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Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
August 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Carl Dix is the co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
Carl Dix is the co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. (Photo: Revolution/revcom.us)
Sixty years ago tomorrow, Emmett Till was brutally murdered. Why? Because they say he whistled at a white woman. Four days later, two white men came to his family's house and dragged Emmett off. They took him to a river, made him take his clothes off and beat him nearly to death. They gouged his eye out and shot him in the head. Then they tied his body to a 75 pound fan and threw him in the river. They were never punished for this murder, even tho' they admitted to doing it in an interview run in Look magazine.
Saturday will be another solemn anniversary. 10 years ago Hurricane Katrina roared ashore from the Gulf of Mexico. Katrina broke thru the levees in New Orleans and flooded 80 percent of the city. Hundreds of thousands of people were driven from their homes. Thousands and thousands of mostly poor Black people were left to die as the authorities failed to provide rescue from the flood waters or emergency supplies of food and water. Nearly 2,000 people DID die. Black people were herded into pens in the New Orleans Superdome that reminded many of the way enslaved Africans were jammed into the holds of slave ships. Blacks who acted to save their own and others' lives were condemned as "looters." The governor of Louisiana gave orders to shoot looters on sight. And police did gun down people who were doing nothing more than trying to escape the flood waters. In the weeks that followed, the authorities used Katrina to ethnically cleanse New Orleans, driving 100,000's of mostly Black people out of New Orleans. I saw some of this up close because I was in New Orleans several times in the aftermath of Katrina, and I fought together with people against the way Black people were driven out of the city.
These two anniversaries are gone into, deeply, in our newspaper, Revolution. I urge everyone to get multiple copies of Revolution here tonight. Let's think about these two horrific anniversaries. And think about this—from Emmett Till to Sandra Bland... from the catastrophe of Katrina to the ongoing catastrophe of mass incarceration... from all the horrors of the slave ships, the Middle Passage, the centuries of enslavement and lynch mob terror, South AND North, to what we're here tonight to talk about—WHAT WE MUST DO TO STOP POLICE TERROR AND MURDER... think about what America has meant.
So what MUST we do to stop all this? I'm gonna talk tonight about the only REAL way to put an end to this, and then I'm going to talk about Rise Up October, the huge National March to Stop Police Terror on October 24 here in New York City, which is something that everyone can and must jump into right now to push these killers back. And to start all this, I'm going to share with you a quote from Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Here's what BA says:
There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness: Black people playing a crucial role in putting an end, at long last, to this system which has, for so long, not just exploited but dehumanized, terrorized and tormented them in a thousand ways—putting an end to this in the only way it can be done—by fighting to emancipate humanity, to put an end to the long night in which human society has been divided into masters and slaves, and the masses of humanity have been lashed, beaten, raped, slaughtered, shackled and shrouded in ignorance and misery.
That ugliness is so real, it is painful to even think about. There is the way they nearly wiped out the native peoples who lived here and stole their lands, and then put the few who survived into concentration camps called reservations. There is the way they dragged millions of Africans to these shores in slave chains. Oh yes, this capitalist system came into being dripping with blood from its every pore as Karl Marx said. There's the subjugation of women, which is ages old and current day with the culture of servitude and rape and viewing women as sex objects, and the attempts to control women's most private decisions of when or whether they want to have a child. There's the way they do immigrants who are driven here by hunger and horror the U.S. causes in their homelands, desperately seeking work and then persecuted—deported in record numbers by Obama and insulted by fascist idiots like Donald Trump.
There's the imperialist wars—the powers that be sometimes tell us about the Americans who die in these wars, but do they tell us about the people they kill? They killed over a million people in Iraq these past two decades. They killed three million people in Vietnam and three million more in Korea. And do they tell you why? Well, Cornel can tell you—it's for EMPIRE. And I was in their army, I saw how they try to break people's spirits and turn them into mindless killing machines for their imperialist wars. When they told me in 1970 that I had to ship out to Vietnam, I said "HELL, No!" I did two years in Leavenworth military prison because I refused to kill my Vietnamese brothers and sisters for this system. And now they're even putting all of human life in danger by destroying the environment of the planet we all live on.
We can't turn away from this ugliness. We have to confront it.
But there's something else. There's the great beauty that Avakian talks about. The potential to emancipate all of humanity.
This is not a dream. This is not "don't worry, we'll get justice some day." This can be done. Humanity CAN be emancipated. And the way to do this is through revolution—thru getting RID of this system and bringing in a system that is based on freeing people from all that ugliness and developing whole new ways for people to relate to each other and to the whole world.
A lotta people tell me, "Carl, you're crazy. You can't make revolution. They're too powerful." But what's crazy is going along with this system and expecting things to get better. And let me tell you about their power—I've seen it up close, and I've seen the very real potential to defeat that power.
We saw the potential to make revolution in the 1960's, when Black people stood up against the oppression enforced on them, sparking much broader resistance here in the U.S. and striking a chord with people around the world. The potential to defeat them and their power was shown in Vietnam where peasants who were inspired and organized defeated their big powerful army—and part of how they did that by inspiring soldiers like me to rebel. Back then we wanted to question and change everything. We saw glimmers of a different morality, a whole different way people could relate to each other. We saw a glimpse back then of the beauty Bob Avakian is talking about.
In a few parts of the world people did get free, and here in the belly of the beast, the system got knocked back on its heels. But things didn't go far enough. We never made revolution here in the U.S., leaving power in the hands of the capitalist exploiters. Where revolution had been made, power was seized back. The attempt to change everything got defeated, and people around the world and in this country have paid a heavy price in blood and misery for this ever since. A lot of people got too beaten down and gave up. What we got was a few faces in high places—some Black, some Latino, some women. What else we got was over two million people in prison.
Today one in two Black children grow up in poverty. We got crack and AIDS and all the horrors that go with what Lorraine Hansberry called a "dream deferred." But that's where Bob Avakian comes in—because he never gave up on the people and he never gave up on revolution, and not only that, he made new breakthroughs in revolution, including in basically solving the problems that the revolution ran up against back then.
Don't let people tell you we can't do better than this...don't let anybody tell you that America is eternal, and that the best we can hope for is getting some itty-bitty changes in HOW they dog us. Don't let them suck you into framing what you're trying to do in the language and the terms of the system. Don't let them tell you that we have to limit ourselves to working within the channels this system puts out there. We've seen this movie before, and the result is the whole genocidal situation we face right now—and yes, I said genocide. So I'm challenging everyone here, especially you young people—get into this revolution, get into Bob Avakian and what he's brought forward about how to make revolution—keep your sights aimed where they need to be: on emancipating all of humanity. You can do this by going to our website—revcom.us—or come to our new bookstore opening up this fall in Harlem at 437 Malcolm X Blvd at 132nd St. ... but do get into him.
Now, coming from where I'm coming from—the need for and possibility of revolution—I understand that we have to fight right now—we can't let them beat people so far down that we could never rise up against the things they do to us. We have to mobilize everyone we can, wherever they're coming from and however they see the problem and the solution, to fight this madness we face. Again, that's why you came here tonight—to find out what we must do to stop police terror and murder.
Let me start out by getting personal. When I tell you the police have killed over 700 people so far this year, these are not just statistics to me. In the decades I've been working to stop murder by police I've seen the devastation killer cops inflict on families and on communities. I met Mertilla Jones five years ago. It was just days after a SWAT team broke into the wrong house and murdered her 7-year-old granddaughter, Aiyana Stanley-Jones. I met Juanita Young 15 years ago, just days after a cop who had arrested her son Malcolm Ferguson the previous week for protesting the murder of Amadou Diallo murdered Malcolm. I met Nicholas Heyward almost 20 years ago, two years after his 13-year-old son, Nicholas Jr, was gunned down by a cop while he was playing with a toy gun. These are just a few of the thousands of people who have been murdered by police. Ask these parents what it's like to mourn your child, without even justice. Or ask my wife, whose brother was shot down by cops right in front of his mother, just a day after they had told her they were gonna kill him. All this is a big part of why I'm doing all I can to mobilize people to act to STOP police getting away with murder. And it's why you need to join with this effort
People who front for this system are asking, "what are your demands?" They say, "You can't just tell us to stop letting our cops kill you, you have to have some 'reasonable' demands.'
It tells you something about this system that to them stopping the police from murdering innocent people and terrorizing Black and other oppressed peoples is "unreasonable." Let's leave that aside for now. OK, here are some demands. How about indicting, convicting and putting the killer cops in jail? And I don't just mean the ones who get caught on video killing someone next week. I mean all the killer cops, including those who have killed 1000s of people over the past years and decades. This is a "reasonable" demand because there is no statute of limitations on murder!
How about dismantling the new Jim Crow of mass incarceration and the whole genocidal program this concentrates? Don't be bragging about how Obama pardoned 46 people when there are 2.3 million people locked down. How about doing something about this for real? How about dropping the charges on everybody who got arrested protesting murder by police over the past year? How about shutting down that dungeon and butcher shop they got over there on Riker's Island, and the other dungeons just like it in other cities? And we do have an overarching demand: how about you STOP unleashing your cops to kill our people?
These are pretty reasonable demands, unless you are presiding over a system that NEEDS official murder, terror and massive unjust imprisonment. These are the demands that people need to throw down over and fight for as part of ending these horrors. And RiseUpOctober, the big national march in NYC on October 24, is aimed at making a big leap in the fight to do this.
When you're up against a genocide, and that IS what we're dealing with, you don't ask the people presiding over it to make some changes to smooth out the rough edges of that genocide or to slow down its intensity. You act to stop it.
And when you're up against a genocide, you don't listen when they say: "you've made your point—now you can stop disrupting the business as usual of our system." We haven't "made our point" until all of society is in an uproar saying that THIS MUST STOP. We haven't made our point until everyone has felt compelled to choose sides on this because they understand that there is no middle ground, and people feel challenged to be in the street saying THIS MUST STOP. We haven't made our point until, like Rev McCorry says, these so-called champions of human rights stand revealed before the whole wide world for the frauds that they are, and the whole world sees that THIS MUST STOP.
Diverse, Intense & Uncompromising: A Night in Harlem to GET READY for #RiseUpOctober in NYC, October 22-24, 2015
THIS is why we have to be out there on October 22, 23 and 24. When we stand out there on October 22 reading the names of those the police have murdered—with prominent people joining with loved ones of those murdered and with clergy and others to, as Kimberlé Crenshaw and Janelle Monáe have called on us to do: SAY THEIR NAMES. This will send a powerful message. When people take to the streets in cities all across the country on October 22, people won't be able to turn their heads and say they didn't see it. On October 23, when students and clergy alongside and in solidarity with those who feel the lash of this every day, engage in non violent direct action and shut down one of their institutions of misery and terror—that will send a powerful message to all—this movement is serious.
