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Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
By Carl Dix | March 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On March 9 in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, 2 undercover cops ran up on 16-year-old Kimani (Kiki) Gray and pumped 7 bullets into him, 3 into the back of his body. The authorities quickly called this “justifiable homicide,” spreading the police story that Kimani had a gun. Witnesses say there was no gun and that the NYPD, the same department that killed Shantel Davis, Tamar Robinson, Reynaldo Cuevas and Ramarley Graham in the past 13 months, had just murdered another young Black man.
In the days that followed, riot police swarmed the area, brutalizing people who gathered at vigils or tried to march in protest on the sidewalk. Dozens of people were arrested in this suppression of the right to protest this murder. Kimani’s parents applied for a permit to hold a protest march, supposedly a right guaranteed to all the people, and the police denied it! This is outrage piled upon outrage. The police state is in full effect—their cops can gun down your child and then refuse to allow you to protest what they did.
How long must we bury our children who were murdered by the cops? Everybody who has an ounce of justice and hatred for what the powers-that-be do to the people needs to be out there standing with people in East Flatbush who have police in their faces all the damn time. They were right to rebel. If they hadn’t stood up and said NO MORE to the murder of Kimani; the authorities would have gotten away with sweeping it under the rug. This is a fight for justice, and you need to come out and support it. NO MORE! You need to be out there Saturday morning, March 23, at his funeral. You need to come back on Sunday at 3 pm to the rally and march demanding JUSTICE FOR KIMANI, JAIL THE KILLER COPS and DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST ALL THOSE ARRESTED IN THE PROTESTS! If we don’t do this, we’ll be leaving those who experience and see their relatives and friends experience this brutality day-to-day to face all that the system brings down on them by themselves. But more, the fight for justice for Kimani is a struggle no one should stand aside from...joining this struggle is not only about justice for Kimani, but it is also about whether we will accept and tolerate oppression and brutality of vast numbers of people in this society or whether we will fight for another future.
Now some people who express “concern” for the situation in East Flatbush, people like Jumaane Williams and Reverend Monrose, have condemned “outsiders” who came in and riled up the youth. Let’s be REAL—what has riled up the youth are the actions of the police, when they murdered Kimani and then attacked the people as they gathered at the vigils and marched on the sidewalk. There are only two sides in this struggle—either you stand with the people against the repression they face or, whatever your intentions, you’re siding with those who carry out this repression. There are no outsiders in the struggle against oppression and injustice. But if you're trying to shut down or channel the struggle in ways that don't actually challenge the system that's responsible, you're on the wrong side.
We should live in a society and a world where those entrusted with public safety would sooner risk their own lives than injure or kill an innocent person. It’ll take Revolution—Nothing Less! to bring this kind of world into being and not only end police brutality and police murder but bring an end to all the other horrors enforced on people around the world. As just one example, this week marks the 10th anniversary of the war in Iraq, which has not only killed many thousands of people but brought suffering to hundreds of thousands, actually millions, more—and this is just one manifestation of what this system brings down on the people of the world. Kimani’s murder is another outrage in a seemingly never-ending chain of unspeakable brutality and oppression brought down on Black people since the 1st African was dragged to these shores in slave chains. This brutality is built into the very fabric of U.S. society, and it points to the need for revolution! Anyone who sees all the horrors this system enforces here and around the world and wonders what, if anything, could be done about this madness, needs to check out the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! It deals with the real possibility of ending the degradation and injustice of today’s world. (For info on this film, go to www.revcom.us)
The days when this system and its enforcers can do whatever they want to people, when people are not inspired and organized to stand up and resist their attacks and build up the strength to end them once and for all; those days must be ended, and they can be!
Saturday, March 23, 9:45 AM
Come out to the funeral service for Kimani at St Catherine of Genoa Church, 520 Linden Blvd.
Sunday, March 24, 3 PM
Rally and March called by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN)—Gather at Church Ave and 55th Street (take #4 to Utica, then B46 bus to Church Avenue).
Carl Dix can be reached at (917) 868-6007 or via e mail at email@example.com for interviews and commentary.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!
March 21, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Last weekend marked an important beginning, a launch of something new into the world. New... and quite remarkable as well. A filmed speech of Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, powerfully makes the case for revolution—nothing less! Over 600 people around the country gathered together to watch the new film, entitled, quite fittingly, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Diverse audiences—including significant numbers of youth and a significant turnout from the most oppressed communities—got deeply into it. They listened as Bob Avakian, in six hours, gave them a whole different framework with which to understand the world... and transform it. Periods of intense attention were punctuated by outbursts of laughter, talkback to the screen, and strong applause. The accounts we are publishing of the different premieres, along with the interviews, give a sense of the response and the spirit at these events, and of the connections that were made. It was, as the publicity promised, a journey—and in another sense, the beginning of a new phase of the larger journey... to revolution!
The challenge now is to go from leap to leap in "spreading the message." Many who came to the premieres bought DVDs of the film for themselves and more than a few bought multiple copies. But those who came forward need collectivity—they need to be part of a movement, where what they are able to do can be knitted together into a larger whole. The movement for revolution needs to nurture potential "cores" of people—working with people to organize smaller showings in schools and neighborhoods where the premiere was known about, and going out much more broadly into society with this. Those who learned about this movement and then helped to build the premiere, along with those who came to the premiere as the very first thing they have done, all need to be a big part of this—and in a variety of ways, suited to the many different circumstances and positions people find themselves in. The movement for revolution is going to need to listen well and learn deeply in order to lead well, building on people's understanding and ideas and leading people to work together to change the world. The movement for revolution is going to need to walk together with people, learning and wrangling, as they move again through this film, multiple times.
This effort with BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! can and must play a dynamic and central role in pushing forward the whole movement for revolution, even as other important elements of the movement—including the battles to really build massive movements against mass incarceration, and the degradation and enslavement of women through pornography and the attacks on the rights to abortion and birth control—make important strides forward.
This past weekend of premieres provided plenty of material to build from—so let's do it!
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
Verdict in the Steubenville Rape Case:
March 21, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On August 11, 2012, a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, passed out at a party. While she was unconscious, a number of men stripped her naked and raped her. The unconscious girl was dragged to different parties, violated and degraded at each. In cell phone footage taken that night and posted online, one of those at the scene laughed and joked about the rape of the girl, "Is it really rape, cuz you don't know if she wanted it or not. She might have wanted it. That might have been her final wish." While this girl did not die, a group of guys can be heard laughing as one of them goes on for a full 12 minutes saying things like "She is deader than OJ Simpson's wife," and "She is deader than Trayvon Martin."
As the story came to light, throughout society people were shocked and outraged.
On March 17, two Ohio high school football players were convicted of raping the 16-year-old girl, and one was convicted of distributing a nude photo of the victim online. One of the convicted young men was sentenced to a minimum of one year in juvenile detention, the other to a minimum of two years, and both teens face possible maximum sentences to age 21.
Revolution received the following correspondence in response to the verdict:
To be clear, what was done to the young woman in Steubenville, Ohio, was absolutely horrific—a horrific sexual assault, rape, total degradation and dehumanization...she truly was treated and mistreated as an object, a plaything, and not looked at by those two youth and the many others around (who later circulated degrading texts and pictures via social media) as a full human being. The whole thing is an absolute horror and absolutely sickening, and also, without a doubt, an all too common occurrence. It is a clear example of the rampant and systematic—and systemic—direct and indirect degradation and dehumanization of ALL girls and women, in this country and all around the world. And it has to STOP. But while this young woman must be vindicated and supported, and this crime cannot in any way be excused or forgiven or swept under the rug, we can take no joy from the fact that two still young teenage boys (16 and 17 years old, one white and one Black) will now go to jail, be marked with a record, and have to register as sex offenders (in the same category with adult serial rapists and pedophiles [sexual molesters of children] and so on).
Now that it seems to have become clear through the legal procedures that these youth were, in fact, involved in this dehumanizing degradation, it is right that there should be serious consequences (including likely such things as the juvenile jail sentences issued in these instances). A slap on the wrist for such crimes would further contribute to the initial degradation and could not be tolerated. But there is no joy to be taken from seeing these youths' (and their loved ones') lives also get flushed down the toilet—there is absolutely nothing to celebrate in this. Again, what was done to that young woman (and what happens routinely in this culture) is absolutely horrific and CANNOT BE TOLERATED OR EXCUSED. It is, and should be, a source of rage, and we in no way should want to, or try to, dampen that rage. Quite the opposite. But where and toward what should that be fundamentally directed?—that is the point. And in this connection it is striking that the one thing the various pundits and commentators don't seem to want to touch with a 10-foot pole is anything even approaching a real, correct analysis of WHY does this happen, what and who CONDITIONED AND TRAINED these teenagers (and their friends) to THINK about girls and women in such ways, to ACT to blithely degrade and dehumanize girls and women in such ways, to not even think there was anything WRONG about what they were doing. Again, what and who TRAINED AND CONDITIONED them in this way, very systematically, very regularly, very routinely, and from a very young age? Who or what is more profoundly to blame for all this? Yes, the culture which mythologizes football and football players played a part, as did the culture of alcohol and binge drinking, as did the culture of reckless and heartless defamation and degradation through social media...but these kids didn't invent this stuff or decide on their own that it was OK to develop and tolerate such a culture. As for blaming the parents? The whole issue of the systematic degradation and dehumanization of girls and women here is something that is WAY bigger than (and way beyond the control of) even the most principled and well-intentioned of individual parents or teachers. And THAT is the issue that none of the pundits and commentators seem willing to explore and address—the fact that there is a whole systematic social conditioning of boys and men that is systematically undertaken from the earliest years, and actively tolerated and encouraged in countless ways, including through the encouragement and official acceptance of and involvement in the multibillion-dollar porn industry, as well as the global sex trade which teaches kids from an early age that it is normal, routine and perfectly OK to buy and sell girls and women as literal chattel, to manipulate and torture their bodies for sexual titillation.
The things these youth did to that young woman? They were no doubt imitating things that they can see every single day in culturally tolerated and mainstreamed porn—in which girls and women are routinely depicted as objects of rape, urinated and defecated upon, covered with semen, penetrated with objects, and all manner of horrific degradation...this is all routine, mainstream, and objectively officially tolerated by the people who hold state power under the current system and who do less than nothing to stop it. It is literally BUILT INTO the culture and whole way this SOCIAL SYSTEM is organized. The people who run this system put more daily effort into enforcing traffic regulations than in trying to prevent this kind of exploitation and degradation of girls and women or systematic training of the youth in perpetuating this degradation and dehumanization (the boys to enact it; the girls, too often, to accept it).
And WHY does this system promote and tolerate such a foul culture? Not just because it is big business (which it is) but because the oppression of women as something less than full human beings is part of the very structure and "fabric" of such a society and has been institutionalized as part and parcel of this exploitative and oppressive SYSTEM from the very beginning. And THAT (and the need to get RID of that through systemic revolution) is what they really don't want people to talk about, or even think about. So much more convenient to just jail a few teen-agers, spill a few tears and bemoan football and booze and lax parenting...anything to avoid getting into the deeper causes...and the deeper solutions. So no, we communists don't "cheer" and celebrate when 16- and 17-year-olds get hauled off to jail and labeled sex offenders for life in an overly simplistic retribution for a young woman's lifetime of nightmares. We're more serious than that...about REALLY stopping this shit...for real...and at the SOURCE. So we can bring to an end this endless degradation and dehumanization of living girls and women (and ultimately of the boys and men as well, who are systematically trained since childhood to think in these ways and to enact all this, consigned to perverting much of their own humanity in the process).
So, while once again the acts that were carried out by these guys can in no way be excused, or covered over, or even allowed to be met with simply some kind of meaningless "slap on the wrist," there is nothing to "cheer" in Steubenville—but there is a great deal to rage and rail and fight against!
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
From a reader:
March 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
It wasn't long into the film, BA Speaks: Revolution —Nothing Less, when the audience began responding audibly. Laughter, applause, assent. This is a masterpiece talk and the production of the film is beautiful with crystal clear sound. All this enabled people to get inside and travel with Avakian for 6+ hours, and in the process, many, many in attendance were touched to their very core —dealing with big questions about their lives and fundamental belief systems.
In LA, there were about 165 people in attendance. A very multinational audience. Groups of students came from three different state colleges throughout the city (including in some further away areas). Also, individuals from a community college and a major university. The students were mainly Black and Latino, one or two Asian students and a few white students. Probably 25 total plus handfuls of other young people. They'd heard about it from revolutionaries on campus —many who'd they seen over a number of days, as well as from professors who encouraged them to come. Over a dozen people heard about it from Michael Slate's show on KPFK, some of whom have been listening to BA on his show. A handful of Black people (in their 40s and 50s) came from a proletarian neighborhood. A group of Iranian people and a few people who speak mainly Spanish, with some English ability.
The viewing of the film was a collective experience, with voiced appreciation all the way through. A lot of laughter and applause. And people were audibly moved. Vocal agreement around the questions of the oppression of Black people and the critique of the argument that the youth should pull up their pants and take responsibility. Moved responses to the analogy of pornography today to the history in this country of postcards of lynchings and the analogy of the current deportation of undocumented immigrants to slaves being "sold down the river." The audience was quiet and intense on the discussion of strategy, and then vocal again in response to the discussion of the patriarchy in the culture. This was interesting because at first there seemed to be laughter at the critique of the too-often-used word "bitch." But as these phrases got challenged, people sort of stopped at their own laughter and you heard things like "oh" or "damn."
It was a tight audience —people feeling like they were having a collective experience, learning how each other were responding and a feeling they were in it together —and though we had to start late (people we knew were on the way were stuck in traffic), we were able to keep the intermission to 35 minutes. When the Revolution Club was asked to stand up, there was applause.
People stayed in discussions way past when we were supposed to even have the space —until a little after ten (the film ended at about 8:20 pm). And a few of us did go out to dinner nearby —continuing the discussion into the night.
A lot of people were still processing what they heard and were thinking deeply about a whole range of questions.
Many people commented on Avakian's stamina —both in the talk itself but also in life. That he came out of the movements of the '60s and hasn't given up, including when things have gotten difficult. A couple people drew on his comments about others, that when the movements ebbed, they would just go back to their comfortable lives. Coming into this, some people spoke to feeling like leaders are bound to desert the masses in this kind of way —this is something that weighs on people, and that they are weighing in considering their role in this movement for revolution. That BA spoke to this —with such honesty and outrage —resonated with people. Together with the fact that BA is a long distance runner and that he continues to speak with such honesty, and what several people pointed to as courage, spoke to these deep, if rarely voiced, doubts. Not only this, but BA has gone further —breaking this down so everyone can understand, and challenging them to be part of the process of making revolution. One student said he is "genuinely passionate and intellectually honest" and another person commented that "he draws you in and keeps you there."
People were surprised that they'd never heard of him before. And never had the opportunity to hear what he had to say.
Importantly, a few people commented on the fact that BA is still alive given the history of how this system has gone after revolutionary leaders —killing them in cold blood or locking them in prison for decade after decade. I talked with a couple people about BA's memoir, and the history of repression he's faced. But also that people aren't helpless in the face of this. That we have to now build a movement that is both projecting Avakian's voice throughout society, and building a wall around Avakian with people from different perspectives coming together to demand he not be fucked with. A middle-aged Black woman who was familiar with this history talked about the murder of Malcolm X and how white people in particular refused to stand with him at the time of his assassination. She got BA's memoir, in part because she wanted to understand how he came to know so much about Black people, and I suggested she get into the section further on dealing with repression.
Another person who'd raised this, a young Black college student, was beginning to weigh the potential cost to her if she stepped into this, wondering if she got more active, would she face arrest. We talked about the process through which revolution advances —taking on the repressive measures of the old order, which they will use to crush and intimidate the revolution and those who are drawn to it. There are no guarantees, but we are serious and serious about having people's backs, drawing forward others in the process to stand with those who come under attack, and exposing the illegitimacy of the whole system in the process. But I underscored again the importance of protecting and defending the leadership of BA in particular, while getting his voice out into society.
A few different people who were interviewed and that I spoke with were appreciative of the fact that BA spoke to the question of can you be a white person and lead a revolution. BA has spoken to this before in BAsics 6:10, "Somebody asked the question: did I think that as a white male I could actually lead the revolution. Well, the answer is no, not as a white male —but I think I could play a leading role in it as a communist." He speaks to it again, and very directly, in this talk. Some people came into this quite skeptical themselves, but both learning about BA's history and being moved by the content of what he's arguing for was changing their thinking, including with different questions posed about the fuller goal of this revolution: the emancipation of all humanity vs. ending one kind of oppression. One woman said she was challenged by the fact that BA knew more about the history of slavery than she did, and not only that, understood where the present-day oppression of Black people comes from. One student said he knew his friends already had questions about this but feels like if he can get them to get into the content of this talk, it'll speak to that. Clearly this is, and will be, an ongoing point of controversy and struggle.
