Revolution #381, April 6, 2015 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/379/emergency-gathering-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

EMERGENCY:
The Police Are STILL Killing Unarmed People, and This Must STOP!
A CALL TO ACT
Cornel West and Carl Dix

Updated April 4, 2015 | Originally posted March 26, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Cornel West and Carl Dix
BE THERE Monday, April 6

Monday, April 6, 7 PM
New York City

St. Paul & St. Andrews Church

West 86th Street & West End Avenue
1 train; M86 bus

 

Special Messages to the April 6 Program

from Alice Walker:

 

from Cindy Sheehan:

 

Come hear Cornel West and Carl Dix
speak on April 6 about what needs to be done and massive outpourings on April 14.

Join with family members of those whose lives have been stolen by the murdering police.

Special messages from Alice Walker, Cindy Sheehan, Arturo O'Farrill, Eve Ensler and others.

Stop Mass Incarceration Network
www.stopmassincarceration.net
stopmassincarceration@gmail.com
646-709-1961

After the protests of last year, after promises were made and investigations were launched, after hundreds of protesters were arrested... the police are still getting away with killing people, especially Black and Latino people. This must STOP!

Learn more and get involved HERE.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/378/ardea-skybreak-excerpts2-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

An Explorer, a Critical Thinker, a Follower of BA: Understanding the World, And Changing It For the Better, In the Interests of Humanity

and

Some Thank Yous That Need To Be Said Aloud

Excerpts from the Interview with Ardea Skybreak

March 17, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In the early part of this year (2015), over a number of days, Revolution conducted a wide-ranging interview with Ardea Skybreak.  A scientist with professional training in ecology and evolutionary biology, and an advocate of the new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian, Skybreak is the author of, among other works,The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters, and Of Primeval Steps and Future Leaps, An Essay on the Emergence of Human Beings, the Source of Women’s Oppression, and the Road to Emancipation. An excerpt from this interview, “On Attending the Dialogue Between Bob Avakian and Cornel West,” was first published in February 2015.  The following are two additional excerpts from this interview. The text of the complete interview (including a Table of Contents, with links to the different sections of the interview) is also available at revcom.us.

 

An Explorer, a Critical Thinker, a Follower of BA: Understanding the World, And Changing It For the Better, In the Interests of Humanity

Q:     I thought a good note to end on would be: What does BA’s leadership and new synthesis of communism have to do with how you understand and approach the world?

AS:     [Laughs] People sometimes inquire about what kind of people will work with BA or follow his leadership? And I guess that’s part of what your question is trying to get at. Well, I would say, just look around. I think you’ll find an impressive and diverse mix of creative people of conscience with many different backgrounds, skills, and personalities. Speaking for myself, I guess I’d say that I’ll always be a critical thinker. I just don’t know any other way to be! [laughs] I’m sure I’ll always be curious about just about everything, both in the natural world and in human society.  I am both challenged, and sustained, by the diversity and complexity of the natural world and the social world. I think I am, at heart, an explorer. Exploring the unknown, discovering what has not previously been understood, breaking new ground: in my own view, this is a lot of what makes life worth living.

But I also don’t want to just understand the world. I want to help change it, for the better and in the interests of all of humanity. And that’s where BA’s new synthesis of communism comes in for me. Because thanks to BA’s new synthesis of communism, and especially as it is concentrated in his application of scientific methods and approaches, I feel that I have gained, over the years, a much deeper appreciation, not only of the great complexities of the overall process of revolutionary transformation, but also of the very real possibilities for such transformation. How you could actually do it.  How you could actually win. How you could actually bring into being a new society that would be worth living in.

Get into BA!

If it weren’t for the new synthesis of communism, I might have gotten discouraged. In my own work on the woman question, in my work on popularizing the science of evolution, and in many other areas where I have tried to make some contributions, I have repeatedly drawn great insights from the new synthesis epistemologically and methodologically, and I have tried to apply this in my work, to good effect, I think. In all of my life’s work, I think it’s clear that I am very committed to spreading basic scientific understanding and methods among the people as broadly as possible, helping many, including from the most oppressed and the least formally educated, to actually enter into and participate in the scientific process in their own right. And I am also committed to bringing to bear all my training and life experiences to bringing a more consistently rigorous scientific approach into every nook and cranny of the movement for revolution and to forging the pathways that go towards a new society, a new socialist transition towards communism. And BA’s new synthesis of communism, and the whole method and approach that most clearly characterizes and concentrates it, has inspired and provoked and challenged my work in many positive ways over the years, and in many dimensions.

Again, more than anything else, it is the method and approach concentrated in the new synthesis, and in particular its epistemological dimensions: its rigorous pursuit of the patterns that reveal material reality as it really is, regardless of how unexpected and how uncomfortable those discoveries might be; and its scientific grasp that it is always the contradictions that exist within a thing or process that provide the material basis for change; and that therefore you will find that the material basis for the radical, revolutionary transformation of society and the world resides primarily right within the handful of the key underlying contradictions, the ones that constitute the core underpinnings and defining characteristics of the prevailing system, which today is the system of capitalism-imperialism that currently dominates the world.  All this has not only provided the framework within which I feel one can “ask the right questions,” increasingly, but also pursue those questions to their resolution. It has, in a very real sense, provided me personal sustenance and air to breathe. And I feel that it has enabled me to make at least some significant contributions to the overall process of scientific discovery and transformation in various spheres. Not just for my own enlightenment, or because of my own curiosity, although it does assist in this as well [laughs], but also to help advance the process of radical transformation of society that is needed so urgently and by so many. BA’s new synthesis of communism has challenged me in positive ways, and enabled me to make contributions that I would not otherwise have been able to make. And, speaking not only for myself, but for many others who have been inspired in their own work and in their own contributions by BA’s new synthesis, that once again is a sign, an indication, of what I think of as really good scientific leadership.

 

                                   
Some Thank Yous That Need To Be Said Aloud

AS: Especially in the face of not just the hardship and difficulties, but also the slander, the snark and gutter attacks that some people never tire of spewing forth, I’d like to say some thank yous, because I think there are some thank yous that good people have in mind sometimes, but that are not enough, not often enough, said aloud. So let me say some of those thank yous aloud right now.

Thank you, first of all, to Bob Avakian, for his tireless dedication and many personal sacrifices over many decades. Again, all he’s done his whole life is work tirelessly to serve the people, not for personal advantage or to feather his own nest. Thank you for never giving up, for never selling out, for always trying to more deeply understand the deep root causes of the great unnecessary suffering experienced by so many here and around the world. Thank you for buckling down and doing the hard work to apply consistently scientific methods to uncover the truth of things, wherever it might lead, however uncomfortable it might be, and then following through to bring to the fore “the logic of the logic”– that a revolution is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary and also possible. Thank you for your generosity of spirit and your broad-minded inclusive and optimistic vision. Thank you for all your work in developing the vision, the strategy, and the concrete plans to advance towards the emancipation of humanity from capitalist-imperialist oppression, and then working tirelessly to spread this understanding and this strategy and this plan broadly among the people–to thousands, to millions, to any who would listen, especially among the most oppressed at the bottom of society that so many in society would just feel comfortable throwing away, while you invite in all others who are willing to join in the movement of resistance and revolution. Thank you for telling it like it is, for doing systematic, scientific work on the problems, for giving of this knowledge and of yourself to all who would listen.

Thank you, also, to all the other comrades, the followers of BA’s new synthesis of communism who contribute daily to this process, to the best of their abilities, and also often at great personal cost. Thank you for not giving up, for fighting through the exhaustion and discouragement, for dedicating your lives to serving the people, for striving to always learn more and contribute more, and on an ever higher level.

Thank you also to all those in the broader society who in many different ways donate their time, their money, their ideas, their legal expertise, their research, their organizing skills, their music, designs, paintings and other art works. To all those who open their doors and their hearts to welcome and assist the resisters and revolutionaries, thank you. To all those who have refused to bow down to social pressure, to turn their backs on the revolutionary communists, to shun or slander them, thank you. Thank you to those brave elements who have stood up in places like Ferguson, in defiant resistance, who are serving notice on the system that they will not take it any more, and who are working to put aside their own conflicts and the differences among themselves in order to stand up together to the greater enemy–this system and its enforcers. You inspire and motivate many, many more in this country and around the world. And you are being heard. Thank you.

Thank you to all the heart-broken ones who have suffered unimaginable loss and grief as their children and other loved ones have been brutally slaughtered by the police and other enforcers. Your cries of agony echo forevermore in the minds of the revolutionaries, and are constant reminders of the need to persevere to put an end to this horrible system. Thank you for standing up in the midst of your pain, and joining with others to fight and resist these outrages, to demand justice, to demand that these outrages stop once and for all, so that no other family should experience ever again such needless pain. What you are doing is a fitting tribute to your lost loved ones, and will give strength to the movements of resistance and revolution which are working to get beyond all of this. Thank you.

And once again, coming back around full circle, thank you to Bob Avakian for the dream, the vision, and the ability to turn all this into concrete plans and a concrete strategy for the emancipation of all the oppressed and exploited, and all of humanity, and for envisioning and mapping out how things really could be so different, and so much better, for the vast majority of people on this planet. Thank you for your willingness to shoulder the responsibility to lead. Thank you.

 

 


 

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Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

DOJ Report:

Coverup for the Police Murder of Michael Brown

April 6, 2015, new introduction March 16, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Editors’ Note (March 16, 2017): Two and a half years ago, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old Black youth, was shot dead in cold blood as he had his hands raised, by a white cop in Ferguson, Missouri. People in Ferguson and around the country rose up and delivered their verdict on this wanton police murder of an unarmed Black man. In the face of this, the St. Louis County prosecutor and then the U.S. Department of Justice refused to bring any charges against the pig, Darren Wilson, who carried out this heinous crime. Recently, a new documentary about Mike Brown and his murder, titled Stranger Fruit, was released. We have not seen the film, but it reportedly indicates that events leading up the murder of Mike Brown are more complicated than was previously known—including a previously unreleased surveillance camera video showing Mike Brown at a convenience store some hours before he was killed. This video clip has been widely shown in recent media reports. A different video from the same store was released and used after the murder as part of efforts to demonize Mike Brown and justify letting the cop off. The St. Louis County prosecutor arrogantly dismissed the newly revealed video as “not relevant” and continued to demonize Michael Brown. In light of these events, we are re-posting the following article which appeared at revcom.us after the Department of Justice released their report outrageously declaring there was no basis to bring charges against the killer cop Wilson.

 

The Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report recently that came to the outrageous conclusion that there is no basis to file federal charges against Darren Wilson, the cop who murdered Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Another report on Ferguson by the DOJ, released at more or less the same time as the one on Michael Brown’s murder, acknowledged long-standing brutality and abuse of Black people by the Ferguson Police Department, deeply embedded racist hatred on the part of Ferguson cops and city officials generally, and a system of legalized theft and extortion that kept much of the Black population of Ferguson and surrounding cities impoverished, and in and out of jail.

But we are told that this pervasive racist hate had nothing to do with the murder of Michael Brown. The report on Michael Brown says the unarmed Brown tried to grab Wilson’s gun, then charged at Wilson and put him “in fear of his life.” Now all kinds of racists, reactionaries, fools, and cowards have jumped on this to spread confusion and demoralization about what happened in Ferguson, and to demobilize the powerful movement against murder by police that rose up last summer and fall. A recent headline in the Washington Post screamed “Hands up, don’t shoot, was built on a lie.”

This is bullshit! Wilson shot Michael Brown and chased him down the street. Michael had his hands in the air and pleaded with Wilson not to shoot. Wilson poured several volleys into Michael and put a bullet into his brain.

People at the scene saw this, and they told the world about it! No amount of confusion “legitimized” in a government report or a grand jury hearing, no amount of lies repeated in an endless loop on Fox News or CNN can change that!

Dorian Johnson, Michael’s friend, who was with him at the time Wilson stopped them, said he saw Michael Brown stop and turn around with his hands in the air. He said he heard Brown say either “I don’t have a gun” or “I’m unarmed” before Wilson unloaded his gun on Michael. At the time of Brown’s murder, two white construction workers raised their arms in the air to show what Brown was doing and were recorded saying, “He wasn’t no threat at all” and “He had his fucking hands in the air.”

The Department of INjustice, just like the grand jury in Ferguson, decided to ignore all that in the name of what they said was “plausible” in the string of lies and justifications of the murder that Darren Wilson told them. Their report says Michael Brown was somehow the “aggressor” towards the gun-wielding cop stalking him, and that Wilson acted “reasonably” when he shot at Michael 12 times, hitting him either six or eight times.


A woman who saw the police shooting of Michael Brown tells what happened

They dismissed all the testimony of people who saw Michael with his hands in the air. They dismissed the testimony of a woman who said she heard Michael Brown say, over and over, “I didn’t do anything.” They said a woman who said Michael “looked scared” could not be “credible.” The people who saw Michael Brown with his arms up, and his hands out, and who said Michael was “walking” or “staggering” towards Wilson, not charging him as Wilson claimed—their testimony too was dismissed.

Yes there's a conspiracy, to get the cops off

A clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, given in 2003. Bob Avakian is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Watch the entire film online at http://revolutiontalk.net. And get into Bob Avakian.

Dorian Johnson, who has been grilled endlessly and who has been threatened with perjury, put this DOJ decision in good perspective: “No indictment means no justice. It’s hurtful to think that someone can be murdered and, you know, their killer walks away free. The fight doesn’t stop here. I don’t condone violence on no type of level, but like I said, I do understand the anger. I feel the same anger they are feeling.”

Here’s the truth of what happened. Wilson shot Michael Brown in the hand when Michael came to his car. With gun drawn, he then came at Michael and Dorian. When Michael Brown turned and faced Wilson, with his arms and hands up, Wilson fired several rounds of high caliber bullets into him. Michael’s right lung was hit twice, his jaw was shattered. Then Wilson coldly put a bullet into Michael’s brain and murdered him.

The killing of Michael Brown was straight up murder by police, and people were righteously justified in their fierce protests. “HANDS UP, DON’T SHOOT!” is indeed one very fitting and powerful slogan and symbol for the mass resistance that needs to be built against the outrage of police brutality and murder, and everything bound up with it.

Wilson’s Story, or the Pig’s Tale

The story Darren Wilson told the grand jury was full of obvious holes, inconsistencies, and outright lies. But not only was Wilson never challenged, his story was taken as the truth that everyone else’s story was measured against.

These are just some of the most glaring inconsistencies for which Wilson never had to answer. But these aren’t even the worst of it. Wilson left the scene of the murder as other cops arrived moments after the shooting, against the advice of his sergeant. He went to the Ferguson Police Department, where he knew Barbara Spradling, his fiancée, was on duty. He washed his hands, and packaged his own gun in an evidence bag.

David Klinger of the University of Missouri at St. Louis told the Washington Post, “An officer driving himself back? Wrong. An officer booking his own gun into evidence? Wrong. The appropriate investigative procedures were not followed.” A 2013 manual of the Justice Department states that when crime scenes are processed, investigators “Do not allow suspect to use bathroom facilities, or to alter his/her appearance, including brushing hair or washing hands.” The reality is that from the beginning Wilson never was considered to be a suspect.

Elementary rules of police investigation were not followed either by Wilson, his superior officer, or his fiancée, but the Department of Justice, in its official report, says Wilson’s explanations are “credible.”

Wilson told his story to Spradling before any other cops got there. Whatever they worked out between themselves at that time was the story Wilson told in subsequent questioning. As the old saying goes, “That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it.” The DOJ admits that Spradling has “potential bias” in this case—an understatement if ever there was one—but that her testimony, completely based on what Wilson told her when they had some time together right after he shot and killed Michael Brown, and despite her negligence in allowing Wilson to wash away evidence, is “credible.”

All this is what’s known as “getting away with murder.” And it was condoned by the U.S. government’s “Department of Justice.” Why should anyone believe this crap? No one should accept the decision of this report!

The Kill Shot

The DOJ report says that evidence has to prove that Darren Wilson acted “willfully” and “unreasonably” when he shot and killed Michael Brown. It says every shot fired by Wilson must be justified.

The shot that killed Michael Brown entered the vertex (peak) of his skull. Michael Brown was about the same height as Wilson, 6’4.” This means that Brown was either bent over double from the pain of multiple gunshot wounds and extensive bleeding, or on his hands and knees—there is testimony to both—when Brown put the “kill shot” into Michael Brown’s brain.

If putting a bullet into the top of the head of a heavily wounded man bent over double or on all fours is not “willful” and “unreasonable,” what the hell is? This DOJ ruling not only gives Wilson a free pass for his murder of Michael Brown, it is a license to kill for every other pig in the country.

“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” is true and a righteous slogan. And we should proudly uphold and continue to shout it. It concentrates what happened to Michael Brown and what has happened in every city and town in this country. And those who fall for or are influenced by the line of reasoning in the DOJ report should ask themselves: in the highly unlikely event that every word Darren Wilson told “investigators” is true—would that justify him gunning down Michael Brown?

If someone supposedly steals a package of cigars as Wilson and the DOJ claim Mike Brown did, does that mean he should be shot to death in the street? If a cop doesn’t like the look on someone’s face—especially if it’s, say, a Black face—is it all right, is it reasonable, for the cop to be in fear for his life, and able to use that supposed fear as justification for killing the Black person? If a youth is bent over double or on all fours bleeding profusely from multiple gunshot wounds, would the person who shot him be justified to put a bullet through the youth’s head and claim the youth was “charging” him? Do Wilson’s hateful, racist, and obviously self-serving statements, which the DOJ report accepts without question or comment, about Michael Brown’s supposed state of mind and appearance—that Brown “looked like a demon,” that he made “the most intense aggressive face” Wilson had seen, and others—does that justify a cop shooting a youth with his hands up in the air?

A basic question of morality is involved here. It is immoral and unjust that police continue to shoot down young Black and Latino men. It is immoral and unjust that any sorry “justification” the murdering pigs come up with—“he reached for his waistband”; “he had a shiny object in his hand”; “he made a sudden move”; “he tried to grab my gun”—is enough to keep them from being charged with anything at all. It is immoral and shameful for anyone to be influenced or accept in any way these worn out excuses.

A legal system that justifies these murders and allows them to continue unpunished is illegitimate and deserves no respect whatsoever.

There Is No Justice from the Department of Justice

As we wrote when the DOJ report was first issued:

The Justice Department essentially found Michael Brown guilty of causing his own death. NO!!! Again, no trial to actually find and test the truth. Again, trying to excuse the basic fact that Michael Brown had no weapon. Again, ignoring killer cop Darren Wilson’s racist grand jury testimony equating Michael Brown to a “demon.” Again, taking as true the highly dubious scenario that Michael Brown, already shot by the cop Wilson several times, somehow rushed the cop who killed him.

Why would they cover it up? Well, think about this: if the Justice Department had actually said that depriving a young Black man of his life without due process is a crime and that Darren Wilson should stand trial for this, don’t you think that would have caused an even more major shit storm among the powers-that-be—who are already at each other’s throats? And what would that do to their whole agenda of repressing Black and Latino communities, an agenda that relies on violence by the police? This was a “compromise deal”—to make people think something will be done, but to keep full support for the police... and to put the people themselves on the defensive.

Now is emphatically not the time to be “cooling out” the struggle that erupted so brilliantly last year. Now is the time for this resistance to become more powerful. Now is the time to say “No More to the System Giving a Green Light to Killer Cops!”

 


 

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Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

First Impressions of The PREMIERE of
The New Film of REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion
A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN

A correspondence from Andy Zee, co-director of the film

April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

“This film brought an awareness that we do need an actual change....” A young Latino brother echoed what was felt by audiences across the country who came to the March 28 premieres of the new film of the historic Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian that took place last November at Riverside Church in New York City. Wherever you were coming from, whatever experience you have had with what this system does to people every day, whether this was your first encounter with the revolution or you’ve been fighting to get rid of this system your whole life, you came away from seeing REVOLUTION AND RELIGION feeling this brother’s sentiment.

REVOLUTION AND RELIGION

Watch the film now! Share it and spread it through social media!

In this correspondence, I am going to share some of my own and others’ first impressions. I urge everyone to watch, dig into, promote, and raise funds so that many more can experience and be moved by what Bob Avakian and Cornel West did on November 15, 2014.

Seeing the film on the big screen was special. Look, there was nothing like the excitement of being at Riverside with 1,900 people “live,” experiencing Bob Avakian and Cornel West together on this topic—I won’t ever forget it—being a part of something really historic.

Yet, watching this on film is just a different experience: profound and provocative. I found myself drawn deeply into their insights, their arguments, how they related to each other and engaged and struggled with the audience, the different methods by which they analyzed and approached big questions. I found myself learning more and anew. The film brings you up close inside Cornel West’s and Bob Avakian’s presentations and exchange: the passion, the audacity, the science, the morality, the revolutionary substance. Two courageous voices modeling a morality that refuses to accept injustice—pouring heart and soul into standing together challenging all of us to fight for a world worthy of humanity.

I attended the New York City premiere at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. It was fitting that this film was welcomed and debuted at this beautiful institution that resonates with the history of Black people. Watching the film on the big screen at the Schomburg—a screen that must be 40 feet across and 20 feet high with big, rich sound—was new for me after months of being a part of editing the film on small monitors!

BA and Cornel West really are two courageous moral voices of this moment. They hold and fill the big screen. The topic, Revolution and Religion, is huge: The fight for the emancipation of humanity and, in that context, looking at religion, which holds sway over much of humanity, especially the oppressed of the world, is an urgent question that demands and holds attention. But the dynamism and passion of both BA and CW, their humor and substance, their concern and struggle for the future of humanity, amplify and resonate in a special way through the film. Whether watching in a dark theater or up close on computer, TV, or smartphone, the film brings you into a personal experience with “Cornel and Bob,” so much so that afterward people who had never met either of them came up to me speaking of them by their first names as if they were life-long friends!

Cornel West and BA speak to the conditions and the potential of those who catch the hardest hell from this system. BA brings out why and how they rise to be emancipators of humanity. I want to return to what the young Latino brother who has lost a relative to the murdering police said right after the premiere:

You know, what struck me is that people do not have to have 100 percent the same views. Both of them are fighting for the same things, to free us. Especially with the system that’s been put in forever, that’s been keeping us oppressed, and you know, they criminalizing us, killing us. And this film brought awareness that we do need actual change, because it’s been too long a system that don’t work for us, it never has worked for us. And I think they brought that awareness to everybody—that we need real change.

...It feels like I just drank gasoline every time I hear about a new case the police killing somebody. Because it feels like my insides are burning, like my chest and my stomach are burning inside every time I hear about a new case of the police killing somebody... it feels like my insides are burning, like my chest and my stomach are burning inside. I feel so much anger inside. I feel like, oh my god, what can I do about it? And you know that’s why I thank god I found the revolution. It’s the only people who really back me up on how I feel... And I constantly argue with family and friends, but you know what I do? I don’t give up...

Available on DVD

Learn more about the film

I highlight this not just for the fury of the poetry, but because he speaks for so many whom this system despises, whose loved ones were killed or crushed in other ways by this system, and what they expressed after experiencing the film. So why should this film be spread far and wide? Because “it’s been too long a system that... never has worked for us... it feels like I just drank gasoline every time I hear about a new case of the police killing somebody... I thank god I found the revolution... I constantly argue... I don’t give up.”

* * *

Reading correspondence from organizers of the premieres around the country, I noticed that people repeatedly commented on Bob Avakian’s straightforward, clear, no-holds-barred telling it like it really is. People from very different backgrounds appreciated what BA nailed about this criminal system; the vision he put forth for what kind of world humanity could be capable of—if free from this life- and spirit-crushing system; why and how revolution could make this possible; and why we need a scientific approach to everything and what science even is. BA challenged people to think in a way they never had before about their religious beliefs, while at the same time he struggled for people to act now against injustice and for a radically different world. A student from the prestigious Stanford University said:

This is one of the first times I have come to something of this magnitude.... There is a lot of things that I have been contemplating and meditating on recently that were addressed especially by Avakian, especially about religion and Christianity...

I appreciated his honesty, and I think that the truth of what he was saying, a lot of the history behind what he was saying, and the science, the evidence behind what he was saying. Like I am studying engineering, so I believe, I root myself in science, within math, and in the physical, the real world. So I have been struggling a lot... like how I believe in the spiritual and in the soul, and I believe in a life after this one, but a lot of times those ideas are used to oppress people, and say you are suffering now, but wait till after this life. And so I am struggling with how do we get those people to realize that we can fight for a better world now. But still believe that we can have a better life afterward.

This student, a Native American, went on to talk about how seeing the film helped him recognize that the oppression of all the different nationalities is rooted in the same source.

The actual Dialogue took place last November just before the grand juries in Ferguson and New York failed to indict the police murderers of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The rising of the defiant youth of Ferguson was still in the air, and indeed some of those youth were in the house at Riverside, having traveled for a day and a half by bus to get there. But this was a moment of a kind of intense calm, which then burst forth when the indictments didn’t come down, and the streets of the country filled with tens of thousands of youth. As people were walking out of Riverside last November, I spoke with the mother of a young man murdered by the NYC cops, and I asked her what she thought. Fiercely, she responded: “I know what to do.” While she was explicit about the immediate struggle, she was seeing herself more connected to and a part of the fight for the whole thing.

We are in a moment now when the movement against police murder, mass incarceration, and the whole spirit and understanding that Black and Latino lives matter is struggling to retake political and militant initiative. This film can impact how people think and act about that, because it raises sights to the system that gives rise to this outrage, the connection to all forms of oppression, and to revolution for a radically better world.

The film enables people to see what they haven’t seen—the reality that is “hidden in plain sight,” as BA says in the Dialogue. A young Black woman student said she would tell others that the film “actually wakes you up,” elaborating:

You need to understand what is going on around you. This fantasy world we are all living in, this thing that we think we are living in, is not really what’s happening. And if you want that, you need to go watch this film and wake up...

The film gives a vision of a future worthy of humanity. Cindy Sheehan, who has been fighting hard for a decade against the unjust wars of this system, commented after seeing the film: “The film is an invaluable tool to support communist/socialist revolution because it explains so beautifully the utopian vision.”

Watch and spread the YouTube clip from Bob Avakian’s presentation: “WHAT IF...?“ You can hear the exuberant applause and cheers of the audience as BA flips the script on all the outrageously unnecessary oppressions and ways people relate to each other today because of this system, inspiring all to feel what could be. This powerful oratory is the product of years of BA’s study and leadership to qualitatively advance the science of revolution. And throughout the Dialogue, he brings this out in a living way.

This is a film of enormous heart, determination, and struggle with each of us and all of us collectively to rise to the challenge of this time. Standing up against all this system does to people, building a movement for an actual revolution, are not easy. Both speakers acknowledged that. A young woman with the Revolution Club in Atlanta said she had been kind of down because her family has been telling her that being active in the fight against police murder is going to hurt her chances of getting a good job. But when she heard BA tell of the impact on him of the story that Mao Zedong, the leader of China when it was a revolutionary society, had told W.E.B. Du Bois that the one mistake that the Chinese revolutionaries and Du Bois had never made was the mistake of giving up—and heard BA saying this has never left him, this gave her a renewed determination and confidence that she was doing the right thing.

* * *

These first impressions from seeing the new film of the Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian indicate the impact and import that this film has.

I want to close this correspondence with this: One key thing you see in this film is Bob Avakian modeling the method and approach of the new synthesis of communism that he has developed. He does this in dialogue with Cornel West, a public intellectual who himself models courage and integrity in speaking and acting against injustice. After working on the film, and then watching it again at the premiere, I recalled what BA said about the new synthesis of communism in a seminal work, “Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity.” He said: “[W]e should not underestimate the potential of this as a source of hope and daring on a scientific foundation.” I considered these words from BA, and I thought, the film of the Dialogue really brings that. Now, let’s get to work so that this hope and daring on a scientific foundation takes root and spreads all over the world.

 


 

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Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Nuclear Agreement with Iran:

U.S. Empire Makes Move to Meet Rising Challenges

by Larry Everest | April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Thursday, April 2, President Obama, Iran’s Foreign Minister, and a representative of the European Union announced that after 18 months of negotiations they had agreed on an overall framework for a major agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and sanctions. In return for the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) cutting back, restricting and allowing extensive inspections of its nuclear enrichment program, the U.S. and other world powers would begin to lift the punishing economic sanctions they had imposed on Iran. The final deal between the U.S. and other world powers (Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France) on one side, and Iran on the other is scheduled to be worked out and signed by the end of June.

Many in the U.S. and in Iran are celebrating the agreement as a triumph of peace over war. The deal represents no such thing.

This deal (and the arguments over it) is not about eliminating the underlying causes of suffering, deprivation, conflict and wars in the region. It’s not even about eliminating nukes in the region—the U.S. still has thousands, and Israel has hundreds that it has refused to even acknowledge, much less submit to international inspection and control. The deal is about maintaining those underlying social and economic relations as well as the political order that is responsible for the horrendous tidal wave of death and suffering that is cascading over North Africa and the Middle East and is at the root of the rise and spread of Islamic fundamentalism.

Opening of a Big Strategic Move

Iran’s nuclear program is an issue for the U.S. in its own right. But for the U.S., the nuclear agreement appears to be the opening act of a much bigger strategic move—and gamble—by the Obama administration aimed at dealing with enormous contradictions and challenges the U.S. imperialists face globally as well as in the Middle East region. In a nutshell, the Obama team hopes that this nuclear deal can be a bridge toward Iran rejoining “the community of nations,” as Obama put it. This means Iran would become more integrated in the U.S.-dominated global and regional orders after 36 years of isolation and increasingly sharp conflict between the two countries. If this works out as planned, and that’s a big if, Iran could go from one of U.S. imperialism’s biggest problems to a globally important country more helping than harming the U.S. agenda

Such a shift, if successful, could have profound reverberations globally and regionally. It could strengthen the U.S. in its clash with Russia and growing rivalry with China, while making it more difficult for them to pull Iran into their orbits. In the Middle East, the U.S. is beset with explosive and intractable contradictions, and Obama’s team hopes that a rapprochement with Iran could be key to dealing with them. As the New York Times put it, reconciliation with Iran could be “the key to a broader reordering of a region that has bedeviled American presidents for generations.”

Iran’s rulers also have their own pressing reasons for agreeing to the nuclear deal under which they agreed to cut its centrifuges by two-thirds, enrich only to 3.67 percent (a nuclear weapon requires over 90 percent enriched uranium), undertake big changes to various nuclear reactors and facilities, and permit intrusive inspections, all of which will last at least 10 years.

This deal will lessen the threat of a U.S. military attack. The Iranian regime urgently needs the lifting of sanctions. Its economy remains dependent on foreign technology, imports, and capital, so cutting Iran off from international banking and credit has crippled their economy, including by hindering its expansion and modernization. Reviving Iran’s economy would help prevent another eruption of internal discontent, like the one which took place following the 2009 presidential elections.

The IRI also has broader objectives than the recognition of its right to enrich uranium and sanctions relief. Sunni jihadism and regional turmoil threaten its interests as well. And Iran’s rulers seek to build Iran into a powerful country, one with global ties, and legitimize its role as a major player in the Middle East. All of these could be served by easing U.S.-Iran tensions and regaining access to global trade and financial markets.

There is no guarantee, however, that this deal will be consummated or succeed in the ways the Obama team is betting on. There is vehement opposition to the deal and Obama’s strategic move by powerful forces in the U.S. ruling class and from key U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia. Former Gen. David Petraeus, for example, argues that Iran is the problem—not the solution. In the past, Israel has threatened to unilaterally attack Iran’s nuclear facilities if any deal allowed them to continue to enrich uranium.

Even if the deal does go through and the U.S. and Iran attempt a broader rapprochement, there is no guarantee it will play out as planned. Iran has its own ambitions, which aren’t identical to the U.S.’s. The deal could lead to unanticipated Israeli and Saudi moves against Iran and splits with the U.S. And many other contradictions, global or regional, could intervene.

An About-Face Driven by Big Changes and Extreme Necessity

The U.S. imperialists have been deeply hostile to the Islamic Republic of Iran for some 36 years, starting shortly after it came to power following the 1979 Iranian revolution and growing over time. Why? Not because Iran’s rulers are despotic theocrats, who oppress and suffocate Iran’s people, women especially. But because their agenda and ambitions have conflicted in many ways with U.S. global and regional interests. While remaining firmly within the global capitalist order, Iran’s new rulers were not outright U.S. lackeys, like the Shah. They expanded Iran’s ties internationally and its influence regionally, in Syria for instance. They advocated Islamic rule and supported anti-U.S. Islamist forces, including in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. The 2002 revelation that Iran had a secret nuclear enrichment program added to these tensions. Whether or not Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons, it would be destabilizing if it even had the technical capacity to build a bomb.

