Revolution #310, July 14, 2013 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

All Out to Raise the Funds for the
BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live Summer Van Tours

New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Bay Area

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Within the next week, the BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live Summer Van Tours will hit the ground in four cities: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Intense, inspiring and exciting, the tours will provide a big boost to lofting the presence of Bob Avakian, the movement for revolution he leads, and especially the multi-faceted fundraising campaign to make BA known everywhere.

BAE Picnic NYC June

BA Everywhere picnic, June 2013, New York City. Photo: Special to Revolution

What a moment to be doing this! As the vans roll out, the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin will either have just been delivered or imminent—with tens of millions awake to what that will mean for the struggle against the oppression of Black people. The hunger strike initiated by prisoners in solitary confinement in California will have been launched. An all-out offensive to deny women's fundamental right to abortion will be roaring through state legislatures and courts around the country, with people rising to meet that challenge. And, around the world people are battling brutal reactionary regimes—fighting and dying for change up against reactionary regimes enforcing this imperialist system in one form or another. And yet, even as people are raising their heads, they do not know that there is a framework for a radically new and better way the world could be that is concentrated in the new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian, and a strategic method and approach for making revolution.

What a moment, what a huge responsibility it is to be providing people the opportunity to find out about, engage, and be a part of contributing financially and in other ways to spreading the liberating revolutionary vision concentrated in the work of Bob Avakian, "BA."


The objective of the BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live Summer Van Tours is to spread BA more deeply and widely among all strata, involving people and developing ongoing relationships in the activity of, and as a means for, raising really significant funds over the summer and into the fall so that BA becomes known everywhere. The tours should be a catalyst for the whole campaign.

For a whole week volunteers, four to six people of different ages, gender, nationality, and background will take off from jobs, school, the routine of life to work together to introduce and involve and join with a whole lot of people in the BA Everywhere Campaign. Small passenger vans will be rented and decorated, giving the teams the flexibility to travel throughout the cities and to outlying areas. The very appearance of the diverse character of these teams: their enthusiasm and commitment to changing the world; their serious purpose as well as their fun spirit; their revolutionary T-shirts and attire; and the collective élan they exude while bringing to people the real deal—the revolutionary theory developed by BA that enables the people to understand the source of the problems humanity faces and the revolutionary solution will be a living manifesto of revolutionary possibility. The radical simplicity and straightforward message of the tour, the basic ways the volunteers will be spreading the word, can involve many new people in raising even more funds so that revolution and BA become widely known and debated—all this will catalyze the movement for revolution in the midst of the sharp struggles that are afoot this summer.

There are lots of ways for people—all kinds of people (including those reading this article!)—to be a part of the tours. First off, people can volunteer by writing to BAEverywhere@gmail.com or at a local Revolution Books. People can host and/or coordinate gatherings in their community for the tours—to watch the film, host or prepare a meal, house the volunteers, or even just donate food from a local restaurant (as people did for Occupy in New York City). It would make a real difference for people to donate or lend audiovisual equipment for showing the film. And, once the tours are underway, everyone should spread the progress of the tours, sending links to the daily blogs from the volunteers through social media.

Taking BA Everywhere to Sanford, Florida, June 2013. Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

TO MAKE THIS POSSIBLE, right now and continuing until July 15, DONATE to the BA Everywhere Summer 2013 project. Funds are being raised across the country this week and being brought together on Indiegogo, a worldwide crowdfunding site to launch the campaign enabling each city to rent vans, provide food for volunteers, and to purchase portable DVD players, flat-screen TVs, sound amplification, and, if we raise enough money, video projectors. This will make it possible to bring and show the film BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live straight to the people.

Fundraising to launch BA Everywhere Summer 2013, starting with BA Speaks: Revolution-Nothing Less! Van Tours on Indiegogo should be an urgent priority for the next eight days for everyone with a conscience who looks out on the state of the world and feels the need for radical change.

Those who today see the great need for the movement for revolution to become a real force with impact and influence in society, who are on the front lines of struggle, should strive for the success of this Indiegogo campaign, recognizing how spreading BA and revolution straight up is foundational to building a movement for revolution. For this campaign to succeed, for the whole atmosphere in society to be percolating with ferment over really changing the world instead of passively acquiescing to all the devastation of people and the environment, requires that everyone who recognizes what a difference it will make if BA and the liberating vision he has brought forward are widely known, get involved: spreading the Indiegogo campaign and donating this week.

In the context of the different battles in the world heating up, with people actively rising to meet those challenges, this is what it concretely means for revolution and BA Everywhere to be the leading edge of the movement for revolution over the next week:

[1] Let everyone you know about the Indiegogo campaign—through email and social media —ask for a DONATION; send them the fundraising video which gives those who watch an exciting vision of what these van tours can accomplish and statements of support, and ask them to send the video and statements to people and lists they know. Call a day later and follow up with them. Talk to them about what a difference this campaign makes.

Seek out and struggle with friends, people from work, your community and family—who can donate $250, $500, and $1,000. Struggle with people to not do great harm by funding political campaigns for the oppressors of the Democratic ruling class Party; or, on the other hand, throwing their money into "band-aid projects" that, at best, salve a very small part of a horrific world, when it is possible to build a movement for a radically new future.

You can also contact a Revolution Books store to join with others in going out to the hoods to spread the word and raise funds.

[2] Schedule and carve out at least a half day, every other day this week, to reach out to and to follow up with people about donating to and spreading this campaign.

[3] Next weekend, go all out to bring the BA Everywhere Summer 2013 Indiegogo fundraising to a successful conclusion. This involves following up with those who you have reached out to and a concentrated effort to reach out to others who should contribute to meeting the goal for this great need by Monday, July 15.

* * * * *

BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live Van Tours

The film is the centerpiece of the Van Tour—not just talking about it, not just selling the DVD, as important as doing both are—but actually showing the film: on the streets, in projects, in restaurants, churches, schools, out in the parks and beaches, and at cultural events. Letting people experience and grapple with BA themselves, up close and live, in a gripping filmed presentation. More than a film, BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live is a compelling, deep, substantive, scientific summoning to revolution.

Imagine the vans with volunteers going out for several days to a housing project, a park, a street corner where people gather, and pulling up in the decorated van, setting up displays, spreading quote cards from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, and then setting up the flat screen TV and sound system and inviting people to gather around and watch a chapter and then having an opportunity to dig into their questions and thoughts. And then coming back again in the next day or two to go deeper, while also giving people a way to connect with and be a part of the movement for revolution in an ongoing way. Then, during another part of the week, going to nearby areas where there are concentrations of progressive people with more resources, meeting people from the middle and upper strata deeply concerned with events in the world who have a bit more leisure to think and talk—meeting them at summer theaters, concerts, flea markets, art fairs, etc.—introducing them to BA and involving them in donating and raising funds.

The Van Tours will be getting a dynamic dialectic going between going deeply into the neighborhoods where the movement for revolution has been active in a more mobile and intensive way, including reaching out to different projects, parks, and places that we don't normally get to go to; and, on the other hand, the tours will be stretching out broadly to all kinds of people in diverse strata in other areas of the cities and suburbs, forging new connections and the ways and means for these new relationships to become ongoing relationships on different levels.

From the 'hoods to progressive middle class areas the tours will tap into new forces who want to see real radical change. The objectives are for many new people to start to engage revolution through getting into Bob Avakian; for people to get involved themselves—developing a base of financial and political support for the movement for revolution in the 'hoods and much more broadly.

At this sharp moment, there are people right now looking for answers. The scientific theory of revolution that BA has developed—which people can readily get in a basic way from BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! and well as from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian—is transformative. Without a scientific analysis of the actual underlying source of problems we face in this system and of the solution that is possible through revolution, the horrific oppression that humanity faces and the ecological devastation of the planet will continue. The Summer 2013 BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live Van Tours offer a tremendous opportunity to fill a great need for really radical change. As this unfolds simultaneously in four major cities across the country, there will begin to be a wider and deeper sense of possibility—of people thinking, talking and debating real revolutionary change, a new system, new state power in opposition to the deep unsettled feeling that there is "no way out," no good choices, under the current order.

The progress of the four simultaneous tours will be reported on revcom.us and social media and this will project a national movement taking up and spreading BA and revolution. This too will signal to still more people a vision and a sense that things really could be radically changed.

A new and dynamic part of having four tours in different cities is that they should experiment with a lot of different approaches. There is a national vision for the tours and the BA Everywhere Campaign. But the plans and initiative will be decentralized and developed in the different cities. This should foster a richer experience. Everyone across the country should be able to learn from the different initiative, creativity, the successes as well as when things fall short in the tours. Summing this up, sifting through the different experiences, is all part of a scientific approach to making revolution. This will be reported on the BA Everywhere portal on the revcom.us website, which can be found by going to the section of the site titled: Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.

The core principles for the tour are:

[1] To the masses of all strata in a mass way—having a dynamic presence—projecting a revolutionary spirit and élan—putting out a pole of revolution, taking a firm political and ideological stand against the way things are and boldly putting forward that there is another way in BA, and creating a compelling politically provocative scene—in the parks, projects, speaking out at talkbacks at theaters, science fairs, gallery talks, or at the movies!

At the same time there should be plenty of space for new people who may just want to observe and be a part of the scene, or just hand out cards, and talk to people on the side. All of which can be a part of the mix contributing to the people who encounter this for the first time seeing that there is room for lots of different ways to be supportive, to be a part of this, and that they too can find a place.

The teams will focus for a few days in the 'hood and areas of concentration (while making forays to other parts of town including going to concerts and cultural events) and then they will go for a long weekend to progressive and wealthy areas within a few hours of the city. These tours will be an incredible, politically life-changing experience for the volunteers.

There should be specific planned convergences during the tour when the BA Everywhere Committees, the Revolution Clubs, the Revolution Books bookstores, and people from different social movements and struggles join in with the tour to make a big impact. Everywhere, people should popularize and mark the showing of the film at the main LA Central Library on July 20—during the run of most of the tours!

And there should be spirited "Send-Off" gatherings when the tours get ready to hit the roads.

[2] Radical Simplicity: Put BA in front of people. Let the film work. Let people get into the basic quotes of BAsics! Raise Funds and Involve People in Raising Funds. Sharp, Clear, Bold, Simple Decorations. Part of building the movement for revolution should be involving people in hosting the volunteers for dinner or lunch. Feed the revolutionaries—nourish the revolution.

Orientation: Be as radical as the new synthesis of communism. The world is a horror; it doesn't have to be this way—it's not human nature, it's the nature of the system; because of the work BA has done, there is an alternative and a way to go there; things will remain this way if we don't go at it. So let's go!

[3] Follow Up: An important criteria for what the tours do and how they do their work, is building in the orientation and the ways and means for people we meet to get connected and involved even in very basic ways with the movement for revolution. For one thing, when the tours go out to outlying areas, there must be a plan to go back in a few weeks. There is a vision of having a second week of the van tours in early to mid-August. We should fight through for that. But, even if a full second van tour turns out not to be possible in an area, there should be a definite plan for people to go back for a weekend (in a car) with a few people to follow up on the first foray.

* * * * *

For this to happen, $20,000 is needed by July 15. That is in all of our hands, right now. Let it be the case, that in the summer of 2013 when people began to raise their heads around the world, when people here began to seriously confront that the things that brutally oppress them will not change with the "Hope" of another ruling class leader of the very system that causes so much misery, that there were people who spread the understanding, who raised the funds so all of society would know: there is a way out of the horror and madness, in the vision, method and approach, framework, and leadership of BA.

When the BA Everywhere Campaign began in 2011, Revolution wrote:

If we collectively raise enough money to make it concretely possible to project the whole BA vision and project into all corners of society and to introduce him and what he is bringing forward to millions who are not yet familiar with his works and vision; if the framework he is bringing forward and advocating for becomes increasingly debated and wrangled over by thousands and by millions of people from all walks of life; if, together, we manage to accomplish this, this will actually make a very big difference. The whole social and political culture will "breathe" more freely, people will wrangle passionately over "big questions" concerning the direction of society (like knowing that much of the future of humanity hangs in the balance) and the times will once again resonate with big dreams for fundamental change and the emancipation of humanity.

 

 


 

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Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Filling the Greatest Need Facing Humanity: The World Emancipating Urgency of BA Everywhere!

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 


From a reader:

It's a world in turmoil with mass upsurges in Turkey and Brazil, continued turmoil in Egypt, the Snowden revelations, the trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, the California prisoners' hunger strike and continued defiance by the prisoners in Guantánamo, and much more. As people rise up and think about events here and around the world, people yearn, ache, search, reach for something different but are constrained by the limitations in their own thinking as to whether a radically different and far better world is possible. They often begin with and end up in calls for more "democracy," all within the confines of this order, this very same system.

Calls for more "democracy"* in these protests worldwide? A fat lot of good this democracy has done for the masses of people in this country, in its projects and its prisons, the most gloriously democratic of democracies! Or in India—the largest of mass democracies, with more poverty than sub-Saharan Africa! Or in South Africa—the newest of mass democracies, with unspeakable degradation of its youth and women!

In Egypt, people took to the streets in huge inspiring protests, but what are they now faced with? The very same U.S.-backed Egyptian army which had been the brutal enforcer of oppression and repression for decades under Mubarak—who they jettisoned in response to the Arab Spring while continuing to be the real power—has now kicked out Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. These are the choices absent a fundamentally different system and state power: Morsi's Islamic fundamentalism or the more open rule of the military and/or an elected leader who provides them with more political cover. In either case, the result will be one form or another of oppressive rule, subordinated to the imperialist international order. Neither Jihad nor McWorld, we need to bring forward another way!

What people need most of all, the greatest need at this hour, is the real, scientific solution to these horrors, the way out. This is the re-envisioned communism of Bob Avakian, with its vision and viability of a radically different world brought about by getting rid of this system of capitalism-imperialism and bringing about a whole new and far better system and world through communist revolution. Without this framework of BA's new synthesis of communism as a pole that growing numbers are engaging, being won to, and pivoting off of, the horizons of what people see as necessary, desirable, and possible are confined and skewed within this system, leaving the world as it is—fundamentally unchanged—and the system of capitalism-imperialism continues humming in the background, crushing lives and destroying spirits.

This is the great need we are seeking to fill with BA Everywhere, with, and as the leading edge of, a whole revolutionary ensemble. Imagine the difference it will make—not only here but around the world! Achieving the objectives of BA Everywhere will reverberate globally. Let's fight like hell to fulfill these goals—where this vision of a radically different world—and yes, all the questions it further provokes and opens up—become a reference point, a matter of discussion and debate, raising sights and radically changing the world.

 

 * Think how much further ahead the righteously outraged and heroically self-sacrificing masses of people rising up around the world would be if they understood the tremendous truth concentrated in BAsics 1:3 as well as BAsics 1:22, taken from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian!

BAsics 1:3:
"The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism."

BAsics 1:22:
"In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about 'democracy'—without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no 'democracy for all': one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality."

 


 

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Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

July 20, LA Central Library:

Major Screening of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Saturday, July 20, Revolution Books LA is hosting a major screening of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. Pacifica radio station KPFK has signed on as a media sponsor for the event, and a host committee has been formed with journalist Erin Aubry Kaplan, filmmaker Dave Zeiger, Prof. Dennis Loo, actor Harry Lennix and revolutionary communist radio host Michael Slate as initial hosts.

LA Artwalk, February 2013. Photo: Special to Revolution

This is a very big deal! Bob Avakian has said that “THIS MOVEMENT FOR REVOLUTION MUST NOW BECOME A REAL FORCE, POWERFULLY IMPACTING AND INFLUENCING ALL OF SOCIETY....” “RNL@CL” can make important contributions to this, not only in LA but reverberating around the country and even internationally.

The Central Library is the second-largest public library system west of the Mississippi. It is a respected public cultural institution in Southern California that features important writers, artists, and public thinkers, yet also one where basic people from some of LA’s poorest neighborhoods feel welcome. RNL@CL has the potential to reach many, many people who know nothing about BA and this revolution... to give them an opportunity to meet the revolution “up close and personal” ... to take the movement for revolution into a physical and cultural space where Bob Avakian’s vision could reach sections of society on a whole other level than it has up to now.

Just think what it means to have this film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and BA in the mix in the context of everything that is going on in the world today—massive demonstrations in Brazil and Turkey, a military coup in Egypt, Edward Snowden’s exposure of massive NSA spying on people of the world, the trial of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin, attempts to eliminate abortion in this country, torture of prisoners in Guantánamo and U.S. prisons and the U.S. prisoner hunger strike to stop the torture, the Keystone Pipeline decision and what that will portend for the current environmental catastrophe the world is facing.

Against the background of these momentous events, as people watch this film, the urgent need for and real possibility of a radically different world can begin to come into focus.

The opening speech at the BA Everywhere Conferences held on June 1 and 2 in many cities captured the power and impact this film can have:

“BA opens BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live asking ‘How long must this nightmare of oppression and brutality go on?’ Then he breaks down why the horrors of the world of today need not be forever—how they flow from the capitalist-imperialist system, and how they can go out of existence through revolution. This is because of real reasons—actual contradictions in the way society works and how it has developed, why it continually gives rise to crisis, to war, to profound inequalities, to degradation and devastation. And this system also gives rise to those who have nothing to lose, who have been cast off and cast down, who can become the backbone of making revolution.

“People can learn and understand this. What is the problem? This system. And what is the solution? Revolution—Nothing Less! BA breaks revolution down: why it is possible, how to build up the people’s understanding and strength, and how to win in a country like this—providing a strategy for making revolution. This is farsighted leadership that is scientific—probing reality from different angles to come to understand the world as it actually is, applying that understanding to changing the world, and then measuring results by again looking back at reality and learning again”

This summer the BA Everywhere Committee is pushing out in a big way throughout the country, and as a major part of that, aiming to introduce BA to a wide audience by having thousands see this film through showings of all kinds—on the streets, in the parks, playgrounds, project courtyards, as well as suburban town centers.

A key highlight of all this will be the Central Library showing in LA, aiming to bring together an audience of hundreds from all-walks of life—people from the neighborhoods, professors, students, artists, the unemployed, men, women, youth, retired folks, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, white people, revolutionaries, non-communists, those seeking answers to the biggest questions in the world—all watching the film together and providing a social setting for people to grasp that they are not by themselves or are the only ones who are hungering for a different future and a different world.

A successful screening at the Central Library, together with a whole summer of activity of getting BA out everywhere, can open the door for showings in other libraries and community centers in LA, and very importantly should help open the way for similar major showings all across the country. Tens of thousands of people across the country seeing all or parts of this film, beginning to engage with BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian and becoming acquainted with the revolutionary leadership of Bob Avakian can be part of cracking things open and beginning to put REAL revolution onto the political terrain in this country and the world.

BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!
Saturday, July 20, starting at 12:30 pm
Los Angeles Central Library—Mark Taper Auditorium
630 West 5th Street, downtown Los Angeles

For more info or publicity material, call Revolution Books LA at (323) 463-3500.

 


 

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Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

The Zimmerman Trial:

Lies, Slanders...and the Cold-Blooded Lynching of Trayvon Martin

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The eyes of a nation are on the trial of the killer of Trayvon Martin, and in many ways, the whole world is watching. Trayvon Martin was a Black teenager gunned down by a vigilante killer just after 7 pm on the evening of February 26, 2012. He was walking to his father’s house with a can of ice tea and a bag of candy.

Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin

George Zimmerman knew nothing about Trayvon Martin, never even heard of him. But he thought he knew him. All Zimmerman had to see was a young Black man in a hoodie walking home with a snack, and he “knew” that Trayvon Martin was a “suspect.” He “knew” Trayvon Martin was a “fucking punk.” He “knew” Trayvon was “a fucking asshole” who “always gets away with it.”

And based on that, Zimmerman got out of his car, stalked Trayvon Martin, pressed a 9mm pistol into Trayvon Martin’s sweatshirt right at his heart. He fired a hollow-point bullet into Trayvon’s heart, killing him nearly instantly.

Zimmerman never showed any remorse for killing Trayvon Martin. Not when he pulled the trigger. Not when he told police over and over again—without any basis—that Trayvon was “the suspect.” Not when directly asked if he would change anything if he could, in a TV interview that was played in court. In that TV interview, Zimmerman claimed—obscenely—that it was “god’s will” for him to kill Trayvon Martin.

And through this all, Zimmerman has acted as if he has a whole system behind him. For good reason. The Trayvon Martins of this country (and this world) have been branded suspects by a system that has no future for them. From endless depictions of them as thugs on TV and in the movies, to the institutionalized criminalization of them through “stop-and-frisk,” to the schools-to-prison pipeline to mass incarceration, they are a generation for whom this system has no future.

But Trayvon Martin was a human being! He had a right to live, to have a future, and so do millions like him. And so the stakes of this trial are truly decisive to the kind of world people will live in.

Zimmerman’s Self-Exposure

As the prosecution presented its case in this trial, over and over it has been revealed how Zimmerman coldly murdered Trayvon. Evidence has come out that Zimmerman got out of his car, followed Trayvon when the non-emergency dispatch operator told him not to, lied to the dispatch operator to cover his tracks as he stalked Trayvon, and shot Trayvon Martin point-blank through the heart.

This was Zimmerman’s state of mind: He saw a Black youth he “knew” was up to no good. Zimmerman chased Trayvon down with malice, and shot him straight through the heart knowing this would kill him and then afterwards gave a narration like a proud wannabe cop killing a “perp.” In his statement to the cops he referred to Trayvon repeatedly as the “suspect” when in fact it was Zimmerman who was taken into custody for killing Trayvon! And the police who “interviewed” Zimmerman shared that mentality, not challenging him on this.

Some Truth Emerges in Court

Prosecutors ended their case on Friday, July 5. George Zimmerman cannot be forced to testify against himself (this is a basic right that any defendant has) but prosecutors presented Zimmerman’s calls to a non-emergency operator. Zimmerman’s interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity was played in court. There was testimony as to statements Zimmerman made to police, and testimony of a close friend of Zimmerman’s who wrote a book justifying the murder of Trayvon Martin. Through this material, as well as other statements he has made that were reported in the press, Zimmerman’s versions of what happened that night were revealed to contradict each other, and to be full of lies (see “Zimmerman’s Lies: A Brief Recap”).

Prosecutors also called several witnesses, most notably Rachel Jeantel who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin for much of the time he was being stalked and followed by Zimmerman. She testified to Trayvon’s fear of his stalker and his efforts to get away from him (see “Timeline of a Murder”).

Rachel Jeantel testified in court that during this call Trayvon told her he was being stalked by a strange man—a “creepy-ass cracker,” as she said Trayvon called him. She told the court that Trayvon told her he was going home, and never said he was going to confront the man following him.

Zimmerman had gotten out of his vehicle in pursuit of Trayvon despite instructions not to from the non-emergency dispatcher. He was armed with a loaded 9-mm handgun. Even though the community in which this took place was small and Zimmerman was well acquainted with it, he claimed he didn't know what street he was on, telling police just to call him when they arrived in order to hunt down Trayvon.

During this time, Rachel Jeantel testified that she advised Trayvon to run. He replied he was walking fast. Rachel said the last thing she heard Trayvon say was “get off, get off.” Then their connection cut off. Rachel Jeantel, as she told the court, was the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin.

Only minutes after Zimmerman set off to hunt down Trayvon Martin, a gunshot was heard on a 911 call. When police arrived on the scene, Trayvon Martin was lying face down on the ground, bleeding to death from the one blast that tore Trayvon's heart open. The dead body of Trayvon Martin was tested for drugs; Zimmerman never was. Zimmerman was taken into police custody. Five hours after he shot and murdered Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman was released by Sanford police with no charges filed. The next morning, Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father, was notified that his son had been killed the previous night.

These are facts established by the public record, documented by phone logs and recordings, corroborated by the testimony of key witnesses, in particular Rachel Jeantel. George Zimmerman saw Trayvon Martin, picked up his gun, got out of his car looking for the “fucking punk” he didn't recognize. Then he found Trayvon, and shot him dead.

Lies, Confusion, and Distortion from the Defense

Any witness who in a significant way stood in the way or challenged the fable of Trayvon as a thug who assaulted Zimmerman, and Zimmerman as the watchman protecting the neighborhood, was subjected to a barrage of hateful vitriol and ridicule in the courtroom, and gutter-level attacks on social media.

This was most true of Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon's friend since grade school, who was talking on the phone with him when Zimmerman began stalking Trayvon. Rachel Jeantel’s testimony is some of the most substantial in this case, and she is one of the more credible witnesses. The time and length of her phone calls with Trayvon as he walked towards his father’s home are well documented, and they corroborate most closely with all the available evidence. And these are precisely the facts that are “lost” or “forgotten” in much of the media commentary on Rachel that has focused instead on her appearance, her demeanor, and her attitude.

Rachel Jeantel and her testimony were treated with outright contempt by Zimmerman's lawyers. Because Rachel had been overcome by shock and grief after the death of Trayvon, the defense lawyers claimed that she kept changing her story, and that it was not consistent. In fact, as anyone who listened to her knows, Rachel's testimony about the key elements of what Trayvon told her was happening when they were on the phone and he was being stalked by a strange man—a “creepy-ass cracker” as she said Trayvon called him—never wavered at all.

Rachel Jeantel stood up to hours of badgering, haranguing, and insult, and then to attacks waged on social media. One of the “viral” features of the social media onslaught began when the adult daughters of Don West, one of Zimmerman's lawyers, posted a message on Instagram of the two of them and their father eating vanilla ice cream and boasting that these were their “we-beat-stupidity celebration cones.”

What kind of legal system—what kind of social system—would heap such abuse on a young woman who comes forward to testify to the truth about what she knows of the murder of her friend? As Revolution wrote last week, bullies who act like this in the courtroom or in society generally are “... trained to act and react by a system, to spew their ignorant venom full of the confidence of someone who feels they have power on their side.”

Defense lawyers also went after Dr. Shiping Bao, a medical examiner. Dr. Bao performed an autopsy on Trayvon and testified that Trayvon was shot with one close-up blast of a 9mm handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets. The bullet tore through Trayvon Martin’s pericardium and the right ventricle of his heart. He died, in pain, most likely within three minutes but certainly from one to ten minutes later. He was incapable of doing or saying anything after he had been shot. Dr. Bao’s testimony exposed as a lie Zimmerman’s claim to police investigators that Trayvon had spoken after he was shot, and that Zimmerman had to hold Trayvon's hands down after shooting him.

A critical element of Zimmerman's defense is the claim that he acted in “self defense” when he was supposedly assaulted by Trayvon. This claim was effectively refuted by the testimony of Dr. Valerie Rao, a medical examiner who reviewed video and photographs of Zimmerman's injuries, who testified his supposed “wounds” were “insignificant” and only required the treatment of a band-aid.

Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin's parents

Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin's parents. Sybrina Fulton testified with dignity and courage at court. Photo: AP

Finally, one of the ugliest and most contemptible acts of the defense was the attempted intimidation of Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon's mother, by Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara. Sybrina Fulton testified that the voice she heard screaming on the 911 tape was that of “my son, Trayvon Benjamin Martin.” On cross-examination, O'Mara tried to badger Sybrina into saying that other people had told her she would be listening to screams from the moments of her son's death, and that her testimony was based on “potential recall,” and therefore discredited. O'Mara also had the audacity to ask Sybrina if she was hoping that Trayvon “would not have done anything that would lead to his own death”—trying to get her to somehow testify something that would discredit her murdered son, or imply that he had “brought it on himself.”

In spite of this, Sybrina Fulton testified with courage and dignity, and anyone with a heart felt the pain of her loss.

If Zimmerman Didn’t Have “Ill Will” Nobody Ever Has

An element of the charge of second-degree murder is that the prosecution has to establish that Zimmerman acted with a “depraved state of mind,” with “ill will.” Defense lawyer O'Mara argued that no “ill will” or “depraved” state of mind led Zimmerman to shoot down Trayvon, and therefore charges of second-degree murder should be dropped in a directed acquittal by the judge.

But in fact, Zimmerman's hate-filled state of mind is revealed in his own words and demeanor. At no point does he ever exhibit or express any remorse at all over killing an unarmed 17-year-old. Again, this is someone who told Sean Hannity on national TV that he has NO regrets over the incident, and that murdering Trayvon was “part of god's plan.”

Zimmerman got out of his car, gun in hand, stalked Trayvon and pointed a gun at him and shot him through the heart with a hollow point bullet. If that isn't “malice,” what is? If that doesn't demonstrate “ill will” and a “depraved state of mind,” what does?

Zimmerman demonstrated that he was in fact filled with malice towards Trayvon—he thought he knew Trayvon as one of those “fucking punks.” And when he saw Trayvon, he stopped what he was doing, got out of his car, and hunted and killed Trayvon Martin.

A Double Outrage

Since the trial began, Zimmerman’s defense team, along with a section of commentators, have made every attempt to distort and lie about what actually happened that night.

The vilification of Trayvon began in the mass media and on social media shortly after his murder. At that time, Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon's mother, said “even in death, and Trayvon is gone and not returning to us, they are still disrespecting my son, and that's a shame. The only comment I have right now is that they've killed my son, and now they're trying to kill his reputation.” The hateful, racist atmosphere has intensified and expanded during this trial.

Here are two basic facts of life in the U.S.A., 2013—youths like Trayvon Martin are murdered by police, and even by racist vigilante killers like George Zimmerman; and tens of thousands of youths like Trayvon Martin are put into prison year after year by this system that has no future for them.

What made the murder of Trayvon Martin different from the murders of other Black and Latino youth was that despite the police treatment of Trayvon's murder as legitimate self-defense by George Zimmerman, despite the fact that no charges were immediately filed against Zimmerman, despite the treatment of this case in the Florida media as “just another killing of a Black youth who was somewhere he shouldn't have been,” the story of a 17-year-old kid wearing a hoodie who was shot down while he was walking to his father's home with a soft drink and a bag of candy became national news—and a focus of national outrage and protest.

Acting on Our Anger; Changing the Dynamics

In 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black youth from Chicago was lynched by white men while visiting relatives in Mississippi. His body was horribly mutilated, weighted with a 70-pound fan, and dumped in the Tallahatchie River. The killers were not charged.

Emmett's mother, Mamie Till, courageously insisted on an open casket at her son's funeral, so people could see what had happened to him. The widespread outrage and anger that spread throughout the country over the savage death of Emmett Till became a spark that catalyzed thousands of people in a growing struggle to end the injustices perpetrated on Black people.

The cold-blooded murder—the modern-day lynching—of Trayvon Martin also sparked deep and widespread outrage throughout U.S. society. And now we're at a crucial turning point in the struggle for Justice for Trayvon.

As a recent Revolution editorial put it, right now “the situation in the world, and in this country, is very intense. There is the potential for eruptions ‘in the routine’ of one kind or another.” Mass incarceration of Black and Latino people, especially youth; relentless assaults on women and in particular on the right to abortion; continuing wars and occupation, and new revelations of massive government spying; all this and much more is part of a “cauldron of contradictions” confronting the rulers of this capitalist-imperialist system.

The battle for Justice for Trayvon Martin is framed by that bigger picture—and it has the potential to alter that picture—if people ACT. It can mark a big step towards the day when no longer are people like Trayvon Martin and his friend Rachel Jeantel treated like part of a “generation of suspects”—Black youth who people in this society are conditioned and trained to look at as “fucking punks.” People who can be hunted down and shot, and the police sweep it away like its just another day on the job.

There are two sides to this battle, and the side that demands Justice for Trayvon needs to become much more powerful. There are calls for vigils and rallies when the case goes to the jury and when the verdict comes down. The “We Say No More” statement can have an important impact.

As Revolution wrote recently, society is polarizing around the murder of Trayvon Martin and the trial of George Zimmerman, and “this growing struggle must be repolarized into broader energy, clarity, and direction for Justice for Trayvon Martin ... and for revolution and emancipation altogether.” The need to act on that understanding is more urgent than ever.

 

Harlem, July 2, 2013

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/zimmermans-lies-a-brief-recap-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Zimmerman's Lies: A Brief Recap

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

It is an uncontested fact that George Zimmerman put a gun to Trayvon Martin’s chest and put a hollow-point bullet through his heart, killing him almost instantly, on the evening of February 26, 2012. Trayvon Martin was walking home with a cold drink and a box of candy. George Zimmerman got out of his car, followed Trayvon, and murdered him.

From the moment of Trayvon’s death to the present day, George Zimmerman never exhibited anything close to genuine sorrow or regret over the murder. But he and those around him have pumped out lie after lie to justify the killing of Trayvon Martin.

George Zimmerman told his story to two police investigators, to his neighbor, and to Fox News host Sean Hannity. Each of Zimmerman's versions of what happened has been demonstrated to be a lie, and each of them significantly contradicts the others.

Zimmerman's story, as told to police investigators, in an interview with Hannity, and to a friend of his—also a cop—has been a concoction full of self-justifying and self-contradictory lies. Lies used to justify murder. Zimmerman's story, in fact, is impossible. The following are a few of the more important examples.

 

And the one coherent thing about the different, self-contradictory lies is that they all serve to justify the murder of Trayvon Martin as “self-defense.”

