; later that night 130 Occupy Chicago protesters were arrested while attempting to establish a permanent occupation at the park.

Former Prisoner Speaks

The following is the text of the speech by the former prisoner at the Chicago O22 rally:

I’m here to speak about the criminalization of a generation: there’s been an explosion of mass incarceration since the early 1970s, historically unprecedented in the history of the world.

U.S. has 5% of world population, 25% of worlds prisoners. More women incarcerated here than anywhere else in the world.

Nearly 2.5 million men, women & children in prison & close to 8 million are ensnared within the inhuman clutches of the so called “criminal justice system” today.

Rate of incarceration for Black males is over 5 times higher than apartheid South Africa, where a white supremacist colonial regime subjugated the indigenous Black population for decades and is universally considered one of the most racist regimes in the history of the world.

As Michelle Alexander documented in her book The New Jim Crow, more Black folks are in prison, jail etc in the U.S. than there were slaves 10 years before the Civil War.

Joining in with the upsurge of resistance sweeping the globe, in July thousands of prisoners in CA—led by prisoners in Pelican Bay SHU—went on hunger strike to demand an end to the torture & inhumane treatment they face.

Within days, over 6,500 prisoners in 1/3 of California prisons joined the hunger strike.

After 3 weeks they temporarily came off hunger strike, and then resumed the hunger strike on September 26. Within days nearly 12,000 prisoners were on hunger strike.

CDC retaliated, banned prisoners lawyers, withheld mail and visits, threatened to place prisoners on hunger strike in administrative seg.

At the end of last week, they temporarily came off again. Prisoners have stated though they are willing to die rather than face these conditions of torture, they do not want to die, and know that it will take peeps on outside to force the government to meet their demands, and that will not happen in the time they can remain on hunger strike and live to see those changes.

Despite the demonization & dehumanizing portrayal, majority of prisoners are locked up for non-violent drug offenses as part of "war on drugs," which began in the early 1970s but expanded exponentially in the 1980s. And the "war on drugs" was a strategy for ruling class to impose a "counterinsurgency before insurgency" because they fear the power of the people rising up to challenge the crimes and injustices of this system.

They saw the power of the people in the 1960s, but because people didn't make a revolution out of the upsurge of the 1960s, the ruling class was determined to crush any potential liberating movement of the people from developing again.

Despite their attempts, even in the depths of the most horrendous conditions of oppression such as the hellholes of America’s prisons, people have a vast potential to transform themselves as they transform the world and join in becoming emancipators of humanity.

Like millions of others, I was one of those youth that this system has cast off. My family lost our home when I was a teenager, I got involved with a street organization to survive on the streets, and by the time I was 17 years old I was serving a 20 year sentence in an adult maximum security prison. Like too many other youth, this system offered me no better purpose and no greater fate than crime and punishment, a future of living and dying for nothing.

Once I got to prison, I soon started to question what brought me—and all the other people there with me—to prison, and soon began to develop an understanding of the historical and social forces that led all of us to the hellholes of America’s prison system.

Within a short period of time, I was given an indeterminate period of segregation—solitary confinement—and it was in the midst of those brutally isolating conditions of torture that I became politically conscious.

And since my release from prison a few years ago, my life has been firmly dedicated to the movement for revolution and the struggle against the crimes of this system and for a liberated future for all humanity.

O22 is a day for people of all different backgrounds to get in the streets and stand together shoulder to shoulder with those who live under the boot and the gun of police brutality and repression—and those languishing in the hellholes of Americas prisons—and demand that all of this must stop! People of conscience everywhere should take inspiration from the courageous example of the prisoners on hunger strike and recognize the moral responsibility to join together to rise up to take action to stop these horrendous injustices.

* * *


October 22nd in Seattle was a very powerful and good day! Resistance to police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation was intensified and deeper political unity built. October 22nd was endorsed by the Occupy Seattle General Assembly which also recently passed a resolution not to speak to the police at the occupation. Occupy also assisted with legal and tactical help and the rally was shown on Occupy Seattle’s live stream.

An opening rally was held at Westlake Park, the site of Occupy Seattle. A very diverse mix of over 1000 people of all nationalities and many backgrounds came together—including many youth, students, proletarians, homeless, re-awakened anti-war activists, anarchists, people of color, activists, revolutionaries, and many people newly activated by the Occupy movement. The MCs from the October 22nd Coalition began by reading the names and telling the stories of scores who’s lives have been stolen by police murder. Powerful and moving testimony was given by family members who have lost loved ones to police murder.

Friends and family of David Albrecht told how he was shot by police after his family had called them for help because David was suicidal. Police ordered his girlfriend to move away from David, and then shot him 23 times. There are still bullet holes in the house. His family and friends have been tailed and stopped in their cars and harassed by police since they have spoken out. They carried the lead banner in the O22 march.

The aunt of James Whiteshield, who at 17 died under suspicious circumstances in juvenile detention spoke out with great grief and passion. A native American woman, she said that it's not just people of color who are brutalized and killed by the police, it's anyone who is poor, and ended by saying "we are all related."

Brother Talib, an ex-prisoner, spoke about mass incarceration and torture in the SHUs, beginning his speech with "Power to the People!"

A young white woman Sarah, told the story of her foster brother Miles who was killed in juvenile detention. The authorities claimed he committed suicide, but his body was bruised and beaten. She opened up an album with pictures of Miles showing his smile and then the pictures showing what had been done to him in jail. People came up to the stage to see the pictures and were moved and shaken. Since her family has challenged the police version, they have been repeatedly threatened by police.

The statement from the RCP was very well received. The crowd especially liked the "Three Strikes" quote from Bob Avakian, responding with cheers when to the end of the quote, "Three strikes and you're out." The speaker held up the book BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian when saying "Get into BAsics" and was later approached by two college students who liked the speech and asked, "What was that book you held up?" and decided to get one. They are participating in Occupy Olympia (WA) and are also working with youth in juvenile detention and expressed a lot of pain and passion about people at the bottom of society and what incarceration does to young people and other prisoners—especially how youth are routinely medicated for the most minor violations in order to keep them sedated and compliant. They felt BAsics would help them at the occupation, where people are struggling to understand the world and how to change things, and that communism was little understood and needed to be seriously considered. The whole day of protest, they said, had been very empowering.

Also speaking were Eric Roberts, the brother of Aaron Roberts who was murdered by police after being stopped in his car, friends of David Young who was shot by police as his car was blocked into a fence, a witness to the murder of Shawn Maxwell, and Jared from the Responsible Marijuana Project who spoke about the incredible human toll experienced by people who are incarcerated for minor drug offenses and how people of color are disproportionately targeted and arrested.

The powerful testimonies given connected with all of us, including many new people in the crowd from Occupy Seattle who were just learning about the scope and cost of this epidemic. Pictures of the faces of the stolen lives were passed among people to carry and a powerful and defiant march of 1000 people took off. People did a die-in at the spot where Chris Harris had been body slammed into a wall by police after being wrongly identified as a suspect. Chris has suffered catastrophic brain injury. The march went by Seattle Police West Precinct, where protesters stopped, spoke out and indicted police brutality and murder. One person was grabbed out of the crowd by police and arrested.

After back and forth among the marchers, people went to the infamous spot where native carver John T. Williams was murdered a year ago. John T. was shot by Seattle cop Ian Birk within 4 seconds of jumping out of his car as he walked down the street carrying his small folded carving knife. There was and is tremendous outrage over this cold-blooded murder and the refusal to bring charges against Birk by prosecutors. At this site people died in, blocking the street. A close friend of John T’s spoke in his memory and did a prayer in Lakota.

The march was followed by an open mic back at the occupation site, where people of all kinds moved into a circle and were invited in to discuss and debate the role of the police and different strategies for ending police brutality and murder.

This whole day was extremely intense and also uplifting. People were inspired to stand together in resistance against this system’s crimes. Deeper understanding and unity among different political forces and sections of people developed around opposing police brutality and murder, mass incarceration and repression.

* * *

Los Angeles

October 22nd in Los Angeles saw the coming together of the spirit and optimism of the Occupy L.A. encampment with the deep, visceral anger at, and determination to put an end to police brutality, repression, and the criminalization of a generation. That synergy brought an electricity to the march and rally that impacted everyone who took part, or viewed it from the sidewalks as it passed by. And it spoke to a statement from the Party's Message and Call—"The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"—that was read twice at the rally:

The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world... when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness... those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.

Over 150 people marched from the Occupy L.A. encampment over to Pershing Square, where the protest against police brutality was gathering. Along the way people chanted "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? now," and "Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Police Brutality's got to go." They carried all kinds of signs they'd made at the encampment, including silk-screened posters of a cartoon pig in a police uniform; and they carried a banner that read "Occupy L.A. Committee to End Police Brutality." They moved at double-speed, beating out rhythms on newspaper boxes and anything else metal available along the way. They were old and young, and of all nationalities, and brought a spirit that was infectious. 

A week and a half before O22 there'd been a speak-out at the encampment where family members of the prison hunger strikers at Pelican Bay State Prison and other prisons told the hundred or more who attended about the torture of long term isolation in the prisons of California and around the country, and the struggle to end it.

And in the days before O22, after much debate about the role that the police play in society, the decision was made for Occupy L.A. to participate in the march.

A white college student, there with his two friends and part of the occupation, was asked what brought him to the protest: "I think if you'd lived in Birmingham when MLK was marching, you should have been with him."

Students at one south central high school who'd made plans to walkout or sit-in to support the "Day of Defiance," were kept from going through with it after the principal threatened one of the student organizers with expulsion.

The speak-out at Pershing Square set the tone for whole march. A South Central high school student got up on the truck with her father. She spoke about her and her family's experience with police brutality, and about how she reached out to other students at her school to come to the protest. Her father stood with her; when he spoke, he talked about his family's lifetime of suffering police brutality and prison, and the impact of mass incarceration.

Other family members of victims of police brutality of different nationalities got up and told their stories. A youth spoke for the contingent that came from Fullerton, in Orange County, carrying the horrific photo of Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man beaten to death by 6 Fullerton cops.

And the mother of a hunger striker told everyone, "Don't to be ashamed if your relative is in prison, you need to speak out!"

The march kicked off 500 strong; the Occupy LA forces joining with students from different college campuses, high school students, family members—mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers—and other fighters against the police murders of so many Black and Latino youth. Some marchers had traveled for hours; from as far away as Riverside, Orange County, Victorville, and San Diego. Veterans of National Day of Protest were joined by many others who were learning about and protesting police brutality and murder for the first time.

A group of family members of prisoners part of the hunger strike marched with a banner in support of the prisoners' courageous battle, with scores of hand written messages of support; and they held up homemade signs reading "Stop Torture" and "CDC Lies, Prisoners Die." Their presence, and the brave and inspiring story of the hunger strike, had a big impact on the entire protest.
There was a real feeling of being strong together in the street and being able to shout about these crimes. That spirit of strength and defiance grew as it went down 6th Street—they were "on a mission." "Marching down 6th street gave me goose bumps;" the sister of a Pelican Bay hunger striker told us, "after having felt alone for so long."

The march stopped in front of the notorious Rampart police station, a few blocks from where Manuel Jamines, a homeless Guatemalan day laborer, was murdered by police last year, sparking nights of rebellion in the community. "Justicia, Justicia, Justicia para Manuel!" rang out. And as the names of all those murdered by L.A. County police were shouted out from the truck there was an outpouring of chalking on the sidewalk in front of the station—"LAPIGS," "Murderers," "Stop Killer Cops," "Stop Killing Our People," "Stop this Shit!" "Fuck the Police!" Chalk outlines of victims of police murder were drawn on the sidewalk while a young Black man lay on his face.

Perhaps 40% of the protesters were Black youth and other Black people—marching through this community densely populated with Latino immigrants. They took up the chants in Spanish while for blocks along the area of 6th Street where Manuel Jamines was killed, people from the community filled the sidewalks watching intently as the march passed.

The march stopped at the site of this killing. Family members of other victims of police murder climbed up to speak, including telling the story of her son, killed in Lynwood. As this was happening, a group of young Black women came forward with pictures and stencils of Manuel, and with roses and candles arranged a commemoration for him at the spot where he bled to death.

The sense of outrage and deep desire to fight police brutality continued at the rally. Families of the victims of police murders painfully shared their stories—but also their determination to expose these injustices. The sister of Julian Collender described how her parents were locked in the back of a police car watching their son bleed to death on their front lawn; and then how they assassinated her brother a second time with lies and slanders about what kind of a person he was. The brother of Robert Anthony Serrano described holding his brother, shot by the police, while he died in his arms; and how his father committed suicide on the day after what would have been Robert's birthday.

There was also a sense of people straining to understand where this brutality and murder comes from, and what it will take to eradicate it. "It's not just some bad cops," Julian Collender's sister said, "they're all bad."

The statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party on October 22, read by Michael Slate, writer for Revolution, addressed these questions and was very well received. People applauded at different points, including the description of what's going on in the inner cities as a slow genocide that must stop. And there was applause when an announcement was made about the demonstration and non-violent civil disobedience that had taken place in Harlem the day before—launching a battle to stop "Stop and Frisk" as part of a new movement end to the mass incarceration of especially Black and Latino youth. A number of people came up afterwards to talk about the impact that the statement had on them—many wrestling with the "systematic and systemic" nature of police brutality.

A young man who has been part of Occupy LA from the beginning spoke about the sharp debate that has been going on at the encampment over the role of the police. Arguing against the view that police are part of the 99%, he said, "When you put on that uniform, you're working for the ruling class." He said while the police haven't yet attacked OLA yet, they have attacked other encampments all over the country; and they occupy every single town surrounding OLA. He talked about stopping mass incarceration and also pointed to what had just happened the day before in Harlem. And he ended by calling on the people at the rally to go down to Occupy LA, be part of the dialogue and share their stories and understanding.

A member of the People's Neighborhood Patrols exposed the police murders, the round-ups of immigrants, the harassment like "Stop and Frisk" that happens every day, and called on people to repeat with him, "All of this is illegal and illegitimate! All of this is illegal and illegitimate!" There was a call to join the People's Patrols, and half a dozen people who had participated in the march joined the Patrol as they went out that night in the neighborhood following the rally.

The day ended with a candlelight vigil which 75 people took part in.

* * *


From a Revolution Books staff member:

On October 22nd over 250 people rallied outside the Boston Police Headquarters as part of the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality and the Criminalization of a Generation.

The rally was marked by the broad participation of activists and supporters of Occupy Boston, including students from Harvard, Tufts and Boston University as well as residents of the predominantly Black and Latino and Cape Verdean neighborhoods of Roxbury and Dorchester in Boston. Many OB activists had only heard of the National Day of Protest the week before when it had been brought to the OB General Assembly by staff members from Revolution Books and were excited at being part of this nation-wide initiative. A number had participated in a rally of over 500 people the night before called for in the heart of Roxbury to demonstrate Occupy Boston's commitment to the concerns of the Black and Latino communities.

A statement from the Occupy Boston web-site read in part: "This Saturday, in recognition of the 16th annual National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, we will mark a historic development in our movement: activists from Occupy Boston will be joining activists from Occupy the Hood in a joint demonstration of strength and solidarity against police brutality. Not only will we be rallying against the police repression of our movement, both in Boston and nationally; more importantly, we'll be rallying against the police violence experienced by poor folk and communities of color every day in this country."

The rally buzzed as word of the arrest of Cornel West, Carl Dix and 30 other people protesting the New York Police Department Policy of "Stop and Frisk" in Harlem the previous night spread. Many people had never heard of "Stop and Frisk" and simply could not get their heads around having 700,000 such incidents happening in the course of a year. Some were asking "how can this be happening in this country?" Others were saying "this is exactly what happens when people protest the injustices in the system." People taking up the Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party on the Occasion of October 22, 2011 and its call to be "WORKING FOR REVOLUTION" engaged in heartfelt discussions over what was the source of these crimes and what it would take to end them. Two young men who had traveled up from Occupy Wall Street in New York the night before spoke about how similar conversations were taking place at Zuccotti Park every night.

Speakers drew on deep personal experience with loved ones and friends whose lives had been lost at the hands of the police or whose street deaths were written off by the powers that be as "gang related" or, in other words, "not worth wasting our time on." One man recounted the only time the City of Boston agreed to an out-of-court wrongful death settlement to the family of a man killed by the police to prevent the case from going to trial: "You want to know how much the life of a young Black man goes for on today's market? $70,000—that's how much! For a life ended and a lifetime of loss for family and friends. And even this was the only time this has ever happened. In every other case the City has ruled 'Justifiable Homicide!'"

Other speakers spoke to how important this day was in breaking down the barriers that divide the people. An older Black woman spoke passionately about how much it meant for her to see the diversity of the crowd spoke to the mainly young white activists from the Occupy movement: "We are the 99%...You are the 99%...They say that once it gets cold and nasty and winter comes you will give up and go away. DON'T! DON'T GO AWAY! Stay. We are not going away, we are going to continue to fight, and we don't want you to go away." This was followed by a roar from the crowd "We are not going away! We are here to Stay!"

The rally ended with a march to nearby Roxbury Community College.

* * *


About 75 people gathered at Market Square. The rally was bolstered by a group of people who marched from the Occupy Houston encampment (whose general assembly had endorsed NDP) in another downtown park to join the protest. After the rally people marched throughout downtown Houston, including to the several prisons on the north end of downtown.

Speakers included Ray Hill, long-time prison rights advocate and founder of the Prison Show on KPFT; Krystal Muhammad of the New Black Panther Party; Dean Becker, a leading opponent of the drug laws used to jail so many youth; Maria, representing Occupy Houston; and Dave Atwood of the Houston Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The October 22 statement from the RCP was read to the attentive gathering just before the protesters started marching.

A group of drummers energized the spirited march through a busier than usual downtown Houston. A highlight of the march was at a county jail. As the march approached the jail, people had to cross over Buffalo Bayou, where in 1977 Jose Campos Torres was handcuffed by HPD officers and thrown into the bayou to drown. The MC told the rally of that crime and of the heroic resistance of the Chicano masses in response.

A section of the march went straight up to the door of the jail with their signs, and one man who had done a lot of organizing for 022 in one of the city's large ghettos took a banner reading "This system has no future for the youth, but the revolution does" and hung it across the jail's main entrance.

The MC played an audio testimony from an older Black woman in one of the city's housing projects earlier that day. She spoke of the everyday harassment of the youth...and older residents... by the police, and said that she is tired of all this. She powerfully exposed what daily life of people in the projects is, and the weight of it on people..."just because we're low income, doesn't mean we're criminal." She also related her own defiance of the police.

Then a Chicana just started speaking up from the outskirts of the rally. When she was invited up to the mic, she related how her sons are spending extended time in jail because the judge didn't like her defiant attitude. He straight up said she was butting into something that was none of her business [!], and retaliated with a more severe sentence for one of her sons. This woman's story unleashed a number of the youth and others in the march to get up and expose their outrageous treatment at the hands of the police.

Person after person spoke of being arrested, jailed, framed on minor or phony marijuana charges. One white woman from Occupy Houston was framed on a marijuana charge. She was a student, had never been in trouble with the law, and had no record, but had a million dollar bond set on her. She went on to say that she was lucky because she was able to afford one of the best lawyers in town, but that if she had been Black or Brown and didn't have money for a good lawyer, she'd still be in jail.

Several people who didn't come up to the mic nevertheless were eager to tell people flyering or selling REVOLUTION their stories.

Taking the march right to the "jailhouse doors" of the main County prison had a powerful impact on people; it really energized the marchers, unleashed a torrent of stories, and established some bonds with people going in and out of the jail visiting prisoners. Through this and the entire weekend's activities, a strong basis was established for continuing and developing the fight to end police brutality and repression, and the mass jailing of the youth.

* * *


On Saturday night, October 15, MARTA (transit) police shot and killed 19-year-old Joetavius Stafford at the Vine City MARTA Station. Joetavius' brother, who witnessed the shooting, said that the cop shot Joetavius in the back while he was running away with his arms up, and shot him again twice while he was laying on the ground shaking. The Fulton County Coroner's autopsy report found two bullets wounds in Joetavius' back, and one in his chest. This outrageous police murder charged the atmosphere in the city in the week leading up to October 22, and underscored the importance of building resistance to stop police brutality and murder. Family and friends held an emotional and angry vigil at the scene of the shooting on Monday night. Later that night, there was a defiant march through the downtown streets by Occupy Atlanta and others. On Tuesday, the October 22nd Coalition convened a press conference to decry this latest police murder and announce plans for the National Day of Protest. A section of the masses of people in the downtown area and MARTA riders listened to the speakers in the pouring rain, and all four television stations covered it on the evening news. Speakers included the October 22nd Coalition, FTP Movement, Revolution Books, Copwatch and International Socialist Organization. A message was read from former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and several people stepped up and spoke out on the spot.

October 22: "Hey, MARTA, you can't hide, we charge you with homicide!" "Shot in the back, no excuse for that!" "No justice, no peace! Fuck the police!" These chants rang out as a little over 100 people, including Joetavius' mother, father and several cousins, gathered at the main Five Points MARTA Station downtown for the October 22nd march and speak-out. The march took off and immediately headed one block up to Troy Davis Park (the site of Occupy Atlanta and renamed by Occupy Atlanta). Going through the park, the march grew to 175 as people from Occupy Atlanta and homeless people joined in.  The march looped back around and passed by the MARTA station again where many enthusiastic Black youth joined the demonstration on the spot.  At this point the demonstrators had taken over the street, and there was outrage and defiance and a feeling of freedom that unleashed excitement among people who are under the gun and harassed by the police every day, taking to the streets and being able to shout out what they really felt about the police.

Some people brought hand-made signs, many held up pictures of Joetavius that were distributed by the march organizers, others carried enlargements of the centerfold poster from Revolution with the pictures of people killed by police from around the country. Dozens of copies of Revolution were sold.

The plan was to march to the Atlanta City Detention Center for a speak-out. But along the way, the marchers diverted from the route for a brief stop in front of the Fulton County Courthouse, to demand that the Fulton County DA charge the MARTA cop who killed Joetavius with murder. When this was announced over the bullhorn the crowd erupted in cheers and as the marchers left the courthouse steps, a banner that had been signed by many people downtown earlier in the day was seen taped across the main entrance doors of the building that read "Justice for Joe! Jail the Killer Cop!"

At the jail, a people's speak-out was held, with many people coming to the mic to speak about their experiences with police brutality. Several had loved ones who were killed by police. Nicholas Heyward from the October 22nd Coalition and Parents Against Police Brutality in New York spoke movingly about his son who was killed by the NYPD 17 years ago, and the need to build ongoing resistance, not just on this day. A cousin of Joetavius said she was speaking out so that Joe did not die in vain, and so that other families would not have to go through the same loss in the future. Other people spoke about the unjust execution of Troy Davis, the history of the oppression of Black people in this country, the attacks coming down on immigrants, the heroic hunger strike by California prisoners, the civil disobedience in Harlem to stop "stop and frisk," the need for people to join the movement for revolution, and more. Revolution was in the air—every time the word was mentioned there were cheers among the crowd, even though people have many different views of what that means.

During the speak-out, an announcement was made from Occupy Atlanta that the mayor was threatening to evict the occupiers from the park that night and a large police presence was building on the edge of the park. When the speak-out ended, the crowd took to the streets again for a march back to Troy Davis Park to support Occupy Atlanta. When the march reached the park, people formed up on the side of the park where the police were gathered, stretching out between the police and the park. Another riled and emotional speak-out was held, with some people addressing their anger directly at the police through the bullhorns.  Later that evening, the mayor announced that he was not going to move on the occupation and reverted back to his previous deadline of November 7.

