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Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
June 1, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Photo: Special to revcom.us
Kick off this summer with the most meaningful thing you can do, with the revolutionary élan and joy that comes from radically changing the world—with others like you, in a process of learning and discovery as we do this: Taking revolution and Bob Avakian, BA, to the people in an atmosphere of charged political ferment, and questioning.
Let’s look at what has led into this summer. Youths cast out by the system defiantly rebelling against police murders, in Ferguson, in Madison, and in Baltimore. High school and college students joined by others occupying streets, freeways, and bridges in outbreaks of mass resistance, bringing a halt to business as usual. This is sparking bigger questions and discussions not only about what is understood as “the system,” but also the history and place of Black people in this society. Thinking has been shaken loose, and there is a lot roiling under the surface. This moment holds tremendous potential towards hastening a time when revolutionary change is much more the order of the day.
The powers-that-be are responding, with not only a lot of “talk” and minor reforms, but intense repression and charity programs, all the while firmly affirming and supporting the police. THEY HAVE NO ANSWER, not only to the police murder of mainly Black and Latino youths—but also to the continuing degradation of women, the wars of empire, global warming, and the criminalization of immigrants.
The plain scientific fact is that it does NOT need to be this way, and a radically different world—without all these horrors and this madness—is possible through communist revolution. This is what is fundamentally represented by BA, Bob Avakian, his leadership and his vision, based on a scientific approach to what underlies all these horrors, the problem, and what it will take to get beyond it, and how to get there, the solution. This changes how people look at what is tolerable, and what is needed right now, including righteously and defiantly standing up, rebelling, and organizing in various ways to fight the power.
If you don’t know about BA, the most scientific and radical of thinkers and leaders, learn more. Start with REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. This is the title and theme of the historic Dialogue between the revolutionary Christian Cornel West and the revolutionary communist Bob Avakian that took place at the Riverside Church in New York City last November, attended by 1,900+ people from all walks of life, and also the title of the film of this Dialogue—now available online at revcom.us and on DVD. We also recommend the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. Many other works and talks of Bob Avakian can be found at revcom.us.
Even as you are learning, and thinking about this, agreeing, disagreeing, provoked, and challenged by what BA says, if you feel this—BA and his vision—needs to be out there, sparking discussion and debate about revolution and a radically different world, JOIN US to raise funds and project this everywhere, BA Everywhere, an actual campaign of the same name, to achieve this objective. Imagine the Difference ... This could be part of changing everything, like the beginning of the 1960s, but more scientific, radical, and emancipating in vision.
Link up with the Revolutionary Summer Solstice, the Weekend of June 20-21, the start of what could be a potentially “long, hot, summer” politically in this country. Different cities have diverse plans, and you should be part of shaping this, with your suggestions and ideas on places to go and things to do. Common threads of the vision and plans are:
* Crews rolling with T-shirts of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! in outdoor parks, basketball courts, concerts, and cultural institutions. Wearing, selling, and fundraising for it. With a revolutionary élan, even as many wearing these shirts are in the process of grappling with what this revolution is all about.
* Fundraising for, publicizing, showing, and distributing REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. Scenes of people gathering around large projections on walls to watch excerpts from the film, or at a rec center in the projects, all the while raising money so that word can spread, and discussing and debating what they saw. Tens of thousands of palm cards for the film distributed, and posters everywhere, “saturating” key neighborhoods, making an unmistakable presence and compelling people to check it out. For it matters, for the world and for humanity.
A common theme in the responses of those who have watched the Dialogue has been hope, the raising of sights on a scientific foundation—not only about what BA represents in the “way out” of all this madness and horror, but also in the kind of movement envisioned that has BA and Cornel West, with their differences, but with mutual respect, united in their concern for those who are “the least among us.” A woman in West Baltimore watching the Dialogue was reported to be “‘worried’ because she felt so good. She felt so full of hope.” Commenting on the Dialogue, Ardea Skybreak has said: “It was like there was magic in the air. It was one of the most hopeful things that I’ve seen in a very long time. ... I felt like I was able to see a great demonstration of morality and conscience applied to dealing with the problems of humanity—that both speakers stood out this way...”
* Celebratory and fundraising dinners for the BA Everywhere campaign, where people get together to break bread, watch excerpts of the film, share their experiences through the weekend, and watch and listen to music and cultural performances. A community and culture more in line with the world we are trying to bring into being, without all the oppressive and exploitative relations, especially what has become the all too common standard in the revolting popular culture of degrading women.
There are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands across this country who are searching for answers, open to radical questioning and radical change, looking for leadership, but who don’t yet know about BA.
With revolutionary energy and enthusiasm, rolling in the streets wearing the T-shirts of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, showing and watching BA in Dialogue with Cornel West, with hundreds of youths and thousands of others, on large screens or small portable DVD players, raising sights and provoking debate, fundraising from pennies to hundreds of dollars, forging community as we break bread together―this is how we are going to start changing this.
What is needed is YOU! There is a place for you, depending on how you’d like to contribute.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
June 5, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
We received this summer plan from Stop Patriarchy, the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women.
Everywhere you turn, women are disrespected, degraded, and anti-woman attitudes are the norm. Already this year, more than 330 restrictions on abortion have been introduced across the country; 50 have become law. Without the right to abortion, women cannot decide for themselves what their lives will be. Women's dreams and humanity are crushed through being forced into motherhood against their will. Meanwhile, pornography has become increasingly more mainstream, and the culture “pornified,” even as pornography has become more violent, degrading and hateful towards women. This is NOT society becoming more “comfortable with sex,” it is society becoming saturated with the sexualized hatred of women. Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people who do not conform to the patriarchal gender and sexual “norms” are discriminated against in law and bullied in the culture. This must STOP! Women are not bitches, hos, punching bags, sex objects, or breeders, women ARE FULL HUMAN BEINGS. STOP the Patriarchal Degradation, Dehumanization, and Subjugation of All Women Everywhere, and All Oppression Based on Gender or Sexual Orientation!
Join with Stop Patriarchy this summer to take this message everywhere—deep into the communities of the oppressed, out to concerts and festivals, and right up in the face of the biggest women-haters. Through everything, we will get out tens of thousands of copies of the Stop Patriarchy Call to Action . Through street theater, defiant “social interventions” (taking banners and stickers boldly out to crowds wherever they gather), and “pop-up protests” at porn stores, fascist churches, and such, join in making it known far and wide: The days are over when we are just going to sit back and take all this patriarchal shit!
Roll with us this summer. Start a chapter where you are. There are a myriad of ways to fight, and you are NEEDED.
Weekend of June 27-28: Go out to Pride activities all weekend long, including the Dyke Marches. Bring out the message of Stop Patriarchy, stickers and palm-cards to build for the July 1st protest against all Christian fascist, theocratic intrusion on women's right to abortion and LGBT rights.
On July 1st a new anti-abortion law goes into effect in Kansas, which bans one of the safest and most common procedures for second trimester abortions. This is a very dangerous new line of attack which has already been picked up and copied in four other states; Oklahoma has also passed it into law. Also on July 1st, a new abortion restriction goes into effect in Tennessee that threatens to close half of the state's abortion clinics, leaving it with only four. Everyone across the country must stand up against the devastating impact these laws will have on women in Kansas and Tennessee. Even more fundamentally, we must recognize that these are part of a nationwide war on abortion rights everywhere. These attacks must be denounced by people all across this country. At the same time, we will be poised to respond to an upcoming Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage (expected by June 26), should that ruling restrict this basic right. Wherever you are, hold a protest, speak-out and/or die-in to say: Abortion On Demand and Without Apology! Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement! WE SAY NO MORE! End ALL Forms of Theocratic Bigotry! Read the call for protest here.
Stop Patriarchy has been inspired by the fierce resistance and uprising of people across the country against murder by police, particularly the defiant youth in Baltimore. This past May 20th, we were proud to collaborate with One Billion Rising, the African American Policy Forum, Stop Mass Incarceration Network, the families of many women murdered by police, and many others to lift up the names of Black women who have been murdered by police. By mobilizing to Baltimore, Stop Patriarchy will further bring the message of all the way women's liberation to those who have been lifting their heads and fighting back and join ourselves more fully with the righteous struggle to end murder by police—fighting to take people from fighters on one front to fighters on all fronts against oppression. [Dates to be announced.] We call on everyone who cannot make it to Baltimore to seize the time to take the fight for women's liberation into and connect up with the communities of the oppressed everywhere.
The Deep South is where the battle around abortion rights is particularly acute, and where lack of access disproportionately affects Black and poverty-stricken women. In the entire state of Mississippi, there is only one abortion clinic left! This clinic is a last refuge for women for hundreds of miles throughout the state who find themselves pregnant but do not want to have a child. It is also the target of unrelenting Christian fascist harassment, legal attacks, and threats of closure. It is currently only able to stay open because of a temporary court order which is blocking a law that would close it down. Stop Patriarchy has partnered with this clinic repeatedly in recent years and is calling on people from across the country and from various organizations to join them in a 7-10 day mobilization to build support in Jackson for Abortion On Demand and Without Apology and against all forms of female enslavement. We plan to go out into the neighborhoods and draw people into this. Also, this will be a key training ground for new organizers to then take this fight back out all across this country.
Students have always played a major role in every successful movement for radical social change and this is urgently needed now in the fight for the full liberation of women. However, these days the campuses are filled with a paralyzing relativism and unending rationalizations for why porn and the sex “industry” are “empowering” for women. At the same time, people are increasingly defensive and apologetic about abortion. It’s time to cut through the bullshit! The sex industry is about oppression, not about “empowerment.” And forcing women to have children against their will is a form of enslavement, straight up! It’s time to stand up and say NO MORE. Women are not bitches, hos, punching bags, sex objects, or breeders. Women are FULL HUMAN BEINGS! This September, on college campuses and high schools across the country, join in a National Student Day of Action to END THE ENSLAVEMENT AND DEGRADATION OF WOMEN IN EVERY FORM!
One of the most meaningful ways you can contribute to ending the enslavement and degradation of women is to donate today to fund this essential work. Tens of thousands of dollars are required to print thousands of stickers, t-shirts, palm-cards, banners, and other materials, to support activists from around the country converging in Jackson, Mississippi for over a week, to maintain the StopPatriarchy.org website and email lists, to rent meeting spaces and more. By giving generously today, and/or becoming a regular monthly sustainer of Stop Patriarchy, you not only make this essential work possible, you join a vibrant and liberating community of others who are determined to bring about a better world for women and LGBT people everywhere.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors’ note: After the May 26 meeting to call for Rise Up October to Stop Police Terror, revcom.us/Revolution had the opportunity to talk with Carl Dix. This article is based on that conversation.
On May 26, 80 people met at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City at the invitation of Dr. Cornel West and Carl Dix to discuss a proposal for Rise Up October to STOP Police Terror. There was wide-ranging discussion among families of people who have been murdered by police, high school and college students, religious leaders, representatives from justice-based organizations and unions, and numerous activists.
Coming off the meeting, a call was issued for Rise Up October to take place on October 24, 2015, in New York City. The aim is nothing less than changing the whole social landscape in the U.S. to the point where a growing section of people all over take ever-increasing initiative and make it unmistakably clear that they refuse to live in a society that sanctions this outrage, and where those who do NOT feel this way are put on the defensive.
The meeting opened with presentations by Carl Dix and Cornel West.
Dix made the point that “this is a crucial moment, with high stakes for both sides. On the one side, there are the people who are determined to stop this [and] who have been standing up. But the authorities are doubling down, unleashing their cops to commit murder and giving license to law enforcement to carry out the kind of savage brutality and torture that the slave-catchers carried out on people who escaped from slavery.”
In the week leading into this meeting, murdering police went free all over the United States. In one case, in Cleveland, a judge acquitted the only policeman charged in the horrific murder of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, a Black man and woman. Thirteen Cleveland cops shot 137 bullets at their car, 23 bullets hitting Russell and 24 bullets hitting Williams. Yet the judge acquitted the one cop charged because he said he could not determine which of the cops fired the fatal shots.
Dix said there is genocidal repression coming down and genocide is the answer of this system to this situation. OUR people, human beings, are being shot down and our humanity demands we stop it. The call is for people to continue the resistance and struggle this summer, to spread and intensify it, and to bring it all together in NYC on October 24. “We have to answer this challenge! Hundreds of thousands need to be in the streets in NYC this fall with a very simple demand: STOP police terror.”
Cornel West recognized the significance of holding this meeting at Union Theological Seminary, where there is a history and present-day struggle to keep alive the spirit of revolutionary Christianity and concern for “the least of these.” He said we must “create a sustained social movement that focuses on the vicious legacy of white supremacy, especially as it manifests in police terror against Black and Brown brothers, and we are as concerned with Black and Brown sisters as with brothers.”
“We’re at a moment now in the history of this American empire,” West continued, “when ordinary people are waking up, especially Black ordinary people. White supremacy has always been not just at the center of American capitalism, but it has been the lightning rod. When Black people wake up and begin to oppose white supremacy and then have a critique of class, and patriarchy, and of imperial policies—the drones dropping bombs on innocent people... Now with the Ferguson/Baltimore moment, Black masses are straightening up their backs. And it becomes a different day, a new day. Once you break the back of fear you’re in a new moment. That’s what Ferguson, that’s what Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore mean especially. They’re not scared in the face of the system. It’s a whole new day. And the system understands that. The last thing they want is people coming together; colors and regions, religious and not religious, but with a revolutionary love.”
Carl Dix asked, “Can this be done?” He answered that it may not look that way on the surface, but underneath the surface you can sense the volcanic potential. The resistance that has developed needs to spread, it needs to be brought together on a national level, hundreds of thousands, to put before all society and the world that there is a huge force determined to stop these crimes, and that significant change for the better has always required determined massive resistance from the people. Dix said that what is being envisioned and planned is beyond the capabilities of one organization. This mass mobilization is a call for everyone who wants murder by police to stop to get involved and fight for that.
He added, “Every radical movement that’s out to make significant change has to have youth in the forefront,” and he posed that the most important element to build a huge outpouring in October is a cadre of youth coming to NYC this summer. “We need to get a bunch of them here in NYC to go everywhere to spread the message of coming to NYC October 24 together to say police terror must stop. The youth can go among people most targeted by police. We need whistles. This is not just a style question. They can be used to alert a community, and equip people to get involved in the resistance.”
He said the cadre of youth “need to spread the call and mobilize faith communities, posing to religious leaders and the congregations, in a way they haven’t done so, need to take a stand. They can call on unions and rank-and-file to stand together. There are many concerts over the summer where they can speak with musicians, and go among the fans. They can go to conferences of professional organizations, sororities and fraternities. And then be poised to swing into the schools in the fall.”
The Call for Rise Up October issued by Carl Dix and Cornel West is being circulated now. Dix stressed that Rise Up October must be the most powerful mass outpouring of resistance to police terror that has ever happened in this country. We are in a moment where there is a bright flashing green light for police to kill people and walk free. No matter what issue people work on, no matter what color people are, we are human beings and no one should stand aside when these killings by police continue every day in every city and town in this country. People need to have the backs of the people being targeted; and if others who are targeted feel this and know this support is there, it will strengthen the fight. Rise Up October will be resistance-based, uncompromising in spirit and, at the same time, pluralistic and diverse, involving hundreds of thousands of people. Reaching into every corner of this society is what it will take to powerfully impact the whole world: NO! THESE MURDERS BY POLICE MUST STOP—NOW!!
For this demonstration to be the powerful outpouring it needs to be, hundreds of people need to step into this effort now and develop a framework to publicize the call and take it to and enlist student and youth groups, religious leaders and congregations from churches all over this country, justice-based organizations, people who are active in opposing outrages from the devastation of the environment to the horrific attacks on women to opposing the U.S.’s deployment of troops and occupation of countries the world over, and individuals from every corner of society. Artists and intellectuals in this society who have a platform to speak to and influence millions need to be reached and won to join in making this demonstration a reality. Creative plans must be developed to bring busloads of people who endure police brutality every day and are treated as criminals, guilty until they can prove their innocence, to demonstrate in New York City on October 24. Broad efforts distributing the call to people throughout society unleashing them to join Rise Up October need to start now. And if you stop and think about what is needed to make this demonstration in New York City a reality, substantial funds will be needed. So let’s get to it!
The next step: a mass meeting on Tuesday, June 30, in New York City, drawing together hundreds to develop this framework and more, to actively and urgently continue work to find every avenue and opening to make Rise Up October what it needs to be. You need to be there!
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
Santa Barbara Oil Spill:
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The ecosystems along the coastline north of Santa Barbara have been described as the “Galápagos of the North.” This is a beautiful coast bursting with marine life that has now been fouled by tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil. Forty miles of beach has been impacted by the spill. Oil slicks have been spotted 11 miles out in the ocean; pancake-like tar balls dot the surface in places.