Then on October 24, we, all of us, will march in from Grant Homes and Strivers' Row in Harlem, from Washington Heights and Jackson Heights, from Bed-Stuy and Hunts Point and from Jamaica and Staten Island. There will be students from CUNY, Columbia and dozens of other campuses from this area, people from Newark and Paterson and Hartford, numbering in the thousands and thousands. We will be joined by thousands and thousands more from Atlanta and Chicago, from Detroit and Cleveland, from New Orleans and Mississippi and many other places. Millions of people all across the country and around the world will hear our powerful cry: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? Millions more are gonna say, okay, I gotta choose sides and many of them will decide they have to be with the ones trying to STOP this.
We will change history. We will inspire thousands and yes millions, who are tired of being treated like criminals and tired of seeing cops patrolling their communities like occupying armies, to see that they don't have to take this, to see that it's not their fault. And they will stand up and act to stop this. We will rally to their side thousands of people from other sections of society who refuse to stand aside while horrors are inflicted on people because of the color of their skin. We will open the eyes of those who don't suffer these horrors, challenging them to quit swallowing the lying justifications the authorities give for continuing to give a green light to killer cops, challenging them to get off the sidelines—Which Side Are You On? Are you on the side of acting to STOP these horrors? Or are you on the side of continuing to let them go down? There's no middle ground, no neutrality, on this. You gotta choose a side. And I don't mean just giving us your sympathy. I mean actively joining in the resistance and mobilizing others to resist too. You gotta join with this effort to make October 24 as powerful as possible. You gotta listen when somebody here tonight tells you what you can do and who you can hook up with to be part of RiseUpOctober, or, and let me be real—if you and people like you don't throw in on this—it ain't gonna happen.
And it HAS to happen.
I don't want to have to keep on making hashtags with the names of people killed by the police. I don't want to keep adding names to the lists of the lives stolen by law enforcement. I don't want to have to keep adding pictures of people the police have murdered to banners like this. I don't want to let this genocide keep going so that future generations will be here discussing what to do about it 20 years from now. We've got to act to stop it now.
So let's get out there, let's do all we can to STOP this, and then let's do more—let's make October a big step toward a world where when the next generation learns about Emmett Till and Katrina, it really WILL be history, a history that has been overcome and that no longer echoes and booms in the reality of the present. A world where humanity has straightened its back and emancipates itself.
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
Updated August 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On August 25, Donald Trump was challenged (for a change) at a press conference in Iowa. Jorge Ramos, news anchor of the Spanish-language Univision network, attempted to question Trump about his policy for deporting people born in this country. First Trump had a bunch of thugs throw Ramos out of the press conference, and snarled at him to “go back to Univision.” In case anyone didn't understand the code Trump was using, a Trump supporter assailed Ramos (who is a U.S. citizen) and ordered him to “get out of my country.”
Bob Avakian, "Why do people come here from all over the world?"
Ramos, urged by other reporters to return, went back into the press room. Later he would tell other reporters: “When human rights are involved, when immigration rights are involved, when discrimination and racism is involved, we, as reporters, have to take a stand.”
And so again Ramos challenged Trump: “You cannot deny citizenship to children who are born here.”
Trump responded, “Why?”
* * *
Donald Trump brands himself a champion of ignorant and arrogant white men, but he knows perfectly well that for almost 150 years, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has guaranteed citizenship to “All persons born or naturalized in the United States.” He knows that this guarantee has been considered totally unambiguous, applying to anyone born here. And Trump knows that this amendment was passed to give former slaves citizenship.
In that light, Trump’s response amounted to: So fucking what?
The 14th Amendment was ratified a few years after the U.S. Civil War ended, during the period of Reconstruction. Its primary purpose was to ensure that Black people, the overwhelming majority of whom had been slaves, would be U.S. citizens. It was bitterly contested at the time, in particular by Southern states. While the 14th Amendment made Black people citizens of the U.S., formal citizenship proved hollow in a society profoundly shaped by white supremacy. The 1896 Supreme Court decision (Plessy v. Ferguson) explicitly legitimized white supremacy and the systematic and built-in inequalities of Jim Crow under the hateful, racist legal doctrine of “separate but equal.”
But with the 14th Amendment, the “law of the land” in the U.S. became that Black people were entitled to all the rights of full citizenship. This amendment has been a cornerstone of the “legitimizing norms”—the laws and institutions that are supposed to provide a system with at least the appearance of fairness in the eyes of all or at least most of its citizens, and in the eyes of the world—whatever injustices may be occurring at any particular time. It is no coincidence that the summer of Trump is the summer when white men have gone into the streets with automatic rifles—at Stone Mountain, Georgia, to celebrate the Confederate war to maintain slavery (and in other places that have not been reported); in Ferguson, Missouri, when Black people rebelled; at army recruitment centers around the country; and who knows where next. More than one observer has noted that the hard-core white supremacists infuriated by the taking down of some Confederate flags in the aftermath of the massacre of Black people at a Bible study class in Charleston, South Carolina, see Trump as their champion.
Even more to the point, a significant section of the U.S. ruling class sees it in their interest to promote Trump, to provide him with endless TV coverage that amounts to free infomercials. And those sections of the ruling class who do not share his fascist agenda have overwhelmingly cowered in the face of his outrageous lies and threats, or assured their followers he represents no real threat.
* * *
The dangers of Trump are real. His agenda is seriously genocidal. It is just as important to get what gave rise to Trump. Trump is a product of huge strains on U.S. society caused by the insane, dog-eat-dog workings of capitalism. On profound social fault lines—the oppression of Black people, global wars of empire, trying to force women back into forced motherhood, and the environment—things are being driven to extremes and this system has no real answers. There has always been an intense contradiction between the rights this system claims to respect and the reality that the oppressed have no rights the oppressor is bound to respect. But when ruling class forces start pumping out a fascist thug who sneers at rights that have supposedly been enshrined in their Constitution for generations, that, too, intensifies social conflict. At one and the same time, this drives many people to defend the old (less fascistic but still oppressive) social norms and creates conditions where people are open to rethinking everything about what kind of world we should live in.
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
August 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The world—that is, that section of it capable of human feeling—is sickened and horrified by the picture emerging from Austria, where the bodies of 71 refugees were recovered from an abandoned truck found on a highway. Among the dead, four children, ages eight to 10, and an infant of around 18 months. The horrific images evoke the ghosts of other atrocities—past and recent—of marginalized, victimized people left to die in train cars and trucks around the world, including in the USA.
European officials wring their hands and absolve themselves of blame. They denounce the small-time criminals who smuggled these desperate refugees and left them to die horrible deaths. But those smugglers were only the final, and smallest, link in a series of events, the source of which can be tracked to a global system of exploitation and oppression.
* * *
The first clues as to the guilty parties in the deaths of these 71 people were the Syrian travel documents found on the victims. Based on that and other evidence, authorities seem to have concluded the victims came from Syria. But that’s where they dropped the trail.
Syrian refugees as they wait to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia. Aug. 26, 2015. Photo: AP
The question to be asked is: Why do people flee from Syria to Europe? As we reported last week in covering police attacks on refugees at the border of Greece and Macedonia, the U.S. and its West European allies essentially launched a war in Syria to knock back rivals, like Russia and Iran, who have close ties with the reactionary Assad regime. To do that, the U.S. and its allies sponsored or set loose a slew of reactionary armed forces—most of them Islamic fundamentalists who the U.S. currently finds in its interests to promote. ISIS itself has been able to take advantage of the chaos unleashed by U.S. moves against Assad to seize power in large sections of Syria—forcing millions to flee. Syria has been turned into a living hell in a multi-sided and ongoing civil war—11.5 million people there were driven from their homes by the end of 2014.
According to human rights agencies, both sides in the conflict, including the forces backed by the U.S., are seeking to cohere and shape a new regime, and have carried out kidnapping, torture, and summary assassinations of their opponents and civilians. Tens of thousands in Syria have died, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced, with many living in desperate conditions in refugee camps or worse. (See “What Drives Millions of Migrants into Living Hell?“)
As a matter of fact, there are many indications that the rulers of the U.S. not only instigated but, as a matter of policy, are prolonging the hellish situation in Syria. Edward N. Luttwak, a prominent advisor and consultant to U.S. ruling class on matters of foreign policy, wrote in the New York Times (August 24, 2013): “A victory by either side would be equally undesirable for the United States,” and that a victory by the Assad regime “would be disastrous” and would pose “a direct threat to both Sunni Arab states and to Israel.... But a rebel victory would also be extremely dangerous for the United States and for many of its allies in Europe and the Middle East.”
In other words: the rulers of the U.S. are fine with having thousands die and millions be driven from their homes in a generalized reign of terror as long as it serves their interests. Those human beings don’t count for anything in capitalist-imperialist logic.
Seeking survival, millions of Syrians have sought refuge from madness and death. Only a tiny percent of them make it to Europe. And those who do are condemned as “illegals,” “freeloaders,” and “criminals” by the same system that drove them from their homes. Or, they are left to suffocate in the back of a truck.
Recent machinations and power moves of the U.S. empire and its rivals are making the situation in Syria worse. In late July, the U.S. and Turkey made an agreement where Turkey, a reactionary regional power, would join the U.S. war against the Islamic State (ISIS, or ISIL, or Daesh) more-or-less in exchange for a U.S. okay for Turkey to bomb Kurdish forces in Syria and Turkey.
Refugees from places where the insane workings of imperialism have made life impossible do not, overwhelmingly, make it to Europe. Instead they end up trying to survive in camps in other poor countries. Above: Syrian Kurdish refugees at a refugee camp in Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border. Photo: AP
The Kurds are an oppressed people whose nation was carved up into parts of Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. Immediately after the agreement, Turkey launched a few strikes against ISIS targets in Syria, and then quickly unleashed a much larger bombing campaign (reportedly over 100 strikes) as well as military attacks and political roundups directed at another target: Kurdish opposition forces (particularly the Kurdistan Workers’ Party—PKK).
Some of these Kurdish forces had been fighting ISIS in Syria basically in alliance with the U.S., but the rulers of the U.S., at this point at least, see more to gain by enlisting Turkey more closely into their wars in the region. A State Department official tweeted: “We have strongly condemned the #PKK‘s terrorist attacks in #Turkey and we fully respect our ally Turkey’s right to self-defense,” basically endorsing attacks on the PKK, which is on the U.S. “terrorist” list.
So this new deal the U.S. made with Turkey will unleash more terror on the people in the region, including in Syria, and is bound to drive even more people to attempt the desperate, dangerous journey from Syria to Europe.
Syrian refugees waiting to cross the border into Turkey, June 15, 2015. Photo: AP
As we wrote last week: “Refugees from places where the insane workings of imperialism have made life impossible do not, overwhelmingly, make it to Europe. Instead they end up trying to survive in camps in other poor countries—like Turkey, Iran, and Pakistan. For all the demagogic xenophobic ranting by European fascists complaining about why should they sacrifice for immigrants, consider this: Ethiopia and Kenya—poor countries in Africa—take in more refugees than France and the UK.”