A rare and powerful mix was brought together in the streets of Atlanta on October 22. Various streams of resistance came together in the streets, and revolution was in the air. People could sense that this mix and this atmosphere have great potential to change everything.

At one point during the march, someone who was straggling a bit behind and trying to find where the marchers were, was told by a bystander on the street, "Hurry up, you need to catch up with the revolution."

* * *

Greensboro, NC

Between 60 and 70 people marched in Greensboro, North Carolina, against police brutality, through the Smith Homes public housing community. This was the 12th year that Greensboro has participated in the National Day of Protest, and the third year that the march has taken place at Smith Homes. Many marchers came from having participated in the ongoing Occupy Greensboro encampment downtown. People from the community tell of ongoing harassment from particular cops, even after one notoriously brutal officer had been pulled from duty in the community after some agitation by O22 activists and community members. People get snatched up and arrested literally for nothing--all in the shadow of a new $114 million jail that is nearing completion.

A lively march led by Cakalak Thunder Radical Drum Corps snaked through the community, while marchers chanted, "No more Stolen Lives" and "We say no to the New Jim Crow, police brutality has got to go!" A couple of young people ran ahead of the march with a copy of the Stolen Lives book, tracing each other with chalk on the street to make police-style chalk body outlines, which they then marked with the names of people killed by law enforcement.  

At the rally after the march, a revolutionary activist read a statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA that highlighted the new level of resistance in this country, from the California prison hunger strikes, to the Occupy Wall Street movement hitting cities all over the U.S., to the Stop “Stop and Frisk" movement taking off in NYC, and pointing out the role of the police as enforcers of a system of oppression. At one point, several members of the community really wanted someone to get on the mic to yell "FUCK THE POLICE!" but when no one stepped up to do it, the mother of a young Black man killed by a sheriff's deputy in 2001 grabbed the mic and gave the crowd what they wanted...and then said, "and the way we'll fuck the police is by continuing to get people together like this and exposing all the shit they do!" Another local activist spoke of the need to videotape the police, and the role that videotaping them can play in stopping brutality from happening, when the cops know they're being watched. A longtime activist from the Nation of Islam spoke on the need to unite all communities when these outrages happen, and the host of a long-running cable access show connected what happens in the projects to what's happening in the U.S.'s wars around the globe. The rally ended with the reading of the Stolen Lives Pledge, led by a Stolen Lives family member.

Later that night, several people from the rally joined others at a spoken word/open mic event called "Cuss 'em Out," organized in conjunction with NDP by a young musician and activist who played a leading role in organizing the march. Instead of just musicians and poets performing for an audience, people took turns, either from the mic or from the crowd, to tell their own stories of police harassment, to talk about things they'd done to build resistance, or to talk about getting rid of police brutality and other forms of oppression through revolution...occasionally interspersed with a poem or original song by some astounding local performers.

The following day, Sunday, a small group of O22 activists and people recruited from the Occupy Greensboro encampment walked down to the old Guilford County, aka "Guilty" County jail and traced the outline of a body on the sidewalk outside to memorialize Ronald Eugene Cobbs, Jr., who had been tasered to death in the jail in 2009. 

* * *

Cleveland, Ohio

A group of 30 people gathered at noon, wearing black, ready to march and protest in front of the police station. Holding signs of loved ones killed by the police and a huge banner with "Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation" on it, people marched and shouted lots of chants, like “We fired up, can't take it no mo' Police Brutality has got to go!"

East Cleveland is a poor, decaying inner suburb adjoining Cleveland. It is a city where 98% of the people are Black. Although there haven't been recent police killings, there have been constant harassment and brutality against the youth there. There is a fight to get rid of the red light speed cameras used to "keep people safe" from speeding cars when in fact they are also used as surveillance cameras. As a community activist said, "These cameras profile Black youth, target them and many times then go after them and arrest them for minor violations." So this year East Cleveland was the target for October 22nd.

Families who have lost loved ones spoke. The Wills family, whose son Guy Wills was killed in 2002 when a cop banged his head against a cement floor, spoke about how the protest must continue until we stop police brutality and murder. Alicia Kirkman, whose son Angelo Miller was shot in the back seven times in 2007, spoke about how on the 911 tape the cop was saying, "put your hands up" and Angelo said, "sir, my hands are up, ain't got nothing." Then the cop shot him in the back. She said, "They ruled it justified, that Angelo had tried to run the cop over; no, if that were the case they would have shot out the front and back windshields."

Al Porter, from Black on Black Crime, a community group based in East Cleveland, said, "Police try to put fear in the hearts of citizens and I don't have to have fear no more. They have too many different police departments, the university police, the transit police, the sheriffs department, and more to turn it into a police state and I refuse to be part of a police state. We will continue to speak our minds and people should speak out too. I implore anyone in earshot to speak out also."

A young Black woman spoke who had gotten a leaflet about the protest: "I haven't lost anyone to police brutality but am here to support those who have to take a stand against police brutality and the criminalization of a generation. I want our children to have a chance and that the lives of people in East Cleveland matter."

A youth from Oppressed People's Nation, a grassroots community group, got on the bullhorn and said, "The oppressed will not stay oppressed forever. We will stop police brutality."

A distributor for Revolution newspaper read the statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party on the Occasion of October 22, 2011. People especially cheered when it came to denounce the mass incarceration of Black and Latino people and the slow genocide going on and the urgency to fight back. Someone said he liked it because it touched on all kinds of people, Blacks, immigrants, and more who are targeted by the police. He said the statement can really bring all the people together around the one cause, stop police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation.

After the rally, several of us went into the Black community of Cleveland, agitated about the movement to Stop “Stop and Frisk” in New York, the movement to stop mass incarceration and more. We got out lots of Revolution papers, introduced people to BAsics and got people signing up to be involved in building the movement for revolution.

As the sun was going down, a Black youth from Occupy Cleveland summed up the day this way: "You have to fight the police because they are not there to protect the people's common will or to understand the situation when they come to your house; the only job for them is to take you to jail. I think it's capitalism and for Black people they love seeing us in that fuckin' cage."

* * *

Minneapolis, Minnesota

This report is from

In a rally and march called by Communities United Against Police Brutality, a good mix of youth from Occupy MN, the University of Minnesota and the community marched with seasoned activists and police brutality survivors to the Minneapolis Police Department's first precinct. The first precinct, in downtown Minneapolis, generates the largest number of complaints of police brutality in the city. They engage in racial profiling and attacks on homeless people going to shelters. They regularly attack Black people leaving the clubs, as a way to discourage people of color from coming downtown. They are responsible for the recent arrests of Occupy MN participants protesting foreclosures at the Bank of America. We received much support and cheers from people along the march, with people thanking us and some joining in.

At the first precinct, the crowd was reminded of the horror that can be inflicted on families by police when a 30 foot scroll containing 161 names of Stolen Lives was rolled down the sidewalk in front of the police station. The Stolen Lives listed were people killed by law enforcement in the state of Minnesota largely in the last 10 years. This year was especially tragic, with 19 names added to the list. A book with stories and pictures of the Stolen Lives was handed out to participants.

Speakers at the first precinct made connections between parts of the criminal justice system, noting the hunger-striking prisoners in California and around the country. Noting that a segment of the 99% sit in prisons, one speaker told about noise protests that have been held outside the local jail in sonic solidarity with the people in the jail. Others talked about the raids one year ago on anti-war and international solidarity activists, attacks on GLBT people, and on the very recent conviction of two Somali women on charges of "material support of terrorism" for raising a few thousand dollars and clothes for charities in Somalia. Both women face over 150 years in prison.

From the first precinct, the group marched to the homeless shelter where police are notorious for their attacks.  Many in the crowd were surprised at the "no loitering" signs posted on public sidewalks around the shelter--yet another way to criminalize homelessness.  At the shelter, people were given a lesson on copwatching and got some practice when staff members who work hand in glove with police came out of the shelter to harass the group.

We spent the rest of the evening copwatching in downtown Minneapolis. People at the event came away with a renewed spirit for taking on police brutality, with a number stating they will be coming to CUAPB meetings, copwatching and getting involved.  From that perspective, we consider this year's October 22 event to be a real success.

* * *

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Harlem, October 21

An Audacious Start to the Movement to STOP Stop and Frisk

It's 12:30 pm on Friday, October 21, in front of the State Office Building on 125th Street in Harlem—a bright, sunny afternoon and something beautiful and audacious is about to happen. You get the feeling that pockets of people across the street, at the edge of the plaza, around and about are watching to see how this will go. Organizers are flyering and telling everybody walking by to stay put—in a few minutes, Cornel West, Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Reverend Stephen Phelps from Riverside Church, Reverend Earl Kooperkamp from St. Mary's Church, and a bunch of other people are going to rally here and then go to the 28th precinct three blocks away to do civil disobedience to STOP "stop and frisk"—the racist, illegal practice by the NYPD under which hundreds of thousands of people each year, 80% of them Black and Latino, are humiliated, brutalized, and worse. The civil disobedience protest, part of a campaign initiated by Carl Dix and Cornel West, was called by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network.

Some of the volunteers handing out flyers have never done anything like this. One is a Black university student who has been stopped and frisked twice since he arrived in NYC from the South just a few weeks ago. He feels like it's time to do something about it. Some people are making their own signs on the spot; others come up, grab a sign, and stand at the ready. The family and friends of Luis Soto, a victim of police brutality, is present with signs saying "We are All Luis Soto." There is a lot of excitement, but this protest is also controversial—a few people argue angrily that it will only make things worse to resist.

Photos: Li Onesto

At 12:45 the group at the plaza, now 30-40 people, hears drumming and chanting from a block away—"STOP Stop and Frisk! Cease and Desist! STOP Stop and Frisk! Cease and Desist!" Cheers and whistles break out as 75 people who have come from Occupy Wall Street (OWS) march into the plaza. They have come on the subway from downtown. People from Occupy Wall Street, revolutionary communists, local residents, and others start taking turns speaking to the growing crowd. People move in close to hear as the group does "mic check! mic check!"—the OWS technique of circumventing the police ban on amplified sound by calling on people to repeat en masse what is said by each speaker so everyone can hear.

Just the night before, the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street, at a meeting of several hundred people, had unanimously endorsed the STOP Stop and Frisk action. Several of the OWS activists have come to join the group that will be arrested. Others have come to support and bear witness. Their group includes five volunteer first-aid medical workers as well as young people of all nationalities from around the country, some of whom just arrived at NYC OWS. The Harlem STOP Stop and Frisk action is being live-streamed for two hours on the NYC OWS website.

John, a young Black veteran who has been part of the occupation and who is going to be a part of the group doing civil disobedience in front of the precinct, had spoken at the General Assembly at Occupy Wall Street the night before, about why they should endorse the STOP Stop and Frisk action. He had said at the General Assembly:

"Hi, my name is John and I'm from NY. I'm also a U.S. Navy veteran. And I also want to share something with you. I have had my own personal experience with stop and frisk. To make a long story short, my friend and I were driving to a restaurant one night and were stopped by undercover detectives. They forced us out of the car, hand-cuffed us, had us sit on the sidewalk while they searched the vehicle, and searched our persons. The made us get to the front of the car, after they had found nothing and then asked us to dance for them. The dance is called the chicken noodle soup. This needs to stop now. There's one more thing, this is very embarrassing and humiliating, It should not happen to any American. That's all I want to say and have a good night."

John says he is telling his story, even though it is humiliating to him every time he tells it, because it needs to be told and this needs to stop. He tells the crowd in Harlem that he is a Black man with no criminal record, but now he will have one.


By 1:00 pm, the scheduled beginning time for the rally, the speak-out was already well underway with a crowd of 200. Carl Dix, Cornel West, Reverend Phelps, Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, Debra Sweet and Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait, and several of the others planning to be arrested arrived and made their way through the densely packed group to speak. It was a strikingly diverse gathering of people—about two-thirds Black and Latino, the rest white, all ages. Most of the OWS group was college age, and there were many more college-age people of all nationalities in the crowd as well. There were activists of all kinds, including several older long-time anti-war activists. People of all ages joined from the neighborhood. Many had heard about the action by getting a flyer or meeting an organizer earlier in the week.

By 1:00 there was also a crush of cameras and several dozen reporters from local and major media in the U.S. and some international. Stop and frisk has begun to be a question broadly. In the previous few days, the Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and New York State Senator Eric Adams had called for a federal investigation of stop and frisk, and there has been a scandal with a Staten Island cop caught on tape bragging about "burning a n*****" when making a false arrest of a Black man after a stop and frisk.

Those planning to be arrested spoke about why they have decided to do this. Carl Dix said, "We are here today to put our bodies on the line to stop this racist, immoral, illegitimate and unjust 'new Jim Crow' from the gateway of stop and frisk to the wholesale mass incarceration of Black and Brown people. We are serious and we will continue until we stop Stop and Frisk." Carl read a quote from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian: "No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to and early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that." (BAsics 1:13)

Reverend Phelps from Riverside Church spoke about his experience with prisoners at Rikers Island prison, and started a chant, "Stop & Frisk don't stop the crime, Stop & Frisk IS the crime." Professor Jim Vrettos from John Jay College of Criminal Justice talked about his belief that stop and frisk is not an effective crime deterrent and called for Jewish people to stand against it as a matter of conscience. Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait said that as a white person living comfortably in Staten Island, she had never experienced stop and frisk, but that of all the horrors this government commits, this is one of the most egregious and she could not live with herself without being part of stopping it.

At the edges of the crowd, the media interviewed people from the neighborhood who told about being stopped and frisked—and later that night, some of these stories broke the sound barrier into mainstream news broadcasts for the first time.

Meanwhile, knots of people intensely discussed and debated with each other. Could this accomplish anything? Could this really be the beginning of a movement that could make stop and frisk stop? Many people in Harlem have been closely watching the brutal police treatment of the Wall Street occupiers in the last few weeks, and now Harlem residents and OWS youth were meeting each other. A few people wondered why these white kids from downtown thought they could come to Harlem and talk about oppression. People would be learning and thinking new things as the afternoon came on. And the answer to their questions would resound that afternoon: Yes, this is the beginning of a movement that can and will achieve the goal of STOP Stop and Frisk. And it is a movement that will be all the more powerful by bringing forward people of all nationalities and from all different walks of life to join together to put an end to this horror. It is a great step forward when fighters on one front take up the fight on all fronts.

As the resisters stepped off for the three-block march to the precinct, the crowd grew to several hundred, with Cornel West, Carl Dix, and the others planning to be arrested taking the front in two rows, arm in arm. Drumming and chanting pulsed up and down the march. People on the sidelines stopped to watch, whipping out cell phones to take photos and videos as the march went by. Youth on the street were amazed: "They're going up in their face at the precinct!" The scene was electric. No one had ever seen or experienced anything like this.

At the precinct, the crowd moved in close as those planning to be arrested lined up and locked arms, blocking the front of the building in an act of civil disobedience. The police had put up metal barricades to control the crowd supporting and bearing witness—but people filled the sidewalk for the full block, with dozens more watching from across the street and on the corners. As several of those preparing to do the civil disobedience made statements, others were still making their decisions on the spot to hop the barricades and join them.

The crowd was tense as the police announced that those who refused to move from the front of the building would be arrested. More than 30 people were then taken one by one, plastic-cuffed and led into waiting police vans as those bearing witness cheered in support and chanted with determination. As the arrests finished, police moved aggressively against a film person for the Pacifica news show Democracy Now. A member of the People's Neighborhood Patrol of Harlem, whose stated purpose is to prevent the police from violating the rights of people or brutalizing them under the color of authority, was pushed, tackled on the ground by the police, and arrested. Anger rippled through the crowd and chants went up of "This is what a police state looks like!" and "The whole world is watching!" People came together and urgently discussed next steps, and then stepped off to march toward the precinct where those arrested were being taken—over two miles away.

The group wound its way through the streets and projects in Harlem, with a short speak-out midway. An elderly anti-war activist made a poignant statement that this was a day she had been waiting for for a long, long time. One spirited group then headed off to go the rest of the way to the 33rd precinct where they rallied in support of those being held there, and others made their way back to the Occupy Wall Street encampment to tell people about what had happened today.

The Harlem civil disobedience action was covered in major media in the U.S. (New York Times, Wall Street Journal,, AP, etc.) and around the world. A report and video on the action were posted on the OWS site.


As this article is being posted, all those arrested have been released with minor violations except two young organizers for the STOP Stop and Frisk Network—one of them the member of the People's Neighborhood Patrol of Harlem who was arrested as the police went after the film person for Democracy Now. They were not released until Saturday night, and are expected to face more serious charges. People are being called on to demand from the Mayor's and District Attorney's offices that charges be dropped.

A new resistance was born with the October 21 action in Harlem, determined to STOP stop and frisk and end mass incarceration—it was real, and people felt it. Some of the boundaries dividing people and weighing down those on the bottom of society were trampled. There were those who hung at the edge of the crowd as the afternoon began, skeptical about young white people coming to Harlem to talk about oppression, who later jumped in and started encouraging people in the projects and the neighborhood to "join us, join us!" There were the young people on 125th Street who ran across the street to embrace people they recognized in the march, and other youth from the neighborhood who stepped to the front. There was the young man heading into the projects loaded down with bags of groceries who told a young OWS person that "If you were here for any other reason I would tell you to get the fuck out of my way, but this is cool. This is good." The coming together of young people, from the middle classes of all nationalities, who are so deeply disaffected and disturbed by the future for themselves and the world under American capitalism, with those who are most deeply suppressed, degraded, and denied their humanity under this system, was righteous and powerful. It started to lift the ceiling on what is possible.

On Thursday, the day before the civil disobedience, Carl Dix wrote on Huffington Post: "This is the reality of what goes on in New York City alone with the New York Police Department's policy of 'Stop & Frisk.' More than 83 percent of those stopped are Black or Latino, many are as young as 11 or 12, and more than 90 percent of them were doing nothing wrong when the police stopped, humiliated, brutalized them or worse. This policy is wrong. It is illegal, racist, unconstitutional and intolerable! It is just one of the many pipelines into the wholesale mass incarceration of a generation of Black and Latino youth. Today there are more than two million people held in prison in the U.S. That is the largest prison population in the world! And it's not just men; more than one third of all women imprisoned in the entire world are in prison in the U.S. Just like the Jim Crow of my youth, this 'New Jim Crow' of mass incarceration and criminalization is totally unjust, immoral, and illegitimate. But just like that like racist regime, it is part of a conscious policy whose roots of white supremacy lie deep within the economic, social, political and ideological fabric of America.

"...yesterday wouldn't be soon enough to get rid of this system that causes so much misery not only to Black and Latino people in the U.S., but to all those disgruntled masses showing up at the many occupations springing up across the U.S., and among the many victims of the U.S.'s wars of aggression in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. Not to mention the environmental devastation being wrought on this planet through capitalist pollution and blind competition.

"Even short of revolution—that is, even if you aren't convinced of the need for revolution or even if you are and want to build up the strength towards the day when such a revolution will be possible—it is incumbent upon all of us to stand up today against and stop one of the greatest crimes taking place every day in plain sight. 'Stop & Frisk' is totally illegitimate and unjust. It is destroying spirits and brutalizing bodies on a mass scale. It is imprinting a tremendous psychic scar, and real shackles and chains, an on an entire generation and is part of a whole system that has no future for our youth.

"It is time—it is past time—for all of us who refuse to sit aside as slow genocide takes place beneath our noses to stand up. From 'Up Against the Wall' to 'Up In Their Faces!' October 21st, we will be conducting non-violent civil disobedience at the 28th police precinct in Harlem, New York City... we are putting themselves on the line to STOP IT. This is the beginning; this is serious; we won't stop until Stop & Frisk is ended."

Friday in Harlem: this was a beginning—a powerful and beautiful beginning—and now this resistance is on. The first wave of new freedom fighters have taken on the New Jim Crow. Now it's up to more people to step up, to be part of planning more actions, starting now—growing this movement, deepening its determination and strength, and involving many, many more people who will not stop until we STOP mass incarceration and STOP stop and frisk.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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We received this flier:

From Up Against the Wall to Up in Their Faces...
A Movement has begun to STOP "Stop and Frisk"
The New Jim Crow just met the new Freedom Fighters

On Friday afternoon in Harlem people stood up and said "Enough!" to our youth getting jacked up and humiliated every day by the NYPD's Stop and Frisk program. Cornel West, Carl Dix, Rev. Stephen Phelps, Rev. Earl Koopercamp and 29 others were arrested in a non violent civil disobedience action blocking the doors at the 28th NYPD precinct in Harlem. Hundreds came out in support including a contingent from OCCUPY WALL STREET which endorsed the action the night before.

700,000 youth will be stopped and frisked in NYC this year. This is the first step in a pipeline that has locked 2.3 million in prison. People movingly testified to their experience of being degraded and humiliated and treated like criminals just for being Black or Latino. Those who have had to live with the fear that these "routine" stops can result in your death if you dare to ask what right the police have to stop you - were able to feel what it's like to not just have to take it. Because these 33 protesters put their bodies on the line to act – while 100's of others stood with them, supporting and bearing witness – you have to say it was a beautiful day for the people.

Time to Get Organized and Fight to Win

A movement of resistance was born today but now it's up to you to help take this forward. We are calling you to step up and be part of what is needed to stop this!

Release and Drop the Charges Against Noche & Jamel

#1: The police singled out 2 youth organizers of the protest, Noche & Jamel – releasing all the other protesters but them. One of these youths is a member of the People's Neighborhood Patrol of Harlem whose purpose is to prevent law enforcement from violating the peoples' rights and brutalizing them under the color of authority. The first thing in building this movement: Demand these young fighters' release and donate funds for their legal defense.

#2: Come Sunday, October 23, 2011 to the IMPORTANT "GET ORGANIZED" MEETING to organize the next action and the movement to end mass incarceration, ST. MARY'S CHURCH, 2:00 PM, 126th Street between Old Broadway and Amsterdam Ave.

When Cornel West and Carl Dix began this movement they wrote: "If you are shocked to hear that this kind of thing happens in this so-called land of freedom and democracy - and it does happen all the damned can't stand aside and let this injustice be done in your name."

Yesterday was just the beginning. This will continue and spread until stop and frisk is stopped!

That requires you. Join or be part of the next action—first one neighborhood, then the next.  Spread the word. Donate funds. To be a part of stopping this injustice join the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. Call us at 973.756.7666 or email to

SUNDAY OCT. 23, 2:00 pm
#1 Train to 125th St.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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October 21: Day of Defiance in Bayview, San Francisco

In the late afternoon on October 21, October 22nd activists and revolutionaries rallied in front of the notorious Bayview Police Station in San Francisco. This is the precinct of the cops who brutally shot down Kenneth Harding in July over a two dollar bus fare, and with guns trained on him, coldly prevented others from giving him aid. Carrying a Stolen Lives banner with the names of some of those murdered by police in the Bay Area and nationwide, the group positioned themselves in front of the main entrance of the station. While people were chanting, "Kenneth Harding didn't have to die, but we know the reason why. The WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS GUILTY," a man and a woman stepped forward and sat down in front of the doors, blocking them. They announced that they were sitting and not moving.

They read a statement saying they were acting "to stop police brutality and murder, mass incarceration and prison torture! And to end the police occupation of our communities!"