Zimmerman's life aspiration is to be a cop; he took college courses to train for this, he tried to ride with the Sanford police. Zimmerman claimed in the interview with Sean Hannity that he had never heard of Florida’s infamous “stand your ground” law, and portrayed himself as unschooled in legal defenses for killing someone. Yet, repeated testimony and school records show Zimmerman was well-versed in Florida's “self-defense” law.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/timeline-of-a-murder-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Timeline of a Murder

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From 6:54 pm to 7:12 pm on February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin was on the phone with Rachel Jeantel, a friend in Miami, as he walked to his father's home in Sanford, Florida, where he was staying. Trayvon was carrying candy and a soft drink. Their call was dropped after 18 minutes, and they began trying to reconnect.

At 7:09:34 pm, George Zimmerman called Sanford police and told them he saw someone acting “real suspicious”—this person was Trayvon Martin, who had entered the neighborhood where his father lived. Two and a half minutes into the call, Zimmerman told the police dispatcher that the person he saw was “running.” He is asked if he's following the person, and replies that he is. The dispatcher says “we don't need you to do that,” and that police were on the way. Zimmerman replies “OK,” but continues to follow Trayvon. He told the dispatcher the person he saw was a “fucking punk,” and said “these assholes, they always get away.”

Between 7:12 and 7:13, Rachel Jeantel and Trayvon were able to reconnect their call. Rachel testified in court that during this call Trayvon told her he was being stalked by a strange man—a “creepy-ass cracker,” as she said Trayvon called him. She told the court that Trayvon told her he was going home, and never said he was going to confront the man following him.

Shortly after 7:13, Zimmerman told the dispatcher he didn't know where Trayvon was; at 7:13:41, the call was ended. Zimmerman got out of his vehicle in pursuit of his “suspect,” despite instructions not to. He was carrying a loaded 9mm handgun. Zimmerman gave purposely misleading information to the dispatcher. Zimmerman claimed he didn't know what street he was on, despite the fact that there are only three streets in the closed-in community for which he was neighborhood watch captain. He also said he couldn't find a street number, despite the fact that he was only feet from a building with a street address lit up by a house light. Finally, he told the police just to call him when they arrived.

Between 7:16 and 7:17, Trayvon told Rachel Jeantel that he was still being followed. She testified in court that Trayvon told her he was being followed, and continued, “He said the man kept watching him. He kept complaining that a man was just watching him.” Rachel said she advised Trayvon to run. He replied he was walking fast. Rachel said the last thing she heard Trayvon say was “get off, get off.” Then their connection cut off. Rachel Jeantel, as she told the court, was the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin.

At 7:16:11, a woman in the neighborhood made the first call to 911, reporting that she heard a fight. A voice is heard screaming for help on the recording.

At 7:16:55 a gunshot is heard on a 911 call.

At 7:17:40, the first officer of the Sanford Police Department arrived at the scene. Trayvon Martin was lying face down on the ground, bleeding to death from the one blast from George Zimmerman that tore Trayvon's heart open.

More police soon arrived. The dead body of Trayvon Martin was tested for drugs; Zimmerman never was. Zimmerman was taken into police custody and questioned by Doris Singleton, who failed to make a video recording of his testimony. Zimmerman referred to Trayvon Martin—an unarmed 17-year-old carrying candy and a soft drink—as “the suspect” in his first statement to the police. And on this, he was never questioned. Why did Zimmerman think Trayvon was a “suspect”? No crime had been reported, or in fact committed—what was he supposedly a “suspect” for? Zimmerman also told another cop who questioned him that the voice on the 911 call “doesn't even sound like me,” although he claimed he was yelling for help.

About five hours after he shot and murdered Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman was released by Sanford police with no charges filed. The next morning, Tracy Martin, Trayvon's father, was notified that his son had been killed the previous night.

These are facts established by the public record, documented by phone logs and recordings, corroborated by the testimony of key witnesses, in particular Rachel Jeantel. George Zimmerman saw Trayvon Martin, picked up his gun, got out of his car looking for the “fucking punk” he didn't recognize. Then he found Trayvon, and shot him dead.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/plan-a-vigil-when-the-zimmerman-case-goes-to-jury-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

We Are All Trayvon; The Whole Damned System Is Guilty!

Plan a Vigil When the Zimmerman Case Goes to the Jury and a Rally When the Verdict Comes Down!

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

Revolution received the following call from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network:

 

Nationwide and worldwide attention is riveted on the trial of George Zimmerman, the vigilante, wannabe cop who murdered Trayvon Martin. As a recent article in Revolution Newspaper put it: “Right now, American society—with the whole world increasingly taking notice—is polarizing. Two sides are lining up—one upholding the right of the Trayvon Martins of this world to live and flourish and, if they are attacked, to have justice... and the other upholding the supposed rights of people like George Zimmerman to kill people like Trayvon with impunity.”

Castlemount Hoodie Day, June 10, 2013

Castlemont High, Oakland, Hoodie Day, June 10, 2013. Photo: Special to Revolution

If you are part of that side which upholds the right of the Trayvons of this world to live and have justice, YOU MUST ACT NOW. If Zimmerman walks free again, it will be like a declaration of Open Season on Black youth! This is unacceptable and must not be allowed to go down without determined mass resistance.

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) calls on everybody who wants to see “Justice 4 Trayvon” to take that desire to the streets. MAKE PLANS FOR A VIGIL WHEN THE CASE GOES TO THE JURY AND TO TAKE TO THE STREETS ON THE DAY OF OR THE DAY AFTER THE VERDICT COMES DOWN, WHICHEVER WAY IT GOES!

Go to our website—www.stopmassincarceration.net—to find materials to use in spreading the message: “We Are All Trayvon; The Whole Damned System Is Guilty!” Send your plans to SMIN at stopmassincarceration@gmail.com. Take pictures of what you do and send the pictures and reports to SMIN as well.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/309/on-the-coup-in-egypt-and-unfolding-events-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

On the Coup in Egypt: Strengthening Imperialism, Not the People

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Events are unfolding quickly in Egypt. On July 3, the Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi in a coup, placed him under house arrest, suspended the Constitution, installed a "caretaker" government, and vowed to crush any opposition. Since then, the military junta has rounded up leaders of the organizations Morsi is part of, the reactionary Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party, which have condemned the coup and mounted protests against it.

Here are three points of orientation on these developments:

1. The coup that has taken place—by an army that for decades was built, trained, and funded by the U.S. government—is reactionary and in no way, shape, or form holds out anything good for the people. Between 1979 and 2001, the U.S. gave Egypt $35 billion in military aid, second globally after Israel. Many top Egyptian military officers were educated in the U.S. In return the Egyptian military was a key protector of U.S. strategic interests in the region: giving the U.S. priority access to the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace; backing Israel's savage assaults on the Palestinians; joining the U.S. in attacking Iraq in 1991; and collaborating with the U.S. "war on terror," including interrogating and torturing prisoners sent to Egypt by the U.S. When the coup took place, the U.S. was funding Egypt's military to the tune of some $1.6 billion a year.

The fact that a section of the people seems to have been misled into supporting this coup means nothing about the actual character of it. The intent of this coup is to more securely nail Egypt into the horrific system of capitalism-imperialism and, in particular, into the more direct domination of the U.S.-headed bloc of that system. The facts that most of the governments in the US-headed bloc have refused to even call the coup a "coup" and that U.S. lackey Mohamed ElBaradei has told of seeking American support speak volumes. Again, the fact that masses of people have shed blood in the course of this and even in some cases in support of it does not change the essence of the matter: the class forces and political program being advanced through the coup—and it's a tragedy that the masses are again being misled, not something to celebrate.

2. The Morsi government was no better. It too was seeking to "secure" and integrate Egypt into a subordinate position in the world imperialist system, under slightly different terms. Bob Avakian has analyzed this phenomenon in the world today as follows:

What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these outmodeds, you end up strengthening both.

While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these "historically outmodeds" has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the "historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system," and in particular the U.S. imperialists.

BAsics 1:28

This course of events in Egypt will reinforce this reactionary dynamic.

3. Another way—communist revolution, as re-envisioned in Bob Avakian's new synthesis—is possible. This is a road of breaking free of imperialist domination as part of a revolution to get the whole planet beyond these horrors. But those who want that other way need to fight for it and, right now, fight to get it out into the world. In Egypt itself, the situation as described at the end of BA's statement on the original uprising against the Mubarak regime still holds true:

It has frequently happened in history, as has been the case in Egypt (as well as Tunisia), that the domination of imperialism and the rule of local exploiters has taken a concentrated form in the regime of a "strong man" butcher. This was the case, for example, in Iran, with the torture-chamber rule of the Shah, in the Philippines with the tyranny of Marcos, and in Indonesia with the long monstrous reign of Suharto—all brutal dictatorships put in power and long kept in power by U.S. imperialism. In Iran in the late 1970s, in the Philippines in the 1980s, in Indonesia more recently, massive uprisings of the people forced the U.S. imperialists to throw aside these hated tyrants and to allow some changes. But in every case, the ultimate result was not one which led to real "freedom" for the people—instead they have continued to be subjected to cruel oppression at the hands of those who replaced the old, hated rulers, while these countries have remained within the overall framework of global imperialist domination and exploitation. But historical experience has also shown that the continuation of oppressive rule, in one form or another, is NOT the only possible outcome.

In Russia, in February 1917, another brutal despot, the Czar (absolute monarch), was overthrown by the uprising of the people. Here again, the U.S., British, and other imperialists, and the Russian capitalists, tried to continue the oppression of the Russian people in a new form, using the mechanisms of "democratic rule" and elections which, while allowing for some broader participation of different parties, would still be totally controlled by the exploiters of the people and would ensure their continuing rule, and the continued suffering of the masses of people. In this case, however, the masses of people were enabled to see through these maneuvers and manipulations, to carry forward their revolutionary rising, through many different twists and turns and, in October 1917, to sweep aside and dismantle the institutions and mechanisms of bourgeois dictatorship and to establish a new political and economic system, socialism, which for several decades continued to advance in the direction of abolishing relations of exploitation and oppression, as part of the struggle throughout the world toward the final goal of communism. The crucial difference was that, in the uprisings in Russia, there was a core of leadership, communist leadership, that had a clear, scientifically grounded, understanding of the nature of not just this or that ruthless despot but of the whole oppressive system—and of the need to continue the revolutionary struggle not just to force a particular ruler from office but to abolish that whole system and replace it with one that would really embody and give life to the freedom and the most fundamental interests of the people, in striving to abolish all oppression and exploitation.

Even though the revolution in Russia was ultimately reversed, with capitalism restored there in the 1950s, and today Russia no longer seeks to disguise the fact that it is a capitalist-imperialist power, the lessons of the Russian Revolution of 1917 hold valuable, indeed decisive lessons for today. And the most decisive lesson is this: When people in their masses, in their millions, finally break free of the constraints that have kept them from rising up against their oppressors and tormentors, then whether or not their heroic struggle and sacrifice will really lead to a fundamental change, moving toward the abolition of all exploitation and oppression, depends on whether or not there is a leadership, communist leadership, that has the necessary scientific understanding and method, and on that basis can develop the necessary strategic approach and the influence and organized ties among growing numbers of the people, in order to lead the uprising of the people, through all the twists and turns, to the goal of a real, revolutionary transformation of society, in accordance with the fundamental interests of the people. And, in turn, when people massively break with the "normal routine" and the tightly woven chains of oppressive relations in which they are usually entrapped and by which they are heavily weighed down—when they break through and rise up in their millions—that is a crucial time for communist organization to further develop its ties with those masses, strengthening its ranks and its ability to lead. Or, if such communist organization does not yet exist, or exists only in isolated fragments, this is a crucial time for communist organization to be forged and developed, to take up the challenge of studying and applying communist theory, in a living way, in the midst of this tumultuous situation, and to strive to continually develop ties with, to influence and to ultimately lead growing numbers of the masses in the direction of the revolution that represents their fundamental and highest interests, the communist revolution.

While BA's statement was in response to what was in fact a mainly positive and progressive uprising in 2011, and while the current turmoil is not of the same basic character, the main point above—the need to forge communist organization in the midst of what is still a tumultuous situation—holds as true as ever.

 


 

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Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Revolution Interview: Carol Strickman, from Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Prisoners' Struggle Against "Cruel and Unusual Punishment Amounting to Torture"

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Revolution Interview:
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports, and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.

Carol Strickman is a staff attorney at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, a San Francisco-based organization which advocates for the human rights and empowerment of incarcerated parents, children, family members, and people at risk of incarceration. She is a member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, a member of the team mediating between the prison hunger strikers and prison authorities (the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation—CDCR), and part of the litigation team in Ashker v. Brown, a case filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights challenging solitary confinement in California prisons, now being argued in federal court.

This interview was conducted June 27, 2013.

 

Larry Everest: The June 20 communiqué from the principal prisoner representatives from the Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement stated they'd just held a mediation session with prison officials, that their demands hadn't been met, and so they felt compelled to resume their "hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms)."

I want to begin with some background on the basic issue—long-term solitary confinement. Your organization has been providing services for prisoners and their families for many years, and you've personally visited Pelican Bay State Prison and the SHU (Security Housing Unit) Unit eight times in the last two years. I just saw a film clip of an inmate in the Pelican Bay SHU who talked about not having seen the moon or stars since 1998. Can you help readers understand what the conditions in the SHU are like, and what prompted the two prisoner hunger strikes in 2011 and now another one scheduled to start July 8?

Pelican Bay Prison, California

Pelican Bay Prison, California. Photo: AP

Carol Strickman: There's a horrible, near total, lack of human contact. The Pelican Bay is divided into "pods" of eight cells with a total of eight prisoners each—four up and four down. There are a total of 1,056 SHU cells divided into 132 pods. Prisoners are confined to these 8' x 10' cells for 22 and a half to 24 hours a day—without natural light, without being able to look outside the prison walls. They are allowed showers and solitary exercise in what prisoners call the "dog run." Someone in a control booth, which controls six pods, just pushes a button and their cell door opens. Then they are monitored on closed-circuit TV, and are told when time's up and they have to return to their cell.

There's no meaningful human interaction. Prisoners may have brief conversations—shouting to each other as they walk down the tier to get to the shower or exercise area, sometimes to people in other pods. They also communicate by shouting to each other through the slots in their cell doors, perhaps they catch a glimpse of other prisoners from time to time. So there's a very limited ability to have conversation.

The guards bring food twice a day; there's a food slot in the door and a tray gets shoved through (the same slot prisoners put their hands through to get handcuffed if they're leaving the pod). You could have a word with the guard who comes to the cell then, or when mail gets delivered through the slot at night. And then once every couple of weeks some psychologists come through asking if everyone is OK. So there is some very minimal contact with staff in that way, mostly verbal contact—but again, there's a terrible lack of any normal human contact.

Another thing I've learned is that none of the SHU prisoners get a good night's sleep. These are big cavernous areas, without carpets on the concrete floors and with very big, heavy doors. Guards come in and out, open and close doors, clomp up metal stairs, rattle keys, and shout to each other. So it's very noisy during the night. In our lawsuit we cite chronic sleep deprivation as being part of the cruel and unusual punishment that prisoners are subjected to, due to the whole structure of the SHU pods.

And, as you say, there is virtually no ability to experience anything in nature; there are virtually no educational, vocational or self-help programs; and family visits (which are rare because of the distance that families must travel) are conducted behind glass. Family visits are recorded; social mail is read.

All this constitutes cruel and unusual punishment amounting to torture.

Special to Revolution:
Artworks from Prisoners

Click to view full gallery.

Everest: How many prisoners in the state of California are locked up in these Security Housing Units or other forms of solitary confinement?

Strickman: Legal Services for Prisoners with Children recently did an assessment based on CDCR statistics. As of the end of March 2013, there were 3,941 prisoners in SHUs (3,820 men and 121 women), and another 6,251 in Administrative Segregation, or Ad Seg. (Ad Seg—often called "the Hole"—can be long- or short-term isolation in which prisoners are deprived of regular human contact, phone calls, and contact visits, and subject to other restrictions.) So that makes a total 10,192 prisoners in solitary confinement in California alone. I understand that there are another 70,000 or so in solitary confinement in prisons across the U.S.

Everest: The 2011 California prisoners' hunger strikes—one from July 1 until July 22, the other from September 26 until October 13—were very powerful. You were telling me that during the first hunger strike 6,600 prisoners took part, and in the second 11,900. I think we both feel this was an unprecedented and extremely significant struggle. At the time, the prisoners put forward five core demands—eliminate group punishments; abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria; comply with the recommendation of the U.S. Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement; provide adequate and nutritious food; and expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates.

They ended their second hunger strike when the CDCR promised meaningful reform. However, the prisoners' June 20 statement sums up, "For the past [2] years we've patiently kept an open dialogue with state officials, attempting to hold them to their promise to implement meaningful reforms, responsive to our demands. For the past seven months we have repeatedly pointed out CDCR's failure to honor their word—and we have explained in detail the ways in which they've acted in bad faith and what they need to do to avoid the resumption of our protest action."

Could you explain what the CDCR has done—and not done—to address the prisoners' demands?

Strickman: What people need to know, first off, is that long-term solitary confinement at Pelican Bay is horrible because the conditions are so extreme. So the prisoners' demands are significant—they are not just asking for little things, or just small changes.

The prison authorities agreed to some of the prisoners' smaller demands, and they've implemented some. They've provided prisoners hats for warmth, balls to bounce in the exercise area, and photos taken of themselves—things which were banned before the hunger strike, and allowed proctored exams for those who can pay for college courses. And when you're in the SHU, even a little thing is big.

July 5 and 6: The Stop Mass Incarceration Network, Bay Area displayed a life-sized replica of a SHU cell in downtown San Francisco to build support for the California prisoners' hunger strike due to begin July 8. Nearly 4,000 prisoners are kept in solitary confinement in California SHUs, some for decades. Throughout the two days many different kinds of people, including whole families and tourists from around the world, came into the "SHU" cell. Ex-prisoners told of their experience and voiced their support for the hunger strike. Visitors to the "SHU" left with a new understanding of why the prisoners are going on hunger strike and many signed up to help, stay in touch, and took materials to spread the word about the strike. Photo: Special to Revolution

But in terms of the major issues—like changing rules for how someone gets into the SHU and the evidence used to put people there, or long-term solitary—there's been little done. They promised to revise their gang validation regulations—that's the main way people get sent to the SHU, being "validated" as a gang member—and they've done some things on that.

The prison system did say they were going to go around and evaluate those in the SHUs to see if they should remain, given that there's new criteria: under the new regulations, being a member of a designated group is cause for being sent to the SHU, but being an "associate" is not. And the CDCR needs a little more evidence to send someone to the SHU than they do now. They used to need three pieces of "evidence." But now they have a somewhat different formula under which various pieces of weighted evidence have to add up to 10 points. So they've set the bar a little higher, and they're going through and looking at associates and evaluating whether they should be in the SHUs. At Pelican Bay, for example, around 75 percent of those in the SHU are "associates" not "members." And the CDCR has reportedly determined that more than half of all SHU prisoners should be released to general population—and some have been.

The prison authorities are touting these statistics as showing their new program is really different. But what it shows is how bad the old system was. None of these changes would have happened without the 2011 hunger strike, and the prisoners' demands and support they got. So some people who have been in for decades are now getting out—but they never should have been in the SHU to begin with!

I'm not confident the new system will end up much different than the old one. The CDCR claims it's now behavior-based, not based on associations, but when "behavior" is simply having artwork in your cell that supposedly proves you're in a gang and then being locked up in isolation for itwell, we shouldn't have that kind of system. And they're still doing that—locking people up due to artwork. They may have moved a little bit because of the last hunger strike, but there's still a long way to go.

And in some ways, the new gang validation policy is worse, or potentially worse, than the old one. The previous validation policy targeted members or associates of seven prison gangs. Now the authorities say they won't limit themselves to those seven, but may also identify other "security threat groups"—which could have as few as three people. So a few prisoners—perhaps friends from the same neighborhood—could be identified as a "security threat group," labeled a street gang, and then sent into solitary confinement. As far as I know, the CDCR hasn't gone through the process yet to establish one or more new "STGs," but creating a means for doing so expands the net of those who could go into those horrible isolation units.

Everest: Are all the prisoners in the SHU through gang validation?

Strickman: Most are, but not all. Selling dope can send you to SHU—not on gang validation, but serving a "straight SHU sentence," for a fixed, not indefinite, period. The longest straight SHU sentence is five years for killing a guard, or three years for killing another prisoner.

Everest: Wait—You're telling me that if a prisoner kills a guard, they get five years in the SHU, but if they're "validated" as being a gang member—without committing any violent action against a guard or another prisoner—they can be sent to the SHU for decades?

Strickman: Exactly! Prisoners are in the Pelican Bay SHU for 20 to 30 years for nothing more than having drawn art which supposedly shows they're gang members or associates.

Everest: This hits me as such a striking example—that these SHUs are not about "crime prevention"; they're really a counter-insurgency program, aimed at different social groups or organizations—a counter-insurgency before the insurgency, so to speak. This is something Revolution has written about, as have groups like the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and Michelle Alexander in her book The New Jim Crow.

Strickman: It's like the criminal justice system: They don't care if you're innocent or guilty. There's something about having this system—it's just a voracious system, and having the control as you say that is abusive and has nothing to do with truth or honesty. The whole thing is very distressing, the whole thing. It's so cruel, the living situation is so mean-spirited. Some prisoners say, I know you're going to keep me here, but you have to give me some way to live a meaningful life.

The CDCR wants people to think they've made significant changes, but the prisoners feel they haven't. It's not all that different than before. The authorities did not make the big improvements the prisoners were led to believe they would get. And the terrible conditions of confinement have hardly changed at all. Many are still facing decades of long-term solitary confinement. So that's the reason for the renewed hunger strike.

Everest: I recall after the last hunger strike the CDCR did punish, really retaliated against, the hunger strikers. And recently I've seen some of your emails concerning very troubling ways the authorities may be preparing to retaliate against the hunger strikers this time around. Could you talk about that?

Strickman: Well, first, everyone involved in the second hunger strike in 2011 had write-ups and penalties assessed—for example, losing good time conduct or conduct credit accrued before they went into the SHU. Many had their TVs taken away for 90 days.

Rally held during summer 2011 Prisoner Hunger Strike. Photo: Bill Hackwell/Indybay

But what's troubling now is news that the prisons may start doing checks of the cells every 30 minutes (rather than every four hours as is the current practice). It is not yet clear whether this will actually be implemented, or what exactly it means, but there is talk that they'll implement this in connection with rolling lockdowns, which would be another escalation in the deprivation inflicted on prisoners. A lot of different reasons have been offered for this—it's very hard to figure out exactly what the CDCR is actually doing or planning, but it could mean that on some days staff would be shifted so prisoners wouldn't get showers or exercise that day at all. They'd get it the next day, but there would be less time for everyone.

It's troubling. We have a hunger strike looming for July 8, and CDCR issues a memo out of the blue for these 30 minute security checks. There's real potential for abuse—bothering people every 30 minutes, doing a head count in middle of night and waking people up. Are they just flexing their muscles and trying to show the prisoners how much they can make their lives miserable right before the hunger strike?

Everest: What about CDCR OP 228, the so-called "Hunger Strike Policy"? This seems to say the CDCR is going to isolate hunger strikers and cut them off from communication, including family visits or visits from attorneys unless active cases are going on.

Strickman: During the July 2011 hunger strike, they allowed family visits, but in September 2011, they did not. In both cases they allowed legal visits, but this time they say they won't unless the prisoner has a pending case. That's worse. I don't see how they can do that, how it's legally justifiable. It's aimed against the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition lawyers. It's disturbing because we need to know on the outside what's going on inside. That's difficult if we don't have a way to get inside and talk to prisoners. They held up my mail in the second strike; I got nothing for a while and then 20 pieces came. I believe they intentionally held up my mail so I didn't know what was going on. We do have a pending class action case, so even under their new rules we should be able to see most Pelican Bay prisoners.

Everest: The June 20 statement from the prisoner representatives from the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective said they'd just come out of a mediation session at which the State of California refused to meet their demands. Could you fill us in—are there further negotiations planned? And could you talk about the lawsuit that prompted this mediation session?

Strickman: I was actually up at Pelican Bay doing interviews with prisoners for the lawsuit on the day the mediation took place, although I was not directly involved. It was a full-day session and I think there was a serious effort to settle things, with written offers from both sides submitted to the magistrate in the case. The magistrate has since scheduled another mediation session for July 26, two and a half weeks after the hunger strike resumes on July 8.

Ashker v. Brown is a lawsuit filed in federal court challenging solitary confinement in California prisons. It was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights and joined by Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, California Prison Focus, Siegel & Yee, and the Law Offices of Charles Carbone. Earlier this year the Ninth Circuit trial judge ruled against the State's motion to dismiss the case, allowing it to go forward. This was an important ruling. We've filed a motion for class certification so that the case would cover not only the 10 named plaintiffs in the original filing, but everyone in the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU) either through gang validation or those in the SHU for 10 years or more. Now we're in the process of fighting for class certification, which would broaden the case and have important potential implications in the struggle against solitary confinement.

(For background, see "Lawsuit Challenges Solitary Confinement at California Prison.")

Everest: Given everything you've told me, what's amazing and inspiring is that all this abuse and inhumane treatment has not succeeded in breaking the will, humanity, or spirit of the prisoners, or their determination to fight for justice. And the "Agreement to End Hostilities," issued by the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective and the Representatives Body on August 12, 2012 also demonstrated how they're working to break out of the situation the system has put them in and putting their lives on the line to improve the situation for all prisoners. So could you tell us your sense of how this coming hunger strike may be shaping up?

Strickman: Pelican Bay prisoners issued a statement in December 2012 or January of this year making 40 additional demands and inviting prisoners in other prisons to write their own demands. So far, six other prisons have issued written demands to the governor or the wardens. These are High Desert, Wasco, Salinas Valley, San Quentin Death Row, New Folsom, and Corcoran. I think these demands all build on the five core demands from the 2011 strike, but these are other issues, in some cases very practical, small-scale issues, which are part and parcel of making prisons more livable and more useful to people.

This shows more organizing in advance than we were aware of last time. It suggests the hunger strike could be bigger this time. And this time people have known about the July 8 date for months. But it's hard to know how big it may end up being, relative to the previous hunger strike.

Everest: Thanks much for your time. I really learned a lot from this and I'm sure our readers will as well.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/letters-from-prisoners-cruel-and-unusual-punishment-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Letters from Prisoners

Cruel and Unusual Treatment

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

The following are excerpts from letters sent to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund

We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The views expressed by the writers of these letters are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.

 

“The deepest and long-lasting scars...”

June 30, 2013

When I read the June 9th, 2013, Revolution article titled “Prisoner Letter: From Pelican Bay SHU to Guantánamo: ‘We share the same torturer,’” I wondered how many of the general readers, who’ve never endured indefinite solitary confinement for years (let alone decades), was really capable of internalizing that article as vicariously as I did. I think for a lot of us, who’ve been subjected to this shit for years, have struggled tremendously in conveying to our friends and family just how much this has been an agonizing mental and emotional form of torture more than anything for us—i.e., if we’ve even attempted to articulate this to them.

When we often hear the term torture, we immediately begin to think of it only in its physical capacity, never in its mental and emotional dimensions. But I would argue and I’m sure that others would agree—that it’s the mental and emotional ones, which leaves the deepest and long-lasting scars.

I think now more than ever, though, we need the general public to understand as vicariously as possible what it has been like for us under these conditions mentally and emotionally. I’m not one to believe that you have to actually endure years on a supermax unit to understand me and what I’ve been through. But I do believe one has to “vicariously” experience my plight at least, in order to understand why mental and emotional dimensions of torture can not be overlooked and undervalued as they normally have been.

 

“Speak Out and Say No More!!”

Texas, June, 2013

I open this with great anger, depression, sadness and heartsickness for what our world has and is becoming! Reading the Revolutionary Worker [now Revolution newspaper, eds.] about the horrific things that are taking place has given me the motivation to speak out and become a part of your struggle and make it my struggle as well! I have been incarcerated for 12 years since I was 15 years old, I am now 27 and have been in Administrative Seg for about 7 ½ years and I live in a very dark and lonely world physically trapped in a cell for 23-24 hours a day where only My Mind Remains Free! I can see my life from the height of another dimension so take a moment to glimpse the world through my eyes for there are no words to explain my true feelings and emotions about what I see and read is going on in our world today!

On numerous occasions I have been subjected to and witnessed other inmates subjected to cruel and unusual treatment by the guards namely being starved, retaliated against, having 4 or 5 guards go into a cell with one inmate and beat him up! There is a click of 5 guards here where I am at that run into one inmates cell and beat them up behind a nurse but it’s mostly done to psych patients who are heavily medicated and can’t defend themselves! We are human beings with rights and this must stop but it takes more than just a few to stand up and make a change, we have to unitize and come together as one! I feel the pain of those incarcerated everywhere for I am enduring it too!

Just like in other states the texas prison system is messed up and way over crowded as well as the county jails! Will I forget about all I’ve endured once I obtain my freedom? Hell No! It will forever remain with me and I will make it part of my business to help in the struggle to make a change and get those still incarcerated rights respected!

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/movement-for-revolution/BAE/a-call-to-contribute-from-jazz-pianist-and-composer-matthew-shipp.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

A Call to Contribute from Jazz Pianist and Composer Matthew Shipp

" BA is one of the few theorists asking the right questions . . ."

July 4, 2013 | BA Everywhere | revcom.us

"I am pianist and composer matthew shipp and the world I envision living in is not the world I see in the newspapers and the tv news or 'reality tv shows'—I see very few people or groups really asking the tough questions and trying to come to some type of understanding of the forces that oppress all of us—I would think that we are way past the point of just giving in to the system and just trying to get our little piece of security within it whatever that would mean and just biding our time before we die—BA is one of the few theorists asking the right questions and grappling for answers—and what makes his work revolutionary to me is that he is not scared to say he might not have all the answers—his way of looking at the world is one of inclusion to the world of ideas and synthesis—this work must continue—these ideas must get out there—it is not about whether you agree with everything BA says—it's about the fact that what is out here cannot continue and we must have ideas circulating around that combat the system's intrinsic brutality. Please contribute."

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/statement-from-gregory-stand-with-me-on-july-23-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

From Gregory Koger:
Stand with Me on July 23...
and Support the Prisoners' Hunger Strike

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On July 23, 2013, a court hearing has been set where the State will move forward with their attempt to put me back in jail for documenting a political statement opposing censorship at the "Ethical" Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) with an iPhone—a "crime" for which I received a 300 day jail sentence. Further details of our nearly four-year-long struggle against this political prosecution are available at my defense committee's website: www.dropthecharges.net.


Gregory being brutalized and arrested in 2009.
Photo: Special to Revolution.

Being under imminent threat of days, months, years of vicious, violent repression at the hands of the State within their timeless tombs clarifies the mind. Uncertainty coalesces into preparation and determination. Instantly the mind shifts to political battle mode, recognizing keenly that one is directly on the front lines of the class struggle—a gravedigger of the bourgeoisie. That you are being called on to reaffirm boldly—and in starkly visceral terms—your commitment to standing with the wretched of the earth, and of your dedication to struggling with them towards the liberation and emancipation of all humanity.

On July 23, 2013, I will attend the court hearing and my legal team will challenge this baseless political prosecution and outrageous sentence. However, I am fully prepared for the State to lock me up. This will be happening as prisoners being tortured and held in indefinite detention without charge or trial in Guantánamo Bay are on hunger strike, and during the National Prison Hunger Strike called by prisoners in Pelican Bay SHU—which is set to begin on July 8, 2013.

I am prepared to follow their courageous example and join them on the National Prison Hunger Strike for as long as the State intends to hold me captive along with the millions of others entombed within the United States' criminal system of mass incarceration. I will spend every day that I'm held captive working with other prisoners to take up the call for the National Prison Hunger Strike and to step forward as part of the powerful force for revolution that we have the tremendous potential to become.

I know personally the hopeless life far too many of the youth are caught up in—and I know the horrors of spending many years in solitary confinement. As a teenager, my family lost our home and I got involved in a street organization (aka "gang") to survive on the streets. After being sent to an adult maximum security prison at the age of seventeen, I became increasingly politically conscious in the midst of spending over six years straight in solitary confinement—conditions that amount to torture under international law.

Since my release from prison nearly seven years ago, my life has been dedicated to opposing and bringing to an end the crimes and injustices of this capitalist-imperialist system. I've been in street protests, abortion clinic defenses, human chains defending parents sitting-in to oppose their children's schools being shut down. I've debated and discussed the prospects of and necessity for revolution and a radically different world from prison yards and street corners to universities and high schools.

I firmly believe another world is possible—a world drastically different than the current oppressive and exploitative capitalist system of private appropriation of the vast wealth produced by billions of people globally. This completely outmoded and unnecessary system is enforced by brutal police terror and a court and prison system unparalleled in the history of human society domestically, and by bloody imperialist military force abroad.

The world does not have to be like this! Collectively, we can dismantle these oppressive institutions and bring into being a world without nations or borders, a world of voluntary economic, political and social structures devoted to meeting human needs and unleashing humanity to express its highest potential—a communist world.

Getting to that world will take revolution—nothing less. I would encourage anyone seriously grappling with how to end the injustices of this system and transform the world to check out the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live. In this talk Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, gets deeply into the historic roots of the development of this oppressive system and the strategy for how we could make a revolution and unleash those who are counted as nothing by the rulers of this system to transform themselves as they transform the world in the interests of all humanity.