The area along the Santa Barbara coast where the recent oil spill occurred is rich in marine life, such as these mussels and crab. (AP photo)
This week more pictures are coming out from the area. Seeing images of pristine beaches, now choked with oil, of dead dolphins, seals, sea and shore birds, and other organisms coated with oil is like a hard punch to the gut. And thinking about this new disaster in light of the overall relentless destruction of nature sickens the soul and enrages the heart and mind.
According to the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, 136 dead birds and 67 dead marine mammals had been found as of June 5. Dozens more have been oiled and attempts are being made to rescue them. But scientists have pointed out that many more animals that die will simply sink to the bottom and never be found. The danger to the area’s ecology is not just what can be seen on the surface. The oil is fouling ocean plants, being churned up by wave action, and mixing with sand so it can end up on the bottom affecting life there, and being dispersed elsewhere by wind and currents.
Scott Smith, Chief Scientist at Water Defense who has been testing the oiled area said on The Michael Slate radio show that he has found dangerous chemicals―carcinogens and endocrine disruptors―that are present in crude oil. Smith said: “You’ve got kelp out there and that oil and all the related toxic, cancer-causing chemicals are hung up in the kelp right now. The kelp is the food source for the food chain.” (See transcript of interview.) The impacts of this spill will be large and long lasting.
More information is coming out about the circumstances of the spill, the response from authorities and citizens, as well as the backdrop of this oil spill in the larger context.
It’s come out that the pipeline, owned by Plains All American Pipeline, was the only pipeline in Santa Barbara County that lacked an automatic shutoff valve. Having such a valve in place would have much more quickly stopped the flow of oil and possibly prevented it from getting into the ocean. The pipe ruptured near a beach and then poured “like a small river of oil” according to witnesses, for as long as two hours. An estimated 105,000 gallons poured out, 21,000 ending up in the ocean. The reason no shutoff valve was in place? Plains All American had successfully fought in court to prevent installing this valve on the grounds that the county couldn’t regulate the pipeline, since it was interstate and therefore subject only to federal authority.
Plains All American is listed by the federal government as the fifth worst violator in reporting safety and maintenance infractions. Since 2006, the company has had 175 infractions and caused more than 16,000 barrels (672,000 gallons) of oil to spill, causing $23 million in damage. Despite this, the company is still allowed to operate by the Obama administration and the entire system. On June 4, it was reported that the ruptured pipeline had almost half of its metal wall eaten away by corrosion.
The federal agency with ultimate responsibility for inspecting and guaranteeing the safety of this and the rest of the country’s pipelines, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), has only 139 inspectors and 300 “state partners” to inspect and regulate 2.5 million miles of pipelines.
Since 1995, there have been more than 2,000 significant accidents involving petroleum pipelines. The Center for Biological Diversity reports that since 1986 there have been 600 oil and gas pipeline leaks in California that have caused $769 million in damages as well as 200 injuries and close to 50 deaths.
And this whole pattern is increasing under Obama, the “environmental president.” The Associated Press reported that as U.S. oil production has boomed, pipeline accidents have increased in step, going up almost 60 percent since 2009. This doesn’t include all the accidents from other forms of transportation of fossil fuels―such as shipping oil by train, which has led to horrific explosions in Lac-Mégantic Quebec and elsewhere.
This new Santa Barbara spill comes after a giant oil spill that devastated the Santa Barbara coast in 1969. It comes after the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska that killed off so much life, some of which has never returned; after an Enbridge pipeline ruptured dumping a million gallons into the Kalamazoo river in 2010, much of which still lies in the river bottom; after a pipeline rupture in Mayflower, Arkansas, poured thousands of barrels into a neighborhood and surrounding wetlands; after oil spilled into the Yellowstone River, twice; and after the Gulf oil disaster where more than five million barrels flooded the Gulf of Mexico, causing untold impact. And now, Obama has opened up the Arctic for drilling, opened a pathway for another potential catastrophe by oil spill and climate pollution. This new spill is not another “aberration” or “mistake,” but part of a continuing pattern of mass destruction.
When the oil spill hit, all kinds of ordinary people threw on gear, grabbed buckets and shovels, and rushed to the beaches, desperate to do whatever they could to prevent as much damage as possible. When they arrived, there was little or no visible response from the authorities or the company, which supposedly had reams of plans for dealing with such a disaster. Instead, people set to work themselves. Some of them were threatened with arrest by cops for working without proper safety gear. Despite the real health risk, they felt they needed to do whatever they could to clean up because no one else was. Some beaches hadn’t received any official cleanup activities even after 18 hours. One responder said: “There’s a system here that’s broken, just like that pipeline is broken.”
Reports in the Santa Barbara Independent say that now the affected area is under strict control of federal and state agencies that have “imposed such exceptionally strict closures that volunteers, reporters and even area biologists have been denied access.” FAA flight restrictions are in place, as they were during the Gulf disaster. Greg Helms with the Ocean Conservancy said, “all the secrecy suggests there’s a big problem,” and speculated that more wildlife may have been killed and damage done than officials are admitting.
People deeply care in this area about the coast and environment. On May 31, 500 people marched in Santa Barbara protesting the oil spill and took a “stand in the sand” along Santa Barbara’s West Beach.
This Revolution special issue focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and Earth's ecosystems. In this issue we show:
Why is it that people can see a need and respond to save the environment in short order, but that those with all the means at their disposal, those who run this system, cannot? Why is it that the tremendous potential that exists among people to protect nature is never mobilized by this system, but instead dealt with as a problem to control, as the system lumbers ahead to the next catastrophe?
The circumstances that led to this spill and all the others don’t demonstrate the problem is one of “too cozy a relationship” between government and oil companies or the need simply for more safety regulations and oversight.
What this demonstrates is that despite all the lies and repeated pronouncements of the capitalist authorities, from Obama on down, that oil drilling and transport can be done safely for the environment; this is just bullshit. After every disaster, it’s promised that new rules and regulations will solve the problem. And they never do. Remember, this was all supposed to have been taken care of by Obama’s administration after the Gulf oil spill. This is because this system is not capable of basing its decisions and its priorities on the long term interests of the environment or humanity, but instead is driven by “profit in command” and competition to expand or die. This sharply, achingly, proves again the illegitimacy of capitalism, its inability to do anything but proceed with its “business as usual” destruction of the environment.
When this is connected with the fact that it is completely unnecessary that destruction of life like this continues on and on, one becomes even more enraged. People must know: there is a science-based plan, approach and vision for a new socialist system that would protect and enhance the natural world and work to counter the destruction of capitalism. Rage and deep upset, as well as great love for nature, can be mobilized and also transformed into resistance, and for working for the only thing that can actually save our planet, organizing for an actual revolution.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
"Look at all these beautiful children who are female in the world. And in addition to all the other outrages which I have referred to, in terms of children throughout the slums and shantytowns of the Third World, in addition to all the horrors that will be heaped on them—the actual living in garbage and human waste in the hundreds of millions as their fate, laid out before them, yes, even before they are born—there is, on top of this, for those children who are born female, the horror of everything that this will bring simply because they are female in a world of male domination. And this is true not only in the Third World. In 'modern' countries like the U.S. as well, the statistics barely capture it: the millions who will be raped; the millions more who will be routinely demeaned, deceived, degraded, and all too often brutalized by those who are supposed to be their most intimate lovers; the way in which so many women will be shamed, hounded and harassed if they seek to exercise reproductive rights through abortion, or even birth control; the many who will be forced into prostitution and pornography; and all those who—if they do not have that particular fate, and even if they achieve some success in this 'new world' where supposedly there are no barriers for women—will be surrounded on every side, and insulted at every moment, by a society and a culture which degrades women, on the streets, in the schools and workplaces, in the home, on a daily basis and in countless ways."
NYC. Photo: Enbion Micah Aan
Sri Lanka, 2004. Photo: Mukai
"It is a striking fact—which is starkly evident in the U.S. now—that, in comparison to what is done to women, there is no other group in society that is so systematically reviled and defiled in a way that has become acceptable (or widely accepted in any case) as a significant part of 'mainstream' life and culture, as happens in a concentrated way through pornography and the extremely demeaning and degrading images and messages about women it massively and pervasively purveys (with the Internet a major focus and vehicle for this), including pornography's extensive portrayal of sadistic and violent sexual domination of women...
"I began the 'Revolution' talk with 'They're Selling Postcards of the Hanging,' reviewing the ugly history of the lynching of Black people in America and the way in which celebration of this became a cultural phenomenon in the U.S., with the selling of picture postcards of these lynchings a major expression of this—often including smiling and leering crowds of white people surrounding the murdered and mutilated body of a Black man. In a recent exchange, a comrade emphasized this profoundly important and compelling point: Today, the way in which pornography depicts women—the displaying of women in a degraded state for the titillation of viewers—including the grotesque brutality and violence against women which is involved in much of this, is the equivalent of those 'Postcards of the Hanging.' It is a means through which all women are demeaned and degraded."
Bob Avakian, Unresolved Contradictions,
Driving Forces for Revolution
New Delhi, India, December 2012, rising up against the epidemic of rape.
"You cannot break all the chains, except one. You cannot say you want to be free of exploitation and oppression, except you want to keep the oppression of women by men. You can't say you want to liberate humanity yet keep one half of the people enslaved to the other half. The oppression of women is completely bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited, and the ending of all such conditions is impossible without the complete liberation of women. All this is why women have a tremendous role to play not only in making revolution but in making sure there is all-the-way revolution. The fury of women can and must be fully unleashed as a mighty force for proletarian revolution."
"In many ways, and particularly for men, the woman question and whether you seek to completely abolish or to preserve the existing property and social relations and corresponding ideology that enslave women (or maybe 'just a little bit' of them) is a touchstone question among the oppressed themselves. It is a dividing line between 'wanting in' and really 'wanting out': between fighting to end all oppression and exploitation—and the very division of society into classes—and seeking in the final analysis to get your part in this."
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—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. And get into Break the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
"The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism."
Fallujah, Iraq, November 2004. Photo: AP
"What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these "outmodeds," you end up strengthening both.
"While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these "historically outmodeds" has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists."
"If you can conceive of a world without America—without everything America stands for and everything it does in the world—then you've already taken great strides and begun to get at least a glimpse of a whole new world. If you can envision a world without any imperialism, exploitation, oppression—and the whole philosophy that rationalizes it—a world without division into classes or even different nations, and all the narrow-minded, selfish, outmoded ideas that uphold this; if you can envision all this, then you have the basis for proletarian internationalism. And once you have raised your sights to all this, how could you not feel compelled to take an active part in the world historic struggle to realize it; why would you want to lower your sights to anything less?"
"The interests, objectives, and grand designs of the imperialists are not our interests—they are not the interests of the great majority of people in the U.S. nor of the overwhelming majority of people in the world as a whole. And the difficulties the imperialists have gotten themselves into in pursuit of these interests must be seen, and responded to, not from the point of view of the imperialists and their interests, but from the point of view of the great majority of humanity and the basic and urgent need of humanity for a different and better world, for another way."
What IS an Actual Revolution?
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!
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—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.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
My Dinner with Engels and Skybreak
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Past weekend Revolution Books, one of the best bookstores in the world, was having a fundraising weekend as part of the first phase of raising money to save the bookstore and moved it to a new location. A big part of this weekend was a three day open mic—performances and a big used book sale. A group of people after the first day of performances went out to have dinner and chat, the night had been fun and powerful in different ways, and we were about to continue with that energy.
Some of us had recently gone to see a play called Nirbhaya. Nirbhaya tells the story of different women who have been raped and abused, but who kept the suffering to themselves for decades. It wasn’t until the big uprisings of people when a woman was raped, tortured and killed by several man in a bus in New Delhi that a lot of women, including the actors in the play, were able to tell their stories, and unleash their fury to do something meaningful with that outrage.
So one of the people brought the topic of the play back, saying that she didn’t think we could talk too much of it. And she was right.
The reason why women are viewed and treated as less than human beings came up as a fundamental question. In the context of the fight against black people oppression, the understanding that oppression of black people in this country is so profoundly link to its very foundation, and is an essential part of keeping the current order of things, in that context we were wondering where does this oppression of women comes from.
Right after that question was posted, we were wrangling with our own ideas of how and why did women end up in the position of breeders, reduced to sex objects and property. We, a group of 6 women, from different ages, backgrounds and nationalities, and different levels of understanding were digging into history, society development and biology to solve this question.
I have been reading the interview of Ardea Skybreak about Science and Revolution, and I felt like we were about to apply the scientific approach she talks about there. I can’t put in words how excited I was when we started thinking about where all of this oppression comes from, because I knew we, from our understanding, were going to start looking for those patterns underneath the surface, right there, at a sushi place. We were doing the mental work that takes to really understand anything, and not just to go along with something we read or hear, but actually do the work and understand it. I was excited cause I agree with Skybreak that we need that approach to be able to understand the world we live in, but I have been struggling in how to go about it, how to gain that method and be able to use it. Even by having worked with science in academics, I was never introduced to the scientific method as Skybreak talks in the interview. You can imagine how exciting it was to know we were about to do that, to apply that method at a certain level, to understand this phenomenon. (I say a certain level cause of course you need more than a conversation to understand all the different aspects of this particular issue of women’s oppression.) Revolution Books is the kind of place where people who have been studying and understanding society go to discuss ideas and built a movement to change the world, people that have studied how society works and how it could be different, people who have learned to apply the scientific method. So we were at this dinner with the support of more experienced and knowledgeable people who could direct us in the right direction in order to be able to find some of those underneath patterns.
It was very interesting hearing everybody’s ideas, going back to primitive societies, and trying to find out why at some point women and man diverged from a more egalitarian relation to a more dominative and property based relation. I have read before in Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, by Frederick Engels, that it happened with the emergence of classes divisions. I was not sure to be able to sketch out Engels’ discovery, because coming from a different country I don’t trust my English skills very often, so I mentioned it and suggested somebody to explain more in detail what that meant. But no! That is not how revolutionaries go about things! I was encouraged to say what I knew, and I remember being nervous, because I read that book in Spanish, and was about to explain some of it in English. The thing is that I should try and did so, it took me a while to put my ideas together and to be able to make sense, but some how I did it, and people were getting into it. We talked about how after primitive societies started to have a production surplus, they could exchange that surplus for other products with other communities, also there was the possibility for some people to appropriate that surplus (emergence of class division). That way the concept of ownership was born and with it the need to control who will inherit what in the next generation. Who would inherit property and who would inherited what class position―what children were going to be part of one class or another, what children were going to be rulers or be ruled over. In other words, it became important to know whose were the children being born. And to know that, women’s sexuality had to be controlled and women themselves were turned into property. This is a very complex process, and of course I am making it very flat and kind of simple but there were all kinds of things going on at the time. Sunsara Taylor went further drawing some important points and explaining what was happening in some of those societies at the time were class divisions emerged.
There were two specific things that really made an impact on me that were discussed that night.
When primitive communities provided enough wealth to meet the basic needs of their people, even when it was enough for everybody to survive, there wasn’t enough for everybody to have abundance in a way that could have allowed them to dedicate part of their time to explore the world for other purposes than their own subsistence (for example wonder about different phenomenon and try to understand them, develop knowledge, etc). Because of the way things were being produced, it wasn’t possible to provide abundance to everybody, instead, it was possible that the appropriation by some people of some of the wealth being produced, would free some of them from working with their hands, and allow them to work in the ideas sphere. That division of labor made possible for first time in history the development of all kinds of knowledge (for example time to look out to the space and develop astronomy, or the creation of writing, or people dedicated to the arts, etc). I have probably heard this before, but this wrangling and wondering, really helped me understand it in a different way. And with this “revelation” the understanding of the possibility of a world without classes came along. Because of the technology and capacity of production we have now, there is the capacity to meet the basic needs of humanity and at the same time to allow the flourishing of people in their whole capacities as humans!!! I can’t imagine how exciting was for Marx and Engels to find out all the things they found, and all the possibilities that opened up with those discoveries! And I may be exaggerating but I think I felt just like them that night.
Once we talked for a while about the origin of women’s oppression, and how it was rooted with the division of societies in classes, there was an statement made, that because of that, to get rid of it, we have to get rid of a society divided in classes. And yes I want to live in a society where classes not longer exist, but I was thinking on the veracity of that statement. I really wanted to understand it and not just accepted because it sounded right. So I asked why can’t we eliminate this oppression in a world with classes? I wanted to think about how would that world look like, but I couldn’t think of a way to do that. Again, people involved in the bookstore helped us out and suggested us to imagine a world where there was not important to know whose are the kids of the world. A world where it is not important to know who are the fathers of the children being born. And the place where this question took us, blew my mind even further.
