Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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LAPD Murders Again — Basta Ya! No More!
Justice for Manuel Jaminez

It's one o'clock on a warm September 5 afternoon in the immigrant neighborhood of Pico Union. In this area's Westlake district, at the corner of 6th and Union streets, the sidewalks are bustling with vendors, shoppers and children playing in this very densely populated part of Los Angeles. Among them is Manuel Jaminez Xum (Manuel Jaminez), a 37-year-old day laborer from Guatemala. Today, his footing is a bit wobbly, his reaction time a bit slowed by a few beers earlier that morning. Afterwards, some said they had seen Manuel holding on to a fence to steady himself as three menacing LAPD bicycle cops approached him.

Just forty seconds later, he was dead. LAPD cop Frank Hernandez had shot Manuel twice in the head. It was at such close range that one witness recounted how his blood splashed all the way across the street to where she stood. The cops handcuff his lifeless corpse and threw a white sheet over it. And for four more hours, his blood-soaked body lay in the hot sun. Like a dead animal.

It was just too much of a provocation for the people of Pico Union to stomach, causing people to rebel in the streets for the next three days and nights.

After the shooting of Manuel, an outraged crowd pressed up against the yellow crime scene tape, some shouting "Asesinos!" "Murderers!" "We are not animals! We are human beings." "Justicia!" One newspaper reported someone yelling, "You guys don't have the right to come into our neighborhood and assassinate people."

From the morning into late night of Monday, September 6, people's anger against this outrage boiled over in the streets with shouts of "justice for Manuel Jaminez." Repeatedly, hundreds would gather at the spot of his murder; it became the site of an ongoing vigil. Men and women took turns speaking bitterly about how the cops treat the people of Pico Union, how routinely and constantly the cops terrorize residents, macing vendors in their face, confiscating and throwing their food products in the trash, issuing tickets they cannot pay. People repeatedly marched from the vigil site to the nearby Rampart police station and back. This whole scene lasted for two more days.

People took to the streets. Over the course of three days, the whole neighborhood was alive with defiance and resistance against this injustice. There were moments of exhilaration where people who yesterday had been fearful of simply being noticed by cops demanding documents now stood up proudly with dignity and humanity. They marched fearlessly up to the hated Rampart station and pressed signs and banners of "We are all Manuel Jaminez" onto the glass front doors. Local TV and newspapers reported that police were pelted with eggs, trash dumpsters rolled down the streets, and garbage was thrown from rooftops and upstairs windows onto streets below. By midweek, Google news showed about 600 news items of the uprising in Pico Union from the U.S. and around the world, from China to Mexico, Canada to Lebanon, from Kentucky to Minnesota, New York to Nevada.

Stunned by the intensity and sustained nature of this mass resistance, the authorities reacted with even more LAPD pouring into the streets and occupying Pico Union. Riot police massed in the hundreds and shot tear gas and rubber bullets as helicopters hovered, with their loudspeakers blaring "by police code, this is an illegal gathering and you are ordered to disperse." Someone yelled back in Spanish: "By what police code do you shoot down an innocent man?" One woman shouted at the cops, "Violadores! Rapists! Rapists! You rape undocumented women!" Another, holding a picture of Manuel. stuck it in each cop's face, demanding they look at whom they had murdered. "We are human beings!" Mothers laughed together with their adolescent daughters as people taunted the police.

Nearly 30 people were arrested, many charged with refusing to disperse, inciting to riot, or assaulting police. The L.A. Times wrote on September 14 that over a dozen may be charged as city officials review police reports, news video footage, and "witness accounts" to build cases against protesters. There are stories that some of the arrested had been turned over to ICE and face deportation.

A community meeting was called by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck four days after the police shot Jaminez. Over 400 people attended. As soon as Beck took the microphone, shouts of "Justice!" "Justicia!" and booing arose loudly in the room, drowning him out more than once. Hundreds marched again in the streets after the meeting.

People angrily demanded Beck explain why the police killed Jaminez. Some challenged the police story as "made up in Hollywood" with its exaggerated photos of a six-inch knife that Manuel supposedly had. A witness said she had immediately told police at the scene that Manuel had "nothing in his hands" when he was shot. Her account was ignored until days later when she gave a statement at a press conference called by political activists. Other witnesses have come forward to corroborate her story.

Mainstream press have all repeated the police story that Jaminez held a bloodied knife over his head and lunged at the three cops after he threatened a couple of women, including one who was pregnant. This has been confusing for many. But two weeks later, authorities have not found out whose blood was supposedly on the knife, nor have the two women been named.

But even if the police story were true, many have correctly noted the situation could have been dealt with differently, without killing Jaminez. With three beefy cops against one intoxicated man, it was possible to have disarmed him and diffused the situation. Many people on the street corner said they knew Manuel Jaminez and could have easily assisted.



Tell us your story about police abuse
Wednesday, September 22 – 7:00 p.m.
Public Meeting – Location in the Pico Union neighborhood to be announced.

Tell us your story if the police have...

  • sweated you at school
  • dogged you in the streets
  • hit on you or otherwise sexually harassed you, or
  • if the police have racially profiled, threatened, tasered or brutalized you or any member of your family

Manuel Jaminez was brutally murdered by the LAPD on September 5, 2010.  His murder has unleashed many to tell their stories of being harassed and brutalized by the police.

We want to hear your stories.  We also invite lawyers, clergy, teachers and professors to share stories they know about police abuse.

Sponsored by the Readers of Revolution newspaper (

For more information: Call Revolution Books/Libros Revolución at 213 488-1303

The cops, city officials, and mainstream press say this police murder is justified, as the cops were afraid of getting hurt. But is it legitimate or right for firemen to let people die for fear of entering a burning building so as to save their own skin? If the role of the police is truly to protect and serve the people, wouldn't they have in fact risked their own safety instead of taking someone's life in less than one minute?

Frank Hernandez has shot two other people. In 2008, he shot 19-year-old Joseph Wolf, who had already turned his back and walked inside his own front door. Wolf was then arrested with a fabricated story of pointing a gun at the cops, "evidence" which turned out to be two plastic toy pistols taken from a dresser of his bedroom! Is this accident or design that such lying, brutal cops like Hernandez are turned loose on an impoverished neighborhood like Pico Union?

In a press interview, Beck casually admits the LAPD shoots dozens of people each year. He was surprised and baffled by the angry resistance this time. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has infuriated a lot of people in saying that he is "certain" that an investigation will prove the cops to be the heroes.

Think about it. The authorities expect to shoot people down in the neighborhoods of the oppressed and get away with it time after time. Does a system like this, with these kinds of representatives and enforcers, have the right, ability, moral authority and legitimacy to rule over society if they cannot handle such a situation better than wantonly killing people and expecting to get away with it, time after time?

Driven from Guatemala...Abused and Murdered in America

The RCP's Message and Call captures the reality for all those like Manuel:

Throughout the world, as a result of this system, a billion people or more go hungry ever day...with many facing the threat of starvation. Hundreds of millions of children are forced to work like slaves and to live in putrid slums, in the midst of garbage and human waste. Waves of immigrants, unable to live in their own homelands, travel the earth in search of work—and if they find it, they are worked until they can hardly stand and are forced into the shadows, with the constant fear that they will be deported and their families broken apart.

According to some of his relatives, Manuel left behind his children and wife in Guatemala in 2003 and could not travel to see them for the past five years. He felt trapped in Los Angeles, where he lacked work, money and documents to allow him to visit his loved ones. He left during a time when western Guatemala experienced famine conditions from a combination of factors—devastation of its economy due to imperialist globalization, deforestation and privatization of resources like water for irrigating land. A 2010 study released by Guatemala's education and health ministries report that over 45% of Guatemalan children suffer malnutrition and 52% of its 13 million people live in conditions of poverty or extreme poverty. The agriculture ministry reports 2 million Guatemalan peasants are threatened by famine this year.

There is a sense broadly that the shooting of Manuel Jaminez is part of the epidemic of police brutality and murder, aimed mostly at Black and Latino people all across this country, but especially in impoverished neighborhoods like Pico Union. For many, this is linked to and part of the attacks against immigrants, further unleashed by laws like Arizona's SB 1070. That is, it is part of a climate where immigrants, when they get to this country, are viciously exploited at every turn, demonized, denied basic human rights, dragged away and deported at any moment, brutalized by sadistic border patrol agents and the local police. It's no wonder that the police murder of Manuel Jaminez kindled broad and deep rage.

However, instead of laying the causes of this rebellion at the feet of the reality of enforced poverty and misery under this system—enforced by the wanton brutality of the police, Chief Charlie Beck and the L.A. police union claim the protests were "fueled by" "agitators" and "various community 'activists.'" They specifically singled out the Revolutionary Communist Party.

It is telling that, in the face of the honest and justified outrage of the people, the powers-that-be proclaim the police heroes—and then try to divert people's anger against those forces who are resolutely standing with the masses.

The Message and Call, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" was out all over the neighborhood, as was Revolution newspaper. Just as they should be! And, together with the many signs people made themselves, they were not only debated, but became ways the people expressed their sentiments.

Resistance...and a Search for Answers

The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be. (RCP's Message and Call, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have")

It mattered that people took to the streets in Pico Union. Not only have the people courageously stood up and refused to let this be just one more time when the police literally get away with murder, this resistance can be part of the process through which the political terrain, and the people's thinking, get transformed as they fight the power.

And when those at the base of society refuse to put up with things like the murder of Manuel Jaminez, this can have a positive impact throughout society, among people of all walks of life. Some of those sentiments were expressed in statements sent to a September 16 press conference at the site of the killing to call for justice for Manuel Jaminez, and to "Support the Protests Against the Police Killing." A statement from Rev. Richard Meri Ka Ra Byrd expressed outrage "over the police execution of Manuel Jaminez and the thousands of other cases of murder, brutalization and criminalization of black and brown people in America." A message sent by James Lafferty, Executive Director, Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, called for "an honest, thorough, and transparent investigation into the shooting death of Mr. Jaminez" and "if the officers involved are found guilty of wrongdoing in the shooting they be prosecuted appropriately." And a statement from Tomás Olmos, attorney, past President of the Mexican American Bar Foundation & Dean Emeritus of People's College of Law (affiliation for identification only), condemned the "intensifying climate of pushing immigrants more into the shadows." Olmos added, "If supporting this just cause renders me an 'outside agitator,' I will proudly wear that badge of honor." (See transcripts of these and other statements at the press conference below.)

The upsurge has provoked an openness and curiosity among many who took part and among those impacted by it to seek answers, big and small, about the world and how things work: Is it only about racism? Or is the whole system guilty in these police murders? Could revolution really happen in the U.S.—and what kind of revolution is both needed and possible? Who is the leader? What is the strategy?

It is important that the revolutionaries stood with the people, and as they did so, raised the people's political consciousness and worked to bring them to an understanding that there is no permanent necessity for the ways things are in this society. When revolutionaries enter into such outbreaks it is an important part of the process of bringing forward a revolutionary people through all the twists and turns of resistance to this and other crimes of this system as a part of all the work to "prepare minds and organize forces for revolution." Another world, a much better future, is possible—and it is worth fighting for!

Justice for Manuel Jaminez! Indict and jail the killer cops! Drop the charges on all protesters! No raids or deportations!

Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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September 17, 2010
Statements read at press conference at 6th & Union, Los Angeles:

Justice for Manuel Jaminez Xum (Manuel Jaminez) and Standing with the People of Pico/Union/Westlake in Protest of the Police Killing

  1. Rev. Richard Meri Ka Ra Byrd, Senior Minister KRST Unity Center Of Afrakan Spiritual Science, Los Angeles; Member October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.
  2. Statement from Tomás Olmos, Attorney, past President, Mexican American Bar Foundation* & Dean Emeritus of People's College of Law*
  3. Frances Olson, UCLA* Law Professor and Feminist Legal Scholar
  4. Paul Von Blum, UCLA* Lecturer and Attorney-at-Law
  5. Statement from James Lafferty, Executive Director, Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild

*Organization affiliation for identification purposes only

* * * * *


Rev. Richard Meri Ka Ra Byrd, Senior Minister KRST Unity Center Of Afrakan Spiritual Science, Los Angeles; Member October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation

I join with you this day to express my outrage over the police execution of Manuel Jaminez and the thousands of other cases of murder, brutalization and criminalization of black and brown people in America, including the so-called war against terrorist being illegally waged by U.S. Forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine; sovereign nations of Africa and even the Drug wars costing Mexico thousands of innocent lives.

The whole world is suffering from the racist and imperialistic European powers since they launched themselves against the indigenous people of Africa and the Americas 500 years ago. It is an ongoing story of destruction unparalleled in human history and each day another page of its horror plays itself out in our lives.

Ours is a call for a true reclamation of our human brotherhood. We must join together in UNITY realizing that we black and brown need each other along with the conscious whites in order to recreate the world on behalf of the people of the world.

The murder of Manuel presents us with another opportunity to recognize that we are the majority in the world and by working together we can take civilization back!

Meri Ka Ra

* * * * *

Statement from Tomás Olmos, Attorney, past President of Mexican American Bar* Foundation & Dean Emeritus of People's College of Law*

I am proud to add my name to those people of conscience who support the Pico Union community in demanding justice for Manuel Jaminez. The police killing of Manuel Jaminez is an outrage that must be condemned and in this intensifying climate of pushing immigrants more into the shadows and to be silent about the situation they face here, as they are being labeled as "less than human beings" and terrorized. I will never forget that as early immigrants to this country, my family faced the same experience, as we were not welcomed.

If supporting this just cause renders me an "outside agitator," I will proudly wear that badge of honor. Although I am not a resident of the Pico Union community, I have lived in Los Angeles for over 30 years and believe that I have an absolute right, and moral obligation, to support my fellow brothers and sisters, wherever they may live. The attempt to denigrate and demonize the supporters of Pico Union as "outside agitators" reminds me of the "freedom riders" who came from all over the United States to join in defense of our African American brothers and sisters. These "outside agitators" were targeted by local law enforcement, jailed and some were killed. These "outside agitators" are now viewed as courageous heroes of the civil rights movement. Those who have and are continuing to protest in the wake of police killing of Manuel Jaminez are very courageous.

We must not allow ourselves to be divided. We must stand together and give notice that an attack on any of us is an attack on all of us.

* * * * *

Statement from Frances Olson, UCLA* Law Professor and Feminist Legal Scholar

I am sorry I cannot be there with you today in person. But I am with you in
spirit and support you.

* * * * *

Statement from Paul Von Blum, UCLA* Lecturer and Attorney-at-Law

Unfortunately my schedule does not permit me to be there today, but please know that I have been following and will continue to follow what happened to Manuel Jaminez. I am very concerned about the conduct of—and how people of color are treated by—the LAPD. You have my support.

* * * * *

Statement from James Lafferty, Executive Director, Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild

The Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild has condemned Mayor Villaraigosa for his statement in the wake of the LAPD shooting death of Manuel Jaminez, to the effect that while an investigation was necessary, the Mayor was "certain" that at the end of that investigation the police officers involved would be found to be "heroes." Such a statement from the Mayor not only fatally prejudices the investigation in advance, should the officers involved be exonerated of wrong-doing (which is the usual outcome of these so-called 'investigations' of the police by the police), no one in L.A. will have any reason to believe the investigation was fair and accurate.

Furthermore, as we in the Lawyers Guild have learned more about the prior conduct of the officer who killed Mr. Jaminez, and the actions of the LAPD in the Westlake area of Los Angeles, in general, we have become more and more disgusted with the apparently routine disregard of the rights of the immigrant community living in the area. Daily, illegal harassment... and worse... seems to be the norm of police conduct in Westlake.

The Lawyers Guild demands that, on this occasion, there be an honest, thorough, and transparent investigation into the shooting death of Mr. Jaminez; that if the officers involved are found guilty of wrongdoing in the shooting they be prosecuted appropriately; and that there be a change of LAPD use of force policy, to the end that ways short of death will be employed in situations where mentally incapacitated individuals are confronted by the LAPD.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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To Revolutionaries, Radicals and Resisters:

Take THIS Revolution to the Campuses

Last year, the movement for revolution began to get going on the campus. The revolutionary communists came, straight up, to Columbia and Cal-Berkeley, to UCLA and University of Chicago, NYU and Harvard, Howard and Clark Atlanta University. They challenged the conventional wisdom—and sometimes the spokespeople for that wisdom. They took on what "everybody knows" about the history and future of communist revolutions... about the still ongoing and, yes, intensifying oppression of women... and about the grotesque irony of Black youth becoming a new generation of "Buffalo Soldiers"—joining the U.S. Army to violently defend the very white supremacist system that forecloses their future. A special Revolution on the environmental emergency—one which lays bare the real depth and source of the problem but also shows how revolution could deal with this—began to get out as well.

