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Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a correspondent:
Unity in Baltimore, April 25
On Saturday, April 25th, thousands of people took to the streets to demand justice for Freddie Gray, brutally murdered by the Baltimore police. They shook up the city, from the boarded up houses and Gilmor Homes housing project in West Baltimore – where Freddie Gray was murdered – to the glitzy waterfront where the crowd at a Baltimore Orioles game was locked down in the stadium by police to prevent them from encountering and mixing with protesters outside. It was definitely no business as usual, and set the tone for a new stage of struggle for justice for Freddie Gray.
Around 2,000 gathered near the Gilmor Homes projects in the early afternoon—people from the neighborhood, including family members of Freddie, but also many others—and then marched into the streets and on to City Hall. The starting point was the spot where Kevin Moore, who lives at Gilmor Homes, saw his friend Freddie Gray on April 12 being handcuffed by the police.
Moore told the Baltimore Sun that cops had cuffed Freddie and had him face down on the ground, with one cop's knee on his neck and the other cop bending his legs back so that his heels were touching his back. Moore said, "They had him folded up like he was a crab or a piece of origami... The police yelled 'stop resisting,' but there was no resistance. He couldn't move." The cops dragged Freddie, screaming in pain, to the van and threw him in. They stopped several times on the way to the station, once to shackle Freddie's legs. Freddie sustained severe injury at the hands of the police—his spine was 80 percent severed at the neck, according to his family's lawyer. He was in a coma for a week and died on April 19.
Members of the Revolution Club, Baltimore, April 25 Photo: Special to revcom.us
City officials and the police have been lying, promising "investigations," and trying to steer people away from the real issue—the pigs murdered Freddie Gray.
After gathering at Gilmor Homes, people marched to the Western District Police Station, where many spoke bitterness: “There’s blood on your hands!” “They killed a man, it could’ve been me! It could have been my brother, my nephew! It could have been you!” And “We need justice!”
From West Baltimore, marchers headed down to City Hall for a rally that became a speak-out.
A young woman in Freddie's 'hood brought out what many are thinking and feeling: "For them to just be running around and getting away with killing people is not okay. Therefore the six police officers that killed Freddie Gray to be still walking around, on suspension with pay, is unacceptable. Very unacceptable." And she said, "We're gonna be out here every day, until something happens... It has to start somewhere. It definitely has to start somewhere. And if it has to start here in the community, then this is where it has to start."
Baltimore, April 25
Indeed, the anger and the fierce determination of the people in that community to see justice for Freddie has spurred and inspired many others to act. Saturday's protest saw a broad range of people come out into the streets—middle class white people, college students, Black people from other parts of Baltimore, people from different cities nearby and farther away. A group of white youths said they had come from Arizona to be part of this. A middle-aged white man from aUnitarian church in a Baltimore suburb hooked up with a Stop Mass Incarceration Network contingent from New York City, including Juanita Young and other people who have lost loved ones to murder by police.
A middle-aged white guy marched with a home-made sign saying that he was a witness to a police killing of a man named George Wells. Wells, a Black man, was shot six times, including three bullets in the back. The man at the march said he saw how the police lied about what actually happened, which he saw with his own eyes. The murder of Freddie Gray brought back "raw emotions" and he felt he had to act: "This has to stop."
A group of four or five young Black kids, from 5th grade to high school, marched with home-made cardboard signs—one said "Stop killing us black people!" At the beginning of the march, several boys on bikes, doing wheelies in the street, put the Stolen Lives poster from revcom.us on the front of their bikes. Kids in the 'hood are aware of what the police do from a very young age. Earlier in the week, a young woman teaching in a pre-school there said that she has talked to her four-year-old son about how there are "bad cops" and so he has to be careful about how he acts around police. Four years old—and a target on his back already!
Baltimore, April 25 Photo: Twitter/@JamesFromTheInternet
A young Black student at Johns Hopkins University, who came to the protest with a couple of others from school, said she thought the marching in the streets was good, but "I'm not really happy about the numbers. All of Baltimore should be here." A 40ish Black woman, who came with her family, made the point even more emphatically: "I wish the whole fucking city of Baltimore were out here to shut it down!"
Members of the Revolution Club from New York City—with the "BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!" t-shirts—were out in the midst of the Saturday march, standing and fighting together with the people and bringing the message of the movement for revolution that's needed to put an end to murder by police and all the other horrors that this capitalist-imperialist system brings down on people here and around the world. They came fresh from being part of the April 14 national actions that began to put the movement to STOP police murder back on the offensive and on a higher level. Running with their crew were several youth from Freddie's neighborhood. The revcom.us poster, with the names and faces of some of the hundreds killed by police around the country, spread throughout the crowd, as it has on previous days' protests. People were profoundly moved by the poster, looking intently at the faces and descriptions on it, and drawing the connections between what happened to Freddie Gray and the epidemic of police murder across the country.
Baltimore, April 25
One older Black woman had one of the posters strapped around her neck with a string. This was after the protest streamed out of the City Hall plaza and was headed for the baseball stadium—people had marched 4-5 miles already, and she was walking at a good pace but with a noticeable limp. Asked why she and so many others are in the streets for Freddie, she said, "Because he didn't do nothing. He got killed for nothing. It's got to stop."
As the afternoon went on, groups of youth found different ways to express their anger over the daily routine of police violence, terror, and all-too-often death at the hands of police. And as night fell, hundreds of protesters headed for the bright lights of the gentrified district around Camden Yards, where they engaged in a several hours long standoff with riot police and police on horseback. Even in the midst of this, news reporters bemoaned the fact that curious shoppers, diners, and partiers came over to find out what the protest was about. And authorities refused for a time to let people attending the Orioles’ game leave.
Police periodically charged into the crowd outside Camden Yards – at one point grabbing, piling on, and arresting a man who video showed was clearly only speaking on a bullhorn. The photo editor for Baltimore’s City Paper was knocked to the ground and beaten by police while his colleague was shouting “He’s a photographer! He’s press!” A reporter from the European news agency Reuters was arrested when he attempted to photograph the beating.
Baltimore, April 25 Photo: Cat April Watters
The powers-that-be expressed horror and outrage over minor property damage. But they are the ones who unleash their police to murder Black people. And the police union, earlier in the week, had the gall to compare people demanding an end to modern-day lynching by police with a lynch mob! They should shut the fuck up. A system that daily unleashes mass terror, brutality, and violent murder, a system that mobilized state police, riot police, and horses to intimidate and attack the protesters, and arrested 35 people, has no right to speak when it comes to condemning violence.
The day after the mass protest, hundreds of people attended a wake for Freddie Gray, and on Monday, April 27, people will gather in pain and anger for Freddie Gray’s funeral. His friends and supporters, and people who refuse to let this murder go down have promised to continue the struggle until there is justice.
There is pain in the horror that was done to Freddie Gray, and the absence of justice. There is hope in the determination of the people, and in the fact that there is a movement to STOP police murder, which took an important step going back on the offensive on April 14 nationwide. The struggle continues...
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Freddie Gray, 25 years old, was widely known and liked in his west Baltimore neighborhood as a generous person and a jokester. On the morning of April 12, he was at an intersection near the Gilmor Homes projects chatting with a friend when three cops on bicycles approached. What happened in the following minutes was a crime—a crime of murder by the police.
Even according to the police story, Freddie was doing nothing wrong. They started toward him when Freddie made “eye contact” with them. Eye contact! Just like in slave and old Jim Crow days when simply looking a symbol of white supremacist authority in the eye could get you killed.
Someone on the opposite corner yelled out “Ai yo, here comes Time Out,” and Freddie began to run.
Why would Freddie run? The police later claimed they found a switchblade knife on him—of course that was after they grabbed him. Freddie had no gun on him. The police have not yet claimed to have found anything illegal on him. It’s clear why someone like Freddie might run in that situation—the experience of everybody in that ’hood, from grade school kids to old folks, is that the pigs harass, brutalize, arrest, and do worse to people for nothing. Freddie was Black, and in a poor neighborhood—and “running while Black” in a neighborhood like Freddie’s is deemed by the armed enforcers of this oppressive system to be a cause for “reasonable suspicion.”
The police claim they arrested Freddie Gray “without force or incident.” Eyewitness accounts and videos expose that as a flat-out lie. One person at the scene recalled, “They were taking out their black batons, whatever they are, and hitting him.”
Kevin Moore, who lives in Gilmor Homes, told the Baltimore Sun that he was sleeping when his uncle woke him up shouting, “They’re tazing Freddie!” When he ran out to the street, he saw the cops had handcuffed his friend and had his face down on the ground, with one cop putting his knee on Freddie’s neck and the other bending Freddie’s legs back so that his heels touched his back. “They had him folded up like he was a crab or a piece of origami. He was all bent up.” According to Moore, Freddie was “screaming for his life” and was saying, “I can’t breathe. I need a pump.” Freddie suffered from asthma. But the cops ignored him. (A video narrated by Moore is at the Sun website.)
Freddie Gray FULL VIDEO Black Suspect DIES after Baltimore cops break SPINE in BRUTAL police beating
Another Gilmor Homes witness described what she saw from her window: “They lifted him up by his pants, and he wasn’t responding, and they threw him in that paddy wagon. It wasn’t like they took him out to see what was going on with him... I said, ‘Call the paramedics!’”
The cellphone videos taken by Kevin Moore and another witness show the cops dragging Freddie, who is screaming in pain and clearly has trouble with his legs.
The police claim they arrested Freddie Gray “without force or incident.” As this witness said, “I could see everything. They’re lying. The police are lying.”
According to the official timeline, from about 8:42 am, when Freddie Gray was thrown into the police van and 9:26 am, when the paramedics were called, the van drove around the streets and made several stops. At one stop, the cops put leg shackles on an already-cuffed Freddie, and at another stop they picked up another arrested man. The police say they did not put seat belts on Freddie. The Baltimore police are infamous for their practice of “rough rides”—a method of torture where they place cuffed prisoners in back of police vans and then drive around wildly so that the prisoners are knocked around and hurt. And remember, Freddie’s hands and legs were in shackles.
When the paramedics arrived at the Western District police station, not far from where Freddie was arrested, they found Freddie unconscious. It turns out that he had sustained an extreme injury to his spine—80 percent severed, according to the family attorney. In addition, he had suffered a crushed voice box. The paramedics took Freddie Gray to the Maryland Shock and Trauma Center, where he went into and remained in a coma until he died a week later, on April 19.
The police stalked, chased, brutalized, arrested, and killed Freddie Gray without any justification—other than that he was walking while Black and poor. But then the city officials, police, and the Department of Justice say they’ve got to “investigate” to see what happened, and who is “responsible” for Freddie’s death. That’s bullshit. Whatever happened in those minutes before he was thrown in the van and during that ride, it’s absolutely clear that Freddie Gray died because of the actions of the police and in their hands. Freddie was murdered by the police, no doubt about it.
It’s been two weeks since all this happened and over a week since Freddie’s death—and the city is still “investigating.” (And still almost no information or autopsy report has been released.) We’ve seen where “investigations” of police murder take us—cover-ups like the Department of Justice report on Michael Brown, which exonerated the killer cop Darren Wilson and basically blamed Mike Brown for his own death. (See “DOJ Report: Coverup for the Police Murder of Michael Brown.”) We don’t need investigations—what we need is justice for Freddie Gray.
Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell!
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The demonstrations against police murder on April 14 marked a new beginning for the struggle against this outrage. This is crucially important, for without mass struggle there can be no progress whatsoever and the powers-that-be will just hammer people into the ground. Further, these demonstrations had important potential significance for revolution—for finally getting free of a society in which murder by police continues to go on daily and more, and people continue to be oppressed more generally... a society in which the lives of Black and other oppressed people are treated as if they do not matter. A14 was a great day, a great beginning—and now the challenge is to learn the lessons and take it further.
Last fall, sparked by the actions of the “defiant ones" in Ferguson, Missouri, thousands rose up. They took over the streets against the outrageous decisions to NOT indict the police responsible for murdering first, Eric Garner in New York and then, not even a month later, Michael Brown in Ferguson. Then the powers-that-be hit back. They took advantage of the killings of police in New York to silence people. The police in New York City and around the country used those killings to “flex their muscles” and threaten people, and the politicians who had temporarily posed as allying with the movement suddenly began to call for moratoriums on demonstrations. In January, demonstrators who attempted to block traffic in Massachusetts and Stanford students who did the same in California were hit with very heavy charges. Then the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder—who many had told the people to put their faith in—not only failed to indict the murderer of Michael Brown, but fabricated an identical story to that of the original prosecutor, essentially blaming the unarmed Brown for his own murder.
All this put a pall on the movement. Even though masses of people had NOT stopped rising up—in Washington, in Madison, in Philly and elsewhere—there was not a nationwide retaking of the offensive. Things were in danger of being bottled back up, with masses forced off the streets and the activists burrowed into micro-projects that did not challenge things on a scale where all society had to take notice. The powers-that-be were trying to lock tight the door that had been burst open in the fall, and—to be perfectly frank—they were having some success at this. Meanwhile, one murder by police followed another, one more outrageous than the last.
In the face of all that, these actions on April 14 kicked that door back open! The several thousands who took the streets, braving police attacks and arrests, stated by their actions that “no, we are NOT going back. We ARE going forward, to STOP these outrageous murders.” These were not as big as the demonstrations in the fall; nor were they as big, and defiant, as they need to be... and can become. But, again, the people on A14 DID kick the door back open and they opened up the possibility for many many more people to surge through that door—that is, to go back on the offensive. To use a metaphor, it’s as if an army that is hemmed in suddenly opens a breach in the enemy’s lines—now the question is how to push on through and change the whole momentum of things.
This must be done. And the work to do that—and to make that count toward a revolution — must begin now. From that very standpoint of now going forward, we want to emphasize a few points:
It is very important to go on the political and legal offensive against any brutality perpetrated by police and any arrests they made. This is an absolutely necessary part of the fight, and an important way to draw in new people. At the same time, it is even more important to stay on the offensive against the overall outrage of murders by police.
A major element—you could even say the driving force—in the success of A14 were the youth who are fed up with this and refuse to be bottled up, or put in the pen of protest-as-usual. These youth came with a moral certitude that was really refreshing and has to be fostered. Those who flooded into the streets blocking traffic... those who stood firm against threats and brutality... those who showed real determination—all that has to be defended and, more than that, built on. These youth included people from all sections of society, including the most oppressed. In addition, and related to that, the kinds of things done by students at UC Berkeley who refused to let other students go through the gate to school, and grew in numbers through doing that... the students in the ghetto high schools of Chicago and LA who defied authorities—and in some cases were arrested—to walk out of school... the young man at De Paul who lay down with a Stolen Lives poster the day before A14 and thereby challenged other students—this too has to be built on, given more expression and more initiative. This spirit is a major positive good thing and we need more of it!
It is very important to continue to hammer at the legitimacy of the crimes of murder by police and the criminals who inflict them, and what it says about the legitimacy of the whole system which defends and requires those crimes. The Stolen Lives poster, and the larger installations that were made of that, were a key way in which people were re-polarized and given strength and determination for A14. These should be used even more in the months to come.
At the same time, these posters point to something deeper—to a whole history of this country and this system... a whole current-day reality in which “white supremacy”—a way of life whose viciousness and horror cannot be captured in those two words—has been interwoven with the development of capitalism-imperialism. Today that development and that interweaving have given rise to a program with a genocidal thrust. People need to be given the ways to dig more deeply into that. And they need to be exposed to the fact that this Party has an answer to that, and a way for people to really get free.
One important lesson of this struggle was the role played by the premieres of REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, the film of the dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. This film raised the sights and strengthened the initiative of most of those who saw it; and while this film plays and must play a far larger role than that, it is still important to note the connection. Similarly, revcom.us not only carried out exposure of this outrage, but showed its source in society and its links to other struggles, here and around the world; exposed the need for revolution, and showed how this battle contributed to that; and gave guidance to the movement as to how to meet the challenges it encountered. And Revolution Clubs played an important role building for and on April 14. All this must be built on and linked even more closely to this struggle.
One real strength of A14 was the breadth of those who supported it and came out to it. People came from all different parts of society, from homeless to more comfortable, as well as prominent people from the clergy, the arts, the sciences, and elsewhere spoke out in support. A few days before April 14, La Opinión, the largest Spanish-language paper in the U.S., featured a major story on the Shut It Down protests, including a big front-page photo of the Stolen Lives banner. Activists in the struggle around the 43 Mexican students kidnapped by the government were a part of the day in NYC, and they marched with a banner with the faces of the missing youth, alongside the huge banners of victims of police murder in the U.S. This presented people very broadly with the fact they need to take a stand—and it gave them a way in to do so. Very important within that was the powerful role played by the relatives of those who have been murdered by the police. This unity should be further forged and their voice in society must be more powerfully amplified. In addition, a small but significant number of people associated with the “street life” called on people to not fight each other but to fight the system on this day.
This unity and this will needs to be organized. Without organization, what is needed cannot happen. But the Stop Mass Incarceration Network has tremendous potential to grow off A14, and grow it must—the time is now to seize that opportunity. There are all kinds of things that SMIN could do if those who actually support its mission could be organized and given things to do. In addition, there is a real need to raise money—aren’t there all kinds of people who supported what was done on A14 who would donate to increase the capacity of the organization that worked, struggled, stayed up all night and threw all they had into making it happen?
But even if organized, this unity cannot go forward in a straight line nor can it be preserved in a static way. But it CAN advance and it MUST advance. This will require us to confront new challenges which will be posed to this unity by both the powers-that-be and forces who, for their own reasons, don’t like that unity. Bob Avakian’s work “Freedom and Necessity, and Proceeding from a Strategic Standpoint: Some Thoughts on Methods and Leadership” provides very good guidance on understanding those dynamics; as does Ardea Skybreak's discussion of the concept of being a “strategic commander” in the interview “Science and Revolution: On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian.”
In our New Year’s editorial we said that the upsurge against this outrage had changed things to the point where a revolutionary situation could possibly arise out of the further unfolding of this social contradiction, in concert with other developments. This remains true, and will be truer still if A14 turns out to be the first step in weathering the counter-offensive of the rulers and coming back harder. (And A14 must be that step!)
That won’t happen without hard and creative work by people who want to see that revolutionary situation arise as soon as possible. Now some of that work involves building this struggle even more powerfully.
Yet getting to a revolutionary situation—and then being able to make good on that situation and actually WIN — will require much more than that.
There is first of all the question of really getting what Bob Avakian has brought forward—the new synthesis of communism, the strategy for revolution—way out there into society, and raising big funds to do that. Getting this out there—familiar to millions and actively taken up by thousands—is fundamental to really being able to seize on, or even recognize, any opening for revolution. Huge advances must be made on that this summer. And there are other important struggles as well that have to be built—against the oppression of women that is interwoven into the core of this system... against the ecological depredations of this system... against the wars and war crimes it carries out... and against the oppression and demonization of immigrants.
There is also the need for people to get organized for an actual revolution—actually drawing people into forms of organization, including but not limited to the Party, which would be key to both getting to a situation where a revolution could be made, and then carrying through and actually making and winning such a revolution. And people should be building and joining Revolution Clubs.
So, with all that in mind, take a moment to savor the sweetness of having burst the pall that the powers tried to put on things... celebrate the courage of those who stood up... and then get ready to go back on the offensive!
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following is a list of family members of people killed by the police, who courageously participated in the rallies and marches on April 14 to STOP POLICE MURDER. In city after city, these people played a very powerful role and their participation was particularly inspiring and a source of strength for many others in the fight against the epidemic of police murder. They spoke out, not just for themselves and their loved ones, but in the spirit of fighting so that NO ONE has to face the horror of having a loved one's life stolen by police murder. This was a challenge and a call to others to step up and persevere in this fight. This is something that needs to be further forged and their voice in society must be more powerfully amplified.
The following list is what we know of the participation of Stolen Lives Families on A14 and it is no doubt incomplete. We call on others to write to us and submit more names and photos to add to the list at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bridget Anderson, girlfriend of Anthony Hill, who had a mental illness and was murdered by police in DeKalb County, Georgia while unarmed and naked on March 9, 2015.
DeLisa Davis, sister of Kevin Davis, who was murdered by police in his home after calling 911 in DeKalb County, Georgia on December 31, 2014.
Cajun Snorton, girlfriend of Nick Thomas and mother of their five-month-old baby girl, London Na'Vae. Nick Thomas was murdered by police in Cobb County, Georgia, March 24, 2015.
Felicia Thomas, mother of 23-year-old Nick Thomas who was murdered by police in Cobb County, Georgia, March 24, 2015.
T.J. Thomas, brother of 23-year-old Nick Thomas, murdered by police in Cobb County, March 24, 2015.
Relative of 22-year-old Yuric Ussery, who was shot in the back by the Atlanta police on April 8, 2015. He was taken to the hospital ICU and survived.
Family and friends of 17-year-old Justus Howell, killed by Zion, IL police (suburb of Chicago) April 4, 2015.
Wanda Taylor, mother of 18-year-old Marcus Landrum, killed by Chicago police August 18, 2008.
Freddie McGee (Godfather), father of 34-year-old Freddie Latice Wilson, killed by Chicago police on November 15, 2007.