And that is what this political prosecution has actually been all about. Those who rule this system do not want those of us born into life at the bottom of society—that this system has absolutely no future for—to recognize our revolutionary potential. They do not want people from other backgrounds and social strata to see that those most demonized and degraded by the rulers of this system can become the backbone of a movement to radically transform all of society. And they will use any means they feel necessary to crush the potential of those most oppressed from stepping forward.

I call on you to stand with the prisoners being tortured in the dungeons of this criminal capitalist system. One way you can do that is by signing the EMERGENCY CALL! JOIN US IN STOPPING TORTURE IN U.S. PRISONS! statement being circulated by The Stop Mass Incarceration Network and donating to have the statement published in the Los Angeles Times. You can sign the Close Guantánamo Now statement being circulated by The World Can't Wait to support the men on hunger strike in Guantánamo. There are many other bold and creative actions we must develop to support the hunger strikes and to end the torture being committed upon tens of thousands of men, women and children by the rulers of the United States. And I ask that you stand with me in the final stages of opposing this political prosecution, including coming out to the court date on July 23.

With Hope and Determination for a Liberated World for All Humanity,

Gregory

July 2, 2013

Come Out to Court Hearing on July 23
Not One More Day in Jail for Gregory!

Download PDF of this Call

We received this call from the Ad Hoc Committee for Reason:


Gregory Koger

A court hearing has been set for July 23, 2013, where the State will move to put Gregory Koger in jail to serve the remainder of his 300-day sentence for peacefully videotaping a statement against censorship at a public meeting of the "Ethical" Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) on Sunday, November 1, 2009.

July 23, 2013 at 1:30 pm
Cook County Courthouse—Courtroom 104
5600 Old Orchard Rd., Skokie, IL

Neither the Court nor the Cook County State's Attorney has responded to the Post-Conviction Relief Petition that Gregory's legal team filed in March. This Petition exposed the lies at the heart of the false charges against him and provides documentary evidence (suppressed by the judge at trial) of the perjured testimony and prosecutorial misconduct that laid the basis for his conviction—and demands that his wrongful conviction and outrageous sentence be overturned. For more details, see www.dropthecharges.net

In his youth, Gregory spent years in solitary confinement while in prison. He transformed himself and has dedicated his life since his release to opposing injustice and struggling for a liberated world for all humanity. Gregory's legal team will vigorously oppose any attempt to put him back in jail.

We call on you to come out to stand with Gregory and demand:
Not One More Day in Jail for Gregory Koger!

Ad Hoc Commitee for Reason • www.dropthecharges.netadhoc4reason@gmail.com

For more on Gregory Koger's case, see "Overturn the Wrongful Conviction of Gregory Koger—Not One More Day in Jail!" at revcom.us.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/statement-from-gregory-stand-with-me-on-july-23-en.html#court-hearing

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013


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Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/309/abortion-rights-freedom-ride-filling-a-great-need-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Abortion Rights Freedom Ride: Filling a Great Need

Timeline and Approach to Make This a Success

by Sunsara Taylor | July 4, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

“I am a volunteer clinic escort at Jackson Women’s Health Org., the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. The undue burden that women must endure to travel hours to our only clinic is heartbreaking. Yet they are so grateful to have this ‘last resort’ to turn to when making one of the most crucial decisions in their lives. If it takes fighting to my last breath, THIS CLINIC STAYS OPEN!”

—D.H., signer of the "Abortion on Demand and Without Apology" statement and donor to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride

 

"The near-daily laws restricting women's right to abortion, the chorus of Republicans belittling rape and shaming women, and the whole future they are aggressively fighting for are terrifying and an attempt to push us back to the dark ages. It is a state of emergency. Forced motherhood is a form of violence.

"But we must not be paralyzed by fear or sleepwalk in denial. WE MUST RISE.

"I am proud of throngs rising in Texas. I am proud of the women and men who will be traveling from both coasts and down the middle of the country in this summer's Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. I urge all to follow their daring and rise with them to reclaim our lives, our bodies, our own reproductive decisions, and our futures. There is no time to waste."

—Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues and founder of VDay

With under three weeks to go until the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is sent off in two major rallies on July 23 in San Francisco and New York City and then hits the road for a month (traveling all the way to North Dakota and then winding south to culminate in Jackson, Mississippi), it is important that revolutionaries and others who do not want to see women enslaved to their reproduction recognize and act on the great need this freedom ride is filling.

It is no exaggeration to make the analogy between this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride taking on the fight against female enslavement and the original Freedom Rides which challenged the brutal regime of the Jim Crow South. Forced motherhood IS female enslavement.

Already, right now as we read, in whole swaths of the country women—especially the most poor, oppressed and youngest women—do not have any meaningful access to abortion and often even birth control. Already, women are being trapped in abusive relationships, forced to drop out of school, driven into poverty (or deeper into poverty), being ostracized by fundamentalist families, and taking desperate and dangerous measures to self-induce abortions when faced with unwanted pregnancies.

As I write, courageous providers of abortions are being hunted, terrorized, stalked and threatened. To give just two examples: Julie Burkhart, the woman who courageously re-opened Dr. Tiller’s clinic after he was assassinated in his church four years ago, has had fanatical protesters show up at her home carrying signs that read, “Where do you go to church?” One of the courageous young doctors who has begun flying into the clinic there in Wichita to provide abortions has had her identity revealed and has become the target of threats and hate-filled protests at her home practice in progressive Oak Park, Chicago! Many, many, many more examples could be given!

Nearly every week new laws are proposed and enacted which concretely close down clinics, put providers out of work, and remove abortion access to many thousands more women! Just this past week we have seen Texas legislators move to enact laws which will shut down 37 out of 42 clinics which provide abortions in the state! In Ohio, the new state budget which goes into effect on July 8 strips funds for Planned Parenthood and imposes new restrictions on providers such that several clinics are expected to close.

This is a state of emergency. It is urgent that people across the country be confronted with this, the stakes of this emergency, and be mobilized to ACT!

The recent massive outpourings of anger and in defense of abortion rights in Texas and the smaller but still very significant outpourings in Ohio reveal just a taste of the tremendous reservoir which can and must be tapped into to defeat this whole woman-enslaving offensive. But, much, much more is needed!

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is filling a great need.

This Abortion Rights Freedom Ride Is:

1. Mobilizing people on a national scale—it is connecting up the hundreds of local showdowns at clinics and in courthouses and counties across this country into a national effort to turn the tide.

2. Mobilizing people to go on the political and moral offensive—to not merely respond to each new egregious attack, but to raise our heads to fight for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology—For Every Woman in Every State!

3. Telling the truth: this war on women will only be defeated through massive independent political action taken by thousands, hundreds of thousands and before long millions of people! And this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is giving people a way to act right now—relying on ourselves, changing the political terms, and connecting up the many streams of resistance into a national fight to turn the tide and defeat the war on women.

The success of this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is something that everyone who cares about women’s future has a stake in. Everyone must find the ways to support this effort and everyone reading this and everyone they know can do something to strengthen this impact.

Where Is It Going and When Will It Be There?

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is traversing the entire country—from both coasts all the way to North Dakota and then all the way south to Jackson, Mississippi and then back home to both coasts. It will be stopping in Salt Lake City, Utah; Jackson, Wyoming; Bozeman, Montana; Bismarck, North Dakota; Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Fargo, North Dakota; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Bellevue, Nebraska; Wichita, Kansas; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Jackson, Mississippi.

Within this there are four main focuses of the ride:

Tuesday, July 23:
Major send-off rallies in New York City and San Francisco
July 31 — August 4:
North Dakota, main day Saturday, August 3 in Fargo
August 8 — 11:
Wichita, Kansas, main day Saturday, August 10
August 14 — 17:
Jackson, Miss., main day Saturday, August 17

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

  1. BE PART OF AND SPREAD THE WORD OF THE FOUR FOCUSES LISTED ABOVE. More will be said below about each of these stops, but for now I will say that it is critical that people in these areas become involved in the plans of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. If you are in one of these areas or if you know people in these areas, go to the website and fill out the form at StopPatriarchy.org/join. Get involved in organizing and building for the major rallies, the smaller outings, and the logistical support (such as meals, housing, and legal support) needed at each of these stops.

    If you are not from these places, organize caravans to meet up with this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride when they are in those main places. Let StopPatriarchy know your plans:

    Help build for the Kick-Off Rallies by contacting:
    In NYC: StopPatriarchy@gmail.com
    In Bay Area: StopPatriarchyBayArea@gmail.com

  2. DONATE!
    At least $22,000 is needed by Sunday, July 21 to get the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride on the road. Once it is underway, many thousands more will be needed to keep it on the road.

    Visit the IndieGoGo crowd-funding campaign currently underway to raise this money at: IndieGoGo.com/projects/abortion-rights-freedom-ride
    (Or go to StopPatriarchy.org and click on the fundraising thermometer.)

    Watch the video which features some of the young volunteers who will be on this Freedom Ride. Check out the great perks you will get as thank yous for your donation. And then give very generously!

    After you do, spread the word through FB, Twitter, and other social media. But also: PICK UP THE PHONE and actually call a few people you know and ask them to give as well. Right now many can see the urgent need for a serious fight against the anti-abortion steamroller. These people must be reached and involved in this critical effort.

    NODAL POINT: This Sunday, July 7 is a day for national phone-banking to raise at least $3,000. Contact your local StopPatriarchy chapter to hook up with them to make phone calls, or do this on your own. Send folks to the IndieGoGo/projects/abortion-rights-freedom-ride page to learn more and to donate.
  3. SIGN and spread the Abortion On Demand and Without Apology! Statement.
                You can find this here:
                StopPatriarchy.org/AbortionOnDemandStatement

    Get this statement to others you know, especially prominent individuals. This statement must be signed by thousands of people declaring their determination to fight this war on women and their support of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride.

  4. SPREAD THE WORD ON SOCIAL MEDIA
    You can follow and spread Stop Patriarchy and Sunsara Taylor on Twitter:
    @StopPatriarchy        @SunsaraTaylor

    “Like” and spread the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride on Facebook:
    Facebook.com/AbortionRightsFreedomRide

    Spread word of this using the hashtag:
    #AbortionRightsFR 

 

Finally, a bit more information on all the main stops along the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride:

Tuesday, July 23—Kick-off rallies in New York City and San Francisco

In New York City, gather at the north end of Union Square at 4:30 pm
In San Francisco, gather at Potrero Del Sol Park, 4:30 pm — 6:00 pm

 

These rallies aim to draw together thousands of people to show their visible support for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology. With a spirit of joy and defiance, they will rally support for and send off the Abortion Rights Freedom Riders—making clear that those getting in the vans have the backing of many, many more throughout society. Bringing together abortion doctors, women to speak openly about their abortions, bands and performances and statements from prominent individuals and fighters for liberation, these rallies will call forth those who refuse to sit silently as women’s rights are stripped away.

People must not be complacent because they live in major cities where it seems that abortion rights are secured. It is immoral to abandon women in the rest of the country, and it is delusional to think that what is hitting women hard in places like Texas, Ohio, North Dakota, Arkansas, Arizona, Mississippi and beyond won’t make its way to the coasts and major cities if it is not stopped and reversed! Now is the time to wake people up, pull them into the streets, and use this to shine a national spotlight on this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, its courageous Freedom Riders, and the places across the country they will be traveling to.

Great need:

All out in NYC and SF and surrounding areas for a powerful rally and send off for the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride!

July 31 - August 4—North Dakota
This time will be split between Bismarck (capital) and Fargo (where the last clinic in the state is)

Main date:

August 3 in Fargo

Background:

On August 1 in North Dakota several new laws are scheduled to go into effect: one will criminalize abortion after six weeks of pregnancy (before most women know they are pregnant) and one which would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. North Dakota has only one clinic left in the state (in Fargo) and all the doctors there fly in from out of state. Two of the nearby hospitals are either Catholic and refuse to grant admitting privileges or require that doctors admit at least five patients a year in order to maintain admitting privileges which none of the doctors will do—precisely because abortion is such a routine and safe procedure! (In the 15 years the Red River Women’s Clinic has been open they have only ever had to admit one patient to a hospital.)

This would mean that the last abortion clinic in North Dakota will be forced to close!

Legal challenges to these laws have been filed and injunctions are expected to be in place by August 1. In other words, there is every expectation that this clinic will stay open. But, the fact that these laws have been passed and the fact that there is only one clinic left in the state makes this an essential stop on the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride.

Also, when these laws were first passed, some 300 people came out to protest at the state’s capital—an incredible outpouring in a sparsely populated state. These women and men must not be left to fight this alone.

Great need:

People in the Midwest and northern states should caravan and join the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride while it is in North Dakota and join with it when it steps out to protest these fascist laws on August 1 and when it celebrates and honors the providers and others on the front lines in Fargo on August 3.

Aug 8 - 11:      Wichita, Kansas

Main date:

Saturday, August 10—Forced Motherhood Award
On this day, the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride and others locally will hold a protest at which they will present the Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement Award in the form of a big bloody coat-hanger to Troy Newman, the President of Operation Rescue. While many participated in creating a climate where Dr. George Tiller and other abortion doctors have been assassinated, no one can claim more responsibility for demonizing Dr. Tiller and whipping up hatred against him than Troy Newman. In 2002, he moved the headquarters of Operation Rescue to Wichita specifically to target and isolate Dr. Tiller and he continued to spearhead this campaign of hatred and demonization up to and beyond Dr. Tiller’s murder. Today his organization continues to hound and target abortion providers across the country.

Background:

Wichita is where Dr. Tiller performed abortions for decades, despite being the target of frequent protests and threats. In 1986, his clinic was fire-bombed and in 1993 he was shot in both arms. Still, he continued to serve women by providing abortions. His slogan was “Trust Women,” and his clinic walls were filled with letters from women who had visited his clinic from around the country, thanking him for giving them their lives back. He was one of only a few doctors in the country who provided later term abortions. In 2009, he was assassinated as he served as an usher in his church. Over 1,000 people came out to his funeral. He was a tremendous hero whose absence is sorely felt every day by women across the country and his colleagues who relied on his courage, example, and medical expertise.

Julie Burkhart worked alongside Dr. Tiller for eight years. In April 2013, she opened a new abortion clinic in Wichita. For this she has faced death threats, harassment, and legal attempts to shut down her clinic and drive her out of town.

David Leach, of the group Army of God, has written:

“If someone would shoot the new abortionist like Scott shot George Tiller back in the Operation Rescue days, people called him Tiller the killer, hardly anyone would appreciate it but the babies. It will be a blessing to the babies, everyone else will panic. Of all places to open up a killing office, to reopen the one office in the United States more notorious for decades than any other is an act of defiance against God and the last remaining remnants of reverence for human life... It is a reckless act. It is not the act of someone who values their own safety. It is a gauntlet thrown down, by someone who wants a fight. Of course, I don’t know if anyone will pick up the gauntlet. I didn’t know Scott would act, before he did.”

Scott Roeder, currently in prison for assassinating Dr. George Tiller, told David Leach (in response to Leach’s above statement):

“It is a little death-defying for someone to walk back in there. For Julie ‘Darkheart’ to walk back in there and reopen a murder mill where a man was stopped. It’s almost like putting a target on your back, saying, ‘Well, let’s see if you can shoot ME!’ I have to go back to what Pastor Mike Bray said: If 100 abortionists were shot, they [surviving abortionists] would probably go out of business. I think eight have been shot, so we’ve got 92 to go. Maybe she’ll be number nine. I don’t know, but she’s kind of painting a target on her.”

It is in this atmosphere that Troy Newman of Operation Rescue and Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League hunted down and exposed who one of the new doctors is and have begun targeting her in her hometown and home office in Oak Park Chicago.

Great need:

It is essential that those conducting these attacks be exposed and opposed through massive resistance and that those who are on the front lines be given tremendous support and backing. It is difficult to think of any more courageous than those on the front lines who have opened this new clinic and are keeping it open. Their example must be followed, they must be defended, and the clinic and staff must stay open and safe! What happens in Wichita will affect the entire country.

People should caravan from the region (and beyond) to meet up with the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride while it is in Wichita!

 

Aug 14 - 17:   Jackson, Mississippi

Main day:

Saturday, August 17

Background:

There is only one clinic left in the state of Mississippi!

In 2012 a law was passed in Mississippi which required all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Because most of the doctors fly in from out of state and because of the hostile surroundings, the clinic has not been able to comply with this medically unnecessary requirement. Instead, it has filed a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the law and a judge has issued a temporary injunction on the enforcement of this law while this legal challenge works its way through the courts.

Anti-abortion protesters come from as far away as Colorado and Nevada and pray outside the bright pink clinic several times a week.

The clinic is owned by the same woman, Diane Derzis, who owned the clinic in Birmingham, Alabama which was bombed in 1998, killing security guard Robert Sanderson and critically injuring nurse Emily Lyons. Derzis has courageously fought to continue providing abortion services to women in the Deep South, including to a concentration of poor Black women who have no other place to turn, at great risk to herself and alongside extremely courageous doctors and staff.

There is a dedicated staff and community of escorts and support for the clinic. We received the following message, along with a donation, from a Jackson, Mississippi clinic escort who heard about the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride:

“I am a volunteer clinic escort at Jackson Women’s Health Org., the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. The undue burden that women must endure to travel hours to our only clinic is heartbreaking. Yet they are so grateful to have this ‘last resort’ to turn to when making one of the most crucial decisions in their lives. If it takes fighting to my last breath, THIS CLINIC STAYS OPEN!”

Great need:

Caravans from all over the South to join the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride while it is in Jackson, Mississippi to rally support for the last clinic in the state!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/309/abortion-rights-freedom-ride-filling-a-great-need-en.html#kickoff-rallies

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013


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Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/nyc-protests-on-july-4th-800-say-no-nsa-surveillance-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

NYC Protests on July 4th: 800 Say "No NSA Surveillance!"

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Revolution received the following correspondence:

On July 4th, protesters in 50 U.S. cities responded to a protest call from Restore the Fourth, a new grouping in support of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which grants that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..."

The call was first put out on Reddit, a site that collects and distributes content on the web, to form a "grassroots, non-partisan advocacy and protest movement demanding an end to the unconstitutional surveillance methods employed by the U.S. government." The website stopwatching.us and the ACLU promoted the protests, which touched a raw nerve among people concerned about vast government surveillance.

Hundreds of people gathered in New York City's Union Square in a rally done mic-check style, with the look of an early Occupy movement gathering. The signs carried were mostly hand-made, and many in the crowd had never been to a protest. The crowd grew to more than 800, with the great majority under 35 years old, and many under 25.


Restore the Fourth march, New York City, July 4, 2013.
Special to Revolution

The signs were earnest, and mostly witty, led by a mock Obama banner with the slogan "YES WE SCAN!" Other signs: "NSA has TMI (too much information)"; "Who Watches the Watchers?"; "1984 is NOT an Instruction manual"; "Keep your mitts off my bits." Lots of people came with boxes on their heads shaped into surveillance video cameras with lens peering at the crowd. The issue of Revolution newspaper with "STOP Massive U.S. Surveillance!" on the cover was sold, and BA quote cards "American Lives are Not More Important than Other People's Lives" went out with the answer to what people should do after the protest: "Connect with the revolution. Help get BA Everywhere."

A significant minority of signs and messages supported Edward Snowden who leaked the NSA Prism program, and other evidence of widespread NSA surveillance. A few mentioned Bradley Manning, charged with "aiding the enemy" for leaking U.S. war crimes to WikiLeaks. A mic-checked call to fill the courtroom on July 8 when Manning's defense begins in his court-martial at Fort Meade got a roar from the crowd. Hundreds of fliers from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network on the Trayvon Martin trial and the California prisoners' hunger strike were passed up the steps at Federal Hall.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/309/US-stops-bolivian-presidential-plane-in-search-of-snowden-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Mid-Air Imperialist Thuggery:
U.S. Stops Bolivian Presidential Plane in Search of Edward Snowden

July 5, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In a blatant act of imperialist thuggery, the U.S. government apparently orchestrated a high-altitude "stop-and-frisk" of Bolivian President Evo Morales as part of their attempts to get their hands on Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who has exposed how the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is massively spying on phone and Internet communications here in this country and all over the world.

Morales was in Moscow attending a conference of countries that export natural gas, and while there he told Russian television that Bolivia was open to granting political asylum to Snowden. After the U.S. government charged him with three felonies, Snowden left Hong Kong where he had made the NSA revelations and is reportedly now in a transit area at a Moscow airport. By just mentioning the possibility of asylum for Snowden, Morales became a target of the U.S.

On July 2, the diplomatic plane carrying Evo Morales took off from Moscow to head back to Bolivia. The plane was supposed to make refueling stops in Portugal and Guyana. But while in mid-flight, France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy all refused to allow the plane to enter their airspace. The Bolivian government later said these countries refused the plane transit because they suspected that Edward Snowden was on board. With no way to continue the flight, Morales' plane was left circling over Europe looking for a safe place to land as the fuel ran lower. The plane was finally allowed to touch down in Vienna, Austria, and did not take off again until 14 hours later. Officials attempted to search the plane to look for Snowden (Morales said they were not allowed to do so). The Bolivian government said Snowden was never on the plane.

It is virtually unprecedented for the leader of a sovereign nation to be denied permission to fly over countries with which it is not at war. And it is an even more shocking violation of international norms and protocols to demand that a presidential plane be searched.

All five countries involved are close allies of the U.S. There is no way something like this happened without the U.S. behind it, and in fact U.S. officials are barely denying it at this point.

A few things stand out about this:

1. Think about if some other country had done this to a diplomatic plane carrying a U.S. president—and all the outcries about "terrorism" that would be coming out from the White House, Congress, and the bourgeois media.

2. The U.S. imperialists are deeply stung by Snowden's leaks, which exposed that the U.S. is spying on virtually everyone in this country as well as governments, institutions, and people around the world. And they are very worried about what further revelations Snowden may have in store. Obama tried to act all cool about it at a recent press conference, saying, "I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker." But the U.S. is obviously ready to do a lot to get Snowden, even risking a major international incident on the hunch that they might get their hands on him.

3. The U.S. claims that no one has to worry that it is collecting the private information of hundreds of millions of people because this is a country of the "rule of law" and this information will only be used under close supervision in the pursuit of dangerous terrorists. But the reality is that when the U.S. imperialists feel their interests are at stake, they will act in completely and shockingly lawless ways, the better to try to scare the shit out of anyone who considers resisting their crimes in any way.

4. In spite of their very real power, including their ability to basically dictate to their allies and to threaten and even "detain" leaders of any country, they do NOT have everything under control. The action against the Bolivian president's plane revealed the U.S. rulers as thuggish gangsters, and this outraged millions around the world, while Snowden remains out of their grasp, at least for now. And the very next day, there was a stunning new revelation about how the U.S. Postal Service has been photographing every single envelope mailed in the U.S. in the last eight years, at the request of the NSA.

5. All this points to the tremendous courage and heroism of people like Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and others who put their lives on the line to let the world know the crimes the U.S. is carrying out behind closed doors.

6. The U.S. efforts to spy on, control, and intimidate the masses of people here and around the world must be met with widespread and determined opposition. A number of Latin American governments justifiably condemned what one Bolivian official called an "imperialist hijack" by the U.S. What is much needed is greater manifestations of society-wide protest against the massive surveillance by the U.S. government and the persecution of those who dare to expose these and other crimes by the U.S. rulers.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/over-1000-march-with-bradley-manning-contingent-at-SF-Pride-Parade-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Over 1,000 March with the Bradley Manning Contingent at SF Pride Parade

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

We received the following from the World Can't Wait San Francisco chapter.

 

Photo: Bradley Manning Support Network

In San Francisco's biggest-ever Pride parade, the Bradley Manning contingent was the largest of all the non-corporate contingents this year. Over 1,000 people marched, sang, blew whistles, and chanted, lofting a forest of huge Bradley Manning banners and rainbow-draped signs. Organized by the Bradley Manning Support Network, their chanting filled the air. The "Free Bradley" flash mob repeatedly broke into its defiant dance routine (to Michael Jackson's "They Don't Really Care About Us") and the Brass Liberation Orchestra laid down a bold marching beat. Elders were in the midst of the contingent, riding a cable car decked out with Bradley pictures. Daniel Ellsberg, the Vietnam War whistleblower who has been on the frontlines of the political and legal battle to defend and free Bradley Manning, rode in Bradley's "grand marshal" place of honor atop a shiny green pick-up truck.

This is the third year this contingent has marched in SF Pride and our previous contingents, even though much smaller, were met with applause and cheering (yes, mixed with jeers of "Traitor!"). But this time whole sections of the spectators would roar and cheer, grabbing for the fliers and stickers, and often some would clap and chant with us. At one corner, a guy spotted our signature orange slogans and starting chanting himself: "The World Can't Wait! Free Bradley Manning!" (Which we took up gladly.)


Photo: Bradley Manning Support Network

 

Word everywhere was that the contingent's numbers swelled in direct defiance and disgust at the Pride leadership's two months of reactionary, pro-military refusal to have Bradley Manning serve as a parade Grand Marshal after he was chosen by Pride's normal committee process. This has caused a very big split in the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] community that's been spreading; this may have amped up the loud, proud love we were getting from the crowds, especially when we marched by chanting, "THEY say court martial, WE say GRAND MARSHAL!" The weekly Bay Guardian newspaper had printed a full-page "We Are Bradley Manning" statement of its own, complete with a Bradley face mask to cut out and wear at the Pride Festival, and we saw plenty of the masks including on signs and backpacks. Bright orange and pink Bradley stickers were on lots of people in other contingents. And news just broke that the Pride organization's lawyer of many years has just resigned over their diss of Bradley Manning.

A man who helped carry World Can't Wait's banner was from Latin America, and had specifically come to the U.S. to march in a Pride parade. As he was trying to decide which city to come to he read about the Grand Marshal controversy, and headed straight for San Francisco!

Any signs or chants mentioning the name "WikiLeaks" drew loud cheers and thumbs-up, too. Maybe for many people, the NSA spying revelations are fresh on their minds: they've just learned their government has been monitoring everybody's every phone call, text, email. Watching audience expressions as the flash mob danced for Bradley, and as they heard and very often joined in the chants ("L, G, B, T, Bradley Manning Speaks for Me! L, G, B, T, Q, Bradley Manning speaks for you!" and "Whistleblowers Are Heroes. FREE Bradley Manning!"). You could feel a mood, a vibe: a lot of people have a positive reaction to Bradley Manning. They've been paying attention; they think he's done something good in the world, and they don't want him locked up for life at 25 years old for telling the truth about crimes and lies by the government.

There's more. Weeks after the Pride leadership denied the Grand Marshal honor to Bradley, it had invited military recruiters to set up shop inside the Festival, for the first time in the entire history of SF Pride. Outrage all around, as the news spread.

Immediately at parade's end, about 50 people from the contingent swam their way through the sea of the crowd, heading into the Festival plaza. They found the recruiters, and with the help of the Brass Liberation Orchestra began loudly pointing out this danger zone where young people could be preyed upon. Young and older vets (women and men), World Can't Wait, young women rebels (motorcycle boots, tutus, tattoos), Code Pink... people did some testifying, and then decided to protect the festival and community from harm. Everyone stood close together and linked arms, forming a tight human circle surrounding the recruiters' booth on two sides (our banner took care of a third side). A couple of Iraq/Afghanistan vets powerfully bull-horned the message and we did more chanting. This spirited encirclement went on about an hour.

People made up some great chants on the spot:

"Recruiters don't belong at Pride, We're on Bradley Manning's side!"

"Fuck your wars, we don't need 'em. All we want is total freedom!"

"1-2-3-4, Stop Sending Kids to Die in Wars"

"Don't Forget 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'—Military GO TO HELL"

As we headed out, people talked about this quick action being a fit response to the recruiters debut at SF Pride, and the need for organizing work in anticipation of a "no recruiters welcome" Pride 2014.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/we-are-all-trayvon-in-atlanta-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

“We are All Trayvon” in Atlanta

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

We received the following from a correspondent in Atlanta:

 

Week two of George Zimmerman's trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin is in full swing and the eyes of the world are focused on Sanford, Florida. Millions are looking to the trial with the hope of justice for Trayvon—a push back against the legacy of white supremacy, which this case exposes as alive and well. Simultaneously, the system has been working overtime to crush people's hopes and turn their raised heads back down. So far the system has been very successful in setting the terms in which people view the larger societal-implications of this trial and narrowing their focus to the legality of self-defense. All of this had served to dampen people's very correct and righteous outrage at this clearly racist murder—undermining people's indignation with calls to “just let the system work.” This is bullshit! People knew better when they demonstrated for justice a year ago and people should know better now as they watch the criminal INjustice system at work in the courtroom. As Carl Dix said in his recent article in Revolution newspaper, “Anyone who says we can expect justice for Trayvon Martin by letting the system work, either doesn't know how this system has historically inflicted injustice on Black people or hopes those who hear them don't know this history.”

Carl Dix ended his article with an urgent call for people to step-up and step-out NOW—to raise people's consciousness to the stakes that are involved in this trial and open their eyes to what it means when the system works—and why ultimately this system needs to be done away with through revolution—nothing less.

Saturday preceding the second week of the trial, a team in Atlanta, which included two youth from a neighboring project—inspired after watching clips from BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less!—decided to take Revolution to comedian Dave Chappelle's comedy tour, which was part of 5 nights of shows in Atlanta. The crew took out Revolution newspaper, BAsics palm cards with quote 1:13 (No more generations of our youth, here and around the world...) and Revolution Nothing Less! promo cards with buckets to raise money for the Sanford reporters fund. The group held a large banner with the image of Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till with Bob Avakian's “No More Generations of Our Youth quotation. People were elated to see a group of multinational faces boldly injecting some truth into the world—We Are All Trayvon. The Whole Damn System is Guilty!

Taking up Carl Dix's call and inspired by Saturday's experience, a team headed downtown to Five Points MARTA station (a metro-hub in Atlanta in the middle of a multinational shopping, college, and business area with many proletarians, business people, and students). We were excited to see how people were viewing the trial after the first week, but we also wanted to bring them into the mix—giving them an outlet for their outrage—and a first step into the movement for revolution.

The tide is rapidly changing. People's sentiments have shifted. Leading up to the trial and during jury selection, there was a noticeable lack of urgency, people felt as if a guilty verdict was unavoidable—this is no longer the case. People, lined up (literally) to sign the banner (which has been and will soon return to the courthouse in Sanford). Some people would distance themselves momentarily, listening to what we were saying, and reading the banner. An older Black man, stood to the side watching and listening for several minutes before approaching the group. A smile erupted across his face as he reached for a sticker as he exclaimed, “you all made an old man happy today.”

People bought dozens of newspapers and took dozens of cards. Some took pictures on their phones and posted them to Facebook and Twitter. One guy who photographed the banner came back fifteen minutes later to share with us that 50 people had already “liked” his photo. We learned quickly that people felt as if the system is moving to let Zimmerman off and we also learned, from the dozens of “thank yous” that people were excited to see people in the streets.

Next, we headed over to the line in front of the Dave Chappelle show where the climate was a bit more sedate. We struggled to polarize the crowd in our agitation—it is not acceptable to passively walk by if you are against what this system does to the youth, murdering them and getting away with it time and time again—the days where we accept this can and have to end—get with the revolution. Although this crowd lacked some of the enthusiasm we encountered earlier in the day, many people did step out to donate and sign the banner.

We should not underestimate what it means when people step out in these ways. Often we dismiss people's actions and fail to realize the significance of an action like donating a dollar (or reaching even deeper) or signing a banner, but we shouldn't. In this society where people are purposely blinded to the significant role they can play in transforming the world, it means a lot when people step up and step out. It is an act of defiance and resistance to the worldly-wise cynicism and apathy which is promoted and widely accepted in society. When we return to Sanford, it will mean something to the people there—to know that they are not alone in this fight—we are all Trayvon.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/309/three-questions-about-zimmerman-saying-it-is-gods-plan-for-him-to-murder-trayvon-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Three Questions about George Zimmerman Saying It Was “God’s Plan” for Him to Murder Trayvon Martin

July 4, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

While interviewing George Zimmerman on FOX News in July 2012 about how and why he stalked and murdered Trayvon Martin, Sean Hannity asked Zimmerman if he had any regrets about anything he did that night. "No sir," said George Zimmerman. "I feel it was all god's plan."   

Question 1: What kind of a "god" would plan a world where Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American, walking home around 7:30 pm with a can of ice tea and a bag of candy, is "fair game" for a racist vigilante to stalk and kill?

Question 2:  What kind of person would stalk and kill an unarmed 17-year-old, coldly proclaim that he has NO regrets for anything he did that night—and then chalk it all up to "god’s plan"? These are the words of someone with a “depraved mind... without regard for human life"—which is exactly the definition of second degree murder in Florida, the crime that Zimmerman is charged with and which numerous TV commentators are now saying is doubtful can be proven in this case. 

Question 3: What kind of system would treat an innocent 17-year-old as the suspect, and would let the killer walk away with nothing but a pat on the back for doing the police's job (had it not been for the outpouring of nationwide protest after Trayvon's parents refused to accept this)? If this system is part of "god's plan," then we ask again, what kind of "god" would have such a plan and bring into being a system which continues to produce killers like George Zimmerman?