So the normalization of U.S.-Iran relations would represent a radical about-face. Why is it taking place now?

The U.S. has been the world’s dominant imperialist power for 70 years, since the end of World War 2, and the world’s only imperialist superpower for the last 25, since the collapse of the former Soviet Union. But the global playing field is rapidly changing, and the U.S. is facing new challenges. China is rapidly becoming a world economic power and expanding its economic, political and military influence, including in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Russia has been attempting to reassert its influence, including in Eastern Europe, where the U.S. and Russia are dangerously clashing over Ukraine, as well as Central Asia, and the Middle East. The U.S. has sought to counter the rise of both China and Russia.

Iran is not a global power, but it occupies a globally strategic geographic position and has enormous energy reserves. So it’s a state whose alignment can impact the global balance of power. In recent years, both Russia and China have worked to expand their ties with Iran, at a time when U.S.-Iranian relations have been locked in antagonism. To take one dimension, China is now one of the main investors in the oil sectors in Iran (and Iraq). So one element of Obama’s Iran gambit is to pull Iran toward the U.S. orbit and to head off the deepening of an alliance between China, Russia, and Iran (as well as other countries).

Developments in the Middle East are closely linked to the global picture in other ways. This region is a military and trade crossroads between Africa, Europe and Asia and a crucial spigot of global oil and natural gas, and controlling it has been key to U.S. global domination since the end of World War 2. But now the regional order is under duress and threatening to come apart. Upheaval, turmoil, and civil wars are spreading across the region, engulfing Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Iraq. Recent uprisings have rocked Egypt, Bahrain, and Tunisia. These developments threaten the stability of crucial U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia—the country with the world’s largest oil reserves. And they threaten to further enmesh U.S. forces in the region, hindering the Obama team’s declared policy of shifting U.S. focus and resources to the Asian-Pacific region, increasingly the center of gravity of the world economy.

The Obama administration calculates that on both fronts a deal with Iran could be crucial. Lessening tensions with Iran could lower the likelihood the U.S. would get embroiled in another war in the region. It could pave the way toward cooperation where the U.S. and Iran have common interests—for instance in containing Sunni jihadist forces, as is now already taking place in fighting ISIS in Iraq. (This may be a test run for a more ongoing partnership.) Iran could potentially help facilitate political settlements in Syria and Yemen. All this, if it actually took place, could give the U.S. more freedom to focus on Europe and the Asian-Pacific.

This is the situation and these are the great necessities the U.S. faces that led it to shift course and cut this deal with Iran. This is why for the first time, the U.S. and its allies have effectively recognized Iran’s right to enrich uranium, and the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic, something the U.S. had not done explicitly before. And all this is why, as the New York Times sums up, Obama “has been willing to gamble America’s relationship with Israel and his own presidency on that premise” that Iran can be brought in from the cold and that this could head off disaster and become a major strategic gain for the U.S. imperialists.

The Backlash

Again, it’s by no means certain that this deal will be implemented, or work out as planned. There are real arguments within the U.S. ruling class over its wisdom—including whether it could end up strengthening Iran even more, to the detriment of the U.S. and Israel. There are divisions over whether the U.S. is acting forcefully enough in the Middle East, and more fundamentally over how to cohere the country and lead the empire during a period of upheaval and unpredictability. The approval of this deal could become a vehicle through which these larger intra-ruling class differences are fought out.

Whichever side in this ruling class debate wins out, the U.S. rulers could turn on Iran once again if they sees it’s in their interest to do so. This agreement does not mean that the IRI will stop pursuing its own ambitions, agenda, and necessities.

Israel’s newly re-elected Prime Minister Netanyahu has lashed out at the deal and repeatedly stated that no one will tell Israel how to protect its “security.” And Saudi Arabia fears the agreement will legitimize and increase Iran’s regional influence—undercutting and threatening Saudi Arabia’s own influence, perhaps even the legitimacy of the kingdom as Islam’s true guardian. Saudi Arabia may launch its own nuclear enrichment program, and it recently organized a regional Arab armed force to combat Iran and its allies—which is now being battle- tested in Yemen. So this deal, instead of tamping down contradictions, could escalate the tensions between Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Egypt on one side, and Iran and its allies on the other—with unpredictable consequences.

The Imperialists’ Interests Are Not Our Interests

In his announcement of the deal, Obama repeatedly emphasized that this was an agreement designed to further U.S. “interests.” What he means by U.S. interests is maintaining U.S. imperialist dominance over Iran, the Middle East region and the world, including by war if that is deemed the best option. As he talks of peace with Iran, he’s presiding over the bombing of the Iraqi city of Tikrit, supporting the Saudi bombing of Yemen, waging war in Afghanistan, and carrying out drone strikes and other war crimes throughout the region.

But many people—including those genuinely opposed to the crimes of U.S. imperialism and its enforcer, Israel—are being pulled into getting behind Obama and the position he represents, in conflict with Israel’s genocidal Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Republicans. As Alan Goodman wrote in a recent Revolution/revcom.us article (“Missing from the ‘Debate’ over Iran: the Interests of Humanity!”):

There’s one basic problem with that framework and that position: It utterly leaves out and goes completely against the interests and best aspirations of hundreds of millions of people from North Africa to Central Asia.

The people in this region are trapped in a cauldron of reactionary wars and brutal oppression defined by the clash of reactionary forces—Western imperialists who brand themselves “democracies,” and reactionary Islamic fundamentalists offer “alternative” forms of exploitation and oppression. The masses of people in this region have been demonized and dehumanized by the Western media. But the hundreds of millions of people in this region are our people. Their interests—and those of the people of the world—lie in ending all oppression. There is a basis for that in the world today, and there is a way out. It is a torturous journey, but it’s a real alternative to the hell people are living in—as real as real gets.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/indiana-anti-lgbt-discrimination-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Indiana's Anti-LGBT Discrimination:

A Fascist Law, a Storm of Protest

April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The past week has seen a national storm erupt over the state of Indiana passing a fascist so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA). The RFRA—and laws like it around the country—is aimed, despite the lamest and most transparent claims of some of its backers, at promoting discrimination and persecution of LGBT people, and at shoring up all kinds of bigotry, prejudice and oppression rooted in fundamentalist Christianity. Specifically, these RFRA laws are aimed stopping cities and towns from enacting laws that provide any protection for LGBT people against discrimination—in a nation where, overwhelmingly, there are no such laws.

An Invitation

The outrage and protest against the RFRA was righteous, and necessary! It forced the powers-that-be in Indiana to step back a bit, to try to cover their asses, and make some concessions. In Indiana, the law was amended so that cities and towns can pass ordinances prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination—and the handful of cities that have such laws can keep them in force. And it pushed the issue of discrimination against LGBT people into the public eye.

The marches and other protests in Indiana come at a time when big questions are up in society, including rapid changes in public opinion favoring equality for LGBT people—and in the context of a new mood in society brought about to a significant degree by the uprising against the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the murder and grand jury exoneration of the cop who killed Eric Garner in New York, and the waves of protest that followed. Recent outpourings of protest at Duke University against a lynching noose on campus, in Madison, Wisconsin, against police murder of an unarmed 19-year-old Black youth, and at the University of Virginia in response to the brutal beating of a Black student are signs of the times.

As Bob Dylan sang back in the '60s, the times are a changin’. What erupted in Indiana is part of that mosaic. But the forces of the old order are not getting out of the way. The Christian fascists are lashing back viciously against gay rights. Other ruling class forces are posing as great defenders of enlightenment but have, themselves, carried out great crimes against humanity here and around the world. The struggle that erupted needs to continue.

* * *

In spite of recent changes in law and significant changes in attitudes, discrimination and prejudice against LGBT people remains deeply embedded in this society.

The situation for LGBT youth today is rarely examined by mainstream media, but when it is, a painful and terrible picture emerges of persecution, isolation and fear (see “Same-Sex Marriage: A Basic Right, A Just Demand," the section titled: The Real Situation for LGBT People in the USA”).

And despite a positive phenomenon of entertainers and other prominent people coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, vast sections of society, including sports, are still extremely hostile terrain.

Brittney Griner is widely regarded as on her way to being the best player ever in women's basketball. She wrote an article in the New York Times (5/5/13) in which she poignantly described the torment she has been subjected to since she was a young girl, and continues to receive for not fitting into gender-role stereotypes and openly discussing being a lesbian. "People called me a dude and said there was no way I could be a woman. Some even wanted me to prove it to them. During high school and college, when we traveled for games, people would shout the same things while also using racial epithets and terrible homophobic slurs. (That's nothing compared with the horrendous things people call me online today—if you don't believe me, look at the comments about me on Twitter and Instagram.)

"No one deserves to go through that type of abuse. When I was young, I put on a face as if it didn't hurt, but it's painful to be called hateful names and made fun of because people thought my feet were huge or that I looked like a guy. It was hard to hear antigay slurs under their breath whenever I walked by them."

So in that light, what does it mean that in the United States, in 2015, some 20 states (including Indiana) either passed or are considering laws that ban cities or towns from passing ordinances prohibiting discrimination against LGBT people?

Bigotry and Discrimination in the Form of “Religious Freedom”

In 1993, a national Religious Freedom Restoration Act, sponsored by the Democrats, passed Congress almost unanimously and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. In the name of “restoring freedom of religion,” this became a legal foundation for a reactionary assault on separation of church and state, and it immediately became clear that this was the purpose. It had the effect of whipping up, legitimizing, and strengthening Christian fascist influence in society.

A major milestone in the process of empowering and feeding Christian fascists was when in 1996, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act. That law allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states.

The RFRA and other moves to expand the “right” of Christian fundamentalists to impose their women-hating, patriarchal beliefs on others took extreme expression and took a leap with the Supreme Court ruling in the infamous “Hobby Lobby” case in 2014. The majority of the Court invoked the RFRA to rule that religious rights apply to a corporation, and ruled that the Hobby Lobby chain of stores could deny medical insurance coverage for some forms of birth control for women employees, based on Christian fundamentalist beliefs. That ruling was an outrage in its own right, and with ominous implications.

Today, the rush to pass RFRA laws around the country is clearly—and overtly—a backlash at least in part against moves to legalize same-sex marriage, and in some places to pass laws that at least recognize formal equality for LGBT people. But it is also more than that—and even worse. In a recent article in Time, former NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar put it this way about Indiana’s RFRA: “At its core, rather than being a monument to justice, RFRA is a step towards establishing an American version of Shari’a law.” And he goes on to say RFRA supporters “are attempting to punish those who don’t follow their own very specific interpretation of God’s teaching.”

And that “very specific interpretation of God’s teaching” is a literal, fascist interpretation of the Bible—a vicious imposition of “traditional American values” that not only persecute LGBT people but force women into total subservience to men, and has historically been a bulwark of white supremacy.

The Storm of Protest

5 Stops

In response to the passage of the RFRA in Indiana, thousands of people took to the streets in protest, and appropriate outrage burst out far and wide. A reader who has been following the protests wrote to revcom.us with a survey of some of the actions:

“As soon as the bill was signed, protests and opposition to the law broke out. A large protest of thousands took place on March 28 in Indianapolis at the State Building. People were chanting, ‘No hate in our state.’ A woman had a sign, 'I want to live in a state that does not discriminate.' The protest was organized by a Carmel, Indiana mom, Annette Gross, who started a Facebook page calling for the protest. She said she had hoped for 100 people to show up. She said, ‘I don’t like to say we are going to do this or do that,' but when she saw the thousands in the street, she said, 'But, we got ‘em.’ Other smaller protests have been held in downtown Indianapolis throughout the week.”

Ashton Kutcher, Star Trek actor George Takei, Larry King, and James Van Der Beek came out against this law. Miley Cyrus called Indiana Governor Pence an "asshole" on Instagram. Parks and Recreation actor Nick Offerman said that he was scrapping a scheduled stop in Indianapolis as part of his 2015 summer tour.

The Ugly Agenda Behind the RFRA

Some of those behind the RFRA, like Indiana Governor Mike Pence, claim this law is not about discrimination. They’re lying.

Eric Miller, founder of a Christian fascist organization—Advance America—was quoted in the NY Times saying: “The proposed change to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is not a ‘fix’ but a hammer to destroy religious freedom...” The Times article did not note that Miller sent out emails to churches urging them to oppose attacks on the RFRA because “Christian bakers, florists and photographers would now be forced by the government to participate in a homosexual wedding or else they would be punished by the government! That’s not right!”

When asked by reporters to refute that assertion, Pence—who orchestrated the amendment—refused to directly address it, saying only: "This law does not give anyone license to discriminate.” He said LGBT rights is “not on my agenda. I think it's a completely separate question. I mean, we are talking about the religious freedom restoration act... That's where I want to stay focused."

And dark-ages ghouls like Miller worked closely with Pence to push through the RFRA. Miller and others like him were invited to a special private signing ceremony for the bill when Pence originally signed it into law.

Behind the Opposition to the RFRA from Apple, Walmart, NASCAR and Others

As noted, the protests and outrage over the RFRA in Indiana erupted in the context of important changes in the national mood. There is an emerging spirit of refusing to put up with oppression.

In the context of this mood of defiance and other factors (including the image of the U.S. around the world), some ruling class forces weighed in in opposing at least parts of the RFRA. Tim Cook—the openly gay head of Apple—came out against the law. NASCAR (the National Association for Stock Car Racing) declared, “We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.” The head of Walmart said a RFRA law passed the same week in Arkansas “threatens to undermine the spirit of inclusion present throughout the state of Arkansas and does not reflect the values we proudly uphold.” And a number Democratic Party spokespeople, including at MSNBC, spoke out against Indiana’s RFRA. So did some Republicans.

Apple builds its shiny gadgets in Chinese sweatshops where in 2010 alone, 14 workers committed suicide to protest inhuman hours, pay, and prison-like living conditions. NASCAR is a major promoter of the ugliest, most male chauvinist culture and has had only a handful of Black drivers in its history. Walmart is a major exploiter of sweatshop labor, a major backer of attacks on public education and immigrants, a major supporter of opponents of women’s rights and civil rights, and as recently as 2008 funded an initiative in Arkansas that would prevent gay and lesbian families from serving as adoptive or foster families.

Regardless of the individual feelings of any of the capitalists who sit on the boards of these entities, inequality, exploitation, and the enforcement of that is built into their operating systems. The “bottom line” for their rule is their militarized police forces, their massive spy networks, their draconian repressive laws, and mass incarceration. But they also need the allegiance of at least significant sections of people. And in that light, the opposition to the RFRA from forces like NASCAR, Apple and Walmart, etc., is driven by their perceptions of the necessity they face in maintaining the system of capitalism-imperialism in rocky and tumultuous times. (For a concise and highly relevant insights into these contradictions, see BAsics 3:10.)

And overall, when representatives of the ruling class present themselves as friends of movements against injustice—they do so ultimately to defuse the struggle. A whole article could be written on crimes against humanity carried out by the Democrats. When it served their perception of their own interests, and those of the whole system they serve, the Democrats posed as champions of abortion rights. Where are they now? Conciliating ground by the mile, talking about how we “all” want fewer abortions, while abortion access hangs by a thread.

The “Fix”

In direct response to protest and opposition, the Indiana legislature adopted changes to the state’s RFRA. Significantly, for the first time in Indiana’s history, those changes specifically identify “sexual orientation” as a factor in discrimination, stating the law “does not: (1) authorize a provider to refuse to offer or provide services, facilities, use of public accommodations, goods, employment, or housing to any member or members of the general public on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or United States military services.”

However, only a handful of cities in Indiana have laws that prohibit discrimination against LGBT people.

The South Bend Voice summed up: “The bill does not add sexual orientation or gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination laws. Essentially, the changes in the law return Indiana to the previous status quo where gays and lesbians could be denied service, fired from their job, and refused housing in most of the state — except in communities like South Bend and Indianapolis, which have ordinances on the books that ban discrimination. Rather than explicitly allowing discrimination, Indiana is once again tacitly allowing it.” (4/2/15)

And so it remains a reality that in most of Indiana and in most of the United States, LGBT people have no protection against discrimination. Employers can fire a person simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning! This is outrageous in its own right, and the present situation feeds a culture where LGBT people are dehumanized, victimized, and terrorized.

A Culture Clash in a Society Coming Apart at the Seams

Even as the “fix” to the Indiana law is not close to a full remedy to discrimination against LGBT people, hardcore Christian fascists who were the driving force behind the RFRA find the amendments unacceptable. They are whipping up their fanatic and lunatic social base with cries that the changes to the RFRA “destroy religious freedom protection in Indiana" (Eric Miller).

These Christian fascist forces, and the powers-that-be behind them, see the undermining of the traditional, viciously patriarchal family as weakening a pillar of a whole setup and set of values they insist must be imposed on all society. These Christian fascists oppose all birth control and demand the overturn of Roe v. Wade. They are the right wing of the Republican Party, which increasingly is a party of unabashed, unapologetic white supremacy.

That whole package needs to be opposed by everyone who doesn’t want to live in a society, and a world, of white supremacy, of dark-ages prejudice, persecution of women, LGBT people, and those who in any way question or diverge from “normal” as defined by a literal interpretation of the Bible. And more (including denying science and climate change).

There should be no let-up in exposure, outrage and protest as long as LGBT people are discriminated against, victimized, and vilified in law and societal culture. And, to those entering into political life around this battle: Now that you’ve opened your eyes to this injustice, extend your vision to confront a whole world of oppression. Do not accept that some oppression is OK. Settle for nothing less than a world where differences between people are cherished, not used to persecute, subjugate, or relegate anyone to being less than human. Take a stand against what the U.S. does to people around the world with its invasions and drones. Refuse to accept the mass incarceration of millions and the epidemic of police murder of Black and Latino people. Don’t let anyone tell you to accept that women should be subservient to men, even to the extent of being denied the right to choose whether or not to have a child. Instead: fight for a world free of all oppression.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/u-s-imperialist-gangsters-resume-military-aid-to-bloody-egyptian-regime-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

U.S. Imperialist Gangsters Resume Military Aid to Bloody Egyptian Regime

April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On March 31, 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that military aid would be restored to the blood-soaked ruling regime in Egypt. This means the reflowing of major weapons orders such as twelve F-16 aircraft, 20 Harpoon missiles, and up to 125 M1A1 tank kits that were in the pipeline when aid was suspended in October 2013. It also means the resuming of the $1.3 billion per year aid to the Egyptian military, which is second only to the over $3 billion in annual aid the U.S. gives to Israel. The Pentagon has stated that one of the goals of the resumption of military aid to Egypt is to fund a restructuring of the Egyptian military to focus on “counterterrorist” operations.

BAsics 3:1

Obama had ordered the suspension of military aid to Egypt after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power in a violent coup d'état in 2013. As head of the Egyptian military, he overthrew the elected government that was led by the reactionary Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood. Hundreds of protesters against the coup were massacred in the streets, and at least 40,000 people were rounded up in waves of arrests. Hundreds were given death sentences. Some were tortured to death and many remain in prison. Liberal and progressive dissenters were also targeted, and just recently, a small peaceful street demonstration against human rights abuses was attacked by police in Cairo, and a young woman protester, Shaimaa al Sabbagh, was murdered in cold blood.

Obama’s show of “concern” over the Sisi coup was short lived. The U.S. government endorsed the 2014 election in which Sisi engineered his transition from military coup leader to “elected president.” During this same period, the Egyptian courts released the former dictator Hosni Mubarak. During the 30 years of brutal rule under Mubarak, there was a permanent “national security emergency” in Egypt and all basic civil and human rights were trampled on. And all during this time, Mubarak was backed 100 percent by the U.S.

1n 2011, millions of Egyptians risked death and many were killed in an inspiring upsurge that finally drove Mubarak from office. Yet despite all the sacrifice, the same military and economic powers that had been privileged under Mubarak retained state power and among these was then-army general (now president) Sisi.

Egypt is a vital part of the American domination of the Middle East. Stephen Hadley, a former U.S. national security advisor, told the Washington Post recently that “Egypt is even more strategically important now than in the past because stabilizing the Middle East is crucial and we don’t have a lot of partners to help. If Egypt were to descend into chaos, that would compound the problem.”

In a phone call to Sisi confirming the restoration of military aid to Egypt, Obama told him the aid “will help refine our military assistance relationship so that it is better positioned to address the shared challenges to U.S. and Egyptian interests in an unstable region, consistent with the longstanding strategic partnership between our two countries.”

Egypt is the most populous Arab country, with 90 million people. What happens in Egypt affects large parts of the Middle East, as can be seen by the inspiration millions in the region took from the Egyptian people’s struggle against the Mubarak dictatorship. Now, what Obama refers to as American “interests” require that Egypt become relatively stable so it can back up the continued domination of the region by the U.S.

Map of Middle EastMap: revcom.us

Throughout the uprising of 2011, the Egyptian government and military stood by the shameful Camp David treaty of 1977 in which Egypt guaranteed the security of the state of Israel. And even with contradictions in the relationship, Israel remains a key enforcer for U.S. imperialism. (For more on the role of Israel, see the Revolution/revcom.us special issue Bastion of Enlightenment...or Enforcer for Imperialism: The Case of Israel.) Egypt has continued to play a crucial role in the blockade of Gaza, denying the Palestinians there basic human necessities of food, water, and shelter, even as Israel has cut off every other point of entry and has pounded the people of Gaza with murderous missiles and tank shells.

Another example of the mission for which Egypt is needed to meet “shared challenges to U.S. and Egyptian interests in an unstable region” is the current situation in Yemen. A joint Arab military force in Yemen has already massacred dozens of innocent civilians in air strikes carried out by Egyptian and Saudi forces. This is a deadly escalation of the murder of Yemeni civilians, who have for years been terrorized by a growing number of attacks from U.S. drones, supposedly launched against al-Qaeda groupings in Yemen.

Obama’s former “tough talk”—in reality, double-talk—about human rights in Egypt was and is a cover for continuing the relationship that is in the joint “interests” of the U.S. imperialists and of the ruling class in Egypt. Those interests are completely against the genuine interests of the people, in Egypt and elsewhere. Obama, like every U.S. president before him, is a war criminal who leads and serves the needs of American imperialism, not the interests of the people anywhere in the world.

U.S. “interests” have meant, and will only mean, tremendous horrors for people throughout the Middle East and in Egypt.

 

For more in-depth information and background on the situation in Egypt and the struggles of the Egyptian people, see these resources at www.revcom.us:

 

 


 

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Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

The Outrageous Imprisonment of Purvi Patel and the Wake-Up Call to Everyone:
The Fascist War on Women MUST BE STOPPED!

by Sunsara Taylor | April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On March 30, Purvi Patel was sentenced by the state of Indiana to 20 years in prison for "feticide" and "neglect of a dependent" after she sought the help of doctors following what she described as a miscarriage of a dead fetus.

A woman who should have received compassionate medical care, counseling, and support after going through the trauma of feeling the need to hide her pregnancy from a conservative religious family and going through a miscarriage alone, instead was turned in to the police by her doctor. She was arrested, put on trial, and shamed in the media, and the fetus she had miscarried was treated as evidence in court to be used against her—and she now has been sentenced to decades in prison!

This case is outrageous on so many levels, it is hard to know where to begin.

First and most importantly, "feticide" should not be a crime. Fetuses are NOT people, and terminating a pregnancy is NOT murder. Criminalizing women who terminate—or attempt to terminate—their own pregnancies is nothing more than a state-backed attempt to reduce women to the status of incubators—to deny the fundamental rights of female human beings to control their own lives, their own reproduction, and their own destinies. There is NOTHING legitimate about these laws, but there is also nothing isolated about them—38 states in the country currently have laws criminalizing "feticide." These laws are illegitimate, as is the whole system of American capitalism-imperialism that has allowed them and is now using them to imprison women like Patel.

Second, even if one were to accept—which no one should—the law which criminalizes "feticide," the courts did not prove Patel's "guilt" of the "crimes" for which she was charged.

What was the "evidence" presented in court of "feticide"? The police snooped and found text messages where Patel mentioned ordering abortifacients (pills which can induce abortion) through the mail and that she had taken them. However, no trace of the abortafacients were in her body when she arrived at the hospital and there was no physical evidence that she had taken them.

What was the "evidence" presented that she "neglected a dependent" (that she allegedly gave birth to a live baby and then let it die)? A completely discredited "float test." In a "float test" the lungs of the fetus are removed and put in water; if they float, supposedly this means that the baby lived long enough to take its first breath. However, it has been known for 100 years that there are other ways air can get into the lungs besides being born alive, so the "float test" proves nothing. Even beyond that, as Gregory J. Davis, assistant state medical examiner for Kentucky and a professor of pathology and lab medicine at the University of Kentucky, told the New York Times, "Even if we agree hypothetically that the baby took a breath, that doesn't mean Ms. Patel did anything wrong. What if she was scared and bleeding herself, and she didn't clamp the cord in time, because she didn't know how, and the baby died?"

To top the whole thing off, the very fact that Patel was charged both with "feticide" and with "neglecting a dependent" ought to be mutually exclusive. Think about it, if she had succeeded in terminating the fetus she couldn't have given birth to a live baby she then neglected, and vice-versa. Yet, the state of Indiana has declared that a woman can be put in prison even for attempting to terminate her own pregnancy—even if she doesn't succeed and the fetus is perfectly healthy!

That the state of Indiana used such flimsy "evidence" to secure a conviction of Patel of such an illegitimate and completely outrageous law only reveals the extreme and woman-hating climate that has been whipped up and the logic of the whole web of anti-abortion restrictions and ideological war that has been building up for decades.

The conviction and sentencing of Purvi Patel is completely illegitimate and must not stand! People must register their fierce opposition to this through mass political mobilization and outcry.

At the same time, larger lessons must be urgently drawn.

First, what has happened to Patel is not an "isolated incident." While it is definitely a dangerous and ominous leap, it is exactly the logical outgrowth of decades of an all out fascist assault on abortion rights and reproductive freedom. What has happened to Patel—and worse—will be the fate of countless other women if this fascist assault is not frontally confronted and reversed!

Hundreds of anti-abortion laws have been passed that have closed abortion clinics across the country. Clinics have been terrorized and bombed. Abortion doctors have been killed. Every day thousands of anti-abortion fascist foot-soldiers harass and shame and even assault women who enter the clinics. And hundreds of restrictions have imposed unnecessary waiting periods, travel time, parental notification laws, costs, mandatory unscientific "counseling," mandatory ultrasounds and other hoops women have to jump through to access abortion.

These same fascist forces—and all too many liberals who have for decades ceded the moral high ground to them—have demonized and stigmatized abortion. They call it "murder" and have built up a whole cult around the fetus, around pregnancy and of motherhood. This has built on and taken to new and grotesque extremes the thousands of years of tradition's chains which viewed women as nothing more than breeders of children.

All this combines to create a situation where more and more women are driven—both through lack of access and through shame and stigma—to either have their lives foreclosed by being forced to bear children they did not want or to go to extreme measures to terminate unwanted pregnancies on their own. Then, when women do attempt to self-abort a whole framework of laws has been set in place like a trap ready to spring up and catch women in its grip, demonize them in the media, and lock them away in prison for years.

The long-term imprisonment of Purvi Patel must be a wake-up call to people everywhere: either we stand up now to fight for abortion on demand and without apology for all women in all circumstances, or we will allow this to become the new normal for women everywhere.
On another and even more profound level, it must be confronted that a government and a system that is moving fast to lock women up in prison for attempting to self-abort—even for complications in pregnancies—is completely illegitimate. The state houses that pass these woman-hating laws, the police that arrest women out of hospitals, the courts that throw the book at them, the state backed prosecution that uses pseudo-science and the prejudices of patriarchal tradition, the media that feeds off and further fuels the same, and the whole culture that has been built up to normalize and accept all this—all of this is illegitimate. And while the Christian fascists driving this assault on women are largely concentrated in the Republican Party, woman-hating is not just a "Republican thing."

Not a single major politician has come out to denounce this case. Not one. Where is Obama on this major, precedent-setting case that will affect the future of all women? Where is the "hero" of so many self-proclaimed feminists, Hillary Clinton? Silent as a knife in the back.

Stopping the war on women, a situation where thousands and thousands of women are already living every day in conditions where they are one missed period away from devastation, desperation, and foreclosed lives, requires that millions of people in this country STOP hoping for this war to go away on its own, stop relying on the Democrats to "save women," and step out in massive and bold mass political resistance. And, putting an end to all forms of terror, violence, and subjugation that have been the brutal fate of women everywhere for thousands of years is going to take going even further—making a revolution.

 


 

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Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Caravana 43 Arrives in Chicago

April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From readers:

April 4—A march and rally today in Chicago welcomed and supported relatives and a student survivor of the massacre and kidnapping of 43 Ayotzinapa students in southern Mexico. They are caravanning through the United States.

This Midwest leg of the caravan was composed of María de Jesús Tlatempa Bello, mother of the disappeared student José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa; Cruz Bautista Salvador, a teacher and the uncle of the disappeared student Benjamin Bautista Salvador; and Omar, “the 44th”—one of the Ayotzinapa students who survived.

Chicago, April 4, 2015: María de Jesús Tlatempa Bello, mother of the disappeared student Jose Eduardo speaks at a march and rally in Chicago in support of victims of the massacre and kidnapping of 43 Ayotzinapa students in southern MexicoChicago, April 4, 2015: María de Jesús Tlatempa Bello, mother of the disappeared student Jose Eduardo, speaks at a march and rally in Chicago in support of victims of the massacre and kidnapping of 43 Ayotzinapa students in southern Mexico. One of the main slogans of the Caravana43 is "¡Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos!" (Alive You Took Them, We Want Them Alive!)
Photo: Special to revcom.us

These three people from the caravan brought powerful testimonies about the killings and the disappearance of 43 students from the teachers college at Ayotzinapa in southern Mexico last September 26. They revealed how the Mexican government has lied about the facts and officially closed the case and how this horror is part of a much larger problem in Mexico and internationally. They rejected and called out the efforts of the Mexican authorities to buy them off, and have stood up against the threats and slander campaigns against them. The courage and determination of the parents and surviving students has inspired powerful waves of struggle in Mexico. They also exposed how the U.S. government is implicated in these crimes because of its role in sponsoring Mexico’s war against its people, and one speaker referenced the epidemic of police murders in this country.

The crowd of majority Mexican immigrants and second-generation youth swelled to 250-300 people as we marched through the neighborhood. Chants in Spanish rang through the streets, including one which counted “uno, dos, tres...” up to 43 for the disappeared students. At one point, the police ordered the march to move to the sidewalk, but the marchers would have none of that, chanting at the cops, “asesinos, asesinos” (murderers), linking their anger over the 43 missing students and the murders of so many at the hands of the police in this country.

Chicago, April 4. Gloria Pinex, mother of Darius Pinex who was murdered by Chicago police in 2011, carries a banner together with Omar, an Ayotzinapa student who survived the massacre and kidnaping by police of Mexican students from a teachers college on September 26, 2014. The banner reads: "Never Forgive! Never Forget! 43 Are Missing"Chicago, April 4. Gloria Pinex, mother of Darius Pinex who was murdered by Chicago police in 2011, carries a banner together with Omar, an Ayotzinapa student who survived the massacre and kidnaping by police of Mexican students from a teachers college on September 26, 2014. The banner reads: "Never Forgive! Never Forget! 43 Are Missing."
Photo: Special to revcom.us

News of the upcoming nationwide April 14 shutdown to stop police murder on the front page of Revolución/Revolution newspaper, and the Stolen Lives poster were greeted warmly. A contingent of students from Valparaiso University in Indiana, fresh from organizing a campus march in support of the Ayotzinapa struggle, are going to hook up with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network nationally and be part of #ShutdownA14. Others from several local colleges and a high school took copies of the Stolen Lives Revolución/Revolution centerfold and A14 stickers.

Gloria Pinex, whose son Darius was murdered by Chicago police, and other Chicago Revolution Club members joined the march to welcome Caravana 43 through the largely Mexican Pilsen neighborhood. She was introduced to the mother of one missing student, and they embraced, sharing pain and the struggle for justice. Afterwards Gloria remarked that she felt really welcomed. She pointed to the banner of the 43 missing from Ayotzinapa and said, “That is like our stolen lives banner.” Gloria and the Revolution Club members were invited to bring the Stolen Lives banner to the head of the march and join the Ayotzinapa families.