Another controversy that came up a lot was in regards to religion. A young Black woman student asked how you keep from going crazy if you don't believe in god and said she felt challenged that we seemed to know more about the bible than she did. Her friend who grew up in a very Christian household introduced herself to someone in the Revolution Club, "I'm Black and I'm Christian. What are you?" She really loved the talk and felt like it was awakening a part of her that she'd kept silent. Growing up, she used to always ask why things were so terrible and her mom would just tell her to pray, tell her she's not supposed to question. She felt like she had to awaken the questioning part of herself that she'd turned off to get into all this further. The woman from the Club she was talking to is Latina, and they were also grouped with a couple other Latino students from a different school. The Black woman said she'd always been taught to hate Latino people, but how she'd never appreciated what it might feel like to be undocumented and the other two Latino students said they were always taught to hate Black people. They talked amongst themselves about where this comes from and were all serious about changing their thinking on this.
I overheard a middle-aged Black woman, an activist against mass incarceration, saying how much she loved the talk but didn't agree communists had to be atheists, "I'll be a communist and a Christian." One comment on a questionnaire was "please remember that 90% of people have a faith." A 38-year-old artist wrote on his questionnaire, "Amazing knowledge that is needed for the future of our youth and ourselves. I love the fact that there is a plan in place with research and many realistic scenarios have been discussed. I myself found the spiritual part the only part that was hard to follow, because of my belief in ancestral spiritual guides that have helped me in current struggles. Thank you for putting out a great movement."
One person I've spoken to since who played a big role in helping to build for the premiere, has had a hard time with the way communists struggle with people over religion, even as he has his own criticisms of the church. When I spoke to him the day after the premiere, he said that in regards to religion, he's questioning and is thinking more about the questions BA poses in the talk for people to think about.
You can see, from these examples, and more, the way people were wrestling with BA's critique of religion and how it blinds people to reality, but at the same time appreciated that religion was not a dividing line in terms of those on the same side fighting oppression.
In different ways, coming out of it, people were weighing what this new understanding meant for their lives. One student I spoke with was very moved but also conflicted. Her family depends on her for financial support so she feels like she can't fully act on what she came to understand. She knows he spoke to that but wasn't sure how to break through. And felt like, for herself, if she only did it part way, it would be kind of lame. We talked about the strategy for revolution and I showed it to her in BAsics, the last couple paragraphs. She appreciated this and said she had to process more.
Another student talked about how the "little shield that everyone has of ignorance is lifted after watching this film." Then went on to talk about how "you make a conscious decision whether you want to go on and act about it or you want to continue hiding under your shield. But if you do, it's kind of on you because someone already told you what's going on and what's the reality." At the same time, they were themselves conflicted about what this would mean for their personal life dreams, including potential repression they might face in the future.
In the lobby space, someone made displays with the testimonials about the film on two Japanese screens so people could walk around and read them. An older Iranian man (who had not been part of the revolution and is newer to BA) came up to me excitedly to show me the testimonial from an Iranian supporter living in the U.S. He said Iranians do need to hear this, and they would be open. But he was especially concerned about reaching the youth, "I'm not hitting my expiration date yet, but we do have to get the youth."
A couple students commented on how hearing this talk broadened out their understanding of revolution. That they'd never heard someone speak to all these different questions, and the interrelations of these different questions. A Black student said this talk was life changing, that previously he'd had a "small idea of revolution" but this has to be a collective effort, fighting for the rights of everyone. Another student spoke to the "cohesiveness" of BA's revolutionary approach —that from the oppression of women, discrimination against LGBTQ people, the oppression of Black people and immigrants... "it's all one and the same... it's all exploitation and oppression in pursuit of profit and capital." Interesting in this light, of the 32 questionnaires filled out from the night, 14 of them have checked off BOTH interested in fighting mass incarceration and interested in fighting to end porn and patriarchy.
There will be much more to report in the coming days about the impact of this film premiere... and the plans and impact of getting this film out into a society in a massive way. One thing I've been thinking about is the significance of new people coming into this revolution with their introduction being the whole thing laid out before people in this talk from BA —a whole different framework and method for understanding the immensity of the suffering on this planet, the source of that, the revolutionary solution and the strategy, vision and leadership. As we can see, even just from the initial response, this touched and even changed people in significant ways, causing them to think deeply about their core beliefs and even the direction of their whole lives.
The revolutionaries at the core of this movement have to learn deeply about all this —and we should do a great deal of listening in the coming days. I think it's important to note that in the packets given to people at the premieres across the country, we gave people both An Invitation from BA, and what we've come to call the "what is missing is YOU" piece. There is a great deal to learn about the method of these pieces —the serious approach to revolution, the wide embrace bound up with that and the challenge for people to be part of this in a myriad of ways. This is something to be applied in the coming days, and weeks —as we work with all those who came to the Premiere, all those who bought tickets and weren't able to come, and all the new people who meet BA through this new film, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live.
I'll end with a quote from a young woman interviewed in the intermission of the film about what the title meant to her, "There's no more time for destruction, no more time for loss of life... no more fucking time... we already ran out of time, there's nothing left to do but a revolution."
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
From the Premieres
March 21, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
An excited crowd gathered at Laney College in Oakland on Sunday, March 17, in anticipation of viewing the premiere of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Those arriving early were greeted by representatives of the Revolution Club—Bay Area, and checked out the Revolution Books table in the lobby. Then, led by a banner-carrying contingent from the Revolution Club—East Oakland, people entered the theater to begin the day.
About 150 people were in the theater Sunday. It was a diverse group—different nationalities and ages, people drawn from all over the Bay Area. For many this was the first time they had come to such an event and a few were apprehensive about what they would find and hear. The freshness of a large section of the audience gave a different character to the event. Many, many of the people attending were not known to the organizers of the event before the day. People had heard about it in different ways—palm cards, billboard, newspaper ads, radio, class announcements and through friends. Something new was represented—new and important and fragile.
Students and teachers from City College of San Francisco, where there is a fierce battle raging to keep the school open for the 90,000 students who depend on it, were in the house, led by the Revolution Club just being forged there. Students from Laney College, UC Berkeley, Berkeley City College, Cal State East Bay, and other Peralta Colleges were represented. High school students from two different San Francisco charter schools attended as did students from Castlemont High School, Oakland High School, Oakland School of the Arts, Skyline High School, and Berkeley High School. These students were joined by teachers from at least three different high schools and other youth from around the area who met the revolutionaries during different outings over the past six weeks. Some of these students came together as beginning cores at their schools and others came individually.
In addition to this significant section of youth, there were many others of different nationalities, ages and backgrounds in the audience. Men and women from East Oakland and San Francisco who have been taking up revolution for a while now made sure they were representing for their neighborhoods and stood up proudly when the MC asked members of the Revolution Club to identify themselves. Anti-war activists, teachers, nurses, attorneys, unemployed and homeless, immigrants from Latin America, Iran, and Africa, a long-ago friend of BA who saw an announcement about the film and made sure to be there. Others BA had known from Black Panther Party days came to hear him speak. Several people had heard Carl Dix talk about the Kimani Gray murder and the link between the need for resistance to that and other police murders and the importance of seeing this premiere. Many had been called during the last few days leading up to the premiere and told us that those personal calls made a decisive difference in their plans to attend.
During the intermission, which lasted longer than planned because technical difficulties had to be resolved, people ate, mingled and compared notes about the speech. DVDs, premiere T-shirts, and literature were sold at the Revolution Books table. People checked out their packets to find out what was planned in the coming week and to fill out the questionnaires about how they would like to get connected. Some we talked to during the break commented that BA's exposure of Obama was hard to take. Others were not so sure about BA's critique of religion. Most, but not all, agreed that revolution, nothing less, is needed. Some said they could now see how that could even be possible in a country like this.
At the end of the evening, it was late (we started late to give those coming from the neighborhoods an opportunity to be there for the beginning and because the technical problems we had to resolve during intermission meant a longer intermission than we had planned) but many stayed to talk, to get more DVDs, to find out how to get involved. Most of those from the Revolution Club—East Oakland stayed for a while to eat dinner, visit, compare notes in a lively gathering characterized by a genuine camaraderie and excitement over what they had heard that day, the shoots of a movement for revolution that were seen in the groupings of people, young and old, all nationalities who came together to be part of this historic premiere. Plans were made to meet up on the weekend to get the DVDs out into the neighborhoods and to talk further about what they had just seen.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
From the Premieres
March 21, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
There was a sense of both seriousness and real excitement as over 120 people gathered at Ferguson Hall at Columbia College on Saturday, March 16 for the Chicago premiere of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! People commented on the diversity of the audience that were all brought together to hear BA speak on the most pressing questions facing humanity. The audience was about 30 percent Black people of all ages, from high school youth, students from community colleges, and others from some of the most oppressed communities, to older people who were teachers and professionals, and people who are part of the Revolution Club and the struggle against mass incarceration and police brutality. Several people of different nationalities commented on the importance of a section of young Black people being in the house. There were a number of older Black people who said they came because they feel that the situation has become intolerable and they were looking for answers, including several people came on their own after hearing Carl Dix interviewed two days earlier on WVON, a Black radio station. About 20 percent of the audience was under 25, high school and college students and recent college graduates, as well as others of that age from the masses at the bottom of society who are working on jobs or just working to find a way to survive. The rest of audience was made up of people from all different ages, strata, interests, and nationalities—all interested in engaging BA.
There was a lively interaction between BA on the screen and the audience throughout the film. There were visceral responses and talkback to BA from a section of the Black masses, young and older, who were sitting in one part of the theater, people were expressing their agreement and appreciation for what he was saying. This affected others to either join in or who couldn't help but notice that the Black people in the audience were responding very positively to BA. One young woman said she really liked the audience, that they were so involved and interested. A young white student said he had thought that you could not criticize Obama to Black people and he was really struck by the audience reaction to this part of the film. There were people throughout the auditorium nodding vigorously at some things BA said, and many times laughter broke out in parts of the audience and applause punctuated some particularly pointed comments that many in the audience wholeheartedly agreed with. There were also open expressions of both agreement and sharp disagreement in the parts where BA takes on religion and Obama and this carried over into some serious struggle in the "smokers' lounge," the sidewalk outside.
After the intermission, when BA goes deeply into what a revolutionary situation is and how it could be possible to win in a country like this, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop because so many people were intently leaning forward wanting to hear him explain how the conditions could develop so that this system could be swept away. BA brought this question to the fore, and one woman was literally riveted during this part, commenting that "Whoa, he is actually going there." For a number of people who were very intently listening to this part wanting to know what BA had to say, there was also controversy about what he did have to say, i.e. questioning "is this really the only way?"
At the intermission and at the end there was a rich expression of what people appreciated about BA and the whole talk and what they were thinking about coming out of the film, much more than can be covered in this snapshot, but here are some of the comments:
Words people used to describe the film: "I love the film—it was powerful." "It was masterfully put."
A young Black man was asked at the intermission, "What do you think of the film?" He replied, "It's good." "What's good about it?" "That's my life."
A young woman said the most important thing she learned was, "it's not our fault." She didn't know anything about communism before she came and was surprised to find that she was not alone in her thinking, to hear someone saying what she was thinking, but had never said out loud.
The following comment by an older Black man concentrates what many other people thought about the film: "What stood out most to me was the zillions of knowledge that was compacted in six hours. I would say that for a man to be in this as long as he has, he has a very sustained amount of knowledge. This six hours, it doesn't actually explore all the knowledge I imagine he have and have for the masses. But just the short film is enough to get you started. Very much so, like you need gas to get up the road, cause you just ran out. He vitalized a lot of things that was going on in the 60s we wasn't too familiar with, didn't even know about, some of us, and he still been in the movement since then, so I take my hat off to Bob Avakian."
Many others made similar comments to this: "I was really impressed by his passion, his commitment, his sincerity. His entire speech is enough to make me want to be involved in some kind of way to help this movement. He touched on a lot of everything that's been happening. This is 2013, we've seen enough and know enough to know that the oppression is not gonna change without us."
A woman wrote on the questionnaire: "This film was powerful and comprehensive. BA's extensive knowledge of the system and historical experience on fighting it, enlightening others on it, and eventually overcoming it is timely, possible, and soon to be. I appreciate his efforts and will continue to build not only my awareness, but also participation to help humanity to break the system."
An older Latina activist said, "He really brings the definition of revolution to a very focused point... Revolution is revolution and he gives the reality of what it is. So if anybody comes along and says what is revolution—hey, I got the message right here in this film. I think it's important for young people, because they could be taking up all kinds of definitions of what revolution is. Like he said, we're talking here serious."
An older Black man commented at the end, "BA is qualified, bona fide, and should be paid attention to by everyone. Everything he put forward was very relevant to the situation and what we need to do. He gave all the proof to back it up. This is a person that can really teach people something." He compared BA's approach toward changing the world to a child's game of jacks: "Sometime you try to pick up one jack, or two, or three. Bob Avakian is about sweeping up every jack from the floor and all at once."
Several people commented on BA's internationalism—how he is concerned about and cares about the whole world. A young Black woman concentrated this in writing "I love BA. He is so connected to the oppressed people in the world and has a way of putting information in words that more of us can understand this world better." A white man said: "he has a very broad understanding, not just specifics about a certain people, but a very wide and broad perspective of the world."
A middle-aged Black man who came to the film off the WVON interview with Carl Dix said in an interview at the end when asked what struck him: "There are so many areas he spoke on that really allowed me to picture what could be possible, such as globally where people's needs could be met in a format where there could be justice for all people. I feel this is the terms that need to be brought to the mass of the people. For me personally, I didn't have an overview on how to combat the umbrella that was basically covering so much mass destruction. As far as communism, the way I had understood it was a sense of oppression. He made it crystal clear why the word communism was brought to the surface of things. I thought that was pretty legit."
A Black woman student made a point about BA's method and leadership, "He's going to give it to you straight, he's not going to sugar coat it and what he says is what he means. And I think he will be the one that basically uplifts the whole new generation of people because we done had the wool on our eyes for too long."
The controversy around Obama brought out questions of method and epistemology. A Black woman said to one of the staff that she thought the film was powerful and many more people needed to hear it. She talked about how she and all her friends had volunteered to work for Obama in his first campaign. Then she shook her head and said, "Well, I guess the truth is the truth," referring to BA's analysis of what Obama is about. Another older white woman said what surprised her the most was what BA said about Obama, "I'm an Obama person, except for the war on Afghanistan, I like Obama. I didn't know the other things about Obama that BA said. I have to rethink a lot of things now." An older Black man said, "I totally agreed about the person Obama, but BA went further to make you question your respect of the whole office of president and the whole system behind it."
People divided out sharply on religion, for example, an older white woman said she really liked "his atheism, that was such a strong start at the beginning about science and the degradation of the lord. That's RIGHT where I'm at!" While a young Black woman commented that when BA criticized religion and said there is no god, she stopped listening, she couldn't get past that.
Several women commented on what BA said about the oppression of women and rape, one commenting that he had "a very thorough feminist critique." A Native American activist was heard saying that he had never heard a non-native speak this way, especially the indictment of capitalism.
A Revolution Club member expressed how the power of BA and this film had impacted him: "After seeing the film I came away with a confidence that a revolution really could happen in a country like this. It really made me want to get out with more literature, be more straightforward with what Bob's talking about, and really help people understand what communism is all about...We need to introduce those the system has cast off to Bob. Because they struggle with things that the system do, and they just don't know what to do about it. And the party do. So I feel like if we can get it out to these people and help build them up, it could be the fighting force to stop these things. And we really need to get the Revolution Club off the ground, come together with a plan to help people develop the concept that we are trying to get them to understand. I think this is a great way to help the youth learn about the Party and Bob and I think it's a great thing to take it throughout the city, to the high schools, and get them to understand the science."
Many other people remarked that this is a film that needs to be heard by everyone, especially the youth. Many bought their own copy to watch themselves and show to others, 44 copies were sold. Many of the people who couldn't stay all the way to the end bought the DVD or expressed the desire to see the rest.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
From the Premieres
March 23, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Saturday, March 16, the Magic Johnson Theater in the heart of Harlem buzzed with excitement as people started streaming in for the premiere of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! A multinational grouping of over 220 people gathered and watched the film. The excitement was palpable as you entered the theater, with greeters pointing people to where the movie was and talking to everyone entering the theater about what all the buzz was about. People commented that they had never seen anything quite like this, from the greeters out front, the large visuals of the film poster, the tables with literature and introductory packets for everyone who attended. People welcoming them to step into the revolution—by getting into and getting with BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!
As soon as you stepped into the theater and looked around, it was clear—this was a very mixed crowd, and very diverse in age, from middle school kids from Harlem all the way to a 90-year-old woman. The majority of the people there were young, teenagers through early 30s, or in their 60s and older, and it was noticeable that there was a section of people from those this system has cast off—people who had heard about and were being organized to experience this film by the Revolution Club and others from all over the city.
Once the movie started, people were riveted—one person described "how BA was able to bring the masses along with him—that people were listening and talking to the screen and that this was very impressive." He said it made him feel coming out of the premiere that he had to do more—mentioning how BA said that everybody from 9 to 90 could play a role. He said, "I've got to play my 60-year-old-plus role." Although some people left early, around 200 people experienced most of the film—and this event. Sitting in this room with all these people really felt like what one of the filmmakers described—"a daring, scientific, substantive summoning to revolution." And this crowd responded seriously to this summoning.