"Just like the Freedom Riders who couldn't stomach the Jim Crow laws and customs which legally pushed Black people down and lynched them when they stood up, we cannot turn our heads and pretend we don't see," they stated. "We are acting with moral conscience against laws and customs that are immoral and in effect are slow genocide against Black and Latino people and against the people of Bayview Hunters Point."

The man said they were taking action because of the cold-blooded murder of Kenneth Harding, the constant police occupation of the Bayview community, and the arrest and brutalizing of Fly Benzo, a witness to the murder of Kenneth and anti-police activist.* He said he took inspiration for the Non Violent Civil Disobedience from the actions against Stop and Frisk in New York, the courageous California Prison Hunger Strikers, and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The woman with him, a teacher, spoke from her heart about the horrible situation undocumented Latino families face. She spoke of  "the terrible situation for their families, because ICE comes to get them from their homes, and when the children come home from school they have no parents there. People are taken off the streets, just because they're loitering. And what supposed to happen with the kids, they're home alone without their parents. And usually their parents haven't done anything of any consequence. If you have a conscience out there, you have to help us...leave them alone and leave their parents alone and stop arresting innocent people and targeting people of color. Hands off our youth of color."

They ended by saying, "So this should only be considered a beginning of a nationwide outpouring of mass resistance to this horrific New Jim Crow."

Both were arrested by the police.

A young Latino resident from the Bayview, with a black ribbon tied to his arm, was asked why he supported the action. "Because it is right," he said. Though he had not seen the cold-blooded murder of Kenneth Harding, he had heard about it. He told us that he sees the actions of the police every day in his neighborhood. He also brought up the police murder of the BART rider (Oscar Grant) as an example of what the police do and get away with.

Taking the Struggle Downtown...and to Occupy SF

Miles away, in the heart of downtown San Francisco, the Powell and Market cable car turn-around is a major crossroads for thousands of shoppers, tourists, and all kinds of youth and people from every walk of life. There, people from the Bayview protest linked up with another group of activists, and rallied—calling on people to step forward and become part of the struggle against police brutality and murder. Many, many people stopped to look at the powerful enlargements of centerfolds from Revolution, and other displays of victims of police brutality. Many stopped to talk about their own stories; many were shocked at the extent and scale of police murder; and many ended up with copies of Revolution and flyers calling for people to come to the Bayview for a march the next day.

The rally then took off down Market Street, San Francisco's busiest street, to join up with Occupy San Francisco. The musician Tom Morello had come to Occupy San Francisco earlier that same day, read a poem and gave out free tickets to his concert in San Francisco that night. 

At 6 that evening, at the start of Occupy San Francisco's General Assembly meeting, Denika Chatman, the mother of Kenneth Harding, spoke to the gathering. She had spoken to three high school classes in the Bayview/Hunter's Point area earlier in the day. She told Revolution that the biggest question the students raised was that it was too dangerous for them to protest. She said that they were shocked and impressed that in the wake of her son's murder, she had come down from Seattle to talk to them and to help them confront the reality of what the police are about. 

At the General Assembly meeting, she was greeted very warmly by the occupiers, both before and after she spoke.

She said, in part, "I am here today to endorse Oct. 22, national day of protest against police brutality. I am urging all of you to come out and support it....We have to stand together. We cannot allow this to continue, to take our children. They are the future. We need our kids... I thank you for welcoming me, so please come out and fight back."

Occupy San Francisco had already planned their own protest at 3 p.m. on Oct. 22, listed on their calendar as "national march together against police brutality day." They were also making plans to join up with the Bay Area Oct. 22 Coalition's plans to march in the Bayview district at 12 noon.

* Fly Benzo was scheduled to speak at the October 22nd rally, but was arrested at an Occupy SF rally against police brutality and remains in jail. A "FREE FLY BENZO—ALL OUT TO SUPPORT FLY BENZO" rally has been called for Monday, October 24 at 9:00 a.m., Department 12 at San Francisco hall of (in)justice, 850 Bryant Street.) [back]

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Update from Occupy Bay Area

Alert: Attack on Occupy San Jose, Threats Against Occupy Oakland

We received the following from readers:

October 21—Last night the Occupy San Jose camp had been ambushed at 3 AM by the police. Lawyers say they arrested everyone sleeping in the dozen tents of this Occupy camp, then tore up and confiscated all the Occupiers' belongings. The cops now say Occupy San Jose can't return.

Meanwhile, on Thursday the City of Oakland—run by a "progressive" administration—gave out and posted a "NOTICE TO VACATE FRANK OGAWA PLAZA" (renamed Oscar Grant Plaza by the people) to Occupy Oakland, where dozens of tents are set up right in front of City Hall downtown, due to "public health and safety." On Friday, the City issued a new "NOTICE OF VIOLATIONS AND DEMAND TO CEASE VIOLATIONS." It claimed, "The City of Oakland and its police department support and protect the right of all individuals to engage in free speech and their right to assemble." Then in classic reactionary double-speak it stated, "However, this encampment is a violation of the law," and that Occupiers would be arrested if they didn't leave. One occupier told us people feel the City of Oakland is raising "health" in order to shut down the camp admitting its political motives and that people are determined to hold their ground. This is outrageous and people must mobilize to stop it.


A Day at Occupy SF

From a reader:

October 21—Today a surprise announcement called people to Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco at 4:00, where Occupy SF is now located, for a visit from musician Tom Morello.

I got to Justin Herman Plaza where the Occupy SF encampment has been large for days now, with a constant flow of people coming to participate, visit, or to join the camp by staying overnight or longer.

During the introductions at tonight's General Assembly, the crowd of about 200 gathered campfire style was asked—who was there for the first time? Several dozen hands went up and the crowd applauded and twinkled (silent applause signal). These new folks were not a single crew: some were dressed for office work or for the street; they were young, or older, some were pierced and painted, some were button-down, and some were just ordinary people nobody could characterize without talking to them.

All this was during a relatively calm few hours of the camp, but a lot of people of these many "types" were energized at any word of protests and struggles being announced—whether it was the next day's National Day of Protest against Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation—or protesting a gala fundraising SF visit by Obama next week—or their ongoing back and forth with the city officials about the encampment staying on public park ground. 

There were young people who'd come in from the suburbs; one said he lives where it seems no one cares, and he'd come to the Occupy SF camp because he wanted to be with "people who cared." There were runaway teens whose base camp is Haight Street, who saw my newspapers titled "Revolution" and asked me if this was about "not letting the fucking corporations and racists run the world." There was a well-dressed health care professional in his 60s who wanted to convince me that if only the Occupy movement would make "single-payer health care insurance" its leading demand, the government and the health care corporations would have to see the light. He said he had not had nearly as much hope for change like this, before the Occupy movement, but now he is taking time off work to come down and be at the General Assembly all he can.

When Kenneth Harding's mother spoke just before the General Assembly, there were rows and rows of Occupy protesters hearing her voice. Some knew Kenneth's story, some were perhaps hearing it for the first time. There were tears and embraces from some in the crowd as she finished and many said they'll be coming to the Bayview tomorrow for the October 22nd events. [See "October 21: A Day of Defiance in Bayview, San Francisco"]

I ran into knots of people hanging out in intense but communal conversation circles. Activists from protest groups (anti-war vets, young women in the defend abortion rights struggle, older teachers and writers and poets) would run up to greet each other, smiling and bursting with wanting to share news of the day and invite each other to upcoming events. Young people wearing the black T-shirts of Iraq Veterans Against the War would welcome you and encourage you to stay for the General Assembly – and when I'd get to hear their stories, some of them turned out to have only hooked up with IVAW in the past few weeks since the Occupy Wall Street began.

I noticed a couple of men hovering at the edge of one of these conversations, guys who the mainstream media broad-brush as "homeless people looking for free meals." Any city, any place, you might see men who look like them panhandling, it's just the scenery of a normal SF day. Of the 6 men who I met and shared conversation with, 3 were Vietnam veterans and 2 others had served in the first or second Iraq wars. In each conversation, as we introduced ourselves and shook hands, all of them gave heartfelt testimony about how uplifted they feel right now. One white guy, homeless for years, said this month he's found his mission: doing street outreach about standing up in protest, he spends every day now talking to the "countless" homeless veterans on the streets of SF about Occupy Wall Street movement and organizing people in hope of a better world. Another vet, clearly battered and bruised by life on the street—wanted me to write down his words. He said he wants to make his "small, silent voice" heard because so many others suffer worse than he does, but he believes that standing up against the powerful is what the powerless have to do, and he wants to show others that "you can stand up. We are the 99%." He gave me a homemade "We are the 99%" sticker, and I gave him a Revolution newspaper.

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Houston Day of Defiance

From readers:

Oct. 21—Scores of youth in an inner city school with mainly Black students participated in The Day of Defiance, by wearing Black jackets and/or armbands, and participating in a speak out against police brutality.

This school has been the scene of heavy repression on a daily basis, and intense clampdowns at different points. Last year the school was put on lockdown on October 22, and some students were suspended just for having a copy of Revolution. All the youth at the speakout had experienced or witnessed police brutality. It was a scene where one youth would be telling a story, and others would chime in as their story unfolded. As one youth said, "the story is, we all got stories". Youth said whenever they are acting rowdy with each other, "the police, they be handling us kinda rough, like you can't just separate people? That ain't right." Some of the youth who were initially most confrontational, challenging the revolutionaries, turned out to have deep questions about the situation—why does it keep happening to us, is it the same everywhere, how can it be ended, or is this just the way things are?.

They said the police continually just come in and beat people up; in one case they beat up a 12-year-old boy they accused of organizing dog fights. They also cuffed his 5 year old sister and threw her in a police car, and shot his dog. This 12-year-old is now serving 6 months in the state juvenile system. As the youth were gathering and testifying, police cars circled the area, taking pictures and trying to intimidate people. But most of the youth were not intimidated—many took extra leaflets to take to other students and friends. There was also a lot of talk about "the New Jim Crow." Some had seen a documentary on TV the night before, and one youth pointed out that one in nine Black youth are caught up in the prison system. One young woman said "in Sugar Land [a suburb that holds several prisons], the prisoners are still picking cotton!"

Very few of these youth knew about the Occupy Houston protests taking place just a couple of miles away, but most had a lot of interest in learning about it, and thought it was great that middle class people like that were also rebelling against the system.

Also, Occupy Houston has endorsed the October 22 march and rally in Houston and called on people to participate in it, and we just learned that Occupy San Antonio has endorsed the rally in that city.

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Taking the Reality of "Stop and Frisk" to Occupy Wall Street

Revolution received the following from a revolutionary communist who has been at Occupy Wall Street:

Last night Carl Dix with the Revolutionary Communist Party came to speak to us at Liberty Square about the day to "STOP Stop and Frisk" on Friday October 21. On this day Cornel West, Carl Dix and others will be carrying out non-violent civil disobedience to STOP Stop and Frisk. There are plans for high school students in New York to walk out.. People will be converging in Harlem at 125th and Adam Clayton Powell. Dix spoke about how the NYPD is on a pace to stop 700,000 people this year—that's 2,000 people a day, 75 an hour. He brought out how people at Occupy Wall Street (OWS) need to be in Harlem at 1 pm this Friday to support those carrying out nonviolent civil disobedience and for those who choose to, to join with them, to stand in support of our brothers and sisters who face this every day because this is illegal, unjust and unacceptable. He brought out how the police brutality against people at OWS, the peppers spray in women's faces, the cop punching a protester, was just a glimpse of what many people every single day in their daily lives and in their communities.

That evening hundreds of fliers went out at the OWS General Assembly and a call was read from the Stop, stop and frisk working group, a multinational group of occupiers who came together to build for October 21st (STOP Stop and Frisk) and 22nd (The National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation). The call said in part,

"We, occupiers of Wall Street, wholly challenge the New York Police Department's unconstitutional, racist, and inhumane Stop and Frisk policing practice, and we will voice our opposition and challenge this policing practice gathering at 11:30 in Liberty Square to join the Stop 'Stop and Frisk' rally on October 21, 2011 In Harlem. On Saturday for the 16th National Day of Protest against Police Brutality, repression and the Criminalization of a Generation we will wear black. We will march in solidarity on October 22nd at 12 pm from Liberty Square to join in this day of protest."

People began talking about the reality of Stop and Frisk, some learning about this for the first time, and they began making plans to be there, taking stacks of fliers to spread the word and get organized. Carl Dix also called on people to get out their phones and start tweeting right away about Friday.

Whether Friday is really a day where people stand up against Stop and Frisk and stand with the people on the bottom of society that have this savage inequality bearing down on them every day, could make a difference in actually stopping this. I'll be honest, some people have raised the question, will Occupy Wall Street stand with us? Many people don't know about the reality of mass incarceration and police harassment of minorities, or just what it means to be Black in America. They wrestle with how to compel their friends and comrades to stand for a moment in their shoes. It's true that many people don't know this daily reality, but they hate racism and injustice—it's in our call to occupy and it's part of why we've come out into the streets. But we still don't realize that this is not some distant thing—think about the youth sitting next to you on the train, serving you lunch at McDonalds, or standing next to you as we march in the streets, perhaps just one sleeping bag away in Liberty Square.

Early this morning I awoke after barely falling asleep to the sound of rain clamoring on the tarp over my sleeping bag. As the prospect of laying in a soggy puddle loomed I got up, threw on my emergency poncho and schlepped over to the nearest 24 hour fast food joint to find the group of friends I sleep near already chatting sleepily and drying off. We get to talking and I'm making sure everyone knows about Friday, I start to talk about the reality of this and most importantly the need for people here to act on their conscience and stand with this. A young man chimes in that he's personally experienced this many times and he agrees, it's time to stand up. At first he just mentions that it's happened before, but slowly the stories begin pouring out, and as they do others nod and another person chimes in, how they've been beaten by police, how they've been handcuffed to a hospital bed.

One young person, 25 years old, Black, has been in the military but is no longer with that and has been coming every day to the park, sometimes staying over, he decides to open up and tell these stories...

We were coming from the gym in east New York, me, my cousin, my father, they stopped all of us, maybe five of us, pulled us over randomly for no reason, he didn't pass a stop sign didn't do any illegal traffic moves, two cops came up to the car, I was in the passenger side, one of them was looking in the car, looking in the back, my father said, what are we being stopped for "we'll tell you in a minute." They say. My father works for the department of sanitation they got his work card. They came back and said you can go.

Another time was with my friend in my neighborhood, my neighborhood's quiet, a nice neighborhood. They pulled us over got out of the car, put us in hand cuffs told us to sit in the sidewalk while they searched the car and one of the cops came up to us, they said, the only way we'll let you go is if you dance for us, they said you heard of the dance "chicken noodles soup?" No we haven't, "the only way we'll let you go is if you do chicken noodle soup for us." They let us go when we said we didn't know. They were joking around but to me, it's no joke, they're trying to degrade us.

I've been stopped many times, they just pull up on the side walk. They went through my phone one time, that was a violation of my rights. One time I was waiting for my friend by myself they pull up on the sidewalk they search me take my wallet and phone out the cop goes through the phone sees pictures of my girlfriend "oh you've got some pictures in there." I don't know why you're asking me where I'm going, who I'm waiting for going through my phone.

Those are just a few, it's happened so many times, those are just stand out ones, happens all the time. The neighborhood I live in, it's upper middle class, barely any crime, why do they chose to search us. It's a predominantly Black neighborhood and it's a quiet neighborhood, it's peaceful, but it's a Black neighborhood. I got other neighborhoods they don't stop people like that. A lot of them [the police] too have no respect for the neighborhood they think they can come in and get away with it, a lot of people don't know their rights and even if you do they're still going to do it because it's you're word against theirs.

Multiply that by almost 2,000 times. Every day. That's the reality. Now that you know, it's up to you to act with conscience on October 21, to stand with our brothers and sisters in this struggle.

Think about how just a few weeks ago all the anger and frustration at what this society does to people was boiling beneath the surface on the economic crisis and the criminal actions of corporations and the government, the lack of healthcare, no jobs, no education, mounting debt and the feeling that we don't have a future, and now all of this has burst forth and we are impacting the political stage. It's time for the anger around illegal unconstitutional police stop and frisk and profiling to be heard and it's time to put a stop to this.

We at Occupy Wall Street have right on our side. We have created something beautiful and important and just—and we aren't going anywhere!!! If we aren't standing with people in Harlem on Friday at 1 pm, can people really continue to call out that "We are the 99%"?

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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STOP "Stop & Frisk"
"I will join Cornel West and Carl Dix..."

The following letter was read at a program around Stop "Stop and Frisk" at Revolution Books in New York City:

Dearest family, friends, and supporters:

On October 21st I will join Cornel West and Carl Dix in a civil disobedience action targeted at stopping the illegal, unconstitutional "Stop and Frisk" policy by the NYPD. 600,000 stops and frisks per year; 1,900 stops per day; 85% of which are Black and Latino; we're talking about a policy implemented by the NYPD that deliberately absolves 4th Amendment rights from whole sections of the population, and criminalizes an entire generation of youth because they "fit the description." This is the other end of police brutality, the pipeline to prison—the slow, relentless obliteration of entire communities.

As someone who has grown to "put the world first" and is influenced by revolutionary communism, this issue is very dear to me. As a Black kid growing up, I was raised to know that after a certain age, I would be considered a threat by law enforcement. With each escalating brush with the police during high school, I was reminded by my mother that the most important thing was safety, and I should remain decent, docile and subservient to police officers, especially in cases of abuse. Weeks before I was to leave to embark on a grant to study overseas, I was assaulted and arrested by Boston Police, and had my grant threatened as the State Department refused (initially) to back me up. I learned in jail that night, that it actually doesn't matter if you know your rights, what you're doing, or if you are decent or not, you will always be a target because of your skin color and socioeconomic status. It isn't a decent kid, bad kid thing, nor is it a good cop, bad cop thing; it's systemic.

Although the experience of being a Black male informs my decision, I am not doing this because of some personal vendetta against the police, or even because I am directly impacted by this policy. I am not doing this because I've been stopped, and out of interest for myself, or people like me, want to never be stopped again. I am doing this for mothers, like my own, who have to raise their sons to be docile and complacent with police injustice, knowing that speaking up only means more trouble. And, as police forces around the country wantonly murder child after child, there is the ever present fear that their child, regardless of how complacent they are, can just be another life stolen by law enforcement. I do this for the youth, like the ones I teach, who are offered no options under this system, treated as criminals the moment they mature, and who have come to see themselves that way. No parent should have to raise their child this way; no child should have to grow up this way.

We are at a historical moment, similar to 1950s America, where Jim Crow terror ran rampant, and everyone knew it was illegal, unconstitutional, racist, and illegitimate; yet no matter how much mothers trained their sons in subservience, there was always the threat of lynching. It took people like the Freedom Riders, who, through civil disobedience (it was once illegal to have whites and Blacks sit together on a bus) showed people that they didn't have to take it anymore, and that there was a way out of this. It challenged the humanity of those that "just went along with it," and forced them to take a stand. But in this age, civil disobedience is a crucial missing component in the fight against injustice and oppression. Right now, youth all over the world are rising up against the injustices of this system—and many here in New York have taken part in the Wall Street Occupation. It is crucial that we link arms in the struggle and develop synergy between what occupiers are starting to realize are working class problems, and longstanding concerns in oppressed communities, while recognizing the important role civil disobedience plays tactically and principally in galvanizing mass resistance.

This is why I will be presenting myself for arrest on October 21st at 1:30 pm, as part of a symbolic lockdown of the 28th precinct in Harlem using civil disobedience—and I challenge you to join me. More than anything, we need your strength, encouragement, and support in the coming days. Take the pledge, and join in on the civil disobedience action on O21. We also need masses of people to come down to bear witness, and spread the word online and to your contacts. If everyone forwards this along to their lists, we will reach hundreds more by tomorrow! As we are launching a campaign to end the stop and frisk policy, taking it to a higher level necessitates fundraising, so please give, and give generously. This Friday has the potential to be the beginning of a new kind of resistance, a breath of fresh air for the downtrodden and oppressed.

In Solidarity,


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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"Part of the human saviors of humanity"

Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund received the following letter:

"Us prisoners, along with all the unemployed, the homeless, the starving are the 'human waste material' that Bob Avakian mentions in BAsics 3:16."

4 October 2011

Dear PRLF,

Revolutionary Greetings! I hope this letter finds all your staff doing well and full of revolutionary energy.

I just received Issue No. 246 (25 Sep. 2011) of Revolution newspaper. I was waiting anxiously for this issue last week. When I didn't receive it I suspected that there must've been some mention of the California prisoners' hunger strike which resumed on September 26. The prisoners who participated in this righteous act of solidarity here in this prison (SATF-Corcoran) began eating after a few days, but we are aware that this is a continuing struggle. Apparently prison staff decided to withhold this issue until after we started accepting food so that we wouldn't feel encourage by the support that we are receiving from the outside.

CDC has called this peaceful protest of unjust conditions and policies a "mass disturbance" and threatened us with "disciplinary action" for participating. One prisoner in this cell block was immediately removed from the yard and thrown in the hole on a baseless suspicion of "leading a mass hunger strike". He was put in a building separate from the regular Ad-Seg Unit surrounded by protective custody inmates and mentally ill prisoners making him unable to know when the rest of us started accepting food. Once we started eating he was brought back to the yard.

At this point I'd like to make clear that I don't speak as part of any HS leadership or on their behalf. I am but one of the many thousands of prisoners who found it important to participate in this statewide demonstration to call attention to issues that affect us all in one way or another. My personal reasons for participating have to do with my hatred for injustice and recognition of the need to stand together with all those who protest against what this system does to them. Us prisoners, along with all the unemployed, the homeless, the starving are the "human waste material" that Bob Avakian mentions in BAsics 3:16. We need to understand that we've all been cast off by the same system. Whether we recognize it or not our struggle is part of the class struggle. Our struggle is against the oppressive forces of the bourgeois ruling class. The police who snatched us off the streets, the courts that sentenced us, and the prisons that hold us are all instruments of class rule. Their fundamental function is social control to enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression that cause poverty, homelessness, hunger, and overall misery not only in the neighborhoods we grew up in but also out there in the Third World. The same system that allows the police to brutally murder poor people in the ghetto is the same system that drops bombs on poor people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. The same system that tortures prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Here and all over the world we can find millions of victims of these relations of exploitation and oppression that CDC, the police, the courts, the military, and the bureaucracies are meant to enforce. When we recognize the capitalist-imperialist system as our common enemy, we can come together not just to challenge its latest outrage but in a conscious effort to overthrow it and rid ourselves for good of all the things that people continually feel the need to protest or rebel against.

It is my hope that through this struggle more people come to recognize the true nature of this system. That any "disciplinary action" taken against us only serves to awaken us out of the complacent stupor in which we've found ourselves for far too long. That we recognize not only the need for change but our collective capacity to bring about that change. That we raise our sights, come together in even greater numbers, and "Become a part of the human saviors of humanity". There are sacrifices to be made but we've had very little to lose for a long time. I for one welcome the struggle ahead.

Thank you for your time and your support. Please continue with the amazing work.

In solidarity


P.S. I also just received Away With All Gods. The envelope was postmarked Aug 22, 2011. Thank you.

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Thousands Join Occupy Protests in San Francisco and Oakland

Oct 16 - SF Bay Area. Thousands took to the streets in San Francisco and Oakland on Saturday, October 15, as part of an international day of protest. In San Francisco a crowd estimated by the local Pacifica station to be about 3,000 walked from the Occupy encampment in front of the Federal Reserve Bank to the Civic Center where a rally was held. In Oakland, the rally of several hundred at the City Hall plaza included the mayors of Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond as well as actor and activist Danny Glover.