A thrilling moment took place at the end of the march when Gloria finished her short message and someone in the crowd called out “Hands Up,” then the response “Don’t Shoot”—and throughout the largely Mexican crowd people put their hands in the air and chanted in English, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!”

 


 

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Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

From A World to Win News Service

Caught between the deadly, dead-end alternatives of imperialism & religious fundamentalism

Only revolution can get us out of this situation

April 1, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

March 30, 2015. A World to Win News Service. The following leaflet by the Revolutionary Communist Manifesto Group in Europe was massively distributed in Arabic, French and English at the World Social Forum in Tunis March 24-28, 2015.

People are horrified and rightly outraged by the recent Islamic fundamentalist attack in Tunis. We are told that the only rampart against this type of barbarism is to unite behind the even greater criminals who preside over an international network of people-grinding exploitation protected by war, torture and local dictators.

Four years ago millions of people throughout the Middle East chose to risk death rather than spend another day living as they were forced to live. Now people find themselves paralyzed or drawn into choosing between unacceptable alternatives: more of the old kind of regimes they already rejected, or religious fundamentalists whose cruelty toward the people is no less than that of the West's local accomplices they want to replace. The intensifying conflict between these two sides has brought one massacre after another and this deadly dynamic will continue as long as capitalism and imperialism dominates. Yet there is a different, liberating way forward – through communist revolution.

It is the workings of the imperialist system itself that spawned 21st-century religious fundamentalism, including political Islam's false claim that the answer to the corruption, moral hypocrisy and national humiliation imposed by the West is a sharia-based regime where superstition and patriarchy have the force of law. The Western powers have embraced that where it suits their interests, but now Islamism has emerged as the West's main ideological rival and challenger to the region's present political configuration. In the name of saving people from barbarism, these hi-tech barbarians invaded Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali, sent their commandos and drones rampaging in Pakistan and Yemen, wreaked havoc on Libya and are now bombing Syria. Imperialist interventions, invasions, occupations and massacres have only made Islamism stronger and spread it further, just as every fundamentalist mass kidnapping and decapitation drives many people into the crushing arms of the West. Yet the Western powers are openly preparing public opinion and their armies for wider war.

A look at Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere in the region shows that unless there is real revolution, the people will end up with even more obscurantism and backwardness combined with national humiliation and no rights, whether they "choose" the flags of Western-obedient politicians and generals or the Islamists who want to replace them. This is a nightmare that can only get worse unless people fight to take these societies on an entirely different path. Even amid the rebellions of the last few years, reformist and narrow politics and theories have not been able to durably mobilize the deeply dissatisfied youth and the desperately poor who make up the majority across the Middle East.

Today's repugnant political choices have to be confronted with a plan for radical yet totally realistic social change, based on a scientific analysis of the problems we confront and lessons of previous experiences of revolution. Some examples of core principles for such an approach, taking into account differences between countries, might include:

– The revolutionary actions of millions must confront and overcome every kind of reactionary force, dismantling and replacing not only the monarchies and theocracies but also the political systems where parliament and formal equality hide the domination of the capitalists and landowners, and the lives of millions of people throughout the Middle East are subordinated to the accumulation of capital in New York, Paris, London and Frankfurt. A completely different political system must be built that actually enables the masses to transform society, ensures the participation of the masses, encourages a vibrant discussion, values dissent and protects the political and personal rights of the people, including the right to practice any religion or propagate atheism.

– As has been proven by experience – from postcolonial Algeria to Assad father and son and the Islamic Republic of Iran (and Venezuela) – to talk about breaking with imperialism while remaining entrapped in the imperialist world market is just talk. No people, whether their eyes are blinded by oil or not, can be free to run their own affairs without a new economic system where the wealth is produced for the benefit of transforming society and the world. The new economy needs to practice balanced development to undo the logic of imperialist dependency, repair the massive ecological destruction and strike out on a new path of sustainable development. It must open the door toward a genuine socialist system where the people collectively own and administer the productive capacity in the interests of society as a whole. That kind of economic transformation is not possible without revolutionizing the countryside to uproot the remaining authority of reactionary social forces and make a vigorous, self-reliant economy possible.

– This means and makes possible the development of a new revolutionary culture that incorporates the best that humanity has produced in the sciences and the arts and fights against both oppressive capitalist-imperialist morals and values and obscurantism. A culture that unites the people of all nationalities and brings forward all that is positive from the varying traditions and historical communities for all to enjoy, learn from and thrive on.

– The many different peoples of the Middle East need to unite in a common struggle against their oppressors, and this unity cannot be achieved without eradicating the national oppression of Amazigh ("Berbers"), Kurds and other oppressed minorities as well as the liberation of Palestine from Israeli apartheid colonialism.

– The liberation of women from patriarchy, male domination and all forms of degradation, oppression and stultification, both "modern" and medieval, has rightfully become one of the sharpest dividing lines in the region and the world. Most of the region's "leftists" have wasted this enormous potential by trying to avoid conflict with the backwardness common in people's thinking. The struggle to eliminate the oppression of women needs to be a driving force now and in the long-term transformation of society.

– The truth about the socialist revolutions of the 20th century and the liberating experience of a century and a half of revolutionary communism needs to come out. The previously existing socialist states achieved great things in opening up a pathway to different relations among people and were beyond comparison to any existing state today. We need to learn lessons from the shortcomings and errors, as well as those achievements, so as to do even better in the next round of revolutions. A new synthesis of communism has been brought forward by Bob Avakian, which addresses this experience and proposes a clearer idea of communism as a science and a re-envisioned approach to socialist revolution. This new synthesis is increasingly the subject of debate internationally. Revolutionaries in the Middle East, like everywhere else, need to fully engage this as part of carving out a different way forward.

Uncounted millions of youth and others are burning with outrage. Islamic fundamentalism tragically channels that explosive discontent into an outlook and program that offers nothing positive. What we have to offer the youth and those at the bottom of society, and in fact people from throughout society, is a chance to become emancipators of humanity, seeking to transform the globe country by country as part of a world-wide process whose goal is communism, a world where people work and struggle for the common good. Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings. Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.

Real blows for liberation struck in the Middle East will reverberate around the world and give heart to the oppressed everywhere. The oppressed have brothers and sisters everywhere – witness the stirrings of revolt in Mexico and the growing struggles against oppression in the U.S.

We glimpsed people's aspirations for thorough-going change in the upsurge that brought down Ben Ali and Mubarak. It shook the entire region and sent a message of hope for real change appreciated around the world. The old political order began to crack, but the need for the establishment of a radically new kind of state and society was not well understood. Whether in old or new forms, the injustices and outrages people rose up against are even worse today. If an understanding of the real problem and solution became a real force, couldn't revolution be a real possibility?  A flag representing that basic understanding, in total opposition to Islamic illusions and imperialist realities, could unite the vast majority of people – of countries, the region and the world – against their real enemies in the long run. Right now it could serve as a welcome unifying pole among people who are being increasingly divided, crushed and robbed of all hope. It could begin to reverse today's deadly dynamic. This path is difficult, but the only way to get free of this madness. 

          Contact: rcmanifestogroup@yahoo.co.uk            Check out: www.revcom.us

 

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

 

 


 

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Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

From A World to Win News Service

Piégés entre les alternatives mortelles et cul-de-sac de l’impérialisme et l’intégrisme religieux :

La révolution seule pourra nous dégager de cette situation

April 1, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

L'attaque récente par des intégristes islamistes à Tunis a suscité une réaction généralisée d'horreur et de dégoût à juste titre. Pourtant, on nous dit que le seul rempart contre ce type de barbarisme est de nous aligner derrière des criminels encore plus grands dont la mainmise du monde actuel se repose sur un réseau d'exploitation qui écrase les peuples et qui est préservé par les guerres, la torture et les dictateurs à échelle locale.

Il y a quatre ans, des millions d'habitants du Moyen-Orient ont bravé la mort plutôt que de tolérer leurs conditions de vie un seul jour de plus. Aujourd'hui, ils se trouvent paralysés ou se sentent piégés entre deux alternatives inacceptables : le retour aux régimes qu'ils ont rejetés, ou les intégristes religieux dont la cruauté envers la population est égale à celle des complices locaux de l'Occident qu'ils veulent remplacer. Le conflit qui s'intensifie entre ces deux camps a entraîné un massacre après l'autre et cette dynamique meurtrière va continuer tant que le capitalisme-impérialisme domine. Pourtant il y a une autre voie, une voie libératrice, par la révolution communiste.

C'est le système capitaliste lui-même qui a engendré l'intégrisme religieux du 21è siècle, et l'affirmation mensongère de l'islam politique que la corruption, l'hypocrisie, et l'humiliation nationale imposées par l'Occident seront vaincues par un régime fondé sur la Charia où la superstition et le patriarcat ont force de loi. Les puissances occidentales ont appuyé cette solution lorsque cela arrangeait leurs intérêts, mais aujourd'hui, l'islamisme apparaît comme le rival idéologique principal de l'Occident, et menace de bouleverser le paysage politique actuel de la région. Sous couvert de sauver les populations de la barbarie, ces Barbares à haute technologie ont envahi l'Afghanistan, l’Irak et le Mali, envoyé leurs commandos et leurs drones saccager le Pakistan et le Yémen, dévasté la Libye, et aujourd'hui bombardent la Syrie. Les interventions, invasions, occupations et massacres impérialistes n'ont fait que renforcer l'islamisme, et lui ont permis de se répandre, tout comme chaque enlèvement et chaque décapitation par les islamistes pousse les populations visées à chercher refuge dans l'étreinte de l'Occident, où elles se font broyer. Pourtant, les puissances occidentales préparent ouvertement l'opinion publique et leurs armées à une guerre étendue.

En Égypte, en Tunisie, en Libye, au Yémen et ailleurs dans la région, on voit que sans une vraie révolution, les populations subiront encore plus d'obscurantisme et d'arriération associés à l'humiliation nationale et l'absence de droits, qu'ils « choisissent » l'étendard des hommes politiques et des généraux obéissant à l'Occident, ou celui des islamistes qui voudraient prendre leur place. Ce cauchemar ne fera qu'empirer à moins que les populations luttent pour que ces sociétés suivent une autre voie. Même dans le tourbillonnement des révoltes de ces dernières années, les politiques et les théories réformistes et étroites d'esprit n'ont réussi à mobiliser d'une manière durable ni la jeunesse profondément mécontente, ni la majorité des peuples du Moyen Orient vivant dans la grande misère.

Aux choix politiques répugnants d'aujourd'hui, nous devons répondre par un projet tout à fait réaliste de transformation radicale de la société, fondé sur l'analyse scientifique des problèmes auxquels nous sommes confrontés, et sur les leçons des précédentes expériences révolutionnaires. Voici quelques exemples des principes essentiels d'une telle approche qui sont a développer selon les particularités de différents pays :

– Les actions révolutionnaires de millions de personnes doivent affronter et vaincre tout type de force réactionnaire, démanteler et remplacer non seulement les monarchies et les théocraties, mais aussi les systèmes politiques où un parlement et l'égalité formelle masquent la domination des capitalistes et des propriétaires terriens, où les vies de millions de personnes au Moyen-Orient sont subordonnées à l'accumulation du capital à New York, Paris, Londres et Francfort. Un système politique complètement différent doit être construit qui permettra réellement aux masses de transformer la société, de participer, d'engager les débats ouvertement, un système qui valorise l'expression du désaccord, et protège les droits politiques et personnels de la population, y compris celui de pratiquer toute religion ou de propager l'athéisme.

– De l'Algérie postcoloniale aux Assad, père et fils, en passant par la République islamique d'Iran (ainsi que le Vénézuela) l'expérience a montré que déclarer vouloir rompre avec l'impérialisme tout en demeurant enserré dans le marche impérialiste mondial n'est qu'un propos vide. Aucun peuple, aveuglé ou non par le pétrole, ne peut être libre de diriger ses propres affaires sans un nouveau système économique où la richesse est produite pour permettre la transformation de la société et du monde. Dans cette nouvelle économie le développement doit se faire de manière équilibrée, pour rompre avec la logique de la dépendance impérialiste, pour remédier à la destruction massive de l'environnement et s'engager sur une voie nouvelle de développement durable. Il faut qu'elle ouvre la porte à un système véritablement socialiste où la propriété et la gestion de la capacité productive et collective, dans l'intérêt de la société toute entière. Une telle transformation économique est impossible sans révolutionner la situation dans les campagnes pour y extirper l'autorité des forces sociales réactionnaires et permettre l’émergence d'une économie vigoureuse et autonome.

– Cela rendra possible le développement d'une nouvelle culture révolutionnaire qui intégrera ce qu'il y a de meilleur dans la production scientifique et artistique de l’humanité, et luttera aussi bien contre les valeurs et la morale capitaliste-impérialiste oppressives que contre l'obscurantisme. Cette culture permettra d'unir les peuples de toutes nationalités et fera ressortir tout ce qu'il y a de positif dans les différentes traditions et communautés historiques pour le plaisir, l'instruction et l'épanouissement de tous.

– Les nombreux peuples du Moyen-Orient doivent unir leurs forces pour lutter ensemble contre leurs oppresseurs, et pour parvenir à l'unité nécessaire il faudra éradiquer l'oppression nationale des Amazighs (ou Berbères), des Kurdes et des autres minorités opprimées, et libérer la Palestine du colonialisme d'apartheid israélien.

–La libération des femmes du patriarcat, de la domination par les hommes et de toute forme de dégradation, d'oppression et d'infériorisation, tant « moderne » que moyenâgeuse, est devenue à juste titre une ligne de clivage profond dans la région et le monde. La majorité des « gauchistes » a gaspillé cet énorme potentiel en essayant d'éviter des conflits avec l'arriération très répandue de la pensée des gens. La lutte pour l'élimination de l'oppression des femmes doit servir de moteur, aujourd'hui et à l'avenir, dans la transformation de la société.

--Il faut que la vérité sur les révolutions socialistes du 20è siècle et l'expérience libératrice d'un siècle et demi de communisme révolutionnaire éclate au grand jour. Les États socialistes ayant existé ont réalisé de grandes avancées en ouvrant la voie vers des relations nouvelles entre les gens, dépassant même la possibilité de comparaison avec tout État actuel. Nous devons tirer les enseignements de leurs défauts et de leurs erreurs, ainsi que de leurs réussites, pour faire encore mieux lors de prochain cycle de révolutions. Une nouvelle synthèse du communisme a été avancée par Bob Avakian, qui prend la mesure de cette expérience et propose une idée plus claire du communisme comme science et une nouvelle manière d'aborder la révolution socialiste. Cette nouvelle synthèse suscite de plus en plus de débats sur le plan international. Au Moyen Orient, comme partout ailleurs, les révolutionnaires doivent en tenir compte dans leur travail de réflexion.

D'innombrables millions de jeunes et d'autres sont dévorés par un sentiment de révolte. L'intégrisme islamiste canalise ce mécontentement explosif vers une vision et un programme qui ne proposent rien de positif. Ce que nous pouvons proposer aux jeunes et à ceux qui se trouvent en bas de l’échelle sociale, comme d'ailleurs aux personnes de toutes les couches sociales, c'est la possibilité de devenir les émancipateurs de l'humanité, de chercher à transformer le monde pays par pays, dans un processus mondial dont le but est le communisme. Il s'agit, d'un monde où l'on travaille et on lutte pour le bien commun, où tous contribuent ce qu'ils peuvent à la société et en retirent ce dont ils ont besoin pour vivre d'une manière digne d'êtres humains, où il n'y a plus de divisions entre les gens, plus de domination des uns pas les autres ni d'oppression, plus de vol non seulement des moyens de subvenir à ses besoins d'une manière décente, mais des connaissances et des moyens de comprendre vraiment, et d'agir pour changer le monde.

Les coups réellement portés pour la libération au Moyen-Orient se feront entendre partout dans le monde et donneront du courage aux opprimés de partout. Ils ont des sœurs et des frères partout - il n'y a qu'à voir les soulèvements au Mexique et la lutte contre l'oppression aux États-Unis.

Nous avons eu un aperçu des aspirations des populations à une transformation complète dans le soulèvement qui a renversé Ben Ali et Moubarak. Il a secoué toute la région et envoyé un message d'espoir de réel changement apprécié dans le monde entier. L'ancien ordre politique a commencé à se fissurer, mais le besoin d'établir un Etat et une société d’un type radicalement neuf n'a pas été bien compris. Sous des formes anciennes ou nouvelles, les injustices et les horreurs contre lesquels les populations se sont soulevées sont encore pires aujourd'hui. Si de la compréhension du vrai problème et de sa solution naissait une vraie force, la révolution ne deviendrait-elle pas alors une réelle possibilité ? Une bannière symbolisant cette compréhension essentielle, en opposition complète aux illusions islamiques et aux réalités impérialistes, pourrait unir une vaste majorité des gens - des pays, des régions du monde entier - contre leurs vrais ennemis à long terme. Aujourd'hui elle pourrait servir de point de rassemblement bienvenu pour des populations de plus en plus divisées, écrasées, et privées d'espoir. Elle pourrait commencer à inverser la dynamique mortelle actuelle. Aussi difficile qu'il puisse être de suivre cette voie, il n'y en a pas d'autre pour se libérer de cette folie.

Contactez : rcmanifestogroup@yahoo.co.uk                            Visitez le site www.revcom.us 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/380/double-down-on-the-moral-and-political-challenge-posed-by-the-stolen-lives-poster-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Double Down on the Moral and Political Challenge Posed by the Stolen Lives Poster

April 4, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

To Revcom:

I was very moved by the letter from the student who attended the dinner honoring the relatives of police murder victims who have stood up against the terror (“Chicago Stolen Lives Dinner: Families Tell Their Stories of Heartbreak, Outrage, and the Fight for Justice“). And I have been moved, and very interested, to read the response to the Stolen Lives Days on campus, especially the letter from Sunsara Taylor, as well as the points from her and others on the response that this has gotten on the streets from people who see their lives on those posters. I have also heard that when relatives of the victims of police murder go out with these displays it adds to the challenge.

Poster PDF (for print)        JPG (full size, for web)

It seems to me that we have hit on something very important here. Through this there has begun to emerge an embryonic core of youth on the campus with some moral certitude around this. These youth are willing to stand up and say that MURDER by police is the issue and that this must STOP—NOW. This emerged last fall but the ruling class did work against this, both with coming down with repression and sowing confusion. Going with that, there have been forces in the movement who have pushed for a more conciliatory line—some who say “now is not the time for going into the streets and confrontation” and some who have even said that saying that the police are MURDERING our youth is the “wrong message” and “too incendiary”! (That’s like quitting a fight after the first exchange of punches.) But the challenge posed by the unvarnished TRUTH of this poster and by the people taking this out and insisting on that truth blows that bullshit away and this has begun to change that polarization back, and there are cores—again, small for now, but still cores—growing around it and there is a broader grouping of students who are beginning to be re-polarized around this.

Now is the time, going into April 14, to “double down” on this moral challenge. I propose that committees in the different areas make HUGE panels of this poster, 5 x 7½ feet or larger. One side can be the Stolen Lives and the other can be the poster with the slogan about every city and town has a Michael Brown, with the statistic on police murder of unarmed people since January 1. (Go here for these posters and other material for building for April 14.) Mount these on pickup trucks, now, and drive through the city streets with them. Go into parks, or shopping centers, or busy corners with crews that can pass out fliers as people look at this. People can be enlisted into the movement, right on the spot, with materials and information and ways to stay in touch. Artists can be asked to help build these. Bunches of people can go around with the truck; it can be an “entry level” to be part of the movement. Let the relatives of the victims of police murder know about this and be part of this. New people will get involved, and broader numbers of people will be challenged; they will learn about A14 and the question of actually being part of shutting shit down on A14 will become much more alive and pressing and real to them.

Let me add here that in reading revcom.us it is plain that there is a mood among masses of “everyday people” that “we ain’t having this shit”—you can see this not only in the demonstrations in Pasco but also in the videos posted from Philadelphia and Cleveland, and the reports of actions in San Francisco. Going out with this truck can tap into and give further momentum, direction, and organization to this mood.

Every city, every town, has its own Michael Brown
Poster (PDF for print)      JPG (full size, for web)

I would further suggest that people—especially students—be encouraged to make 4 foot by 6 foot boards and carry these around with them everywhere, from now to the 14th. When people stop these students, the students can let those people know about the 14th—give them materials that will help them spread it, and ways to get connected. These “Stolen Lives Boards” could have a powerful effect if students on campuses were to do this—even if these boards were only 2 feet by 4 feet, it could have an effect.

With these, and other creative stratagems for active re-polarization, and with real organization to give this coherence and drive, this movement can grow between now and April 14, crescendoing on the 14th itself, and then going from there.

A reader

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/380/chicago-fundraising-dinner-honors-stolen-lives-families-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Chicago Fundraising Dinner Honors Stolen Lives Families

April 1, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Stolen Lives Dinner, Chciago, March 21

Honoring the families of the stolen lives at a fundraising dinner for April 14, Chicago.

On March 21, at a fundraising dinner for A14, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, Chicago Chapter welcomed and honored six families who have lost loved ones to police murder. Over 50 people of all ages and nationalities attended this fundraiser at the Wicker Park Lutheran Church.
The families honored were those of Freddie Latise Wilson, Roshad McIntosh, Darius Pinex, Rekia Boyd, Marcus Landrum, and Ronald "Ronnieman" Johnson. Through their collective voices, the families and supporters celebrated the humanity of their loved ones, honored the families, and strengthened all our determination to fight for justice for all those murdered or brutalized by the police.

Read a correspondence from a student who was part of the program and watch videos of families speaking at the dinner.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/380/sunsara-taylor-this-generation-must-say-no-more-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

This Generation MUST Say NO MORE!
Bringing Forward Cores on the Campuses Through the Stolen Lives Days

by Sunsara Taylor | April 2, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

“Emergency! The police are STILL killing unarmed people—take a stand to stop this today.” Our words rang out on the plaza of an elite university for several hours as students streamed to and from class. A student we met last week wasn't ready to yell out, but helped hold the sign and a few other students quickly joined in. Even as many studiously attempted, few could avoid letting their eyes fall on the enlargement of the Stolen Lives poster, faces of real human beings who were murdered by police. In that split second reaction, it was like a quick flash of someone's moral core. Some got uncomfortable and walked faster. A few, disgustingly, rolled their eyes or said something sarcastic. Others gave a nod or a thumbs up—either rushing on to the rest of their day, or lingering but weren't sure what to do. And throughout the day, a steady stream of students came straight up and stared, thanked us for being there, or joined in on the spot (if we invited them and gave them a sense of the difference it would make).

Cornel West and Carl Dix

EMERGENCY
The Police Are STILL Killing Unarmed People and This Must STOP!

A CALL TO ACT

COME HEAR CORNEL WEST AND CARL DIX SPEAK ON APRIL 6 about what needs to be done and massive outpourings on April 14.

Monday, April 6 at 7 PM
New York City
St. Paul & St. Andrews Church

West 86th Street & West End Avenue

Read more

At times, knots of students would gather. In one case, a fierce debate broke out when a backwards student was outraged that someone agitating had compared the police to the Ku Klux Klan. Two other students—one who had planned to join us and one who got drawn in on the spot—argued with him for over half an hour, becoming stronger in their arguments and getting actually a bond between them and with us as they did. At other times, deep engagement broke out over what it will take to end the epidemic of murder by police: whether reforms are enough or whether revolution is necessary, what difference the protests of last fall and the protests being planned now will make, and how to go about organizing on their campus. Quite a few who stopped had been at the Dialogue last November between Cornel West and Bob Avakian on Revolution and Religion; The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, most remembering it very fondly and sharing the deep thinking, feelings, and questions it had provoked.

Later, two mothers whose sons were killed by police came out to stand with us. They courageously shared their stories with all who would stop to listen and together they had an enormous impact on students, university workers, and everyone else who was part of the team.

Across the country, groups of revolutionaries, freedom fighters, loved ones of police murder, and students—both individually and collectively—were doing something similar. At one city university, a young woman planned to make announcements in two classes. At an art school, a student planned to safety-pin the April 14 poster to his back and wear it all day. Reports on how this and the many different kinds of actions planned went are still coming in. At another city university, where I had recently spoken in several classes, a group of students teamed up after their midterm and traveled the halls and main spots of campus, challenging their peers to join them in posing with the Stolen Lives Poster. One revolutionary joined them to bring materials and stand with them, and by the end of the day the students had set up their own Facebook group promoting #ShutDownA14 on their campus which proudly displayed their new photos. Down south, a group of high school students spread the stickers and snapped pictures all day which they spread through Snapchat.

Stolen Lives Day 1

Stolen Lives Day 1

Stolen Lives Day 1

Stolen Lives Day 1

Stolen Lives Day 1

The Stolen Lives Days are a critical nodal point in building for the massive protests and disruptions that have been called for April 14 (#ShutDownA14) to STOP murder by police—and to get the word out about the Emergency event on April 6 with Carl Dix and Cornel West. These days were conceived of as a way to put before thousands of students the vivid reality of the epidemic of police murder, to challenge—and give a concrete and simple form for—students to take a stand against this, and to provide a means for students and others who are stepping forward for the first time to learn to work together, build confidence and organization. Simply take out the Stolen Lives poster and challenge others to take a picture of themselves with it and spread it on their own social media with the hashtag #ShutDownA14.

In summing up the first day, there are many things that stand out. For one thing, despite the widespread feeling that has been promoted in the media and elsewhere that people have “moved on,” there is still widespread concern, agonizing, and deeply felt outrage at what is being done to Black and Brown people at the hands of the police and the criminal in-justice system. But at the same time, many of those who are feeling the most strongly have no experience stepping out and to lead and organize others. Even many of those who took part in the protests last fall, even some who were arrested and did incredibly bold things, had mainly just been moved along by the wave of outrage and outpourings. What they did was righteous, but many have no experience organizing others—especially not when others seem to have gone back to their “regular lives.”

One young white student stopped for a long time to talk and help out. When I asked him why he stopped, he looked genuinely puzzled. “What could be more important?” he asked. He agreed vigorously that society needs to be shut down, including his school. But, when he learned that there were no concrete plans yet on his campus, he said he said he couldn't see himself as the main “point-person.” This sentiment was repeated, but by a significant minority of students of all nationalities.

A particular challenge that must be taken up right now, very systematically and very urgently by people building for #ShutDownA14, is identifying and helping these loose individuals begin to find each other, learn to work together, and become real cores of people working together to lead other students to act on A14. People need the experience of working together, of learning that others will have their backs, of knowing that if they can't make the whole argument someone else can throw in what they know and they can all learn together. They need to feel less isolated when they stand out and challenge their peers.

While it would be wrong to conclude that this is the only way people can step forward, and while I know only a small fraction of what went on so far across the country thus far, it is worth noting that at two places where groups of students took this up on their own, some of them have been friends for a long time. They knew each other and felt comfortable and more confident together. Even in these cases, organizers (myself and others) spent a lot of time with them, speaking frankly about the families who are and will be shattered if we do not challenge this generation to stand up and fight back. We talked through why it is right for them to call up the other students and challenge them to get involved. We reminded them this wasn't “personal,” they weren't calling on others as some kind of “favor.” Everyone is responsible for stopping this horrific and slow genocide and they are righteous for what they are doing. And then we talked through concretely the steps they need to take to bring people together around this.

What I am trying to highlight is the work that is required with those students who really do feel strongly to give them the confidence and the concrete forms they can take up to start working together on this. While we must continue to go out very broadly and very boldly to many more, we need to pay special attention to working with – and bringing together—those individuals who feel most strongly about this. Where they are not already friends (in most cases), this requires even more conscious attention from us. Today, when we are out, we plan to take some time to bring the students we have met together, to sit down and meet each other and strategize over how they can take some collective steps to build for and plan actions for April 14.

Key in all this is the April 6 event, EMERGENCY! The Police Are STILL Killing Unarmed PeopleThis Must Stop, A Call to Act, with Carl Dix and Cornel West. This will be a chance for people to come together en masse to hear two incredible freedom fighters lay bare the situation we face, the challenge before us, and the concrete forms for us to take up and struggle to win. Getting cores of students mobilizing together for this and bringing a wave of students to this—or to gather to view it all over the country—is going to be critical. The more people get this powerful message, and the more they experience it together, the more they will be able to go out immediately in the one week that will remain to make April 14 a powerful, society-shaking event. And, the experience that these beginning cores have going in to the 6th—including through the Stolen Lives Days as well as through building for the 6th itself—will make all the difference in being able to carry forward the energy, clarity, and determination that gets forged through this program.

My final observation, for now, about the first Stolen Lives Day, was that it was very difficult to end the day. Not only was it was difficult to tear ourselves away from the campus precisely because of what we were beginning to open up. It was even more difficult to walk down the street in Manhattan to where we were dropping off the huge enlargement of the Stolen Lives poster. In carrying the poster literally one and a half blocks from the train to where we were storing it, I was stopped repeatedly by people who wanted to take its picture. “No,” I would tell them, “You have to hold it up and I will take your picture with your camera.” As soon as the first man posed in this way, others starting coming up and taking pictures and a small crowd gathered. Before I could finish the first photo, a man was shoving his phone/camera in my hand, and insisting, “I'm next!” For ten minutes I stood on the corner, snapping pictures of this one and that one while others stopped briefly and snapped pictures of their own. A little further down the street, the same scene broke out a second time; a group of guys on the job—doing construction—stopped briefly to take their pictures. Almost all these people were Black and Latino, they put their fists up, took fliers, gave their phone numbers, and more. This is just a small taste of the depth of feeling that exists right now, and this, too, is something we have to bring to the students. These students have a responsibility not to allow those who suffer the worst brunt of this police terror to stand alone. Even if their peers aren't all as passionate as them, even if the anger isn't as openly on the surface on the campuses as it is on the average urban street corner, it is there and they have a responsibility to manifest it and bring more forward.

Besides sharing this experience with them, one extremely powerful tool in conveying this and inspiring students to act on this responsibility, is the Message to Students and Youth of ALL Nationalities that came from an ex-prisoner and current emancipator of humanity. This should be printed off, distributed broadly on the campuses, and gotten into deeply with the cores who are beginning to step forward. And, finally, they should ALL be turned on to www.revcom.us where this—and so much more leadership and understanding—is being provided every single day.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/street-vendors-in-los-angeles-protest-police-harassment-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Street Vendors in Los Angeles Protest Police Harassment

April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

Dozens of Los Angeles street vendors protested in front of LAPD headquarters on March 31, Cesar Chavez Day, and in the name of 50,000 vendors throughout the city, delivered a “ticket” to police for the crime of harassment, intimidation and damages to the livelihood of thousands of families. Two weeks previously, many marched from the MacArthur Park area, where for decades street vendors have sold on the streets, to the local Rampart police station, demanding a moratorium on ticketing vendors. The LA Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and several community organizations are supporting the vendors.

"Why do people come here from all over the world?"

A clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, given in 2003. Bob Avakian is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Watch the entire film online at http://revolutiontalk.net. And get into Bob Avakian.

“Many of us are seniors, and nobody will hire us,” a woman in her 50s, who had spread out handbags and caps on the sidewalk, told Revolution. “Or they want work permits. This is the only way left to us to make a living.” Another, who was grilling the famous “street dogs,” said that she had many times over paid the tickets, which were often more than $200 or $300. “Often the police come, and the people run away, leaving all their goods on the sidewalk. They lose absolutely everything. I said, no way, that’s too much money for me to lose, I’m not going to run away, even if they give me a ticket.”

One street vendor described how 10 officers on horseback and four patrol cars raided vendors at Hansen Dam in Pacoima in northern Los Angeles. “They dedicated themselves to pursuing all of us. None of us could escape.” (Los Angeles Times, March 31, 2015) He sells food there once a week to provide for his family in Mexico; the $250 ticket that police gave him wiped out his whole day’s earnings.

A protester told La Opinion newspaper that during the two years that she has been selling pupusas on a downtown corner, she has been ticketed some 10 times. “They harass us, they insult us, they take all the merchandise, the grills, the baskets, everything, they throw the food in the trash and fine us... they let us work for a while just to swoop in with tickets of up to $500, we’re a money-making venture for them.”

“They give us tickets and take our things, but on the ticket doesn’t specify what goods they confiscated, so you can’t claim them,” mentioned another vendor.