Throughout, you got a real sense of a community of people deeply engaging with the film—from the laughter, the clapping, people talking back. There was noticeable reaction from the audience, for instance, when BA tells a story in the film about the three-card monte (comparing how people get duped by this hustle with how they are drawn into the dead-end of elections under this system) and how if you play you lose, and then when he talked about Obama. One young man who was newly introduced to BA remarked that he "greatly appreciated" the exposure of Obama, which he felt made a lot of sense because people are conditioned to think that anyone speaking against Obama is some kind of racist. "It's extremely important for Black people to hear this."
A proletarian woman who was active in the build-up for the event—including by distributing palm cards for the premiere with her own telephone number so she could organize with friends and others to come together—was very exhilarated by the film. She could be heard talking back to the screen during the showing, responding favorably to the parts on Obama, especially the point about how those running this system say now that there's a Black president, so all the horrors that people face are "your own fault." She said that everybody in Harlem needed to hear this. "What's wrong with our people? They're off playing video games when they should have been here." She very much wants many more people to hear BA. "It's unbelievable that he has so much to say."
A high point of the day, which many people commented on, came during the intermission. After a brief speech from the Party, members of the Revolution Club went up to the front of the theater as a disciplined group, all wearing BA-image T-shirts, projecting a real force for Revolution—Nothing Less! and inviting people to get with them. At the end, too, as many clusters of people talked and exchanged their thinking about what they had just experienced, the club got together and put out a call for people to get with them.
A lot more needs to be learned about how people's thinking changed off of seeing the film, and then their second and third viewings of it. And a lot more needs to be learned about all the ways that people took up spreading the word about the film, including to friends, relatives, and coworkers. Several people who had previously either watched a rough cut or attended one of the talks came with at least one new person—a partner, a friend, or a relative.
One major theme in the questionnaire that more 50 people filled out after watching the film was how important it is for many other people to see the film, and various ideas for how they would use it. People talked of buying one or two copies of the DVD right away (120 DVDs were sold at the event) so they could start showing it to their friends, at their community centers, etc. One person who's at a homeless shelter said, "I'm going to play this DVD... at the shelter. Instead of listening to Maury Povich and who's the daddy, not the baby daddy—things that we can do."
Below is a sampling from what people wrote in their questionnaires:
"Great film I think everyone needs to see!"
"Great film. Needs mass exposure. Hope more people get exposed to the revolution."
"Excellent—it tells you all the information you need about the problem, and about changing the system, and it's true and to the point."
"I really enjoyed the movie and to get more involved."
"Extremely informative and has raised my awareness of the tremendous need of change in our system and my role in it which is yet to be decided."
"He brought the large issues of the current ills of society into context in a concise manner that all can understand. BA is a great speaker that can break down societal challenges that can be digested and understood. This helps to really understand the system and why things need to change. GREAT film."
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 31, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
At the March 16-17 premieres of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, Revolution interviewed dozens of audience members during the intermissions and at the end of the showings. The following are excerpts from some of those interviews.
Q: Is there anything so far that has surprised you?
One thing—I wasn't surprised, but in America, a lot of people do say this is the land of the free, land of this. But people like me, it's just totally the opposite because I'm the definition of America's enemy. I'm a young Black youth in the inner city. They wrote us off before we was born. We was convicted at birth, that's how I feel sometimes. But one thing that surprised me—the whole thing is a surprise to me, actually. Because I'm not—me, myself, I'm not used to actually engaging in real issues that may be in society. So this is being real direct, just talking about stuff that makes sense, really engage me as a person.
Q: He talks a lot about how you can't reform the system and the name of the talk is BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! What is your response to that?
My response is, we need it. How it's gonna happen, I'm thinking the big picture. I know it's needed. I can't see a revolution without blood being spilled. Because any revolution that has happened—the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, in Hispaniola, it won't happen without people being willing to sacrifice. And that's what I feel like we have to do. Slavery never ended. There's a new form of slavery. And they attack your mind psychologically. I live in the community where you see it being done every day. There's a high mental illness where I live at but there's no treatment. So you see, we been to war and people are not in their right minds out there. It's crazy but I know there's a change needed. Personally from my own studies... there has to be something better. I just want to see the rest—I see he identifies the problem, but I want to know the solution.
Q: How did you hear about this?
So I actually came into Revolution Books to buy a book. They had the book and then I asked one of the people working there what was their favorite book and they recommended BAsics so I ended up buying it... And then the lady was saying, oh, what are you doing Saturday and I said, I'm working and she said, don't go to work, call in. I said I can't do that and she said, you have to, this is so important, and you really seem like you're into these kinds of things, just come. And I was like, ok, fine, I'll take two tickets. So then I called into work and got into trouble but it was definitely worth it.
Q: Is there anything that surprised you or shocked you or that you didn't expect?
He was very raw and very honest. I feel like he can relate to the younger crowd because he does talk about things that people pay attention to that are younger—hip-hop, music, movies. I love that he sees beyond the superficial things that the movies display. Like he goes into like this is what they're really trying to tell you. And I feel like whoever watches this will definitely now look at movies and be like, wait, why is that being played this way, why is this being said? You won't be naive about to what is being put out there.
Q: You didn't know anything about Bob Avakian before this, so what is your impression of him as a revolutionary leader now?
I think he's awesome. I think he's someone that a lot of people would connect with. He definitely has charisma and he's very intelligent. In the film he goes from so many different things, like from ancient history to modern day and I think that's something that shows his intelligence and he seems like he knows what he's doing.
Q: The title and main theme of the movie is BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Do you think he makes the case for this and what do you think about this?
I definitely think he does make a case for that. I think that he basically, towards the end of the movie, he promotes a challenge and I think that's what he's saying, that if you saw this film and you're not moved by it, then he's not doing his job and neither are we as people because he does speak about basic human rights and things that any human would feel strong against or strongly for and passionate about. Yeah, I think he just wants you to wake up.
Q: He really does, at the end, say, if you hear this talk, the point is to change the world.
I definitely am into these kinds of social things, I'm very politically aware. I try to be at these and I think that is something he promotes and I think I would be into and will keep reading. I have the books and I want to read even more. I will definitely promote this to all of my friends, my professors. I think this should probably be in the curriculum of high school students. It's very significant. ... I will get the DVD as well.
Q: One last question: In the movie, he says, "Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity." What do you think about this?
That's very in-depth. I think he's basically trying to say that, us as people who are being oppressed, we basically have the power, like we have the strength. Personally I think that if you have the strength to endure all of these situations from day-to-day life, like police brutality or even basic human rights that are taken from you, I think you definitely have the strength to fight back and if we all were to join together then I feel like the ruling class, they would definitely not exist.
Q: What do you think is the most important thing that you got from the film?
I think the most important thing that I got from the film is to realize that for any revolution or any type of real change to take place that it has to be a collective effort and not just a certain section of rights that needs to be enabled but rights for everyone, including, like how he talked about for women's rights, lesbian, bisexual, homosexual, all of those rights and pretty much all the countries around the Third World. Cuz at first, I had a very small idea of revolution because I only understood the position that I was in. After watching this film, I have a way better understanding of revolution. As a young African male. Now I don't have a small or microscopic idea of revolution, now I have a really expanded idea.
Q: Most important thing that you learned about BA?
I think that one of the things that was really important to me is that he actually has been. I've seen a couple of videos of him from '69, '79, 2003 all the way up until now. And seeing his longevity and his continuation and his effort to revolution I think that was one of the most important things. After seeing that it gave him a lot of credibility...there's no hesitation in me going further to learn things from him.
Q: Most surprising thing about the film and/or about him?
One of the things that was really surprising to me was when he said blatantly that there is no right to eat within the Constitution. Cuz I didn't really think about that. That's true, but it doesn't really occur to me. And the way he explained how it is and if we went to try to get food, we deserve food, then they would react with hostile forces. That was one of the most shocking things to me.
Q: The title was BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! What do you think of that?
I think the title suits itself. Cuz for a lot of organizations and a lot of things that when people say revolution it doesn't really include everyone, in this sense revolution—nothing less is perfect because there's nothing less than revolution.
Q: Are you joining the revolution?
I am definitely joining the revolution.
Q: You are someone who has read a lot of BA and followed him. Compared with what you knew about BA before the film, did you come away with any new impressions?
I really enjoyed it. After seeing the film, I come away with a confidence that a revolution really could happen in a country like this. It really made me want to get out with more literature, be more straightforward with what Bob's talking about, and really help people understand what communism is all about.
Q: The title of the film is BA Speaks: REVOLUTION–NOTHING LESS! Do you have any thoughts about that whole approach?
I agree with him. I believe that's the only way we can go. Any other way is just helping this country stay the way it is and that's not cool.
Q: The quote on the literature about "Those that this system has cast off..." Any thoughts on that?
Yeah, that's what we need. Those that the system has cast off, we need to introduce them to Bob. Because they struggle with the things that the system do, and they just don't know what to do about it. And the Party do. So I feel like if we can get it out to these people and help build them up, it could be the fighting force to stop these things. I think the Revolution Club, we really need to get that off the ground. Not get it off the ground, but come together and come up with a plan to help people develop the concept that we are trying to get them to understand. I think that is a great way to help the youth learn about the Party and Bob and I think it's a great thing to take it throughout the city, to the high schools, and get them to understand the science.
Q: The name of the film was BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! What do you think of that?
M: I thought he was really forceful in—and needed to be. There's no—I kept thinking of Bush's old mantra, you're either with us or against us. It feels like that's the reality here. There's not two ways about it. If you turn your back on this, then you're allowing everything to proceed as is. And we all know that that just simply can't stand. Are we to survive, even as a species, in what's going on now?
Q: So that's what you thought about when you heard the challenge he put out at the end where he was basically calling on us, are you going to be with it, or what?
M: Exactly, right. There's no two ways about it. You really have to stand up for something. Otherwise, you're letting it all happen.
W: Well, the title I think was very—really stated the viewpoint right from the start: that nothing less than revolution is going to solve the problem, is going to give us the solution that we need. And I agree with that. I don't think, you know, this system can be tweaked and, you know, reformed around the margins as he called it, and turn out successful. That really the very basis—I'm in agreement that the very basis of the system in place is not workable. Not only it's not just, it's simply not workable. We're coming up against the limitations of the planet. It's a finite planet. But this capitalistic system, the way it works, is as if there are no boundaries. It has to ever, ever expand and consume and the profits are never enough to people at the top that are collecting them.
Q: Well, so far, what has stood out to you?
I think Avakian reminds me a lot of Malcolm X. That they both have a genius to address critical issues, urgent issues that on many levels are very complex, complicated things to understand. But they have such a grasp of them that they are able to articulate them in a lucid manner in which everybody can understand and get what they're saying. So he's dealing with complex issues about politics, around history, around economics, around philosophy, and those such things. But he's putting it in a way in which people who aren't learned in these areas can listen what he's saying, get what he's saying, get the importance and the urgency of what he's saying and the urgency and necessity to try and address these critical issues of our day.
Q: Was there anything that surprised you or that took you aback?
That's a good question. I mean, I think he, I think personally speaking, there's a lot that I agree with Avakian on. And then there are some fundamental differences that we have, talk about religion for instance. I'm studying at a Christian seminary, I'm a Christian. And it's those values that bring me to engage in the struggle against injustice in society. And certainly we obviously have different takes on religion and its role. But I think a lot of the critiques he's putting forth are critiques that I share of religion. I would emphasize some of what I consider some of the positive revolutionary aspects to it. But those critiques that he has of it I think are accurate. And I think, for some people those may be very jarring. Certain things, he's right at you, he pulls no punches, whether it's religion, or something like the election of Barack Obama, which on many levels was a great thing given the history of racism and white supremacy in the country. At the same time it's problematic...
Q: In the first part of the speech he has this quote, "Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity." What do you think of that quote?
I look at it simultaneously from a historical and from a contemporary place. Historically speaking that's something that's kind of part and parcel to the Marxist tradition, looking at those most affected, the masses, them being the revolutionary force. But then also, kind of just saying, Avakian is part of that tradition, he's kind of a great thinker of today. So we say, ok, how does that apply to current politics, current-day situation. We have so many people today struggling financially. We have the new Jim Crow prison-industrial complex. We have the destruction of the environment. We have all these things going on. And what does it mean for those of us who are being affected, which is the masses of us? What does it mean for us to seriously think about our condition and what we can possibly do about it.
Q: Tell me a little about yourself and how you heard about this.
A1: We were walking from class on campus and someone just stopped us. We saw a poster of this Black man being pinned down by a bunch of police. I saw it and it intrigued me so was just like I kinda wanna go. So I didn't hesitate, bought my ticket and I'm here. Yeah, I'm here.
Q: What stood out to you most about the film so far?
A1: What stood out to me the most was when he was talking about the fact that how Obama is basically a figure of entertainment. He's a figure of ... he has an agenda assigned to him by the—not the masses that are supposed to be democracy—but he's assigned by the supremacies of this nation. And that's what stood out to me the most, the fact that a lot of Black people nowadays are so happy and so relieved that our president's Black but he's just not doing anything. He is a Black puppet and that's what stood out to me and I kinda came here to broaden my knowledge of really what's going on because my mom really sheltered me from it. She was a Black Christian. She's like, 'it's in God's hands so just forget about it.' But I didn't really know about anything so that's why I'm really here.
Q: What has stood out to you most about Avakian so far?
A1: Honestly, it really surprised me that he knows so much. Mainly because he is white. He's different from what I am, and how come I don't know about these things and I'm Black and it's happening to me.
Q: Same question. What has stood out to you the most about Avakian?
A2: Well, for me, the fact that he's so passionate. I know he described certain people in neighborhoods where they're like...where they see these white people taking part in these revolutionary acts and then when the pressure hits they leave and for me that's my biggest problem with those types of people and I don't know much about him but you guys said he's been around forever and he hasn't stopped when the pressure hits and for me that's what I really like to see in people. When I first heard about this, I did ask myself what ethnicity is he? They said white and then right off the bat I'm just like alright, let me not jump to conclusions or judgments or stuff because when I see ... when you see these movies there's always like a white savior and I really hate it...I really hate it. So for me that's where I come in as being kinda stand-offish. Not even stand-offish but what is this all about? Skeptical. I don't want somebody to be my white savior. I think another thing that I'm still kinda like, okay..., is the whole fact that he's really against Christians and religion in general. Just because I'm a Christian and ... the whole thing of wait until Jesus comes back? That is not what Jesus...that's not what this is about. That's not what Christianity is about and you know to a large extent that's what people have made God's word out to be and so I don't blame him or many other people for being, yeah, skeptical or atheist or whatever they are.... So the whole being Christian thing it's kind of like... okay, we're for the same thing.
A1: I have a story to tell. It was 2009 when the Haiti earthquake struck. So I was sitting there watching the news because it was all over the news, right? And I was sitting there watching with my mom. I happened to see this little girl. They said that she was trapped under a whole bunch of rubble and she was crying and just in tears and she had blood coming from her head. I was just terribly struck, I was just shocked and I couldn't move and I was crying and I looked back at my mom and she was just sitting there basically, she was just watching it. And I'm looking like, who are you? Why aren't you like, you know. And it struck me to the point where she was like, 'it's all in God's hands.' It's for a reason. Everything happens for a reason and she was trying to comfort me with that. So I just walked out the room, really. And I was crying to myself and I just realized just now that that's where my desensitization stems from when it comes to human impoverishment and deaths and stuff like that. My mom is just like, 'oh, you know, it's in God's hands' and she even told me that it was supposed to happen, really, like because people in Haiti worship idols so she was just like...and that really pissed me off. She was just like, 'oh, you know, they did this so that's why they're suffering now.' I looked at the little girl and I'm just like 'are you really sitting up here and telling me like this is her fault' 'And so that's what really hurt me the most, and from then on I was just like, maybe, hey, it's not in my hands, it's in God's hands, basically.
I think it's just so funny that Christianity has become like this when God definitely says that we're supposed to be loving the poor and loving the oppressed and doing his work and not just sitting back waiting until he comes back. I really hate that. That's not what it's about...
Q: What did you know about Bob Avakian before and what's your impression of him now?
A2: Oh, absolutely nothing, actually. Like nobody knows about him and he's been around forever, right? Before today I didn't. Well before when I was watching, I was like, wow, he should be president. But I was like, hell no. Because so many people of this country, something would happen to him. So no he can't, he can't. But I think a number of people should know about him to the point where he should be a leader, a really big leader in this country. Can I tell you about the whole communism thing?
Before I came... So what was taught in the history books when I was growing up: communism is a bad thing. I was oh, it's all about, you know, we're sharing toothbrushes and I don't want to share my stuff with that person. I didn't know about communism because I was taught that communism was bad, a red scare, these are bad people. And then I'm trained to believe that capitalism is the only way to go. I buy things, you give me things in return, that type of thing. But he opened up a new modernized socialism and that's what stood out to me the most, I think. So if you're saying bad stuff about capitalism, and then when people are just so scared of communism, then what the hell are you going to do? So like he said that strategy and I like that.