All this was badly needed. Without a revolutionary movement on the campuses, and without radical ferment and much more critical thinking and a whole lot of imagination among the students, there won't be revolution. There won't be an end to the horrors; just a tinkering with and touching up of the system that produced the horrors.

This year? Let's take it deeper and let's take it wider. Let's get back into the debates we opened up. And let's open up some new ones. Let's talk about Israel—about its whole history, what it's doing today, and how all that fits into U.S. global domination. Let's talk about micro-lending and NGOs, and how those false solutions suck in thousands of students every year who really do want to make a difference with their lives. Let's seriously get that Revolution on the environment out to the many students agonizing over the future of life on this planet. And let's get into, most of all, the possibility for a whole different future society on this land that will be laid out in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—coming this Fall!


The Revolution We Need...
The Leadership We Have
A Message, And A Call, From
The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

And, despite the good intentions of many teachers, the educational system is a bitter insult for many youth and a means of regimentation and indoctrination overall. While, particularly in some "elite" schools, there is some encouragement for students to think in "non-conformist" ways—so long as, in the end, this still conforms to the fundamental needs and interests of the system—on the whole, instead of really enabling people to learn about the world and to pursue the truth wherever it leads, with a spirit of critical thinking and scientific curiosity, education is crafted and twisted to serve the commandments of capital, to justify and perpetuate the oppressive relations in society and the world as a whole, and to reinforce the dominating position of the already powerful. And despite the creative impulses and efforts of many, the dominant culture too is corrupted and molded to lower, not raise, people's sights, to extol and promote the ways of thinking, and of acting, that keep this system going and keep people believing that nothing better is possible.

Let's do all this—and let's do it as part of the campaign "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have." A campaign to put revolution back on the map... to make the leader of that revolution, Bob Avakian, known throughout society... and to bring forward a new wave of revolutionary fighters.

Let's take a challenge to the students: "We ARE building a movement for revolution... And if you don't think we need a revolution, tell us why!" Seriously, let's paint a picture of the whole thing: the wars and destruction of entire countries; the officially sanctioned torture; the capitalist destruction of the planet's ecosystems and the environment; the oppression of women—intensifying in different forms across the world; children's lives and dreams ground to dust in the global sweatshops; police brutality and the criminalization and incarceration of a generation; and pose that challenge for real. "You want to defend this? You really think that this can or should be patched up? Too much is at stake not to get into and seriously check out a REAL AND RADICAL ALTERNATIVE: REVOLUTION AND COMMUNISM, especially as it has been re-envisioned in Bob Avakian's new synthesis." Let's get out the Message and Call from the RCP—"The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"—and let's make it a mission to permeate some campuses with this by semester's end.

Let's take poster boards of the Revolution centerspread on "Entre-Manure-ialism" onto the campus—and let's work up some street theatre based on it—and plug into the real dissatisfaction that a lot of students have for the putrid culture we live in, and the bankrupt future—and morality—they're being offered... or, rather, pushed into. Let's take the symbols of that culture—from the cop hats to the porn to the wedding dresses—and throw them, figuratively and yeah, maybe literally, into the dumpster. And while we do all that, let's model and create space for a new morality, that lives our principles now.

Let's get the special issue on Israel, coming October 4, out in a big way; and let's use the quiz about Israel's true history ahead of time to stir controversy and anticipation. Let's stir up debate and argument on this question—let's NOT "let sleeping dogs lie"—and let's be sure that there's a growing trend of people on the campus who know what's behind Israel's attacks on the Palestinians and its threats to start war against Iran, and let's get ready to politically respond at the next outrage. Let's do this—and let's seek to unite with the people who've also been working to bring out the truth about and build resistance to these crimes, and let's get some debate going with anyone who wants to defend this shit.

Let's take the October 22 day of protest to stop police brutality and repression onto the campuses, and let's unite some of the people who face that every day to come with us as we do. Let's remember the response of a student from an elite campus who came to a conference on building the movement for revolution, when he met and talked with some people who live in the projects about their lives—"the people on my campus have NO IDEA about this!" What might be the impact if even a couple of people who DO live this hell every day came to campus with signs saying "Ask me what it's like to live in the hellhole called America"? And what might be the impact of some of the students going on guided tours of the ghettos and barrios, led by these same people?

Let's try new things. Let's see if we can put together a "Revolution Week" at some campuses, where formal organized programs could be put on but where those would be in a whole context of a week of revolutionary agitation and programs and showings of Bob Avakian's filmed talk on revolution and coffee shop discussions and classroom "guest lectures" and with Avakian's image popping up in unexpected places and on unexpected people, and where the week itself has an informal revolutionary festive feel—massive visual saturation and decoration with past posters of centerfolds and back pages, "guerilla-arts-style" video showings on walls, street theatre and agitation, collectively watching Bob Avakian's revolution talk, and discussions/arguments in dorms and cafés going into the night, and everything else you can imagine. Why not? Is there anything more festive than actually setting about bringing into being a whole new—and far better—world? Anything more stimulating than seeing the dots actually connected? And let this be "radically simple" in the way we do it—get your kits and get out there and talk with people!

Let's get revolutionary literature way into the campus... but let's not confine ourselves to passing out a few—or even a lot of—flyers and papers and posters. Let's sit down with people—with students—and let's find out what they think. Let's listen to how they see the world and their futures, and with those who are provoked—or who provoke you—let's go through the day and into the night and talk further. Let's make a friend or two—sure, let them know what we're doing, but don't just be calling them when "you've got something for them to do." Naw, that's not the heart of what this movement for revolution is or should be about—let's be part of the feel and flow of campus life, and bring revolution into that.

Let's be like our cause and like our leader—completely outrageous... and eminently reasonable! Let's get the image of Bob Avakian up and out and everywhere. Let's popularize BA's memoir... and let's show his talk on revolution all over. People have never heard and read or seen anything like Avakian—let's tap into the hunger that many don't even know they have yet. For those who've been hungry for something like this, let's meet that hunger and get into it with them. And for those who feel even a little bit pulled to what we got here, let's walk with them all the way through the whole back-and-forth, up-and-down, zig-and-zag, wrangle-resist-and-grapple-with process involved in rupturing with just about everything you've been told your whole life and everything your friends, your teachers, your parents and pretty much the whole damn society is telling you right now. Let's not give up on people... and let's give them space to act on what they do know and believe, while they work out the rest. Let's have a little strategic confidence that what we've got with BA and with our whole communist cause really IS the real deal... and that people, right now, may be hooked by the society and may have a hard time getting unhooked... but that, deep down, they don't want to be strung out on the nasty-ass bad dope known as America.

Let's get out there. Let's learn, and let's teach. Let's wage some struggle. Let's use our imagination and our science. And let's have some fun.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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From Ike to Mao and Beyond
My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist
A Memoir by Bob Avakian

from Chapter Five: Life Interrupted


During those years, while it would be an exaggeration to say that I literally didn't recognize myself when I looked in the mirror, in all but the most literal sense that was true. I just looked completely different to myself, really disfigured. I was altered very significantly in my physical appearance, and not in a good way, and I was also very sickly. I grew up in this society and came of age in the '50s, with all the conventional and superficial ways in which people are conditioned to think about relations between boys and girls, men and women; and I, obviously, was conditioned myself by all that. For example, I mentioned that among my good friends in high school were girls who were intellectuals and whom I respected for their minds and their thinking. On the other hand, while I didn't go for the classical separation — where there are some girls who are smart, and they're friends, and there are other ones who are pretty or sexy or whatever, and they're the ones you are interested in romantically — a girl did have to be good-looking, in the conventional sense, for me to get romantically interested.

But when everything's knocked out from underneath you and your whole life changes and even your looks change in this way, your outlook begins to change too. It wasn't as if this were an epiphany, and my whole viewpoint changed completely, all at once, but it did start me thinking in a different way and more deeply about what's really important in people, and in particular women, both as friends and even as people in whom you might be romantically interested. But this was only the beginning and part of a longer term process through which I underwent some real changes — it wasn't an overnight dramatic thing, where I woke up one morning, looked at myself in the mirror and said, "Well, look what happened to you, so why bother to think any more about how people look?" That would be an exaggeration and a silly distortion. But it did cause me to start thinking more deeply about what really matters in people, what are the important qualities in people.

Also, my friends were coming to visit me when I was able to go home from the hospital but couldn't get out of the house for a while. My friends would spend their weekends with me, and this meant a tremendous amount to me. They could have been — and probably, on one level, would have liked to be — out doing a whole bunch of other things. But they cared about me and it was important to them to be with me and give me support, and this kind of thing also makes you think differently and more deeply about things, or at least begin to.

I wouldn't necessarily have described myself as "popular" in high school. I was controversial. I was popular with some people and very unpopular with other people, including people who were "popular" in the classical and conventional sense. But I did think of myself as a guy who's "got something going for him," and I more or less expected people to like me. As for those who didn't like me, fuck 'em — it was for good reasons they didn't like me, it was because I was doing things that I believed in and things that I wanted to do that are important and right. So if they don't like me for that reason, to hell with them — there are other people who will like me. That was all part of the whole "brimming with confidence" thing, which also partly comes from the background that I came out of, where the world seems like it's open to you. Then all of a sudden you are knocked down, with this serious illness and all its side effects, and you don't have everything going for you.

Of course, I still had a lot of people and resources to support me. My parents still had money for my health, and my mother spent a couple of years basically revolving her life around helping me recuperate, down to the level of paying very minute attention to my diet, which was very restricted. For example, I could only have very, very limited amounts of sodium every day. I used to write up menus, going through books calibrating the milligrams of sodium in different things, then my mom would find the right foods and prepare the meals that fit that diet. She had to weigh everything, she had to shop at special stores, at a time when they didn't have the whole broad array of health food stores and different kinds of health foods that they have now. So this took up a big part of her life, for a couple of years, besides giving me other kinds of practical and emotional support.

At a time when I was beginning to go out on my own, all of a sudden I was forced not only to live at home for a couple of years, but to be very dependent on my family. My older sister, Marjorie, was out of the house at that point. My younger sister, Mary-Lou, was in high school. She was very supportive, but she also had her own life, and while my parents also cared about her and her life and paid attention to that, they frankly devoted a lot of time to my needs, and my mother in particular did this on almost an hour-by-hour basis, especially in the early stages, to help me survive and recover. Of course, I had tremendous appreciation and gratitude for my mom and for everything that she was doing for me. I always was very fond of my mom, but this made it much deeper. ...

Most Courageous Athlete—Until...

... For the first year after I got sick, I was still taking very high dosages of the cortisone. I had all these side effects from that — and I had to take other medicines to counteract the side effects — so I felt as if I were a walking pharmacy. I had to take my pills with me everywhere I went. I did my best to make that part of my routine, and I'd try to get out and do things that I thought were worthwhile, like tutoring. But realistically, I wasn't really able to get back into doing very much for the better part of a year. Even if I could tutor or officiate at track meets, it was very, very limited what I could do. I would get very weak, I'd get very tired very quickly, and I had to be very careful not to get injured or get an infection. ...

There were times when the whole thing with the illness would be very discouraging. Taking the cortisone went through cycles: they were trying to get to where they could stabilize me on a low dosage of the medicine and then eventually get me off of it. So they'd knock it down five milligrams, and then after a couple of weeks they'd knock it down five more milligrams, and so on. All this time I had to go in the doctor's office twice a week and have tests to see how my kidneys were reacting to the lowering of the dose. Near the end of the first year, they'd gotten it down pretty low, and I actually felt a little better, because the medicine took a lot out of me. But then the tests started to show that my kidneys were losing function again. So they had to raise the dosage way back up again and then start again slowly trying to reduce it. I would reach those points where I'd start thinking, "Okay, the dosage is getting down and next week I'll be almost down to nothing, and then after that I won't need any medicine, I'll be back to the way I was." And, boom, I'd have a setback, and I had to start over again. The cycle would take the better part of a year, and this happened to me twice — two cycles over the better part of two years, where we'd get down low in the dosage, and then, boom, the symptoms would start showing up again, so they'd have to raise it back up.

To be continued

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Spread Bob Avakian's Memoir Far and Wide!

Revolution is running a series of excerpts from Bob Avakian's memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist. Previous excerpts appeared in issues #208 to #211 and we continue the series here.

From the description of the book: "Bob Avakian has written a memoir containing three unique but interwoven stories. The first tells of a white middle-class kid growing up in '50s America who goes to an integrated high school and has his world turned around; the second of a young man who overcomes a near-fatal disease and jumps with both feet into the heady swirl of Berkeley in the '60s; and the third of a radical activist who matures into a tempered revolutionary communist leader. If you think about the past or if you urgently care about the future ... if you want to hear a unique voice of utter realism and deep humanity ... and if you dare to have your assumptions challenged and your stereotypes overturned ... then you won't want to miss this book."

We're running these excerpts to encourage everybody to take the memoir out broadly, as part of what they do all the time, and to introduce many more people to Bob Avakian. The memoir gives a real sense of why the Message and Call of the campaign "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" says of Avakian: "He is a great champion and a great resource for people here, and indeed people all over the world."

Some ways to get the memoir out:

Hear Bob Avakian read sections from his memoir.
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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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At 7 am on Friday, September 24, 2010, scores of FBI agents raided two homes in Chicago and the Anti-War Committee Office and five residences in Minneapolis. Altogether subpoenas to testify before a Federal Grand Jury in Chicago were issued to eleven activists in Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan. According to on-line accounts, the FBI also attempted to intimidate activists in California and North Carolina.

The FBI spokesman in Minneapolis was quoted in the Chicago Tribune, "The warrants are seeking evidence in support of an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism." This was a charge which activists immediately dismissed as illegitimate and unjustified. No arrests have been made and the FBI admitted that there was no "imminent danger" to the public. The warrants and subpoenas raise travel to a host of countries and unspecified relation to U.S .government's designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO's), specifically the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Twin Cities Indymedia reported activists targeted in the raids are involved with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), Anti-War Committee, Palestine Solidarity Group, Colombia Action Network, and new SDS. Some of the individuals were prominent in organizing marches against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

This is a very sinister move by the government, one that should alarm and concern anyone who thinks the government should not be allowed to trample on people's rights, and who thinks it is important that there be opposition, and the freedom to oppose, what the government is doing here and around the world. This is a major escalation against the anti-war movements in particular.

The attacks on the individuals and the organizations targeted so far are very serious and should be vigorously opposed politically and legally. In addition the government is loudly sending a message to intimidate very broadly—don't get involved in support of people from or in other countries; don't give money to any group that the U.S. government doesn't like; don't be active in anything that opposes your government. This message should be uncompromisingly opposed too.

There was an immediate reaction to the raids. In Minneapolis over 150 people gathered for a meeting that same day. Press conferences were held in both Chicago and Minneapolis attended by attorneys and supporters denouncing the witch-hunt.

Paul Craig Roberts, a former assistant editor of the Wall Street Journal and an official in the Reagan administration, who has extensive academic credentials, wrote in a blog piece titled It is Official, the US is A Police State, "Now we know what Homeland Security (sic) secretary Janet Napolitano meant when she said on September 10: 'The old view that "if we fight the terrorists abroad, we won't have to fight them here" is just that—the old view.' The new view, Napolitano said, is 'to counter violent extremism right here at home.'

"'Violent extremism' is one of those undefined police state terms that will mean whatever the government wants it to mean. In this morning's FBI's foray into the homes of American citizens of conscience, it means antiwar activists, whose activities are equated with 'the material support of terrorism,' just as conservatives equated Vietnam era anti-war protesters with giving material support to communism. My conservative friends were disappointed that the National Guard didn't kill more of the Kent State University students."


"It appears to be a fishing expedition," said attorney, Ted Dooley who represents an activist whose house was raided. "It seems like they're casting a huge seine or net into the political sea and see what they can drag up on shore and dry out. There's no rhyme or reason to it in a free society." (FBI serves terrorism warrants in Minn., Chicago, September 24, 2010, AP)

The searches of the activists' homes were extensive. Around 20 FBI agents searched one residence for 11 hours. According to the Chicago Tribune, agents took about 30 boxes of papers dating to the 1970s, including a postcard from an old girlfriend. The FBI also took their cell phones. The attorney for the activists told the Tribune reporter, "They (the FBI) said they would determine what was evidence later."

Agents also carted out boxes from the Chicago apartment of the executive director of the Arab American Action Network.