Many vendors and pedestrians in the area enthusiastically received whistles, newspapers and stacks of flyers about April 14, Shut It Down.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/a-call-to-attorneys-law-students-legal-observers-legal-workers-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

A Call to Attorneys, Law Students, Legal Observers and Legal Workers—Volunteers Needed!

In re: Police terror, brutality, lawlessness and murder? April 14 Shut It Down!

April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The enormous injustice of police terror, brutality, lawlessness and outright murder, aimed especially at Black and Latino people, has been a hard and cold fact of life in this country for a long, long time. But last summer and fall, two of those murders—Michael Brown and Eric Garner—and then the non-indictments of the police who killed them unleashed a tidal wave of righteous outrage and passionate, defiant mass protest. Hundreds of thousands stepped out into the streets across America, determined to STOP these crimes against the people, this onslaught of police murder.

On Tuesday, April 14, we will take this movement to a whole new level. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network has issued a nationwide Call for Shutdown April 14th—Everyone must disrupt the normal routine, through mass political mobilization and action: NO SCHOOL! NO WORK! STOP BUSINESS AS USUAL! Thousands of students will walk out of school, take over buildings and go on strike at colleges and high schools nationwide. People will gather and march in cities and towns coast to coast. Here’s a nationwide list of planned actions.

Cornel West and Carl Dix, the co-founders of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, invite you to sign and spread the CALL FOR APRIL 14. In the accompanying letter, they call on you to help make April 14 as powerful as possible:

People who step out and stand up on April 14, unstoppable in the face of any attempts by the authorities to repress and silence them, will need to be defended.

This is a call for VOLUNTEERS: You and your colleagues are urgently needed on April 14 as lawyers, law students, and other volunteers who will come to their defense.

Lawyers who will join efforts to stand with and defend the people making April 14 the powerful and challenging statement that’s needed...

Law students, legal workers, and legal observers (especially people who have been trained as LO’s, but new untrained volunteers are welcome too) who can be there with people as they walk out, march, hit the streets, and do creative protests of all kinds...

Make a difference! Take a stand with all the people who refuse to accept that the normal routine of this society should include wanton police murder of Black and Brown people.

Contact the Stop Mass Incarceration Network today
and there will be a place, and an April 14 legal task, waiting for you.

National Contact Information

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network
Email: stopmassincarceration@gmail.com
FB: stopmassincerationnetwork
Twitter:@StopMassIncNet
Phone: (646) 709-1961

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/what-they-say-what-is-real-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

What They Say... What Is Real

April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

“The time for demonstrations is over. We need to be in it for the long haul.”

If you’re really in it to stop this, you’ll understand that demonstrations in the street are needed now more than ever. What the hell is your long haul going to amount to if people are put back in their bottles, and demoralized, by the fact that the authorities are still killing Black and Latino youth, still getting away with it, and now that they’ve gotten the green light from Eric “I’m not a savior but I play one on TV” Holder. It’s not even business as usual now—it’s much worse, the powers-that-be are stepping up this terror against the people... and if the forces of resistance “take a pass” it’s frankly a profound fucking betrayal. (See “Three Points of Orientation for Mobilizing Powerful Outpourings of Resistance on April 14.”)

“Yeah, we did that... but protesting didn’t do any good.”

Didn’t do any good? It forced the reality of police murder of Black and Latino people into the consciousness of the whole world, it forced people to confront the reality of the whole history and present-day reality of this country, it raised the hopes and sights of people for a better day, it let people on the bottom of society turn their anger against the real enemy instead of each other... if it didn’t do any good, why are the people on top so hell-bent on suppressing it, so hell-bent on misleading it, on putting people back in their cages? These demonstrations kicked open a door, and the powers-that-be are trying to slam it shut—are you going to let them do that, or are you gonna kick it back open and walk on through this time? (See “To Those Who Ask: Here’s What Good It WILL Do to Shut It Down on April 14.”)

“But wasn’t Michael Brown guilty?”

No, he wasn’t. He was jaywalking in a city in which jaywalking-while-Black (and ONLY while Black) is a crime and, evidently, one punishable by death. See this article for the real truth, and quit believing something just because CNN says it’s true.

“Your messaging is bad. Calling it ‘police murder’ turns people off and is incendiary.”

Yes, and calling a man-eating lion a friendly kitty cat is the way to get a handsome foundation grant. Really, people—it IS murder and if that’s “incendiary,” then those who are ordering and abetting the killing should STOP doing it. (See “Double Down on the Moral and Political Challenge Posted by the Stolen Lives Poster.”)

“We need to hit them where it hurts—we need an economic boycott.”

We answered this already, and it still stands:

#ShutDownA14

After the demonstrations of the summer and fall...

After all the promises and all the investigations that went nowhere...

After the hundreds and hundreds of arrests...

The police are still brutalizing and murdering Black and Latino people—hundreds a year—and getting away with it... in every city and town of America.

We will NOT live in a society that does this. And we will NOT stand by. On April 14, we need to “hit them where it hurts.” And when it comes to STOPPING murder by police... what REALLY “hits them where it hurts” is:

massive outpourings of people, shutting things down all over the country, bringing the “normal operation” of things to a halt through mass political mobilization and action... drawing forth more and more people, from all different parts of society... going straight up against and exposing, BEFORE THE WHOLE WORLD, this whole damn system—its brutally oppressive nature, its towering INjustice, its murdering enforcers the police, its sickening lies that it is “the champion of freedom”—and SHOWING THE WHOLE WORLD that there are masses of people pouring into the streets, right in this country, to demonstrate that they WILL NOT TAKE THIS ANY LONGER!

ALL OUT FOR APRIL 14!

“If you demonstrate, people will get arrested and maybe hurt.”

This sorry excuse has been trotted out against every single movement that ever was, including, let those who claim to be the inheritors of the civil rights movement note, Selma itself, where Martin Luther King was told to back off and where people did in fact get arrested, killed, and beaten. Every movement for justice has always involved sacrifice. This line of argument is like telling a woman to submit to the tyranny of an abusive husband so that she doesn’t “cause him to go off.” We are NOT for provocation, or for stupid stunts—we ARE for people refusing to back down when right is on their side and they are exercising what are supposed to be rights to express themselves. If you capitulate in advance, you will never get anywhere.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/wanted-people-of-conscience-to-take-a-stand-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Wanted: People of Conscience to TAKE A STAND

by Lenny Wolff | April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

I have just listened to some of the statements sent in for the April 6 emergency meeting headlined by Carl Dix and Cornel West. I found these moving—but unfortunately all too rare. In the weeks since Carl Dix and Cornel West initiated a statement of conscience, I have been frankly surprised at the resistance to taking such a stand by all too many people—especially white people of prominence—who SHOULD be rushing to put their names on such a statement. People who’ve done better—much better—in the past, including on this question.

How do they explain this reluctance? Let’s take four cases.

One person said he’s going to “take a pass” and complained that it “gets to be meaningless” if he signs every statement that comes across his desk. Meaningless? Unfortunately, your silence itself is extremely meaningFUL. Your silence, whatever your intent, gives your approval to the relentless drumbeat of police murder of Black and Latino people. Your silence gives your approval to the repression that the police have been and will surely continue to bring down on people who resist this—including those planning to be in the streets on April 14. And given that you have spoken out very powerfully in the past against police violence against other movements, your silence this time is, unfortunately, particularly eloquent—and particularly unconscionable.

Another person—again someone who has taken stands in the past, including on this question—declined because she doesn’t “feel qualified to speak. This movement has been driven so wonderfully by young people of color. I think people like me need to step back and not try to take the megaphone.” First, if you live on this planet and are awake—and this person is not just awake but well-versed in the whole situation of mass incarceration and what it does to people, and this is known—you are not only qualified to speak, you are obligated to. What is the logic here? Imagine that some people in Nazi Germany were asked to take a stand against the attacks on Jews and declined on the grounds that the Jews were doing such a wonderful job of driving their own movement.

This is also a bit overly naïve. There is not one monolithic “movement” against police brutality. Different individuals, trends, and organizations put forward and pursue varying analyses, strategies, and programs—sometimes these are opposed, and sometimes convergent, but they are different. The statement of conscience by Dix and West does not endorse any particular strategy or action, and has the virtue of clearly putting forth a stand that EVERYONE should be able to agree on, in the face of what the statement correctly points out has been a response of “repression and the false promises of ‘understanding’ and ‘reconciliation.’” The fact is that no matter how “wonderful” a job anyone is doing of “driving” this movement, the statement points out that “murder by police continues unchecked”—and since Eric Holder (the latest savior we were told to believe in) exonerated Darren Wilson and cooked testimony to falsely blame Michael Brown, the victim, for his own murder (which effectively gave a green light to the police), this epidemic of murder seems, if anything, to have intensified. This is a state of emergency!

If you have a difference with the statement, state it—and then let’s wrangle it out. It’s way too urgent to beg off on bogus grounds of “lack of qualification.” Again—your silence is in itself a statement. Finally, and not that it makes any difference whatsoever but—just “for the record”—it is somewhat ridiculous to have to point out that this statement was initiated by Carl Dix and Cornel West who are, the last time I looked, Black, and who have, in fact, been bringing forward more than a few young people into the movement.

A third person had her assistant write that she is “too busy” on “her own” issues. Sorry, but whether you like it or not police murder of unarmed Black and Latino people IS your “issue” by virtue of the fact that you live in the U.S. This murder is going on and you can’t be bothered? You can’t fucking sign a statement saying it’s wrong? PLEASE. Is it that you can’t even see the barest of connections between this and “your issue”—or is it that you intend to cut loose the people facing this horror to fend for themselves, so that “your issue” can get some attention and concessions from the powers-that-be? There’s a long—and despicable—history of that in America that you shouldn’t want to repeat and add to.

Finally, there’s the fellow who actually told us that he wouldn’t sign because he was worried his “brand might be contaminated.” Your “brand”??!?!? Why don’t you come explain that bullshit on Monday night to the parents who are going to be honored for going forward through the pain and grief for standing up and resisting when the police murdered their loved ones—and then murdered them a second time with slander, as they have done to Michael Brown. “Your brand”? What about their kids’ lives? Fuck your brand, my friend—seems to me that your BRAIN, your HEART, and yes, your SOUL are in grave danger of irreparable contamination by this market-mad, Midas-worshiping capitalist society. You need to get rid of that contamination by standing up for what’s right.

What’s really going on here? I’m serious—just what is it that’s hanging you up? And what is hanging up the rest of you, the majority of those to whom this has been sent, who have even more unconscionably refused to even respond? In looking over the names of those who HAVE sent statements, I am struck by the fact that many are no strangers to controversy—they have been attacked, sometimes relentlessly, often at great cost, for standing on principle and refusing to be silent. They have refused to back down. So is that it? Is it a question of intellectual courage, of backbone, of integrity, that rarest of qualities in this society? Are you really worried that someone is gonna criticize you for speaking up, or for the “company you keep”?

Come on, let’s be honest here. Again, what is the story? Is there some part of you that shrank at the way those who catch the hardest hell of police terror every day—those who in fact took great heart from the support that some white people DID begin to offer during the fall—began to get in the streets and defy the powers-that-be? That’s more comfortable with well-modulated voices and polite discourse in the halls where “those people” are not welcome? Yet I know that some of you have recognized their humanity in the past. So why now do you shrink from those who are condemned in today’s society to unpunished murder by those who have the power and those who serve the power, or to a life in prison or “on the run”?

Or is it that you’re a little bit freaked out by the way the fascists and racists have come back at this movement? Are you hoping things will cool out and those kluckers will return to their caves? Sorry, but there’s a long and dishonorable—and very disastrous—history of conciliating with fascists and racists in the hope of propitiating them, or finessing the danger they do in fact represent. You cannot finesse the need to resist!

Whatever it is, get over it. Most of you have taken principled stands in the past. That’s why we’ve called on you. You have been and can be—and the people facing this plague need you to be—better than this. With voices comes responsibility. Your voice—or your silence—makes a huge difference, to the people up against this horror and to the powers-that-be. Look at the reality concentrated here. Listen to the reality concentrated in the videos below, by the parents of police murder victims. And then sign that statement, and raise the voice you have.

 

Nicholas Heyward at John Collado memorial calling for A14  credit: Alex Seel


Families of Loved Ones Whose Lives were Stolen by the Police, Speak Out (Atlanta Conference February 2)
Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson - Uncle of Oscar Grant



Families of Loved Ones Whose Lives were Stolen by the Police, Speak Out (Chicago, November 5, 2014)

Video of the event by Kevin Gosztola of The Dissenter at Firedoglake

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/oxnard-california-suicidal-woman-shot-dead-by-police-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Oxnard, California: Suicidal Woman Shot Dead by Police

April 4, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Graphic of Meagan Hockaday and her three daughtersGraphic of Meagan Hockaday and her three daughters, from the Gofundme site raising money for her burial expenses.

Meagan Hockaday, a 26-year-old Black woman, had depression and needed help. She was suicidal and trying to cut herself. On the evening of March 28, her boyfriend, wanting to get help for her, called 911 in the southern California city of Oxnard. According to an Oxnard activist, her boyfriend had been holding her down trying to stop her from cutting herself. When the doorbell rang, he got up to answer it. Meagan got up too, still holding the knife. It’s not clear if she even knew the police were there. Roger Garcia of the Oxnard Police Department entered the apartment and opened fire, shooting Meagan four or five times. Twenty seconds after Garcia entered the apartment, Meagan was dead.

Meagan’s mom described her as a tiny person who could have easily been disarmed. This is the second time Garcia opened fire on a mentally distressed woman. In 2014 he and two other officers fired 36 shots at Rosa Guillen (who survived), after responding to a report of a suicidal woman at an Oxnard park.

Meagan Hockaday left three children, ages 4, 2½, and 7 months.

This is not just about one “bad apple” in one police department. Why do the cops carry out these outrages—time after time, in cities across the country? It’s because, as Bob Avakian, says, “The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.” (BAsics 1:24)

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/more-outrages-in-the-murder-of-kendrec-mcdade-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

More Outrages in the Murder of Kendrec McDade

April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

Three years ago two Pasadena, California cops murdered Kendrec McDade, a 19-year old Black youth, who was unarmed and cornered on a street by the two cops in their vehicle. (See “The Police Killing of Kendrec McDade—Another ‘Freebie!’” Revolution #265, April 8, 2012.)

Kendrec’s murder prompted protests and demonstrations in Pasadena for several months. The outrageous failure to charge the cops, and then the decision to exonerate them, prompted more protests. His parents and others continued to protest and to call for the release of the sealed report on his killing, The report, written by an “independent investigator” appointed by the Pasadena police, was ordered sealed by the court, and then last October a court ruled that a redacted version of the report could be released, but up to this time the report remains sealed.

Kendrec McDade
Kendrec McDade

Now, almost three years to the day since he was murdered, parts of the report have been mistakenly released, and we are now outraged again to learn that those parts we can now see do not raise concerns about Kendrec being shot down through the window of the cops’ car, being shot again by the cop who got out of the car, and then being allowed to die on the street while handcuffed. The concerns raised in the report are that the cops “repeatedly made tactical decisions that were not congruent with principles of officer safety”; in other words, the pigs failed to use correct procedures and put those swines’ lives in danger. That’s right. The report does not give a shit about Kendrec’s safety or his life. It’s the cops’ lives that are of concern here. Fuck this shit, and fuck those parts of the report that have been released. Once again, it’s a whitewash of a Black or Latino person’s murder by a cop with an outrageous twist that we should not stand for.

Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?

A clip from REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. Watch the entire film here. And get into Bob Avakian.

Kendrec McDade’s parents went in front of the Pasadena City Council on Monday, March 30. His mother called for the punishment of the two cops, and she wants the full report to be released. A state court of appeal announced this week that it was “considering vacating” a previous order to keep the report sealed as a court document.

In another outrageous move by the Pasadena cops, Jasmine Richards was arrested on her way to the City Council meeting on March 30 and was charged, stemming from a March 24 demonstration on the third anniversary of Kendrec McDade’s murder, with “terrorist threats, assault, trespassing, failure to comply with orders of peace officers, disturbing the peace, not having a permit for amplified sound, and petty theft.” She was first arrested for “failure to appear,” and then the cops upped the charges that include the most serious ones of “terrorist threats” and “assault.” Her bail was set at $90,000 and later was reduced to $30,000. She was released from jail on April 2.

Jasmine Richards is an organizer for the Black Lives Matter Pasadena chapter and she has been at the forefront of the Kendrec McDade protests. She also went to Ferguson, Missouri, to join the protests against Michael Brown’s murder.

Black Lives Matter issued a press release saying that her arrest is “politically motivated,” that she has become “a highly visible target for police harassment,” and that they believe “these charges to be in response to Richards’ participation in a peaceful demonstration ... held in Pasadena just six days prior to her arrest.”

We have to stop the murder of our Black and Latino youth, and we have to demand that the charges be dropped for all our people who have been or are arrested. This requires everyone to be out in the streets on April 14 to shut things down. The facts are clear. The Call for April 14 has been made. Plans have been made. Now it is up to you to act on this in a way that will shake this country and retake the offensive in our struggle to put a stop to the murderous behavior of these pigs.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/american-police-killed-more-people-in-march-111-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

American police killed more people in March (111) than the entire UK police have killed since 1900

April 4, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This piece, by Shaun King, was originally posted at Daily Kos.

 

Yeah. Those numbers are real.

A total of 111 people were killed by police in the United States in March of 2015. Since 1900, in the entire United Kingdom, 52 people have been killed by police.

Don't bother adjusting for population differences, or poverty, or mental illness, or anything else. The sheer fact that American police kill TWICE as many people per month as police have killed in the modern history of the United Kingdom is sick, preposterous, and alarming.

In March:

Police beat Phillip White to death in New Jersey. He was unarmed.

Police shot and killed Meagan Hockaday, a 26-year-old mother of three.

Police shot and killed Nicholas Thomas, an unarmed man on his job at Goodyear in metro Atlanta.

Police shot and killed Anthony Hill, an unarmed war veteran fighting through mental illness, in metro Atlanta.

I could tell 107 more of those stories.

This has to end.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/380/urgent-alert-political-prisoner-mumia-abu-jamal-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Urgent Alert:

Political Prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal Moved from Prison to Intensive Care

Updated April 5, 2015 | Originally posted March 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

According to a report on Democracy Now!, political prisoner, journalist, and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal has been taken to the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital in Pennsylvania for a medical emergency.

For decades Pennsylvania authorities have attempted to execute, isolate, silence, and punish Mumia Abu-Jamal based on a profoundly illegitimate and fixed “trial.” Anyone who believes in justice should be alarmed and vigilant at this development.

Prison officials told his supporters he is in diabetic shock. Johanna Fernández, one of the coordinators of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, told Democracy Now! that for some time Mumia has been in need of medical care for a serious condition, and that he was moved to a hospital without notifying his family or supporters. He hasn’t been seen by any of his attorneys or supporters or next of kin since being moved from prison, and the hospital will not release any information to the family. Johanna Fernández told Democracy Now!: “Mumia is shackled, probably, to a bed. There are four guards, a phalanx of guards guarding him, and keeping us from the room, 10 feet away. We were able to see that he was behind this room.”

And Johnanna Fernández told Democracy Now!: “We need to defend Mumia’s life immediately. He is in enemy territory right now, and we need people to call the hospital, Schuylkill Medical Center in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. We need people to call the prison and demand that he be seen by outside doctors to really assess the situation.”

Update from PrisonRAdio.org, April 2: At 7 p.m. last night, Mumia was transferred back to the infirmary at SCI Mahony--the same prison infirmary that failed to identify his diabetes, gravely misdiagnosed him, and gave him severely detrimental treatment. This is an outrage!

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/380/clark-kissinger-outrage-at-shocking-treatment-of-mumia-abu-jamal-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Clark Kissinger: Outrage at Shocking Treatment of Mumia Abu-Jamal

April 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Dear friends of Mumia,

On behalf of the friends and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party, I want to express our outrage at the shocking treatment of Mumia Abu-Jamal and we lend our voice to the righteous demand that his family have daily access to him. Please see our urgent alert posted on revcom.us.

Once again we see the wanton disregard of life shown to those in the hellholes of this country’s massive incarceration system. Any routine blood test would have revealed Mumia’s diabetic condition many months ago, yet he was allowed to slip into a life-threatening condition. One cannot help but believe this is yet another round in the government’s ongoing vendetta against Mumia’s life.

Clark Kissinger

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/380/who-is-mumia-abu-jamal-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Who Is Mumia Abu-Jamal?

April 2, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal, one of the most well-known political prisoners in the U.S., has been unjustly imprisoned in Pennsylvania for nearly 35 years. On December 9, 1981, Mumia was driving a cab on a downtown Philadelphia street. He saw a cop viciously beating his brother with a metal flashlight. Mumia rushed to the scene. He was shot in the chest by the cop, and was found sitting on the sidewalk in a pool of his own blood. The cop lay nearby, dying from a bullet wound. Arriving police attacked Mumia, who was well known to them as a revolutionary journalist and a former Black Panther, and arrested him for murder of the cop.

Mumia was carrying a gun for self-protection as a late-night cab driver. But the bullet taken from the slain officer was never matched to Mumia's gun. His gun was never tested to see if it had been fired, nor were his hands tested to show if he had recently fired a gun. In fact, the medical examiner's report listed the fatal bullet as a different caliber than Mumia's gun, but the jury never saw this report. Police claimed that Mumia stood over the fallen officer, firing repeatedly at him but hitting him only once in the head. Yet photographs that surfaced years later showed no marks on the sidewalk from the bullets that allegedly missed the officer.

In his 1982 trial Mumia was denied the right to serve as his own attorney and was barred from the courtroom for half his trial. Racial bias in jury selection resulted in an overwhelmingly white jury. And a court reporter overheard the trial judge saying that he was going to help the cops "fry the n****r."

Witnesses who told of seeing a different person commit the shooting and flee the scene were ignored and never heard by the jury. The prosecution claimed that Mumia had confessed—a confession that cops only "remembered" months after the incident. Yet the jury only heard the phony confession story and never saw the official police report that stated Mumia had made no statement. Not surprisingly under these circumstances, Mumia was convicted and sentenced to death.

Documents obtained for Mumia's appeal process in 1995 showed that he had been under government surveillance since he was 14 years old. A protest leader in high school, he became a young Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party in Philadelphia. In following years he attended college and became a respected radio journalist in Philadelphia.

Undeterred by his incarceration, Mumia continued and further developed as a journalist behind bars, writing a weekly syndicated column and authoring several books. When the governor signed a death warrant in 1995, a surging mass movement in his support quickly developed and prevented Mumia's execution. Even so, Mumia continued to sit alone 22 hours a day in an isolation cell the size of a bathroom, allowed to see his family and lawyers only through a plexiglass window. His refusal to capitulate in the face of all this exemplifies the courage, the dedication, and the revolutionary potential of the millions held in this country's prisons, and this was an inspiration for broad numbers of people.

The struggle to free Mumia, which has been waged worldwide, brought forward a whole generation of students who were radicalized. This movement played an important role in changing many people's minds not just around the death penalty, but in looking at the injustices of the system as a whole.

Mumia spent a quarter of a century in solitary confinement on death row until courts overturned his death sentence while affirming his conviction, leaving him to face the prospect of life in prison without parole. Through all this, Mumia has continued to denounce the crimes against humanity perpetrated by this system in both audio and written commentaries.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/april-1-stolen-lives-day-at-seattle-university-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

April 1 Stolen Lives Day at Seattle University

April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a Seattle college student:





April 1 was a really inspiring and energizing day. Thank you everyone for coming out! We advocated on campus and after about 40 minutes were kicked out so we made our way to 12th & Cherry, a street on site that students use to get off and on campus. There were some folks who weren’t ready or willing to listen to us or look at the murdered faces on our posters, which deeply worried, baffled, and angered me. However despite those prickly interactions (or lack thereof) we were able to have some very revitalizing exchanges, and fortunately I found that the good interactions outnumbered the bad. Students smiled and said thank you or I’ll be there, took photos, took a flyer, shared thoughts on the issue, signed up for the emails and events, cars honked, and people listened. We touched base with an organizer of a politically active student group at Seattle University—hope to hear more from him and see some on campus organizing for #ShutdownA14.

I find that every time I take this message to the public there is another story told of another innocent victim, another friend, brother, or sister who has been pummeled by violence—brutality is everywhere, you really don’t have to dig deep to find it. I am excited to take this to my school, Seattle Central College (currently on spring break), to spread the word and organize there.

Shown here are the voices and faces of students from Seattle University that are calling upon everyone across the U.S. to stand up on April 14 and SHUT IT DOWN!

Seattle University

Seattle University
Photos: Special to revcom.us

Seattle University

Seattle University

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/stolen-lives-day-at-uc-berkeley-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Stolen Lives Day at UC Berkeley: Thousands Confronted with the Epidemic of Police Murder, Challenged to Fight Back

April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From readers:

UC Berkeley

UC BerkeleyUC Berkeley

On April 2, the Revolution Club, Bay Area brought a powerful visual message and challenge to the UC Berkeley campus. On the historic Sather Gate (entrance to the campus where thousands of college students, high school students on tours, parents, and tourists must pass through) the Revolution Club posted the Stolen Lives centerfold, along with individual images of dozens of the faces of some of those who have been murdered by the police. Strict campus regulations forbid posting (and even leaning large signs!) on the gate, so the visual display was a real break from the “normal” scene on campus.

As thousands streamed through, people stopped to look and take pictures of the images, many noting the predominance of Black and Latino faces, as well as the fact that these were UNARMED victims, many still in their teens! The club called on people to step forward and take a stand against this ugly reality, challenging students and others to be a part of organizing for the national shut down day against police murder, #ShutDownA14. People were challenged to take out their phones, take and post pictures through their own social media accounts to spread the word about #ShutDownA14, and connect up with the Revolution Club and the movement for revolution.

April 7 event at UC BerkeleyDownload PDF leaflet

For some, the Stolen Lives images were a jolt, something they were not aware was so common in poor communities of color. For others, it was a validation of what they have seen and witnessed firsthand. While many stopped to talk and take pictures and were excited to know about and be a part of #ShutDownA14, we still have a lot of work to do to bring forward people who will take real responsibility in leading others to bring this nightmare of police terror to an end.

On the same day, the Caravana 43, family members of the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students and activists from Mexico, stopped in Berkeley to expose the lies of the Mexican government and to call on people to take up this important struggle for justice. [See “Todos Somos Ayotzinapa! Thousands in 30+ Countries Demand Justice for 43 Disappeared Students in Mexico.”] At their event a speaker and parent of one of the disappeared youth made the connection between police impunity in Mexico and in the United States when it comes to killing youth of color. He also spoke of being heartened by the display at the campus gate and images of the Stolen Lives faces on social media, spoke about how important it is to not let these crimes be ignored, and called on people to be part of the April 7 Speak Out at Cal (see PDF leaflet) with family members of people killed by police, the president of the Latino Pre-Law Society at UC Berkeley, and a video statement from Cornel West and Carl Dix.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/in-the-nyc-projects-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

In the NYC Projects: "We have to march against the police and be in the streets on April 14"

April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In some projects in NYC, a lot of people have known about the revolution and Bob Avakian, and there has also been a lot of friction between the youth in one project and those in another project nearby. A group of revolutionaries took a banner there that said different projects should come together to fight police murder and brutality. We talked to people about participating in the April 6 Cornel West-Carl Dix EMERGENCY meeting and webcast and in shutting down business as usual on April 14.

Listen to BA speak to divisions among the people in the clip "A better world is possible" from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About.
This talk, followed by questions and answers, is a wide-ranging revolutionary journey, covering many topics. It breaks down the very nature of the society we live in and how humanity has come to a time where a radically different society is possible. It is full of heart and soul, humor and seriousness; it will challenge you and set your heart and mind to flight. Watch the entire film online at www.revolutiontalk.net

We got some very moving messages from people signing the banner: “Police Stop killing our Black Future.” “Until we unite this will continue to get worse. Become a rose out the concrete. Be a part of the solution and not the problem. Our future is becoming extinct because of our own actions. We have to change now. I’m not with this shit anymore!” “May the police stop killin our youth. We have to march against the police and be in the streets on April 14th.”

While people have been expressing a lot of anger to us in the last few days over police murder, most have been reluctant to get involved. Taking the banner into the projects brought the questions onto the table. There was a lot of controversy especially among young people in the projects over whether things can ever change. Whether youth will ever stop killing each other. This led to some very deep conversations about why are things this way and how it can be different, why we need to be together at the EMERGENCY meeting with Carl Dix and Cornel West..

The black-and-white poster of police murder victims got a lot of reaction. People exchanged stories with each other about the different victims. One man greeted with glee the chance to hear Cornel West speak and stopped people he knew on the street to tell them about it. He stayed around for about an hour and emphasized to youth, “How is this going to stop? You need to pay attention to this!” On a number of occasions young people who walked by saying “I’m good,” when challenged with “you know you got a target on your back” would turn around and get flyers.

A woman took 200 flyers for April 6 with a plan to get them to every apartment in her 20-floor building. A homeless man looked at the flyer and said, “I know both of those speakers.” He took a small bunch of flyers, passed them out, and came back to get more. An ex-prisoner said that several of his friends had already called him to see if he was going to the Monday Emergency  meeting.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/80-women-at-texas-immigration-detention-center-start-hunger-strike-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

80 Women at Texas Immigration Detention Center Start Hunger Strike

"We deserve to be treated with some dignity"

April 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On March 31, 80 women at the Karnes immigration detention center in south Texas began a hunger strike. A letter the women sent to prison authorities the day before read, in part, “We have come to this country, with our children, seeking refugee status and we are being treated like delinquents. We are not delinquents nor do we pose any threat to this country.

“During this Hunger Strike, no mother will work in the center of detention or send our children to school. We will not use any of the services provided by this place until we have been heard and our freedom has been approved....

“You should know that this is only the beginning and we will not stop until we achieve our objectives. This strike will continue until every one of us is freed.

See a clip from BA's talk REVOLUTION: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, on why people are forced to leave their homes to come to the U.S.

“The conditions in which our children find themselves are not good. Our children are not eating well and every day they are losing weight. Their health is deteriorating. We know that any mother would do what we are doing for their children.

“We deserve to be treated with some dignity and that our rights to the immigration process be respected.

“There are some mothers that lost their appeal for Asylum and were forced to sign deportation papers. We believe that this is unjust because they have come to this country asking for Asylum because they are in danger in their country. And now they are being deported back to the place where they could even lose their life.”

A History of Abuse

Most of the women and their children imprisoned in Karnes were arrested trying to enter the U.S. last summer when tens of thousands of people fled their Central American homelands to escape the devastation wracked on those countries by U.S. imperialist domination, and the horrific violence that plagues them. Some have been in Karnes for as long as 10 months now.

For months women imprisoned in Karnes who sought asylum were routinely denied, but in February a federal judge ordered that bonds be issued. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials set much higher bonds for women with children than it did for men or single women. A San Antonio TV station reported that “Bonds were routinely set at $1,500 to $3,500 for single men and women. Women with children got bonds from $15,000 to $20,000 if they got bonds at all. Unlike bonds in criminal cases, these bonds must be paid up front and in full.”

Karnes and other immigrant prisons in Texas are notorious for their brutality and inhumane conditions. Male prisoners at the Willacy detention center rebelled and burned many of their tent barracks to the ground in February. ("Immigrant Prisoners in Texas Rise Up Against Horrific Conditions")

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) filed a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of women prisoners and denial of crucial medical care to children at the Karnes prison. A paralegal who reported of the inhumane conditions in the prison in February has been denied access to the prison by ICE and by GEO, the private corporation that runs Karnes.

Putting Children in Isolation

Prison and government officials deny that there is a problem at Karnes. An ICE statement in response to the Karnes hunger strike said that “family residential centers (sic) are an effective and humane alternative for maintaining family unity as families go through immigration proceedings or await return to their home countries.” An ICE official made the outrageous and ominous announcement that it is investigating whether “a member of a nonprofit encouraged detainees to stop eating out of protest.”

Initial reports indicated that the strike was begun for Semana Santa (Holy Week) and would continue through this week. But it seems that some strikers may want to persevere longer. Prison officials continue to lash out with savage cruelty at the courageous women who went on strike. According to a report from the San Antonio organization RAICES, “Three women were held in isolation with their children in the detention center's clinic.”