Gloria Pinex Ditiway and Trevon Lawrence, mother and brother of 27-year-old Darius Pinex, killed by Chicago police January 7, 2011.
Contingent of family members of 14-year-old Pedro Rios, who was killed by Chicago police July 4, 2014.
Members of the family of 18-year-old Brandon Jones, who was killed by Cleveland police on March 19, 2015.
Janie Torres, sister of 23-year-old Joe Campos Torres, who was murdered by Houston Police in May 1977. Joe Torres, a young Chicano vet, was beaten, handcuffed, and thrown into Buffalo Bayou by 6 Houston pigs. The pigs said, "Let's see if the wetback can swim," as they tossed Joe Torres to his death. A year long struggle for Justice for Joe Torres raged through Houston, especially on the largely Chicano Northside, and a year later, at a Cinco de Mayo celebration after two of the cops were given probation and a one dollar fine for killing Joe Torres, people of the Northside rose up in what became known as the Moody Park Rebellion.
These family members spoke or participated at the rally at the LAPD headquarters and the April 14 events:
Erica, sister of Dante Parker, and Yolanda Hurte, aunt of 36-year-old Dante Parker, who was tased to death by San Bernadino County sheriffs on August 12, 2014. She is also the aunt of 39-year-old Donte Jordon, who was killed by Long Beach police on November 10, 2013.
Victor Ochoa, son of 37-year-old Ignacio Ochoa, who was gunned down in Paramount by the LA County sheriffs on May 14, 2013.
Diego Ramirez, brother of 28-year-old Oscar Ramirez, Jr., who was shot in the back and murdered by Paramount police on October 27, 2014. Oscar Ramirez, Sr., father of Oscar Ramirez, Jr. participated in A14 in San Diego.
Chris Silva, brother of 28-year-old David Silva, who was beaten to death by Bakersfield police on May 8, 2013.
Terri Thaxton, sister of 31-year-old Michael Nida, who was gunned down by LA County sheriffs in Downey, on Oct. 22, 2011.
Numerous members of the Cornejo family, among them Jose and his partner Vivi, Violet and Xiomara, family of 34-year-old Mayra Cornejo, who was murdered by LA County Sheriffs in Compton, CA on New Years Eve, December 31 2014. Mayra Cornejo's brother, 31-year-old Mauricio Cornejo, was killed by the LAPD on February 3, 2007.
Tritobia Ford, mother of 25 year-old Ezell Ford, shot in the back by LAPD Newton Division, August 11, 2014.
Sr. Oliva, father of Carlos Oliva-Sola, killed by LA County Sheriffs, September 2013.
Hawa Bah, mother of 28-year-old Mohamed Bah, who was shot and killed by the NYPD on September 25, 2012.
Nicholas Heyward, Sr., father of 13-year-old Nicholas Heyward, Jr., killed by the NYPD on September 27, 1994.
Gloria Leiva, mother of 19-year-old Dante Pomar, killed by NYPD cops, July 29, 2004.
Joshua Lopez, nephew of John Collado, who was killed by the NYPD on September 6, 2011.
Juanita Young, mother of 23-year-old Malcolm Ferguson, who was killed by a NYPD cop on March 1, 2000.
Elvira and Refugio Nieto, parents of Alex Nieto, who was killed by the SFPD on March 21, 2014.
Woman friend of 21-year-old Amilcar Perez-Lopez, who was killed by SFPD on February 26, 2015.
Rachel Guido-Red, mother of 15-year-old Derrick Gaines, killed by South San Francisco police on June 5, 2012. She spoke outside city hall steps thanking people for coming.
Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson, uncle of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was killed by SF/Bay Area BART police on January 1, 2009.
Vickie Showman, mother of 19-year-old Diana Showman, killed by San Jose police on August 14, 2014.
Laurie Valdez, mother of Antonio Guzman, killed by SJ State University police on February 21, 2014.
Sharon Watkins, mother of 23-year-old Phillip Watkins, who was shot and killed by two officers with the San Jose Police Department on February 11, 2015.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On the night of April 18, a ship packed with desperate migrants sank in the deep cold waters of the Mediterranean Sea off the shore of Libya. While the total number of people on board will never be known, estimates range from 750 to 950 people. Only 28 survived.
Press accounts focused on the horrific conditions on the boat itself. Survivors reported that hundreds of people were locked in the hold of the ship. European leaders—including the rulers of Italy, who have cut back on what were already minimalist rescue missions—issued the shallowest of statements of regret while blaming the smugglers who run the boats and proposing increasingly militarized moves against migrants.
Bob Avakian, "Why do people come here from all over the world?"
Lost in the hypocrisy and finger-pointing was the essential reality that the hundreds of deaths were a direct and immediate result of Italy and other European powers cutting back on the rescue operations they maintain in the Mediterranean Sea in order to send a deadly message to those driven to desperate, dangerous attempts to cross the sea to their shores: Don’t expect to be rescued.
Beyond that, what is obscured in how this is all being portrayed in ruling class media is that the hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees attempting to get into Europe from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East by land or by sea are driven on their perilous journeys by the workings of a system that has brought grotesque inequality and endless unjust wars to the world.
Last year, more than 3,000 migrants died in attempts to cross the Mediterranean Sea, which separates North Africa from southern Europe. But instead of taking steps to save lives, Italy radically cut back on its “Mare Nostrum” (“Our Sea”) mission that provided an already abysmal level of search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.
Everyone knew this would lead to more deaths. Tineke Strik, rapporteur for the human rights body of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, quoted Frontex, the EU border force: “‘I would expect many more sea deaths the moment that Mare Nostrum is withdrawn.’” Michael Diedring, the secretary-general of the European Council for Refugees, said the result of the shutdown of Mare Nostrum would be “multiples of the 3,000 that have already perished.” (Guardian, October 31, 2014)
Nor did the other powers of the European Union step in to rescue refugees drowning in the Mediterranean. The cold calculations of the British government were spelled out by a Foreign Office minister who said: “We do not support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean,” because that might serve as “an unintended ‘pull factor.’” (Guardian, October 27, 2014)
A columnist in the British newspaper The Telegraph wrote with angry irony: “Every year, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children seeking sanctuary from the chaos and carnage of places like Syria and Libya wash up in their ramshackle craft on the Mediterranean coastline. The countries that constitute their destination—Italy, Greece, Spain—have found themselves on the front line of a mini-humanitarian crisis. But our politicians have now found the answer. And it’s a bold one. We’re going to take those refugees, and we’re going to drown them.” (October 28, 2014)
And so far, more than 1,700 migrants perished in the Mediterranean since the start of this year—more than 30 times higher than during the same period of 2014, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The journey to Europe for refugees is treacherous. But even for those who make it to Europe alive, the situation is another dimension of the human rights catastrophe. Even a beginning exposure of that hell is beyond the scope of this article, but in Greece, tens of thousands of refugees are treated as scapegoats for economic crisis and massive unemployment, and are subjected to unconstrained violence by police and closely connected fascist movements.
Refugees picked up in the Mediterranean often end up in dehumanizing and brutal concentration camps. In December 2013, an exposé that revealed naked African asylum seekers being hosed down with disinfectant in freezing conditions on the Italian island of Lampedusa was characterized by the local mayor as being reminiscent of a Nazi concentration camp. (See “Italy’s ‘appalling’ treatment of migrants revealed in Lampedusa footage,” The Telegraph,December 18, 2013.)
Regardless of the factors driving the wave of refugees to Europe, the response of the European powers would be inhuman and obscene. But adding another layer of outrage is the fact that overwhelmingly those driven to Europe are direct victims of imperialist policies and wars.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte insisted with fascist arrogance that Europe should not take the brunt of blame for deaths in the Mediterranean: “We also ask that Africa, the source of the problem, also collectively takes up its responsibility,” Rutte said. “Last time I checked Libya was in Africa, not Europe.”
But that distinction has never been honored by the European powers when they invaded and plundered Africa and literally enslaved millions and millions of people.
To take just one example: From the end of the 19th century through the turn of the 20th century, King Leopold II of Belgium ran the Congo as his private property, amassing an enormous fortune by turning most adult males into slaves to collect wild rubber and ivory from the jungle. Leopold’s army forced hundreds of thousands of slaves to work in killing conditions where many died from exhaustion. Slave uprisings were put down with extreme bloodthirstiness. The Belgians worked thousands to death in gold mines. It has been estimated that about 10 million people out of a population of 20 million lost their lives under King Leopold’s barbarous rule.
And European and U.S. plunder of the world is not just history, it is present day reality and a very immediate, direct impetus for people to flee their homelands.
Libya, the transit point for many refugees, has been reduced to a country torn to shreds by regional warlords and reactionary forces backed by various regional and global oppressors since being “liberated” by massive bombing by a coalition of the U.S. and European powers—a coalition that included the U.S., France, Britain, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and Italy.
Apparently the fact that Libya is “in Africa not Europe” didn’t stop Western powers from bombing residences, mosques, medical facilities, TV stations, and other civilian infrastructure (war crimes) in a move to install a more compliant pro-Western-imperialist regime. The move backfired on the West in many ways, but it produced a nightmare of sectarian bloodshed and societal breakdown for the Libyan people.
The biggest source of refugees entering Europe is Syria, where a reactionary, multi-part civil war is driven by clashing oppressive global and regional powers, most decisively by the U.S. and its Western European allies. 3.8 million (out of a total prewar population of 22 million) in that ransacked and decimated country have been driven to seek refuge in hellish camps in the desert in places like Jordan and Lebanon. Those who can make it to Libya are among those dying at sea or surviving the dangerous journey to reach Europe.
Another significant source of refugees is Yemen, where for nearly a month now, the U.S.’s close ally Saudi Arabia has been pummeling the country with an air assault. According to the World Health Organization, “Health facilities are struggling to function as they face increasing shortages of life-saving medicines and vital health supplies, frequent disruptions in power supply and lack of fuel for generators. Lack of fuel has also disrupted functionality of ambulances and the delivery of health supplies across the country. Power cuts and fuel shortages also threaten to disrupt the vaccine cold [storage] chain, leaving millions of children below the age of five unvaccinated. This increases the risk of communicable diseases such as measles, which is prevalent in Yemen, as well as polio, which has been eliminated but is now at risk of reappearing.” And a lack of safe water has resulted in increased risk of diarrhea and other diseases.
Another product of the Saudi assault has been the strengthening of Al Qaeda forces which, where they are in control, have made life unlivable for women. All of these factors are driving people to desperate attempts to reach Europe.
Go through the list of countries from which the migrants are fleeing and look up the history and current activities of the Western powers:
In the face of the humanitarian crisis, the European powers have issued only the most shallow claims of caring, along with blaming “smugglers” who—while profiting off moving their human cargo—are tiny cogs in a machinery of global oppression. And with outrage growing over the deaths of 900 migrants, EU leaders proposed a limited increase in rescue patrols. Doctors Without Borders responded: “This proposal falls short of offering adequate search and rescue means and pursue[s] the same policies that have contributed to the current situation. Focusing on keeping people out by cutting their only existing routes is only going to push people fleeing for their lives to find other routes, potentially even more dangerous. We see no real safe and legal alternatives to boat migration coming out of this meeting. Without these alternatives, declaring war on smugglers is declaring war on the very same people the Member states say their priority is to save.”
In short, the European governments are moving to violently enforce the Mediterranean as a deadly protective moat. According to European Council President Donald Tusk, the focus of EU naval actions will be “to capture and destroy the smugglers’ vessels before they can be used.” (AFP, April 4, 2015)
And European governments are moving to make life even more forbidding for those refugees who reach the shores of Italy, Greece, Spain, or other countries bordering the Third World. As noted, every European country has sections of its ruling class fostering fascist movements physically targeting immigrants. Combined with official government persecution, police brutality, and repression, Europe is sending a message to the victims of its exploitation, oppression, and wars: Get back to where you came from! And many of the countries through which immigrants pass are rounding them up and putting them in concentration camps.
There is a profound moral question posed here: Whether to be acquiescent in the violent enforcement of the gaping divisions in this brutally unequal world or whether to expose, denounce, oppose, and protest that, from the standpoint of getting to a world without any oppression, a world where humanity is not divided into relatively privileged enclaves surrounded by a world of misery and desperation.
Who Are the Refugees?
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
by Li Onesto | April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Saturday, April 25, at 11:56am, a powerful earthquake hit the country of Nepal. Within minutes, in the capital of Kathmandu, a densely populated city of 1.2 million people, buildings were reduced to rubble, street after street. Hundreds of bodies buried and many people trapped beneath bricks and concrete still alive.
As we go to press authorities are reporting 5,900 injuries and more than 2,500 deaths, 800 in Kathmandu alone. These numbers are sure to go up in the days to come.
For many hours after the quake hit and then into the next day a series of aftershocks sent people into new waves of panic. Through the night people dug through the rubble with pick axes and bare hands, pulling out bodies, looking for trapped survivors. Tens of thousands in Kathmandu slept outside Saturday night afraid to stay inside buildings because aftershocks threatened to cause buildings, weakened by the initial shock, to collapse. News sources from Kathmandu report that hundreds of thousands of people in Central Nepal also slept outside, many of them who had lost their homes made of mud and thatch.
The epicenter of the main earthquake that hit on Saturday morning was about 50 miles from Kathmandu, in the Gorkha district in west Nepal. Pokhara, one of Nepal’s major cities with a population of about 250,000 people, some 50 miles further west of the epicenter was also hard hit. The earthquake has affected 38 out of 75 of Nepal’s districts.
Over 80% of Nepal’s over 29 million people live in the countryside and there have been reports that 80% of the houses in the rural areas affected by the earthquake have been completely destroyed. Vim Tamang, a resident of Manglung near the epicenter was quoted as saying, “Our village has been almost wiped out. Most of our houses are either buried by landslide or damaged by shaking.” Tamang said that half the village’s population was missing or dead and that, “All the villagers have gathered in the open area. We don’t know what to do.” [Guardian, April 25, 2015]
The magnitude of an earthquake measures the amount shaking. This earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 is considered a very big earthquake. The catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Haiti was 7.0. Nepal has had only four earthquakes of 6.0 magnitude or higher in last 100 years. An earthquake of 8.3 magnitude in 1934 killed more than 10,000 people in Nepal.
Seismologists (scientists who study the mechanical properties of the earth and the science of earthquakes) have expected a major earthquake in western Nepal. This is an area where there is pent-up pressure from the grinding between tectonic plates—large, thin, plate-like sections that move relative to one another on the outer surface of the Earth. These plates are always moving slowly but when they get stuck at the edges due to friction and the stress overcomes the friction, this causes an earthquake that releases energy in waves that travels through the Earth’s crust.
The quake that hit Nepal on Saturday happened on what is known as a “thrust fault.” This is a situation when one piece of the Earth's crust is moving beneath another piece. In this case, it's the Indian plate that is moving north at 1.7 inches a year under the Eurasian plate to the north. This is where 40 to 50 million years ago, the collision of these two plates gave rise to the Himalayan mountain range.
The shallower the location of the earthquake, the more destructive power it carries and the earthquake that hit Nepal had a depth of only 7 miles, which is considered shallow in geological terms. It was felt as far away as Lahore in Pakistan, which is more than 700 miles away; in Lhasa in Tibet, 380 miles away and in Dhaka, Bangladesh which is 400 miles away.
Nepal is ranked 11th in terms of countries at risk in terms of vulnerability to earthquakes. And out of 21 cities around the world that are in similar earthquake/hazardous zones, Kathmandu is rated the worst in terms of the impact an earthquake would have on the people who live there.
Speaking to the relationship between these two things, seismologist James Jackson, head of the Earth Sciences Department at the University of Cambridge in England made a very important point: While the trigger of the disaster is natural—an earthquake—“the consequences are very much man-made.”
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, has long been oppressed—subordinate to, dependent on, and dominated by India and imperialist countries like the U.S. The vast majority of people in Nepal are peasants in the countryside, desperately poor, malnourished, and exploited by corrupt officials, landlords, and moneylenders. Nepal has a caste system—a rigidly structured social order in which different social groupings are ranked and lower castes and oppressed ethnic groups face systematic discrimination. In the world imperialist system Nepal also functions in part as a source of cheap migrant labor, especially in India and countries in the Middle East.
In the rural areas, where most people live there is little or no access to health care, education, safe drinking water, sanitation or other basic services. Women are intensely suppressed and treated as inferior in every facet of society. The difficulties of survival force many men to go work in construction in Qatar and Dubai in the Persian Gulf. Women often become victims of sexual slavery in India.
In the overcrowded cities there is a lack of modern infrastructure—water and sewage systems, electrical power, transportation and communication. Over the past decade, migration of people from the rural areas to the cities has exerted pressure on the cities' already under-developed infrastructure and services. The urban poor face homelessness, lack of clean drinking water, poor sanitation. In Nepal, there are about four million squatters living in cities and towns—50,000 in Kathmandu living in settlements in unhygienic and unsanitary areas. [IRINnews.org]
Nepal with such under-development is poorly equipped to deal with such an emergency. Even in “normal” times there is unreliable electricity with routine blackouts. The over 6,000 buildings that go up every few years in Kathmandu are poorly built and many times don’t adhere to regulations. The government spends little on addressing the tremendous conditions of poverty, let alone providing funds to prepare for earthquakes and other natural disasters. Nepal is economically dominated by India and nearly all the country’s gas and diesel supplies are brought in from India. With roads blocked due to the earthquake this means that supplies will quickly run dry.
Only one week before the earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, experts met in Nepal to prepare for what they saw as a “nightmare waiting to happen.” They feared the worst, not just because of the fact that Nepal lies on a seismic fault but also because of the human conditions that make such an event so much worse.
Seismologist David Wald points out that the same size earthquake can have very different effects in different places because of building construction and population. For example, in California in the United Stats, the same level of severe shaking would cause 10 to 30 people to die per million. But in Nepal this would be 1,000 or maybe more and up to 10,000 in parts of Pakistan, India, Iran and China. [nbcnews.com]
There was little that could be done to stop the earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25, 2015. But the fact that there is such tremendous death, destruction and suffering as a result of this natural disaster IS something due to human/societal factors—namely the system of capitalism/imperialism which subjects countries like Nepal to such impoverishment.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
Letter from a reader
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revolution cannot be made without a revolutionary force of millions. But the question is: a revolutionary force of millions brought into being and developed on what basis and toward what end?
—Bob Avakian, “Revolutionary Strategy, Bringing Forward a Revolutionary People,” March 29, 2009
In a recent article, the actual possibility of a revolutionary situation developing in the period ahead was spoken to accordingly:
With the uprising in Ferguson, and everything that broke out after that across the country, people stood up in a way that they had not in decades. And because of that, the possibilities of revolution were opened up in a way that they had not been for a long, long time. There is no guarantee, but there is a chance that a revolution could develop out of the further unfolding of what erupted in Ferguson and beyond, along with the sharpening of other contradictions and conflicts in society and the world, and the work of the vanguard—the Revolutionary Communist Party.1
As has been spoken to in other articles and works, making a revolution is a very complex struggle, involving many components and dimensions. When wrestling with what it means today to be organizing for an actual revolution, one major challenge before us right now is how do we accumulate organized forces for revolution; or another way to put this is how do we bring forward a revolutionary people? What do we mean by this? What does this look like? What kind of conscious ideological, political, and organizational work is necessary in order to achieve this? If in fact there is the possibility, as spoken above, of the development of a revolutionary situation then doesn’t that mean we need to be bringing forward wave after wave of revolutionary forces? If so, how do we approach this—get our arms around this? How do we shape all of this, and what do we mean when we say this?
This letter will speak to a few crucial contradictions of the revolution—contradictions which need to be further scientifically grappled with and worked on in our practical revolutionary work.
A revolutionary force of millions brought into being and developed on what basis and toward what end?
A decisive question which any movement serious about making revolution needs to confront is that posed by BA in the above quote, “a revolution ... toward what end?”
What IS an Actual Revolution?
As posted on our website, “An actual revolution is a lot more than a protest. An actual revolution requires that millions of people get involved, in an organized way, in a determined fight to dismantle this state apparatus and system and replace it with a completely different state apparatus and system, a whole different way of organizing society, with completely different objectives and ways of life for the people. Fighting the power today has to help build and develop and organize the fight for the whole thing, for an actual revolution. Otherwise we’ll be protesting the same abuses generations from now!”
As opposed to this clear statement of the process and objectives of an actual revolution, a lot of people see revolution as some sort of amorphous or unstructured movement, where people are rising and resisting against many different outrages and injustices, and somehow all of this will grow and grow until, as an organic extension out of such a movement, a revolutionary force will coalesce and be in a position to take power for the people. The objectives of such a revolution are also general and unclear, often a vague sense of “people power,” or general ideas of reforms for more equality, democracy, some better conditions for the people, or hoping to pressure the government to stop ruining the lives of people all over the world and to stop their despoliation and destruction of the planet.
Two points in relation to this type of thinking: 1) None of these reforms will really solve the problems of the people and free them from the oppressive hand of this system; 2) further, such a movement does not even begin to confront the actual nature of the present system, the way it is organized or the state apparatus which is in place to keep the system running and doing things the way it does, and why the system, in order to survive, must attempt to crush any forces which seriously threaten the way society and the government are organized.