In 2014, 60 million people sought refuge from war, poverty, and oppression linked to—directly or indirectly—the insane workings of capitalism. The largest group of all is from Syria. The 71 people who died a horrible death in a truck in Austria, and the millions of others who are part of the most massive wave of displaced people in human history, are victims of the workings, and the wars, of global capitalism-imperialism. And the rulers of the United States hold down the fort as top-dog within that dog-eat-dog world.
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
China's Stock Market Plummets
August 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On August 24 and 25, the stock market in China took a huge plunge, recording the biggest drop in eight years. This sent shockwaves around the world, with stock markets in the U.S. and across Europe and Asia also recording major drops. And beyond the stock market crisis, there are signs of major slowdowns and other problems in China’s economy, which had been growing faster than any other major economy for the past decade and is now the world’s second largest, after the United States.
What you hear on the news from the ruling class media is that what’s happening in China is a result of “socialism”—that the problem is that in China the government plays too big a role in the economy and this interferes with the “natural” workings of the market.
by Bob Avakian
3-part excerpt from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About.
But China is a capitalist country. Government intervention in the economy and state ownership of factories and other big parts of the economy does not make a society socialist. This system takes on different forms—in China the economy is more organized around government bureaus, agencies, and state-owned banks, while in the U.S. the economy is more in private corporate hands. But these are just differences in form. The economy in China is based on a system driven by the command to maximize profit—with each capitalist or group of capitalists (in whatever form) competing against others to continually increase profits through ever more ruthlessly exploiting people, or face being brought down. Under this anarchic expand-or-die dynamic, the needs of the people count for nothing, and Earth’s environment is simply a resource to be blindly exploited without regard for the future of the planet and life on it. It’s a system repeatedly wracked by crisis, causing even more intense misery and suffering for the masses of people.
China’s stock market is in crisis. But what is a stock market? In the clip “What Is Capitalism?” from his Revolution talk, Bob Avakian speaks to this: “What are they trading on the stock market? Where does the wealth come from that they’re trading when they buy shares and stocks in different companies and bonds? They’re trading in human flesh. They’re trading in human suffering. They’re trading in what’s drained out of those children and their bones literally broken and their skin literally going into the things produced. That’s where that wealth is created before the capitalist takes it and says ‘It’s mine.’ That’s what they’re trading in on the stock market. They’re trading in exploitation and degradation of people all over the world, including tens of millions or hundreds of millions of children.”
The wealth that’s traded in China’s stock market comes from profits from exploitation by the capitalist rulers there, who have attracted a flood of foreign investments by offering low costs and low wages. What this means in human terms is millions of people slaving away in huge factories, working 60-, 70- or even 80-hour weeks under horrific conditions—youth being driven to suicide in factories churning out cell phones for the world market, women inhaling toxic fumes or losing limbs as they work on toy factory assembly lines, and millions of other wage slaves whose lives are crushed under the profit-above-all drive of capitalism.
People need the truth about the communist revolution. The REAL truth. At a time when people are rising up in many places all over the world and seeking out ways forward, THIS alternative is ruled out of order. At a time when even more people are agonizing over and raising big questions about the future, THIS alternative is constantly slandered and maligned and lied about, while those who defend it are given no space to reply.
Contains Interview with Raymond Lotta, Timeline of The REAL History of Communist Revolution, and more...
Breakneck, chaotic capitalist development in China has meant an ecological and environmental nightmare. Some of the most polluted cities in the world are in China—more than 1.6 million people die prematurely every year due to air, water, and other forms of pollution.
Capitalism and the outlook it gives rise to and promotes mean horrors for women in today’s China. One ugly manifestation of this: China now has millions of women, many coming from the rural areas, forced into prostitution in the “sex industry” in the sprawling industrial and commercial centers.
And the dog-eat-dog nature of capitalism leads to breakdowns in the economy, which cannot be planned rationally or in a way based on human need when profit is in command.
It wasn’t always this way in China. From 1949 to 1976, China was a revolutionary socialist society. The “wretched of the earth,” led by Mao Zedong and the Communist Party, seized power from the imperialists and reactionaries. The revolutionary society set up an economy based not on the dictates of capitalist profit but on the needs of the formerly oppressed and society overall, as part of the revolutionary struggle worldwide.
Mao Zedong identified and insisted that state ownership of the main enterprises in the economy in itself did not make society socialist—and that new bourgeois forces rising up from remaining contradictions within socialist society, concentrated in the communist party itself, could seize power and restore capitalism within that formal framework. The years of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, 1966 to 1976, saw hundreds of millions of people taking part in political debate and struggle to oppose turning China back into a capitalist country. There was liberating and radical transformation of every sphere of society, from the economy to education to culture and the arts—something never seen before in the world. But after the death of Mao in 1976, leading representatives of the new capitalists in China carried out a military coup to arrest the revolutionary leadership and violently suppress opposition. They proceeded to overthrow the socialist state and bring back capitalism. And so there is a new capitalist class that now rules China. To maintain their credibility, they keep the name “communist”—but everything in today’s Chinese society is driven by the insane logic of capitalism.
There is much more to analyze and understand about the stock market crash in China, the overall economic situation in that country, and all the repercussions globally—and how all this will develop is not determined. But one thing can be said clearly and definitively: What we are seeing in China now is not a crisis of socialism. It is a crisis of capitalism.
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
August 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Barack Obama gave a major speech in the Lower 9th Ward neighborhood in New Orleans. He crowed about the supposed triumph and greatness of America and what he claimed was incredible “progress” in New Orleans. In reality, his speech was a WHITE-wash of this system’s crimes in the wake of the flooding that followed the hurricane. And Obama painted a whole genocidal agenda that has been in effect in a concentrated way in New Orleans as “real progress.”
Thousands of Black people were locked down in the New Orleans Superdome in conditions reminiscent of slave ships. Photo: AP
Speaking of the government’s response, Obama said, “What started out as a natural disaster became a man-made disaster—a failure of government to look out for its own citizens.”
No. This wasn’t a “failure” of government, this was a CRIME committed against Black and poor people. The government’s own agencies had for years warned that the levees in New Orleans were vulnerable in the event of a major hurricane and that this would disproportionately impact Black and poor people, yet it did nothing to fundamentally solve this problem. Then, in the immediate run up to Katrina, precisely a storm which could inflict this predicted damage, they did nothing to assist the evacuation of those most directly in the line of fire. Once the storm hit, the government ordered troops off of rescue missions designed to assist people who were stranded and sent them back in, instead, with orders to “shoot to kill” anyone caught “looting.” Finally, in the wake of the storm, the government seized on this devastation to permanently eject huge numbers of Black and poor people and to destroy the housing and services they would need to return and survive.
These are not “failures.” These are crimes.
After Katrina, then Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Alphonso Jackson declared, “New Orleans is not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again.”
This was not an “observation,” this was an agenda. And it got implemented. The population of the city is now about 385,000—about 80 percent of its pre-Katrina population. There are nearly 100,000 fewer Black people. Who are these missing people?
First of all there are the more than 1,000 people, mostly African-Americans, who died in Katrina. Then there are the many thousands of Black people who were evacuated and are still living somewhere else, many who want to come back but can’t. Many of their homes have been torn down—even a great many that were fixable.
And what is the situation for the Black people who remained in—or managed to return to—New Orleans? Over half of all Black men in New Orleans are unemployed! The rate of poverty for Black children has actually grown—from 44% when Katrina hit to more than 50% today. More than one-third of the Black residents of New Orleans now live below the poverty line, compared to about one in 10 whites. Meanwhile, New Orleans has the highest incarceration rate per capita of any city in the country. Black people are now less than 60% of the city’s population but are 90% of its prison population. 99 percent of juveniles who are arrested are Black.
Obama said, “If Katrina was initially an example of what happens when government fails, the recovery has been an example of what’s possible when government works together...”
In fact this “recovery” and “rebuilding” of housing, education and medical care has been done in a way that has a close resemblance to ethnic cleansing. At the time of Katrina, more than 5,000 families, nearly all of them African-American, were living in New Orleans public housing. After the storm, despite mass protests, the city council voted unanimously to demolish 4,500 units of public housing. Louisiana Congressman Richard Baker brought together the whole package of the Bible Belt and the lynching belt when he said, “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did it.”
As it demolished this housing for poor people, the city promised to develop new “mixed income” projects and vouchers. This was a cruel joke. Over 16,000 families ended up on a wait-list for subsidized housing after their public housing was demolished and the last time new applications were accepted off this list was in 2009. As one stark example: B.W. Cooper was a group of public housing apartments that were home to 3,077 families before Katrina. After these were razed and replaced with “mixed income” small apartments, only 730 of these new units were offered at traditional public housing rents.
Obama talked about rebuilding schools. He said, “Working together, we’ve transformed education in this city,” and said more kids are graduating and going to college. But what’s the real story here?
In 2010, Education Secretary Arne Duncan declared that Katrina was “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans.” Chew on that one—mass death and destruction was “the best thing” that happened to New Orleans public schools!?
And look where this led: Within a few months after the storm, nearly 7,500 predominantly Black public school teachers and other public school employees were fired. Public schools with the best test scores and the least damage were given away to private companies to form charter schools, attended by students with better test scores whose parents had the ability to get them into those schools. Students with average test scores or learning disabilities had to attend deteriorating public schools. New Orleans became the first basically all-charter school system (91%) in the nation. One parent of a 6-year-old said about the changes, “They’re treating our school system like a business and our children like commodities.”
School policies are used to push some students out and into the criminal justice system—with some kids suspended and expelled, even arrested for very small infractions of the rules.
And this is being promoted as a model. A recent Chicago Tribune editorial yearned for a hurricane to strike Chicago so that it, too, could have a “reset” to do away with “restrictive mandates” from government and demands from teachers unions.
Obama said, “Together, we’re doing more to make sure that everyone in this city has access to great health care.” In reality the government has been heartless toward the poor people of New Orleans.
Before Katrina, Charity Hospital was one of the oldest continually operating public hospitals in the country, founded as a hospital for the poor in 1736. It was seen as one of the most vital and successful; one of the best teaching hospitals in the country. It served 100,000 patients a year. It was the place where poor people went to get health care. But the storm provided an opportunity for powerful forces, including Louisiana State University, to close Charity Hospital and build an expensive new facility with government support. Charity Hospital was not really ruined by the storm and when it wasn’t reopened a CEO of the hospital was asked why and he said, “If we do, we will never get a new one.”
During Obama’s speech, a woman shouted something about “addressing the crisis in mental health.” Obama said, “I’ll get to that. Thank you, ma’am.” But all Obama had to say when he got to that was to tout Obamacare and promise improvements. In reality, mental health facilities have also been closed down in the years since Katrina and now, as many people have noted, the main mental health facility in New Orleans is the city jail and prison.
Slipped amongst a larger list of things Obama claimed credit for was “delivering resources” to rebuild and strengthen the New Orleans police.
Strengthen the police? That is NOT a good thing! Let’s look just for a moment at the crimes these police committed in the aftermath of Katrina, in the years since and continuing today.