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/309/check-it-out-hermans-house-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Check It Out!

Herman's House

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

A beautiful, moving documentary called Herman's House will be broadcast nationwide on PBS on July 8. It was written and directed by Angad Bhalla and is part of the latest POV.org (Point of View) film series. It could not be timed more appropriately, right at the start of the hunger strike that has been called by California prisoners in Pelican Bay. It tells the story of Herman Wallace, one of the Angola 3, a man who has been in solitary confinement for over 40 years in Angola Prison in Louisiana! Along with Albert Woodfox and Robert King, he formed a Black Panther Party chapter in prison, and has been paying the price ever since.

This film tells of his fight for freedom and of people he has profoundly affected, including a young white man who at age 15 was sent to Angola and spent eight years in solitary, and a New York artist, Jackie Sumell, who helped him mentally "escape" the 6' x 9' concrete cage in which he's been kept by asking him to imagine his dream house. At first he was unable to even conceive of such a project, but over time, he has imagined a house which includes a swimming pool with an image of a black panther on the bottom, a place he wants to be used as a youth center. What is striking is how in spite of the torturous conditions, Herman Wallace has never lost his humanity.

Revolution Books LA and Stop Mass Incarceration Network So-Cal co-hosted a sneak preview of this film. The audience, a mix of ages, nationalities, and backgrounds, included several women with family members in prison, a young man we met the day before who spent time in juvenile facilities, the architect who has been volunteering with Herman Wallace and Jackie Sumell to develop the blueprints for the house, members of the Revolution Club, and others. People took stacks of fliers and stickers to draw attention and support for the prisoners' hunger strike and their five basic demands, and made plans to take a life-sized replica of a solitary confinement cell to a major festival on the weekend. And many stayed to discuss and plan the upcoming van tour that the BA Everywhere Committee is organizing because what's needed to end this horror of slow genocide and bring about a whole new world is revolution—nothing less.

So spread the word widely, and gather friends and family together on July 8 to watch this powerful film, as we build the fight to bring an end to the outrageous incarceration of Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox, and the many thousands of other prisoners who are criminalized by this system.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/july-4th-in-sanford-tension-and-restlessness-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

July 4th in Sanford: "Tension and Restlessness"

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

We received the following from a Revolution correspondent who was in Sanford for the opening of the trial of George Zimmerman and is now in Sanford again with a crew of revolutionaries:

 

We've said it many times, but it is not hyperbole—the eyes of the world truly are on Sanford—especially at this moment. A team of revolutionaries has returned to the city during this crucial moment and I want to give you a taste of what has transpired so far, as well as some of what we're learning. My writing is going to be brief, not because there is little to report, but because there is so much is happening—so much riding on this case.

People's eyes have been obfuscated by the workings of the system, especially through the media. Well-intentioned people who want justice for Trayvon are being led and prepared to compromise, falling in line behind the idea that maybe the prosecution overcharged the case...maybe Zimmerman should have been tried for manslaughter. Once again, BULLSHIT! Zimmerman profiled, targeted and stalked Trayvon with a chambered hollow-point round in his 9mm handgun with the safety off—shot him from intermediate range—and left him for up to 10 minutes bleeding to death in the grass. An intervention of truth and morality are deeply needed.

July 4, 2013 in Sanford, Florida

July 4, 2013 in Sanford, Florida

We decided that we needed to make a splash in Sanford right away. On July 4th thousands of people from around Seminole county gathered at the Riverwalk in downtown Sanford for fireworks and music. We wanted to draw the line in Sanford and challenge people to pick a side: one upholding the right of the Trayvon Martins of this world to live and flourish and, if they are attacked, to have justice... and the other upholding the supposed rights of people like George Zimmerman to kill people like Trayvon with impunity.

We began by raising an enormous banner (7x12ft) right next to a playground and basketball court where youth had gathered to play and families sat to watch fireworks. Immediately people's eyes started to turn. Shyly at first, groups of teenagers, Black and white, walked over and signed the banner and took a We Are All Trayvon—the Whole Damn System is Guilty sticker. A couple of white teenagers came over to challenge us on some of the things they had heard about communism, which led to a deep and thoughtful discussion.

As the evening grew later and the mood began to lull, we decided to light things up with a march and chant through the crowd—right in the middle of the street—right in front of the hundreds waving flags and Sanford residents. We loudly chanted, "Trayvon did not have to die. We all know the reason why—the whole system is guilty!" and "Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till—no more youth getting killed!" Immediately, the crowds heads lifted, Black and white youth, as well as a diverse group of older people smiled and ran to the banner signing their names, buying Revolution, and taking stickers. By the end of the march, nearly 850 bright green We Are All Trayvon stickers glowed in the setting sun. A group of teenage girls danced to the chanting as some yelled out THE WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS GUILTY, a message that really seemed to resonate with many of the youth.

July 4, 2013 in Sanford, Florida

July 4, 2013 in Sanford, Florida

We learned that many people are deeply connected with this case; however the stakes are not yet apparent to many. While most agree that Black youth have a target on their back, many do not recognize the widening and legitimizing of this target that would come with a "not guilty" verdict in the Zimmerman trial. However, people do have a feeling that Zimmerman is being set up to walk and it is this point that is leading to a feeling of helplessness. Although, there are these contradictions—there is restlessness and a tension—especially among the youth. Even if they have not been following and analyzing the case closely, it has in many ways exposed the youth to the illegitimacy of the system. There is a deep visceral anger among many people, a feeling of this is the last straw, but how this will manifest itself is not evident. Right now is a crucial time to expose and draw connections for people and expose the true nature of this illegitimate system—but it can't stop there—it is on us revolutionaries to raise people's sights to the fact that—the world does not have to be this way. The role that Revolution newspaper and BA's leadership can play in influencing people to go further, fight harder, and dream is desperately needed in a situation that could potentially push people to demoralization and defeat. What people do over the next few days, here in Sanford, and around the country is incredibly important—history is being made—what we do now matters.

Yesterday was an intense day in the courtroom. Trayvon's mother and brother testified, as well as George Zimmerman's mother. After the trial Revolution was outside the courthouse. I was able to sit down with a woman from Sanford who was in the courtroom. I look forward to sending you her story later.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/308/prisoners-write-on-what-to-the-prisoner-is-your-fourth-of-july-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Prisoners Write On:

"What to the Prisoner Is Your Fourth of July?"

June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The views expressed by the writers of these letters are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.

 

In early June, Revolution issued a call to our readers in prisons to "draw on all you have learned about the world and your life experience" to express their thinking on the theme "What to the prisoner is your Fourth of July?" The call began with a quote from a 1852 statement by Frederick Douglass, a former slave and a leader in the struggle against slavery, titled "What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?" Here are some letters we have received so far in response to the call.

***

"The only foreseeable solution, wherein lies any real hope for change, is Revolution... Nothing Less!"

"What to the Prisoner Is Your Fourth of July?"

The Fourth of July...? Independence Day...? Yeah right, What on earth is that? Let's break bread on this subject and I'll tell you exactly what it is.

This system's Fourth of July, to me, is just business as usual. It is just another day of oppression, suppression, and repression within this belly of the beast. It's just another painful day of these redneck fascist pigs employing strategically designed tactics to keep us focused on the irrelevant issues that prevent us from uniting as a cohesive force to stand against their mental and physical brutality. This Fourth of July is just another day on the plantation for D.O.C. [Department of Corrections]—a poor mother will get an unfortunate call from the "chaplain," saying her child is dead; some cell extraction team will be running into a defenseless prisoner's cell five deep to violently remove him from his cell (but not before they shed blood and break a few bones); another prisoner will be tortured by being placed on strip (property restriction—nothing in a room except the prisoner, his boxers, concrete, and steel—that's it!) and then sprayed with huge cans of mace designed to burn the skin & eyes and suck out the oxygen supply in a room; and the list goes on and on.

One of the major contradictions I see within these walls of misery and despair are prisoners actually celebrating Independence Day!! How can a prisoner celebrate Independence Day?! Oh wait... hold on a minute... I get it now, they're celebrating being "In-Dependence" of the Department of Corrections, lol!! As a grown man, I choose not to participate in calling our potentially revolutionary forces belittling names, but come on man!! It's time for my fellow prisoners to wake up and begin the process of learning what in the world is going on!! The continuous cycle of "business as usual" must be broken and shattered to incomprehensible pieces. The system that is routinely used against us is as old as the mythical concept of religion. But just like religion, the consequences of the systematic use of distractions and deceptions are so ingrained in the minds of the masses that they revel in being repressed!

On this Fourth of July, I believe we all need to struggle with at least one or two people on the sharp contradictions of this holiday. Let the injustices of this backwards system speak loudly as clear evidence that this present system must be wiped from the face of this earth. It is absolutely impossible to ignore the grievous damage done by this country to its own people and the human family worldwide.

This Fourth of July is a day of reflection and a time to honor all of our fellow prisoners who died within these walls. The prison agents of the state have free reign in how they choose who lives and who dies. Just because one of my fellow prisoners chooses to defend himself from an onslaught of violence from the prison agents, that means he must sip the deadly cocktail of army style boots against the skull, black gloved hands against unprotected flesh, MMA [Mixed Martial Arts, eds.] styled take down while he's restrained, or the cold steel of a prisoner's ice pick who has been commissioned to put in work.

Because most of my fellow prisoners' minds are wrapped around the wrong aspects of life, they fight and kill each other over the most fatuous of things and then blame it on the "principle of the matter." How many lives have been lost due to the asinine "principle of the matter"? Indeed, there are things that we must stand up for, but I've learned a very valuable lesson in dealing with people in general: we, those who are more intellectually enlightened must think for those around us. Most people do not fully grasp the type of danger they place themselves in by doing idiotic things. So due to that fact, we must look past alot of their deeds based on their own ignorance and struggle with them to show and prove to them what's right. How many lives have been lost to the useless warfare against each other over government ran facilities and these wannabe hardcore prison agents? How many more lives have to be lost before we decide to stand up together and say, "No More!"?

I absolutely love the stance my comrades-in-bars are taking out in Cali. I salute all of you revolutionary minded and disciplined men in respect, strength, and solidarity. You courageous men are the last of a dying breed in prison—peace to you all. This Fourth of July as we reflect on all of our fellow prisoners who died in this struggle, let us also reflect on what must be done to combat this deadly situation. Those deaths could have been prevented, things do not have to be this way.... The only foreseeable solution, wherein lies any real hope for change, is Revolution... Nothing Less!

The following is a piece of a letter written by Frederick Douglass to Gerrit Smith (the abolitionist) called, "No Progress Without Struggle! 1849." I believe this is a fitting close for this letter!

"Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reforms. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions, yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exiting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will."

... All power to the people, always and forever!

In Revolutionary Courage & Strength,
peace to all the comrades ready to ride!

***

"A Day to Forget" (Not Remember)

Dear P.R.L.F.:

You have requested that we submit something for the 4th of July. On the back is a poem that I just did for you and your cause. I am the author of the poem. Feel free to do whatever you choose to do with it. I hope that it helps your cause. Keep up the good work. And thank-you for the work you do for prisoners.

 Sincerely,

"A DAY TO FORGET" (NOT REMEMBER)_
A Celebration For A Country That Is Rooted In Violence,
The Truth About This Country Many Still Want To Hide It...
A Celebration For Some, A Nightmare For Others,
Memories Of What Was Done To Their Fathers And Mothers...
Never Before Recorded In The Pages Of History,
Kidnapped, Enslaved, And Beaten Is What Was Done To Me...
Segregated, Isolated, And Treated Unequal,
Locked Up For Minor Crimes, Over 2 Million People...
What To Me Is The 4th Of July?
When I Think Of All The Killings And All The Lost Lives...
Endless Wars, Drone Attacks, And Sexual Exploitation,
Poverty And Low Wages... Destroying A Generation...
What Is The 4th Of July To An American Prisoner?
A Day I Choose Not To Acknowledge Or Even Remember...
"Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death," So Tired Of These Conditions,
Every Issue Of "REVOLUTION" Is Like My Declaration Of Independence.
The 4th Of July, A Day Of Sorrow And Regret,
A Day You Want To Remember, But For Me,
"A DAY TO FORGET" (NOT REMEMBER)

***

"To this prisoner and great-great-grandson of a slave...'their' Fourth of July is a very blatant unapologetic lie!"

What to the Prisoner is Your Fourth of July?

I don't know what "Their" Fourth of July is to my fellow prisoners. But, to this prisoner and great-great-grandson of a slave (how can I call myself an African-American, when I don't see the same equality as other Americans?) "their" Fourth of July is a very blatant unapologetic lie!

"Their" Fourth of July shall remind me of the arrogance and ruthlessness they showed in forming this so-called Republic. As it shall remind me that "their" amber waves of grain was fertilized and irrigated with my ancestors' blood, sweat, and tears!

"Their" Fourth of July, shall remind me that when the "Founding Fathers" declared that all Men are created equal, that they're endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: That they hold these truths to be self-evident; they were not thinking of my ancestors as Men, nor humans, for that matter!

"Their" Fourth of July, shall remind me that when Rev. Samuel Francis Smith penned, "My country, 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty," he was, definitely, not including my ancestors!

"Their" Fourth of July, shall remind me of the double standards, and different interpretations of the Laws for certain "caste" of individuals that live in America nowadays!

Now on this Fourth of July, as I sit in my High Security Cell, I shall feel the lashes on my back from long ago; the heartbreak of the families that were sent to different plantations. I shall feel the slave masters' violations of the slaves they raped; mentally, physically, and emotionally. I shall feel the grip of death, just as Ramarley Graham, David Sal Silva, Terry Laffitte, Trayvon Martin, and many others did at the hands of the "so-called good Americans." I shall feel the desperation, but, also, the determination of all the women who are fighting those who are trying to oppress and repress them!

So, as this Fourth of July reminds me that the more things change, the more they remain the same. I shall contemplate on the fact that I was born in America, but never truly treated as American. And wonder if I should take pride in being a bad, un-American person of color?

Oh, one more thing this Fourth of July shall remind me of—Revolution—nothing less!

In The Struggle!

***

"A ready made plate of illusory freedom"

"What To The Prisoner Is Your Fourth of July?"

To me it is a ready made plate of illusory freedom served to us that we are coerced into accepting.

The 4th of July is yet another facade of illegitimacy that the system perpetuates by alleging it is built of freedom and liberty for all. When is actually it is a capitalist machine of exploitation, assassination, control, imperialism and mass incarceration.

The 4th of July popping of fireworks sounds like a totalitarian hand slapping the face of a slave. While their celebrative clacking of champagne glasses sound like the clinking of our shackles and handcuffs closing around our lives.

So as I sit here in prison I think the 4th of July isn't so much a celebration "for us" as it is "of us"... of us being exploited, led to believe a huge fallacy and of our slow demise.

***

"The height of hypocrisy on display"

...I wanted to quickly answer the call made to prisoners in Revolution asking, "What to the Prisoner is Your Fourth of July?" The height of hypocrisy is on display every 4th of July and it's important for all to know that the birth of this nation is nothing to celebrate. To celebrate the 4th of July is to celebrate the freedom of white settlers to massacre indigenous people and steal their land further west. It means celebrating the freedom of slaveowners to expand the slave system beyond the thirteen colonies. It means celebrating the freedom of Manifest Destiny advocates to wage war and steal half of Mexico. And it means celebrating the freedom of capitalist-imperialists to viciously exploit and violently oppress people the world over ever since. Objectively, that is the freedom that is being celebrated. Across the country people will defy all logic and express their gratitude to soldiers for the sacrifices they make to protect "our freedom." It doesn't matter that these troops are actually waging imperialist wars in order to DENY freedom in the countries they bomb, invade, and occupy, or that the only real threat to our freedom is here in this country and is posed by our own government. I like to tell people that in order to be patriotic in this country you have to be either a white supremacist or completely ignorant of its history. For anyone who approaches a study of history and current events with an open mind, who honestly pursues the truth no matter where it will lead, Frederick Douglass's words will ring as true today as they did in 1852 and they "will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival."

Thanks again to you, all the PRLF volunteers, and all your donors for the very important work that you do. You're changing lives that will help you change the world. Keep up the great work. I hope to hear from you soon.

In Solidarity

***

"The day of genocide unleashed on the oppressed"

i seen your call for thoughts on July 4th so i thought i would send you this short writing on thoughts i had on the subject, i hope they help in some small way...

The day of genocide unleashed on the oppressed that remains hanging around our necks like a heavy chain dripping in blood, this is the Amerikkkan holiday of July 4th.

A day that celebrates colonialism and its tentacles, that have sucked the life force of so many on this continent and around the world, from that first day of tragedy.

The oppressors holiday which seeks to uphold white supremacy through its jingoistic spirit and well heeled vestiges, candy coating exported horror and internal oppression is this Imperial cookout.

The tombs that hold the poor in cells, Padded in concrete see not the fireworks that sear societies hearts and minds with illusions of grandeur on this day of mourning.

Torture centers have captured thousands who continue to resist the colonizers holiday who are isolated until we surrender, until we become numb, until we expire or until we transform because of this day of Contact.

I stare at the off white wall in front of my torture cell and i listen to extreme silence, i look for a window or shaft of light and none exist and once more i grasp how foul is the Fourth of July to the prisoner.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/sunsara-taylor-all-out-to-bring-growing-numbers-into-filling-the-greatest-need-humanity-faces-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

BA Everywhere Fundraising—6 Days to Reach $20,000
All Out to Bring Growing Numbers into Filling the Greatest Need Humanity Faces!

by Sunsara Taylor | July 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following are some thoughts I wanted to share with readers of revcom.us/Revolution newspaper, off of taking out BA Everywhere—the campaign to spread the liberating vision and framework for a radically new world brought forward by Bob Avakian—and linking that with the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women.

To donate to the BA Everywhere Online Summer 2013 Crowdfunding Campaign, go online to the Indiegogo page right now.

I want to say straight up that I am writing this because it is an urgent need—and a truly great opportunity—right now for everyone who cares about the future of humanity to take part in raising $20,000 for BA Everywhere by July 15 (just six days from now).

This is a great need because without millions increasingly engaging and lifting their sights to what BA has brought forward, and growing numbers of people actively taking it up and joining the movement for revolution on that basis, the world will remain as it is—with this system grinding up the lives of millions and crushing spirits on a truly mass and monstrous scale every day.

This is a great opportunity because asking people to give and to get involved in raising this $20,000 is a means through which we can take what BA is about, and the vision of what difference BA Everywhere can make, to many new people—beginning this process of engagement with them, transforming relationships with them, and concretely growing our capacity to change the world on an even bigger scale at a truly critical time.

Let me explain...

It is hard to think of a time in recent years when there were more truly big things and truly huge contradictions of the system we live under intensifying and erupting all at once. From the eruptions of protest in Brazil and Turkey to the U.S.-backed coup and turmoil in Egypt... from the extremely "intense calm" as millions are riveted by the trial of Trayvon Martin's vigilante killer to the heroic hunger strike now underway by prisoners in California... from the trial of Bradley Manning to the self-sacrificing revelations by Edward Snowden of massive spying by the U.S.... from the massive explosions of "natural gas" and destruction in Quebec to the sharpening up of the struggle over women's right and access to abortion in state houses across the country... it is dizzying trying even to keep up with major developments.

Yet these are precisely the kinds of times that should most bring revolutionaries alive! These are times when people are shaken out of their normal routines and more open to hearing, thinking about, and engaging the biggest questions of why the world is the way it is and what, if anything, can be done to change it radically and in the interests of humanity.

No one has answers to these questions like BA (Bob Avakian). As it has been put many times and quite scientifically: "Because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal."

This is what humanity needs more than anything else—and there is no time like right now to be taking this to people!

At the same time, times like these demand a great deal of different things from a movement for revolution. The Revolutionary Communist Party has a whole strategy for revolution and the movement for revolution is acting on the BIG STAGE NOW overall, and in relationship to many of these faultlines. We are taking responsibility for leading thousands to fight the power and transform the people for revolution, and to reach out to and influence millions in the process. In particular, some of us are out in a big way around the trial of George Zimmerman and around the prisoner hunger strike, and some of us—through the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride set to kick off on July 23—are spearheading a major national counteroffensive to the whole onslaught of laws shutting down access to abortion across the country.

These struggles are essential, and we have spoken elsewhere and repeatedly in our newspaper as to just how urgent it is that masses be drawn forward into these struggles, and to the basis for this to be done and the tremendous impact this can have.

But here what I want to speak to is how urgent it is for ALL OF US—even in the midst of everything else that cries out to be done... actually BECAUSE of the greatest need of all that cries out to be met—to make it our responsibility to fight to fulfill the goal of the current IndieGoGo campaign to raise $20,000 to get vans out around the country to spread BA Everywhere.

On one level, spreading of BA Everywhere raises people's sights and strengthens these major struggles we are involved in. But even more importantly, through all we do as a movement for revolution we need to be increasingly raising people's sights to everything that BA has brought forward... increasingly opening up many thousands more to the method and approach of understanding and acting together to transform the world... spurring mass debate over these most urgent and life-and-death questions for humanity... concretely growing the mass involvement of first hundreds and soon thousands in this effort at spreading BA everywhere as well as the whole movement for revolution.

Forty years ago Roe v. Wade made abortion legal, and today abortion is more restricted, more stigmatized, and more dangerous to provide than ever before. Fifty years ago Emmett Till was lynched, and today Trayvon Martin was gunned down for wearing a hoodie in the rain. Forty some years ago, a whole generation rose up in revolt against the murderous U.S. war on Vietnam, and today we see the devastation that the U.S. military has brought to Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and many other places, including their backing of the recent military coup in Egypt. I could go on and talk about the destruction of the environment, the truly gross and putrid culture, the war against science and critical thinking and a million other things, but I think you get the idea.

Because a real revolution wasn't made, the system that enforces and requires all these horrors is still intact.

So the question is not simply whether people will fight back—although that matters a great deal and we are taking responsibility to ensure that they do. The biggest question of all is whether people will remain trapped under the system that enforces all this horror—or whether we will make revolution and bring into being a better world.

This is what BA has been working on and developing answers to—and this is the possibility that spreading BA Everywhere can open up! Without this, humanity will remain trapped—with unspeakably horrific consequences that we simply cannot allow.

All this is to say that THIS is precisely the time to be going all-out to people with BA and with the vision of BA Everywhere and what difference it can make. What difference it will make for people to begin to understand that these problems don't simply flow from "human nature." What difference it will make for people to see the real-world possibilities of people overcoming the long wounds of white supremacy and living together in a way that not only respects but celebrates diversity and different cultures. What difference it will make for people—including those who have been locked out of any decent education—to be awakened to the scientific method and critical thinking in their engagement with reality and contributions to understanding and changing the world. What difference it will make as the culture comes alive with music and art of rebellion and a spirit of true liberation. What difference it will make for millions to know that, as events in the world continue to shock and awaken them, there is a movement and a leadership fighting for a radically different and far better world that they can hook up with and contribute to, even as they are learning more and coming from their own perspective.

We have already seen, in glimpses, what it means for people to engage BA through the premieres earlier this year of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live, through last year's BAsics Bus Tours, and in other ways. Much of this is captured powerfully in the video up on the Indiegogo campaign page. Now is the time to take this to a higher level with the funding of the BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less Van Tours taking off from four cities within days.

Giving money to this is an opportunity to be part of something truly historic and something that can transform individual people, whole scenes, and ultimately society and the world as a whole. It really is wrong to deprive anyone of the opportunity to be part of this—and I really mean anyone.

This brings me to a few final points:

  1. The big changes erupting in the world are having an effect on everybody. Don't assume that the way people have responded in the past to BA and to the BA Everywhere campaign is the way they will respond now. Whether people's responses have been positive or negative or not-at-all in the past, now is a time for them to deepen and transform. I have experienced very directly the way that the big events in the world have set a context where people have been more open than in the past to what BA is about. This has still required argumentation (not necessarily an "argument") as to why BA is speaking to the greatest need humanity is facing, but there is a lot to bring to bear in how people are visibly straining for a way out and yet continually thwarted precisely because they have been denied exposure to what BA has brought forth. I want to point people's attention to the key editorial on revcom.us and in Revolution this week, "All Out to Raise Funds for the BA Speaks: Revolution Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live Summer Van Tours." And I found the piece "Filling the Greatest Need Facing Humanity: The World Emancipating Urgency of BA Everywhere!" very helpful and worth bringing to bear in my discussions with others.
  2. Often people think that you can only go and ask people to donate to something they are already convinced of or partisan to, so the spectrum of people they approach ends up being fairly narrowed and constrained. In reality, a fundraising campaign is a perfect vehicle to introduce people to something for the first time. It is more than fine to just call someone up or get together with them and say directly, "I want to talk to you about donating to an effort that is filling the greatest need humanity is currently facing. Let me tell you a little about it..." and go from there. Think of everyone you know who cares about humanity's fate—whether you've met them through a particular aspect of the movement for revolution or through your personal or professional/work life—and then set aside some time to talk to them about this and ask them for a specific contribution.
  3. A lot of people are very uncomfortable asking others for money. Remind yourself that you are not asking them for money as a personal favor. You are asking them to join you in filling a great need and making something truly liberating happen. Think about how infrequent it is for people to be given the chance to really have an impact on the future of the world and how many meaningless and truly degrading things people constantly are asked or required to put their money towards. By bringing them this campaign and asking them to donate, you are opening up a deep engagement over the conditions and future of humanity, and you are giving them a way to join with others in having an impact much greater than they could have on their own.

Do not only go to people you expect will say yes. The fact that most people aren't thinking about revolution and communism is precisely what we are fighting to change with this campaign, so bringing this to new people for whom this wasn't already on their minds is not a distraction. Some will say yes and this will mean a great deal. Some will have questions and ideas about others you can go to. But even for those who say no, taking this to them in a serious way will transform the way they are thinking about the aims of this movement for revolution. And then all of this—the money that we raise, the relationships that we transform, the new people who are opened up to this for the first time—will be part of the bigger and growing sections of people who are aware of and watching and contributing to the ongoing fight to raise even bigger funds in the future, to project BA Everywhere and to make major leaps and advances in the whole movement for revolution.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/30000-california-prisoners-join-hunger-strike-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

30,000 California Prisoners Join Hunger Strike

July 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The California prisoner hunger strike has gotten off to a very powerful and significant beginning. On July 8, California prison authorities admitted that over 30,000 prisoners had joined the hunger strike by refusing meals. The Los Angeles Times said this "could be the largest prison protest in state history."

People with family members who are in SHU isolation prison units protest in front of the city hall in Norwalk, California, July 8

People with family members who are in SHU isolation prison units protest in front of the city hall in Norwalk, California, July 8. Photo: Special to Revolution

According to the LA Times, "Inmates in two-thirds of the state's 33 prisons, and at all four out-of-state private prisons, refused both breakfast and lunch on Monday, said corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton. In addition, 2,300 prisoners failed to go to work or attend their prison classes, either refusing or in some cases saying they were sick."

Prisoners from other states had announced their intention to join the fight with hunger strikes, work stoppages, and other actions. In some cases, prisoners in other states have already launched hunger strikes or other protests.

Nearly 4,000 prisoners in California are imprisoned in barbaric conditions in "Security Housing Units," or SHUs, some for decades. Over 6,000 more California prisoners and some 70,000 nationwide face other forms of solitary confinement. Legal and human rights groups hold that long-term solitary confinement constitutes torture.

In a June 20 statement, prisoner representatives from the Pelican Bay State Prison SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement had said that on July 8, "our nonviolent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long-term solitary confinement will resume...consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms)."

People with family members who are in SHU isolation prison units protest in front of the city hall in Norwalk, California, July 8

People with family members who are in SHU isolation prison units protest in front of the city hall in Norwalk, California, July 8. Photo: Special to Revolution

Rallies and protests supporting the prisoners' hunger strike took place across California, from a dozen people outside the gates of Pelican Bay State Prison in the northwest corner of the state where the hunger strike began, to the San Francisco Bay Area where a number of actions were held by different groups including Stop Mass Incarceration Network-Bay Area and the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, to Los Angeles where, among other actions, there was a rally of some 200 people, mostly families of the incarcerated. At UC Berkeley, a number of students—some of whom had served time in the SHU—launched a rolling fast in support of the hunger strikers.

The courageous prisoners on hunger strike are putting their lives on the line to fight for their humanity and for justice, and they need broad public support. Their action is a living demonstration of the potential of those the system has cast off—and declares to be the "worst of the worst"—to be the backbone of a revolution that overthrows the system responsible for horrible crimes around the world, including the barbaric prison conditions, and to emancipate all humanity.

Stay tuned to revcom.us for coverage of this extremely significant struggle.

 

For background, including the core demands of the prisoners, see:

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/reporters-notebook-from-trial-of-george-zimmerman-07092013-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Reporter's Notebook from the Trial of George Zimmerman—Tuesday 7/9/2013

July 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The trial of George Zimmerman is taking place on the fifth floor of the Seminole County Courthouse in Sanford, Florida. Its quiet, well-lit hallways and its solemn paneled courtrooms seem far removed from the lynch mob justice that was not so long ago routinely administered against Black people throughout the U.S. South, certainly including the area of Central Florida around Orlando and Sanford.

Donate to make it possible for Revolution to continue reporting from Sanford

But the courtroom today echoes from the brutal lynchings of the not-so-long-ago past, when not only were Black people killed by savage racist mobs, their remains, and postcards of their mangled bodies were sold as souvenirs. Their murderers were never arrested, and often were regarded as honorable, upstanding citizens of the white community.

I was reminded of this when I was in this courthouse, sitting a row behind Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, parents of the murdered Trayvon Martin. Sybrina and Tracy were only about 20 feet or so from where their son's killer, George Zimmerman, smugly sat, conferring with his attorneys, occasionally laughing at their private jokes. Sybrina and Tracy have been forced to listen, over and over, to sounds of a recording made as Zimmerman was about to murder their son. Several times in this trial, and again on Tuesday, enlarged pictures of Trayvon's wounds and displays of the clothes he was wearing when he was shot in the chest have been put on a large screen in the courtroom and broadcast repeatedly around the world.

The Defense of a Racist Killer

Zimmerman's attorneys continued their defense on Monday and Tuesday this week. On Monday, a procession of people who knew Zimmerman testified. The supposed purpose of this parade of Zimmerman's friends was to testify that Zimmerman is the one heard yelling "help" on the dispatch operator's tape of a phone call from a neighbor.

In having Zimmerman's closest friends testify they could identify his voice, the defense was working to divert the focus of the trial from the basic facts—that Zimmerman defied the instructions of the dispatch operator, stalked, and killed an unarmed teenager minding his own business on his way home from the store.

Beyond that, this progression of witnesses also constituted an attempt to refute that Zimmerman stalked and killed Trayvon Martin with "ill will."

The Mindset of the Culture Around George Zimmerman

One of the men who testified had bonded with Zimmerman as he trained Zimmerman how to use a handgun. Another met Zimmerman at his martial arts studio, which billed itself as the world's best in training for mixed martial arts, and where Zimmerman trained in martial arts for a year. His lawyers and these witnesses all claimed that Zimmerman was a mild-mannered person, not at all violent; not someone filled with malice.

These witnesses established nothing factual about the case. They did nothing to get closer to the question of what happened that night, what made George Zimmerman think he had the right and ability to set off in pursuit of a 17-year-old and shoot a hole in his heart.

The prosecution had these witnesses listen to an actual, verified recording of Zimmerman's voice. This was Zimmerman's call to the police dispatcher. This is the call in which he called the person he was beginning to pursue—Trayvon Martin—one of "these fucking punks... assholes [who] always get away."

It was a damning commentary on the whole mindset and white supremacist culture of Zimmerman's circle of friends and the society that created their mentality that none of them thought this in any way demonstrated any ill will on Zimmerman's part!

In fact, one of Zimmerman's witnesses had to listen to the recording several times, before she would admit that she even heard Zimmerman refer to Trayvon as one of "these fucking punks" and one of the "assholes" who always get away. And when she finally did have to admit she heard this on the tape (and this is someone supposedly testifying that she could clearly identify Zimmerman's voice in the background of a call to a police dispatcher), she dismissed this venom as just ordinary conversation.

What really shined through in all their testimony was that none of these people, beginning with Zimmerman himself and going through all his friends, saw anything at all amiss with him holstering his gun and setting off in pursuit of a Black youth he declared to be "suspicious," a Black youth doing absolutely nothing wrong.

Tracy Martin Testifies Again and Injects Reality

One of the most appalling moments of this entire trial occurred when Zimmerman's lawyers called Tracy Martin to the stand as a defense witness. Earlier, two Sanford detectives who had questioned Tracy Martin said or implied that Tracy's initial reaction to hearing the recording of a voice screaming for help was to say that it wasn't Trayvon.

But Tracy responded to this powerfully. In a hushed courtroom, he said he had told the cops "I can't tell. I never said that's not my son's voice." Remember, this is a man overcome with shock and grief at the horrible murder of his son, responding to hearing his voice a few days after he was gunned down. Tracy said he sat in a room listening to the recording over and over again while everyone else from his family left the room.

Defense attorneys wanted to make it seem as if Tracy did this because he couldn't determine whose voice it was. But in one of the most moving and truthful moments of the entire proceedings, Tracy said he did this because "I was just trying to figure out the night of February 26, 2012. I was trying to figure out why someone got out of their car and shot my son."