In both places the crowds were diverse—all ages, nationalities and professions. People were excited that so many people had come out for the day. For many it seemed to be their first time at a protest or march. The emphasis on the international character of the day brought out people from other countries—France, Italy, Germany, Iran. One Iranian woman said she hears so many stories of people losing their homes through foreclosures, getting laid off after working many years, increasingly difficult situations around getting health care and mental health care. She commented that this bad picture is "not in accordance at all with what the government says this system is about—freedom and justice for all." The whole idea that there is a way out of this through revolution and there is a leader to get us there really moved her. She got a copy of BAsics to begin learning about this leader and wants to be part of the movement for revolution we are building.

Danny Glover and others said the movement needs to be bigger, that the day was good, but that it needs to grow and who knows how far it will go. What was happening Saturday, he said, was about humanity and treating people like human beings. That sentiment was echoed in a home-made sign in S.F. that said: "A new system is being born—All over the planet the people will be respected." One young man told us that "this is back to the roots. This is like the 70s again. This is cool." Others compared the day to Woodstock.

In Oakland, the encampment on the City Hall plaza is made up of about 70 tents (in S.F. tents have not been allowed). Most are young people who are wrangling day and night over what is the problem and solution. An "alternative" community is being set up there as in other Occupy sites with a library, food, first aid areas as well as their own security. Many say they are clear that capitalism is the problem but not so clear on the solution. And there is great openness to learn about what BA is saying, to engage, and BAsics was sold broadly.

On Saturday there were many new people from all walks of life who were coming to S.F. and to the Oakland encampment to check it out -- unemployed youth and workers, some professionals, City College students. It really attracted supportive curiosity from all kinds of people. October 22-NDP organizers [National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation] were there and one young man who has been part of the Oakland encampment from the beginning has been organizing people to be part of NDP on October 22. Some Occupy Oakland protesters signed a banner that said "Occupy Oakland fighters support the People from Bayview Hunters Point to Fight the Power." One comment on the banner was "stop hiding unemployed people in prison."

Many people we talked to thought the problem was the politicians being bought off by the corporations. Others thought capitalism was the problem while others said capitalism was fine but it wasn't working well. We showed one person the BAsics quote about how there is no right to eat under capitalism and how it would fall apart if there were such a right. He didn't agree but eagerly engaged with us. People seem to be open and excited to be talking about these topics -- as though a kind of dam burst and their thoughts and frustrations about the way things are come pouring out. One young man said the problem was that 'we're not organized; the banks own us; most of my friends are $20K in debt." There was a current throughout of disillusionment with Obama, and an often expressed demand to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many signs talked of revolution and thought what was happening in the streets the past month is the revolution. And many said they think this movement can continue to grow.

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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"Music with a Conscience" – Chicago Benefit for April 11 Film

We received the following from a reader:

A warm orange-red light bathed the stage, notes from the piano, and then a voice–beautiful yet haunting...

So began the premiere performance of Lament for Cindy, composed for Cindy Sheehan, by the internationally acclaimed New Music composer and pianist George Flynn and sung by mezzo soprano Joanna Wernette. This was an extraordinary performance of Flynn's music on October 10 at Chopin Theatre in Chicago. "Music with a Conscience, the Protest Music of George Flynn" was a benefit to raise funds for the production of the film Occasioned by BAsics, A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World–a documentary of the April 11, 2011 event on Harlem Stage. The Chicago concert and talk-back was also a chance for the audience to hear from and talk to George Flynn about his music and the political context of its creation.

The New Music refers to avant-garde classical music; its composers have challenged fundamental notions about music itself. George Flynn's music is also some of the most passionately intense music you'll hear. It's meant to be felt. George treated the audience to exceptional feats of virtuosity–at times playing clusters of notes with fingers, hands and forearms. George quipped that a critic termed one of his solo piano compositions "one of the most violent piano performances he had ever heard." But at the same time, much of his music is also very beautiful...a music of hope. Throughout the program George explained what he was doing musically so that those unfamiliar would come away with a deepened understanding of its meaning and complexity. An audience member from Berlin, Germany who was interviewed after the performance said, "I liked the way he talked about his art. It's very interesting to know the concepts of creating."

George Flynn taught at Columbia University during the 1960s; he supported the student revolts that closed the university. This was also a time of a great deal of experimentation in music and he, and others like John Cage, filled countless hours composing and playing music in New York City. George was one of the "Angry Artists" who used their art to oppose the war in Vietnam.

George explains, "When I think about certain things, like the Vietnam war, for example, or the student revolts, sound images will come to me. Whether I want to or not, I'll hear a very frenetic band of white noise, say, or a cloud, or a certain musical gesture. Then I work out how to write it. I'd like to think that these pieces can stand on their own–that people who aren't politically aware can listen to the music as music–but this is my way of saying something about political events. It's a way of releasing my own outrage, my own feelings."

A woman who had come to the program directly from the downtown protest of thousands at Occupy Chicago expressed her impressions of George's music this way: "He's kind of timeless. I mean he's unique and creative in his own right but he's timeless in his message." She went on, "A lot of artists don't want to steer people to the political message...and that's part of their art...'we want you to figure it out.' That's why it's kind of difficult as an artist and activist to intertwine those messages."

George Flynn and Joanna Wernette performed a couple of pieces, Land of Blood and Death Has Won the Soul, from his Songs of Destruction. These are songs that he wrote in the aftermath of the Vietnam war. George had put them aside in a box but said "recent events have caused me to 'find them' again." Joanna is not of the '60s generation but rather a new young voice in classical music and she brought these songs to life. Her beautiful voice seared as she captured every nuance of the lyrics of Land of Blood:

"So drink your coffee, sip your tea,
and reflect upon the legacy
of words that inspired the butchery
in the hidden graves of Song My,
the destruction of a society;
words in the name of a world called free,
words in the name of democracy."

George Flynn, Joanna Wernette, Chopin Theater, Chicago, October 10.
Special to Revolution

A jazz musician in the audience was deeply impressed with the fact that George Flynn hasn't "given up" all these years since the 1960s. He was wondering aloud "what happened with all those musicians...did they just go out and try to make money?" He was drawn by George's optimism and wants to see a new culture that speaks to the possibility of a new world.

A highlight of the evening was the showing of the trailer for the film that's being made of the April 11 event, On the Publication of BAsics, A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World. Audience members were moved by the comments of those participating on Harlem Stage and spoke of being drawn to Maggie Brown's words, "we should use our art and our cultural expression to uplift, to solve problems, to make it better..." A young woman who had BAsics but hadn't read it yet decided on the spot that she had to read it after hearing Carl Dix's reading from BAsics 2:8, "Imagine if we had a society where there was culture–yes it was lively and full of creativity and energy and yes rhythm and excitement, but at the same time, instead of degrading people, lifted us up. Imagine if it gave us a vision and a reality of what it means to make a whole different society and a whole different kind of world."

At the end of the trailer scroll the words, "This was a night where people felt a door open to a future possibility out of this madness... a different way to think, feel and be. Watch the upcoming full length film...walk through that door." It was very significant that an artist of the stature of George Flynn dedicated his night of "Music with a Conscience" to raising funds to make this film a reality.

Many among the audience expressed that they knew nothing of the New Music before hearing George, but went away transformed. It was an example of what could be accomplished in a new society where people would be unleashed to create and experience works of art that challenged society to see and do things a different way.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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BAsics at LitCrawl

Revolution received the following report:

October 15, 2011. In San Francisco, on the culminating evening of the weeklong literary festival, Litquake, there is an evening called LitCrawl where hundreds of people rove from venue to venue during the evening, for three sessions of one-hour readings. This year, 70+ author events were held in the Mission district, at bookstores, cafes and other venues. Revolution Books hosted a reading called "The World Cries Out for Revolution." This event featured readings from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian as well as works by the participants.

Appearing in the standing room only café were journalists Larry Everest (Revolution newspaper) and Steven T. Jones (San Francisco Bay Guardian), former San Francisco poet laureate devorah major, and actor-director Michael Lange. At the end of the readings the audience, many of whom were hearing about Bob Avakian and BAsics for the first time, joined the host from Revolution Books in a heartfelt people's microphone-style reading of BAsics 1:13 – "No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."

Send us your comments.

Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Seattle Occupy Update

October 20—Five thousand people turned out on October 15 in Seattle at Westlake Park for the international day of solidarity with the Occupy movement. For three hours an amazing variety of people poured out their hearts about why this movement has spoken to them and moved them to act. There was a contagious, generous spirit passed among people as one man from the stage told everyone to look at those standing next to them and say, "I'm with you"—a little glimpse of what a cooperative world would look like. Isolation being broken down, a love for humanity and connectedness developed. A woman and her daughter came to the Revolution Books table and both were in tears. The staffer asked if they were alright, they could barely talk. The woman just held her heart and she shook her head, yes, she was just so happy.

Thousands marched to Chase Manhattan Bank. Youth burned dollar bills and cut up their bank credit cards while others tried to withdraw their money and close accounts. That evening over 100 tents were set up in defiance of orders and previous arrests by city authorities. All that night and the next day the park was a scene—"young high school kids making their own protest signs, parents with their kids, a huge banner stretching along a main street through downtown saying "Occupy Seattle" and another saying, "War is Terrorism." Intense discussions were going on among knots of people from very different walks of life—'"a teach-in on the Tar Sands Pipeline protests, workshops on racism, revolutionaries engaging people over the Revolution special issue on the environment and struggling over the difference between Bob Avakian's new synthesis communism and Castro's or Chavez's "socialism." A young college student holding a sign saying "This is the shit Marx was talking about" was excited to learn about Revolution newspaper and got the BAsics special issue. The issue got out to many who had never heard about BA or this revolution.

On October 17, the city moved against the encampment, removing all the tents and arresting eight people. Night after night police have moved through the encampment carrying billy clubs and dangling handcuffs, shining lights in people's faces, harassing people and waking them up so they couldn't rest. Despite arrests, harassment and threats, the encampment and the spirit among people continues despite disagreements and some sharp differences. There has been growing discussion and debate about what the police's role is in society and there are many questions. Won't the police have a reason to attack us if we protest them? Yes, they do bad things but they are part of the 99%, aren't they, and so can't they be won over in time? If the police are part of the system, what does that say about what kind of change is necessary? Everyone is learning a lot. The National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality on October 22nd has been endorsed by Occupy Seattle and will start at the Occupy site.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Voices of those cast off by the system

Revolution issued a call in August to our readers to respond to the 3:16 quote from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, "An Appeal to Those the System Has Cast Off."  We received many responses written by those the system has cast off, as well as from many others. In this issue we are featuring responses from prisoners, an ex-prisoner and high school students in an oppressed community. We were able to run a small number of these responses into the print edition of Revolution, and many more are being reprinted here. We will be publishing more responses in future print editions of Revolution. We've made every effort to preserve the voices of those who have written to us, making changes only in cases when not doing so might be confusing to the reader, or to protect the privacy of the authors.




From Prisoners


Corcoran CA, 9-19-11

I just received your letter where you're asking me to share my thought, drawings, etc., relating to BA's quote 3:16. I am sharing some of my thoughts on a separate sheet of paper. I appreciate your letter and encouragement. Thank you for listening and your time as well.

In Solidarity

"An appeal to those the system has cast off" 3:16

I like Bob Avakian's quote 3:16 because he speaks to people plainly, and [des]cribbed things accurately, while never losing his poetic side.

This system and its enforcers have treated us (the vast majority of people) so much as human material waste. They tell us (by their actions) that if we're not rich, our lives are worthless. They tell us that if we don't have any money, we're not worthy of receiving health care, an education, proper housing or any other of life's basic necessities. They tell us that if we want to be somebody in life, we have to adopt their views and morals, which are, to put ourselves above everyone else; to see people being worth more or less than others; to always want more—even if there's people with absolutely nothing! But we have to reject everything that that the capitalist/imperialist try to impose on us. We have to as "BA" so clearly states, "raise our sights above the individual battle to be somebody on the terms of the imperialist, and be the gravediggers of this system and the bearers of the future communist society". Nothing ever stays the same. Things in this world have to be very diffe[re]nt, and they can be—we can/must make it happen.

In Solidarity,


Crescent City CA, 9/2/11

For so many who have been born and bred in the gutters of society here in America being a "cast off" is a label not only excepted but in some cases it's one that is inviting.  For the many who all that is known is a life in the slums to the prison house this existence is the norm.  One becomes the oddball in the Barrio to grow up not one of the "cast offs", and for prisoners to lift their consciousness out of the prison cell and take interest in world events, this may also be odd in some prisons but the truth is that even prisoners play a role in 'world events', prisoners have long been seen as "freedom fighters' after all it is the prisoners who are bound in chains (literally) in society, most are also bound mentally to chase the dope sack etc. but prisoners are the one's in a society who once politicized would be amongst the fiercest fighters and the backbone of a revolution.  We can see this materialize in looking to past Revolutions where the prisons are emptied to engage in the Revolution and push the peoples momentum forward, yet in Societies where tyrants hold power where the people are enslaved in their own countries and Revolution erupts the state usually will execute all the prisoners, this because it's known the prisoners for the most part are a potentially revolutionary force.

This 'appeal to those the system has cast off' is not a fictional theory or some make believe statement. What occurs in this country is real and millions are 'cast offs'.  The Washington Post released an e-mail on march 27, 2011 from the director of Ice Detention and removal operations that he sent back in Feb of 2011 to field offices.  in the e-mail he complains that Ice is currently deporting 437 people and is a low number and they are behind and wont reach their goal etc.  What is important when information like this comes out is it show's that its not just a matter of a law enforcement agency like Ice deporting people they find, it show's they have numerical goal's to their methods where a certain amount of poor people are not rounded up, someone nudges them to round up more, not for supposed crimes but for not meeting a quota.  The fact that millions set in prison cell's across america not because of supposed crimes but probably for some quota become alot more clear.  The hyper policing in poor communities is not done by accident it is because the state sees these Barrios and ghettos as areas where undesirables dwell, where cast off's live.  This is why most of these slum areas have police patrol cars with military grade surveillance systems, this technology like cameras and iris scanners are becoming more and more common, programs like Guardian, E. Guardian which collects 411 video, diagrams etc opens the door for people to anonymously report their neighbors for suspicious activity, and like any other program designed by the state for poor people it will be abused.  The targeting of economically depressed communities with such "programs" is not because the state cares about poor people, not because poor people in its agenda rather it is another way to capture our youth, it is another way to collect any rebellious elements or to put simply it's the state looking at it as cutting their toenails, a matter of maintenance.

The treatment the "cast offs" here in America receive is not distinct to the U.S. for the U.S. see's the cast off's as a global phenomenon. To be truthful here U.S. cast off's actually are treated with velvet gloves compared to the third world cast off's.  At this time a million Iraqi's have died since the U.S. occupation.  That's 1 million poor people, 1 million cast off's sent to the grave yet we never hear any uproar from the U.S. capitalist media.   This should be the gauge for what type of society we are currently living in where the media along with large swaths of the masses have become numb with the savagery of capitalist society.

What prisoners need to do is understand that the Imperialist's do not have our interests in mind, the Kourts offer no chance at justice for poor people in general and the Revolutionary prisoner in particular...

Through the madness of capitalist America, a society in which anything from the state is for sale, where poor people are hunted down like game and have no place to thrive politically only thrown to the dungeon where 2+ million of-us dwell and languish I can say this repression has created something in me that no college classes or Ivy League university could have created for me and it's a breath of humanity and the essence of what the people should be struggling for.

en la lucha


TX, Sept. 12, 2011
Dear Revolutionary Family,

I first started getting into trouble with the law when I was five or six and I've been in jail, on probation or parole, or "at large" for the past fifty years; I learned early this system holds no hope for me nor should I hold any hope for it. And yes, I've tried to play it straight and follow the rules, but you know the game is rigged so there must be a steady percentage of losers in order for the "house" to stay afloat. I have "Enemy of the State" tattooed across my breastbone because I came to realize I'll never be one of the lucky few Bob Avakian spoke about in BAsics 1:11 who manage to slip through the meat grinder of this capitalist system.

I have come to believe Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party are the only true friends of we who are forced to live beneath the belly of the beast. Everyone else blames us for our circumstances: We don't wear our pants at the proper height, or our hair's too long (or too short)- all these hoops we must agree to jump through in order to succeed in life- and these are all excuses why we failed and the system didn't. And it's all a pack of lies!

The truth is the government won't save us regardless of how we dress or act. Jesus won't save us no matter how often we pray; nobody is going to save us from this predatory system if we refuse to rise up from the muck and save ourselves. To hope and pray (and vote!) for an 11th hour rescue from above, divine or otherwise, is quite simply a fool's errand.

But it's not necessary for us to live like swine, focusing all our energies on muscling our way up to the trough so we can scarf up more than our brother and sister swine. It's possible to lead a life of dignity and respect- a life with real meaning!- outside of the framework of the present system by dedicating our lives to something greater than ourselves: genuine communist revolution.

I'll be in superseg until I've finished this 25-year-sentence in late 2014, but as soon as I'm released you can be certain I'll be dedicating the remainder of my life to getting the word out about Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party because, frankly, nothing else has as much meaning.

I have nothing but love for my brothers and sisters: Black, white, red, yellow, or brown; and I envision a world in which we truly treat each other like the brothers and sisters we are.  But I know that world will never come to pass without revolution, and so I'm sending out a plea to everyone who really cares and has the courage to hope (not Obama hope- which is bourgeois hope- but genuine revolutionary hope), please focus on supporting the Revolutionary Communist Party and the truly amazing work of Bob Avakian.  If you think about it, I believe you too will find nothing else has as much meaning.

Together we will make it happen...

Yours for the revolution!

P.S. Hope you're able to use this heart-felt letter to promote your most excellent cause. I have nothing at the present time but empty words and a deep and abiding love, but I'm forever at your service.



Please be advise I would like to raise my sights above the degradation and madness, so I am requesting the following books be shipped to me expeditiously.

(1) BAsics
(2) Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy
(3) Const. for the New Socialist Republic in North America.
(4) Away With All Gods.

In the Struggle
XXX, A Prisoner from New York


Dear Revolutionary Comrades,

I am writing this letter in response to your letter encouraging us to respond to the quote from BAsics 3:16. I am proud to be able to respond and hopefully my words will become part of the October 9th issue.

We are the downtrodden of society--prisoners, ex-convicts, homeless people, poor folks, and minorities. We are the people the so called "Statue of Liberty" called to America "send me your poor...your huddled masses". this so-called promise of freedom for all.

What freedom? The freedom to be beaten, spat upon, called names, discriminated against, incarcerated in record numbers, and killed everytime some cop gets the urge?!? That is the "freedom" we are offered in capitalist-imperialist America.

While the imperialist continue to proclaim that America is the "land of the free", the great bastion of equality, and the land of opportunity: cops somewhere are mudering an innocent, Neo-Nazis are rallying in West Alssis, Wisconsin and around the nation, American soldiers are murdering civilians--men women, and children--in countries across the globe, children are going hungry in the streets and ghettos across America, and hate crimes are being committed by people who consider themselves "patriotic Americans". If this is the freedom, quality and opportunity America offers the Imperialists must have a different dictionary to define these words.

It is time for the down-trodden masses to rise as one with one voice and proclaim "we are done! we are done being victimized by this system, done being beaten, spat upon, name-called, discriminated against, imprisoned and murdered! Done!" This one voice, the voice of the masses is Bob Avakian.

We can be the "gravediggers of this system". We can be the ones who bring real freedom, equality, and opportunity. We can bring forth a new world, a new society, a communist society. We can! we can and we must.

Thank you for this opportunity to respond to the BAsics. Thank you for all the work you do on behalf of all of us. I look forward to continuing to stand with the RCP and Bob Avakian after my release later this year.

In Solidarity,


Prisoner from Indiana, Mon. Sept 19, 2011
To whom this may concern,

What does Basics 3:16 mean to me?—a person who's spent ALL of his twenties and more in prison; who's sustained multiple gunshot wounds by the hands of the police and nearly died; who've personally witnessed many dudes starve of all life after spending numerous years in supermax facilities—some whom committed suicide because they just couldn't take it anymore; who didn't read no more than five books before coming to prison, but once he did, finally discovered many of the circumstances that had produced and perpetuated the contempt he once had for life itself.  So again, you may ask what it means to me?—a person who's always felt an omnipresent alienation by this system, but for the longest wasn't capable of placing a definitive circle around that "thing" which was the responsible entity behind that alienation.  What does it mean?  George Jackson and everybody who identifies with him is what it means.  If he was still alive today, I think he would sum it up with the same words he left us in Soledad Brother 40 years ago:

The men of our group have developed as a result of living under a ruthless system, a set of mannerisms that numb the soul.  We have been made the floor mat of the world, but the world has yet to see what can be done by men of our nature, by men who have walked the path of disparity of regression, of abortion, and yet come out whole.  There will be a special page in the book of life for the men who have crawled back from the grave.  This page will tell of utter defeat, ruin passivity, and subjection in one breath, and in the next, overwhelming victory and fulfillment. (p. 86)

In Solidarity,


Prisoner from South Carolina, September 13, 2011
Dear RCP;

This is in response to Mr. Avakian's "An Appeal to Those the System Has Cast Off." It is the story of a close friend of mine, an immigrant, and I feel it represents the thousands upon thousands of others like her who have also been cast off by the system. I am also including a poem penned by myself. Should you use either in the October edition of Revolution, I give you permission to edit them freely as you see fit. While I give you guys much props for standing for a most worthy cause, it is also every conscious individual's job to awaken the slumbering masses.

While incarcerated on this sentence I serve, a young friend of mine confided in me inside a semi-crowded visitation room that she contemplated selling her body. Now to be a sensitive and thoughtful twenty-five year old mother of two and have been brought to this drastic conclusion in dotcom America seems... out of place. Yet, upon closer inspection so does the continued mass incarceration of blacks and a government that caters largely to the Haves, even while appeasing its oppressed Havenots with gestures that amount to placing "Band-aids" upon "bullet wounds." Still, I was staggered by my friend's revelation, and angered. You see, the reason that brought about her bleak contemplations of becoming a prostitute was she was unable to work and thus unable to provide for her two little boys. The reason she was unable to work was because she is an immigrant and the INS -- in the harsher, post 911 Bush era -- caught and acted upon some discrepancy that was made in her paperwork when she came across from her native [country]. What kills is she was all of six years old at the time and the discrepancy was made by her mother, not her. So the INS decided they would strip her of her citizenship, her green card, and planned to schedule a meeting sometime in the indefinite future to see whether or not she was to be deported to her Mother country, which was not quite as alien to her as it is to me. (I've never been there, by the way.) Oh, and she was told that should she be deported, she herself would be responsible for her children's transportation and care. Yet she was flat broke and, with her citizenship revoked, unable to attain a job. Prior to this, she'd been working at a restaurant, raising her boys as a single parent, and planning to take the required course to become a certified nurse. Her dream deferred, she chose to focus on providing for her children, like any mother would. They were seven and nine, attending school and always growing-out of clothes and out of shoes. She decided to act: at the risk of further penalization, she attained a job at a local bar in which she was to be paid under the table. Her employer propositioned her for sex and one of its patrons sexually accosted her upon her first night there. It was also her last. The second, and final, illegal job came months later when she found work with a small construction business that put up sheetrock. Excluding the boss, the entire crew were all Mexican and also being paid under the table. After earning $600 after her first month she felt ecstatic. Maybe this small victory was just a beginning. Maybe the tide had changed for the best and, hell, maybe the wizard would visit the INS mucks and grant them hearts. However, after her second month she was dismayed and shocked when the boss said he wasn't paying them, that they would have to wait until next pay period -- and, no, there would be no back pay. Another young lady, the only other female besides her, told my friend that he'd done this before, more than once in fact. So, fuming and humiliated, she quit. It was around this time she became diagnosed with cervical cancer and wound up sitting across from me in that visitation room, audibly considering the sacrifice of her body for her kids. Actually considering in earnest what others have hypothetically, due to her circumstances. And what crime did she commit to be left out there, abandoned by her adopted country? None. The fact is America leaves its women defenseless, vulnerable to the wolves, and to quote another author, eats its babies. FIGHT THE POWER!!