Anyone serious about making an actual revolution needs to confront that there are two roads, two basic lines of thinking, on what a revolution is: it matters greatly to gain clarity on this, as one road has the possibility of leading to revolution and human emancipation, while the other road will ultimately end with demoralization, being defeated or crushed in some form or another.
So to start, we need to bring forward a revolutionary people who are committed to the road of an actual revolution, as described above, and determined to lead many millions on this path (even as all along the way there will continue to be many people who are part of the movement for revolution who are working their way through how they see these two roads).
But then, what are some other strategic components of bringing forward a revolutionary people, a force of millions?
To get on the ground here, to really make a revolution, we need a material force which can be wielded to meet and defeat an opposing material force.
What does this mean?
On one level, “In this struggle for revolutionary change, the revolutionary people and those who lead them will be confronted by the violent repressive force of the machinery of the state which embodies and enforces the existing system of exploitation and oppression; and in order for the revolutionary struggle to succeed, it will need to meet and defeat that violent repressive force of the old, exploitative and oppressive order.” (“Some Crucial Points of Revolutionary Orientation—in Opposition to Infantile Posturing and Distortions of Revolution,” July 30, 2006)
At the same time, there would be interpenetration of that with the phenomenon of “civil war between two sections of the people” (in broad terms, the revolutionary and counter-revolutionary sections, or forces, among the people overall) that would almost certainly be a major feature of such a struggle. The necessity would exist, in those future conditions, to both carry out such a battle between two sections of the people—intertwined with the struggle against the main repressive forces of the old order—and to work to achieve continuing repolarization, on more favorable terms, through the course of the overall struggle, winning over as many people as possible from the ranks of the counter-revolution to that of the revolution, or at least politically neutralizing them, so that they no longer took part in opposing the revolution. All this is another complexity that would have to be dealt with in the course of this protracted struggle.
—Bob Avakian, “Some Further Thoughts Relating to ‘On the Possibility of Revolution’—Imperialist countries” in Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon, Part 2: BUILDING THE MOVEMENT FOR REVOLUTION, March 8, 2011
So, when looking at bringing forward a revolutionary people, revolutionary leadership needs to step back and look at the strategic implications of what a revolution will need to confront, and give serious consideration to how, from among various sections of the people, will it be possible to build the necessary revolutionary movement and then bring forward a force of millions which is disciplined and organized so that it is able to be deployed in a way which will not be surrounded by reactionary and counter-revolutionary forces among the people, and will be able to “meet and defeat that violent repressive force of the old, exploitative and oppressive order.”
The purpose of this letter is not to get into all of this in any depth, but there are some key contradictions and questions of approach which have been spoken to by BA, which we need to be consciously aware of and purposively working on.
Bedrock Forces for Revolution—some contradictions to work on
Bob Avakian has devoted much scientific study and analysis to understanding what sections of the people potentially can actually become “a backbone and driving force role” in the struggle for revolution—that is, basic youth and basic masses more broadly, particularly those concentrated in the inner cities—many of whom are not strictly speaking part of the proletarian class. This is not based on a superficial or mechanical analysis of the “most oppressed,” but is based on analyzing and synthesizing the changing dynamics of this society over decades.
In this connection, a crucial contradiction of the revolution which we need to be working on, which BA has identified, is the need to “be actively working on bridging this tremendous chasm between that scientifically established and grounded recognition of this real revolutionary potential, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, where the masses of these youth are at now and where they’re being pulled by the dynamics of the system.” It is beyond the scope of this letter to go more deeply into this, but this is both examined scientifically and approaches to working on this contradiction are spoken to in various articles.2
Further, very much related to this, at the same time that we are working on “bridging this chasm,” another major contradiction is that any revolution will quickly face the challenge that the forces of repression will seek to isolate, surround, and crush this most “solid base of support” for such a revolution.
BA has pointed out “that there will be a gap, a significant gap, between the most bedrock base for this revolutionary movement and other strata of the people, if that is allowed to be turned into a profound, unsurpassable gulf, and only that hard-core section of the population is moving in the direction of involvement in and active support for this struggle, then this struggle is on the way to defeat. This is something that has to be thought about and acted upon not only when the conditions do undergo a qualitative change, and there is an all-out struggle for power—but long before that, in terms of how political and ideological and organizational work is carried out.” (emphasis mine)3
Again all of this needs to be approached with a living scientific approach and method, but the essential challenge posed here is how to build a movement which would not allow the forces of repression to isolate, marginalize, surround, and possibly ultimately crush this bedrock force for revolution—and thus, likely the revolution itself (either before a revolutionary situation develops or once such a struggle for power has commenced).
In this context it is important to study what BA points towards as a crucial strategic approach to this problem: “Now, at the same time, we have to also look at this in the broader context of what we’ve described as the ‘two maximizings’ (revolutionary work among the basic masses, and revolutionary work among the middle strata, and the dialectical inter-relation of all this) as a key part of our overall approach to building the movement for revolution.”4
With this in mind, we need to take stock of and scientifically understand, and then further build on some recent significant transformations in the objective situation in relation to “the two maximizings.” Here I am speaking to the fact that people of various strata, and especially youth and students of different nationalities have, as part of taking to the streets in protest and outrage, been raising the banner of “Black Lives Matter” and “Latino Lives Matter.” This has had tremendous impact in relation to basic masses not feeling isolated and alone, and thinking that what happens to them and more importantly, what they do to resist, does not matter to others in the society; and for broader strata this represented an important development where people are now confronting the reality of what life is like for those at the “bottom of society” and coming to grips with the role of the police as enforcers of oppression and repression. Also very significant is that many from broader strata, including youth and students, have been taking a moral and political stand, willing to put a lot on the line. (We need a lot more of this. There is a great need for these types of stands and actions to grow and spread, both in terms of making a larger social impact on the society, but also in terms of the breadth of those taking such a stand. (Where were major artists, actors, and sports figures stepping out and making an honest stand in all of this? A tweet here and there will not change the world.))
I think some of the dynamic here was captured powerfully and poetically by a letter from “a former prisoner who is now an emancipator of humanity”:5
As someone who has never stepped foot in a university classroom and only caught glimpses of what life is like outside ghettos and prisons, I can tell you that when you’re cast off and counted as nothing, you often see yourself as the least able to change anything. But when you rise up against the conditions that you didn’t choose but were born into, and you see people stand with you, who come from sections of society that you learned to assume could never give a fuck, then that defeatism begins to break down and the possibility of getting rid of all this shit begins to come to life.
This advance in the “two maximizings” really is something of a revolutionary new thing, an important beginning strategic advance in building a movement for revolution, something we need to consciously “jump on,” further developing and strengthening this dynamic, both in relation to the struggle to stop genocidal persecution, mass incarceration, police brutality, and murder of Black and Brown people, and as part preparing for and laying the basis for a material force in society which can meet and defeat the strategic approach taken by the forces of repression to defeat the revolution by isolating and then crushing the bedrock force and backbone of such a revolution.
All of this must be further understood in the context of what BA has referred to as the “multi-layered, multi-colored map” in referring to the complexities involved in bringing forward a revolutionary people—this is something which is beyond the scope of this letter, but which again needs to be understood and “worked on.”6
The point in all of this is how are we consciously working on these contradictions of the revolution in relation to consciously shaping a movement for revolution, which in its make-up and its scientific understanding of the problem and the solution will comprise a revolutionary people of significant size and scope, which under the leadership of the RCP will be in a position, when the time is right, to actually go for revolution? Of course all of this will be very complex, and there are other crucial contradictions and components of the revolution not touched on in this letter, and in all of this, as the dynamics of the society change (including the political and strategic polarization and re-polarization), we need to continually analyze and synthesize how to approach building this movement for revolution.
For a deeper and broader strategic reflection on some of these questions, those who are serious about taking responsibility for leading a revolution, and those who want to understand the process of revolution more deeply, should study Bob Avakian’s “Revolutionary Strategy, Bringing Forward a Revolutionary People, “ March 29, 2009, available at revcom.us
2. “So, involving the basic youth is not just a matter of ‘let’s get together and fight,’ although that’s part of it—Fight the Power—but it’s also the all-around work to enable them to transform their thinking, not just so they ‘like our ‘narrative’ better.’ No. That’s not how we’re proceeding, or not how we should be proceeding. So that they actually come to a more and more scientific approach to and understanding of reality and on that basis see both the necessity and the possibility to radically transform that reality through revolution and guided by the new synthesis—communism and its development further through the new synthesis of communism. If we don’t carry out all-around work in which, yes, standing up and fighting back, fighting the power, is extremely important, but is only one part of the overall process that needs to involve—that these youth need to be part of—an overall process in which, in a pivotal sense, transforming the thinking of the people is what’s pivotally involved in this overall process of Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution, of preparing minds and organizing forces for revolution.”
—Bob Avakian, “Bridging the Chasm—Bringing Alive the Revolutionary Potential of Basic Youth,” in “The Strategic Approach to Revolution and Its Relation to Basic Questions of Epistemology and Method,” August 4, 2014 [back]
3. Bob Avakian, “Some Further Thoughts Relating to ‘On the Possibility of Revolution’—Imperialist countries” in Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon, Part 2: BUILDING THE MOVEMENT FOR REVOLUTION,” March 8, 2011 [back]
4. Bob Avakian, “The Strategic Approach to Revolution and Its Relation to Basic Questions of Epistemology and Method,” August 4, 2014. See the section, “The Two Maximizings.” [back]
5. “A Message to Students and Young People of ALL Nationalities,” March 18, 2015 [back]
6. “As we have very correctly and importantly emphasized, only in doing this will it be possible to bring forward a revolutionary force among any section of the people; this cannot be done in boxed off and self-contained ways. Society doesn't exist and reality generally doesn't exist in that way, with self-contained compartments—and therefore neither can the building of a revolutionary movement proceed in that way.
“At the same time, what is being gotten at with this metaphor of a multi-layered, multi-colored map is that there are contradictory trends and tendencies—or, if you will, strengths and weaknesses—among different sections of the people. This is not to deny the basic and bedrock role of the most exploited and oppressed sections of society as the backbone of the revolutionary movement. But it is to emphasize once again that all this will not be a straight line and simple process.”
—Bob Avakian, “UNRESOLVED CONTRADICTIONS, DRIVING FORCES FOR REVOLUTION,” November 29, 2009 [back]
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 22, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
(Right now Carl is in Baltimore focused on the fight against police murder and mass incarceration. Given, however, the seriousness of the attack against Cornel West, he and I have talked at length about this, and I am writing for us both. Lenny Wolff)
This Sunday, the New Republic posted a vicious attack on Cornel West, “The Ghost of Cornel West,” by Michael Eric Dyson. This attack is not an academic dispute; it is a hit job against a deeply principled intellectual who refused to put away his critical faculties when Obama took office, who has increasingly stepped out into the struggle against murders by police and mass incarceration, and who has done so in a way that condemns and exposes the crimes—and yes, they are crimes—of the Obama Administration. All the sound and fury of Dyson’s long rant cannot hide that essential, and shameful, fact.
On one level, Dyson’s attack is beneath contempt and barely merits reply. But because principle and intellectual rigor are currently so debased in this society, and because powerful forces seem intent on promoting Dyson’s takedown of Cornel West, reply we must.
Instead of making a reasoned critique of Cornel West’s actual positions, Dyson vacuums up a toxic brew of speculation on personal motives, rumors, criticisms from all kinds of quarters (some of which he says he doesn’t even agree with), and out-of-context bits and pieces from West’s personal life (taking special advantage of moments where Cornel made himself vulnerable by confiding personal regrets), and then he spews this all over his readers. Dyson has combined this brew with mis-readings of key concepts developed and/or worked on by West (the rise of nihilism in the Black community during the 80’s/90’s, the role of prophecy as a strand in Black leadership, the relevance of jazz to intellectual undertakings, etc.) that are as superficial as they are willful. All of this is designed to overwhelm people’s critical faculties and hide the actual substance of what Dyson is attacking and defending. This is what passes for intellectual criticism in the era of reality TV. Let’s look at what Dyson says.
First, Dyson indicts Cornel West for a lack of new thought. Dyson must not have read and listened to West lately, for surely he would have noticed that Black Prophetic Fire is actually a further development of West’s thinking on a number of very important questions. West uses the form of conversations about six pre-eminent figures in the cause of Black emancipation. He draws out the contributions and shortcomings of each as he sees it, and in the process further develops his thoughts on the particular role of the Afro-American people in U.S. history and the current day, the (varying, multiple and sometimes contradictory) qualities of what he calls prophetic leadership, the challenges posed by the current era, among other things. Yes, this is a different form, in keeping with West’s drawing on the jazz tradition—this is improvisation on a theme, done collectively in dialogue with someone who has differing but overlapping views. How refreshing!
The actual content of WHAT Cornel gets into here—what he is driving at, how he is posing and approaching these questions, the actual evaluations he makes of these different signal historical figures, the synthesis he is driving at and our respective “takes” on this—is beyond the scope of this letter. What is relevant here is that Dyson, in claiming that West has no new thinking, never actually engages what Cornel has been saying, in this and other works and forums. This kind of blatant non-engagement should be seen as unconscionable and ruling whoever does it out of any sort of serious consideration.
Second, Dyson dismisses Cornel West’s work of the past six years as driven by personal spite. Please! What a commentary on this gossip-driven culture that such a claim has any legs at all. One of us, Carl, has actually been in public dialogue with Cornel at least half a dozen times, stretching from the June 2009 dialogue on “In The Age of Obama: What Future for our Youth?” to a dialogue this month on the emergency of murder by police. You can see these dialogues for yourself online, or you can check out any of the other dialogues that Cornel has done with a whole range of people over these past years—including the recent unprecedented dialogue with Bob Avakian at Riverside Church this past November on revolution and religion—and even a few minutes should convince you that Cornel West’s critique of Obama focuses on questions of empire and of Obama’s actual actions as the head of that empire. (It is—again—stunning, and a sad commentary on intellectual discourse today, that Dyson feels he can get away with attacking Cornel West and never once mention the word “empire” in the whole steaming 9500-word heap.)
If the stakes were not so high, it would be almost comical when Dyson instructs Cornel in “how to deliver criticisms of Obama to Black audiences.” Dyson says you have to start with how much you love and respect Obama and his “achievement” of becoming President, then acknowledge the animosity he’s incurred among the racists and fascists, and only then offer your criticisms for his “missteps and failures.” As Carl strongly pointed out in discussing this with me, this pat little formula totally leaves out the fact that Obama is Commander-in-Chief of the biggest empire in the world, and is raining down terror and horror on people in that role, and these are CRIMES and not “missteps.” Dyson then boils Cornel’s supposed inability to follow the formula to West’s “lack of respect” for Obama, when the key difference between the approaches of Dyson and West is precisely whether you expose the objective ROLE of Obama.
Third, it is telling—and speaks very much to the point and purpose of Dyson’s screed—that he delivers a back-handed slap at the fact that Cornel West has increasingly assumed a front-line and very important role in the struggle against police murder. Dyson goes so far as to say that this activity is nothing but stunts for the camera.
Let’s look at the facts. One of us, Carl, co-founded the network to Stop Mass Incarceration with Cornel in August of 2011 in a basement meeting with a dozen other people and nary a camera in sight. The first action of this network was to link up revolutionaries and anti-police brutality activists with the Occupy movement in October of 2011 to do a series of civil disobedience actions against Stop-and-Frisk in New York. Yes, Carl, Cornel and the others involved sought to make this known, to get this outrageous abuse in the front of the cameras—innocent as charged! Cornel came to critical, out-of-the-limelight meetings where strategy and political will was forged with the parents and relatives of police murder victims, immigrant rights activists, clergy, and many others and he made time on a number of occasions to speak at events organized by parents and clergy in particular, and to lend his name and platform to their cases. It is highly ironic that the New York actions against the police a week ago which Dyson briefly cited in his New York Times op-ed of Friday April 17 were part of national actions which Cornel and Carl led in calling for and helped to organize, including at a critical rally where the two spoke on April 6 in NYC leading up to these actions.
What exactly is Dyson’s problem with all this? Is it that during these past few actions West has been quoted making the point that here we are six-plus years into the reign of a Black president, Black attorney general, and Black head of “Homeland Security” and there has not been a single successful federal prosecution of murder by police? That in fact this crime has grown during their reign?
(And here it has to be said, in the face of Dyson’s accusations of egotism, that—as Carl often points out—Cornel has gone out of his way since 1996 and the first time they worked together to credit others and bring them into the spotlight, and more generally to reference the work of others and graciously point to their contributions at any opportunity, even when this goes against the grain of his audience. In many ways, Cornel West fights to represent what Bob Avakian has called the “largeness of mind and generosity of spirit” so badly needed in society today.)
Dyson’s rant takes on what would, again, be comical proportions were it not for the stakes and dangers of these times when, toward the end of his piece, Dyson delivers his pathetic list of Obama’s “achievements.” These are supposed “left-wing” accomplishments that Obama has carried out while cleverly pretending to “talk right.” Here Dyson blots out and covers over Obama’s record as deporter-in-chief, his refusal to even half-heartedly criticize murders by police (let alone do anything about them) until not doing so would have seriously undermined his legitimacy among Black people, his defense of draconian surveillance and attacks on those daring to reveal these crimes, his all-out support for Israel’s genocidal attacks on Gaza, his vicious military predations and outright war crimes from Afghanistan to Libya and most recently Yemen (where, with true Obama-esque double-talk, he now “condemns” the Saudi airstrikes that he himself authorized!), etc. And as Dyson once knew when he (correctly) took a whole book to go after Bill Cosby’s “pull-up-your-pants” poison, “talking right”—as Obama does when, at his “Brother’s Keeper” press conference in 2014, he all but openly blamed the murders of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis on absent Black fathers (when such “absences” have everything to do with the very consciously designed genocidal policy of mass incarceration)*, or when Obama does his own Bill Cosby imitation at places like the Morehouse graduation ceremony in 2014—has seriously bad consequences.
There is a further irony here when Dyson, who praised Race Matters when it came out, now faults Cornel West’s criticism of nihilism in that book as “blaming the victim.” First of all, read the damn book and engage it—get into what he’s actually saying and if you, Dyson, have changed your opinion on it now, say why you agreed back then and why you now have changed your mind. More to the point, it’s really outrageous to say this about Cornel, when a large part of his vocation over decades now has been precisely to uphold, defend and stand with in deed as well as word “the least of these”—those who have been cast out, stigmatized, demonized, despised, incarcerated and murdered by this system.
I want to conclude by saying that Carl particularly emphasized to me that one has to wonder at the timing of this attack when the network which he and Cornel co-initiated has just mounted a mass outpouring against police murder on April 14, making a major contribution to re-seizing the offensive on this for the movement as a whole. You have to wonder at the timing of this compendium of cheap shots, rank distortions and half-truths, right when we are beginning what promises to be a long hot summer, to invoke that 60’s term—a time when the police have been emboldened by the Justice Department’s whitewash of Darren Wilson’s murder of Michael Brown but when masses of people are increasingly refusing to take this, and not so persuaded by those who would want them to work within the system, and when the Obama administration that Dyson so cherishes has no real answers to this horror. You have to wonder as well why Dyson offers not reasoned criticism or disagreement, but a really foul farrago of snark, half-truths and straight-up slanders, seemingly designed to destroy a rare and important truth-teller and, increasingly, front-line activist at just this crucial time.
Michael Eric Dyson: which side are you on?
* The conference on Brother’s Keeper took place just days after the anniversary of Martin’s unpunished murder by the vigilante George Zimmerman, and shortly after Jordan Davis’ killer had been found not guilty, in his first trial, of the homicide of Davis. It is painfully ironic that for all of Obama’s emphasis about absent fathers, the very real presence of both these fathers in their sons’ lives could not prevent white supremacy from murdering them.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A powerful movement to stop police brutality rose out of the streets of Ferguson, Missouri after the police murder of Mike Brown. It drew on the anger built up when a racist vigilante murdered Trayvon Martin and got a pat on the back from the system. It was fueled by the unbearable reality that every god damn day police shoot, brutalize, humiliate, terrorize, and murder Black and brown people—from Staten Island to Los Angeles, from Pasco, WA to South Carolina... and everywhere in between. That movement, last fall, rocked this country like nothing since the sixties.
But the powers-that-be lashed back. With beatings and arrests. With slander and lies. With bullshit about what a dangerous job it is to go out and murder Black and brown people with the full backing of the system. With entreaties to “have a conversation” coupled with threats. December came with stepped up repression and threats, and the movement got chilled.
So the question that HAD TO BE ANSWERED: Are the powers-that-be going to shut this all down? Or would people regroup, get back in the streets, and begin to take the movement against police murder to a higher level?
To quote our editorial: “The demonstrations against police murder on April 14 marked a new beginning for the struggle against this outrage. This is crucially important, for without mass struggle there can be no progress whatsoever and the powers-that-be will just hammer people into the ground. Further these demonstrations had important potential significance for revolution—for finally getting free of a society in which murder by police continues to go on daily and more, and people continue to be oppressed more generally... a society in which the lives of Black and other oppressed people are treated as if they do not matter. A14 was a great day, a great beginning—and now the challenge is to learn the lessons and take it further.