Q: One more thing, BA says, Revolution—Nothing Less. What do you think about that, or are we not ready to talk about that?
A2: I'll tell you what I think about it so far. To be honest, I am sort of doubting the whole spreading of it because you really have to change people's psyches and that's going to take so much work and that work is intimidating. It really is, mainly because of the people that I grew up with they're so focused on pop culture; they're so focused on the Housewives of wherever, that they don't really want to deal with this because it's boring, it's nothing ... to the point where people are so desensitized. To the point where it's just oh, 5,000 people are killed...blah, blah, blah and you are just 'oh, okay.' So the revolution, nothing less—I think it's going to take a lot of work because you have to change a lot of people's psyches.
Q: So far what has stood out the most?
Oh my god. What stood out to me the most is that the entire system cannot be changed from working within the system for change. I have to agree with that. I have to agree with the fact that so many people follow the voting system, and would love to bring up facts like 'What proof do you have that the voting system is not honest and real?' But in reality, this is something I've talked about behind closed doors for years. How the voting system has two sides, it's a plague against both. It represents the ruling elite remaining in power. These are very real facts. Hearing things about Blacks and the civil rights struggle. Things that led up to—things that have been covered up. Police brutality. I love what I'm hearing here. The oppression of women (laughs)! These things are real. The fact that I do agree that we do need a revolution in thought...
Q: What surprised you the most so far?
That's a good question. The biggest surprise was the discussion on the election, and how the president is put in power. That's something I have agreed with, something I concur with 100 percent, but very few people, very few people have I heard come out and say something like that publicly. It takes a lot to actually speak on that. So many people are afraid to even go into that. And then some of the people who are the biggest proponents for peace, justice, and equality, when you bring up that type of issue they're offended. That's a totally offensive issue. I have a lot of friends who are into a lot of different things, politics in different ways, and they're like, 'Oh my god! How can you say something like that?' But it's obvious—there are so many signs to show how this is real, not just in movies, but so many truths that come up when you hear a politician speak, if you really pay attention. But people like to look the other way. We're all living within a bunch of contradictions. At the same time you have to be able to look at truth for truth. Very few people will come out and step beyond all the contradictions like the gentleman speaking in the film. And that is the interesting thing to me. I got to say on a lot of levels, the man is a lot braver than I. Because I'm not able to take the reins in the way I want to take them in my own reality because of so many threats to my freedom, my position, things I've worked hard for. And many other people feel the same way. And this is a way for you to get around somebody who is speaking those truths... That's my opinion.
Q: What do you think about this quote from the film: "Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity."
I agree with that quote. I think that actually is not only true, but he said something in the film: he said we don't have to look at the lower classes as simply stupid, we need to be able to approach them in a way that is open and honest about what we believe. We need to be able to approach them in a way that lets them know they can be part of something that can change things. Because a lot of people feel hopeless—they feel there is no way to change it. That doesn't mean you have to change by violent means. These are all stereotypes placed, placed, I believe, by the ruling class. They'll go 'it can be violent' but in reality it's more of a thought revolution. If people begin to think a different way, that's what I think they fear the most—people will begin to think a different way. It's almost kind of how Gandhi was doing it, we're not gonna deal with that, we're not gonna deal with these conditions, slander always comes out of vehicles like the media of course. So I love the quote. I think it's honest, I think everyone can make a difference. It comes down to how you think. It comes down to grouping up with other people and doing it in a non-violent way, to bring more attention to it. You look at the 99 percent movement, I agree with what he said. That was done within the confines of the system. But what really destroyed it was the fact that it couldn't really centralize. And people began to think, this isn't gonna work. The scattering. The media spin on it destroyed it. Something has to continue to happen. I don't know the ultimate solution, I don't think any of us do. But I think it's definitely a thought revolution.
Q: We're only midway through, he's going to address this. Let's check in afterwards...
Q: [from another filmgoer] Can you actually share what you mentioned about anger, because what you said was so eloquent? And I felt the exact same way but I can't put it into words the way you were.
A lot of the anger I personally have, you really don't have a way to express these feelings. And when you come to a place where someone is speaking this level of truth and embodies how you feel, it's almost a way to help vent your frustrations.
Q: What stood out to you in the movie?
It just made you feel like there is a chance. Like there's really a chance that we can do this. I never had seen him speak before.
Q: What made you think that? Before you came to this movie you were thinking one way and now you're thinking another...
Well, before I came I was thinking revolution in terms of people starting to starve and not being able to feed their children and that kind of really bloody revolution. But now here is an organization to start more, hopefully a more peaceful one, but it might not be peaceful... . That's what made me think more about that way of doing it, than having a really knock down bloody revolution, which I think is coming anyway. But when people can't feed their kids they're going to get desperate.
Q: What do you think about the theme and the title of the movie, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Do you think he made a case for that?
Oh, yes. I worked with Code Pink for a long time and that's why I stopped hanging around with them because they want to work within the system, call your congressman and all that, and I just felt like it was becoming a wasted effort. So he did make the case, it's not going to work to work within the system. 'Cause this system just has to come down...
Q: Did you get a copy of the DVD?
I bought two.
Q: So what is your plan?
My plan is to have little house parties.
Q: What stood out to you in the movie?
His frankness. And he's so accurate about a lot of things. I mean, wow. What were the most poignant points, there were so many things, that's why I had to buy the DVD. The Rodney King references, there were so many references. The point that I'm bringing back with me is that we can't make the system better. This system needs to be changed, period. We need a new system.
Q: So does the title of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! resonate with you?
Oh, yes it does. Because nothing less will do. It has to change, it cannot stay this way. And I wasn't even aware, like I said. We're so busy living our lives we're not even aware of the atrocities. Like I wasn't even aware of the prostitution still being so, I didn't know the numbers were like that. I'm just astounded. But whatever we have to do. I'm going to play this DVD, I bought it, at the shelter. Instead of listening to Maury Povich and who's the daddy, not the baby daddy, things that we can do. Because a lot of us down there, there are people down there, we don't qualify for this, we don't qualify for that, we can't get help...
Q: There's a quote, "Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity." What do you think about this?
That's me. There were certain points in this movie where I was moved to tears because I identified with it. And that quote right there, that's exactly how I feel... [starts to get really choked up] I feel cast aside. But hopefully getting involved with this group, learning more, actually learning how to apply this, changing my political affiliation, I'm going to, and working from there, whatever I can do to help. I also have a sister who I think will be very interested in this. So I'm going to play the DVD as much as I can.
Q: What did you think was the most important thing you got out of the film?
A: I guess it would be like a sort of liberation from the negative connotations of communism. Because I personally started reading the Manifesto but I kinda stopped because I was like, hold on, I'm trying to be an engineer, the government won't...
Q: You're talking about the original Marx's Manifesto?
I was kind of gave up on the idea even though some of it felt right to me. Because I was thinking, well, the government doesn't really like this, and I'm striving to be a government position. I was thinking they're probably not going to hire an engineer that's a communist. So that's kinda what killed it for me. But coming here I keep thinking like, first of all no one should be able to decide your views on life and I think it's completely unfair that the government gets to choose what you can and cannot have as a view because that's like they get to tell you who you are, who you're not.
Q: Tell me what you knew about Bob Avakian going in and what you think about him now.
Well, I hadn't even heard of him coming in. But coming out very interested. I'm going to start reading his website. I agree with him on a lot of things. I always had thoughts that there's no need for people to have an exponential amount of money compared to the poorest. I feel like there shouldn't be poverty. I feel like at least there should be, everyone should be at low middle class because the wealth is so huge that it can be shared where the people in the one percent can still have enough to have homes everywhere. There's no need for that excessive amount of greediness and in the end if you open up your eyes, it's killing a lot of people.
Q: What surprised you most about the film?
His statistics. His statistics about death in Third World countries. I was always open to that and I always knew that there was starvation and a lot of things happening, but to hear that actual number, to hear that number, to hear the amount of lives that are being lost and to know that there is somebody out there that has over a hundred homes and he doesn't even think, 'maybe I sell one and give it to those people' or put up a church. I don't necessarily agree with churches, but I do see the church around my community and it does feed people that are homeless. It does do a good impact on the communities so why not spread that wealth.
Q: There was a lot of emphasis in this on the system of capitalism and imperialism. Did you come out of that with a deeper sense of what that means in terms of being at the root of all of this? In other words, there's the statistics and then there's the why and what do you do about it?
I feel like after watching this film it's like that little shield that everyone has of ignorance it's lifted, after watching that film. And you make a conscious decision whether you want to go on and act about it, or you want to continue hiding under your shield. But if you do, it's kinda on you, because someone already told you what's the reality and what's going on and just because it's not necessarily affecting you doesn't mean that you shouldn't care about others. It's kinda like saying I could care less about cancer because no one in my family's ever had a cancer. That to me sounds worse than anyone else can say. Just because you're not starving doesn't mean you shouldn't care about those kids that are starving.
Q: How do you feel about the part that in a certain sense the way you live being at the expense of the rest of the world. In other words, the relationship between those conditions—you turn on your iPad and you see the blood pouring out.
I don't necessarily like that all about the system, but before this film I had no idea to even begin to how to change it. It was like he said, revolution was never even a possibility. And it was the way I grew up and the way I was trained by the media to just look at the system and say these are my only possibilities and that's all I can do. They train you to say, 'oh, well, there was already a revolution, America's already the greatest country in the world' but the thing is that, like he points it out, the revolution was about a bunch of slave owners that didn't want to pay taxes. So where's the morality in their actions? All they cared about is their money.
Q: The title of the film is BA Speaks: REVOLUTION–NOTHING LESS! Do you have a sense about the point of that or what did you get from that?
I feel like that title encompasses the whole idea of this film. You watch this film and you either demand revolution and nothing less. You have to demand it. You either demand it or, like I said, you go back to your shield you go back to living your consumerist life.
Q: You're not going back under the shield?
I don't think so...
Q: You want to learn more.
Yeah, I want to learn more. That way, when I am confronted with people that are challenging my ideas, I don't just stand there and say 'well, let me get back to you,' I want to confront them dead on and actually be able to convince them and say 'don't hide behind your shield. It's okay to come out.'...
Well to me, I love the fact that he is not scared to be doing what he's doing. He's not hiding and like he said, he didn't go back from the '60s. He wasn't one of those guys that just went back and said, 'I'm just going to find a nice little job in the system and I'm just going to forget about this. It was just one of my college days, it was just a dumb idea I had once and it's gone now.' I love his perseverance and even though he may have been alone, I doubt he'll be alone now.
I heard about this from Revolution Books. My parents are from India.
What I liked a lot was the fact that he can just pull you into his aura and he makes you listen. And if you feel like you don't understand something he gives you so many examples. He stands there and he gets really deep, he doesn't just say something and move on. He'll give you a full analysis.
The thing that really stood out, what really touched me was when he was talking about gangs and how they had tried to come together and the oppressing powers try to separate them, and this is just a cycle. Also about George Bush and how he lies, how he said Iraq had WMDs [weapons of mass destruction] and they didn't have anything.
Another thing I liked was the stuff about the iPhone, that when you buy something you are buying all of this labor that went into the product. The kids who buy things, like shoes, all they know is the brand, but they don't know about the Asian kids who put in hours and hours of work to feed their families. The kids here don't know this. I don't know about the iPhone but I know Microsoft is set up in India. Kids here buy these $200 shoes and they don't even think that hey, hard labor was put into these shoes—kids were beaten and abused in the making of this damn product.
Q: What stood out to you most about the film and BA?
W: I like the comparison drawn between how undocumented immigrant families are separated, and this is like how the children of Black slaves were sold, and how the tears and suffering of the people mean nothing. If you don't take action—then this is just talk and we let the suffering continue, when in fact we can make a difference.
Q: What did you know about BA before and what's your impression of him now?
W: I knew before the film that BA is the leader of the RCP. After the film, I see more how serious he is about revolution, and spoke at length on this. I like how he uses so many examples.
Q: BA says, "Revolution—Nothing Less!" What do you think about that?
M: I think it's appropriate. That is what is needed.
W: Initially I thought the title was too pushy. Now I think it is appropriate. What he says about the youth, that there is only a bad future for the youth under this system is true. Revolution has a future for the youth. The suffering of the people and crimes of the system are so extreme, revolution—nothing less is what is needed.
Q: What did you think about the challenge to people at the end?
M: I want to let more people know about the revolution.
W: I feel a responsibility to make revolution. Before when I met the Revolution Club, I felt a sense of responsibility but now it is stronger. You need to make a difference.
Q: Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression and emancipate all of the humanity?
M: I agree that is true.
W: That's true and we need to realize it.
Q: So what stood out to you about the movie?
In general, a lot of truths. He was speaking a lot of truths...
Q: Was there anything that surprised you or shocked you?
The one thing that did shock me about it was some of his views on Obama. I'm not going to lie, it kind of wakes you up to some of the truths. That's the thing because you know and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person that stood here and had their views on Obama and you know he's doing good, and don't get me wrong, I think he's still doing good with certain things. But he did mention a lot of truths of things that he could be doing better and things that he could be helping out more and the truths about the government and everything.
Q: You obviously didn't know anything about Bob Avakian before this, what is your impression of him now?
He's a very, very smart man. He's a very smart man. He's a very smart man and he wants something good in this world. And I see the changes that he's trying to make. And I'm going all for it. And especially hearing everything that he has to say, I like his sense of humor, I really do like his sense of humor. His sense of humor really comes out and it's still truth in his sense of humor. That's one thing I like about him. He's a very good man and I like what he's going for...
Q: What about the challenge at the end? That this will come to nothing unless people take this up and change the world with it?
That's also something that is very true. I see the effort that he's putting in and all the effort that everybody else is putting in to this. And at the end of the day if this doesn't work and people don't listen and hear something like this or go forward, it will all be for nothing.
Q: How do you look at this challenge personally?
How did I take the challenge personally? I think I'm willing to step up to the challenge. I want to do something now, especially after seeing this film. I want to do something to help.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 31, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Ten years ago, on March 19-20, 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq, overthrew the Saddam Hussein regime, and then occupied the country for the next eight and a half years. President George W. Bush said the U.S. went to war to liberate Iraq and “free its people.” This March 19, President Barack Obama issued a statement saluting the U.S. military for their service and giving “the Iraqi people an opportunity to forge their own future...”
What did this U.S. war mean for Iraqis? What does it mean for their future?
A Decade of Occupation for Iraqi Women, Yifat Susskind and Yanar Mohammed, March 19, 2013, Common Dreams
After Nearly 9 Years of War, Too Many Widows, Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, November 25, 2011
Hitmen charge $100 a victim as Basra honour killings rise, Afif Sarhan, The Observer, November 29, 2008
In Haditha, Memories of a Massacre, Ellen Knickmeyer, Washington Post, May 27, 2006
Introduction: The Abu Ghraib files, Salon, March 14, 2006
Iraq Coalition Military Fatalities By Year, icasualities.org
Iraq War Among World's Worst Events, David Swanson, warisacrime.org, March 17, 2013
Iraq: Seven Years of Occupation,” Raed Jarrar, Common Dreams, April 10, 2010
Iraq: the Human Cost, mit.edu
Libby Guilty of Lying in C.I.A. Leak Case, Neil A. Lewis, New York Times, March 6, 2007
Maliki's Iraq: Rape, executions and torture, Dahl Jamail, Al Jazeera, March 19, 2013
New 'Iraq massacre' tape emerges, BBC, June 2, 2006
Statement by the President on the 10th Anniversary of the Iraq War, whitehouse.gov, March 19, 2013
Ten Years Later, U.S. Has Left Iraq with Mass Displacement & Epidemic of Birth Defects, Cancers, Democracy Now!, March 20, 2013
The American Legacy in Iraq, Patrick Cockburn, The Nation, March 20, 2013
The Haditha Massacre, and the Bush Regime: Illegal, Immoral, and INTOLERABLE, Revolution, June 11, 2006
U.S. Broadcast Exclusive–"Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre" on the U.S. Use of Napalm-Like White Phosphorus Bombs, Democracy Now!, November 8, 2005
Video Shows U.S. Killing of Reuters Employees, Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times, April 5, 2010
Way Worse Than a Dumb War: Iraq Ten Years Later, Phyllis Bennis, The Nation, March 18, 2013
Why women are less free 10 years after the invasion of Iraq, Zainab Salbi, CNN, March 18, 2013
WikiLeaks: Iraqi children in U.S. raid shot in head U.N. says, McClatchy, August 31, 2011
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 31, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On the weekend of March 16 and 17, hundreds of people in four major cities had the opportunity to see, hear, and experience the premiere of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, the powerful 6+ hour film of a speech by Bob Avakian. Students, youth, teachers, people from the projects and neighborhoods gathered in theaters and were provoked, inspired, challenged—eyes were opened and minds were changed. The utter intolerability of the current world order became achingly sharp, the possibility of revolution and of a different and much better way for humanity to live began to come into view.
Think of what it would mean if thousands and thousands of people were hearing about Bob Avakian, watching this film, gathering their friends and showing the DVD of it, reading and discussing BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, getting with the revolution and getting involved in changing the world for real. This can happen and it needs to happen.