Hope's Hungry by xxx

These snakes be ticking
These clocks be hissing
As time keeps on slipping into the abysmal distance
Into a promising bright future
That promises to be wholly resistant
To your dark, unholy existence
A white future featuring a black past
Though, what I'm really speaking of is the grey present
And it is not a gift
It is simply an intermediate interval
A rift
The revolution will not be televised
Instead it will be compounded into quarks
Encased inside siliconized parts
And then given a web address
Yes, it will be digitized
But don't goof on your Google search
Or you'll end up with the Revolving Vibrator, parts one and two
And an unquenchable carnal thirst
While the earth is swiftly being stripped
By the needy (greedy) masses
An earthly stripper languidly spins upon her metal axis
Electric hips gyrate as thumping base pulsates
While in a remote village a sudden earthquake utterly devastates
And it is not sexy at all
In war soldiers collide
Indiscriminate bullets fly, vicious surreptitious missiles explode
Then, dead, enemies lie side by side
Faces composed in the most quiescent repose
Having finally achieved in death what was in life fought so vigorously for
And a release from the backstage machinations of madmen
Revered leaders who amount to big boys with bigger toys—
Toys that destroy, that is—
A flower emerged, birthed from the
Overburdened earth's womb
While a child, nurtured by motherly love,
The child is the son of a dead soldier
The flower grows atop his father's tomb
And in this way, hope is constantly renewed
Even as it consumes.


TX, June 13, 2011
Dear family,

Greetings from the Texas gulag!  I've been slowly rereading BAsics and it's occurred to me I've somehow been missing a lot of the finer points Bob Avakian has been saying all along.  In this light the caveats and misgivings I've brought up in the past look suspiciously like plagiarism; as I say, Bob addressed them and I simply missed it.

There's a saying in the Jewish Talmud:  We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are.  Mark Twain observed this common projection phenomenon in this way:  He wrote, "{w}hen I was sixteen my dad was so ignorant I was embarrassed to be seen with the old man; by the time I was twenty-one I was amazed at how much he'd learned in five short years."

This captures my experience with Bob Avakian perfectly.  I'm simply amazed at how much he's learned in the past five years that I've been studying revolutionary communist literature.  If he keeps this up it won't be long before he's fully politically literate!

I only have one criticism of BAsics:  I think it was a major oversight not to include a comprehensive index in the back of the book for easy reference by topic.  I find myself quoting Bob's keen observations often and, it's a pain in the ass without an index.

One passage that really speaks to me is 3:16 (ironically, John 3:16 is a favorite Christian passage I was required to memorize in my youth).  Bob addresses the lumpen proletariat—though I've never seen him use that term—"{r}aise your sights above the degradation and madness, the muck and demoralization, above the individual battle to survive and to 'be somebody' on the terms of the imperialists—of fouler, more monstrous criminals than mythology has ever invented or jails ever held.  Become a part of the human saviors of humanity:  The gravediggers of this system and the bearers of a future communist society."  These are profound words spoken by a profound man.  These words force me to confront an obstacle and an intense terror for me:  I can envision no positive future for myself and I'm absolutely terrified of getting out of prison.

My past life before prison was one of drugs and petty crime—it's really all I know.  When I'm released in 2014, I will have been in prison a quarter-century with the last eight years spent in superseg. or permanent solitary confinement;  I'll be one month shy of my fifty-eighth birthday.  I simply cannot see myself competing in a stagnant marketplace for a living wage with young men & women with a stable work history and no criminal record; nevermind the stress of being abruptly dropped into a totally alien environment after eight years of sensory deprivation.  My release is a fucking recipe for disaster!  The pull back into a criminal lifestyle is going to be exceedingly strong and, from where I'm sitting, I see no reasonable alternative.  I'm too "gifted" a criminal to sleep under bridges...How I wish the R.C.P. had a revolutionary commune or other place for people to live to escape the "individual battle to survive and to 'be somebody' on the terms of the imperialists..."

If a nut job like David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, and other fundamentalist Christians, can build retreats, I know the R.C.P. with its amazing reservoir of brains and talent could create a healthy & wholesome revolutionary environment where society's "incorrigibles" could go to learn and evolve and develop a symbiotic relationship with the R.C.P.  I could really get behind something of this nature.  In fact, if any of my family has ideas along these lines please contact me—I want in!  (I promise I won't ask for money or say anything to embarrass you or myself.) 

The point I'm trying to make is:  I'd love to be a "gravedigger of this system" but I don't think I can do it alone.

Yours for the revolution, XXXXXX


Corcoran CA, June 15,2011

I hope this letter finds you all in the best of health and as enthusiastic as ever about making revolution.

I am one of the many prisoners who depends on the generous donations given to the PRLF.  Without those donations I wouldn't have been able to receive this copy of BAsics which I hold in one hand as I write this letter.  I want to thank all PRLF volunteers and all the donors who have contributed to the campaign to get 2,000 copies of BAsics inside of prisons.

I also want to urge everybody out there to get their hands on this book and to help get it into the hands of others, not just prisoners, but into the hands of youth who are in danger of becoming prisoners themselves.  There are kids out there who actually know that life in prison could be part of their foreseeable future.  I know because I was one of those kids.  Get this book into their hands now before they end up in a cell next to mine for hurting someone in their own community.  Direct them to BAsics 3:16, show them there's another way and bring them forward.  Help them unlock their potential and give them a sense of purpose that doesn't involve killing each other.  Give them an alternative to the criminal lifestyle that doesn't involve conforming to this horrid system.  That is what they need, that is what they ache for.  They want to rebel, they just have to be introduced to the correct way to do so.  Put them on the path to becoming communists and becoming part of the revolutionary army that [when the time comes] will sweep capitalist imperialism off the face of the earth. Keep up the great work        

In Solidarity



TX, August 30, 2011

Greetings, Staff of Revolution newspaper, RCP Publications:

This is in response to your letter of August 22, 2011, An Appeal to Those the System Has Cast Off. I am a new subscriber to RCP Publications' Revolution newspaper, and you have provided to me a copy of CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) From the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. I have not read BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian.

My involvement in American politics consists of about eight years as a Delegate (or Alternate) to the Texas State Republican Party Conventions in the 1990's. I was one of the ultra-right wing insurgents that hijacked the GOP in Texas and swung Texas to the "Religious-Right" as we presented many of our so-called Family Values resolutions to the platform. I regret much of what we forced onto the agenda at that time, including prejudicial views that limited personal freedoms, over-criminalizations and punitive justice laws. Now, I have been disenfranchised under the criminal justice system of Texas with the lingering hope that human rights advocacy groups will straighten out some of the problems that I wrongfully helped to construct.

Although I cannot say that I am in support of all that the RCP-USA proposes, because much of the material I have seen so far seems a bit idealistic, I appreciate your view of a world to save-and to win. Certainly most Americans are sick and tired of business-as-usual government, or else President Obama's "Change" platform would not have succeeded; yet it appears that effectual change is too difficult from within the political institution of US government.

In WHY GOOD PEOPLE DO BAD THINGS: Understanding Our Darker Selves, the author, James Hollis, PhD, in a Chapter entitled. Lowest Common Denominator, explains the shadow of institutions:

We need to create institutions whenever we need to affirm, preserve, and transmit values, perceptions, agendas, causes and revelations. An institution is a formal structure for the purpose of maintaining and transmitting values. As history bears witness, however, institutions over time gain their own identity, their own momentum, and often ironically outlive their founder's vision and values, even as they continue to grow and complexify from generation to generation. All of us have been victimized by bureaucracies; all of us have felt depersonalized by institutions. Institutions tend to become bloated and top-heavy with administration, and they ultimately evolve their own structure, self-serving values, even if they contradict their original vision. Specifically, in time, institutions devolve to serve abstract principles more than their founding values:

1. The survival of the institution, even after it has lost its raison d'etre, even in contradiction of its founding values.

2 The maintenance, preservation and privileging of its priesthood, whether professors, priests, politicians, or corporate presidents.

So, a question I would ask, and I am sure many of the readers of the RCP Publications' materials would want to know, is: If the proletarian revolution resolves into the New Socialist Republic in North America with its own founding values, how long will it be until it devolves, and what will it look like? Will we be in a better situation under the RCP than under our current form of representative government?

This issue of Revolution newspaper is dedicated to the bearers of the future communist society, many of whom were degraded, demoralized, victimized or trashed by a governmental system that has become contradictory to its own founding values. I hope that those bearers are so enlightened, and their leadership so visionary, as to guard itself from those same practices.

Respecfully Submitted for Publication,

Signed on August 30, 2011 at
XXX, Texas

Thank you for the invitation to submit my opinions to your newspaper.

Bag of Hot Air


To RCP Publications

Revolutionary greetings. My name is XXX. I am a California prisoner and reader of Revolution newspaper. I wanted to respond to the call that was made to readers to submit letters in response to BAsics 3:16. Not long before I read BAsics I had been inspired by Bob Avakian and the RCP to become a communist so I'd like make a short statement and hope that it reaches you in time to contribute to the upcoming issue. If not I hope that you can at least post it on your on line edition.

I am one of those this system has cast off and counted as nothing and it is my hope that others like me will answer this appeal. This system never has and never will have anything good to offer us. We've been caught up in fruitless struggles always at the bottom rung of society, always among the exploited and oppressed, trying to get ahead, scrambling for crumbs, or trying to profit off the misery around us. We never gain anything lasting other than lengthy prison sentences, while those who rule over this system that is based on and thrives on exploitation, oppression, and outright murder never have to worry about setting foot in one of these cells. They leave houses empty even while scores remain homeless, they withhold food from starving children even though there's enough food to feed everyone on the planet. The right of a few filthy rich capitalists to turn a profit takes precedence over meeting the most basic needs of billions living in the worst kind of poverty and misery and they don't hesitate to drop bombs on innocent people to keep things this way. Our life could be about putting an end to all this instead of a senseless pursuit to be the baddest muthafucker on the block. The most important and worthwhile thing we can do is answer this call and become "the gravediggers of this system and the bearers of the future communist society." There is a world to win.

In Solidarity



Prisoner from Pelican Bay State Prison, September 22, 2011

Dear RCP,

The first thing that popped into my head when I received the form letter from you and read the quote from BAsics was a childhood memory I have from back when I was in Jr. High in the mid-eighties. Back then I had to go church a lot with my family, and one evening after bible studies one of the older guys came up to me and started talking to me about the bible. He suggested that I start memorizing scriptures as part of my religious schooling, so he gave me my first one- John 3:16. It's the one that says "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so man should not perish but have everlasting life," or something close to that. It occurred to me how far I had come over the years to the point of now being a proud and open Atheist with a capital "A." From that day on I began the task of memorizing the BAsics quote word for word. A difficult task being that it's so long, but I'm glad to inform you that I've registered it to memory- hopefully for good. It also occured to me that as part of my revolutionary studies (rather than religious studies), I would now start the process of memorizing other BAsic quotes. Not necessarily any of the long arduous ones, but the short single ones. I also suggest that others do the same thing. I don't mean in some superficial, mechanical sense just for the sake of doing so. I mean as part of an educational process. Obviously, it's important, and necessary, to fully comprehend the lessons within the quotes- or any other revolutionary material you come across for that matter. But if we're going to be promoting BAsics as the successor to Mao's Red Book, then we should have certain parts committed to memory so that we're prepared and ready when we're discussing and promoting (even debating) B.A.'s work. That's the reason why religious people memorize verses from the bible, or at least one of the reasons why they do it. And in a sense, BAsics is like a bible- so to speak.

I know this doesn't get to the heart of what the form letter was looking for in regard to what the quote means to me. But at the same time, this is a way of us raising our sights through the educational, and scientific, process. Knowledge is power, and, in my opinion, this is a way of enhancing our knowledge within our individual studies. I've even taken the initiative to memorizing (and fully understanding) the three main points on the second page of every issue of Revolution. I hope this brief and simple suggestion will be of use to some, while I'm sure that others will have a more suitable approach that is in line with their own personal styles of learning. To those, however, who find themselves similarly situated as I am, it's a great and beneficial way to pass the time in a cell.  With that said...

Respectfully, in struggle,



From High School Students

A teacher at a high school in an oppressed community, who has read some of BAsics and saw the special Revolution issue on BAsics, invited a revolutionary to speak to her classes about BAsics. The discussion focused on 3:16, "An Appeal to Those the System Has Cast Off," and the students were asked to write their thoughts about this quote. Out of five classes, about 50 students responded. The following are some of what they wrote:


"Rising above the individual battle to survive." I agree with this quote because as me living in [neighborhood] people/society set us up for failure and a lot of let them when we give up. So us as kids should stand up and show the system we can do it and not let the white supremacist cast us out!


People who are being oppressed need to stand up to their oppressors. Because no one is going to defend them. I think that people of color have a big disadvantage when it comes to being treated inhumane but if people would stand up one by one they could all fight the oppressors that create a huge struggle for a whole group of people.


It's talking about capitalism. It's also saying that communism is beneficial to them. People who are being cast off are people in jail and black and brown people in general. Also people of diff religious/diff beliefs, gays and lesbians. All these people are being treated as human waste material. Become someone in life and come back and help humanity in your own community. We shouldn't be stuck on the American dream because maybe that's not your dream.

I think it's important to become a savior for humanity because it will show that although you came from a poor community you will be a role model for those who think you can't become someone because you come from the "hood." We should become a savior for humanity like stand up to what we think is right and stand up to make a diff like for ppl in 9/11 or war in Iraq.


I think all this is talking about being someone to help out with the revolution. This so called "Revolution" means nothing to me because I personally think it will not succeed, or at least not in my lifetime, because trying to change this government and the world is close to impossible. Even though this government/ country is not even close to excellent it will not change for a while.


This is basically talking about all the injustice in this capitalist society. It's also suggesting how communism can appeal to the marginalized and criminalized groups. However, to become someone who can think of the whole world and its problems, you have to forget about your problems and your conditions. You have to think about everyone else and their suffering too.


This has made me want to learn the basics of humanity to realize what is going on is wrong. I feel like the challenge of becoming the human saviors of humanity can't exist as long as we live for money.


This made me realize that our world is full of many atrocious things. Humanity is going to the wrong path. This motivates me to stand up and do what is right. I feel that human savior of humanity is kind of a good idea because that is a way we can change society but it will be hard because every body have their own beliefs. Me, I'm one of those persons I believe in God!


What the quote "An Appeal to Those the System Has Cast Off" makes you think about all the problems in humanity. It says that you have to attempt to try to help those with great struggles in their life. I feel that this is a challenge to everyone because there is no unity in this world. A lot of people are just selfish and choose not to do good things only for themselves. I think that we can have a different world for everyone but people need to do something to be somebody and to survive in this tough world we live in.


The government only thinks about themselves. Sometimes or very often criminals become who they are because of the system. The system is unfair and if we don't do nothing about it will be the same or worse. We have to all unite and fight for a better world. Our government has become our worsest enemy and very powerful. If we don't stand up and speak for our rights our government will just become our owners forever.


I feel that this country/nation has lost in what it was founded. The "all men are created equal" in the constitution it seems lost. There's inhumanity all over this country, as if each race can only stand together as one rather than all races. The individual battle to survive is tough. Especially when you're a person of color. In this society you are made to fail.


I feel that sometimes people do go to jail for no reason, but then it's like you were put on this earth to experience life so yeah you go to jail for what you did. That doesn't mean the police can treat you like you're some trash. I feel like something needs to change for our society. Because every day something is always focused on something about a black person or latino person. When there's worse things happening around the world. Things in the police station, jails, prisons everywhere. It's not only black people that need to change it's everyone.


I felt that this lecture was a waste of time because they preach all these global issues to us and doesn't nothing change or no revolution. It's too late for revolution because the system already has us where they want us.


I think what this article talks about is to stand up for a new world. This article is calling out to the outcast of society the people that the law just up and throw away. We need a change in this world.


What I think this means is that they are speaking upon on people who are going through things that need help with something in life. This relates to how black people get arrested for something they didn't do or the police harasses them when they want.

What I think this quote is trying to tell people in the world is to be a leader. They want you to be somebody in life instead of being out on the streets.


This make me want to start a revolution because I'm a young black man from [neighborhood] that always gets harass by the police and seen police brutality happens to the majority of the people I know in my community. When I walk to school or coming from school I fear being stop by the cops. I'm tired of seeing homeless people on the streets people my age going to jail and not getting out until a decade pass or they won't live pass 18 or 21.


When I think about it, the society we are in is getting reckless and out of control. The revolution reminds me of a force that's getting powerful as people get together to join the revolution. It aspire me to join their force and help with society.


You can't change the world if you don't know the basics. You can't change the world if the people in the world don't help make a change or effort. You can change the world but can't change the people in it, but if everyone come together and help make a change this world could be a better place. By changing the world I believe you have to know the basics and what it takes.

In the world I grow up in is sad. There's nothing but violence and madness. I would love to start a revolution to help change society, if I had kids I don't wouldn't want them to grow up in a world like this. I hate everyday how I look around in I see just danger in the world.


There all these people that don't have money, house, food, clothes. Sometime the government don't even care what we go through there a lot of drugs messing up people but the only thing that they don't give is food to the homeless—ever where we go it's hard to survive because ever where we go we need money to buy thing sometime that how people die because they don't have money. People are sick from a small thing they could just go to the doctor and make you better but they don't have money to do that why people die.


I feel as if the government don't care about people in the lower class community and I feel as if we living in this world blind because we do the same thing most guys do sale drugs or gang bang but that's just because when they go looking for a job they see you and if you don't look they way they want you to they won't give you the job and the reason why we stay here in our low class community is because we get talk about and at time people get scared.


"But there is a world to save—and to win—and in that process those the system has counted as nothing can count for a great deal."

I think it means that every person that be picked on can do greater thing to the ones they chose. It matters to people that doesn't really know how to fight back and when to do it.


The system is wrong for many reasons. Just because we're from a certain hood, ethnicity, or just where we hang out or who we hang out with we're automatically affiliated. If you can beat the system then make a new one.



From Others


From a day-laborer immigrant:

Well I am one of those discarded one's. First it happened to me in my country of birth. I had to leave because otherwise I may well have died of hunger. Leaving my children my wife behind. Not knowing when I would ever see them again. I left without a penny in my pocket heading to a place I didn't know. There is no work; we stand on the street hoping someone needs some work done. We are treated like criminals like animals you read in the papers about immigrants killed by racists.

I have raised my sights to where I know that we have to talk to the people that we have to do away with this system.

We can let them trap us into just living to survive, we have to see and live for this. There is a world to save and to win. I have never been in jail but I share the same fate as those who have been and those who still are in jail. We must become an active force no matter where we came from or where we are—we are the discarded ones. We must get to the point where everything we do is part of making revolution to free the world.


Richard Brown, former Black Panther, Member of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR):

Most of us, when we think about prisoners, in our mind we think of them as, "those people," never realizing how much we have in common with them.

If you stop and really think about it, there's not that much difference between us and the ones incarcerated in the inhumane institutions run by CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation]. The system refers to them as the worst of the worst. While those of us in the large institutions, commonly referred to as (our community), are referred to as thugs, hoodlums, or just plain old undesirables. Stop and think brothers and sisters. There are those in this society who refer to all black people as "those people," and that's when they're being polite. So where's the difference?

You say prisoners are confined to their cells 23 hours a day, well, we're confined to our communities 24 hours a day, and most young black men cannot even leave the block they live on without fear of being murdered. Murdered by some other young black man, or by the so-called police who invade our community like an occupying force—a para-military organization using Gestapo tactics in order to control the masses, (blacks). So where's the difference?

You say prisoners have no rights! Correctional officers can go into their cells at any time, day or night, and search for contraband. Have you forgotten that the so-called police can come into our homes at any time without a search warrant, looking for drugs, and, or weapons. They stop us on the street, and violate our constitutional rights, by searching our vehicles or our person without probable cause, and if you ask why? More than likely you'll end up being arrested. For what you say? For resisting arrest. So where's the difference?

You say most prisoners work for low or no wages, well, most young blacks have no wages at all, unemployment in the black community is ridiculously high. So where's the difference?

It's time for us to stop allowing the system to place barriers between us and our brothers and sisters by labeling them as the worst of the worst. Therefore encouraging society to turn their backs and allow these men and women to be treated as less than human beings. It's time for us to remember that the only real difference between us and "those people" is that our exercise yard is a little bit bigger than theirs.

Throughout my life I have fought to try and show the community how they are being played upon, and how this game of divide and conquer is being used between those locked down inside and those with a little more freedom.

All of us should relate to the words of Bob Avakian and focus on the real enemy and fight for a truly free society.


Proletarian woman:

I know this is asking me to be serious. This is about risking your life, but making it worth it. I know because it was scary to me when the communists came around the first time; and I had to retire! I had to retire, but now I'm back, 'cause we're the ones being asked to make revolution and this is serious. This is more than just about Brownie (reference to a man killed by police in the hood). This is about a whole new world. There might be some who say it would be going too far, but in a way what choice do we have? They're puttin us in jail and keepin us there; and it's just going to keep getting worse until we get serious with our lives.... People need to know about BA.



It's real hard; but I'm down for this revolution. I know they're talkin about me when they talk about no job and no home; and here it is my birthday and I'm having to scrape for something to eat. I'm always saying I got to come first. It's hard to "raise your sights" above all this, but this book (BAsics) is really speaking to me about doing it, being a gravedigger of this system... Something's got to give, but we got to be there, and be willing to sacrifice to make it happen. I know that! I want to see Bob Avakian lead this; and I hope to meet him some day. Yeah it's hard, but it's not impossible; and I'm glad y'all are here.

I first read Revolution newspaper—it was called Revolutionary Worker then—while I was locked up and serving an indeterminate sentence in segregation in a maximum security prison. I was one of those millions upon millions of youth that this system has cast off—my family losing our home when I was a teenager and becoming increasingly caught up in surviving on the streets until I was sentenced to serve many years in prison by the time I was 17 years old. A brother in a cell near me had a subscription to the paper, and he would send them over to me to check out. I was a voracious reader, trying to understand the world and the system that created the hellhole prisons and regime of solitary confinement that I was increasingly resisting. For some years I had considered myself an anarchist, beginning from the rather simple yet visceral proposition that if "the State is holding me captive in these horrendous conditions, then fuck the State" to a more theoretical study of anarchist thought.

One thing that immediately struck me upon reading the paper was the realization that there were actually people seriously organizing to get rid of this system, right here in the U.S.A. Not to "reform away the ills of this system," but to actually sweep it aside and bring into being a radically different society. And another thing that I recall from my initial readings of some of the work of Bob Avakian featured in the newspaper was that "this guy is doing serious work and thinking about how to actually make a revolution!"

Eventually the brother I was getting the newspaper from moved, and I moved to another cell, so I no longer got the newspaper. I continued to develop my thinking and political consciousness, including beginning to see things and analyze things increasingly from a class perspective. And the limitations of anarchist theory were beginning to become more clear to me. As I was approaching being released from prison relatively soon, I once again moved into another cell next to a brother who was getting Revolution newspaper. Revolution presented to me a real analysis of the historical development and functioning of this monstrous capitalist system, a serious strategy for organizing and making a revolution to sweep this system away, and a viable framework in Bob Avakian's new synthesis for actually running society after a revolution: to increasingly break down the divisions of class society as people struggle together to bring forth a liberated future for all humanity and a society where everyone contributes what they can and gets back what they need to live lives worthy of human beings—a communist world.

My thinking and understanding of course did not change overnight. Both before and after my release from prison, I struggled with many questions—and comrades struggled with me—in making the radical ruptures to becoming a communist. But through the course of that struggle and being involved in many different realms of revolutionary work in building the movement for revolution, I've dedicated my life to being an emancipator of humanity.

From oppressed communities under the gun of constant police brutality and repression, to standing with immigrants against demonization and deportation, from discussions in classrooms in high schools and universities to defending clinics and women's right to abortion, from protesting torture and war crimes to demanding liberation for the LGBTQ community—I'm constantly amazed and inspired by all of the places I've been and people I've met and gotten to know while engaged in revolutionary work throughout the course of the few years I've been out of prison.

It has not been without sometimes extreme difficulty, both in dealing with all of the scars from years of torture in solitary confinement as well as political repression from the rulers of this system who deeply fear the power and potential that those of us the system has cast off have as part of this movement for revolution. Yet even while facing a political prosecution and being locked up again as a political prisoner, having the opportunity to bring revolution and communism to others this system has deemed worthless and learning from their experience only served to increase my dedication to the struggle for a liberated future for all humanity.

To all of you brothers and sisters who are still locked down in America's hellholes or locked out in survival on the streets, who hate the horrors of this system and yearn for a whole other future for humanity—get with this Party and Chairman Avakian. Take up the science of revolution and communism, BA's new synthesis. The horrors and crimes of this outmoded capitalist-imperialist system are completely unnecessary and we must step forward to become its grave-diggers and emancipators of humanity.


Translated from Spanish.

Dear Revolution newspaper,

I am a reader of the newspaper who wants to respond to the quote 3:16 from the book BAsics. I am a person who understands and has lived what the quote by Chairman Bob Avakian says that "all those the system and its enforcers treat as so much human waste material... whose life is lived on the desperate edge."

Imagine that you are a person who lives in the third world and you have to emigrate due to the need to survive. Then when you are here in this country, you face a climate of scorn, humiliation, exploitation, racism, and death. I want to tell a real story about someone who a few years ago immigrated with her husband to the United States due to necessity. Both of them began to work, but soon she began to have trouble finding work, sometimes working, sometimes not. After a year being here, she got sick and due to her legal situation, it was not easy to get medical services, and furthermore, the medical costs are very high. This couple decided that she had to return for a few months to her country to treat the illness and later return to the United States. After getting treatment for the illness, she prepared to return and went to the border and tried to cross, every time she did so, la Migra caught her. She tried to cross several times by the hill, with no success.

At first it was several weeks, which became months, and at one point, she used a false ID and put on makeup to cross the line, but they caught her and sent her to jail for several years. Given their desperation because the money she had was running out and given the threats of the immigration agents, the situation got so bad that she took the dangerous decision to cross through the Arizona desert. Along with two other women led by a guide, they entered the Arizona desert on one of the hottest months of the year. After three days of travel, she was the most tired and they decided to rest one night in order to begin anew in the early morning. When they awoke the next day, they saw that the guide was no longer with them. They wanted to awaken her to let her know that they had been abandoned. She did not respond and one of the women went over to touch her and realized that she had died.

The hellish temperature in the desert and the asphyxiating situation in which the system keeps humanity meant that those final three days of the woman's life were a horrendous torture, bringing her heart to such a limit that it stopped. Some hours later these women were arrested and deported. Back in their country of origin, they called the woman's husband to tell him what had happened. The husband called the authorities, who told him that it was going to be difficult to find the body, because on the same day, something like 15 people had died. Also, that month had one of the highest death tolls along the border. Luckily, the woman's body was found after 15 days. Many of the bodies in the desert are found in an advanced state of decomposition and at times, only the bones are found, and in many cases they can't even identify them.

Due to the militarization of the border, people cross at the most dangerous points, which often leads to death. For that reason, many say that the Arizona desert is a cemetery of bones where men, women and children die an anonymous death.

The mother of the woman who died in the desert remembers that upon saying goodbye to her, she said that she was going to return in a short while. Here we see how the American dream became a nightmare, since she returned in a coffin just like the lives of thousands and thousands of other people.

It is difficult to remember this story, but it must be told, and it makes me think in the part of the quote where it says that this system and its representatives are the "foulest, most monstrous criminals that mythology has ever invented or jails ever held."

Today I understand that the problem is not that people make bad decisions, I understand better that the problem is the system and for that reason, we have to get rid of it and wipe if off the face of the earth.

This reminds me of a discussion I had with a family member a few years ago, when I began to wrangle with the works of Avakian, to read and distribute Revolution newspaper in my free time. A family member told me that she saw something "strange" in my behavior because in my free time, I studied and distributed the newspaper. She got on my case for working too much and instead asked why didn't I rest. She asked me how much they pay me to do that, and then I told her that I was doing it voluntarily. Then, she said to me that I was wasting my time, that instead I should work and make more money. I replied that we have to knock down this system because it causes so much poverty and oppresses humanity. Then she says to me that if I was so concerned about poor people, then why didn't I divide up my paycheck among the poor. Next I replied that if that could really end poverty in this world, for sure I would do it, but that is not the solution. This was the best way I could answer back then, perhaps at that point the thinking of this person didn't get transformed, but I was already beginning to understand that another world is really possible.

Those who manage to cross the border and those who are on the other side: to those who the system has destined to a place in the cemetery of bones in the desert, those people can mean much more – as quote 3:16 says, they can be "part of the human saviors of humanity: the gravediggers of this system and the bearers of the future communist society".


A cloaking seal surrounding my thoughts,
it keeps from thinking, talking, shouting, dreaming;
it traps my aspirations in a whirlpool of darkness.
And though I still breathe, all dies, it's inevitable!
So it feels at school, work, home,
Disease lives, death is felt;
There is no hope, what can you expect?
And afar that voice is heard: "There is a world to win."
Oh, really, where?
incredulous, I hear again, closer, stronger,
I am interested —I AM INTERESTED— I LEARN, ¡I LIVE!
And I discover there was no inevitable death, it was oppression;
there was no disease necessary, it was a system;
There was no darkness, there were ideas.
And now what? Again the darkness appears, the death, the disease;
But, now, I know the truth! The darkness will return —or perhaps not—
But I know that there is a return to the truth.
It's time to return.



Even shame has shame!
¡Of shame!
And, the wall of shame?
Will it be ashamed of itself!
And, they who gave the order to build it,
Will they be shamed by that order?
O, perhaps, will their cynicism be greater
Than their shame?
Oh! What a contradiction and what shame!
They not only applauded, but
They applauded a lot!
When the Berlin Wall fell,
And, now, they are proud
About building the Wall of Shame!
Those acts, do they not involve a terrible
Those acts, do they not carry great shame?
Or, perhaps, it will be possible within the impossible
That the shame which they now lack
May suffer a terrible metamorphosis
Into unlimited cynicism?
At this moment in time, the Great Wall of China is one of the
Great Wonders of the world,
But, in itself, it does have a diaphanous
And transparent justification.
Its construction was for protecting the Chinese people
From the warring invasions of other peoples.
But, The Wall of Shame!
From what warring invasions is it going to protect
The North Americans?
From the warring invasions of the poor immigrants?
IF is they, by not having resources to survive,
In the land that saw their birth,
Who have been driven and forced to flee, in part,
By the same conditions generated
By Yankee imperialism.
Well, then, whatever they say
The promoters of the Wall of Shame!
Do not have and will never have a clear and
Just justification, its repudiated and vile
The Wall of Shame!



Yes, like all gods, so they have been, so they are and so they will be,
Indifferent and with excesses of great cruelty.
What does it matter whether there are many or just one?
The characteristic is always the same,
The cruelty and the bloodiness unite them and merge them together.
Because if they were gods with much goodness,
They would not have allowed all the horrors of slavery,
Of man by man,
They would not have allowed a few parasites
Of their sons to enslave many millions
Of people who were also their sons.
Those gods of immense goodness
Would not have allowed all the horrors,
Massacres and sacrifices bound up
With the slave mode of production,
And the feudalist mode of production,
They would also not have allowed in
Capitalism and in imperialism
The horrible exploitation and super exploitation
Of hundreds of millions of human beings
By a handful of parasites on our planet.
Those gods would also have not done anything
To prevent the warring invasions
Of the imperialist countries against weaker countries
Both militarily and economically
They would also have not allowed the terrible abuse,
The oppression and the degradation of women
By men since ancient times
Up until today.
If women are the most beautiful creatures of the planet!
Why have they treated them with so much cruelty?
Where have these gods of goodness been?
Gods who can do anything!
But they did not do nor have they done
Absolutely anything to avoid those
Abuses of the social classes who have
Held power throughout history
And who, as well, have brought Wars, genocides!
Horrors and more horrors!
The answer is very simple.
Those gods are neither gods of goodness
And they are also not gods of cruelty,
Those gods only exist in the
Imagination of men.
Because the gods were created or invented
Due to the ignorance of men.
This happened since the farthest reaches of the beginning
Of human civilizations.



To all those who are in prison,
To all those who are homeless,
To all those who are sick or addicts,
To all those who are gay,
To all those without work,
To all those dissatisfied:
With the capitalist system,
With the system of exploitation,
With the system of humiliation,
I ask you to bring our strengths together,
I ask you to unite our voices
To tell the imperialists,
All the capitalists,
And all their apologists,
That later or sooner,
They will have to fuck off.


From someone who grew up cast off by this system.

Haven't you asked yourself why the world is the way it is? Why are so many people poor, here and other parts of the world? Why? Why do I have to work so hard yet I can't get any relief? Why has my son or daughter had to join the military and die ? Why do my kids turn to drugs and gangs? Why are the kids shooting each other or being shot by a cop? Will this ever end?

Believe me I have asked these question and many more looking for a way to change this shit. But it seemed there was no way out..

But I found out this is a lie! I found answers to these questions. I found out we can change this shit. I found out that yes this can end.

Bob Avakian has answers to all these questions. If you want to change this world get Bob's new book BASIC'S

We can't change the world if we don't have the basic's!


Harlem restaurant worker

Prisons are directly related and connected to capitalism, actually an arm of capitalism. Capitalism functions on how many people it keeps ignorant, poor, and in prison.  The prison system is nothing but a natural extension of capitalism. Most people commit crimes out of need, not greed.  Most people rob or steal because they can't get money. You still have to eat. Capitalism is the worst possible system that people can live under. 

The way to combat capitalism is through unity and organize in a new way, to move people to treat each others like human beings. Prisoners should do it for children, to have a future. This problem will be generational, and has been. A slave plantation and prison is the same thing. The constitution says you're still a slave when you are convicted of a crime. You have no rights which the Federal government or the state has to respect.

In order for this to change you have to organize people.  You need people around. Martin Luther King, alone in Mississippi, would have been lynched.  You need to organize people around reform, social organizations, etc, but the best way to organize people is around common need, food, clothing, shelter.  You organize people around food, clothing, shelter.  More have nots than haves.

In African American communities, communism is not new.  A Philip Randolph was an active communist in the 1920s. He fought for workers' rights. The problem with organizations, and it's true of religions, civic groups, grass roots, is people might support it from outside but not join.  People say—I support from the outside, but if people find out on my job, I might lose my job.  That's why few people join organizations; some might support financially but not join.  Communism will be one of the things that will help overthrow capitalism, but not the only thing. Some will support it but not join.

Bob Avakian has a crystal clear analysis of the problems facing people all over the world, not just in America. If communism is the latchpin that will overthrow sexism, racism, capitalism, I will support it 100%. Anything working toward the freedom of people, I will support.


A Harlem resident, former prisoner

This is an unjust society and I think the system wants people to think they count for nothing.  But even in the bowels of darkness, they contribute to society.

They make things that make industrial society run, the license plates, sidewalk benches.  There's hard sweat and labor off these individuals in these institutions.  If you can use people for your own financial gain, why can't they be treated like humans? ...

They're cut off from any kind of productive work or life in the society.  The system desperately keeps them away.  They're enslaved.  I think it's the 14th amendment that says if you're convicted of a felony you can be enslaved and treated as a slave. You know they changed that right!? ...

The American theology is based on equal rights and opportunity. If the system is fair, why would you have it so that you could enslave anyone?


First, This country is supposed to be democratic, which they're not and they go around invading countries in the name of democracy.

I believe in the common man. But opportunity is slowly collapsing. It's impossible to do anything for the people anymore. Society now is based more and more on greed—and societies like that – Greece, Rome – never last.  I think what Bob Avakian is talking about is that government does not care about day to day people. They work for the wealthy.

The quote is great.  I'm one of those people. I'm not doing anything illegal but still I'm constantly harassed by police, we're stereotyped, I'm always turned down for jobs. It's frustrating.  I find a way to live but the system drives people to desperation.  I'm all for revising the system that overlooks so many people.

Troy Davis was murdered.  That showed not only the justice system ignored the evidence that he was innocent but the system that coerces the youth and railroads Black people. Killing Troy Davis – that was a great eye-opener. And what Avakian is talking about. Well, in Attica [1971], that was a microcosm of the revolution.  They took hostages but they took care of them and they didn't hurt them.  The system looked at them as less than humans.  That was a disgrace what they did killing all of them on sight.  They all deserved to be treated like human beings even when they committed crimes. 

Harlem Resident who is reading BAsics


We don't count for nothing around here.  Nobody supposed to be treated like this!  I'm afraid for the future. For the children.  I'm afraid of walking out my front door.  Not because of the kids but these police. Around here you can't walk out your own door. I go through this every day.  They in the hallway. When I step out and see one of them they got the nerve to say, "What am I doing?" WHAT THE FUCK YOU DOIN?! I LIVE HERE!"  I'm afraid to go back in the house thinking I turn around they gonna shoot me!  You know how they are! 

Oh it's gonna be a revolution because ain't nobody up in here no animals. We don't deserve to be treated like this. They tell me to calm down but I ain't gonna calm down!  People like us we got to speak up. Why is this shit always happening here?  Why is this happening to us?  It's always gonna happen until we do wake up and speak up! 

Projects Resident Living in the Bronx


"If you're born in America with a black skin, you're born in prison."

-Malcolm X

"Through our pain we will make them see their injustice". 

-Martin Luther King

It was interesting when given the opportunity to contribute to this paper, I was in the middle of reading the autobiography of Malcolm X. An extraordinary African American leader and revolutionary who experienced the same tragedy that too many Black and Latinos face today. After reading the Revolution article about Marijuana Laws in a World of Oppression and Discrimination, I was angry but not surprised. One thing I could always count on in this country is keeping the Black man oppressed, they never strayed far from their agenda.  In our society we typically place the responsibility to lead and raise a family to the best of their ability, to ensure that they may have the opportunity to live a financially secure and successful life. What would happen then; if a man is stripped of the very things that lay down this foundation? Preventing them to raise their family, forcing them to not only become part of the system that put him in there but depend on them to fulfill responsibilities they are unable to at the time. This goes way beyond degradation and diminishing them as black men but as human beings.  And that right isn't civil but human. To deny anyone of that right signifies a fear, the very root from which RACISM stems from. The capitalist structure that this country was built on also comes with the condition to feel afraid. When people feel threatened by someone or something, they do anything to bring down a force they feel like will harm them whether the threat is real or not. So how do they bring down this force. Strip away not only their rights but their natural resources leaving them weak and forced to depend on them{sound familiar}. A perfect example of this is globalization in Africa, it completely destroyed the country leaving it with so much disease, that you can't even donate blood.   

"The struggle ain't right in your face, it's more subtle
But it still comes across like the bridge and tunnel vision.
I try school these bucks, but they don't wanna listen.
That's the reason the system makin'  its paper from the prison.
And that's the reason we livin' where they don't wanna come and visit"

-The Roots "Don't Feel Right Trilogy"

"Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation". This is part of a verse from the star spangled banner, you know the country's song. But I feel like they forgot a word or two. It should read instead Praise SLAVERY, LIES and IMPERIALISM, the power that hath made and preserved the small "community" that controls the nation. The ones who get to live on "land of the free and the home of the brave."

"The whole system we now live under is based on exploitation—here and all over the world. It is completely worthless and no basic change for the better can come about until the system is over thrown (Bob Avakian)"-For the prison population in the USA to go from half a million in 1980 to 2.3 million in 2006-an increase of over 450 percent- is due to minor marijuana offenses and the "Stop and frisk act." This shows that if we don't end this cycle, it will be the death of minorities. Capitalism is a business, when they see minorities they see dollar signs -a PROFIT and if that means getting rid of us so that it can happen, then so be it. This is one of the worse cases of a Catch22- They profit when we succeed and even more when we FAIL. So why wouldn't the 37 billion dollar industry use minimal drug offenses as another tool, it's protect their people. And of course it would be a drug predominantly used by Caucasians, yet they only make up ten percent of the prison population.  It's interesting to me that when it's sold by the government, it's to test regulated business but if it's sold by individuals, they are criminals, once again they managed to sneak around the fact that they are just as much of a criminal and a drug lord as the criminals and drug lords they choose to persecute and profit from. The smorgasbord of drugs are predominantly found in poor neighbor{hoods} where most minorities occupy and sold in the upscale neighborhoods. Hey it raises job employment but the prison rate as well- Good Ol' Catch 22!

According to Michele Leonhart of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency): "the escalating violence on the U.S./Mexico border should be viewed as a sign of the 'success' of America's drug war strategies." It has not only contributed to gang violence but organized crime as well. In 2008, there were over six thousand deaths related to Mexican drug cartels, this tragedy was caused the policy established by the US. Cartels are the most successful by transferring illegal drugs across the border into the United States. Naturally what the drug cartels are doing is illegal so they are sent to jail to be caged like animals causing of a rage of violence. The US Office of National Drug Policy says that 60% of the profits gained by Mexican drug cartels comes from the exportation and sales of cannabis into the American market. Statistics show that half of the marijuana consumed by the United States derives from outside of the border. Mexico is the US's biggest pot provider (NorML Blog). Because America leads the world in pot consumption, America will continue to remain the primary destination for Mexican marijuana. An economic assessment done in 2007 showed that US citizens consume over 30 million pounds of marijuana annually. This shows exactly how fucked up this system is and what they are willing to do to "dance" around the very system to keep it on beat while the rest of the nation is forced to play musical chairs.

#29 "This system and those who rule over it are not capable of carrying out economic development to meet the needs of the people now, while balancing that with the needs of future generations and requirements of safeguarding the environment. They care nothing for the rich diversity of the earth and its species, for this treasure contains, except for when and where they can turn this into a profit for themselves.....These people are not fit to be the care takers of the earth."

-BAsics-Bob Avakian

The time to fight is now!!! We need this Revolution, an evolution of change which is necessary and proper for minorities to receive the opportunity to strive as a race without there being some kind of gain. Becoming blind to color where the only race that exists is human.

"Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned, everywhere is war and until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation, until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes. And until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race, there is war. And until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, rule of international morality, will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained... now everywhere is war."

-Bob Marley


As a long time reader of Revolution Newspaper, I wanted to make sure I sent in a letter for this upcoming special issue on BAsics 3:16.  This quote strikes me as one of the most important quotes in Bob Avakian's new book, as there are literally billions of people across the globe that have been cast off by this brutal and horrific system.

I am currently a college student, but getting to this point was not easy by any means.  I spent all of my youth growing up in poverty, surrounded by those "whose life is lived on the desperate edge, whether or not they find some work; to those without work or even homes; to all those the system and its enforcers treat as so much human waste material."  Living in utter poverty, I turned to drugs and spent my high school years as an addict.  The idea of a revolution seemed far off to me, as it was impossible for me to liberate myself from the ghetto and from addiction.  This is one of the many symptoms of the capitalist disease.

However, in this quote, people like me find not only refuge, but also a vision of a better world.  Bob Avakian shows us that a communist world is possible.  As he says, "there is a world to save—and to win—and in that process those the system has counted as nothing can count for a great deal. They represent a great reserve force that must become an active force for the proletarian revolution."

I have been lucky enough to break free from many of the chains that bound me in my youth, but there are so many more that require liberation.  We have the leadership in Bob Avakian to take us there and I encourage anyone reading this newspaper to get with Bob Avakian and the party he leads.  We can all become emancipators of humanity.


Over the past several years as I have come to understand Revolutionary Communism the more I want to incorporate it into my daily lesson plans.  When I put together a lesson, I think about what Revolution and Bob Avakian has taught me about the dominant economic and social relations.  As a result, over the years I have been better able to bring into focus for the youth what this system does to people and possibilities of a radically different world where people contribute to society not for personal gain but to be part of lifting up the living standards of all humanity.  The students come to discover that another world is possible and they can make decisions in regards to changing their lives and the lives of others.  Specifically, from BAsics the most recent work of Bob Avakian it says, "Become a part of the human saviors of humanity:  the gravediggers of this system and the bearers of the future communist society".  

However, this has not been easy and the obstacles have been challenging to say the least.  For example, getting the students to understand that women do not have to be called "bitches" and "whores" by men including their fellow classmates was an eye opener.  Through reading the special issue of the paper on women's liberation and discussing the issue, students came to realize that they do not have to be called these names.  Also, male students in class realized that they did not have to call women "bitches" and "whores".  The male students became conscious of the idea that women are human beings too.  As a result, the atmosphere changed entirely by the end of the school.  Again, this was not an easy endeavor and took hours of struggling with students and students struggling with each other to reach this point.

Recently, a former student who was deeply impacted by the struggles over women's liberation visited the school before heading back to college.  She told me that Revolution had such an impact on her life that she thought it was important that the paper be available on her campus.  This young woman said that she would fight to get it on campus and other former students would do the same.  I went home inspired knowing that she is fighting to rise above what so many people are sent off to college to do and that is to get ahead and not to consider the possibility of another world without oppression and exploitation.

Recently, the new year started and getting students to understand that there is a system out there is the first task.  Once this has been established then I can start giving examples of how this system brutalizes and degrades people everyday.  Just knowing how many children are in poverty is an eye opener for students that think we're in land of "great freedom and prosperity".  Next week I plan on showing the quote from the current issue of the paper on the nature of the police.  This will allow me to lecture and discuss with the students their experiences with the police.  Also, we will get past the notion that the police are there to "Protect and Serve" and get real.  In the past students came to understand that the police are there to protect a system and kill people that it finds as a threat.  I will use statistics provided in the most recent issue of the paper in regards to the prison population and the harassment of black people.  The students will come to understand that police need to oppress the most impoverished people in society because of their revolutionary potential. Without Revolution and the works of Bob Avakian, I would never had been able to do this in the classroom.   