The statement made all the sense then, because first of all, if there wasn’t important who your father is there is not way to know which class you are going to be part of. Let’s say your father is part of one class, it doesn’t necessarily would mean that the kid being born was going to be in that class, just because WE WOULDN’T EVEN KNOW WHOSE KID WAS THAT, so how would you determine which kid is going to be part of one class or another? It just doesn’t work, that society can’t be. You can’t have a society where it doesn’t matter who is the father of the children being born and at the same time have classes. In that sense if you want to have classes, you have to control motherhood, therefore you can’t have women fully emancipated if we don’t get rid of class division! The whole concept of family then, wouldn’t work either, family wouldn’t really exist. If we think for example in a world where nobody can’t claim the property of anything, and because a family right now is an economic group with properties and belongings, I wonder if in a society in which nobody have the right to claim something as a property, I wonder if there would be families at all? Something to dig into, to wonder, and to do the mental work, another opportunity to learn how and apply a scientific method and approach and take it even further using that approach to change the world.
Another thing I have been thinking about is all the different approaches and understanding that people have when they talk about revolution. There are a lot of things that people mean when they use that word that not necessarily has to do with really getting rid of all forms of oppression. No very long ago I was told by someone in “the Left” that because BA didn’t talk about “the working class” enough—“which is the international class that is going to carry this revolution,” said the person—his vision is not viable to make a revolution. It sticked in my mind and I have to deepen more in theory to understand the role of the proletariat and the other classes, and all the diversity that exists within the other classes in this revolution, all those other forms of oppression that not necessarily have to do with the class you are in, but there was something that we talked that night that gave us some lights about this issue. We were talking about how in the communist movement there was a basic understanding of women’s liberation, but you could find the tendency of thinking that such a liberation would happen by dealing just with the economic sphere, meaning that changing the economic system will bring the liberation of women. And then I understood why BA doesn’t just talk about the workers, but about ALL OPPRESSED, and that women’s oppression is so deeply rooted in this society and the division of it in classes that you can’t get rid of it just by changing the economic system, it has to be fought now, during socialism, and all the way to finally get to a communist world, free of classes and clean of women’s oppression. And this is an understanding that BA has brought forward with the new synthesis of communism. So very much needed if you think about it!
It is important for people to do the mental work and to come to understand this things, to enable people with this tool of science, and use it to understand why and how a whole different radical world is possible. That is what Revolution Books is about. This is a place that brings people together to wrangle with ideas, and to enable more and more people to learn and use this method, to enable people to be part of changing everything. This is the place you should go if you want to be part of that transformation, and is the place you have to support and help save now!
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Periodically I take online continuing education courses as part of maintaining my licenses in a medical field. I was kind of sleepwalking through one of these recently when I came across a sentence that got my full attention. “World wide ... for girls aged 15 to 19 years, it [suicide] is the most common cause of death.”
Think of the pain, degradation, anguish, and violence against women concentrated in this one stark fact. Think of the young women whose despair and hopelessness at escaping the violence and degradation inflicted on them leads them to take their own lives. Think of a global system of exploitation, oppression, and male domination of women that embraces and amplifies this suffering, and has its tentacles in every country on the planet.
And see if you can think of any reason why anyone should abide the continued existence of such a system. No one with any sense of basic decency should tolerate conditions of such despair for so many young women worldwide.
18-year-old Ashley Billasano’s young life in Texas was a nightmare of molestation, rape, and forced prostitution. She went to a school teacher and the police to report her rapist. In the day before her death she tweeted over 140 messages describing her ordeals, both at the hands of her rapist and of the authorities who didn’t believe her. A friend of Ashley’s said, “police and CPS [Children’s Protective Service] acted like it was nothing. She said it was like they did not want to believe her. So, to go on living when someone hurt her, and no one ever did anything about it—wouldn’t that drive you insane? To feel ignored by people who were supposed to help you. That was crazy. She had support from me and my boyfriend and her mom, but she did not have justice.”
Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Eastern Europe. It is also one of the major sources of “human trafficking” in the world. Thousands of women have been kidnapped and sold into prostitution in Western Europe and the Middle East. A young woman named Angela told a reporter: “I did not want to go to work as a prostitute. I started crying and said I wanted to go back home, and I did not want to work. They told me, ‘If you don’t work, you’ll end up dead and buried in sand in the desert.’ I got scared, and I went with them. From 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., we had to work in a disco. All day long, we were locked up in a house. When we would not have enough clients, they would beat us up and lock us up until 9. When I did not want to work, they kept me locked up for a week and beat me. I got really scared, and I tried to swallow pills to make them get me out of the house [to a hospital]. But they simply sold me in another city.” Angela survived that ordeal—many other young Moldovan women have not.
In rural China, Liu Xiufang drank pesticide to escape the endless abuse she suffered from her husband and mother-in-law. They hounded her because she had given birth to two daughters but no boys. Her husband assaulted her when she tried to use contraception. Then he almost killed her when her third child was a girl. A little over three months later, Liu Xiufang swallowed the poison that put an end to her life. According to a 2009 report from the World Health Organization (WHO), about 500 women killed themselves each day in China in 2009, most of them rural women who drank pesticide.
This shit is unacceptable! A system that has no future for tens of millions of young women is thoroughly outmoded! A system that terrorizes masses of women and drives them to take their own lives rather than continue with the horror of their lives has lost any pretense of legitimacy!
Another report issued by the WHO last year says that suicide accounts for 71 percent of the violent deaths of women globally. These figures are difficult to quantify precisely, for several reasons. As the WHO study acknowledges, “it is very likely that [suicide] is under reported.”
Deep, violent oppression of women, denial of their most basic rights as full human beings, predates capitalism. It is embedded in cultures that span the planet. It is expressed in many languages. It is justified by religious beliefs and social custom. It is enshrined and codified in law. And it has been reinforced and taken to monstrous dimensions in an era in which the entire world has been drawn into and transformed by the larger framework of domination by the capitalist system.
This system has changed and incorporated some of the forms that so bitterly oppress women worldwide. But it has not, and it can not, change the oppression. In fact, it perpetuates and has intensified that oppression.
Bob Avakian has addressed this question deeply. In his talk BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, he said:
... the division of society into masters and slaves, into different classes, developed together with the oppression of women. These were very tightly bound together in their historical development and have remained so throughout the course of history since that time, through different kinds of societies. And today we can see the ways in which the oppression of women—not just in a particular country, but on a world scale—continues to feed the functioning of this capitalist-imperialist system. Not only, as I pointed out, is it highly profitable, in the billions and billions of dollars, to oppress women in sex trafficking, prostitution, and pornography, but also the backward conditions that are maintained and enforced by the functioning and the military power of the imperialist countries throughout the Third World lead to a situation where many women are outcast and desperate and highly vulnerable to being exploited in this vast network of sweatshops that is at the foundation of imperialist capital in the world today.
But there is a way out, and it is revolution, actual revolution, to overturn the institutions of oppression, uproot the economic conditions they are rooted in, transform the social relations that reinforce those conditions, and revolutionize the thinking of the people. And most of all that means breaking the stranglehold capitalism-imperialism has on the world.
The world urgently needs the most radical of revolutions. Such a revolution is possible, and Bob Avakian has developed a new synthesis of communism that provides the architecture and the method of making such a revolution.
BREAK THE CHAINS! UNLEASH THE FURY OF WOMEN AS A MIGHTY FORCE FOR REVOLUTION!
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
by Sunsara Taylor | June 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
If you are one of the millions and millions of people, especially men, who regularly watch porn, I strongly recommend you click on something else today: the new documentary, Hot Girls Wanted, which was released to Netflix on May 21, produced by Rashida Jones, and directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus. Of course, it’s much better if you don’t watch porn—but either way I strongly recommend this film.
In less than an hour and a half, you will be introduced to just a few of the real human beings whose lives are turned upside down and hollowed out by the porn industry. You will meet young women who start out bright and full of life, excitement, and ambition. They are fed up with the stultifying life of their hometowns and are looking for adventure. They’ve been sold the idea that being wanted as a sex object is “empowering” and want to cash in on their youth and inexperience. And, for a short while, they are able to hold together the collective delusion that, packed into a generic five-bedroom house in Miami owned by their “talent-agent”/pimp, they are calling the shots and living the lives they’ve always wanted.
There is a reason, however, that most young women who enter pornography don’t stay for more than a month or maybe three. Many don’t make it past their first shoot.
One young woman is hired for a series called, Virgin Manipulations. She plays an unwilling virgin who is preyed upon by a trusted older friend of the family. “Here’s the key point,” a voice tells her from off screen as she is about to shoot the scene, “You’re never like fully engaged into it.” Another young woman is filmed in a series called, Latina Abuse. A man spits in her face, chokes and slaps her, and aggressively forces his penis and huge dildos down her throat with the aim of making her vomit. The camera zooms in to capture the trauma and tears pouring from her eyes and you can hear her gagging violently. When she finally pukes, she is forced to lick it up out of a dog food bowl, all the while bearing unending and grotesque racist and woman-hating insults.
Typically, once their innocence and naïveté has been extinguished, they are no longer cast as virgins and can only keep working if they go along with ever more extreme brutality and humiliation.
The film treads lightly in these scenes, showing enough to force the viewer to confront the actual content of this porn, but never using these scenes to “titillate” the viewer. When the film shows nudity and degrading sex acts, you experience them from the point of view of the young woman who is acting them out. As the days and weeks go on, the trauma and degradation of it all begins to bubble up through their own words, in their eyes, and in the pall that falls over their collective living space and banter.
A statistic appears on the screen, “In 2014 abuse porn websites averaged over 60 million combined hits per month. More hits than nfl.com, nba.com, hotwire.com, cbs.com, fortune.com, disney.com, and nbcnews.com.” Another informs us that “teen” is the most commonly searched word in all of Internet porn.
A question that the film never asks, but that viewers really should, is: WHY is there such a market for this kind of predatory abuse and degradation of women? What kind of society is this where millions and millions of men are daily visiting websites to watch women be abused, violated, insulted, spit on, choked, tortured, and humiliated through sex and in other ways? And what does the mainstreaming of this kind of abuse do to further normalize this hatred against women, to socialize men and even very young boys to see women as objects to be used and abused for sexual pleasure? Is this the only way the world can be, and is it a world that anyone should want to live in?
It is very important that this film humanizes and makes audible the voices of the young women who are preyed upon by the porn industry. But it is also important to pull the lens back even further—to examine not only these women’s lives and choices, but even more fundamentally what gives rise to a world where these are the choices available to women in the first place.
Bob Avakian, the leader who has developed a whole new synthesis of communist revolution, which includes the most radical and thorough-going approach to the full liberation of women, has emphasized:
First, people don’t make choices in a vacuum. They do it in the context of the social relations they’re enmeshed in and the options they have within those relations—which are not of their own choosing. They confront those relations, they don’t choose them.
Two, if people feel for whatever reasons that they want to choose to harm themselves and others, we’re going to struggle with them—but we’re not going to blame them. We’re going to show them the source of all this in the system, and call on them to struggle against that system, and transform themselves in the process. Just because a youth “chooses” to sell drugs, or a woman “chooses” to commodify herself sexually, doesn’t mean that they chose to have those choices. And there is no other way besides fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution that all this will change for the better. Blaming the masses for bad choices just reinforces the conditions that they are oppressed by.
In sum, people do make choices—but they make them enmeshed and confined within social relations that are not of their choosing. We have to bring into being different social relations and conditions so that masses of people can act differently and relate differently to each other. Fundamentally, that takes a revolution which is aiming for communism.
Getting into all of what it means to make a revolution aiming for communism, and why that is the only real and lasting way to liberate women, goes beyond the scope of this article. But there is work you can—and should—get into. I recommend starting with Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution and A Declaration: For Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of all Humanity
The point is, it is completely unacceptable that thousands of teenage girls and young women are degraded and abused by the porn industry every single year. It is unacceptable that this is just a fraction of the violence and humiliation, the torture and sexual brutality that is inflicted on millions of women and very young girls every single year world-wide in the sex “industry.” It is also entirely unnecessary.
By bringing viewers face to face with just a tiny—but extremely powerful—fraction of this unnecessary oppression, Hot Girls Wanted, makes an important contribution. Take the time to check it out. If you are someone who watches porn, now is the time to stop. And for everyone who wants to see an end to this disgusting and damaging culture of rape and pornography, of woman-hating and sexualized degradation, now is the time to rise up and fight! Get involved today with the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Why we say “the system has no answers” to police terror against Black people:
First of all, what IS the system? It is the economic and political system that has ruled America since its founding: first, capitalism (along with slavery) and then, as capitalism spread its tentacles worldwide, capitalism-imperialism.
Capitalism, as a system, means that production is not for human need. Instead, things only get produced as a means to make profit for the few people who own and control the means to produce things, the capitalists. Capitalism forces billions of people worldwide to labor to make that profit for the capitalists, casting them aside when they can no longer profitably exploit them. Capitalism forces the capitalists themselves to ruthlessly compete against each other, and each capitalist must either expand or die.
Capitalism, as a system, integrates other forms of oppression—men over women, one nationality over another—into its functioning. In the U.S., this capitalist system has been interwoven with white supremacy from its foundation and ever since. White supremacy is the marrow in the bones of American capitalist-imperialist society.
At every phase of this system’s development, the rulers have brutally exploited Black people. These rulers developed laws and social codes to enforce this. First the capitalists/slave owners violently kidnapped generations of Africans, killing millions as they did so. They forced the slaves to work on the plantations to accumulate the basis of America’s great wealth. Then, after the Civil War, they confined Black people to sharecropping in the fields of the South, and they used lynch mob terror and segregation to hold them down. Then, as Black people went to the cities, these capitalists super-exploited them as workers, last hired and first fired, and segregated them into ghettos and again repressed them with terror and murder—this time by the police.
Further, a whole ideology of racism was developed to justify this, and this has been woven into the fabric of this country’s culture. All too many ordinary white people were corrupted and stupefied into going along with this and enforcing it. This racism has gone through changes and adaptations with each change in the economic system, but it has never been eliminated. In some ways, it is more vicious and insidious today than ever.
Today, the development of this system has led to a situation where the capitalists can no longer profitably exploit millions of Black people. There are no jobs for millions and millions of people—not because there is no work that society needs done, but because there is no profit to be made by doing that work—and this has hit Black and other oppressed peoples the hardest. So unemployed people stand in front of falling-down houses, hospitals, and schools, in part, because the capitalist-imperialists who rule have decided it is not worth it—not profitable—to fix things up, and in part to reinforce the idea that Black people do not matter.
That’s only half the story. Black people have played a powerful role in the whole history of this country. They have sparked powerful, system-shaking struggles—and when they have stood up, others have followed their example. The struggle against the oppression of Black people can hit powerfully against this system and can inspire other struggles as well—we have seen this over the past year. Those on the very bottom, with nothing to lose, can become emancipators of humanity—and the potential for this as well has stood out very powerfully in the past period.
Because of this, along with the fact that the capitalists no longer have a way to profitably exploit many millions of Black people, the rulers of this country look at these masses of unemployed, cast-off Black people as potential “social dynamite.”1
But capitalism cannot and will not change this systematic oppression. They’ve had hundreds of years to do this, but they never have. They have not because they cannot, for the reasons we’ve gone into. Instead, today, the capitalist-imperialist rulers have developed a violent, vicious program of mass incarceration and police terror to deal with these new conditions. They treat an entire people as criminals. They have labeled and treated whole generations of youth as nothing but “suspects” and have warehoused millions in prisons. This program is genocidal—and that genocide could “speed up” into a fast genocide if conditions change.
To reverse this would—and will—require a massive, major change in the economic structure. AND it would—and will—require a massive upheaval in the political and legal system and the culture itself: a real revolution. This change CAN be made—but not within a SYSTEM that is built on the rules of capitalism-imperialism and the rule of the capitalist-imperialist class.
Why do we say WE NEED A REVOLUTION? Because we do—because nothing less than a real revolution, dismantling their system of rule and bringing in a new state power, with a new economic system, and backing up the people as they make the urgently required transformations in every sphere can do what is needed. Only such a revolution can eliminate not only the oppression of Black and other oppressed nationalities (Latinos, other immigrants, Native Americans), but also the oppression of women and other oppression based on gender, the plunder of the environment, the persecution of immigrants, and the war crimes this system so routinely carries out. It CAN be done—and it is up to us to do it.
1 This is also true for Latino people and other oppressed nationalities, like the Native American Indians—each of these peoples have their own history, but in every case they have been brutally dispossessed and exploited by this system and victimized again by white supremacy—and today, they too are cast off in their masses. [back]
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
New Evidence Confirms
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Washington Post is compiling a database to keep track of every police shooting that has killed someone in 2015. And it has just released a finding that at least 385 people have been shot and killed by police nationwide during the first five months of this year. (This statistic reflects tracking through May 29.)