But the situation today is that the vast majority of people have never heard of Bob Avakian or been exposed to his exciting and liberating talks and writings. This situation needs to change and it needs to change fast. And it can't happen without people like you donating lots of money and getting involved in the campaign to raise lots of money to blast this out into the world in a really big way to get BA EVERYWHERE.
No one else is putting it straight to people about the horror that's really happening to billions around the world because of this system. No one else is putting it straight to people about the revolution that it's going to take to change this and the role that THEY need to play in building the movement for that revolution. No one else is putting it straight to people about what communism really is and how society and the people could be transformed and build a whole different kind of world free of oppression and exploitation. This is so precious and so needed, and it's up to ALL OF US to raise the funds to get this out into the world in the way that can really begin to change the whole atmosphere and discourse—and change what people think is possible.
Donating funds and raising funds is an indispensable part of revolution and it's something anyone can do and get involved with—even as you are checking this out and learning more about it.
Think about the difference it would make if there were lots of money for advertisement and promotion of this film—to promote and produce hundreds more showings of it, to promote the distribution of the DVD of it on a broad scale. Think about the difference it would make if there were lots of money to promote BAsics—to get it into the hands of those the system has cast off in the ghettos and barrios of this country, in the prisons and in the schools. Think about the difference it would make if this film and these ideas were made available to be actively studied and debated on campuses around the country. Think about the difference it would make if young revolutionaries who are passionate about taking this out into the world and fighting for revolution and nothing less could be supported to do this full-time. Think about the difference it would make if there could be high-profile promotional tours going into communities around the country to promote the film and BAsics.
All this takes money—and lots of it!
There's lots of ways to do this and be part of this: Set aside $5/month or $50/month to donate to the BA Everywhere campaign. Donate $500 right now. Get together with friends and develop fundraising projects like baking and selling cookies or making and selling tamales. Organize a DVD showing in your home, invite your friends, the people you talk with about serious things, show them the film and ask them to donate. Get involved with the BA Everywhere committee in your city and be part of all kinds of collective discussion and activities to raise funds to spread this far and wide.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 31, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a correspondent
On March 9, two NYPD undercover cops cold-bloodedly murdered 16-year-old Kimani "Kiki" Gray on a residential street in Brooklyn's East Flatbush neighborhood. Kimani, who had grown up in the area and then moved away, was hanging out with old friends after attending a Sweet Sixteen party when police rolled up on him. In no time at all, Kimani was bleeding on the sidewalk. According to an eyewitness, as his life poured from him, Kimani cried out in terrible pain. A cop standing over him answered by saying "Stay down, or we'll shoot you again."
Read how the New York Times reported the police's own story: they saw Kimani with his friends and that he "adjusted his waistband ... in a suspicious manner," leading them to draw guns and approach him. Think about this! According to the police, a Black youth adjusting his pants is reason enough to initiate a deadly confrontation, in the same way that Trayvon Martin walking at night in a hoodie was enough reason for vigilante George Zimmerman to stalk and kill him.
The Times reported the police version: Kimani "separated himself from the group" and pointed a gun at them, and their immediate response was to open fire, shooting at Kimani 11 times. The autopsy revealed that Kimani, a small young man who weighed perhaps 100 pounds, was hit seven times with hollow point bullets designed to do maximum damage. Three of the shots entered from the back!
Kimani's mother, Carol Gray, spoke about what happened: "Even after the first shot, why the second bullet? Why the third bullet? Why the fourth bullet? Why?" And she declared that her son had been slaughtered.
The smoke had hardly cleared before all the authorities rushed to declare, as they always do when the police murder the masses, that this was "justifiable homicide." NYPD Chief Ray Kelly declared: "There's nothing to indicate that this shooting, at this time, is outside the guidelines," and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated: "So far, all indications are that the young man had a gun." Bloomberg said this even though an eyewitness nearby had already courageously come forward to say that the police story was a lie, that Kimani had no gun, that the police gave him no time to surrender, that he was backing away when he was killed. "All indications" in the eyes of this system means that what the police say is the truth, and nothing else matters.
The police who murdered Kimani not only have not been arrested, they are still on "administrative duty" with pay, and there is every indication that the authorities plan to whitewash this murder completely.
Everything I just described, and more that I will get into below, reveals and concentrates the reality that this system, its mouthpiece politicians, and its murderous enforcers—the police—have complete contempt for the lives of the masses, and especially the lives of Black and Latino youth, who they hate and fear. And it points to the fact that nothing less than broad, fierce, and determined struggle can win any measure of justice for Kimani, and only revolution that gets rid of this whole system can put an end to the brutalization and murder of our youth at the hands of the police.
No sooner was the system's machinery of death through with Kimani than its machinery of lies started cranking up, spewing poison to justify murder. For the most part the mass media repeated the police version of events as if it were proven, rather than what it most likely is—the self-serving cover story of notorious liars with blood on their hands. Although the media reported that there are "conflicting accounts" from eyewitnesses, they generally give these accounts no weight at all.
The system's main way to "justify" what the police did is basically to demonize Kimani, just like they constantly demonize the youth in general. Kimani was "no angel" the police say—as if that is the criterion for whether or not the police can murder someone. They released a so-called rap sheet, and video of him supposedly involved in a petty gang beef, and claimed he was a violent thug, implying that they had done the world a favor by killing him. The reactionary New York Post didn't just "imply"—in a column titled "Blame Kimani Gray," Bob McManus called Kimani "A 16-year-old aspiring sociopath," and refers to his friends who protested his murder as "punks." According to them, confronted by this dangerous criminal, the police had no choice but to gun him down.
There's no reason to believe the official lies about Kimani and what happened to him. Whatever exactly happened in the few moments it took for the police to steal Kimani's life, the deeper reality is that this system has put many of the youth in an impossible situation where often crime and gangs seem not just the only way to make money, but also the only way to get some respect, have some dignity and some protection.
"Mark," (not his real name), a local business owner, told Revolution: "These kids really have nowhere to go—these corners are their playground, and the police never let them be." He described seeing young kids handcuffed and slammed face down on the sidewalk by cops. And he pointed out that there are no parks, no jobs, no community centers. "What are these kids supposed to do? Where are they supposed to be?"
Mark was speaking to something very deep—these youth, and millions of youth just like them around the U.S.—are growing up in conditions that scream at them that they are nobody, that they have no value, that they deserve nothing... and that their very lives can be stolen from them in a split second, because they "act suspicious," "adjust their waistband," run, or fail to run. Youth unemployment in the inner city is 40 percent.
It is not an accident that one in nine young Black men are in prison, or that more Black men are in prison than in college—there is a systematic policy of mass incarceration that is sweeping up millions. The NYPD, which just celebrated their five millionth stop-and-frisk encounter, is plainly trying to make sure that every Black and Latino youth in the city has a rap sheet—a bogus one constructed by the authorities as part of greasing the pipeline to mass incarceration.
In East Flatbush, police are a constant presence, systematically harassing the youth. Go up to any group of young men on a corner to converse, and they will always be keeping one eye on the police, waiting for the jump-out, the humiliation, the threats, and maybe the beat-downs or arrests. Even young teens and tweens are subjected to outrageous searches where they are threatened by armed police and talked to like they are dirt.
All of this oppression, all of this pain, all of this bottled up anger, was the backdrop to the heroic outpouring of protest that erupted on March 10, and that persisted, grew, and drew increasing attention and support from many different people throughout New York and across the country.
Kimani's parents called for a candlelight vigil on Church Avenue, a few blocks from where he was killed, two nights after the murder. And starting then, hundreds took to the streets for five straight nights. Youth, including large numbers of defiant young women, have been the cutting edge of these protests. But the protests have also drawn in older people from the community and people from throughout the NYC area, including Occupy activists, anti-police brutality activists from other boroughs, anarchists and revolutionary communists.
This has been a very important mix, going up in the face of a tremendous amount of police intimidation that has turned East Flatbush—already a heavily policed area—into a virtual occupied territory. Walking the mile from the subway to the area where the vigils are held takes you past swarms of police—two or three on every corner, sometimes two or three more mid-block, cop-cars and motorcycles going up and down the streets, cops on horses parading around, and police helicopters hovering overhead. Youth on the streets tell stories of stepped up harassment all night and day as the police seek to take revenge and intimidate.
Police have repeatedly tried to block protests even going on the sidewalk, and have viciously attacked people when they took to the streets. There was a lot of back-and-forth on Monday and Tuesday, March 11 and 12, with hundreds chanting "NYPD/KKK—How Many Kids Did You Kill Today." People marched to the 67th Precinct, a mile away, where a phalanx of about 50 cops in riot gear stood guard to block access. Wednesday, many dozens of youth marched, joined by some older people from inside and outside the community, and boldly broke out of police constraints, sprinting through the streets, shouting "Don't Shoot," "Justice," and "Fuck the Police." Police viciously attacked again and again, sometimes falling on their asses as they chased youth, but often ganging up on them and beating them into the ground. At least 46 were arrested, including Kimani Gray's sister.
Besides arresting Kimani Gray's sister for protesting her brother's murder at the hands of the police, New York City authorities refused a permit application by the family for a protest march last Thursday.
The system has been deeply stung by the protests, and its representatives—the mayor, the police, the media, and some self-proclaimed "community leaders"—have gone nuts attacking and denouncing the youth for going beyond the bounds of polite and submissive protest.
Bloomberg angrily declared that "the way to get answers is not through violence or law-breaking. We cannot tolerate that, and we will not tolerate that." No, the only acceptable violence is supposed to be police killing people. But since the media, the police and the politicians all speak for the same oppressive system and all repeat the same foul lies, what is wrong with the youth—who have no TV or radio stations, no "friends in high places"—what is wrong with these youth boldly standing up and telling the world that the "business-as-usual" harassment and murder of people like them that is concentrated in the murder of Kimani Gray cannot continue? This flies righteously in the face of the powers-that-be who claim that the minor disruption of traffic and business cannot be tolerated, but the wanton murder of Black and Latino youth can just go on, and on, and on, and on.
Eddie (not his real name), a young Black man who lives in East Flatbush, when asked what he thought about the protests, said they were "to get people's attention, it's not to hurt nobody, cause I ain't see nobody get hurt or anything. It's just to get people's attention. And if everybody hears what's going on and sees what's going on and understands what's going on and not just what the media says what's going on then some justice will come out of this. Sitting around and letting things just go is not going to make it happen. He [Kimani Gray] is not going to be the last one that's gonna be victimized by police brutality. He's not going to be the last one and he wasn't the first one. I knew that little boy since he was small. So it's like for him to be gone so quick is like heartbreaking."
The media and so-called "community leaders" have also condemned what they deem "outside agitators" for causing trouble in the neighborhood. One pastor said that "It's definitely outside influence who come in and start the crowd going and then leave at the end when all hell breaks loose." The New York Times picked up on this theme and did a major article which promoted accusations that local youth were "encouraged and incited ... [by] seasoned organizers." The Village Voice followed that up with a front page article entitled "Everyone Wants a Piece of Kimani Gray," slandering people who braved police intimidation to stand with the people most under the gun. In the Voice article they describe the protests as "a dysfunctional and tragicomic variety show, as postures of rage and ideology, solidarity and self-promotion share the stage. (See "People Rose Up in Righteous Protest Against Murder of Kimani Gray—And They Should Be Supported," Revolution, March 22, 2013, for a response to the Voice article.)
These attacks on the youth and on "outside agitators" are a standard response of the oppressors whenever and wherever the masses rise up against their oppression, but they still have to be answered.
First, while Bloomberg claims that protests were not "the way to get answers," and the Voice article and "community leaders" claim that they are counterproductive to the struggle for justice, the reality is that this response from the people was a major blow to the authorities' efforts to do what they always do after they murder one of our youth—to sweep the whole thing under the rug, to make sure that the only "answers" to see the light of day would be the police lies. Ask yourself, why is the murder of Kimani Gray a major news story 13 days after his death, why are establishment mayoral candidates like Christine Quinn suddenly calling for more "oversight" of the NYPD, why the calls for independent investigations? It is exactly because the protests have tapped and expressed the deep anger of the people, and because they have drawn attention and support around the city.
In contrast, the true intention of the system was revealed by Bloomberg's statement just one day after the murder that "So far, all indications are that the young man had a gun," even though eyewitnesses had already come forward to say that he did not have a gun. After that, Bloomberg's promise "that we will conduct a full and fair investigation" is obviously nothing but a sham to calm people down while the whitewash of the police is carried out.
Second, there are no "outsiders" in the struggle against oppression. People all across the world are living under the same brutal, people-killing, planet-destroying capitalist imperialist system and have a common struggle and a common enemy. Everyone has a right and in fact a responsibility to grasp this and then to act on it. Eddie spoke to this: "I feel like this is my neighborhood, New York is my neighborhood, this country is my neighborhood, anything that happens here or abroad I have to be a part of and I have to try and see what I can do. And if I can't do anything, I just can't. But hopefully I can."
Third, think about how really and truly perverse these complaints about "outsiders" are. Let's be honest here—the "norm" in this society is that every day the system is carrying out unspeakable crimes against Black and Latino people, not to mention people all around the world. And the vast majority of people, far too often, go about their business oblivious to all this. But here we have a situation where a significant section of mainly younger white people, as well as activists of other nationalities, have stepped up and put themselves on the line to say that this is not acceptable and they are ready to fight. This is a very good thing, and frankly it would be even better if when something like this happens in the future—as unfortunately we know very well it will, and probably not long from now—thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of people from "outside the neighborhood" came to stand with people who were being gunned down and protested throughout the city. A number of people in the neighborhood came up to "outsiders" to express heartfelt appreciation for their stand and their action.
At this point there is far, far, far too little of this. It is understandable that this kind of unity would be the worst nightmare of those who count on isolating the oppressed in order to keep them down. But those who claim to stand with the people should be nurturing, encouraging, and spreading this development, not attacking it. And if people doing this has the effect of emboldening the youth in the oppressed neighborhoods, all the better!
Fourth, the presence of outsiders is not just a matter of "more people" or "solidarity," it also brings in kinds of political thinking and ferment that aren't normally part of life in the oppressed neighborhoods. The activists promote a mix of political trends, agendas, and ideas about what's wrong with the world and what it will take to change it. This contributes to a situation where revolutionaries can, and must, lead people who are normally shut out of political life to understand what is behind illusions about slogans like "democratizing" this system of global exploitation and oppression. It is an opening to teach people how to compare and contrast less-than-revolutionary illusions and agendas with the kind of REAL change that only revolution can bring.
Two weeks after the murder, the level of outrage among the people remains very high. Mark said that "they [the authorities] think that this is going to go away, but it's not," and many other people expressed similar sentiments.
At this writing, East Flatbush remains under police-state lockdown—occupied territory. On Thursday night, police shot a 20-year-old young man who they claimed was a drug suspect who fired at them—that shooting took place only a mile from where marchers were protesting Kimani's murder.
On Saturday, March 23, hundreds of people attended Kimani Gray's funeral in spite of NYPD riot police in the streets, on surrounding rooftops, and on horseback. Many youth wore hoodies with pictures of Kimani on them.
On Sunday, March 24, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network called for a march demanding justice for Kimani Gray, and that the authorities drop all charges against arrested protesters.
This intense resistance in the face of savage repression, the broad unity in the face of reactionary efforts to divide people against each other, and the deepening discussion and debate about why these things keep happening over and over and over again, and what it will take to stop them, are very inspiring and encouraging. All this needs to continue to be built and spread by revolutionaries and by all who want justice.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
by Sunsara Taylor | March 21, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The police murder of Kimani "Kiki" Gray is not a random tragedy or an isolated incident.
It is the latest killing in what can only be described as a systematic genocide taking place against Black people that grinds on day after day across the entire country. This genocide takes place through the epidemic of police brutality and murder; through the penning of Black people in huge numbers into ghettos, with the worst housing, education, healthcare and almost no decent jobs; through mass incarceration at the highest rate of anywhere on the planet.
Think what it means that every Black mother has to fear for the life of her sons at the hands of the police.
Think what it means that "DWB" (Driving While Black) is a near guarantee of being pulled over by the police, and that even the most accomplished Black people still cannot escape criminalization and worse.
Think what it means that there are more Black men in prison today than there were Black men enslaved on the eve of the Civil War.
If all this were happening to any other people, or in any other part of the world, who could have trouble seeing this for what it is: a slow but systematic and steadily advancing genocide?
And who could excuse those who sat by and did nothing?
Even worse are those who use their public platforms to condemn the targets of this genocide, and the people who have stood with them, for expressing their righteous anger against all this.
It is essential that all those with a shred of humanity and conscience stand up against this latest outrage. This means being at Kimani's funeral on Saturday, March 23; at the protest called by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network on Sunday the 24th; and at future actions.
This also means confronting soberly the full scope of the horror this case concentrates and brings to life. The oppression of Black people—beginning in slavery, continuing with nearly 100 years of KKK lynch-mob terror, and currently manifest through the slow genocide of mass incarceration and police murder—is built into the foundations of this system.
A good place to start is with "The police, Black youth and what kind of a system is this?" a section from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a major speech given by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party.