With this knowledge and understanding the students can make radically different choices in regards to their future.  Also, even if the students go to college to get their careers in order the idea of revolution will always be there with the potential of it boiling to the surface again.  Again, without Revolution and the works of Bob Avakain, people would not understand to quote BAsics, "Raise your sights above the degredation and madness, the muck and demoralization, above the individual battle to survive and to "be somebody" on the terms of the imperialists—of fouler, more monstrous criminals than mythology has ever invented or jails over held"


(Response to 3:16 from a worker from Latin America.  (Translated from Spanish)

I think that the great majority of the workers, not just in this country but all over the world are treated like human garbage.  But here we have this book, BAsics, that clarifies why we are cast out.  And that those of us who are considered human garbage have a space within the communist revolution where we can be the saviors of humanity.  Our efforts can serve in a creative way to develop society and not to just be used as mere beasts of burden.  This is something that only this ideology, this science, the communist revolution is the only one that can emancipate those who have been cast out, and all humanity. 

For example, those who work in the garment industry sewing, making only $30-$40 a day, sometimes $50, working from 6 in the morning to 6 at night.  They pay them only pennies per piece and the pieces are very difficult to finish, you can't get many done.  Even though it is a shit job, a super-exploited job, today there are thousands who are looking for these jobs.  What keeps us here then?  Why do we stay?  Because we can't go back home to our countries, because everyday it's worse, massacres, violence, drug addiction everywhere.  Who can stop this?  Only a real revolution can transform all this, a communist revolution. 

People know they are exploited but most don't know the science that can liberate us.  There's people who start to talk "turn to god, this is god's will" and they talk about an apocalypse that's coming in the bible and I tell them, "since I've been able to think I've heard about this gnashing and grinding of teeth and everyone saying we have to repent – and at the same time the whole world is saying 'I can't live on my wages, I can't pay the rent, I'm sick, my son is in jail' an infinite number of things and that's the gnashing and grinding of the masses, the suffering that's grinding them down. 

And this is the future that our children face.  It's like the slave that is born into slavery, the child of the slave will also be a slave.  Like the Chairman says in BAsics 1:13, how our children are born predestined to live this way with brutality, humiliation, exploitation. 

The kids in this neighborhood are treated like criminals.  At a young age, the police start to verbally assault them, they intentionally offend them.  One time there were some kids playing in an abandoned house, a little girl and some little boys and I heard the police say to them "don't tell me all of you are going to fuck her!"  Just that stupid.  Using those horrible words, what a mentality they have! But that's a reflection, not just of those police, but of the system.  They say it's only a few police, but it's all of them, all of them are trained to kill, to attack, to humiliate the people.  And the youth who are rebellious and don't conform to their life the way it is, take the wrong path end up in jail.  You can hear thousands of complaints from mothers who are standing in line to visit their prisoners.  They tell you all the stories from their sons inside:  there was a youth who was depressed, who asked for help so intentionally, they took him up to another level in the prison where he was all alone and he hung himself, he committed suicide.  There are youth who have 20-30 days with intense toothache and they sign up to see the dentist and they never take them until they speak with a lawyer, and it has to be a private lawyer, who gets a court order, if not for that, they never go to the dentist.  Or they make them line up, the sheriff comes and without any provocation, he hits a prisoner with his stick and breaks his foot and later the other sheriffs come around to the other prisoners with a camera in their face "did you see anything?"  or "did you see anything?"  And nobody saw anything because how are they going to say "I saw that police break his foot"?  That's the way they intimidate the people.  And this happens all the time.  But there's a great potential in the prisoners, especially the youth, they can change their lives.  When they read this book, by this author Bob Avakian, it opens a path to follow.  It gives the basics, which is like the keys to escape the prison, the darkness that is tormenting the majority of the people in the world.


From a laborer from Latin America –[translated from Spanish]

What does it mean to say the system looks at us as human garbage?  It simply means that this imperialist system that has developed, looks at the people as commodities, based on profit.  We come from places where there is nothing to live on, not even water, we hear about this nation where there is a lot.  So we all come here, but we don't understand why.  That's why the program of the Revolutionary Communist Party is so important because it explains why the system created poverty in our nations—and these are imperial programs that are going on today – it creates poverty and disarticulates the nations and develops ignorance in the population, in the whole world, not just in the American continent.  It's based in a program to be able to superexploit for profit, and develop the conquest everyday more savagely, put in place programs to turn people against each other.  We have the example of Mexico.  They've brought in a program to kill the population.  They put in an impostor president, and a program designed in the white house to push us into this war on drugs.  It's part of the racism of this empire and a part of keeping an advanced revolutionary movement from developing in Mexico.  It's an example of what they're doing to humanity. 

They put in representatives of imperialism, but not of the nations, and not in favor of the populations.  All over the world it's the interests of northamerican yankee imperialism, with their bloody wars. 

Here in the United States we see how they oppress the working people and develop their ignorance.  That's why they develop ignorance in us, getting us to think that if we haven't studied we have to accept oppression and brutality.  But we have to get rid of this thinking because even though we haven't studied we can still organize and fight against oppression.  And we have to learn to struggle with ideas, to work with ideas, that's part of the struggle.

Like the quote Basics 3:16 says that all those who the system has cast out and says that are garbage, we are those who can be the spinal column that can break and end this oppressive system and change the course of humanity in favor of the oppressed.  But in order to do this we have to overthrow the oppressors in power.  And that's the task of this revolutionary communist party.  We have to follow it and propagate communism as it really is, not how the empire has distorted it. 

We in the United States have a leader who has given all of his knowledge and skill to us and so we have to grasp this, and unite around this leader who has taken our side.  And what is this leader's name?  His name is Bob Avakian.  He is the number one leader in the world, but we have to understand why.  You have to check out what he says.  You have to study Basics. 


Sent from LA:

We must give our coldest shoulders to the heat-seeking snake that is capitalism, for its oppressive system constricts the liberty and life out of its citizens; and yes, I'm talking about the very same "liberty" and "life" that Uncle Sam and his constitution promises to its people, or rather sheep.  Sheep because we allow our natural souls to be herded and counted as dollar signs as per our moral passiveness.  And so just as Disney and our corrupt media tell us to count sheep to sleep, Uncle Sam counts sheep to eat; eat his fucking potbelly full of shit and deceit!  Stop watching yourselves and your peers run in circles and instead run across a linear path towards TRUTH!  Our whole system is based on layers of contradiction and hypocrisy, so open your eyes to them i.e. 1) advertising "liberty" and "freedom" yet leaving America's original inhabitants (the Native Americans) with nothing but "reservations" (casinos); 2) sailing the Seven Seas to rape tons of various cultures and tribes throughout Africa, bring them over as slaves, put them to work, and rape them some more, even impregnating them for the sole purpose of yielding more slaves; 3) funding Egypt militarily $2 billion each year since '79 in exchange for priority access to the Suez Canal, yet they also fund Israel with the same war technology, leaving Egypt and Israel both in a never-ending cycle of constantly having to outdo each other (an arms race)... and the list goes on."

(An undergraduate at an elite universtity, who we met last week)


I believe people still have a lot of fight and struggle.  We cannot go down in history as retired fighters and let this system and the powers that be get away with extreme crimes around the world.  Because we ARE somebody and deserve a better way of life.  This is not the time to give up.


A Reckoning

by Jamilah Hoffman

There will be a reckoning.
Enough people have seen too much of
the manifestation of
justice, american style,
to stand quietly in the face
of such hypocrisy.
To go along with the
facade as if this all
makes sense.
(I keep telling this woman that her slip is showing but she just doesn't care)
We are waking up.
Just like an arm or leg that
has fallen asleep and starts
to tingle when its nerves
become active again.
We are waking up.
To the realization that
lies told often enough don't always
become truth
"All men are created equal...."
"Only guilty men are put to death..."
"Liberty and justice for all..."
I find it difficult to go along.
No longer content to be a
placeholder in your heartless system.
I have rejected your messages
of selfishness and greed.
I am certain there are other ways
of being.
My fight becomes righteous
when it's motivated by love
And I no longer fear
a new day.


To Revolution—

Bob Avakian has a solution, and the solution is NOT this system.  What he says is not sheer poetry but for the good of this world.  He wants people to sit down and see this is not a joke.  I have a lot of faith that it will come to be even though it won't be easy. 

We have to be an active force for good, and to continue to work at it.  What BA says about the system—we do need to make a better system and make it better for everybody.  It has to be changed completely. 

Bob Avakian doesnt have a whole lot of religion.  But it is about intelligent, scientific facts. The future society will be better because of BA and Basics.  That Basics book is a good book.  (It would be nice if the print was bigger.)

There is a separate issue here about getting the message out.  Sometimes you can't really advertise what you are doing, but you have to speak out about how your rights and freedoms are being taken away from you.  About how you are being demoralized.  This is America, you are supposed to be able to express what you believe.  It's supposed to be a free society but its not.  People need to be part of bringing about the basic changes, and understanding the system.  From the point of view of "I want to do better and life will be better".  Standing out, talking about it will get people interested.  They have to be shown that it's good.

I believe people's hearts are in the right place with this revolution and they are trying to do good.  If you step into it with a small group, step into it more and you'll get more accomplished.  Most people don't realize that it is attempting to make a whole new, better world.  Most people are not getting a chance to see the good that it is.  Get the word out in society.  Make it as free as possible to get in the hands of the poor.  It takes a lot of money but it needs to be accessible.  Revolution on the dot-com, revolution on the shirts and on the hats.  I want a emblem to put on my shirt.  The bookstore is a good thing.  Concentrate on the small booklets and papers that can get around.

Other organizations and leaders may say that you can cooperate with this system.  You can't cooperate with this system and get nothing done.  Other groups may bring out the history, but this group is getting out a plan to change the world.  Others might have religion intermixed in it.  The only thing about religion is to try to shape and & mold people, it is not for change, it's a faith.  But there is no religion here, with this revolution.  It is a science, to bring out the things that need to be brought out, to stop genocide and all the trouble on the people.       

I am a middle aged Black man who is struggling with poverty and health issues.   My relatives were active in the struggle for many years, before I was born it gone on.  They had a bookstore in my house with books on communism, socialism.  About Emmet Till.  It was hard to find those books at the time. I come to realize something is not right with this system, but then I learned when you pursue it there are those who don't want to discuss it.  You go thru a lot of changes when you open up about it, you get more than you bargained for.  People want you to understand they don't like it.

There are games played on you to try to box you in.  Trying to keep you from being able to go to the meetings, to where you will have no effect.  There is only so much you can do from your room.  There are those who don't want you to get organized, to get people together.

Some people say "you better not talk about it, you might not get your money".   You have to clear up your love for the system to get where you will be able to be free.  Tell the truth.  Try to express it and keep it going.  Don't let the poverty, the demoralization, or any of these things stop you.  They may try to work on you on the sly.  I call it the "hush tactics".  People may say, "let that stuff go, it's nuttin but trouble for you."   They may try to fight it down and keep it from being expressed.   If you want to be successful, you can't let that kind of stuff go down.

I agree the new world will have some problems, but society needs saving.  People might think revolution is detrimental, but that's not true. They might say everything's going to be all right, don't worry.  Try to act like they looking out for your betterment.  But they are not.  Take Afghanistan: it wasn't no real danger to us.  But they drummed it up to get this thing going, to try to get it so you cant say or do anything.  That's the way it go with this system.            

USA needs to be strong for revolution.  Let the revolution come on out.  If it is good, let the people know, don't hogtie it.  I like the idea and do what I can.  We are not in this business to be liked, it's in the business of telling the truth, seeing the right way forward.  You know it's one of the best.  We got a long way to go.  We gotta keep our people free.  This system will do wrong for the people.  Stick with it, don't give up.

– Professor Jr.



For many international students like me, because they are in college does not mean they live well.  We have seen how the globalization of the imperialists has caused a lot of problems for the world, and for China.

What I see in the US, thinking about the quote from Basics, about the prisoners and those abandoned in society, I have seen a lot of poor people who have to work very hard.  I work in a campus restaurant and I know a student who works many hours because he lives and eats on campus and the rent, the cost is very high.  I am 21 so I can live off campus and it is less expensive.  For those who live on campus here it costs a lot and it is very hard for the poorer students.  I have seen a lot of Black people here that are actually very poor.  This society is not equal.

It is very important that we have to unite together.  Today.  Because of the process of globalization in the third world.  People in the US and those in the world, poor people and others must be united together for revolution.  We have a lot of people, those who are poor and oppressed, but we are not united.  The ruling imperialists, they do not have a lot of people, but they are united.

People must realize the cost of globalization on humanity, the problems brought upon the people.  If we continue and do nothing, this situation will soon become very very bad.  We need revolution.

The U.S. is already bankrupt.  But it is not shut down because imperialism invades the third world and grabs the fortunes for the U.S. 

Realize the situation.  For some students, the situation is not so bad.  I want to talk to the students about this, to talk about the truth of what is happening in the world and the U.S.–but they also have to realize it themselves.  They may think they live well because they are in college, they may think "right now I am fine".  But they can't ignore what is going on for long because these problems are all throughout society, and they are part of that, so in a way they are already involved.  When the situation gets worse, things will be worse for them too. 

Students, people in the US need to know that this is their own government that is responsible.  Some may think that people in the third world and other countries hate the people in the US.  But what they hate is imperialism.  People need to understand how bad are the things that imperialism has done to people of the world.  For example, in Iraq and other countries, they have lost their families and their lives.

This is why it is so important for people to really understand and be part of revolution.

– From a Chinese student attending college in the U.S.


This is a statement from a Black 80-year-old minister in Detroit.  She is part of a church in one of the most run down sections of Detroit. 

This whole system is b...s...  If you look at the Congress and Senate, they don't care about people.  They don't know what people are thinking because first of all they don't give the people an opportunity to speak.  They don't know how angry people are. 

The Democrats and the Republicans are both bad, but look at the Tea Party; they want to take even more from the poor.  Now they have a black man who's running for something as part of the Tea Party.  But that doesn't change anything, it doesn't fool anyone.  They're nothing but racists. 

They think because you're old you're stupid.  They think because you're poor and black you're stupid.  They're going after the poor; they're taking things away from them. 

If you want to get biblical, the bible says that you can't ride on the backs of the poor.  That destroys a nation. You need to be alert to what's going on and if you watch world news you see that the US is going down, down, down. 

You have a Revolutionary Communist Party that wants to change things and the government and the rich want to kill them.  But the Party is right, Basics is right and Bob Avakian is right. They have the right solution, they have the right plan, and they have the right ideology.

People who were active with the Party years ago don't forget what they learned.  You may not see them for a long time, but they remember the concepts. But more people need to learn too.

A Black Minister


Poem in response to 3:16 – translated from Spanish

The Voice of Conscious Rebellion

Empire of capital, Civilization, Development
Security, Modernization
"please don't kill me!!!"
Misery, hunger, death
humiliation, desperation, migration,
crime, drug addiction.
We're very sorry but you are fired.
Hands up you're under arrest.
You have 30 days to vacate the property
You are a criminal for crossing the border.
Please give me some money so I can get something to eat.
The honorable court sentences you to...
You can't change the world so enjoy yourself
Don't ask questions just follow the rules
Everything you say can and will be used against you
If you work hard and get an education one day you can be somebody.
If there's nothing in it for you, don't get involved.
This is not a murder it's an execution (by firing squad).
Women are to blame for the fall of men
This is the best we can achieve
May god judge and protect them
Join the army and serve your country.
The United States defends humanity.
Only girls cry.
Hypocrisy, lies, consumerism, selfishness, manipulation
Expansionism marked by blood and oppression
No borders, no humiliation, no exploitation, no creeds or religion
Struggle, respect, organization, liberty, dignity, emancipation
One...two...three... REVOLUTION
Down with the damn system, BASICS THREE SIXTEEN
Spread the word and long live the REVOLUTION...!!!


Letter to be submitted for your special october issue

The quote from Bob Avakian really pertains to me. I know perfectly well what it's like to be considered of no value in our society. As a post op transsexual woman, I have sufffered in so many ways. Transitioning to womanhood, I lost my job, most of my friends and most of my family. Even now, when going in a store or restaurant, I never know if someone will shout obscenities at me. I have even had teenagers call me vile names just because I'm a transsexual. I used to fall into the trap of voting democrat. But I now will never vote for any political party. This world needs to be transformed by a true revolution. Two of my transsexual women friends have had hate crimes committed against them. One was in a coma for weeks and not expected to live. But she did live. It is insane that people are harmed just because of their sex, race, sexual orientation, gender expression, financial state or being differently abled. As a vegetarian, I know that it is immoral for humans to eat the flesh of a murdered animal, use household products beauty products tested on animals, and using fur and leather. We two legs should not be harming and killing other animal life. Bob Avakian has my admiration and respect. He is trying to create a world free of misery, poverty, war and violence. TRANSPOWER NOW!!! REVOLUTION NOW!!!


 "Because we the people have been lied to by every elected official that has taken office Obama including. The people who have this belief that the government process works, you just have to get the right person in office, and so far from the beginning of this process we the people of the whole world have been lied to by them all. We are in great danger and must come to realize this. Nothing RIGHT for the people has come from this voting process for the vast majority of the people. Between religion and politics we have become stuck in slavery again looking for a leader to give us something better. If any of that worked millions wouldn't be homeless and in jail. The book Basics is a very reality call to all the horrible things that the people are forced to live under. For me to sum it all up I go to BAsics, Making Revolution, #10 from the writings "The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the present Era." It is time for the people to Get, Read and Talk about the Book BAsics and ask yourself, "Do I/we want our children living in a world like this, fighting the same battles that we and our ancestors have already fought for?" Come on, my People, Let's Get Down With the BASICS.



From an ex-Black Panther

Bob Avakian has said: "Raise your sights above the degradation and madness, the muck and demoralization, above the individual battle..."  I would add: Join the Revolution.  Because it is only during your involvement in the revolution will you arrive at knowing that as a human being you are the most valued entity in the universe and that it's alright to love yourself, that contrary to what you have been told, you are an intelligent person, that being a revolutionary means you are courageous and decisive.  Responding positively to Bob Avakian's appeal, you would have accomplished a major task: one, you would have saved yourself and you would be significantly contributing to saving humanity.  Bob Avakian is a good person!


Hi Revolution:

This quote really spoke to me because it points a way out of this madness and hell that this system has millions and millions of people in, around the world as well as here in the belly of the beast. Every day, I am enraged by fresh outrages of this system—whether it is the lynching of Troy Davis or hearing of a young child in Pakistan die from a drone attack or hearing about another person in this country dying from lack of healthcare or housing- basic human needs. But, being enraged is NOT enough because then you can become paralyzed and then demoralized by it.

There is a way out—and there is a leader—Bob Avakian who has pointed out that revolution and Communism is not only necessary and possible. That people do need to resist this system and all of its outrages and fight to bring into being a whole different way of living for humanity and the planet. The fight to stop the legal lynching of Troy Davis  has shocked thousands and thousands of people into political life and to step forward and say, "No, this is intolerable". That a mask of legitimacy is being torn off the face of this system. That "Black faces in high places" are turning out to be just as vicious and illegitimate as the rest of the ruling class—ie: Obama, Clarence Thomas, Eric Holder—all coldly go on committing crimes on behalf of a vicious system against millions of people. It is harder for this system to talk about "humanitarianism, justice and democracy" when it carries out such acts. Three years ago, many people looked to the war criminal ,Barak Obama with hope. Now many of these people are disillusioned and paralyzed—but it doesn't have to be that way. It is up to us to show the world that things can be different.

Look at the prisoners hunger strikers in California—their struggle for their humanity has also inspired people to step forward. For prisoners who have been reading Revolution and Bob Avakian and learning about why the world doesn't have to be the way it is—and that there is a way out this madness—this is all very inspiring. That this shows that people who were caught up in street crap and just concerned about survival can look at the bigger picture and begin to transform the world and themselves. This sort of transformation has happened before. In revolutionary China, the revolution healed millions of people who were drug addicts and prostitutes and gave them a chance of a different future. That these people were given medical treatment, were told that an oppressive system dragged them down to the bottom, but they did not have to live that way. Many of them became part of the new society—working and making a contribution to the revolution as full human beings. Some even became revolutionaries themselves and fought to forward the revolution to the best of their ability. So, it is possible for people to transform themselves and bring forth a future that is worth fighting for—to emancipate all of humanity."



We the People

Are you tired of the hands that hold you down? The illegal searches and seizures? Being stripped of your rights and dignity? Being thrown in jail by any means necessary? Being isolated by your lot in life to be targets of rogue police brutality?

Being charged with crimes with little hope of proper investigation and representation?

Being incarcerated at much higher rates than the general population?

??Who commit similar crimes?

—Babies not having fathers and mothers around? Being disenfranchised and having little chance of getting a living wage job?  Keep hearing the same reply.

—You're a convicted felon. Families being torn apart and the cycle continues.

Something is broken—Could it be the system?

A generation without hope. When will the people unite and say "no more"?


I wanted to comment on the appeal made by Bob Avakian, to "those the system has cast off."  When I look around in my community, I see the end result of a system that seeks to keep people so distracted and disoriented that they are unable to see what is really going on.  This limited vision works to maintain the status quo.  But those of us who are in the belly of the beast see the workings of the system in a way that many of us have yet to experience.  While many people may initially disbelieve that a system could be so corrupt, so unjust, many of us who have lived through it can bring the truth to light. There is nothing like life experience.  So while many in this country chose to hide behind rose-colored glasses, spouting out the lies we've been told, there is another group that has a lived experience with which to counter the endless propaganda.

We need those voices.  We need to hear the real deal!  Enough of the parroted propaganda.  Actually, the lived experiences of those in the belly of the beast should be our guiding light informing us, challenging us, and pushing us.  It is their experience that reveals the exact nature of this system.

Millions of children will be born this year.  If they are Black, Latino, or poor their future is grim.  Because they are of the group that has the greatest revolutionary potential, this system has them marked, to be silenced, contained, destroyed.  We must find a way to demonstrate this truth: that this system is looking for even more ways to silence them; more ways to contain them; more ways to destroy them.  If we are able to demonstrate this, we have a real chance at making real progress toward revolution.  Those who have felt the boot of this system upon their necks are the best situated to share this reality with others.

One of the best strategies this system has used is its emphasis upon the individual.  The focus upon the individual is hailed as an american virtue.  Yet we all know that there is strength in numbers.  Individually, we are more easily subdued. Only a system that seeks to keep us weak would program its members to live individualism as an ideal. When you couple this "ideal" with the constant focus upon competition, you see a peculiar recipe. This system wants us to "compete" with each other.  As one individual competes (or fights) with another, both fail to see how the system is manipulating both.  With unity, we could focus our energies on assessing what is going on.  Trying to out-do each other leaves us forever chasing our tails and always focused on the wrong objectives. Certainly, no one lives with the consequences of these strategies more than those of us most victimized by this system.

For those of us who have been cast out, we need you.  Your life experience makes you uniquely qualified to help others see that they are being played by this system. Your voice has an authenticity that many of us lack.  Those millions of children born this year need to know that this system is working every day to silence them, contain them, and destroy them.  The next Fred Hampton, Bobby Seale, or Huey P. Newton that is born needs to be told the truth about this system.  And there is none who can deliver that message as powerfully as YOU!!!



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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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BAsics 3:16

An Appeal to Those
the System Has Cast Off

Here I am speaking not only to prisoners but to those whose life is lived on the desperate edge, whether or not they find some work; to those without work or even homes; to all those the system and its enforcers treat as so much human waste material.