This amounts to more than two people killed a day—twice the rate of fatal police shootings that the federal government has reported over the past decade. And the actual figure of people killed in 2015 so far by the police is probably even higher since these figures don’t count people killed by other means such as Tasers and in police custody. Government officials themselves admit that their numbers are incomplete. (“Fatal police shootings in 2015 approaching 400 nationwide,” Washington Post, May 30, 2015)
The Post also tracked more than a dozen details about each killing, including the victim’s nationality, if the person was armed, and the circumstances surrounding the shooting. What is revealed is a picture of how what begins as many minor incidents gets escalated into deadly violence and death. According to the Post, most of those killed by the police have been poor and/or have had a history of “run-ins” with the police over mostly small-time crimes—sometimes because they were emotionally troubled.
The Washington Post found that:
One statistic here bears repeating: The “guns” wielded by 13 people shot down dead by the police turned out to be TOYS—16 percent of the people killed were either carrying a toy or were unarmed.
Here’s another outrageous finding by the Post: “About half of the time, police were responding to people seeking help with domestic disturbances and other complex social situations: A homeless person behaving erratically. A boyfriend threatening violence. A son trying to kill himself. Ninety-two victims—nearly a quarter of those killed—were identified by police or family members as mentally ill.”
The Post article gives these examples:
“In Miami Gardens, Fla., Catherine Daniels called 911 when she couldn’t persuade her son, Lavall Hall, a 25-year-old black man, to come in out of the cold early one morning in February. A diagnosed schizophrenic who stood 5-foot-4 and weighed barely 120 pounds, Hall was wearing boxer shorts and an undershirt and waving a broomstick when police arrived. They tried to stun him with a Taser gun and then shot him.”
Another example is Shane Watkins, a 39-year-old white man, who died in his mother’s driveway in Moulton, Alabama:
“Watkins had never been violent, and family members were not afraid for their safety when they called Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies in March. But Watkins, who suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was off his medication. Days earlier, he had declared himself the ‘god of the fifth element’ and demanded whiskey and beer so he could ‘cleanse the earth with it,’ said his sister, Yvonne Cote. Then he started threatening to shoot himself and his dog, Slayer. His mother called Cote, who called 911. Cote got back on the phone with her mother, who watched Watkins walk onto the driveway holding a box cutter to his chest. A patrol car pulled up, and Cote heard her mother yell: ‘Don’t shoot! He doesn’t have a gun!’ ‘Then I heard the gunshots,’ Cote said.”
According to the law, police are only allowed to use “deadly force” when they fear for their lives or the lives of others. Many of the situations described in these killings at the very least are questionable on this point, meaning the cops involved should be tried in a court of law. But according to the Post findings, just three of the 385 fatal shootings have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime—less than 1 percent.
Dozens of people in 2015 so far have been killed by what the Post says is called (one is to assume by the police) a “foot tax”—people being killed while fleeing from the police.
When it comes to police shooting people dead—the daily death toll for 2015 so far comes close to 2.6 a day. As the Post article points out, at this pace the police will have shot and killed nearly 1,000 people by the end of the year.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In March the U.S. Department of Justice released a report on police practices in Ferguson, Missouri that basically confirmed what Black people in Ferguson (and other cities around the country) had been saying for years: The Ferguson Police Department was routinely violating the constitutional rights of its black residents.
The details of the Ferguson report are reflective of policing practices throughout the state of Missouri. Representatives of the system often admit that racial profiling exists in police departments throughout the country, however it is impossible to know the breadth of the problem since few police departments require their officers to record any data on pedestrian stops or pat-down searches.
In 2000, the state of Missouri became one of the few states with a law requiring that all police departments, both state and local, record the race of each individual they stop. Fifteen years later, the statistics of racial discrepancy in traffic stops are worse. The Missouri Attorney General's report on vehicle stops, released in late May, shows that in the fifteen years since the report began, the racial disparity in traffic stops compared to population was worse in 2014 than any other year.
In 2014, Blacks were 75 percent more likely to be pulled over by police than whites. Both Blacks and Hispanics were searched more often than whites, despite the fact that whites who were pulled over were more likely to be carrying drugs or weapons.
Some reports argue that the high racial profiling numbers are a result of years of neighborhood redlining1, which accounts for extremely high racial profiling numbers in wealthy, white suburbs. The Attorney General's report looks at the traffic stop statistics from 622 police departments throughout the state and looks at the rate of police stops in comparison to the population of each racial group. These numbers expose just how rampant racial profiling is throughout the state of Missouri. The disparity index shows a rating of 1 if police traffic stops of a race are in proportion to their population in the state. A number above 1 shows a higher rate of traffic stops in proportion to the group's population, conversely a number less than 1 shows a lower rate of traffic stops in proportion to population.
In Missouri overall, the disparity index is 1.66 for Blacks and .95 for whites. In order to really see how outrageous racial profiling is in Missouri, it is important to look more closely at local police departments. According to St. Louis Today, in the 60 police departments in the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County, the disparity is 2.84. However, if you look at a wealthy area like Ladue, the disparity rate is 15.98 for Blacks, and .86 for whites. A Black driver in Ladue is 18.5 times more likely to be pulled over than a white driver. St. Louis Today also points out that numbers do not explain everything and each year the various police departments explain away the numbers, insisting that context matters. However, the real context of these disparities and their roots in the white supremacist bedrock of the USA are exposed even when put in "context." In Ladue, not only are Black drivers 18.5 times more likely to get stopped by the police, it was discovered that the municipal court judge, Keith Cheung, was fixing tickets for white drivers. Other cities show vast disparities that are not much lower than Ladue. You can view the statistical analysis and report here: www.ago.mo.gov/home/vehicle-stops-report
In media coverage of the Missouri Attorney General's report, several "solutions" have been put forth by various federal agencies and civil rights groups. The ACLU has called for a state-wide summit on community-police relations. The Police Executive Research Forum points to the connection between municipal courts being used to fund city operation costs and racial profiling and calls for better police training throughout the region. Similarly, the DOJ's Ferguson Report calls for bias prevention training for police. Others call for diversification of police departments. These "solutions" will NOT solve anything besides keeping the same injustice system in place, legitimizing the enforcement of oppression for which the police serve as the frontline enforcers, and allowing the gears of white supremacy to continue to turn as they have since the first Africans were dragged in chains to the shores of the United States.
The truth is: This SYSTEM cannot do away with MURDER BY POLICE, but REVOLUTION can do away with this SYSTEM! This must be brought to people and this understanding must be fought for vigorously. As it was stated in the Revolution article, "What Is It That The Masses Most Fundamentally Must 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.
We need Revolution—Nothing Less!
1. In 1916 St. Louis began the practice of redlining with the passage of an ordinance under which local authorities designated some neighborhoods as "negro villes" where black people were allowed to live; city services were limited in these areas and banks and real estate agencies made it difficult for blacks to obtain mortgages or loans, thus effectively maintaining segregation and producing "urban decay.". These kinds of practices continued to develop through the 20th century, including as part of "The New Deal," when redlining was an official part of the Federal Housing Authority's loan practices. [back]
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
Letter from a reader
June 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A month after Long Beach, California police murdered Hector Morejon ("Another Police Killing of an Unarmed Youth in Los Angeles County—WTF!!" April 28, 2015), they shot and killed 20-year-old Feras Morad, who was also unarmed. Feras went to study and hang out with some friends, became unstable, jumped out a window, and was cut by the broken glass. When the cops showed up, they tasered and shot him as his friends yelled out that he was unarmed.
Ghada Morad, Feras' sister, said the family was not notified about Feras' death until two days later, when they called his friends, who told them what had happened. She told CBS News Los Angeles, "I am so angry no words can explain what I'm feeling."
CBS News reported that his family said that Feras went to Long Beach to study for a debate. He ingested [hallucinogenic] mushrooms, which they say was out of character, and he had a bad reaction and jumped out of a second story window. Hurt and bleeding in an alley, his friends say they called 911 for help.
One of his friends told ABC 7 News in Los Angeles that "He [Feras] was in a state of utter distress —like he didn't know where he was and he kept moving towards and wasn't responding to the officer. The officer used the Taser, but it didn't hit or wasn't effective." His friend said that the cop shot Morad, despite their pleas. "We were saying, Don't shoot! Don't shoot, he's not armed!" Feras was shirtless and covered in blood and obviously very hurt.... What they (the cops) resorted to (shooting and killing him), this is not the type of help he needed."
Morad was a nationally ranked debate competitor, who was enrolled at a local junior college with a 3.9 GPA. One of his friends told The Long Beach Press Telegram that Morad "aspired to become a lawyer.... He got in to UCLA and UC Berkeley but decided to enroll as a transfer student to Cal State Long Beach to save money."
The Press Telegram reported that "Morad qualified for and competed in the 2015 Phi Rho Pi National Forensic Organization parliamentary debate. Morad left the debate with gold honors — the highest level possible, according to the organization's records online."
Feras' sister and friends have started a "Justice For Feras Morad" Facebook page that states that he was unarmed and in desperate need of medical attention. A post on the Facebook page says, "The Long Beach Police Department wants you to forget that Feras was already injured when he was shot. The LBPD wants you to forget the officer in question and forgo the pursuit of justice. The LBPD wants to ignore that they didn't tell the Morad family about his death until days later. The LBPD wants you to forget that Feras had a future that was unjustly taken from him. Don't let that happen."
If you're thinking that there seems to be more killings of people by the cops, you're not imagining things. Almost every week, there is a person killed or brutalized by the pigs in the Southern California area.
The Washington Post just published a report that since the beginning of the year, police are shooting and killing people at a rate of over two a day, a total of 385 people in the first five months of this year. Yes, that is correct—on average, two people are shot and killed by the fucking pigs every fucking day in this country! According to police accounts, 43% of those who were killed did not have a gun and 20% did not have what is considered a lethal weapon (gun, knife, car, or other), and the vast majority who did not have guns and did not have a lethal weapon were Black and Latino. At the same time, only three of those pigs are facing criminal charges. Further, murders like that of Freddie Gray in Baltimore are not included as one of the 385 because he was not killed by the cops shooting him. So, if you include killings while in police custody, the number is greater than 385 in a five month period. (See "Fatal police shootings in 2015 approaching 400 nationwide", Washington Post, May 30, 2015.)
How many more before we put a stop to this? How many more lives of our youth are going to be taken from us? How many more of these beautiful children are going to have their futures ended by the cops in this country? We have to say not one more, and we have to act on what Carl Dix said in his statement, Murder By Police Should Not Be Tolerated:
Today in America, police murder people and get away with no punishment. This happens again and again and again. But something new has also begun to happen, and people have risen up against this, in the tens of thousands, across the country. The outpourings of resistance to this wanton police murder have been beautiful, powerful, and very necessary. Our movement of resistance must broaden, becoming even more diverse, and its determination to stop police murder must be strengthened and deepened. It must continue and escalate until these horrors are really ended.
When police murder people as they did with Eric Garner and Michael Brown, it is unlawful, illegitimate and should not be tolerated in any society that anyone would want to live in.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
From the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, Southern California
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Feras Morad, a 20-year-old college student, was murdered by the Long Beach Police Department on Wednesday, May 27. Feras Morad was in the prime of his life, on his way to Cal State University Long Beach, in preparation to become a lawyer. Feras wanted to be a public defender, to defend people who were victims of police brutality. He was a national debate champion. He was curious, idealistic -- someone convinced the world could change for better. He "knew everything about everything" his younger sister Ghada has said.
June 4, Long Beach. (Photo: Justice for Feras Facebook page)
On May 27 Feras tried hallucinogenic mushrooms, and had a very bad reaction. He jumped out of a 2nd story window of an apartment complex. In the alley near where he fell he was stumbling around. He was high. He was clearly having a difficult time, in medical duress. Feras needed help and compassion. What he received instead were police bullets to the heart, point blank - murdered by police on the spot. Bloody, shirtless and shoeless, clearly unarmed: the Long Beach Police used this opportunity to steal the life of another young person.
Media stories say there are "conflicting reports" of what happened. That Feras violently attacked the cop who first used a Taser and then shot Feras to death. These news reports effectively cover up and justify murder by police. An eyewitness said: "...[Feras'] arms were flayed up, like this (hands up above shoulders). He was leaning back on the police car a little bit, just stumbling. And his arms were up, like up! And the cop planted four inches from his heart. And shot four into him. And I thought they were blanks until... until all the blood started pouring out of him...His hands were in the air, like this! He was unarmed. He had no shirt. No shoes. He was wounded... If they would have let me come down I would have talked that kid down. I guarantee it. That child did not need to die. And I hope that cop sees that kids face for the rest of his life because he is a murderer."
And Feras Morad is not the first young man to be shot down this year by police after eating hallucinogenic mushrooms. Tony Robinson in Madison, WI was murdered by cop Matt Kenny in March this year, after Robinson ate hallucinogenic mushrooms and was acting erratically. Rather than help Robinson, Kenny shot him down. Thousands of high school students righteously took over the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda in protest. And more protests have followed in Madison, when prosecutors let Kenny walk last month. This week, it was reported that Kenny will not face any internal discipline for shooting Robinson dead. This was the second person Kenny had shot dead. In the first shooting, authorities let Kenny walk free, saying the shooting was "suicide by cop" and awarded Kenny with a "Commendation of Valor" for shooting the person.
The murder of Feras Morad must be responded to with massive protests and outrage. Young high school and college students experiment with drugs as part of socializing with friends and classmates. Recreational drug use goes on among the youth, and has for many decades. We should not be living in society where police are given the green light over and over again to kill youth and students who are on bad trips, or are acting erratically for whatever reason.
The Stop Mass Incarceration Network stands shoulder to shoulder with the family and friends in the fight for justice for Feras. This is the second murder by Long Beach police this year. 25 people have been shot by police in Long Beach since 2013, and Feras is the 11th person they've shot dead since 2013. And, nationwide over 1000 people a year are killed by police. THIS MUST STOP!
In the past months, all throughout the U.S., tens of thousands of people have struggled, resisted and rebelled to stop murder by police. Right now, fighting for Justice for Feras, and for all the Stolen Lives, has got to be part of building up mass determined resistance to murder by police all across the country, including through the summer months.
This intensified struggle needs to be brought together on October 24 in New York City for a Major National Manifestation Against Police Terror - Rise Up October to STOP Police Terror! This national mobilization will amplify the many forms of resistance against police murder and mass incarceration. More important, it will change the whole social landscape, to the point where a growing section of people all over take ever-increasing initiative and make it unmistakably clear that they refuse to live in a society that sanctions this outrage, and where those who do NOT feel this way are put on the defensive. Hundreds of thousands of people need to be in the streets of NYC on October 24 with this basic message: NO! THESE MURDERS BY POLICE MUST STOP – NOW!
Stop Mass Incarceration Network, So Cal Contact: 213-840-5348 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Stop Mass Incarceration Network, So Cal meets every Wednesday night at USC United University Church, 817 W. 34th St., LA, CA 90089 (on USC campus at corner of Jefferson and Hoover)
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Friday, May 29— Kevin K. Allen, a 36-year-old Black man, was entering a library in the township of Lyndhurst, New Jersey when several cops followed him and proceeded to open fire—shooting him to death on the third floor where the children’s room is located. All this occurred in the presence of children—one of whom witnessed the complete horror of this murder. First, there is the fact that Allen was just going about his business and suddenly gets shot down dead. The police chief, James O’Connor, said that Kevin brandished a “utility-style knife” but there was no description of it nor was there any indication that it posed any danger to anyone involved. O’Connor said that “He [Kevin] continued to be aggressive and charged at officers... he left them no choice.” The reality is that these cops just started blasting away without even trying to handle the situation in a whole different way—including taking personal risks to protect the public, including the victim! There was no attempt by the pigs involved to de-escalate whatever “danger” the victim posed. News reports said that the two cops involved in the killing were taken to the hospital to be treated for “trauma and shock.” What about the trauma, shock, and SAFETY of the children who were in the room? Just WHO are the police protecting and serving by firing their weapons on the third floor of a library where the children’s room was located? There was absolutely NO regard for the lives and safety of the children or anyone for that matter. It was just the opposite—they were all put in a situation of grave danger of being hurt or killed.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cops to Jail!
The Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell!
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck just cleared the Los Angeles Police Department of the murder of Ezell Ford. The LAPD inspector general also found the murder of Ezell Ford justified. Like a punch to the gut, Justifiable Homicide is the ruling by the same organization (LAPD) that carried out the murder of Ezell Ford. The LA Police Commission will determine after a hearing Tuesday, June 9, whether the murder was within department policy. Cold-blooded murder is within LAPD department policy, so it’s highly likely they will also rule the shooting of Ezell Ford Justifiable Homicide.