Days after Katrina, on September 4, 2005, James Brissette and Ronald Madison were murdered by New Orleans police as they were walking across the Danziger Bridge to get food at a grocery store. On September 2, 2005, 31-year-old Henry Glover was shot in the chest by a cop—his body found later in a burned out car. And the epidemic of police murder and brutality in New Orleans has never let up to this day.
After one of those Department of Justice “studies” that sometimes reveal part of the picture of police terror but never lead to any actual changes, they issued a report that found many instances where “NOPD officers used deadly force contrary to NOPD policy or law” and “a pattern of unreasonable less lethal force as well.” Officers used force against people “including persons in handcuffs, in circumstances that appeared not only unnecessary but deliberately retaliatory.” There have been in-custody deaths “so blatant and egregious that it appeared intentional in some respects.” There is a “pattern of stops, searches, and arrests that violate the Fourth Amendment. Detentions without reasonable suspicion are routine, and lead to unwarranted searches and arrests without probable cause.”
Do you know anyone else—any person or organization—that has managed to bring forth an actual PLAN for a radically different society, in all its dimensions, and a CONSTITUTION to codify all this? — A different world IS possible — Check out and order online the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).
And there were cases of “force used against mentally ill persons where it appeared that no use of force was justified.” Maybe that’s what Obama meant when he said he was addressing mental health issues.
Today’s New Orleans—with 100,000 of its Black residents permanently exiled from the city, with a basically dismantled public school system, with the city’s hospital for the poor closed and surrounded by barbed wire, with dozens of dead bodies from the flood still unidentified because the government didn’t think it was worth funding a coroner to find out who they are and notify their loved ones ... all that, is this system’s idea of progress.
As we wrote last week: “Ten years ago, close to 100,000 people were left to try to survive in New Orleans facing extreme conditions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina... no clean water, no food, people stranded on rooftops or locked in prisons, people dying and bodies floating in the floodwaters. Abandoned people fought together to survive in life-threatening conditions. People around the country saw this happening and were outraged, and many tried to help. Yet, at every turn, they were met by the armed repression of this system’s brutal military, police, and racist vigilantes. All this gives a sense of both the need—and the potential—for a real revolution and a whole different kind of society than the profit-above-all system we live under.”
How long must we tolerate these and other crimes that still continue—when at this point in human history, the world does not have to be like this, and there is a way out through revolution and building a whole new society? Read the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America to concretely see how a new society can be built and all of society can be transformed to end oppression and exploitation.
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Through which mode of production will any social problem be addressed?
That is the most fundamental question that must be asked, in regard to changes in society. And the answer to that question will be decisive in determining what must be done to bring about the changes that are understood to be necessary and desirable. Why? Because the mode of production—the basic economic relations and the basic dynamics of the economic system—is the decisive factor in determining what the character of a society, and its dominant social relations, politics, and ideology, will be.
To apply this to the particular question of whether this capitalist-imperialist system can do away with, or do without, the oppression of women, it is necessary to pose, and answer, some essential questions that need to be addressed in determining this, including:
How, under this system and given its fundamental relations and dynamics, would the role of women in childbirth and the rearing of children, the character and role of the family, and the system of commodity production and exchange that characterizes capitalism—how would all this, and the many direct and indirect expressions and manifestations of this in the superstructure of politics and ideology, be radically transformed in a way that would lead to abolishing the oppression of women?
How would the putrid social relations and culture that dominate in this society—which oppress and degrade women in a thousand ways, including the most vicious and violent—be actually transformed, within the confines of this system, in a way that would contribute to doing away with all the oppression and degradation of women?
How would all this be achieved, not only within a particular country, such as the U.S.—and not just for a section of people, particularly the more well-off and privileged—but for human society as a whole, on a global scale, especially given the highly globalized nature of this system, and its fundamental relations and dynamics?
There is much that has already been brought to light which demonstrates how the oppression of women has been historically, and today remains, completely and integrally bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited. At the same time, there is further analysis and synthesis that needs to be done—in regard to the situation of women in the world and how this relates today to the fundamental relations and dynamics of the dominant system in the world, capitalism-imperialism. But this needs to be taken up with a thoroughly and consistently scientific method and approach. And I am firmly convinced that such a scientific analysis and synthesis—including with regard to the basic questions that have been posed here—will reinforce, and further deepen, the fundamental understanding that it is impossible to achieve the emancipation of women under this system, and that this emancipation can only be fully and finally achieved through, and as a key part of, the revolutionary advance to communism throughout the world.
If someone wishes to argue that it could be possible to do away with the oppression of women under this capitalist-imperialist system, then let them make that argument, but that argument must include an answer to the kinds of essential questions I have posed here.
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
July 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From the Revolution Club
Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution, has said this:
No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that. (BAsics, 1:13)
For that to happen, you need REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian—BA—has developed a way that we can make that revolution, for real. A way out of this horror and oppression. A way forward to emancipation. A way to actually go up against the monsters who run things now in an all-out struggle for power and to have a real chance of winning—when the opening emerges and the time is right. A way to fight today—for real—against the powers-that-be so that we build up our strength and change conditions to bring about that opening—as soon as possible.
This revolution is not for or about just one group. This is a revolution to overcome ALL exploitation and oppression. A communist revolution. A revolution to bring in a world where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world. And BA is leading right now, every day, to make that real—again, as soon as possible.
“BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less!” When you wear that shirt, you let people know about that revolution and that leader. But it’s more than that. You’re wearing this shirt along with other people, all over the country. You’re part of a whole movement letting people know that there’s a way to fight back, right now, as part of getting ready for revolution. You’re part of a movement for revolution letting people know that there’s a way to change ourselves as we do fight back, learning more about the revolution and setting a different kind of example with our lives. When you put on this shirt, you take the first step. You let people know that you, with other people all over the country, want to represent for the EMANCIPATION OF HUMANITY from this madness they’ve got us chained in.
Be part of the revolution. Take up the T-shirt.
* * * *
Check out BA. Start watching the film BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! Or watch his dialogue on Revolution and Religion with Cornel West... or to listen to his Call to Revolution, where he puts the message out there in a sharp and powerful way.
And run with the Revolution Club.
Humanity Needs Revolution and Communism
Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
August 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
We received the following from people involved in organizing the showing. The showing was part of a whole weekend around the country of taking out BA Everywhere: on Saturday, August 22, people stepped out wearing the bold BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts to represent for revolution and the emancipation of humanity; the next day, there were showings of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! in various cities (see “August 22: Putting on the Shirt, Stepping into the Revolution”).
On Friday, August 21, between 130 and 140 people attended a special two-and-a-half hour screening of excerpts from the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST AND BOB AVAKIAN at the Strand Theater in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard Island. The showing, sponsored by Revolution Books Cambridge and featuring Andy Zee, the co-director of the film and spokesperson for the Revolution Books flagship store in New York City, was the culmination of taking the Dialogue out broadly on the island in the days and weeks prior to the event.
Lobby of Strand Theater in Oak Bluff, Martha's Vineyard, August 21.
Photo: special to Revolution.
There was a great deal of curiosity among the folks attending the film—most of whom were not familiar with Bob Avakian (BA) but were intrigued by the idea of a revolutionary communist in dialogue with a revolutionary Christian on the question of revolution and religion. This openness on the part of those who came, combined with their deep concerns—especially, but by no means exclusively, around the ongoing police terror targeting people of color—led to a lively and serious back-and-forth engagement with what they saw in the Dialogue.
One exchange with a middle-aged Black man went like this:
Question: What did you think of the film?
Answer:Bob Avakian was too “cerebral.” Black people don’t relate to that. The emotional, the spiritual—that’s what Black people relate to.
Question:Why did you stay to the end?
Answer:I like this kind of thing, the big conversation appeals to me. I like the way they communicated with each other.
Another audience member said after the showing, “I really liked it. I am a Christian but I had never thought about it the way that Avakian spoke about it. He made me think about the Bible. There are wars all through the Bible. There are wars in Mark and in Luke. More Christians need to be talking to communists.”
The whole experience—both the day of the film and the run-up to it, pointed to the potential in society for a radically different and more favorable alignment of forces in building the movement for revolution, with the Party at its core and with a real possibility of winning. For those of us involved in building the event, it sharpened up the question of what will be required to realize that potential, especially the critical importance of introducing BA, his work and the new synthesis of communism to millions, like the people who attended the screening (or seriously entertained coming) and many, many more. AND the critical importance of finding the ways in which people can contribute right now to the movement for revolution, to the greatest degree possible and with whatever degree of understanding and agreement they have at any given point.
The audience at the showing was about 85 percent African-American and live from as far away as Tampa, Florida; the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington State, as well as Harlem, NYC, and nearby New Bedford, Massachusetts. One couple were recent immigrants from the country of Eritrea in the Horn of Africa.
The majority of the audience was largely representative of the cross-section of the middle-class African-American community who vacation on Martha’s Vineyard or who, in some cases, live there year-round. While not always as directly impacted by the brutality and impoverishment that basic people and especially youth face at the hands of the system of capitalism-imperialism and its armed enforcers, these people are deeply concerned about police terror, mass incarceration, and the disenfranchisement of millions of Black people as well as the oppressive and often horrific conditions facing women, the destruction of the environment, and more. A Black woman told us before the showing, “I am a mother. I have two sons. I have to have a conversation about the police... It is terrifying to have that conversation.”
Some made last-minute changes to already tight schedules to attend the event. Even though many had to leave the showing early—sometimes to catch scheduled ferries leaving the island—they left engaged and wanting more. Eighteen DVDs of the Dialogue film were sold, and many people asked how to get the Dialogue online. A civil rights activist said, “I am going to take the DVD home, watch all of it and write a detailed critique. I don’t agree with Avakian and I don’t think Cornel gives enough attention to the role of the ‘spirit’ in his comments. I hope you can pass my comments along to the participants.” Over 30 people left contact information. One person asked on the way out, “I got the packet on The Bob Avakian Institute coming in. Do you have another for my friend?”
The film showing came at the end of a summer on Martha’s Vineyard packed with book readings, film showings, conferences, symposiums, and panel discussions delving into the questions of the oppression and brutality aimed against Black people and the struggle to understand what it will take to end the horrific conditions of life facing the masses of African-Americans and a world of oppressive social relations and profound planetary crisis. Many of the those coming to the showing had heard about the West-Avakian Dialogue at earlier events: at a program where Ta-Nehisi Coates was being interviewed on his new book Between the World and Me; at the premiere of the film The Race to Extinction—a devastating documentary on the destruction of the environment and looming mass extinction (both the Coates program and the film premiere drew a predominantly white middle class audience); at the screening of the new documentary film The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, and elsewhere. A number of people commented they had heard about the Dialogue more than once.