One of the homes raided in Minneapolis was that of Mick Kelly, described as an editor of Fight Back, the publication of FRSO. Kelly's spouse said that when she could not read the warrant fast enough through a peephole, the FBI "kicked down the door." The agents took computers, Kelly's cell phone, passport, CDs, and boxes of papers, including his spouse's personal papers although the warrant was only for Kelly's possessions. (The, Minneapolis)

The warrant for the raid and the subpoena to appear before the federal grand jury issued to Kelly were released to the media by his attorney. Both documents are stunning in the extensive scope of what is being sought by the government, blatantly trampling on basic constitutional rights. For instance, the search warrant weaves Kelly's affiliation to FRSO into the information sought; the warrant gives carte blanche to seize all financial records both personal and of FRSO as an organization, ostensibly to look into sources of funding for all travel to Palestine, Colombia and within the U.S. for the last 10 years! The warrant goes further, alleging that there are open-ended "potential co-conspirators" in order to justify the seizure of all address books and information regarding all contacts of Kelly (including emails, MySpace and Facebook or other social networking sites). In an extraordinary reach, the warrant authorizes seizure of materials regarding recruitment and "indoctrination" of others into FRSO, a political activity which is supposed to be completely lawful in the U.S.

(The FBI's warrant to search Mick Kelly's home is available at The grand jury subpoena is available at

Minnesota attorney Peter Erlinder at a press conference explained that in his view, the ground for this escalation in government repression was cleared by the recent Supreme Court ruling in Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project. (

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a free-speech challenge to the law from humanitarian aid groups that said some provisions put them at risk of being prosecuted for communicating with organizations designated as "terrorist" by the U.S. State Department about nonviolent and humanitarian activities.

The first appearance before the federal grand jury in Chicago appears to be scheduled for October 5, 2010.

This dramatic escalation in U.S. government's repression carried out by Obama's Justice Department must be vigorously opposed and defeated.

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Snapshot of rally in support of anti-war/Solidarity activists in Chicago

Four hundred people gathered in front of Chicago FBI headquarters on Monday, September 27, to protest last Friday's outrageous raids and attacks by FBI agents against anti-war and Solidarity movement supporters in Minneapolis, Chicago and other cities. Starting at 4:30 and not ending until after 6 p.m., people gathered to picket and rally, filing onto the narrow strip of sidewalk and grass between the FBI's iron fence and engraved marble marker on one side and busy rush hour traffic on the other.

The news media was out in force as well, with reporters from FOX TV, CBS, ABC, the Chicago Tribune and Univisión, as well as from college and progressive media reporters.

The protest was multi-national, and many different groups and movements were represented: people from the anti-war and Solidarity movements as well as Latinos from the movement for immigrant rights, Black activists from the struggle against torture in Chicago, and young Muslim women in their hijabs, students from Roosevelt University, Columbia College, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, and more. A large section of the crowd were people from the '60s who recalled the struggle against COINTELPRO and attacks against the civil rights movement.

There was a significant section of progressive religious activists—Christian, Muslim and Jewish—in attendance. The Wellington Church UCC carried a big banner declaring their presence. It was announced that in over 30 cities demonstrations had been held in response to the raids.

Broad and passionate opposition to the outrageous raids was expressed in the hand-drawn signs carried at the protest: "Evict Big Brother," "American Freedom Under Attack," "Stop Government Attacks," "Obama=Bush=Repression," "The U.S. Government is the Terrorist," "We support the resisters," "Blame Obama for these raids," "First they came for the Jews, then they came for the gays, now they are coming for the peace activists." A group of students from Wright College stretched out on the grass, making up more signs on the spot.

A big part of the protest was devoted to statements and speeches:

Jim Fennerty of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), who is the attorney representing Hatem Abudayyeh, an American of Palestinian descent, executive director of the Arab American Action Network and one of the victims of the raids, said that lawyers from the NLG will represent those who are being investigated. He called for a Church Committee-type hearing to investigate FBI crimes and harassment against groups or individuals who are opposed to the war and to fight this before it spreads.

Stephanie Weiner and her partner of many years, Joe Iosbaker, whose home in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood was the subject of subpoenas, search warrant and raid, spoke about how it was an honor to be standing with all the people at the rally and those fighting the U.S. around the world, opposing U.S. aid to Israel, participating in the anti-war movement. They identified organizing protests at the 2008 Republican National Convention as the common thread tying together people who were victims of these raids across the country. They spoke about how they had grown up in the anti-war movement of the '60s and had marched in the civil rights movement with their parents, and they introduced their kids who are speaking up in their behalf now.

They described the raid—how the FBI came in 10 deep at 7 in the morning with the warrants and didn't leave for the next 12 hours. They told of the FBI pawing through their son's room, going through all his school books and poetry, looking through all the drawers. They described FBI agents filing out of their house with numerous boxes of their political material, pictures from Palestine and Colombia, and how they even searched through their storage in the attic and dug through their music collection. They called for peace and justice. Chants went up to "Stop the Grand Jury."

Stan Willis of the National Conference of Black Lawyers and Black People Against Police Torture spoke. He opened his speech acknowledging the many participants at the protest—including enemies, pointing out how the enemies are right here at the rally taking their notes and reporting back to the FBI. He spoke to the resistance of the '60s and how that affected the war in Vietnam and that people should not be afraid and that we will be here until victory.

Ahmed Rehab, the executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said "Hatem is a longtime, respected leader in the community. It is unthinkable that he would have any connections to terrorism. This is a new low.... This is an example of FBI overreach when it comes to activism or commentary on the [Middle East] conflict."

Other speakers included: a Chicago activist who was on vacation, visiting at one of the homes in Minneapolis when it was raided; Jorge Mujica, a leading activist in the struggle for immigration rights; the Chicago spokesperson for American Muslims for Palestine; the leader of the Chicago chapter of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, who is a student at Harold Washington College. Other anti-war and Solidarity activists also spoke.

Andy Thayer of the Gay Liberation Network and a leading Chicago anti-war activist, closed the rally, stating that people had to look beyond Attorney General Eric Holder to the president. Andy called on people to hold Barack Obama accountable for the disaster of civil liberties under his administration. Andy reminded people how the government had shut down Global Relief, seizing their files and computers and closing their offices—totally destroying that organization and other Muslim charities when people had done nothing. He went on to say that under Obama it was worse than Bush—from Abu Ghraib, to not prosecuting war criminals—and that we needed an independent movement for peace and justice.

Throughout the statements people called on those present to remember not to speak to the FBI. Another consistent theme was that this attack had only made people stronger and that people would carry on with their mission of opposing the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and against Iran, and would oppose Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and the attack by the Colombian government, backed by the U.S., against the Colombian people. The crowd broke into chants after each speaker.

Those participating in this protest were called to continue to resist this attack, to participate in the upcoming rallies in Chicago on October 7, which is a National Day of Action on education, and October 16, a major regional rally against U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was also mentioned that Barack Obama would be in town October 7 and that there should be a demonstration.

The next court date is a Grand Jury hearing on October 5.

The rally broke up with people signing up to be called back into action and for further meetings.

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Some Points on the History of the Grand Jury and Political Repression

Historically the Justice Department and the FBI have used the subpoena power of the federal grand jury, coupled with compulsory immunity, to jail activists who refuse to cooperate with government investigations. In the 1960s and well into the '80s there were many instances of courageous people who refused to testify before grand juries.

According to attorney Michael Deutsch in "The Improper Use of the Federal Grand Jury: An Instrument for the Internment of Political Activists," (1984) " ... many subpoenaed witnesses agreed that the only way to respond to the grand jury was to refuse to answer its questions and to persist in such refusal in the face of immunity and contempt. Once a witness began to answer questions, the door was open, leaving no effective way to pick and choose which questions to answer."

Deutsch continues in discussing that history: "The position of 'non-collaboration' with the political grand jury was thereby established. The theory behind non-collaboration was that witnesses could deprive the grand jury witch hunts of the information they sought, thereby subverting their mission only by a unified position of refusal. Numerous witnesses followed the principle of non-collaboration. Some escaped civil contempt citations and jail, but many others spent months in jail without charge, until the life of the grand jury ended."

Deutsch goes on to point out, "A fair reading of the origins and purposes of the fifth amendment, coupled with the rights of political freedom contained in the first amendment, should create a right to 'political silence,' barring any compelled testimony before a grand jury touching a witness' political activity and associations. Political activists should not be forced to choose between providing the government with political intelligence about their movement or going to prison."

See also "Don't Be Bamboozled by Agents of Repression—'Don't Talk,'" Revolution #194, March 7, 2010

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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New Orleans:
The Rampages of a Murderous System

Five years ago, on September 4, 2005, some people were walking across Danziger Bridge, which spans the Industrial Canal in New Orleans. They were among thousands left stranded in the flooded city after Hurricane Katrina. Suddenly, they came under fire from the police. By the time the cops stopped shooting, they had killed two Black men—19-year-old James Brissette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison. Four others suffered serious multiple wounds, including Susan Bartholomew, who had an arm shot off.

The police outright lied about the crime, trying to cover up the fact that they had cold-bloodedly murdered and maimed people who had no weapons and who were not even breaking any laws. None of the cops involved have been charged with murder. In July 2010, six of the cops were indicted on federal charges—of "violation of civil rights," not for murder and assault with intent to murder. Their trial is scheduled for June 2011.

If you look into this outrageous police murder and cover-up, you can see a whole history and present-day reality of brutal, systematic oppression of Black people in America.

Bloody Stain of Slavery

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, officially founded the city of New Orleans in 1718. That same year the newly formed "Company of the West" began to bring African men to New Orleans, and sell them as slaves, at a price of $660 each.

Six years later Bienville instituted the "code noir" (Black Code) in New Orleans. This set of laws—taken from the French experience in Haiti—mandated the death penalty for any African who struck a Frenchman. Punishments for lesser offenses included cutting off ears, branding, whipping, and hamstringing. It also directed that children of enslaved women would themselves be slaves.

The bloody stain of slavery penetrated and dominated every aspect of life in early New Orleans, for almost 150 years, as the city transformed from French to U.S. rule, and in its years as part of the Confederacy slave state. The city became the largest slave market in the country. Enslaved Black people worked the enormous cotton and cane plantations and the cotton gins and sugar mills, they loaded and unloaded ships at the docks, built levees along the Mississippi River, and tended to every need of the plantations. Black women were raped repeatedly by white "masters"—and the children from these crimes themselves became slaves.

The U.S. Civil War ended slavery. But, as George Carlin once quipped, "not so's anyone would really notice." Plantations in New Orleans and Louisiana were transformed into sharecropping plantations and prison farms, and Black people continued the backbreaking work of growing and harvesting cotton and sugar cane. Violent terror, mob violence, vast prison farms, and laws and institutions that embedded the degraded and oppressed status of Black people into every aspect of social, cultural, and political life to an insane degree of detail became Louisiana custom and law.

Great upheavals of the 1960s and '70s—the Civil Rights Movement, the struggle for Black Liberation, the outpourings against the unjust and criminal war the U.S. waged against the people of Vietnam, the women's liberation movement, and others—helped propel significant changes in U.S. society.

But throughout the centuries, an unchanging feature of the land that has come to be known as the United States of America is the deep and abiding oppression of Black people. From the days of enslavement... through the years of Jim Crow, segregation, and lynch mobs... to today—when one in eight Black men is in prison and when police wantonly gun down Black people from 7-year-old children like Aiyana Stanley-Jones in Detroit to 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta—some of the forms of that oppression have changed, but the stain that began with the first African people brought to this country in chains has seeped into and disfigured every dimension of life.

This is true across the length and breadth of the U.S. But in few places is it more evident than in New Orleans.

A Nightmare of Official Violence and Terror

The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD)—like police departments in every city in this country—had been inflicting systematic terror upon the Black people of the city for years before the deluge of Katrina washed over and destroyed many parts of town, particularly where poor people, mainly Black, live.

In "ordinary" times much of the reality of life, the essence of the actual social relations human beings have with each other, is hidden from view, or distorted, by the normal functioning of this capitalist/imperialist system, and by conscious deceit on the part of its defenders. The appearance of economic equality—that "everyone can get ahead if they really try"—masks a reality of profound inequality of wealth and poverty. The appearance of "impartial justice" covers a judicial system deeply and inherently unjust. The declaration that we live in a "color-blind country" contrasts with the reality that social divisions between oppressor and oppressed, and the subjugation of entire peoples, is embedded in society and in many ways is more heartless and pervasive than ever.

In the chaotic days of Katrina's aftermath, the floods that poured through the city brought to the fore a social reality that shocked millions of people throughout the U.S. and the world. New Orleans, the "City of Dreams," was not a tourist paradise of old time jazz, casinos, and endless drunken bar crawls down Bourbon St. It is a city populated overwhelmingly by Black people, many of them poor. People who for generations—since slaves worked the plantation that became the famed Tremé district to the building of the earthen dams along the Mississippi and the network of canals linking the waterways, to staffing the docks, refineries, and restaurants of the city—have poured their sweat and their lives into building the city, and shaped its rich, diverse, and endlessly creative culture. And people who are ruled by a government that, at every level, is aggressively hostile to them, and will stop at nothing to suppress and dominate them.

Nowhere was this more evident than along the Danziger Bridge the fatal morning of September 4, 2005, a few days after Katrina's aftermath flooded New Orleans.

NOPD cops claimed they got an "officer in distress" signal, and that two cops were "down" at Downman Road and Chef Menteur Highway—the Danziger Bridge. A swarm of cops sped through the desolate and devastated city.

The cops' official report says that after receiving the false—or completely fabricated—report, they "engaged the subjects on the Danzinger Bridge. The subjects on the Danzinger Bridge, which was (sic) determined to be seven, were confronted and ordered by the responding officers to raise their hands. The subjects immediately began going for cover behind the concrete barrier on the bridge, while some of the male subjects armed themselves and began firing handguns at the officers, who subsequently returned fire striking five of the seven subjects. Two of the subjects continued to fire at officers as they fled over the Danzinger Bridge towards the Third District. Officers pursued the subjects, where one was apprehended at the Friendly Inn Motel located at 4861 Chef Menteur Highway and the other was mortally wounded on the scene. Upon surveying the scene on the Danzinger Bridge, officers of the Seventh District located five subjects lying on the north side of the bridge suffering from gunshot wounds. Officers learned that one subject was pronounced dead on the scene while the other four were transported to West Jefferson Hospital, Marrero, Louisiana for treatment."

The report is a complete lie. The cops fired at people who were doing nothing but trying to get food in the devastated city. Ronald Madison, who was mentally disabled, had a hole torn through his spine and chest when he was shot in the back with a shotgun at close range by a cop, who then proceeded to kick him mercilessly. A witness said the cops had lined up "like at a firing range" and shot at Ronald as he tried to flee the bridge. Kasimir Gaston, who somehow survived the slaughter on the bridge, said that Ronald had been running away from police "hands out, at full speed," when he was murdered.

Ronald had been trying to run away from a scene unfolding at the other end of the bridge, where horrible carnage had already taken place. James Brissette lay dying, and four other people were severely wounded, by police bullets. After the initial intense barrage of fire from the cops had sent people sprawling on the bridge, NOPD sergeant Kenneth Bowen "leaned over the concrete barrier, held out his assault rifle, and, in a sweeping motion, fired repeatedly at the civilians lying wounded on the ground," in the words of a fellow cop.

Similar scenes have often played out in this country's history—slave catchers pursuing runaways who sought their freedom, and inflicting collective punishment on everyone on the plantation; lynch mobs acting on vicious rumors and using them as a pretext to destroy entire communities. But this time, the mob intent on inflicting punishment were the armed enforcers of the system—who are given the power to legitimately perpetrate violence and who do so to protect and defend the exploitation and oppression that is the foundation and basis of the system.

Similar horrifying scenes were also taking place throughout New Orleans, not just on the Danziger Bridge, in the days after Katrina. These were not just the acts of random cops, or the proverbial "bad apple" cops. And they were not just the expression of corruption and racism within the NOPD, although there certainly is much of both of those. The assaults and killings that took place across the city were given the green light by leading political and police officials.

A NOPD captain told federal prosecutors this year that Warren Riley, second-in-command of the NOPD ordered New Orleans police to "take the city back and shoot looters." A report by the New Orleans Times Picayune and ProPublica, an investigative newsroom, quotes NOPD Captain James Scott telling a roll call gathering of officers that "We have authority by martial law to shoot looters." Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco was widely quoted saying she was sending hundreds of National Guardsmen to New Orleans, and that "They have M-16s and they're locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will."

This was in a context of a national atmosphere of vicious, non-stop, and completely untrue media attacks that portrayed a city filled with alleged rapists, murderers, and looters shooting at police and at rescue workers. In reality, many of the tens of thousands of people remaining in the city, especially the youth, were heroically battling to save as many people as they could.

About 15,000 National Guard troops, advancing with drawn and pointed weapons, flak jackets and Kevlar helmets were sent to New Orleans to "restore law and order." Heavily armed mercenaries from companies such as Blackwater and ISI were also sent to New Orleans, some saying they had been "deputized" by Governor Blanco and wearing the gold badges of Louisiana law enforcement; some hired by wealthy people to "protect their homes."