Raise your sights above the degradation and madness, the muck and demoralization, above the individual battle to survive and to "be somebody" on the terms of the imperialists—of fouler, more monstrous criminals than mythology has ever invented or jails ever held. Become a part of the human saviors of humanity: the gravediggers of this system and the bearers of the future communist society.

This is not just talk or an attempt to make poetry here: there are great tasks to be fulfilled, great struggles to be carried out, and yes great sacrifices to be made to accomplish all this. But there is a world to save—and to win—and in that process those the system has counted as nothing can count for a great deal. They represent a great reserve force that must become an active force for the proletarian revolution.

Revolution #183, November 15, 2009
(quote originally published 1984)


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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From Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund:

Donate to Send BAsics to Prisoners

NOW IS THE TIME to raise the final $15,500 to meet PRLF's goal of 2000 copies of BAsics to prisoners. While about 450 prisoners have received BAsics (including all who requested the book in California) many more eagerly await their copy. The prisoners' response to BAsics has been extraordinary. NOW IS THE TIME for an extraordinary effort by those outside the prison walls—to donate generously, spread the word to others and find creative ways to collectively meet this goal.


$10 covers one copy of BAsics and shipping to a prisoner

How to Donate:

[Important note from the PRLF website ( On Jan. 16, 2012, PRLF's fiscal sponsor, International Humanities Center through which it had 501(c)(3) tax-deductible status, declared financial insolvency and ceased to function. While PRLF searches for a new fiscal sponsor, we encourage you to support PRLF's important work by making non-tax deductible donations online or by mailing checks or money orders to PRLF, 1321 N. Milwaukee Ave, #407, Chicago, IL 60622.]

To contact PRLF: (773) 960-6952 or

To California Prisoners:

Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) has heard that California prison authorities are retaliating against hunger-striking prisoners in many ways. If you are not receiving your subscription to Revolution, the ACLU and PRLF need to know as soon as possible. The ONLY reliable way for you to know if all issues of Revolution are being delivered to you is to look at the issue number on the upper left side of the front page, just under the masthead and before the date on the paper. This issue is No. 247.

If you receive a Form 1819 notice or believe that Revolution has been improperly withheld, please send a letter to a) Peter Eliasberg, ACLU of Southern California, 1313 West 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017 and b) Director, PRLF, 1321 N. Milwaukee #407, Chicago, IL 60622, attn: Legal. Let us know all the relevant facts, including the specific number of the last issue you received. If you have received any 1819 forms or other disciplinary notices in relation to Revolution newspaper, please send those to the ACLU. Your letters to the ACLU concerning the withholding of issues of Revolution may be sent as confidential legal mail under 15 California Code of Regulation § 3141(9)(A). Both the ACLU and PRLF thank you for your cooperation on this matter.

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Protests Mark 10-Year Anniversary of U.S. War on Afghanistan

On October 6, hundreds of determined opponents of U.S. wars began occupying Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. on the 10th anniversary of the Bush regime's bombing and invasion of Afghanistan. At the encampment, called Stop the Machine—Create a New World, people from Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, World Can't Wait, and other organizations mixed with campers from around the country. This coincided with Occupy DC eight blocks away. On October 7, in conjunction with antiwar protests in San Francisco, L.A., and New York City, hundreds marched past the White House to an office of General Atomics, which makes parts for Reaper drones flown by the U.S. to attack targets in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The building was closed for 90 minutes by the protest. The next day, a larger march went to the National Air and Space Museum, which displays drones and bombers currently used in U.S. wars of aggression. As the protesters inside dropped a banner, others entering were attacked by guards with pepper spray, and hundreds rallied against the wars. On October 11, seven were arrested at the Hart Senate Office building while protesting the huge U.S., military budget.

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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$23,000 in 60 days, online fund drive launched for:

Occasioned by BAsics:
A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World

On April 11, 2011, hundreds of people of diverse ages, backgrounds, and political perspectives came together for an evening of jazz, funk, soul, rock, theater, dance, poetry, visual arts, commentary, and film. All of it aching for, giving voice to, and infused with the possibility of a radically different world than the maddening planet we live on now.

All of it occasioned by the publication of BAsics, a book of quotations and short essays by Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, with much of the evening's performances flowing from, bouncing off of and inspired by the life and the work of Avakian and what it means to celebrate revolution and the vision of a new world.

This was a night where people felt a door opened to the potential for a whole new world... a different way to think, feel and be.

In this intense and important political moment, this is something that has to reverberate throughout society.

Go to watch the trailer for the film... contribute generously... and spread the word!

As a thank you for any level of contribution, there are a range of perks... signed copies of the poster for the event, the beautifully designed program, a thank you memento that was given to participants on the night itself, a copy of BAsics—the book that occasioned this event—and other special gifts from the performers and artists who took part in this historic event including original artwork from Dread Scot, Emory Douglas, and even a chance to have dinner with the MCs of the event, Sunsara Taylor and Herb Boyd.

And more than anything, you'll be contributing to impacting society with a vibrant and moving celebration of revolution and the vision of a new world.


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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There is currently much talk of a supposed "plot" cooked up by Iran inside the U.S. The U.S. government is accusing Iran of trying to carry out an assassination of the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington, DC—and based on that, American officials are ratcheting up gangster-like threats against Iran. The U.S. claims that an Iranian-American man, who they've arrested, was working with the Quds Force—a special armed force within the Iranian regime—to contract a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi diplomat. Obama is talking of heightened sanctions against Iran, Secretary of State Clinton declared Iran had "crossed a line," and Vice President Biden said Iran would be "held accountable." Major media and think tank "experts" are further whipping up the atmosphere with belligerent calls for retaliation and even military action.

All this should ring loud alarm bells—about the whole history of the U.S. using pretexts and outright lies to start wars and other acts of aggression around the world... with the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) affair around Iraq being one of the most notorious. Remember how George W. Bush's vice president, Dick Cheney, said, "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." Remember how Colin Powell, the "reasonable" one in Bush's cabinet, stood before the UN to display "evidence" of WMD in Iraq and used that to push for war. And remember how after the U.S. invaded Iraq and caused horrible death and suffering, the world found out that not a single U.S. claim about Iraqi WMD was true.


As Bob Avakian points out, "The people who run this country wouldn't recognize the truth if they had a head-on collision with it." (BAsics, 4:9) Nobody should believe anything these imperialists say.


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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Important Notice to Our Readers

With regard to the relationship between the "Occupy Wall Street" movement and demonstrations and the outpouring which must happen on October 22nd, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation (NDP), and the Movement of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, revolutionaries should be actively developing "the synergy" between them—and, especially in this immediate period, winning people involved in the "Occupy" protests to be actively involved in participating in, and in building for, NDP—in N.Y., but also other cities across the country. Imagine all—or a large part of—the "Occupy" protesters in NYC and elsewhere wearing black on Oct. 22nd—and many taking part in the NDP rallies, marches, etc. In order to maximize this, not only should work toward this objective be done in advance, in building for Oct. 22nd, but on the day itself there should be plans for NDP demonstrations—or at the least a significant contingent of people taking part in NDP—to go directly to the site(s) of the "Occupy" protests and work to incorporate as many people as possible in these ("Occupy") protests into the NDP activities (demonstrations, rallies, etc.). And work should be carried on/carried forward in developing this "synergy" beyond Oct. 22nd as well.

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Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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In Defense of Abortion On Demand and Without Apology

by Sunsara Taylor

This article was originally published on Gender Across Borders as part of the series Tsk Tsk: Stigma, Shame, and Sexuality ( Revolution thanks Gender Across Borders for permission to post this at

Photo: Gregory Koger 

Several years ago, I was approached by a young woman after giving a talk examining how patriarchy is at the core of the world's dominant religions and calling out the Christian fascist movement to criminalize abortion.  As she told me of her abortion, her demeanor suggested she was rather settled about it.  But then suddenly she stopped talking, her face flashed with emotion, and she burst into tears.

I tell this story precisely because this young woman was a confident and articulate atheist.  She had been raised pro-choice and still was.  Her boyfriend was supportive.  She received great medical care.  Extremely important: she made clear she had never felt guilty.

So, why was she sobbing?

She explained, "Until today, I have never in my life heard anyone say that it is okay to have an abortion and even feel good about it.  For two years I have gone around feeling like there must be something wrong with me because I never felt any remorse."

Stop for a moment and think about that.  She didn't feel bad about her abortion.  She felt bad about not feeling bad!

I responded very firmly that there is nothing wrong with her.  There is nothing wrong with a woman terminating her pregnancy at any point and for whatever reason she chooses.  Fetuses are not babies.  Women are not incubators.  Abortion is not murder.

There is, however, something profoundly wrong with a society in which millions of young people have grown up never having heard abortion spoken of as something  positive and liberating.  There is something deeply wrong not only with the movement which has viciously and relentlessly fought to criminalize, terrorize, and demonize those who seek – or provide – abortions, but also with the mainstream of a "pro-choice movement" which has repeatedly conciliated and compromised with this madness.

Lets be clear, the notion that women are full human beings capable of participating fully and equally in every realm of human endeavor together with men is historically an extremely new idea.  It is also under extreme, and increasing, fire.  The fight to not only defend, but to expand and to destigmatize abortion and birth control, must be seen as a central battle in the fight to make good on the full liberation of women.

What's the big deal about abortion, anyway?  Together with birth control, abortion enables women to not be enslaved by their biology.  It enables women to delay, restrict, or forgo altogether the decision to make babies.  It enables women to explore their sexuality free of the fear that an unintended pregnancy will foreclose their lives and their dreams.  It opens up the possibility for women to enter fully and equally into every realm of public life and human endeavor together with men.

Of course, the possibility of full equality for women doesn't exist merely because of the technological, or even the legal, existence of birth control and abortion.  These reproductive rights would not have been won – and wouldn't have had the earth-shaking repercussions they've had – without the tremendous struggles of women demanding their liberation.  Despite popular misconceptions, it was this righteous struggle, together with the broader revolt of the 1960s and 70s – not some sudden flash of enlightenment on the Court – that most influenced the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

Further, the liberation of women requires more than reproductive rights and a radical shift in the culture.  The need for an all-the-way revolution that goes beyond even the best of the revolutionary experience of the last century – including as pertains to challenging traditional gender and other chains that bind women – is a key element of Bob Avakian's new synthesis of revolution and communism.  Explicating this more fully goes beyond the scope of this article, but interested readers can learn more by reading, A Declaration for Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity.

But even the specter of women's liberation – and the important advances that were made – were too much for those who rule this country.  The backlash really coalesced and gained initiative under Reagan.  The reassertion of the "traditional family" became an indispensable part of not only reasserting patriarchy but also stitching back together the reactionary fabric of society that had been significantly frayed.  Christian fascists – people fighting for the laws and culture to conform to a literal interpretation of the Bible, including its insistence that women bear children and obey their husbands (1 Timothy 2:11-15) – were given powerful backing by ruling class forces and unleashed to hound and harass women who sought abortions.  They bombed clinics.  They killed doctors.  They pushed the shame and ignorance of abstinence-only education into the schools and went to war on the scientific fact of evolution.

Through this period, the most mainstream elements of the women's movement came to be identified broadly as the only outlet for those concerned about the oppressed status of women, even as this bourgeois feminism more and more subordinated itself to the ruling class, and the Democratic Party in particular.

To quote from the above-mentioned Declaration, "This absorption of the 'official women's movement' into the Democratic Party, and its utter subordination to the confines of electoral politics, has done incalculable damage.  For over two decades now this 'feminist movement' has encouraged and influenced progressive people to accommodate to a dynamic where yesterday's outrage becomes today's 'compromise position' and tomorrow's limit of what can be imagined.  The defensiveness and cravenness of this 'movement' in the face of the Christian fascists in particular – its refusal to really battle them on the morality of abortion, to take one concentrated example – has contributed to the disorientation of two generations of young women, and men as well."

What has this looked like?  It looked like Hillary Clinton implying there was something wrong with abortion by insisting it be "safe, legal, and rare" and then these becoming the watchwords of a "pro-choice movement" that even removed "abortion" from its name.  It looked like spokespeople for NARAL and Planned Parenthood repeatedly insisting they are the ones, not the Christian Right, who prevent the most abortions, even as women scramble nationwide to access the dwindling abortion services.  It looked like a strategy focusing almost entirely on the most extreme cases – endangerment to a woman or fetus's life, rape or incest – rather than standing up for the right of all women to abortion.

It looked like the 2006 congressional elections where the Democrats insisted that to beat the Bush-led Republicans they had to run hardline anti-abortion candidates like Bob Casey.  And while many registered complaints, not a single major national pro-choice "leader" called for mass mobilizations of protest in the streets.  It looked like broad "feminist" celebration of President Obama even as he, too, insisted on reducing abortions and finding "common ground" with fascists and religious fanatics.  Now he has now presided over the greatest onslaught of abortion restrictions introduced at the state level since Roe v. Wade.

All this is why a new generation has, almost without exception, never heard anyone speak positively about abortion.  This has led to thousands of women feeling guilty or ashamed of a procedure which is necessary for women to live full and independent lives.  This has let to a situation where activists fight piecemeal at the edges of each new major assault while losing ground overall.

If we do not seize the moral high by boldly proclaiming the positive morality of abortion, if we don't begin now to change hearts and minds among this new generation in particular, if we do not refuse to be confined by what is deemed "electable," then not only will we fail in fighting back the restrictions, we will compound this legal defeat with an ideological and political defeat as well.

Millions and millions of women feel absolutely no remorse about their abortions; it is time for all of us to speak out boldly in support of this attitude.  Its also time we stop bending over backward to validate the feelings of guilt or shame that some women feel over their abortions.  Millions of women feel guilty and ashamed after being raped, but while we acknowledge their emotions, we also struggle for them – and everyone else – to recognize they have done nothing wrong and have nothing to be ashamed of.  It's time we do the same around the stigma that surrounds abortion.

It is absolutely a great thing for women to have – and to exercise freely – their right to abortion.  The doctors who provide these services should be celebrated!  There is nothing "moral" about forcing women to bear children against their will, but there is something tremendously moral about enabling women to determine the course of their own lives.  This is good for women and it is good for humanity as a whole.

It is time to declare boldly: Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!


Sunsara Taylor is a writer for Revolution Newspaper, a host of WBAI's Equal Time for Freethought, and sits on the Advisory Board of World Can't Wait.  She has written on the rise of theocracy, wars and repression in the U.S., led in building resistance to these crimes, and contributed to the movement for revolution to put an end to all this. She takes as her foundation the new synthesis on revolution and communism developed by Bob Avakian. Her most recent campus speaking tour – "From the Burkha to the Thong; Everything Must – and Can – Change; WE NEED TOTAL REVOLUTION!" — made stops at Barnard, UCLA, UC Berkeley, University of Chicago, NYU and other campuses.You can find her impressive verbal battles with Bill O'Reilly and various political commentary on things from abortion to religion to cultural relativism by searching "Sunsara Taylor" on youtube. Contact her about a new movement to "End Pornography and Patriarchy; the Enslavement and Degradation of Women" at Read her blog here.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #248, October 23, 2011

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Are Corporations Corrupting the System... Or is the Problem the System of Capitalism?

The following is a rush transcript, slightly edited, of a talk given by Raymond Lotta on October 7 at Occupy Wall Street in New York City:

My name is Raymond Lotta. I am a political economist and writer for Revolution newspaper. And I promote the new synthesis of communism of Bob Avakian.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is a great and momentous event. It is a fresh wind of resistance. We're protesting multiple outrages of this system, not just one. Occupy Wall Street is throwing up big questions about the source of these outrages and how to bring about a radically different and better world. And it's created space for us to talk about all this! So I'm really happy to be here with you

My brief talk here is titled "Are the Corporations Corrupting the System, or is the Problem the System of Capitalism."

Of course, people are right to be outraged by what the corporations and banks do.

* Look at what BP did in the Gulf of Mexico last year: It was responsible for the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

* People are right to be outraged by the banks which profited off financial operations that resulted in millions being evicted from their homes. And when Goldman smelled the rot of subprime lending, they moved into food commodity futures—contributing to the rise on global food prices and greater hunger and starvation for millions in the Third World.

* You know, Steve Jobs just died and he's being eulogized for his "pursuit of the dream of perfectionism." But there would be no Steve Jobs, there would be no Apple—without a global network of exploitation. I'm talking about a corporate supply chain managed from the Silicon Valley. I'm talking about contract manufacturers like Foxconn that assemble the iPhone and iPad in China—at factories where people are forced to work 60 hours a week, where they are poisoned by hazardous chemicals, denied basic rights, and where workers in desperation have committed suicide.

Corporations and Banks Part of Something Bigger

But, you know, if we hate what the corporations and banks are doing, and we want to stop it, we have to look at what they are part of. They're part of something bigger than themselves, a system of capitalism that operates according to certain dynamics.

Think about this: Corporations and banks don't exist forever: they're bought and sold. They merge, like JP Morgan and Chase, or Texaco and Chevron. They go bankrupt as a result of competition and crisis, like Lehman Brothers. They move in and out of different product lines, like what happened to IBM and the PC, or Apple moving into Google territory.

A transnational corporation or bank, with huge global assets, embodies the economic system we live under. Transnational corporations are units for the production and accumulation of profit, like Toyota or Exxon-Mobil assembling cars or drilling for oil. In the case of banks, they're units for maximizing financial profits from far-flung operations. A corporation is an instrument for the organized exploitation of wage labor. It is an instrument through which markets are penetrated and cornered, through which resources are grabbed, like the oil companies going into the Arctic. These corporations and banks are instruments—but not the only instrument—of ownership and control by the capitalist class.

The point I'm making is that these corporations and banks are pieces—and not the only pieces—on a global chessboard of capitalist-imperialism. And this chessboard, this brutal playing field, operates according to certain rules of the game. It's like basketball or soccer: there are rules of the game. If a basketball player kicked the ball like a soccer player to get it down-court, the whole game would break down. Let's look at those rules:

Capitalism Operates According to Certain Rules

RULE #1: Everything is a commodity and everything must be done for profit. Everything under capitalism is produced in order to be exchanged, to be sold. They have to be useful to be sold. But what's actually produced is measured and motivated by profit: whether it's  housing, computers, medicine, energy—whatever. And profit comes from the exploitation of billions of human beings on this planet.

Criminally, under capitalism, the environment—like the rainforest in Ecuador where Texaco drilled for oil—is something to be seized and plundered for profit.

RULE #2: Capitalist production is privately owned and driven forward by the commandment "expand or die." Exxon-Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, or Credit Suisse and JP Morgan Chase are fighting each other for market share. They are driven to extend investments and cheapen costs, not mainly due to personal greed, but because if they don't expand and keep accumulating profit and more profit for their war chests, they won't stay alive—they'll go under or be gobbled up.

Competition runs through this whole system. It's beat or be beaten. When BP was cleaning up the oil spill, you didn't see other companies coming to share expertise and oceanographic equipment. No, these other companies wanted to take advantage of the situation—Shell and Exxon-Mobil were reportedly "licking their chops"—at the possibility of gobbling up BP. This "expand or die" compulsion leads to bigger and more powerful units of capital.

RULE #3: Is the drive for global control. Capitalism is a worldwide system. There's a great divide in the world between the imperialist and oppressed countries. On this global playing field corporations and banks compete for global influence and control, like the oil corporations going off the coast of West Africa or Nigeria. But the most intense form of rivalry is between  contending world powers for strategic position and advantage—over regions, markets, and resources. This has led to wars of conquest, like what the U.S. did in the Philippines, or the French in Algeria, or the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And this drive for global control and domination led to two world wars.

So these are the three rules of the game: profit based on the exploitation of labor; expand or die; and the drive for global dominance.

In the book BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, there is a really good quote, 1:6, that sums up capitalism-imperialism:

Imperialism means huge monopolies and financial institutions controlling the economies and the political systems—and the lives of people—not just in one country but all over the world. Imperialism means parasitic exploiters who oppress hundreds of millions of people and condemn them to untold misery; parasitic financiers who can cause millions to starve just by pressing a computer key and thereby shifting vast amounts of wealth from one place to another. Imperialism means war—war to put down the resistance and rebellion of the oppressed, and war between rival imperialist states—it means the leaders of these states can condemn humanity to unbelievable devastation, perhaps even total annihilation, with the push of a button.

Imperialism is capitalism at the stage where its basic contradictions have been raised to tremendously explosive levels. But imperialism also means that there will be revolution—the oppressed rising up to overthrow their exploiters and tormentors—and that this revolution will be a worldwide struggle to sweep away the global monster, imperialism.

BAsics, 1:6

Capitalism and State Power

These economic laws that I've laid out are at the root of the capitalist system. But the preservation and extension of this system requires a state power. You see, capital is private and competing. But the capitalists of a given country, like the U.S. or France or Russia or Germany, they have common interests. The state power in France acts to safeguard the common strategic interests of French capital—and so too in Japan or Russia.

The capitalist class dominates the economy. It controls the major means of production—land, raw materials and other resources, technology, and physical structures, like factories. The government is a key part of a state power that is controlled by the capitalist class, no matter who is president. But this state plays a special role in society. It's not acting in the interests of this or that corporation or bank. It acts to protect and expand the economic system and to keep the whole society functioning as a capitalist society. What are the key things the state does?

* It holds a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. It deploys the police and courts and prisons to suppress any resistance from below. We saw in the 1960s how the government moved to crush the Black Panther Party. Here in NYC, the police arrest antiwar demonstrators, and each year stop and frisk three-quarters of a million Black and Latino youth as part of exercising social control.

* The state taxes and spends to create infrastructure, it provides a central banking system, it sets laws for the exploitation of labor power, it subsidizes new industries. It negotiates treaties and agreements with other powers. All this serves the interests of U.S. capital.

* The U.S. state acts to safeguard a global empire. It builds up a huge military machine of death and destruction; it has established over 700 bases in over 100 countries to enforce political conditions that are favorable to investment and to suppress resistance in other parts of the world.

* The state acts to legitimize the system. It holds elections which serve to put a stamp of "popular approval" on the policies of the capitalist ruling class. You know, the idea of "consent of the governed."

The U.S. government and state power have functioned consistently, from the time of the founding of the Republic and the Constitution, to serve the expansion and consolidation of a national market. The government and state power have functioned consistently to protect a property rights system based on the control of producing wealth by a small capitalist class that exploits wage laborers.

This state power has functioned consistently to serve the rise and extension of a global empire that rests on exploitation, plunder and war: from the theft of land from Mexico to the annexation of Puerto Rico and the occupation of the Philippines to Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan.

And when the system goes into deep economic crisis, the state acts to protect it from collapse. This is what FDR did during the New Deal. When economic crisis hit in 2008-09 the state under Obama acted to bail out and shore up the banks—not because these corporations or banks had special influence. The bailout was designed to prevent a huge breakdown of the system and to protect the financial institutions that are key to the dominant position of the U.S. in the world.

This was a bailout of the capitalist system. And they're doing that at a terrible cost to humanity, at great cost to not only the poor and exploited in this society but to broader sections of people. And at great cost to the ecology of the planet.

And now people have to choose between rent and healthcare, and that's a choice that no one should have to make. And young people don't know if they're going to have any kind of future worthy of human beings.

I started by posing a question: Are the corporations corrupting the system, or is the problem the system of capitalism? My answer is that capitalism-imperialism is the problem—and we need a revolution to create a new system fit for humanity.

Send us your comments.