The U.S. and its system of capitalism-imperialism have tormented, slaughtered, and viciously exploited the people of Central America for decades. Going back to the 1980s, they have inflicted endless repression, deportations, and police and immigration police brutality upon people who made it past a heavily militarized border and into this country. THIS MUST END!

Support the courageous woman at Karnes!

STOP the Demonization, Criminalization, and Deportations of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/walter-l-scott-shot-eight-times-in-the-back-by-killer-cop-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

South Carolina

Walter L. Scott—Shot IN THE BACK, MURDERED by Killer Cop

Updated April 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

ANOTHER killing of an unarmed Black man by a white police officer. This time in North Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday, April 4.

The murdering cop, Michael T. Slager, stopped 50-year-old Walter L. Scott—the reason, supposedly for a broken taillight, according to the police report. Scott runs away from the car and the cop chases him, then fires his taser at Scott. Slager shoots at Scott eight times as he is running away, hitting him several times in the back. Then he says, and you can hear it in the video, “put your hands behind your back.” Then you see the cop walk over and put what looks like a taser next to Scott’s body. Later, his LIE to try and justify the murder is that Scott tried to take his taser.

Everyone can see in the video that this was clearly cold-blooded MURDER. Even commentators and legal experts on TV are saying this was clearly a homicide.  

The system hasn’t been able to get away this time with just declaring “justifiable homicide.” They had to arrest the cop for murder. The people must now DEMAND: Indict, convict, send the killer cop to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell!

ANOTHER killing of an unarmed Black man by a white police officer. ANOTHER reason to SHUT IT DOWN ON APRIL 14!

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/cornel-west-in-new-york-city-april-6-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Cornel West in New York City April 6:
"EMERGENCY
The Police Are STILL Killing Unarmed People and This Must STOP!
A CALL TO ACT"

April 7, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

What a blessing to be here. That’s Brother Carl Dix...still on fire...been at it for decades...

I apologize for my voice—it’s about to go out. But you let me know if I’m not communicating and I will try to be more clear and more loud. Just got off the plane from Chicago, we’re trying to push out a neo-liberal opportunist named Rahm Emanuel, trying to get rid of him. Brother Garcia—not because he’s pure but because of the vicious attacks on poor people, working people.

Cornel West

Cornel West

I want to thank each and every one of you for being here tonight. I come with a heavy heart. One of the great giants and geniuses of American culture just died, Reverend Dr. Gardner C. Taylor. He was a big brother of Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a friend of Malcolm X. He was the founder of the progressive Baptist Convention that said that the National Baptist Convention may be spiritually rich, but there’s too much cowardice and conformity. He and Martin Luther King, Jr. broke in the name of a love, in the face of a vicious legacy of white supremacy, in 1961. He was pastor of Concord Baptist Church, a chocolate slice of Brooklyn. I know I’m in Manhattan, but Brooklyn is the greatest borough in the world! [laughter] Let us never forget Gardner Taylor. You may not subscribe to his progressive Christian practice, but you cannot deny his integrity, his honesty, his decency, and his courage. Give it up for Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor. [applause] In his early, early 90s—he’s gone now, but we shall never forget him.  

The same is true for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Let us keep him in our thoughts. Revolutionary Christian like me, I’m praying for him constantly. I just talked to the brothers and sisters who were there at the Department of Corrections. He’s lost 85 pounds already. Mumia Abu-Jamal—unbowed unbought, refused to sell out—which is so characteristic these days. People say, “Oh, but Brother West, didn’t he kill a policeman?” No he didn’t kill him. He didn’t kill him. But he’s still in jail. Same is true for Sundiata and so many others. The reason why Assata Shakur is in Cuba today—she didn’t do it! The police will come at ya if you straighten up and try to tell the truth!

And I begin with those figures because for me, I’m here ... the reason why I spend the time with my dear brother Carl Dix, year after year after year, the reason why we went to jail over five years ago and had the trial for a week and came up guilty, but we had a smile on our face—because we were bearing witness. The reason why we went to jail in Ferguson—same reason. Because there were two geniuses that raised a question over 41 years ago, one from St. Louis and the other from North Carolina. I’m talking about Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack– they raised the question, “Where is the love?” Where is the love? And when you talk about Mumia Abu-Jamal, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, Sojourner Truth, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day—they’re what the Isley Brothers call a “caravan of love.” And we’re here because when you look at the sparkling eyes of these precious ones, these priceless ones, we’re here because we love them, and we are unapologetic about our love of our young people, our precious people, our middle aged people, our older people. And when you love folk you hate the fact they’re being treated unjustly, you loathe the fact they’re being treated unfairly. And if you don’t do something the rocks are gonna cry out! That’s why we’re here! That’s why we’re gonna march on April 14th! Oh, yeah!

Learn more/get involved.

I don’t care what color you are—how deep is your love for the young people? And I come from a people who for 400 years have been terrorized and traumatized and stigmatized. One of the most hated people in all of modern history. And who did we dish out? John Coltrane and “Love Supreme,” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?”, Stevie Wonder’s “Love’s in need of love today”—taught the world something about love. And because justice is what love looks like in public, we taught the world something about justice, too. In the face of 400 years of being trashed like cockroaches, shot down like dogs, but still straighten up our backs.  

And Brother Arturo O’Farrill will tell you, he’s a great jazz musician—give it up for Brother Arturo. [applause] He understands that great tradition: the Louis Armstrongs, and Charlie Parkers and Mary Lou Williamses, and [inaudible]. And embrace everybody—white, brown, red, yellow. But it begins on the chocolate side of town because it’s there where we refuse to be in denial about the legacy of white supremacy in America. It’s profoundly human, it’s universal, but it has a particularity.

I know Brother Calvin Butts—where’s Brother Calvin? Has he already gone? Tell that brother I love him, I’m gonna keep track of him too. Because he’s head of the United Clergy which is a five-borough organization of Black preachers that’s called for the resignation of the Police Commissioner, called for the firing of the police and the medical helpers who stood there when our precious Eric Garner was dying and hollering that he couldn’t breathe. He’s called for—not the amending– but the ending of stop and frisk. Now why is that significant? That is significant because in this country, including in this city, we got too many mega-churches that don’t have mega-love, too many mega-churches without enough mega-courage—of all colors. And the reason being, of course, is that we live in the age of the sell-out.  

Oh yes, we’ve been told for 40 years that to be successful in America is to have material toys and be well-adjusted to injustice and well-adapted to indifference—rather than faithful to something bigger than you and put a smile on your grandmama’s face from the grave because she taught you better than that. Had she had the spiritual blackout that so many of our Black professionals have these days, we wouldn’t be here. I know I am who I am because somebody loved me, just like we love these young people. That’s the tradition that we’re talking about.

They say, “Oh Brother West, how come you always so hard on the leaders and the Black leaders?” I say, “No, no, no, I’m hard on myself. I begin with myself and then it extends outward.” But somebody’s got to raise the question—for over 7 years, young Black and Brown women and men have been shot down by the police every 28 hours. We’ve got a Black president, Black attorney general, Black cabinet secretary of Homeland Security. Their fundamental aim is to ensure that citizens are secure and safe in America, but we haven’t had one federal prosecution of a policeman for killing all of those folk. There’s something wrong, something deeply wrong. I call it a “Keith Sweat” moment—something, something ain’t right. Something, something ain’t right. Because you get these Black faces in high places that don’t want to be committed to honor our truth—and the condition of truth is always to allow suffering to speak.  

And it’s not a game. The struggle for justice is not a fad, it’s not a fashion. It’s a way of life and you have to be faithful unto death. Don’t play with it. It ain’t something to play with, because these folk in power are serious. These folk in power use anything they can to buy you off, to cast water on your fire, to dangle seductions and temptations so you’re no longer faithful to what your original calling is. And the calling is not grandiose. It’s just wrestling with the 4 questions of the greatest public intellectual in the history of America—W.E.B. Dubois.  

Dubois said there’s four questions. How shall integrity face oppression—he didn’t say cupidity, he didn’t say venality, he didn’t say vapidity—he said how does integrity face oppression?

And the second question—what does honesty do in the face of deception? All the lies and all the crimes, all the mendacity and criminality at work in America. It could be drones dropping bombs on innocent people. It could be 500 precious Palestinian babies killed in 50 days and not a mumbling word said by one politician, not a mumbling word. And I would say exactly the same thing if there was a Palestinian occupation of my Jewish brothers and sisters—because a Palestinian baby has exactly the same value as an Israeli baby, a white baby, a brown baby, a yellow baby, a black baby. That’s the kind of tradition I come out of, and I’m not ashamed of it. That’s how I was raised.

The third question—what does decency do in the face of insult? Attack, assault, dishonorment, disrespected—4 ½ hours on the street, blood flowing, dogs sniffing. And what really broke the back of many young folk was the dog urinating on the body. The level of contempt and disrespect—to be Black in America you’re already disrespected anyway in various ways, but when it becomes that wrong and that coarse, you got to do something. That’s what Ferguson was about. And that’s why many of our white brothers, brown brothers, yellow brothers said this is too much. They’ve been shooting young folk for so long—older folk too– but when it reaches that point of such unadulterated disrespect if you don’t straighten your back up and go somewhere, something is wrong.

The last question—what does virtue do in the face of brute force? April 14th is simply a call for us to have integrity, honesty, decency, a sense of virtue and not be afraid. And not be afraid.  

Or to put it in another way, especially for Black folk, we got to become de-niggerized. Because when you niggerize a people, you convince them that their lives have little or no value. When you niggerize a people, you try to convince them they’re less beautiful, they’re less moral, they’re less intelligent. When you niggerize a people, you keep them so scared and afraid and intimidated that you’re walking around laughing when it ain’t funny, and scratching when it don’t itch, wearing the mask, trying to make it through. Straighten your backs up!

When we say that to our leadership... look at all the different marches they had for Trayvon Martin, we said it then: It’s not just a matter of fighting the laws in Florida. It’s a matter of putting pressure on the White House, the Department of Justice, and the Congress as well as the state and the local. I don’t care what color your president is—he has a responsibility to make sure his police are not engaging in trigger-happy policing. Or to put it another way, to put it another way: you and I know that if all those precious young folk looked like the vanilla youth of Newtown, Connecticut, for the last 7 years, every 28 hours they getting shot down like a dog—do you think there would be no federal prosecution of the police in America? Hell no. That’s the truth we need to tell.

We stand with our Brown and Latino brothers and sisters, we stand with our poor white brothers and sisters, we stand with our Asian and our Black brothers and sisters. It’s a matter of morality, and for me as a Christian it’s a matter of spirituality. What kind of human being do I want to be?  How do I want to live my life in terms of whatever sense of character that I have? Not because I’m perfect, but because I refuse to be a gangster. I refuse to be afraid. Brother Martin used to say, “I’d rather be dead than afraid.” I agree with that. And that’s what our young people more and more are feeling. That’s why we cannot allow the spirit of resistance to fade away. That’s what the corporate press is talking about: “Oh, Ferguson is over. We’re going on to something else now.” So they can make some more money on their truncated reportage and on their sensualizing media. That’s all they want. No, no, no. We here for the long run. Because our love ain’t no plaything. And we’re gonna tell the truth about the system as a whole.

Neo-liberal agenda. When we talk about neo-liberal agenda, we mean financialize, privatize, militarize—that’s what rules the country. Big banks, big corporations, big money. One percent of the population owns 43 percent of the wealth, yet 40 percent of the precious children of color in America live in poverty– that’s morally obscene. That’s morally obscene! 22 percent of all America’s children—no matter what color, each one precious—living in poverty in the richest nation in the history of the world with profits coming out like I don’t know what—hemorrhaging at the top with the 1 percent. Thank God for the Occupy Movement to at least tell us the truth about that. Not just finanicialize but privatize. That’s what we’re fighting in Chicago. Shut down 50 schools, most of them in chocolate Chicago—children dangling, teachers fired and then shifted to the private schools. You got a problem in America? Bring in the big banks, bring in the CEOs, and privatize—and they can make profits and somehow act as if they’re dealing with the problem rather than just making more money.  

And it’s always militarize. They’ve invested over half a trillion dollars in a Marshall Plan and what Michelle Alexander calls the New Jim Crow—the prison industrial complex. But when it comes to a job with a living wage, when it comes to quality education, when it comes to decent housing—can’t find a penny. Can’t find a penny. We’ve got budgetary deficit, but when it comes to war, when it comes to prison, the money flows. It flows! No, that’s hypocrisy! That’s mendacity! We gonna tell the truth out of the love that we have! That’s why we come together.

A lot of people ask me: why could a revolutionary Christian like you work with a revolutionary communist like Carl Dix? And I like to just throw that question out. I aspire to be a jazzman in the world of ideas, a bluesman in the life of the mind. And a jazz woman or a jazzman is always flexible and fluid in approach and going back and forth and here and there, sometime on the beat, sometime off the beat, don’t know what they gonna play, depending on what I’m feeling like. But there’s always an integrity in that. Oh, if I could just be true to the voice of a Billie Holiday, the honesty, the decency, the vulnerability, the truth-telling, the risk-taking, the unbelievable courage to put her soul in her song in such a way that it affects your soul too. She’s not just an entertainer –she’s a warrior, she’s a truth warrior, she’s a love warrior. That sets the standard, y’all! So when I work with Brother Carl Dix, I say: Oh, I keep track of the love that he has for poor people. I keep track of his willingness to sacrifice. I keep track of our analysis of the capitalist system, the analysis of American imperialism and the empire, and where it overlaps. And where it doesn’t overlap, we argue. I think he’s wrong on the God question. He knows that. We struggle over what we mean by socialism. I’m a democratic socialist. He’s a communist. We got differences. But you know what? Just like in Duke Ellington’s orchestra, you allow all the different voices to come forward, you’re not concerned about unanimity, you’re not concerned about agreeing on every issue. When it comes to the children we’re faithful unto death, we’re willing to fight and go to jail. When it comes to defending the working class, we’re faithful unto death, we’re willing to fight and go to jail. And, anybody mess with Carl, I’m gonna have to come for you. Of course he’s not the only one. I’ve got a whole lot of comrades. I’ve got some Buddhists—like Bell Hooks. I’ve got some Jewish brothers and sisters—like Susannah Heschel, Michael Lerner. White Christians—like Phil Berrigan and Dorothy Day. And I got a lot of agnostics and atheists—Stanley Aronowitz and a host of others. We all come together fighting for justice. That’s what April 14th is about. Brother Jim Vrettos, you know what I’m talking about.

Thank you all so very much and I’m gonna see you in Union Square on April 14th. We gonna be there! We gonna be there! Let New York know we are loving our young folk, our middle aged folk, all of our folk, wrestling with this oppressive apparatus.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/carl-dix-in-new-york-april-6-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Carl Dix in New York City April 6:
"EMERGENCY
The Police Are STILL Killing Unarmed People and This Must STOP!
A CALL TO ACT"

April 7, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Alright, it’s good to see you all here today. You are all where you need to be today. Remember where you need to be on April 14th, in the streets, shutting it down, and bring a lot of other people with you.

Now look, we’re one week out from April 14th. A week out from a day when we must disrupt business as usual in this country, because that business as usual includes police getting away with murdering Black and Latino people. We have to manifest powerful resistance, all across the country, bringing the normal routine of this society to a halt. This resistance has to make clear that there is a force of people in this society who are determined to act to STOP the systemic problem of the authorities giving a green light to police who brutalize and murder people.

Carl DIx

Carl Dix

Now, I didn’t come here tonight to tell you it would be easy to do that. And if I did tell you that I’d be lying. What I did come here to do, though, was to lay out how deep this problem runs in this society and just what we’re up against in acting to stop it. I came to tell you why we have to act on April 14th, and how that could be part of bringing a whole new world into being. I’m also gonna get into how we can do that. And I came to recruit you, to recruit you to do something that really matters. And what that comes down to is doing something that will contribute to stopping police murder. Not slowing it down, not lessening it, but STOPPING it because that’s what’s needed. [applause]

And you all saw some of the parents up here just now. I want to take us a little bit more into the reality that calls on us to stop it. Let’s talk about brother Jason Harrison from Dallas. A young Black man who was living with his mother, the brother was mentally challenged. He was having a mental episode. His mother calls 911 to get some help. What she got was several cops came to the door. She went to answer the door and her son Jason comes behind her and he had a screwdriver in his hand, a screwdriver. When the cops saw the screwdriver, and these cops had their bulletproof vests on and all of that, they pull their guns out and they point them at Jason and then they start yelling at him, “Put down the screwdriver. Put down the screwdriver. Put down the screwdriver.” And Jason doesn’t do anything. He just stands there holding the screwdriver. And then they open fire. Shoot him down right in his mother’s front door. Jason falls over with his arms under him. You can hear the mother in the background. “You killed my son. You killed my son.” And these cops point their guns at Jason’s prone body and continue to yell at him, “Drop the screwdriver. Drop the screwdriver.”

Let’s also talk about Phillip White, a 22-year-old Black man, Vineland, New Jersey. About a week or so ago, the cops came to his door and arrested him. We still don’t know what they arrested him for, but they arrested him, put him into handcuffs, took him out of his apartment. And then after they got him out, they threw him on the ground. Then they began to savagely brutalize him. They beat Phillip. They kicked Phillip. They stomped Phillip. Then one of the pigs went to the car, the police car, and got a police dog and sicced the dog on Phillip. The dog bit Phillip in the face and along his body. Ten hours later Phillip White was dead.

Now these are just two of the many, many people killed by police in this country. In just the first 85 days of this year, 78 unarmed people were killed by the police, and that’s just the unarmed people. If you look at the month of March, police in this country killed 115 people, and that’s just in March alone. This poster makes real and concrete how widespread this problem is. And we need to make use of this poster everywhere we can on the days leading up to April 14th to enlist people in joining us in and disrupting business as usual. And we need to use it on April 14th to make people confront the reality that we’re dealing with and to challenge them that they got to get out there and join us in doing something about it. And to give people who are in the streets a sense that we are right when we go out into the streets to stop business as usual.

Now look, it’s bad enough that the police kill the people they are supposed to protect and serve. On top of that the whole system goes into motion to get the killer cops off when they do kill people. Their fellow cops maintain a blue wall of silence, or they tell lies to try to cover up these murderous deeds that these cops have done. The district attorneys quickly pronounce these killings as justifiable homicide, or they convene a grand jury and lead it to conclude that these killer cops committed no crimes.

Learn more/get involved.

Now in a very few cases, and it’s really very few, where a cop gets charged for killing people, the charges never match up to what they actually did. And in these cases where they get charged, the DAs just forget how to prosecute, and the killer cops get off.

But see, let’s not leave out the media, 'cause they get in on this. They take the police story and put it out there like it’s the absolute truth. Including when the cops kill somebody, if they can find even a hint of a criminal record, then that gets out in the media. Even when the person was doing absolutely nothing wrong when the cops killed them, they still want to get that hint out there that, oh, this must have been a criminal.

See, that’s bad, that’s horrible, but it doesn’t stop there, it doesn’t stop with the killings and the killer cops getting off. The cops and the whole criminal system injustice system in this country mistreat and abuse the loved ones of those they killed.

Look, and I don’t have time to get into all of the details I could get into, but let me just touch on a few things. When the cops killed Ramarley Graham in the Bronx, in his mother’s house, in front of his grandmother and his younger brother, after they killed him, they took his grandmother into custody, took her down to the police station, and interrogated the sister for hours. Her lawyer came down, demanded to see his client. They refused to let him go in, until they were finished interrogating and finally realized they weren’t gonna get nothing out of her to justify what they had done.

In Detroit a few years ago, police murdered seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones. They threw a grenade into the house—they broke into the wrong house to start with and then they threw a grenade in. Then a cop fired a bullet and shot her through the head. After they killed this little girl, they arrested her grandmother and tried to blame her for the little girl's death. Juanita [Young, whose son was murdered by New York police] knows this ‘cause she went up there to Detroit with me right after this happened, ‘cause we had to be up there with those people.

Now look, I know a lot of you all saw the video of the cops in Cleveland who murdered 12-year-old Tamir Rice. But then there was a longer video and in that longer video after they murder him, you see a young woman runs out. That’s Tamir’s sister running to try to comfort her brother. The cops tackle her to the ground, take her into custody and put her in the back of the police car, leaving Tamir there bleeding out, dying on the ground. And then later, Tamir’s mother comes, wanting to comfort her son, afraid that he was dying. They threatened to arrest his mother, made her get out of there, would not let her go see her dying son.

Think about the inhumanity of a system whose enforcers do things like this, again and again and again. And look, the way the police get away with murdering Black and Latino people, that’s bad in its own right. But it’s also a concentration of an overall program of suppression that has a genocidal thrust. It’s the way this system holds down Black and Latino people today. And it’s a continuation of the savage oppression that this very system has enforced on Black people since the very first Africans were dragged to these shores in slave chains. This is the ugly truth of what goes down in this country.

Now usually people just suffer the murder and the brutality that the police inflict. Too many people accept the lie that the people who were killed by the police deserved what they got. Other people get the message that there's nothing we can do about it, that the system is too powerful so we might as well just shut up and accept it.

But when Darren Wilson murdered Michael Brown in Ferguson, society was forced to confront the truth. And they were forced to confront the truth because people in Ferguson stood up, took to the streets, and stayed in the streets. [applause] I mean, the authorities threw everything they could find at those defiant young people: tear gas, rubber bullets, sound cannons. They put a curfew in on them. They mobilized the National Guard. But still those people stayed in the streets. The power of their resistance reached out to me and compelled me to go down to Ferguson to be with them a few days after Michael Brown was murdered. Actually Juanita went down with me too then. Seems like we went around together a little bit.

See these days, you see these talking heads in the media saying, well, you know, the protests in Ferguson, they were marred by violence. Look, I was down there and I’ll tell you what I saw. I saw defiant young people who refused to suffer this brutality and murder any longer in silence. [applause] I saw young Black men in street organizations who a week before had been fighting and killing, who got out of that and were standing together to demand justice for Michael Brown and to fight against police brutality and police murder. [applause] And I met people who welcomed me and other people who came down to Ferguson to be on the front lines of this fight with them. [applause] Give it up. Give it up.

Because the power of what people did in Ferguson reached out to the whole country and inspired others to act. And then this got taken to an even higher level when the grand juries refused to indict the cops who murdered Eric Garner and Michael Brown. People poured into the streets all across the country, blocking highways, blocking bridges, blocking tunnels. Several thousand folks up in Minnesota went into the Mall of the Americas, it’s supposed to be the biggest mall in the country. Well, that day it was the most shut down mall in the country. Folks were like, this is all that's happening here. Black Lives Matter is what’s happening here. All of that happened and more.

And look, that’s just some ideas of what might need to happen on the 14th.

Now look, it was inspiring to see these people from different backgrounds standing together in this, to see Black people, white people, Latinos, Asians, out in the streets together saying Black Lives Matter. [applause] This showed people who've been messed over by this system forever that if they stood up, others could be won to join them in resistance. It gave people a beginning sense that the system didn’t have it as together as they want us to think. That maybe we could do something about the attacks they bring down on us. That maybe we didn’t have to live this way.

And look, right in the middle of all this was the historic Dialogue that Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and dear brother Cornel [West] engaged in. [applause] The theme of this Dialogue was REVOLUTION AND RELIGION, the Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion. And it gave people a deeper sense of how a different way for people to live could be brought into being. And look, people can check this Dialogue out right...well, don't do it right now... after this thing is over, you can go up on the website revcom.us, ‘cause we put up that Dialogue and a film of it online.

Now all of this, the powerful resistance and the swirl of revolutionary ideas, was like a door got cracked open, and people could see a glimmer of hope that things could be different.

Well, the system came back at this. They came back with arrests. They came back with heavy charges. And they came back with lie on top of lie. I want to take one lie, one big lie that they told. And that's the lie that Michael Brown caused his own death. That it was his fault that he got murdered. See now, this is a lie that Darren Wilson, the murdering pig who killed Michael Brown, he's the one that told this lie. But the whole system has embraced it and is pushing it in our faces. (from the audience: The whole system is guilty as hell!”) You’re damn right it is. [applause]

And look, they tell us that Michael Brown didn't have his hands up. They tell us that he attacked Wilson, and that Wilson had no choice but to kill him in self-defense. Now when they tell us this, they're trying to give us a bigger message. And that message is that this whole movement of resistance to police getting away with murder is based on a lie. Well that's not true, sisters and brothers.

Mike Brown was just walking down the street when Wilson accosted him. Wilson pulled his gun out. Mike Brown ran to get away, then he turned around and then, yes, he put his hands up. And Wilson gunned him down. Now some people will say, wait a minute, Carl, you weren't there—how do you know he had his hands up? I know he had his hands up because I saw that right after they killed him, there was a whole bunch of people there who saw it. And they said the brother had his hands up and he got shot. There's even two white guys who just happened to be working in the neighborhood, and there's a video of them watching it, and then they go, oh, he had his hands up when the cops shot him. All of those folks said that.

Now the district attorney, he say it don't happen that way. He said, the witnesses who said Michael Brown had his hands up were "not credible." You see, this is a district attorney who put on an eyewitness to back up Darren Wilson's story, who wasn't even there. He felt that was credible evidence, when someone wasn't even there. But all those folks who were there, they weren't credible because they weren't saying what he wanted them to say.

Now Eric Holder and the Department of Justice embraced this whole lie and tried to shove it down our throats. Now this is important, because Holder came down to Ferguson—actually shortly after I did—like he was going to be some kind of savior. He had people thinking that: Look, if the locals don't give you justice, come see me, you can count on me. See, this is a part of another lie they want us to swallow—that we can rely on the people in power, that some of them are our friends. This is a big part of how they keep us under control. The truth is, the whole damn system is committed to unleashing the police. [applause] When they swagger through our neighborhoods like an occupying army, the whole system is behind them. And the whole system backs them up when they brutalize and kill people.

The system pushes these lies to confuse us about who's right and who's wrong. What they're trying to do is they're trying to slam shut that door that got cracked open. They're trying to double lock it. They want to close it so tight that we could never rise up again. And WE CANNOT LET THAT HAPPEN, sisters and brothers! [applause]

On April 14th, we've got to revive the spirit of Ferguson, that spirit of refusing to suffer the brutality and murder of the system in silence. We've got to revive it—and we've got to take it higher. We have to get back out in the streets, and we've got to declare that we're not backing down and that we are NOT going away. We have to say that we're determined to fight this on April 14th—and then coming after April 14th, we've got to continue building wave upon wave of resistance, even more powerfully, until we can STOP murder by the police. [applause]

We need to push the truth back out there. And we've got to put ourselves on the line as we do it. We can use these posters [pointing to Stolen Lives poster] in doing that, taking them into the streets, out on the campus or into school, into your neighborhood. We need to use them to polarize the situation, forcing them to look square in the eye of reality, and challenging them to join us in doing something about it.

Now this is a pretty big poster. But we need to make even bigger enlargements of this poster. HUGE enlargements—maybe even something like 30 feet. And then carry them into the streets on April 14th, like they're floats, you know. They need to be so big that by themselves they will capture the attention of people and break things out of the normal routine of society, whether we got a thousand people carrying it, or 10 people carrying it. These posters powerfully represent the hundreds of people the police kill every year. When we take them into the streets, we are carrying the justification for what we are doing, the thing that indicates we are right to do it. We're putting the horror of police murder out there for everybody to see. And we can't back down when we do this. If the authorities come to us and say, oh, you have to get to the sidewalk, we have to say: No. This needs to be out in the streets. This needs to be where everyone can see it. [applause]

And then leading up to April 14th, this next week, these posters have got to be everywhere. You know, they should be big. They don't have to be as big as the 30-foot one I'm talking about—they should be big enough to attract attention. When you do that—'cause I just came back from LA, we were at UCLA, we were at UC Riverside on Stolen Lives Days—they rivet people's attention. People wanted copies of the poster. They wanted to take pictures of themselves in front of it and tweet in and put it on social media. We need to be doing this for this next week, and we need to be recruiting the people whose attention is riveted by this poster, to act with us on April 14th to stop these horrors. People need to go to the website of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network that Cornel and I co-founded. That's stopmassincarceration.net. And we need to be working to drive people to that website. And we also should be working to drive people to the website of the Revolutionary Communist Party, revcom.us. Everybody needs to be going to these sites, finding out what's going on, getting a fuller perspective of what's behind what's happening, and getting organized and organizing others. People need to send in photos, reports, stories and vines to these sites, and we'll post them up, so that the people can get a sense of the growing nationwide movement of resistance.

In this way, we'll be making a huge move against police getting away with murder, and against mass incarceration—and also a move towards the transformation of all of society. We can do this, sisters and brothers. A whole lot of people want to see something done to stop the way the system gives a green light to killer cops. It's right beneath the surface, and sometimes it bubbles over, comes out in the open for people to see.

You saw it in Madison, Wisconsin—I actually saw it personally, but you can see it on the videos on the Stop Mass Incarceration Network site—when hundreds of high school students took to the streets last month after police in Madison, Wisconsin killed a young Black man named Tony Robinson.

You saw it on April 1st when people in the San Francisco area took over an immigration office. [applause]

You saw it when people in Philadelphia turned around a town hall meeting where the police chief was trying to convince them that they should not look at his cops like they were an occupying army.

And you see it in the response of students at college campuses like Duke and Oklahoma, where racist outrages have gone down.

Now look, I just want to say something serious to everybody here tonight and everybody who's watching on the live stream. It's good that you're doing that, and you're showing something—you're showing a certain understanding of things. But I have to tell you, it's not enough to feel like something should be done about it, but not to act to do it. [applause] It's not good enough to hope that someone else will do it. You've got enough awareness of what needs to be done or you wouldn't be here if you weren't aware of the problems. History is calling on us to act. The faces on this poster are calling on YOU to act. Don't let this keep going on. Don't let there be new faces to add to this poster. We have to END the situation where teenagers come up to Noche and talk about how they figure they'll be on this poster sometime soon. We have to stop this. We have to act. And YOU have to be a part of it.

When we act on April the 14th, we will be acting for and speaking to the people who want to see this horror stopped. And leading up to April the 14th, we can tap into the people who have that sentiment and enlist them to join us in the streets on the 14th.

'Cause look, brothers and sisters, it is illegitimate and unacceptable for this system to give a green light to its brutal murdering police. It's got to stop. And all these other horrors that this system visits on millions of people around the planet also have to stop: the wars for empire; the drone missile strikes; the horrible oppression that comes down on the sisters in this country [applause]; also what's done to gay, lesbian and transgender people [applause]; and also what they do to immigrants and what they're doing to the environment of the whole planet we live on. [applause]

All of this can be stopped. We do NOT have to live like this. And when we stand up, it lets us begin to see the truth of that. And it builds up our strength and our organization and understanding. And it gets us ready for the day when we COULD end all of this stuff, for real and for good. All these horrors can be stopped, and it will take a revolution to do it. [applause]

I just want to talk about one example of what we could do through revolution. Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, who I told you about a little earlier, spoke to this in BAsics, commenting on the 1998 police killing of Tyisha Miller, a 19-year-old Black woman in Riverside, California who was unconscious in a car. Her family called the police, she'd had a seizure. The cops came and they fired 23 shots into the car, hitting Tyisha 12 times and killing her. This is what Bob Avakian had to say about this:

If you can’t handle this situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way. Not only out of the way of this situation, but get off the earth. Get out of the way of the masses of people. Because, you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome. And frankly, if we had state power and we were faced with a similar situation, we would sooner have one of our own people’s police killed than go wantonly murder one of the masses. That’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re actually trying to be a servant of the people. You go there and you put your own life on the line, rather than just wantonly murder one of the people. Fuck all this “serve and protect” bullshit! If they were there to serve and protect, they would have found any way but the way they did it to handle this scene. They could have and would have found a solution that was much better than this. This is the way the proletariat, when it’s been in power has handled—and would again handle—this kind of thing, valuing the lives of the masses of people. As opposed to the bourgeoisie in power, where the role of their police is to terrorize the masses, including wantonly murdering them, murdering them without provocation, without necessity, because exactly the more arbitrary the terror is, the more broadly it affects the masses. And that’s one of the reasons why they like to engage in, and have as one of their main functions to engage in, wanton and arbitrary terror against the masses of people.

This is why we say we could do better. And this is why we say the people need to check out this leader, Bob Avakian, and check out and get with this revolution.