Revolution is not an "outside agenda." Revolution is the ONLY SOLUTION to this system that day after day is stealing and crushing the lives of our youth. This revolution must be urgently fought for and taken up right now, both by those who bear the brunt of this genocide as well as by others who refuse to accept all this as "just the way things are."
Find the Revolution Club at Kimani Gray's funeral on Saturday, March 23 and then on Sunday the 24th at 3 pm at Church Ave and 55th Street (off the #4 to Utica, then B46 bus to Church Avenue).
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
Response to the Village Voice:
March 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The righteous uprising of the youth of East Flatbush and others from across the city of NY who were outraged by the murder of Kimani Gray has been met with riot-clad, baton-wielding cops and mass arrests. Accompanying these assaults has been a chorus of NYC elected officials, "community leaders" and others in NY and across the country who are "appealing for calm" and "furious" over those from "outside the community" who supposedly are inciting very angry youth to resist. The message? The youth are easily manipulated and NOT actually fed up with the dead end future they are trapped in and seeing and protesting the murder of Kimani as a concentration of that ugly future. And the further message: The youth should refuse to unite with those who are joining them in struggle.
But this is wrong...this struggle—which is just and not futile or destructive—is most welcome and in the interests of all the people. It is right to stand up and resist.
Now, this chorus has been joined by the Village Voice, a paper which began as an alternative and progressive paper, but this week joins in on the reactionary attacks on the people who are rising up in East Flatbush. In a major article published in March called "Everybody Wants a Piece of Kimani Gray" the Village Voice characterizes the outraged youth as emotional and basically unthinking in their struggle while at the same time describing the situation with Kimani’s murder as "complicated." It ridicules the struggle: "The rolling protests and unrest that have roiled East Flatbush for the past week have at times felt like a 21st-century Bonfire of the Vanities, a dysfunctional and tragicomic variety show, as postures of rage and ideology, solidarity and self-promotion share the stage, and moments of dark absurdity overlie stark calamity.” Fuck you Village Voice. It’s a fine thing that people are rising up against yet one more outrage perpetrated on the people.
First, ask yourself: In a country where the police murder of a Black youth is so routine that most people are not aware of how often this happens, if there had not been the outpouring of resistance in response to this callous murder, what would be the outcome? Would anyone even know about it? Would this murder and uprising be a subject of discussion on airwaves across the country? Wouldn't the only story out there be the enforcers' picture of Kimani as a gang banger with a gun who deserved to die and the police as heroes? Would there be any hope of justice?
And then think about this: Is it a bad thing or a good thing if youth are joining with each other and others, raising their heads and beginning to go up against those who maintain a boot on their neck? Is it a bad thing or a good thing if, now, the youth are acting on their outrage and hopes for something different? Is it a good thing or a bad thing if people from different backgrounds and from across the city are a part of the struggle to demand justice for Kimani and calling out the continual brutality the police inflict on people?
Let’s be real: The powers-that-be, including elected officials, like city councilman Jumaane Williams, fear this kind of awakening and rebellion on the part of the people on the bottom. They also fear the unity that is being built between different kinds of people. With such outbreaks of struggle the nature and legitimacy of this whole set-up/system get called into question. People begin to ask big questions. And those defenders of this system also go into high gear, working overtime to shut down the struggle and steer and confine the resistance of broad numbers of people into "acceptable" channels which don't challenge the whole set-up.
So, what's the real deal? What riled up the youth—and broad numbers of people—was the murder of Kimani, and the brutal—and constant—repression the Black and Latino youth face at the hands of the police. People were saying NO MORE! The source of the unrest is the actions of the police, not the actions of people in the community "riled up by outsiders"! And to these mouthpieces for the system (including those who speak in the Village Voice), we say there are no outsiders in the struggle against injustice and oppression. If you didn’t live in Sanford, Florida, should you not have said anything about the murder of Trayvon Martin? If you are the parent of a child killed by the police in a DIFFERENT neighborhood, are you supposed to be silent? Are you an "outsider" stirring up trouble if you speak out against injustice, the thousands of murders of Black and Latino youth by the police, if you join in protest against these crimes which happen every day in this society?
Actually, we need to squarely face the fact that far too many people have stood aside and been silent when Black, Latino and other youth have been gunned down by the police and/or railroaded to prison. It is a very good thing that people from across the city of New York—from beyond the community of East Flatbush—have joined in the protests and uprising. And many more need to protest this murder and the massive incarceration of over 2 million people in this society, mainly Black and Latino.
And to the Village Voice we say: NO, IT'S NOT FUCKING COMPLICATED. As Carl Dix said: "There are only 2 sides in this struggle—either you stand with the people against the repression they face or, whatever your intentions, you're siding with those who carry out this repression." The Village Voice should be ashamed for giving its backing to those who are condemning these actions and calling for an end to the righteous struggle. The police murdered Kimani Gray as a part of their ongoing terror and brutalization the people—and the people from that neighborhood and across the city rose up in protest and they should be supported.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
Class Action Law Suit Exposes NYPD Policy:
by Li Onesto | March 31, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
More than 1.6 million people live in Manhattan, New York. If every single one of these people were detained and harassed, had their pockets gone through and were humiliated.... if all these people had this done to them not only once, but three times... this would be the number of stop-and-frisks carried out by the NYPD since 2004: FIVE MILLION in the last nine years. And it's not just the sheer number that is such an outrage:
Headlines about stop-and-frisk have now hit the news with the trial of a lawsuit that charges the NYPD with "engaging in racial profiling and suspicionless stop-and-frisks of law-abiding New York City residents." The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the federal class action lawsuit Floyd, et al. v. City of New York, et al, in 2008. This trial, which started March 18, is expected to last for a month and a half, and include testimony by dozens of people exposing how stop-and-frisk violates people's civil and constitutional rights.
This high-profile case will contribute to many more people seeing how in fact stop-and-frisk is racist, illegitimate, and illegal. In just the first few days, some damning testimony has already come out. The lead plaintiff in the case, David Floyd, a Black medical student in the Bronx, testified how he has been subjected to stop-and-frisk twice: once as he was just walking down the sidewalk and a second time when he was helping a neighbor who had been locked out of their apartment. Floyd said, "I felt like I was being told I should not leave my home... First and foremost, I didn't do anything; I am not a criminal." 16-year-old Devin Almonor also testified, recounting how he was stopped and frisked and then arrested when he was 13-years-old as he was walking home. A lawyer representing the City of New York suggested a cellphone in his front pocket might have "created a bulge,"— as if that was reason enough for a cop to stop him to look for a concealed weapon.
Bronx NYPD officer Pedro Serrano taped his supervisor telling him, "The problem was what? Male blacks. And I told you that at roll call, and I have no problem telling you this: male blacks 14 to 20." That tape was played in court.
The very fact this case has come to court is in large part a response to growing anger and protest against stop-and-frisk. In the last few years, many different people have been speaking out against this official policy of the NYPD, organizing protests and marches, holding programs and writing articles of exposure. In 2011 Cornel West and Carl Dix put a call out for mass civil disobedience to "STOP Stop & Frisk." Dozens of people—including well-known community leaders, people from the neighborhoods, activists from Occupy, students, and celebrities—put their bodies on the line, protesting at police precincts in Harlem, Queens and Brooklyn. These actions led to mass arrests and trials and helped raise the whole level of struggle against stop-and-frisk. People who have been victims of stop-and-frisk have felt emboldened to speak out about the injustice they have faced and to fight against it. And all this has been driving the motion, protest, and awareness around stop-and-frisk.
According to CCR attorneys, the plaintiffs in this case (Floyd, et al v. City of New York, et al) represent the many thousands of other people in New York who have been stopped without any cause—on their way to work, in front of their house, or just walking down the street. The CCR and the plaintiffs say the NYPD unlawfully stopped these individuals, overwhelmingly, because they are men of color. Nearly 90 percent of those stopped are Black and Latino, even though these two groups make up only 52 percent of the city's population. This, the suit argues, constitutes a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The suit also alleges that stop-and-frisk violates the 4th Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure.
Among the millions of people who have been targeted by stop-and-frisk there has been tremendous resentment and anger for years. More recently, other sections of society have been learning about this outrage and now with this lawsuit many more are hearing stories from victims of stop-and-frisk
Lots of people are talking about what's wrong with stop-and-frisk. But what is the real problem with stop-and-frisk? And what is the real solution? In order to answer this question, we have to step back and look at WHY this system—with its armed enforcers—has conscious policies like stop-and-frisk, not just in New York City, but in cities all around the country.
If you talk to the victims of stop-and-frisk, especially Black and Latino youth, they will tell you how they're stopped all the time, for no reason at all. They will recount how this started when they were 11-years-old, even younger, how they're humiliated and threatened and this just becomes "part of daily life."
But also, as they talk about their lives, their families, and the communities they live in, you will begin to see how stop-and-frisk is part of a bigger picture of police brutality and murder, and how it serves as a pipeline for mass incarceration, where nearly 2.4 million people are behind bars. One thing can lead to something else: You get stopped, for nothing. You're now in the data base, labeled a "gang member." Maybe you get charged for something small. Then it all adds up. Pretty soon you find yourself facing time and you're one of the millions who end up in prison. And if you ever get out, you're marked for life, denied a job, housing, benefits, the right to vote and more.
This is a system that has no future for millions of Black and Latino youth. As one Black youth from Harlem, who attended the New York premiere of REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! said, "A lot of people do say this is the land of the free. But people like me, it's just totally the opposite because I'm the definition of America's enemy. I'm a young Black youth in the inner city. They wrote us off before we was born. We was convicted at birth."
Prison wardens who oversee the hellholes of solitary confinement where some 40,000 people are kept in torture-like conditions call these prisoners the "worst of the worst." And this whole way of treating a whole section of people as less than human permeates the whole system—from the police on the streets, to the courts, government officials and politicians.
This system cannot provide a decent education and jobs for millions of Black and Latino youth. Major changes and jolts in the U.S. economy have meant that the job market for working-age African-American males has essentially collapsed in cities across the country. This system of capitalism runs according to the laws of profit-above-all, expand-or-die, and exploit-to-the-maximum. And so over the last 40 years many, if not most, of the industrial jobs that Black people had in the past have been lost as factory production moved from the inner cities to the suburbs or overseas where profits are higher. By the year 2000, nearly half of working-age Black males were unemployed in many inner city neighborhoods. In 2003, nearly half of Black men between 16 and 64 in New York City were unemployed.
The fact that many millions of Black and Latino youth have no future under this system presents the ruling class with a huge problem in terms of maintaining social and political stability. The powers-that-be remember the revolutionary upsurges of the 1960s and 70s, in particular the Black liberation struggle—and fear the potential of those they opppress today. To prevent this from happening again, the deep roots of the oppression of Black people and other minority peoples have been reinforced, even as some of the forms of this have changed. This is what many now call the "new Jim Crow." And this is what stop-and-frisk, as a pipeline for mass incarceration, is all a part of.
Millions of people now recognize that stop-and-frisk is illegal and unconstitutional. People, not just in New York City, but around the country and internationally, now know that in the USA—which calls itself the "leader of the free world"—the NYPD routinely and as a matter of policy, viciously violates the civil and human rights of people, especially Black and Latino youth. And it is a big problem for the powers-that-be when lots of people begin to question the very legitimacy of the way they rule and enforce "law and order."
Black and Latino lawmakers and officials have made statements against stop-and-frisk—some speaking about how they themselves have experienced being stopped by the police, solely because they "fit the profile." And stop-and-frisk has become a major issue in the 2013 mayoral race with a number of candidates talking about the need to "reform" the policy.
Those who maintain the oppressive status quo in society rely on violent repression, but they also rely on people going along with and accepting the way things are. And it is also a fact that by and large, middle class forces in society aren't even aware of the oppressive and repressive conditions that the masses of people on the bottom of society have to put up with on a daily basis. But when broader forces in society do become aware of something like stop-and-frisk, begin to see the illegitimacy of it, and speak out against this, this can give the masses of people more freedom to lift their heads and fight against their oppression.
In the face of such widespread exposure of stop-and-frisk, the problem of legitimacy for the NYPD is reflected in the fact that figures within the NYPD are calling for the policy to be "reformed" and some current and former police officers are scheduled to testify as plaintiffs in the Floyd lawsuit. But to be clear, the concern on the part of the ruling class is NOT for the victims who are brutalized every day, the concern is NOT for the millions of human rights violations. The concern is for the legitimacy and stability of the system and its ability to rule.
John A. Eterno, a retired New York City police captain, voiced this concern: "Interactions like stop-and-frisk bring serious problems, weakening trust and cooperation with the police... This approach alienates minority communities and youth who could be helping to fight crime. If they see something, they will not say something to officers abusing their authority and not working with communities. This is a key principle of community policing."
Perhaps an analogy could be made here. U.S. generals occupying and carrying out murderous wars for empire always emphasize the need to "win the hearts and minds" of the people they are conquering. General Stanley McChrystal, top commander of the murderous U.S. war in Afghanistan said in an interview, "If the people are against us, we cannot be successful. If the people view us as occupiers and the enemy, we can't be successful and our casualties will go up dramatically."
This is the logic of brutal armed enforcers of this system and as BA has said about the police:
"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." [BAsics 1:24]
Mayor Bloomberg and Police Chief Ray Kelly have staunchly defended and are standing firm behind stop-and-frisk. They say it is necessary to "prevent crime"—hoping to appeal to the prejudices of the middle class, as well as others, who fear the basic masses, especially the youth.
Other figures in the ruling class have stepped forward with proposals for how to maintain police state repression while channeling people's anger into reformist "solutions" that will accomplish two things: restore people's faith in the system and keep people from looking for/working for radical and revolutionary solutions that really get to the heart of the problem.
The ruling class needs to find a way to put a lid on and channel people's anger, as well as resolve the differences within the ruling class over how to deal with this. But whatever differences there are, the "solutions" being offered all amount to keeping the system—and its oppressive rule over the people, and in particular the brutal role of the police—solidly intact.
Lawmakers are proposing things like requiring officers to "explain why they are stopping people," or "telling people when they have a right to refuse a search" or "handing out business cards identifying themselves." Such "solutions" do not solve the problem. Not only are they ridiculous, they could be used to put a lid on people's anger. Just ask the youth who have been slammed up against the wall and had their faces shoved into the sidewalk—what difference it will make to require a cop to "explain why he's stopping you" or that he "hands you a business card" while he's violating your civil rights.
And there are similar "solutions" being put forth by many others, who may be well-intentioned. The class action lawsuit, for example, is asking the court to create "a process for obtaining community input" to change the stop-and-frisk practices, and to appoint a monitor to ensure that the department's policies comply with the Constitution. The New York Times, in reporting on the lawsuit said, "The authority of the police to use stop-and-frisk tactics is not at issue, but how the Police Department conducts these street interactions..." (March 22, 2013)
As Carl Dix has said in response to these efforts to "reform" stop-and-frisk: "This injustice can't be reformed away. Stop-and-frisk must be ended. When slaves on the plantations rose in rebellion or escaped, they weren't trying to get a half day off on Saturday. They wanted an end to slavery. When the Freedom Riders put their lives on the line in the 1960s, they weren't trying to get more seats on the back of the bus. They were fighting to end Jim Crow segregation."
The government, the courts, police, prisons, etc. are not "neutral things" that can be "reformed" in any fundamental way to serve the interests of the people. And it does real harm when this wrong idea is not only spread, but people are roped into chasing after such an illusion. Such instruments of the state—both the tools of violent suppression like the police, as well as the "democratic procedures," are structured to serve the interests of whole oppressive setup and the capitalist class that rules over the people.
We need to wage a fierce and determined struggle to force them to STOP stop-and-frisk altogether. We must change the way society thinks about these things. We need to fight to put the ruling class back on its heels politically¸ and we need to wage struggle against all the ways the system brutalizes the people. We need to do this as part of exposing that things do not need to be this way. We can change all this and countless other crimes of this system through revolution. We have to fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 21, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
If any country on earth—pick one—had its armed enforcers swarm on people simply walking down the street, stop them, search them, often threaten, insult, and humiliate them...
And if the rulers of this country persisted in this policy, even though stopping people and searching them without any probable cause, and without any indication they are breaking a law, blatantly violated its own constitution...
And if the ruling powers of this country had their police do this, despite the fact that 90 percent of the time, even under their own repressive laws, the victims of this "stop and frisk" policy violated no law...
And if the people singled out to be stopped, humiliated, threatened and sometimes worse—brutalized and killed—were nationalities who had historically been viciously exploited by the rulers of this country—even been literally enslaved for over 200 years...
And if victims of stop-and-frisk were stigmatized, criminalized, and set on track to end up in prison...
And if the rulers of this particular country did this 5 MILLION TIMES IN A SINGLE CITY...
You would say: That is an illegitimate regime, one with no right to rule.
So... what does that tell you about the rulers of the USA?
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 31, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Interview with Genevieve Huizar, Manuel Diaz's Mother,
on The Michael Slate Show, KPFK, March 22
On Saturday, July 21, 2012, at 4 in the afternoon, Officer Nick "Buckshot" Bennallack shot and killed unarmed Manuel Angel Diaz on Anna Drive in Anaheim, California, where Diaz lived. He was shot twice—first in the buttocks, and then in the back of the head. As he lay bleeding and dying on the grass, officers handcuffed and searched him.