And, in a city desperate for the basics of survival, with people dying of dehydration and drowning, people going without needed medical treatment and supplies, children who hadn't eaten for days, the government focused on building a prison. As described in Zeitoun, a book by Dave Eggers, "Camp Greyhound" was "an outdoor jail built in New Orleans' central bus station within hours of the hurricane's landfall at the behest of the federal Department of Homeland Security and FEMA. Similar to Guantánamo Bay, Camp Greyhound (the guards' name for it) was a kennel, runs of wire fencing and concrete flooring; there was nothing to sit or sleep on, and toilet facilities were portables outside the enclosures. Power was provided by a running diesel locomotive parked within yards of the cages, providing a continuous deafening hum and diesel pall."

In addition to all this, racist vigilantes armed themselves and went hunting Black people. At least 11 people were shot in Algiers Point, on the west bank of the Mississippi. One of the racist vigilantes in Algiers boasted "it was great! Like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, we shot it." Gun sales in nearby Baton Rouge went up ten times their normal volume, with the weapons being bought both by cops from or being sent to New Orleans, or white people fearing that their property and lives were somehow endangered by the Black people in New Orleans.

This is how the system responded; this was the atmosphere in which the massacre took place on the Danziger Bridge. Throughout the city, other atrocities were perpetrated by the NOPD. Henry Glover was shot in the back by a cop in Algiers; when his brother and William Tanner, a passerby, tried to take him to help they were beaten by a frenzied mob of cops, who then drove the car a couple of hundred yards from their station, where they set it on fire—with Henry Glover's body still in it.

Keenon McCann was shot twice in the back by a SWAT team sniper, not far from where Henry Glover was murdered. Danny Brumfield tried to get help for a woman screaming in agony on the street outside the Morial Convention Center when he was rammed twice by a patrol car and shot in the back with a shotgun. He died soon thereafter; cops claimed Danny Brumfield tried to stab them through the window with some scissors. Robert Williams and Ernest Bell were pulled over by cops on Religious Street in the Garden District of New Orleans and beaten mercilessly; Robert Williams lost all his teeth as a result. Two news people who happened to be nearby were also assaulted by the gang of about ten cops, who then destroyed pictures they had taken.

And at least 11 people were shot by the NOPD in the days immediately following Katrina.

The Workings of an Illegitimate System

These events were not aberrations. They reveal the normal workings and crimes this system perpetrates on the people—horrors that become particularly intense and acute in a time of crisis, such as in New Orleans.

When the government indicted the six cops earlier this year for the Danziger incident, a key aim was to strengthen the ability of the NOPD to repress, control, and yes, terrorize, the people of New Orleans—especially the Black people who have remained in the city. When officials like U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder talk about restoring trust in the police department, they mean, among other things, establishing a network of snitches who cooperate with the police as they continue their marauding. Those in power fear the fury many people in the city have at the abuse, brutality, murder, and unjust convictions that are a plague upon the people, especially the youth.

How did this system respond to a city in crisis? For days, it let the people suffer and die needlessly—it actively prevented assistance from getting into the city and survivors from reaching safety. It gave its police "shoot to kill" orders, and these orders were enthusiastically followed, up and down the chain of command. It goaded and pumped up racist vigilantes, and ignored them when they publicly celebrated their "kills" and held barbecues boasting of them. It sent in troops and mercenaries. It built a special prison, modeled on Guantanamo and run by the man who is head warden at the infamous Angola prison farm. It spread lies about the people throughout the world to justify its neglect and its crimes. It used its legal system to punish the people, and to cover up the activities of its enforcers. And then, in the aftermath of the devastation of the city, it energetically and quickly moved to shut down the city's only public hospital and much of the housing projects, and to transform public education into a two-tiered system where the large majority of schools are charter schools run by private companies, attended by students with better test scores whose parents have the ability to get them into such schools, while other students have to attend deteriorating public schools.

Time is long past overdue on this system.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Needed: $10,000 for Publication
Coming soon from the Revolutionary Communist Party:


(Draft Proposal)

The RCP, USA announces with great enthusiasm the upcoming publication of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).

This Constitution will be a historic and visionary model of the future revolutionary socialist society and government. At the same time, it will give people a very concrete sense of how the new power would be constituted and exercised in the new society. People will get a feel, and an in-depth understanding, of how that new, revolutionary state power could work to truly usher in a new world, a world in which people would want to live and could flourish.

This document will speak to all who burn with the desire for a different world—and society. But it will also speak to the even greater numbers who today don't even allow themselves to hope that society could actually be different. It will speak to those who seethe about, and chafe at, and sometimes rebel against the horrors of today... who would jump at the chance for a better way... but who despair that real change could come about or, if such change did happen, that the new power could stay on the road to emancipation.

Serious, substantive engagement with the content of this Constitution should, and will, go on in many forums and through many avenues. There should be, and will be, discussion and debate as broadly as possible about the model it puts forward. The draft proposal for the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America will provide a vision to lift people's sights—and a goal to be actively and concretely struggled for. It will give proof that things don't have to be this way... and that a whole different, and better, world is possible. It should, and will, spark all-round social debate and ferment over how we live today, and how we could live tomorrow. As such, the work of boldly getting this vision and model of the future socialist society out into society now will be a critical part of hastening, while awaiting, a revolutionary situation.

This Constitution will be published simultaneously in Spanish and English. For the initial printing and promotion of this historic document, $10,000 must be raised very quickly. Creative ways can and should be found to raise money for this publication. Thinking and preparation should begin now to organize a range of fundraising activities, large and small. Groups can work together to make joint contributions and there must be individual contributions of all sizes from everyone who sees the value and importance of this draft proposal being out in the world at this critical time in world history.

As the day nears for the release of the Constitution, anticipation should build... and plans will need to be made to get it out in society in a big way. We should begin thinking, even now, about who should get this historic document, devising many ways to get this into their hands. The time is now for people to begin to plan on ways to make this a big deal in their communities, or schools, or scenes—and beyond that, in the national arena of public opinion. Big, ambitious ideas are not only welcome, they are urgently needed.

But most immediately, we should be spreading the word about the upcoming release of this Constitution—and raising the necessary funds for its publication. Readers should write to Revolution with ideas for maximizing the impact of this document—and how to reach out to all corners of society. And look to this paper for more news and guidance.  

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Going to Mexican Independence Day Parade with the Message and Call

Some of us went out to the Mexican Independence Day Parade, which in our city usually draws over 5,000 people, and this year with the 200th Anniversary of Mexican (and all the Central American countries) independence from Spain, it may have been a bit larger. People came from all over the metropolitan area. And we anticipated an electric atmosphere, what with Arizona and what has just happened in Pico Union/LA.

In the week leading up to the parade, some of us had talked about the importance of fundraising for the success of the Revolution We Need/Leadership We Have campaign, particularly for paying for the printing of many tens of thousands of the beautiful new version of the full Message and Call. At the parade we fought to really make a breakthrough in calling for people to donate as we are distributing in massive numbers this powerful broadsheet. We aimed to not only raise the money to cover the cost of what we distributed, but to exceed that to contribute to the effort overall – and indeed we met and exceeded that goal.

1,850 copies in Spanish and 80 copies in English were distributed, and $221 was raised, mainly in donations of a $1, with one $10 and several $5 contributions—all in a little more than 3 hours.

This experience strongly reflects a deep desire for a revolution of some kind among this section of people and a real openness to learning about THIS revolution.

The question before us was how to really speak to and draw on that. And initially we weren't on the way to making the breakthrough we wanted to make and had the basis to make. Boldly and effectively calling on people to donate in this way was quite new to most of our crew, but we developed a real collective spirit among us where we quickly summed up what we were running up against and advanced experience was identified and others then took it up.

A basic starting point was really looking people in the eye and calling on them to donate, and then give them a chance to respond before moving on—in other words really asking people to donate and not simply "going through the motions" of asking them.

But we were in very crowded and "rushed" scene—and we needed to project what this is all about and why they should donate in a few words. Some we encountered were shocked and intrigued that we are about Revolution in THIS country and we spoke to that. Many made the assumption of one woman who asked, "Revolution for immigrants?" and so we quickly learned to project that this communist revolution is for everyone, all over the world.

One person when called on to donate, asked back in Spanish, "Is this for the revolution, or the revolutionaries?" and when it was made clear that it was for the revolution, he pulled out his donation. One in our crew developed a brief way of speaking to that in a powerful and positive way: we are distributing one million of these broadsheets coast-to-coast as part of building a Movement for Revolution, and this was adopted by others and such questions no longer came up.

In many places, the crowd was very dense and you couldn't walk through it, so a new way of distributing was developed that turned this "problem" into its opposite—we would call out the title of the statement and hold it up and when people reached out for it we called on them to pass back copies into the crowd, and perhaps 1/3 of what we got out by people from then on came from people taking small numbers and passing them back to people behind them. With this, our division of labor shifted even more, with half focusing on collecting donations in big buckets from those who had now just received the statement. Many gave and in several cases people we had missed came back following us to make their contribution.

Indeed, where before there was a certain trepidation about calling on people to donate, now the whole process became somewhat of a fun, joyous occasion, with one of our most effective collectors of donations laughing and joking with people as he called for them to donate. At several points after strongly speaking to a crowd, calling for them to donate and why, he joked and said "donate as much as you can, but please no more than $100," with people then laughing with him and pulling out their dollar bills and putting them in his can.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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African American Day Parade

Saturday—Route of the African American Day Parade

Three of us went out the image poster, image card, and new Message and Call broadsheet along the parade route in preparation for the African American Day Parade the next day. We got 33 posters up in businesses; got up 500 palm cards on phone booths, light poles, any place we could find a crack to stick one in; and sold 13 English and 1 Spanish of issue #211 for $13. We distributed about 400 broadsheets, about 150 of which went into stores and restaurants.

The engagements with people over the issue of this Tea Party phenomenon were very interesting. One man spoke with us about how he thought that Obama was trying to do some things for the people (jobs...) but these people just won't let him. The thing that really struck him was when we got into the pyramid analysis and how the Democratic Party is also a ruling class party and not simply weak or spineless, and its program is dangerous—getting people caught in the election trap—politically paralyzed while fascist forces are building a political movement. He had not looked at the Democrats/Obama as doing great harm before. He was moved by the description of the times and took 100 broadsheets and a copy of the paper. (We saw him Sunday and he had gotten out all the broadsheets. He said that he told people about the system and people listened to him.)

At another scene in a Jamaican restaurant the owner decided to put up the poster amid debate over whether or not it was really possible to do anything about the horrors this system brings down on the people that are described in the slide show. Who is Bob Avakian? What is this plan? "These people (the Tea Party) are crazy!" Not that people thought they are harmless but truly agonizing over the insanity. One guy commented, "I don't understand why they hate Obama so much he's trying to be nice to them." (The pyramid framework has been an eye opener for those we've talked to. We have had people listen intently as we lay out what explains why the Democrats act as the do and what the Tea Party represents, and often time people do buy the paper.) The majority opinion of those we spoke with was that Obama is trying to change some things and these people are opposing him in doing this. We sold four papers in this restaurant to the owner and three customers.

We ran across several people who knew our movement. "I have a lot of respect for what y'all do." A 40 something black guy said as he bought the paper. He said he has been watching us for a long time.


Sunday—African American Day Parade

The African American Day parade seemed smaller this year but there were still many thousands of people on the street. We were confronted with the contradictions that come with working a parade: competition with the spectacle in the street, the music, people being in a festive mood. We had difficulty breaking through. Better visuals could have helped.

We were a little surprised to find that the Tea Party and the rise of this fascist movement was not clearly on the radar of most people we met. While many of the people we talked to expressed their out rage about what is going, the festive atmosphere, combined with confusion, and just not paying attention to what's happening, many people were unwilling to engage.

We expected there to be more stirring about the Tea Party in this section of the masses. Sunday revealed that there is quite a bit of ignorance while some are very upset.

There were people who understood something about what the Tea Party is, like the woman who said, "What we need is a revolution against this damn Tea Party!" She was like the many people who tended to see this question through the lens of being an attack against the Black president who is "trying to do some things (for the people) but these people won't let him..." There were others like the man who said, "The Tea Party is out there but Obama don't want to fight back." This confused him. This kind of sentiment came from most of those we spoke with who had an opinion.

Some people were offended that we would go after the Democrats and had a very hard time trying break out of the "election trap" logic. Others were much more willing to listen to what we had to say about the movement for revolution and a communist alternative to the programs of the Republicans and Democrats and this system.

The broad sentiment was a kind of lack of awareness that ran from people not having heard of the Tea Party at all, to most people who did know something of it having only scattered knowledge. and not recognizing that this it is a threat or the nature of it and a few who understood it by the terms mentioned above. Among those who had heard of them and knew "something" we tended to start telling people some of the features of this movement as in the first part of the article "Revolution is NOT a Tea Party!" You could see people's faces change with a kind of dawning recognition. Some of the better people argued that the masses are too distracted or bought off to get with the revolution.

There were a few people getting angry when we'd talk about the role of Obama. "You can't say that! Every time he'd trying to do something everybody's attacking him." Some of our best "lighting up the sky" happened when we concentrated our people on a corner toward the end of the day as people were leaving. We were able to get up on the milk crate and be heard with some agitation. We had a few moments when we were getting to some people and bringing forward some more advanced sentiment or at least waking some folks up. One Black woman responded sharply to agitation about communism arguing that no "white girl could come up to Harlem and tell us about our youth." This led to a scene of debate and struggle over the state of things in the world today and what it will take to put an end to all this. Another backward person kind of attached herself to us and tried to convince people not to listen. But there were spots when we did have people linger on the corner to listen and talk.

To restate the point, it seems that the level of political understanding and even recognition among these masses of the emerging fascist movement, is quite low. And those who do have some understand are looking to the democrats, even when they don't want to, and feel deeply frustrated.

The parade itself had a huge Democratic Party influence, people campaigning for office, The Freedom Party, and politicians leading the parade.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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This week:

Two Big Social Faultlines: Police Brutality and Israel

Revolution newspaper is the key way that we lay bare the big social "faultlines" beneath the surface of society. These faultlines are the oppressive conflicts and tensions—the contradictions—which this system works to contain and misdirect. They are painful... but they are also the stuff which can boil up to crack the surface suppression of society, and out of which righteous struggle can emerge. The paper enables people to understand the turmoil beneath the surface—and it gives people a way to act on it all.

For the next month, we're going to focus on two big faultlines: the murdering and vicious police brutality that runs rampant in the inner city; and the actions of that U.S. attack dog in the Middle East, a/k/a the state of Israel.

1) This week the paper lays bare how the police harass and brutalize and unjustly imprison and, yes, murder innocent people in cold blood. It shows how they knowingly violate even the professed laws of the system itself, and how they lie and cover up when they are caught. And this issue of the paper shows how people are resisting this, in different ways. It gets the word out about the big national day of protest against this coming up on October 22. It gives people the chance to "bear witness" on the way that they, or people they know, have been brutalized.

So, take this paper—get it out, in different ways, in the communities that are under the gun. Make sure that it ends up widely available—turning up in high schools, laundromats, and wherever people gather in these communities. And get it out as well on the college campuses—where students need to hear what it is like to live in the hellholes of America. Break down barriers—and build a whole different kind of movement as you do so. Make use of the back page poster in this issue—win people to posting this where they live and work. And spread the word about "Bear Witness"—this paper's effort to get people to tell their stories about the brutality and crimes of the police.

Then, especially (but not only) in the week beginning September 27, put some focus on taking out the Message and Call ("The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have") in its beautiful new edition, along with word of the October 22 protests, to the high schools in these same oppressed communities, and in the suburbs as well. Meet students and teachers, talk with them, and build up the influence and organized ties of this paper at these schools. Get people ready to wear black on October 22 and to figure out other ways to make that a day of ferment and foment in the high schools. Make sure that people have literature and other ways to spread the word on October 22.

Let people know that, as the Message and Call puts it:

The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.

2) The state of Israel was implanted in the Middle East by the imperialist powers—the U.S. and Europe in particular—as a way of controlling that strategic region and keeping the people who live there under the thumb of imperialism. Israel has maintained the Palestinians in what are little more than open-air prison camps for decades—and in the land that until very recently was theirs. And right now, on top of that, the Israeli regime is threatening to attack Iran, waging yet another in a long line of wars against nations in this region. But most people don't get what's actually going on in all this.

So opposition and resistance to this must grow, and for that to happen, the real facts and underlying dynamics must be exposed. And this knowledge about, and opposition to, these outrages must grow in particular on the campuses—where new and oppositional ideas first catch hold. To this end, we are doing two things, immediately:

As the article 'Background to this Quiz' shows, even just raising these questions can cause controversy. This kind of controversy is badly needed on campus, to break the deafening—and deadening—silence and complicity on this. This quiz should also get people ready for the October 4 issue, where we'll print the answers. The answers are also available online at Then, on October 4, get this special issue out on the campuses, in a big big way. Off of that, there should be openings for more discussion and debate.