Among the cities where protests shut shit down: New York City; Chicago; Greensboro, North Carolina; Atlanta; Los Angeles; Houston; the San Francisco Bay Area; Springfield, Massachusetts; Stockton, California; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; Cleveland; Pasco, Washington; Trenton, New Jersey; Detroit; Ferguson, Missouri; Birmingham; and Madison, Wisconsin. There are too many stories of defiance to recount here, and reports are still coming in, but the following gives a glimpse of what happened. Stay tuned to revcom.us for photos, interviews and video from around the country. We’ll update coverage as we learn more (and continue to send photos, video, and reports to email@example.com).
New York City
There were marches of a thousand and more. And actions by a handful who got it, and who didn’t let the fact that everybody else doesn’t stop them. 1500 marched in New York City, tying up the Brooklyn Bridge and busting into world news coverage. In Birmingham, Alabama, three defiant ones with a Black Lives Matter banner shut down an intersection, caused a major commotion, and went to jail. In over 20 cities and on dozens of high school and college campuses, there was no business as usual on April 14. Protests took different forms, with different forces and views in the mix—determined and defiant that police murder must STOP and that this would not be a day of business as usual.
The largest protest took place in NYC where, starting last December, the mayor has felt it necessary to defend every instance of police murder and brutality, and to viciously slander and attack just protest against police brutality. Two hours before the main convergence a crew of about a dozen people, a mix of veteran revolutionaries and people from the ‘hood, gathered in Harlem to spread the word and mobilize more people to come down. An older man tapped out a beat on a hand-held drum which had a saying from the Bible. He had lived in Harlem since Malcolm X’s time and proudly remembered seeing him on the street; he said that things had only gotten worse since then.
Cornel West and Carl Dix, initiators of the call for April 14, spoke in New York's Union Square.
At Union Square, Cornel West, who along with Carl Dix initiated the call for April 14, called out to a thousand people: “Let the word go forth here and now. It’s a new day in New York City! It’s a new day in the country! And it’s a new day because when those who some call everyday people straighten their backs up, they’re going somewhere. Cuz folk can’t ride your back unless it’s bent. And when you take a stand, when you’re willing to take a risk and tell the truth... and the condition of truth is always to allow suffering to speak. And when suffering speaks, the powers that be have to respond in some way. And there’s been too many folk, not just murdered, not just killed—systematically disrespected and we’ve reached the point where we can’t take it any longer!”
Speaking of the challenge, Carl Dix told the crowd in Union Square: “Now, when you say you’re going to stop something as serious as that, you gotta get organized. That’s why Cornel and I formed the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. It exists to build resistance to this genocide that’s coming down. It’s a slow genocide right now, but it could speed up at any moment. If you want to see this genocide stopped then you need to get with us. The Network, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, has people who come at things differently—we don’t all believe the same things, we don’t all practice and think the same way—but we all think that police murdering people, that people being warehoused in prison, treated like less than full human beings must stop, and we come together to stop it. Look, if you feel that way, then you need to join with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. Sign up on the sheet with it, come out to the next meeting and be part of building up the resistance that can stop this shit.
In New York people hopped over high fences to get into the lanes of traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge.
“Now, those of you who know me know that I’m a revolutionary communist and that I will always tell you that things don’t have to be this way. We don’t have to put up with police murdering our youth. We can end all of this stuff, but it’s gonna take revolution, nothing less, to do it. That is what I am out here for, that’s what I’m working on. That’s what the Revolutionary Communist Party and its leader Bob Avakian are working on...”
Marching from Union Square, picking up people as they headed to the Brooklyn Bridge where those young and daring enough hopped over high fences and streamed into lanes of traffic.
Blocking the train in Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, after a rally of nearly 1000 people, dozens of protesters determined to keep shutting it down on A14 to STOP police murder stayed in the downtown area through rush hour. Twenty of them sat down in a very busy intersection downtown stopping the Blue Line Metro train, backing up street and freeway traffic for over an hour.
In both San Francisco and Oakland, protesters stormed into City Halls, confronting the powers-that-be and media with posters of those whose lives had been taken by police. In Portland, San Francisco, and Oakland freeways were shut down or blocked. In Stockton, CA, one of the busiest intersections was shut down. And there were defiant, determined protests in other places as well.
Inside the Oakland, California, City Hall.
High school and college students broke out of dozens of schools and shook up business as usual in their schools, and in society.
In Los Angeles, a teacher told a young woman she was "too small to make a change." She responded: "Look how many people I got to walk out w/ me!" Students at Kenwood Academy in Chicago staged an exuberant walkout, and two were arrested. Over 30 students walked out of Brooklyn Friends HS to march in NYC.
In Madison, high school students and others shut down East Washington for hours—several were arrested. Including a member of the media whose camera was destroyed. A statement by Young Gifted and Black said “Community members are outraged but unsurprised by this gross display of state power by MPD.”
Die-In in Seattle
There were die-ins at UCLA, UMass Amherst, and University of Wisconsin (Madison). Students walked out and rallied on campuses including Washington U in St. Louis and Columbia in NYC. At John Caroll University in Ohio, the Black Student Union reported police "tore down our signs advertising this event." About 30 students at Seattle Central College (SCC), a working class community college with many Black and multinational students, walked out of class after a smaller group of students, organizers and people from the community marched and chanted through the hallways, up and down staircases, and held die-ins and speak-outs in the halls and cafeteria. During a speak-out in the cafeteria, a Black male student went on about the real problem is "Black on Black crime." This was taken on by a Black woman, who encouraged people to not be tricked, saying that this is a lie to get people to think that Black people are less-than-human animals. The SCC students then marched to a nearby Catholic university, where they picked up a couple dozen more people—one said “I had to join because those are my people (the faces on the banner), you are my people (the protesters)." The students joined 200 people blocking major streets in downtown Seattle during rush hour.
Blocking the main entrance to the University of California at Berkeley, Sather Gate.
At U.C. Berkeley, fifteen students took a determined stand at the main entrance. That determination, including in the face of other students who resented having their routine disrupted, compelled dozens more—with up to 75 people physically blocking the entrance. A correspondent made an important observation: “This made a critical difference, it turned from symbolic protest to a real SHUTDOWN. And shutting down the thoroughfare of these students rushing pell mell to lunch or from one class to another is something. This is a wave of hundreds, probably thousands, streaming through in a matter of 10 minutes or so, and it is often very frustrating to try and reach these students in this mode—blinders on, seemingly oblivious to anything but where they’re getting next. So that herd-mode was turned on its head and stopped—forcing students to stop and confront this and think about it for real. As one Black student said: people can ignore a leaflet or a rally or a conversation, but they can’t ignore this!” The correspondent added, “It really struck me that some of the sharpest ideological struggle has to go on with those people who think they already know, or they’re already opposed to racism so they’re cool or doing all they can. Most of the UC students were respectful and basically supportive, a relative few tried to bust through the lines."
Revolution Club in Oakland, California
There was an inspiring breadth to the events. At the core, dedicated activists in the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and revolutionary communists for whom the struggle to end police brutality and murder is tightly integrated into building a movement for revolution that will end ALL oppression. This core included people who saw the Dialogue, Revolution and Religion with Bob Avakian, the leader of the movement for communist revolution, and the revolutionary Christian Cornel West. Carl Dix from the Revolutionary Communist Party and others associated with the RCP were an unshakable force, giving backbone and heart to those who looked to them for leadership, and a compelling challenge to a wide range of forces, and—including through alternative media and breaking into the mainstream—reaching millions. Revolution Clubs in several cities were a critical presence, rushing to the front of the struggle, and inviting people into the movement for revolution and communism.
New York—Eve Ensler hugs Hawa Bah, whose son Mohamed was killed by police.
There were the courageous families of people whose loved ones were taken from them by police murder. Some were brand new to the struggle. Others, like Nicholas Heyward Sr, or Juanita Young have been fighting police murder for as long as twenty years—not just for their own sake but for everyone else as well.
In NYC, activists supporting the 43 Mexican students from Ayotzinapa kidnapped by the government marched—their banner with the faces of the 43 missing victims in painful synergy with the huge banners of victims of police murder in the U.S. and infusing the march with a global consciousness.
In New York City, activists supporting the 43 Mexican students from Ayotzinapa kidnapped by the government marched—their banner with the faces of the 43 missing victims in painful synergy with the huge banners of victims of police murder in the U.S. and infusing the march with a global consciousness.
The mix varied from city to city, but in many places, the people who catch the most hell on a daily basis in ameriKKKa were on the cutting edge. In infamous Ferguson, MO, Black youth were literally dancing in the street in front of the police station on April 14, and in Chicago, the majority of the 300 who took to the streets were Black people. One high school student who said he marched because "The police are continually killing black children and nothing's happening. So today we are going to march. I am going to march for my black people.” In a number of cities including Cleveland and Stockton, those in the streets were in large part from communities of the most oppressed.
And there were people of all nationalities and walks of life who stood with them.
A still-small but all the more inspiring representation of voices of conscience from the arts, entertainment, and politics lent moral strength and made it harder to attack the protests, and harder to turn away from them. Several important statements of conscience were issued in advance of the day.
Ferguson, Missouri youth dancing in the street in front of the police station. Video special to revcom.us
On the 14th, poet, journalist and human rights activist Rose Styron issued a statement: “The shooting of unarmed blacks, Hispanics and poor youths on the streets of America, and the long-term incarceration of young offenders are among the most flagrant examples of failure in our policy and justice systems. March on today!”
At Georgia State in Atlanta, rapper Jasiri X got on the mic as students blocked a walkway with a banner of photos of victims of police murder. Residente from the musical group Calle 13 tweeted a photo of himself with Cornel West and Carl Dix at the rally in NYC.
Jazz great Arturo O’Farrill spoke in New York City: “It’s very simple—you have to connect your life, you have to connect your art, you have to connect your job, you have to connect your soul to something that is bigger than you. You have to connect all of this to justice. You connect to caring, to loving, to loving one another and demanding better of the NYPD, the SFPD, the LAPD. If we don’t demand better from them, they are paid to govern and protect us. We cannot sit idly by while they kill our children. No more! No more killing young Blacks and Hispanics! This moment has to end!”
Legendary feminist Eve Ensler was at the front of the march in New York City. She issued a powerful statement that included “I am here today in outrage and sorrow. I am here to say no to the racist epidemic of police murders of black and brown women and men and children that continues despite massive protests and outcry. I am here to say we must escalate our efforts and our resistance to these gruesome shootings. I refuse the 8 bullets in Walter Scott’s back, the 12 bullets in Michael Brown’s chest, the 4 Taser shots that killed Natasha McKenna. I refuse the knee in the back that smashed Tanisha Anderson, the 2 bullets in Yvette Smith, the 23 bullets in Malissa Williams, the 2 bullets in 12 year old Tamir Rice’s chest, the bullets fired into Meagan Hockaday just 20 seconds after they arrived in her home. I refuse the bullets of a police state that continues to murder the oppressed rather than lifting their conditions. I call on every white person who has the privilege of walking the streets without fear of being snuffed out by those who brazenly exercise their license to kill, to walk out today and every day until our brothers and sisters are safe and free. I stand with a broken heart for the families, for the friends for the terrorized witnesses, for their sorrow and loss.”
Wherever the Stolen Lives banner went, it drew a line in the sand. People saw faces they knew, and loved. People who hadn’t a clue as to the extent of police murder were shaken up. Nobody could just walk on by.
Religious forces were an important part of the strength of the day. Speaking in Union Square in New York City, Reverend Calvin Butts declared “I have come today to represent with members of the clergy from all five boroughs. The power of the church must stand with the people in this because we can no longer watch our young people be shot down. I’ve watched this for over 40 years. And we get the same story each and every time. Enough is enough! And we must, we must, stand up! We must stand together because power is the only thing that power understands. Shut it down!” Reverend Butts helped mobilize a coalition of clergy from around the city that marched together on April 14.
Rabbi Michael Lerner of the Network of Spiritual Progressives spoke in both Oakland and San Francisco. He said “In this society there is a racism that is deep and imbedded and has not gone away. We have to recognize that every specific manifestation of that racism has to be stood up to and fought against” And, that “The only way to counter this is to have a different world view that says that we are all in this together... That there is a fundamental unity and that unity has to extend to all the divisions in this country but to recognize our fundamental unity with all people on this planet."
Reverend Amos Brown, San Francisco branch president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was in the crowd in San Francisco on April 14 and said, “I know that business as usual has been interrupted, but there comes a time when we the oppressed must rise up.”
A contingent behind a banner from St. Paul and St. Andrews United Methodist Church was in the crowd in Union Square.
Frederick A. Davie, M.Div. , Executive Vice-President, Secretary to the Board of Trustees at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York sent out an email that included: “Students, faculty and staff are welcome to make their own choices about attending the Shut It Down Rally tomorrow in Union Square at 2pm.... Serene and I are fully supportive of this event, as we are horrified by the killing of primarily black and brown people by law enforcement in our nation. If you do decide to attend the event, please be safe and exercise care."
In many places, the authorities, who send their police out to kill every day, sent their police to attack the protests. In Cleveland police brought out horses to corral and attack the protest. There were dozens of arrests in NYC, and at least two people were seriously injured in vicious police assaults.
In Cleveland, Ohio, police brought out horses to corral and attack the protest.
Over a dozen people were arrested in Springfield, MA and authorities published the names, faces, and addresses of those arrested. A protester defiantly responded, “The mayor needs to be here, see this, be arm-in-arm with us and standing up with this to let the system know we are no longer going to sit back and watch our black and brown children get killed.” And when asked about the arrests, he said, “That’s how much it means to us, that’s why we put our lives on the line. This means so much to us, we’re fighting to survive.”
There were dozens of arrests in other places as well. Having the backs of those attacked and arrested is critical to defending and building the movement.
Being part of this was transforming, for all involved. At the emergency meeting in Manhattan to make plans to respond to the police attacks, where there was controversy over whether it had been right, and worth it, to actually SHUT IT DOWN on the Brooklyn Bridge, a 16-year-old woman high school student who had been arrested said that A14 was "the best day of my life."
April 14 was heard around the world. The press in Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America gave significant coverage to the protests, and people heard about them around the world from going to revcom.us. And people around the world are attuned to the state of struggle in the empire built on genocide, slavery, and unjust wars.
A Revolution reader from South America wrote: “I am very proud about what you did on A14 (and what you are doing now). I am watching photos and videos that you are publishing, it is very inspiring for me to know that there, in ‘the belly of the beast’ as you say, the people are beginning to awake. It is important for the world that in the USA, people in general and revolutionaries in particular, have a very strong movement for the revolution, it is important to publish more of the A14 in order to break the block out of the official media, the media of the imperialist burgueois, that never will talk about the movement that is borning now, ‘the American spring’, that will remove the very base of the imperialist system.”
* * *
All this shows, more than anything else, the potential for the movement that was revived and strengthened on April 14 to burst out on a whole other level.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
From a member of the Atlanta Revolution Club
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Earlier this month a group of Black students at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia conducted a small demonstration on the school’s campus. The demonstrators walked on the U.S. flag as it lay on the ground next to a Bible and Quran to protest white supremacy.
News about the demonstration went viral when a video was posted to YouTube of Air Force veteran Michelle Manhart (the video was filmed by Manhart’s daughter) approaching the protesters and grabbing the flag. The students demand the flag back as a young Black woman holds onto one end of the flag while Manhart launches into a diatribe about how she needs to “properly dispose of the flag,” since it has touched the ground. Within moments, police that were already watching the demonstrators move in and order her to return the flag, after several minutes of arguing with the police and refusing to return the flag, one of the cops attempts to handcuff Manhart.
As she wrestles with the cops attempting to handcuff her, Manhart yells at the police, “Why are you not touching her? Why are you not touching her?” referring to the young Black woman whose flag she had stolen. She holds onto the flag throughout the struggle with the police. Eventually she is detained and released with a warning.
One of the onlookers commented during the scuffle, “If this was in the ’hood, you would have been shot by now!” Many commentators on Twitter and other social media noticed this obvious truth, as well. If Michelle Manhart had been Black, she would have been shot dead.
Consider this: Michelle Manhart’s actions have much in common with the justification the police and their racist mouthpieces in the media used to support the killing of Michael Brown. Right after Michael Brown’s murder became known about around the country, Ferguson police released surveillance camera footage of Michael Brown supposedly shoving a convenience store clerk and stealing a pack of cigars. (It must be noted that Ferguson’s chief of police admitted that Darren Wilson didn’t stop Mike Brown because he was suspected in a convenience-store robbery, but because he was “walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic.”) The right-wing racists jumped all over the surveillance footage admonishing Mike Brown as a “thug” who deserved what he got. The same dogs that can justify a death sentence for an unarmed Black man accused of petty theft and “charging” an officer, celebrate Michelle Manhart stealing the protesters’ flag and scuffling with the police.
After the video went viral, a number of right-wing blogs and Fox News exploded with celebration and interviews with Michelle Manhart. Pro-flag protesters in the thousands descended on the campus and classes were canceled. Comments on social media spewed with bigoted rants against the anti-white supremacy protesters, and particularly against Eric Sheppard. Several videos of Sheppard were posted on YouTube explaining his intention and debating with students over his group’s decision to walk on the flag. “That flag represents white supremacy racism which is plaguing the entire earth, so when we step on that flag we are stepping on racism, white supremacy... the flag represents lies, deceit, and things that were erected alongside our genocide and our holocaust,” he said.
Soon another video appeared with Sheppard, this time filmed by Fox. It shows Valdosta police approaching Eric Sheppard and a friend and accusing them of making threats against other students. Sheppard denies the accusation and tells the cops that they are threatening, “You are the ones standing here with guns,” he says. The cops release them.
Later that day an announcement is made that a backpack containing a handgun and two loaded magazines was found on campus. The police claim that they have evidence linking it to Eric Sheppard and issue a warrant for his arrest. At this time, Sheppard has avoided the police. (It is also worth noting, I will not go into detail here, that Valdosta police are accused of covering up the alleged murder of high school student, Kendrick Johnson.)
There is a lot of speculation, national chauvinism, and vile racist vitriol exploding around this incident. Without commenting on the ideological/political views of Eric Sheppard (about which there is a lot of speculation and distortion), we should look at a few basic facts: 1. Eric Sheppard and the other Black students walking on the flag were not breaking the law. 2. Michelle Manhart confronted the students and stole their flag and refused to return it. 3. Michelle Manhart resisted arrest, an offense that few people of color can imagine walking away from with a warning, let alone their life. 4. The indignation expressed by the thousands of pro-flag protesters flocking to Valdosta in defense of a red, white, and blue rag on the ground is shameful when juxtaposed against their indifference to the unarmed Black bodies that lie on the ground wounded by the police every day in this country.
STOP THINKING LIKE AMERICANS AND START THINKING ABOUT HUMANITY!
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In speaking to the situation facing Black and Latino people in the U.S.—mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline, the criminalization and demonization of a whole generation of youth, the overt or just-below-the-surface racism prevalent in society, etc.—Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party has said what is taking place is a slow genocide that could easily become a fast genocide. The word “genocide” comes from the ancient root words “genos” (people) and “cide” (killing)—according to the UN, genocide is the deliberate imposition on a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group of “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” This regular feature highlights aspects of this slow genocide.
A front page article in the April 20 New York Times carried the headline: “1.5 Million Missing Black Men.”
The article, by Justin Wolfers, David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy, starts with this:
“For every 100 black women not in jail, there are only 83 black men. The remaining men—1.5 million of them—are, in a sense, missing.”
Among cities with sizable Black populations: The largest single gap is in Ferguson, Missouri—where Michael Brown was killed: 40 missing Black men for every 100 Black women. North Charleston, SC, has a gap larger than 75 percent of cities: 25 missing Black men for every 100 Black women.
This gap, the authors explain, is driven mostly by incarceration and early deaths. And this gap—between men and women in the population—is something that barely exists among white people, where the statistic is only 1 missing white man for every 100 white women.
This IS real evidence of the slow GENOCIDE this system is carrying out on Black people in this country.
The article goes on to add up more “missing Black men”:
“In New York, almost 120,000 black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are missing from everyday life. In Chicago, 45,000 are, and more than 30,000 are missing in Philadelphia. Across the South—from North Charleston, S.C., through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi and up into Ferguson, Mo.—hundreds of thousands more are missing.”
More than one out of every six Black men who today should be between 25 and 54 years old has disappeared from daily life. And they are missing largely because of EARLY DEATH and because THEY ARE BEHIND BARS.
Of the 1.5 million missing Black men from 25 to 54, which demographers consider “prime-age”:
* Higher imprisonment rates account for almost 600,000. Almost one in 12 Black men in this age group are behind bars, compared with one in 60 non-Black men in the same age group; one in 200 Black women and one in 500 non-Black women.
* Higher mortality accounts for about 900,000 fewer prime-age Black men than women in the United States. Homicide is the leading cause of death for young African-American men. Heart and respiratory disease and accidents play a big role in these higher mortality rates.
In real life terms, this means tens of thousands of Black men being locked up, sometimes for decades, sometimes going in and out of prison—impacting families and whole communities where husbands, sons, and fathers are MISSING.
The very workings of this system and its deep inequalities are the root cause of these early deaths: Police murder, lack of decent health care, and lack of education and jobs force people into all kinds of situations that lead to early deaths.
When you add the numbers up, according to this article: “There are more missing African-American men nationwide than there are African-American men residing in all of New York City—or more than in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Detroit, Houston, Washington and Boston, combined.”
These “missing Black men” are the genocidal outcome of a system that has no future for millions and millions of Black youth. A system that shut down its factories and moved them overseas to make higher profits—taking away millions of jobs that had employed Black men and allowed them to survive and provide for their families. It is the outcome of a system where millions of Black youth have found themselves in the underground, sometimes illegal economy, trying to survive—then hit with a massive “war on drugs” feeding mass incarceration in this country. If they manage to get out of prison, they are stigmatized and denied all kinds of rights in housing, employment, education, and more.
These “missing Black men” are the genocidal outcome of a system that has de-industrialized its cities and at the same time cut back all kinds of social services in poor communities, leaving people with very little health care, decent education, and housing.
These “missing Black men” are the genocidal outcome of a system that systematically criminalizes young Black men—targets them even in childhood, turns schools into pipelines to prison, justifies their incarceration by blaming them for the impossible situation that this very system has put them in—telling them that it is “their fault” that they cannot “make it” in this society.
The reality of 1.5 million missing Black men is the reality of the slow genocide of Black men in the United States of America.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
FBI Forensics Scandal
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On April 20 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced that microscopic hair analysis by FBI laboratories that has been used in courts to convict many people over the years has been found to be “erroneous.”
They did not use the term “falsified evidence” nor state the fact that this evidence has been used to frame people for crimes they did not commit. They did not mention the ugly truth that people have been put on death row and some have been executed based on FBI lies.
The FBI identified some 3,000 cases in which FBI “experts” testified at trial about microscopic hair evidence found at crime scenes. In 268 cases in which FBI testimony was used to incriminate people, 257—96%—of the testimony was found to be “erroneous." The Innocence Project reports that “Defendants in at least 35 of these cases received the death penalty and errors were identified in 33 (94%) of those cases. Nine of these defendants have already been executed and five died of other causes while on death row.”
“These findings confirm that FBI microscopic hair analysts committed widespread, systematic error, grossly exaggerating the significance of their data under oath with the consequence of unfairly bolstering the prosecutions’ case,” said Peter Neufeld, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law. [See more at: http://www.innocenceproject.org/news-events-exonerations/press-releases/fbi-testimony-on-microscopic-hair-analysis-contained-errors-in-at-least-90-of-cases-in-ongoing-review]
The issue is that the supposed “science” that can link a known person with a hair sample from an as yet unknown person is completely UNscientific. The Innocence Project, which has been working to exonerate unjustly convicted people by using DNA analysis, has pointed out that “no public (or even private) database exists that tracks different types of hairs and there is no established method explaining how to construct such a database that is representative of a population, valid and reliable.” The Innocence Project makes it clear that there are no tested and objective methods for “declaring positive associations, and [no] peer-reviewed published studies that validate these methods.”
According to a 2009 report by the National Academy of Sciences, microscopic hair comparisons are a highly unreliable way to try to tie a person to a crime. The only method of scientific analysis that can accurately show links to an individual is mitochondrial DNA testing of human evidence such as hair and blood samples. The Innocence Project has used DNA testing to exonerate 329 wrongfully convicted people. 74 of those convictions were based on unreliable microscopic hair evidence.
Despite this, FBI examiners have used what amount to circumstantial and unscientific comparisons and their own anecdotal memories in court testimony, resulting in sending innocent people to prison, to death row, and then to the gas chamber or electric chair. The FBI has NOT, in any way, shape, or form, admitted to the fact that that their methods are more like witchcraft than a scientific methodology.
The FBI did not come forward on their own because they are interested in providing justice. The Innocence Project along with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, confronted the FBI with scientific facts that exposed the fraudulent methods and results of the FBI’s lab reports. So now the FBI has pledged to correct their “bad science.”
Why would the FBI deliberately and consciously use lies to convict people?
The sham science of FBI lab reports is only one part of the whole machinery of injustice that is at the core of how the American ruling class maintains their “law and order.”
The FBI and the Department of Justice of which it is a part are and always have been essential tools of government repression. Since it was created in 1870, the DOJ has enforced the exploitation and oppression on which the USA is based: slavery, patriarchy, the tyranny of private property over human need. More recently, the FBI and DOJ were instrumental in suppressing resistance to Jim Crow and KKK terror against Black people, in rounding up and imprisoning Japanese-Americans during World War 2; in spying on and harassing activists in the Civil Rights movement; and in attacking, assassinating and criminalizing the Black Panther Party and other activists in the Black Liberation movement and the movement against the war in Vietnam.
What must be understood is the criminality and illegitimacy of the whole setup of INjustice that the FBI is an arm of and enforces.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
The REAL Record of the Holder Department of IN-Justice:
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
As people step in struggle to STOP police murder, a crucial question is: What is the actual record and role of the Department of Justice? And specifically, what is the record and role of Eric Holder, Barack Obama’s departing Attorney General?
Eric Holder is widely touted as an advocate for civil rights. He is the first African-American Attorney General and at times invoked his own experiences experiencing police abuse. But the actual DOJ record under Holder is one of literally supporting every single act of police violence that has come before the U.S. Supreme Court during the Holder regime.
A New York Times article(“Holder’s Team, in Balancing Act, Often Aligns With the Police”, April 22) is revealing. After noting Holder’s public criticism of some of the most highly publicized and exposed police departments (Cleveland, Albuquerque, and Ferguson, Missouri where Holder only spoke out after the people rose up in sustained and determined rebellion after the police murder of Michael Brown), the Times notes: “At the Supreme Court, where the limits of police power are established, Mr. Holder’s Justice Department has supported police officers every time an excessive force case has made its way to arguments.” (Emphasis added).
A few cases in point:
Fifty-six-year-old Teresa Sheehan was sitting in her apartment in a mental health center in 2008, clutching what her lawyers said was a small bread knife. A social worker got into a conflict with Teresa Sheehan after entering her apartment without her consent. He called San Francisco police who forced open her door, blinded her with pepper spray, and shot her five or six times, hitting her in the hip and head. Miraculously she survived. After nearly being murdered by police, authorities brought several criminal charges against Teresa Sheehan—a jury failed to convict her on any of them, and she sued in the SFPD charging they violated the American’s Disability Act (ADA) that supposedly protects mentally ill people who are confronted by police, and illegally entered her apartment.
The case came before the U.S. Supreme Court in March of this year, and Holder’s DOJ argued for the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that the ADA and the Fourth Amendment (that supposedly protects individuals from police breaking into their homes without due process or cause) applied and protected Teresa Sheehan. The DOJ argued that the lower court “applied the wrong standard when it sent to the jury both the ADA claim and the Fourth Amendment claim, because it gave insufficient weight to the safety risks the officers faced...” And in doing so, the DOJ threw its weight behind the endlessly invoked justification for police murder—the “safety risks” police take going out to brutalize, threaten, degrade, and kill people every day. The Supreme Court has not ruled yet in this case.
In May of 2014, Holder’s DOJ intervened in the Supreme Court case considering a lawsuit brought by the daughter of a man killed by West Memphis, Arkansas police. Police say the man was driving recklessly. After they blocked the path of a car, they fired 15 times, killing the unarmed driver and the passenger. There were no federal law enforcement or federal law issues directly at stake in this case, but the Department of “Justice” intervened to argue that “there is some level of reckless driving in response to a police pursuit that authorizes the use of deadly force.”
And in a Supreme Court case coming up soon, the DOJ has sided with Wisconsin jail officials who used a stun gun on a handcuffed inmate.
Again, these examples are not exceptions to the rule, they are the rule—Holder’s DOJ is batting 1000 when it comes to backing police brutality and murder before the Supreme Court. And Supreme Court rulings far-and-away trump whatever “report” the DOJ might issue. Gary Smith, the attorney for the driver murdered by West Memphis police, said, “A report can have an impact on a department for a time... but case law [a Supreme Court ruling] touches every officer in every department in the country.” He pointed out that police departments being criticized in public by the Justice Department can invoke the DOJ’s actual record with “You’re telling the Supreme Court it’s OK.” And the above mentioned Times article quotes the executive director of the Major Cities [Police] Chiefs Association saying of Holder, “He’s supportive of the police.”
So whatever “reports” the DOJ issues, everyone involved gets the real message from the “Justice” Department: A green light for pig brutality.
This is the DOJ’s record under someone who is not only African-American, but routinely referred to as the Attorney General who is the most sympathetic to victims of police abuse in history. And who is now being replaced by someone more acceptable to the Republifascists.
Let’s face reality: There is NO justice from the Department of IN-Justice!
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Think about what has been revealed in the recent egregious murder by police in South Carolina, where a cop chased and shot to death Walter Scott—a Black man who, once again, was unarmed and was fleeing from the cop. In particular, think about the glaring discrepancies between what was revealed in a video taken of this shooting (by a bystander) and what the cop reported about this “incident” BEFORE he knew that there was such a video!
Then think about what the INJustice Department has done around the murder of Mike Brown. Think about what this discrepancy in the Walter Scott case in South Carolina tells you about the difference between what, yes, very credible witnesses said about the murder of Mike Brown, including specifically that he DID have his hands up, and what the pig Wilson said, which the prosecutor put before the grand jury and which the INJustice Department chose to believe and uphold (as we have pointed out, they took this concocted story and treated it as the truth, and as the standard against which other accounts should be measured, including those of people who, unlike Wilson, did not have a direct stake in the matter, and who made clear that Mike Brown was first running away and then turned AND DID HAVE HIS HANDS UP!) (See “DOJ Report: Coverup for the Police Murder of Michael Brown.)
Finally, think about this: It would have been much more difficult for the powers-that-be to adopt this whitewash of the pig Darren Wilson as their “verdict” (and the standard against which to measure, and to dismiss, accounts making clear that Mike Brown had his hands up) if, along with considerable eyewitness testimony indicating Mike Brown DID have his hands up, after running away and being shot at while running away, there had been a video of the actual shooting of Mike Brown, as there was in the case of Walter Scott. (In the case of the murder of Walter Scott, the cop is currently facing a charge of murder and may actually go to trial, for something—which is, in part, due to the existence of the video which shows what actually happened, but is due to a much greater extent to the mass outrage and outpouring of protest and resistance that has arisen in very righteous response to the murder, and the non-indictment of the murderer, of Mike Brown, as well as Eric Garner, and the reality that these two egregious murders are part of a much larger pattern, a continuing chain of such outrageous murders by police—and remember that there was a video in the case of Eric Garner).
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 20, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Monday, April 20 the courtroom exploded in an emotional outburst when the only cop indicted and tried in Chicago in 15 years for killing a civilian was acquitted by the judge for the murder of Rekia Boyd. Rekia’s brother expressed righteous outrage at this unjust verdict and pointed at Servin, “That man killed my sister.”
Rekia was 22 years old on a warm March night in 2012. She was hanging out with a group of friends in the park. Dante Servin, an off duty CPD detective who lived in the neighborhood, pulled up near the group and had words with one person. Then Servin shot over his shoulder 5 times into the group who were all facing away from him, hitting Rekia in the back of the head and another man in the hand. She died within 24 hours. Servin claimed that he “feared for his life” but the investigation later showed that none of the people he shot at were armed, nor were they threatening him. But the truth and Rekia’s life did not matter in the court of law.
The City had already settled with Rekia’s family for $4.5 million without admitting guilt. But the family wanted real justice – they wanted Servin indicted and convicted. Servin was not charged with murder but rather with the lesser charges of manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm, and reckless conduct. Court observers noted that charges like these are usually brought against someone who discharges a gun while cleaning it, for instance, not for intentionally firing a gun into a crowd. This “undercharging” enabled the judge to say essentially that the cop was guilty of much MORE than “recklessness,” and then turn around and find him “not guilty” of all counts!
The only reason that Servin was indicted and tried at all was because of a huge and prolonged struggle by Rekia’s family, friends and supporters. But the prosecution, according to a number of observers, “forgot how to prosecute” and didn’t even mount a half-hearted case. The prosecutors also allowed a law student intern to conduct some of the direct examination during the “trial,” and failed to call any of the family members for the prosecution. Yes, not at all what the masses face when they come into court! Then halfway through the trial, the judge ruled in a rare directed verdict that the prosecution had not proved its case: “the evidence presented does not support the charges on which the defendant was indicted and tried.”
With the bang of a gavel another murdering cop walks free, while another wronged and heartbroken family gets a kick in the gut – in the form of a ruling that says it’s just fine for the cop to kill Rekia and walk away unpunished. How can anyone accept this as “justice”? It is intolerable, twisted and cruel. As Servin left the court, people shouted “murderer, murderer.” To add insult to injury, Servin was quoted on the news as saying he “hoped the family will find closure.” Fuck that!
Meanwhile the sheriffs had a police dog waiting in the hallway when people were pushed out of the courtroom. This all had to have been planned in advance, it happened so fast. And then the elevators opened and dozens of sheriffs flooded into the hallway outside the courtroom. Once again, the supporters of the families were treated as criminals while the killer cop walked free!
This shows once again that the capitalist/imperialist rulers of this country refuse to punish their murdering enforcers – regardless of how clear cut the evidence is. People need to confront and dig deeply into why this happens and come to grips with the fact that this system has no future for millions of Black and Latino youth and little other than prison and terror to keep them in line. We need a revolution to get rid of this genocidal program once and for all. Let’s get with preparing for that revolution that is so urgently needed.
As of this writing, some streets on the west side of Chicago have been shut down for two hours by protests. A tweet which accompanied one photo described the protesters: “four lanes of traffic shut down on Roosevelt Road by protest demanding justice for #RekiaBoyd.”
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
During their travel to New York City, Revolution spoke with relatives of the disappeared students from the Ayotzinapa rural teacher training college in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero. Last September 26, the Mexican police killed six people, wounded 25, and detained 43 students who then disappeared while in the custody of the police and have not been heard from up to this day.
People throughout Mexico and other parts of the world have responded to these murders and disappearances by the state with wave upon wave of outrage and protest. For the last six weeks, two students who survived the attack, along with parents and other relatives of the 43 disappeared, have traveled throughout the United States bringing their story and call for justice to many thousands of people here. The three legs of the Caravana43, as it is called, made stops in some 40 major U.S. cities, including Washington, DC, and have joined in solidarity with the struggle against murders by police in this country. On Sunday, April 26, the Caravana43 took its demands for justice to the United Nations in New York City.
The following are interviews with a father and a sister of two of the disappeared students.
(For more on the recent struggles in Mexico, see “Mexico: ‘The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back’.” Also see the earlier Interview with Massacre Survivor: Caravana 43 Brings Ayotzinapa Students’ Struggle to U.S.)
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.
Interview with Anayeli de la Cruz Guerrero, sister of Jhosivani de la Cruz Guerrero, one of the disappeared students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico
Revolution: How has your experience here in the United States been?
Anayeli de la Cruz Guerrero: My experience has been good, especially the results, that people, that we—look, when we came here, we didn’t imagine how people would react when we came here to present our case, our issue, but we are happy because there are many people who are with us, not just our Mexican brothers, there are many more people, even people from here, who support us, and we feel the solidarity and support they have shown us.
Revolution: What is the message you have for the world about what happened in Mexico?
Anayeli: Especially get people to see that ... Many people in the population still do not understand that we, they see this case like any old case, but because given this level we are in, there is already so much violence, I don’t think we can go on any longer like this. And they have to, how should I put it, they have to become people with a consciousness that the things that are happening, including what’s happening to us, could also happen to them and it’s time to unite voices, to raise one single voice all together .
Revolution: What do you think is the role of the U.S. in everything that is happening now in Mexico, regarding the disappeared, regarding those killed? What is the role, not of the people, but of the U.S. government?
Anayeli: I think the role of the United States, until now, has not solved anything or it has not gotten involved in anything because the case of the 43 disappeared is not about just right now, it has been going on year after year, and up until now the United States has remained, I think, on the sidelines, because it’s not in its interests that this case becomes known, especially since the U.S. defends all this.
Revolution: As the sister of one of the disappeared, could you say something about what happened...?
Anayeli: I’m Jhosivani’s sister. He is one of 43 Ayotzinapa disappeared by the police on September 26 in Iguala, Guerrero. Regarding the disappearance of the 43 students, clearly we realize that it was the state because year after year they have wanted to get rid of the rural teacher-training school Ayotzinapa because it’s not in the interests of the Mexican government to have this school open, because the students are young people who are very restless and concerned and above all they are very intelligent and capable—they have a very specific goal—to change the world. And this is not in the interests of the government because it knows that it always has under its boot a people who keep their mouth shut, and with these young people, things were changing precisely because they are young, they go to different communities, to the poorest communities, to teach, especially education and get people to open their eyes, so that we will not keep our mouths shut about the many injustices, especially so much impunity on the part of the government. And it is precisely these young people who are disappeared who were doing this work.
Revolution: Could you say something about your brother, who he was, what he was like.
Anayeli: Ah, well, Jhosivani ... We are a community near the school. As a sister, with the love that I have for him, he is a youth like all young people, very restless, but especially with a lot of love for life and his family which is the most important thing, and eager to do something in life and especially eager to just want to change the world.
Revolution: What is the connection between the 43 disappeared and others disappeared and murdered in Mexico?
Anayeli: Of course there’s a connection. I don’t know if it’s thanks to the disappearance or due to the misfortune of the disappearance of the 43 students that many people see them as heroes, because they say that thanks to them, the world is realizing what is really happening, and they are the face of the tens of thousands of people that are disappeared.
Revolution: What is the U.S. complicity with the Mexican government in the war against drugs?
Anayeli: Sure. It has to do with the 43 disappeared. Because one of the causes of the Mérida Plan, supposedly, is that United States has strengthened our police in Mexico, right? And that what it is actually doing is strengthening organized crime because they are who run things now. This is the reason why the students are disappeared. And of course the U.S. is complicit because the United States supplies the guns and Mexico supplies the deaths. This is very clear.
Revolution: What would you like to tell the moms and dads of all these young people who are killed by the police? If you could give a message to the parents of all the young people here [in the United States] who have been killed by the police, what message would you give them?
Answer: ...Just like us, basta ya (enough) of so much death, and have courage especially to speak out and denounce the injustices because it’s when you are silent and do not denounce the injustices they carry out or do not denounce the police that, I think, the system of government we have thinks they are untouchable. But I think with the voice of everyone, if we unite, there will be a lot of strength to punish this system, especially the police.
Interview with Clemente Rodríguez Moreno, father of Cristián Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre, one of the disappeared students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico
Revolution: I want to ask a little bit about what happened to the 43.
Clemente Rodríguez Moreno: My name is Clemente Rodríguez Moreno and my son is Cristián Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre. After September 26, when the events occurred in Iguala, I went on the 27th to Iguala. When I went there, I began to investigate on my own. I went to the hospitals and I did find some of the compañeros who were injured, one of them had been killed. They had skinned him alive, stripped his skin alive, pulled out his eyes alive. One of the compañeros there was one of the students from the teachers college and when I asked where my son was he told me that he took off running with another. I was gathering information about everything that happened. I went to the army to see what its answer would be. I thought I would get good answers from them. I asked them what had happened to the 43 students and they said we don’t know anything. We didn’t hear anything. How could they be 300 meters away and not know anything, not hear anything? No, they said, from here we didn’t witness anything happen in the street. And I went to the Public Prosecutor’s office as well, since supposedly they [the detained students] should all be there, more than 40 students, graduates—but no. Then I started to look and my son was not there. I started to ask about it. They say: “All the others, all the others that are missing, they were taken by the Municipal Police.” And there are the registration numbers of the patrol cars.
Revolution: And you have not found them since then...
Clemente: ... and now it’s been almost seven months. Seven months we fought, we went on marches, we have done many things. We have even fought the police. Back in Mexico we have been assaulted by them, but I’m not afraid. We have faced off with the Army. They are beginning to see us. But I, as a parent, I will fight to find him.
Revolution: What has been your experience here in the U.S. with the caravan, with the response of people to you?
Clemente: Here in the U.S. I started from McAllen and I’ve been to about 13 cities. I’ve had a lot of experience. Before I came here, I was afraid of how people would respond. But thank God, the people are with us, and we have had conversations with them.
And indeed, we are not alone. We are not alone, and by coming here, it’s been just one step, that we came here, and we let the people know, but you also have to give tasks to organizations, to people, give them tasks, for example, petitions, and to let the U.S. government know they have to stop the Mérida Plan. Another action we been doing with organizations, in society, is that on the 20th of each month we demonstrate to show that the 43 students are alive.
Revolution: You are going to go to the United Nations on Sunday. If you had a message for the world, what is the message you want to give to the world about what is happening in Mexico?
Clemente: Well, the message that I would give to the world is this: Do not be fooled by television, rather focus on the 43 disappeared students who are alive, because the television is putting these ideas in people’s head, that the students are already dead, that they burned them in the river, that they burned them in the dump of Cocula. That is the version fed by television. Do not be fooled, because the true story is that, in our own words, the 43 disappeared students are alive. Because we have an expert report from the Argentineans, who took DNA from the majority of parents of the 43 students, that they are alive. And the Mexican government wants to shelve it, to say that it’s all over, but I will keep fighting, I’ll keep fighting with the support of the people.
Revolution: And can you describe your son?
Clemente: Well, my son is 19, is 187 tall [6' 2"]. He likes folk dance, loves to dance, loves agronomy, loves the countryside, loves many things.
Revolution: Why did he go to the school?
Clemente: He went to Ayotzinapa because, as you know, we come from a humble people, a poor people. Therefore, the only option was to go to Ayotzinapa. If I had a lot of money, I would have sent him a better school that requires tuition, but the only option was Ayotzinapa, and for that reason the students were disappeared, because they did not have opportunities, since the parents are peasant people.
Clemente continues: The role [of the Mexican government], I think, instead of taking care of people, instead of caring for society, focuses more on training police, giving them equipment, just disappearing people, killing all over the place. There is evidence, proof, and why aren’t they stopped? Because organized crime is with them. And in terms of organized crime, we have the case of Acapulco, the situation of the teachers, because they were protesting for wages and against the education reforms. They are imposing many things on them. When they were demonstrating, two teachers were raped and a retired teacher was murdered, and the police were not touched at all. That is the role of government, running around killing people.
Revolution: What do you think is the role of the U.S. government?
Clemente: Well, I really don’t know much about the United States, but with the experience I have gotten here, and the people who have approached me—it is the same situation that prevails in Mexico. There is a lot of discrimination, we have the case of the Afro-Americans, the color of the skin, a lot of deportations—what’s happening here is the same. And I think that, as a Mexican, it is the responsibility of all of us, on both sides of the border, to be in communication, because, well, it’s the same situation that we have in Mexico, that we have here in the U.S.
Revolution: A demonstration just took place in which many parents who have lost children here in the U.S. at the hands of the police participated. If you could send a message to the parents who have lost children at the hands of police here in the U.S., what message would you give them?
Clemente: Well, it’s a message of solidarity, more than anything. An embrace of solidarity for them. Because it is not so easy to bear up in this situation, with this burden. But do not despair. Organize, build organization, demonstrate. Do not be afraid of the government. Do not be afraid of the government. I, in particular, am going to keep demonstrating and making demands on the Mexican government. And I’m going to travel around the world if necessary, wherever there is life, wherever there is a human being in the world, I’ll be there.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 20, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Some regular readers of Revolución with close ties to Mexico got together to discuss in Spanish the polemic “Communism or Nationalism?” by the Organización Comunista Revolucionaria de México. Some of us had read a lot of BA’s (Bob Avakian’s) work, some almost none; and there were wide differences in reading level. The polemic and our discussion overall sharpened and concretized our understanding of the difference between nationalism and communism, why the national bourgeoisie is incapable of leading the revolution, and why it is so critical in the current international situation, and the crisis in Mexico in particular, for this communist line to spread and gain material force.
To start off, we set the context of why it is particularly urgent now to have revolutionary communist leadership, given the intensification of the crisis in Mexico. One person analyzed in considerable detail why the situation in Mexico is much more critical now: anger over neoliberal reforms of the oil and other state industries, education, etc.; massive uprisings among students and professional and middle class sectors, the role of independent journalists. Ayotzinapa students and parents threw stones at Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas—they don’t believe in the electoral parties. He mentioned that an immigrant co-worker joined a march of Black people against police murder as it passed him on the street, as an example of how the uprisings in the U.S. are affecting immigrants. It was also brought in that there are many U.S.-born students who are going to school in Mexico; some are involved in the student struggles around Ayotzinapa, and this is also a factor for spreading ferment back and forth.
We also touched on how certain forms of nationalism that we run into are holding people back from taking up revolutionary thought and struggle. For example, at a protest one man told me that Marxism is a European ideology, and that in Latin America we have our own ideology, Socialism of the 21st Century, with roots in indigenous culture and social organization; that it is racist to denigrate indigenous forms of socialism. For this reason he was telling people around him not to read Revolución! In fact, “Socialism of the 21st Century” is demagogy in the mouths of people like the late president Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. We dug into the Raymond Lotta article which had just come out, [“La recolonización en nombre de la normalización, lo que motiva la reanudación de las relaciones diplomáticas entre Estados Unidos y Cuba,”1] to flesh out why bourgeois nationalism cannot and does not lead to liberation of oppressed countries from the imperialist market and investment relations.
One person brought up how the Mexican government pressured peasants to plant coffee for the international market instead of maize for food. Then coffee prices plummeted, and the peasants are ruined: in debt and without corn. Development in the context of an imperialist-dominated world ends up causing more suffering, but the national capitalists fear unleashing the people to make revolution; so on their own, the most they do is mount a half-hearted negotiation for a larger share of the spoils of oppressing their “own” people. One person volunteered to do further study on the ideology and practice of Socialism of the 21st Century for further discussion. We should also understand how to defend and build off positive aspects of indigenous culture at the same time as we fight for an understanding that communism is an internationalist ideology representing the international proletariat.
I found in the course of summing up the discussion that I had brought a lot of nationalist and determinist baggage into it; that is, my attitude toward nationalist ideas and people was that they just are, they don’t change. The discussion jumped off around a comment made by one of the participants a couple of months prior, that nationalism is good and the strongest or the majority forces fighting against the system are nationalist. Another comrade argued that nationalism is a bourgeois ideology, therefore it is bad, and communists should struggle against it; at the same time, he pointed out, we do need to unite with revolutionary nationalists like Cornel West. My response was that the point isn’t that nationalism is good or bad, but rather that nationalists should fight imperialism and not cave in to it (which on their own they tend to do)—communists need to unite with such nationalists but we should not confuse communism with nationalism. There’s some truth to this, but also a tendency to see things as static.
Looking back on this, I think that I was digging up an old (always incorrect) interpretation of a United Front against Imperialism line in which communists lead (how? by organizing it and declaring their leadership?); nationalists are included, and we all march against the imperialists in a static formation, each in their assigned spot, as it were. Rather, the way communists lead is by struggling for internationalism at the same time as we struggle to make the struggle against imperialism as fierce, massive, and inclusive as it needs to be.
Another weakness was that, while we did need to clarify and concretize why nationalism as a leading ideology cannot achieve independence from imperialism, to concentrate on that tends to make such independence too much of a focus and goal, rather than the achievement of communism, the elimination of all oppression on a world scale. I also think that we didn’t fully get the key point that communist internationalism is not simply a good, moral position but rather, since it is based on the scientific reality that the communist revolution is a world process, it is also the ideology most capable of fully recognizing and seizing on the revolutionary opportunities that exist on a world scale.
As the polemic concludes, “El comunismo, en cambio, al comprender científicamente la interrelación dialéctica entre el proceso mundial y la lucha revolucionaria en cada país, y al identificar acertadamente la base material en las contradicciones del mismo sistema capitalista-imperialista de las que surgen tanto la necesidad como la posibilidad real de su transformación revolucionaria hacia el comunismo, puede y necesita guiar el proceso de abrir paso por medio de una difícil y tortuosa lucha, a un futuro muy distinto y mucho mejor.”2
I found it quite difficult to expand the lens in concrete terms to turn on its head the example that Mao puts forward of how the egg is a metaphor for internal contradictions within a particular country that make revolution possible, while the hen or incubator represents developments on a world scale, i.e. external contradictions, provide the conditions under which the internal contradictions play out. Mao’s example was clear enough. (Without warmth, the egg won’t hatch, but no matter how long the hen sits on a stone, it will not hatch.) But when I tried to “zoom out” and explain the philosophical point made by Avakian elsewhere and applied in the polemic, that the same thing is true on a world scale, i.e., the key contradictions of the epoch are internal to the world process of revolution; what is an external contradiction in the context of the one country is internal in the context of the world process, well, it just became too abstract. “What does the egg stand for?” someone asked, and I said, “It’s the revolution trying to be born.” Trying to build on the egg metaphor, I said, imagine now that, we’re not looking just at the hen’s nest, we draw back and see that the foxes are surrounding the henhouse; that’s a bigger and more important contradiction that will impact the egg/revolution. Most of the folks in attendance have roots in the countryside, and they immediately cast themselves in the role of the farmer guarding the henhouse, and the philosophic point, that a contradiction can be external in one context and internal in another, got lost and tangled up in the foxes! This is what I call beating the egg metaphor to death! I understand why the polemic must deal with the egg metaphor, but it does seem to inherently limit to a small scale.
It was more helpful to delve into the example of a human body. Each cell of the body, each organ has its own internal processes which make it live, but the body as a whole is a single unit. What affects that unit affects each part of the body. So it is with the world revolution. If a doctor is single-mindedly focused on a single organ, he or she will fail to understand even that organ; if we only analyze what is happening in a country in isolation from its world context, we will fail to seize the opportunities. Here people spoke to the effects of Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter struggle on people in Mexico and immigrants from Mexico, and also the impact of the Ayotzinapa struggle on immigrants and on people in the U.S. People see that others like them are rising up and exposing horrors that they have suffered in silence for so many generations, and it inspires and strengthens them.
All the participants felt that there is a lot in this polemic for us to dig into and grasp more concretely, and I encourage other people to do the same. One person spoke for all of us when he summed up, “Sinceramente quiero dar un saludo a los camaradas de México por esta polémica porque representa un salto muy grande que han dado en entender la nueva síntesis del comunismo de Bob Avakian y lo que significa para los pueblos del mundo.” (“I want to send a heartfelt greeting to the comrades in Mexico for this polemic because it represents a very big leap which they have made in understanding Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism and what it means for the peoples of the world.”)
“Communism, on the contrary, by understanding scientifically the dialectical interrelation between the world process and the revolutionary struggle in each country and by correctly identifying the material basis in the contradictions of the capitalist-imperialist system itself that provide both the need and the real possibility of its revolutionary transformation toward communism, can and needs to guide the process of opening up the road by means of a difficult and tortuous struggle to a very different and much better future.” [back]
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
From a reader
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This week five actors in the cast of Ferguson, a play designed to support the killing of Michael Brown and the non-indictment of Darren Wilson, the pig who murdered him, walked out of a rehearsal. (See “Actors quit L.A. ‘Ferguson’ play, question writer’s motives,” by Matt Pearce, Los Angeles Times, April 23, 2015.) After reading the script that says that Michael Brown did not have his hands up and that he charged the cop, cast member Philip Casnoff and four others basically said they would not take part in this hit piece. “It felt like the purpose of the piece was to show, ‘Of course he was not indicted—here’s why,’” said Casnoff.
The play ends with the lines, “It could have ended another way. The officer had no other choice [but to shoot and kill Michael Brown].” When those lines were read during the rehearsal, the Los Angeles Times reports that “a kind of awkward quiet fell over the cast members, whose bodies had been bent like question marks as they stared down at their scripts...” the LA Times article goes on, “The cast questioned the balance of the 55-page script, and even debated the justification for the shooting.”
The playwright, Phelim McAleer, is a right-wing conservative. He has made a pro-fracking documentary and a documentary that asserts An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary about climate change, is not true.
Here’s an idea—people should go and challenge this play with the truth, which is not subjective but is actually true. Go to the Odyssey Theater in Los Angeles this week before the play ends on Wednesday, April 29, with the article DOJ Report: Coverup for the Police Murder of Michael Brown and let the audience know that this play is bullshit and that “It’s very clear the prosecutor never wanted an indictment.”
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Protests to raise the federally mandated $7.25 hourly minimum wage have spread across the country for the past three years. People who work as maids and janitors, in fast food restaurants, day care centers, drug stores, call centers, and in many other industries have been joined by supporters to launch a series of marches, rallies, die-ins, and other protests. On April 15, tens of thousands of people in over 200 cities and towns held the largest series of protests yet, demanding that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour.
It is a very positive element in the overall “mix” in society today that thousands of people are rising up against the inhuman degradation and mistreatment they face on these jobs, and bringing their fight out into the open; it is very positive that people are demanding to be treated as human beings and not interchangeable parts of a bone- and soul-crushing machine; it is very positive that people are raising their sights and seeking out allies in their fight for justice.
Wealth and income disparities have grown enormously within the U.S. over the last 30 years. Tens of millions of people in this “greatest of all societies,” this self-proclaimed “land of opportunity” are increasingly becoming immiserated and impoverished, with little or no prospect of anything getting any better for them. This is one very sharp expression of the utter worthlessness of a system based upon relentless exploitation.
The minimum wage, low as it has always been, has not kept up with the rise in the cost of living and inflation, especially of the essential means of life, such as food and housing. This means that people making minimum wage today have significantly less “earning power” than they did 20 or 30 years ago. In fact, the earning power of the minimum wage has been in decline since 1968. The percentage of the population earning at or around minimum wage is highest in the South, but the real earnings of minimum wage people are lowest in big cities, with New York City being at the bottom of the list.
About 3.6 million people worked at or below minimum wage in 2012, according to the federal government’s own figures. Tens of millions more work at slightly above the minimum wage but below the $15 an hour the protesters are demanding—42 percent of the overall employed workforce, and more than “half of all African Americans ... and nearly 60% of Latinos,” according to Forbes magazine.
Most of the people with jobs at or just above the minimum wage are adults supporting a family, and often working two, three, even four jobs just for bare survival. Women are disproportionately among those making minimum wage. Tens of millions of people, especially children, are supported by people working these jobs. Most of these jobs provide no or few of the “benefits” essential to functioning in this society, such as sick pay and child care.
Much—in fact most—of the “job growth” in the U.S. Obama brags about is minimum- or low-wage jobs. As an organizing director of the Service Employees International Union recently said, low-wage jobs are “the fastest growing jobs in the U.S.” A report by two Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors indicated that low-wage jobs include “food service workers, security guards, janitors and gardeners, cleaners, home health aides, child care workers, hairdressers and beauticians, and recreation occupations,” and “maids and porters, call-center workers, bank tellers, data-entry keyers, cooks, food preparation workers, waiters and waitresses, cashiers and pharmacy assistants, parking-lot attendants, hotel receptionists and clerks, ambulance drivers, poultry, fish and meat processors, sewing-machine operators, laundry and dry-cleaning operators, and agricultural workers.”
These jobs are not marginal to the functioning of the capitalist-imperialist economy; they are not just a way for teenagers to earn some cash. They are deeply integrated into and play a vital role in the overall functioning and profitability of capitalism-imperialism.
Changes and developments in the global imperialist economy have contributed to and accelerated changes within the U.S. economy, and long-term shifts in how it is structured. Heightened globalization and the ongoing “outsourcing” of many industrial jobs, rapid developments in technological innovation that have impacted all levels of production, transportation, distribution, and communication worldwide, and a global assault on wages—all of it shaped by intense competition between blocs of imperialist capital and imperialist countries—have driven the growth of low-wage jobs, and been a big part of the compulsion of the capitalists to immiserate and impoverish ever growing numbers of people.
The tens of millions of minimum and near minimum wage workers in this country are an important section of the proletariat—an international class of people whose interest as a class lies in overthrowing capitalism through a proletarian led revolution, a revolution that actually serves the emancipation of humanity and is not just promoting one group of people over another, or creating a new class of oppressors.
The man stocking shelves for minimum wage at Wal-mart is likely to be putting up shirts made by deeply exploited young women and girls working in hellish sweatshops in Bangladesh; the young woman preparing Big Macs uses tomatoes harvested by impoverished Mexican youth who have been driven off their own farms.
All this is integral to the functioning of capitalism; all this contributes to lowering the cost of the labor power of workers in this country and across the world, and heightening the competitive position of the U.S. The blood and bones of countless people everywhere on this earth are embedded deeply into the essence of every commodity produced in capitalism; the aspirations, dreams, and passions of people who never knew each other are sealed together in every T-shirt, iPhone, and head of lettuce for sale in America.
But overcoming this exploitation requires nothing less than revolution, systematically digging up the roots and the foundations of the inequalities and oppression that define capitalist society, and the dismantling of the machinery of repression—the laws, the police, the courts, the jails, the military—that enables and enforces them.
Bob Avakian, in his talk Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About, describes capital as “a relation of domination, of exploitation. Capitalism is a system based on exploitation. ... Capital is a relation in which one person, or group or class of people, owns or controls the means to live and means to create wealth, and thereby forces others to work for them in exchange for a wage. Capital is control over labor of others, and it is this, forcing others to work for them, that creates wealth that the capitalists get.” BA in the same talk also deeply exposes what this system is all about: “Capitalism is a form of modern day wage slavery. What counts to capitalism is not human need but what they called demand, measured in dollar terms”.
This is capitalism’s nature. One cold hard truth that people need to learn: capitalists don’t give a shit about you, your family, your needs, your health care, your living situation. What they care about is their “bottom line.” Any concessions that may be wrung from their system will be partial and temporary, and will leave the system of unending exploitation intact, until revolution puts an end to it.
The capitalist system of wage slavery is completely outmoded and a detriment to humanity; it can’t in any way meet the needs of the masses of people. Human potential will be twisted and crushed, the lives of tens and hundreds of millions of people will be destroyed and sucked dry as long as this system dominates the planet. It needs to be overcome, through an actual revolution, as soon as possible, everywhere on earth.
The ruthless exploitation faced by low-wage workers in the U.S. and internationally is an expression of the very core nature of the system of capitalism. The struggle people are waging to improve their living conditions and raise their wages is righteous, and can be an important component of mounting resistance and opposition to the savage injustices and inequalities of capitalism.
In today’s world the production of things, and the distribution of the things produced, is overwhelmingly carried out by large numbers of people who work collectively and are organized in highly coordinated networks. At the foundation of this whole process is the proletariat, an international class which owns nothing, yet has created and works these massive socialized productive forces. These tremendous productive powers could enable humanity to not only meet the basic needs of every person on the planet, but to build a new society, with a whole different set of social relations and values...a society where all people could truly and fully flourish together.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
California is being gripped by the most severe drought in its recorded history, possibly the worst it has experienced in 1,200 years. After four years, 80 percent of the state is now experiencing “extreme drought.”
The drought in California is the latest concentration point of an overall drought in the Southwest that has also stretched in recent years into Mexico. In 2010-2013 especially, Mexico faced drastic impacts on agriculture and ruination of people’s lives from drought, even worse than normal. U.S. officials and the media have chauvinistically acted as if drought stops at the U.S. border.
This is a natural crisis, brought on in its immediate sense by changes in weather patterns, bringing a drastic lack of precipitation. But this is also a crisis amplified by record high temperatures causing evaporation and drying of soil, connected to human-caused global warming. (See box on “The Drought’s Causes and Future in a Warming World.”) More deeply, this is an unnatural crisis that is rooted in and intensified by relentless capitalist economic development and growth over decades that has had no regard for the limits of natural resources, (water in this case) and the dependence of humans and nature on water. This growth has also taken place with no appreciation of, or even attempt to take into account, the long term climate history of California or the Southwest and what this would really mean for a society and economy built in this region.
For years this crisis has been looming and the state has done little to address it. But now things are cracking open. Millions of people and natural ecosystems are being impacted. The effects of the drought will be widespread and long-lasting.
This year the drought has intensified, with more of the state entering more extreme drought. Even more troubling—the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains this year, which large sections of the state rely on for a release of melting water into reservoirs, rivers and aqueducts in the late spring and summer months—is only 6 percent of normal. So this summer the situation will very likely worsen. Last year the Association of California Water Agencies said that another year of drought would cause “disastrous consequences”. According to Jay Famiglietti, a water scientist for NASA and professor at University of California, Irvine, the three main water sources for California—snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada, local groundwater, and imported water from the Colorado river—are all declining.
In April, California governor Jerry Brown instituted mandatory water restrictions aimed at cutting water usage for residential users by 25 percent. These measures are tiered so that communities that have already cut water usage aren’t required to cut as drastically as others. Across the state there is a crazy and complex patchwork—where certain cities and peoples have been innovatively seeking to conserve water in all kinds of ways, while many other areas continue to mindlessly use water in frivolous ways—watering golf courses and lawns in the middle of the desert, etc. Some of this will be curtailed with the restrictions. But so far at least, these restrictions don’t even address the heart of the matter. 80 percent of water in California goes to agriculture and much of this water use comes from completely unsustainable gobbling up of groundwater reserves. While agriculture is only 2 percent of the economy in California, it has been built up to be a keystone of food production for the U.S. and exports worldwide. California produces 50 percent of the country’s nuts, fruits and vegetables. Farmers have been driven to plant large areas with almond trees to try to cash in on the high price of almonds on the world market. But these trees require large amounts of water and are vulnerable because, once planted, they need to be watered just to keep them alive. And increasingly there is a drastic lack of water. State regulations cannot deal rationally with transforming these kinds of contradictions—which lie deep in the anarchic workings of the capitalist system. Decisions are made based on short-term profitability—not on the needs of the masses of people, the health of the environment, or on the actual limits of availability of water and long-term climate trends.
Over the last century, California has been built up by the workings of capitalism into an economic engine that has the ninth largest economy in the world if it were ranked as a country. The population has exploded to 38 million, with most of this occurring during a relatively wet century compared with this region’s history. And California and the Southwest in general now contain some of the most densely populated and fastest growing cities in the U.S. All of this is occurring in a semi-arid landscape, and one where drought is predicted to be a worsening, and possibly catastrophic feature over the next century as the Earth warms.
A major feature of California’s history has been one of intense “water wars.” Whole rivers and waterways were damned or diverted, flooding beautiful valleys or alternately cutting off water to other areas. Big capitalist interests and governmental and city officials were involved in this. Some built up fortunes and huge power bases, while often whole sections of people, including indigenous people, had their lives ruined. Entire natural ecosystems were laid to waste or dramatically altered. Both San Francisco’s and Los Angeles’ water supplies were created in this way. Interestingly, the movie Chinatown dramatically traces the story of some of this in LA, particularly the cutthroat in-fighting and corrupt legal manipulations involved.
Huge amounts of water are drained every year from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay and diverted to the Central Valley to irrigate farmland. This has caused increasing destruction of the delta ecosystem and its species through loss of fresh water and increasing infiltration of salt water from the bay. All over the state, rivers have been dammed and water diverted, negatively impacting salmon runs and fisheries, including among Native peoples such as the Klamath and Winnemem Wintu, whose way of life and culture is connected to the salmon. There has already been huge destruction of migratory salmon and steelhead populations due to diversion of water and dams. Now these fish are at even greater risk. Because many creeks are blocked by sandbars due to lack of rain, fish in these areas cannot run up the rivers to spawn and juvenile fish will not be able to migrate to the ocean. There are fears of extinction of endangered stocks of salmon and a possible collapse of the salmon fishery.
The drought is causing increasing damage to wildlife and natural ecosystems. In recent years, California has seen unprecedented wildfires because of severe drought conditions. This summer the danger is even higher. California is a major part of the Pacific flyway for migratory waterfowl. It has already lost 90 percent of its wetlands and there is hardly any federal water being provided to wildlife refuges, which will contribute to fewer places for waterfowl to stop, breed, and feed.
There is increasing pressure to do away with all environmental protections to increase the flow of water from the delta now, and Governor Brown has proposed a huge new tunnel project that would completely bypass the delta and extract water directly from the Sacramento River to send to the Central Valley. Among farmers, there is growing rivalry and conflict over water rights and access, and a heightening drive to drill deeper into groundwater sources. Some reports say there is a new “gold rush” for water. Those with the money to drill deeper get ahold of water and can profit by selling to those who can’t afford to drill; others face having their fields dry up or remain fallow, their crops and resources wither.
The truth is that this mad rush to grab water and the endless competitive drive of capitalism to attain it to fuel growth, profitability, and the “American lifestyle” is completely unsustainable. None of this has planned for or taken account of the natural limits and long-term availability of water to sustain life. And none of it has been based on any rational analysis of the history and future predictions of the climate of this region, what the water resources are likely to be, or how to use it rationally. Instead, what has occurred has assumed that water is limitless and will always be available, or, more likely, paid no attention at all to the future.
According to a report from scientists at Stanford University, nearly 60 percent of the state’s water needs are being met by groundwater. In fact, the drilling for new sources of groundwater in the Central Valley is so intense that some areas are sinking a foot a year as the water table shrinks. Wells now have to be dug twice as deep as they used to be to reach groundwater. Groundwater aquifers are a strategic water reserve to sustain life. But they are being depleted at astonishing and unsustainable rates. Some aquifers are so deep they are completely isolated and can never be “recharged” with rainfall. And others that can be replenished from rainfall and snowmelt are being used up and not being allowed to rebuild. The drought is making this even worse.
Groundwater loss is a developing crisis not only in California, but also throughout the Southwest and southern Great Plains states. The Colorado River basin, which supplies water to 40 million people in seven states, has lost 15.6 cubic miles of water between 2004-2013. This is twice the amount that would be stored in a completely filled Lake Mead in Nevada, the nation’s largest reservoir (though now reduced to a shadow of itself). And three-quarters of the loss of water is from groundwater depletion. It’s predicted that at current irrigation rates 69 percent of the southern Ogalalla aquifer, which supplies water to huge portions of the southern Great Plains, will be gone in 50 years. There’s a tremendous need for massive changes to adapt or shift agriculture to the climate, and immediate measures to preserve groundwater, to balance the interests of people with that of the environment, etc. Instead decisions are driven by capitalism’s rules—whoever can grab water first, whoever has the resources to drill down and exploit it—then go ahead.
Despite these conditions, the system continues to approve and foster the development of fracking for oil and gas in California and throughout the West. Fracking uses huge amounts of water that are critically needed for people and wildlife, and also contaminates groundwater with oil waste and chemicals. According to National Geographic (citing a report from CERES) “more than half of all fracking wells in the U.S. are being drilled in regions experiencing drought ... and more than one-third of the wells are in regions suffering groundwater depletion.” But fracking is a key way that the U.S. has moved to the front of the world in oil and gas production. Fracking gives the U.S. a key economic and strategic advantage in their ruthless competition with other capitalist powers worldwide. They are not about to let go of it, even if it contributes to horrendous environmental damage and loss of precious water. (See “Fracking: an Environmental Nightmare.”)
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, even as Governor Brown announced water-use restrictions, state officials released a draft plan that would let oil companies continue dumping waste in protected aquifers for two years. CBD says that state officials have admitted they issued 500 permits for oil companies to dump billions of gallons of oil waste into protected aquifers in violation of state and federal law, right as the worst drought in history stalks California! Some of this waste likely includes cancer-causing chemicals present in “fracking fluid”. One hundred fifty environmental and community groups have filed a legal petition calling on Brown to ban fracking. In the debate over the drought, it was also exposed that the Nestlé Corporation has continued to pump water out of aquifers in the San Bernardino National Forest to sell despite their permit being expired for 25 years!
The drought and the danger of more severe drought in the future pose very deep and fundamental questions. How can such a crisis be dealt with? What can be done in these extreme conditions to protect people’s lives and to limit damage to ecosystems to the greatest degree possible? How do we deal with this, but also prepare for the even greater danger to come with global warming? All of these things could be handled differently in a planned socialist economy that strives to meet the needs of society in a sustainable way. These are not easy contradictions to deal with, but with socialism, society and scientists could be unleashed to work on the problems of how to provide for people’s needs in a rational way without depleting the very land and water that enables us to feed humanity and sustain a healthy Earth. The barrier to making that happen is this profit-driven system.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This Tuesday, April 28, marks the 50th anniversary of an extremely important struggle. On that day in 1965, a complex chain of events culminated in an armed uprising in the small Caribbean nation of the Dominican Republic (“the DR”). The uprising’s immediate target was a U.S.-backed dictatorship, but in a larger sense it was part of a rising tide of different forces at that time challenging U.S. imperial power around the world, even right in what the U.S. likes to call its “backyard.” Because of this, the U.S. government wasted no time dispatching overwhelming military force to try and snuff out the rebellion.
In spite of the huge disproportion in power between the U.S.—then, like now, the most powerful country in the world—and the thousands of hastily armed and organized rebels in the DR, it ended up taking the U.S. days just to retake the capital city of Santo Domingo, and several months to fully defeat the insurgency. And more important, the U.S. invasion further exposed the brutal imperialist nature of the U.S. to people around the world and at home, and thus helped fuel the flames of revolution that raged across the world, including in the U.S. itself, for much of the next decade.
Background: Rafael Trujillo and the 30-year Reign of U.S.-sponsored Terror
1965 was not the first U.S. invasion of the DR—in fact, it was the fourth. In 1916 the U.S. not only invaded but occupied the country for eight years. During that time the U.S. created the National Police to be the on-the-ground force securing the DR for the U.S. and keeping the masses of people down. Not long after the occupation ended, the National Police helped bring Rafael Trujillo to power.
Trujillo (known as "El Jefe" among other things) ruled from 1930 to 1961, and his rule was savage. A vast network of spies maintained a climate of absolute terror—even the mildest offhand criticism of Trujillo to a neighbor could land you in one of the regime’s torture chambers, where people were beaten, shocked, drowned, dismembered, and in other ways tormented, before either being released, executed, or thrown to the sharks. Women were routinely raped by “El Jefe,” with the alternative being torture or death for themselves and perhaps their families. It is estimated that 50,000 people were killed in this manner during the Trujillo era—this in a country whose total population was under five million.
One of Trujillo’s greatest crimes was in 1937. About 25 percent of the DR’s population was either Haitian immigrant workers, especially in the cane fields, or Dominicans of Haitian descent. For six days in October 1937, Trujillo’s army was unleashed to attack Haitians in the western part of the country—between 17,000 and 35,000 Haitians were hacked to death with machetes in that one week.
It is often claimed by reactionaries that while Trujillo may have been a “strongman” who committed some “excesses,” he really helped the economy and raised the standard of living of the people. Yet even Leatherneck.com, a website associated with the U.S. Marine Corps, notes that at the end of Trujillo’s reign, “Many Dominicans were starving to death and out of work. In the rural countryside the conditions were so bad that some girls were being sold into slavery.”
Through almost this entire time, Trujillo had the full support of the United States, as well as the Catholic Church, which had tremendous wealth and power, as well as influence among the masses of people. But the Cuban revolution of 1959 against a similar pro-U.S. dictator led the U.S. to see Trujillo as a liability—not because they suddenly gave a damn about the suffering of the Dominican people, but because such an openly barbaric, gangster-style regime was vulnerable to coups and revolutions, and thus could provide an opening for the radical and revolutionary forces hostile to U.S. domination to come to power.
This was a time when revolutionary struggle was breaking out around the world, from Vietnam to Algeria, to Mozambique, a time when major rebellions and protests were erupting in the ghettos and campuses of the U.S. Within all this, revolutionary China was a significant influence. The U.S. felt the old-style brutality of Trujillo was too exposed, too brittle, to withstand the swirling winds of radical change and could be the broken gate through which real revolution poured into their backyard. At the same time, capitalism had been restored in the formerly socialist Soviet Union and the new capitalist rulers there were also looking for openings—cracks and weaknesses in U.S.-dominated countries through which they could project their own capitalist interests on the world stage. The Soviets had done just this with the Cuban revolution, projecting their power into the Caribbean Sea, which the U.S. considers an “American lake.” The U.S. did not want to provide another such opening.
So the U.S. turned against Trujillo and began quietly shopping for an equally “conservative” but smoother and slicker replacement. Catholic priests were directed by the Church to preach against him. When Trujillo attempted to assassinate the president of Venezuela (who had been publicly critical of Trujillo), the U.S. decided to step up the pace—the CIA authorized and provided arms to forces in the Dominican army for Trujillo’s assassination, which was carried out on May 31, 1961.
Coups and Counter-coups, Resistance and Revolution
Trujillo’s assassination opened up a period of intense political turmoil lasting several years, marked by numerous ruling juntas, mass protests, and strikes. In 1962 there were elections which resulted in a victory for Juan Bosch, a social-democratic reformer who was both anti-Trujillo and anti-communist. Bosch’s reforms were very modest, but were enough to infuriate the reactionary ruling class in the DR, including the military, the large landowners, and the Catholic Church. After seven months in office, Bosch was overthrown in a military coup and went into exile.
A triumvirate made up of the old Trujillo forces took power and unleashed a new wave of repression. But at this point the army itself was divided, with a section of younger, junior-level officers supporting the return of Bosch. On April 24, 1965, these officers staged a bloodless coup, and on April 25 appointed a former member of Bosch’s administration (Rafael Molina Ureňa) as president. The government radio station was also seized and began broadcasts supporting the pro-Bosch coup. (These forces were known as the “Constitutionalists.”)
The dominant forces in the army (known as the “Loyalists”), backed by the U.S. and the bulk of the Dominican ruling class, hit back with extreme violence, bombing the presidential palace (now in rebel hands) from planes and attacking with tanks, and attacking the radio station as well.
Here were the same dark forces, the same tormenters of the people, once again on a rampage—it was intolerable to the masses, who came out in their thousands to oppose the Loyalists. With everything on the line, the rebellious officers opened their armories to the people, greatly expanding their fighting forces. The rebel forces took control of much of the capital and had a key position at the Duarte Bridge, which linked the east and west parts of the city. On April 27, Loyalist army forces launched a raid on the Duarte Bridge, but were beaten back by rebels who, the Loyalists said, “fought like cornered bulls.”
“The rapid escalation from a not unexpected political coup to a totally unexpected civil war” (Leatherneck.com) brought about a dramatic change in the role of the U.S., which up to this point had been trying to stay in the background, intervening through intermediaries and operatives. Where a few years earlier the U.S. had assassinated Trujillo in hopes of heading off revolution, now, confronted with an actual armed popular uprising which threatened to seize control of the whole country, the U.S. threw its full weight behind the Trujillo forces in order to crush the masses.
In a few short days, the U.S. went into panic mode. President Lyndon Baines Johnson put out the call for “the best general in the Pentagon” to take charge; he sent in the U.S. Marines on April 27, followed on April 28 by the 82nd Airborne Division, the U.S. Army’s crack counter-insurgency unit. (Just two years later, the 82nd Airborne would storm into Detroit to put down a rebellion of the masses there; 43 people were killed, many executed in cold blood, in the suppression of that rebellion.) Within 10 days, 23,000 U.S. troops were in the DR.
As soon as the U.S. began to move, the more bourgeois civilian forces and many (but not all) of the higher-ranking rebel military officers began to drop away. On April 27, Ureňa resigned, and as the days went by, the rebel forces were increasingly made up of unorganized masses supplemented by rank-and-file soldiers and low-level officers, rather than the other way around.
Revolutionaries who looked to Mao Zedong’s revolutionary China were at that time grouped around the Movimiento Popular Dominicano (MPD). While these forces were young and inexperienced, they jumped into the fray along with other radical youth and did their best to arm and organize the people on the spot. According to pro-U.S. military sources, these revolutionaries were the main leaders among the people.
On April 30, the 82nd Airborne attacked the rebel forces at the Duarte Bridge, in a battle that Leatherneck.com describes as “perilous ... [conducted] under sniper and automatic weapons fire.” The newly armed and organized masses fought with great heroism, but were up against the U.S. Army, which was able to not only take the bridge but subsequently to establish a cordon that bottled up 80 percent of the rebel forces in the capital. At the same time, the U.S. dispatched significant forces to pacify the rural areas where the majority of Dominicans lived, although those areas had not yet been drawn into the uprising.
In the wake of this, the Papal Nuncio of the Catholic Church organized a ceasefire and negotiations opened between rebel military leaders, the Loyalists, and the U.S., peeling away more of the “soft core” from the popular uprising. Nonetheless, the rebels continued to control the radio station and used it to rouse the masses, and the Loyalist forces were also shrinking and disintegrating. Rebel forces continued low-level resistance, and on June 15 launched a sustained offensive against the U.S. forces which lasted two days. The country was not fully pacified until September. A total of about 4,000 Dominicans—mainly civilians—and 44 U.S. soldiers died in the war.
By June, the U.S. had enough control to stage rigged elections that brought Joaquín Balaguer, a hard-core Trujillo supporter, to power. Balaguer remained the dominant political figure in the DR until 2000. A new wave of terror was unleashed against revolutionaries. In 1970 it was estimated that, on average, someone was “disappeared” every 34 hours. The vicious exploitation of the Dominican masses went back to normal on the sugar plantations, in foreign-owned sweatshops in the cities, and in newly established low-wage “tax-free zones,” billed as “an investor’s dream.” In U.S. imperialist terms, “order” had been restored.
But looking with some historical sweep, through twists and turns, the U.S. and the other imperialist powers have never been able to “stabilize” their domination of the people and the planet, neither in the DR (which has seen major outbreaks of rebellion since 1965) nor in the world as a whole. Now, as the U.S. empire is increasingly hated by the people, battered by various forces and having difficulty holding things together even at home, we would do well to look back on the bold and bloody spring of 1965 in the DR, so as to more deeply grasp the brutal nature of the system we oppose, and to appreciate—and build on—what was revealed about the potential for the oppressed masses to rise up when cracks in the existing order provide them with an opening, and the responsibility this poses for providing revolutionary leadership that can win.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On April 23, U.S. President Obama stepped up to a microphone at the White House and announced that an American and an Italian, both held hostage by al-Qaeda, were killed in a U.S. drone attack on a suspected al-Qaeda site in Pakistan in January of this year. Obama expressed his regret and sorrow at the deaths of the two innocent Westerners. The very next day, he gave a speech at the CIA praising the work of the “intelligence community” that carries out the drone attacks.
A question: Is it possible that the purported “pinpoint accuracy” of U.S. drone attacks based on “reliable intelligence” is a lie? Of course it is; just look at the evidence.
For years, people in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan who gathered in groups at wedding parties, tribal meetings, or car convoys have been slaughtered by America’s remote-controlled high-tech death machines. Obama, this stone-faced murderer, has never spoken a word or shed a tear for the THOUSANDS of innocent people who have died because of HIS ordering of these drone attacks.
Drone warfare has become a central tool in the U.S.’s so-called “war on terror.” Its continuing use shows again that the whole effort is a criminal and murderous war in which civilian deaths are a calculated attempt to bludgeon whole peoples into submission to the U.S. empire. This, not “faulty intelligence,” is the real problem.
The chart at right shows the number of deaths by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan alone, with a comparison of the numbers under the Bush and Obama regimes.
For important exposure about U.S. drone warfare in the Middle East and South Asia, see the book and the film of the same name, Dirty Wars, by journalist Jeremy Scahill.
For country-by-country data on deaths by U.S. drone attacks, see the Bureau of Investigative Journalism website.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 2, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
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.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 30, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader in Seattle
Daniel Covarrubias, 37, a member of the Suquamish tribe, was murdered by Lakewood police in Washington state on Tuesday, April 21. He was unarmed. Police say Daniel had been seen "running", and that after he climbed a tall stack of lumber in a lumber yard, he was "reaching into his pockets." Those who knew him say he was in mental distress and in need of urgent help. Instead, police fired up at him multiple times and killed him. No police have been arrested, and they are now on paid leave to work on getting their stories straight. Other people murdered by police in Lakewood and surrounding areas in recent times include Patrick O'Meara, Ron Hillstrom, and Brian McLeod.
Some of us who had been in the Seattle convergence of the nationwide April 14 Shutdown to Stop Police Murdering People knew we had to get down to nearby Lakewood and bring word of this reviving of the spirit of Ferguson. We headed to a rally and vigil organized by the Tacoma Action Collective on Thursday night, April 23, at the Lakewood Police Department. We brought the big "Stop Police Murder" banner with the many faces of lives stolen by police. About 100 people were there; many friends and family, local citizens, and also concerned people and activists from towns nearby. There was also much heart ache and tears.
The windows in the main entrance to the police department were dark. No officials appeared. It looked deserted and shut down. People were placing hand written posters, lighted candles, and flowers against the brick wall, building a memorial right there in the entrance. Also Daniel's picture. "We want to make sure they see his face," they said.
A Native woman delivered a prayer and then people spoke. A woman, crying, said "Daniel was my son! He was murdered! My baby was murdered! How many mothers are going to have to see their children die?" Daniel's sister said "This has got to stop! It is just senseless killing happening all over the country. And my brother he was a good person. He was a peaceful, humble person. They keep bringing up his record – that has nothing to do with this. Police need to be more educated. He was in a lumber yard, not a bank!" Many were openly weeping as people told of the joy Daniel had put in their lives. He had seven children. Family members said they would take a stand against the smear tactics police were using against Daniel, and that people should not trust the Lakewood police.
Different views came out. Some speakers called for a civilian review board over police, others for legislation to make police better trained, and others for more people to get active in the streets. “We want an indictment,” the crowd chanted at one point. A solidarity statement from the adopted mother of Oscar Perez-Giron, murdered by police in Seattle last summer, was read (see "From Oscar Grant to Oscar Perez-Giron—No More Police Murder of Our Youth at the Train Stations!" March 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper). A revolutionary spoke. She asked for everyone who knew of the April 14 nationwide shutdown to raise their hands. A few did, but as far as I could tell, no one from Lakewood. She spoke about how these killings of Black and brown people are nationwide, how it's connected to all the other ills of this society, and how this madness must be and can be ended. Another revolutionary talked about the real role of the police as enforcers of exploitation and oppression.
As darkness came the rally turned into a march in the streets, towards Lakewood City Hall, with many carrying pictures of Daniel and signs such as "Stop the killing". There were chants of “ Indict, convict send the killer cops to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!" and "Hands up, don't shoot!" I walked with and interviewed marchers, and also by-standers where I could, telling them I was writing a correspondence to send in to Revolution newspaper and showing them the paper.
A youth from Tacoma said he came because Lakewood friends told him about it. "Fife and Lakewood cops are dicks, worse than Tacoma. It's harassment all the time, using stuff like traffic tickets." He knew about Ferguson, and said "Yeah, this is nationwide." An aunt of Daniel's said it was wrong that "They (police) are trained to shoot and kill". A Native man in the march, about Daniel's age, said "He was my cousin. We grew up together." He talked of the good experiences, misfortunes, and adventures they had had as youth. "We need to come together like this, but it's never going to work trying to use the system. In the end they are going to send these cops back to work. But I am here, I will protest, out of respect for Daniel." I got him a copy of Revolution newspaper and told him what it was putting out on how we can and must get a new system. A younger Native man with him said "I think the system is crooked. They want us to abide by their rules, but they don't follow those same rules. And it's against Black and brown people. They profile people on how they dress, if they wear hoodies. They just assume things. Cops in Lakewood are worse. They came to my house and just accused me of things."
A Black man coming out of a store asked what it was about. When told, he was very surprised and concerned, and said he had not even heard of this killing right here in Lakewood! A young white man wearing a hoody had also not heard of Daniels killing! He said "Yeah, I live here. I just saw people on the street just now and joined up. The feelings and emotions brought me here. This is a way for justice to happen, maybe." Lakewood has various nationalities, immigrants, and also military who work at nearby bases. Transport is centered around the automobile, with lots of wide streets, parking lots and strip malls. It is hard to get around on foot and to find gathering places for community. People in Lakewood are not always able to be well informed, and are kept divided up and under close supervision of the police.
The march went about a mile over major roads, intersections, and shopping mall parking lots. There was a die-in at one big intersection. The marchers then swept into the courtyard of City Hall, which is actually in the middle a large new shopping mall! Like the police station, it was closed and dark, and there were no officials there to meet people. There was more speaking. A white woman said "I was a prison guard at McNeil Island (a federal prison nearby) and it is SO racist there! Even the guards are divided up by race. I was told not to speak to the Black guards!"
Daniel's father was standing out at the edge of the crowd. He had been concerned that blocking the streets could alienate people from this cause. We talked some about this and I told him how "shutting down business as usual" has had a powerful effect in different places around the country. I also asked what he felt was the cause and the solution to all these killings. He said "He's a victim of the meth epidemic. Meth and heroin are killing people. Also, I don't know how they evaluate these police officers when they hire them. Before they were hired, they were just violent punks, some of them. Daniel he was hiding up on top of that lumber pile, hiding from his demons. He had these demons, and in a sense, the police came and they were his demons fulfilled. They reacted too quickly. They had a Rambo attitude. I think this should be investigated by the FBI or someone. Like they did in Ferguson. The local cops have a brotherhood, they can't be trusted." Also, "The mental health system has failed, we are investing in the wrong things. " Then, thinking over the big picture, he shook his head and said "I don't know what the solution is.." You feel the pain when talking to someone who has just lost a child, and you could also tell he has been thinking much about the whys of it.
The march then turned back towards the police department, and I walked with a woman related to Daniel's family. She had not heard of Ferguson, and wanted very much to know what all had happened there. I told her and also was telling her what Revolution newspaper was putting out, and she said "One of Daniel's sons is an artist. A revolutionary artist! I hope." During all this, the Lakewood police had kept out of sight, reluctant to try and employ their usual harassment and intimidation in the face of this resistance. A group of police were seen exiting a fast food restaurant, and were loudly called out as murderers by the marchers. Back at the Lakewood Police Department, many more candles were lit and placed at the memorial. While we were marching, supporters of the police had come in and chalked on the pavement in front of the memorial "Thank you for your service." A woman used bottled water to wash it off, saying "How disrespectful." People stayed there in the glow of candles late into the night.
People have planned ongoing gatherings in Lakewood as the police cover-up progresses. This must be linked up to a new nationwide rising wave of resistance against police murder and terror, growing until we can STOP all this, and the heartache and tears are no more!
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 30, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Tuesday, and then even more widely on Wednesday night, protests erupted from coast to coast demanding justice for Freddie Gray, the man brutalized and killed by Baltimore police. At the beginning of the week, April 27, a powerful uprising shook Baltimore and the nation. As Carl Dix put it, the uprising in Baltimore “delivered an unmistakable and powerful message that the time is over when people will just take the unending and outrageous murder and brutality carried out by police. The torture and murder of Freddie Gray for nothing—and the ongoing, infuriating lies and cover-up—is only the latest in a long line of such horrors in not only Baltimore but all over the U.S. From North Charleston, SC to Ferguson, Missouri from Pasco, Washington to New York City and beyond—THIS MUST STOP! (see Statement of Carl Dix, 8 pm April 27, 2015: On the Uprising in Baltimore).
The Baltimore uprising was viciously condemned by Barack Obama, CNN, and the powers-that-be, who called the youth they lock down, beat down, and have no future for “thugs” – which more than one commentator from different perspectives has called out as being just an ugly euphemism for the “n-word” – to dehumanize and isolate those who rose up.
In that light, the nationwide protests that drew people of all ages, different nationalities, and significant numbers of college students who in NYC and other places defied mass arrests and highly public displays of police brutality, were particularly inspiring. Those protesting Tuesday and Wednesday came from all walks of life, and differing, and sometimes mixed perspectives on the uprising in Baltimore, but were united in demanding an end to police murder of Black people.
The following, collected from correspondents, social media, and mainstream news sources gives a partial picture of some of the protests. As we post this, we are getting news of more and spreading protests tonight.
* * *
In Baltimore on Wednesday, thousands, including many students from Baltimore and DC campuses marched, including hundreds of students from Johns Hopkins University who joined a protest called by the Black Student Union and Hopkins Feminists. After marching through campus, they headed downtown to join the main citywide protest. They were joined by hundreds of high school and other college students, meeting at Penn Station then heading to a rally at City Hall.
Thousands rallied in Union Square in New York City. Eric Garner's daughter Erica was among speakers. Almost immediately, the protest was viciously attacked by the NYPD as people moved into the street. Press reports indicate over 140 people were rounded up, and photos of people from elderly protesters to a Black youth attacked for dancing are all over the media. Never-the-less, the protesters broke out of police encirclement and split into groups that shut down traffic from one side of Manhattan to the other. Those in the streets were making a statement through signs and chants that “Black lives matter” and “I mourn broken backs not broken windows.” One grouping made it to Times Square chanting “We got your back,” others streamed onto the West Side Highway and blocked the entrance to the Holland Tunnel connecting New York and New Jersey. Among the protesters: family members whose loved ones were killed by police, Black youth who face police brutality every day, and others standing with them – activists in different movements, college students, lawyers, and parents with their children. Signs from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network were all over, and the huge Stolen Lives banner from revcom.us (PDF / JPG ) was prominent in the crowd.
Thousands – college students, youth, Arab American rights activists and people of all ages -- marched in D.C. beginning in Chinatown and ending in front of the White House on Wednesday. A George Washington University student was quoted saying: “ I don’t want to see the fight die out just because we’re getting tired of the same thing over and over again.” Protesters continued to march and block traffic late into the night.
Over 1,500 marched in Minneapolis led by a group of Black men carrying a coffin. Protesters blocked a major bridge.
In Boston about 800 people marched on Wednesday – among them activists, people from the hood and students from many area colleges. "We stand with Baltimore, we stand with Ferguson, we stand with Staten Island," said speaker Nikea Ramsey, whose brother, Burrell Ramsey-White, was killed by Boston police three years ago. "This pain is real," she added. "I just had a baby, three months old, never going to meet his uncle."
In Chicago, protesters shut down an intersection near the University of Chicago for twenty minutes after a four-mile march that defied police attempts to stop it.
In Houston Wednesday evening several dozen people, mostly African-American, came together to express solidarity with the defiant ones in Baltimore. Also out in numbers: pigs in helicopters, pigs on horses, pigs in paddy wagons. A young barber saw the protest on tv and rushed down as soon as he got off work. Residents of the neighborhood came out.
In downtown Denver on Wednesday night police in riot gear with military-style weapons attacked the crowd of 100 with pepper spray. At least five protesters -- including one whose face was bloody after being assaulted by police -- were arrested.
Hundreds marched in San Diego Tuesday night.
April 28 150-200 people in the course of the evening took to the streets in Ferguson, Missouri to stand in solidarity with the Baltimore Uprising. The protest was young, with many high school age youth. And it was very defiant. The demonstration gathered on W. Florissant Ave. where the uprising against police murder began 9 months ago in response to the police murder of Michael Brown. People marched and repeatedly shut down traffic on W. Florissant. There were repeated confrontations with the police trying to disperse the protest. Tear gas was shot at protesters. People commented they had not been seen this level of mass defiance on W. Florissant Ave. since the grand jury’s non indictment of Darren Wilson for the murder of Mike Brown last November. The next night, there were two protests in Ferguson. According to CNN, 300 people took part. "
In Seattle, people held a march and die-ins downtown. There were also protests in Tulsa.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
From a reader
April 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Hector Morejon with his mother
On Thursday, April 23, 19-year old Hector Morejon, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by the Long Beach Police in an area known as "Cambodia Town," 24 miles south of downtown Los Angles. The cops shot Hector through a window of an apartment they thought was being "vandalized." It was right next to Hector's home, where his mother came out after hearing gun shots to see Hector laying in an ambulance and crying out, "Mommy, mommy, please come, please come,"
The pigs are justifying their killing, as they usually do, by claiming they thought Hector had a gun, and now they are vilifying Hector by claiming that he had gang affiliations, just because there was some sort of graffiti they labeled as "gang graffiti" close by to where he was killed. His family said that Hector had no gang affiliation or ties.
Hector's mother is calling for an investigation into the cops shooting and killing of her unarmed son that does not include the Long Beach Police Department.
The Los Angeles Times reported that "from January 2000 to Monday, 41 people have been killed in officer-involved shootings in Long Beach, which is in Los Angeles County. (See http://homicide.latimes.com/neighborhood/long-beach)
How many more of our beautiful children are going to be killed by the pigs before we put a stop to this? From Baltimore to Ferguson to Long Beach people have to be out in the streets putting their bodies against the gears of this society in protest against this genocidal program that is murdering and incarcerating our youth. There is nothing legitimate about the police killing the masses of people in this country and we have to do something about it. We have right on our side and we need to build this into a massive struggle that will sweep this system and its murdering thugs in blue uniform out of here and bring into being a new society where the lives of our youth are respected and where those who are actually "serving and protecting" the people would rather be harmed, themselves, than to harm the people.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
April 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
April 25, Baltimore. Photo: Twitter/@JohnZangas
The people are still out in the streets in Baltimore—and very rightly so, because the killer cops who brutalized and murdered Freddie Gray are still walking around unindicted. On Saturday, over two thousand gathered at the corner where on April 12 he was chased down and cuffed by cops—he died in police custody a week later. There were lots of people from the 'hood, a very poor Black area—but also many from other parts of the city and from other cities nearby and further away; people of all different nationalities and from different walks of life; various political organizations and trends. One contingent—with members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, including family members of police murder victims, and the Revolution Club from New York City—marched with a huge banner of the revcom.us poster showing pictures and names of dozens of people killed by police around the country.
The march first went to the Western District police station where the cops had taken Freddie, and then headed downtown, taking over the streets for a couple of miles and joining others already at the City Hall plaza. By this time the protesters numbered several thousand. But people definitely were not in a mood to stop there. With shouts of "stop the ballgame," hundreds took off again through the downtown streets to Camden Yards, surrounded by a large number of police, where the Orioles baseball game was about to start. Protesters weren't able to shut down the game—but there was major disruption of business-as-usual in Baltimore, and some protesters confronted police into the night, with news reports of at least a dozen arrests.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
From Social Media:
April 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
"When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con. And none of this can mean that rioting or violence is 'correct' or 'wise,' any more than a forest fire can be 'correct' or 'wise.' Wisdom isn't the point tonight. Disrespect is. In this case, disrespect for the hollow law and failed order that so regularly disrespects the community."
The Atlantic national correspondent Ta-Nehisi Coates
"The media's hysteria over this just serves to distract from the real crime: maintaining the status quo."
Belén Fernández on Al Jazeera America
@LeslieMac tweeted: The people of #Baltimore are wonderful, gracious, loving AND fed the fuck up! You can be BOTH #BaltimoreLove AND #BalitmoreUprising
Jeremy Kahn (@trochee) tweeted: This is literally turning the city of Baltimore into a prison for youth. They can be arrested at basically any time
We need to keep in mind people are suffering and dying around the US and while we are thankful no one was injured at Camden Yards, there is a far bigger picture for poor Americans in Baltimore and everywhere who don't have jobs and are losing economic civil and legal rights and this is makes inconvenience at a ball game irrelevant in light of the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans.
John P. Angelos, Baltimore Orioles chief operating officer and son of team owner Peter Angelos.
Wizdom Powell (@Wizdomisms) tweeted ]: Anger in response to systemic marginalization is legitimate. Rage is what happens when legitimate anger gets ignored & suppressed.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Carl Dix is a co-initiator of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party.
The uprising in Baltimore tonight has delivered an unmistakable and powerful message that the time is over when people will just take the unending and outrageous murder and brutality carried out by police. The torture and murder of Freddie Gray for nothing—and the ongoing, infuriating lies and cover-up—is only the latest in a long line of such horrors in not only Baltimore but all over the U.S. From North Charleston, SC to Ferguson, Missouri from Pasco, Washington to New York City and beyond—THIS MUST STOP!
The authorities and the media grunt about “violence.” They get outraged about broken windows, but not the broken neck of Freddie Gray. They get mad about the destruction of property, but not the destruction of Black and Brown children. Violence? What about the unending violence carried out against the masses of Black and Latino people all over America by the police? What about the world-record violence embodied in a society in which a young Black boy has a 1 in 3 chance of spending time in prison before he dies? The violence in which nearly one million Black men and increasing numbers of women are now languishing in prison? The violence in which police behave like occupying armies in the ghettos and barrios—and the occupying armies of the U.S. behave like police all over the world? This is America, and this whole system was built on vicious, unjust, endless violence here and around the world and it continues to carry this out. These world-class criminals, and apologists for criminals, have absolutely no right to say anything about what the masses of people do when they are fed up, when they can’t take it anymore, and when they must express this. In the face of murder and terror, is not resistance justified?
They insult those who rebel as thugs, while the real thugs go unpunished, on paid vacation... and those who give orders to those thugs not only get no punishment, but sit at the highest reaches of government. Here—in the land of the thief and home of the slave—they accuse those who rebel of looting, when the powers-that-be have looted Black people as a people for centuries, along with and as part of looting whole continents. They promise justice from the Department of INjustice, and from their rigged court system—this is just a ploy to throw mud in people’s eyes. Bringing in the National Guard means only one thing—more wanton violence against the people. NO! NO! NO!
History and present-day reality show that unless and until people stand up and refuse to go along with it, injustice, outrage and horror will continue. Everyone should stand with the defiant ones in Baltimore, refuse to condemn them, and to step up the struggle to STOP police murder and mass incarceration. This is a cry and clarion call to all of society to stand up and say NO MORE! THIS MUST STOP!
[Please distribute and post widely.]
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
To the Revolutionaries and Resisters in Baltimore and Beyond:
April 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A really important and helpful way for revolutionaries and resisters—right in the heart of the struggle, and more broadly—to be looking at things, and a critical question to be asking themselves and others is this: What is it that the masses—including, very importantly those rising up in defiant, courageous, and determined struggle as we speak—most critically and fundamentally need to be led to understand, and act on?
Most critically and fundamentally: The masses who are now defiantly and courageously rising up in struggle, and the masses of people more broadly, need to be led to correctly understand—and act on the correct understanding of—problem and solution, and the fact that, through communist revolution, there is a way out of the horrors and outrages that they are rising up against and that this system forces them to endure every day.
More specifically on that point: The masses in Baltimore and beyond must be led to understand that the source of the horrific brutality and murder committed by police every day against Black and Latino people, the larger program of mass incarceration and police terror that this fits into, the centuries-long oppression of Black people this is part of, and many, many other outrages and forms of needless suffering confronting humanity every day—the source of all this is the capitalist-imperialist system we live under; that this system, and all of the horrors it spawns, including the outrages that people are now rising up against, cannot be tweaked or reformed or fixed with band-aids—this can only be ended as this system is swept away through revolution, nothing less, and replaced with a radically different and far better system and society where these horrors could be ended once and for all; that this revolution really is possible; that the leadership we need to make this revolution exists in Bob Avakian (BA) and the Revolutionary Communist Party he leads; that because of the work that BA has done over decades, there is the vision, strategy, and method we need for this revolution; that this revolution NEEDS THEM, that the masses of people broadly, can and must step forward and get with this revolution and the leadership we have for this revolution in BA and the RCP, as they are learning more about this; and that the most oppressed masses themselves can and must step forward to not only be part of this revolution but be the backbone of it.
Leading people to understand all of that means connecting them with the leadership and work of BA. When we connect people with the leadership and work of BA, we are—in the most powerful and scientific way possible—bringing out to people everything spoken to in the above paragraph.
For people reading this who are new to the revolution and new to revcom.us, if you want to see why this is true, go directly to the source. Take the time to watch the new film of the incredible Dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West in November 2014, REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion. Check out two other key works—BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and BAsics: From the talks and writings of Bob Avakian and go to the section at revcom.us on Bob Avakian, to see what BA and his work and leadership, are all about.
The words “most critically and fundamentally” are used deliberately. It is not that what is spoken to above represents the only critical things the masses must be led to understand. The revolutionaries must also lead the masses to continue to fight the power, including leading them through all the twists and turns, major developments, and heavy repression, slanders, and diversions thrown at the struggle by this system and its enforcers, mouthpieces, defenders and apologists. And, in fact, the masses must be led to understand the scope and scale of the outrages that they are rising up against—the fact that there is a national, decades-long, and unrelenting epidemic of police brutality and police murder, and that they are not isolated in being outraged by and fighting against this epidemic of police murder and brutality, as the system and its mouthpieces constantly try to make them think and feel that they are. This is one of many reasons that broadly getting out the posters and banners from revcom.us with the faces and names of victims of police brutality and murder has been, is, and will continue to be so important, as is continuing to fight to broaden and deepen the struggle against police brutality, murder and mass incarceration, bringing forward and leading people broadly, from many different sections of society, to take up this fight.
So, again, doing all of the above is, has been, and will continue to be extremely important. But it is very important not to lose sight of what is most fundamental and essential for the revolutionary communists to lead the masses to understand and act on, as spoken to here.
Revolution #384 April 27, 2015
Updated 4/28/15 early evening | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editor's note: During the day and into the early evening, a Revolution correspondent has been in the streets of Baltimore with the Revolution Club, getting out Carl Dix's statement in sections of West Baltimore where the uprising on Monday night was concentrated. Following are clips from what people had to say.
We were just at a corner where a couple hundred people were having a dance party – dancing to the Michael Jackson song, "They don't care about us..." and spilling into the streets. At one point a Black Lives Matter march came past. Someone who lives in Baltimore was commenting that the feeling among the people who were dancing was kind of like "relief" in response to a very tense situation. The march of more movement type activists came through at one point – but wasn't that much interaction in terms of people from the streets joining it.
More responses to Carl Dix statement: Young Black woman poet from Baltimore said, "The youth have a lot of heart, they don't have much respect for the authorities. They didn't have much respect before and especially now they don't have any. This is going to go on for a while."
Baltimore, April 28
Mid afternoon – A corner scene called by peace/cleanup forces right outside a burned-out drugstore is attracting a range of people from but also beyond hood. This is where the crew is getting out the statement.
A white freelance journalist – a woman: "It's probably best that the police didn't get involved last night, or there would have been more violence. It's unfortunate that there's so much property damage but that's nothing compared to the physical damage people suffer from the police. Young people who live in this area wake up every day and they are afraid, they are living in poverty, and that's just not right. Just a few blocks away, there are neighborhoods much more built up and wealthy, and the poverty in this area – not right."
Another woman with her had been involved in Occupy Oakland – her parents in the suburbs are calling her, freaked out, because she's living in the city, but she came down to protest. "It's not surprising that everyone is calling these people violent because that's 'their' agenda.'"
White anarchist saw Carl Dix's statement on social media, he is familiar with Carl Dix. He said of Statement: "Of course, this is a police state."
Baltimore, April 28
Older Black man – someone who is on the streets a lot – "I agree it is justifiable for people to rise up, but the problem is, it's not white businesses in other areas being affected, it is the businesses in the neighborhood" [People read some of Carl Dix statement, he responded] "Yeah, a few blocks away there's all this development, all these new buildings, but nothing here. Hopefully this sends a message, we agree on that."
Middle Aged Black Woman: "If you give them justice, all this will stop, if you don't give them justice, this won't stop"
A young guy into the life: "Now the whole world is listening, they weren't listening before."
A 20-ish young man on a bike, with dreads, read Carl Dix's whole statement out loud. He said – "Yeah, that's what happened. It started with Freddie but it won't end with Freddie. If you're in lockup you can't speak up, but when they forced the police to back up, it was a chance to express themselves, to speak up." He said yesterday was justified and "needs to happen tonight."
A Black man, 30: "You only can push people so far, now it's past Freddie, every urban area has the same thing. Freddie was Ok when he was running, so he was OK then, and something happened in police custody and so it's on them. What happened yesterday is what happens when you put people in a corner. When the police report comes out on Friday it might be sheer havoc."
A Black woman, 30s: "Something needed to be done. This was a statement. They weren't gonna be heard, they weren't being heard before, so they did something to be heard. "
A Black woman, a mother with kids: "The kids are saying the six police officers who killed Freddie, all they got was suspended with pay. Why not destroy some businesses to get some attention. There are no jobs for them. If police know someone is hurt, they are supposed to call the ambulance right away, not throw them in the back of a van."