Justice for Ezell Ford! Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cops to Jail! The Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell! On Broadway near near the LAPD murder of Ezell Ford, Saturday, June 6. (Photo: Special to Revolution/revcom.us)
Ezell Ford was a 25-year-old Black man murdered by the LAPD on August 11 in South Central, LA—just two days after the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. After withholding the autopsy report for four months, the LAPD released it late last year. The report shows that Ford, who was unarmed, was shot three times—in the side, in the arm, and in the back. The shot in the back showed a “muzzle imprint” from the gun fired. This means he was shot at a very close range. Ezell Ford had mental health problems and was known to people in the neighborhood. He was just a block from his home when he was attacked by police. The cops who killed Ford, Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas, are from a notorious “anti-gang” unit in the area, a unit of the Newton Division of the LAPD. These pigs proudly call themselves “the Shootin’ Newton.” LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has repeatedly asked people to sit back and “let the system work” while the police investigate the shooting of Ezell Ford. This ruling is the system working, just like it has always worked. And the ruling lays the basis for future murderous police assaults on the masses.
It is reported in the media that “sources” say the LAPD and inspector general reports conclude that Ford and one of the officers, Sharlton Wampler, had scratches on their hands, and the holster for Wampler’s gun was scratched, and that tests found Ford’s DNA on the weapon. First off, why did these cops approach Ezell Ford in the first place? For what reason? The cops had no right whatsoever to approach and to attack him, as he was doing nothing wrong. “If there was no reason to stop him, then there was no reason to shoot him,” Tritobia Ford, Ezell’s mother, has said. For months, the LAPD has said Ford was assumed to have narcotics. But to this day the LAPD has never reported whether or not they found any narcotics, and they don’t say because there were no narcotics. With regard to the scratches on Ford and Wampler, the scratches on the holster of Wampler’s gun, and the finding of Ezell Ford’s DNA on the weapon that killed him, even if true, how these things happened is not known and are not a justification for killing Ford.
This ruling of Justifiable Homicide comes in a context. Police murder and mass incarceration are at genocidal proportions in LA and nationwide. Tens of thousands of people across the U.S. have protested, resisted, and risen in rebellion over the past several months to put a stop to it. The LAPD and the system they work for are “doubling down” in this context. With this ruling, the LAPD and the system are flashing a giant green light for cops to continue to murder innocent people, in Los Angeles and nationwide. This must be answered by the masses of people, powerfully.
Tritobia Ford, mother of Ezell Ford, speaking with media, June 6.
(Photo: Special to revcom.us/Revolution)
The LAPD has killed more people this year than any other police department in the country (according to “The Counted,” a database compiled by the Guardian newspaper).1 We’re told by the LAPD that these statistics aren’t that different from previous years. That’s right! The LAPD has murdered many people in the years leading up to this one, and they continue to murder people, like Brendon Glenn in Venice on May 5. Under the signboard of “investigation,” the LAPD is hiding the video that shows Brendon Glenn being gunned down by the LAPD. Another LAPD cover-up is brazenly and openly occurring right before our eyes! The LAPD does not want that video of Brendon Glenn’s murder released because it may trigger a response from the people, in a national context where murder by police, and resistance and rebellion to stop it, has taken center stage.
Ezell Ford was Black and unarmed, Brendon Glenn was Black and unarmed, “Brother Africa” (Charly Leundeu Keunang) on Skid Row, who the LAPD murdered in cold blood on March 1, was an African immigrant from Cameroon—Black and unarmed, and Omar Abrego, who was beaten to death by the LAPD Newton Division anti- gang unit just days before that same unit murdered Ezell Ford, was Latino and unarmed. These are some of the 26 people the LAPD has killed over the past year and one half, mainly Black and Latino.
Nobody with a beating heart should allow this outrage to go down without becoming part of an intensifying fight for Justice for Ezell Ford and all the Stolen Lives. We must refuse to live in a system that commits state-sanctioned murder on a mass and epidemic scale, and then exonerates itself for doing so. Long years, decades and centuries of oppression of Black people have come to this: Either this system continues to exist and this slow genocide of Black people continues and potentially becomes a fast genocide; or millions of people sweep away this system in a revolutionary struggle that changes the course of history and an entirely new system is put in its place, a socialist system on its way to communism. (See Revolution series “Two Constitutions, Two Different Systems, Two Different Futures for African-American People”: here, here, and here.) On Day One of the success of this revolution, these murders by police of Black, Latino, and all oppressed people STOP, right then and there. It’s a world historic challenge, and it’s possible. This SYSTEM cannot do away with MURDER BY POLICE. But REVOLUTION can do away with this SYSTEM.
1. “The Counted” is a project by the Guardian—and the public—working to count the number of people killed by police and other law enforcement agencies in the United States throughout 2015, to monitor their demographics and to tell the stories of how they died.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
Updated August 10, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
As people send their donations and pledge as sustainers, they are sending notes to challenge others to do the same. Here are some of the comments:
The comment below was accompanied by a $100 donation:
Thank you for all you do. We are not in a position to become a sustaining member at this time, but at least we can contribute something to this all important effort to remove the chains of slavery.
from Wisconsin readers
We can’t be behind, we gotta be the vanguard. If we don’t have the resources, in terms of the newspaper and the website, it will deviate the direction of the movement for revolution. Because we gotta win the argument with the masses, so that they see that this is the group, the RCP and BA, that they should follow. When you got a solid purpose—and our, the Party’s theory and understanding of revolution, you have to get it out there, because there are a lot of reformers that sound like revolution but they have their doubts are not really for revolution.
Reader in San Francisco Bay Area
I hope this donation goes at least in part to support the work of Carl Dix and Sunsara Taylor. Mr. Dix is doing outstanding work concerning mass incarceration and Ms Taylor is doing excellent work with her StopPatriarchy organization and writing for the paper. Both deserve as wide a venue as possible to promote their ideas and efforts and I hope Revolution news provides every opportunity for this to happen.
—From a reader who is sustaining for $10/month
As a high school student, I decided to make a donation because I came to the realization that we need more bookstores like Revolution Books. If it was not for the couple months I volunteered and attended events, I would not have thought change and revolution was possible. And thanks to the organization, I am beginning to make sense of things at my own pace, and bringing others with me throughout the process.
—Black woman from Harlem who just graduated from high school, about to start college, who’s going to donate $5 a month to revcom.us and $5 a month to NYC Revolution Books
"To strengthen RCP Publications I recently became a sustainer. I am contributing $50 a month. I think RCP Publications is important because it does something nobody else is doing at the present. It is giving humanity a scientific way out of the horrible situation that we are stuck in. When I first started reading Revolution and BA over a decade ago I was afraid of what was being said. The idea of getting rid of this society was something I never thought about in a real non idealistic way. The paper and Bob Avakian brought this to life. When I read the paper the first time years ago I became frightened by its radical vision and I stopped reading the paper after a few issues. However, within a year I had renewed my subscription and have not missed a paper for many years. I read and re-read all the works of BA. The idea of a communist revolution is real to me and is needed for all. That is part of the reason that I am and others should consider sustaining RCP Publications."
—From a high school teacher in the Midwest
"People need this newspaper because they are kept so ignorant and believe in the system and the Democratic Party, but also they need the leadership of Bob Avakian, because it isn't just needing to rebel, we need a whole different world and that is possible. We don't want a situation like in Egypt, where people rebelled and even drove out a dictator, but what did they get—another dictator!"
–From a supporter on a fixed income who donated and will sustain at $5 a month
“I donated $20 and will sustain at $5/month because there are people on the front lines catching hell. People like in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Chicago. We have to reinforce them and support them, either giving what I can or spreading the word and the newspaper.”
“If you want to know about the world, and get connected; if you want to stand up and fight back against what is being done to people, go to this Party, take up this Party’s newspaper. If you want revolution, we have a strategy for revolution. This newspaper is a key component of this strategy. The newspaper is the voice of the RCP and provides the foundation and guideline for the whole process for revolution, especially through publishing the works of Bob Avakian through articles. This paper exposes and expresses why things are the way they are, it does not have to be this way. The newspaper is the guideline so thousands of people can stay connected and learn. I am donating $10/month and also collected $20 from a friend and am letting others know about the website, especially to watch the Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian.”
―an Iranian supporter of the RCP who lives in the U.S.
“I will support the courage of RCP as a donator and sustainer. Why? Because of the commitment of BA and what I’ve come to know is the only way out of capitalism in all its forms. I’ll donate $5 to $10 a month to sustain RCP Publications.”
—a devoted reader on a fixed income
“There is so much injustice and suffering going on in this capitalist-imperialist country and around the world, and I believe RCP Publications and Bob Avakian’s leadership need to be widely promoted in order to prepare the people to fight and bring about a much better society and world through revolution. I am giving $20 to the RCP Publications fund drive. I encourage whoever is yearning for a better world to do away with all this suffering, to contribute in any way, whatever you can. And if you can, SUSTAIN the work—consistently apply the method of analyzing and changing the world, and consistently give money to the revolution. It is hard work, but it must be done and we can do it if we apply the revolutionary method and not take it for granted. We sometimes get complacent, but we can and need to change, and we can all contribute so much more to emancipate humanity!”
—an Iranian supporter of the revolution who lives in the U.S.
“This is a time when a revolutionary crisis can make a big leap. In Ferguson and Baltimore, people are fed up and are open to see what revolutionary forces are saying. The system has this big contradiction: They can’t give up on the oppression of Black people that makes people resist; yet they can’t allow them to rise up without repressing them; but they can’t keep repressing them without them rising up. It is a big contradiction for them.”
“With the work of the revolutionaries and the newspaper, the system is more and more exposed. The activities of the Party need to increase to bring the truth to people. On the TV they only show the looting and not what causes it. They try to portray brave and courageous people as ‘thugs.’ We need to expose the whole system is the problem, no matter who is president―the police are instruments of repression, and these crises can lead to something else—a revolutionary situation.”
Why I am Supporting RCP Publications Fund Drive—And Pledge to Do More
“I am a regular sustainer to revcom.us/Revolution newspaper, but I see the need to increase my donation to support the call to put RCP Publications on higher ground so that more people can learn about it. I want to support it, so they can carry out the work of helping to build even further the movement for revolution and introduce Bob Avakian, leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA to even more people, not just here in the U.S., but to millions and millions of people around the world. That revolution and communism is not ONLY desirable, but eminently possible!
“What have I learned from revcom.us/Revolution newspaper? I am learning and struggling to view things on a scientific basis and go on the basis of reality and not what seems to be ‘practical’ or the easy way out.
“One of the things that revcom.us/Revolution newspaper has been very good at is pointing out various proposals that different people have made in response to the current epidemic of police murder and brutality. For example, there are people who suggest that waiting for the IN-justice Department to do an investigation is helpful.
“Nothing could be further from the truth—for months Mike Brown’s family and many other people waited for the IN-Justice Department’s report on Ferguson—and when it came out, it was a slap in their faces and pouring salt on their wounds! The report did expose some of the vicious methods used to exploit people—like jailing them if they did not have the money to pay fines from traffic tickets piling up, but otherwise, Eric Holder and others in the ruling class just gave the murdering cops a pass and a free ride, and said that they couldn’t find any basis to indict Darren Wilson for Mike Brown’s murder. This was a dead end that the system wants people to get into—to stop struggling and rely on this criminal system which is incapable of doing anything halfway decent for any human being on this planet.
“There wouldn’t have been ANY IN-Justice Department report on Ferguson if it wasn’t for the fact that the people of Ferguson stood up, rebelled, defied the system and decided that the murder of Mike Brown and everything else is intolerable.
“You DO NOT have to agree with all or even some of what revcom.us/Revolution newspaper is about in order to engage with it. What IS required is that you have the questions and curiosity as to what is going on in the world and what to do about it.
“I am going to double what I currently am donating, even though that would be a financial sacrifice due to my current situation. I am also challenging other people to step up and donate to revcom.us/Revolution newspaper and donate what they can.
“Without money, RCP Publications would be unable to do the important work that it needs to do. If you don’t have money—have bake sales or flea markets to raise money for this precious newspaper, and commit to being a regular sustainer. If you have funds, dig deep and give a large one time donation and become a sustainer on a regular basis.”
June 4, 2015
“Why I Sustain?
“I’ve been a sustainer for a number of years. I sustain because the RCP and the newspaper Revolution/revcom.us is the only thing going in the world today. When I was young I had high hopes for Mao’s China but that revolution got turned back by a capitalist line. I had high hopes with the revolutions in Peru and Nepal until a capitalist, status quo line turned those revolutions around, too.
“Other than the RCP and what’s left of the RIM [Revolutionary Internationalist Movement] all the other lines in the world represent capitalism, feudalism, slavery or barbarism. No, things aren’t going to get better by ‘falling apart.’ This kind of anarchism is no solution. The world needs to see that right here, in ‘the belly of the beast,’ in Babylon itself there are those who can see beyond the horror and have a plan and strategy to achieve a much better world for us human beings.
“So, to all those whom I’ve heard say, ‘tell me when you’re having the revolution and I’ll be there,’ well the time is now. Give some money and be a part of it. It’s the least you can do. Get some literature and spread the word, that’s something you can do also.”
I became a monthly sustainer for RCP Publications because I want to see copies of BAsics in Hebrew, Arabic, Farsi, Korean, and any other language you can think of. I want to see the works of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism reach all corners of the earth and all sections of society so the oppressed everywhere know there is a way out of the horrors this system subjects people to and that way out is Revolution. I also want to help people connect up with the Revcom website and revolution newspaper so they know that there is a party with the strategy and leadership that makes an actual revolution in this country possible.
—From a student/unemployed member of the Revolution Club
and a new sustainer for RCP Pubs
I am subscribing as a monthly sustainer for $10.00 per month. I wished I could do more, but is what the current pocket can bear. I have selected 5 organizations to assist in their efforts for a very different world, and as a Socialist, Communism of course is a long term goal...
Thank you for all your work.
"I just want to say what inspired me most was the way the RCP threw itself into the mix in Ferguson, NY City and Baltimore, seriously determined to raise the level of understanding and resistance—and provide leadership. I said to myself these people are serious about making revolution and not just paying lip service to it. I was seeing RCP banners and t-shirts on news sources other than revcom."
—From a reader who made a substantial donation
and doubled his sustainer commitment
"I donate because an Actual Revolution is the only sane and logical way forward for humanity and the planet! And even though I may be separated from the high energy areas of the country, I get a rush thinking about the youth, with the Revolution Newspaper in their hands for the first time, kinda like a modern day singing telegram for the oppressed!"
—From a reader on a fixed income in a very small town
“I want to support the courage of others trying to change the world—hopefully for a better future for others to come. People are risking the most valuable thing they have, which is their life, for a good cause, and that is admirable.”
—A woman who grew up in a country dominated by U.S. imperialism and
who is pledging $25/month to sustain RCP Publications.
"I am donating a $100 towards the fund raising, in addition to my monthly sustainer for Revolution newspaper. I am donating this amount because I feel at this critical juncture people need to connect with the leader of revolution, Bob Avakian, to really put an end to police brutality and murder of unarmed black and brown youth, and all the other horrors of this System; and build a far better world. For this purpose a lot of funds are required to upgrade Revolution newspaper, distribute revolutionary literature, videos, books and other works of BA, so that people can learn about his vision and strategy for revolution and become part of the movement for revolution for emancipation of humanity."
—A reader in Texas
“I urge everyone to help raise funds and donate to help put RCP Publications on a higher ground:
Because black, brown and poor are being murdered by the police in the 'Land of the free.'
Because the capitalist imperialists are committing crimes against the planet and humanity.
Because women are denied their basic rights in different forms, being raped and sold to sex slavery.
Because millions are homeless, refugees and crying out for change, as they are caught between two outmoded reactionary forces of capitalist imperialists and backward Islamists fundamentalists who seem to many as the only alternative!
Because the science, theory and the leadership is there to end all of this and prepare the masses for an actual revolution, but there is a huge gap that can be fulfilled by putting the idea and leadership out there.”
—A reader in Texas
At the present time, RCP Publications cannot accept any contributions or gifts from readers who reside outside the borders of the United States.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Saturday, some people from a Black community took up the call for funds for RCP Publications by having a bake sale in their neighborhood. They worked with revolutionary communists, and other people touched by or active in the movement for revolution to make it a big success. Some people baked cookies, cakes and banana bread, while others helped staff the table and talked with other people in the community. They raised $140. In the midst of talking with people and selling baked goods, several groups of people watched clips from REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion. A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN.
Bake Sale in Houston. Special to revcom.us
A young man who staffed the table said that he came out because his friends don't think about revolution, they think that things are just the way they are, that there's nothing to do about it, but he thinks that's wrong. We can do something. He also said that he has been trying to save up some money to buy BAsics after he saw some of the quotes from it a few days before. Another man who put a lot of work in organizing the bake sale said that he supports this revolution because it's for everybody, it's not just about making things better for one group of people. He was stopping cars and bringing people over to the table. He said that one comment that he got from a man who bought a bunch of cookies, captured a lot for him. The man told him that he donated because, "I know what time it is" and people more recognize that it looks like the government is trying to reinstitute slavery.