So, to recap:

From September 21 to 27, get this paper out big in the communities that directly suffer from police terror, spreading word of October 22 as you do, and turning people on to the whole movement FOR REVOLUTION—especially as concentrated in the Message and Call of the RCP. At the same time, also get this paper out on the campuses—and where we can, let's lead students to go to the communities, and people from the communities to come to the campuses. While you're doing that, spread the Message and Call, as well as literature about October 22.

From September 27 to October 4, put the focus on getting the Message and Call, along with word of October 22, out to the high schools. At the same time, organize cores—and work with people who are already concerned about this question—to get the Israel quiz out on campuses.

Beginning October 4, mobilize to get the special issue on Israel out onto the campuses. Reach out to people already active and working on this question, and work with imagination and science to have a huge impact.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Popularizing Bob Avakian at Burning Man and Power to the Peaceful

Burning Man is an annual celebration of art and community that brings participants from all over the world to an unpopulated, inhospitable, ancient lakebed in northern Nevada. But during Burning Man it blossoms with culture, flame, music, and neon lights as a mega-block party in the face of white-out windstorms and unbearable heat (or rain and cold).

Since 1990, Burning Man has been an experiment in creating a culture that eschews money and disdains commodity relations. Tickets are sold for the event, but once inside, there is virtually nothing for sale. It is a gift economy, in which people are encouraged to bring what they need and share with others, to embrace diversity and be participants, not spectators.

Burning Man is known for hundreds of art placements that break convention in collective collaboration and in sheer size, interactivity and irreverence, and prompt new ways to look at the familiar. Art that is not considered the sole province of trained artists.

There is much to embrace about Burning Man. Since its beginning it has been a radical, counter-cultural gathering, where space is carved out for people to be free to think, and experiment, outside of prescribed politics, religion, sexuality and ideology, and where people openly discuss how to create new morality and co-operation in the "default" world.

There is a great need for people who are yearning for a different, better world to be introduced to Bob Avakian and his revolutionary vision of the most radical rupture with traditional property relations and traditional ideas, and a vibrant, exciting communist world in which people would really thrive—the unleashing of art and science, awe and wonder, ferment and imagination in mind-boggling dimensions.

Two of us went to Burning Man art to popularize Bob Avakian among 50,000 people. We intended to have a one-two punch; to raise broad curiosity about the identity of the person in the image, and then to answer with the Message and Call. Logistically, this proved far too ambitious, especially in a week's time in the harsh conditions in the desert.

Before the event, I got permission to install a number of 3' by 4' enlargements of the image of the Chairman along a 90-mile stretch of highway (between Wadsworth, Nevada and the Black Rock Desert or "the Playa," as it is known to "Burners"). Virtually everyone attending the event must travel this route.

Since over half of this stretch is within the boundaries of the tribal lands of the Northern Piutes, I contacted tribal elders to get permission to place the images along the road for the week of the event. They not only graciously agreed, but were also very interested in our project, hearing about Bob Avakian, and receiving the Message and Call. In return, they told me about the history of their people, including how they defended their land against settlers and the U.S. Army in the Battle of Pyramid Lake.

The signs were double-sided. People could see them going to and coming back from the festival.

Many artists commented on how much they liked the art of the image. They also loved the unique "mystery cards"—" a name you know you know. You can't remember it, but you can't get it out of your mind either." Artists and organizers told us that our placing of art along the road leading to the festival is a first.

We installed a large flashing neon version of Bob Avakian's image in the midst of the art on the playa. Although only visible at night, it looked great! Hundreds of image cards were distributed at the festival itself—left at camps, many of the numerous free bars and parties, and stuck in the spokes of participants' bicycles.

We did have some experience that the image was creating a stir. While getting out the cards and wearing our image shirts, we were stopped by people asking "who is that guy?" One person from Seattle said he had seen the image up there, and wanted to know about it.

Still, at the end of the week we were disappointed that we could not have done more to answer the question, "Who is this guy?" We knew we had made some headway, but it was hard to gauge just how much had been accomplished.

The answer was not to be learned for another week. On September 11, a dozen of us took out the image cards and the Message and Call to a crowd of tens of thousands of mainly youth attending the yearly Power to the Peaceful concert in San Francisco. The enlargements, which a week before were along the highway, were now raised on tall poles towering over the crowd.

Many of the people attending this concert had been to the Burning Man festival as well. All during the day, friends were telling me that people recognized the image from "the playa." Reports of dozens of people excitedly running up to our people shouting "Who is this guy? We saw his picture all over Burning Man!" Some told us that they found the card stuck in the spokes of their bicycles, others found the card in their camps, parties or bars they visited. One young sister from Germany was amazed that even though she had seen the image everywhere for two weeks, she had no idea who it was. "A Communist leader? In this country?" She pulled out a pen and made a note: "Bob Avakian, Revolutionary Communist Party."

Another young Latina ran up to a person wearing the image shirt. Poking him in the chest, she demanded, "I've got to know, you've got to tell me, Who Is This?!" The three enlarged images along the highway to Burning Man had seemed hundreds to her. She saw the cards everywhere. Then, she and her friends were walking on "the playa" at night when they came across the image of the Chairman flashing brightly. "We were so frustrated! We all sat down right there for a half-hour, trying to figure out who it was."

The image had been imprinted on her brain since Burning Man. She said she had kind of forgotten about it, but "when I saw it again, it all came back to me and I had to find out." It took her a full week, but she finally got her answer. She, and two young men, volunteered to be part of a revolution crew at Burning Man next year.

A total of 3,500 of the Message and Call were distributed at the Power to the Peaceful Concert, and on another level, we all got a deeper appreciation of the power of the image to generate interest on a grand scale, and getting out the name Bob Avakian as a Revolutionary Communist leader, and the Message and Call for all to dig into.

A two-state, two-week, one-two punch!

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Taking Out the Message and Call to a Major City College

We received this correspondence.

At a major city college we distributed 1,100 copies of the Message and Call the first day out. Some people had heard of Revolution Books but for most students this was something brand new. We were telling people, "You are coming to college at a time when it seems like the world is going insane, the oil spill wrecking our planet and the government lying and covering it up, fascist attacks on immigrants, the police brutalizing and murdering people again and again, women still oppressed, this is not the best of all possible worlds! If you came to school to be part of changing the world, don't scale down your dreams, you need to know about this movement for a total revolution to get rid of the whole system of capitalism imperialism. And if you came to school to be challenged and learn about new ideas you need to know about Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution, and you need to learn about the revolutions of the past and what communism is really all about. We don't have to live this way, we're building a movement for revolution and we have a strategy, we have a leader, find out about it."

Out in the quad where people hang out, skateboard, and eat lunch we were getting out the Message and Call and without warning we heard a young male voice yelling out in celebration of the objectification of women and supposedly to be funny, "I love titties!" All his friends, men and women were laughing and this egged him on and he carried on further in this vein. I turned to him and said, "That's fucked up. Women are not objects, they aren't things to be used for your pleasure, they are human beings."

This made him yell even louder and even more degrading things.

A young woman sitting near by pointed and exclaimed, "I agree with her!" She shook her head at the guy.

We told her that we were about revolution and getting rid of the oppression of women, that we're told everywhere in this society that women are objects, their bodies are commodified, but it doesn't have to be this way and we are creating a culture that resists that and fights for relations between men and women which are different and she should read this Message and Call and find out about this revolution.

This spurred us on and one of us got up in the middle of the quad and did the agitation so it echoed through the area to hundreds of students while two of us were getting out the Call. One young woman said, "I agree with everything she's saying" and gave us her contact information. Then after the agitation was finished, the young guy that had been yelling all this bullshit came up to me.

"So, here's my question," he said very genuinely and in a serious tone, "How would you make a revolution?"

He wanted to know if we had a strategy and whether or not this revolution was peaceful.

I told him that revolution is a very serious matter and should be approached very scientifically, and that right now was not a revolutionary situation. I explained that what you need is a greater crisis in society and a revolutionary people in their millions, with real leadership and that in that kind of situation the revolutionary struggle would need to meet and defeat the violent, repressive force of the old, exploitative, and oppressive order. I told him there is a strategy that has been theoretically developed for this. I explained that right now is not a revolutionary situation, but that we are politically preparing for the emergence of a revolutionary situation, and working to bring forward a revolutionary people on a mass scale and we are also doing work in the realm of theory on strategy. I said he could learn more about this in materials from the Revolutionary Communist Party.

He very seriously listened to all of this and then asked if I had heard of Zeitgeist. He said that he had watched the film and learned a lot about how the government lies and that he always thought about revolution, but didn't know how it could be done.  

I said, well this isn't zeitgeist, this is different than that, this is a real movement for revolution to get rid of the system, and yes we do have a strategy for how that could be done. And, I continued, "If you want to be for revolution, you can't break all the chains but one. You can't be for getting rid of all the exploitation and oppression in the world and not be for the liberation of women. Despite what we're told women are actually oppressed: one in three women is raped in this country."

He smiled and said that he really agreed with all that but he was just making a joke. We went back and forth on this, about how jokes have content to them, and why is that considered humorous and to "joke" about that in this society in a way that is not challenging it but really upholding it is not neutral, and similarly it's not neutral to use the N word in a society where racism does still exist and it's brutally enforced, and I held up the front page of the paper.

As we were having this friendly debate about this, his friend came up and while he also disagreed about making jokes about women, he said that he often times doesn't use the N word and will call his friends "brother" and he really agreed that racism still existed and got expressed in all kinds of subtle and overt ways. He described that in a relatively progressive well off neighborhood the basketball courts were being torn down because they were "attracting the wrong crowd."

This was not the only time throughout the day where we heard stories about sections of young people which are discriminated against by having their space, and with it a sense of belonging and worth, ripped away from them.

Later, in the middle of a busy class change a young Black guy with a bright smile full of energy tapped me on the shoulder. He was holding the message and call in his hand. "Is this just something you are handing out, or are there ways I can get involved and be a part of this?"

"There are a lot of ways! This is a movement for revolution." I replied, and I got into how the Revolutionary Communist Party is on a campaign, what the objectives of this are, and some of the concrete ways he can contribute.

He filled out a contact card and explained that he has done a lot of work around LGBTQ rights, particularly around a battle to save a community space which was being closed down. He described the experience of traveling outside the U.S. this summer and how this gave him a lot of perspective on what America is really about and how it's viewed in the world. He said that he realized he hated what this country represented and what capitalism is all about and wants to be part of doing away with this.

When I hear about these stories I can understand and even appreciate the inclination of many students, particularly on the more elite campuses, to be inclined towards and into philosophies that have to do with creating liberated space in society. Reclaiming, occupying, and liberating spaces is on the one hand a logical response to this, because yes, in this world you are told literally and figuratively, there's no room for you, keep out, there's not even anywhere for you to just be. Including the fact that the spaces students are provided with are increasingly regimented and infused with a whole repressive big brother atmosphere. For example at this very city college that has previously been very open, there's now a higher level of security and you have to present I.D. and go through metal gates to enter the building, and non-students are not allowed.

At the same time, the perspective of this student is really important. And that's true whether you travel out of the country or have some kind of experience that stretches your mind and pulls the lens back, or whether that is done more metaphorically speaking in the realm of politics and ideology. If you step back there is a whole system whose dynamics and motion are bearing down on and shaping the situations that whole sections of people find themselves in, and the larger question becomes, can this as a whole be fought, and eventually can those very dynamics be halted, which does require the proletariat and its political and literary representatives getting state power.

State power—what it's good for, and the challenges it poses. This was another conversation I found myself having, lo and behold with a young fraternity brother wearing a t-shirt that says "Communism." The shirt was just for fun to be provocative he said (I believe Lil Wayne recently wore this shirt in one of his videos), but this kid was for real about being part of opposing the whole direction of society right now. He said that his fraternity does a lot of activism especially around LGBTQ rights which is a big issue at the school. He said that this was controversial amongst other fraternities, but he didn't care, he grew up with his sister who knew she was gay when she was 11 and to him it was just a way to be, completely natural, and that he didn't realize until he went to Texas (yes Texas) that he realized how much hatred there is towards gay people. He said his sister, who was dressed "like a guy" so to speak, was harassed and very afraid; he couldn't understand why people lived like that, and he acknowledged you had some exception to the rule in this city and that this was something that had to be changed in society broadly.

I talked about how these attacks on the rights of gay people are part of the forceful reassertion of patriarchy, and how in a revolutionary society this would not be allowed to go on, this would be outlawed and the laws would be enforced. And then he brought in freedom of speech, he said he didn't believe in full freedom of speech for anyone to say whatever they want because why should backwards people be able to harass gay people. I said this was an important truth he was putting his finger on that not a lot of people understand, that there really isn't any such thing as absolute freedom of speech and if you thought about what kind of society it would be if everyone could have some kind of absolute freedom to "say whatever they wanted" this wouldn't be a good society anyways. Then I got into how in a socialist society there would be a different kind of dynamic where racists and bigots could not go around spouting their hatred because it would be an impediment on people lifting their heads, even while you would have space for even reactionaries to advocate for and express their views as part of a process that more and more people are increasingly coming into, of critical thinking, dissent and ferment in society around many different questions, all to get at the truth and move towards communism. He was really digging on this and said he definitely wanted the fraternity to bring the revolution for a discussion on campus to get into all of this.

Now that I'm thinking about this, I have to point out one shortcoming here is not bringing into the discussion the announcement that the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) will be coming out soon, and this will bring alive in a concentrated new way, the possibility of this whole revolution and what it's all about. We need to be telling people about this in conversations and finding ways to bring this out in a bigger mass way with the centerfold from the paper.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Taking the Campaign to the Historically Black Colleges and Universities

We received this correspondence

We planned to start saturating with the re-printed four-page full version of the Message and Call at one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)—a campus that we've repeatedly returned to with the campaign for every saturation and in between. Since there would only be a small team and this would be the first saturation for the new school term, we planned to create an atmosphere of the statement being "everywhere" over the course of a couple of days. On the first morning we got our new statements to a rapid rail station near the campus, and along with getting the statement out to people going to work in the morning, we got the statement to the students taking the shuttle buses to the campus. Then we went to the campus and around to some key academic buildings and offices, posting the Call up on every bulletin board available for notices, putting them in the boxes or under the doors of professors who weren't in their offices—and talking briefly to those who were in about the campaign. The Calls, front and back, also appeared taped inside the doors of the bathroom stalls in most of the main buildings as well.

The next day we returned with a tent and several tables to join with a traditional "market day" held on the main mall in front of the student center. We got there early so we could go to the far end of the campus to the largest classroom building at class break and get statements out to hundreds of students changing classes. We also put them on empty desks before the class rooms filled up. We invited everyone to come to our table throughout the rest of the day and talk to us about "the revolution we need and the leadership we have"—and tell us what they thought.

Our tent and tables had an enlargement of the Call, a large image poster of Bob Avakian and some colorful covers of Revolution, as well as a sign: "You've been lied to about communism." We displayed the Call, the current paper and highlighted the memoir and several other works by Bob Avakian—as well as the new Manifesto (Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA). We tried to get the most impact with our table and small team—one of us got the statements out to the hundreds of students who walked by while the second person passed out the image fans, as the day really heated up! These are hand held fans made of an enlarged version of the yellow image card that looks really great. We were wearing our yellow image shirts as well. Students would ask: "Who is that?" We'd answer: "Stop by our table and find out," "He's the leader of the revolution that we need...," "He's Bob Avakian, watch this DVD on-line and find out about him and the revolution he's leading..." As the day went on lots of students told us "We got one in class this morning" or that they had gotten one earlier in the day on the student center mall.

While we made sure we concentrated on getting the Call out to as many people as possible, and also the image fans, we took turns talking with students who came up to the table with questions: "What kind of revolution are you talking about?" "Didn't communism turn out to be terrible when people tried it?"... "I'm interested in what Cuba is doing—is that what you're about?"... "I identify with the Black Panther Party... I see us having a lot of unity; this 'entre-manure' thing [in the centerfold of the current issue of Revolution newspaper] is on it... I'm in business school and I'm having a hard time with my professors, with my own principles." One history student asked us if we were about the tea party (which he was very much against) and we showed him the Revolution newspaper. He said he agreed about America being founded on slavery and genocide, but didn't communism have a bad history, too, and why we were for it? He bought a paper and took note of the website for Set the Record Straight: Socialism Is Much Better Than Capitalism, and Communism Will Be a Far Better World ( One freshman student said the statement (and the newspaper) was saying things about America that were different than "everything I've ever been taught."

A number of students signed up on the bookstore contact list and to get a free e-sub to Revolution newspaper. We got out about 1100 statements (in the two days) and a little over 200 image fans, as well as about 200 DVD cards. We have follow-up to do with students and several professors, and work to do on the adjacent campuses. We did not reach our goal yet to raise funds or to get students to take bundles of the statement up and out, and especially into the dorms.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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A Kaleidoscope of Revolutionary Ideas

The following is correspondence from a reader:


"What are you going to be revolutionizing this year?" asked the very first student we approached in the park this morning on the first day of school. Two of us distributed 600 cards with the image of Bob Avakian to students and staff from several high schools in the Black community. Two of us returned after school and distributed 525 copies of the Message and Call.

In the morning, we asked people if they knew who the person on the card was. No one did. We told students the person on the card is the leader of the revolution and their first assignment of the year was to find out who he is. One student guessed U.S. Grant; another asked, "Is he a political prisoner?" Another person raised Martin Luther King as a revolutionary leader. One of us agreed that King was a leader but not a revolutionary leader. King believed that Black people and poor people could get a fairer deal under this system and we don't have to make revolution and get rid of the system. Fred Hampton, the Black Panther Party leader, believed the whole system of capitalism is no good and has to be overthrown by the people and a new system built by the people. That's revolutionary leadership. One of the youth listening said, "I'm with that one." That, we told people, is why you should check out the person on this card and they should find out who he is by the end of school. He is the foremost revolutionary leader on the planet today. There was some excitement about solving the puzzle. We told teachers their students might ask them about this person. More teachers than usual took the card and the broadsheet after school.

Some students, high school and college, started by arguing that communism has failed but left vowing they'd read the broadsheet and come back to debate us.


Something we heard about today: When students walked into the park this morning, a business-as-usual walk through the park was turned into a kaleidoscope of revolutionary ideas. Chalked in rainbow colors on the sidewalks, steps, and a large stage-like gathering area were dozens of questions, challenges and words: "Do you know who Bob Avakian is?" "What is communism?" "What is capitalism?" "What is human nature, really?" "Who is your leader?" There were powerful words about the oppression of women and Black people and also about morality—challenging people to confront the world as it really is. There was much more, including quotes from the Message and Call: "Communism: A world where people work and struggle together for the common good... Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society...." The chalking on the ground directed people to websites where they could find out more.

I heard that this had a jaw dropping impact on the scene.

Thursday Morning

This morning we distributed 700 of the short versions of the Message and Call at an intersection near the high schools. We asked students if they knew who BA is. It has become more of a question after the mysterious chalking that appeared Wednesday morning. This morning we put the question at the forefront of what we were doing. "Do you know who Bob Avakian is?"

Most people answered honestly that they didn't know. That meant, we pointed out, that they had not read the Message and Call. We gave them another one.

Some tried to fake it.

Some knew something.

The percent of people who knew BA is a revolutionary leader was still very small but there is important motion.

More teachers are taking material from us. One teacher had passed by me when I said, "This is what your students are talking about." She did a quick 180 and came back to get the broadsheet. Comments along these lines got teachers to take the statement.

Thursday Afternoon

This afternoon we distributed 250 cards advertising a showing of the Revolution Talk in a park downtown. Again leading with something like, "Have you found out who Bob Avakian is yet?" the response this afternoon was better than the morning.


"The leader of the revolution!" the same kid from the morning said with three friends around him.

"Oh" said one of the friends, "that solves the mystery."

Our response: "Well, you've turned on the lights, but you still don't know what's in the house. Go to this website."


"He's a communist and communism is no good," one African youth said indicating he was not going to take the card. But the two youth with him took the cards, then he did. The exchange involved him asserting he knew about communism and us daring him to go to and test what he knew against what the foremost communist in the world had to say. One of the friends said that he was not scared to check it out.


"Are you Avakian?" asked one middle aged white guy. "I've been seeing that name everywhere."

"I'll tell you two things—I'm not Bob Avakian and if you go to this website you will find out who he is."


"I saw him on a program with Cornel West last year," another middle-aged white guy said. He had picked up a card someone else had thrown away.

"That was Carl Dix and Cornel West."

He was excited to hear there will be another exchange. He said he'd check out the website.


Something is beginning to happen. What impact will it have if there is a broad popular basic recognition of who BA is in a focus population? How could this give more space to the more advanced? It is possible to have a situation where students broadly—not just the more advanced—when asked about communism in their school work, or when they hear it mentioned in society, go to Bob Avakian for answers. If teachers actually check Bob Avakian out, they too can find him a unique resource.


This afternoon we got out 200 copies of the four-page Message and Call, 40 cards for the downtown film showing, and 250 copies of a quote from Bob Avakian's memoir. We led with: "This is a challenge from Bob Avakian" (the memoir quote attached at the end here), immediately followed with: "You know who Bob Avakian is don't you?" We guess-timate that 10% of the people we talked to said they knew who Bob Avakian was and used words like leader, revolution, revolutionary, communist or communism in their description of him.

Today we were still insisting that people read the Message and Call to learn about Bob Avakian. Next week we ourselves will talk a lot more about who Bob Avakian is. I think the recognition factor will leap many times in a couple of days going out this way.

If you have had a chance to see the world as it really is, there are profoundly different roads you can take with your life. You can just get into the dog-eat-dog, and most likely get swallowed up by that while trying to get ahead in it. You can put your snout into the trough and try to scarf up as much as you can, while scrambling desperately to get more than others. Or you can try to do something that would change the whole direction of society and the whole way the world is. When you put those things alongside each other, which one has any meaning, which one really contributes to anything worthwhile? Your life is going to be about something—or it's going to be about nothing. And there is nothing greater your life can be about than contributing whatever you can to the revolutionary transformation of society and the world, to put an end to all systems and relations of oppression and exploitation and all the unnecessary suffering and destruction that goes along with them. I have learned that more and more deeply through all the twists and turns and even the great setbacks, as well as the great achievements, of the communist revolution so far, in what are really still its early stages historically.

From Ike to Mao and Beyond
My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist
A Memoir by Bob Avakian

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Judge Slams Videographer with 300 Days in Jail


On September 8, more than 40 people came to the Cook County Courthouse in Skokie, IL, to support Gregory Koger at his sentencing hearing. Gregory was arrested in November 2009 at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) when he was videotaping a short statement by Sunsara Taylor. Gregory was videotaping Sunsara Taylor's statement for her protection—that is, so there would be an accurate record of what she had said. And for that "crime," the police grabbed, beat and maced him, leaving him with lacerations and contusions. Then they charged HIM with misdemeanor battery, resisting arrest and trespassing. There were many irregularities in this case—leading to an unjust guilty verdict on all counts, the highly unusual revocation of bail while awaiting sentencing, and now culminating in this totally disproportionate sentence and the outrageous lies used to justify it. (See Revolution #211 for the full story.)

At the sentencing hearing, the judge was presented with a petition with almost 1,000 signatures urging that Gregory be spared jail time. Twenty-five personal letters from a broad spectrum of people were also submitted. A high school principal wrote, "The amount of work and dedication Gregory has invested in this school and the work he has done with inner city youth ... is beyond measure." A businessman wrote, "I have personally come to know Gregory as a responsible contributor to society. He has overcome great obstacles in his life and to send him back to the environment he has worked so hard to overcome is a travesty." A lawyer who worked with Gregory in his capacity as a paralegal wrote, "He has told me that he was a former gang member in his youth and has been convicted of a crime. If there is anyone who I have met who seems to be fundamentally rehabilitated and exhibits a life far from that violent area, it is Mr. Koger."


A big message must be sent by packing the appeal bond hearing with support for Gregory. The hearing is Wednesday, September 22, 9:30 a.m., Cook County Courthouse, 5600 W. Old Orchard Road, Skokie, IL.

To learn more about this case go to the Ad Hoc Committee's website,

What you can do:

  1. Sign the petition (at demanding Gregory be immediately released from jail.
  2. Donate generously to publish this petition and for the legal appeal (information on the defense committee website,
  3. Send letters of support to Gregory (information on the defense committee website,
  4. Come to the appeal hearing on Wednesday, September 22, 9:30 a.m., Cook County Courthouse, 5600 W. Old Orchard Road, Skokie, IL.

Seven witnesses testified on his behalf. His employer, an attorney, said that besides being an exemplary employee, what Gregory has done in dedicating his life to helping people is exemplary and to interrupt this "would be obscene." A college instructor and former prosecutor, who had Gregory as a student, spoke to his intelligent questioning and engagement in class and said, "He has done an enormous amount to get his life back. I would want to say to the court that my hope is that a foolish decision of a 17-year-old boy would not be held against the man here today." A research scientist testified: "He is thoughtful, he is intelligent, he is a model for other people. He is a poster boy of what it is to be an ethical human being. He is my friend. The transformation he has made as a person, and from his circumstances, is remarkable!" A professor at the University of Illinois, Champaign recounted how he knew Gregory through the Books for Prisoners program and they became pen pals, and when he was released from prison Gregory spoke on behalf of prisoners who are still incarcerated and helped raise funds for that program. "I have to say that these charges are difficult to fathom. I'd ask this Court for mercy so that Gregory can continue to do the important things he is doing." Other witnesses were a Catholic priest, a college student who Gregory mentored, and a university instructor who met Gregory in Omaha, at the defense of an abortion clinic in 2009.

One person at the hearing said about this testimony, "You would have to be a stone to not be deeply moved."

In stark contrast, the prosecution presented no witnesses. The only evidence they submitted to the judge was two documents attesting to Gregory's previous criminal convictions, and the most recent was 10 years ago, in 2000.

A reasonable observer might think the judge would take seriously all the people who felt so strongly about Gregory that they were willing to testify to and write statements on Gregory's character and to support him by coming to the trial proceedings, that she would take this into consideration and decide that this person is making valuable contributions to society and does not belong in jail. After all, the default sentence for misdemeanors in Illinois is PROBATION, unless there are clear reasons that the person would be a danger to society if allowed to remain free.

The exact opposite happened. It was as though none of these people had spoken. It appeared that the judge had already decided what the outcome would be, that these people didn't know what they were talking about, even though they spoke from personal knowledge of Gregory. The judge countered with a depiction of Gregory as a person with a "volatile nature," a continuous pattern of criminality, and who "chose the path of violence." Then she declared that "a period of imprisonment is necessary for the protection of the public" and that "probation would deprecate the seriousness of the offender's conduct." Remember, these were misdemeanors!

Any thinking person would ask: What kind of system of "justice" would send a person to jail for 300 days for turning on a video camera?

To draw this outrageously fallacious conclusion, the judge had to pull aside the veil of fairness and impartiality, giving a glimpse of the class dictatorship that lies beneath the façade of democracy. She went outside of the legal system's own rules by literally inventing lies to justify the harsh sentence, saying "Yes, he endangered every person that was there in the auditorium that day. And now he has to pay." This claim was never made in the trial by the prosecutor, yet his harsh sentence is based on it.

Then the judge proceeded to lecture the people in the courtroom on the finer points of how this unjust system works. "There are some very fine people who came here today in support of the defendant, you have to understand that the defendant is a convicted felon." Actually the "fine people" did know this, it was a major reason why many were there.

Should a whole section of society (there are over 2 million people incarcerated right now in American prisons) be denied the right to participate in the full range of lawful social and political activity by mere virtue of being former prisoners, because the state will use prior criminal convictions to justify and excuse political persecution? Together with this, a message is being sent to intimidate millions of others at the bottom of society, "Don't even think about raising your head, participating in political activity or protest, much less taking up revolutionary politics, this is what we will do to you."

The "public" is not threatened by former prisoners stepping forward to take up the big social and political questions of the day, especially those who become revolutionary emancipators of humanity. THAT is the life Gregory has chosen, not a "path of violence," as the judge asserted, and that is what is "volatile," and threatening to their system, not Gregory picking up an iPhone.

A retired major wrote the judge through the online petition, "I am a retired military judge and civilian lawyer of over 30 yrs. practice. I have read all I have been able to find on-line about this case and it seems quite clear that a great injustice has been perpetrated in your Court. The prosecution is charged with seeking justice, not with the simple minded seeking convictions or using the law to attack an ideology. What should happen, is that this prosecutor should be referred to the Bar Assoc. for prosecutorial misconduct. If this happened in my court I would have stopped the proceedings at the end of the trial, before it went to the jury, dismissed the charges and barred the prosecutor from my court pending the results of a Bar investigation."

The case is alarming to people from many walks of life, from the proletarian neighborhood near the jail to the farmers markets in the suburbs, to the Chicago Jazz Festival where one performer dedicated a song to Gregory. People from the oppressed communities, so familiar with the realities of police brutality and systemic police testi-lying; people who came alive in the '60s; humanists who find this prosecution highly unethical are beginning to question in one way or another how things got to be this way. And as word about this spreads nationally, growing numbers of people are stepping forward to put an end to this vindictive political prosecution.

And many people are concerned about the implications of this case for photographers and journalists, especially in this age of YouTube and ubiquitous cell phone videotaping. The prestigious Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press published an article about this case on the front page of its website ( Many who signed the petition wrote comments about the unjustness of bringing charges for videotaping, for example: "I cannot abide this blatantly unjust frame-up prosecution. How can you as a judge participate in a clear obstruction of the rights of the People? I am a producer of religious, philosophical, political programs. At no time have I been threatened with legal action even when I was on military reservation with my press credentials. What possible harm did Gregory do to anyone by using a cell phone video camera when told that he could not use his digital video camera?"

An even louder public outcry against this travesty must be mounted with the demand to release Gregory immediately from jail. To this end, the Ad Hoc Committee for Reason is circulating a new petition to the judge urging that Gregory be granted bail so he can be released from jail and put his efforts into appealing this outrageous conviction. Funds are being collected to publish the ad in a place where it can have significant impact on public opinion.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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NYPD Stop-and-Frisk: Massive Injustice Against the People that Must Be STOPPED

In New York City, on the day you are reading this, the police will stop almost 2,000 people and subject them to humiliating questioning and searches. That's right: almost 2,000 arbitrary stops in one day. Today and every day. Nine out of ten of the people stopped will be Black and Latino. The largest number will be teenagers and young men under 20 years old. Many of the young men stopped today have been stopped before and will be stopped again and again, week in and week out. The police will use force against one of four of the people they stop—for example, drawing a weapon or throwing someone to the ground. And as any young person of color in a major U.S. city knows, such an encounter can turn deadly, any day or any minute.

There have been almost 3,000,000 of these stops in New York City between 2006 and 2009 and there will be over 600,000 stops in 2010. The population of New York City is 8,391,881. The police themselves say that over 90 percent of those stopped have not violated any laws. Of those charged as a result of being stopped, half the charges may be dismissed. This outrageous New York Police Department (NYPD) practice is called "stop-and-frisk" and it is a "model" of policing for other major U.S. cities.

Illegal Under their Own Laws

All of this is totally and blatantly illegal and illegitimate under the stated laws of this country.


Stopped and Frisked

In the age of Obama and supposedly "post-racial" America, stop-and-frisks are accelerating in Black and Latino communities in NYC, and when people lift up their heads to assert the rights supposedly guaranteed by the law, they are not protected but often viciously punished.

Two Brooklyn women, Taneisha Chapman and Markeena Williams, were stopped by cops in August 2009 and asked for ID. They showed police an ACLU flyer titled "What should you do if stopped by the police?" issued by the office of their State Assemblyman. It said, "It's not a crime to refuse to answer questions. You can't be arrested for merely refusing to identify yourself on the street." They were promptly handcuffed and taken to Brooklyn Central Booking. Their charges were later dismissed and they are reported to be filing a federal lawsuit. (New York Daily News, July 10, 2010)

Rhonda Scott, 39, lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, which has one of the highest stop-and-frisk rates in the city. She was walking to her own house one day in August 2008 after returning a plate she borrowed from a neighbor. A cop told her to "be quiet." She returned home and asked her boyfriend to get the officer's name and badge number. By the time he returned, many more police had arrived on her block. Rhonda Scott stood on her own property, outside her house, observing them. When police demanded her ID and she didn't have it on her, they arrested her, breaking both her wrists and pulling her by her hair into the police car. She was taken to central booking after 14 hours in the precinct and only saw a doctor on her own two days later. She missed seven months of work because of her injuries. Rhonda filed a complaint, but the Civilian Complaint Review Board sided with the officers. (Village Voice, "NYPD Tapes Part 2," May 11, 2010)

The U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights and supposedly foundational to the American rule of law, protects against "unwarranted search and seizure" (that is, unreasonable search and arrest). The Fourteenth Amendment, passed after slavery was ended, says that rights under the law and due process apply equally to all, meaning that anyone accused of a crime is entitled to a legal process where they can defend against the charges, and no one is supposed to be punished (by the police or anyone else) when a crime has not been proven. In fact, analysis shows that these laws and rights do not exist for an entire group of people. For this group—African-Americans, Latinos, and other oppressed nationalities—there is the sharp edge of force, with no effective due process.

The legal standard for a stop is supposed to be "reasonable suspicion" that a crime has been committed. The legal standard for someone to be frisked is "reasonable suspicion" that the person is armed and dangerous. However, the 2009 NYPD records of the stops and searches list these pretexts: "Furtive movement" (44%), "Appears to be 'casing'" (28%), "Other" (20%), "Appears to be lookout" (16.8%), "Fits description" (16.7%) and several other "reasons" including suspicious clothing, "bulge" or "suspicious object," etc. (New York Times, July 11, 2010)

And the government's own stop-and-frisk figures are undeniable evidence of racial profiling by the NYPD. Of the total of 311,646 people stopped between January through June 2009, 52.3 percent were Black and 32.1 percent Latino. Compare this with the overall New York City population figures according to nationality: 24 percent Black, 28 percent Latino, and 35 percent white (the rest are Native American, Asian-American, and others).

What is being said is, if you are Black or Latino, especially if you're young, you must not do the following things or else you will be treated as a criminal, resulting in being searched, beaten and maybe worse: Move in any way the cops don't like; wear clothing the cops don't like; resemble the "description" of a suspect (meaning any "Black male" or "Latino male" of a certain age); carry a wallet, cell phone or music player in your pocket ("bulge") or your hand ("suspicious object"). Or you can be stopped for no particular reason at all ("other"). People have taken to calling it "walking while Black."

The dehumanizing toll on the spirit is painful. Young people grow into adulthood with the constant knowledge that any moment of fun, hanging out together, even walking into the building where you live, can take a sudden turn into a nightmare scenario of humiliation and abuse and worse.

Official Orders to Police: Break the Law or Else

At the same time as new NYPD stop-and-frisk figures were published this summer, the Village Voice and New York Times began to release hundreds of hours of secret recordings provided by several New York City police officers and commanders. Their recordings and interviews open a wide window on a police culture of terror and brutality that is demanded and commanded from the highest levels of the NYPD and the city administration down to the local precincts. It is made completely clear that any cop on the beat who hesitates to carry this out can lose their job.

A sergeant in the Bedford-Stuyvesant (Brooklyn) 81st Precinct is recorded: "Anybody walking around, shake them up, stop them, 250 them, no matter what the explanation is. If they're walking, it doesn't matter." ("250" is NYPD code for the form they fill out after a stop.) The commander of the precinct is recorded on Halloween night, 2008: "You're on a foot post, fuck it. Take the first guy you got and lock them all up from [building the police were targeting]. Boom. Bring 'em in. Lodge them. You're going to go back out and process it later on." A lieutenant adds: "Jump out, ground-and-pound, 'cuff 'em up, and hand 'em off to somebody." (Village Voice, "The NYPD Tapes, Part 2," May 11, 2010)

Adil Polanco, born in the Dominican Republic, was a rookie cop in the 41st Precinct in the Bronx: "We'd make up a bullshit reason to justify the stop, when, most of the time, we had no reason to justify the stop... We were told to say they 'fit the description.' But that just meant you were Spanish or black... They want you to summons people for disorderly conduct, when they aren't doing anything... One time, I was ordered to give a guy a summons for no dog license, but the problem was I didn't see a dog. " Polanco complained and was fired during his probation period. (Village Voice, "The NYPD Tapes, Part 5: The Corroboration," August 25, 2010)

When "Reforms" Make Things Worse

In 1999, Amadou Diallo, a 22-year-old African immigrant, was murdered by the Street Crimes Unit with 41 shots as he stood holding his wallet in the front door of his Bronx building. There was massive outrage and protest when it came out that the Street Crimes Unit (SCU) was randomly stopping 80,000 people every year. The SCU was disbanded in 2002 and the database to record police stops was started in response to charges of racial profiling. The "reforms" instituted after Amadou Diallo's murder resulted in stop-and-frisk going from the 80,000 per year specialty of the "elite" Street Crimes Unit, to the massive and official practice of the entire NYPD with 600,000 stops this year; and the creation of the NYPD database that recorded the personal information of a huge section of young Black and Latino New Yorkers.

Stop and think about this... what gets revealed about the role of the state when "reforms" of even the ugliest expressions of the true nature of this country get recycled into new and further measures for control and domination of the most oppressed? When the supposedly universal code of laws of "American democracy" can be completely shredded and dismissed? When large areas of NYC might as well have a sign at the gate: "NYPD Stop-and-Frisk Zone: Basic Rights Do Not Apply"?

Not a Few Bad Cops, But a Policy of The System

NYPD Chief Raymond Kelly and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg aggressively defend the massive and blatantly illegal stop-and-frisk practice as essential police policy, and it is enforced top-to-bottom in the police department through threats and intimidation of not only the people they are "policing" but even of their own officers. This is not "a few bad cops" or "poor training." It is both systematic and systemic.

People are supposedly protected—by the U.S. Constitution—from arbitrary searches by law enforcement or being targeted by cops just because of their nationality or the color of their skin. But the tapes of official police orders to street cops show the opposite is the case. And statistics that are kept show that 80.9% of all "stop and frisk" are on Blacks and Latinos, while Blacks and Latinos constitute 52.6% of the population of New York City. So you have to ask yourself, why?

To answer that you have to look at the structures of society that the police are enforcing. If you do, you will find that tens of millions of people in this "land of the free" are locked into a life of inferior schools, bad housing, terrible and often non-existent health care, systematic discrimination in jobs and credit and every single other sphere of society. You will find that these tens of millions of people are blamed for the ills of society. And you will begin to see that it is these practices—and the system that feeds off and needs these practices—that the police are actually serving and protecting. (For more on the whole history of the oppression of Black people in the U.S., the ways in which it persists today, and how revolution could be made to end this, see Revolution #144.)

With the stop-and-frisk laws, the police are practicing a counter-insurgency before there is an insurgency. That is to say, they are using terror and intimidation and the amassing of huge databases of people to prevent African-Americans, Latinos and other oppressed nationalities from even daring to raise their heads.

But it doesn't have to be that way—and people cannot afford to allow it to stay that way. We have said elsewhere, and we will say it again, because it cannot be said too much:

The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.

Living in constant terror of the illegitimate abuse and violence of the police should never be accepted. This October 22, the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation, should be a major step in ending "those days."

Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Take the Quiz! Israel: Perception & Reality

Part 1. The Origins of the State of Israel, the Palestinians, and the Holocaust

Background to This Quiz:

Much of the material for this Revolution quiz comes from or was updated from a fact sheet about the state of Israel that appeared in a previous issue of this paper (when the name of the paper was the Revolutionary Worker). In the spring of 2006, a student at the School for International Training in Vermont posted that fact sheet to an online discussion group. The Dean of Graduate Studies called for a campus forum—not to debate the content of the fact sheet, but to criticize the student who sent it for violating the school's policy on "appropriate use of the electronic media" by posting "material that may be or may be perceived as harassment"! Apparently a simple examination into the actual history of the state of Israel was verboten. The incident is alarmingly indicative of the atmosphere on college campuses and intellectual centers, where a number of prominent universities have "disinvited" or driven off campus everyone from poets to historians who've criticized the state of Israel.


1. Which of the following statements was made by David Ben-Gurion, a key figure in the founding of the state of Israel?

a) "After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we will abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine."

b) "If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it's true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them?"

c) "There has been anti-semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country. Why should they accept that?"

d) All of the above.

e) None of the above.

2. In a speech to the American-Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Barack Obama stated that "It was just a few years after the liberation of the [Nazi concentration] camps that David Ben-Gurion declared the founding of the Jewish state of Israel." Which of the following two statements is an actual quote reflecting Ben-Gurion's views on the relationship between saving Jews from the Holocaust and establishing Israel?

a) "If I knew that it was possible to save all the children in Germany by transporting them to England, but only half of them by transporting them to Palestine, I would choose the first—because we face not only the reckoning of those children, but the historical reckoning of the Jewish people." [emphasis added]

b) "If I knew that it was possible to save all the children in Germany by transporting them to England, but only half of them by transporting them to Palestine, I would choose the second—because we face not only the reckoning of those children, but the historical reckoning of the Jewish people." [emphasis added]

3. Which of the following is an accurate quote from Moshe Dayan, a major figure in the founding of Israel?

a) "Overwhelmingly, the areas settled by Jewish emigrants were not populated by Arabs."

b) "One of the greatest myths is that we stole this country [Israel] from the Arabs."

c) "Israel is truly a land without a people for a people without a land."

d) "There is not a single place built in this country [Israel] that did not have a former Arab population."

e) None of the above.

4. What was the actual Palestinian Arab population compared to the Jewish population in Palestine at the beginning of World War 1 in 1914?

a) 10,000 Arabs and 150,000 Jews

b) 100,000 Arabs and 150,000 Jews

c) 15,000 Arabs and 10,000 Jews

d) 683,000 Arabs and 60,000 Jews

e) None of the above.

5. What percentage of the land of Palestine did the state of Israel seize in the 1948 war between Israel and Arab states?

a) 95

b) 50

c) 77

d) 15

6. The 1967 "Six-Day War" resulted in Israel occupying the remaining 23 percent of historic Palestine—the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem—along with Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Syria's Golan Heights. After that war, Menachem Begin, who later became prime minister, made which of the following statements in a speech to the Israeli National Defense College?

a) "The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."

b) "The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. The international community must be honest. We were defending ourselves."

c) "The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai protected terrorists who were endangering Israeli citizens without regard for the lives of children and civilians."

d) "Our military operations in the Sinai were actions of last resort."

e) None of the above.

7. Ariel Sharon was Israel's prime minister from 2001 until suffering a stroke in 2006. Which of the following is he famous for?

a) Leading a commando unit of the Haganah, a Zionist underground group, that carried out terrorist operations against Palestinian communities before the establishment of the Israeli state.

b) Leading an Israeli army unit in the 1950s called Unit 101 which carried out armed attacks against Palestinians. In October 1953, this unit blew up the village of Kibya in the West Bank, killing 69 civilians.

c) As defense minister, serving as the main architect of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon when, in a space of a few weeks, the Israeli military killed 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians.

d) Being charged with "indirect responsibility" by an official Israeli investigation for the September 1982 massacre of 2,000 people at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps outside Beirut, carried out by Israeli-backed fascist Phalange forces.

e) All of the above.

8. In which, if any, of the following major international events was Israel deeply involved?

a) The Iran-Contra Affair, shipping arms to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Money from the arms sales was used to fund the "Contras" who were carrying out sabotage and violence against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

b) The installation of the notorious General Idi Amin as the ruler of Uganda.

c) The slaughter of at least 182,000 Mayan peasants by the death-squad regime in Guatemala during the period of 1978-1984.

d) All of the above.

e) None of the above.

9. To which of the following countries has Israel not sold or transferred substantial military material?

a) The government of South Africa during the apartheid era. Israel observed an international boycott of selling military weapons to that regime.

b) The government of India over the past five years. Israel's policy is to avoid fueling the India-Pakistan arms race.

c) The Islamic Republic of Iran. For obvious reasons Israel has refused to sell or transfer military supplies to that regime.

d) Israel has not sold or transferred weapons to any of the three countries listed above.

e) Israel has sold or transferred weapons to all three of the countries listed above.


Part 2 of this quiz, "Israel and Comparisons to Apartheid South Africa," will appear in the upcoming special issue of Revolution on Israel. For more on that issue, see the editorial in this issue.

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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What Humanity Needs
From Ike to Mao and Beyond

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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From A World to Win News Service

Deepwater Drilling: Disaster After Disaster

September 20, 2010. A World to Win News Service. The BP oil well that has been spewing poison into the Gulf of Mexico since April was declared officially "killed" September 19. But like the undead in a horror movie who rise up again and again to attack the living, one after another deepwater oil rig is coming at humanity.

The Deepwater Horizon rig hired by BP was drilling for oil and gas on the seabed 1.5 kilometers [0.93 miles] underwater, and its tubes extended another 4.8 kilometers [almost 3 miles] under the earth. Drilling under these conditions is especially dangerous. The pressures involved are enormous. The wellhead, located far down on the sea bottom, is very difficult to access in case of a malfunction of the valves designed to balance those pressures. That's what happened with the Deepwater Horizon. When oil and gas began surging uncontrollably from the well, the gas shot to the surface and exploded, killing 11 workers and sending the rig to the ocean bottom.

Such wells were unusual until 15 years ago. The oil companies began pushing deeper and deeper into the sea at a spectacular rate over the last few years as older wells in shallower waters began to dry up.

The challenges these wells present are unprecedented. The floating rigs and stationary platforms are often located far from shore, so firefighting and rescue equipment can't be brought quickly. In the Gulf of Mexico, hurricanes regularly pound the surface with giant waves and high winds, while underwater currents and mudslides can be no less destructive. The temperatures just above freezing at those depths can harden natural gas into dangerous hydrate crystals.

Deepwater drilling was made more possible by the development of new technologies in the 1990s. Yet before the BP disaster, oil companies and the governments that supposedly regulate them chose not to take these new risk factors into account. "Our ability to manage risks hasn't caught up with our ability to explore and produce in deep water," said Edward Chow, a former oil company executive now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (The New York Times, August 31, 2010)

The U.S. Interior Department declared, or, better said, gambled that such drilling was safe based on the relatively few blowouts between 1979 and 2009, without factoring in the unprecedented difficulties and damage that could result if a blowout did occur. But given the increasingly complexity of drilling conditions, on the one hand, and the proliferation of such wells (more than 4,000 in the Gulf's deep waters) on the other, disaster was not only possible but almost inevitable.

Worse, much worse, is this: now that a deepwater rig disaster has occurred, with long-term consequences that are just beginning to be studied, rather than learning a lesson and acting accordingly, the oil industry and the governments are continuing and even expanding global deepwater operations.

Despite the BP blowout, Royal Dutch Shell is continuing to operate the world's deepest offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico. The Perdido is set to drill 35 wells over the next two decades. Since the April accident, the Gulf has seen the arrival of new ships that can drill more than twice as deep under the seas as the Deepwater Horizon (3.6 kilometers [2.25 miles]). Only two of the 33 deepwater rigs that were operating there have left the area.

Around the globe there are currently about 50 ultra-deepwater drilling operations at depths of greater than 2.3 kilometers [1.4 miles], half of them run by Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig. In addition to the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean, it drills in seas near Norway, Scotland, Brazil, Angola, Nigeria, India, Malaysia and Indonesia. More rigs like the Deepwater Horizon are under construction. Regardless of all the bad publicity, industry publications do not expect this company or others like it to lose much business.

Government officials in Nigeria and Ghana at first voiced concern after the BP spill, but these countries have not delayed any of the projects underway.

Norway decided to go ahead and auction 94 of 100 new lots for drilling in its continental shelf waters. The Norwegian-based Statoil, Scandinavia's leading business, is the world's biggest offshore oil and gas company. It is a major investor in the Gulf of Mexico as well as oil and gas fields in a dozen other countries.

Denmark is allowing a Scottish-based company to drill in an area nicknamed "Iceberg Alley" in the Arctic Sea near Greenland. Greenpeace environmental activists aboard the ship Esperanza sailed out to the platform to draw world attention to the danger to the sea and the various kinds of whales, polar bears, seals, sharks and bird species to which this area is home. Although the Danish government sent a warship, commandos in speedboats and a police flotilla to stop them, several protestors succeeded in climbing a tower on the rig. They hung there for two days before the Arctic weather forced them down into the hands of the authorities, who arrested them September 19.

Meanwhile, at the World Energy Congress in Montreal, another 60 Greenpeace supporters covered themselves with petroleum to stage a "Black Tide Beach Party" to emphasize "the urgent need for the world to move beyond oil."

For the oil companies, the governments dependent on oil revenues and in fact the whole monopoly capitalist system in which profits from oil and oil-burning industries play such a central role, the possibility that there could be another oil well disaster like last April's or even worse is trumped by the certainty that there are huge profits that will not be made if deepwater drilling does not go ahead, and that if anyone holds back, the others are sure to rush in and crush them.

At this point much of the world's known but unexploited oil reserves are located deep under the waves. But what is at stake is more than the issue of supply and demand for this commodity. These deep-sea oil fields represent a part of nature whose ownership is up for grabs. Who gets it and who doesn't will have a lot to do with determining the future of blocs of capital and the nations they are rooted in.

This expand-or-die economic competition between companies and countries is intertwined with military factors. Countries use their potential military power to protect and expand their profits at each other's expense, even if competition takes place in complicated ways, including the subjugation of countries like Iraq in part to keep out other big and little imperialists and not always through direct armed conflict between the imperialist powers. At the same time possession of oil (and the money to be made from it) is also a major strategic factor in itself when it comes to the competition between capitalist nations.

For instance, China is currently developing its naval power to strengthen its claims to the oil- and gas-rich South China Sea (also a transit point for much of the world's energy supplies). The U.S. has responded by holding provocative naval exercises off of China. This is about more than immediate profit. Such conflicts have much to do with the ability of the U.S. to maintain its world empire.

A recent scholarly article in Science magazine (September 10, 2010) concludes that the existing fossil-fuel guzzlers alone (coal-burning power plants, gas-powered factories, cars, etc.) will add a total of about 496 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere over the next 50 years. The authors calculate that this would bring CO2 levels to 430 ppm and global warming to a mean of 1.4 degrees Celsius [2.5 degrees Fahrenheit] over the pre-industrial era. These levels are near the threshold for disastrous climate change, and the estimates may be way low according to an article about the study in Scientific American and other scientists.

The point of the study, however, is not to argue that the danger of climate change has been exaggerated. Instead, the authors conclude that taken as a whole the existing energy infrastructure constitutes a form of investment, or capital, roughly speaking, whose very existence is an enormous obstacle to change, and a powerful economic incentive to expand rather than halt the expansion of the CO2-dependent economy.

That is exactly what we are seeing with the expansion of deepwater and ultra-deepwater drilling despite the now proven risk of disastrous accidents, not to mention the ongoing and definitely non-accidental disaster of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

A system based on private profit, the private appropriation of the wealth socially produced by the world's working people and of nature itself, a system driven by capitalist competition and short-term considerations, just can't stop itself from wreaking havoc today and worse tomorrow. A socialist system whose highest good is the interests of humanity and the preservation of the planet would and will be determined to find the ways to solve these problems.

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

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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From A World to Win News Service

Kissinger: Statesman or Murderer? Ask Chileans

September 13, 2010. A World to Win News Service. On September 10 in Geneva, Henry Kissinger was greeted by jeers of "murderer" from over 100 demonstrators, mainly Chilean, as well as Argentines. The man who made the September 11, 1973 military coup in Chile possible, Kissinger had come to Switzerland to deliver the keynote speech on "Power shifts and security" at a meeting of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

As National Security Adviser and Secretary of State for U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, the list of Kissinger's crimes is long. Although awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the end of the Vietnam war, he had been a main architect of that war and a long-time advocate of using American troops and airpower to force Vietnam to give in to a political settlement acceptable to the U.S. To achieve that goal, he advocated spreading the war throughout Southeast Asia. He was behind the bombing that destroyed much of Cambodia (a campaign kept secret from an increasingly antiwar public in the U.S.) and the U.S. invasion of Cambodia in 1970 that sparked an unprecedented broadening of the antiwar movement.

The other crime with which his name will always be associated is the CIA-backed overthrow of the elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile. At that time, he told his colleagues, the emergence of possible challenge by the then Soviet Union to U.S. domination of Latin America was "too important" to let Chileans decide. "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people."

Under Kissinger's direction, the U.S. tried to block Allende's assumption of the presidency, and then, when that failed, conducted three years of economic sabotage and political conspiracies until the Chilean army bombed and stormed the presidential palace and overthrew Allende. The military junta led by General Augusto Pinochet rounded up and killed thousands of Allende supporters and others. Pinochet's brutal, U.S.-supported regime lasted for almost two decades.

Kissinger supported a secret project called Operation Condor that coordinated efforts by U.S.-backed military juntas in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay to kill suspected opponents on the national, continental and international levels.

Last April, a leaked U.S. State Department document revealed that Kissinger personally blocked a letter from the U.S. State Department to the Pinochet government warning it that political assassinations would not be tolerated. Five days later the Pinochet regime organized the car-bomb murder of Orlando Letelier, formerly Allende's ambassador to the U.S. and a prominent anti-Pinochet figure, and Letelier's assistant Ronni Karpen Moffitt, in Washington, D.C.

These crimes are a matter of public record, having been disclosed through leaked documents and even a U.S. Congress investigation (see the documentation listed on the Wikipedia and National Security Archives Web sites). Many of Kissinger's acts were illegal according to the laws of the country whose government he helped lead and also international law. Although legal cases have been filed against him by families of his victims in several countries, one after another American government has put its full weight behind him. Protecting Kissinger from possible indictment as a war criminal is one reason why to this day, under President Barack Obama, the U.S. refuses to sign the convention that established the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Kissinger's appearance at this Geneva conference amounted to an endorsement by many of the world's most powerful political leaders, foreign policy experts and opinion makers. Instead of condemning his crimes and bringing him to justice, they seek his advice on how to further oppress the people of the world. Switzerland welcomed this man who is responsible for thousands of murders and the ruining of millions of lives. Switzerland's Chileans didn't.

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

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Seattle Police Murder Sparks Outrage: Justice for John T. Williams!

The following is an edited version of a statement received from Revolution distributors in Seattle:

On August 30, John T. Williams was making his way down a busy Seattle street, holding a folding three-inch carving knife and a piece of wood. John was known for his beautiful totem poles and other carvings. He came from a family of wood carvers from the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Dititdaht First Nations people on Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

It happened in little more than an instant. Seattle cop Ian Birk saw John, jumped out of his car, and yelled at him to drop the knife. John was deaf in one ear, and according to reports, a person who suffered from the horrible disease of alcoholism. So he had difficulty understanding what people were saying to him immediately. Within 60 seconds of jumping from his car, Birk pumped four bullets into John. As Williams lay dying, one of his friends confronted Birk about the shooting and, without cause, was promptly thrown to the ground and arrested.

Immediately, the police moved to justify the Williams murder. They claimed John had menacingly come at Birk with his knife. But eyewitnesses exposed this as a lie. Witness Amber Maurina said John did not look threatening or aggressive and "didn't even look up at the officer," and that "from what I saw, it didn't look right at all." Another witness said of the police account, "When I heard that story, I was really upset because it was just total counter to what I witnessed." After this got into the press, the police changed their story, saying they didn't know what happened and were trying to get answers.

Williams' murder has sparked widespread outrage. Broad sections of people have spoken out about John's character and that it wasn't like him at all to pose a threat to an armed cop. Others have written "letters to the editor" and protested the police actions.

John T. Williams was well-known in the Native American community in Seattle and among artists. One prominent store that caters to tourists on Seattle's waterfront said the store had bought carvings from John and his family for five generations. John, who had been homeless at times, was also well-known and liked among social service workers. The fact that he had ties to people in the community has made it difficult for the police to cover up and justify this murder.

People have responded with outrage and protest. Hundreds attended a candlelight vigil for Williams at the Chief Seattle Club, a center for native peoples that John frequented. Native American and Canadian First Nations leaders held a press conference and demanded a full investigation into the shooting. One person drew the largest applause when he said, "This policeman should be charged with murder."

On September 7, a protest was called at the site of the crime by the October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality. The protest drew 150 people—many native proletarians, basic people from other oppressed nationalities, middle strata white youth, and revolutionaries. People close to John T. Williams and others spoke out against the police murder. Anger at the oppression of Native Americans poured out. One person said, "This is our land, they [the police] killed us on our land!"

A speaker for Revolution Books popularized the RCP's campaign statement, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have," and talked about how the Party is building a movement for revolution. One man took the statement the speaker was holding and got a stack from someone else. Others also took copies.

People marched to the police precinct of the killer cop and angrily denounced the murder. There was widespread determination to fight for justice for John Williams and not let the cops get off. Revolutionaries denounced the epidemic of police brutality—exposing how the whole system works to get the cops off and why we need a communist revolution to finally stop police brutality. People crowded around to hear the audio of Bob Avakian from the Revolution DVD speaking on "Yes, there's a conspiracy, to get the cops off" played over the bullhorn. People were commenting and laughing at different parts, saying things like "yeah, they always try to get them off" and "we never get that prosecutor!"

Williams is one of SEVEN people murdered or shot by police in the past three weeks in Washington State. Two were killed by taser, and five shot—including a pastor in Spokane. And there have been a series of cases where Seattle or other area cops are caught on tape assaulting people: an officer beating and slamming the head of 15-year-old Malika Calhoun in a jail cell, and a 17-year-old girl who was punched in the face by a cop for jaywalking. Another video showed a Seattle cop kicking a Latino man and yelling, "I am going to beat the fucking Mexican shit out of you, homey." All these cops got off.

The police held a community meeting at the Native American arts center about the murder of John T. Williams. Seattle Police Chief John Diaz was confronted at the meeting about the racist attack on a Latino man which one officer tried to justify by saying King County prosecutors decided there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute this cop for a hate crime! People started yelling about this and the officer tried to calm people down by assuring them that there would be disciplinary action taken against that officer.

What kind of a system is it when the police are trained that they have complete authority to view oppressed nationality people as the enemy, and anything, even an innocent carving knife, can be seized on as an opportunity to snuff out someone's life in an instant, even when that person can't even hear their orders? What kind of a system is it where the police are given power to see a person like John T. Williams as a dangerous threat that must be eliminated? And where such murders and brutality not only happen time after time, but where the system works and maneuvers to get the cops off every time? This police murder was not the result of bad communication or a tragic accident, but of a capitalist system where the police are given power of life and death as the armed thugs and the enforcers of a vicious class dictatorship over the masses of people, and particularly oppressed nationality people.

It is critical that people increasingly grasp and act on this understanding, as they continue to step up and spread much more broadly the fight for justice in the Williams murder, demand the killer cop be charged with murder and be tried, and that this is connected to stopping the whole epidemic of police brutality including building for a powerful outpouring on October 22.

Justice for John T. Williams!

The Whole Damn System is Guilty!

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Special Issue of Revolution on Israel

A special issue of Revolution on the nature and role of Israel is in the works. It will give students on college campuses—along with a broader audience—a vivid and rigorously documented picture of Israel's crimes against the Palestinians and reveal the role of Israel around the world. It will speak directly and honestly to the toughest questions students and others have.

The special issue will present a compelling analysis of Israel as a creature of imperialism—especially U.S. imperialism. People will come away with a profound sense of the terrible consequences of the State of Israel for the people of the Middle East, and beyond that, for humanity as a whole. In the course of this, they will be challenged to see and act on the need for revolution with the fundamental and ultimate aim of communism throughout the world, to emancipate all humanity from systems and relations based on exploitation and oppression.

In the wake of this special issue of Revolution, there will be a teach-in presenting the analysis of the special issue, along with speakers from other perspectives exposing the nature and role of Israel.

This special issue of Revolution on Israel, along with the teach-in, will be a big deal. We'll aim to saturate selected campuses with this issue, and the whole package will be impossible to ignore on many campuses this fall. Work on these related projects has begun. The aim is to radically transform the situation where far too few people know about Israel's crimes around the world, and even fewer make the connections between those crimes and the U.S.

If you feel the need to expose Israel and its crimes, and radically change the terms of debate in society, we're calling on you to take part in this project. We have substantial thinking on what needs to be addressed, and we want your ideas as well. Contribute photos, artwork, research, fact-checking, translation, and in other ways by emailing us at People who feel the importance of this project can email to arrange to send donations, and to organize fundraising salons and other fundraising events.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Revolutionary Strategy

Some Principles for Building A Movement for Revolution

By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

At every point, we must be searching out the key concentrations of social contradictions and the methods and forms which can strengthen the political consciousness of the masses, as well as their fighting capacity and organization in carrying out political resistance against the crimes of this system; which can increasingly bring the necessity, and the possibility, of a radically different world to life for growing numbers of people; and which can strengthen the understanding and determination of the advanced, revolutionary-minded masses in particular to take up our strategic objectives not merely as far-off and essentially abstract goals (or ideals) but as things to be actively striven for and built toward.

The objective and orientation must be to carry out work which, together with the development of the objective situation, can transform the political terrain, so that the legitimacy of the established order, and the right and ability of the ruling class to rule, is called into question, in an acute and active sense, throughout society; so that resistance to this system becomes increasingly broad, deep and determined; so that the "pole" and the organized vanguard force of revolutionary communism is greatly strengthened; and so that, at the decisive time, this advanced force is able to lead the struggle of millions, and tens of millions, to make revolution.



Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Read and Spread Revolution Newspaper

We have a strategy—and our newspaper is, as "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" statement says, "the foundation, guideline, and organizational scaffolding for [the] whole process" of carrying out that strategy. This is the paper that cuts to the bone to tell you WHY things are happening... to show you HOW it doesn't have to be this way... and to give you the ways to ACT to change it. It is a call to action and a means of struggle. It is, and has to be much more, the scaffolding on which this movement is built, where those who are getting into it and following it can wrangle in its pages and on its website with how we can better build this movement. It is a guideline where today thousands, but soon tens of thousands and eventually millions, all over the place, stay connected and learn to act in a powerful and united way. It is the foundation where those who read it learn about the larger goals of revolution and communism and come to see the ways in which the struggles of today are connected to those larger goals... where they come to grasp the scientific communist outlook through its application to all the many particular events and outrages and developments in society... and where they get organizationally linked up to this revolution.

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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What Is Communist Revolution?

It is this system that has got us in the situation we're in today, and keeps us there. And it is through revolution to get rid of this system that we ourselves can bring a much better system into being. The ultimate goal of this revolution is communism: A world where people work and struggle together for the common good...Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings...Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.
This revolution is both necessary and possible.

From: The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have
A Message, And A Call,
From The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Who Is Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party?

In Bob Avakian, the Chairman of our Party, we have the kind of rare and precious leader who does not come along very often. A leader who has given his heart, and all his knowledge, skills and abilities to serving the cause of revolution and the emancipation of humanity. Bob Avakian came alive as a revolutionary in the 1960s—taking part in the great movements of those days, and especially working and struggling closely with the most advanced revolutionary force in the U.S. at that time, the Black Panther Party. Since then, and while many others have given up, Bob Avakian has worked and struggled tirelessly to find the way to go forward, having learned crucial lessons and built lasting organization that could continue the struggle, and aim to take it higher, while uniting with the same struggle throughout the world. He has kept on developing the theory and strategy for making revolution. He played the key role in founding our Party in 1975, and since then he has continued the battle to keep the Party on the revolutionary road, to carry out work with a strong revolutionary orientation. He has deeply studied the experience of revolution—the shortcomings as well as the great achievements—and many different fields of human endeavor, through history and throughout the world—and he has brought the science and method of revolution to a whole new level, so that we can not only fight but really fight to win. Bob Avakian has developed the scientific theory and strategic orientation for how to actually make the kind of revolution we need, and he is leading our Party as an advanced force of this revolution. He is a great champion and a great resource for people here, and indeed people all over the world. The possibility for revolution, right here, and for the advance of the revolution everywhere, is greatly heightened because of Bob Avakian and the leadership he is providing. And it is up to us to get with this find out more about Bob Avakian and the Party he learn from his scientific method and approach to changing the build this revolutionary movement with our Party at the defend this leadership as the precious thing it is...and, at the same time, to bring our own experience and understanding to help strengthen the process of revolution and enable the leadership we have to keep on learning more and leading even better.

From: The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have
A Message, And A Call,
From The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #212, September 26, 2010

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Israel: Perception & Reality Quiz Answers and Sources

Part 1. The Origins of the State of Israel, the Palestinians and the Holocaust

1.   d

Answers a, b, and c are all quotes from David Ben-Gurion available at mainstream sources. The first quote is from a statement made in 1938, 10 years before the establishment of the state of Israel. Answers b and c are from a comment Ben-Gurion made in 1956, to Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress.

2.  b

Tom Segev, The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust, New York: Henry Holt, 2000.

3.  d

From Address to the Technion, Haifa, reported in Haaretz, April 4, 1969.

4.  d

"Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Primer," by Joel Beinin and Lisa Hajjar (Middle East Research and Information Project). Over half of these 60,000 Jews were recent settlers.

5. c

"Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Primer," by Joel Beinin and Lisa Hajjar (Middle East Research and Information Project).

6. a

Address by Prime Minister Begin at the National Defense College, August 8, 1982 (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

7. e


(b) "Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem," by Issa Nakhleh (; "Israel: Massacre at Kibya," Time, October 26 1983.

(c) "Heckled Over 1982 Lebanon Move, Sharon Defends Invasion Role in Unusual Lecture," by Dan Fisher (Los Angeles Times, August 12, 1987);.

(d) "Final Report of the Israeli Commission of Inquiry," Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. XII, No. 3. Spring 1983.

8. d

(a) Excerpts from the Tower Commission's Report ( files public/TOWER EXCERPTS.htm).

(b) "Revealed: how Israel helped Amin to take power," by Richard Dowden, The Independent, August 17, 2003 (

(c) "Guatemala: Memory of Silence," Report of the Commission for Historical Clarification (

9. e

Israel has sold or transferred weapons to all three regimes.

(a) "Brothers in Arms—Israel's Secret Pact with Pretoria," by Chris McGreal, The Guardian, February 7, 2006.

(b) "India, Israel vow to enhance cooperation in combating terror," The Hindu, February 19, 2010 (

(c) Excerpts from the Tower Commission's Report ( files public/TOWER EXCERPTS.htm).

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