Manuel Diaz was known by everyone in the neighborhood for helping to bring in groceries and laundry, for being respectful and friendly. His execution by Anaheim police in broad daylight outraged friends and neighbors, who poured out of their apartments screaming at the murdering cops. Later that day men, women, and children righteously took to the streets to protest and condemn the murder. In an attack captured on video and shown on TV in the U.S. and internationally, police fired beanbag rounds and pepper balls—so-called "non-lethal projectiles"—on people at close range and "accidentally" unleashed a dog that overturned a stroller, bit a parent, and terrified children.
Manuel's murder and the killing of Joel Acevedo in another neighborhood the following day sparked days and weeks of protest and rebellion that rocked Anaheim, shone a light on the oppression and repression undergirding "the happiest place on earth," and inspired solidarity and support actions across the country.
On March 20, 2013, the Orange County District Attorney's office issued a report clearing Bennallack, saying there was no evidence to support a finding of criminal culpability.
The DA's report demonizes Manuel Diaz. It concocts a story of Bennallack fearing for his life and justifiably using deadly force by shooting Diaz in the back of the head, and it weaves justification out of lies and factors that had nothing to do with and are irrelevant to the actual shooting. In response Manuel's mother, Genevieve Huizar, said the report was "a bunch of lies ...cover-up ...manipulation. I don't believe half of what's in that report. I believe Bennallack is a murderer. He executed my son and for that he needs to go to prison."
In the months before shooting Manuel Diaz, in January 2012, Bennallack shot and killed Bernie Villegas, 36, who had been shooting a BB gun at an empty bottle. Then, on July 21, 2012, Bennallack and his partner rolled up on three Latino youth in the alley behind the apartments on Anna Drive.
Dana Douglas, an attorney for Diaz's family, put this in context in an interview with Michael Slate on KPFK, Los Angeles: "Anaheim is really two different cities," she said. "There's Anaheim Hills, a rich white area, and then the flatlands, where this shooting occurred, which is mostly Hispanic and mostly impoverished. These are the people who work for Disneyland, work for the hotels, support the tourist business, these are poor areas.... In Anaheim Hills, in the white area, the affluent area, three young white men standing around have nothing to fear from the police.... Not so in these poor areas where people have brown skins. Instead in those areas police target the young men like this and these young men never ever have a positive interaction with the police. So when Bennallack and his partner rolled up on these guys standing around talking, everybody knew what was going to happen. So Manuel Diaz took off, he didn't need this grief...."
Bennallack, who chased Diaz down and shot him in the back of the head, claims that he feared Diaz had a gun and would turn and shoot him.
"Here's the facts," Douglas said. "Manuel had no gun. He didn't point anything at Bennallack. He didn't threaten Bennallack in any way. He wasn't making any menacing gestures. Of the 50 witnesses interviewed, not a single one said he pointed anything at Bennallack or made any gesture toward Bennallack whatsoever."
Despite the fact that no gun was found on Diaz's body or in the area of the shooting or the chase, the report justified Bennallack's claim of self-defense by "the simple fact that Diaz may have been holding a gun." The DA's report supported this "simple fact" by noting three points that demonize and slander Diaz and have nothing to do with the actual facts of his murder.
One, that Diaz had a prior felony conviction for possessing a gun. This is not relevant—Diaz was not on parole or probation, and a prior conviction is no basis for a death sentence.
Second, the report says that a police raid on August 10 seized 40 guns that police claim were found in possession of members of the gang in that area. This is beyond outrageous—this multi-agency task force raid they refer to was carried out in retaliation for the righteous resistance to Manuel Diaz's murder on Anna Drive. It was an attempt to recast public opinion in favor of the police, including by using the media—to in effect justify the murder of Diaz and the mass incarceration of other youth on the block on the basis of labeling them publicly as "documented gang members" who deserve to be killed and locked up. This police raid rounded up nearly all of the young men in the neighborhood who had stood up against Manuel's murder. One young man arrested in the raid was identified as a "gang member" because he had participated in the car wash to raise money for Diaz's funeral. Many of the guns the police displayed, as if they had been seized in the raid, had actually been purchased by police informants or agents over previous months and had not been seized during the raid.
Third, in a blatant example of blaming the victim, the report said that some of the hundreds of pictures on the cell phone found near Diaz's body showed him holding a gun—painting Diaz as a dangerous "bad guy" who ought to have been killed. As Dana Douglas said, "It's just like a rape case. Their tactic, their whole thing here, is to blame the victim for this murder..... You know what? Manuel Diaz never committed a violent act in his life...unlike the police officer, who is the one who committed the violence."
Diaz's mother, Genevieve Huizar, has refused to accept the murder of her son, not the physical murder nor the murder of his humanity through demonization and defamation of character. She continues to fight and to support other families facing murder by police. The day after the District Attorney's report was issued, a candlelight vigil of about 30 people was held for Diaz. Hearing about the killing of Kimani Gray in New York, Huizar said, "I just want people to know that we don't have color lines, city lines, county lines or state lines. We want to help people across this United States. We want to be helped by people across this United States."
She described Manuel as "a good son. A loving son. At home he made everybody laugh, he'd play with all his nieces and nephews, he was a good student, he went to the Job Corps, he played basketball, he played football. Ever since he was just a little kid, he was my heart, and they ripped that away from me."
Manuel Diaz was one of the generation of youth for whom this system has no future; those who it demonizes, locks up, and kills to terrorize and control them so as to prevent them from threatening its rule. He was torn away from those who loved him. Many of the friends who righteously rose up to oppose the howling injustice of his murder are now locked up in retaliation for daring to resist. In January of this year, a gang injunction was imposed on Anna Drive to further control the youth. But:
"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." (From "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have. A Message, and a Call, from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA")
Righteous resistance to the oppression and repression of Latino people in Anaheim and across the country must be upheld and supported. The outrageous justification of the criminal Anaheim police murder of Manuel Diaz must be condemned and opposed as part of building the movement for revolution to put an end to the police murder of our youth, and all the other outrages of this system, once and for all.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 31, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In January 2012, in an interview in Platypus journal, Slavoj Žižek launched an intellectual attack on the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism. In response, Raymond Lotta wrote a polemic in Revolution newspaper and challenged Žižek to a public debate. Žižek accepted. And the debate is on.
When: Monday, April 15, 2013, 6-9 pm
Where: Columbia University, New York City—Altschul Auditorium, International Affairs Building, Rm 417 (enter at Amsterdam & 117th, below the overpass)
The core questions up for debate:
Slavoj Žižek is a prominent philosopher and social theorist. His books include In Defense of Lost Causes, Living in the End Times, In the Year of Dreaming Dangerously, and many other titles. He teaches at Birkbeck College in London.
Raymond Lotta is a political economist and advocate for Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism. He writes for Revolution newspaper, is the author of America in Decline, and leads the web site www.thisiscommunism.org.
Tickets: $10.00; $5.00 for students, youth, and unemployed
Sponsored by: Revolution Books–NY, 146 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10001, 212-691-3345
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
Everything You've Been Told about Communism IS WRONG
Think you know about communism and capitalism? Then take this quiz...and think again.
March 31, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a thousand different directions, we are bombarded with the message that communism was a "nightmare" and "failure." Go into a bookstore and look at the current titles on Mao, the Cultural Revolution, or socialism in the Soviet Union. Take a listen when commentators on TV and radio say something about communism. Leaf through a standard textbook on political theory or modern history. There's a highly distorted narrative of socialism in the 20th century, and it goes largely unanswered.
The truth is that the first socialist revolutions—in the Soviet Union from 1917 until the defeat of that revolution in 1956, and in China from 1949 until the defeat of socialism in 1976—marked a break-through for humanity. These were the first attempts in modern history to build societies free from exploitation and oppression. And they accomplished extraordinary things against enormous obstacles.
The mission of Set the Record Straight is to factually refute the lies spread in the media, mass-market books, and mainstream scholarship about the Soviet and Chinese revolutions, and to bring to light the overwhelming achievements of these revolutions as well as their real problems and shortcomings. Our mission is to reveal the actual history and experience of these revolutions, to open up a two-sided debate about socialism and communism, and to promote a conversation about why a radically different and liberating world is possible.
In all of this, we are bringing forward Bob Avakian's exciting vision of a vibrant communism for the 21st century.
At a time of continuing imperial wars, massive global hunger, planetary environmental emergency—and at a time of new stirrings of resistance and questioning, from Egypt to Occupy—the intellectual landscape needs to change. A new generation of students and scholars needs to engage the question of communism's past and communism's future in a whole new way.
Set the Record Straight seeks to challenge the paralyzing conventional wisdom about communism that has seeped so deeply into popular understanding and to raise people's sights to a far better future for humanity.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 21, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On March 15, the North Dakota state legislature passed two bills that would become the most restrictive anti-abortion laws yet in the U.S. if signed by the Republican governor. The first bill was described by the Center for Reproductive Rights as "the earliest and most extreme abortion ban in the country, which would make the vast majority of abortions illegal after the point at which fetal heart tone can be detected—as early as six weeks, a time before many women even learn they are pregnant." The other bill would make it illegal for a woman to have an abortion based on gender or because the fetus has a genetic defect, such as Down syndrome.
The North Dakota anti-abortion bills were passed just nine days after Arkansas adopted a law banning abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The outrageous moves in North Dakota against the basic and fundamental right to abortion don't end there—there are other bills being considered, including two so-called "personhood" provisions that would give the rights and protections of a born human to every fertilized human egg (which would ban all abortions), and another that would close down the only abortion clinic in the entire state.
If you thought abortion was "safe" because Obama was re-elected, look with open eyes at what's going on in North Dakota, Arkansas, and across the country, and face up to reality: The right to abortion is not "safe" at all—in fact, it is extremely endangered. Last year, there were 43 abortion restrictions enacted by various states—the second highest number of anti-abortion laws in history following 2011, when 92 such restrictions were adopted. And this year, close to 300 anti-abortion provisions have already been introduced in state legislatures.
As Sunsara Taylor said earlier this year, on the occasion of the 40-year anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the U.S. ("Abortion: Stigmatized and Endangered. Time for Massive, Uncompromising Struggle"):
"In recent decades doctors and clinic staff have been stalked, terrorized, threatened, kidnapped, blown up, and violently assaulted. As recently as three years ago—yes, when Obama was president—Dr. George Tiller was cruelly murdered as he worshiped in church. And neither Obama, nor any other politician, nor any leader of the major 'women's organizations' showed their face at his funeral.
"Does that sound 'safe' to you?
"Clinics have been bombed, set on fire, blockaded, vandalized, disrupted, picketed, and invaded thousands of times. Women are verbally harassed, spat upon, shoved and insulted in other ways in weekly 'vigils' by these fanatics, and sometimes more often than that. And this goes on all over the country.
"Does that sound 'safe' to you?
"More than one in four poor women who seek abortions cannot afford one and end up burdened with a child against their will. Women who are able to scrounge up the money must run a gauntlet of extreme and medically unnecessary restrictions from mandatory waiting periods to parental notification laws to being forced to endure a probe inserted into their vaginas, and more. Today, 97% of rural counties do not have an abortion provider. And whole generations have grown up never having heard anyone speak of abortion as something positive and moral.
"Does that sound like the right to abortion—which is the only guarantee that women can actually determine when and if they will raise a child—is 'safe' to you?
"Every step along the way, Obama has insisted on seeking 'common ground' with the most rabid anti-abortion Christian fascists—going so far as to welcome Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop who spearheaded a recent rebellion against birth control, to give the closing prayer at the last Democratic National Convention. He upheld the decision of his Secretary of Health to ban the sale of 'morning-after birth control' to women without a prescription. His health care plan will actually make it more difficult to get coverage for abortion...
"Does that—does any of this—sound like the right to abortion is 'safe' to you?"
The nightmarish flood of anti-abortion laws points to the urgent need for massive and uncompromising resistance—NOW. As Sunsara Taylor wrote: "If we do not reverse this trajectory soon—very soon—we will lose this right and condemn future generations of women and girls to FORCED motherhood, against their wills, and to lives of open enslavement, terror, and life-crushing shame."
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
From A World to Win News Service:
March 31, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
March 11, 2013. A World to Win News Service. This year on March 8, International Women's Day, as thousands of women were marching in central London to protest violence against women, a woman was performing a protest dance in Underground station where she had been harassed and molested. At the same time a woman in prison was writing a poem to recite her story, saying that her main "crime" was that she was a woman.
On this day women in India continued to protest the gang rape of Amanat, an act so brutal it shocked the world. Women in Argentina were outraged at traffickers of women and their backers in the justice system. Women in Sudan are fighting child marriage. Women in Pakistan and Kurdistan are fighting against honor killings. Women in Turkey are standing against increasing violence and anti-abortion laws. Women in Iran are fighting state violence and the Islamic laws intended to drive women out of various social activities. Women in Afghanistan are fighting both the backward rule of the U.S.-backed fundamentalists and the Taliban. It was reported that over 1,500 actions took place in the U.S. to protest discrimination and violence against women.
Violence against women has taken many different forms. One form that gravely threatens the lives and status of the women on a world scale is the trafficking of women.
This trade in women's bodies has the following particularities:
(1) Despite its very long history, in recent decades it has greatly increased in most countries of the world. This growth is shocking and a threat for every young woman and teenage girl in today's world.
(2) Despite its history, it is not rooted in any particular culture, tradition, religion or country. It is a fairly new phenomenon in terms of its current scale, rising in tandem with the globalization of capitalism.
(3) It is not only a form of violence in its own right, but also an important source of "supply" fostering other forms of violence and the degradation of women, such as sex slavery, prostitution and pornography.
(4) The so-called sex industry generates billions of dollars for the imperialist world economy. It has become an integral part of world capitalism and its functioning, both economically and ideologically.
(5) Despite gestures of opposition by ruling class representatives, the scale of this trade and the associated phenomena highlight the connection between modern class society and imperialism and one of the most terrifying forms of violence against women.
At the end of the nineteenth century and the turn of the twentieth, as capitalism entered its highest stage, imperialism, the trafficking of the women became a noticeable social problem that led to international agreements to "prevent the procuration of women and girls for immoral purposes abroad." In the U.S. it led to the passing of the Mann Act of in 1910, a law that "forbids transporting a person across state or international lines for prostitution or other immoral purposes." (www.protectionproject.org)
Did these international agreements and laws suppress the trafficking of women? Reality shows that such trafficking has been increasing throughout the twentieth century, including in the post-World War 2 economic boom in some countries. Since the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the surge in globalization, it has been growing exponentially. Despite the statements and laws against it, sex trafficking is growing on an unprecedented scale. Women and children are kidnapped from poor regions of the world, transported from their villages and towns and sold at auction to dealers in human beings to supply the so-called sex-industry in the U.S. and Europe, Australia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and other well-off countries where there is a big market for it.
Apart from those who are kidnapped, there are those who are tricked into the sex trade by the promise of employment abroad as a waitress, nanny or other unskilled job. The desperation of their families often blinds them to the life of agony and misery that waits them. The woman's travel to the destination is arranged by organized gangs with international connections. When she is taken to the employer (slave owner), she is told she will be held until she reimburses her travel expenses, an amount that she simply cannot pay. She now realizes the reality behind the promises but it is far too late. She is threatened in various forms with harm to her family back home, then beaten, raped or gang raped, drugged and in many cases addicted to make any resistance or thought of escape impossible.
There are other ways to lure young girls into sex trafficking, such as false marriage proposals by supposed boyfriends or through social networks. In some cases children are sold by parents or relatives for a small amount of money because of extreme poverty.
The United Nations estimates that every year between 700,000 and 4 million women and children are trafficked around the world for purposes of forced prostitution, labor and other forms of exploitation. South and Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand and India are the worst affected regions. Millions of female children and teenage girls are sold or trafficked internally within the country or to a more well-off country in the West or elsewhere.
The number of prostitutes in Cambodia during the 1980s was estimated at about 1,000. In recent years there are an estimated 55,000 women and children working as sex slaves. More than a third are under the age of 18. Cambodia's sex trade generates half a billion dollars a year.
There is no doubt that war has been an influencing factor in the rising number of rapes, gang rapes, sex assaults and kidnapping of women and girls for sex slavery in countries like Congo. The arrival of 15,000 UN "Peace Keepers" in Cambodia in the 1990s boosted the trade in women, but the problem has grown far worse even after the end of the war there.
Every year more than 50,000 women and children (a total of 750,000 over the last decade) are trafficked into the U.S. from nearly 50 countries around the world, including Mexico, Honduras, Latvia, Korea, Japan, Cameroon, Taiwan, India and Vietnam.
According to a BBC report: "Tenancingo is a Mexican town built on sex trafficking—with little alternative employment, it's become the only way to make money. Young women from across Mexico are duped into becoming sex slaves by wealthy men living in grand homes, offering them work or even marriage. Needing money for their families, the women discover too late they're being sold into prostitution, often in the U.S. One Mexican charity estimates there are 1,000 traffickers in Tenancingo, out of a total population of 10,000."
According to the same report, "'Maria' was 17 years old when she was lured to Mexico with promises of a new life. Instead she was forced into prostitution and sold from one bar to another. For those women trafficked in Mexico, the capital, Mexico City, is a central hub. From there, many are smuggled to the U.S., or exploited in border towns and tourist resorts."
The victims brought from Mexico to the U.S. are as young as 14. They may be forced to have sex with as many as 130 men per week in a trailer park.
What has ensured that this trafficking can continue is the complicity of the police and officials at the highest level, including in the justice system. This complicity with traffickers has been revealed in many cases over the last decades.
Allegations have been brought against top Montenegrin government officials for their complicity in the forced prostitution, illegal detention, rape and torture of a 28-year old Moldovan woman, Svetlana. Six high-ranking government officials and the country's Deputy State Prosecutor, Zoran Piperovic, were among them. (www.protectionproject.org)
A recent case in Argentina is another example. When police did not help a mother named Susana Trimarco whose young daughter Marita Veron had been kidnapped, she started going from one brothel to another to look for her daughter herself. She was threatened but she continued until she found evidence that her daughter had been kidnapped. After a decade-long crusade she brought to court 13 of the kidnappers who had sold Marita to traffickers who forced her into prostitution. She was threatened if she did not abandon the case but she refused. After the courts cleared the kidnappers, people became outraged and waged a mass protest last December.
Out of the estimated 10,000 Latin American women trafficked across the Mexican borders into the U.S. per year, 47 prosecutions took place in 2010 and only four traffickers were convicted.
In the U.S., with so-called tough laws against trafficking, more than 50,000 women were trafficked across the country's borders in 2009-10. Yet there were only 103 human trafficking cases prosecuted and 141 people convicted.
Let's look at a sex offender in the UK and the government's response. After the death of Sir Jimmy Savile, a long-time and well-known presenter for BBC, he was revealed to have been a very active sex offender throughout his lifetime. Using his position at the BBC and charities to contact young girls, he raped and assaulted hundreds of girls and young women—so many that the real number is not known. BBC officials and the police ignored numerous tip-offs and turned a blind eye to his behavior. Most of the victims did not dare make a public accusation against such a "respected" and well-protected public figure. When some did, nothing happened. The system is in reality fomenting sex abuse and trafficking.
In fact this issue of the sex trade or the so-called sex industry has concentrated many of the contradictions of this rotten and exploitive system.
(1) Women and their bodies have become a commodity to be bought and sold.
(2) Trading women as sex slaves for prostitution and pornography has become a growing branch of the world capitalist economy, pouring tens of billions of dollars a year into the broader economy. For example, the income from the "sex industry" composes 5 percent of the total national income of Holland. According to a BBC report, the human trafficking industry generates $32 billion annually on a global scale.
(3) The tourist industry in many Southeast Asian countries revolves around prostitution. Hundreds of thousands of youth and teenagers in those countries are forced into prostitution. More than 20 percent of economic activities in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines involve prostitution. It is estimated that prostitution brings around four billion dollars in annual income to Thailand, Brazil, Cuba, Russia, Kenya and many other countries. This situation intersects with pressures from the IMF and World Bank for some of these countries to expand their tourist economy. Many of those working for travel agencies, hotels and clubs, bars and airlines actually owe their jobs to the use of women and children as tourist attractions...
In sum, the trade in women has increasingly become an integral part of capitalism and its patriarchal social system. It is consistent with the system both economically and ideologically. Efforts to crack down on this trade have not changed that situation, which has become worse.
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! was screened in Atlanta on Saturday March 23 at a community center in the neighborhood where Revolution Books is located. Just under 30 people attended, most from Georgia with a few coming from neighboring states in the South. The crowd was very diverse—about half Black and half white, with ages ranging from 19 to 70—and a mix of people who have been involved in the movement for revolution and those checking it out for the first time. In the audience were three parents of Black youth killed by police. They, along with others, were riveted by the opening part of the film. During the intermission, several people spoke intensely about how much they agreed with BA around not blaming the youth and the need to put the blame on the system instead. The topic of religion was hot—some people loved how BA addressed it, one person was very disturbed, and several made it a point to say that while they had disagreement with BA on religion, they were in total unity around fighting together to bring down the whole system. Voting was another hot topic, with some people saying that BA was speaking a lot of truth about Obama and elections in general, but at the same time they wanted to hold onto the lesser-of-two-evils mentality that they had during the last election. People were also digging into the strategy for revolution, wanting more clarity on how we could get "from here to there." Another observation reflected on how refreshing and rare it was for a leader to speak so thoroughly about ending the degradation and oppression of women. And one person expressed that he was hoping to hear more on BA's new synthesis of communism and what society would look like after the revolution. He left with a copy of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), and looking forward to a sequel on that topic.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
20 people attended the opening of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! at Revolution Books in Honolulu. In spite of the relatively small number attending, the audience was remarkably diverse and included proletarians and professionals, '60s activists and college students, former prisoners and veterans.
About 30 percent of the audience had never heard BA speak or seriously read what he had written but said they were attracted by the palm card and advertisements. Some were apprehensive but all talked about the horrors of the society we live in and the necessity to open up a broader conversation about the solution.
During the short intermission for lunch, many people were meeting each other for the first time. Some talked about how the experiences related by BA in the film had resonated in their own lives. Some reminisced about their own experiences in the '60s; a young proletarian woman remarked that she'd never heard much about the '60s and it was great to hear it, but that she didn't think most "'60s people" could really understand how hard it is on the streets now.
The audience remained attentive throughout the film. A few said they had to leave but would be checking out the film in its entirety. Some took copious notes. Some just listened—often nodding in approval or making remarks to their neighbors. During the first part of the film there were a number of gasps or comments as BA talked about the reality of the world we live in; during the second part many leaned forward and the room was hushed as BA got into the possibility of revolution.
When the film ended a little after 6 pm, about half of the audience stayed to talk together about what they had heard and how the film had related to their own experiences.
One older Hawaiian nationalist, filled with rage about his personal experiences and the oppression of his own peoples, struggled with urges toward revenge and "just getting ours." A college student who had read a lot by BA said he especially liked how BA broke down "hastening while awaiting" and really bringing that alive. A young Filipina woman said that what BA said about the difficulty oppressed people have in overcoming divisions among themselves and becoming revolutionaries really resonated with her. She kept repeating again and again: "It's hard...it's just really hard..." Several of the people hearing BA for the first time kept repeating that what they liked was that he was a "real revolutionary"—that he had never sold out and keeps fighting for revolution.
Discussion and debate continued for hours after the film ended. The differences were often sharp but the unity was a deep desire to really dig into and understand why the world is the way it is, and how it can be changed. When the discussion finally broke up there was a sense of beginning something new—of creating an atmosphere where people could openly talk about the things that "nobody talks about," where people could openly disagree and debate about what it really means to be a "revolutionary" and what a communist future would look like. One woman remarked as she left: "I don't know what it all means yet, but I want to be a part of this movement for revolution."
Since the showing several people who came to the film have dropped into the store to comment on the film and dig into their own questions. There will be a gathering at the store to discuss the film on Wednesday evening (March 28) and segments of the film will be shown each Friday afternoon from 3-6pm beginning April 6.
The day of our opening also marked the beginning of spring break at the university and many contacts who said they wanted to see the film had already left the area for other islands or the continent. Plans are being made to follow up to arrange for film showings at the university, as well as film sales, when classes resume on April 1.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Over 40 people gathered at a shop in Third Ward, one of the oldest and largest Black communities in Houston, for Houston's initial showing of the film BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less!
People from countries on several continents were there, as were people who had lived their entire lives in Third Ward. Students from three different colleges were there, along with a couple of professors. The crowd was multinational and multilingual, and more than half of it was youth. There were participants from the Occupy movement, veteran peace activists, long-time revolutionaries; there were people who had participated in intense struggles in their home countries and people from impoverished projects and neighborhoods constantly terrorized by police.
Word about the film had gotten out widely, particularly in the Third Ward/Sunnyside area and on a couple of key campuses. Posters blanketed the University of Houston as students returned from spring break; Carl Dix spoke on a couple of local radio shows; a veteran revolutionary and a woman from Sunnyside newly involved in the movement for revolution spoke in several classes, and a crew of revolutionaries promoting the film and the premieres, and building for the Houston opening of the movie, were a consistent presence in Third Ward/Sunnyside with their banners, their sound truck, and their challenging message.
Among the comments people wrote on their "Get Connected" sheet:
"I truly enjoyed the film. There are so many reasons to be optimistic about this movement."
"I bought the DVD ... I'm going to send clips of film out via my networks and my Facebook page."
"This film is definitely a wake-up call. It makes me want to study and research to learn more about the truth of this imperialist beast. I am all for revolution and the destruction of this capitalist society."
"I agree with most of the issues that were presented in the film but I also believe that nothing will get done until 'the people' get on one accord. Which is also a challenge b/c the U.S. as a people are conditioned to be separate."
Several people bought DVDs, and some were taken on consignment. During the intermission and as they left, many people commented on how they were trying to take in and absorb everything that BA runs down in the movie. As a revolutionary staffing the literature table said, people were "uplifted by the experience ... even as people took different things away from it."
A couple of people who had been subjected to, and to an extent influenced by, some of the anti-BA, anti-RCP slander, were very favorably impressed by the movie. One older woman, a veteran activist, said her respect for BA had risen "1,000%" from seeing the film. Another young guy, an artist, said "Oh, I'm so over that" (meaning the accusation that the RCP is a "cult"), while he still has many questions, especially about democracy. Something that really seemed to hit home with people who have been active in recent movements like Occupy was that they were confronted with a deep presentation of a strategy for fighting and winning.
A white youth who identified himself as a libertarian said that the film had given him a whole other conception of BA, and that it was important that people who are trying to get out the message of communism utilize this film as much as possible. He had read some quotes from BAsics but wasn't sure how much he could "trust" BA until he saw this speech.
A young Black man said during the intermission that a lot of things that BA said had hit him hard and make him think he needs to look at even ordinary things differently. "A lot of what he was saying, like about mass incarceration, the inner-city minority youth, and how they're criminalized and oppressed, and how when they're killed by police it's always justifiable homicide. How police officers kill innocent Black and Latino men. Also he spoke about the degradation of women here in the United States and internationally. He spoke about for instance, like the clothes we wear, they're made in Bangladesh, or China, and we don't realize the child labor and the forced labor of women that goes into that. He spoke about that thing with, I believe the iPhone, and how the blood of the people who make it should gush out when you push one of its buttons. So we're ignorant in this country of a lot of the exploitation that goes into these things.
"And he got into what this country is really founded on, like four of the first five presidents owning slaves. We're so tied up on this American Dream, but what is that American Dream? This country is built on slavery. And Obama, I'm paraphrasing here, but he isn't speaking out against any of the injustices. People gotta stop going along with a party that just justifies all the exploitation and oppression."
There's a lot for the core of revolutionaries to learn more deeply off this showing, and a lot to do: to get the DVD of BA's speech out much more broadly, and to build the movement for revolution in all its aspects. People who were exposed to this talk really had their sights lifted, their preconceptions challenged, their understanding deepened. Many people were impressed with the turnout in sleepy old Houston, and the range of people who were there, attracted to hear a full-on revolutionary communist leader give a lengthy speech. Some people signed up for the activities already planned for taking this movement further, but there is a lot of learning, leading, and unleashing to do in the days ahead among everyone who came, people who expressed interest but didn't come for one reason or another, people who bought tickets but didn't make it, and many other people who still don't know about this movement for revolution, this Party, and this leader, BA.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Last Sunday, March 24, Revolution Books in Seattle was at times filled to overflowing with a total of 40 people watching the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! It was a diverse crowd of various nationalities and ages. Although some people did leave early, a number of them said they wished they could stay for the rest of it, with some of them leaving with a copy of the DVD or plans for getting the DVD.
People interacted with the movie at different parts, laughing where BA talks about the blues and why it's not called "the American dream," or saying "Yes!" to what he was calling out about the "Founding Fathers," or putting their hands over their mouth in shock or saying "uh-huh" when BA was speaking about what Barack Obama was doing.
The conversation during the intermission was lively and intense in the crowded room, so much so that some almost didn't partake in the food. Many were very moved and inspired by what BA was saying. Religion was one controversial aspect of the film for some.
Some examples of thoughts shared during intermission and after the film:
A couple, a Black husband and Latina wife, had several comments. They said what was discussed in the film were things that they talked about all the time amongst themselves. They had relatives from Latin America who had been deported, and other family members who had been in prison. The wife had one parent who is serving a life sentence on the "three strikes" rule. The husband was concerned that the religion part was going to be controversial because many Black people are religious. A relative who was with this couple didn't agree with the religion part either, but made a point of saying that she appreciated that BA was open about what he thinks, and that she knew people who were religious who needed to hear what BA was saying, particularly around what he was speaking to about rape and how it's a global systemic epidemic. The man also remarked "I am surprised more Black people aren't here, more Black people need to hear this."
A person who has been around the movement for a while said that he was really engrossed even though he had only gotten a few hours of sleep beforehand. He mentioned how he teared up during the part about gang unity. This was a part of the film that others felt moved by as well. He ended up donating everything out of his wallet because this was "...just too good, and it needs to get out there."
Another Black man who came was from New Orleans. He had been affected by Hurricane Katrina, and then when he started to get on his feet again, was put out of work by the BP oil spill. He responded to the part where BA exposed the truth about the Founding Fathers, and remarked afterward that this is the kind of thing no one really says. He said this was unusual, because if you do, you are marginalized, attacked and called unpatriotic. Still, it was clear he agreed this was all true. He said that everything BA was talking about were things that he lived through, and that many people he knew were either dead or in prison, and he was just lucky that he wasn't. He appreciated the engagement with others gathered to see the film, and made it clear he intended to have more contact.
A white youth was amazed by how dense the film was in information and ideas, and most of all how this was a perspective that you can't get elsewhere. For example, he was really struck by the fact that when BA was talking about the "LA rebellion" he realized he had never before heard it referred to in all the various media as anything but the "LA riots."
At the end of the evening there were people leaving with DVD's and talking to revolutionaries about ideas for follow-up. This included people hooking up for an open house at the book store the next evening, plans about outreach, and recognition of the need to get back to people who wanted the DVD but hadn't had the money. There was also talk of more showings. One young woman intends to set up a showing in a rural area where people live in an alternative type of setting. Opportunities are emerging to spread this summoning to revolution!
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Two laws that enforce vicious second-class citizenship against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, by denying them the right to marry, are being challenged this week at the Supreme Court. One is California's Proposition 8. The other is the "Defense of Marriage Act."
For background on Proposition 8, see "Gay Marriage: A Basic Right! A Just Demand!" (Revolution #148, November 23, 2008) To see how a revolutionary, socialist society would end discrimination as well as prejudice against people because of their sexual orientation, see the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)—both "Article III. Rights of the People and the Struggle to Uproot All Exploitation and Oppression," and also study how overcoming this, and all oppression is addressed throughout the document.
Revolution #299 March 31, 2013
March 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The march and rally on March 24 in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York, called by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) to protest the police murder of Kimani Gray, was a necessary and important initiative. In the face of charges that outside agitators were coming into the neighborhood to stir up trouble, it was critical for this diverse group to stand with the people who had stood up to say NO MORE! after Kimani's murder, and who had borne the brunt of the authorities' repressive response. There are no outsiders in the struggle against injustice, and those who stand up to resist must not be left alone to take on the attempts of the powers-that-be to crush their resistance.
At this event a small group of people engaged in dangerous and divisive activity: shouting down speakers and threatening physical attacks against people associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party. Some media reports played up this activity to paint a picture of divisions in the protests around Kimani's murder and to revive the story of outside agitators stirring up trouble.
Carl Dix issued these 4 points to address this situation:
#1 - It was important and righteous that a diverse group of people responded to the Call from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network to come out on 3/24 for Justice For Kimani Gray. We were uniting to take on a real genocide and standing with those who have been arrested and criminalized for standing up against the police murder of Kimani. There are no “outsiders” in the struggle for justice.
#2—It is vital that everyone in this movement be able to put forward their understanding of where this problem comes from and what the solution is. Open airing of these perspectives is very positive, not a distraction or “outside issues.”
#3—Attacks and threats against people for putting forward their views are divisive and destructive. This serves the highly repressive state and its mouthpieces in the media in trying to demoralize, confuse, divide, and even frame or set people up for murder.
#4—Everyone who is serious about ending the epidemic of police murder needs to get into the real revolution. I’ve gone to funerals and marched for victims of the police for 40 years. I’ve seen Black mayors and police chiefs. I’ve seen officials promise more accountability, better police training and CCRBs and still the killings continue. The murder of our youth by this system continues because the problem is deeper than that. That’s why I say it’ll take Revolution—Nothing Less! to stop police murder, and all the horrors this system inflicts on humanity. Go here to get into what this revolution is all about through the new film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!
Carl Dix is a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party and a leader in the movement to stop mass incarceration.