The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, based at Harvard University, attached the announcement of the film to its email announcement of its symposium “Black and Blue: Policing the Color Line” and invited Revolution Books Cambridge to have a book table at that program. Throughout the day there, people attending got information on the film and on Rise Up October!/Which Side Are You On? And when anyone expressed more specific interest in the Dialogue, they were challenged: “What will it take to change your ‘interest’ into commitment to come see it?” This often led to deeper exchanges, not only touching on people’s anger at a situation where one year after the police murder of Michael Brown, the response of the powers-that-be has been to continue to murder more people, especially people of color and Black and Latino youths—but also their tempered frustration that the proposals and possible solutions being sincerely discussed in different programs they had attended did not seem to fundamentally address how to end police terror. Some of the people attending the Dialogue film showing came on the basis of that struggle.
The Martha’s Vineyard community TV channel began airing announcements for the showing the week before the event. In addition to carrying a color advertisement for the showing, the Martha’s Vineyard Times highlighted it in their events calendar. Wide sections of Martha’s Vineyard and especially Oak Bluffs became saturated with posters and palm cards announcing the film. Dozens of posters were on display in various shops and restaurants, libraries, and community centers. Some shop owners took palm cards to include with customers’ purchases. People came off of email announcements from Revolution Books and, in one instance, the initial announcement at www.revcom.us.
Martha’s Vineyard Islanders just introduced to the Dialogue also found other ways to contribute to the screening. In one case, on extremely short notice and with virtually no affordable housing available on the entire island, an Island minister (a white man), who had only recently heard of Bob Avakian, opened up his home to film organizers. He came to the film showing, bought a DVD on the way out, and stopped to make sure that someone from Revolution Books would get back in touch soon, both to go more deeply into the Dialogue and also to discuss plans for Rise Up October! and what that might look like on Martha’s Vineyard.
Partly because of the particular excerpts from the film that were shown, many of the conversations afterwards focused on, or at least started around, questions around the role of religion. But one thing most people seemed to take way from Avakian’s comments was that the world today is a horror—but it doesn’t have to be this way. And that he (and the Party he leads) are very serious about ending this horror through an actual revolution.
There is much more to sum up, to follow up on and to build off of, but one exchange that took place caught some of the spirit of the day. A Black woman left the movie only 20 minutes into the showing, visibly upset and angry. She said, “He is calling us hypocrites for not abiding to the literal words in the Bible. He is disrespecting us who are living our lives in the time of Grace. I can’t listen to this anymore.” A couple of organizers took this up with her, saying that BA was not disrespecting people of faith but forcefully arguing that people needed to act when their faith brought them to the point of hating the horrific conditions confronting the people, and also challenging the limits of a faith-based approach to ending these profound inequalities. They said that she owed it to herself and humanity to watch more of the Dialogue, which she did.
An hour later, the same woman came out of the theater, approached the Revolution Books table and, without saying a word, bought a copy of the Dialogue DVD and wrote down her contact information before leaving.
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
August 24, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On August 23, 800 to 1000 people turned out to sing, chant, and march with the artists and family members of victims of police murder at the 24th Street & Mission BART (transit) Plaza in San Francisco.
Over the past week and a half in Philadelphia, NYC, Washington, DC, Chicago, LA, and the SF Bay Area, Wondaland recording artists Janelle Monáe, Jidenna, Deep Cotton, St. Beauty and Roman GianArthur broke out the powerful new song “Hell You Talmbout.”
Janelle Monáe: “This song is a vessel. It carries the unbearable anguish of millions. We recorded it to channel the pain, fear, and trauma caused by the ongoing slaughter of our brothers and sisters. We recorded it to challenge the indifference, disregard, and negligence of all who remain quiet about this issue. Silence is our enemy. Sound is our weapon. They say a question lives forever until it gets the answer it deserves... Won’t you say their names?”
These recording artists put a lot on the line to join rallies with Stop Mass Incarceration Network, their fans, and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Thursday, August 13, they hit Times Square in NYC, singing and chanting. The action was preceded by a press conference and speak-out featuring Janelle Monáe, Jidenna, and other Wondaland artists; Carl Dix, co-initiator of Rise Up October and representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party; and parents and other family members of youths whose lives have been stolen by police and have become activists in the movement to stop murder by police.
On August 17, people headed for Millennium Park in Chicago as word went out. Signs came up—signs that named, remembered and honored those whose lives have been stolen by the police. Signs flashing the hashtags #RiseUpOctober and #HLYTB ("Hell You Talmbout") and signs demanding to know “Which Side Are You On?!” The mother of Justus Howell—a 17-year-old Black youth killed by police this April in Zion, Illinois—was in the crowd with other relatives holding a poster of her son. The Stolen Lives banner and a giant poster for the October 24 protest in NYC went up. The press was there and the event was on.
When the Wondaland artists arrived, the crowd parted and the artists stood behind the families of people whose lives were stolen by police. Each Wondaland artist spoke to why they were there. They said they wanted to take a stand against police terror and brutality. They were bringing their creativity and emotions to bear on their brand new song: "HELL YOU TALMBOUT! Walter Scott—say his name!...Michael Brown—say his name!...Sandra Bland—say her name!...” The crowd was right with them shouting people’s names.
Geneva Read-Veal spoke—her daughter Sandra Bland died in police custody in Texas after she was stopped for a minor traffic violation, brutalized, and arrested. Geneva said, “My baby is gone and we still don’t know what happened to her.”
As the artists went to get ready for their concert in the evening, the rest of the crowd, still singing, turned the other direction down a main artery of Chicago’s downtown “loop.”
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
Diverse, Intense & Uncompromising:
Updated August 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Last night hundreds packed the First Corinthian Baptist Church (FCBC) in Harlem, New York City. There was a kick-in-the-gut, kick-in-the-heart intensity in the air, as a crowd—a majority Black people but many others as well—gathered for a program sponsored by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network to hear Carl Dix, Dr. Cornel West, and others speak to What We Must Do to STOP Police Murder and Terror—Get Ready for #RiseUpOctober: Massive Mobilization to Stop Police Terror & Murder, October 22-24 in NYC.
All night long the question, the challenge, was posed in powerful ways that must reverberate far and wide: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?
Co-MC Nkosi Anderson opened by declaring the existence of a “state of emergency” and promising an evening of a wide range of perspectives united to stop police terror in the context of a worldwide movement to stop police terror.
Reverend Willie Francois III, assistant pastor at FCBC, challenged all to be the “architects of a world where all people are free” and insisted “We cannot say Jesus without saying Justice.”
Noche Diaz from the Revolution Club—speaking from his experiences with Black and Latino youth around the country, and Reverend Stephen Phelps—speaking from what he learns from his parishioners, and his activist perspective—testified to the pervasive terror instituted by police around the country.
Former Black Panther, Columbia University professor, artist and activist Jamal Joseph charted the insanity of police murder of Black people from the 1940s, through Eleanor Bumpurs –a grandmother murdered by the NYPD in 1985 through today. Gina Belafonte, co-director of the SANKOFA Foundation founded by Harry Belafonte, led people chanting: “Unapologetically Black, we ready, we coming!” “Are we rising up in October?” (Audience: yeah!).
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, a former senior policy analyst for, and whistle-blower on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and activist with the DC Hands Up Coalition reported on outrage and resistance to the mayor of Washington, DC’s plans to put 500 more police on the streets. She said her son had been stopped over 30 times, and each time he could have been dead and this why she’s part of calling for Rise Up October.
Co-MC Kimberli Diaz brought family members of victims of police murder to the stage. From deep in their hearts, they shared pain and outrage. Every story could fill a book, a movie, be told in a hundred songs, and they can be seen at the video of the event.
Co-MC Nkosi Anderson
Reverend Willie Francois III, assistant pastor at FCBC
Noche Diaz from the Revolution Club
Reverend Stephen Phelps
Jamal Joseph, former Black Panther, Columbia University professor, artist and activist
Gina Belafonte, co-director of the SANKOFA Foundation
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, a former senior policy analyst for, and whistle-blower on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and activist with the DC Hands Up Coalition
Co-MC Kimberli Diaz
Family members of those whose lives were stolen by police.
Juanita Young, mother of Malcolm Ferguson murdered by NYC police in 2000; Mertilla Jones, grandmother of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, murdered in front of her eyes by Detroit police in 2010
Sharon Irwin and Lorien Carter, grandmother and aunt of Tony Robinson, murdered by Madison, Wisconsin police this year
LaToya Howell, mother of 17-year-old Justus Howell, murdered by Zion, Illinois police this year
Nicholas Heyward Sr., father of Nicholas Heyward, Jr, murdered by NYC police in 1994 at age 13
They included: Juanita Young, mother of Malcolm Ferguson murdered by NYC police in 2000; Mertilla Jones, grandmother of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, murdered in front of her eyes by Detroit police in 2010; Sharon Irwin, grandmother, and Lorien Carter, aunt, of Tony Robinson, who was killed by Madison, Wisconsin police this year; LaToya Howell, mother of 17-year-old Justus Howell, murdered by Zion, Illinois police this year; Nicholas Heyward, Sr., father of Nicholas Heyward, Jr, murdered by NYC police in 1994 at age 13, while playing with a toy gun; Reginald Owens, father of Naim Owens, killed by the NYPD in 2014, and stepfather of Kheil Coppin, killed by the NYPD in 2007; and Joanne Mickens, whose son Corey Mickens was murdered by the NYPD in 2007.
This riveting testimony gave a sense of the fury and power that will be injected into societal debate and struggle over police terror in NYC on October 22-24.
Before Carl Dix and Cornel West spoke, Reverend Jerome McCorry, faith coordinator for the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and Will Reese, from the NYC Revolution Club, called on people to step up and donate the kind of serious funds necessary to bring representatives of a hundred families of people murdered by police to NYC for Rise Up October, and travel the country to tell their stories, and to make Rise Up October possible, starting with several people who literally rose to the challenge—standing up and donating $500.
Carl Dix and Cornel West are co-initiators of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and of Rise Up October. Their presentations were a dynamic expression of the diversity of outlooks, agendas and philosophical frameworks of those coming together for Rise Up October, and of the powerful love, unity, and determination to STOP police terror and make October 22-24 a serious step towards changing everything.
Carl Dix framed his message in a recent quote from Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA:
There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness: Black people playing a crucial role in putting an end, at long last, to this system which has, for so long, not just exploited but dehumanized, terrorized and tormented them in a thousand ways—putting an end to this in the only way it can be done— by fighting to emancipate humanity, to put an end to the long night in which human society has been divided into masters and slaves, and the masses of humanity have been lashed, beaten, raped, slaughtered, shackled and shrouded in ignorance and misery.
Carl Dix broke down the “unspeakable ugliness”—here, and around the world, every kind of oppression and exploitation. The lessons of the lynching of Emmett Till and the crimes of the government against the Black and poor people in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He called out the deaths—from Vietnam to Iraq to Korea—in U.S. wars for empire. He called out how this system is trying to deny women the right to decide if and when to have a child, the devastation of the environment, the persecution of immigrants and the insults of “that fascist idiot Donald Trump.”
But he also broke down the “potential for something of unprecedented beauty” to be brought to life through a total revolution. The need to seize power “from the hands of the capitalist exploiters.” And the basis to do that, and the critical role of Bob Avakian’s “breakthroughs in revolution” in making that possible, and called on people to get into BA and the revolution.