And everybody needs to be in the streets on April 14th, saying no more to police killing people again and again, and getting away with it. And look, do not tell me if you're white that this isn't your problem, and you don't have to act around it. [applause] Because what I'll tell you is that we need a lot more white people like Cindy Sheehan, doing what she did. [applause] Adding her voice to the cry that this horror has got to stop. You can't turn away from these horrors. You can't say it's not my problem. It IS your problem. These are OUR youth. These are OUR youth being beaten down in the streets, warehoused in prison, and shot down in the streets. I don't care if you're Black, Latino, Asian, white or whatever. These are OUR youth—and we have to STOP what's being done to them. [applause]

EVERYBODY needs to join the outpouring into the streets on April 14th to say that police getting away with murder must stop. If you refuse to act to stop this, you're saying it's OK. And I ask you: Is it OK for the police to gun down or choke people to death? [audience: NO!] Is it OK for politicians to excuse and justify these killings by talking about cops being heroes with a tough job? [audience: NO!] Is it OK for the system's media to swallow and then spit out the lies that the police cook up to try to cover up their murderous deeds? [audience: NO!]

OK, if you mean that, then you've got to put yourselves on the line on April the 14th. And, you have to go all out between now and April 14th to make it as powerful as possible.

April 14th—No Work! No School! Shut Down Business as Usual! Stop Police Getting Away with Murder!

Thank you, sisters and brothers.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/carl-dix-south-carolina-cop-caught-on-video-murdering-black-man-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

South Carolina Cop Caught on Video Murdering Black Man

Statement by Carl Dix

April 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Carl Dix

Carl Dix

Another cop caught on video murdering a Black man. This time the victim was Walter L. Scott, a 50-year-old man who had been stopped for a traffic violation. The murderer was Michael Slager, a South Carolina cop, who shot Scott 5 times, 4 of them in the back as he ran away. And this murdering pig didn't stop there. He handcuffed Scott's lifeless body, ran back to the spot where he initially confronted Scott. It appears Slager picked up the taser he had shot Scott with and carried it to where Scott lay and placed it beside the body, after shooting him in the back as he ran away.

This case was shocking, and not at all surprising. Shocking because you can see the cop chasing Scott and gunning him down as he tried to flee, AND because it appears Slager planted evidence to make it look like Scott was some kind of a threat. Also shocking because you see other cops come onto the scene and watch this evidence planting occur. But none of them said anything about it before the video got out.

Not at all surprising because there have been many, many cases of cops murdering people, including more than a few where the murders were caught on videotape. There have been many, many cases where witnesses to these murders have said that the cops planted evidence to try to justify their criminal actions. And in almost every single one of these cases, the system let the killer cops walk.

This time the killer cop has been charged with murder, but let's be clear. This would never have happened if there hadn't been a video that made it impossible to claim that the cop had reason to fear for his life. Slager hasn't yet been convicted for the murder that we can all see him committing. We saw Eric Garner get murdered by police last year, and the system still exonerated his murderers. The prosecutors may still forget how to prosecute in this case, and this killer cop may still be allowed to walk.

Don't get this twisted. The indictment of the cop who murdered Walter Scott doesn't mean that the system is working to provide justice in this case. The system was working the way it always works; well on the way to exonerating another killer cop, until the video came to light. The real message from this case is not that there is one bad cop who murdered someone and planted evidence to try to justify that murder. It's that police are still wantonly murdering Black and Latino people. And that the system still works to exonerate cops when they murder people. THIS MUST STOP!

Anyone with a shred of justice in their hearts needs to join in acting to STOP it by taking to the streets on April 14! to stop the “business as usual” of killing by police.

Carl Dix
@Carl_Dix

 

Watch Cornel West and Carl Dix Speak on April 6—

EMERGENCY:
The Police Are STILL Killing Unarmed People, and This Must STOP!
A CALL TO ACT

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/carl-dix-calls-for-huge-stolen-lives-installations-for-april-14th-actions-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Carl Dix Calls for Huge Stolen Lives Installations for April 14th Actions!  

April 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On April 14th, we've got to revive the spirit of Ferguson, that spirit of refusing to suffer the brutality and murder of the system in silence. We've got to revive it—and we've got to take it higher. We have to get back out in the streets, and we've got to declare that we're not backing down and that we are NOT going away. We have to say that we're determined to fight this on April 14th—and then coming after April 14th, we've got to continue building wave upon wave of resistance, even more powerfully, until we can STOP murder by the police. [applause]

We need to push the truth back out there. And we've got to put ourselves on the line as we do it. We can use these posters [pointing to Stolen Lives poster] in doing that, taking them into the streets, out of the campus or into school, into your neighborhood. We need to use them to polarize the situation, forcing them to look square in the eye of reality, and challenging them to join us in doing something about it.

DOWNLOAD & SPREAD: PDF for print | JPG for web | Banner-Size: English/Spanish
Banner-Sized are 10x15 feet at 200dpi and will print well up to 20x30 feet

Now this is a pretty big poster. But we need to make even bigger enlargements of this poster. HUGE enlargements—maybe even something like 30 feet. And then carry them into the streets on April 14th­, like they're floats, you know. They need to be so big that by themselves they will capture the attention of people and break things out of the normal routine of society, whether we got a thousand people carrying it, or 10 people carrying it. These posters powerfully represent the hundreds of people the police kill every year. When we take them into the streets, we are carrying the justification for what we are doing, the thing that indicates we are right to do it. We're putting the horror of police murder out there for everybody to see. And we can't back down when we do this. If the authorities come to us and say, oh you have to get off to the sidewalk, we have to say: No. This needs to be out in the streets. This needs to be where everyone can see it. [applause]

And then leading up to April 14, this next week, these posters have got to be everywhere. You know, they should be big. They don't have to be as big as the 30 foot one I'm talking about—they should be big enough to attract attention. When you do that—'cause I just came back from L.A., we were at UCLA, we were at UC Riverside on Stolen Lives Days—riveted people's attention. People wanted copies of the poster. They wanted to take pictures of themselves in front of it, and tweet in and put it on social media. We need to be doing this for this next week, and we need to be recruiting the people whose attention is riveted by this poster, to act with us on April 14th to stop these horrors.

People need to go to the website of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network that Cornel and I co-founded. That's stopmassincarceration.net. And we need to be working to drive people to that website. And we also should be working to drive people to the website of the Revolutionary Communist Party, revcom.us. Everybody needs to be going to these sites, finding out what's going on, getting a fuller perspective of what's behind what's happening, and getting organized and organizing others. People need to send in photos, reports, stories and vines to these sites, and we'll post them up, so that the people can get a sense of the growing nationwide movement of resistance.

In this way, we'll be making a huge move against police getting away with murder, and against mass incarceration—and also a move towards the transformation of all of society. We can do this, sisters and brothers. A whole lot of people want to see something done to stop the way the system gives a green light to killer cops. It's right beneath the surface, and sometimes it bubbles over, comes out in the open for people to see.

Excerpt from Carl Dix's speech at the April 6 emergency meeting on police murder. Go here for more on the April 6 meeting.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/taking-a14-to-the-chuy-garcia-election-night-event-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Taking A14 to the Chuy Garcia Election Night Event

April 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From readers:

A crew of us in Chicago went out to Chuy Garica’s election night event, April 7. He ran as a “voice of the people” against–and lost to–Rahm Emanuel, the cold-hearted present mayor of Chicago. We didn’t go there to talk to people about elections, and almost no one we met there wanted to talk about them either. We went there to challenge people about what they needed to be doing NEXT Tuesday, April 14, which is shutting the whole country down to end police murder. And huge numbers of people did want to talk about and get involved with that.

We started out in front with a big Stolen Lives banner, calling attention to it, challenging people with what it concentrated, and getting out materials and taking names of people who wanted to get involved. This was a progressive crowd. The majority were Black or Latino, with quite a few younger folks. So the message of “April 14–Shut It Down” struck a strong chord among many, including white people. People are closely watching the news and a number told us of their outrage at the recent police murder of a 17-year-old Black youth (shot in the back) in the northern suburb of Zion. Others spoke out about the video that had just gone up online of a cop shooting a Black man in the back in South Carolina. One important way we connected with people was calling on them to take pictures of themselves with the Stolen Lives banner and posting them on their Facebook pages. Quite a few stopped to do this. In a particularly powerful video, a Black student poured out his rage after just hearing about the South Carolina murder.

After an hour or so, people stopped arriving and we talked about calling it a day since everyone was bone tired. We had gotten a good response, distributed a lot of lit, and made some good videos. But someone said “let’s take this inside” since the event was open to the public. The police had already messed with us and forced us away from the main door and out onto the sidewalk. And there were signs posted on all the doors that no backpacks or signs on wooden poles were allowed. But our banner was not on poles and we had big pockets and purses for materials, so we decided to give it a try.

And that was when the fun really began. We unfurled our banner and started passing out material in the large hallway right outside of where Chuy was making his concession speech. It only took a few minutes for the police and building security to show up and tell us to stop. Instead, we started to agitate louder and called on people to start taking pictures–which a number did. We argued that this was a political event open to the public and we were here with a vital political statement that everyone needed to hear. There was a tense moment. More people stopped and pulled out their camera phones, we kept agitating and passing out material, and a whole crew of enforcers huddled off to the side. Then one of them walked over and said we could stay, as long as we did not block the hall.

Then things really took off. A sister from Ferguson, who knew Michael Brown as well as the revolutionaries who have been down there since August, stopped by and was just beside herself with excitement at seeing us. She made a video of herself with the banner, gave everyone big hugs and said she would be in the street in Ferguson on A14. Soon people began to pour out and it was all we could do to connect with everyone who was interested. Our crew repeatedly chanted “Every city, every town, has its own Michael Brown. April 14th—Shut It Down!” as the agitator called on people to get out their phones and take pictures of the banner and post them with #ShutDownA14. Literally dozens of people stopped to do this.

A number of people told us that they had already heard about A14, some said on Facebook. Two high school students said they were already planning their walkout for April 14. Others signed up to be organizers. And before we knew it, every single piece of material had been distributed. As we left, a white woman who is deeply drawn to A14 and had been talking to one of our crew told us “how much I appreciate what you are doing.” We made a slight correction—it’s “we,” not “you.” She laughed and said “yes”—followed by hugs all around.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/awtwns-the-horrific-murder-of-farkhunda-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

From A World to Win News Service

The horrific murder of Farkhunda

April 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

April 6, 2015. A World to Win News Service. Farkhunda, a 27-year-old Afghan woman accused of burning the Koran, was brutally beaten to death on 19 March by a lynch mob in the presence of a group of police who did nothing to stop them. The murder took place near the famous Shah-Du-Shamshaira mosque and shrine in the centre of Kabul, only a few hundred metres from the presidential palace.

Hundreds of men beat Farkhunda to the ground with their fists and wooden planks. Then they trampled her. She tried to struggle against them and was beaten again. This continued until she stopped moving. The men ran her over with a car and then set her body ablaze near the Kabul River.

Protest of murder of Farkhunda, Kabul, March 24Protest of the murder of Farkhunda, Kabul, Afghanistan, March 24. Some young protesters painted their faces red to bring to mind Farkhunda's bloody face as she resisted the mob. AP photo

This horrifying murder shocked the country, the world, and provoked protests and demonstrations following her funeral. Farkhunda, whose last name is not revealed, probably for the safety of her family, had just earned a degree in religious studies and was preparing to take a teaching post.

What led to her murder was her brave protest against the selling of amulets and charms by the mullahs and religious authorities. According to family members, she urged women at the mosque shrine not to waste their money on superstitious wares, arguing with the mullah who sold them at the mosque. In retaliation, the mullah took out a few burned pages from a fire pit and shouted, "This infidel woman burned the holy Koran." Men began yelling at her and the sparse crowd quickly congealed into a lynch mob.

Under pressure from the authorities, Farkhunda's family had to leave Kabul, supposedly for their own safety. It was announced that family members said she was mentally ill and had previously tried to commit suicide.

Such incidents are not uncommon in Afghanistan. Domestic and international media were slow to react until videos of her murder circulating on social networks sparked outrage in Afghanistan and abroad. Her funeral on 22 March was attended by thousands of men and especially women. Her coffin was carried exclusively by women, said to be an unprecedented gesture. The angry women chanted "Justice for Farkhunda!" and "Death to the killers!", and did not allow a prominent cleric to take part in the funeral.

Farkhunda's funeral, March 22.In an unprecedented gesture, Farkhunda's coffin was carried exclusively by women, March 22. AP photo

The biggest demonstrations condemning her murder took place the day after. Thousands of women and men of all ages attended. Some young protesters painted their faces red to bring to mind Farkhunda's bloody face as she resisted the mob. Protesters also chanted slogans against the officials and religious leaders who had initially justified the attack. They chanted, "Supporting crime itself is a crime," "We all are Farkhunda," "Ignorance, ignorance is the enemy of humanity" and "Shame on you, A and G," meaning Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani. Ghani was recently elected president with U.S. backing, and Adbullah, his former rival, occupies the new post of chief executive in a power-sharing deal brokered by Washington.

Protests against Farkhunda's murder were not limited to Kabul but also broke out in other major cities such as Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif. This support allowed her family to resist government pressure to distance themselves from their daughter and instead to publicly proclaim that they were proud of her defiance and courage. At the funeral they were able to mourn the death of their beloved along with the thousands who were present and the sympathy of millions around the world. Her brother Najibullah changed his family name to Farkhunda in memory of his sister and denied that she was mentally ill.

The Role of Afghanistan's Islamic Government and Religious Authorities

This murder threw a harsh spotlight on Afghanistan's brutal political system. Videos of the scene clearly show a score of armed police officers present but doing nothing to stop the lynch mob. The initial government reaction was to condemn Farkhunda, not her killers. The spokesman for the Kabul police chief called Farkhunda "an apostate," which meant that her murder was acceptable. According to Human Rights Watch, Abdul Rahman Ahmadzai, a top official in the Ministry of Religious Affairs, told the Kabul television station 1TV that if Farkhunda had done something "in opposition to the ayahs [religious verses] or the Koran, she’s not a Muslim, we justify the action of the people."

Some clerics also insisted that mobs have a right to defend "their" Islam at any cost. They went so far as to say that if the government arrested those involved in the killing, that would provoke "an uprising." All the official statements condemned people who insult the Koran rather than condemning the cold-blooded murder of this young woman. They implied that the mob members, whom they called "the people," were doing their duty.

It was only when they saw the outrage all over the country and the world that the authorities began to change their tune. President Ghani declared, "We are not going to allow mob justice," and the Afghan parliament stepped in to channel the anger by forming an investigation commission. An official investigator said no evidence was found that Farkhunda had burned a copy of the Koran. Later, the authorities announced that they had arrested 28 people, suspended 13 police officers and sacked the police spokesman. But this U-turn was no surprise because in the face of people's indignation, even the Taliban on 24 March condemned the murder of Farkhunda.

Obviously at this point all these reactionaries had little choice but to condemn the murder of this young woman. President Ghani knows full well that "mob justice" is an inseparable part of his regime and of this kind of regime in general, which relies on thugs, whether from the government overall or particular rival factions, to enforce their will in the name of the religion of the people and the will of god. In countries around the world, including Iran, to name jut one of many examples, mobs often act as unofficial enforcers of reactionary regimes, their state ideology and their values, along with the more official representatives of the state.

Some Points About the Importance of This Attack

It is amazing that even in a country that has been devastated by reactionary wars for more than 35 years, where air bombardments and other imperialist crimes created some of the bloodiest scenes in recent history, still the murder of Farkhunda was not and could not be treated as an ordinary murder. Rather, this murder concentrates some of the country's most important contradictions. The Western imperialists, led by the U.S., invaded and still occupy the country–in fact have made it clear that there is no near end in sight for their occupation–under the pretext of liberating women from the fundamentalists, but all they have brought is national ruination, more entrenched fundamentalism, and more oppression of women.

Farkhunda was brave to challenge the mullah and his wares, his so-called good-luck charms, because she knew they were useless and only for deceiving the people. The incident showed that there are women who despite being hemmed in so brutally do not give up and are not intimidated, but are determined to fight even though it might cost their life. It also showed there are many people who will offer their support despite the risks. Instead of strengthening religious fundamentalism as intended, this dirty and viciously backward act brought people to condemn and expose religious backwardness and its representatives, including those who hold state power. This struggle could also expose those who are running the crime scene from behind the curtain—the U.S. and its allies.

The Afghan authorities, the imperialists, the Taliban, domestic and foreign media, and even many activists and ordinary people who support the protests have been united in stressing that her murder was unjustified because Farkhunda was innocent of the accusation against her. It has been said that in opposing good-luck charms she was standing up for "real Islam" and should be considered a religious martyr. Whatever the facts may be, such a totally wrong approach could imply that her murder would have been justified if she had in fact burned a Koran. This stand objectively accepts the values of male chauvinism and religious obscurantism. It represents an authorization for mullahs or mobs to murder other women and men because they are not "real Moslems." Instead, what should be emphasized is that the murder of Farkhunda would have been a vicious crime even if she had burned a Koran. Nobody should be allowed to force anyone to accept what to believe or not believe. The possibility that the accusation against Farkhunda was false only makes the horror more obvious.

Even though the government officials who at first justified the murder retreated under the pressure of people's protests, it never even occurred to them to clearly state that her murder should be unambiguously condemned in any case. This shows that they have the same mentality as the mob that lynched her. What else could be expected from a regime whose rule is based on serving the imperialists, whose life blood is corruption, and whose legitimacy comes from religion and fundamentalism? The regime will never go far from these reactionary pillars that sustain it. It can only promote and enforce the oppressive social relations and values represented by the mullah at the Shah-Du-Shamshaira mosque and the mob that brutally murdered Farkhunda. This is what connects the mob, the mullah, the regime, and the imperialists who invaded and began occupying Afghanistan 14 years ago.

The protest of women and men against Farkhunda's murder must continue. It could be turned into part of a struggle for a better society, a society where there is no oppression of women, no religious rule, and no imperialist domination. Carrying out a fight throughout Afghan society against male chauvinism, fundamentalism, and imperialism would be an important step in such a struggle.

 

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/la-hundreds-march-in-death-by-cop-protest-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

LA: Hundreds March in "Death by Cop" Protest

April 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On April 7, hundreds of people marched in downtown Los Angeles to the LA Board of Supervisors to protest the killing of 617 people by law enforcement in LA County since 2000. The protest was called by numerous groups, including the Youth Justice Coalition as one of the main initiators/organizers. Cardboard replicas of coffins of people killed were placed at the doors of the Board of Supervisors building, forcing those offices to close for hours.

Protesters carry cardboard coffins representing people killed by policeProtesters carry cardboard coffins representing people killed by the police in LA County.

Downtown LA.Downtown LA.

A protester carrying sign for Kendrec McDade, who was murdered in 2012 by Pasadena policeA protester carrying a sign for justice for Kendrec McDade, who was murdered in 2012 by the Pasadena police, points to Kendrec's face on the Stolen Lives poster.

615 coffins lying on the streets in downtown LA.615 coffins lying on the streets in downtown LA.

 

 

 

All photos: Special to revcom.us

Die-in in front of the LA Board of Supervisors building.Die-in in front of the LA Board of Supervisors building.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/speak-out-at-uc-berkeley-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Speak-out at UC Berkeley:

From Families of Victims of Police Murder, Students & Young Revolutionaries: Heart-Rending Testimony, Powerful Calls to Act

April 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Tuesday, April 7, a powerful and inspiring speak-and-call to action took place at the University of California, Berkeley. The families of five victims of police murder gave heart-rending, defiant testimony about the murders of their loved ones, the abuse the system heaped on them after, and their path to resistance in the face of unspeakable, never-ending nightmares. They were joined by several UC Berkeley students and the Revolution Club of the Bay Area. All gave impassioned calls to Shut It Down on April 14! More than 75 people, many UC Berkeley students, attended. No one left unmoved, and the anger, determination, and energy in the room pointed to the deep basis and desire for April 14.

Berkeley, April 7From left: Vickie Showman, mother of Diana Showman; Laurie Valdez, wife of Antonio Guzman Lopez; Dione Smith Downs, mother of James Rivera; and Cyndi Mitchell, sister of Mario Romero.

Berkeley, April 7Laurie Valdez, wife of Antonio Guzman Lopez, with Angela Naggie, mother of O’Shaine Evans

Laurie Valdez's husband, Antonio Guzman Lopez, was killed by the San Jose State University police on February 21, 2014. She spoke bitterly, holding back tears, as she described how Antonio, a 38-year-old undocumented day laborer and father of a four-year-old son (Josiah) and stepfather to a 10-year-old daughter (Angelique), was shot through the heart after police rolled up on him while he was eating lunch. Their father’s murder rocked the children—and she fears Josiah will end up in juvenile detention, prison, and that the police would murder him like his father. “I can’t bring Antonio back,” Laurie said, determined that this not be the future for her children. “What I can do is fight.”

Angela Naggie, the mother of O’Shaine Evans, killed October 7, 2014 by the San Francisco police, spoke next. She said she still expects to hear him turn the key to the front door of their house and call out “momma, what’s for dinner?” Angela, who has been out on the streets continually fighting police brutality and murder in the six months since O’Shaine’s death, said, “I’m not going to stop until my last breath... I am fighting for justice. I will be out there on April 14 to shut it down. If we can’t have no justice then these police officers can’t have no peace.”


Laurie Valdez, whose husband, Antonio Guzman Lopez, was killed by San Jose police, speaking at April 7 speak-out at UC Berkeley


Dionne Smith Downs and Carey Downs, parents of James Rivera, a 16-year-old murdered by police in Stockton, speaking at April 7 speak-out at UC Berkeley


See other videos from the event here.

Cyndi Mitchell, sister of Mario Romero, killed by Vallejo police on September 2, 2012, drove more than 100 miles to get to the program. Cyndi said that Mario was sitting in front of their house when he was killed by police in a barrage of 40 bullets. And then she told how the police dragged out the tired lie—they feared for their lives. “You don't fear for your life when you are terrorizing a community,” Cyndi declared. “This officer jumped on the hood of my brother’s car and repeatedly shot his gun after reloading. My brother kept saying, 'wait, we have our hands up.’"

One of the officers who murdered Mario killed two other people in 2012 and has now been promoted to detective overseeing investigations of police. “We are fighting for change,” Cyndi said. “We’re out here stompin’ the ground, we’re marching for miles, we’re breaking our bodies down because it’s important to let people know that the system is not there to protect us. It is killing us... It’s important for everyone to come out on April 14 and to fight for justice. This can’t continue to happen.”

Next, Dionne Smith Downs and Carey Downs, parents of James Rivera, a 16-year old murdered by police in 2010 in Stockton, spoke. The police fired 48 shots at James after they forced the car he was driving to crash. “This is what the AR-15s did to my son,” Dionne said as she pointed to a large photograph being held by her husband showing James’ bullet-ridden body. Dionne remembered the last meal she had with James and touching his cheek. Dionne had been fighting for justice not just for James but for other victims of police brutality and murder in the Stockton area for five years. “I’m not going to go away. I’m not going to be blind. I’m going to fight until I can’t fight no more... On April 14 I’m going to kick Stockton ass...We’re going to shut it down!”

A Black UC Berkeley student, who grew up in Richmond, a poor, Black and Latino community north of Berkeley, said that the police are abusing their power every day and challenged other students to “get out of their bubble” and for different groups and organizations to unite against police murder. The president of the Latino Pre-Law Society exposed police murders and abuse as a “microcosm of a larger system.” He went on to ask the meeting, “How many lives have to be taken, how many families have to suffer before we stand up? This is a call to action!” A Black woman student read her poem–for the first time–a stirring wake-up call for people to break out of their routines and act.

A member of the Revolution Club read a quotation from BAsics by Bob Avakian (2:16) on the role of the police in murdering Tyisha Miller, a 19-year-old woman in 1998. In this passage BA speaks to the brutal way that the police murdered Tyisha and how this would be handled much differently in a society where the people had power.

After the meeting people took up flyers for April 14 and posters of the “Stolen Lives” Revolution newspaper centerfold, and stayed to talk and make plans for April 14.

See the coverage of the speak-out in the campus paper, Daily Californian, here.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/harlem-nyc-stolen-lives-truck-rolls-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Harlem, NYC

Stolen Lives Truck Rolls: A Sense of Collective Hope and Defiance is Getting Born

April 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From readers:

The A14 Stolen Lives Truck rolled up to a busy corner in Harlem. A big truck with a 6'9" by 12'10" banner of the faces of 44 people murdered by police. Heads turned. Our crew marched into the corner chanting “Every City, Every Town There's Another Michael Brown. April 14 Shut It Down!”

Stolen Lives truck in HarlemPhotos: Special to revcom.us

It was when we brought people over to the huge banner on the side of the truck, called on them to look at these people, real people, that some important things began to change. A collective situation, community, began to be forged as a revolutionary pointed to individual faces on the poster and told their stories. Four, six, a dozen people gathered close to the truck and others stood around the edges listening. Activists were no longer trying to have conversations with individuals spread out in all directions. They were focusing everybody on the truck, the 44 stolen lives, the revolutionary walking them through the photos and people would contribute what they knew. Time and time again someone would call a name, point to a photo and share: “Malcolm Ferguson, I was in middle school with him.” “Sean Bell, he was my uncle.” “Patrick Dorismond, he used to live on my block.” Joel Acevedo: “That's a damn shame. You said that was at Disneyland?”

Stolen Lives truck in Harlem

Pictures were being taken with the banner. Three people faced the 44, raised their fists to honor those who were murdered. The corner buzzed. But there were moments when a silence fell over those gathered as they breathed in the collective pain and outrage, as they listened to the stories, “Aiyana Stanley-Jones—seven years old ... Nicholas Heyward Jr. and Tamir Rice—12 years old....” Some wiped away tears, others did not try to hide them.

Sharing their own stolen lives: “My brother could be up there. They shot him in the back, right down the street, 10 years ago.” Others pulled up pictures on their phones. “See, I went to high school with him. He was 22 when they shot him 15 times for nothing.” The names taking them back to times, places. “Amadou Diallo—I was locked up when that happened.” “Sean Bell, that's when I came here from Jersey.” “Where's Trayvon Martin?” “That little boy, just playing in the park.”

Our group gathered around the truck: April 14, Shut It Down! THERE WILL BE NO BUSINESS AS USUAL! People stopped on their way home, on their way to work, were together plunged into the reality many of them shared, that walks with them. The ghosts that live inside them were brought out to speak, to rage. The experience that shaped their lives, the reality of Black people, and Latino people in AmeriKKKa poured out on that corner. They impacted others. A white woman from Australia stopped and took a photo in front of the banner. A couple from Sweden stepped into that circle and felt it too.

People who hate this were challenged “What do you tell a six-year-old? What are you going to tell her about where you were on Apr 14? 'I had to wash clothes that day. I had to go to go to work. I had to do what I always do when people were in the streets to shut this ugly thing down.' NO. I'll tell you what we are going to tell her: 'We're not going to pass this future on to you! We are not going to let the police keep killing people. You are not going to have to live in a world like that. And we mean it!' That's what you want to tell her too, and you want it to be real! A14 is real. We are going to do this. You don't want to tell her 'This is how it is. You have to accept it.' No you don't want to do that.”

DOWNLOAD & SPREAD: PDF for print | JPG for web | Banner-Size: English/Spanish
Banner-Sized are 10x15 feet at 200dpi and will print well up to 20x30 feet

Dozens of people took stacks of April 14 cards. All around the corner people we had just met were handing out the cards, and struggling with each other. A mother and her seven-year-old daughter handed out cards in bunches to people, and came back again and again to get more. People took group pictures in front of the banner. A young white couple watched from a distance. A person yelled out, “There are no white people in this picture. You want to see this stop! Come over.” They did. Got in the photo, signed up, and left with a stack of organizing materials. This was not an area with a lot of Latino passersby, but hundreds of Spanish A14 palm cards went out to Black people who wanted them for neighbors, friends, workmates. 

There was a certitude. On the 14th the message is going to be sent out around the country and the world that this will not be accepted. There will not be business as usual! We will shut shit down! As people were called on to be organizers for A14, there was no sense of 'if you don't do this it won't happen'. No, we're doing this. This is going to happen. It's a moral question. Are you going to stand on the sidelines? People lined up waiting to sign up and get materials.

Two NYPD went to the Starbucks on the corner. People blew whistles and dozens of people looked up from every corner of the intersection. The cops left without their coffee. The unwelcoming scene might not have been why they left, but laughter and wide smiles were everywhere as more people took more materials and whistles.

A young woman stood in front of the Stolen Lives banner and began to sing a song she made up on the spot. People moved in to listen and to film. She said that she would be an A14 organizer.

People came forward with one card clutched in their hand, walked away with 100. A young woman came back four times for more.

There were a few who argued that Black people were too messed up, but that held little sway for the hour and half on this corner. Neither did know-it-all cynicism. “I'm 59 years old and you don't know what I'm doing,” one man said as he looked down his nose at the incredible scene unfolding before him and refused to deal with the particular importance of A14. “No we do not know what all you are doing. What we do know is that you had one card in your hand when thousands of people will be out on Tuesday and you are not throwing in.” 

Over an hour and a half, 5,000 A14 palm cards and 300 Stolen Lives Posters were distributed and many, many stickers and whistles. Lessons were being learned. A sense of collective hope and defiance was being formed. Six days left. 

A14: SHUT IT DOWN!

Stolen lives truck in Harlem

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/zion-illinois-police-kill-17-year-old-black-youth-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Zion, Illinois Police Kill 17-Year-Old Black Youth

April 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From readers:

On Saturday, April 4, 17-year-old Justus Howell was shot twice in the back by Zion, Illinois police and died of his injuries. According to several witnesses, Justus was not armed when police shot him.

Justus HowellJustus Howell
Photo: Howell family

Justus’s mother, LaToya Howell, said he wanted to go to medical school and be a surgeon. "Justus was a young man murdered by Zion police," she said. "As he was fleeing from police, they killed my son. He couldn't have been a threat if he was running."

Family members have called for Justice for Justus.

We share their pain and feel the loss of another young life cut short by the police. We send our heartfelt condolences to LaToya and the Howell family and we stand firmly with them in their fight for Justice for Justus.

The funeral is Friday, April 10, and a protest walk is scheduled for Saturday, April 11.

The police are still killing unarmed people and this MUST STOP!

Memorial where Justus Howell was killed by policeMemorial at the site where Justus Howell was killed by police in Zion, Illinois.

Posters at convenience store near where Justus Howell was murdered by policePosters at convenience store near where Justus was gunned down.

Photos: Special to revcom.us

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/as-mexican-caravan-heads-east-from-chicago-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

As Mexican Caravan Heads East from Chicago: Confrontation at the Mexican Consulate

April 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

The “Caravana43” closed its visit to Chicago on Monday, April 6 with a press conference and march to the Mexican consulate. The “43” refers to the 43 young Mexican students from a teachers college in southern Mexico who were brutally attacked by police, kidnapped and disappeared six months ago. The three prongs of the caravan are made up of fellow students who survived this horror and relatives of the others who disappeared. These are people from the rural poor in Mexico who have left their homes and jobs to travel thousands of miles through cities and towns in the United States, and will join up in Washington, DC and then head to the United Nations to demand that the students be returned alive, to demand justice. See other coverage about the caravan and the struggle at this website (Caravana 43 Arrives in Chicago, and Interview with Massacre Survivor: Caravana 43 Brings Ayotzinapa Students' Struggle to U.S.).

Caravana 43 march to Mexican consulate in Chicago

Cops block people from the consulate

Photos: Special to revcom.us

The march to the consulate became confrontational, when some of the people struggled to take the street and a pushing match with the Chicago cops ensued. An outpouring of anger and emotion burst out as people rallied in front of the entrance of the consulate. Many were moved to give short and heart-wrenching testimonies, and the consulate entrance was blocked for a time. Besides the caravaners, a woman from Juarez, Mexico who now lives in Chicago testified about the murders and disappearances of women in that northern Mexican state. A young woman who works at a legal aid service in Chicago spoke about sexual abuse by police in the local jails. And there were many others who spoke out.

Chicago cops protected the consulate, blocking people's attempts to enter and pushing people out of the street (although they didn't bust anyone). This really enraged some of the people—it was so outrageous to have these pigs blatantly defending the representatives of the murderous Mexican government. One of the activists spotted the Stolen Lives poster and came and got a copy, holding it up in the faces of the cops, and quite a few others did the same; it just became a part of the whole protest. There was controversy among middle forces who supported the caravan, with some of the union people blocking some of the younger people who were trying to enter the consulate. Others spoke out with a tenor that, while that wasn't the tactics that they would use, they defended the people who were. They said that they supported the more radical ones because they were fighting for Mexico.

People are wrestling with how to carry forward the struggle around the disappearances. One of the women who spoke out said, “This is not just about Mexico, this is about the world!”

Watch for and support the righteous efforts of this caravan as it heads through Michigan and other states en route to the United Nations.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/the-time-is-now-the-potential-is-there-to-shut-shit-down-on-april14-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Editorial:

The Time Is Now, the Potential Is There, to Shut Shit Down on April 14

April 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Last Saturday, April 4, Walter Scott—a 50-year-old Black man—was gunned down by a murdering cop in North Charleston, South Carolina. Walter Scott—a man, his brother said, who loved to tell jokes and dance... a man who was allegedly “wanted” for failing to pay child support... a Black man, the cops claimed, who had a “broken taillight”—was shot in the back, brought down in a barrage of eight shots—murdered—as he ran away, unarmed, from a cop who had Tased him.

Let’s be clear. Murders like this happen all the time. All the time.

 

Tweet this... | Poster size...

The difference here is that this one was caught on videotape—a fact which only came to light Tuesday, April 7, three days later. It shows Scott running away, posing no danger whatsoever to anyone, while the pig Michael Slager shoots him. The video shows Scott’s killer go back to where the incident started and pick something up—something that appears to be a Taser gun—and then set it down near Scott’s body. The video shows Slager and his partner stand there indifferently while Scott bleeds out and dies (even though their report claims they attempted to give him CPR).

When this news broke—when the documentation of this horrifying, back-shooting, cold-blooded murder came out—then and only then did the authorities move, charging Slager with murder. And, again, let’s be real clear: this monster would not have even been charged if people had not stood up in Ferguson, if people had listened back then to those who told them to calm down. And note well that the pig who did this to Walter Scott claimed—and will almost certainly claim at his trial and may well get off—that he was in danger of his life. The same claim that Michael Brown’s killer made in Ferguson... the same claim they always make... and always get away with, as they did in Ferguson... and as they will here, unless people raise holy hell about it.

Nobody with any claim to oppose police murder, nobody with any claim to conscience can at this point stand aside from the call for major outpourings of people on April 14.

The night before this hit, in New York, Carl Dix and Cornel West addressed an emergency meeting on police murder. Over 400 people crowded into a church to hear them. We won’t try to summarize it here—everyone reading this should go to hear on this website the speeches of these two leaders, as well as the powerful testimony of the relatives of those murdered by police. You should listen to the hot fury and the compelling analysis... the whole history this comes out of and the raw experience of those who face it... the determination of a new generation and the support of prominent artists and people of conscience and the impassioned response of the audience. All this showed the potential for April 14 to enable people to go back on the offensive against this epidemic of wanton police murder. An offensive that is clearly and urgently needed.

FROM APRIL 6—

EMERGENCY:
The Police Are STILL Killing Unarmed People, and
This Must STOP!
A CALL TO ACT

Cornel West and Carl Dix Speak

 

Click here for video of the program and messages of support

This potential was underlined the next day, when Reverend Calvin Butts—who attended the emergency meeting—led a coalition of clergy in NYC in issuing a call for people to act against police murder on April 14. There is a need and a hunger to go back on the offensive, increasingly felt in society. This has been boiling and bubbling in different cities where the rage has bubbled over... this came out at the emergency meeting... it was reflected in the action of Reverend Butts (and in other actions reported on across the country on this website)... and the outrage erupting in the wake of the South Carolina murder underscores this. APRIL 14 MUST MEET THIS URGENT AND DEEPLY FELT NEED FOR RESISTANCE AGAINST POLICE MURDER.

At this point, there is tremendous potential to meet that need, potential that is more apparent and in some ways far greater than it was a week ago. After all the slanders, misleading lies, and promises... these monsters were caught on camera once again carrying out murder... and people in their millions are again outraged.

But even with the powerful basis for resistance, even with the growing potential, there is very hard and creative work needed to make April 14 really happen in the way that it must. There are people—there are thousands—who can and must be organized to help make this happen. But that is a process—even if a telescoped one in the days now remaining until April 14.

Listen. You can’t just give people some materials and tell them to go challenge people. You can’t just tell someone who expresses interest about a meeting that’s coming up. That’s part of it, yeah. But it’s not enough. It can be a big step to go from sympathizing to resisting... and an even bigger one to go from resisting to organizing others. When people give you their names, you have to stay in touch... you have to introduce them to others in their school or neighborhood and help them mesh... you have to listen and think and draw them out as they tell you what they’re running into—positive and negative, clarifying and confusing—and work with them to make sense of it all and traverse it. Even in the short time remaining, there is a need to work WITH people... solving problems together on how to reach out... and through that, laying the basis for this thing to really take off as the days get closer.

Now in all this, the two main websites that are fighting for April 14—this one, revcom.us, and the website of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network—stopmassincarceration.net, are absolutely critical resources. Here is where you'll find reports on what's going on, the questions that people are running into, and how to understand and answer them. With, revcom.us, you get the way this is part of the whole larger dynamics driving the world, and a whole struggle for communist revolution. These sites are invaluable; and the more that people can get into these together, digging into them and talking it over collectively, the more their impact can be amplified.

Speaking to revolutionaries, our role here is a) to keep people focused on the reality of the situation:

the horror of the systemic and systematic police murder of Black and Latino people, made so powerfully clear in the Stolen Lives poster;

the epidemic proportions of that horror;

the way this is built into the system but at the same time totally unnecessary;

what was accomplished by the actions of the fall, when thousands took to the streets in resistance;

the ways the rulers hit back against all that;

and the need now to powerfully re-take the offensive.

And b) on that basis, to work with people who come forward in many different ways, giving them the ways to be organized and organize others, ways to learn more as they do, even if they may not be ready or in a position now to drop everything or go 24-7. This doesn’t mean being modest in our plans or turtle-like in our approach; it DOES mean working with people to develop and realize all the things, big and small, that are needed to actually reach the goal of powerful, high-impact April 14 outpourings. April 14 is not “our thing” in some kind of narrow way— increasingly it is, and must much more be, the project of many, many people and forces, embodying the hopes of millions. And the work to bring that into being must reflect that.

The campuses play a crucial role in this. There were students in the house to hear Carl and Cornel, and there are students taking this up. In some places there are cores... more often, right now, there are ones and twos, sometimes people who didn’t know each other before. But the movement needs many, many more! And we can draw forward more, taking the Stolen Lives posters onto the campus and working with parents and other people from the hard streets to bring reality directly to the students. We can draw students forward as well by finding the ways to saturate social media with highlights from the April 6 program.

We must also continue to go into those hard streets, fighting despair and uniting with the seething anger and desire to take this on that boils right beneath the surface and has been bubbling over in the past few months... finding the ways with people in these communities to make the 14th a powerful, meaningful outpouring.

And it will be important to persevere in the struggle to re-polarize people of conscience, building on the very significant statements and positions that now have been taken by those courageous ones who dared to step out first, and fighting to break into the media with all this. Again, given this outrage in South Carolina, what was not possible yesterday may be possible today... and still more, beyond what we imagined, possible tomorrow. Those who have stood aside up to now must be re-faced with the reality both of the murder of Walter Scott and the stands taken by people like Cindy Sheehan, Alice Walker, Eve Ensler, Arturo O’Farrill, Charles Burnett, and the other people of conscience who have stepped out.

Watch the film now

Watch the trailer

More about the film

Finally, a word here on the Dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West, REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion. This dialogue has huge meaning and importance in many, many dimensions, giving people an entirely different sense of the world that is possible, and the kind of revolution we need to get to that world. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is world-historic—again, in more than one sense. So, obviously, it has importance above and beyond A14—but it is also in fact a tremendously powerful positive factor FOR A14. Experience does show the tremendous importance of people being exposed to this, how important and positive this dialogue is for raising people’s sights and strengthening their resolve to change the world. Yes, be out there all day fighting the power... challenge people— and unite with them—on the horror and outrage of police murder and mass incarceration... work with and bring forward and organize new people as you do, learning and leading... and, at the same time, be promoting and watching together this gift of a dialogue from BA and CW.

With all this in mind, and with daring, well-founded tactical plans that give full expression to the desire of people to be free of this horrific madness, we can and will go forward to make April 14 a success—and a springboard to take this way higher and STOP this insanity.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/the-police-murder-of-walter-scott-enough-is-fucking-enough-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

The Police Murder of Walter Scott: Enough Is Fucking Enough!

by Michael Slate | April 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

They’ve done it again. And I’ve watched the video over and over and over again until my face is wet with tears and my head is pounding in anger. How the fuck do you wrap your head around this?

I watch as a Black man, Walter Scott, is executed because he was stopped by a cop for driving a car with a bad brake light. He argues with the cop for a minute and runs across a field in South Carolina, his arms moving like he’s jogging. He’s running away from a cop, a predator, who watches Walter run away from him and calmly raises his arm and takes aim before firing off eight bullets. He stands there shooting like he was shooting at mechanical ducks in a carnival. Walter runs away, his back to the beast. Five bullets slam into his body—three rip open his back, one sinks deep into his buttocks and another hits his ear.

Walter Scott, who once had his picture taken in his Coast Guard uniform, Walter Scott, a man in his 50s who liked music and singing and the Dallas Cowboys, fell to his knees for an instant before his face hit the ground. Walter’s warm blood was leaking out of his body as his killer surveyed his prey and then walked up and handcuffed Walter Scott’s hands behind his back. And then this cop, this homicidal pig, nonchalantly walked back to where he started shooting at Walter, bent down, picked something small and black up off of the ground and then walked back to Walter’s body where he dropped it nearby. Was it his Taser? The same Taser he said Walter Scott had stolen from him?

We know how it goes. Was the cop getting his ducks in a row? Was he getting his story straight? And then the cop told his story. We all know how it goes. An angry Black man started a scuffle after being pulled over for a bad brake light. The angry Black man stole the cop’s Taser and the cop feared for his life. The angry Black man ran away from the cop and the cop feared for his life. The angry Black man kept running away and the cop shot him down. The angry Black man faltered, fell to his knees and then face down onto the ground. Did the pig smirk as he looked at Walter’s lifeless body and watched his blood turn the dirt into mud? Did he breathe a sigh of relief, confident that no one would question his right to kill an angry Black man who made him fear for his life?

“Oh shit, oh shit, shit”—five words that changed everything. See, there was a guy standing behind the trees and he had a cell phone. And he filmed what went down from beginning to end. As the cop started shooting at Walter, the cell phone videographer knew what he had was important and he kept on filming to the very end, capturing the initial confrontation, the murder and the cop picking up something small and black placing it near Walter’s dead body. When it was all over he brought the video to Walter’s family.

Walter’s father watched the video. Was there a moment when seeing the video of Walter running reminded him of one happy day when Walter ran like the wind and carried a football across a goal line, only to see his son shot down “like a deer” seconds later?

Walter’s mom said watching the video “tore her heart to pieces.” Was there a moment before she saw Walter fall down dead that she remembered wiping away the tears of a five-year-old boy as she rubbed his aching legs at night telling him that it was just “growing pains”? Did her heart crack into a thousand pieces as she realized that Walter wouldn’t be growing anymore, and did she even consider that perhaps the police thought Walter had grown too much already? 

When Walter’s brothers watched the part that shows him running, did they flash back to those early days when as boys they ran as fast as they could across South Carolina fields flapping their arms up and down, hoping against hope that one day they would fly, so high, and be free? And as they watched Walter's blood sink down into the dirt, did they think of the many thousands of other Black people whose blood nurtured the same soil going all the way back to the days of slavery?

Enough is fucking enough!

In the end, Walter’s family bravely demanded the truth be known. They turned the video over to the press, and suddenly everything got stood on its head. The cop was exposed as a lying killer, fired from his job and charged with murder. And right away, the press, TV news anchors, police chiefs, and government officials started saying this time everything is different—after all, there is a video and no one can deny what it shows.

Look, there’s no doubt that without that video Walter Scott would have been what his killer called him—an angry Black man who made a cop fear for his life. And we should think about that every time we hear a murdering cop explain that he had to kill because his victim was “reaching for his gun” or lunging at him in a threatening way.

We’ve heard this before. There were plenty of cell phone videos and eyewitnesses to the police assassinations of Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown, to name just a few of the recent murders. And cops are rarely indicted let alone convicted. Even when cops are convicted of murdering our people and our youth, they get off easy instead of just straight-up getting off. This system—with all of its politicians, judges, newspapers, and cops—will not suddenly see the light and mend its ways. This system has enforced and thrived on the most inhuman oppression of Black people for hundreds of years. And now, when it no longer needs Black and brown people, the system uses the cops to bring down a genocidal program against them. And no video is gonna change that.

I’ve written about police murders of Black and brown people all over this country for about 35 years. My heart has been crushed over and over as I listened to the stories people told me about the way the police assassinated their loved ones. My brain has been set on fire. It never stops. And goddamn, it has to end. Its time is up! As I watch the video again and over again, it’s like a kaleidoscope is spinning in my head, flashing image after image of savage oppression carried out against Black people over hundreds of years. It builds up and drops down into my mouth and I want to scream No More! Time Is Up! We cannot stand by and allow this system to continue crushing the lives of our people. It’s time to put an end to all this suffering. It’s time to put an end to a system that has thrived off of and enforced an unparalleled barbarism against our people for way too long. Its time has long since come.

The video of Walter Scott being murdered by a North Charleston, South Carolina cop and the truth it tells can help things be different in a way that really matters right now. The truth it lays bare can help mark the day when thousands and thousands of us decide that this genocide has to stop and we are the ones to stop it. It can help spur many thousands of us to go out into the streets on April 14th in cities all over the country and shut this fucker down! Our youth don’t go to school on that day, our people don’t go to work, and the entire murderous routine of this society is brought to a standstill.

Yeah, I’ve written about police murdering and abusing our people for 35 years but my heart has never hardened and I yearn for the day we end these crimes and the system that spawns them. And I’m gonna be in the streets on April 14—from can’t see to can’t see. Hope to see you standing next to me.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/a-conversation-with-two-students-about-a14-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

A Conversation with Two Students about A14: “Oh hell, yeah, let's do this”

April 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

From a reader:

I talked with two students today who were involved in the protests last fall. We met and they knew I wanted to talk with them about the whole struggle against police murder, what happened last year, and what could happen on A14 nationwide and on their campus. They were both pretty excited to be having this conversation.

Get Organized

Stolen Lives centerfold, organizing materials, and much more

I brought an enlargement of the Stolen Lives centerfold and plenty of stickers and palm cards and had them laid out on the lawn when they arrived. The first one who got there saw the materials and said, "Oh hell, yeah, let's do this."

First I asked them what they've been thinking since last year. What they thought about what happened and what difference it made. One of them said it was so important, it made a big difference that people fought back, but now it's too bad that everyone seems to have gone back to their regular lives. She said she herself hasn't been thinking about much else other than school work for the last month or so. The other one said that on her campus, it was as if for a minute all these people fought back and were thinking about things on a really big scale, about society, and since then they have just gotten really mean. I asked her what she meant. She said everyone is so vicious, criticizing everyone else about everything they say, telling them how problematic they are, that a lot of people are scared to speak at all. She said all that means is that nothing is happening. Everyone is expressing their feelings about everyone else, and nothing is getting done. No one is fighting or doing anything that matters.

I said that's important to recognize, and it's also important to back up a little. When people in Ferguson—some seriously oppressed people—tood up and fought back against the murder of Michael Brown, and millions of people across the country had their backs, something broke. All the lies this system tells about the people on the bottom being criminals, and that they are the problem with society... The lies it tells about the police, how they protect people from those nasty criminals who all happen to be Black and brown people... The lies they tell the oppressed, that no one cares about them, that they are the problem, and the isolation that creates... All that shattered. For a few months, people stood firmly on the grounds that the police are getting away with murder, that it's just not justifiable, that Black lives matter, and they fought like hell.

Both students agreed vehemently that this is what happened. I added that the system knows how much it mattered, and came down on people pretty hard, through violence, repression, heavy charges, and a whole media campaign that sought to vilify and criminalize protesters. One of them said, there is a bad idea out there at her campus that if everybody corrects everybody, that will somehow "trickle up" and create a kind of gradual change that will spread throughout society. She reflected: That is not how it works at all. It's just the opposite. What you are saying is true. You can change society, that is actually what will bounce back and change how people think and how they use language and all that. If you "start small" you never get anywhere.

I agreed. I told them what they see happening on their campus in a concentrated way is actually what happens on many campuses. It's part of what happens when people don't think of the system as a common enemy, when they don't know that there is a system at all, or when they think you can't beat the system. Then the best you can do is this fairly petty shit. One of them said, it's just another version of thinking people are the problem, people's ignorance, and in the meantime the system keeps creating all that ignorance on a mass scale. I agreed.

I said police murder is an epidemic, it's outrageous, and it will keep happening or get even worse if people continue to do nothing. And the people who fought back last year are heroes. They smiled. I said really, you and thousands of others put some things on the line and it changed how millions think about what's acceptable.

Now we are looking for leaders to be part of taking all this to a higher level. It's not what everyone is doing every day right now. It's going to take some people to step out, call on others, tell them why it matters what they do or don't do... but the potential is there. A lot of people don't want to go back to "getting used to it," and more important than what people want is the fact that the police are still killing people.

We talked about a few other aspects of this, including one of them raising how important it is to get people who have experienced all this oppression talking to people with a wider influence. I agreed with that too, and we had some disagreement over the need to appeal to the people in power, but agreed that mass resistance is an essential element for any kind of real change, and the outrage of people, people refusing to accept anything less than an end to police murder, was both inspiring and necessary. One of them was more convinced that all this should be part of a process by which at least some people refuse to stop fighting until we bring down the whole system, while the other thought more that resistance was necessary to force concessions and important reforms. OK. So let's do this.

I asked them what they thought A14 could look like on their campus and they started to talk to each other. They excitedly imagined filling the center of campus with students and signs. They talked about professors and student groups they could get on board, and how they could organize a walkout at noon. One of them said they could connect this to the campus demands that one student group has raised about that has to do with providing more resources for Black students on campus, and the other said they should not try to make this about that. I encouraged them to go to that group and make the argument of why they should throw in, support, and take responsibility for a massive demonstration to STOP POLICE MURDER, and encouraged them to make the argument they made before, about how you can actually change society, and that "bounces back" into smaller communities and changes how people think and act. Then if they want to bring their demands into a protest that is mainly about putting an end to all police murder, that's cool too. They liked this.

They took stickers and palm cards and asked me to make a version of a flyer they saw for A14 with the info for their campus, and they would print it and talk to everyone they knew and put the flyer up in dorms and around campus. I left with them the enlargement of the centerfold too, and one of them took it and said she would take it to her classes and use it to start conversations about the walkout.

I told them it really fucking matters that they are going to take responsibility for this, because it's exactly what's needed. They smiled proudly and one said, "Fuck yeah, we will." I said they should talk to each other and feel free to call me anytime. They said they would. I told them with all they were noticing on their campus with the ramped-up criticisms and "problematic" name calling, they might run into some unpleasantness, but they should remember everything we've talked about, why it matters what people do, that there is a system and that is a common enemy, police murder continues and it's on us to stop it, and that a lot of this criticizing results in nothing getting done, the system is off the hook. Make people deal with that, and invite them to be part of something real that can really make a difference. And be in touch with each other. And let's talk about what comes up as you go. I'll check in on Tuesday, but keep talking to each other and call me anytime before then.

They left in high spirits, talking about concrete plans and how they can use tomorrow to talk to this or that person, do centerfold pictures, print the flyers, get this professor to put one on their door, and so on.

We'll see what happens.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/chilling-implications-of-the-doj-justifying-the-murder-of-michael-brown-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Chilling Implications of the DOJ Justifying the Murder of Michael Brown

April 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

I love the recent Revolution article on Michael Brown, which shows the lies of the Department of Injustice report clearing Darren Wilson. ("DOJ Report: Coverup for the Police Murder of Michael Brown")

I have some additional thoughts I think are important on this.

A few weeks ago, the first Black U.S. attorney general, under the first Black U.S. president, decided to clear Ferguson cop Darren Wilson for murdering Michael Brown. Another report, issued at the same time, criticized the Ferguson Police Department's racism.

What's really chilling (and worse) about this, is the report's sentence: "There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson's stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety."

Yes there's a conspiracy, to get the cops off

A clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, given in 2003. Bob Avakian is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Watch the entire film online at http://revolutiontalk.net. And get into Bob Avakian.

Here is the Black U.S. attorney general telling police how they can get away with cold-blooded murder, especially of Black people, and also of everyone, including if you're in a racist police department. Just say you subjectively believe that you feared for your safety. Your belief could be completely irrational, and you can kill with impunity. You can be a racist MF who thinks that all Black people by definition are a threat to your safety, and you can kill with impunity, and the Justice Department will clear you.

Every cop accused of murder (or any crime against the people) who has an attorney worth their salt will use this report to bolster their defense, on a local, state, and federal level. And in the court of public opinion. This is a massive attack on the people. This sentence alone should have provoked widespread demonstrations and protests and more. But it didn't, maybe at least in part because it was issued by the first Black attorney general under the first Black president.

This is even MORE true in light of the other DOJ report, criticizing the Ferguson PD's racism. That report did its job of getting people to focus on something other than the fact that the Black president and Black AG just told all the pigs of the country how to continue to kill Black (and other) people with impunity, even in the face of massive public outcry and demand for justice.

Bob Avakian's quote about Tyisha Miller, while addressing a very different circumstance, is certainly to the point:

"If you can't handle this situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way. Not only out of the way of this situation, but get off the earth. Get out of the way of the masses of people. Because, you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome..."

I would add that if you're a cop in any society, and you fear for your life when you go to work, go get another job. You are unqualified to do anything legitimate, and certainly should not have access to weapons that can harm other people or the ability to invoke state authority over anyone, under any circumstance.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/university-of-houston-on-stolen-lives-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

University of Houston:

On Stolen Lives

April 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following are comments from students at the University of Houston on the Stolen Lives poster.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/building-a-core-for-shutdowna14-at-an-arts-college-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Building a Core for #ShutDownA14 at an Arts College

April 10, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

There were 4 students from an arts college, one SMIN student activist from another school and a couple of veteran revolutionaries who sat down this afternoon to make plans for A14.  We started by going around the room and introducing ourselves and talking about why we were there.  Some students spoke in more depth. 

One described how he saw A14 as an historic turning point about whether or not people in this country were going to allow people to be murdered by the police for no good reason whatsoever.  He talked about being out on the street the day before in front of the school with someone holding a big Stolen Lives poster and a white guy with his family walked by.  The person holding the poster called on the guy to look at the poster because it showed unarmed people who had been murdered by the police.  The guy looked at the poster, turned to the person holding it, flipped him off and said, "I am a cop.  Fuck you!"  This really stunned the student because it showed that the police really didn't give a fuck about murdering black people. 

Another woman talked about A14 was not something aimed at individual cops, but at the system which allows the police to systematically murder black people.  She talked about how we need a total change—a revolution—to put an end to this.  She also talked about how she had made presentations about A14 in three of her classes.  One went well, but the other two met either opposition or indifference and this had really bummed her out.  People helped her look at this more in perspective.  Yes there will be ignorance and opposition, but we do have right on our side—and we carry the hopes of millions with us.  This cold-blooded police murder is intolerable.  Other students' statements were briefer, but they too conveyed a deep hatred of what is going and a determination to put something on the line to stop it.

Next, a veteran revolutionary laid out a basic framework and plan for how the students in this whole part of town could play an important part in shutting shit down on A14.  It had 3 parts: 

1) in the next 5 days concentrate on calling out the students in all the surrounding colleges to be part of a14. 

2) Early on the day itself, take some type of bold, creative and attention grabbing action to get the day started on the right foot. 

3) Then draw together as many students as possible to form a powerful contingent to march into the main A14 convergence and further unleash people's enthusiasm, courage and determination to shut shit down.

 People liked the overall plan and talked about the importance of the difference aspects.

Get Organized

Stolen Lives centerfold, organizing materials, and much more

Then we got down to what people needed to do to make this happen.  At first people were quiet.  Then one woman said that she works with graphic artists and they could do a big banner.  Another woman said that she was a photography major and people at her studio could create flyers and posters to get up around school.  Another student is a film major and she said that she has some friends who are planning to make a documentary of the day.  As we talked about getting the word out on campus radio, a different student remembered that he knows someone who is down with A14 who also works at the station—so his job was to contact her right away.  Two students couldn't stay longer because they had classes.  But both of them took stacks of materials and said that they would make presentations and get stuff out in their classes.  There were whistles on the table for people to take and one student explained to the others that they were to call people out to stand up to police terror—like a woman being attacked yelling "fire" instead of "rape."  People took some.  The other three students stayed a little longer to take pictures of themselves with the Stolen Lives poster next to something showing their school name.  They were going to post that on-line and send it to SMIN. 

At the end, one student, who has been digging into BA's new synthesis of communism stayed to talk longer about why we need a revolution and some of the critical lessons that BA has summed up from the history of the first wave of communist revolutions.

But there is still a lot of work to be done and this developing core of students—all of whom have each other's contact info—need to work together, along with the veteran revolutionary, for these plans to come to fruition.  Right after the meeting an email went out to all contacts at local colleges—telling them of the plan and calling on them to get involved to make it happen.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/families-of-stolen-lives-at-fruitvale-station-screening-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Families of Stolen Lives at Fruitvale Station Screening

April 10, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader

April 7 was a rare rainy and cool evening in Los Angeles. But there was the a lot of warmth inside the campus theater at University of Southern California in Los Angeles, as about 60 of us joined several families of Stolen Lives, including “Uncle Bobby” (aka Cephus Johnson, uncle of Oscar Grant) for a special screening of Fruitvale Stationa film that’s an endearing, humanizing portrait of Oscar Grant’s life and death. Oscar was a 22-year-old Black youth murdered by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) cops in Oakland on New Year’s day 2010. It was an emotional and inspiring.

"Uncle Bobby" flew down from the SF Bay Area for this occasion. It was initiated and hosted by Professor Rafael Angulo of the School of Social Welfare at the University of Southern California. Both are actively promoting the Call for no business as usual on A14 to fight against police brutality and murder.

One USC professor brought her whole seminar class to the screening. Besides a couple of USC professors and a couple of dozen USC students, there were residents of LA’s Skid Row and South Central LA, activists with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) and A14, and members of the Revolution Club LA and Revolution Books LA. Some had come from the march and rally protesting “death by cop” earlier that day. (See "LA: Hundreds March in 'Death by Cop' Protest")

In his welcome remarks, Professor Angulo said it wasn’t going to be a nice little film night but had everything to do with what’s going to happen next week, referring to the call for #ShutdownA14. As the movie rolled, you could hear many in the audience crying audibly during the film. Some of the Stolen Lives family members were crying and holding each other tightly during the scenes of Oscar being brutalized and murdered by the cops.

When the film ended, Professor Angulo introduced the families members and invited them to tell their heartbreaking story of losing their loved ones, which they did with a lot of grace and courage. “Uncle Bobby” said he usually does not watch the movie all the way through. This night he did, and had to take a few moments to gather himself and collect his thoughts.

The sister of Michael Lee Nida II described how he was unarmed and gunned down by Downey cops on October 22, 2011 as he was crossing the street after buying a pack of cigarettes. His mother later spoke to how this experience opened her eyes as to what Black and Latino people go through, and how it challenged her trust in cops coming from her white conservative background living in a suburb of Los Angeles.

Over half the audience signed up to be a part of April 14th and almost 2,000 palm cards and several hundred posters were taken by those who came.

October 22, 2014Family members of Ignacio Ochoa, at October 22, 2014 protest. Photo: Special to revcom.us

Tears flowed even more heavily as18-year-old Victor Ochoa, the son of Ignacio Ochoa, recounted how his dad was murdered by Compton police in 2012. He spoke of how much Oscar Grant reminded him of his own loving relationship with his dad who was trying to find work to support his family, and how his dad was gunned down while riding a bicycle, wearing earphones and unable to hear or understand the English commands of the pigs riding up behind him. When a neighbor came on the scene and asked what’s happened, the cop said “nothing, it’s just a Mexican.” Victor ended simply with “it must stop.”

“Uncle Bobby” spoke movingly of his love for Oscar. He connected the need for continued mass and massive resistance and A14 to how the militant protest in Oakland after Oscar’s murder was the only reason the pig Mehserle, who killed Oscar, even ended up getting arrested, convicted and going to jail for 11 months, for the first time in California history. He said the judge in the case asked the family to make the protestors go away and how he is glad the family never did that, giving jury instructions in such a way to minimize Mehserle’s jail time, and declaring at one point to the family that “we just gave you a Black president” as in what else do you want!

He spoke about how every 28 hours, a Black person is killed by cops, security guards, or vigilantes in the US, but when we add up all the ones that are unreported, and the Latino and other lives stolen, it may well be way more, like one every 8 hours! This was before we all learned of the police murder of Walter Scott.

There were several thoughtful questions from the audience, including about whether police murder of Black people is systematic and what it will take to really end it. Someone from SMIN spoke to the brave uprising in Ferguson after the police killing of Michael Brown, and the mass protests nationally after the non indictment of that cop and the cop who murdered Eric Garner, why there is a crossroad right now confronting all people of conscience to get back in the streets, re-seize the initiative, and that this murder must stop and to ACT ON THIS A14, including shutting down USC and the surrounding area.

Dozens of people signed up to be contacted, and many left with an armful of their A14 organizing kit, of stacks of palm cards and posters for shut it down A14 convergence and the Stolen Lives poster – as they viewed the giant banner of the latter in the hallway coming out of the theater. One professor said he wanted to put the Stolen Lives poster “in strategic places” on the campus, and some of the students were weighing options on how to shut shit down on A14 at USC and beyond, coming off of an emotional but inspiring evening to join together to stop this horror in our society of murders by police.

The profound impact of the film and the families speaking out was clear – the moral authority and certitude of “this must stop” resonated with the diverse audience. This needs to be multiplied many fold as we get into this weekend with the call for Stolen Lives days in the neighborhoods. I hope many more Stolen Lives families will seize on this moment to speak and compel people to ACT.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/seizing-every-opportunitiy-to-build-for-april-14-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Seizing Every Opportunity to Build for April 14

April 10, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a member of a Revolution Club:

I am currently working two jobs and attend school by night so at times it can be very difficult for me to make it out to the Revolution Club meetings or the discussions at Revolution bookstore let alone make it to some of the powerful demos around town. I definitely try my best to be involved and maintain communication with my fellow comrades on what needs to be achieved and how we can go about that but for the most part my jobs and school can really take up a lot of my time, unfortunately. I have had to call out from work many times and to be quite honest I have NO problem with that, after all the movement needs me, but my sick days are piling up and I’m afraid I can’t afford to miss more time off work. I have been trying to spread the word around #SHUTDOWNA14 but as I just mentioned a lot of the times when the Revolution Club goes out to do demos I am always caught up in school or work and when I am free I have this unsettling urge to be involved but many contradictions come into play for example sometimes transportation gets in the way and considering I am a woman and I live in a rather dangerous neighborhood and I refuse to take public transportation by night unless I absolutely have to take those risks.

With that being said I have been pondering on how I could really contribute to this movement and finally pass out all of the materials (flyers, whistles, newspapers, posters etc.) that have been collecting since I heard about the shutdown. Finally I took it upon myself to take advantage of the time in between work, school and home. Yesterday I had a couple of hours of “free” time so I decided to take a trip down to the community college I attend and pass out flyers, put up posters, and talk to people there and along the way about their thoughts on the issue of police brutality and how they can organize and help support the shutting down of April 14. I was alone but I felt rather confident in my training and before I left the house I did an extensive amount of research on the issue either by reading some of the articles out on revcom.us regarding police brutality as well as referring to the Stop Mass Incarceration Network website for some guidance and watching the video clips from Revolution—Nothing Less.  I felt more than prepared.

I took the bus to school and as soon as I got on I sat down and began talking to the people next to me. “I want to show you guys something, take a look and let me know what your thoughts are...” I first talked to a young boy probably around the age of 19 who was on his way to work; I showed him the stolen lives poster that has been circling around Shut Down A14. I could tell he was rather intrigued by the poster and took a long look at it examining every person that had been murdered at the hands of the police. He was quite appalled. He said he had only heard about this on the news but that in his opinion it wasn’t hard to believe that the police would go to such extremes. As I spoke to him I noticed that people on the bus were staring at us in complete interest. I noticed a man who was listening in on our conversation and who then asked to see the poster. Immediately he said “This shit has been going on since I was your age.” The man was probably about 50 years old. He included “The cops shoot people dead in the streets and sometimes even in their own homes and get away with it, this MUST stop. Just last night a cop shot another unarmed black man.” He was referring to the murder of Walter Scott who was just shot recently by police in South Carolina. We discussed revolution and uprooting the system to change these types of monstrosities and he completely agreed. He said that he was in prison for some time and that there is no hope for people who get out of prison, after he expressed his frustrations he took a few flyers to pass out to his family and friends.

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As he stepped out of the bus one woman also asked to see the poster. She looked at the images and asked “Why?”... “Why do police shoot at people when they have their baton, a taser gun, a bullet proof vest, and training to do their job without having to kill? Why? They always say that they fear for their lives, but if you have all of that training and you still fear for your life when you are dealing with someone who is unarmed and has no real way of causing harm to you then perhaps you are in the wrong business and maybe you should rethink your career choice.” She discussed the politics involved in all of this and especially how they came into play when the people in Ferguson rose up after the murder of Michael Brown. She too was appalled by this, she mentioned she worked in ministry and took a big stack of flyers to pass out at the churches she volunteers for. Aside from these important encounters the bus ride was full of discussion amongst the people themselves on this issue of police brutality.

As I got off the bus and walked the rest of the way to school I passed out more flyers to the people on the sidewalks. “Join us for a day of protest against police brutality! Say no more to Killer Cops!” Almost every person I walked by took a flyer and stopped for a bit to discuss what the flyer was about. I encountered a couple who said that they had just heard about the murder of Walter Scott and as a matter of fact had seen one of the demos in East LA on black lives matter the day before. They were very interested and took a few flyers to pass out as well. One man I came across was so inspired by this that he thanked me for taking the time to spread the word on this. He said he was probably going to have to work on that day but I mentioned to him that if he couldn’t make it to the protest on that day that he could still contribute in any way or organize and spread the word. He agreed and took a few stickers with him to wear on that day in support of shutting down April 14.

I finally arrived on campus and as soon as I walked up I saw a couple and as I debated as to whether or not I should hand out some of the last bit of flyers I had, I overheard their conversation. “I hate capitalists!” the girl exclaimed. “I just despise capitalism!” I immediately came over and handed them a flyer. They said that they too had heard about the shooting of Walter Scott and were just horrified that this type of bull shit was continuing. They seemed very glad to hear that there was a movement organizing against this and she too took a few stickers to pass out. So far it was an incredible experience to have encountered so many people that not only sympathized with the movement but were outraged by the continuous murders of Black and brown youth by the police but were also more than willing to take flyers and stickers to pass out to their friends and colleagues and spread the word for this movement.

When I got on campus my main mission was to put up as many posters as I could. I spent almost an entire hour putting up posters all over campus when I noticed that some of the campus police were taking them down. And not only were they taking them down but one cop even ripped one off the wall as if it gave him intense satisfaction in doing so. I immediately confronted them on this and asked “Why are you ripping these posters down?!” He responded by saying that he had received orders by his sergeant, who had been “watching me on camera” as I was putting them up, to take them down because I didn’t have a school permit to put them up. Most of these posters were up on bulletin boards and to my knowledge I thought it was free range considering there were many posters up advertising restaurants, massage parlors, school events, houses for rent, etc. So I asked “You mean to tell me that ALL of these posters have permits to be up here?” The cop immediately said “Yes.” I honestly found that very hard to believe so I asked again. This time he responded, “Well, we received specific orders to take down your poster.” And when I asked him for the ripped posters in his hands as he handed them to me he said “Oh, it’s not that I disagree with this or anything, I didn’t mean to rip it down.” As if that would make the matter any better. When I asked him for all of the other posters they had taken down he said that he couldn’t give them to me because his sergeant wanted to see ALL of them. I then looked over at his cart and noticed a huge stack of posters that I had just put up. I grabbed all of them, put them in my bag and handed him only one. “If your sergeant wants to see them, he can take this one.” I then went ahead and asked how I could go about getting a permit; he suggested I go to the campus police office and inquire there and said that I could only post up posters that were “approved” by them. If that doesn’t sound like BULLSHIT then I don’t know what is. I was so outraged by this.

To be quite honest this doesn’t surprise me nor does it demoralize me. I immediately contacted some of my comrades in hopes that they could help guide me on what I should do next. They were the ones that suggested I write to SMIN and revolution paper to get word out on this. Aside from this really fucked up encounter with the campus police and the fact that I had to leave with a bag full of posters that I intended to get out, I must say the day was full of excitement and it has left me with high hopes for what is to come. I am only one person, this I know and I am aware that it can potentially become dangerous for me to go out and spread word on this alone considering my encounter with the police and all and although I try my best to stay involved and work collectively with the Revolution Club sometimes time just doesn’t allow for it. I am restless, eager to spread word on this. I am always on the bus, at work, or in class and I always come across opportunities to pass out papers and flyers and I just thought, why not?

The other day my sister came home with two ShutDownA14 posters and said she got them from someone who was passing them out at Olvera Street in Downtown Los Angeles and she thought I would be interested knowing that I am politically involved. I thought this was funny, coincidental, and truly fucking amazing! Great job to the comrades out in LA putting in work!! This really inspired me and showed me how much getting out there and spreading the word really makes a big difference. The goal of this letter is to sum up my experience and to share with you all that there is a true potential for this movement. We must continue to spread the word in any way that we can, we must mobilize and organize and prepare the ground and the people so that we can go all out for April 14. No more green light to killer cops!! Shut It Down!!!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/381/from-father-bob-bossie-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

From Father Bob Bossie, SCJ

April 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This is an email Bob Bossie sent out after signing the Call for April 14:

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network and others (Alice Walker, Cindy Sheehan) are calling for a mass outpouring of protest Tuesday, April 14, against the police killing of so many persons of color. I endorsed this most fitting call and recommend you do so as well. Click here. This is especially fitting given the killing of 50 year old, Walter L. Scott in North Charleston, yesterday. While the police officer has been charged with murder following the release of the video, it's highly unlikely he would be so charged otherwise. This is all part of a system of racism and oppression that is lived out each day as people of color are hounded, harassed and killed with little accountability.

We saw this very activity played out a while ago with the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The grand jury and the Department of Justice (DOJ) found that there were not sufficient grounds for charging Officer Wilson for killing him. Most persons accepted the DOJ review of the case. But think about this contradiction: the DOJ report said there was widespread, systemic racism in the Ferguson police department and, by inference, Michael was essentially responsible for his own death. Are we to believe there is no connection between the two.

Yesterday I came across this response which speaks to a better interpretation of the facts.

What are your thoughts on this situation.

Peace,

Bob Bossie

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/382/los-angeles-new-york-city-press-conferences-calls-on-people-to-hit-the-streets-on-april-14-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Los Angeles and New York City Press Conferences Call on People to Hit the Streets on April 14

April 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Thursday, April 9, in Los Angeles and Friday, April 10, in New York City, press conferences organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) called on people around the country to act on April 14 against the continuing murders, especially of Black and Latino people, by the police. The press release in NYC said: “Yet another unarmed Black man shot down like an animal by police, left to bleed out in total disregard of his humanity. Caught on videotape. This Must STOP! People are mobilizing. There will be mass RESISTANCE with defiance, courage, conviction and conscience answering a Call put forth by Cornel West and Carl Dix and joined by families of the victims and by prominent voices: #SHUTDOWN APRIL 14!”

In Los Angeles, in addition to a statement from SMIN, Rev. Frank Wulf, pastor of USC United University Church, passionately called on people of all religious faiths to stand up on April 14 with others throughout the country; and Christian Ramirez and Óscar Ramírez Sr., brother and father of Óscar Ramîrez who was shot in the back and killed by Los Angeles Sheriffs in 2014, spoke to the urgency of the April 14 protests.

The next day, La Opinion—the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the U.S.—had a front page saying “Todos Somos South Carolina” (We Are All South Carolina) and featuring a big photo of the April 14 banner with faces of people whose lives were stolen by the police, and had major coverage of the press conference for April 14. Other media at the press conference included KABC Channel 7, Fox Channel 11, Azteca Channel 54, L’Agence France-Presse (AFP), and USC Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism.

At the New York City press conference, Carl Dix—from the Revolutionary Communist Party and co-initiator, with Cornel West, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network—gave the main statement (see video). Also speaking at the press conference were parents of youths whose lives were stolen by police: Nicholas Heyward Sr., Iris Baez, and Hawa Bah. Media covering the event included NY1 (cable channel, which covered the press conference in its 6 p.m. news), Telemundo, Univision, and radio stations WBAI and WKCU.

 

Listen to audio of complete Los Angeles press conference.

Statement by Rev. Frank Wulf
On Walter Scott and April 14 Shutdown Day, at the Los Angeles Stop Mass Incarceration Press Conference, April 9

It's ironic to me that the murder of Walter Scott happened in the Christian calendar on the day before Easter, the day in between the brutal execution of Jesus on Good Friday and the day we celebrate the resurrection. It's ironic to me because in this so-called Christian nation, this kind of thing continues to take place. We know that what the video shows in Walter Scott's murder is this pattern of behavior in which a police officer kills somebody and then we're normally left only with the police officer's word. And then again and again and again police officers are exonerated for these murders, for these killings. In this particular case we have the good fortune that somebody was brave enough to take a video and then brave enough to share that video. So we are able to see that there was much more involved than just the police reacting to a threat. In fact, the only threat that was present in North Charleston was the threat against Walter Scott. He was the person that was threatened by the police officer from the moment that he was stopped until the moment that he was shot dead. And the planting of evidence was just, for us, one more piece to ensure us that we do not know what happens in most of these police killings. The police version can not be followed, can not always be trusted.

We are left simply with this string of police killings over and over and over again. Black and Brown people are killed in a disproportionate number—a disproportionate number to other people killed by police. People with mental illnesses are killed in a disproportionate number to other people, so-called normal people in this society. People on the margins, people on the fringes, are consistently being targeted. And they're not just being targeted for murder, they are targeted for harassment by police forces. They are being incarcerated at rates that are extraordinary at this particular point in time. As you all know, the United States incarcerates far more people than any other nation on earth in spite of the fact that we are not the largest nation on earth. And the vast majority of those people that we incarcerate are Black and Brown. So we are dealing with a situation that is intolerable.

I, as a follower of Jesus Christ and a Christian pastor in this nation, have to say on the basis of my faith that this must stop. You cannot continue to kill Black and Brown people—in fact you cannot continue to kill mentally ill people or any people, wantonly, in my name. You cannot continue to do it in the name of a nation that claims to be more religious than any other nation on earth, a nation that follows various religious principles that tell us that love is stronger than evil, that love is more important than evil, that love is more important than hate or fear. If that is true, then we need, as religious people, as people of faith,  to live our faith. And we have to say no. That is why I'm supporting April 14.

And I'm supporting the need for us simply as a people, as a people, to stop the system because by not stopping the system we are giving tacit support to these policies, to these practices of criminal injustice that are taking place in our society and taking place in what is becoming more and more of an obvious way. The good news is that it's no longer underground, it's no longer hidden, it's beginning to come out where all of us can see. But now that all of us can see, we have a moral obligation to do something. And from my perspective as a person of faith I'd say we have a religious and spiritual obligation to do something as well. Our faith will not allow us to do anything different. So I'm supporting April 14. And I hope we can get religious people, people of faith out, as well as other people, out on the streets on April 14 to say no.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/382/press-coverage-spreads-call-for-a14-to-100s-of-thousands-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Press Coverage Spreads Call for #A14 to 100s of Thousands in U.S. and Beyond

Updated April 13 | Published April 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In a wide range of media, from a major front page story in La Opinión the largest Spanish language newspaper in the U.S.... to a story in Jet magazine... to community, campus, and religious newspapers... calls for #ShutDownA14 are breaking into the mainstream, creating a buzz in media, and reaching hundreds of thousands of people.

AllHipHop.com

4/13/15: AllHipHop.com interviews Carl Dix on #ShutDownA14!
Carl Dix responds to questions including: Why march on April 14? What happened to the movement of last fall? Is the problem that white people are indifferent to the police murder of Black men? And what kind of unity is being forged for April 14?

Jet Magazine / JetMag.com

Jet Magazine

The Jet story (April 9) was titled “Cornel West Sparks #ShutDownA14 Movement: Movement seeks to put a stop to police killings...” It reported: “Dr. Cornel West has called for people across America to participate in a national movement to put a stop to the killing of black and Latino people. Dr. West’s call to action is trending on social media under the hashtag #ShutDownA14, with supporters and participants of the movement using the expression to speak out on the injustice of police brutality.” The article—online—embedded video of Cornel West speaking at the emergency program held on Monday, April 7, at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew in New York.

Los Angeles

La Opinión. April 10, 2015, page 1


La Opinión. April 10, 2015, page 2

A major front-page story in La Opinión (April 10) featured a large photo of the Stolen Lives Banner, with “Tuesday April 14 / #ShutDownA14 / STOP MURDER BY POLICE,” and a headline “Todos Somos South Carolina” (We are all South Carolina—referring to the police murder of Walter L. Scott). The article included a call from Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) at a press conference for people to be at LAPD Headquarters at 1 pm on April 14. (See English translation by www.revcom.us.)

Page 2 of the April 10 issue included a large photo of the front page of Revolución calling for April 14, photos of posters for April 14, and a substantial article about the need for protest on that day.

Coverage of the call for April 14 has been included in a number of stories about police brutality in the past few days, including coverage of the brutal beating of a man by Riverside County Sheriffs on April 10.

New York

NY1 coverage includes video of Stop Mass Incarceration Network calling for April 14.

On April 10, El Diario reprinted the headline article from La Opinion under the headline "Desde Los Ángeles convocan a paro nacional por tiroteos de policías".

NY cable news channel, NY1 announced on April 11: “City Activists Call for Nationwide Day of Protests in Response to Shooting Death of Unarmed Man in South Carolina”. The article includes a video of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network rallying in front of City Hall in downtown NY calling on people to stop business as usual in America on April 14.”

Chicago

The Chicago Defender, in an article titled “Dr. Cornel West To Address Police Killings Of Unarmed People“ (April 6) reported: “On Monday, April 6, Dr. Cornel West and Carl Dix, co-initiators of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, will discuss police brutality against unarmed people at Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew in New York, NY. The emergency meeting was called to address the need for people to gather for a national mass shutdown held by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network on Tuesday, April 14.”

An article in the Final Call (April 7), “Time for top cop to go! say Chicago activists,” covered a press conference denouncing Chicago’s stop-and-frisk practice that subjected 1,500 minority youths to illegal harassment per day, and quoted Grant Newburger from Chicago Stop Mass Incarceration Network calling for “a massive national day of protest and walkouts against police brutality on April 14.”

On April 10  eNews Park Forest (Illinois) wrote on the April 6 Emergency Meeting in New York City: “Cornel West spoke with fury seldom heard, scathing against those in power and all who stand aside when the business as usual of police killing unarmed people goes on, even before video showed the most recent police killing of unarmed Walter Scott Saturday in South Carolina.” And quoted Carl Dix: “On April 14, we're going to revive the spirit of Ferguson, that spirit of refusing to suffer the brutality of the system in silence. . .We have to get back out into the streets to declare that we're not backing down, we're not going away.” The article provides links to videos from the event.

Cleveland

The newsweekly Cleveland Scene (April 8), in a story titled “Better Than a Listening Tour: ‘People’s Tribunal’ on Police Brutality Scheduled For Saturday“ announced a people’s tribunal on police brutality and reported “the local branch of the national Puncture the Silence-Stop Mass Incarceration Network is gearing up for another disruptive action on April 14. It will likely take the same form as the marches and protests Cleveland saw in October and November, in the immediate wake of Tamir Rice’s shooting.”

Berkeley, California

The April 10 issue of the University of California, Berkeley newspaper, the Daily Cal, ran a story “‘Speak-out’ event at campus’s multicultural center calls for end to police brutality,” which reported on the speak-out ,which it described as “a prelude to” April 14 protests.

Pasco, Washington

An article in the Tri-City Herald in Washington on ongoing outrage over the murder of Antonio Zambrano-Montes (“Frustrations still high two months after Pasco police shooting”) ends: “Tri-Cities Community Solutions is taking part in a nationwide day of protest against police brutality April 14. The group asks people to step out of their daily routine and “walk out,” according to a news release. The April 14 event begins with a Unity Walk at 8 a.m. at John Dam Plaza, 1815 George Washington Way, Richland. It will move through the Tri-Cities and end at 3 p.m. with a rally, featuring speakers and musicians, at Volunteer Park in Pasco.”

Latin America

On April 9 and 10, Spanish and Portuguese language media coverage in Latin America of police murder in the U.S. included notice of calls by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network for protests on April 14. (See, for example, “Pedem investigação sobre caso de violência policial nos EUA.”)

The SMIN press conference, including the time and place for the protest was also covered by Fox Noticias Mundial (World News).

An article in the Mexican newspaper El Tiempo (4/11) calls attention to Shutdown April 14. The article quotes Carl Dix and includes a full size image of the centerfold with the faces of those killed by police.

Global Research

An article by Revolution correspondent Raymond Lotta distributed through GlobalResearch, “The Murder of Walter Scott in South Carolina. On April 14, People across America will take to the Streets” (4/12/15) begins:

The murder of Walter Scott in South Carolina, shot down the way a slave chaser would gun down a rebellious slave, on top of everything else that has happened in the past months, calls out to us: What are you going to do now?

On April 14, people in cities across the country will take to the streets to disrupt business as usual because business as usual includes police getting away with murdering Black and Brown people. What will you do on this day?

Mexico

El Diario de Coahuila

The northern Mexico newspaper El Diario de Coahuila had major coverage of the call for #ShutDownA14.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/382/outrage-in-miami-cops-kill-mentally-ill-black-man-armed-with-a-broomstick-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

OUTRAGE in Miami: Cops Kill Mentally Ill Black Man "Armed" with a Broomstick

April 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The day after the release of the video of the cold-blooded police murder of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, another video emerged on Wednesday, April 8.

Another deadly shooting of a Black man by a cop. This time in Miami.

25-year-old Lavall Hall was shot on February 15. His mother had called the police for help because Lavall was having a psychotic episode. When the police arrived Hall was carrying a broomstick.

In the police video, released by Lavall Hall's family, you can hear a cop ordering Hall to “get on the f---ing ground or you’re dead.” Then moments later, you can’t see Hall in the video but you hear the shooting of five deadly rounds.

Melissa Edwards, the mother of Hall’s 8-year-old daughter, told the Miami Herald, “I was outraged, furious, devastated and very emotional... They killed him, murdered him.”

The lying cops, of course ran out their story—that they were forced to shoot because Hall “attacked” them with “deadly force” using the broom. But now the video shows Hall trying to flee before he was shot and killed.

Another OUTRAGE. Another reason to SHUT IT DOWN on April 14!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/382/new-fascist-kansas-law-criminalizes-most-second-trimester-abortions-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Latest Front in War on Women:

New Fascist Kansas Law Criminalizes Most Second Trimester Abortions

April 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On April 7, the governor of Kansas signed into law a bill which criminalizes most abortions in the second trimester. The “Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act” uses deliberately false, unscientific, and inflammatory language to ban the safest and most medically accepted procedure for abortions in the second trimester. Doctors in Kansas who provide this procedure for their patients will now face misdemeanor or felony charges.

This new law, actively promoted by the National Right to Life Committee as part of their 2015 legislative agenda, represents a major new offensive in the unrelenting and systematic assault on a woman’s most fundamental right to control her own body and determine if and when to have a child. On April 8, a similar bill was passed by the Oklahoma legislature, and other similar bills are being pushed in Missouri, South Carolina, and South Dakota. All of these laws and bills must be actively protested and opposed.

Julie Burkhart of the Trust Women Foundation and the South Wind Women’s Center in Wichita, Kansas, has called the Kansas law the “physician intimidation and criminalization act.” Kansas has long been a focal point for fascist attacks against women and the doctors who serve them. In 2009, Dr. George Tiller, one of few heroic providers of late-term abortions in the entire country, was shot down in cold blood in Wichita by an anti-abortion fascist. And Kansas is one of the states that already have some of the most draconian laws designed to create insurmountable hurdles to women seeking abortions—parental notification, 24-hour waiting period, and mandatory fetal ultra-sound.

The new Kansas law prohibits “dismemberment abortion,” which it defines as “causing the death of an unborn child, knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body in order to cut or rip it off.”

This lurid and completely unscientific and non-medical description is deliberately designed to promote the damaging lie that abortion is murder and that fetuses are babies—all in an effort to further stigmatize a procedure which is absolutely essential for women’s ability to control their lives and their health. The truth of the matter is: A fetus is NOT a baby! And abortion is NOT murder!

A Fetus is Not a Baby
Download PDF poster

Let’s dig into the science of this. A fetus is not an “unborn child”—it is living tissue, which is growing and developing, but is not yet a human being and has no life separate from the life of the woman in whose uterus it is. For more on the science of what an abortion is, read “What Is an Abortion and Why Women Must Have the Right to Choose; Life Cannot and Should Not Always Be Preserved.”

The procedure which is being prohibited—the use of forceps—is one essential part of the process of dilation and evacuation (D&E)—the abortion method which is used for pregnancies in the second trimester when a simple vacuum-aspiration is no longer possible. While abortion in the second trimester is still a very safe procedure, it is more complicated. The fetus, although still far from being able to survive separately from the woman (even at the end of the second trimester) is larger, and must be taken out of the woman’s uterus in pieces. This is done by a combination of forceps to remove larger pieces of tissue, curettage to gently scrape the uterine lining and remove tissue, and finally suction to make sure all the tissue is removed.

Banning the use of forceps is effectively banning the use of the D&E procedure and forces a woman into the only other alternative still available: having a medically induced abortion, using a combination of drugs that terminate the pregnancy and induce labor. This procedure involves two to three days of waiting, and in the second trimester often must be performed in a hospital due to the increased risk of complications. While both procedures are safe with proper medical care, there is significantly a higher risk of complications with the medically induced abortion in the second trimester.

Download the PDF of this pamphlet: A Declaration: For Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity

It is completely unacceptable for laws to be enacted that dictate to a physician which among the safe and established medical procedures he/she can or cannot provide for a patient. This rising tide of a new round of laws—being promoted and pushed through state legislatures by anti-abortion fascists like the National Right to Life Committee—is an ominous development, coming on top of decades of murder and terror directed against abortion providers and their patients.

It is the latest front in a whole war on women, a war which has forced the closing of dozens of clinics around the country, making abortion effectively unavailable to large swaths of the population, particularly in rural areas, leaving women with no choice but to take drastic and unsafe measures to try to end their pregnancies. Women’s lives are at stake. The anti-abortion movement has never been about babies, it has always been about reducing women to being incubators and foreclosing their ability to make decisions about their lives and to contribute to society in the fullest way.

Abortion on Demand and Without Apology! Women are NOT Incubators! Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/382/planting-of-evidence-by-police-the-notorious-case-of-lapd-rampart-division-en.html

Revolution #381 April 6, 2015

Planting of "Evidence" by Police: The Notorious Case of LAPD Rampart Division

April 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The cell phone video of the murder of Walter Scott by a South Carolina cop appears to show the pig blatantly planting “evidence” on his victim as part of an attempted cover-up. Such planting of “evidence” by cops to justify their crimes against the people is not new or a rare event. It happens all the time among police forces across the country—but very rarely does it come to light. One major example of police planting such “evidence” being exposed was the infamous scandal involving the Rampart Division of the LAPD.

In 1999, a huge exposé of the LAPD “anti-gang” unit and the Rampart Division revealed a nest of police corruption, cover-ups, and murder and other foul crimes against the people—hundreds of people were convicted on the basis of trumped-up charges and evidence. Because of the huge outrage from the exposé, the powers-that-be were forced to put three of the Rampart cops—out of many more involved—on trial, but they were not charged with the most serious crimes, including murder. But after a jury came down with guilty verdicts on the cops, an LA judge simply threw out the verdicts.

We are republishing here an article that originally appeared in the October 3, 1999 issue of the Revolutionary Worker (former name of Revolution newspaper) when the Rampart scandal broke out.

The Rampart CRASH Unit:
Blood on the Hands of the LAPD

On the streets of Pico-Union, South Central, East L.A., Watts and other neighborhoods of oppressed people in Los Angeles, there is a certain understanding about the police. It’s a knowledge that comes from bitter experience—from firsthand experience of police beatings, harassment and murder.

In 1991 many more people had their eyes opened to that reality through the video of the Rodney King beating. The 1996 O.J. trial brought us the audio—L.A. cop Mark Fuhrman boasting on tape about how he and others mistreated and brutalized African-Americans, Mexicans and women.

Yes there's a conspiracy, to get the cops off

"Yes there's a conspiracy... to get the cops off" Is a clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, given in 2003 in the United States. Bob Avakian is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. This talk, followed by questions and answers, is a wide-ranging revolutionary journey, covering many topics. It breaks down the very nature of the society we live in and how humanity has come to a time where a radically different society is possible. It is full of heart and soul, humor and seriousness; it will challenge you and set your heart and mind to flight. Watch the entire film online at http://revolutiontalk.net.

Now, a huge exposé—involving the “anti-gang” CRASH unit and the Ramparts Division of the LAPD—has revealed a nest of police corruption, cover-ups and foul crimes against the people. The authorities might have to review the cases of hundreds of people whose convictions were based on testimony by fired or suspended cops. The whole LAPD is engulfed in a deep and massive scandal. It’s the “Fuhrman tapes” multiplied many times over.

*****

October 12, 1996 Javier Francisco Ovando, 19 years old, was walking down the hallway of an apartment building in the Pico-Union when two cops, Rafael Perez and Nino Durden, stopped him. They forced him to his knees, handcuffed him and shot him in the face. Ovando slumped to the floor. The cops took off the handcuffs and planted a rifle in his hands. Ovando lived—but he is paralyzed and will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

The cops claimed that they were in a vacant apartment when Ovando burst in and pointed two guns at them. The police said they fired in self-defense. Based on the cops’ shameless lies, Javier Ovando was convicted of attempted murder of a police officer. A judge declared that Ovando showed no remorse for his “premediated crime”—and sentenced the young man to be locked away for 23 years.

At the sentencing Gloria Romero—the mother of Ovando’s girlfriend, Monique Valenzuela—confronted the cops and said, “Sooner or later, the truth will come out.”

Three years later, the truth has come out. Officer Rafael Perez admitted to the truth about the shooting of Javier Ovando and other crimes committed by CRASH cops. His confession was part of a plea bargain in which he admitted to stealing over eight pounds of cocaine from a police evidence locker.

Another dirty shooting by CRASH that Rafael Perez revealed took place July 20, 1996. José Perez was standing in front of his apartment house in the 600 block of Shatto Place. When he saw several carloads of cops roll up, he walked inside his building. The CRASH police charged in, shooting at residents. José Perez was shot in the back with no warning. Juan Manuel Saldana was killed with multiple gunshots in another part of the building. A third man, Salvador Ochoa, was seriously wounded as he walked down the stairs with his children.

As he was recovering from his wounds José Perez found out that his friend Juan Saldana was dead. He also learned that the police claimed he was armed and that they were charging him with his friend’s murder. He recalled, “I got shot in the back and my homeboy got killed. They have to make a story out of it. I didn’t have a gun. I was on the floor, bleeding and they handcuffed me. I wasn’t even running. I was walking. They said I was pointing a gun at them. But I didn’t even have a gun. Neither me or my homeboy ever shot a gun.”

The chief of police declared the killing of Juan Manuel Saldana and the wounding of José Perez and Salvador Ochoa “justified.” After 10 months in jail, José Perez was offered a deal to plead guilty to assault on an officer to avoid a life sentence. He finally got out with 10 months time served.

The confession of Officer Perez has exposed a mountain of police crimes against the people: Murder, attempted murder, brutality, frame-ups, robbery, extortion and drug dealing. These crimes were covered up by commanders and rubber-stamped by the chief of police. The criminals in blue were praised, promoted and given rewards, honor and respect by their colleagues and superiors. The exposures that started with Officer Perez have produced the biggest LAPD corruption scandal since the 1930s.

Officer Perez is on his way to prison, and Officer Durden has been suspended. Perez’s former partner, David Mack, is in a federal lock-up for bank robbery. Twelve cops have been fired or suspended with pay.

Pico-Union, where Officer Perez used to prowl, is the most densely populated neighborhood in the western U.S. Hundreds of thousands of people from Central America and Mexico have transformed the area into a vibrant immigrant community. It is home to poor proletarians working in the garment factories, restaurants, car washes and private homes of Los Angeles.

The authorities have hit Pico-Union with sweeping repression. The police have set up “barricaded zones.” An INS detention center was built right in the neighborhood—and Migra agents work alongside cops in the Rampart Division. Much of this repression has been focused on the youth. Belmont High, the main high school in the area, is a mini-police-state where students have to run a gauntlet of cops and metal detectors just to get to class. Under two “anti-gang” injunctions against a youth organization, the 18th Street, 140 individuals are subject to arrest for things like hanging out together or carrying beepers and cell phones. The cops are given a free hand to gaffle people up—to question and harass them in the name of enforcing the injunction. The L.A. “anti-gang” injunctions have become a “model” for cities all over the country.

CRASH (which stands for “Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums”) has been at the forefront of this war on youth in Pico-Union and other parts of the city. CRASH units are known for fomenting fighting between different gangs and dropping gang members off in hostile neighborhoods. They shot 15-year-old Tony Gutierrez in the back in East L.A. Just days after the current scandal broke, CRASH cops shot and wounded two people in the Nickerson Gardens projects in South Central.

During the 1992 L.A. Rebellion, people in South Central witnessed LAPD “kill squads” roaming around and carrying out drive-by shootings. These cops rode in unmarked Chevies typical of CRASH.

CRASH has put together huge computer databases with the names and alleged gang affiliations of young people. Their databases include up to half of the youth living in certain poor neighborhoods. This information is used for lists of “the usual suspects” when the cops are looking for someone to frame, as well as for the “anti-gang” injunctions.

As justification for these injunctions, the DA used statements of eight CRASH unit cops who have now been fired or suspended. These cops provided the names of half of the people named in the injunctions. Prosecutors considered the police story about the shooting of Javier Ovando “some of the most persuasive police testimony” in favor of the injunctions. Rafael Perez himself provided key statements as a “narcotics expert.”

When the current scandal began, DA Gil Garcetti was planning hearings on more injunctions against the people of the area, based on the same lying testimony from CRASH cops. But the scandal has forced the authorities to suspend the “anti-gang” injunctions against the 18th Street gang.

Despite the ugly facts that are coming to light through this scandal, official figures are unrepentant, describing the problem as just a few “rogue” cops. When Garcetti talks about the problems caused by the exposure, he doesn’t mention the scarred and stolen lives of the people beaten, framed and murdered. He talks about how the authorities are going to save their injunctions. Mayor Richard Riordan told the police, “You have the support of the Los Angeles community.” At Rampart Division, cops hung a banner on the front of the building saying, “The Community Loves the Men and Women of Rampart Station.” Lawyers for cops accused in the scandal have said that the CRASH unit is unfairly criticized by “criminals” who want to damage police officers’ careers.

The official investigation into the LAPD is being carried out by—the LAPD itself. The DA’s office is responsible for deciding whether to prosecute any of the cops, but it will act on information from the police themselves. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has announced an investigation into possible “violations of civil rights,” but they too are going to rely on LAPD investigators.

Javier Ovando’s conviction was overturned at the request of the DA—reportedly the first time in the city’s history that the DA has gotten an innocent person released. The DA’s office first announced that Ovando would be deported to Honduras, where he lived as a young child. Then he was released to the LAPD, who are holding him practically incommunicado at an unknown location. The LAPD says they are trying to “protect” him. But clearly, it’s murdering cops that he has the most reason to fear.

The unfolding scandal has brought a sense of vindication for the people who live the day-to-day reality of police murder and brutality. People from Pico-Union who have been silenced for years are getting to speak out. And those in other neighborhoods are getting to hear them. When Javier Ovando was shot, there was a witness. But he didn’t try to testify. As one of his friends put it, “The homeboys wanted to say something, but they couldn’t. Who would believe 18th Street gang members?” As this police crisis rages, people all over the city want to—and need to—hear the stories from Pico-Union.