More Holes in Zimmerman's Story

Tuesday's testimony featured a forensic pathologist called by the defense, Dr. Vincent Di Maio. He was called by the defense to refute testimony from the prosecution's medical experts that Zimmerman had suffered no serious injuries, and to say that when Trayvon was shot he was on top of Zimmerman.

But this witness wound up undermining Zimmerman's fabrications and how they've been spun in court by his attorneys. Enlarged photos of Zimmerman with a couple of bruises on the back of his head and caked blood on his nose and upper mouth had been flaunted by his lawyers as if they indicated serious trauma.

Everyone in the courtroom knew that no blood or DNA from Zimmerman was found on Trayvon's hands or fingernails. At one point, a state's attorney approached Dr. Di Maio with one of these enlarged photos. He put a hand over the mouth and nose in the photo, and asked Di Maio, "If I put my hand over this, what would you expect my hand to have on it?"

The room became hushed when Di Maio answered, "blood."

Here are some other questions Zimmerman and his lawyers have never answered in any serious way.

Question—If Trayvon was straddling Zimmerman and both punching and pounding his head, how did Trayvon notice a gun behind him?

Question—If Zimmerman's lawyer could demonstrate "ground and pound" mixed martial arts in court, why can't someone show how Zimmerman could possibly retrieve his gun from its holster while Trayvon was straddling him?

Question—If Trayvon was pinching Zimmerman's nose and putting his hand over Zimmerman's mouth to the point he had difficulty breathing, how was he able to supposedly scream for help?

Question—If Trayvon got so far away from Zimmerman that he lost sight of Trayvon, how did Trayvon manage to jump out of bushes (that don't even exist) to attack Zimmerman?

Question—If Zimmerman got on top of Trayvon and spread his arms wide, why was Trayvon's body found with his hand tucked underneath his body?

Question—If Zimmerman didn't think he hit Trayvon when he fired his weapon, why would he stop screaming for help at that exact moment?

Question—Where is the cell phone Zimmerman says he got out just before Trayvon punched him and a scuffle ensued?

Reaching a Crossroads

This trial is nearing an end. Defense attorneys announced late Tuesday afternoon that they will probably close their case on Wednesday. Closing arguments will follow, and the case will go to the jury.

Trayvon did not have to die. He was gunned down by a racist assassin, confident that he had the backing of the police, the legal apparatus, and in fact the whole system. But his murderer has been brought to trial because Trayvon's parents courageously stood up and demanded justice for their son, and because an entire movement of people erupted across the country and reverberated throughout the world.

And the outcome of this trial is not a foregone conclusion, either in the Seminole County Courthouse or broadly in society. There is no question at all that Zimmerman set off to confront Trayvon Martin on that rainy night in Sanford, and moments later shot him dead. But will that be determined to be "legitimate self defense," or will it be determined to be what it in fact is—cold-blooded murder?

As we wrote in Revolution recently, this trial, whatever its outcome, is an outrage. The terms on which it is being decided and evaluated are not in the interests of the people. There needs to be Justice for Trayvon, and it should be fought for as part of building for a day when all the Trayvons of this world can not only walk home with a bag of candy without fear of being shot down, but can fully flourish.

Vigils are being organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network after the case goes to the jury, and actions are being planned when the verdict comes in. Join in and help build one if you are in or near a city where one is planned; call for and organize one if there isn't one in your town.

NOTE: At the end of today's testimony, the judge in the case heard arguments for and against showing the jury a major animated, supposed recreation of the death of Trayvon Martin prepared by the defense. Stay tuned to revcom.us for analysis when the ruling comes down.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/two-different-approaches-two-different-epistemologies-two-different-worlds-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

A letter from a reader:

Two Different Approaches, Two Different Epistemologies—Two Different Worlds

July 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

"What people think is part of objective reality, but objective reality is not determined by what people think."

BAsics 4:11

Reflecting on this statement and thinking through its implications, I feel there are contrasting approaches to building this movement for revolution—one that is in line with objective reality, others that are not; one that has everything to do with radically changing the world and making revolution, the others leaving the world "as is," fundamentally unchanged.

This is not a full argument—or by any means the last word—but rather a brief provocation that hopefully will spur further reflection and interrogation—and in fact, more words—on the theory and practice of making revolution. (The philosophical aspects of this reasoning are critical and decisive—and if you have trouble with terms and concepts, grab a friend and wrangle and discuss it with them.)

When we go out in the world with communist revolution, we draw forth—and hear—achingly painful stories of life in the hellholes of America, concerns about the state of the planet and humanity. We hear people's various theories on where all this comes from: lack of "personal responsibility," greedy corporations, selfish "human nature," and other supposed causes. And we hear what they think is needed: more god, more democracy. We hear questions and objections (inchoate and openly argued) against leadership, revolution, and communism, most of these objections drawn from conventional wisdom—"what everybody knows" (or thinks they know)—about past attempts at revolution and socialism.

Leaving aside those supposed communists who just give up in the face of this—either because they fundamentally agree with this whole mixed bag of ideas that exist "out there" in society among the masses of people, have no sense that these wrong ideas can be transformed through and in the midst of struggle, or are unable to figure out how or unwilling to take that responsibility to face the daunting challenges to radically change the world—there are some contrasting approaches in confronting this.

First, is raising people's sights to a radically different world. "What people need most of all, the greatest need at this hour, is the real, scientific solution to these horrors, the way out. This is the re-envisioned communism of Bob Avakian, with its vision and viability of a radically different world brought about by getting rid of this system of capitalism-imperialism and bringing about a whole new and far better system and world through communist revolution. Without this framework of BA's new synthesis of communism as a pole that growing numbers are engaging, being won to, and pivoting off of, the horizons of what people see as necessary, desirable, and possible are confined and skewed within this system...." (From "Filling the Greatest Need Facing Humanity: The World Emancipating Urgency of BA Everywhere!")

On this basis, we sort through this mixed bag of ideas in people's thinking, figuring out what's correct and incorrect, in other words what accurately reflects reality. Just as important is sorting out the methods and modes of thinking people have used to come to these conclusions and views of the world. Even the way people's questions are posed—about god, human nature, the need for science, leadership—change when the viability and possibility of a radically different world is put forward, and they begin to really grapple with what it will take to get there. For example, it's worth reflecting how a serious discussion of revolution—and what it will take to get there or what a future socialist society after the revolution will be like—changes the context and discussion on communist leadership, including BA's; or what people's belief in god has to do with the horrible world we live in—and a belief that there is no alternative.

What's needed is going out and struggling to transform people's thinking—and modes of thinking—on all this, increasingly involving them in this movement for revolution even as they are sorting out their thinking on all this. What largely dominates as modes of thinking in society is non-evidence-based thinking and religiosity ("it's all god's will"), not thinking critically of what is constantly trumpeted through media, culture, and education (including, yes, the New York Times or academia's anti-communist disinformation), proceeding from narratives instead of identifying the larger and underlying patterns and dynamics in society, ultimately not looking beyond surface level phenomena to determine objective reality (I will have much more to say on this below), and other modes of thought that are non- and anti-scientific.

For a deeper and extremely essential explication of what science and a scientific method and approach is, see "Theory and Reality... Knowing and Changing the World," in Bob Avakian's interview with A. Brooks, What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism. (I also highly recommend the discussion of science, the scientific method, and approach in The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism, Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters by Ardea Skybreak. The science of evolution is important in its own right and as a living illustration of and schooling in the scientific method.)

In contrast to this approach are the mirror opposites of not caring what people think or approaching what people think in the wrong way!

In terms of not caring what people think: No, what people think matters—greatly! Not because it determines objective reality (it does not!), but what—and how—people think IS a part of objective reality: the social reality that we are seeking to transform. The communist project, contrary to what almost everyone thinks, is not an imposition of "our" ideas on social reality but a scientific approach to transforming that reality including what—and how—people think, towards the emancipation of humanity. It involves masses of people increasingly consciously knowing and radically changing the world—a process that involves and necessitates more and more people consciously taking up a thoroughly scientific approach to the world. This requires changing how people think—in relation with bigger events in society, what people do to fight and resist the horrors and outrages of this system, and how all this unsettles, opens up, and reacts back on people's thinking.

Knowing what—and how—people think matters! Only in this way can we figure out, for blocks of people and their thinking, what needs to be united with and what needs to be struggled through and transformed—so it's more in line with reality, not only a scientific understanding of it, but an increasingly scientific approach to it, so they can increasingly contribute to and be part of changing the world. Without this, the world remains as is.

However, what is unfortunately far too prevalent still is caring "too much" what people think—approaching it in the wrong way, proceeding from what people think—rather than from the larger objective reality, and a scientific understanding and approach to it.

Objective reality is not determined by what people think.

Objective reality is that, yes, people are caught up in bullshit and wrong thinking and this is important to understand. But we must understand it NOT as the guidepost for what is true, but in order to go to work on transforming this by wielding science through and in the midst of struggle. This is the communists' task and responsibility in leading the process of making revolution. In a lot of this, what we see are people grabbing hold of surface level phenomena—part of objective reality—instead of looking at the underlying causes of and contradictions in these phenomena, and how it can be different. This shouldn't surprise us, given where people's thinking comes from—dominant ideas of the system, reinforced and trumpeted every minute by the propaganda of the system—in its media, culture and education—a denial of and real lack of scientific method and approach in society, not to say the overall functioning of society and how people have to live, being forced to compete against each other, finding meaning and solace in a non-existent god or afterlife.

Objective reality is that this system cannot be reformed to get rid of the oppression and horrors it forces on people every single minute—here and around the world. The need and basis and strategy for communist revolution stems from a profoundly scientific, dialectical materialist approach to social reality—much like a doctor diagnosing to get at the underlying cause of the symptoms and what will be needed as the cure. This is the essence of communist leadership—and contrary to what most people think, objective reality is that "where leadership is genuinely revolutionary leadership, the more it plays its leadership role correctly, in accordance with MLM principles, the greater will be the conscious initiative of the masses." (From 1995 Leadership Resolutions on Leaders and Leadership: Part II: Some Points on the Question of Revolutionary Leaders and Individual Leaders.)

Determining objective reality requires science and a scientific approach to reality, not as reality presents itself on the surface but identifying its underlying dynamics and mainsprings, relying on evidence, and subject to being proved wrong. It requires a scientific approach to how societies function and change, and what to learn from past attempts at consciously changing society—which were tremendously liberating, but as in any human endeavor especially of such scale, marked by errors and shortcomings. This is the work BA has done—and he has advanced science in this context. Emphatically yes, a radically different—and far better—world is necessary, desirable and possible because of the work BA has done.

These are not "our" ideas severed from objective reality, but abstractions and concentrations of reality arrived at through the scientific method and approach. Thus, while there is a tremendous battle to be waged in the realm of ideas and people's thinking, in epistemology—theory of knowledge, what is truth and where does it come from, what and how people think, approach and understand the world—it is not merely "our" ideas vs. what people think, but what is true and scientifically correct, reflecting and concentrating objective reality in its underlying mainsprings, dynamics, and pathways for change vs. what is not. Ultimately and immediately, what this is all rooted in and for—for the emancipation of humanity, nothing else and nothing less! For the emancipation of the billions around the planet—from the favelas of Rio to Tahrir Square in Cairo, from those trapped in the textile factories of Bangladesh as they collapse to rubble to those confined in the torture chambers of solitary confinement in the U.S.

With all this in mind, I want to pose two questions for people's reflection and informal collective wrangling:

Seeking "validation" has an underlying epistemology in which the truth of an idea is seen as contingent on whether others agree with you, or thinking that what people think determines objective reality. It is a populist epistemology—truth determined by what people think, on opinion polls, and public opinion—that does not reflect objective reality in its deeper workings and dynamics and pathways of change, does not challenge, refute, and change people's false ideas and ways of thinking out of sync with objective reality, and leaves the world "as is."

What is needed from us is proceeding with a scientific epistemology and a thoroughly scientific approach to objective reality—including people's thinking. As BA says in his interview with A. Brooks, "If you're being scientific, you don't go by 'what everybody knows.' You proceed by probing, investigating—and, yes, in the process changing—reality, and then systematizing what can be learned: what are the patterns; what is the essence of what you're learning; what ties things together; what differentiates some things from other things...."

So, there it is: either we root ourselves in science and fight to transform people's thinking, or we go out seeking approval and validation in people's thinking and are constantly disoriented and put on the defensive based on the prejudices and misconceptions this system fosters in people; scientific or populist epistemology—one that is about radically changing the world, the other that will leave the world "as is."

Two different approaches, two different epistemologies—two different worlds.

 


 

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Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Check It Out:

Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) Video Demonstrates Force-Feeding Torture of Guantánamo Prisoners

July 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

As of July 5, more than 120 men being held at the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo have been on hunger strike in protest of their indefinite detention for 150 consecutive days. Forty-four of the men are being force-fed by their captors.

In a new video released by the British prisoner rights group Reprieve, rapper and actor Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) graphically demonstrates what the Guantánamo prisoners are subjected to when they are force-fed. Major medical organizations around the world, including the American Medical Association, have condemned the force-feeding of prisoners who engage in protest through hunger strikes. But Obama and the U.S. government continue to carry out this outrage. As this video makes vividly clear, these prisoners are being tortured at the hands of the U.S.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/as-the-trayvon-martin-case-goes-to-the-jury-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

As the Trayvon Martin Case Goes to the Jury...

THE RESPONSE THAT'S NEEDED – THE WORLD WE WANT TO LIVE IN!

A Statement by Carl Dix

July 12, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

As the trial of George Zimmerman, the vigilante and wannabe cop who murdered Trayvon Martin, comes to a close, we should look squarely at what has been revealed. The killing of Trayvon was a modern-day lynching. Zimmerman saw a Black youth wearing a hoodie, decided he "was up to no good," stalked him, and, feeling the whole strength of the system behind him, shot young Trayvon.

In court, Zimmerman's defense, with its parade of "experts," family, and friends, boiled down to the supposed right to kill people like Trayvon with impunity. If George Zimmerman walks free again, it will serve as a high-profile declaration and further rationalization for placing a target on the backs of a whole generation.

Everyone with an ounce of justice in their hearts needs to stand against the murder of Trayvon Martin. People of different nationalities and from different backgrounds must stand together in this. Fighting the oppression of Black people, fighting the criminalization and brutalization of Black people in this country and the new Jim Crow, is in the interests of all those who have a conscience and want to live in a just society.

*Take up the Call from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) to organize vigils when the case goes to the jury. These vigils can be organized everywhere, and different kinds of people can be involved in them.

*Plan to act when it is announced that the jury has reached a verdict—in powerful, determined, and creative ways. Select the time and place where people should gather... and spread the word.

*Circulate the "We Say No More" statement from SMIN. This statement sharply condemns Trayvon's murder and links it to the 2 million + people in prison in the U.S.

This is the challenge. Regardless of what the verdict is, a mass response is needed. The message that must be sent is that the Trayvons of this world have a right to survive and flourish, and should get justice when they're attacked. It's about the kind of world we want to live in.

And if people who take to the streets come under attack, we must all have their backs. Authorities who criminalize and brutalize people cannot be allowed to beat, corral, pepper-spray or do worse against the people for opposing their brutality.

Trayvon's murder and the trial of his killer have laid bare the illegitimacy of this whole setup. Let's not forget that it took thousands of people all across the U.S. expressing outrage to force the authorities to put Zimmerman on trial. In the courtroom, reality got turned on its head. Trayvon was portrayed as the criminal and Zimmerman as the victim. Rachel Jeantel, the young woman who was on the phone with Trayvon when he was killed, was bullied by Zimmerman's lawyer for telling the truth.

This case concentrates the oppression that Black people have faced for centuries in this country. Youth like Trayvon are murdered by cops and vigilantes who almost never get punished for their crimes. Tens of thousands of Black and Latino youth are put into prisons every year. This is part of an overall program of brutality and suppression that amounts to a slow genocide that is breaking the bodies and crushing the spirits of countless millions of oppressed people. And as the case goes to the jury in Florida, 30,000 prisoners in California are engaged in a heroic strike against inhumane and savage conditions of solitary confinement. This is the reality of this system.

But there is also the reality that Trayvon Martin and youth like him DO NOT have to die or face lives of unending brutality and misery. A society that warehouses millions in prison, subjects tens of thousands of people in prison to torture and enforces vicious brutality on Black people can be ended. A society and world where the Trayvon Martins and Rachel Jeantels and countless millions like them can flourish and contribute to society is possible.

It is possible through revolution, communist revolution. A revolution that can end all the horrors this system inflicts on humanity—the oppression of Black people, the degradation faced by women, the wars for empire, the ravaging of the environment and more. This revolution is based on the theory of Bob Avakian and can be won with the leadership provided by the Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), which he leads. If you want no more of this world and its brutality and misery, get into the work of Bob Avakian. Check out the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS, Bob Avakian Live. Read BAsics, a handbook for revolution drawn from Avakian's talks and writings. And get with the movement for revolution the RCP is building. There is a way out of the madness and oppression!

And if you hate injustice, you need to express your outrage at the murder of Trayvon and the racist justifications for this murder. NO MORE to placing a target on the backs of youth like Trayvon Martin.

 

For more on Bob Avakian and the movement for revolution, as well as developments around the Trayvon Martin case and more, go online to revcom.us.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/movement-for-revolution/BAE/breaking-it-down-and-raising-sights.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Breaking It Down and Raising Sights

July 11, 2013 | BA Everywhere | revcom.us

I was talking with some friends about how important it is to meet the goals of this BA Everywhere Summer 2013 Indiegogo fundraising campaign. Some of us had read "All Out to Raise Funds for the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live Summer Van Tours" and "Filling the Greatest Need Facing Humanity: The World Emancipating Urgency of BA Everywhere!" I'd really recommend that people read those two pieces because you get a sense of what tremendous need there is in the world right now for this campaign to succeed, and you get a living sense of the big impact it could have.

We need to raise another $10,000 by the end of July 15. I was thinking more about what this would actually look like. What kind of process do we need to meet this goal, and how can we break it down in a concrete way? I came up with some ideas that would be useful to share, some steps to make a big final push and raise the needed funds.

First, I thought, how could this $10,000 be broken down in terms of what everyone is throwing in nationally. Well, if you think about the fact that there are four van tours going out this summer from four major cities, if each of these cities raised $2,500 each the campaign goal would be met. Breaking down a big number like that into smaller pieces that everyone is throwing in toward together would make it look much more concrete. $2,500 in four major cities – isn't that something we can do? This is possible!

Let's break it down even more. So if each city needs to raise $2,500 – how do we do this?

Ok – so let's say for the first $500 we raise this through doing mass work – going out to the neighborhoods, the parks, the shopping areas, out in front of cafes or museums – getting everywhere where people gather and boldly promoting BA and what he's all about. And through doing all this mass work, we collect donations from everyone who is engaging and appreciating BA and wants to see more work like this done all summer long. And let's make sure we invite a lot of people to come out and join in these outings! For example, think about everyone who has seen a clip from BA Speaks: Revolution — Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live. These people have all been introduced to the most radical revolutionary leader on the planet. All these people already have a taste of what it means to know about BA and even as they are learning more, they can be a dynamic factor in throwing in to all this. $500 through mass work – we can do that! This is possible!

Great, so $500 down, $2,000 more to go. One thing we know is that when people are out getting BA known to the masses, this work often really inspires people who are more middle class. They want to see BA connecting with the masses, and they are encouraged when they see new people and masses connecting with this leader. Let's use that dynamic to raise funds! Let's line up people who want to match what we raise on the streets. In each city, don't we know a few wealthier individuals who have learned about BA? Maybe they've seen part of the film, or read some of BAsics, or maybe they really like the Indiegogo campaign video, and they love seeing how people connect with BA in different ways. Let's approach these people now and get them lined up to match what is raised on the streets doing mass work over the weekend. Maybe there is one person who will match dollar for dollar, or maybe there are two people – either matching the funds together, or each contributing one dollar for every two that are raised on the streets. $500 through matching donations – we can do that! This is possible!

Ok so that's the first $1,000, and $1,500 more to go. This next $500 – aren't there some young professionals we know who have gotten introduced to BA and like what he's about? Don't we know five of these young professionals who would each contribute $100? That seems like something we should be able to do – think about everyone who has read some of BAsics and has engaged with the quotes in that book. Think about all the people who would connect with the quote BAsics 1:13, "No more generations of our youth..." and would want to see that quote and that sentiment projected out into the world. There are young people right now who are looking for something meaningful to be part of and something that can give people hope – these young professionals will fund this campaign – and so now we've raised another $500! We can do this!

Ok, with these efforts we would be more than half way to our goal in each big city and have $1,000 left to raise. This is where everyone should really be thinking about those middle-class individuals who have connected with BA, whether it was just recently, or even at any point in the last 10 years or earlier! Who are the people we know that have bought BAsics or the Revolution — Nothing Less! DVD? Who are the people that supported the BAsics Bus Tour last year, who pitched in with food or housing, or who made financial donations? Who are the people that helped to fund the April 11, 2011, "On the Occasion of the Publication of BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World" event and upcoming film? Who are the people who have attended one of several dialogues between Carl Dix, a follower of BA and national leader against mass incarceration, and Cornel West, a prominent author and intellectual, someone who greatly appreciates BA and the role that he plays? We need to reach these middle-class people and ask them to donate $250 to this campaign. Don't we know four middle-class people in each city who would do this? Haven't we met these people who have connected or engaged BA in any variety of ways that would want to see this campaign be a success? Let's make a lot of phone calls to all these people, send e-mails and follow up. Maybe some people would want to host house parties, BBQs or other gatherings to invite and meet with potential donors. Four $250 donations from these middle-class people, and then we've done it! $2,500 in each major city launching a Revolution — Nothing Less! van tour, and that's not even counting the thousands that can be raised across the country. We can do this! It is possible!

Of course, this is just some thinking on different ways of breaking down this goal of $10,000 and not an exact prescription for what people should do. But it is a very real possibility that we can raise these funds. By thinking concretely of what our goals should be, and how we can break things down to finish raising this money, we can make this campaign a success!

Everyone who has ever read any of BA's work, or watched part of the film Revolution — Nothing Less! or engaged BA in other ways can throw into this campaign and be an important part of helping it succeed. And everyone who really wants to see the radical possibility of a whole other world being discussed and debated throughout society can also play a crucial role in raising these funds. And from reading all the statements of support for the Campaign that have been written so far — from Matthew Shipp, Dennis Loo and the person who is volunteering with the BA Everywhere committee — and by watching the Indiegogo campaign video, you see that a lot of different kinds of people truly connect with BA and want to see his voice amplified throughout society. So we have a lot going for us! And all of this makes raising that $10,000 a very real possibility, but we all have to be on a collective mission to do this. So, let's go!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/fourth-day-of-hunger-strike-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Fourth Day of Hunger Strike

Support the Courageous Prisoners' Struggle Against Isolation and Torture

by Larry Everest | July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

July 11—As of this writing, thousands of prisoners remain on hunger strike across the state of California, with prisoners in other states also joining in. The hunger strike began on Monday, July 8, with 30,000 prisoners taking part in two-thirds of the state's 33 prisons. The New York Times reported that on Wednesday, the third day, 29,000 prisoners were still on hunger strike and that it could become "the largest in state history." (The next day, California prison authorities claimed that the number of hunger strikers was 12,421.)

The prisoners are striking over five core demands, which the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has refused to meet—especially an end to long-term solitary confinement. Prisoners can be held for decades without phone calls, rehabilitation programs, time outside, or even access to fresh air or sunlight, in windowless cells without meaningful human contact. The United Nations condemns solitary confinement beyond 15 days as torture, yet many in California have been imprisoned in solitary for years and even decades.

Prisoners in California went on hunger strike in 2011 over these demands. They ended the strike when state authorities pledged to take steps to meet the demands. But the state has failed to take any significant steps. On July 5, Amnesty International stated that "rather than improving," conditions in California prisons "have actually significantly deteriorated."

Prisoner representatives at Pelican Bay State Prison's Security Housing Unit (SHU) encouraged other prisoners to make their own additional demands, and so far prisoners from at least six other prisons have done so (Corcoran, Wasco, High Desert, Salinas Valley, Susanville, and New Folsom. See prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com/demands-across-the-system).

On Monday night, prisoner representatives at Pelican Bay SHU issued the following statement:

"We are grateful for your support of our peaceful protest against the state-sanctioned torture that happens not only here at Pelican Bay but in prisons everywhere. We have taken up this hunger strike and work stoppage, which has included 30,000 prisoners in California so far, not only to improve our own conditions but also as an act of solidarity with all prisoners and oppressed people around the world. We encourage everyone to take action to support the strike wherever they live. Sign the petition demanding the California governor stop the torture, plan rolling solidarity fasts if you are able, use every means to spread the word and participate in non-violent direct action to put pressure on decision-makers. If it was not for your support, we would have died in 2011. Thank you everyone. We are confident we will prevail."

This is a very important and inspiring call. Prisoners are rising above years of torment, torture and vilification to assert their humanity, raise their sights and fight, as they say, "not only to improve our own conditions but also as an act of solidarity with all prisoners and oppressed people around the world."

In the face of this, prison authorities are continuing to lie and vilify the prisoners—even denying there is any solitary confinement in California. And there are very disturbing signs that they're preparing to retaliate or allow prisoners to die rather than meet their just demands.

In a radio interview on July 11 (KALW), in the face of growing support for the hunger strike and amid shocking reports that the CDCR has been sterilizing women without their consent,* CDCR spokesperson Terry Thornton denied that the SHU can even be considered "solitary" confinement because prisoners have contact with the guards who shove their trays of food through the slots on their doors, that the cell doors are made of metal that has holes, and that the halls outside the cells have skylights.

But as prisoner rights organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International clearly say, the SHU fits the definition of solitary confinement and is a form of torture. And the prisoners themselves, some of whom are on hunger strike as of this writing, tell of extreme psychological and physical suffering from years and sometimes decades of life in the SHU.

Terry Thornton has insisted that the only reason prisoners are going on hunger strike is because "There are subservient street gangs that are beholden to these gang leaders at Pelican Bay and other places that call the shots and order hits on other people, murders on other people." This is an outrageous attack on the courageous prisoners—and a shameless denial of the fact that the prisoners are being subjected to conditions of torture and that they have gone on a hunger strike to demand to be treated as human beings.

Trying to pit prisoners against each other, the CDCR issued a press release today saying, "The mass hunger strike is organized by prison gangs and publicizing participation levels at specific prisons could put inmates who are not participating in extreme danger." And the CDCR is threatening to put prisoners from the general population who go on hunger strike into what is called Ad Seg, usually another form of solitary. The press release also threatened cell searches of hunger strikers on the grounds that they might have food from the canteen in their cells.

The determined action of the prisoners in the face of all this urgently calls for broad, massive support around the country:

* The Prisoner Hunger Strike Solitary Coalition has called for a mass march and rally at the gates of Corcoran State Prison for this Saturday, July 13. Check here for details.

* The Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) is calling for a National Day of Action to Support Prison Hunger Strikers on Friday, July 19.

* SMIN has also issued an urgent call for people to sign and contribute to the publication of the EMERGENCY CALL TO STOP TORTURE IN U.S. PRISONS! in the Los Angeles Times.

Check back at revcom.us for further coverage as the hunger strike continues.

 

* See article from Center for Investigative Reports, "Lawmakers call for investigation into sterilization of female inmates" [back]

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/national-day-of-action-to-support-prison-hunger-strikers-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

We received this from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network:

Friday, July 19—National Day of Action to Support Prison Hunger Strikers!
Stop Prison Torture!

July 12, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

30,000 people held in horrible conditions in U.S. prisons have gone on hunger strike to say NO MORE to torture. These prisoners have put their health and lives on the line to assert their humanity and call for an end to long-term solitary confinement and other abuses. We must respond to their heroic stand by finding our own humanity and standing with them in this fight for justice.

As part of doing this, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) is calling for a Day of National Action in Solidarity With the Prisoner Hunger Strike on Friday, July 19—day 12 of the hunger strike. On July 19, people and organizations everywhere need to take to the streets, hold speakouts and rallies, sign banners and statements, hold public programs, organize massive outreach on social media—in every way possible manifest their support for the people in prison who have put their lives on the line to end torture in prison.

 Look at the horrors tens of thousands of people in long-term solitary confinement are forced to endure:

 These conditions fit the international definition of torture, and they have been shown to drive people insane. Yet U.S. authorities arrogantly reject calls to limit long-term solitary confinement to no more than 15 days. This is unacceptable, and it must be stopped. Everyone with an ounce of justice in their hearts needs to support the struggle to stop it!

July 19 is the day to take a big leap in this effort, and we must begin right now to build momentum for powerful outpourings on this day. Spread this call to act everywhere—post it on Facebook, tweet about it, distribute flyers about it and more. Plan demonstrations and other forms of activity in your city, neighborhood, church group, organization, etc.

People in prison have put their lives on the line to stop the outrageous treatment being enforced on them. They have issued a call to cease racial hostility inside the prisons and outside as well in order to forge broad unity in this fight for justice. We must respond to their call and mobilize powerful actions in support of their righteous fight to stop torture—July 19 must be a day when that support is made manifest. Take to the streets and act in other ways to say NO MORE to torture and abuse in prison.

Contact the Stop Mass Incarceration Network at stopmassincarceration@gmail.com or 347-979-SMIN (7646). More information at their website: stopmassincarceration.net

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/abortion-rights-are-at-a-crossroads-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Abortion Rights Are at a Crossroads:
This is NOT a Time to Lay Low—It is Time for Massive Uncompromising Struggle!

by Sunsara Taylor and David Gunn, Jr. | July 12, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Across the country, people are waking up to the state of emergency facing the right to abortion. As legislators in Texas push hard to close down 37 of 42 abortion clinics statewide, new laws in North Carolina would close four of their five remaining clinics. Meanwhile, Ohio's recently passed budget could close as many as three abortion clinics. North Dakota, on August 1, may become the first state to effectively ban abortion. Already Mississippi's last abortion clinic is merely an appellate ruling away from closure. We could go on.

If we do not reverse this trajectory now, we will condemn future generations of women and girls to forced motherhood, to lives of open enslavement, terror, and life-crushing shame. Women will be forced to have children they do not want, trapping them in abusive relationships, driving them into poverty, forcing them out of school, and extinguishing their dreams. Women will go to desperate and dangerous measures to terminate unwanted pregnancies, once again flooding emergency rooms and turning up dead women in cheap motels with blood caked between their legs.

We face two divergent roads: Either we seize control of the debate and reset the terms and whole trajectory of this fight; or we continue down the road of "established conventional wisdom," only to awaken before long to an unrecognizable and untenable situation for women. What each of us does matters, and matters tremendously.

Abortion Rights Freedom Ride Routes

Volunteers on the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride will caravan from both coasts to North Dakota, traverse through the middle of the country into Wichita, and head due south to Jackson, Mississippi.

It is in this context that we initiated an Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. Our echo of the Civil Rights Freedom Rides is intentional and fitting. Women who cannot decide for themselves if and when they have children are not free. On the contrary, they are mere child-bearing chattel whose purpose is to serve and not actively choose their destinies.

Volunteers on this Freedom Ride will caravan from both coasts to North Dakota, traverse through the middle of the country into Wichita, and head due south to Jackson, Mississippi. Our aim is threefold: one, we must move beyond localized fights and launch a national counter-offensive; two, we must radically reset the political, moral, and ideological terms of this fight so that millions understand that this fight is about women's liberation or women's enslavement; lastly, and of paramount importance, we must call forth the mass independent political resistance that is necessary to defeat this war on women.

As the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride evolved from conception to genesis, many have responded with enthusiastic and unequivocal support. Regular people from across the country as well as those who have been on the front lines of the abortion rights struggle are joining with us in demanding abortion rights without compromise and thanking us for daring to travel to where women's rights face the harshest threat.

However, some who share our passion for the cause have raised concerns and even opposition to this action. They fear the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride will be too confrontational, too vociferous for abortion, and may turn off avenues of support.

Some have argued that it is wrong for people to come into local areas from the outside. Others argue that mass political protest will endanger the chances of winning important court cases and that it is better to rely on official channels of politics.

Because the future of women is at stake, we feel it is critical to address these concerns head on. In fact, it is exactly the faulty logic at the root of these concerns that has contributed to all of us finding ourselves in such a dire situation.

First, while local ground conditions are different and unique in some ways, the fact that every clinic and every state is facing heightened assault is not unique nor is it local. We all face a national assault on abortion rights which requires a national counter-offensive. Not only is it utterly immoral for us to abandon the women living in the states most under direct duress, it is delusional to think that what happens in states like Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota and Kansas will not come soon to a theater near you. Our futures are bound together and we all share the responsibility to take this on and turn the tide where the attacks are the most severe.

Second, while it is true that a great many people—including many who support abortion rights—are defensive about abortion, they should not be ashamed and this defensiveness and shame is precisely something we must eradicate.  

Hundreds of people flooded the statehouse June 26 in Austin, Texas to fight against Senate Bill 5. If signed into law, the measure would close almost every abortion clinic in Texas. Photo: AP

Among the reasons many are defensive about abortion are decades of propaganda by those who oppose women's equality but posture as defenders of "babies"; meanwhile, supporters of abortion rights have too often been conciliatory, muted, and compromising. This must stop. This fight has never been about babies. It has always been about controlling women. This is why there is not a single major anti-abortion organization that supports birth control.

If we want to turn the tide, we have to tell the truth: there is absolutely nothing wrong with abortion. Fetuses are NOT babies. Abortion is NOT murder. Women are NOT incubators.

A great many people are hungry for this message. They are furious and searching for a meaningful vehicle to make their outrage felt. It is only by asserting the positive morality of abortion rights that we can call forth and mobilize the tens of thousands who already share our resolve. Only through direct action and a polemical shift can all of us stand together and change how millions of others are thinking. Shouldn't this emergency situation awaken us to the need to change public opinion, not accommodate it?

History has proven that directly confronting oppressive social norms can be disruptive and scary; yet it is a necessary and uplifting part of making any significant positive change. Many argued that it was wiser for LGBT people to stay closeted until society was more accepting; others counseled against the Civil Rights Freedom Rides out of fear that it would only rile up the opposition, but it was only when people took that risk and got "in your face" that broader public opinion and actions began to change.

We must create a situation where being anti-abortion is seen to be as socially unacceptable as it is to advocate lynchings, anti-LGBT violence, or rape (although, if you listen to some on the Right, rape advocacy is not necessarily off their table). When we reach that summit, we will be on our way to turning the tide.

Third, while court cases are important—even essential—it is only through truly massive independent political struggle that we stand a chance at defeating the truly unyielding and powerful foe we face. Every setback the anti-abortion movement experiences only makes them more determined and every victory only makes them more aggressive. They will not be appeased if we lie low. No court case or election or new law will stop them. Not only has the existing power structure proven unwilling or unable to do so, people who believe they are on a "mission from God" are not bound by human laws and do not yield to public opinion.

But they can be defeated. Forced motherhood is deeply opposed to the interests of humanity. If we get out there and tell the truth, if we resist, if we clarify the stakes of this battle, and if we mobilize wave upon wave of the masses to get off the sidelines and into the streets with us, we can win. There is a tremendous reservoir of people who can and must be called forth to join in this struggle. We have seen this vividly in Texas. Let us not underestimate the potential that exists in every state across this country.

We stand at a crossroads. For the future of women everywhere, let us refuse the worn pathways that have allowed us to lose so much ground. We must not lay low, hope these attacks will blow over, and allow women in some parts of the country to be forced into mandatory motherhood while hoping to preserve the rights of a shrinking few. We cannot continue to foster the attitude that abortion is the 21st century's Scarlet Letter while allowing abortion providers to be further stigmatized and demonized. We cannot recoil from the massive fight that urgently needs fighting at this moment in this time.

Now is the time for courage, for truth-telling, for stepping out and launching an uncompromising counter-offensive. We have right on our side. We call on everyone who cares about the future of women to join with us in strengthening the national impact and influence of this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. Join with us at our kick-off rallies in New York City and San Francisco on July 23. Caravan to meet us in North Dakota, Wichita, Kansas, and Jackson, Mississippi. Send a donation or a message of support. Reach out to individuals and religious communities that can provide safe passage to the courageous individuals who are giving up their summers and putting everything they have into winning a different and far better future for women. Most importantly, let us together take the rough road to victory. It may be less traveled, but only through struggle can we reap the benefits of love's labor won.

To learn more about and get involved with the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, go to: http://www.stoppatriarchy.org/

Sunsara Taylor writes for Revolution newspaper (revcom.us) and is an initiator of the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women (StopPatriarchy.org)

David Gunn, Jr. is the son of David Gunn, Sr., the first abortion doctor to be assassinated by an anti-abortion gunman, and blogs for Abortion.ws

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/zimmerman-walks-free-how-long-will-this-system-continue-to-get-away-with-murder-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Zimmerman Walks Free

How Long Will This System Continue to Get Away With Murder?

by Carl Dix | July 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Download PDF Flier
 

NOT GUILTY!?! This verdict is an outrage, a punch to the gut, a slap in the face. The facts could not be clearer. George Zimmerman saw a Black youth with a hoodie, decided he was "up to no good," stalked him, confronted him, and shot him through the heart. And, after all that people did to force the authorities to put Zimmerman on trial—the lynching reality of this country remains in effect. The killer walks free. Another Black youth buried.

The real question of this trial was not murder or "self-defense." It was whether the Trayvon Martins of this world have a right to survive, flourish, and to get justice if they're attacked—or whether the Zimmermans of this world have a supposed right to murder them with impunity. The system has given its answer.

This outrageous verdict of not guilty is an open declaration of placing a target on the backs of a whole generation of Black and Latino youth—under the guise of "letting the system work." This verdict is the system working, and such a system has been exposed through this trial, and in many, many, many other ways as unjust, a horror and illegitimate.

Here we are. Those who are telling people that they have to "accept" the verdict are telling us to accept a modern-day lynching...to accept the police gunning-down of Black and Latino youth...to accept the warehousing of 2.2 million people into prisons. Their message is clear: the system can continually enforce oppressive and murderous relations on the people, but the people cannot stand up.

No! The murder of Trayvon Martin: unacceptable.

No! The way this trial was conducted: unacceptable.

No! The verdict of this trial: unacceptable.

And people have the right to stand up and express their seething anger, which is deeply felt, which has been just below the surface, in many ways.

This is a moment to express our outrage. A moment to act together against a howling injustice. A moment for all with a sense of justice in their hearts to stand with the people, to condemn this verdict, and let it be known in all kinds of ways: NO MORE. And if people who take to the streets come under attack, they must be supported. Authorities who criminalize and brutalize people cannot be allowed to beat, corral, pepper-spray people or worse for opposing their brutality. 

Enough! The legacy of slavery continues. The legacy of Jim Crow continues. The reality of a New Jim Crow is lived today, and it kills. Youth like Trayvon are murdered by cops and vigilantes who almost never get punished for their crimes. Tens of thousands of youth are put into prisons every year. It is part of an overall program of brutality and suppression that amounts to a slow genocide that is breaking the bodies and crushing the spirits of countless millions of oppressed people. And as the jury delivered its "not guilty" verdict in Florida, 30,000 prisoners in California are engaged in a heroic strike against inhumane and savage conditions of solitary confinement. This is the reality of this system.

But there is also the reality that Trayvon Martin and youth like him DO NOT have to die or face lives of unending brutality and misery. Any society that does what this country does to oppressed people here and around the world for centuries should not be allowed to continue. A radically different and far better society and world is possible—where the Trayvon Martins and Rachel Jeantels and countless millions like them can flourish, take creative initiative, and contribute everything they have to offer to the whole of society and towards the emancipation of humanity.

This is possible through revolution. A revolution that can end all the horrors this system inflicts on humanity—the oppression of Black people, the degradation faced by women, the wars for empire, the ravaging of the environment and more. This revolution is based on the theory of Bob Avakian. If you want no more of this world and its brutality and misery, get into Bob Avakian's work. Get with the Party that BA leads, the Revolutionary Communist Party. There is a way out of the madness and oppression.  

The stakes are high. It's about right and wrong. It's about the kind of world we want to live in. 

 

To learn more: revcom.us.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/as-zimmerman-verdict-released-people-protest-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Connecting the revolution with outrage and protests around the country

July 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Immediately after the verdict of "not guilty" was announced for Trayvon Martin's killer, people took to the streets that very night in cities across the country in protest against this outrage. And more protests were called for. We will be posting reports of these actions here as we receive them from readers. Send reports, photos, and calls for further protests to revolution.reports@yahoo.com.

 

Posts updated July 24, 2013

"Twelve signs that You Might be a CREEPY-ASS-CRACKA" Twelve signs that You Might be a CREEPY-ASS-CRACKA

PDF of artwork created by a reader of revcom.us.
Right-click here to download for print.

Chicago—"We must make this into the first day of the beginning of the end of this system"

July 20—Revolutionaries, including people from the Revolution Club, went out to the thousands of people who packed Federal Plaza at the "Justice for Trayvon" rally in downtown Chicago to bring the message: "The Whole Damn System Is Guilty! Now is the Time to Stand up: We Need Revolution— Nothing Less!"
Read more

Thousands Call for Justice for Trayvon in Downtown Detroit

July 20—Today in Detroit, the Justice for Trayvon rally called by National Action Network brought out thousands of people filling the downtown block and a flatbed truck of ministers and other speakers blocking the street in front the Department of Injustice building. I missed the beginning and speeches, but later, one of the main organizers saw me and, shouting "there's the revolutionaries," shook my hand and took my last poster. He said he would post it in his church.
Read more

Youth in LA’s Crenshaw District Join Struggle

We are all Trayvon! The whole damn system is guilty!

On Monday night July 15, LAPD chief Beck sent out a tweet that began with the sentence “Violence is never the answer”! This as LAPD helicopters, 350 cops in riot gear, scores of police cruisers surrounded and blocked off Crenshaw Blvd....
Read more

After the Verdict: Anger and Defiance in Sanford

July 13-14—Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center on Saturday as the jury deliberated the verdict. The crowd was multinational and consisted of many, many people from other parts of Florida and many people from various states who were vacationing in Florida but felt compelled to change their plans and be a part of the demonstration. Many people had their children with them.
Read more

East Oakland Response to Zimmerman Trial

Read more

Outrage in San Francisco Bay Area

July 13-14: A call for day of/day protests after the Zimmerman verdict came down—for 4 pm at Powell and Market streets in downtown San Francisco and 14th and Broadway in Oakland—had been circulated by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network-Bay Area for the last several weeks. When the verdict came—a little before 7 pm Saturday night—a crew of supporters of Revolution Books Berkeley and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) headed to 14th & Broadway (Oscar Grant Plaza) with a "We Are All Trayvon" banner and other SMIN and revolutionary materials. Some people had already come—one from some 20 miles away. A crowd of 30 gathered, many shocked and sickened by the verdict.
Read more

Los Angeles: Protests through the Night

July 13, evening: People of all nationalities and ages began gathering in Leimert Park in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles within an hour of the verdict. Anger/disbelief/grief/gut-wrenching pain poured out. A mother and daughter showed up and marched all night, who only a few hours earlier had been crying on the street when they ran into a revolutionary and learned there was something they could do, together with others, to send a message to the world.
Read more

Los Angeles: From Crenshaw to Westlake to Pico/Union—"We must not stop"

July 20—As part of the National Action Network and Million Hoodies Movement in 100 cities, members of the Revolution Club and readers/distributors of Revolution newspaper joined it with our revolutionary materials and our revolutionary swag. We brought placards (made the previous night by volunteers) with the different slogans posted on revcom.us—including the NEW "3 Strikes" quote by BA, a beautiful (large) banner with the slogan "We are all Trayvon! The Whole Damn System is Guilty!" (that immediately drew attention and appreciation—with people taking pictures, etc.), stickers with this same slogan (and people were encouraged to take stacks of the stickers to distribute to the crowd—as well as wherever they go), Revolution newspaper, and promotional materials for the BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! film screening (up the street that same day).
Read more

Union Square, New York City, July 14, 2013
Photo: Michael Fleshman/Flickr-NYC

New York: 5,000 Hit the Streets of Manhattan

July 14—5,000 people hit the streets of Manhattan in a wild and winding march demanding Justice for Trayvon Martin. Despite sweltering heat and humidity, thousands were determined to express their outrage at this cold-blooded modern-day lynching and not be deterred by the police....
Read more

Stand with the youth of LA!  Justice for Trayvon Martin—we will not accept this verdict. 

Come Saturday: BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—Nothing Less!

July 16, 2013: Last night, hundreds of young people were in the streets of South Central Los Angeles expressing their fury.  They were outraged about the acquittal of George Zimmerman and defiant in the face of the police who were trying to suppress their protest. 
Read more

July 14 Rally and March in Harlem Make a Statement on the Verdict: "Unacceptable!"

On Sunday, the day after the George Zimmerman verdict, people began gathering in front of the Harlem State Office Building well before the 1 pm rally/speakout called for by the Revolution Club and Stop Mass Incarceration Network.
Read more

Detroit: Outrage Expressed in Protest and Culture

Sunday evening, July 14:  In the wee hours of the morning, after the verdict, a young socialist posted an event page on Facebook for a rally this evening, Sunday, 7/14. By 4 am, hundreds had committed to come to the rally. Youth who came from neighboring Ann Arbor and other people, looking for something to do, found the event page and tweeted their friends to come. This was definitely a social networking event. 
Read more

Chicago: Outpouring of Outrage on the West Side and Downtown

West Side, July 13, evening: On Chicago's West Side at a busy intersection, hundreds of fliers of Carl Dix's statement, "The Response That's Needed—The World We Want To Live In," and stickers of the Trayvon Martin hoodie image were gotten out. People from the neighborhood went out into the street with fliers and stickers, passing them out to cars, while young men hung posters on themselves that read, "We Are ALL Trayvon – the Whole Damn System is Guilty! Get with the Real Revolution." Many people coming through, including people pulling over in their cars, got handfuls of fliers and stickers to get out. People took posters to take home and to take to work. One woman took a poster to put up in her gallery.
Read more

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/youth-in-LAs-Crenshaw-district-join-struggle-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Youth in LA’s Crenshaw District Join Struggle

We are all Trayvon! The whole damn system is guilty!

July 17, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

On Monday night July 15, LAPD chief Beck sent out a tweet that began with the sentence “Violence is never the answer”! This as LAPD helicopters, 350 cops in riot gear, scores of police cruisers surrounded and blocked off Crenshaw Blvd. They closed off an area of two to three miles in the heart of this predominantly Black and Latino neighborhood, which includes the historic Black cultural and political hub of Leimert Park. What prompted the bullshit from Beck as the LAPD put this whole area under siege, arresting over a dozen people and putting at least one into the hospital?

It began with a prayer vigil of several hundred around 6 p.m. at Leimert Park to protest the verdict. A couple of hours later, hundreds and hundreds of mainly youth, many of whom looked to be the age of Trayvon Martin, joined the protest. TV footage showed crowds of people running through parking lots, jumping on top of cars, kicking plate glass windows of businesses, and burning trash cans.

Beck claimed in a late night press conference that 150 people broke away from the vigil and broke windows, and promised to clamp down on any more protests in the Crenshaw area beginning the next day. He menacingly warned parents not to let their kids go out to any protests in the Crenshaw. LA supervisor Mark-Riddley Thomas and ex-LA police chief and now councilman Bernard Parks brought up the image of the 1992 and Watts rebellions, and outrageously talked on and on about non-violence. Beck's warning is clearly an ugly threat of extreme police violence against the people, especially the youth, of this area, to shut down the deep rage and growing. The LAPD’s brutal, murderous, racist history and current reality is well known for those who care to face the truth.

A Black woman shown on TV said something along the lines of “we’re gonna get it right, that’s what we’re doing out there, we’re gonna stay out here till we get it right, they didn’t get it right in Florida.” It was reported that a small crowd of about 20 mostly young men and women, many with “I am Trayvon” shirts, ran into the McDonald’s on Crenshaw Blvd, turning over tables and chairs. And it was also reported that one of these youth said they were not hurting anybody but only wanted to express their rage over this verdict. One man said he wants to take 2,000 people to Florida to protest.

Monday night’s youthful rebellion in the Crenshaw district followed two nights of protests on Saturday and Sunday nights. Within a couple of hours after the verdict was announced on Saturday, more than a hundred people gathered in Leimert Park for a speak-out of diverse political forces. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network was among those who spoke to the crowd about the stakes. The Revolution Club and BA Everywhere van tour were also in the house.

This crowd then marched several miles up Crenshaw and blocked the metro train for a short period, before marching further north to the 10 freeway (over 5 miles), threatened by the LAPD all the way, and finally dispersed around 1 a.m. For some of the protesters, this was their very first demonstration, such as a Black woman and her daughter who stood in a shopping mall and began sobbing upon hearing the verdict, but ran into a revolutionary on their way to the protest, and decided to show up there themselves.

At Saturday’s night vigil, one speaker talked about the unjust verdict but then mistakenly confused this state supported white supremacist violence with so- called “black on black” violence. He was taken on by an angry Black woman in the crowd who called out this bullshit. By the way, Revolution readers should know it’s the same line run out by Newt Gingrich on CNN’s “Crossfire” and some Black bourgeois spokespeople. The sister told him that he was wrong, the protest is against the murder of Trayvon by the vigilante Zimmerman, not so-called “black on black” violence which is a different issue, and if his wrong-headed comments got on the news, it would send out the wrong message about what’s really at issue and at stake.

There was a protest called by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network that took place in Leimert Park early Sunday afternoon. And later that day, there was a speak-out called by other political forces that was held at the busy intersection of Crenshaw and MLK, which went into the night. Hundreds of protesters again marched the several miles to the 10 freeway but this time they marched right onto the freeway itself. An LA Times photo shows protesters with a gigantic 6-foot banner with Trayvon’s hoodie image with the words “we are all Trayvon, the whole damn system is guilty” accompanying marchers on the freeway. It seems some of this crowd of 400-500 protesters split off and went up to the heart of Hollywood to demonstrate, and marched through the lobby of the ritzy “W” hotel as part of their activity.

In the midst of the protests and resistance, a lot of revolutionary literature is passing hand to hand in the Crenshaw district and neighborhood. This includes copies of Revolution, and palmcards of BAsics 1:13, Carl Dix’s recent statement “Zimmerman walks free: How long will this system continue to get away with murder?” and palmcards for the exciting July 20 LA Central Library showing of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

Revolution Club and BA Everywhere van tour members report encountering palpable rage and visceral hurt among the basic masses brought up by this cruel, unjust verdict. Even though many Black people told us they had the sinking feeling Zimmerman would get off, the verdict was a razor-like slap across the face. For many Black people, like the mother and daughter mentioned above, the verdict made tears flow with a feeling of pain that tore through their very core. One man in the neighborhood was crying when talking with Revolution Club members about this. Like so many others, he ran down the system’s raw and bitter oppression in his life, and all the unbearable things that had happened to members of his family. And like others, he was really glad to run into this revolution.

One of the complexities we’re finding is that mixed in with the anger and bitterness is some defensiveness among many Black people about their oppression by the system. In earlier times (e.g., 1965 Watts rebellion, or 1992 LA rebellion over the LAPD beating of Rodney King), most Black people more clearly saw the hand of oppression targeting Black people, and now we have the complexity of the New Jim Crow in a supposed colorblind society.

The mother and daughter who were sobbing about this painful outrage said they didn’t want to “play the race card” as to why this nightmare is happening. And a Black woman at one of the protests, in a righteous desire for unity in opposition to some extremely narrow, anti-communist Black nationalists, said this is not about Black vs white but a child being killed. This is the result of decades of ideological assault on Black people, intensified under Obama, that their oppression is their own damn fault vs the system is to blame. But the youth on Crenshaw Blvd Monday night defiantly spoke for many others who are not in a defensive mood about the actual reality of the oppression of Black people in the U.S.

The harmful lie about Amerikkka being a color-blind society comes from Obama and the whole capitalist-imperialist system itself. Obama ran out a raggedly ass statement and bald-faced lie about how the issue in the Zimmerman trial is gun violence. WRONG. It’s about RACIST profiling and white supremacist vigilante violence. Then with a straight face, he said this country is a nation of laws, and the jury has spoken. This is the same shit he said when the cops who murdered Sean Bell got off scot free. And I have just three words about the country of laws: torture, and Edward Snowden.

People (of all nationalities) need a scientific understanding that is in the special issue of Revolution (#144), The Oppression of Black people, the Crimes of the System, and the Revolution We Need. More than anything, millions urgently need to connect with the leadership and works of BA, especially what’s in BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian and BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live. And we need to find ways to make sure all those who hate this injustice get connected to the revolution we need and the leadership we have in BA and the Revolutionary Communist Party he leads, especially those rebel youth who were out on Crenshaw Monday night.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/after-the-verdict-anger-and-defiance-in-sanford-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

After the Verdict: Anger and Defiance in Sanford

July 15, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

July 13-14—Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center on Saturday as the jury deliberated the verdict. The crowd was multinational and consisted of many, many people from other parts of Florida and many people from various states who were vacationing in Florida but felt compelled to change their plans and be a part of the demonstration. Many people had their children with them. A white woman from Orlando spoke with me outside of the courthouse—she had her two young children with her. "I'm white and my son's father is Black, but to America—my sons are Black and that means they will live in danger. I fear for their lives."

In front of the courthouse in Sanford, waiting for the verdict on July 13, 2013. Special to Revolution

Around 9 o'clock the police closed off the entrance to the courthouse to cars and pedestrians. People came from around Sanford and outside the city, many of whom drove miles after watching the news and seeing the possibility of the jury delivering the verdict. Many people, including many white people, felt the need to come to the courthouse and demand justice for Trayvon Martin, but the police turned them away. As the sun faded, the lights from the court building engulfed the crowd, and green We Are All Trayvon—the Whole Damn System is Guilty stickers glowed in the remaining light. It was late, and we had distributed all of the Revolution newspapers. We joined the crowds at the front of the protest pen, standing on the fountain with huge Revolution—Nothing Less posters. The crowd stared up at the fifth floor of the courthouse with its tall glass windows, lawyers, police, and maybe George Zimmerman looked out at the crowd. People chattered about the happenings inside the court, cell phones glowed in the night as people checked for updates, and families and friends called giving people updates from what they were watching on TV.

Suddenly, the police began to move around the crowd, and a group of armed guards positioned themselves side by side covering the inside and outside of the court's doors. News reporters and cameramen rushed into place. Everyone sensed that something was about to happen. The chants hushed and cell phones lit faces as people refreshed news websites looking for the verdict. Some prayed and most waited anxiously. Occasionally a rumor would pass through the crowd. People lit up as someone said, "He's guilty!" "No wait..." People waited.... Finally, wails passed through the air, "Noooo!" "NOT GUILTY!" "The jury said not guilty!"

People broke. Old men, young women, mothers and fathers clenching their children wept. Some shouted "shame!" pointing toward the fifth floor where the jury had just freed George Zimmerman, a murderer. We witnessed a lynching. A kick to the face. News cameras pointed in the faces of weeping mothers and others staring in disbelief. Some turned to a revolutionary in the crowd. She spoke clearly and boldly condemning this system and proclaiming that a system that continually buries the Trayvon Martins of the world as the George Zimmermans walk free is an ILLegitimate system and should be swept off the face of the Earth.

Although the police would not allow anyone into the courthouse, they did allow people to leave. We received a call from a friend of the revolution, a woman in the Goldsboro neighborhood where the Trayvon Martin Memorial is located. Goldsboro is an historical Black neighborhood with a rich history and a deep, dark history of coming under horrific racist oppression that dates from slavery to today. While it houses a beautiful memorial to Trayvon, Goldsboro is also the home of the Sanford Police Department—where after murdering Trayvon, George Zimmerman walked freely out of the back door, before Trayvon's blood had even dried. The revolution is widely recognized in Goldsboro, and we knew that it was an important place to be on that night.

When we arrived, people were gathered outside of the Welcome Center. Many were gathered at the memorial where some had lit candles and placed flowers in honor of Trayvon. A reporter with Revolution newspaper was already listening as people reflected on their disbelief, disappointment, anger, and grief. Many older women spoke of worrying about the youth in the neighborhood. One woman talked about stopping in a 7-Eleven on her way home from the courthouse to buy a drink. A young Black man was outside in his car with his music loud. She approached him and pleaded for him to go home. She told him what had happened in court that night and told him that it wasn't safe for him to be out. We talked with people late into the night. We struggled together, trying to understand the implications of what had taken place, what it means for the youth, Black people, and why we don't have to live this way.

Around one in the morning, a few of us sat together on a bench with a small group of women from Goldsboro. We talked about how tragic it would be for the system to succeed in lowering people's heads even further, leaving them defeated and demoralized. One woman said that many people weren't going to church in the morning because they were simply too bitter. I suggested that we figure out a way for people to express their bitterness, grief, and anger with others who are feeling the same way, and call on others to refuse to suffer in silence. We talked and decided to have a public speak-out in Fort Mellon Park, a large city park on the waterfront in downtown Sanford where tens of thousands of people gathered last year to demand the arrest of Zimmerman. Together we agreed to spread the word with them, telling people at church the next morning and calling around to friends, and we put it out on Facebook and Twitter and called the contacts we had.

Sunday morning, our group distributed Carl Dix's statement on the verdict, "How Long Will This System Continue to Get Away with Murder?" to the congregation of the largest AME church in Goldsboro. Inside the church, word had already gotten out about the speak-out. Reporters from national press reporting from inside the church got word as well. People were receptive to Carl Dix's statement and despite exiting a church service, no one I spoke to claimed it was god's plan—no one was at peace with the verdict.

Speak-out at the Park

In the afternoon, we went to the park. As gusts of wind blew off the lake and the daily Florida storm clouds gathered overhead, we erected a giant (12 x 7 foot) banner with Bob Avakian's "No more generations of our youth..." quote and a stunning, larger-than-life photograph from the cover of Revolution of a group of youth, fists in the air, holding signs emblazoned with "Justice 4 Trayvon" with a caption under the picture, "We Are All Trayvon—The Whole Damn System Is Guilty!" Reporters and people playing in the park watched as the banner came together. The banner alone set a tone in the park. Bystanders talked about the verdict as a crowd of about 150 people gathered.

We started with a reading of Carl Dix's statement on the verdict. We made two large signs with the three points in the statement declaring Trayvon's murder, the way the trial was conducted, and the verdict as "UNACCEPTABLE." These three points resonated with people as true and extremely relevant at this that moment.

After reading the statement, we opened the mic up to the crowd. This was not the type of gathering people were used to in Sanford; revolution was undeniably in the forefront, people were indicting the system and pointing to a way out—this set the tone. Putting forth revolution and communism as a solution did NOT stifle people, in fact it unleashed them. This was a real model of BA's solid core with a lot of elasticity. There was a feeling of community and a sense of "we've got each other's back—we are all Trayvon."

At the speakout July 14 in Fort Mellon Park, Sanford, Florida. Special to Revolution

A Puerto Rican mother stepped to the center of the crowd with her 13-year-old son. She took the microphone and told the crowd, "I moved to Sanford from one of the roughest neighborhoods in the Bronx. I moved here for a better life—this is what I get." She pointed to her son who stood beside her with his head held high, straight-faced and serious, "This is my Trayvon! This is my son. He is Trayvon Martin!" Her son seemed to know this—he lives it every day. The mother talked about how her son was already big for his age and she described her terror as she watched him grow, fearing that he could be murdered by the police or a vigilante who might profile him as a threat.

Three other people spoke and talked openly about their experiences with the New Jim Crow—mass incarceration and the disenfranchisement and stigma they are forced to live with now that they are "free." One was a young Black woman who now works with an organization advocating for the rights of people formerly incarcerated. She described the struggle that she and thousands of formerly incarcerated men and women face under this system. She told us about the 1.4 million (mostly Black) people in Florida who are disenfranchised and suggested that it may have played a role in the jury pool for the Zimmerman trial.

During one of the speeches, a young boy, no older than 7, began to chant, "No justice! No peace!" and got his even younger brother to join him, both pumping their fist in the air; the crowd joined them. He took the microphone with confidence and asked the crowd, "Who here wanted to see George Zimmerman guilty? Say 'me' if you did." Everyone responded "ME!" and broke back into chant. The boy's courage opened things up for people who may have been reluctant to speak.

Over a dozen others spoke. We read from BAsics 2:16, in which Bob Avakian recounts the story of Tyisha Miller, a woman passed out in her car from a seizure, who awoke and was murdered by the police. People cheered after the line "If you can't handle the situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way...get off the earth.... Because, you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome." There was a real sense, a real interest among people, and a deep feeling that the system is illegitimate and WE could do much better. People, including many from other states, gathered to talk and ask questions about revolution, the possibilities, and what it is about.

At one point, a woman, encouraged by her friend, shyly approached the mic and asked if she could sing a song. She took the microphone and started to sing. She was small, but her voice was tremendous, and as she sang people in the crowd went silent—all attention was on her. The song she sang was surprising, but incredibly relevant to the moment; she sang the song "Hero" by Whitney Houston. The lyrics of the song describe the feeling of defeat, but refusing to give in and give up.

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong,
And you'll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

This speak-out was a powerful expression of defiance for the people of Sanford. People's sentiment ranged from disbelief (someone described the feeling as being "tased") to grief, and complete outrage at the continued oppression of Black people. As people struggle to sum up and understand where to go from here, it is crucial that revolution is in the mix. It is critical that people know about Bob Avakian and his new synthesis of communism and the party that he leads, the Revolutionary Communist Party. As the rulers of this system work overtime to beat into people's heads that even if you don't like the verdict, this is the best system in the world--we need to get BA and Revolution newspaper into all of this and cut through the bullshit. People need to know that WE DON'T HAVE TO LIVE THIS WAY! This is a moment where a crack has opened, people are seeking a way out, what we do now matters.

 


 

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Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

After the Verdict in the Trayvon Martin Case

New York: 5,000 Hit the Streets of Manhattan

July 15, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

July 14—5,000 people hit the streets of Manhattan in a wild and winding march demanding Justice for Trayvon Martin. Despite sweltering heat and humidity, thousands were determined to express their outrage at this cold-blooded modern-day lynching and not be deterred by the police. People poured into the streets, taking over the entire width, marching south out of Union Square, changing directions several times, before heading north and west to Times Square. Hundreds if not more came into the streets to join the march as it passed. At times the march went against the traffic, people walking between the cars as drivers honked in support. People chanted, "We are all Trayvon Martin" and "No Justice, No Peace." Started by revolutionaries, hundreds took up the chant "The whole system is guilty" on their own. As the march went through the crowded streets of Manhattan into Times Square, many of the onlookers cheered in agreement.

Union Square, July 14, 2013

Union Square, New York City, July 14, 2013: more than 5,000 people protested in response to the verdict. Photo: Special to Revolution

The marchers were an incredibly diverse array of people—young and older, from the 'hood, including hard-edged youth, along with people of all nationalities. For many, this was their first political action. There seemed to be a pleasant surprise among many Black people that many white people had come out to demonstrate.

Protesters filled the streets of Times Square with thousands of tourists taking pictures and video recording the march. A rally was held in the middle of Times Square with people climbing on top of five-foot-high garbage containers with a bullhorn. Twice revolutionaries addressed the crowd, calling on people to resist this open season on Black and Latino youth...pointing to the reality that stopping outrages like the murder of Trayvon Martin, the slow genocide against Black people, and all the system's crimes once and for all requires revolution, nothing less...and calling on people to get into Bob Avakian. At one point, several hundred people continued the march, heading for Harlem.

Earlier, beginning at 1 pm, an array of groups held rallies in Union Square. The first was kicked off by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) with about 100 people. People from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, numerous people who expressed outrage, and others spoke. The statement from Carl Dix of the RCP, "Zimmerman Walks Free—How Long Will This System Continue to Get Away With Murder?" was read. Soon, the crowds in the park began to grow, with several rallies going on at one point. Throughout the day, we distributed at least 750 "We Are All Trayvon—The Whole Damn System Is Guilty" stickers, enough that people wearing them were a very noticeable presence. In addition, we got out about 2,000 flyers from SMIN and about 1,700 copies of Carl Dix's statement. We had a life-size cutout of Trayvon Martin that had the words "We are all Trayvon Martin." Throughout the day, many, many people were drawn to it and took pictures. It was carried in the march, both by members of SMIN and people in the march who wanted to carry it.

At 5 pm SMIN held another rally with about 150 people, MCed by two revolutionaries. Numerous people spoke. A call was put out to march, and people excitedly responded "yes!" An hour later, #HoodiesUp held a rally of over 500 with a number of organizations participating. As the rally proceeded, Union Square began to fill. The SMIN rally took off marching around and through Union Square. Travis Morales from SMIN was asked to speak to the #HoodiesUp rally. He made four basic points: The trial did not prove the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman but rather proves that the whole damn system is guilty. It's not just one youth, as bad as that is—they have declared Open Season on all Black youth, they have put a target on the backs of all Black youth, and we say No More. Some people says it's time to be calm—we say, goddamit it's not time to be calm. This has gone on for 400 years and it's going to take revolution, nothing less, to end it—it's time to fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution. Get into BA, get into the real revolution, because we don't just want to fight but we want to end all these horrors. Morales asked if the people were ready to march. People began chanting, "March! March!" And into the streets they went.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/stand-with-youth-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Stand with the youth of LA!  Justice for Trayvon Martin—we will not accept this verdict. 

Come Saturday: BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—Nothing Less!

July 16, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 


July 16, 2013: Last night, hundreds of young people were in the streets of South Central Los Angeles expressing their fury.  They were outraged about the acquittal of George Zimmerman and defiant in the face of the police who were trying to suppress their protest. 

Today, the police and mayor have announced they will not allow marches on Crenshaw Boulevard and Leimert Park (center of the Black cultural scene) where the protesters have gathered, and the LAPD will be out in force, with a "stricter posture" towards the protests.  This can only mean more brutality.  The LAPD has already shot rubber bullets and bean bags into crowds of protesters in the last days.  This is the same LAPD—infamous for their wanton terror and brutality—that has killed or shot almost 30 people in the last several months, mainly Black and Latino.

In addition, the chorus of "responsible negro leaders" has been working overtime—expending their energies not continuing to denounce this criminal verdict, but scolding the protesters for destroying "our" Walmart and calling on parents to keep their children home.  They've pledged to have "peacekeepers" at the rallies to cool down the protest. 

This is unacceptable.  It means containing things in bounds "acceptable" to this system.  The same system that we saw working when George Zimmerman was NOT arrested the night he killed Trayvon.  The same system that we saw working in the courts with the criminalization of Trayvon and the persecution of Rachel Jeantel.  The same system that has now let that killer go scot-free.  The same system that is currently torturing over 80,000 prisoners held in solitary confinement and the same system that is enforcing a New Jim Crow.  The same damn system that is brutalizing and exploiting humanity all around the globe, destroying the natural environment in the process. 

No!  This verdict cannot be allowed to stand!  And people are right to protest and right to rebel in the ways they see fit.

First, this is not "our" Walmart for fuck's sake. 

But second, these are the very same youth on whose backs a target has been placed and now more firmly affixed.  Their lives are at stake—and all our futures are at stake.  It is right for them to be in the streets, it is right for them to express their anger—and people of all nationalities need to stand with them.

We need also to stand with the thousands of prisoners currently on hunger strike protesting these torturous conditions.  Asserting their humanity and refusing to be treated like slaves.  Join in the Day of Solidarity with the Prisoners' Hunger Strike THIS Friday.

The fact is, a radically different and far better world is possible!  A world where the Trayvon Martins of the world can not just survive, but flourish.  A world where the youth who were marching through the streets last night are part of bringing into being that world.  As Bob Avakian said in his recent film, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—Nothing Less! "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."

This requires REVOLUTION.  THIS Saturday at 12:30 pm, at the Los Angeles Central Library (630 West 5th Street), at this potential turning point in society, get into the deepest answers to the most profound questions facing humanity.  Come to a screening of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—Nothing Less! This is a film of a talk from Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party.  As one of the filmmakers said, "Yes, this is a film, but that is not its essence.  This is a daring, substantive, scientific summoning to revolution.  6+ hours that can change how you see the world and what you do with the rest of your life."

Join us in the streets—Fighting the Power, and Transforming the People, for Revolution!  And be there Saturday.  Write to revolutionbooksla@gmail.com or call 323.463.3500

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/east-oakland-response-to-zimmerman-trial-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

East Oakland Response to Zimmerman Trial

July 16, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

As the jury was deliberating in the Zimmerman trial, we were out among the masses. We found the response was different than during the trial. Before, while people did follow the trial closely and would tell us stories of what they know from watching the trial, once the jury went into deliberation, the mood started to change—from observing to speculating on the outcome. And the atmosphere became more charged politically! A lot of young people, high school age, were telling us that Zimmerman is guilty and he should be found guilty, which they anticipated, while people in their 30s+ were skeptical about that verdict. The older ones told us they remembered Rodney King and Oscar Grant when Mehserle, the BART cop who killed Oscar Grant, was only convicted of manslaughter and spent 11 months in jail.

As the jury deliberated a second day, there was a sense of "antsyness" in the air. People were wondering when the verdict would come out. This included young people who in the normal days would watch us, but just pass us by without much comment. That day, people of all ages wanted to talk. They spilled out anger of their observations during the trial—about the treatment of Rachel Jeantel, about the jury selection, about why the trial focused on who was on top of whom and not on why this guy carried a handgun and stalked Trayvon in the first place despite what the dispatcher told him to do.

Many people were thinking of bigger questions, like why this kind of terror happened and why revolution is the only way out of this madness. They wanted to wrangle about how revolution could be made. One young man's face lit up when talking about why revolution is the way to end all this horror including this injustice. But then he questioned how to do this when they have "all the things." When asked what he meant by "all the things," he mentioned the police and all that they have. Another young man in his mid-twenties told us that he had a way to make revolution. His suggestion was to put out a flyer that said the internet would be ended in 30 days. That would draw people out into the streets and we would be out there to lead them to make revolution. All this reflected that people were grappling with questions they don't normally grapple with. Also many other people also suggested they would go crazy if Zimmerman walked free.

On Sunday morning, the neighborhood was very quiet as many were at church. Some of those we talked with were bummed out, saying, "What is done is done. What can we do?" Some others were pissed off and kept saying, "This is not right. There is no justice in this system" in response to our slogan "We are all Trayvon Martin. The whole damn system is guilty." Still others contrasted this verdict (a man walks free after killing a Black youth) with the punishment Michael Vick received as a result of doing dog-fighting. We also noticed there were arguments among groupings of people living on the same street. Some who got bummed out were saying, "No need to talk about all this" in response to our agitation. Others jumped out and said, "Let her talk. What she said is right!"

At 3 pm on Sunday, there were 20+ people gathering at the corner for a rally that was previously called. People came from shelters, the neighborhood; a woman came with her kids who heard the bullhorn earlier—we were driving around in a car with a bullhorn sticking out of the window, ready to jump out at any time when we saw groupings of people in the hood. A Black Muslim family came from Berkeley after reading about the gathering online. This family's mother said the verdict made her feel terrified about letting her kids grow up and go out by themselves. "What kind of world is this?"

Some of these masses went with us to join the demonstration in downtown Oakland, where we also met some others from the neighborhood we had met in the days before. This included people from the homeless shelter as well as several young men who we met when they were painting a mural as an art project at school that morning. Also, a middle-aged Black man who proudly told us, "I told you I would be here!" At the rally and demonstration we also ran into masses coming from another poverty-stricken area of the city. A middle-aged woman showed up at the neighborhood rally holding a self-made banner listing all the injustices to Black people, from the Rosewood massacre to Rodney King, Oscar Grant, and Trayvon Martin.

The next day, Monday, when the BA Everywhere Van Tour went to the neighborhood, we found a lot of support, and people were interested in learning about how another world is possible. A total of 32 people that day watched parts of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, including a group of youth who were painting a mural. (Their teacher and some of them were very glad to have the Trayvon poster and said they'd be thinking of doing a mural of Trayvon, Oscar Grant, and maybe Emmett Till.) Seven or eight of these youth gathered around the van to watch the beginning of the film, and three of them stayed to watch more. They were interested in having a regular "workshop" to watch the film and discuss it more while getting involved in the movement. We ran into two of these youth again in another demonstration Monday night.

In another city in the area, a couple of people who are already part of the movement for revolution were angered by the verdict and inspired by the people standing up to injustice. An immigrant woman was very perturbed by the fact that the jury did not include any Black people. She wants to learn more about the situation and history of Black people in the U.S. Her daughter, in the middle of this outbreak, has been seriously grappling with the Revolutionary Communist Party's strategy for revolution, including wrangling with the concepts of "jolts" and what a revolutionary crisis would look like. She is thinking about all kinds of ways to bring BA and his vision out through the van tour and the BA Everywhere campaign. Besides volunteering to be part of the van tour, she and her younger sister want to duplicate one of the Revolution covers of Trayvon to fundraise for BA Everywhere.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/july-14-march-and-rally-in-harlem-verdict-unacceptable-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

July 14 Rally and March in Harlem Make a Statement on the Verdict: "Unacceptable!"

July 16, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Harlem July 14, 2013

Harlem, July 14, 2013. Photo: Special to Revolution

On Sunday, the day after the George Zimmerman verdict, people began gathering in front of the Harlem State Office Building well before the 1 pm rally/speakout called for by the Revolution Club and Stop Mass Incarceration Network.

One person after another stepped before the crowd to speak about how this verdict has made them, their son and grandsons, and all Black youth the targets of a racist society. "They treat us like shit." One sister said, "They are telling us we might as well be in prison or slavery times—the white man thinks they can kill our children, like selling them into slavery back then, and we are supposed to keep our mouths shut. I'm sick of it. I can't stand this. This is too much."

The Monday issue of AM New York, a free daily that reaches hundreds of thousands in New York City, said 150 people gathered, "holding signs that read, 'Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, Medgar Evers. Victims of racist lynchers...' A bullhorn was passed among them, and people expressed their disappointment with the verdict and the justice system, especially when dealing with minorities. They chanted: 'The whole damn system is guilty.'"

A deep anger and pain, rooted in the whole history of the oppression of Black people, poured from those who stepped in front of the crowd to speak. A woman in tears spoke about growing up in Los Angeles and how her brother was killed during the Watts Rebellion of 1965. "Nothing has changed," she said.

People were very moved when Khorey Wise, one of the Central Park 5, stepped forward to speak. He was falsely convicted at age 16 together with four other youths, in the middle of a lynch-mob atmosphere, for an attack on a young woman jogger that the police knew they did not commit. He served 14 years. He led people in a moment of silence in honor of Trayvon Martin and then in the chant "No Justice, No Peace."

Harlem July 14, 2013

Harlem July 14, 2013. Photo: Special to Revolution

A mother of a young man murdered by the police spoke about the pain of losing her child and the disgusting and abusive treatment of the family by the police. One man handed his sleeping three-year-old to the emcee and spoke of how this outrage stretched all the way back to slavery and that he didn't want to pass it on to his son. He didn't want to tell him where he could and couldn't walk and what to say and what to wear. "We are human beings. We will not be second class citizens. This has to change."

People were giving heartfelt testimony to the press. One man said: "They will tell you to calm down, give the system one more chance. The system has no more chances."

Carl Dix from the Revolutionary Communist Party commanded people's attention when he declared that this verdict and the system that gave rise to it is unacceptable and illegitimate. People listened intently as he said, "TRAYVON MARTIN DID NOT HAVE TO DIE!" and spoke about the need and possibility for revolution to make a world where the Trayvon Martins and Rachel Jeantels could flourish and contribute to emancipating all humanity. He said the leadership exists to make that revolution in Bob Avakian and the party he leads. Carl Dix called on people to get into BA, to dig into the strategy for revolution and the vision for a far different and better world, a communist world. (See video of his speech here.)

At one point soon after Carl had spoken, a person interrupted the emcee with, "We didn't come here to hear about Bob Avakian." The response from the stage: "We need to hear about BA if we want to ever get out of this... And, everyone who really feels this verdict is unacceptable should stand together and resist." An older woman who had been out to a rally called by the Revolution Club before the verdict chanted, "United we stand, divided we fall." Then people started to chant "No Justice! No Peace!"

Throughout the afternoon people debated around elections, demanding that the Justice Department bring a civil suit, revolution vs fighting to reform a system that very few out there this day felt could ever end national oppression, etc. Many people heard about BA for the first time, and there were discussions about leadership, and what kind of leadership is needed.

Marching Through the Streets

From the rally, about 150 people set off across 125th Street in a determined march behind two banners, signed by more than 800 people, that read "We Are All Trayvon" and "Justice for Trayvon, The Whole Damn System is Guilty," and with the "No More Generations" quote by Bob Avakian. People of different nationalities—Black, white, and Latino... youth... people pushing strollers and carrying children... older people... readers of Revolution newspaper... people from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and others filed in behind the banners, holding up posters of Trayvon. The call and response: "I say Trayvon—you say justice"—"Trayvon!" One brother held a life-size cutout of Trayvon aloft on his shoulders for the entire march.

The march was greeted with great enthusiasm from passing motorists. At points a wall of noise came from cars, buses, and commercial trucks as honks became part of the overall statement—"Unacceptable!" People hung out of car windows, raising their fists and screaming "Trayvon!" and took pictures on their cell phones. Vendors, people in stores, the foot traffic along 125th came to a halt as the march moved through. The anger and outrage over the Zimmerman verdict was on the surface. People did not have to swallow their pain and contempt for the system, or their desire to fight this shit—and they were challenged to dream about and fight for a world where the Trayvons could live, and flourish, and contribute to ending all oppression. The march more than doubled in size.

The chants continued fading at times and then picked up with renewed vigor. "I say 'the System'—You say 'Guilty!' 'The system!' 'Guilty!'" And then, "Revolution—Nothing Less!"

When the march reached the highrise public housing projects, chants echoed off the walls and residents came to their windows. Many chanted and raised their fists and some rushed down to get copies of the Trayvon posters and join in. Knots of people applauded and hugged participants in the march. Some of the young men who are most criminalized and targeted by the police raised their fists with broad smiles across their faces. Some responded to the chants with a dance.

The march moved off the sidewalk onto the street, seizing one of two lanes. Car horns honked support. The police tried to push the march back onto the sidewalk. They moved in on one of the revolutionaries, shoving him. A chant came up from the people: "Don't put your hands on him!" Somebody yelled loudly, "We ain't in no mood for taking no shit!" After marching three blocks in the street the police physically forced people back onto the sidewalk. Chants went up even louder "No Justice, No Peace!"

The march continued along 125th and wound its way back to the Harlem State Office Building where it had begun. People eagerly discussed reports of protests from Oakland and how people were standing up around the country. They were pointed to revcom.us to hook up with the movement for revolution nationally, to information and analysis, and guidance. Hundreds of copies of Carl Dix's statement on the "not guilty" verdict, Revolution newspaper, Trayvon posters and stickers were distributed.

A person from the Revolution Club drove home the importance of the launch of the BA Everywhere Van Tour in Harlem the next day and called on people to welcome and facilitate the tour. People talked about how what they had just been a part of had to be the beginning and how we must deliver a message to others that this verdict, and the whole damn system, is unacceptable and that we refuse to live this way. Plans were made for what to do next. Some protesters left Harlem to join the demonstrations in Union Square. Others said they would talk to everybody they could and come back the next day and bring more people.

On finding out that we had run out of materials during the march, a woman donated $100 and collected $56 from others there. When it was pointed out that there had been about 400 people involved in the march an older woman yelled, "There needs to be 4,000 tomorrow!"

The next day the police had barricaded the entire perimeter of the State Office Building, the main political gathering place in Harlem and the place we had gathered the day before. They had warned the vendors in the area that there would be arrests. Another outrage! Another example of why this "Whole Damn System Is Guilty!" and completely illegitimate. The system is being stung by the mass resistance to the "Not Guilty" verdict and whole brutal, racist history of oppression.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/after-the-verdict-los-angeles-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

After the Verdict in the Trayvon Martin Case

Los Angeles: Protests through the Night

July 15, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

July 13, evening: People of all nationalities and ages began gathering in Leimert Park in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles within an hour of the verdict. Anger/disbelief/grief/gut-wrenching pain poured out. A mother and daughter showed up and marched all night, who only a few hours earlier had been crying on the street when they ran into a revolutionary and learned there was something they could do, together with others, to send a message to the world.

Young people from many different backgrounds, especially young Black masses, as well as people of all ages and backgrounds took to the streets chanting "Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, No More Youth Getting Killed," "We are all—TRAYVON" and "Trayvon didn't have to die. We all know the reason why: THE WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS GUILTY!!" Many took turns running with the large vinyl banner to the front of the march with Trayvon's image and the slogan: "WE ARE ALL TRAYVON—THE WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS GUILTY."

The LAPD announced a tactical alert throughout the city. By 11 pm, the march came back to Leimert Park, where lines of LAPD cops waited to corral the people and put a lid on the protest—and then the marchers swung back up Crenshaw headed north, determined to keep going, NOT be stopped and to spread the outrage. Many more cheered them on and joined in. The march swelled to several hundred, with cars going the opposite direction honking and hanging out of their windows joining in. People on several buses traveling south realized they were witnessing a wild, growing, defiant, and organized outpouring of people outraged by the murder of Trayvon, and they could then be seen jumping up and down in the aisle of the buses, and pounding fists on the windows to show their support.

Several times in the evening, the LAPD tried to block the marchers and contain the anger—and more than once, the people refused to be contained and together found the ways to dodge the riot-clad pig lines to keep marching. Several young Black men and women, some with their faces covered, took responsibility to help outmaneuver the cops and keep it going. Once, they led the marchers to calmly walk down a side street as if deciding to leave the area, and then making a joint run for it across the street, around the pig lines and back onto Crenshaw before the cops could figure out what was happening and try to move to prevent it. Squadrons of motorcycle cops leapfrogged to the next large intersection—only to have a good section of the marchers stopping far south of there at the MTA Expo line crossing as a train approached—blocking the tracks! Several hundred gathered there for several hours, with the LAPD repeatedly pleading for protesters to clear the tracks, turn around and march back to Leimert Park and end the protest. Masses laughed and shouted in their faces, and chants rang out even louder.

In the span of hours spent on the train tracks or blocking intersections, different forces and programs circulated in the crowd. Revolutionaries invited all who are sick of the outrages of this system and want an end to the murder of the Trayvons of the world, to come to the L.A. Central Library next Saturday for the showing of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live and get into this revolutionary leader, the strategy for revolution and Bob Avakian's vision of a radically different world. In the midst of one of the standoffs with the cops, a Revolution Club member stepped up to read the statement by Carl Dix, "Zimmerman Walks Free—How Long Will This System Continue to Get Away With Murder?" People listened intently, and it struck a chord among a section of people. All night people took up Revolution newspapers, some displaying the paper as they marched.

Now into the wee hours of the morning, the LAPD announced an unlawful assembly—and the marchers took off again, around the police lines, continuing up Crenshaw—crossing over the freeway from South L.A. heading north. Along the way the LAPD opened fire with rubber bullets and bean bags at the marchers, hitting several, including a KNX reporter as they were walking AWAY from the pig lines. The marchers were finally dispersed around 3 am, spreading the word throughout the protest and to masses who had come out of their houses to gather back at Leimert Park the next day at 1 pm—to carry forward the outrage.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/after-the-verdict-Harlem-NYC-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

After the Verdict in the Trayvon Martin Case

Harlem, New York: Declaring a Verdict Against the Verdict

July 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

Harlem July 14, 2013

Harlem, July 14, 2013. Photo: Special to Revolution

July 13, evening: Phones rang across Harlem as word swept through the housing projects, the night spots, the work places, and street. It had happened again. The racist vigilante, wannabe cop who stalked and murdered Trayvon Martin was guilty of no crime according to the logic of this system. "This country is becoming more racist than ever. My head and my heart are aching. He wasn't the one with the weapon but they kill him all over again," a young woman said. Another said, "Racist world. It's OK to kill us Blacks, that's the messages that's being sent out."

Harlem July 14, 2013

Harlem July 14, 2013. Photo: Special to Revolution

At 11 o'clock Saturday night the people began to gather at the State Office Building in Harlem to express their outrage at the system's verdict. The first people who arrived were almost in shock. "I can't believe they did this," one young Black man repeated over and over again. "My life means nothing to these people." The individual shock and anger was soon transformed into a collective outrage and determination to deliver a message on the spot that night. Twenty-five people joined to take up posters that say "We Are All Trayvon! The Whole Damn System Is Guilty!" and to carry a banner demanding "Justice for Trayvon!" with Bob Avakian's statement declaring "No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world..." need be subjected to the misery and brutality of this system. People chanted from the sidewalk as some people went into the street with placards calling on motorists to honk their horn. At times dozens of car horns were honking at the same time. Hundreds of people raised their fists and shouted support from their car windows. Combined with whistles and chants from the sidewalk, all of this knocked the lid off the pain and deep hurt so many are feeling, and became a verdict against the verdict and a call for others to join in.

One young man who had come to the State Office Building to see if something was happening to join in protest said at first there was only the police and some people sitting quietly, and he felt alone and depressed. Then the two Revolution supporters came with signs and posters and whistles—and the young man said that "it's so important to send a message from Harlem" and how instead of feeling downhearted people could feel strength and unity.

Knots of young men gathered, cheering and taking up the posters. A white family of five, tourists, stopped and joined for a while. A crew on bikes, youth about 15 years old, all held up their fists. Young women put up their hoodies and passed out Trayvon posters. They were especially interested in talking to white passersby, "Excuse me, what do you think of the verdict?" A Cuban man with homemade signs came marching up to join us yelling "No Justice, No Peace!" The chant went up from the traffic island, "Revolution—Nothing Less!" The police stationed themselves at one point in front of young men with sagging pants, under eaves trying to get out of the rain. These youth eagerly took up posters and whistles and posed for pictures chanting "no justice, no peace" and "fuck the police!" People left a little after 1 a.m., vowing to come back on Sunday with many more people.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/after-the-verdict-san-francisco-bay-area-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

As Zimmerman Verdict Released...

Outrage in San Francisco Bay Area

July 15, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Oakland CA July 14, 2013

Oakland, California, Sunday, July 14. Special to Revolution.

July 13-14: A call for day of/day protests after the Zimmerman verdict came down—for 4 pm at Powell and Market streets in downtown San Francisco and 14th and Broadway in Oakland—had been circulated by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network-Bay Area for the last several weeks. When the verdict came—a little before 7 pm Saturday night—a crew of supporters of Revolution Books Berkeley and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) headed to 14th & Broadway (Oscar Grant Plaza) with a "We Are All Trayvon" banner and other SMIN and revolutionary materials. Some people had already come—one from some 20 miles away. A crowd of 30 gathered, many shocked and sickened by the verdict. After spreading the word and making plans to return on Sunday, some of the people drove and rode bikes to the Grand Lake Theater—several miles away—and held the banner and a rally outside the theater where the movie Fruitvale Station, about the murder of Oscar Grant, had opened. Hundreds of people going into and coming out of the theater snapped video and photos of the banners, responding to the agitation. People coming out of the movie with tears in their eyes, nodded their heads, embraced us and many said they would be at the next protest and were posting on Facebook to their friends.

Oakland, California, Sunday, July 14. Special to Revolution.

Later that night, over 200 also gathered at 14th & Broadway and marched through downtown Oakland, with members of the Revolution Club carrying a banner. That same night, the ANSWER Coalition called an impromptu rally in the Mission District of San Francisco, and over 500 people turned out for a spirited march and rally.

Rallies were called for Sunday at 4 pm in both San Francisco and Oakland. In Oakland, SMIN and the Revolution Club gathered people in Oscar Grant Plaza. Other groups had also been calling for the protests, and one of them was incorporated into helping lead the rally. Soon hundreds had gathered—the crowd was very diverse, in terms of people's nationality and politics. For an hour we held a speak-out with many taking the bullhorn—and a number of powerful spoken word pieces and a song. Speakers from Revolution newspaper and the Revolution Club drew on Carl Dix's statement "Zimmerman Walks Free—How Long Will This System Continue to Get Away With Murder?" to expose the criminal nature of the verdict and the whole system and sharply pose the need for revolution based on Bob Avakian's theoretical work. Hundreds of copies of Dix's statement, along with SMIN palm cards featuring the prisoner hunger strike and copies of Revolution were distributed.

Oakland, California, Sunday, July 14. Special to Revolution.

About 5 pm, a powerful, energetic march took off, led by a beautiful banner—with a picture of Trayvon on one side, BA's "No More Generations..." quote in the middle, and a photo of prisoners from revcom.us on the other. The march went through the historic Black community of West Oakland all the way to the BART station. The crowd grew as we marched, stretching three to four blocks long. People were estimating that over 1,000 people, perhaps over 2,000, had taken part. When we got back to Oscar Grant Plaza in downtown Oakland, hundreds decided to take the intersection at 14th & Broadway and held a speak-out that lasted more than an hour.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/after-the-verdict-chicago-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

After the Verdict in the Trayvon Martin Case

Chicago: Outpouring of Outrage on the West Side and Downtown

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

July 13 Chicago West Side

July 13, Chicago West Side after verdict freeing George Zimmerman. Photo: Special to Revolution

West Side

July 13, evening: On Chicago's West Side at a busy intersection, hundreds of fliers of Carl Dix's statement, "The Response That's Needed—The World We Want To Live In," and stickers of the Trayvon Martin hoodie image were gotten out. People from the neighborhood went out into the street with fliers and stickers, passing them out to cars, while young men hung posters on themselves that read, "We Are ALL Trayvon – the Whole Damn System is Guilty! Get with the Real Revolution." Many people coming through, including people pulling over in their cars, got handfuls of fliers and stickers to get out. People took posters to take home and to take to work. One woman took a poster to put up in her gallery.

People on the corner were of all ages but mainly young people. Many of these youth were clear that this verdict means that anything can be done to them and they can expect no justice. This is a neighborhood where the police had shot a kid a couple of years ago. It is a neighborhood of Black and Latinos, where many took up the "Blow the Whistle" campaign against police brutality. People there who consider themselves part of the movement for revolution immediately took up activity. People were coming through saying, "I want stickers," "Give me fliers."

A number of police cars arrived on the scene, both patrol units and detective cars, in an attempt to intimidate people gathered on the corner. They told people that they could protest but not block flow of traffic into the corner store. The expressions on the faces of these young men answered back, "We are here every day," and the young men stayed posted up on the corner as people circled the four corners with a banner with a gigantic picture of Trayvon Martin.

Downtown

July 13, evening: It started with a Facebook post from Gregory Koger, a young revolutionary with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and the movement for revolution saying, "If the verdict comes in tonight—whenever we hear the news—we will be out in the streets... Keeping our ears to the streets and our eyes on a world where the Trayvon Martins and all oppressed youth can flourish..." Once the outrageous news of George Zimmerman's being found not guilty came down, a small team of revolutionaries rushed to downtown Chicago, unsure who—if anyone—would show up.

People trickled in at first, with a small group from another organized trend uniting around the bitter outrage of another Black youth—one of far too many that we all know the names of—gunned down, whose life was over. Another life snuffed out and the killer given a pass by the system. Revolutionaries spoke directly to the point that the system worked exactly as it is designed to—and that is the reason we need revolution and communism, and the leadership of BA to end the crimes of this system.

People took to the mike—some in tears—pouring out their heartfelt agony and anger over the system doing what it does—one more fucking time... Name after name—Oscar Grant, Rekia Boyd, Sean Bell, Abner Louima, Rakeem Nance, Darius Pinex, Corey Harris... As anger began to swell, people began to shout—"NOT ONE MORE!"

As we started to march through the cavernous streets of downtown Chicago, the name of Trayvon Martin rang off the skyscrapers. As we marched through the streets, we began drawing in many people out on the town who either had not heard the news of the verdict or were heartened by seeing a multinational group marching through the streets expressing their outrage at the verdict. Many joined what turned out to be three separate rolling marches, interspersed with very emotional speak-outs from mainly young Black men who live every day under the gun of this system. A number of women also spoke, including a young Muslim woman from Saudi Arabia who spoke powerfully to the anger that everyone—no matter what their background or where they are from—should feel about the murder of Trayvon—and that this is intolerable. A Latina woman in tears spoke about the case of Marissa Alexander in Florida—who received a 20-year sentence for shooting a warning shot into a wall to stop her abusive husband from hurting her. Yet George Zimmerman walked free.

Within an hour and a half of the verdict, people searching for ways to express their outrage had made their way downtown after hearing of the growing rally and march. Two carloads of Black youth drove in from a Black leadership conference 30 minutes outside of Chicago. Many of them were from out of state. People of all different backgrounds showed support as we marched through the streets—from the basic masses, to the homeless white dude who joined the march and started passing out 'We Are All Trayvon' stickers, to the middle aged men and women in tuxedos and fancy dresses who joined in the chants and put the stickers right on, on the spot.

Over the course of over three hours, hundreds of people had joined in a bold public outpouring of outrage at this slap in the face of letting George Zimmerman off. Hundreds of flyers of Carl Dix's statement "The Response That's Needed—The World We Want To Live In!" and "We Are All Trayvon" stickers got to people. We ended the night with 150 people—including a significant number of white folks—raising their fists to a moment of silence for Trayvon and a call for everyone to come out the next day and bring many more people out into the struggle for justice for Trayvon—and for a radically different world where all the youth counted as nothing under this system could flourish. As the night closed, some debated the questions of how to end mass incarceration, and what kind of power and change is needed to end the centuries of oppression under this capitalist system.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/after-the-verdict-detroit-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

After the Verdict in the Trayvon Martin Case

Detroit: Outrage Expressed in Protest and Culture

July 14, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Sunday evening, July 14:  In the wee hours of the morning, after the verdict, a young socialist posted an event page on Facebook for a rally this evening, Sunday, 7/14. By 4 am, hundreds had committed to come to the rally. Youth who came from neighboring Ann Arbor and other people, looking for something to do, found the event page and tweeted their friends to come. This was definitely a social networking event. 

About 300 people came, a very diverse crowd, "multi-colored," as one speaker described, mostly young and some older activists, bringing homemade signs: “Stop Criminalizing Black Youth;” “Black Life Is Valuable;” Trayvon Was Stalked;” “Aiyana Was Sleeping;” “Justice for Trayvon”—signs brought by a young group of Black kids. Also, "The Whole System's Guilty, Justice for Trayvon." (As you probably know, Aiyana Stanley-Jones was a 7-year-old Black 'sleeping princess' who was murdered in a reality-show taped police raid. Her killer got off with a hung jury recently and will be re-prosecuted later this month.) 

The feelings of trauma and anger, the sense that this is "very, very scary" carried over from Facebook to the crowd. Ron Scott from the Coalition Against Police Brutality said the youth there had the heart, stamina and determination to protect future Trayvons and Aiyanas. Martilla Jones, Aiyana's grandmother, spoke with tremendous support from the crowd. Sadly, but with a grasp on reality, she conveyed to us that she does not expect justice from the system for her granddaughter; but she is standing strong for all the Trayvons and Aiyanas “who are to come.” Others spoke for the NAACP, Occupy, individually, and other organizations. Some speakers evoked Public Enemy and the image of Black youth with a target painted on their backs.

The rally ended with a spirited march through downtown with honking cars and busses in support and ended with a heart-felt rapper sending good vibes of Trayvon going to heaven and ending with a determined call for all of us to fight for justice. They are making a video, I think, for Trayvon, to be released soon.

Two of us connected people to Revolution newspaper, a leaflet of Carl Dix' statement after the verdict, and palm cards for REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and Indiegogo fundraising campaign for BA Everywhere.

Tomorrow a group of artists are calling on everyone to drop by their studio and add Skittles to a 4' x 7' portrait of Trayvon made solely from the Skittles. They are hoping to see 100 sets of hands or more helping in solidarity and remembrance! During the week, they plan to paint a giant mural of the Skittles sculpture on the East Side of Detroit.

We know that churches and others are planning more events in the future, but it is fitting that the youth jump started things today!

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/nows-the-time-to-stand-up-we-need-revolution-nothing-less-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

After the Trayvon Martin Verdict:

The Whole Damned System Is Guilty! 
NOW’S THE TIME TO STAND UP—WE NEED REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

Statement from Carl Dix

July 16, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Download PDF Flier

 

The Not Guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin case slammed home the legacy of centuries of slavery and said it's OK to lynch Black youth in America. The target on the backs of Black youth has been given legal justification again.

Millions are filled with rage over this verdict. That rage drove many of us into the streets in cities across the country. Black parents in tears, hugging their children and agonizing over their futures in a society that saw them as permanent suspects—guilty until proven innocent, if they can survive to prove their innocence. People of all nationalities standing together, declaring they don't want to live in a world like this. This response opens up the possibility for a new fighting spirit.

Whether all this will get shoved back into the stifling normalcy of America where millions hang their heads and suffer these horrors in silence and millions more look away and ignore the howling injustices being perpetrated depends on what we do now. It is a matter of life and death!

The response that's begun—the thousands in New York City who shut down Times Square, the people who stopped a major freeway in LA, and the people in dozens of cities across the country—has to be built on. Many more people who hated this verdict need to be called on to express their rage at it in many different ways.

NOW IS THE TIME! Enough with this system and its savage oppression of Black people. NO MORE of its open season on Black and Latino youth.

And it is a system we're dealing with here—not just an outrageous verdict or racist laws. This capitalist system which arose on the foundation of slavery and genocide is today a worldwide system that enforces lives of poverty and misery on countless millions.

We need to get rid of this system. We need a society and a world where our Black and Latino youth can live and thrive, where women don't face violence and enforced motherhood, where instead of making wars on the oppressed of the world, the new society is backing their revolutionary struggles, where the environment isn't being ravaged but being protected for current and future generations. This kind of world could be brought into being through revolution.

We in the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) are ready to lead in building a movement for this revolution. There is leadership for this revolution in Bob Avakian, the leader of the RCP. There is a strategy for this revolution. Get into the works of BA that envision what the new society would look like and how to bring it into being. Get with the Revolution Club in your area. Go to the revcom.us site to learn deeply why the world is the way it is and how to change it. Get with the movement for revolution the RCP is building. Everyone's contribution matters.

Now is the time to move on doing this. The attention of millions has been riveted on the horrific injustice of this verdict. People are opening their eyes to the reality that these horrors happen again and again. If they see determined fighters standing up and saying NO MORE to all this and spreading the need for and possibility of revolution, it will challenge them to join in fighting the power and to open their eyes to the system behind all these horrors and getting with the movement for revolution to get rid of that system.

To those who see the need to get rid of this system, you need to be everywhere people are calling for justice for Trayvon. In action and word bring to people the understanding that any justice we win will only come through determined resistance, not from relying on the system that has perpetrated all this injustice—while bringing to people the understanding of the source of the problem and the solution.

It should burn in our hearts, that while this fight for justice for Trayvon continues, the police will have murdered many more of our youth, and the system continues to warehouse 2.3 million in prison. The fight for justice for Trayvon is part of the fight against all of this. Thousands of prisoners in California are on hunger strike right now, putting their lives on the line to stop the mass torture of solitary confinement of 80,000 prisoners in the U.S. Their fight, their message needs to spread and inspire the whole movement.

A powerful movement of resistance to stop the horror of mass incarceration can and must, right now, take a huge leap—with hundreds and thousands becoming part of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. Without exaggeration, the lives of millions depend on it.

As people stand up and express their outrage, there needs to be a spirit of digging deeply into why I say The Whole Damn System Is Guilty and getting into and getting with the revolutionary way out of the horrors that this system, this country, inflicts on people here and around the world. The slogan “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!” expresses a big part of how the thousands of people whose hearts ache for a radically different world can go to work on the situation right now, speaking to millions today, so that as the struggle unfolds, as the situation here and around the world changes, the thousands who have been organized and trained in a revolutionary way today can become the backbone and pivotal force in winning the millions to revolution when there is a revolutionary situation, to carry the revolution through.

The system has delivered its verdict. We must deliver ours. The movement for Justice for Trayvon must become broader, involving hundreds of thousands of people; it must reach deeper into all sections of society and deeper into understanding of the problem and the solution; and it must become more determined, putting before all: we will not live like this. And, we don't have to. It's time to act.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/there-is-a-jolt-what-is-our-responsibility-now-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Letter from a reader

There Is a Jolt! What Is Our Responsibility Now?

July 16, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Let's see if the following resonates in this current political moment:

The potential for a revolutionary crisis lies within the very nature of this capitalist system itself—with its repeated economic convulsions, its unemployment and poverty, its profound inequalities, its discrimination and degradation, its brutality, torture and wars, its wanton destruction. All this causes great suffering. And at times it leads to crisis on one level or another—sudden jolts and breakdowns in the "normal functioning" of society, which compel many people to question and to resist what they usually accept. No one can say in advance exactly what will happen in these situations—how deep the crisis may go, in what ways and to what extent it might pose challenges to the system as a whole, and to what degree and in what ways it might call forth unrest and rebellion among people who are normally caught up in, or feel powerless to stand up against, what this system does.

Let me stop there for a minute. That is from the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP)'s statement On the Strategy for Revolution, which can be found at revcom.us, as well as in the book BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. Yes, there is an actual strategy—and an actual strategy statement—for real revolution in this country. Anyone reading this article who hungers for radical change, or even wonders if radical change is possible, should get serious, and get seriously into this whole strategy statement. Study it yourself, and also study and discuss it with many others!

I think it is safe to say that we are now experiencing one of these jolts in the normal functioning of society talked about in this strategy statement. I think it is safe to say this is a moment when people are questioning and resisting what they usually accept. Let's just look at the last 48 hours or so: Saturday around 10 p.m. ET, George Zimmerman was acquitted on all charges in the cold-blooded vigilante murder of Trayvon Martin. With this verdict, this system sent the message that more than 100 years after the infamous Dred Scott decision, a Black man in this society still has "no rights which a white man was bound to respect." Not only that, the system made it crystal clear that it is still the case that a Black man in this society—and, to an especially high degree, a young Black man—can be profiled, hunted down and murdered in an instant, anywhere, anytime, and for any supposed reason. And that all young Black men in this society must live in fear that this could happen to them at any moment. This verdict, outrageous far beyond words, is—and must be seen as— a blistering indictment of this capitalist-imperialist system, and of that system's supposed shining beacon and greatest superpower, the United States. The reality for tens and tens of millions of Black people in this society—and what that says about the true nature of this country and whole system—has been exposed for the whole world to see. It reminds me of New Orleans in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, when the whole world saw this system literally leaving hundreds of thousands of poor Black people to drown and making it plain that its rulers simply did not give a fuck about this.

But there's more. At the time the verdict was announced, mainstream news reports indicated there were perhaps 75 to 100 demonstrators outside the Sanford courthouse. And this was presented as a high number compared to the numbers who had been there in the days leading up. However, when the words "not guilty" came down, the anger, the anguish, the heartbreak and fury poured forth almost immediately. Some of the most haunting images that stick out in my mind from the first hours after the verdict are the pictures in various media of Black people sobbing, with centuries of angry, bitter tears pouring down their faces. I will come back to this point in a moment. In San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities, people took to the streets to express their outrage that night. The next day, Sunday, there was of course, a whole new wave of demonstrations across the country, including a crowd of thousands of people in Times Square, New York with marchers going all the way up to Harlem (roughly 80 blocks north) and some even going to the Bronx, according to New York media.

Flames of fury engulfed social media as well. Just a few of the prominent voices taking to Twitter to express their anger, disgust, outrage and shock in the aftermath of the verdict were pop stars Rihanna and Miley Cyrus, professional athletes Dwayne Wade, Kendrick Perkins and Stevie Johnson, and actor/comedian Will Ferrell.

Again, it is worth repeating that all this had gone down in the space of about 48 hours!!

Right now is a rare moment. What makes it rare is not that a Black youth was murdered and the racist vigilante who murdered him walked free—or because of all that concentrates. That happens every damn day, with millions of Black and Latino youth locked in this society's prisons, hundreds of thousands stopped and frisked by cops every year in New York City alone, and thousands murdered by police in the last few decades. No, what makes this a rare moment is the fact that all of this is being thrust before the eyes of the world, and that people are standing up and fighting back against all of this, with the potential for both the exposure and resistance to go to a whole other level. And this brings me to the next point: This is a moment of both tremendous opportunity and tremendous responsibility for the movement for revolution.

Let me go back to the RCP's statement on strategy, which proceeds to make two very important points about the jolts described above:

1) Such "jolts" in the "normal functioning" of things, even if they do not develop all the way to a fundamental crisis for the system as a whole, do create situations in which many more people are searching for answers and open to considering radical change. The work of building the movement for revolution must be consistently carried out at all times, but in these situations of sharp breaks with the "normal routine" there is greater possibility, and greater potential, to make advances. This must be fully recognized and built on to the greatest degree possible, so that through such situations, leaps are made in building up the movement and the organized forces for revolution, creating in this way a basis for which to work for further advances.

2) In certain situations, major events or big changes can happen in society and the world and can come together in such a way that the system is shaken to its foundations...deep cracks appear and magnify within the ruling structures and institutions...the raw relations of oppression are more sharply exposed...conflicts among the powers-that-be deepen, and cannot be easily resolved, and it becomes much more difficult for them to hold things together under their control and keep people down. In this kind of situation, for great numbers of people, the "legitimacy" of the current system, and the right and ability of ruling powers to keep on ruling, can be called seriously and directly into question, with millions hungering for a radical change that only a revolution can bring about.

With these two points in mind, let me go back now to those haunting images I mentioned of Black people sobbing wrenching tears of rage after the verdict was announced. And to be clear, I am definitely not saying that it was only Black people who should be—or are—crying tears of rage over the howling injustice of Zimmerman's acquittal. But here is what I am saying: When we see these tears and think about all that they represent, we should understand them not only as evidence of the profound need for revolution, but also of the profound possibility for revolution.

Why do I say this? Well, let me answer that by posing two questions. One: How many tens of millions of people, how many centuries of brutal oppression, are represented by each one of those photos? And two: Where do we think the great majority of these tens of millions of people would line up if things got polarized in society between the way things are now and the possibility of getting rid of this system through revolution and bringing a completely and radically different system into being, aiming for a whole new world? Which alternative would actually be in their interests?

Now, we are not going to win tens of millions, or even millions, to this revolution all at once, and in a straight line. Not even in a moment like this. But we are never going to win them if we simply wait and hope for them to join the revolution on their own, or all at once at some later time, or to figure out on their own that the source of the problem humanity faces is the system of capitalism-imperialism and the solution is communist revolution to get rid of that system and bring a whole new society into being, on the road to a whole new world. We must, must, must comprehend that this understanding does not occur spontaneously merely as a result of being oppressed, or in the process of struggling against oppression. If it did, there would have been many more communist revolutions in history than there in fact have been, because there has been no shortage of brutal oppression—or struggle against that oppression—throughout history. Rather, this understanding of problem and solution must be brought to people from outside their own experiences and struggles, and people must be challenged to change their understanding of the problem and solution and to get with the movement for revolution and the leadership we have for that revolution in Bob Avakian as they are learning more, and as they are standing up and fighting back against the outrages and crimes spawned by this system.

What we can do, what we must do, as the RCP's strategy statement says, is work now to bring forward, orient and train thousands in a revolutionary way, who are reaching and influencing millions, and who could, under different future conditions when there is a revolutionary situation, "be a backbone and pivotal force in winning millions to revolution and organizing them in the struggle to carry the revolution through."

One key point the strategy statement makes is that jolts in the normal functioning of society, when people are questioning and resisting what they usually accept, provide a greater opportunity to make leaps in accumulating forces for revolution. But while it is tremendously important to create a situation where people in society are constantly encountering this revolution and its leadership, thousands of people will not bring forward, orient and train themselves in a revolutionary way merely by being exposed to us, through some sort of "revolutionary contact high." We must actively work to bring them forward, orient them, and train them in a revolutionary way. Therefore, I want to end this article with a couple of thoughts about this process of actively working now to bring forward, orient, and train thousands in a revolutionary way who are reaching and influencing millions—doing this in an overall sense, and in the midst of this moment.

First, I want to return to the critical importance of the fact that we have an actual strategy for revolution, and a highly scientific statement on that strategy that we can wield, refer people to, and study and discuss with them. While I have been referring to different excerpts from the statement, it is really important to study and apply the whole statement, and to use it as a guide in our revolutionary work. To those reading this article—whether you have been part of this movement for revolution for a long time, or if you have just met the movement for revolution, or anything in between—I want to urge you to read, and re-read, and study this statement.

One thing that has really struck me in re-reading this strategy statement recently is how specific, detailed and concrete it is throughout—in terms of identifying the conditions necessary to make a revolution; how those conditions can come about; what, specifically, revolutionaries must do to hasten while awaiting these conditions, and how; what the tremendous resources are that we have going for us in that process; what the process of making revolution entails; and who the forces for this revolution must be. I cannot, in this article, go into this in depth—and frankly, people should just go straight to the source and read the strategy statement anyway rather than me trying to summarize it.

But in order to briefly illustrate this point about how specific, detailed and concrete the strategy statement is, and in order to speak a little further to this question of actively working to accumulate forces for revolution—bringing forward, orienting and training thousands in a revolutionary way—I wanted to highlight and refer people to a few sections of the strategy statement. First, I wanted to point out that the strategy statement emphasizes that the way we must be working to accumulate forces for revolution is to Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution (p. 108 in BAsics). The statement then immediately goes on to explain what fighting the power, transforming the people, for revolution means (pp. 108-109). And then the statement discusses the work that is involved in fighting the power, transforming the people, for revolution, identifying three specific bold points (pp. 109-110):

The strategy statement explains each of these three points in more detail. Rather than doing that myself in this article, I want to refer people to these sections of the strategy statement, and the statement as a whole, and make the point that our ensemble of revolutionary work needs to be constantly grounded in and guided by this strategy statement—again, both in an overall sense, and in the midst of jolts such as the one we are in now.

The second and final point I wanted to make regarding the process of actively working to accumulate forces for revolution relates to the method by which we are doing this, and specifically the tremendous importance of challenging and struggling with people. I think we can and must be learning a tremendous amount from how Bob Avakian approaches this.

This recognition and application of the need to challenge and struggle with the masses to transform their thinking, and to get with the revolution, is a thread running through BA's entire body of work, method and approach. But in these last couple of days, in relation to this point, I have been thinking a lot about two elements in particular of BA's body of work. The first is the final essay in BAsics, "The Revolutionary Potential of the Masses and the Responsibility of the Vanguard" (pp. 197-202). The second is the section of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live that is entitled "The Revolutionary Potential of Those Most Oppressed Requires Scientific Leadership." Notice that each of these titles begins by referring to the "revolutionary potential" of the masses, but neither leaves the question there: scientific leadership and the vanguard taking responsibility are required to actually bring that potential to bear.

In "The Revolutionary Potential of the Masses and the Responsibility of the Vanguard," for instance, BA makes the point:

I hate the way the masses of people suffer, but I don't feel sorry for them. They have the potential to remake the world, and we have to struggle like hell with them to get them to see that and to get them to rise to that. We shouldn't aim for anything less. Why should we think they are capable of anything less?

I would strongly encourage people to get into, or go back to, these sections of BAsics and BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live, and even more importantly to go into these two works as a whole.

We cannot beg the masses to get with the revolution. Nor can we merely wait or hope for them to do it. We have to work with them, challenge them, invite them, and struggle with them to do it.

I want to return one final time to those who have been crying tears of anger, heartbreak, determination and despair during the last few days. These tears call to mind exactly what Avakian says in 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.

We can and must stand with those who are outraged and sickened and heartbroken and who are channeling their anger and heartbreak into fighting back and refusing to accept the crimes of this system.

But what is our most important responsibility to them, and to all of humanity?

To bring them the understanding that this system is the problem and revolution is the necessary and possible solution, actively challenge them to get with that revolution and its leadership, and work and struggle through with them the obstacles standing in the way of them doing that.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/panel-discussion-the-california-prison-hunger-strike-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

Wed., July 17, 7 pm at Revolution Books Berkeley:

Panel Discussion: The California Prisoner Hunger Strike & Ending Long-Term Solitary Confinement*

July 16, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Andres Thomas Conteris, CloseGitmo.net—Stop U.S. Torture in Gitmo and U.S. Prisons; Director, Program of the Americans of Nonviolence International—recently interviewed hunger strikers in Pelican Bay SHU

Steven Czifra is a UC Berkeley student who spent a total of eight years in solitary confinement, including five in the Pelican Bay SHU. Along with other UC students and professors, he is taking part in a rolling solidarity fast in support of the prisoners and their demands.

Larry Everest, covers the prisoner hunger strikes for Revolution newspaper and is the author: Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda. (See "Revolution Interview: Carol Strickman, from Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition Prisoners' Struggle Against 'Cruel and Unusual Punishment Amounting to Torture'")

Michael Montgomery is a reporter for KQED and the Center for Investigative Reporting who's covered California prison issues.

Danny Murillo was arrested at 16 years young, and sentenced to 15 years in state prison. 17 months were spent in Administrative Segregation (the hole) and six years in the Security Housing Unit (the SHU). Currently an undergrad student at UC Berkeley in the Ethnic Studies department and a George Miller Scholar.

*Other speakers TB

On July 8, California prison authorities admitted that over 30,000 prisoners had joined the hunger strike by refusing meals. The Los Angeles Times said this "could be the largest prison protest in state history." Prisoner representatives from the Pelican Bay State Prison SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement said, "our nonviolent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long-term solitary confinement will resume...consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms)." See statement here .

 

Co-sponsored by Revolution Books and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network-Bay Area

 

StopMassIncarcerationBayArea@gmail.com

510-926-5207 • http://www.stopmassincarceration.org

http://stopmassincarcerationbayarea.tumblr.com

Stop Mass Incarceration-Bay Area on Facebook / EMERGENCY CALL
TO STOP TORTURE IN U.S. PRISONS!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/310/an-oppressors-trial-an-intolerable-verdict-en.html

Revolution #310 July 14, 2013

The System vs Trayvon Martin

An Oppressor's Trial, an Intolerable Verdict

July 16, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

"Zimmerman was a predator, and Trayvon was his prey. And now it's open season on all of us."

Young Black man in Sanford Florida, July 13

The system has delivered its verdict in the case of the State of Florida v George Zimmerman. Outrage at this verdict has been expressed in many forms by tens of thousands of people across the country, most powerfully in the large demonstrations that filled the streets of cities coast to coast.

The political battle to win Justice for Trayvon is far from over. But this verdict put a legal seal on ugly, murderous social relations of white supremacy—on the brutal oppression of Black people—enforced by the most vicious means. President Obama said on July 14 that "we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken."

The verdict, and everything it represents, must be rejected and overcome. Yes, the system's courts and legal system have spoken, and Obama has expressed a call for acceptance.

But people have NOT accepted this verdict. Black people, and people of many nationalities, from all corners of the country, from many walks of life, have risen up in protest and expressed their anger in many other forms, from tweets to announcements at concerts.

We must not relent. At stake is whether a declaration that open season on Black youth will continue and deepen; whether any vigilante watchman who decides a youth looks "suspicious" can gun him down with impunity; or whether the Black youth of this society—in their millions—can not just survive but flourish, and be cherished. The real question was not "is it legitimate self-defense or not," but whether racist vigilantes like George Zimmerman will be given a green light to gun down youth like Trayvon Martin.

A Modern Lynching

For almost 100 years, lynching of Black people was routinely carried out in this country to maintain a vicious system of white domination. No justification was needed, any excuse was considered legitimate. Lynching was a bulwark enforcing a deeply entrenched system and culture of open and blatant white supremacy. Lynchers were rarely brought before a court. Even more rarely were they convicted.

Now a Black youth is gunned down by a racist vigilante and is made out to be responsible for his own death. George Zimmerman's brother went on national news on CNN and echoed arguments made by defense lawyers in the courtroom, saying over and over that it was "Trayvon's fault," he shouldn't have been there, he shouldn't have defended himself. He said that what his brother did was completely legitimate.

The murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman was a modern-day lynching. The acquittal of Zimmerman expresses a legal legitimization of the oppression of Black people and white "entitlement" every bit as vicious and potentially genocidal as the Jim Crow of the not-so-long-ago past. These are the terms that have been set, this is the crossroads society is at.

"Stand Your Ground" Laws Promote Racist Murder

Let's soberly assess what was upheld in the Sanford courtroom. Opening and closing remarks by Zimmerman's lawyers claimed that Trayvon's "deadly weapon," the sinister tool used in his alleged assault upon Zimmerman, was the sidewalk! One of his lawyers pulled out a slab of cement and dropped it on the floor in front of the jury. He sneered, "That's cement. That is a sidewalk. And that (meaning Trayvon) is not an unarmed teenager with nothing but Skittles trying to get home."

This is not just a ridiculous courtroom stunt. Think of the implications of this almost insanely malevolent claim. Any Black youth walking on a sidewalk could be claimed to be "armed and dangerous" by this standard—and living in a permanent open season—by racist vigilantes like George Zimmerman!

The process that led to Trayvon's murder was the system working as it has been set up to work—working so that a Black youth in a hoodie, carrying candy and a soft drink, was profiled, stalked, and gunned down by a racist vigilante who called him a "fucking punk." Working so that no charges were filed against Trayvon's killer until an outcry of protest throughout the country demanded Justice for Trayvon. And now, working in how the court in Seminole County, Florida has declared George Zimmerman "not guilty" in the murder of Trayvon Martin.

So-called "self-defense" laws in Florida and beyond have been passed that basically encourage white racists to shoot Black people under any pretense and call it self-defense.

Of course, the wording of these laws doesn't overtly specify that these laws are specifically intended as a license for racists to kill Black people. But in a society so deeply stamped with white supremacy, that's the subtext. An example: In Jacksonville, Florida in 2010, a 32-year-old Black woman named Marissa Alexander fired warning shots that didn't hit anyone in an attempt to scare off an attack by an assailant against whom she had a court protective order. Unlike Zimmerman, she was arrested and charged with attempted murder. Marissa Alexander tried to invoke Florida's Stand Your Ground and self-defense statutes as her defense—she fired the shots to protect herself and her children—but she was convicted of attempted murder in 15 minutes by a jury and is currently serving a 20-year jail sentence.

When George Zimmerman saw Trayvon Martin, he acted based on the way he and others like him have been programmed by the system to act—he saw a "suspect," a "fucking punk," an "asshole" who "always gets away." George Zimmerman felt he had a license to kill Trayvon Martin, and he did just that.

In his dying moments, Trayvon Martin was treated as a "suspect" and less than human. Police tested his lifeless body for drugs while essentially giving his killer a pat on the back. Police who testified in court backed up Zimmerman's lies and helped him fabricate them when they interviewed him.

And, again reminiscent of the old-style lynching days, when Black people would search the river beds and other places where the bodies of lynching victims were often found, Trayvon Martin's father—whose home was Trayvon's destination that night—had to file a missing person's report to even learn his son was dead. The police and authorities had so little regard for the terrible loss of life that they didn't locate and inform Trayvon's father with whom he was staying until a missing person's report was filed.

Legitimizing Lynching

Can these abominations be allowed to continue? What does it say about a culture that spawns such hate filled racists as George Zimmerman? What does it say about a legal system that upholds the murder of a 17-year-old doing nothing but walking home? What does it say about political leaders and the system they represent when they say this must be "accepted"?

A Trial Legitimizing Lynching

The whole way the trial of Trayvon Martin's killer was conducted, from open to close, reflected, served, and enforced a system that has as a foundational pillar the oppression of Black people.

The jury was not just overwhelmingly white, it was skewed to people who already thought Trayvon Martin was guilty, and to keep out potential jurors who might have a basic understanding of the realities of the case. After the prosecution invoked their right to remove a juror who said Trayvon Martin should not have been out that late (shortly after 7!), the judge overruled their objection and put the woman back on the jury. Meanwhile, a woman was kicked off the jury because her pastor had spoken out for justice for Trayvon Martin.

The case against Zimmerman was short-circuited in part because police made no serious effort to collect evidence of what happened when they arrived on the scene. They did not collect and preserve the evidence (for example, they shoved Trayvon's sweatshirt into a plastic bag where it molded). They drug tested Trayvon Martin—the victim, but not Zimmerman—the killer.

The defense—Zimmerman's lawyers—set the tone in court with endless open appeals to racism—from their vicious attacks on Rachel Jeantel to their constant depiction of Black people as criminals. One particularly obscene moment was their display of Trayvon Martin's shirtless torso—a scene out of "Birth of a Nation" intended to depict young Black males as dehumanized aggressors. All to insist that Trayvon Martin was the criminal for simply walking home with a snack and a drink, and Zimmerman a hero for killing him.

And while the defense invoked and played on the crudest racist stereotypes, the prosecution never challenged that, but accepted those terms, promoted them, and in their own way pandered to them. Between the judge's instructions and the prosecution's timidity, institutionalized racial profiling was never exposed (nor was it even explained what that is). The prosecution pandered to the whole logic of the "war on crime" which is essentially a war on Black and Latino people—including youth for whom the system has no jobs, no future but jail, prison, or death on the streets.

Every part of this, from the police not charging Zimmerman after he killed Trayvon to the verdict's announcement, is an unacceptable outrage. The anger and pain felt by so many people is completely justified, and will burn in our hearts forever. This is an historic moment that concentrates so much of the daily, life-grinding reality of this vicious system. A moment similar to the lynching of Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955—where a young Black man can be killed for whistling at a white woman, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, for not stepping off a sidewalk or calling a white man "sir." Or, for nothing at all.

Let's soberly assess what was upheld in the Sanford courtroom. Opening and closing remarks by Zimmerman's lawyers claimed that Trayvon's "deadly weapon," the sinister tool used in his alleged assault upon Zimmerman, was the sidewalk! One of his lawyers pulled out a slab of cement and dropped it on the floor in front of the jury. He sneered, "That's cement. That is a sidewalk. And that (meaning Trayvon) is not an unarmed teenager with nothing but Skittles trying to get home."

This is not just a ridiculous courtroom stunt. Think of the implications of this almost insanely malevolent claim. Any Black youth walking on a sidewalk could be claimed to be "armed and dangerous" by this standard—and living in a permanent open season—by racist vigilantes like George Zimmerman!

The basic plan of Zimmerman's defense was to put a Black youth on trial for his own murder. Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's lead attorney, turned reality upside down when he made the outrageous, deceitful argument that if anyone had ill will or hatred on the night of February 26, 2012, it was Trayvon Martin. He said the "person responsible (for the encounter in Sanford that night) didn't go home when he had the chance."

This is not simply a case of O'Mara pandering to and helping unleash the most rabidly racist sections of U.S. society, though it is that, and the impact in social media and elsewhere was immediate and no doubt will reverberate and grow even uglier.

But even more, it is an argument by a well-connected attorney, in the most high-profile legal case in years, that an "open season" on Black youth should be upheld by the law. It is an argument for the legitimization of modern-day lynching.

The System at Work... The Way It Always Works

A young Black woman outside the Sanford courthouse expressed what she felt when she heard the verdict. "Anger. Sadness. Shock. Disbelief. One thing I didn't feel was surprise. This is how they've been doing us for a long time. Think about it. How many times have things like this happened to Black people?"

Another woman added, "This is really gonna divide things more than they are. The country is divided, and this trial is gonna divide it more. How can anyone not understand how angry we are? This could have been anyone, it could have been one of our brothers, anyone."

Almost a year and a half ago, Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder. Pleas to "let the system work" and stop the protests began soon after Zimmerman was charged last year, and intensified as the trial drew to a close.

What the whole world saw was precisely how the system works. This is a social system that exploits and oppresses billions of people across the world, and has always had deep, brutal oppression of Black people embedded into its every fiber. The legal system that exists in this country—called "the best in the world" by is defenders—arises from and enforces that system of oppression.

"Justice is blind" is a common defense of this country's legal system. But many people think that the same laws are applied very differently to different people, and to different sections of people—and they are right. Laws like the Florida "self-defense" and "stand your ground" laws that were used by Zimmerman serve as an invitation to the Zimmermans of the world to attack Black people. And they are used very differently against Black people.

There are plenty of racist, hateful judges and lawyers in this country. But the problem goes much deeper than that. And the problem is not just that the law is being applied unevenly. The law is being applied the way it was meant to be applied, the only way it can be applied.

One difference between today and the days of the open, institutionalized and legalized discrimination and repression of the Jim Crow era is that today there is the appearance of equality before the law. Many of the legal barriers that enforced white supremacy have been removed, even in the South. (And yes, Sanford, Florida is the Deep South.)

But the same basic relations of oppression exist, and in many ways the real, actual inequalities imposed on the masses of Black people have deepened in the years since open Jim Crow ended and the New Jim Crow of mass criminalization and incarceration began to take shape.

Massive unemployment stalks the inner cities. The factories and businesses didn't leave because the youth had sagging pants. They left because the opportunity for investment and profit based on profound exploitation was greater elsewhere. And the cities are left to rot; housing crumbling and public housing getting shut down; schools closing, while the remaining open ones are underfunded and overcrowded; prowling police who consider every Black or Latino youth a "suspect."

These are basic realities of life for millions of youth in this society. Now, added to that, a court in the state of Florida, based on laws similar to self-defense laws in every other state, has ruled that these youth can be legally gunned down by racist killers.

The United States promotes its democracy and its legal system as models for the entire world. But at the same time, the U.S. holds millions of people in prisons, tortures tens of thousands of prisoners in solitary every day, has criminalized generations of youth, subjects hundreds of thousands of youth every year to the humiliation of stop-and-frisk in New York alone. Most of the people hit by all this are Black and Latino youth. All this is done legally and properly, and in accord with the U.S. Constitution.

For many people in this country, and throughout the world, some important questions of the legitimacy of the whole legal system have been challenged by the way the case of the State of Florida v George Zimmerman has unfolded.

Step back and look at a larger picture of how this murder came to happen, how it was so "easy" and "natural" for Zimmerman to profile Trayvon; how the social relations and the prevailing culture breed the kind of racist, vigilante attitudes that are used to "justify" actions like Zimmerman's, and how the legal system can justify it.

This country is filled with youth like Trayvon. And there also are many people like Zimmerman, people conditioned and trained by this system to hate and fear the Trayvons of the world.

As Revolution wrote in a previous article, when George Zimmerman stalked and hunted Trayvon Martin, and killed him with a shot to the heart, Zimmerman "felt the strength of this system behind him."

Trayvon was part of a "generation of suspects," and that's exactly how Zimmerman treated him, and exactly why Zimmerman thought he'd get away with murder, even be praised by some people for killing a Black youth, a "suspect," an "asshole." But Trayvon and other youth like Trayvon have every right to live, to walk the streets without fear, and to flourish!

Carl Dix has spoken about the possibility of a "slow genocide" of Black people turning into a "fast genocide" under this system, and in particular in the grip of today's plague of mass criminalization and incarceration of Black and Latino youth. The not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman can actually accelerate that transformation into a fast genocide—and mass opposition and resistance to the verdict can and must be an important component of reversing it.

The Criminalization of Black Youth

Zimmerman told his story of killing Trayvon several times, and each time he changed it. But one thing didn't change. The way he started. He always referred to the "break-ins" and burglaries that supposedly had been happening in his neighborhood. His lawyers took this a step further and identified the suspects in these alleged crimes as young Black men. They held up a mug shot of one of the youths arrested for a burglary in that neighborhood.

Their entire point was to portray and defend an image of mostly white, middle class people in their gated enclave besieged by legions of Black criminals. Neither the police nor any of Zimmerman's witnesses thought there was anything wrong in him repeatedly describing Trayvon as a "suspect," even though he had done nothing wrong.

These burglaries, in Zimmerman's eyes, and in the arguments made to a jury of people similar to Zimmerman, was justification for the malicious, hateful language he used to describe a Black youth he had never met. His paranoid portrayal of a peaceful community "under attack" from young Black men became his justification for stalking and shooting Trayvon.

The judge had forbidden any use of the phrase "racial profiling" during the trial. Her ruling protected Zimmerman and his lawyers and cut out the heart of how Zimmerman could be prosecuted for the crime of murdering Trayvon. But Zimmerman's lawyers were allowed to repeatedly describe suspects in burglaries as being Black. The unspoken assumption was that Zimmerman thought these "fucking punks" all "looked alike," and all came to threaten the property and lives of the placid subdivision he lived in.

Evidence presented by the prosecution demonstrated the anger and hatred that had been festering in Zimmerman, and the way it became focused on a total stranger, a Black youth in a hoodie, the night of February 26, 2012. To Zimmerman, Trayvon was a "suspect," someone who didn't belong there, one of "them."

Zimmerman's defense was founded in a blatant reliance on white supremacy and entitlement. And every element of how this case worked its way through the legal system meshed to reinforce white supremacy, and to ensure that the case would be charged and tried on terms that benefited Zimmerman. The cops who tested Trayvon for drugs, but not Zimmerman. The law of "self-defense" that allowed Zimmerman to be released by the police five hours after he murdered a Black youth.

As for the prosecutors, they prosecuted precisely as they know how, within the confines of a legal system that has always enshrined and protected white privilege, and in the past few decades has legitimized the criminalization of generations of Black youth.

Not only was this basic framework never challenged by the prosecution, it was upheld. The prosecution proceeded from the same basic assumptions as Zimmerman's lawyers.

For example, prosecutors gushed about how "honorable" it is to be the neighborhood watch captain, what a "positive thing" it was that Zimmerman wanted to be a cop. Even more disgracefully, they accepted and tried to apologize for Rachel Jeantel for not being as polished and smoothly presentable as the white, middle class witnesses.

In fact, Rachel Jeantel provided the most important and credible testimony of the trial. She was on the phone with Trayvon before Zimmerman began stalking him, and as the confrontation began. She was talking to Trayvon when her phone suddenly went dead after she heard Trayvon telling someone to "get off, get off!" Her testimony about their phone call—both when they were on the phone, what Trayvon said, and what he described happening to him—most closely matches the physical evidence.

For this, she was relentlessly hammered by one of Zimmerman's lawyers, and subjected to vicious, hateful attacks in social media. But Rachel Jeantel provided testimony that was the fullest, that demonstrated that Trayvon was just trying to get home when he was assaulted by the gun toting Zimmerman.

An entire reality of life for Black people has become more evident to many people broadly in society. The killing of Trayvon Martin has become a state-sanctioned lynching—duly tried and approved in a court of law.

This case struck such a deep chord with so many people because it concentrates the experience—the hundreds of years old experience—of Black people in this society. Trayvon's murder and the acquittal of his murderer flow from and reinforce an entire set of social relations that are founded in brutal oppression of Black people. The oppression of Black people is served by a feverish outlook of white entitlement" and privilege. This oppression and this outlook have changed in form over the years, but have long been a part of what coheres U.S. society and its dominant culture. It is an outlook built on assumptions and interests founded in great injustice.

We are at a moment in history when white people must step up and reject this mentality, emphatically and decisively, and it is a very positive development that many white people, and people of many nationalities, joined in protests across the country against the outrageous verdict.

Society's Verdict

The jury, as Obama said, has given its verdict. But the ultimate societal verdict has not been settled. Things many people in this country thought had been "settled" and that society had "moved beyond" have been revealed in a tumultuous, emotional moment to be all around us. This society is not what many people had thought it is, or would have liked to think it is.

Many, many people have been jolted into activity, and have come face to face with the ugly nature of this society—this system. Some things have changed over the years in the forms of oppression within this system. But one thing that hasn't changed is that the system of capitalism imperialism exists on the backs of the suffering of millions, and that brutal, ongoing, daily oppression of Black people is an integral part of that system's functioning.

At moments like this great advances can and must be made in building the kind of force and movement that can actually not just confront but get to the root of the problem. And getting to the root of the problem means Revolution—Nothing Less.

The Revolutionary Communist Party has a strategy for revolution in this country, contributing to and accelerating revolution all over the world. As the RCP says in "On the Strategy for Revolution":

"Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution is a key part of our strategic approach, which provides a way for the Party to unite with and give leadership to people to change themselves as they take part in the struggle to change the world...to lift their heads and broaden their vision, to recognize what kind of world is possible, what their real interests are, and who their real friends and real enemies are, as they rise up against this system...to take up a revolutionary viewpoint and revolutionary values and morals as they join with others to resist this system's crimes and build up the basis for the ultimate all-out revolutionary struggle to sweep this system away and bring in a whole new way of organizing society, a whole new way of being...to become emancipators of humanity."