And then, coming from that, he spoke to the concrete urgency and necessity of Rise Up October in depth and detail, including responding in depth to those who insist the movement must limit itself to what the system considers “reasonable demands.” (Read text of Carl Dix’s speech here)
Cornel West challenged people with a history of the oppression and resistance of Black people in the U.S.A.: “Hated people, taught the world so much about love. Denied justice but taught the world so much about justice. Traumatized, but taught the world so much about how to be cool. Black people at our best have been truth tellers, that means we’ve been cross bearers before we were flag wavers.”
He called out a “challenge in the age of Obama:” “Once we got a Black president we got too many people more concerned by the breakthrough at the top and then lose sight of those stuck in the basement... what Franz Fanon called the ‘wretched of the earth’ in the midst of the American Empire.” He called on people to stand up and straighten their backs.
Near the end of his presentation, he leaned in to the audience, faced the families of victims of police murder, pointed to the faces of the victims and declared “their afterlife [will] work through us. Because we gonna have Sankofa, which means we not gonna move forward til we first look back, and remember the best of those who came before us. That constitutes wind at our back. That’s what Stop Mass Incarceration’s about. That’s why I call it the love train. Get on the love train! Curtis Mayfield said you don’t need no ticket, just get on board! Get on board! Stop mass incarceration and decide what side you’re really on. And come with us.”
* * *
The evening ended with Travis Morales announcing plans, and ways into this, for everyone. Afterwards, as people headed out, dozens hung out on into the night, drinking in the energy and passion, and discussing next steps. At the end everyone was singing Hell You Talmbout.
Here’s how you become part of this:
And stay tuned to revcom.us and Revolution newspaper
Joanne Mickens, whose son Corey Mickens was murdered by the NYPD in 2007
Reverend Jerome McCorry, faith coordinator for the Stop Mass Incarceration Network
Artists for Justice & NYC Revolution Club leading singing of "Hell You Talmbout"
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
August 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revolution/revcom.us spoke wtih many people in attendance at the program sponsored by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network where Carl Dix, Dr. Cornel West, and others spoke to What We Must Do to STOP Police Murder and Terror—Get Ready for #RiseUpOctober: Massive Mobilization to Stop Police Terror & Murder, October 22-24 in NYC. These are some of their comments.
Black woman just out of college: “It’s not just the men. Look at what they did to Sandra Bland, disrespected her, threw her to the ground. And that’s just what’s on camera. And then she’s dead.”
Krystal, 23: “Carl Dix broke things down in a way people can understand. I’m disgusted. Nothing changes—we’re still living like in slavery. Police brutality runs through the streets. It’s deep in the concrete.”
Cornel West, Carl Dix and others: What We Must Do to STOP Police Murder and Terror—Get Ready for #RiseUpOctober: Massive Mobilization to Stop Police Terror & Murder, October 22-24 in NYC. (Photo: Revolution/revcom.us)
Madison, young woman who lives near the church in Harlem: “They covered this whole neighborhood with the flyers and stickers and so I thought I should come. I had read about the stories of some of those families of people killed by police, but it meant something to hear them told with all that passion. I liked what Cornel West said about everyone is a person, a human being.”
A recent high school graduate: “I signed up tonight, and I donated a bit. I don’t have money but I have time to help.”
Two graduate students from France: “We saw the posters and had to come. It is important to hear both sides of everything. We often only hear the police side of these incidents. The stories of these victims need to be told.”
Three white students and musicians—a couple of them involved in the Bernie Sanders campaign: “We were out protesting every night last year. That’s where we first met the RCP. We’ll be all over [the world] in October, but we have to figure out how we can be part of this.”
Jordan, 14, wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt: “I’ve heard about these stories. I’ve heard about Aiyana Stanley-Jones in Detroit. I didn’t realize how long this has been going on—for years. I can get out stickers and posters for this.”
Ernest, young Black artist: “That was a powerful message from Carl Dix. I already got the book BAsics from the Revolution Club. I liked the way he got right to the point—too often people beat around the bush. Being young, I appreciated Carl Dix breaking down how to respond to the Hillary Clinton types who want you to say what your demands are in that way. I liked the way Cornel West talked about music. Music can spark a new revolution, like happened in the ’60s. A lot of musicians today don’t know their purpose.”
Young woman who came to the event from Newark: “I have a professor, and she’s always talking about stuff like this, so I wanted to check it out firsthand. It’s very interesting... This is the stuff you don’t hear about in the mainstream news, so it’s good to hear firsthand from the people. My brother, he’s 30. And these people on the poster—it could be anybody, you know. We’re from New Jersey and it’s like $14 to get here, but I want to come back. I want to bring more people.”
Young Black man, college student: “To me, it’s time to take a stand. Peaceful protests. Everybody come together, not just an all-Black, all-Latino thing. Everybody. Blacks, Latinos, whites, Asians, everybody. Because it’s not just a one group thing. We’re all human beings here. We all want to live in peace and harmony, right? Plus we want this place to be good for our children to grow up in. When they look back years from now, they could say, wow, we did this. Now we have this. Thanks to what our relatives did, we could grow up like this... I’m planning to get involved in any possible way I can.”
Italian photojournalist who head heard about event on the web: “It’s really strange to listen to stories like this because we have a different idea about America abroad, in Europe or in other countries. The way America is presented is not this way. But instead, being here and listening to the news, almost every day there is somebody that is shot by police, everywhere. So it’s a problem. I think it’s also a reflection of a sense of alienation of society—society is really separated, divided. There is no sense of unification. Very divided between rich and poor.”
Audience raising the poster showing some of the people whose lives were stolen by police, August 27. (Photo: Revolution/revcom.us)
Young woman filmmaker who attends First Corinthian Baptist Church regularly: “I love Dr. Cornel West. I’ve never heard him speak in person before, but I thought that it would be a great way for me to understand what’s actually happening and how I can move forward with my voice and be somebody who is representing the unrepresented. What really struck me was the grandmother who had the granddaughter die at seven years old. I keep thinking about these images of young Black and children of color being killed, and the fact that they will never have an opportunity to live their lives because they were wrongfully killed. It’s hard to be patriotic about a country that doesn’t want us to be the best that we can be. I mean, even when you do the right things, when you have this skin, you’re wrong, you’re bad. I have a problem with this ‘race reconciliation’ in a way because—being in this skin is so great, but it’s also so hard because of all the day-to-day things you have to deal with. And people who don’t empathize with you think you’re crazy when you try to explain to them what’s happening. So all that really impacted me—hearing the mothers and grandmothers who no longer have their children in their lives because of police brutality.”
Black woman in her 20s: “Rise Up October has to accomplish a lot. If we can just get everybody to be here as one, with no issues. We don’t want to be violent, we just want our voices to be heard, let our presence be known about the situation that is going on in this so-called free country. People are going to be much more aware, much more educated about what’s going on. That’s the biggest issue, people are not educated about it. So one, people are going to be much more educated about it. They are going to see how many people are really involved and really want change. Hopefully we can shut down Wall Street, we can shut down the entire New York City. Because we all know New York City means something in America. If we can shut down New York City we are really doing something. I’m involved with Stop Mass Incarceration, going to the meetings. Obviously I’ll be there with them the entire October 22, 23, 24. I’m trying to get my friends involved, and I got my mother and my brother to come out tonight. My neighbors. Just get people aware of what’s going on around this.”
Black woman teacher: “I came because it is such an important issue. We have to treat each other like we would treat ourselves. We are really blood, skin, bones, hair. We are the same. Human beings. That’s why I’m here. We should not be gunning down our parents, our children, anybody. Our children, their children, they are all going to be affected by this. We are in a global economy, with global humanity. If a cop kills my child, his child is going to feel it. The speakers were all on point. It made me feel—I cried a lot. It touched me a lot. I’m a teacher. These are like my students. These are like the parents I’ve had before. I’ve been a teacher for 22 years. So, I cried a lot. It touched people I’ve taught, people I could have taught. This is not just me, not just the people in the families were killed, this is all of us. October 24 needs to bring out people that normally would not come out. It needs to bring out people who would not come out and file a police report about something that happened to them. It needs to resound with people who know the effects this has had on their families. It’s affected a lot of us, all of us, in our community, in other communities. I’m a person who doesn’t normally come out—I need to come out. I need to become more in solidarity with people who are going through these experiences and who are willing to stand up and advocate against this violence. I’m going to try to get my students involved, and their parents, because this can affect them. I plan to bring my students to October 24.”
Black man in his 50s: “I’m tired of this shit. I’m with this—all of it. They got to convict these cops. I’ll be there, with everybody.”
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
August 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Approximately 1,000 people of all ages and many nationalities took to the streets in Chicago Saturday, August 29, in a campaign to demand an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council. The main organizers called on people to support community control of police and to stop police crimes. Others at the event felt police murder had more to do with racist institutions. Revolutionaries were in the crowd calling on people to check out a revolutionary perspective to fundamentally change the system.
The march was very diverse: religious people, hunger strikers protesting the closing of Dyett High School, immigrants and activists from the antiwar movement, climate activists and Anonymous activists. It also included union groups like SEIU and AFSME State Workers, union representatives from United Auto Workers, the Black Educators Caucus, and Fight for 15. Several Stolen Lives families marched, including Rekia Boyd's brother and Flint Farmer's and Ronald "Ronnieman" Johnson's families. An immigrant rights organization from Minnesota, a founder of the Young Lords, and a Filipino anti-imperialist group also marched. Many of the social and political movement groups had banners and brought their supporters. People also joined the march on the spot. A lot of people brought handmade signs. Anti-Torture activists had put a banner strip on the ground a quarter of the way around the courthouse with the names of people in jail who had been tortured into confessions and wrongful convictions.
There was strong support from people from the Middle East, especially Palestinian groups. People came from Minnesota and Detroit. One Middle-East group handed out signs saying "Ferguson to Palestine #Black Lives Matter." Many held Palestinian flags. Some carried signs that read "Arabs Say Now Is The Time To Stop Police Crimes" and "Muslims for Justice."
In the early part of the rally, a member of the Revolution Club sang and announced October 24 to the crowd. There was a lot of energy in the air and a real desire to fight police murder and brutality. After a few speeches and chanting, people took to the streets. They flooded into one whole side of the street as the march took off into downtown Chicago. The march continued in the streets around the Loop, holding two die-ins along the way. Protest organizers had a large paper maché red fist at the lead of the march that said "Stop Police Crimes." The chants mainly spoke to police brutality and murder by police. People in the downtown area heard the chant, "Whose streets? Our streets!" and "Who shuts shit down? We shut shit down," as well as "Indict! Convict! Send the killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell!" At one point people jumped in with the Janelle Monáe and Wondaland chant, "Hell you Talmbout."