After watching a section of the dialogue, a young woman said that she needs to watch the whole film. She said that she felt inspired by the Dialogue and thought it was more important for the youth like herself to know about Bob Avakian's (BA's) message because it was their own future at stake. She said she donated because "I've been thinking about the revolution and I really want to support this. It's so amazing that you send literature into the places where people are fighting back." Another group of youth, who came to check out the bake sale, said that they couldn't believe that BA and Cornel West were talking about these kinds of things, and it was so real and so true. They made arrangements to get a copy of the film and said that now they know that they need to get involved.
Bake Sale in Houston. Special to revcom.us
One woman who baked three cakes said that she did it to support revolution and that she is so glad that people are finally standing up against police brutality. One man who had been brutalized by the police didn't make it out to the bake sale. But he said that he is going to find a way to raise money to promote this revolution and BA, and now he's going to watch the dialogue. He had bought BAsics a while ago and said that it is essential for people. He said that "people need to read BA, then they'll understand".
The people who worked on the bake sale were very excited about how the day went. Not just the money raised, but also the response from the community, and that they got to meet and work with each other. They made plans to do a fundraiser each month for different projects for the revolution. They began making plans for a BBQ sale next month for BA Everywhere. One man said that there were some people who didn't come through for the bake sale, but now they can go back to them and he's sure that word will get out how successful it was and next time it will be better and involving more people.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
A Question That Deserves More Thought...
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors’ note: The following thoughts provoked by “Stop The Demonization, Criminalization, and Deportations of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border!” (from the 5 Stops) are being contributed by a reader to the ongoing wrestling and wrangling with the relationship between this social fault line and making revolution in this country and worldwide.
Central American family on a freight train heading toward the U.S.-Mexico border, 2014. (AP photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
One point that does seem important is how the Revolutionary Communist Party is integrating the question of immigration into our work. I was happy to see that it is a focus of attention on the “5 Stops.” Still, it feels that our web site is having difficulty giving adequate attention to this other “open sore” given all of the other demands on our forces.
I am particularly aware of this issue, as it has been and continues to loom very large in Europe. Alexis de Tocqueville was right in saying that the situation of Black people in the U.S. was central to its history and identity, and I think we have been correct in emphasizing this again in articles recently, as the continuing pertinence of this is playing out much more sharply now. The immigration question, on the other hand, may well be the general question or common denominator between all (or virtually all) of the imperialist countries, even if the particularities can look different from one place to another.
Bob Avakian, "Why do people come here from all over the world?"
The very way the world is organized by imperialism, and especially the deep immiseration everywhere and violent disruption in more and more places, continues to create an ever intensifying pressure for immigration. As we see with such horrific regularity, even the real possibility of drowning at sea, which I am sure all of the “candidates” are well aware of, doesn’t slow down desperate attempts in the slightest. In addition to the disastrous situation in so much of the “third world” (and even countries that seemed only a few years ago to be relatively immune such as Libya) there is, I believe, an important cultural aspect linked to globalization: people generally are much more aware of the situation in the world as a whole. They are not the “blank slates” as Mao described the Chinese peasants.1 Even (or especially?) in economically undeveloped countries like Nepal, people are likely to have friends or family members who have worked in the Gulf states or driven a truck in Iraq, or even a “lucky” cousin who settled in Europe, as well as the countless others caught at the bottom of the globalized food chain as security guards or entombed in brothels in India.
There is absolutely no reformist solution to this problem... neither to the intensifying and glaring inequalities nor the migratory pressures that it intensifies. And, of course, there is the political fallout from this in the imperialist countries themselves—mainly, now, in the negative form of the rise of the fascist right and the general rightward drift of all of political life and, as we have seen, a fueling of perverse and reactionary tendencies among important sections of the most oppressed masses themselves, especially Islamic fundamentalism. But the opposite exists as well—there is a basis to win over large sections of people who really don’t want to have to live protected by the “Roman legions.” And despite the chauvinist waves, there continue to be broad sections that have at least a beginning picture of who are the victims and who are the source of the problems. And there is the great advantage that only a genuine revolutionary line can even begin to show a potential solution.
I am convinced that correctly identifying and correctly working on this faultline will be central to the rebirth of a revolutionary process in the imperialist countries. How does it relate to “fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution”? How does it relate to winning the most oppressed to be in the forefront as “emancipators of humanity”? These questions deserve thought.
1. In a 1958 essay, Mao wrote: “Apart from their other characteristics, the outstanding thing about China’s 600 million people is that they are ‘poor and blank.’ This may seem a bad thing, but in reality it is a good thing. Poverty gives rise to the desire for change, the desire for action and the desire for revolution. On a blank sheet of paper free from any mark, the freshest and most beautiful characters can be written, the freshest and most beautiful pictures can be painted.”
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
June 5, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On June 2, Boston police and FBI shot and killed a 26-year-old Black Muslim man, Usaamah Abdullah Rahim. Police say that they stopped him at a bus stop at 7:00 a.m. in front of a CVS drug store in order to question him. The police claim that Rahim refused to talk with them (which would have been perfectly legal on Rahim’s part), that he pulled a knife and began advancing on them, and that they had no alternative but to kill him. Immediately, based solely on government sources, the media not only slavishly reported the story along the lines put forth by the police, they began to trumpet claims from the agencies involved that Rahim was actually preparing to carry out an attack on police inspired by ISIS, the utterly reactionary Islamic fundamentalist group now waging war in Iraq and Syria against U.S.-backed forces. In the midst of the media barrage on this, here are some important points of orientation to keep in mind:
And as part of this, people very broadly within the imperialist countries must be won to aim their principal struggle against the imperialists themselves and not allow themselves to be taken “under the wing” of the biggest oppressors in the world.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On June 2, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to extend key elements of the USA Patriot Act through 2018. Passed in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Patriot Act, and its interpretation by courts and application by government agencies, has set loose almost unlimited secret government spying on everything people do. This kind of secret spying on American citizens has been used to facilitate illegal assassination of U.S. citizens abroad without trial, by presidential decree. And it is used to monitor the most minute, personal, and especially oppositional activity, communication, and thinking of nearly everyone on the planet who has access to a phone or the Internet.
But what made headlines was not the extension of the Patriot Act. Nor did the extension of the Patriot Act occasion any serious examination of the nature of U.S. spying, why the rulers of the United States find it necessary to maintain such intense surveillance of everyone in the world, and what that says about the nature of their rule.
Instead, the terms of public debate have been framed by the ruling class media around the extension of, or changes to, one particularly notorious section of the Act—Section 215. Section 215 has been used by the government to justify the massive collection of “metadata,” which tracks everyone you call or connect with online, and identifies patterns of communication and linkages between who communicates with whom, of the activities and communication of billions of people, including hundreds of millions within the U.S.
The Orwellian-named USA Freedom Act essentially transfers the job of maintaining this obscenely intrusive database from the National Security Agency to private phone companies. The phone companies—like AT&T or Verizon—are required to store this data and to turn it over to the government when ordered to by a special, secret court that is infamous for rubber-stamping every surveillance request from the government.
On May 7 a federal appeals panel in New York ruled that the government’s vast, massive collection of phone and Internet metadata was not authorized by the (at the time) existing provisions of Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The court didn’t conclude that this spying was a violation of the U.S. Constitution—just that it needed to be approved by Congress. Now, with some tweaks, that has taken place.
That is not any kind of “step forward” in restoring civil liberties!
The USA Freedom Act was opposed—at least to some degree—by forces in the ruling class who want to maintain tighter government control over this data, and, seemingly from a different direction, by a significant minority in Congress, who argued that more changes were needed.
What’s behind these differences, and what do they amount to? Let’s break that down:
When the courageous actions of Edward Snowden and journalists like Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitress, and others exposed the massive nature of U.S. government spying, their revelations struck a nerve throughout society. It has been what is called a “legitimizing norm,” that is, something that people broadly accept or see as giving the system credibility and validity—that if you mind your own business and don’t make waves in the United States, or if you grumble a bit on Facebook, or in a text message, the government is not going to be monitoring everything you do, keeping records of it, and using that data to come after you.
This would not be a good or morally acceptable bargain, even if it were true!
A tweet circulating in various forms attributed to Edward Snowden makes a point that saying you’re not worried about the government spying on you because you’re not doing anything wrong is like saying you’re not worried about free speech because you don’t have anything to say.
Nobody should put up with the crimes of this system—from the epidemic of police murder to the war on women to the wanton profit-driven destruction of the environment, to torture and wars of aggression around the world.
But it is still the case that as a societal phenomenon, the Snowden revelations revealed to millions and millions of people in this country that no such “deal” exists. That everything everyone did was under surveillance.
Ongoing revelations of the nature of U.S. government spying, including things like secretly collecting lists of what books people read and anything else they do at the library, and making it illegal for libraries to expose that, criminalization of thought, six-degrees-of-separation connections leading to terrorism prosecutions... even tapping the personal phone of the chancellor of Germany, a close U.S. ally, have had a cumulative effect of undercutting rationalizations that all this spying is about “protecting American lives.” And the extent of unrestrained U.S. spying created tensions with allies and discredited the U.S. empire branding itself as the model of “freedom and democracy” around the world.
In the face of this, some, including influential forces―let’s call them what they are, fascists in the ruling class—insist that any concession, or any appearance of concession that the government has gone too far in spying on people, opens the door to further questioning and de-legitimization of the whole setup. They insist that even conceding that there are civil liberties issues at stake in government spying is essentially aiding “the terrorists.” The Wall Street Journal, for example, declared that the USA Freedom Act was “NSA Reform That Only ISIS Could Love.”
Others in the ruling class―with Rand Paul emerging as a spokesman for this view—insisted that there needed to be some formal restraints on the scope of government spying. Essentially their view is that some form of formal recognition of a right to privacy for (at least some sections of) people is a necessary component of cohering U.S. society, and they fear that unrestrained, massive government spying outweighs the good it does from the perspective of preserving and maintaining this system. It is in that context that Republican Congressman Justin Amash (an ally of Rand Paul) said the new law “takes us a step in the wrong direction by specifically authorizing such collection in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.”
What finally emerged in the USA Freedom Act was outsourcing the storage of the records of everyone’s phone calls from the government to phone companies, and the codification and enshrinement of that level of spying.
Here’s the real situation: Those who rule this country create all kinds of enemies around the world and within their borders. They justify their massive spying apparatus as aimed at “terrorists,” but the scope and nature of that setup makes it clear to anyone who looks at it with open eyes that it is about spying on everyone and suppressing every kind of opposition to its epidemic of police murder, its wars for empire, its oppression of women, its environmental destruction, its persecution of immigrants, and suppressing legitimate revolutionary struggle.
Massive government spying is not the result of a security apparatus out of control. It is not the product of a “national security state” detached from the essence of this system, as some critics—including some who have done invaluable exposure—argue. This massive government spying is inherent in ruling over a world of injustice, exploitation, and oppression, and contending with rival powers to do that.
Massive government spying doesn’t need to be privatized. It doesn’t need to be legalized. It doesn’t need to be tweaked. It needs to STOP!
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On June 3, Israeli F-16 fighter jets criss-crossed the skies over the Gaza Strip, the tiny Palestinian enclave surrounded by Israeli barbed wire, menacing the population for hours. On May 26, Israeli F-16s had pounded targets in Rafah on the Egyptian border, and Khan Younis, a huge Palestinian refugee area next to Gaza City. Israel’s attacks were supposedly in “retaliation” for one projectile fired from Gaza into Israel earlier in the day. There were no injuries in Israel from this incident.
It is less than a year since Israeli forces wreaked massive destruction on the people of the Gaza Strip for 50 straight days in July and August of 2014. In this extended slaughter in Gaza, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council report of September 22, 2014, “Some 1,479 of a total of 2,158 Palestinian fatalities were civilians, of them 506 were children. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and five civilians were killed. More than 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza were left without a habitable home to return to, and 497,000 people had been internally displaced.”
A Palestinian salvaging some of his family's belongings after an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, August, 2014. Photo: UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) says: “Not a single home has been rebuilt” since Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2014. Conditions of life for the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza are increasingly desperate at best. Israel has sealed off the Gaza Strip since 2007, restricting vital food, water, construction and medicine supplies. Israeli politicians cynically call this “putting Gaza on a diet.” And it is official Israeli policy that it must periodically “mow the lawn” by carrying out terroristic rocket and missile attacks on targets in Gaza. International observers regularly describe Gaza as the “world’s largest open-air prison.”
A recent report from the World Bank states that 40 percent of Gazans live in poverty, even though around 80 percent receive some sort of aid. It also reveals that less than a third of the $3.5 billion in reconstruction aid promised by governments around the world after Israel’s 2014 blitzkreig has actually been delivered. You would expect that world powers that regularly trumpet their commitment to human rights would be rushing to assist the people of Gaza. The USA, the so-called “leader of the free world,” pledged a mere $414 million total and only a fraction of this has been released.
This again focuses up the question: What about the people of Gaza? Wrapping your head around so many human beings forced to live this way is hard to do. With at least 60 percent of youth unemployed, on top of the daily hunger, the destroyed infrastructure, and the constant murderous Israeli siege, some turn to reactionary religious fundamentalism, others hold on to vague hopes for a better future, some fall victim to a false escape through drug addiction. A recent article in the New York Times told a slice of truth about the despair that covers much of Gaza like a fog. It quotes a 24-year-old former drug user: “It’s the unemployment, the lack of security, the pressure, the blockade. Imagine waiting for months to leave Gaza.”
The New York Times article also touches on the deep-going traumatization of the people in Gaza that has the potential of destroying a whole generation of young Palestinians, even if they survive the physical slaughter by Israel. Just one of hundreds of thousands of similarly afflicted Gazan children is highlighted: “Hamada Zaim, 4, has already lived through two short wars, in 2012 and 2014. He wets his bed and wakes up screaming at night, said his mother, Reem. Between wars, he went bald and his head began swelling.”
We should also hear the testimony of Mohammed Omer, a journalist living and working in Rafah, Gaza, who writes about the horror of the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza: “At just three months old, my son Omar cries, swaddled in his crib. It’s dark. The electricity and water are out. My wife frantically tries to comfort him, shield him and assure him as tears stream down her face. This night Omar’s lullaby is Israel’s rendition of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, with F-16s forming the ground-pounding percussion, Hellfire missiles leading the wind instruments and drones representing the string section. All around us crashing bombs from Israeli gunships and ground-based mortars complete the symphony, their sound as distinct as the infamous Wagner tubas.” (Excerpt from Mohammed Omer’s Shell-Shocked, 2015)
And look at the story of Khan Younis, the sprawling refugee camp in Gaza City. The term “refugee camp” implies a temporary dwelling, from which people find permanent and secure housing. Not so! Khan Younis was established in 1948 when the Nakba, or “Catastrophe,” brought the establishment of the state of Israel that stole the land and forced the exit of at least 750,000 Palestinians. 35,000 Palestinians ended up at the Khan Younis site in 1948. In 1956, Israel rampaged through Gaza on its way to try to seize the Suez Canal from Egypt, killing 275 Palestinians. More people swelled the camp in 1967, when Israel invaded and occupied Gaza and the West Bank. Now, the population of Khan Younis has doubled from its original number, and it is always a prime target when Israeli F-16s thunder over Gaza.
To answer the question about the fate of the people of Gaza, there is one overriding fact. The raw truth is that there is no part of U.S. “concern” about the lives of Palestinians, especially those confined in Gaza, which is not fundamentally framed by what Obama has called “the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel, and our ironclad commitment to making sure that Israel is secure.” That “bond” is based on the role Israel has played for decades as a violent enforcer for the interests of the U.S. empire in the Middle East and around the world. And one requirement for Israeli security is the continuing imprisonment and genocide against the people of Gaza.
It is Israel and the United States that are responsible for the misery in Gaza, but Hamas—the Islamic fundamentalist group that is the elected government of Gaza—is a link in the chain of oppression around the necks of the Palestinian people. Hamas rule has brought deeper oppression for women in Gaza. And while Hamas issues anti-Israel proclamations, their vision and actions fundamentally serve to tighten the chains that keep the Palestinian people oppressed by capitalism-imperialism and under genocidal assault by Israel. The painful fact that growing disgust with Hamas gets expressed in the emergence of new forms of jihadist trends in Gaza—including some that apparently look on one level or another to ISIS as a model—points to the urgency of really bringing forward another way in the region, and the world—based on liberating all humanity and ending all oppression and in that context ending the oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people.
There are real policy differences between the U.S. imperialists and Israel, their most reliable base in the Middle East, particularly in how to contend with the influence of Iran in the region. But no one should delude themselves into thinking this in any way weakens the “bedrock” partnership between the two powers in dominating the Middle East.