There was very broad receptivity to October 24 and drawing a line in society, "Which Side Are You On?" Over 1,000 October 24 pluggers got out, big stacks going to other communities. Some people were aware of October 24 in New York City and many wanted to go. Others were learning about it for the first time. Photos of Emmett Till and Katrina from the cover of the latest issue of Revolution newspaper drew people's attention to how deep the crimes of this system run. The Stolen Lives banner was carried by people throughout the march, along with the Rise Up October banner. There was a feeling among people that we needed to do everything possible to stop these crimes against the people.
Many took pictures of the Stolen Lives banner. There is a huge need to make a leap nationwide in this next period, not fighting city by city, always on the defensive after the pigs gun someone down, but drawing a line in society that challenges everyone, Which Side Are You On?
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
August 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A team has been in New Orleans to get out the special issue of Revolution newspaper focusing on the anniversaries of two major crimes by this system—the racist lynching of Emmett Till 60 years ago and the government’s abandoning of Black people in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago. The team sent the following report to Revolution/revcom.us:
The past couple of days we’ve been taking out the issue of Revolution with the front page headlined “How Long? There IS a Way Out! REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!” in New Orleans.
Day 3, Saturday: Thousands of people converged in the Lower 9th Ward to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Katrina. At the levee breach, there was a reading of the names of people who died when the levee broke. Residents, former residents, family, friends, and other people came from across the country. Reverend Lennox Yearwood ended the ceremony with a call to never forget and never forgive, and then led a second line (a brass band march that’s a tradition in New Orleans) through the streets of the Lower 9th, and across the bridge.
Our crew marched in as a Revolution—Nothing Less! contingent with a large Stolen Lives banner and a display of the special issue of Revolution. From the beginning of the march and throughout, groups of people came up to take pictures to post on social media and to get copies of Revolution. One man came up to the contingent and said, “Come on, get up to the front of the march, people need to see this.” One woman bought a BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! shirt and then wore it throughout the day. A man who got a shirt said, “This is the only serious thing I’ve heard all day.”
Throughout the day, people came up to tell their stories of Katrina and how the struggle to just exist continues for them today. As we marched through the neighborhood, much of the Lower 9th looked pretty much how it looked five years ago—boarded up, or just empty lots. As people came out and lined the streets, many of them came up to get Revolution newspaper and Rise Up October cards. The centerfold of the paper really put the lessons from Katrina in perspective for many people. Several people who got the paper talked about how they and others see how the system is messed up, but don’t know what the solution is. They said that that’s why they want to learn about this revolution and how to get involved with this.
One woman, voicing a sentiment that we ran into time and time again, said, “They [the government] need to own up to what they did.” Another woman said, “We are still here and we will not be defeated, we are not going to be pushed out.” She signed up to be part of helping to organize a contingent from New Orleans to go to NYC for Rise Up October.
Some people grappled with some of what is in the Constitution for a New Socialist Republic in North America and said they were struck by the descriptions of the multinational character of society and on the role of public safety officers.
Later that evening we went to a block party outside a cultural center. Several people came up to us and said that their families have been reading the special issue and thanked us for letting them know about the revolution. A couple of them bought BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts so they can represent for revolution and the emancipation of humanity in New Orleans. One man came up and said to us, “Thank you for everything you’re doing. I want you to come over so I can make you some red beans and rice.” There was also a lot of serious grappling over questions of revolution. Some people wanted to know what real communism is. A couple of Latinos raised Cuba and El Salvador as examples of what they think revolution is and raised whether it is worth it to go through all the things the struggle entails. They were pretty excited to find out about BA and the new synthesis of communism and the revolution he’s brought forward, and wanted to dig into it.
Day Two, Friday: Early this morning, we hit the downtown bus stops with Revolution. Many of the people who took up the newspaper were students heading to charter schools—New Orleans no longer has a public school system. Many of the students took bundles to get out to their teachers and friends. A lot of them said that they didn’t know about revolution, but they wanted to find out. Many of them said they thought New Orleans has the worst police in the country. Several said that they want to read the piece by BA about Emmett Till in the special issue, since they’re studying that in school. As we were at a corner, a man started waving his arms from a passing streetcar. He had the conductor stop so that he could get a copy of Revolution.
Later, we went out to a youth gathering of “Gulf South Rising: The Seas Are Rising and So Are We.” As people grappled over many questions of grassroots organizing, some were drawn to the Revolution display. As a woman listened to a clip of BA on Emmett Till, she wanted to know why she’s never heard about BA before. She feels that “the revolution has begun”—referring to the uprisings against murders by police—but agreed that protests and even uprisings are not enough, and that people need revolutionary leadership. She made arrangements to get a DVD of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Other people were drawn to the poster with BA’s “Three Strikes” quote. Many people said that they appreciated the “Welcome to the Revolution” message in the special issue of the paper and learning about how to stay connected to the movement for revolution.
So far, we have distributed around 300 copies of Revolution, two copies of the DVD of REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN, and two copies of the DVD BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!.
Day One, Thursday: A team went to Tulane University and set up with a poster of the centerfold and stacks of Revolution newspapers and BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts. Small groups of students gathered around and asked for the newspapers. A couple of them got bundles to get out on campus. One young man got a shirt and said that he would wear it in his neighborhood as he got out the cards for Rise Up October, the call for a massive manifestation in New York City October 22-24 against police terror.
Many of the students who stopped said that they wanted to hear the real story of Katrina because they were 10 or 12 years old at the time, and now all they hear is about the “resilience of New Orleans” and that didn’t seem right to them. And many of them also said that they wanted to find out what revolution really is because, as one student said, “I have been asking that same question—how long must this go on?” One young Black man stopped to look at the display and said that it is extremely painful for him to talk about Katrina because he remembers being in nine feet of water, and his parents waving at the police who passed by to help them, and all the police did was wave back. Several students who stopped said that they totally agree that the whole system is fucked up, but... “Why communism?” “Why can’t we all rally around Bernie Sanders, since revolution is such a far-off dream?” And “Who is Bob Avakian, what is he about?”
A person from the religious community donated money so that Revolution could be accessible to people in New Orleans, including the homeless whom they feed. He said, “I’m not a communist or a capitalist, but anything that will shake things up has my support, because I think we’re heading for a calamity.” He went on to describe his experience working in a shelter in Baton Rouge where some of the people evacuated from New Orleans in the wake of Katrina were housed. He made a point that during Katrina, people worked together to help each other, but then lamented how when things went back “to normal,” divisions among people re-emerged.
That evening we went to a Black Lives Matter Katrina commemoration. A couple of women asked “Who is BA?” as they looked through the newspaper. Along with people from New Orleans, several people came from throughout the South for the 10th anniversary. Speaker after speaker described the horrific conditions Black and immigrant people face, now and then, particularly in the LGBT community. Alicia Garza, a founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, delivered a powerful message, including how the response of the U.S. government to Katrina was and remains a defining moment in the struggle of Black people in America.
As people mingled after the program, there was a great deal of interest in the special issue of Revolution as well as in Rise Up October. People took stacks of our palm cards that the Ashe Cultural Center had displayed on a table. Several people came up and thanked us for bringing revolution back into the mix. A white woman who got the paper said that she wanted to know how she could help. There was also coolness on some people’s part. One woman said at first that she wasn’t interested because she’s heard about BA. When challenged on this, she said that she really didn’t know much about him or revolution, so maybe she should read the paper.
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
August 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following message, dated August 25, was sent out by Noelle Hanrahan, director of Prison Radio. For background on political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, see “Urgent: Mumia Gravely Ill” and “Who Is Mumia Abu-Jamal?”
We are in court demanding immediate lifesaving medical treatment for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and we are going to win.
Yesterday, Mumia's lawyers Bret Grote, Legal Director of the Abolitionist Law Center, and co-counsel Robert Boyle filed a preliminary injunction in Abu-Jamal v. Kerestes with Judge Robert Mariani of the Middle District Federal U.S. Court (see link below).
The injunction seeks a federal court order to ensure that prison medical staff provide immediate lifesaving treatment to Mumia.
The prison administration is simply denying Mumia all treatment. Let me be clear: Mumia is weak, his lower extremities still swollen, his skin still severely compromised and raw, and his hepatitis C active and damaging his organs.
Given the severity of Mumia's organ failure (his skin) and indications of additional potential organ damage, our legal action states that withholding treatment is causing immediate and irreparable harm.
Prison officials have refused to conduct additional viral load blood panels, reveal or conduct additional organ damage assessments, and they are refusing to prescribe simple medications to reduce Mumia's painful and dangerous skin eruptions.
And in an effort to further delay treatment, attorneys for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections have filed briefs opposing the class action lawsuit for hepatitis C treatment filed in June. We expect they will oppose our injunction filed yesterday as well.
In addition to the hepatitis C antiviral cure, we are demanding that prison medical personnel re-proscribe Protopic ointment and the mineral supplement Zinc (220 mlligrams per day) as recommended by his physicians to provide immediate relief to Mumia's skin rashes—which have become open wounds.
As Mumia's legal team fights tirelessly for Mumia's life, we more than ever need your assistance. We need to raise $5,317 in the next 5 days to make it half-way to our goal for this stage of Mumia's legal and political campaign.
We are amplifying the call for:
Help us make these demands reality by giving to Mumia's medical and legal fund now, and by calling the numbers listed in our Action Guide.
Every action and every gift makes a difference.
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
August 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
In an important development, related to the widespread movement to take down the Confederate flag in South Carolina and elsewhere in the wake of the Charleston massacre, high school students at J.E.B. Stuart and Robert E. Lee High Schools in Fairfax County, Virginia (on the border with Washington, DC) have launched a petition campaign to rename the schools. Both schools are named after Confederate Army generals. The students are also demanding a similar change for W.T. Woodson High School, named after a segregationist Fairfax County School Board head who opposed Brown v. the Board of Education, the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision on school integration.
More recently, Oscar winners Julianne Moore, actor, and Bruce Cohen, film producer (American Beauty, Silver Linings Playbook, Milk), have started a petition on change.org asking that J.E.B. Stuart High School be renamed for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who lived in the school district and is known for his advocacy in Brown v. Board of Education. Moore and Cohen attended the Fairfax County school in the late 1970s. As of this writing, the petition had gotten nearly 30,000 signatures. In a statement to the Washington Post, Moore said it is reprehensible that the school is named for “a person who fought for the enslavement of other human beings.” The New York Times has also written about this.
The students’ petition states: “In the wake of the slaughter of eight members and the pastor of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2015 by a White Supremacist who admired segregation in the US South, in Rhodesia and in South Africa, we, the undersigned, hereby formally request that the names of J.E.B. Stuart High School, Robert E. Lee High School and W.T. Woodson High School be changed immediately. Current display of Confederate and Segregationist names and themes on government buildings can only serve to fuel legitimacy among 21st century White Supremacists. Moreover, these school names perpetuated, for over 56 years, the racial tension the supporters of the ‘Massive Resistance’ movement against Virginia public school integration, including FCPS School Board Chair W.T. Woodson himself, intended to engender in the student population of these High Schools and in the community at large by naming them after two Confederate Generals and Woodson, a civil servant who was widely known to have been opposed to the 1954 desegregation law of the land, Brown vs. the Board of Education.”
Perhaps ironically, this school district is the same one depicted in the great movie Remember the Titans, which is based on the true-life story of how the T.C. Williams High School football team was de-segregated in 1971.
There are similar campaigns to remove the blood-drenched symbols of slavery off of public and other institutions nationwide. These struggles need to be supported, and deepened. There is already major pushback from some alumni associations, and more broadly, to keep the names. Fairfax County is basically a suburb of Washington, DC, where many federal government bureaucrats and military brass live. I don’t think we’ve seen the full development yet of the fascist side of this society-wide polarization.
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
August 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On August 19, a homeless man sleeping near a train stop in Boston was wakened by two men urinating in his face. The two brothers then kicked, punched, and beat the man with a metal pole. One of them told police who arrested the two they did it because “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.” When Trump was informed of this criminal racist assault that he inspired, he said, “It would be a shame,” then added, “I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.” This incident is not an anomaly. It is a concentration of the kind of shit Trump is consciously unleashing throughout the country—fascist, bloodthirsty violence with the potential to become much greater.
This week alone, an Alabama man heard Trump speak and then told a reporter the U.S. should “make the border a vacation spot, it’s going to cost you $25 for a permit, and then you get $50 for every confirmed kill.” Trump himself told the stupendous lie that “criminal immigrant gangs” were responsible for the protests in Ferguson and Baltimore. He elaborated on his program of extreme, unprecedented repression against immigrants, and called for massive deportations of Mexican people (and Spanish-speaking people generally): “They [immigrants] are going to be gone so fast, if I win, that your head will spin.” The white supremacist, Nazi website, the Daily Stormer, endorsed Trump, saying he “is willing to say what most Americans think: it’s time to deport these people.” Trump did nothing to repudiate this endorsement, and it hasn’t slowed down the Trump bulldozer at all.
Far from ostracizing Trump from the political mainstream, all his threats and racist hate have helped solidify his position at the top of the polls for the Republican candidate for president. Literally no one in the U.S. ruling class is calling him out for the dangerous fascist demagogue he is. His program for attacking immigrants and Spanish-speaking people generally, and mounting extreme border repression, is not being criticized, much less repudiated, by any other leading Republican. In fact, it is the standard by which that entire pack of religious fundamentalists, mean-spirited tycoons, woman-hating anti-abortion fanatics, war mongers, and science deniers measure their own positions.
Beyond that, Trump is getting round-the-clock coverage on all the news networks, and almost daily articles in papers like the New York Times and Washington Post. More than a year before the actual election, a vicious and violent anti-immigrant force is coalescing around Trump; it is being accepted and promoted as a legitimate part of the “political process.”
STOP THE DEMONIZATION, CRIMINALIZATION AND DEPORTATIONS OF IMMIGRANTS AND THE MILITARIZATION OF THE BORDER!
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
August 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a Revolution Books volunteer
Revolution Books in New York City succeeded just before midnight Friday, August 28, in reaching its $30,000 goal in its online crowd-funding campaign! The funds will go toward the essential renovations of the new space at 437 Malcolm X Blvd./Lenox Ave. in Harlem, NYC. As the deadline approached late Friday night, volunteers reached out to many, many contacts and friends of Revolution Books, new and old, with some of those folks themselves spreading the word on Facebook and in other ways. A lot of small contributions came together through the final hours to put it over the top! Altogether in the five week campaign, 236 donors contributed from $5 to $2,000—including two large matching challenges from “2 still-crazy senior women looking to a new world.” One of them sent this: “When you walk into Revolution Books... the books, the books! It’s bright, there’s color everywhere. Even the air feels fresh. You can breathe. My god, it’s a liberated area!”
On August 17, at a Revolution Books meeting held at the Harlem YMCA as the crowd-funding campaign entered its last week, Andy Zee, spokesperson for Revolution Books NYC, told a diverse group of professionals, ex-prisoners, older activists, and people living in nearby projects about Revolution Books’ mission and how and why they were needed to be part of opening this place. He said this: “There is no place else—no other site, no other bookstore, where there is consistent engagement with the biggest questions facing humanity, and which holds the possibility of connection to the movement for revolution. Something beautiful—a world with a radically different economy, with different values, a different form of government, social relations and a whole new way of thinking grounded in knowing the world as it actually is and transforming it with the aim of not only meeting the needs of the people of the world and protecting the environment for future generations—but a world where all the social relations that Bob Avakian spoke of in the ‘What if’ film clip1 that we just saw are being worked on collectively and consciously. The vision of this society, the means to struggle together for it, is what drives the staff of Revolution Books, it is what we model, and all this is grounded in the new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian which is not only a goal and the mission of a party and movement with a strategy to achieve that goal... it is most of all a scientific method and approach to probe, engage, understand and transform reality.”
This vision and spirit at the core of Revolution Books animates and is drawing together the donations and contributions of many people, from many different viewpoints, who want to see this bookstore for the whole world, and about the whole world, open in Harlem.
The successful completion of this latest round in the battle to re-open Revolution Books matters a great deal. It matters that $30,000 was raised to take the next steps in re-opening the store. And it matters that more than 230 donors have stepped into the Revolution Books community through working together to contribute and raise these funds. All this must be built upon and marshaled as we fight to raise the remaining funds for signage, new books, and promotion; as we draw forward volunteers to help with the renovations and be part of “Revolution Books Without Walls” tables throughout NYC until the new space is open; and as a whole new level the revolutionary intellectual ferment and community comes alive when the new store actually opens.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, September 1, at 6:30 pm, Revolution Books invites everyone to the next bookstore meeting at the Harlem YMCA, 180 W. 135th Street. Find out more about Revolution Books and how you can be involved in reopening this place that is needed now more than ever.
The world needs revolution, the revolution needs Revolution Books, Revolution Books needs you!
Information and to volunteer: www.revolutionbooksnyc.org or 212-691-3345.
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
Updated September 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Michael Brown...Freddie Gray... Rekia Boyd... Andy Lopez...Tamir Rice
One after another—and so many others, precious Black and Brown lives—victims of police murder. We think of their faces, and furiously ache for justice. Over 1,000 people a year killed by police—yet since 2005, less than 60 indictments, less than 25 convictions! 1
Millions languish in prison, generation after generation, Black and Latino brothers and sisters. The spearpoint of a whole matrix of oppression.
People have struggled, resisted, risen up. This must go on and go further—all summer, in many different ways, intensifying.
At the same time, these repeated outrages cry out for a major, national manifestation this fall that states very clearly:
NO! THESE MURDERS BY POLICE MUST STOP—NOW!!
This demonstration 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 and powerfully impacting the whole world.
History has shown that no significant change has been won without mass determined resistance.
We refuse to be derailed by promises of reform that are merely that: promises.
We refuse to be intimidated by government repression or by threats from forces of open and unrepentant racism and fascism. We will respond to the urgency of the political situation by mobilizing hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets to say these horrors must stop.
We aim to amplify the many forms of resistance against police murder and mass incarceration. More important, we aim to 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.
Join us—on October 24 in the streets of New York City.
Initiated by Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party & Dr. Cornel West, author and educator
Initiating Endorsers include family members of those whose lives were taken by police:
Revolution #402 August 31, 2015
August 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
One year ago, Israel carried out massively destructive military attacks on the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip for 50 straight days in July and August. In this extended slaughter, Israel killed 2,251 Palestinians—1,462 of whom were civilians, including 551 children. The figures on the Israel side were 67 soldiers and six civilians killed. More than 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza were left without a home they could return to. (Statistics from a June 24, 2015 UN Human Rights Council report and from United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.)
A year later, not a single home destroyed in that summer 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza has been rebuilt. The 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza are facing increasingly desperate conditions. Since 2007, Israel—with the backing of the U.S. imperialists and in collusion with the current U.S.-backed regime in Egypt—has sealed off Gaza and restricted vital supplies of food, water, medicine, and construction material. Many people call Gaza the “world’s largest open-air prison.”
The horrendous war crimes being perpetrated against the Palestinian people flow out of a world order dominated by ruthless U.S. imperialism, and in particular the spiraling destructive contention between two outmoded reactionary forces—U.S. imperialism on one hand, and Islamic fundamentalism on the other.
Israel, with U.S. backing, claims to be targeting Hamas, the Islamic fundamentalist group that is the elected government in Gaza. Hamas does not represent anything positive for the oppressed Palestinian people. But the reality is that it is overwhelmingly Israel, Egypt, and the U.S. that are responsible for the immense suffering of the Palestinian people. Israel’s imprisonment and brutal oppression of the Palestinian people in Gaza and throughout Palestine was going on before Hamas. Israel is a country built on the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people—literally built on their land and bones.
Especially now, at a time when the U.S. empire faces challenges from all kinds of rivals in the Middle East, and around the world, and is tied up in a vicious cycle of conflict with Islamic jihadist forces (at least with ones it cannot enlist in its interests at the moment), the rulers of the U.S. empire need Israel. Israel is by far the single most reliable U.S. ally in the region and has been an indispensable hit man for the U.S. empire for decades. That’s not hyperbole. Look it up in the special issue of Revolution—“Bastion of Enlightenment... or Enforcer for Imperialism: The Case of ISRAEL”—examine the map of the globe showing gruesome crimes Israel has carried out for the U.S. empire from Guatemala to South Africa (click here for a PDF of that map).
There are serious differences between Israel and the U.S.—they each have their own interests—and those differences are heating up with the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal. But the “special relationship” between the two remains in effect because Israel is so tightly woven into the U.S. capitalist-imperialist empire.
Stop and envision all that the people in Gaza are facing—in a world of outrages, this situation stands out as a crime that the whole world can see. And millions of people around the world have been mobilized to oppose Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. There have been repeated attempts to break the blockade of Gaza, courageously going up against violent attacks by Israel carried out with full backing of the United States, including the massacre of nine people on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in 2010. (See “Two Years Since Israel’s Attack on the Mavi Marmara: A Massacre to Enforce Horrific Crimes.”)
There is a growing and important movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions around the world, including in the U.S. The aims of the BDS Movement are summarized at the website bdsmovement.net: “In 2005, Palestinian civil society issued a call for campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights.” Important institutions and organizations in the U.S. and around the world have endorsed BDS, and this has contributed significantly to shining a spotlight on Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and to exposing and isolating Israel. There have been important and inspiring messages of solidarity between Palestinians struggling against their oppression and Black people and others in places like Ferguson, Missouri, rising up against police terror and murder in the USA.
This worldwide protest and resistance needs to be supported, deepened, broadened, and taken much further. It points to the possibility of breaking out of the deadly dynamic of the contention between the “two outmodeds”—U.S. imperialism/Israel and Islamic Jihad. To fully realize this potential, bringing forward a whole other way, and breaking free of imperialist domination, requires an actual revolution—and it requires the new synthesis of communism and revolution brought forward by Bob Avakian, as concentrated in Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage—A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and other material found at revcom.us.