To honestly look at what it would take to end the misery of Gaza, it is necessary to fight for a world that is not dominated by imperialism and a Middle East that is not living in the shadows of U.S. and Israeli invasions and genocide.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
From A World To Win News Service
June 8, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
1 June 2015. A World to Win News Service.
by Hamza Hamouchene. Reprinted with permission of the author.
Every year, thousands of people risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean in fragile boats, fleeing war, poverty, persecution and misery in order to reach the shores of Europe and the possibility of a better, safer life.
Sadly a significant number of the hopeful perish in their attempts—drowning when their flimsy vessels capsize or sink—or end up in humiliating camps and prisons in southern European countries, waiting to be deported and returned, their dreams shattered.
What sets this year apart in the ongoing tragedy is the sheer scale of migrant deaths. More than 1,500 migrants had drowned by mid-May this year, 50 times more than last year. This explosion in mortality is attributable in part to ongoing conflicts in Syria, Libya and Mali, which are driving ever greater numbers of Africans, Syrians, and even migrant workers from South Asia to seek refuge in Europe.
At the same time, Italy has discontinued its Operation Mare Nostrum rescue program due to its cost, and despite its deep culpability in the crisis, the European Union (EU) has refused to pick up the baton, preferring to let migrants drown, as a deterrent, in their view, to the unwanted people considering coming to fortress Europe.
The unofficial EU “let them drown” policy was illustrated by a British minister at the Foreign Office, Lady Anelay, in October 2014: “We do not support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean,” she said, explaining that these generated “an unintended ‘pull factor,’ encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths.”
These “undesirable” migrants come not only from poor and war-torn countries, but also from countries like the North African giant Algeria, which prides itself on being a beacon of stability in the region, and which harbors vast oil and gas reserves.
Despite its wealth and stability, it is nevertheless one of the biggest countries producing what Algerians call Harraga—“illegal migrants” in the Maghrebi language.
The EU’s enthusiasm for deterring migrants has been apparent for years. Since 2001, carriers that fail to check the validity of travelers’ passports and visas are subject to sanctions and heavy fines.
In September 2007, seven Tunisian fishermen were indicted and jailed and had their boats confiscated by an Italian judge for “support of illegal immigration.” The fishermen had dared to save a boat transporting passengers to Lampedusa (Sicily), preventing it from sinking as stipulated by maritime rules.
Until recently, European countries externalised the protection of their borders to authoritarian regimes in North Africa. For example, according to the 2008 Berlusconi-Gaddafi agreement, Italy could send African immigrants back to Libya without screening them for asylum claims, thus violating international human rights obligations, and in return Libya received sweetheart economic deals.
In fact, Italy agreed to pay Libya a $5 billion reparations deal over its 1911-43 colonial rule, in the form of Italian investment over 20 years. At a conference in Italy in 2010, the Libyan leader also declared Europe would “turn black” unless it was more rigorous in turning back immigrants, which according to him would cost 5 billion Euros a year.
Despite the chaos and mayhem caused by the NATO intervention in Libya, the country is still a key transit point for illegal migration from Africa to Europe. A significant number of the black Africans living and working in Libya find themselves forced to escape to Europe because of the deep instability as well as the vicious racism they face.
Morocco has also zealously played its role as guardian of fortress Europe. In 2005, 20 people from sub-Saharan Africa died trying to cross the Spanish-Moroccan border fences at Ceuta and Melilla—some by falling, others by asphyxiation, and still others shot by the Moroccan army. In 2008, 30 people (including four children) drowned off the shore of Al-Hoceima (northeast of Morocco), after law enforcement authorities punched holes in their inflatable boat.
This delocalisation and militarisation of immigration control is perhaps best epitomised by the European Union agency Frontex, created in 2005 to intercept migrants between African shores and the Canary Islands, as well as in the Sicily canal [the strait between Tunisia and Sicily], regardless of the violation of fundamental rights such as the right to asylum.
Frontex also participates in the return of these individuals from EU member states to third countries in what they call “Joint Return Operations,” which have increased considerably in number (2,152 persons returned in 2013, compared with 428 in 2007).
The agency’s budget is steadily increasing: from 6.3 million Euros in 2005, it rose to nearly 42 million Euros in 2007 and had topped 97 million by 2014. Funds mainly come from the European Commission and Schengen-associated countries.1
Despite its growing budget and military and surveillance equipment, everything indicates that deaths in the sea have not diminished. If anything, these obstacles push the clandestine migrants to take even more dangerous routes.
Frontex is now being put forward as the replacement for the Operation Mare Nostrum rescue program, with European leaders declaring that they need to crack down on smugglers, reinforcing the securitisation and the militarisation narrative rather than looking at the structural causes of the crisis.
Algeria is also playing along with its European neighbors in the war on migrants. In 2009, it made “illegal immigration” a punishable offence. The law stipulates that any Algerian leaving the national territory in an illegal way will get a jail sentence of two to six months.
In 2014, 7,842 illegal border crossings were detected in the western Mediterranean region (areas on the southern Spanish coast and the land borders of Ceuta and Melilla). Most of the migrants were from western Africa (Cameroon and Mali in particular), but Algerians and Moroccans were among the top 10 nationalities, especially at the sea border. Until 2013, Algerians were topping the list through this maritime route (Algeria was second in 2014, after Cameroon).
According to the 2015 Frontex annual risk analysis, Algeria was ranked amongst the top 10 nationalities in detected clandestine entries at border crossing points (BCPs) in 2014. Algeria was also ranked eighth in terms of people exceeding their legal period of stay within the EU.
More strikingly, from November 2010 to March 2011, 11 percent of the 11,808 irregular migrants intercepted in Greece by Frontex were identified as Algerians, behind Pakistanis (16 percent) and Afghans (23 percent). These alarming statistics were even more surprising because the number of Algerian migrants exceeded those of Morocco by a factor of two and were six times greater than Tunisians, despite the unrest in these two countries after the Arab Spring uprisings.
The Algerian harraga follow numerous maritime routes from Algeria to reach Europe: one from the coasts of Oran (west Algeria) towards continental Spain, one (less developed) links the shores of Dellys (100 kilometres east of Algiers) to the island of Palma de Majorca, and another connects the eastern coasts (Annaba and Skikda) towards the Italian island of Sardinia. They also use other routes through Tunisia, Libya and Turkey.
All social classes are touched by the phenomenon of illegal migration: working class people, the unemployed, and university graduates, even doctors and engineers. Algerians leaving the country illegally are mainly unemployed or under-unemployed youths, men as well as women.
The question of why Algeria produces so many young migrants—more so than places with even bleaker economic prospects—is not easy to answer. But I will attempt here to explore it, highlighting the nature of the political system in Algeria as well as some of the socio-economic developments in the last three decades.
Harga (the phenomenon of migrating illegally) literally refers to the verb “to burn” in Arabic. Figuratively it means to overcome a restriction, like going through a red light or jumping the queue or, in this case, crossing borders and seas.
In a way harga represents the pursuit of a future that had come to a dead end in the home country. It is a means to overcome the restrictions on freedom of circulation imposed by the EU while escaping the precariousness of unemployment and the hegemony of clientelist and oligarchic networks associated with the ruling regime in Algeria—in a nutshell, everything that makes life unsustainable. The aim is to realise a life project that does not seem possible to achieve in the home country given present conditions.
One inhabitant of a marginalised and working class town in eastern Algeria, Sidi Salem in Annaba, reflecting upon his precarious situation and desperate life, said to his Harrag brother: “I lost the keys to my future in a cemetery in Algeria called Sidi Salem.”
Illegal immigration from Algeria is also the logical consequence of more than three decades of economic restructuring and trade liberalisation, which has decimated the productive and job-generating economy, leading to massive unemployment and the perpetuation of a rent-seeking mentality relying on oil and gas exports while importing everything else.
To understand harga it is necessary to couple it with the concept of hogra in Algeria. Hogra means contempt, disdain, exclusion, and also describes an attitude that condones and propagates violence against the many, the laissés pour compte (the forgotten and marginalised masses).
Due to the restrictions on freedom of expression and association and also because of the lack of spaces for entertainment, art and creativity, young people feel suffocated, humiliated, without dignity—foreigners in their own country. The only horizon they can see is the one beyond the sea.
“Civil society” in Algeria is weak and fragmented, partly due to the traumatic civil war of the 1990s but also because of the ongoing stifling of political expression. Algerians face huge difficulties in setting up organisations or even getting authorisations for meetings and conferences if they are perceived to be critical or political in nature. Moreover, cultural production is still under the oppressive patronage of the official authorities, who always try to co-opt and kill creativity in the bud to avoid any form of subversion.
In that respect, it is an act denouncing authoritarianism, a culture of contestation coming from a social group that feels marginalised and neglected. The powerful message of the youth to the ruling classes in Algeria is “Roma wella antoma,” meaning “Rome rather than you.” They also say, “We’d rather die eaten by fish than eaten by worms.”
Instead of reindustrialising the country and investing in Algerian youths who risk their lives to reach the northern shores of the Mediterranean in order to escape the despair of being marginalised, the Algerian authorities offered financial support to the IMF, the neo-colonial tool of plunder that crippled the economy in the first place.
In fact, Algeria submitted to the neoliberal prescriptions of the IMF in the form of two structural adjustment programs (1992-1993, 1994-1999). While the brutal civil war was raging, these programs were pursued with all the disastrous consequences they had on the population: huge job losses, a decrease in purchasing power, cuts to public spending, increasing precariousness of salaried workers, opening up of foreign trade, and the privatisation of public companies. This is indeed shock doctrine and disaster capitalism at work.
Despite all the risks taken by clandestine migrants, the appeal of Europe is preserved by the Eden-esque aura around it that is maintained by those who reach the other shore. Despite the difficulties, misery, exploitation and racism Algerians are subjected to in the EU, it is anathema for them to say: we failed. How can they not succeed after all they’ve done to leave their beloved country, a country that has forsaken them, and how can they be a disappointment to their dear families?
Harga is only a reflection of what has become of Algeria and other African countries five decades after independence, with anti-national ruling elites only content with enriching themselves, and satisfying foreign capital.
Sovereignty is being mortgaged by the Algerian regime, which has abdicated to its foreign masters.
People in Algeria and elsewhere in the global south immigrate because their countries’ economies are failing them, due to the ongoing capitalist exploitation and Western imperialist domination that go hand in hand with repressive and corrupt regimes.
The immigration tragedy that we saw this April in the Mediterranean will go on as long as the entrenched authoritarian structures of power and oppression are still in place, as long as the looting of our natural resources is underway by means of unfair trade deals and outside military interventions, as long as the profoundly unjust system we live in continues subjugating our countries and maintaining their subaltern positions as exporters of cheap natural resources and markets for rich countries’ industrialised products.
Tragedies of this scale will continue unless we do away with the domination and exclusion of the wretched of the earth and the damned of the sea. It is necessary and urgent to engage in the struggle for global justice against a system that puts profits before humans.
1. Editors’ note: Schengen-associated countries are the 26 European countries that have abolished passport and any other type or border control. [back]
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
Updated June 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In just a matter of a week, infuriating, outrageous, and defining images of a vicious, violent, degrading war on our youth were flashed across the globe, shining a light on the nature of the system that rules the USA: To be Black or Latino in AmeriKKKa is to live knowing that any moment you can be insulted, assaulted, terrorized, criminalized, locked up, and murdered by police—for nothing.
* * *
There was the disgusting, humiliating assault on Black teenagers doing nothing more than trying to enjoy a pool party in McKinney, Texas, on June 5. As part of a police assault on these youths, a manic pig threw a young sister to the ground in her bikini and kneeled on top of her for no reason—and pulled his gun on the teens! A white youth who made and distributed the video of the assault said, “You can see in part of the video where he tells us to sit down, and he kinda like skips over me and tells all my African-American friends to go sit down.” Other whites on the scene have also called out the racism in the attack. For what? For doing what kids do, for daring to have a pool party on a hot day.
* * *
In Cleveland, a so-called independent investigation of the murder of Tamir Rice by the sheriff's department resulted, on June 6, in no recommendation for indictment despite the fact that the whole world saw a pig blast this 12-year-old playing with a toy gun in a park just two seconds after he rolled up on Tamir. There are demands being raised in the wake of this that the murdering police must be indicted NOW and a judge ruled there is probable cause to bring the police to trial. But there is STILL no indictment. Still no arrest! Indict! Convict! Send the killer cops to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!
* * *
Kalief Browder was sent to New York City’s hellish Rikers Island prison in 2010 when he was 16 years old, accused of stealing a backpack. He spent three years being tortured there without trial. He was repeatedly beaten by guards. He was subjected to violence from other inmates—a culture fostered and provoked by prison conditions. He spent two of his three years at Rikers in solitary confinement—something globally recognized as torture. After three years, charges were dropped and Kalief was released and his case became a national scandal. He never recovered from the torture he was subjected to, and on June 6 he took his own life. (See “Statement by Carl Dix: Kalief Browder’s Life Was Stolen by This System.”) And nothing has changed at Rikers Island. Just four days later, an 18-year-old held at Rikers for “a parole violation” took his life in this hellhole. NO MORE! Close this hellhole down right now!
* * *
Black and Latino people can't even go to a concert and have some fun without being assaulted by cops. People who paid hundreds of dollars for tickets to New York City's Hot97 Summer Jam on June 7 were told by authorities they couldn't get in because some people were trying to get in for free. People expressed outrage and resisted assaults by police in militarized armored personnel carriers and in riot gear who sprayed people with tear gas and pepper spray, and blasted them with deafening noise. Dozens were arrested.
* * *
On June 8, Shabaka Shakur, a Black man who spent 27 years of his life in prison for murder had his conviction overturned and was released from jail. A New York State Supreme Court justice ruled that there was “a reasonable probability” that the confession that was the basis of his conviction “was indeed fabricated” by former New York Police Department detective Louis Scarcella. A 2013 New York Times investigation reported that Scarcella used “the same eyewitness, a crack-addicted prostitute, for multiple murder prosecutions” and repeatedly produced “confessions” from defendants who insisted they had not made them. Scarcella’s “investigations” played a role in sending countless people to jail, many serving long sentences. As evidence of his frame-ups comes to light, the NYPD continues to cover them up—just last week refusing to turn over Scarcella’s notes on a 25-year-old homicide conviction.
* * *
And the list goes on and on. On June 8, Mario Ocasio was Tased to death by police in the Bronx, New York. They initially claimed he was carrying a pair of scissors. As if carrying a pair of scissors warranted a police execution! But then—after every mainstream media outlet had put out this “justification” for the police killing Mario Ocasio, small articles carried news that “a police official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the death was still under investigation, acknowledged that Mr. Ocasio did not have the scissors in his hand.” And family members say, “Mario was laying on the floor, calm” when he was killed. Friends were concerned that he was having a mental breakdown and had taken some bad drugs. Police who responded are part of a unit specially trained to “handle” people with emotional or psychological problems. They “handled” the situation like murderers.
* * *
On Monday, June 8, a district court judge ordered the release of Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3, after over 40 years in solitary. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture has said that the long solitary confinement Woodfox has been subjected to “clearly amounts to torture.” In 2012, Albert Woodfox said, “I do not have the words to convey the years of mental, emotional and physical torture I have endured. I am not sure what damage has been done to me, but I do know that the feeling of pain allows me to know that I am alive. If I dwelled on the pain I have endured and stopped to think about how 40 years locked in a cage 23 hours a day has affected me, it would give insanity the victory it has sought for 40 years.” The Angola 3 were falsely convicted of killing a guard in Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison, based in part on their membership in the Black Panther Party. (See “Herman Wallace of the Angola 3—Full of Courage and Revolutionary Spirit to the End.”) Even the widow of the guard who was killed said that after looking at the evidence, “I believe the Angola 3 are innocent.” Despite the June 8 court order that Albert Woodfox be released, Louisiana authorities have appealed, and on Friday, June 12, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued a decision to stay his release pending the outcome of the appeal.
* * *
We are out of space and time here, but police continue to murder. On June 11, Miami police shot Fritz Severe, a 46-year-old homeless man, five times outside a public library. They claim he failed to drop a stick he was holding—as if (if true) that could possibly justify murder. The police murdered Fritz Severe in front of dozens of traumatized children attending a YMCA summer camp taking place at a park nearby.
Murder and brutality by police is unjust, immoral, and illegitimate. It has to STOP.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
Cleveland protest of no charges against police murder of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, May 23. (Photo: Special to revcom.us/Revolution)
June 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
For over 2 years, a poster with pictures of Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell – the two people killed in a hail of 137 police bullets in Cleveland in 2012 – along with a quote from Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has been a fixture at protests in Cleveland.
The quote is:
The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.
BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian (1:24)
This poster has been a feature of almost every protest in Cleveland against police brutality ever since. And beyond those who have carried it and connected with it live and in person, hundreds of thousands of people have seen this poster on MSNBC, on CBS, in photos syndicated to newspapers around the country by Associated Press, on YouTube channels of different kinds of political trends, on the cover of The Final Call and beyond.
Revolution asked a comrade in Cleveland for the story behind the poster.
Q: Tell us some of the places this poster has been.
A: That sign was made right after the killing happened, been passed around for over 2 years. It has been passed around, and carried all kinds of places. Family members of Malissa Williams had it when they held a press conference speaking out against letting the police who murdered Malissa go free. Activists will call me when a rally or march is going to happen and ask if I am coming because they need that sign. The sign and the quote goes deep into the hearts and minds of the people who have felt the pain and sorrow of the brutality and murder by the police that goes on everyday. This poster with the pictures of Timothy and Malissa, unarmed and Black, along with the quote about the role of the police, reaches people. I have asked people what they think of the quote. Most say it speaks some truth from their experience and they have said, “Yes, I agree,” even though many of the same people still think there are good and bad cops and not so much a system behind the murdering cops. BA’s quote does percolate in people’s thinking.
The poster connects in the areas where people catch the hardest hell but not just that. We took it to a march of religious people – the forces who organized this are not always that excited to see the revolutionary communists. But they insisted it be at the front of the march – they said “Where’s that sign” and they carried it.
Q: What do you think accounts for how broadly this poster, the pictures, and the quote resonates with people? What do people say? Like the ministers you mentioned.
A: The “serve and protect” thing really gets people. Especially when police kill people’s children, like Tamir Rice. One of the people at the ministers' march was talking about how people go to schools and do presentations and pass out materials about how to interact with police to keep from getting killed. Why do our children need training, then, in how to avoid being killed by police when you encounter them if the role of the police is to “serve and protect” the public? The police themselves pass that out or have people pass them out at the meetings they sponsor. At these meetings, we speak to the role of the police and use the quote BAsics 1:24 to hit back at the truth of their role and hundreds dig the point BA is making.
Q: Finally, how has the sign remained intact for over a year?
A: It is mounted on ¾” foam board and laminated with plastic wrap.
Protesters outside the courthouse after the Michael Brelo verdict in Cleveland, May 23. (AP photo/Tony Dejak)
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
Don't believe the hype
June 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Federal, state, and local authorities have unleashed a vicious counter-insurgency campaign to vilify the beautiful and righteous Baltimore rebellion, set middle class people against those at the bottom of society who were on the front lines of the rebellion, slap heavy federal charges with potentially long prison sentences on those involved in the uprising, and send a message broadly, and especially to those on the bottom, that if you dare to stand up against the brutal occupying police, they will use all means at their disposal to try to crush you. They also have in mind, and are out to prevent, the possibility of a “long, hot summer” in Baltimore as well as elsewhere.
During May, in the month after the Baltimore uprising, there was a big spike in the number of murders in the city, with 43 killed in total. (Baltimore Sun, May 31, 2015) It was the highest rate of murders in Baltimore since 1972. (CNN, June 4, 2015) The police have put forward very little evidence about who they believe were involved in these murders, despite the fact that they have 300 cameras around the city watching people all the time.
Now the authorities claim to have figured out that the spike in murders is due to the city being “swamped” in prescription drugs stolen from pharmacies during the rebellion in April. In other words, the youth who rose up against the murdering police are responsible and need to be caught and punished! Local authorities have declared an emergency. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said, “Collectively, we’ll return this city back to normalcy,” and, “This is an all hands on deck—all hands, every single resource, every single body, every single personnel on the streets of Baltimore.” (Baltimore Brew, June 4, 2015)
Using the excuse that controlled substances, that is, prescription drugs, were stolen, nearly every federal agency with law enforcement powers has been brought in to Baltimore to go after those involved in the rebellion, and especially the youth. For example, the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) has been brought in to investigate fires at the pharmacies, and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) to investigate who stole the drugs. The hysteria was ramped up even more on June 3, when authorities declared a potential danger of identity theft for people who had their personal information on stolen prescriptions.
But the authorities’ claims are outright lies or distortions of partial truths. Police Commissioner Batts told the media there were more than 175,000 units, or doses, of prescription drugs taken from 27 pharmacies and two methadone clinics. He said, “There’s enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year,” and, “That amount of drugs has thrown off the balance on the streets of Baltimore.” (Baltimore Sun, June 4, 2015) Gary Tuggs, the DEA agent in charge in Baltimore, put this “theory” forward: “I think that part of it’s connected to turf battles between gangs and independent drug dealers. You also have a new source, a new inventory of drugs on the street that people have to sell.... They’re selling to a limited number of people, so they’re vying for that customer base.” (CBS Baltimore, June 3, 2015)
Let’s take apart their story.
First, it should be noted that almost all mainstream media outlets in Baltimore have repeated everything the cops and other authorities have said as the absolute truth, without questioning any of it. And these stories are being repeated all over the media nationwide to portray protesters as drug dealers and murderers. (Questions were raised by Baltimore’s The City Paper and the Baltimore Spectator, and we thank them for helping us to understand the situation.)
The authorities say 175,000 doses were stolen, enough to keep the city high for a year. They use the word “narcotics” to describe the prescription drugs, conjuring a picture of a city soaked in things like heroin and cocaine, even though the prescription drugs can be medication your dentist gives you when you have a root canal, or your doctor provides when you break a bone or have chronic pain.
And notice that they say doses or units, not 175,000 different prescriptions. (DEA agent Tuggs says the number could go higher, to as much as 200,000 doses.) One doesn’t need to understand exactly how all these drugs work or what they do at different dose levels to recognize that 200,000 doses, even of the strongest variety, is not enough to keep the entire adult population of the city of Baltimore high for a year. Do the math. Two hundred thousand doses over 365 days amounts to only 548 doses per day. This would be enough drugs to keep a little more than 500 people “high” for part of a day. Even if we’re talking about the strongest prescription drugs—and in many cases we’re not—it’s still only 548 doses a day.
The mainstream media has never questioned this ridiculous claim that enough drugs were stolen to keep the entire city high for a year—an obvious lie that should and does cast doubt on the entire story by the DEA and Baltimore Police Department.
What this effort to induce hysteria and paint the protesters as monsters takes advantage of are the misconceptions and biases many people have about prescription pain medication. In the last few years, for example, the authorities have been criminalizing people who are prescribed these drugs for legitimate reasons by their doctors.
Second, we have no way of knowing whether the number is valid at all. The authorities cite no basis for it. How did they come up with 175,000 or 200,000? No evidence is given.
Third, how do we really know that all 27 pharmacies were actually broken into and that prescription drugs were actually stolen from all of them? That sounds like a large number for a moderately sized city like Baltimore, and for the limited number of neighborhoods in which the break-ins reportedly occurred. And there’s also the fact that these drugs are supposed to be locked in safes! According to various press accounts, Rite Aid closed five stores after the rebellion and CVS said eight of its stores were targeted. (Mass Market Retailers, April 29, 2015) An article that came out a few days after the uprising said that five other pharmacies were broken into, for a total of 18. (Baltimore Sun, May 8, 2015)
Where are the other nine? The number 27 was not used until a few days ago, in the Baltimore Sun, and until then, there had been no mention of two methadone clinics having been targeted.
Here are some things we do know:
There has been a major clampdown by federal and state authorities resulting in changes in the distribution of these types of prescriptions. Pharmacies are only allowed to stock certain amounts, they must be locked inside a safe or other device, and only certain employees are allowed to access them. A person needs a written prescription for the drug in question (no phone calls from doctors permitted), and there is a limit on how much can be prescribed each month. No refills are allowed. Some people have had difficulty filling prescriptions because of these restrictions, even terminal cancer patients. And the more powerful the drug, the stricter the restriction.
The pharmacies most affected by the rebellion in Baltimore were national chains like Rite Aid and CVS. Their prescriptions are computerized, and pharmacies that dispense drugs in Maryland must report each prescription within three days online, electronically. There are no customers’ names and other personal information lying around, except for those prescriptions that have already been filled and are waiting to be picked up, so the “identity theft problem” is being way overblown. Yes, there were pharmacies targeted and some prescriptions were no doubt stolen, but the authorities are lying big time about the extent of this. (For example, we could find only one news report of a safe stolen from a pharmacy.) And there is, of course, no mention that some of the drugs taken were things like medication for the epidemic of diabetes that especially poor people are forced to endure under this system.
The Drug Enforcement Agency is now releasing photos of 70 people they claim were involved in the prescription drug thefts. But the majority of these photos show people standing in front of pharmacies, not breaking into them. And in an effort to bolster snitching, they are offering a $2,000 reward for information.
It’s unclear who or what combination of forces and factors may be responsible for the increase in murders in Baltimore during May. But it is clear that the police and other law enforcement authorities are just plain lying about any connection between those murders and the theft of some prescription drugs during the rebellion. And, yes, the question needs to be raised: What role are the police and other authorities themselves playing in this spike of deaths? They and the system they enforce stand to gain quite a bit if their lies are swallowed by people, if they can create divisions among the people, and if they can succeed in suppressing protest and rebellion.
So there’s a lot at stake in exposing and responding strongly to their efforts to turn upside down right with wrong. We can’t fall for the hype and get played by a system trying to justify brutal police murder and brutality and stem the growing tide of opposition against it.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
Statement by Carl Dix
June 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The blood of Kalief Browder is on the hands of this system. Kalief took his own life on Saturday, June 6, hanging himself at his parents’ home in the Bronx. He was driven to do this by years of torture and brutality he was subjected to while being held at the Rikers Island prison for three years.
Kalief Browder. Photo: Screen Grab from ABC News
Kalief was arrested in the Spring of 2010, at the age of 16, accused of stealing a backpack. He was held in solitary confinement for two of the three years in Rikers, and repeatedly beaten by prison guards and other inmates. Prosecutors several times offered to release Kalief from jail if he would plead guilty to stealing the backpack, but he refused those offers, insisting on his innocence.
After three years in prison, prosecutors dropped the charges against Kalief, and he was released from Rikers. But Kalief was unable to escape the damage that years of torture and abuse by the system had inflicted on him. He was constantly afraid of being attacked on the subway or in his home. In December of 2014, he was hospitalized on a psychiatric ward at Harlem Hospital Center. This past Saturday, Kalief’s mother heard a noise and went out to her backyard. She saw Kalief hanging from a 2nd floor window with a cord around his neck.
The criminal injustice system stole Kalief’s life. It subjected him to the torture of solitary confinement for two years. The prosecutors who refused to indict the cops who murdered Eric Garner, Anthony Rosario, Nicholas Heyward Jr. and so many other victims of killer cops; and who forgot how to prosecute when charges were brought against the cops who murdered Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell; persecuted Kalief for years on a charge of stealing a backpack! They used brutal beatings inflicted on him by prison guards to try to pressure him into copping a plea.
NY Mayor Bill de Blasio released a statement after Kalief died saying his “story inspired our efforts at Rikers.” What a fucking hypocrite. He and his police commissioner, Bill Bratton, are presiding over “Broken Windows” policing that unleashes the NYPD to go after Black and Latino people, especially the youth, for minor violations and even when they’ve done nothing wrong. This criminalization will steal the lives of many more youth, and it is a big part of why this system must be gotten rid of in the only possible way – thru revolution.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
June 12, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Once again, in what is becoming almost a daily occurrence in this country, a cell phone video shows a group of police brutalizing either a young Black or Latino person, this time a Latino. The incident occurred shortly after 7 pm on Friday, June 5, in broad daylight, in Salinas, a small, mainly agricultural city along the Central California Coast. The video, seen by hundreds of thousands, shows two cops savagely beating 28-year-old Jose Velasco while he is lying on the ground. The police use their batons like baseball bats, holding them with two hands and starting their swings over their heads. Blows land on Jose Velasco's head and other parts of his body as he rolls on the ground. Soon two more cops join in the beating. The beating lasts for nearly a minute. According to media reports, Velasco suffered a broken leg among other injuries.
On Wednesday, June 10, a new video of the incident surfaced showing police placing a bag over Velasco’s head after the beating.
It was Jose Velasco’s mother, Rita Acosta, who called the police to the scene. She was concerned because her son, who suffers from severe mental illness, was running into traffic on Main Street and she feared that he might be injured. She told KSBW TV that she had gone into the street to try to get her son when police arrived. "He was laying there flat and the cops kept hitting him. Boom, boom, over and over and over," Acosta told KSBW.
Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin defended the cops – who remain on active duty – saying that the video was “inflammatory.” He said that people needed to view the video “in context.” Here’s a question for McMillin: In what context is it okay for four cops to brutally beat a mentally ill man for nearly a minute while he lies on the ground, clearly not threatening anyone?
What is the real “context” of this outrageous beating? In Salinas, a small city of 150,000, the police killed four Latino men in a four-month period in 2014. On May 20, 2014, they killed 44-year-old Carlos Mejia as he held a pair of garden shears, an incident that was also captured on video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLK0eo26MgE). On July 10, 2014, Frank Miguel Alvarado, an unarmed 39-year-old, was shot by police, who justified his murder by saying that he pointed a cell phone at them. And, to put this in an even larger "context," what about the nearly 400 murders by police in the first five months of this year ("Police ARE Killing Black People at an Alarming Rate")?
On Tuesday night, June 9, people from the community, including Rita Acosta, crowded a meeting of the Salinas City Council to denounce the beating.
Again and again, we see horrific brutality and murder at the hands of the police. It is not enough to know that this is happening. It is not enough to be quietly outraged. Everyone with a heart and a conscience needs to do everything possible to act to STOP these outrages.
Revolution #390 June 8, 2015
Updated June 15, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Kick off this summer with the most meaningful thing you can do, with the revolutionary élan and joy that comes from radically changing the world—with others like you, in a process of learning and discovery as we do this: Taking revolution and Bob Avakian, BA, to the people in an atmosphere of charged political ferment, and questioning. Find out about the Revolutionary Summer Solstice here.
Contact: 312-860-8167 for meet up times and places
June 20, Saturday, 7 pm
Celebratory and Fundraising Dinner for BA Everywhere
Break bread, watch excerpts of Revolution and Religion, share experiences of the weekend
Revolution Books, 1103 N. Ashland Ave
Potluck or $10 Donation—Families sliding scale—No one turned away.
Friday, June 19
* South Central LA: Meet at 11 am at Slauson and Central.
Saturday, June 20
* South Central LA: Meet at 11 am at Slauson and Central.
* Hollywood, Silverlake, Echo Park: Meet at Revolution Books (RBLA) at 10 am, 5726 Hollywood Blvd. LA 90028 (just west of Wilton).
* BA Everywhere fundraising dinner on the rooftop of Revolution Books, 5 to 8 pm—fresh from taking BA out to the people, come together to break bread and meet others, share experiences, make plans, enjoy Dialogue film clips and revolutionary culture on a warm summer night. $5 to $20 sliding scale; volunteers needed! Call 213-304-9864.
* Grand Performances downtown LA, 8 pm, free summer concert series this year is called "Los Angeles Aftershock"—cultural aftershocks of pivotal events in 1965 and 1992. A team will leave at 6:30 pm from the RBLA dinner to go.
Sunday, June 21
* Downtown Skid Row: Meet at 10 am at the Farmer's Market at 5th and Spring.
* Pico Union: Meet at 11 am outside the Alvarado Metro Redline station near 7th St.
Vans Warped Tour will be in Southern California on Friday and Sunday. This is a "shout-out" to anyone going: contact us to get Dialogue palm cards, Revolution newspapers, Revolution—Nothing Less t-shirts or other materials to distribute inside to the thousands of youth who will be there!
June 21, Sunday
12 pm, Berkeley: Juneteenth in Berkeley, Meet at 12 noon at Alcatraz and Adeline Streets in Berkeley.
3 pm, East Oakland: Fundraising picnic sponsored by BA Everywhere and Revolution Club Bay Area. Arroyo Park, between 77th and 81st Ave. at Bancroft.
6 pm, Berkeley: Open House and Reception at Revolution Books. Showing of excerpts from a new film, REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. Refreshments.
Contact us for details at: email@example.com or 770-861-3339.
June 21, Sunday, 6 pm
After the "Word Up for the Revolution Club" benefit at LitMore Center for Literary Arts, 4-6 pm, at 3326 Keswick Ave., weather permitting, join us to mix and talk with the Revolution Club and about the revolution and Bob Avakian at a nearby park. A Caribbean restaurant in Sandtown is sending its truck and selling platters of Caribbean food as part of this.
Email, call or text if you will be joining us for any or all parts of this or for more info. There are many different ways to participate. 443-240-9972. RevBmore@gmail.com.
June 21, Sunday, 11 am: Meet at Revolution Books Detroit, then go out to church(es) and the neighborhood with BA Everywhere campaign materials and to promote REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN