Revolution #306, June 9, 2013 (

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

We Are All Trayvon!
The Whole Damn System is Guilty!

June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


On the night of February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman called 911 and reported seeing a “real suspicious guy” who “looks like he’s up to no good.” And Zimmerman told the 911 operator, “These assholes, they always get away.” The 911 operator told Zimmerman to stay put. And then Zimmerman got out of his car, stalked, and murdered Trayvon Martin.

A young Black man in a hoodie with a bag of Skittles was fair game for a racist vigilante, and the killer got a pat on the back from a system that couldn’t find anything to charge him with.

Until... people stood up.

February 26, 2013, Union Square, NYC. The one-year anniversary of the murder Trayvon Martin.
Photo: AP

As the story of what happened to Trayvon Martin made it into the light of day, his death struck a deep nerve among millions—among those who saw themselves, or their children, in this picture. And others as well.

The depth to which the murder of Trayvon Martin resonated among people corresponded to profound injustices in this society. It evoked the hundreds of years of slavery, lynching, police murder, and mass incarceration. People, in their thousands and thousands, who otherwise might not see a way, or a point, to fighting the powers-that-be—took a stand. In doing so, they forced the hand of a system that was ready to let Trayvon’s killer walk. And as people began to fight the power, new questions came to the fore. Why do Black and Latino youth have targets on their backs from the day they are born? And how does that relate to other injustices and outrages?

Behind the murder of Trayvon Martin lies a SYSTEM—a system that in effect “deputizes” people like Zimmerman to act as judge and executioner of young Black people like Trayvon Martin, just like it has done throughout the ages in different forms.

That system has no future for the Trayvon Martins of the world, except for jail, the army, or an early death in the streets.

There is a movement for revolution that is determined to bring an end to this system. The leader of that movement for revolution is Bob Avakian, and he recently made this statement:

THIS MOVEMENT FOR REVOLUTION MUST NOW BECOME A REAL FORCE, POWERFULLY IMPACTING AND INFLUENCING ALL OF SOCIETY... bringing forward growing numbers of those this system has cast out and cast down, who must be and can be the driving force of the fight to put an end not only to their own oppression, but all oppression, all over the world... drawing in many others, from all walks of life, who are inspired to join this same cause... preparing minds and organizing forces, Fighting the Power, and Transforming the People, for REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS.

In that light, there are very high stakes in the trial of Trayvon Martin’s killer. Will this system that rampages around the world, bringing slavery, suffering, and death, have its way—imposing its verdict that the life of a young Black man is worth nothing?

Or will there be a different verdict—in the court, which represents justice for Trayvon—and in society, over whether this system and those it controls can have an open season on our youth.

Let’s not forget why there even is a trial here. Each step of the way, people have stepped forward to fight for justice for Trayvon Martin. His family refused to accept that no charges would be brought against his killer. People from the inner-city projects, as well as many others from many different sections of society, spoke out and protested. Prosecutors who for five weeks saw nothing wrong with the murder of Trayvon Martin decided they better bring charges—not because any new evidence appeared, but because they, and those higher up in the ruling class, felt the only way to suppress the struggle was to make some show of prosecuting George Zimmerman.

But between then and now, the system has continued to grind on. Their airwaves and Internet are filled with racist rants—including from Zimmerman’s family. Their news media spreads totally irrelevant accusations about Trayvon that have nothing to do with this case. All of it trying to divert the spotlight from the fact that Zimmerman stalked and killed Trayvon for being a young Black man in a hoodie.

Three Strikes...

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

The book by Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, has shined a bright and much needed light on the reality of profound injustice at the very core of this country.
   And this brings me back to a very basic point:
   This system, in this country, in the whole history of its treatment of Black people, what has it been?
   First, Slavery... Then, Jim Crow—segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror... And now, The New Jim Crow—police brutality and murder, wholesale criminalization and mass incarceration, and legalized discrimination yet again.
   That's it for this system: Three strikes and you're out!

Any chance for justice in this case will require a major struggle this summer. And the stakes are great. There is much at stake for a system that dehumanizes and oppresses the Trayvons of the world. And there is much at stake for all who refuse to accept this, and especially for those who are coming to see the need for a revolution that will change ALL OF THIS.

If the system has its way, Zimmerman will walk out of the courtroom a free man. But not only can the people not let that happen—but more, this is a time to advance the struggle against all the racist murders of our youth by vigilantes and the police, and the mass incarceration of 2.4 million people, mainly Black and Latino. We cannot let this slow genocide continue.

New waves of people of all nationalities must step forward to protest. All those who took to the streets, outraged by the murder of Trayvon Martin and how the system let Zimmerman walk free... All those who recognized this was NOT an isolated incident, but just the latest in a long chain of such acts... All those who long for a different world must step out.

All those who care about humanity, who stand against injustice, who are concerned about the future of the youth.

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network has called for a National Hoodie Day on June 10, the opening day of the trial of George Zimmerman, Hit the Streets on June 10, 2013, and they are calling on people to protest (and walk out) at schools nationwide, rally in communities, wear stickers wherever they are, post the slogan and put up signs declaring: WE ARE ALL TRAYVON! THE WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS GUILTY!

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

In that spirit, the opening day of the trial needs to be just the beginning of a mass determined struggle around the country. As the eyes of millions are watching the trial of George Zimmerman, we need to let the powers-that-be know loud and clear that the people are not going to be silent, are not going to stand by, and are not going to tolerate the racist murders of our youth and the thousands of other injustices committed in this society.

Revolution newspaper/ can and must play an important part in this struggle—spreading it, helping to organize people, and giving crucial guidance and analysis through all the twists and turns of developments. People should be checking regularly to get the real deal on what is happening with this struggle—and how we need to be going forward in the struggle.




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Trayvon Martin's Killer Can't Walk Free
Act now! Demand Justice!

by Li Onesto | June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


February 2012. One minute 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is walking home from the 7-Eleven. The next minute he's dead because some racist neighborhood watch captain considers a Black youth wearing a hoodie and carrying Skittles "suspicious."

On the night of February 26, George Zimmerman called 911 and reported seeing a "real suspicious guy" who "looks like he's up to no good." He told the 911 operator, "These assholes, they always get away." After being clearly told by the 911 operator not to pursue him, Zimmerman then stalked and confronted Trayvon Martin and gunned him down in cold blood.

Following the murder, the cops walked Zimmerman in one door of the police station and out another. Police and prosecutors insisted there was no basis to prosecute Zimmerman, saying this killing was justified as self-defense because of Florida's Stand Your Ground law.

That would have been that. But people around the country weren't having it. Tens of thousands ACTED to not let this go down!

All this was very important and made a crucial difference. The system was working the way it always works—and until people came into the streets, Trayvon Martin's killer was on his way to literally getting away with murder—with no charges. But after massive protests of thousands of Black people joined by people of all nationalities and from a wide swath of society, the 911 tape was released, further revealing that Zimmerman stalked and killed Trayvon. As the audiotape got out on the news, protests grew in anger and drew in more people.

For many thousands this hit deep: This could have been me... This could have been my son.... This could have been my brother. And many others who don't on a daily basis face the threat of racist vigilante and police terror, but who see the injustice of what is happening to Black and Latino youth in this society, also took to the streets saying, "We are all Trayvon Martin."

Forces in positions of power moved to do "damage control." On April 11, almost a month and a half after the murder, Zimmerman was finally arrested.

Now George Zimmerman's trial is scheduled to begin on June 10. And once again, and in an even more intense way, what people do will be decisive in whether or not there will be justice for Trayvon.

This is bound to be a very sharp struggle. Already George Zimmerman and his whole defense team have been VERY active in not only working on his legal defense but working to build public opinion that would defend this cold-blooded murder.

Leading up to the trial, Zimmerman's defense is working to completely turn things upside down—trying to put Trayvon Martin on trial in an attempt to justify the attack and murder. Abetted by the mainstream media, Zimmerman's legal team is trying to reverse the basic issue of right and wrong—saying he acted in self-defense, saying he feared for his life. They are attempting to focus the whole trial on what happened after Zimmerman got out of his car and stalked Trayvon. But whatever happened that led to Zimmerman killing Trayvon Martin, it happened after Zimmerman disregarded the instructions of the 911 operator, then got out of his car and followed Trayvon.

Slander in the Media

Zimmerman's side is trying to paint Trayvon Martin as the criminal in this trial before it even starts. This youth—who had never been arrested and had no criminal record—is being depicted as a dangerous criminal. The evidence? Trayvon was suspended from school, smoked marijuana, listened to gangsta rap, his cell phone had a picture of a Black hand holding a gun, and so forth. These so-called incriminating pictures from Trayvon Martin's cell phone are being plastered all over the media. This is exactly the kind of thing that's happening to millions of Black and Latino youth who are being criminalized in high schools around the country—where everything from being tardy to talking back to a teacher can end up putting you on a fast track pipeline, not to the principal's office, but to prison.

To all these accusations we can only say... First of all, George Zimmerman had no knowledge of any of this when he killed Trayvon. As the Martin's family lawyer, Ben Crump, said, "[T]hey attempt to posthumously judge a dead teenager by his tweets and his social media. And that is the problem here. You cannot know what is in a person's heart by reading a tweet, and it's irrelevant because George Zimmerman did not know what Trayvon Martin's Twitter persona was when he got out of the car, profiled, pursued, and shot him in the heart."

And second, NONE of this justifies cold-blooded murder.

The effect of this whole media campaign by Zimmerman's defense team is to both poison the jury pool and contribute to the overall atmosphere in society where Black youth have been criminalized through decades of the system's "war on drugs"—which has led to a situation of mass incarceration with almost 2.4 million in prison, mostly Black and Latino people.

The defamation of Trayvon plays on and bolsters the images of Black youth widely propagated in society over the last few decades to justify intense repression and the destruction of the lives of hundreds of thousands who have been incarcerated. And these attacks on Trayvon also serve to build sympathy and a defense for Zimmerman in the public eye and to rally his supporters.

And whether this so-called evidence gets into the trial or not, broadly putting all this out into the world can "taint" or prejudice potential jurors. That is, even if all this does not get into evidence (and this is far from determined and Zimmerman's lawyers will no doubt continue to fight to bring it into the courtroom), many people, including people who will be on the jury, will have heard these stories.

Mobilizing the Lynch Mob

An integral part of this media campaign is the effort to whip up all manner of racist and fascist elements in this society against Trayvon and all Blacks and Latinos. On March 21, Robert Zimmerman Jr., George Zimmerman's brother, tweeted side-by-side pictures of Trayvon Martin and another Black 17-year-old who has no connection whatsoever to Trayvon Martin but who allegedly shot a one-year-old baby during a botched robbery in March 2013. The post then says: "A picture speaks a thousand words. Any questions?" Then, in another tweet, Robert Zimmerman says: "Lib media shld ask if what these2 black teens did 2 a woman&baby is the reason ppl think blacks mightB risky."

According to Robert Zimmerman, Trayvon—and apparently every other Black youth in this society—is somehow to blame for the alleged crimes of another Black youth a little over a year after Trayvon was killed. And ALL Black youth are to be considered "risky." This is nothing but tweets for a lynch mob!

After these racist tweets, George Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, responded by saying that Zimmerman's brother "has his own opinions about things. He does not represent the defense, and he does not represent George." At the same time, when shown an interview with Piers Morgan in which Robert Zimmerman defended his photo comparison, O'Mara said, "I think what he was suggesting was that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor." And in any case, the damage was done in terms of criminalizing the victim in this case, and Black youth as a whole.

And Robert Zimmerman isn't the only one actively trying to create public opinion in defense of Trayvon's killer. There is a lot of shit being put out in social media trying to defame Trayvon Martin. For example one image sent around has a real photo of Trayvon Martin with an arrow pointing to it with the words, "The Trayvon Martin photo used by the hysterical race baiters, 12 year old boy." Then there is a fake photo of Trayvon, showing someone with a skull cap, shirtless, in a gangster pose, with the words, "Trayvon Martin, 17 years old, 6' 2", FU photo from his Facebook page."

The INjustice System

Thousands now have to ask themselves—now that George Zimmerman is going to trial, what are you going to do?

Most definitely, the people can't sit back and "let the justice system work." We already saw how the INjustice system worked when it let George Zimmerman go free. He was not arrested on the spot. His victim, Trayvon Martin, was treated like the perpetrator while Zimmerman was let go after questioning. The police told Trayvon's father one reason Zimmerman wasn't arrested was because they respected his educational background in criminal justice and he had a "squeaky clean" record... even though Zimmerman was arrested in 2005 for "battery on a law enforcement officer." The police did a background check on Trayvon Martin as he lay dead, but not on Zimmerman, the murderer. They tested Trayvon Martin's blood for alcohol and drugs but not Zimmerman's.

Recently, tapes of the police interrogation of George Zimmerman a day after the murder were made public. An article in the Miami Herald reported that detectives who interviewed Zimmerman did not believe his story, but that "Sanford Police Det. Chris Serino told Zimmerman in a series of interviews that day that he was a 'good guy.'" And no charges were brought—until weeks of struggle created a situation where the powers-that-be felt they needed to do something to diffuse people's anger.

The Struggle Must Intensify

With the trial of George Zimmerman the struggle for justice for Trayvon must intensify. Remember, the prosecution, which is now supposed to be making the case against Zimmerman in court, refused to even charge him for weeks—accepting his claim that he acted in self-defense... even though Zimmerman had a gun and Trayvon Martin was "armed" with Skittles and an iced tea; even though Zimmerman weighs 250 pounds and Trayvon Martin weighed 140 pounds.

And we've seen time and time again how prosecutors routinely forget how to prosecute and judges go along with this—when it comes to police gunning down Black and Latino youth. Just last month, the indictment of the NYPD pig who murdered Ramarley Graham was thrown out by a judge on a technicality—that the prosecutors gave faulty instructions to the grand jury. People's rights are trampled on left and right in the courtroom, but when it comes to the rights of a cop or a racist vigilante who kills a Black or Latino youth, all of a sudden, the courts are very concerned about their rights.

This trial should NOT be about what happened after George Zimmerman left his car and followed Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman—who was the only one with a gun that night—was the aggressor as soon as he got out of his car. Whatever the truth is about the possible confrontation that occurred (though many might think that Trayvon himself was justified in defending himself against the aggressor if that is what happened) is not relevant.

The stage is set for an intense back-and-forth between those fighting for justice and those who would set back this struggle. People poured into the streets after the murder of Trayvon Martin because they saw that this was NOT an isolated incident, that it was yet another killing in a long history of Black youth gunned down by racist vigilantes or brutal police. And people were determined that this time, the killer would NOT go free. After this, George Zimmerman was arrested and is now going to trial. But now, the people need to get in the street, once again to demand real justice.


* * * * *

Tremaine and Trayvon: What this System does to the Youth

We received the following correspondence from a reader:

In Miami, 14-year-old Tremaine McMillian visited the beach with his family and his new puppy. A trip to the beach over Memorial Day weekend is not unusual for many Florida families. In typical 14-year-old fashion, Tremaine and his friends jokingly roughhoused on the beach, pushing and shoving each other playfully. The skirmish ended without injury when Tremaine tackled his friend, knocking him onto the sand.

Tremaine picked up Polo, his six-week-old puppy, when he heard the sound of an ATV approaching. The ATV swerved in front of McMillian. The cop riding the ATV jumped off and demanded to know where Tremaine's parents were. Tremaine continued to walk with Polo in his arms licking the bottle Tremaine was using to feed him. As Tremaine approached the roadway, the officer slapped the puppy out of Tremaine's arms and tackled him onto the concrete. Tremaine's face cringes in pain as the officer tightens the chokehold on his neck. Tremaine's mother watches through the screen of her cell phone; recording her son shirtless, wearing a bathing suit, his face pressed against the pavement while two officers force handcuffs around his thin wrists.

McMillian is facing felony charges of resisting arrest with violence. The judge has refused to drop the charges and is sending the case to trial. What did Tremaine do to deserve being brutally assaulted, arrested, and charged with a felony? Well, if you haven't already guessed, Tremaine was Black and male and in the United States of America. According to the police, Tremaine appeared to be a threat because he gave the officer "dehumanizing stares." Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta spoke to CBS Miami in defense of the officer's actions, explaining that Tremaine's "body language" posed a threat to the officer.

This sounds so familiar. Let's rewind history to February 26, 2012 and travel about 300 miles north to Sanford, Florida. Trayvon Martin, just three years older than Tremaine, purchases an Arizona Iced Tea and a pack of Skittles from a convenience store and begins the walk back to his family's home. Wannabe cop George Zimmerman spots Trayvon, assumes he's up to no good, and follows him. Why was Trayvon a threat? George Zimmerman describes Trayvon's dehumanizing stare and his body language in his call to 911, just minutes before Zimmerman fired the shot that fatally pierced Trayvon Martin's chest.

Zimmerman: Hey we've had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there's a real suspicious guy, uh, [near] Retreat View Circle, um, the best address I can give you is 111 Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK and this guy is he white, black, or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.


Dispatcher: OK, he's just walking around the area...

Zimmerman: ...looking at all the houses.

Dispatcher: OK...

Zimmerman: Now he's just staring at me.

Zimmerman: He's got his hand in his waistband. And he's a black male.

Trayvon was carrying candy and a drink. Tremaine was armed with a puppy and a bottle. Both young men looked ("stared") at their assailant, both were young and Black, and both were considered a threat, thus deeming them worthy of brutality and death.

Killing Trayvon Twice

Last week George Zimmerman's defense team unleashed a trove of pictures and text messages taken from Trayvon Martin's cell phone. The defense claims that these photos and texts prove that Trayvon Martin had a history of violence and marijuana use, thus justifying Zimmerman in killing him.

The Martin family's lawyer, Benjamin Crump, responded to the photos saying, "Trayvon Martin did not have a gun. Trayvon Martin did not get out of the car to chase anybody. Trayvon Martin did not shoot and kill anybody. Trayvon Martin is not on trial." Catherine Poe, in her May 30 Washington Times article, "Trying Trayvon in Court of Public Opinion," very correctly pointed out the malicious intent and irony of the defense's posthumous smear campaign against Trayvon: "His tactics, which only serve to pollute the jury, are as old as the hills. Women in rape cases are too often exposed to such tactics as revealing any prior personal history from their sexual conduct to a criminal record, none of which has anything to do with the actual crime of their being raped."

The outcome of this trail is not predetermined. Judge Nelson has denied a trial delay and refused to allow the defense to use Trayvon's photos and text messages in the trial, at this point. What does this mean? If at any point the court deems the photos and texts relevant to the case, they can be used as evidence to incriminate Trayvon. Trayvon cannot defend himself, he's dead, but the damage has already been done and this is just the beginning.

The system has only started revving up its campaign to allow Zimmerman to walk. Between the montages of Trayvon Martin photos, the media has started to draw parallels between the 1992 LA Rebellion and the potential of violence stemming from "outsiders" in the wake of Zimmerman's verdict. Simultaneously, Sanford police, in coordination with state and federal authorities (including the Department of Justice) have cordoned off protest zones and prepared militarized "incident command centers" to deal with anyone stepping outside the bounds of acceptable outrage. The police have initiated community outreach campaigns, "walk and talks" with the police chief going door-to-door in the mostly Black neighborhood of Goldsboro (which for decades has endured racism, often at the hands of the police). The city has also called on local preachers in an attempt to pacify residents in the event of a not guilty verdict.

Whether it's Tremaine or Trayvon or the countless others who are beaten, humiliated, incarcerated, and murdered at the hands of law enforcement and other enforcers of white supremacy, we say NO MORE! If you sit back and wait for the system to "work," it WILL work. It IS working when it lets off the killers and brutalizers of Black and brown youth around the country and it will work if it lets Trayvon Martin's murderer walk free.

It is up to you. What you do now matters. Last year thousands of us stepped out into the streets outraged at the system's refusal to arrest Zimmerman and the blatant racism linked to this murder. But it is not just about Trayvon Martin or Tremaine McMillian. It is about refusing to allow this system to deny the humanity of a whole section of humanity. It is about straightening our backs, standing up, and raising the sights of others to demand: NO MORE!





Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

June 10, 2013 is National Hoodie Day!

May 11, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


June 10, 2013 is
National Hoodie Day!

Hit the Streets on June 10, 2013

Protest (and walkout) at schools nationwide; rally in communities; wherever you are wear the sticker (download sticker file for printing at, post the slogan and put up signs declaring:


Spread the We Are All Trayvon Facebook events page ( Invite all your Facebook friends to the event and encourage them to invite all their friends. Spread it on Twitter; send it out to all your followers and Tweet it to people with large Twitter followings and encourage them to send it out to their followers. On Twitter, use the hash tags #hoodiesup and #justice4trayvon. Join the Twitter storm on Friday, June 7, when we plan to saturate Twitter with tweets about Trayvon, the June 10 Hoodie Day and our hash tags.

Take pictures of yourself and your friends wearing hoodies-share the pictures on Instagram and on Facebook, and share links to the pictures on Twitter. Also send them in to the Stop Mass Incarceration Network ( to be posted up on its web site.

Download the flyers from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network web site ( and post them on your Facebook pages, Instagram and Tumblr.

For more information and to join in this struggle contact: Stop Mass Incarceration Network ~
347-979-SMIN (7646),,
National Website:, @stopmassincnet




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Obama's Speech:

Not a Step in the Right Direction, But Justification for Assassination, Torture, and Unjust War

May 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


On May 23, President Barack Obama delivered a major speech on drones, Guantánamo, and the "war on terror." The speech was packaged as a new direction—a real step away from "endless war" and a real step towards the establishment of legal norms and due process in how the U.S. carries out military actions and detentions.  

It was nothing of the kind. Obama covered two main questions—covert drone attacks and the U.S. prison at Guantánamo—and offered no fundamental righting of these unjust and illegal policies that stand as war crimes.

The interests, objectives, and grand designs of the imperialists are not our interests—they are not the interests of the great majority of people in the U.S. nor of the overwhelming majority of people in the world as a whole. And the difficulties the imperialists have gotten themselves into in pursuit of these interests must be seen, and responded to, not from the point of view of the imperialists and their interests, but from the point of view of the great majority of humanity and the basic and urgent need of humanity for a different and better world, for another way.

Bob Avakian
Chairman of the Revolutionary
Communist Party, USA
BAsics 3:8

This speech was wrapped with the rhetoric of "concern" and the "difficult choices" forced on an administration inheriting a "fight against terrorism" that had increasingly lost focus under George W. Bush. But dig beneath the pieties of Obama's speech and what is revealed is a deceitful effort to justify, institutionalize, and continue key and core outrages and war crimes of the U.S.'s "war on terror."

And let's be clear about what has been going on for over 12 years. Beginning with George W. Bush, the rulers of the U.S. have carried out a vicious war for greater empire—for greater domination over the Middle East and Central Asia, over strategic energy resources vital to the global economy, and to put down local and regional forces actively standing in the way of U.S. dominance. This global onslaught has been waged under the banner of a necessary "war on terror." And in his four years in office, Barack Obama has not only continued the program of war and torture begun by Bush; he has also extended U.S. bombing to several other countries, escalated policies of drone attacks and targeted assassination, and refortified Guantánamo. 

This "war on terror" has been carried out in the name of protecting the safety and security of the American people. But it has brought incalculable horror and suffering to vast swaths of humanity—in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and other countries. More than 100,000 people have been killed outright as a result of U.S. military actions; hundreds of thousands more have lost limbs, or been otherwise maimed and sickened; and millions have been displaced from their homes and countries. This is the logic, this is the morality, of empire.

Pakistanis mourn a man killed in a U.S. drone attack along the Afghanistan border, 2010. (Photo: AP)

On May 23, President Barack Obama delivered a major speech on drones, Guantánamo, and the “war on terror.” The speech was packaged as a new direction—a real step away from “endless war,” torture and drones. But beneath all his claims to care about torture, illegal assassination, and rule of law, Obama’s speech was a deceitful effort to justify, institutionalize, and continue key and core outrages and war crimes of the U.S.’s “war on terror.”
Pakistanis mourn a man killed in a U.S. drone attack along the Afghanistan border, 2010. Photo: AP

And with all its carnage and destruction—and with its torture practices, illegal detention policies, and routine violations of international law—this "war on terror" has provoked mass outrage across the planet (and the statement Close Guantánamo Now that appeared in the New York Times as a full-page ad is an expression of that outrage within the U.S.). The ongoing hunger strike by prisoners at Guantánamo has shone a light on the illegal and horrendous conditions of confinement, and has won the sympathy of people over the world.

At the same time, this "war on terror" has caused friction with the U.S.'s allies and with its neocolonial client states.

The U.S. rulers are facing legitimacy problems, affecting their ability to maintain and extend their dominant global position. It is a serious contradiction for them—including at a time when the U.S. imperialists are also moving to adjust their military posture to confront new challenges to America's global supremacy, like the emergence of capitalist China as a potential global rival.

All of this is part of the backdrop for Barack Obama's May 23 speech... part of why he had to give this speech... and part of why it was presented in the way it was.

Barack Obama aggressively articulated and defended policies deemed essential by America's imperial rulers, while trying to reassure those anguishing over the thousands murdered by drones, the unending horror of Guantánamo, and the escalation of domestic spying and repression that all this is legal, carefully considered, extremely restrained, and guided by a deep concern for human life. Importantly, this speech was also directed at an international audience.

Continuing Illegal Assassination by Drone

Repeatedly Obama claimed to be agonizing over moral issues and alluded to crimes committed in the name of the "war on terror" under Bush—although without actually calling them what they are: crimes.

World Can't Wait and others protest Obama's use of drones at his inauguration in Washington, DC, January 21, 2013. (Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution)

Beginning with George W. Bush, the rulers of the U.S. have carried out a vicious war for greater empire—for greater domination over the Middle East and Central Asia, over strategic energy resources vital to the global economy, and to put down local and regional forces actively standing in the way of U.S. dominance. In his four years in office, Barack Obama has not only continued the program of war and torture begun by Bush, he has extended U.S. bombing to several other countries, escalated policies of drone attacks and targeted assassinations, and refortified Guantánamo.
World Can't Wait and others protest Obama's use of drones at his inauguration in Washington, DC, January 21, 2013.
Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

Then, over and over, he followed up with lies, distortions, and duplicitous declarations that he was respecting basic rights—all while essentially upholding these crimes and justifying their continuation and possible expansion.

Obama acknowledged, for example, that U.S. drone attacks and conventional warfare "resulted in civilian casualties." "For me," he claimed, "and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live."

In fact, the number of deaths from drone strikes since Obama took office is more than four times greater than under Bush, and so-called "high-level targets" have been 2 percent or less of total casualties—in other words, these strikes are hitting a wide range of people. Activist Medea Benjamin, who disrupted Obama's speech, righteously challenged him to end "signature strikes" that target supposedly suspicious gatherings. Such strikes have been responsible for atrocities like the murder-by-U.S.-drone of 69 school children in Pakistan in that category in 2006.

In response to the disruption, Obama claimed that he had addressed this. But even some mainstream news commentators pointed out that Obama's formulations and standards to justify drone strikes could actually lay the basis to expand the scope of who could be targeted.

The Torturer-in-Chief Declares: We Don't Torture

Obama declared that "we compromised our basic values—by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law."

Demonstrators dressed like detainees demand that Obama close Guantánamo, Chicago, May 2013. (Photo: FJJ)

The “war on terror” has been carried out in the name of protecting the safety and security of the American people. But it has brought incalculable horror and suffering to vast swaths of humanity—in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and other countries.
Demonstrators dressed like detainees demand that Obama close Guantánamo, Chicago, May 2013.
Photo: FJJ

Obama made no mention at all of the tens of thousands within the U.S. prison system who are held in prolonged solitary confinement and sensory deprivation—conditions which have been condemned as torture by UN officials, human rights groups, and psychologists. Nor has Obama ever, elsewhere, spoken to this outrage. Meanwhile, courageous prisoners in California have waged hunger strikes themselves, and have declared their intention to launch another hunger strike to end this torture.

And as Obama spoke, over 100 detainees at the Guantánamo torture camp were waging a hunger strike to protest their hellish conditions. In response, they are being tortured by force-feeding through a tube that snakes up their nose and down their throat. 

The prisoners at Guantánamo were swept up by U.S. forces from around the world, taken without any due process and held indefinitely—with no specific legal charges and no judicial review. Not a single one of the 166 detainees in Guantánamo—whether the 86 cleared for release or not—is in Guantánamo legally. Guantánamo is an ongoing crime against humanity.

Obama claimed, "I have tried to close GTMO [Guantánamo]." But he set no timetable and proposed no concrete mechanism for doing so. He said he would lift the ban on releasing Yemeni prisoners who make up a large section of those imprisoned. But, again, no timetable, no real mechanism—and an immoral lack of urgency. In 2009, Obama promised to close Guantánamo. 

Obama blamed Congress: "As President, I have tried to close GTMO," he claimed. The truth is that it was Obama, not Congress, who shuttered the State Department office which oversaw the release of prisoners; Obama who imposed the ban on returning any of the 56 Yemeni detainees to Yemen; and Obama who made it more difficult for lawyers to visit their clients at Guantánamo. And as Commander-in-Chief, Obama has the authority to close down Guantánamo with or without Congressional consent. 

Redefining Kill Lists as "Due Process"

Obama said, "I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any U.S. citizen—with a drone, or a shotgun—without due process." And Obama's speech publicly acknowledged for the first time that four American citizens have been killed by drone attacks. Obama said these were constitutional since there was due process.

But the due process that has been in effect is not the due process of law and judicial review. It is process of review and secret decision-making of the executive branch without recourse to open courts and any kind of civil liberties or rights at all for those targeted for assassination. Again, as in the Bush years, it is the "trust us, we know"—in this case, the deliberation of the president and advisors as they draw up and review "kill lists" is called "due process."

Obama raised the possibility of some kind of oversight mechanism—but the goal is simply to provide a legal fig leaf for executive action, for the broad authority to strike terror, instant incineration, outside any battle zone.

And Obama called for creating a new prison facility in the U.S. where trials before 'military commissions' will be held. The legal standards of these military tribunals are of a whole different character than what is promised as constitutional due process. For instance, the accused cannot access all the evidence used against them; and trials can be held in secret.

Adjusting and Selling the "War on Terror"

To those outraged by drone attacks, Obama insisted: "Plots have been disrupted that would have targeted international aviation, U.S. transit systems, European cities and our troops in Afghanistan. Simply put, these strikes have saved lives."

Drone strikes and torture chambers aren't saving lives in Pakistan or Yemen! The underlying, if not overtly stated, premise here is that these things save American lives.

An essential starting point is Bob Avakian's statement: "American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives." (BAsics 5:7)

And saving lives is not what the "war on terror" has ever been about. To the extent that people are taken in by and buy into the logic that torture and extra-legal assassination are justified if they "keep Americans safe"—this is a logic and (im)morality that leads to passive, or even active, complicity with terrible crimes against people around the world.

There are reactionary, Islamic jihadist forces that pose a threat to the interests of imperialism in strategic parts of the world. And these forces do carry out actions that target innocent civilians. But the U.S. rulers are not waging this "war on terror"—however it is branded or rebranded—to "save lives." They are acting to maintain, to extend, and to enforce the global interests of U.S. imperialism: that is, to dominate and exploit, and to control and plunder, the planet.

What about the threat posed to innocent people by the rise of Islamic fundamentalism? First of all, the rise of Islamic jihadist forces is in the main a product of and reaction to the workings of imperialism: to the ways imperialism has uprooted and devastated the lives and livelihoods of millions; to how imperialism has propped up vicious regimes (like Mubarak in Egypt); and to how it has literally sponsored the rise of these jihadist forces when that served the perceived interests of U.S. imperialism (as in Afghanistan, where the U.S. backed and funded Islamic fundamentalists going up against the Soviet Union).

Times Square, NYC, May 2013.

No matter who is selling global massacres and torture, no matter what rhetoric is invoked in service of unjust wars for empire, right is right, and wrong is wrong. The times call for honesty, courage, and determined political protest by everyone who refuses to be silently complicit in these crimes.
Times Square, NYC, May 2013. Photo: World Can't Wait

Further, the crimes of U.S. imperialism—from the death-trap sweatshops of Bangladesh to the environmental emergency, from mass incarceration in the USA to the ongoing genocide against indigenous peoples in Asia, Africa, and Latin America—dwarf even the aspirations of these reactionary Islamic forces.

Finally, to the extent that people do not oppose, but instead fall into active or passive complicity with, either the outmoded U.S. imperialist and other Western imperialist ruling classes, or the outmoded reactionary Islamic fundamentalism/jihadism—this only strengthens both of these outmoded forces. It is the vicious cycle where every drone attack that wipes out a wedding party in Pakistan (with far, far too little protest in the U.S.) serves to recruit more jihadists, and on and on.

A Time to Resist, a Time to Cast Off Illusions—and Self-Delusion

Obama's speech was given in large part because so many around the world are outraged or deeply troubled by these crimes. But on the most basic issues—assassination by drone, and the ongoing maintenance of the U.S. torture chamber at Guantánamo—Obama essentially upheld policies that are crimes against humanity and offered an intellectual-legal brief for their continuation.

No matter who is selling global massacres and torture, no matter what rhetoric is invoked in service of unjust wars for empire, right is right, and wrong is wrong. The times call for honesty, courage, and determined political protest by everyone who refuses to be silently complicit in these crimes.





Revolution #306 June 9, 2013


by Joe Veale | June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


In reading the May 23-29 issue of the Black-owned newspaper Los Angeles Sentinel, there was one article that especially jumped out and grabbed me, making my blood boil.

Photo: AP

The article is speaking about how with the passage of a new law, the state of California will now be notifying parents and guardians when their children are placed in the gang database.

What grabbed me in this way and I'm quoting from the article here: "In California, individuals can be added to the CalGang Database without being arrested or accused of a crime, based solely on interviews by police during routine stops. The CalGang Database is then used to add people to gang injunctions, support arguments for enhanced sentencing in court and disqualifying entire families from living in public housing."

And it goes on to say "Children as young as ten are included in this database..."

This is one of the ways that the school to prison pipeline begins. Today, there are close to 200,000 people in California prisons. There is an equivalent of this CalGang program in every major U.S. city, so that now there are over 2.4 million people locked up nationally, the majority of whom are Black and Latino. And THIS slow genocide is what the Stop Mass Incarceration Network is talking about and working to put an end to.

Photo: AP

I can't help but be reminded of what happened to some of my friends, as well as family members, who were sent to jail as children in the early 1960s. My 12-year-old brother was arrested and sent to California Youth Authority (CYA) for defending himself against a physical assault by a teacher in West Berkeley, a poor and Black neighborhood (see Bob Avakian's memoir From Ike to Mao and Beyond..." for a sense of segregated Berkeley of that time).

This was my brother's first encounter with the police. And it was the first time our whole family felt totally powerless as my grandmother and five of us kids all went to court, crying and pleading for my brother's release. Our anguished compassion and love for my brother meant nothing to the judge, who sent my brother away for a year. His life was over. He was raped and came out of CYA refusing to accept that we lived in poverty, and would go in and out of CYA on parole violations. At 18, my brother ended up taking his own life.

CH was one of my best friends who I knew since elementary school. By the time he was 10 years old, he was put into CYA "for fighting." His life was basically over from then on. He spent more time in CYA and state prison than on the streets. I ran into him in prison when we were both in our early 20s. I could still talk to him but it was clear that prison and its brutal treatment had robbed him of much of his humanity and his personality. One of their torments was to repeatedly promise him parole, and then renege for no real reason. I was the only person who could reach him because we grew up like brothers, but he was no longer the person I knew and loved.

During those years, any time I was also sent to county jail or prison, it would be more like an informal high school reunion. My brother and CH, like millions today trapped in America's INjustice system, have the potential to contribute so much, under a radically different society. But this will take a revolution.

So when BA asks the question at the start of his live talk BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! of "how long must this nightmare of oppression and brutality go on?", it makes me think of all this and also all the other great suffering of humanity all over the world.

But what's most significant today is that because of BA's new synthesis of communism, all this suffering is no longer necessary.


Editor's note: Joe Veale was actively involved as a member of the Black Panther Party in the revolutionary upsurge of the 1960s. He's a veteran comrade of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, having joined the Party in the 1970s.




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Summer 2013 BA Everywhere Campaign: Making a Difference

June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


On the weekend of June 1-2, planning conferences for the Summer 2013 BA Everywhere Campaign took place in various cities across the country. The conferences, involving many different people, were a chance to wrestle with how to make a real national impact—to raise the kind of funds that will make it possible to reach millions with Bob Avakian's revolutionary communist vision and works. Check and future issues of Revolution for reports about the conferences and the plans coming out of them. The following is the keynote speech for the conferences.


Welcome to the kick-off planning conference for the Summer 2013 BA Everywhere Campaign.

Let's begin with this from Bob Avakian's talk, REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!:

Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight to not only end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity.

Take a moment and reflect on who else in the world today, what other political force, is putting forward this liberating vision, this goal, this challenge to remake the whole world—that those this system has cast off can become "the backbone and driving force of a fight to not only end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity."

Hearing this statement at the film's premiere, a woman who lives in a shelter responded:

"That's me. There were certain points in this movie where I was moved to tears because I identified with it. And that quote right there, that's exactly how I feel... [she starts to get really choked up] ...I feel cast aside. But hopefully getting involved with this group, learning more, actually learning how to apply this, changing my political affiliation, I'm going to, and working from there, whatever I can do to help. I also have a sister who I think will be very interested in this. So I'm going to play the DVD as much as I can."

Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight to not only end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity.

Bob Avakian
Chairman of the Revolutionary
Communist Party, USA
From the film BA Speaks:

She said, "I'm going to play the DVD as much as I can" because BA connected with her. This is what BA awakens. Those this system treats as nothing can, with the right leadership, rise to become emancipators of humanity joined by people from other classes and strata who are inspired to be a part of the same great struggle for a future where all the oppression and exploitation of the people and the planet are no more.

As you watch and watch the film again you realize that it is not just that BA captures people's lived experience and that he affirms their humanity, but he digs down deep to how and why this system is the horror it is—and why a radically different world is possible. BA opens BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live asking "How long must this nightmare of oppression and brutality go on?" Then he breaks down why the horrors of the world of today need not be forever—how they flow from the capitalist-imperialist system, and how they can go out of existence through revolution. This is because of real reasons—actual contradictions in the way society works and how it has developed, why it continually gives rise to crisis, to war, to profound inequalities, to degradation and devastation. And this system also gives rise to those who have nothing to lose, who have been cast off and cast down, who can become the backbone of making revolution.

People can learn and understand this. What is the problem? This system. And what is the solution? Revolution—Nothing Less! BA breaks revolution down: why it is possible, how to build up the people's understanding and strength, and how to win in a country like this—providing a strategy for making revolution. This is farsighted leadership that is scientific—probing reality from different angles to come to understand the world as it actually is, applying that understanding to changing the world, and then measuring results by again looking back at reality and learning again.

Brownsville, Brooklyn, NYC, July 2012.
Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

A woman in Harlem said after reading BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian: "Listen, this man is teaching me things that I never knew before and is showing me a way to change the things that I feel that need to be changed, which is this whole world, by the way, you know. It's powerful stuff."

A young man in Harlem said, after watching BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live:

"In America, a lot of people do say this is the land of the free... But people like me, it's just totally the opposite because I'm the definition of America's enemy. I'm a young Black youth in the inner city. They wrote us off before we was born. We was convicted at birth, that's how I feel sometimes. But one thing that surprised me—the whole thing is a surprise to me, actually. Because I'm not—me, myself, I'm not used to actually engaging in real issues that may be in society. So this is being real direct, just talking about stuff that makes sense, really engages me as a person."

The Reverend Robert B. Coleman of Riverside Church in New York said, after seeing and reading Bob Avakian:

" give voice to the voiceless; to empower the powerless... these things speak to my heart as an ordained pastor and theologian. We may diverge on the various strategies employed to achieve a more just society. We may be identified by our disconnect when it comes to religion in general and Christianity in particular. But, there is great benefit in engaging in the dialogue, listening to Avakian's critique and proposal for change, and discerning your place in the ordering of society as we move into the twenty-first century. Go, listen and learn. Engage in the dialogue and critical synthesis..."

It is sentiments like these responding to BA that brought you here this afternoon—experiences that opened a door for you to get a glimpse of the world as it really is, to get a taste that we do not have to live like this, that there is a vision and plan for a whole different and better world through revolution that you want to know more about and you think that others ought to know about it too.

Maybe you live right under the boot of the man in this dog-eat-dog society, or, perhaps you are someone who is getting by but are horrified by what this system does—from the millions in prison in the U.S. to the children in faraway lands killed by U.S. drones; or, perhaps you have been part of the fight against the outrages of this system and you are getting a sense of the enormity of it but then you found yourself standing alongside someone in the battle who didn't bend, who didn't waver, who told you that their determination came because they had learned that all of this could be changed through revolution and they told you in order to understand that—in today's world—you need to find out about BA and the new understanding he has developed of communism—the new synthesis of communism—which re-opens up the struggle of the oppressed to change the whole world in this, the 21st century.

We are here this afternoon to make a difference. So that over the next period millions of people come to know about BA and the whole vision and framework for a new stage of revolution that he has brought forward.

A few weeks ago in Bakersfield, California, David Sal Silva, a 33-year-old Latino father of four, was beaten mercilessly by state police—David's screams were so piercing that his neighbors were roused from their houses and they took out their cell phones to document what the pigs were doing—watching in horror as he was hogtied and dropped to the ground where he died; and then, the next night the police busted into some of their homes and confiscated their phones to conceal the evidence of their murderous ways. When this happens—as it happens all the fucking time—too often today people just seethe, their rage smoldering and suppressed, and they try to push it out of their minds because they don't know there is a way out—any other way the world could be.

This will change with BA Everywhere.

By accident and coincidence you were in the right place at the right time and you met the revolution that BA leads and now you are here. This should not be such a rare occurrence. Making BA known is changing that. We are going to work to change the situation where people get excited by discovering BA, and the movement for revolution he leads, but then they get discouraged because it's not known widely enough yet.

A friend of the revolution was traveling recently in Palestine and the Middle East, places they knew well, but this visit they could barely recognize Palestine for all the huge barriers and numerous checkpoints—the prison that is Israeli apartheid. They agonized over the huge hatreds and divisions among people throughout the Mideast—grappling with what is to be done about the seething cauldron of civil war in Syria; about the revolutions in limbo as the Arab Spring confronts the magnitude of making liberating change; about the reality that people are locked in their thinking between reactionary imperialism and reactionary Islamic fundamentalism. This friend said that on more than one afternoon they found themselves thinking about what if Avakian's new synthesis were known in the Mideast, what if people in that part of the world knew about the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) and could apply that model to their countries.

Venice Beach, CA, summer 2012

But then, these thoughts became overwhelmed by the present situation where the new synthesis of communism developed by BA is not known, and people are mentally trapped in fighting for one or another set of oppressors. We must understand our responsibility and realize what a huge difference it would make if right here in the belly of the beast, which is also where the Party and the movement for revolution that BA leads actually are, when this movement for revolution that we ARE BUILDING becomes a real force with impact and influence. Do not underestimate how that would reverberate around the whole world.

For that to happen requires that BA, and what he has brought forward, be known—everywhere.

Recognize, too, the potential for revolution here—just how deep and suppressed the frustration and rage is of people living right here in this richest of all countries yet where over half the population lives close to or below the official poverty line; where half its population has to live with the always-present fear of being sexually degraded and assaulted; where an unprecedented number of its citizens are being locked up for long stretches for being Black and Latino with little chance of a decent life. Recognize that this system has no future for tens of millions of people right here, and grasp the potential for revolution.

But this potential won't be realized unless people are led to fight back, led to understand that it is this system that is the cause of all of the misery we face—that it's not human nature, it's not ordained by fate or some god who works in mysteriously cruel ways. But only if they are led to know that revolution is possible, that there is a strategy to win, and that BA's new synthesis of communism provides the basic framework for a radically new society—which means a new type of government, a new culture, new relations among people. A place where you would not only want to live because we would be solving the problems that have afflicted humanity for way too long, but this would be a society where people could flourish and the whole thing would be moving forward to uproot all forms of exploitation, inequality, and oppression all over the world. Only with all this could this potential be realized. This requires that today, as a key part of forging this movement for revolution, BA be known—everywhere.

This is what we are here for today: to grapple, brainstorm, be inspired, and get organized. So that as we move through the spring and into summer, hundreds, even thousands of people are contributing funds and participating in the campaign in different ways and according to their abilities—even while they are sorting through their thinking on revolution, on communism and on what BA represents and has brought forward.

BA Everywhere

BA Everywhere is a multi-faceted fundraising campaign to project Bob Avakian—BA—his voice and his work way out into society, far beyond what it is today. A fundraising campaign that will raise the necessary major money to make this possible. A fundraising campaign that unleashes and develops imagination, defiance, and community in everything it does. It is the leading edge of the movement for revolution, and it is a way for lots of different kinds of people to support changing the whole dynamic in society by donating to BA's liberating vision and framework for a radically new society getting way out in the world. It provides a way for people to be part of getting BA known and to engage the work themselves.

In launching the summer campaign, we are building on a foundation that is first of all concentrated in the work of BA—especially BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live and BAsics, but also in a whole range of work—including the story he tells and the lessons he draws from his life in his memoir, From Ike To Mao and Beyond; in the incredible half-hour interview he did with Cornel West on the Smiley & West radio show this past fall; and the new synthesis concentrated in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)published by the RCP—an actual blueprint for the future society that I touched on before; and more. We are also building on the positive beginning impact of the film and its premieres—drawing on those who have heard of the film, those who have seen it, and those who have been really digging into and learning the method and the approach that BA takes to understanding and changing the world. We are learning from experiences of the April 11, 2011 celebration at Harlem Stage on the occasion of the publication of BAsics, and from the BAsics Bus Tours last year that began in Northern California and then took BAsics to Sanford, Florida—the site of the murder of young Trayvon Martin, and then into some of the most oppressed areas of New York. This is a solid foundation: the work of BA, the people who have had a chance to engage, those who have already contributed to getting it out, while drawing on all that has been learned over the past 18 months since the campaign began.

Fresno, California, spring 2013

This summer begins a new arc of popularization of BA and raising funds running through the fall and into the winter, doing so on an ever larger scale, with more and more people taking this up, with BA Everywhere Committees becoming vibrant in cities across the country, with Revolution Books stores attracting and percolating with people wanting to dig into BA and apply the method and approach of the new synthesis to a wide range of subjects that are of deep concern to people.

Chicago, summer 2012

Like a runner preparing for a marathon, or an athlete training for a new season, we are going to be building muscles—making an impact wherever we go and finding the forms to draw new people into the movement. We will experiment with new ways of spreading revolution and BA, new creative ways to involve different kinds of people. We will measure our work by the funds we raise, the people we involve, the growth and beginning cohesion of organizations, and by the recognition and impact that BA is having on the places we go and the people we meet—a sense of a growing social movement beginning to impact all of society.

This is going to be a summer where we have a presence—bringing BA into the heat of the struggles against the crimes of the system—bringing BA and revolution into forums and discussions about important issues—bringing BA out to where people vacation and have some time to reflect on big questions—everywhere raising funds so that over a whole year we change the political landscape.

We are giving people an opportunity to change the whole atmosphere and culture of this whole country—where thousands at first, later hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions become aware of BA. Some people will passionately agree, some people will passionately disagree, some people will, for now, simply feel the need to get better informed in order to understand it better. But people throughout society will be debating and wrangling over truly "big" questions about the nature of the present capitalist-imperialist system and a concrete and worked-out vision of an alternative way of organizing society which really would benefit the vast majority of people.

Right now we should call for volunteers—young and old—to spend their summer, or their vacation time, working to raise the funds and build the campaign.

This will be exciting. People will be "crossing the tracks" going back and forth—students and middle class people going into the 'hoods with people who grew up there, running with the Revolution Club for an afternoon. Then people from 'hoods will be going out to the suburbs and to wealthy resort areas with people who know that terrain, winning support and allies by taking them the liberating vision in BA's work.

Finale, April 11, 2011 celebration of publication of BAsics.
Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

It can make a huge difference when middle class and wealthy people learn of the fundraising in the 'hoods through penny jars and other forms; and, on the other hand, the great heart that people who are living under virtual lockdown in the projects, demonized in the media, will take from knowing they are not alone confronting the monster of this system. When this happens it deepens everyone's understanding of the basis for a total revolution to liberate all of humanity and not just for my group to have its turn, to get our share.

Just to give a brief sense here of both the daring and the strategic plan to grow forces, twice during the summer for one week, in LA, the Bay Area, Chicago and NYC, volunteers will go out in decorated BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! vans with portable DVD players, flat screen TVs and, if we raise enough money, video projectors, saturating key neighborhoods of the oppressed as well as key middle class neighborhoods, going to concerts and parks, lectures and films, art exhibits—taking them the campaign, showing BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! to hundreds of people, involving people in raising money so that by the end of the summer there are funds for ads in college websites and newspapers, on billboards and the Internet, and there are theaters showing the film. The BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! vans will focus in the city and suburban neighborhoods for the beginning of the week, and then will head out for a few days to a progressive resort area to meet wealthier people who have the potential to contribute large sums of money as well as to help in other ways. And, then, a few weeks later they will be back... following up, deepening ties, and in a stronger position to raise larger sums and to forge ongoing relationships.

And, all of this will be reflected and led on a soon-to-be-redesigned BA Everywhere page of the website. This is where people will go to follow the campaign, read about people's responses to BA, measure the progress of the fundraising, learn from experiences around the country, and where there will be the guidance to navigate the tough questions and solve problems that we encounter as we go forward. This is the spot where BA Everywhere as a national movement will cohere.

This is just a taste of what's on deck.

BA Everywhere & Building the Movement for Revolution

BA Everywhere will be taking place during a summer of growing mass struggle against some of the most glaring outrages of this system—outrages that reflect deep contradictions that could open up big cracks in the social fabric, and as struggle unfolds could lead to where increasing numbers of people come to see the illegitimacy of this system and those who rule. As people step into struggle for the first time around one or another key battle they will be raising their heads and it will make all the difference in the world if, when they do, they encounter BA—right away finding out about the real nature of the problem and the real liberating solution.

"THIS MOVEMENT FOR REVOLUTION MUST NOW BECOME A REAL FORCE, POWERFULLY IMPACTING AND INFLUENCING ALL OF SOCIETY... bringing forward growing numbers of those this system has cast out and cast down, who must be and can be the driving force of the fight to put an end not only to their own oppression, but all oppression, all over the world... drawing in many others, from all walks of life, who are inspired to join this same cause... preparing minds and organizing forces, Fighting the Power, and Transforming the People, for REVOLUTION— NOTHING LESS."

Bob Avakian
Chairman of the Revolutionary
Communist Party, USA
Coming off the Premieres
A Fundamental Point of Orientation,
Approach and Objective

The two sides of key battles are sharpening up, momentum is already gathering for the June 10 opening of the trial of George Zimmerman, the wannabe-cop vigilante who shot Trayvon Martin. There must be powerful resistance so that the government is not able to sweep this under the rug, in effect further legitimating open season on Black youth. As the eyes of the whole country focus on the trial in Sanford, Florida, and people are protesting there, shouldn't there be bold advertising with BAsics 1:13: "No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that." Imagine the impact of that on people's thinking.

As the Zimmerman trial progresses, another sharp struggle will be unfolding to support the California prisoners who plan to restart their hunger strike to protest the torture of solitary confinement. Then, in late July, the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Degradation and Enslavement of Women will be going out in two vans from the East and West coasts to converge on North Dakota where new legislation will virtually outlaw access to abortion in that state. Without the right and access to abortion—without the ability to determine whether or when they will have children, women are not free. It is also possible that later this summer, President Obama will approve the Keystone pipeline with potentially catastrophic impact on the environment and which will be a sharp rebuke to the environmental movement.

These battles have the potential to draw lots of people into them. As people begin to fight back, their sights get raised, their minds open up, but a crucial question is: will they find BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live, along with quotation cards from BAsics and the whole BA package? For these unfolding struggles to be able to stand up to all that will be thrown at them, for these struggles to contribute to a movement for revolution, which is the only way to uproot the causes of this oppression, BA Everywhere must run through everything.

Bob Avakian, drawing from and extending an important insight from V.I. Lenin, the leader of the Russian Revolution, said:

"what people see as tolerable, or intolerable, is dialectically related to what they see is possible or necessary (or, on the other hand, what they come to see as un-necessary—or no longer necessary—no longer something they just have to put up with and endure)...."


"the more that people grasp that this is not the way things have to be but only the way things are because of the workings of a system—a system which is full of contradiction—the more they can feel, and will feel, impelled to act. Lacking that, even our best efforts at mobilizing them to act are going to eventually run into their limitations and be sidetracked or turned around into their opposite, into something which actually reinforces the present system and the sense that nothing can be done to radically change things." (From Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity)

This applies to the role of the newspaper as well as to spreading the work of BA—which is why both are mainstays in the strategy for revolution. This is a crucial part of the strategy which enables the revolution to make advances in drawing forward new forces into the movement at those times when there are breaks in the normal routine.

Coming off the premieres of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live, BA provided this Fundamental Point of Orientation, Approach and Objective:

"THIS MOVEMENT FOR REVOLUTION MUST NOW BECOME A REAL FORCE, POWERFULLY IMPACTING AND INFLUENCING ALL OF SOCIETY... bringing forward growing numbers of those this system has cast out and cast down, who must be and can be the driving force of the fight to put an end not only to their own oppression, but all oppression, all over the world... drawing in many others, from all walks of life, who are inspired to join this same cause... preparing minds and organizing forces, Fighting the Power, and Transforming the People, for REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS."

Those who see, and those who are coming to see, their life mission as making revolution and emancipating all of humanity need to understand that this involves a strategic approach—a whole ensemble of revolutionary work. In all of this it is essential to enable lots of people to be a part of things, to really reach out far and wide so that all those people who know nothing about BA and have no idea that there is a movement for revolution and a new synthesis of communism—which today is most people—can discover and be a part of it.

The leading edge of this whole movement is now the campaign to spread BA Everywhere, raising funds and getting the film out everywhere. In the interview with a younger generation revolutionary, A. Brooks, What Humanity Needs: Revolution and the New Synthesis of Communism, Bob Avakian said that the BA Everywhere Campaign "is a key element of influencing millions of people now: getting the concept of this revolution and the scientific grounding underneath it, in a basic sense, out to millions, so millions of people are encountering it, so that people are debating it very broadly in society—so it's a point of reference.... The new synthesis of communism and what that represents is being engaged and debated broadly in society—some people agree, some people disagree, some people say, I like some of this and some not—but they're actually engaging what it is, the substance of it, at least in its very basic contours."

Today, because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.

The Broad Basis for BA Everywhere

Most people we meet will be discovering BA and the new synthesis of communism for the first time, and they will be sorting out what they think about it since it goes straight up against all the bullshit they've been told about communism, yet there is a broad basis for people to appreciate and to financially support the tremendous positive impact of getting the BA vision and framework for a radically different world way out in society.

The following from What Humanity Needs: Revolution and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian by A. Brooks, provides an orientation and approach:

"...people are fully capable of holding two thoughts in their head at the same time. That is, in relation to the 'BA Everywhere' campaign—and I touched on this earlier, but it's worth coming back to a bit—people, at a given time, can feel that they personally don't know that much about, or maybe don't agree with parts or much of what is actually embodied in the new synthesis of communism and my body of work and method and approach overall, but they can at the same time feel that it would be very important for these ideas to be projected broadly into society and for many, many more people, in all corners of society, to be actively engaging and debating these ideas as part of generating a much greater and much loftier wrangling with the question of, once again, 'whither humanity?'... Why are we confronted with the situation we are today? Is there a possibility of radically changing it? Does it need to be radically changed? If so, how?

"Even people who may not agree with or may not know that much about the new synthesis of communism, for example—many, many people, thousands and thousands of people—can get actively involved in and be motivated to be part of helping to project this into all corners of society. They can find their own level, so to speak—as long as the way is provided for them to find their own level—to participate in that, with that kind of contradiction in their own understanding, and in their own approach."

Seattle, Gay Pride Parade, summer 2012

This is a critical point of orientation and approach that is worth wrangling with, and returning to repeatedly, that describes a process and the basis through which many people who are just finding out about BA, who have questions, disagreements, even substantial differences to be a part of the campaign. We need to understand this including our responsibility to provide the ways for people of different strata and backgrounds, with different perspectives and thinking who have "that kind of contradiction in their own understanding"... "to find their own level" to engage, participate and contribute to this campaign and movement.

Think about, for example, Cornel West—a revolutionary Christian, as he puts it, who consistently speaks of Bob Avakian's "deep love for poor people, oppressed people, all around the world," or of Reverend Robert B. Coleman, who I cited earlier, when he said that Avakian's "empowering the powerless" "speaks to my heart as an ordained pastor and theologian. We may diverge on the various strategies employed to achieve a more just society. We may be identified by our disconnect when it comes to religion in general and Christianity in particular. But, there is great benefit in engaging in the dialogue, listening to Avakian's critique and proposal for change, and discerning your place in the ordering of society as we move into the twenty-first century. Go, listen and learn. Engage in the dialogue and critical synthesis..." Note that Rev. Coleman says: "We diverge on strategies... we have a disconnect on religion and Christianity," and at the same time, both West and Coleman recognize in BA a deep commitment and an actual vision for uprooting all forms of oppression throughout the world.

Yet some have been confused because they say: it seems that one minute we are saying "Revolution—Nothing Less!" and "We need a revolution. Anything else, in the final analysis is bullshit," and now we're saying that we should reach out to, involve and raise funds from all kinds of people who really don't agree with that, who voice ideas and programs that are completely opposed.

Well, what about that?

We do need a revolution. There is nothing else that begins to come close to even comprehending the problems humanity faces, let alone solving them. The BA vision and framework, the new synthesis of communism, provides a scientific understanding of the problem, and the solution—a radically new state power aimed at achieving a whole world that has overcome all the oppression and exploitation of class society. And, BA has developed a strategic approach to win. All this and more is in BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live. This sets the right terms that people can find their relationship to, and at the same time—two thoughts in mind—they can see what a difference it would make if this, whether or not there is radically different system, is what was being debated and discussed in society, recognizing that this would make a huge difference in the sense of possibility in the world, even as they still have differences and are working through their thinking. And there must be lots of room for them to find, as Reverend Coleman and Dr. West have, their level of unity with this.

There are lots of people who just can't tolerate all the injustices being swept under the rug, who feel suffocated and infuriated that the enormous problems that they see in the world are getting worse and yet are ignored and buried under a mountain of bullshit—from media assholes blaming the people like the way Wolf Blitzer is currently smearing Trayvon Martin; to the all sexist celebrity gossip, and the society-wide obsession with the latest "I-spy on you" so-called smart phone. In opposition to this degraded culture and discourse with the future at stake, to be dealing with the root causes of the problems humanity faces, to be debating revolutionary solutions such as BA's conception of a new state power with a Constitution that would make it a matter of principle and law that economic development be ecologically sustainable, that would be a whole better place to be. People can support that, even as they are working out what they think about the full analysis and revolutionary solution.

It has also come up that people get inspired by the film and they come to a discussion which really engages them like no other; they get excited but then three things often happen: (1) they go out to their friends, colleagues, teachers and they find that they're just not into hearing it, or they tell them to be wary of communism or worse; or, (2) if they don't run into the revolution again, or come to a meeting or to the bookstore, what they experienced kind of fades from being present in their life; and/or (3) as they think about the film, about BA, what they are reading on and/or the discussion they had at the bookstore, they feel unsettled and not so sure they want to plunge into all that challenge right now. Often these three things come packaged together.

A young woman who was moved by the section of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! on the oppression of women asked in a follow-up phone call: "Wouldn't it be a lot better if every man had to take women's studies?" This was a more comfortable approach than confronting what it is going to actually take to uproot the deep roots and traditions of patriarchy.

First off, even if people do back off for a period, what they have learned is in their minds and as things develop in the world, this is present. More, we should extend "An Invitation"from BA that is in your packets, in which he invites and struggles with people to pursue their convictions about outrages they know are intolerable and that if this leads to understanding that the source of the problem and its solution lies in revolution and communism they should not turn away because it moves them out of their comfort zones, challenges cherished beliefs, or because of prejudice and slander. But instead they should seek to learn more and act accordingly.

We must really encourage people to engage this, and keep engaging it. This is about the future of humanity and the planet. We should be firm in making the case for why digging into BA's work is decisive at this moment. At the same time, we should clearly convey that we are not giving up on people when they run into difficulties; we will be there to talk it through. The door is open and it matters.

We must also be proactive in speaking to the fact that BA is a sharply contended question—and you have a piece on this in your packet as well. From the jump we should be putting forward that "what many really like, and what some others really hate, what still others feel conflicted about—and what many, many more need to know about—regarding BA is what in fact he is a concentrated focus of, that is, what humanity needs: a real, really radical and thorough revolution, aiming for the ultimate goal of communism throughout the world and the emancipation of all humanity as a whole from thousands of years of tradition's chains, exploitative and oppressive relations and outmoded ideas."

And finally the more BA is talked about, the more people run into this everywhere that there are progressive things going on, everywhere people are standing up and fighting back, the more they will have a sense of being a part of a movement that is on the move and less dragged down by the complacency that still too much characterizes society, including many of their friends.

Raising Funds

Why is BA Everywhere a multi-faceted fundraising campaign? Why not just show the film, pass out flyers and talk about it? Because this is about changing the world. Fundraising—if it's done right—does two things. It raises the money that is actually needed to make a huge impact in the world. Face the reality: to puncture the atmosphere in this society takes money. And, to have the kind of advertising and major programming to really do that requires big money. Second, fundraising brings people together, it is a great way to involve people, to build partisanship and support.

When you donate to a cause that matters, you take it more seriously, you do your "homework"—you watch the film, get into BAsics, you find out what BA is all about. And the movement should regard every donor as someone to be in touch with, as a thinking person who has made a difference. This is why the cards that thank people, provide a button, and give them a way to be in touch are so important. Starting today we can no longer have a situation where people donate to this movement and do not hear back from us.

Many people from the most oppressed neighborhoods donated funds for the BAsics Bus Tour—penny jars, yard sales, raffles. But to succeed in this campaign people need to be doing this in an ongoing way. Those on the bottom of society who should be the backbone of a revolution need to work at developing regular sustainers for the campaign and for the revolution in the 'hood—a regular financial base of many people in the places that must become strongholds of the movement for revolution and for the work and leadership of BA. This is a crucial barometer of the support for the movement for revolution. Here too, some will be ardent advocates and fighters for the revolution, and many others will just dig some of BA, or think it important that he is known, and/or others who just believe that the revolution deserves their support.

As important as fundraising is, as an ongoing activity among the basic people, to forging the rock solid base of the revolution, what will be decisive in raising the large amounts of funds needed, ultimately raising millions of dollars, is whether or not a breakthrough is made in raising funds from the large numbers of people in this country who have significant financial assets, from the very wealthy to professionals as well as significant sections of the intelligentsia.

Will those with a comfortable (or even more than comfortable) lifestyle support this? We have already spoken to the largest reality of the horrors of this system that profoundly disturbs people of all strata. Look at the signatories of the recent World Can't Wait ad in the New York Times against the war crimes committed by the Obama administration as but one example of deep concern some sections of prominent and wealthy people have about the state of the world.

To a certain extent, because middle class and the wealthy have more leisure time and generally more training in engaging intellectual, political, and cultural ideas, they are able to explore and learn about the breadth and depth of the situation in the world. Yes, their privileged position can blind them to the realities of the brute force that the state routinely exacts on those on the bottom of society, and it can intoxicate them with the illusion that they "have a say in things"—the illusion of bourgeois democracy. But the problem is in the absence of knowing about the desirability and viability of a radically different world, people's progressive sentiments ultimately get channeled into reinforcing the very system causing these outrages.

BA Everywhere challenges all that—opening up a radically different alternative and giving people a way to make it possible so that this is what's being discussed and debated. When there is a real alternative in the air, that is a different political and social dynamic.

For example, consider the progressive middle class audience that will be going to Jeremy Scahill's new film, Dirty Wars, based on his new book of the same name with scathing exposure of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Pakistan, that opens in New York, LA, and Washington, DC and then the week after in cities across the country. When people go to see this film and confront the illegitimate brutal misery the U.S. is bringing down on people, are they going to find BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, are they going to get a card from BAsics that says: "American Lives Are Not More Important than Other People's Lives"? If there are talkbacks—or even if not—can't someone stand up at the end, sharply condemn what the U.S. is doing, and invite people to check out and support BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!?

BA Everywhere Summer 2013 Plan

So, to come to a conclusion, let's get into the plans for BA Everywhere Summer 2013.

It's going to be fun. It's going to be work. It is going to be interesting, exciting, and challenging. WE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE. BA Everywhere is going to get on the map, building legs, reaching deep into some key neighborhoods where the movement for revolution is focused and stretching out to reach people in some interesting summer resort areas. Everywhere raising funds, everywhere showing BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live and selling DVDs and BAsics. Pop-up provocative discussion in parks, projects and shopping malls. People gathering around flat screen TVs at city basketball courts to watch and talk about a chapter from the film, or outside a "summer stock" theater or outdoor concert in a resort area, and figuring out ways to raise money so that word can spread.

Lots of people we meet may just want to take this out themselves, and the committees should be sure there's lots of good materials available in stores or community centers. When groups go out together there should be lots of experimentation and learning, finding creative ways to reach and involve people—unleashing individuals and forging collective approaches and organization and making this all known on the website.

In one sentence, the summer plan is "out to the masses of all strata in a mass way" with BA Everywhere as the leading edge of the whole ensemble of revolutionary work. What "to the masses in a mass way" means is that when we go out—including bringing new people out to be a part of this—we are putting forward a pole of revolution, taking a firm stand against the way things are and boldly putting forward that there is another way in BA, and in doing so we are creating an interesting politically provocative scene—speaking out in talkbacks at theaters, science fairs, gallery talks, or at the movies!

And not everyone has to do this. Some people may just want to observe and be a part of the scene. Others may just hand out cards or talk to people as they feel comfortable doing so. That's fine. It's part of the mix and can contribute to people who are just encountering this for the first time seeing that there is room for different ways to be supportive, to be a part of this, and that they too can find a place.

We should be stylin' while we are out—wearing the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! shirts and buttons. These small pins—with the title of the film as well as the one with the image of BA—could really become widely worn revolutionary fashion statements. Let youth and jobless people sell them and keep some of the money. The hoods should be saturated with quote-of-the-month cards and film palm cards, posters in storefronts, chalking on the sidewalk. We should have a vibrant presence and displays in well-to-do neighborhoods, suburbs, and at cultural venues and festivals.

We're going to meet people going door to door, setting up in a park, basketball court or at the beach—everywhere engaging people getting out the word and raising funds: with raffles, penny jars, yard sales and raising funds via social media. Going out to summer schools at high schools and colleges in June and July. Everywhere building community through raising funds and getting out the DVD and BAsics.

The focal point of our work will be showing and distributing BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live. Its power and potential to change people is enormous. You feel the connection with BA. The intolerableness of this system and the hope for really radical change is opened up; an understanding of the world and potential for fundamental change through revolution is deepened. Adding to the deep personal connection that people experience watching the film, we will be widely promoting BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, which concentrates the essentials of the work of BA. Together these two works provide the foundation of what people need to understand and change the world—the handbook for revolution of our time, and BA himself, up close, delivering a scientific, substantive, summoning to revolution.

We should grow the committees as we go through the summer. We have planned key nodal points and phases to punctuate and accelerate our work—aiming for leap upon leap. The arc of the summer plan is this:

Over the next two weeks everyone here should go all out to successfully reach the goals of the first phase of the Fund Drive—meeting the goal of $X,XXX in this city. We need to step up and sum up our initial experiences in raising funds in a grass roots way—going all out for the event planned for the weekend of June 15/16. Coming off this conference we need to get organized—build the BA Everywhere Committee and start making preparations for the rest of the summer. Over the next two weeks we should get back to all the people we've met over the last 18 months who weren't able to come today, and those of you who are new today should invite those friends of yours that you think would be interested in being a part of this. Bring them to the event on the15th or 16th.

Then on Monday, June 17, we are going to start a crowdfunding 26-day Indiegogo (or similar) fund campaign to raise the funds needed for the summer. While we are still calculating the costs of the summer van tours, we are projecting that we will need to raise $20,000 with the Indiegogo campaign. To raise these funds we will need to make the BA Everywhere summer campaign a social question out in the streets as well as on the Internet. Personal written and video testimonials and reports need to be gathered—including right here today—and they will be put up on the revcom site.

The website will be the "must-go-to" place every day. It will give a living sense of "making a difference"—of the dynamic of a growing social movement centered around the film. It will be the place where you go to follow the progress, development, thinking and problems that are coming up in the campaign. The site will give voice to all kinds of people grappling with the significance of this campaign, with BA's work in relationship to the larger world. Here is where our fundraising goals will be measured with advances as well as shortcomings discussed. This is the place where the campaign will be led. And, when people go to they will find BA, the Party he leads and the newspaper that ties it all together.

July 4 weekend should involve a lot of going out to all kinds of places where people gather, and then on July 12 the crowdfunding Indiegogo campaign will close as we gear up for the first BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Van Tour. There should be great send-off and/or welcome events for the tour. Plans should be made for volunteers to be hosted for dinners with people we've met—a suburban backyard BBQ, a picnic in the courtyard of an inner-city project. There should be broad interest and excitement following the progress of the vans in the different cities, building more interest with still more people coming to the website.

On July 20 in Los Angeles BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live will be shown at the main branch of the Public Library. This is a big deal that should be amplified everywhere.

Late July and early August are great times to meet a lot of youth at outdoor concerts—both big events where the word can get out to thousands and local events where we can meet and involve the artists. Then, during the week of either August 5 or August 12, the vans should go out again, reconnecting, collecting larger donations, and spreading out even more, learning from the first outings.

Two words about how the tours should be conceived and carried out: radical simplicity. These tours should be doable and rely on the masses.

The summer will be capped off with a cultural celebration in a park or neighborhood (a block party if there is enough support on a particular block) that brings together many of the different kinds of people that have responded to the campaign and been brought forward—including aspiring and professional artists. There could be games and family activities in the afternoon, culture in the early evening, all capped off by showing an hour of the film after dusk.

And then, it's get ready for the fall with the appearance in late September of the film about the April 11, 2011 Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a Whole New World that was occasioned by the publication of BAsics. There should be funds for ad campaigns and new people to go out to the college campuses and high schools. In early November we aim to have theatrical showings of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live in small theaters nationwide, and then December will be a month of massive fundraising with major cultural celebrations that not only raise funds for BA Everywhere and Revolution Books but are manifestations of broadening influence and impact of BA and the movement for revolution.

Last, all of this is going on in the context of sharp developments in the world that make revolution so needed—these plans are the leading edge of the whole movement for revolution—deepening and strengthening and interacting with all the people who will be standing up and fighting back against the power—lifting their heads and opening up to the big questions that are posed in the world, and we are bringing them a radically better way the world could be through getting into and funding BA Everywhere.

We close with the words that were said at the start of this campaign 18 months ago:

If we succeed with this—if we collectively raise enough money to make it concretely possible to project the whole BA vision and project into all corners of society and to introduce him and what he is bringing forward to millions who are not yet familiar with his works and vision; if the framework he is bringing forward and advocating for becomes increasingly debated and wrangled over by thousands and by millions of people from all walks of life; if, together, we manage to accomplish this, this will actually make a very big difference. The whole social and political culture will "breathe" more freely, people will wrangle passionately over "big questions" concerning the direction of society (like knowing that much of the future of humanity hangs in the balance) and the times will once again resonate with big dreams for fundamental change and the emancipation of humanity.

Let's make that difference. It's time to get to it.





Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Regular Financial Sustainers: The Lifeline that Keeps and Revolution Operating

June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Each month tens of thousands of people come to from around the U.S. and from dozens of countries around the world—including places that are hotbeds of struggle. People are driven to by outrages they see and feel—from the mass incarceration of millions in the USA to the worldwide epidemic of rape and the war on women—including attacks on abortion rights. Others come consciously looking for revolutionary theory and leadership.

The network of sustainers, people who have committed to make regular contributions, covers the most basic expenses needed to maintain, as well as the print edition of Revolution newspaper. And that network also funds beginning efforts to promote online.

How essential is that?

Consider: There's just nothing else on the web like—in content or style—where all kinds of people find both philosophical and political challenges to engage and get with the revolution, as well as practical and organizational channels to do so.

Anyone who gets to gets exposed to and connected with the only real alternative to capitalism—Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism, and the leadership of BA. They connect with Revolution newspaper, which is not only a collective educator—stripping away the bullshit and revealing the essence behind big events in society—but also a collective organizer for the movement for revolution.

There is a critical section of people in society who are coming to rely on for leadership in building the movement for revolution. They rely on us being here.

The website——can and must play a pivotal role in putting the new stage of communist revolution on the map, and carrying out our strategy for revolution.

Those of you who financially sustain and Revolution newspaper fund the work that is required to produce Your regular contributions are the reason that readers in Asia, Africa, and Latin America can connect with (in English and Spanish). And they enable the print edition of Revolution to reach people throughout the U.S., including prisoners in 43 states (including 60 prisoners at California's Pelican Bay State Prison). A prisoner in South Carolina wrote, "The 'Revolution' is my breath of freedom. Without it I am lost as to what's really going on outside these gates."

In October 2011, we issued A Call to Our Readers: Subscribe To and Sustain Revolution Newspaper. If you are a sustainer, your contributions are appreciated! Turning in your monthly (or other regularly scheduled) amount is simply essential to revcom and Revolution continuing to operate. If you're not a sustainer, sign up with your local distributor, at the nearest Revolution Books, write us (see below) or click here to become a sustainer now.

It is no exaggeration to say that the people of the world are counting on us all to keep and Revolution operating.

And in turn, this website and newspaper rely on you. All this hangs by a thread financially. Our bare-bones budget makes it possible to develop and distribute revolutionary content—starting with making BA and his leadership accessible to a whole range of people. And popular misconceptions to the contrary, the Internet isn't free, nor is it free to develop, maintain, and promote a revolutionary communist website.

In this light, all contributions, of any amount, are precious. But sustainers who contribute between $50 to $100 or more a month are especially critical for us to continue to operate. These donations make a big difference in the world. A generous donor agreed to cover the cost of acquiring photos for and Revolution—that allows us to make this content much more inviting and accessible, including to limited-literacy readers.

If you're a sustainer now, your contribution is the lifeline that keeps and Revolution operating. Make sure your sustainer commitment is being kept. If you have responsibility to collect contributions from sustainers, now is the time to revisit your list, strengthen people's connections with (and Revolution), and catch up on lagging contributions. And if this is all new to you, you can make a critical contribution to the movement for revolution, even as you learn more about it, by becoming a regular monthly sustainer.




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Revolution interview with Sunsara Taylor

"State of Emergency"

June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | Calls for Summer 2013


Abortion on Demand
and Without Apology!

For Every Woman in Every State
The Reversal of Abortion &
Birth Control Rights Must Stop Now!


The following is an excerpt from an interview soon to be posted at


Revolution: has called for a summer of actions to fight for abortion on demand and without apology. Would you sketch out for us the developing plans around this call?

Sunsara Taylor: First of all, to understand why we're doing this, we have to confront the fact that abortion rights in this country right now are in an absolute state of emergency. There is an all-sided, many-fronted assault on women's right to abortion and even birth control. There is the violence, terror, and threats against abortion providers. There is the avalanche of legal restrictions. The last two years have seen record restrictions on abortion access, and this year has already seen 278 new restrictions introduced around the country. Abortion has been marginalized and stigmatized within medicine, taken out of most primary care; it's not taught in medical schools unless students fight for it. Ninety-seven percent of rural counties don't have any abortion provider. Eight doctors and employees of clinics have been murdered! Roe v. Wade is being aggressively undermined in the courts and in the court of public opinion. And abortion has become more stigmatized than ever before. One in three women has had an abortion, and you can hardly find a single woman in public life or, for most people, in their actual day-to-day life of people that they know that has admitted to them that they had an abortion. We are on track to a situation where women will lose this right. And let's be very clear up front: taking away this right, forcing women to have children they don't want, is a form of enslavement.

So, in this context, we are launching this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride with kick-off rallies in San Francisco and New York on July 23, bringing together hundreds and thousands of people to stand up and send off these Freedom Riders, who will caravan from both sides of the country, making stops and rallying support along the way, to converge at our first big stop in North Dakota in late July.

On August 1, several laws are set to go into effect in North Dakota. One is a fetal heartbeat law that will ban abortion once a heartbeat is detected in a fetus through a vaginal ultrasound—at about six weeks when most women don't even know they're pregnant. So it's a really extreme and outrageous law. There's a lot of expectation that the law will not stand—it's utterly unconstitutional. But it indicates the ferocity and the intentionality of the anti-abortion movement, the fact that it passed at all should be a wake-up call.

The more immediately dangerous law set to go into effect will require abortion providers in the state to have hospital admitting privileges. Now, North Dakota has only one clinic in the entire state, in Fargo, and the doctors there have to fly in from out of state, because abortion providers have to put their lives on the line and there's not that many who are willing to go through all that. So they will not be able to get those admitting privileges and this, if not overturned, would make North Dakota the first abortion-free state. So we will be standing with the clinic and others who have been fighting this—but also protesting the women-haters and legislature and churches behind it. We will hold a big ceremony and award some of these fascists the "Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement" Award, which will take the form of a big bloody coat-hanger. (Wire coat-hangers are what many women used to try to induce their own abortions when it was illegal, and a great many women died from doing that.)

Through August, we'll then go down to South Dakota, which also has only one abortion clinic. We'll go through Nebraska where Dr. LeRoy Carhart has been viciously targeted; Wichita, Kansas, where Dr. George Tiller was assassinated, and where for several years Julie Burkhart has fought very hard to reopen the clinic and recently has; and she's under death threats; she's under legal threat; she's under incredible pressure; and so we want to go there and support her and the clinic and also confront these fascists who are doing the kind of things that get people murdered. Then we'll cut through Arkansas, another state that recently passed a fetal heartbeat abortion ban and has only one abortion clinic. And we will end in Jackson, Mississippi, which was at the heart of the civil rights movement, and has the only abortion clinic left in Mississippi, a state that has incredible rates of impoverishment, especially among Black women, who have almost no access to abortion in large parts of that state and the region.

Revolution: Anything you want to let people know about how to get involved in this, how they can support it?

Taylor: Anybody and everybody who really does not want to see women reduced to the status of slaves needs to stand up and fight right now. And you need to join with this Freedom Ride. Donate towards it. Send a message of support with us to the clinics that we'll be traveling to. Join us for a leg of the tour—in North Dakota, or Wichita, or Mississippi. Sign the statement I mentioned at and send it to everyone you know, asking them to do the same. Get that to authors, musicians, and other prominent people for their signatures. Raise money for this effort. Reach out to people you know in the places we are traveling through—Fargo, Minneapolis, Jackson, Little Rock, Nebraska, Cleveland... check for the full list—to help with housing and reaching out locally. There are many different ways to help and there's no excuse for not standing up and fighting with this. It does not have to be that these Christian fascists and patriarchs and these women-haters slam women backwards. But it will happen if we don't fight. So everybody has to join this fight. We all must take responsibility for STOPPING THIS—that is the measure we are all responsible to.




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Class Action Lawsuit Goes to Judge

Trial Exposes: Stop-and-frisk Don't Stop the Crime, Stop-and-frisk IS the Crime!

by Li Onesto | June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


The trial of Floyd v. City of New York, the class action lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of the plaintiffs, ended on May 20. During more than two months of testimony, lawyers for the CCR argued that the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program illegally detains hundreds of thousands of people every year, not because of suspicious behavior but because of their race. The suit charges the NYPD with violating the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which is supposed to prohibit unreasonable searches, and the Fourteenth Amendment, which supposedly grants equality to Black people.

Darius Charney, CCR's lead attorney in the case, said in his opening statement when the trial started on March 18, that this trial had been "14 years in the making" and that the plaintiffs were seeking, "at long last, to hold the city accountable for years of widespread racially discriminatory and unconstitutional stops and frisks."

Indeed, the CCR put in a tremendous amount of work to put this case together—bringing together testimony from victims of stop-and-frisk, officers from within the NYPD itself, and public officials with hard-hitting statistics about racial profiling. The CCR has done a big service to the people in fighting to bring this case to court and then presenting a rigorous case that has really exposed the NYPD's practice of stop-and-frisk. This suit put the city of New York on the defensive where the city's lawyers had to try and make legal arguments to justify a practice which so clearly violates people's rights. And this high-profile trial brought the stories of victims of stop-and-frisk to many people who before this did not really know about what the NYPD is doing. For some people who may have had only some of the picture of what stop-and-frisk is about, this case put a lot of it all together and showed what a totally illegitimate and illegal practice it is.

Nineteen incidents of people being stopped by the NYPD were described during trial. This included testimony by the four named plaintiffs, who the lawsuit said represent hundreds of thousands of others who have been racially profiled and unjustly humiliated by the NYPD. Forty-one police officers testified, including some who described how they had been pressured to, in effect, meet quotas for stopping people. More than 450 exhibits were offered as evidence as well as audiotapes secretly recorded by NYPD officers in three different precincts. The trial generated 8,000 pages of testimony.

The trial was widely covered in the media—nationally and internationally. And now, millions of people will be looking to see how Judge Shira A. Scheindlin will rule in this case. People all over the country who also face this kind of police repression are watching to see what is going to happen. And other city governments that are already, or want to, implement similar draconian police measures are also looking to the outcome of this trial. For example, in the the Bay Area, Oakland is considering starting stop-and-frisk policing. And there has been contention over such police programs in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles.

Samuel Walker, a criminal-justice professor who testified for the plaintiffs, says the size and influence of the NYPD means the ruling in this case will have national importance and that any changes the judge orders to the NYPD's policy "will send a message to the rest of the law-enforcement community, 'you can no longer do this type of thing and if you do can be sued.' Or if the judge goes the other way then, 'you can continue to do that.' Either way, it's going to have a huge impact." (Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2013)

The CCR's lawsuit asks for certain remedies that include that the NYPD be supervised by an outside monitor; revising forms so officers have to write narratives that justify the basis for stops; and a "joint-remedy process" that would involve a mediator to facilitate conversations between the department and community groups.

The NYPD's "High Error Rate"

The NYPD has stopped over 5 million people since 2004, and during closing arguments Judge Scheindlin noted what had come out many times during the trial—that nearly 90 percent of the time when the police stopped and frisked people, they found no criminal behavior and almost never found any guns.

Scheindlin commented on the NYPD's "high error rate" saying, "A lot of people are being frisked or searched on suspicion of having a gun and nobody has a gun." Addressing one of the lawyers for the city, she said, "You reasonably suspect something and you're wrong 90 percent of the time... That is a lot of misjudgment of suspicion."

A commanding NYPD officer of the 67th Precinct, during his testimony, even admitted worrying that these stops were illegal. At the end of 2012, only 4 percent of the stops in the 67th Precinct, which covers East Flatbush, Brooklyn, resulted in arrests or summons. When Judge Sheindlin asked Inspector Kenneth C. Lehr from the 67th Precinct if this concerned him, Lehr said, "yes." When asked if he was worried the stops might be unlawful, Lehr said, "yes."

The city argued that stop-and-frisk is intercepting criminals before they can act. But testimony by victims of stop-and-frisk painted a vivid picture of how stop-and-frisk creates a whole repressive situation where for millions of people there is always the threat that you could be stopped for no reason at all; put up against the wall, disrespected, humiliated, maybe unjustly arrested, beaten up, or worse.

Racial Profiling

A major part of the plaintiffs' case was that cops are stopping hundreds of thousands of people for no reason other than the fact that they are Black and Latino—that the NYPD is carrying out racial profiling. CCR lawyers offered a lot of different statistics to support this charge, including one stark fact—that while Black and Latino people are about 50 percent of the city's population, they have been about 85 percent of those stopped.

Lawyers for the city argued that this is not racial profiling—that this simply reflects "crime patterns." But the judge herself called this a "worrisome argument" that could lead to racial profiling. In other words, if an officer is already thinking that most of the people who commit crimes are Black and Latino, then they are going to lean toward stopping Black and Latino people because, as Scheindlin said, "it's more likely that he's going to be committing a crime than a white person, so that gives me further reasonable suspicion."

Scheindlin said, "The fact that the stops reflect a similar percentage as the crime suspect data may show that the officers are influenced by the fact that they know in a certain area most crimes are committed by Blacks. So you may worry that they're adding race in as a reasonable suspicion factor."

In other words, Scheindlin was pointing out that, in high-crime areas, simply being Black is a factor in determining that someone should be stopped for "reasonable suspicion."

And where is the judicial principle of innocent until proven guilty??!! If the NYPD is stopping people on the basis that "this is a high-crime area and most of the people who commit crime in this area are Black and Latino"—then the cops are basically stopping people based on "guilty until proven innocent." This is the mindset of armed enforcers of a system that has criminalized a whole section of society, where Black and Latino youth are routinely considered guilty until proven innocent.

The CCR also argued that racial profiling is being carried out with stop-and-frisk. An open expression of this came out very sharply when a recording was played that had been secretly made by Officer Pedro Serrano of the 40th Precinct in the South Bronx. A superior officer is heard on the tape urging Serrano to stop and, if necessary, frisk "the right people at the right time, the right location." When Serrano asks for more specifics the superior says, "I have no problem telling you this, male blacks 14 to 20, 21."

The cops are stopping people based on racial profiling. But these cops, of course, aren't openly saying, "I'm stopping you because you're Black." But they do have to state a reason for why the person is being stopped. So on the UF-250 forms they fill out, they end up giving all kinds of bogus, bullshit reasons for why the person was stopped—like they were making a "furtive movement"—the reason given for over 50 percent of stops. Cops also say they stop people simply because they are in "high-crime areas." But many Black and Latino people are also stopped in other areas. Cops also say they stop people because they see a "suspicious bulge." But these stops have resulted in finding only one gun for every 69 stops that cite such a "bulge." And here one has to ask—if the cops started stopping everyone on the street who had a similar type of "bulge" in their pocket, would the statistics really be 85 percent Black and Latino people?

Under the Fourth Amendment, which is supposed to guard against unreasonable searches and seizures, cops need to have "probable cause" to stop and search someone—that is, they are supposed to have a good reason to believe a person has committed or is about to commit a crime. In 1968, this standard was lowered when a U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Terry v. Ohio said the police could stop and search people in a public place if the officer "reasonably suspects" someone is about to commit a crime.

"Reasonable suspicion" is a a lot more vague than "probable cause"—which means, as judge Scheindlin pointed out, there is room for race to become a factor in determining there is "reasonable suspicion" to carry out stop-and-frisk. Again, this underscores how stop-and-frisk is unconstitutional.

Top City Defenders of Stop-and-Frisk

Throughout this trial Mayor Bloomberg and New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly continued to aggressively speak out in the media to defend stop-and-frisk. They claim stop-and-frisk is necessary to fight crime and get guns off the street—even though only 6 percent of stops result in any arrests and guns are found in only 0.15 percent of stops. Bloomberg says stop-and-frisk is responsible for a drop in crime in the city. But crime has declined all over the country, including in places that have not used such aggressive and unconstitutional measures. Also, as many people have pointed out, if there really were a correlation between crime and stop-and-frisk stops, then in 2012, when stops went down by 20 percent, the murder rate would have gone up. But in fact, the murder rate fell to an all-time low that year.

The fact that these top officials are so vociferously defending stop-and-frisk—which has been so clearly exposed as violating people's rights—just underscores the illegitimacy of their rule.

Stop-and-Frisk IS the Crime

These are only some of the moments in this very important trial which exposed the thoroughly illegitimate, unconstitutional, and racist nature of the NYPD's practice of stopping and frisking hundreds of thousands of people every single year. This lawsuit is part of growing opposition and struggle against stop-and-frisk—where there have been marches and protests; civil disobedience at police precincts, leading to arrests and trials; victims of stop-and-frisk telling their stories in the media; and prominent figures coming out against stop-and-frisk. All this has created a very charged situation where the powers-that-be cannot ignore the fact that increasingly, in the eyes of many people, what the NYPD is doing is illegitimate. And for some, this can begin to call into question the legitimacy of the whole system. This trial has further contributed to this very important dynamic.

In this country nearly 2.4 million people are behind bars—with the majority Black and Latino men. Stop-and-frisk serves as a pipeline for this mass incarceration: hundreds of thousands of Black and Latino youth getting stopped, put in a database, labeled a "gang member," maybe they get charged for something small a bunch of times and it all adds up. Then pretty soon they end up facing time and if they ever get out, they're marked for life, denied a job, housing, benefits, the right to vote. As Carl Dix has pointed out, this is nothing less than a "a slow genocide that could easily become a fast one targeting Black people."

These are the stakes of the struggle against stop-and-frisk, and now millions of people will be waiting to see the outcome of this significant trial. But whatever the judge decides, this lawsuit has played an important role in further exposing the criminal nature of stop-and-frisk.





Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

A Call to Prisoners:

Write to Revolution about "What to the Prisoner Is Your Fourth of July?"

June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


In 1852, Frederick Douglass, a former slave and a leader in the fight against slavery, spoke at a rally celebrating the Fourth of July and said:

"What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?

"I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.

"Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival."


We call on prisoners to draw on all you have learned about the world and your life experience to express your thinking on "What to the prisoner is your Fourth of July?" Your letters have challenged and inspired many readers of Revolution newspaper, and your insights on this topic will make an important contribution.

July 4th concentrates the lies the U.S. rulers promote as "champions of democracy" to cover up their endless crimes against humanity in every corner of the globe, and here in this country—all in pursuit of maintaining and expanding their power at the top of their capitalist-imperialist system. Endless wars and interventions overseas, terrorizing drone attacks with hundreds of civilian casualties, worldwide sex trafficking, the horrendous sweatshop conditions of super-exploited workers, including children... the list of nightmares goes on and on, and only revolution—nothing less can end this horror.

But this sham of justice and equality is not simply deception to camouflage the brutality of international exploitation and oppression. In Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, Bob Avakian describes the heart of American democracy with its roots in the Declaration of Independence:

In other words, because of racism and viewing Africans, mulattoes, and Indians as lesser beings not really deserving of freedom, white Virginians could, without feeling an acute contradiction, articulate, as Jefferson did in the Declaration of Independence, lofty principles about the equality and inalienable rights of all people. They were speaking about white people—and more specifically white men—while explicitly excluding these other groups of people—most especially the people of African origin whom they enslaved. The one went together with the other: the inclusion of some and the exclusion of others, the notion of equality among white people (though this too was not a reality) and the subjugation and enslavement of Black people, mulattoes, and Indians. Here is the paradox and the irony, here is a profound contradiction, built into the United States of America from its very beginning: These Virginians, whose ideas have exerted a very great influence on the conception of freedom in this country—and the embodiment of this in founding documents of this country—represented the interests of the slaveowning class among whites, yet they could declare that they were speaking in universal terms about freedom for all people. They could proclaim a republic, in opposition to a monarchy, they could extol the principles of a government consisting of representatives chosen by the people, and the freedoms associated with republicanism—and they could believe in this—even while practicing and defending slavery, as well as other forms of exploitation and oppression.

Photo: AP

The "pariah class" has been expanded over 200-plus years to include Latinos and other oppressed people. Today there is the mass incarceration of more than 2.3 million people, over half of whom are African-American and Latino.

As Bob Avakian says in BAsics 1:13: "No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."

On July 4, 2013, the relationship between the horrors the U.S. has wreaked on people all over the world and on those who catch hell every day in this country is highlighted by the determined hunger strike by prisoners in Guantánamo against torture and the nationwide hunger strike called to begin on July 8 by California prisoners who, like over 70,000 prisoners around the country, have been enduring similar torture in isolation cells for years and even decades.

Please send your letters addressing "What to the Prisoner Is Your Fourth of July?"quickly to:

Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund
1321 N. Milwaukee #407
Chicago, IL 60622

PRLF volunteers will type the letters and forward them to Revolution so as many as possible can appear in the issue of Revolution people will be reading the week of Fourth of July.




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

South Central LA March Against Police Murder: "Justice for Terry Laffitte!"

May 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

On Saturday, May 25, a powerful and defiant night-time march took over half of Alameda St. on the east side of South Central LA, demanding justice for Terry Laffitte who was murdered by sheriffs the week before. Dozens of people marched while others followed in cars with passengers hanging out the windows holding signs, and many, many cars passing by on this busy street waved their support or pulled out cell phones to capture the inspiring protest. As the four-and-a-half-mile march entered Watts and got closer to the notorious Lynwood Sheriff's station, sheriff cars started to pull up behind the protest, demanding that cars pull over and then threatening over loudspeakers to arrest everyone refusing to leave the street. Furious family members shouted back, "What are you going to do, kill us?" and "murderers!" while others shouted out "Fuck the police" and "They can't arrest us all," continuing the march all the way to the station and then marching inside, demanding justice and the names of the murderers.

Terry Laffitte

Terry Laffitte, 50 years old and the father of three daughters, was attacked and killed by sheriffs in his own backyard, after they stopped him for riding his bicycle erratically as he pulled into the driveway where he lived. The sheriffs beat Terry, throwing him to the ground. While he lay there, having difficulty breathing, according to what his sister told Channel 9 news, the sheriffs shot him in the back of the head. His relatives witnessing and videoing everything were also brutalized and their cell phones were snatched. The sheriffs then immediately arrested everyone in the house, branding his relatives in the news as "gang members" and claiming Terry Laffitte had a gun. The house had been filled with mainly young women and children. Along with the adults, five children under the age of six were taken by the sheriffs, including a three-week-old baby.

The righteous fury of Terry Laffitte's family poured out into the streets at a time when police in Southern California have shot 21 people in a month. One of his relatives brought a sign that said, "On May 18th 2013, around 9:00 pm Terry Laffitte was murdered by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He was an innocent unarmed man he did not resist arrest. As he laid on the ground defenseless police officers beat him repeatedly. Shortly after, they murdered him... another case of excessive force and police brutality. When will it stop? He was not an animal and did not deserve to be treated and murdered like one. He was a loving father, brother, uncle, son and friend...."

The Revolution Club South Central joined in the march carrying an enlarged poster of the front cover of Revolution newspaper, "WE SAY NO MORE," and talked with people about the answer to "when will it stop?"—the need for revolution and nothing less, and the leadership we have to make that revolution. Near the end of the protest at the Sheriff's station we led the crowd in a "mic check" of quote 1:24 from Bob Avakian in BAsics on the role of the police, a quote appreciated by many there. And throughout the night, many people got the newspaper especially because of the front cover together with the centerfold poster of "NO MORE." There was also deep interest in the national hoodie day for justice for Trayvon Martin on June 10 and the emergency call to stand with the prisoners going on a nationwide hunger strike in July.

Also see the article "Los Angeles Area Police Murder and Brutality: The Dogs Are STILL in the Motherfucking Street!"



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Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Los Angeles Area Police Murder and Brutality: The Dogs Are STILL in the Motherfucking Street!

May 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

David Sal Silva, with his three daughters. Photo, courtesy his family.

The recent beating death of David Sal Silva by deputy sheriffs in Bakersfield, California, reminded me of the 1978 murder of José Campos Torres, a 23-year-old Vietnam War vet. Campos Torres was arrested by the Houston police for public drunkenness, then beaten so savagely the jail would not even book him until he was taken for medical treatment. Instead, the cops took him to a local bayou and threw him in the water. His drowned body was found floating the next day.

Poet and musician Gil Scott Heron wrote a moving piece about the murder at the time. He talked in the poem about how he'd said he wasn't going to write any more songs about police brutality and racism, but then ended with the lines:

And the dogs are in the motherfucking street.
I had said I wasn't going to write no more poems like this.
I made a mistake.

I was provoked to do a Google News search under "police shootings Los Angeles." It turned up the following reports just in the last month in the Southern California area. The news stories almost never acknowledged the victims' humanity—how they are the brother, or the child, or the parent of other people, real flesh-and-blood human beings. Most news reports didn't even bother to list the victims' names.

1. April 25, early morning, northwest LA County—An unidentified homeless man was shot and killed by a San Fernando Police Department cop in the northwest corner of Los Angeles County after reports about a dispute between the man and another person at a nearby McDonald's. The officer said he was getting out of his squad car when the homeless man attacked him with a large tree branch. The cop first used a Taser but said it didn't stop the man, then he fired his service pistol. The man was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

2. April 26, before dawn, southeast LA County—An unidentified man was shot and wounded by El Monte Police Department cops while driving a reportedly stolen delivery truck. Police said that when they deployed spike strips, the driver put the truck in reverse and attempted to hit other officers. Police then opened fire—witnesses reported between 16 and 30 shots—and bullet holes could be seen in the windshield and driver-side door.

3. April 26, mid-afternoon, South Central LA—Brice Jefferson was shot and killed by LA County Sheriff's deputies. He reportedly was arguing with a young woman who called the authorities. The sheriffs claim a deputy was injured when struck by Jefferson's car. Deputies then shot him.

4. April 26, evening, 25 miles south of LA in Orange County—An unidentified man was shot and wounded by Garden Grove police. Undercover cops on a stakeout saw him drive into the lot they were watching and radioed for uniformed cops after fear he would blow their cover. He supposedly tried to flee in his car. The cops said they fired multiple shots after he drove toward the undercover cops, striking him at least once.

5. April 28, just after midnight, south of Los Angeles—Long Beach police shot and killed an unidentified man after alleged reports of a man with a gun. He was running away when killed.

6. April 30, before dawn, East LA—An unidentified man was shot and killed by LA Sheriff's deputies. He had allegedly stolen a car, then abandoned it and fled into an empty apartment and barricaded himself. Deputies said there was a "confrontation" and they opened fire.

7. May 1, mid-morning, downtown LA—An unidentified man was shot and killed by LAPD cops after an undercover officer in the area said he saw what "appeared to be a robbery in progress" in the Green Apple Market. The market is across the street from the Los Angeles Mission homeless shelter in skid row. When the man left the market, the undercover opened fire. The man ran from the scene and uniformed officers down the block shot and killed him about 150 feet from the market. A woman said the pigs "shot him like 11 times." An angry crowd from the area gathered, yelling at the officers. Police detained and later released several of them.

8. May 1, dinnertime, 50 miles east of LA in San Bernardino County—San Bernardino police claimed they saw a man commit a traffic violation but he refused to pull over and then crashed after a short pursuit. He allegedly got out of the car and became combative. He was shot and wounded and hospitalized.

9. May 5, early morning, San Fernando Valley, LA—An unidentified man was shot and wounded by LAPD cops who came to an apartment building in response to a woman's 911 call about a possible prowler. She called after someone knocked on her door and she looked out and said she saw a man with a gun. Police said he shot at them after they arrived and they fired back. The man was hospitalized in critical condition.

10. May 9, noon, east of LA—San Bernardino cops saw a car allegedly stolen after a carjacking and murder. The driver crashed and he and a passenger ran, with one allegedly firing at the police. Cops shot and killed one, sent the other to the hospital with gunshot wounds.

11. May 11, late evening, southeast LA County—LA Sheriff's deputies supposedly responded to reports of a fight where a man had a gun in the small city of Cudahy. Rigoberto Arceo, a 34-year-old Latino, was leaving the area in a car driven by his sister, after a family dispute. The pigs said Arceo advanced on a deputy, ignoring commands to stop, and tried to take the deputy's gun. His sister said he had his hands in the air and he was walking up to the squad car when he was shot in the chest and killed. The pigs then detained his sister and justified the killing based on a gun found in the car. She said it was her gun, was unloaded and fully legal, and Rigoberto did not even know it was in the car.

12. May 14, noon, 30 miles south of LA—An unidentified man and woman were seriously wounded after being shot by Santa Ana police while riding in a suspected stolen car. Police said they located the car after a Lo-Jack anti-theft tracking report and chased the car several blocks until it jumped a curb and crashed. Police would not say whether the couple was shot inside the car or as they tried to flee. Both were hospitalized.

13. May 14, just after dark, southeast LA County—LA Sheriff's deputies shot a 35-year-old man during an alleged narcotics arrest in the city of Paramount. Deputies said he tried to grab one of their guns. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

14. May 16, mid-afternoon, northwest LA County—Christian Eaddy, 25 years old, was shot and killed by LAPD cops in the city of Pacoima. Officers went to the scene after reports of an apparently suicidal man with a knife threatening to kill himself. They claimed he threatened them with the knife.

15. May 17, early morning, east of downtown LA—Kahn Tony Nim, a 35-year-old Vietnamese immigrant with a history of mental health issues, was shot and killed in the Alhambra Police Department lobby. Officers said they tried to speak to Nim in several languages but he was unresponsive and incoherent. When he allegedly pulled a large knife from his backpack, three of the five cops opened fire. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

16. May 17, late evening, northwest LA—An unidentified man was shot and wounded by LAPD cops in Lake View Terrace after they allegedly tried to stop him and a second man. Police said they ran and then the victim was shot when he allegedly pulled a handgun and pointed it at the officers.

17. May 18, dinnertime, South Central LA—46-year-old Charles Curl, a Black man, was shot dead by an Inglewood PD officer after Curl allegedly used a machete to smash the windows of eight squad cars outside a police station. Police claim Curl was shot after charging a cop, but cell phone video taken by a passerby broadcast on local TV clearly shows Curl walking toward another squad car when a cop crouched behind the car's open door fires from at least 15 feet away. Curl later died in surgery at the hospital.

18. May 18, mid-evening, South Central LA—50-year-old Terry Laffitte, a Black man, was shot and killed by LA Sheriff's deputies. They claimed he was riding his bicycle drunk while holding a gun, that they followed him into the yard of a home where they were assaulted by several of his relatives, and that they shot him when he allegedly pulled a gun from his waistband during the fight. His sister told the media, "My brother was on the ground. They had his hands behind his back. He didn't have a gun." She also reported that the fight was recorded on a cell phone but that it was confiscated by the sheriff's department. Deputies denied that any cell phones were taken. They later claimed to have found a real gun and replica gun on Lafitte and that several of his family members involved in the fight were "known gang members."

19. May 19, late evening, 50 miles east of LA—Moreno Valley police answered a report of a suicidal man locked in the bathroom with a knife, cutting himself. The cops said he came out, dropped the knife, but then picked it up and made threatening statements to them. He was shot and wounded and admitted to a nearby hospital.

20. May 21, midnight, East LA—An unidentified man was shot and killed by LAPD cops after they said they spotted a known gang member riding a bike who pointed a gun at them. He was pronounced dead at the scene. It is unknown how many shots were fired.

21. May 22, noon, San Fernando Valley—LA Sheriff's deputies on some kind of patrol shot an unidentified man in the city of Van Nuys. No more details were given.


Last year on March 24, 2012, a 19-year-old Black youth named Kendrec McDade was shot and killed by Pasadena, California police when they claimed Kendrec ran after he and a friend reportedly stole a laptop computer while carrying a gun. The cop who killed him said he was "clutching something in his waistband." It turned out to be a cell phone. On the anniversary of his death, Pasadena officials cleared the officer who murdered him of any wrongdoing.

Kendrec McDade

Kendrec's parents have been outspoken about his murder and continue to demand justice in the face of official denials and cover-ups. They just filed a federal lawsuit against the Pasadena cops.

Last month Kendrec's father, Kenneth McDade, said eight Pasadena police came to his house looking for his nephew in connection with a felony theft case. Kenneth McDade recognized at least two of them in connection with Kendrec's murder.

One cop told Kenneth, "I'm going to fuck up your weekend." Kenneth was thrown up against a car in his driveway, handcuffed, and his shoulder was sprained. Another cop said, "Do you want me to break your arm off? Do you want this to turn into a murder case?"


Two weeks ago, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Feess ended the "Consent Decree" that led to more than 10 years of federal oversight of the Los Angeles Police Department. The Consent Decree was imposed in 2001 following the "Rampart Scandal" in which it was revealed that cops in the LAPD's anti-gang CRASH unit had routinely beaten, shot and framed mainly young Latino men, outright murdering some and generally terrorizing the immigrant community of Pico-Union. The Consent Degree was a reflection of some sharp divisions among the authorities about how to best police the city, but also was a concerted effort to clean up the image of the pigs, win sections of the population to support the cops again, and assure everyone that the authorities were "cleaning things up."

After the ruling, current LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said the Consent Degree "has made this a department I am proud to hand over to my children." Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the LAPD was now a model agency reflecting the diversity of the city. Police "reform advocate" Connie Rice said the department had come a long way. And progressive lawyers and others who should know better joined in the chorus of congratulations. "Twenty years ago, 15 years ago, 10 years ago, no one could have imagined this police department would have been under control and treat the most vulnerable communities with respect," said Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel for the ACLU of Southern California. "And by and large, it has occurred."

Oh really? The dogs are still in the motherfucking streets!




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Full-page Statement in the New York Times Demands: "Close Guantánamo Now!"

May 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


The "Close Guantánamo Now!" statement, organized by World Can't Wait, appeared in the front "A" section of the New York Times on Thursday, May 23—the same day that Obama gave a major speech that discussed U.S. drone strikes as well as Guantánamo. The signers of the statement include John Cusack, Wallace Shawn, Junot Diaz, Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Eve Ensler, Dave Eggers, Glenn Greenwald, Paul Haggis, Bianca Jagger, Ariel Dorfman, Erica Jong, Michael Moore, Ron Kovic, Moby, Tom Morello, Mark Ruffalo, James Schamus, Carl Dix, Oliver Stone, Cindy Sheehan, and Cornel West, joined by attorneys for the Guantánamo prisoners and hundreds of others.

Click here for a PDF of the full-page ad that appeared in the NY Times. Go online to to learn more about the statement, add signatures, and donate so it can be published internationally.


The full-page ad that appeared in the May 23 NY Times




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Prisoner Letter:

From Pelican Bay SHU to Guantánamo: "we share the same torturer"

June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The views expressed by the writers of these letters are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.

Today torture is no longer a secret that is talked about within the sterile halls of some non-descript building one needs a security clearance to enter. The vast majority of the U.S. population is realizing that torture is as American as apple pie.

Torture is a barbaric method, practiced by the most immoral and depraved, it is a heinous crime against the people, it is the evidence that a society is no longer valid and needs to be replaced, it is essentially a red line that a government crosses when it resorts to torture.

The 166 men who are being tortured in Guantánamo Bay are doing the world a solid, what they are doing by sacrificing their bodies in the hunger strike are re-educating the world. These brave men are holding a study group and the world is the audience, the topic is "what is American torture"! We are learning how depraved U.S. Imperialism is and what methods it employs on Third World peoples, we are learning how at least one hundred have been tortured to death in the name of the "war on terror." We know over half the men have been cleared for release having not been tied to any crime but still they are tortured living in chains, hooded and deprived of everything that makes one human. But for over 100 days these brave men have had the world stage to educate the people on the vileness of U.S. Imperialism, they have been so effective during these 100 days that many of us even here in this torture center known as Pelican Bay SHU have learned more about the torture going on at Guantánamo. We sit here in windowless cells and held in solitary but we have begun to learn more about what is taking place and a couple of men have even begun to hunger strike in solidarity with Guantánamo because what we have realized is that the thing that links Pelican Bay SHU with Guantánamo is we share the same torturer.

When people think about torture, one often thinks of physical torture but it goes more deeper than this. America's torture program is much more sophisticated than mere beatings with phone books, it has long passed the threshold of what the world has defined as human rights. Those of us here in California's SHU's have begun to learn and study the history of American torture so that we not only learn what is behind our own torture but more importantly so we can find our natural allies in order to resist and combat this torture. In our studies we have found that what was once taught in the U.S. military "School of the Americas" so that U.S. lackey dictators can go back to their countries and employ this torture is now being employed in U.S. prisons whether these prisons are here on U.S. soil or in U.S. ran prisons around the world.

These methods are used to break ones resistance, in this way the prisoner is forced via this torture to do anything in order to make the torture stop, including lying and implicating others for activities they did not do. Some take this easy way out and the torture is just too much, while others like the brave prisoners at Guantánamo are choosing to rip the shroud off of U.S. Imperialism in order to show the world its depravity and shine the light on all its disgusting parts and we commend them for this and we stand in solidarity with them.

We will also rise up in resistance to torture on July 8th of this year in order to do our part to expose our torturers, only complete exposure will stop this torture! Many of us have like our counterparts in Guantánamo, have been in this torture center for years but we continue ever onward in our struggle against injustice and we continue to learn because of this torture. We are finding common ground with other torture survivors and finding ways to resist together against our common torturer. To resist is to live, to surrender to injustice is to die! From Guantánamo Bay to Pelican Bay end the crimes against humanity! Stop the torture!




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

High Stakes in the Cruel and Unjust Trial of Bradley Manning

May 24, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


The trial of Bradley Manning is set to begin on June 3, at Ft. Meade, Maryland. Manning is a U.S. Army private charged with 22 violations of the "Uniform Code of Military Justice."

Manning already has been imprisoned in solitary confinement for over three years, including 11 months in isolation in a hellhole that Juan Méndez, a special United Nations rapporteur who formally investigated Manning's conditions, described as "cruel, inhuman, and degrading." Manning himself said of those 11 months, "I remember thinking, 'I'm going to die. I'm stuck inside this cage. I just thought I was going to die in that cage. And that's how I saw it: an animal cage."

The basis of the charges against Manning is the accusation that he leaked almost 500,000 classified government documents, which were then published by the website WikiLeaks. Many of these documents and files revealed war crimes committed by the U.S. government and its military in Iraq and elsewhere. The documents Manning is charged with leaking include the Collateral Murder video, Afghanistan War Logs, Iraq War Logs, U.S. embassy cables, and Gitmo (Guantánamo) files. All of them contain damning evidence of U.S. atrocities, cover-ups, and deceit.

The most serious of the accusations against Manning is that he "aided the enemy." If he is convicted of this charge, Bradley Manning faces the possibility of a life sentence in prison, without the possibility of parole.

Even if Manning is not convicted on this charge, he faces 20 other charges that could result in over 150 years in prison. He has already pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of "prejudicing the good order and discipline of the military," which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

In February 2013, Manning was taken from his cell to a military courtroom, where he read a lengthy statement that included his reasons for joining the military, how and why he became an intelligence analyst in the military and, most especially, why he sent government files to WikiLeaks. Manning said he released the files to reveal to people "what happens and why it happens" and to "spark a debate about foreign policy."

Despite Manning's guilty plea on certain charges, the government is determined to press ahead with charges that could, if he is convicted, end in a life in prison for him.

War Crimes Exposed

Bradley Manning being brought into a military court at Ft. Meade, Maryland, May 21, 2013
Photo: AP

The Collateral Murder video, from Baghdad 2007, is perhaps the most shocking of the files. It shows American soldiers in an Apache helicopter shooting and killing 11 Iraqi civilians who don't return fire. Two children who were in a van that arrived after the initial round of gunfire were seriously wounded; their father, who stopped to help the people already shot, was killed. The Americans were recorded joking about and exulting in the slaughter they inflicted. "Alright! Ha ha! I hit 'em!... Got a bunch of bodies lying there... Oh yeah! Look at those dead bastards!"

Among the thousands of documents in the Afghanistan War Log were directives that authorized teams of Navy Seals and Delta Forces to decide whether to kill or capture people they decided were their "targets." Other files revealed policies—code named "Frago 242"—by which U.S. and English forces who directed torture of Iraqi captives could avoid taking responsibility for it.

In other words, the person who leaked these videos saw some of the bloody horrors the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have inflicted on millions of people. This person came to an understanding of the lies and deceit these wars were built on, and realized they had a responsibility to act. This person exposed to the world horrible crimes that the U.S. government wanted to keep concealed.

Bradley Manning is accused of being this person, and now the U.S. government is compelled to punish Manning to the utmost, to set an example for others—including those within the military itself—who may also be revolted by the reality of the war crimes their government and its armed forces routinely commit.

Whoever leaked these files is a hero who acted with great courage, and whose example provides a model and inspiration to anyone else who witnesses or participates in such monstrous crimes.

The Real Criminals

Screenshots from the Collateral Murder video, one of the documents Bradley Manning is accused of leaking. The video shows American soldiers in an Apache helicopter in Baghdad, 2007, firing on and killing 11 Iraqi civilians.

Blood spilled by the U.S. has been soaking into the arid ground from Libya to Pakistan for the past dozen years. In particular, over the past 12½ years since George W. Bush and Co. commenced a "global war on terror," countless atrocities—crimes against humanity—have been inflicted on people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and other countries by American military forces and spy agencies.

Well over 100,000 people have been killed outright in this American onslaught; countless more have died of disease and suffering inflicted by the wars. Hundreds of thousands more people have lost limbs or been otherwise maimed, traumatized and sickened; people in all these countries have seen their farms, homes, and ways of making a living destroyed. Millions have been "displaced" by war.

But the perpetrators of these atrocities have not been punished. Even before he was inaugurated, Obama made clear that he was opposed to any investigation of criminality in relation to the torture programs carried out during the Bush years. And since taking office, Obama has kept the book closed on cases of CIA torture, insuring that no one will be punished for the horrendous crimes that were directed from the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Far from being treated as war criminals and facing life in prison, the leading political and military officials who have organized, orchestrated, and justified such monstrous criminal acts remain esteemed and respected guardians of the system of capitalism-imperialism.

Colin Powell stood before the United Nations and lied to the world that Iraq threatened its neighbors with "weapons of mass destruction"—his speech was quickly followed by a massive U.S. invasion and continuing occupation of Iraq. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld launched invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and organized a worldwide network of torture chambers in defiance of international laws and even the U.S.'s own laws.

Now Colin Powell speaks around the country on "leadership," at a fee of $100,000 to $200,000 per talk. George W. Bush just had a library built in his name on the campus of Southern Methodist University—the inauguration of the library this April was attended by Obama as well as former presidents Clinton, Bush I, and Carter.

Barack Obama has not only defended and continued the program of war and torture begun by his predecessors; he has extended U.S. bombing to several other countries, and developed policies of drone bombing and targeted assassinations.

Obama has accompanied the global crimes of the system and military he heads with the ruthless pursuit and punishment of anyone—such as Bradley Manning—who allegedly exposes these atrocities. As journalist/blogger Kevin Gosztola said in an interview with Revolution last year, "The Obama administration has waged an unprecedented war on whistle-blowers or 'leakers.' He's prosecuted more individuals for alleged leaks than all previous U.S. presidents combined. Unlike Bush, the Obama administration does not simply retaliate against people that go to the press to reveal the truth of what the U.S. government is doing. They target them with prosecutions. And, to date, six people have faced prosecutions under the flawed and outdated Espionage Act of 1917.

"This war on whistle-blowing or leaking has created a climate that makes government employees very reluctant to talk to reporters or journalists on the record. It chills free speech and freedom of the press. It makes media organizations more deferent to power. To avoid being targeted by government for engaging in actual muckraking journalism, journalists form cozy relationships hoping to be spoon-fed scoops that can form best-selling books..."

A Political/Legal Battle With High Stakes

Actions in Support of Bradley Manning

A mass rally in support of Bradley Manning is being held Saturday, June 1 at Fort Meade, Maryland. Chartered bus tickets from New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Willimantic CT, and other cities are available.

June 1–8 is an International Week of Action for Bradley Manning, and events are planned in Seoul, Toronto, London, Cardiff, Heidelberg, and several other cities internationally and in the U.S. For more information, go to, or

The release of the WikiLeaks files was a major, international shock to this system of global exploitation and oppression backed up by military force. The horrible acts of death and destruction; the relentless waging of war against civilian populations; the gleeful celebration of mass murder by its soldiers; the blackmail, bribery and cover-ups that are routine in the "diplomatic relations" the U.S. maintains even with its allies—all this and more are things the leaders of this system want to talk about among themselves, not to be aired in public.

The stakes of Bradley Manning's upcoming trial are extremely high. This system is out to inflict extreme punishment on Bradley Manning—to jail him for a long time, perhaps life, and to use this cruel punishment of a brave person as an example to anyone else who would dare expose the crimes of empire. The courage and resilience with which Manning has withstood years of solitary confinement and almost a year of torture are a testament to his strength.

In April 2011, Barack Obama was directly questioned about the arrest and imprisonment of Bradley Manning. Even though at that point Manning had yet to be even legally charged with anything, let alone put on trial, Obama responded, "We are a nation of laws. We don't let individuals make decisions about how the law operates. He (Manning) broke the law." First of all, this is monumental deceit and hypocrisy from a man who defies international law and standards to, among other things, imprison and torture Bradley Manning, and who regularly has made decisions based on the supposed legal authority of a "secret memorandum" to send murderous drone strikes against civilians in multiple countries.

But how can Bradley Manning possibly have a "fair trial" when the President, the "Commander-in-Chief" himself, has already declared that he is guilty? What happened to the "presumption of innocence," supposedly a cornerstone of the American system of law?

The continued sadistic persecution of Bradley Manning reveals much about the ways the U.S. coheres its empire, and the fearful, vengeful punishment it seeks to extract when it is exposed. Far from being the worldwide champion of such "democratic values" as freedom of speech and freedom of the press, as the representatives of this system never tire of proclaiming, a look beneath the system's façade reveals a gruesome reality of murderous wars, atrocious war crimes routinely covered up, and harsh persecution of people who expose these crimes.

The government is out to silence and shut down any individual or any media outlet that exposes the truth about crimes committed by the U.S. military. Anyone who wants to see truth revealed, war crimes exposed and stopped, and justice done must demand that the persecution of Bradley Manning be ended, his charges dropped, and that he be freed.




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Stop-and-Frisk on Trial Again in Queens

June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |



The following is from website:


The ten week federal civil lawsuit against the NYPD's practice of stop-and-frisk, Floyd v. City of New York, ended last Monday. We learned much about the quotas, racism, and cynical operations of the NYPD—but it all added up to what many people already knew. Stop-and-frisk is racist, unconstitutional and unjust.

The next day another trial of stop-and-frisk began in Queens, when four more freedom fighters were brought to stand trial for protesting at the capital of stop-and-frisk, the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica. On November 19, 2011, twenty people were arrested for standing outside the precinct doors, demanding an end to stop-and-frisk, and specifically in that precinct, which has the second highest number of illegal stops in the city. It's the precinct where NYPD killed Sean Bell in 2005, and where there's been intense harassment of trans people.

It’s outrageous that Greg Allen, Noche Diaz, Ribka Getachew and Matt Swaye are even on trial. For 18 months, the District Attorney has refused to drop two counts of Obstruction of Government Administration against 13 people, even when the first group of four was found not guilty by a jury last November. Prosecutors are bringing the same evidence, but say they hope to get a different outcome with another jury.

It took two full days to get a six person jury and two alternates selected. So many people in the jury pool expressed opinions against stop-and-frisk that the prosecution was able to have some excluded for cause, because they said they wouldn't be able to listen to police officers and believe them. Others who spoke out against stop-and-frisk, or had negative experiences with the NYPD, but said they could still be fair and unbiased in this case, were excluded when the prosecutor used pre-emptive challenges to exclude them.

Of the last people in the jury pool to be questioned, four openly expressed opposition to stop-and-frisk. A young sister said she had been to protests against police brutality, and protested when Kimani Gray was murdered by the NYPD a couple months ago. She told one of those wrenching stories that breaks your heart about being abused as a child, going to court to testify against her abuser, and the prosecution not getting her abuser convicted. A young man had friends who had been arrested during Occupy Wall Street when the police led protesters into a place, then busted them. He didn't believe the police. A human resources manager quoted statistics on stop-and-frisk, and said, "I believe it's biased, and there is not evidence it stops crimes. Over 90% of the people stopped were doing nothing wrong, and they are almost all Black and Latino. I think they should do stop-and-frisk on the Upper East Side (a wealthy area in Manhattan.)

The potential juror questioned the most was a 40 year old African American train conductor. He told of being stopped "many" times by the NYPD driving to work at night. Our lawyer asked, "how many times have you been stopped?" The court room—except for the prosecutors—erupted in laughter when he said, "you mean this year? I really couldn't even tell you." He went on to say that his brothers, cousins, son, son's friends are all stopped a lot.” And I do not know why. We are all working, going about our business. We have no records." He said that he lives in what is called a "high crime area," and it turned out to be the 103rd Precinct. He said that stop-and-frisk does not do any good, and he doesn't like it.

We ended up with a jury of people born in Queens, and all over the world, who say they don't have an opinion about stop-and-frisk, with one alternate believing that it's a good practice which she is sure lowers crime, although she cannot cite how. These jurors say they have never been involved in protest. The prosecutor, who stipulated there was no violence from the protesters, is building his case on the fact that one could protest, even for a good cause, and still break the law.

Attorneys Mani Tafari, Martin Stolar, Thomas Hillgardner and Daria Aumond will argue that no laws were broken, and in fact the protesters were led, by NYPD officers, into a barricaded zone in front of the 103rd, and then arrested when they made a protest in front of the door. The defendants will testify about why they protested stop-and-frisk.

The trial begins Tuesday, May 28, and is expected to go three or four days. Trial support makes a big difference in front of a jury. Join us 9:30 am Room K-15 at Queens Criminal Court. 125-01 Queens Blvd. E/F train to Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike.


"An Event of This Magnitude:" NYPD on stop-and-frisk protest


It was either the District Attorney, or Inspector McEvoy of the 103rd Precinct, discussing NYPD preparations for the protest November 19, 2011, when 20 people were arrested for standing in front of the precinct door, who referenced the need for so many police for "an event of this magnitude." McEvoy's been in command of the precinct for years, but this was his first time to manage a protest at the precinct. He had NYPD officers from Queens South Task Force, who during that time were very busy running after and corralling Occupy Wall Street activists; borrowed Community Affairs officers from Boro Command, and some of his own.

McEvoy's testimony is the heart of the state's case against our four defendants, Greg Allen, Noche Diaz, Ribka Getachew and Matt Swaye. The District Attorney has a problem, though, because McEvoy testified in November at the first trial of freedom fighters in this case, and the jury didn't believe his testimony that the business of the precinct had been obstructed by the protest. McEvoy testified today that, despite all these cops, and despite having barricaded a whole city block to traffic and pedestrians, he had no plan for using a side entrance, or escorting cops arriving for their 3:00 pm shift past protesters who stood for about seven minutes below the steps to the main entrance of the precinct. The state claims roll call for that shift was late, constituting the two obstruction of government administration charges, which carry a possible twelve months at Rikers.

This misdemeanor trial is going into its seventh day, and is likely to continue until next week. Many people have asked why the state is putting so much into prosecuting 13 people on these charges. It became more clear today that the NYPD and the District Attorney consider the wave of stop-and-frisk protests which began in fall 2011 to be on an order of magnitude that demands suppression. Noche Diaz recalled this week, "When we were arrested at the 103rd precinct, the charges that were brought against us was an escalation and part of trying to punish people who stood up to stop and frisk, including with jail time."

The multi-national jury of Queens residents was not very engaged while four police officers testified. But today, we saw them get more interested as the defense's case began. Carl Dix, as a main organizer of the protest in his role as co-initiator with Cornel West of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, testified for the defense, describing the outreach and political message—at least as much as he was allowed by the judge to do so—of the protest rally and march, which began at Rufus King Park in Jamaica Queens, and continued through heavy pedestrian crowds to the 103rd. Yes, he told the DA who accused him of leading people to intentionally block doors at the precinct, we wanted to be in front of the doors; yes, we intended to deliver a political message; yes, we knew we were risking arrest. But, being arrested, he reminded the jury, does not necessarily mean you have done a crime. The D.A. got flustered. You don't want to go one on one in an argument like this with Carl Dix.

Noche Diaz was the first defendant to take the stand. He said the protest "spoke to my very being" as a 24 year old growing up in The Bronx who had been very frequently stopped and frisked by the police. "I thought this was a humiliation I would have to go through" until he learned about protest against these abuses, and joined them. Noche was so direct and honest in his answers to the DA, and when the judge questioned him, that the basic immorality of NYPD abuse came through in spite of the DA's objections.

Ribka Getachew talked about her college activism at Columbia University against mass incarceration, again, at least as much as she was allowed. She said she "had" to be at the protest in Queens, and yes, she did speak out, and step forward to go to the steps of the precinct.

That's where we left off today. The defense will continue tomorrow, but the jury probably will not get the case for deliberations until Monday.





Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Report from the Cornel West-Carl Dix Dialogue on Mass Incarceration

June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

On a summer-like night in New York City, more than 400 people gathered on the Upper West Side to listen to and engage with Carl Dix and Cornel West at a dialogue called "Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide—Act to STOP It Now!"

Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

This event (which was a fundraiser for Revolution Books and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network) came just days after the indictment of the officer who had gunned down unarmed Ramarley Graham in his own home in the Bronx last year was overturned on a "technicality," and in the midst of the still-running civil suit against stop-and-frisk. This charged atmosphere seemed to lend extra urgency to the question on people's minds. People were anxious and eager to hear what the speakers had to say—just announcing the title at the beginning of the program led to a lengthy ovation (the first of many).

The composition of the audience showed how all kinds of people are concerned and angry about mass incarceration and its effect on the lives of millions. Ages ranged from a pre-teen member of a dance troupe (along with the other troupe members of all ages), to veterans of the struggles of the '60s like an older couple with matching gray-haired ponytails, and a man who identified himself as a participant in the Attica Prison rebellion in 1971. There was a significant number of young people in their 20s and 30s, both male and female, of all nationalities, including eight students from a college class who were encouraged to go by their professor. Some members of the Revolution Club also represented—at one point they gave a demonstration of whistle-blowing technique, to warn people of the presence of police, when the co-emcee Jamel Mims was describing "Whistle Day."

A real determination to stop this genocidal program seemed to burn through this audience. Right from the start, the spirit in the room was that of people getting together not just to hear about the horrors of mass incarceration but to join in a struggle to end it. Both speakers stressed again and again that this is an emergency situation, and that only by acting now, and having the courage to stand against the "prevailing winds" of society—ideological, cultural, and political—can this be defeated. And both also stressed that it can be defeated. There were ovations and shouts of agreement when each of the speakers focused on people acting to stop this now.

Carl Dix kicked off the evening with vivid descriptions of the torture of solitary confinement, the murder of Trayvon Martin and the savage beating of a Latino man by police in Bakersfield, California. He got into the importance of standing up against injustice with a little about his own experience, refusing to be sent to fight at the time of the war in Vietnam. He described how mass incarceration was a "slow genocide—which could become a fast genocide." He also called it a "counter-insurgency strategy without an insurgency"—how the rulers are preemptively using these methods to beat down and destroy what could be the most volatile section of society. He went on to talk about how people must get active around this: "Walking out of this church tonight you have got to get involved. Because like I said, we are not fighting an issue here and an issue there; we are fighting mass incarceration and we are aiming to stop it. And there is something everybody can do to help win this fight." Later he added, "You will be recognizing the humanity of those beaten down by the system and in the process reclaiming your own humanity."

People stayed after the dialogue to talk with the speakers.
Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

He also spoke about how this could fit into building a movement to get rid of all of this once and for all: "I'm coming at this as a revolutionary communist, somebody who sees mass incarceration and all the other horrors that this system inflicts on people here and around the world as rooted in the very nature of this capitalist system and its dog-eat-dog ethos. This suppression is built into the very fabric of this society." He went on to say, "There is not going to be a savior coming down from heaven or the White House who can or would do anything about it. It is going to take a revolution and nothing less to end this horror and all the other horrors the system brings down." He compared the role the enforcers play in this society—terrorizing and murdering people, especially the oppressed, to uphold a criminal system, with the role police could have in a different society—to the society that is envisioned based on the new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian where the public security forces would be acting in the interests of the great majority of people in society—as described in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), which Dix invited people to check out.

Cornel West, describing himself as a "revolutionary Christian in the Christian prophetic tradition," started from the rebellious and radical history of Black people fighting against injustice, invoking W.E.B. Dubois: "How do you maintain integrity in the face of deception?" He continued, "We are in a state of emergency—we need a sense of urgency." He talked about how people are "bombarded every day with a corporate media that makes cultural 'weapons of mass distraction'—making it difficult to attend to the things that really matter. And worse, we are witnessing the escalation of complacency, conformity and cowardice especially among our professional classes—as they become so intoxicated with wealth, power and status that they have become not just thoroughly well-adjusted to injustice but thoroughly well-adapted to indifference, and try to tell young people that the end and aim of life is just to be successful like them."

Toward the end of his presentation, he addressed young people: "What do we tell the young folk? We are going to tell young folk that we love you, we care for you, and we are willing to go to jail for you—we want to shape your consciousness, we want to show you that there are some old-school brothers and sisters willing to put their bodies on the line—because folks put their bodies on the line for us. We need more people—especially among the youth. Brother Carl has been going at it for decades, and he can't break dance the way he used to."

The young revolutionary Noche Diaz also made a short presentation, and he spoke for those younger people who have begun to step forward, and called on others to do the same. He said, "The message is that there are people who are going to be fighting against this—and when people inspire and organize others to stand up against this and they face the wrath of the system, they are not going to be standing alone. And we are going to get stronger through those attacks—and those attempts to silence people and disorient people and crush the resistance—we are going to get stronger through meeting those attacks. Stop-and-frisk is on trial now because of what people did in the streets."

About half the crowd stayed through the question-and-answer period and the short final presentation on how to get involved. And a large section of that group stayed to talk to the speakers and organizers after the program ended (including many of the younger folks)—a group that was ready to act and was looking for ways to get involved and wanted to hear about (and be involved in creating) plans to oppose mass incarceration going forward from this program.







Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Interview with Sunsara Taylor

"Abortion on Demand and
Without Apology" Freedom Ride

From two coasts and through the heart of the country

June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution recently talked to Sunsara Taylor about plans announced by for a summer of actions around the demand Abortion on Demand and Without Apology.  The entire interview follows.


Countering Christian fascist anti-abortion marchers in San Francisco, January 2013.
Photo: Special to Revolution


Revolution: has called for a summer of actions to fight for abortion on demand and without apology. Would you sketch out for us the developing plans around this call?

Sunsara Taylor: First of all, to understand why we're doing this, we have to confront the fact that abortion rights in this country right now are in an absolute state of emergency. There is an all-sided, many-fronted assault on women's right to abortion and even birth control. There is the violence, terror, and threats against abortion providers. There is the avalanche of legal restrictions. The last two years have seen record restrictions on abortion access, and this year has already seen 278 new restrictions introduced around the country. Abortion has been marginalized and stigmatized within medicine, taken out of most primary care; it's not taught in medical schools unless students fight for it. Ninety-seven percent of rural counties don't have any abortion provider. Eight people have been murdered! Roe v. Wade is being aggressively undermined in the courts and in the court of public opinion. And abortion has become more stigmatized than ever before. One in three women has had an abortion, and you can hardly find a single woman in public life or, for most people, in their actual day-to-day life of people that they know that has admitted to them that they had an abortion. We are on track to a situation where women will lose this right. And let's be very clear up front: taking away this right, forcing women to have children they don't want, is a form of enslavement.

So, in this context, we are launching this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride with kick-off rallies in San Francisco and New York on July 23, bringing together hundreds and thousands of people to stand up and send off these Freedom Riders, who will caravan from both sides of the country, making stops and rallying support along the way, to converge at our first big stop in North Dakota in late July.

On August 1, several laws are set to go into effect in North Dakota. One is a fetal heartbeat law that will ban abortion once a heartbeat is detected in a fetus through a vaginal ultrasound—at about six weeks when most women don't even know they're pregnant. So it's a really extreme and outrageous law. There's a lot of expectation that the law will not stand—it's utterly unconstitutional. But it indicates the ferocity and the intentionality of the anti-abortion movement, the fact that it passed at all should be a wake-up call.

The more immediately dangerous law set to go into effect will require abortion providers in the state to have hospital admitting privileges. Now, North Dakota has only one clinic in the entire state, in Fargo, and the doctors there have to fly in from out of state, because abortion providers have to put their lives on the line and there's not that many who are willing to go through all that. So they will not be able to get those admitting privileges and this, if not overturned, would make North Dakota the first abortion-free state. So we will be standing with the clinic and others who have been fighting this—but also protesting the women-haters and legislature and churches behind it. We will hold a big ceremony and award some of these fascists the "Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement" Award, which will take the form of a big bloody coat-hanger. (Wire coat-hangers are what many women used to try to induce their own abortions when it was illegal, and a great many women died from doing that.)

Demonstrators defend the Nebraska abortion clinic of Dr. LeRoy Carhart viciously targeted by Operation Rescue, 2009.
Photo: Special to Revolution

Through August, we'll then go down to South Dakota, which also has only one abortion clinic. We'll go through Nebraska where Dr. LeRoy Carhart has been viciously targeted; Wichita, Kansas, where Dr. George Tiller was assassinated, and where for several years Julie Burkhart has fought very hard to reopen the clinic and recently has; and she's under death threats; she's under legal threat; she's under incredible pressure; and so we want to go there and support her and the clinic and also confront these fascists who are doing the kind of things that get people murdered. Then we'll cut through Arkansas, another state that recently passed a fetal heartbeat abortion ban and has only one abortion clinic. And we will end in Jackson, Mississippi, which was at the heart of the civil rights movement, and has the only abortion clinic left in Mississippi, a state that has incredible rates of impoverishment, especially among Black women, who have almost no access to abortion in large parts of that state and the region.

It's a month-long tour with two major elements: we're both confronting the Christian fascists and exposing them for the woman-haters they are. And we're rallying support and drawing forward our side—the people who want to preserve this right but who have been atomized and on the moral and political defensive, who have not seen either the need or the possibility to stand up as a collective force, in mass resistance to defeat this war on women. So we're going to come from both coasts and travel down the heart of the country. And then call on people to converge with us along the way, especially in Mississippi.

Revolution: So the caravans from the two coasts would be starting...

Taylor: July 24. The send-off rallies will be on the 23rd and then the next day they hit the road.

Revolution: What kind of responses have you gotten so far?

Taylor: We've just begun. And we've gotten a very positive response from a number of people who have spent decades on the front lines of this fight around abortion rights and providing services. We've been in touch with a number of very courageous abortion providers who have been giving us quite a bit of insight and helping make connections in the areas we'll be traveling through. Then, this week, Sikivu Hutchinson who does two Black free-thinking, feminist blogs, signed and posted the statement we put out ("Abortion on Demand & Without Apology for Every Woman in Every State: The Reversal of Abortion and Birth Control Rights Must Stop Now!"), as did PZ Myers who has the most popular science blog in the world.

Within 24 hours, over 350 more people signed. And a very significant thing is that many left comments that picked up on the most uncompromising parts of the statement like, "Women are not incubators," and "Forced motherhood is female enslavement," or "abortion on demand and without apology." Some said straight up, "Thank you for finally putting this out so clearly and sharply!" This is a very powerful, if still beginning, indication that there are people out there who want to see this fascist shit called out, and who have been waiting for something like this. We want to publish this statement in North Dakota when we're there.

The statement calls out the state of emergency. It also clarifies the moral high ground on this question. It says very bluntly that yes, the country is divided over the question of abortion. And that makes sense, because abortion really concentrates how you view women. Are women fundamentally incubators and breeders of children, or are women full human beings? If they're full human beings, they have the right to decide for themselves when and whether they have children. Forcing women to have children against their will is a form of enslavement. So the statement cuts through that.

The fight around women has never been about babies. The whole anti-abortion movement is driven at its core by the desire to see women subordinated by men, and to reduce women back to breeders—which is how women have been treated for millennia, until only very recently. The leaders of this movement are rooted in the Bible where woman (Eve) is blamed for the so-called "original sin" of tempting Adam out of the Garden of Eden. According to this myth of the Bible, everything bad that has ever happened to human beings since then is because of this—it is all Eve's (woman's) fault. And the only way women can redeem themselves for this supposedly "great crime" is to obey their husbands and to bear children. It says it right in the Bible, in Timothy 2:13-15. So this is why they are so opposed to women having access to abortion, and it's also why they all oppose birth control. Their real goal is to slam women back into a Dark Ages role.

Revolution: You've sketched a picture of this very dangerous emergency situation threatening the right to abortion. Yet there's not a commensurate movement of tens and hundreds of thousands and millions of people taking to the streets to stop this. Can you speak to this?

Taylor: Well, I think there's three major things involved. First, there's just tremendous ignorance. Even most people who sense that things are getting bad, who maybe are sending extra donations to Planned Parenthood or whatever because they see it is losing its funding (which must be opposed!), don't really understand how bad it is.

San Francisco, 2010. Photo: Special to Revolution

Second, there have been major setbacks in terms of the political and ideological and moral and scientific understanding of people around abortion. It is positive and liberating for women to be able to choose abortion. It is utterly immoral, illegitimate, and vicious and cruel and women-hating to force women to have children that they don't want. But, there's a lot of defensiveness around this and a big tendency for pro-choice people to focus on things like "Oh, what about a woman who's raped?" or "What about a woman whose life is in danger? Shouldn't we have an exception for her?" Of course women like that should be able to get abortions, and the fact that a lot of the restrictions don't make exceptions for rape or for incest or for the life of the woman—this just exposes how vicious and hate-filled the anti-abortion movement is. But at the core, the truth has to be told: this fight is about women's liberation or women's enslavement. It's NOT about babies. Fetuses have the potential to become people, but they are a subordinate part of a woman's body and they don't have a separate biological existence or a separate social existence. But that woman is a human being. Fetuses don't have rights. Fetuses are not people. Women are human beings.

That's why our lead slogan on our statement and this Freedom Ride is: Abortion on Demand and Without Apology. A number of people have told us, "You can't say that in North Dakota. I personally agree with you. But it won't get over in North Dakota. (Or in South Dakota, or Midwest, Mississippi, whatever.)" But we've seen that there's a section of people, and I believe that there's thousands and probably tens of thousands of people, for whom right now, when they hear this, they're like, "Yes, that's right."

The idea is not that you're going to move millions of people overnight on this. You're going to speak to millions of people. But we're going to mobilize those people who have the most anger and the most clarity, and we're going to give them the ideological and moral certitude, and the scientific grounding. And also we're going to fight in such a way that models refusing to accept any of this degradation, shame, enslavement or oppression of women in any form. And we are going to lead those thousands of people to step forward and fight around this with us. And that's going to have a huge effect on them, as well as a huge effect on changing how millions more are seeing this.

The third thing is that for several decades, since the end of the high tide of revolutionary upsurge in the 1960s in this country, since the reversal and defeat of the revolution in China and the whole first wave of communist revolution, and since the backlash that's been unleashed against the women's movement here, a situation has developed where people have largely come to identify the interests of women with the Democratic Party. And to see the organizations that are tied to the Democratic Party—groups like NARAL or Planned Parenthood—as the only defense of these rights. This is a deadly illusion and a deadly trap.

Look, the Christian fascist assault that's been unleashed really got going under Reagan, and it really was a revenge against the women's movement here and the whole revolutionary upsurge and the hopes and aspirations of humanity that we can get free and get beyond the oppression of women and all forms of exploitation and oppression. But this, fundamentally, has never been simply a "Republican war on women." It is the system's war on women—and the Democrats, while having real differences with it, and real opposition to some elements of it—have continuously conceded more and more ground to this assault. I mean, who would have thought even 10 years ago we would be fighting over birth control! And the Democratic Party leadership has really led in demobilizing the people who support abortion, putting them on the political and moral defensive. Hillary Clinton called abortion "tragic"; Bill Clinton said it should be "safe, legal and rare" implying that there's something wrong with it. And then you have Obama who has over and over sought "common ground" with fascists and religious fanatics. Plus, he seems to have a real personal jones against Plan B contraception. The FDA approved it for over-the-counter distribution, but then Obama's head of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius overruled that. That overruling was challenged in court, but then the Obama administration challenged it back. So, people have lost the sense of the need—and the possibility—of relying on ourselves and waging fierce mass political struggle to defeat this war on women—which is the ONLY way it can be defeated. So I think these three things have come together.

But what's not so visible to people is that if there is political leadership and clarity and a force that is daring to fight against it and put something on the line to stop this, there's millions and millions of people who can, and who really must, be brought forward to defeat this war on women. Those of us doing this Freedom Ride are prepared and determined to be that force and bring forward and lead those millions.

Revolution: What would it mean if this assault on abortion is allowed to win—so that abortion is not just increasingly difficult or even impossible for growing numbers of women, but actually outlawed altogether?

Taylor: It has to be understood deeply that forcing women to have children they don't want—it means you have to give up everything you're planning. You have to foreclose your dreams and ambitions. That's your life. If you choose to have a child and are in a position to raise it in a way that you feel is right, that can be a beautiful thing. But to be forced to have a child you don't want is to essentially be told that all you are is a breeder. And to live in a society that denies that right, means that mostly young girls will be coming up not even having those larger dreams and ambitions. Because in the eyes of society it will be very clear that they are not regarded as full human beings. Bob Avakian [BA], in his talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, put this into words that powerfully expresses this. He said, and I'm paraphrasing: Denying women the right to abortion is like rape. It is the forcible control of women, of their bodies, of their lives, of everything about them, by a male supremacist, male-dominated society.

It's worth it to look at El Salvador, which is a vision of where we are headed if we don't stop this. Abortion there is illegal in all circumstances and women are jailed for having abortions or even miscarriages deemed "suspicious" by the state, and doctors and nurses, under threat of imprisonment, are required to turn in women who are suspected of aborting fetuses.

Young people don't remember when abortion was illegal. And it's very important that people who do remember help young people understand what it was like, but also to understand that if this right is taken away again, it's going to be even worse than that, because of the ideological assault, because of the level of surveillance and's going to be worse than before Roe v. Wade.

The other thing that's very important is, people who've had abortions more recently also need to tell those stories. On the tour we'll be collecting and amplifying these stories as part of destigmatizing abortion.

Revolution: There was an inspiring letter from a prisoner recently in Revolution and on ("Defending the Right to Abortion, and Transforming the People for Revolution") in which the brother recounted struggling hard with a fellow prisoner who opposed abortion. What's the importance of everyone—in particular men, but all kinds of people—taking up the fight for the right to abortion?

Taylor: To put it very simply, if women, half of humanity, are not free, then no one is free. That's just a reality. But to get into it a little more deeply, this attack on abortion is not incidental. It's very bound up with the way women have been treated for millennia—ever since the very first emergence of class divisions and of exploitation and oppression, of private property and the state, ever since human beings thousands of years ago went from living in more or less egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies. It's very important to note that the oppression of women by men is NOT owing to "human nature." In fact, for tens of thousands of years, human beings lived without organized forms of oppression and divisions, including without the oppression of women by men. But when private property and the state and class divisions emerged, women's role got fundamentally transformed. Women became the property of men and breeders of children, breeders of new lines of inheritance of either the haves or the have-nots, the ruling class or the exploited. Controlling women's virginity before marriage and their sexuality from then on, making sure they only had sex with their husbands, was essential not only to the particular men who wanted to hand their property down to their children and not someone else's—but actually this control over women became very essential to maintaining and organizing class societies as a whole. This is as true, even if different in its forms and appearance, today in this capitalist-imperialist-dominated world as it was in feudal or slave societies.

If you drill down to the root of what gives rise to any form of oppression—whether it be the whole gruesome history of national oppression and today's current regime of mass incarceration and slow genocide bound up with that; whether it be the wars of domination and plunder that are driven by the engine of imperialist conquest; whether it be the destruction of the environment on a massive scale—you'll see that it comes from a common root and a common system. And that this system also requires and gives rise to, the oppression of women. You cannot shatter that system, you cannot overthrow that system, you can't make revolution to get rid of that system, without taking up the fight for the liberation of women. A big part of what Bob Avakian has fought for in one of the dimensions of the new synthesis of communism that he has forged over decades is that if you understand this deeply and scientifically, you actually grasp that unleashing the fury of women, unleashing the pent-up fury at thousands of years of being treated as chattel, abused, degraded, violated, raped, ridiculed, demeaned and diminished in a million ways—unleashing the fury against that is not only a powerful, and potent and necessary force for the liberation of women, but it is a driving force in making revolution as a whole.

This is why something BA has emphasized—both now in the struggle to prepare for and, with the emergence of a revolutionary crisis, to seize state power, and in the context of the new revolutionary society that is working to dig up the remnants of oppression and exploitation and advance towards genuine communism, that is, human emancipation—is extremely important. And in some inspiring ways, this was given expression in that letter from a prisoner you referenced. BA says:

"In many ways, and particularly for men, the woman question, and whether you seek to completely abolish or to preserve the existing property and social relations and corresponding ideology that enslave women (or maybe 'just a little bit' of them) is a touchstone question among the oppressed themselves. It is a dividing line between 'wanting in' and really 'wanting out': between fighting to end all oppression and exploitation—and the very divisions of society into classes—and seeking in the final analysis to get your part in this."

That's the heart of the matter, and it's a challenge to men—and it's a challenge to all people who dream of and yearn for and want to fight for an end to exploitation and oppression in any form, that you have to make this your fight. It's also spoken to very powerfully in BA's new talk, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! where he makes very clear the only people who should fear the unleashed fury of women and who should not be out there fighting to help foster this and joining in with it are people who want to preserve this oppressive and destructive order.

Revolution: The war on women involves other aspects, in particular the whole culture of pornography, which keeps on getting more cruel, violent, and degrading toward women. So how do these different elements relate?

Taylor: We have identified a real state of emergency around abortion rights, and that is the leading edge of what StopPatriarchy is initiating, and uniting people very broadly to fight against that. At the same time, it's important to pull back the lens and look at what this is part of. Anywhere you look on the globe, the question of the role and status of women is assuming ever more acute expression. Women are straining to enter into realms that have been for centuries and millennia closed off to women, in the workforce, education, public life and politics, the media. At the same time, everywhere on the globe there's an intensifying of violence and degradation against women that's being unleashed. Look at the epidemic of gang rape in India and Brazil and really all over the world; or the Islamic fundamentalism that is growing in huge parts of the world, with the shrouding of women, the imprisoning of women in the homes, the raping, the honor killings of women; or look at the way that women's advance fought for in the '60s and '70s has been turned back. The sexual revolution for instance in this country had a very positive overall thrust to it—women casting off the shame around their sexuality, asserting for the first time in thousands of years that their sexuality was not something that was to be owned by men but to be experienced by them on their terms and in ways that were mutually pleasurable and mutually respectful, whether with men or women or whatever. But then it and the whole movement of the times didn't go as far as it needed to go. We didn't have a revolution and this system remained intact. And so those movements ebbed, and the system really did set to work, consciously as well as spontaneously through its workings, to turn that sexual freedom into the commodification of women's bodies and the more open and vicious and mainstreaming of sexualized degradation and patriarchal male-dominated terms. So you have the mainstreaming of very cruel and violent and humiliating and degrading pornography. And this goes along with the trade in women as chattel, as sex slaves in the sex industry all over the world in the millions and millions.

And these are not just surface phenomena, these things are driven by very profound shifts taking place in the world: mass migrations caused by imperialist penetration ever more deeply into the Third World, the growth of huge slums, the ravages of war, technological developments, as well as the struggles of people in many different ways. All this has both undermined many traditional forms of life and many traditional forms of patriarchy, while at the same time produced immense suffering and insecurity which, in turn, has contributed significantly towards what really can only be called a revenge—a hate-filled, violent, and dehumanizing revenge—against women.

So StopPatriarchy is addressing the way this is sharpening up in this country and makes the sharp point: there really is no fundamental difference between reducing women to breeders, to objects just for turning out babies, and reducing women to sex objects to be plundered and humiliated and used and abused for the sexual titillation of men. That's all part of a package of a real revenge against women. We're fighting all of that. And precisely because of how profound these shifts are and how many people are being profoundly affected by them, we see the basis for millions and millions of people to be led to stand up and fight against all this. So, that is where StopPatriarchy is coming from, even as right now we are taking responsibility for bringing together broad forces, including some who maybe don't fully agree with us on pornography, for example, to stand up right now against these growing assaults on abortion rights.

Revolution: This is also going to be a summer of struggle in relation to the fight to stop the mass incarceration and criminalization of a whole generation of Black and Latino youth. Cornel West and Carl Dix just had a dialogue titled "Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide. Act to STOP IT Now!" How do you see the connections between the struggles around these two big fault lines in society?

Taylor: Cornel West and Carl Dix went very deeply into the slow genocide against Black people and other oppressed people through this mass incarceration, through the police terror, through the vigilante murder and the green-lighting of that by the system. But I found it very inspiring that in the course of that, both of them spoke very movingly about the oppression of women. And from the biggest lens, these struggles—against mass incarceration, and against the enslavement and degradation of women—are both fault lines of a system that is built on oppression, degradation, exploitation, and long years of suffering of both these sections of people, of women and Black people and other oppressed nationalities. And the fight against both of them is very critical to transforming the people, to enable the people to lift their heads and fight against what's being done to them and to open up and start thinking about different big questions: Where does all this come from? How can we get rid of it? Both of them are very necessary for making revolution—for transforming the people, in line with making revolution. And waking millions more to be questioning and fighting back.

Around both these questions, many of the obvious forms of official discrimination—whether Jim Crow or the way women were kept out of most of public life—has been dismantled. And there have been significant changes—you know, there's women professionals of all kinds, women politicians... there's a Black president. But, not only do Black people as a whole and women as a whole remain viciously oppressed, in many ways that oppression is intensifying, but it is not so obvious that this is coming from the system.

Also, around each of these fault lines there is a significant degree—and this is largely because of the way the system's hand in all this is hidden—of self-degradation. It takes different forms on each of these fault lines, but for both of them, there is an appearance that all the bad stuff happening to people is just owing to bad individual choices. That is why BA's quote "On Choices... And Radical Changes" is so important:

"First, people don't make choices in a vacuum. They do it in the context of the social relations they're enmeshed in and the options they have within those relations—which are not of their own choosing. They confront those relations, they don't choose them.

"Two, if people feel for whatever reasons that they want to choose to harm themselves and others, we're going to struggle with them—but we're not going to blame them. We're going to show them the source of all this in the system, and call on them to struggle against that system, and transform themselves in the process. Just because a youth 'chooses' to sell drugs, or a woman 'chooses' to commodify herself sexually, doesn't mean that they chose to have those choices. And there is no other way besides fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution that all this will change for the better. Blaming the masses for bad choices just reinforces the conditions that they are oppressed by.

"In sum, people do make choices—but they make them enmeshed and confined within social relations that are not of their choosing. We have to bring into being different social relations and conditions so that masses of people can act differently and relate differently to each other. Fundamentally, that takes a revolution which is aiming for communism."

How to Get Involved

Photo: Steenaire/Flickr

To learn more about and connect up with the Summer 2013 Abortion on Demand and Without Apology Freedom Ride, go online to

Keep up with the news and analysis around this struggle at

So around both of these, there's the real essential role of people actually lifting their heads and fighting, with cores of people at the beginning and in growing numbers, hundreds and then thousands and tens of thousands, fighting and shining a light on where this comes from and confronting it. That's what we are doing with this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. We're raising awareness, but we're also confronting these women-haters. We want to go to the fake clinics that lie to women and coerce women into having children they don't want. We want to go to the legislators who are passing these vicious laws, to confront them and call them out and show where this is all coming from. And through that process, people fighting and standing and shaking off that degradation and actually transforming themselves. And have all of that moving in a way that's more favorable for revolution.

The other thing that we want to put a very particular focus on in this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, and it gets to one of the synergies between these two initiatives, is that there has been, in the anti-abortion movement, a campaign over several decades but really intensifying over the last couple of years to equate abortion among Black people and Latinos as a form of self-genocide. There have been billboards put up all over the country that say, "The most dangerous place for a Black youth is in its mother's womb." They are seizing on the fact that Black and Latino women have much higher rates of abortion than white women to accuse Black women of carrying out genocide against their babies. This is one of the most vicious and hateful campaigns. First of all it's a lie. A Black woman, a Latino woman, any woman who chooses to terminate a pregnancy is not killing a baby. She is taking control of her own reproductive life. That's a right, and one that must be defended. That's very different than the very infrequently mentioned history of this country carrying out massive numbers of coerced sterilizations against Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans. That was part of a genocidal program, an act of incredible oppression because it was forced on women by a racist system. But women being able to decide for themselves to terminate a pregnancy, that is very different and very positive and very necessary!

But, then there is another level. As has been pointed out by Carl Dix repeatedly, there is a genocide being carried out against Black and other oppressed people today. It is the mass incarceration, it is the fact that a Black person is killed by law enforcement every 40 hours, it is the caste-like segregation of former prisoners—a huge percentage of oppressed communities. And it's actually those genocidal conditions which are resulting in the fact that Black women and Latino women have a higher rate of abortion. Black women and Latino women are concentrated in the areas with the worst housing, the worst economic conditions, the most poverty, the worst education, the worst sex education, the worst contraception access, and the most tenuous and precarious economic situation, the least ability to be able to care for a child that they are not prepared to care for. So of course Black women and Latino women have much higher rates of abortion. That is not the cause of the genocide—it is a direct result of this genocide!

But the anti-abortion campaign has gotten quite a distance among oppressed people, especially with the role of the Black church—it's actually got a lot of people who feel that there's a genocide going on, who are right to feel that, to direct their anger away from the system that is causing all this, but instead at Black women who are disproportionately the targets of this! And then, to use this condemnation of Black women and Latino women as a bludgeon against all women's right to abortion. It's a double poison, a thoroughly huge outrage. So we want to tear this open, and shine a light on, again, what is the real genocide and what is required to liberate oppressed people and to liberate women—and that actually requires defending the rights for abortion, for birth control, for all of this. And to do what Carl Dix and Cornel West are calling on people to do—to stand up around the murder of Trayvon Martin, the mass incarceration and other forms that this real genocide is taking today.

Revolution: Anything you want to let people know about how to get involved in this, how they can support it?

Taylor: Anybody and everybody who really does not want to see women reduced to the status of slaves needs to stand up and fight right now. And you need to join with this Freedom Ride. Donate towards it. Send a message of support with us to the clinics that we'll be traveling to. Join us for a leg of the tour—in North Dakota, or Wichita, or Mississippi. Sign the statement I mentioned at and send it to everyone you know, asking them to do the same. Get that to authors, musicians, and other prominent people for their signatures. Raise money for this effort. Reach out to people you know in the places we are traveling through—Fargo, Minneapolis, Jackson, Little Rock, Nebraska, Cleveland... check for the full list—to help with housing and reaching out locally. There are many different ways to help and there's no excuse for not standing up and fighting with this. It does not have to be that these Christian fascists and patriarchs and these women-haters slam women backwards. But it will happen if we don't fight. So everybody has to join this fight. We all must take responsibility for STOPPING THIS—that is the measure we are all responsible to.





Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Letter from a Reader:

The Hellhole of Dhaka, Bangladesh

June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Dear Revolution editors,

When I saw the coverage in the media of the terrible tragedy in Bangladesh, I recalled a visit I had made to that country a number of years ago. I am not in a position to propose a deep analysis of the garment industry in Bangladesh. I am happy to see that your newspaper has published several hard-hitting articles on Rana Plaza and hope you will continue to hold the capitalists in the West as well as their Bangladeshi "outsourcers" responsible for this crime. Still, perhaps a few personal observations might be of interest to your readers.

Photo: AP

The first thing that needs to be said is that Dhaka is a hellhole. While the countryside of Bangladesh is lush and extremely fertile (virtually the whole country is a nutrient rich flood plain), for decades extreme poverty and lack of land has pushed huge numbers of former peasants from the villages to the capital. At first glance one would think the entire country is young―children everywhere but also huge numbers of young men and women desperate for work of any kind.

Tens of thousands of young men pull bicycle-driven rickshaws―the main means of transportation in Dhaka. Often they are carrying whole families loaded with luggage for mere pennies. But while the young men tend to be visible, what the women do is largely hidden from public view.

You mainly see the young women twice a day―early in the morning not long after sunrise when the streets of Dhaka swarm with hundreds of thousands of young women going to the garment factories on foot. At first glance most of them seem to be no older than twenty-five. I was told that an hour walk or even longer to work is quite normal. They are readily distinguished from the occasional woman student by the rice lunch the workers are carrying from home in a metal container, which will be all they will be eating until the return walk on foot after a very long day.

While some of the garment shops may fit the Western stereotype of a sweatshop (for example, dirt floors and old, dilapidated buildings), most of them are actually quite modern in appearance. Five or more stories high, non-elegant but sturdy-appearing modern buildings―just like the Rana Plaza that came crashing down burying alive more than 1,200 people, mostly young women. The tragedy after tragedy in Bangladesh are just as modern as the latest fashions shipped back to the U.S. and Europe.

Photo: AP

Acquaintances of mine from Dhaka told me bits and snatches of what life was like for the women garment workers. A great many of the women were subjected to various forms of sexual abuse by male supervisors, in particular bodily "searches" on leaving work. Extremely low wages, of course. Wages so low, in fact, that it was very often impossible for women to quit one job, no matter how intolerable, and move to another since in such cases they were almost sure to lose several weeks pay. The companies generally made sure that they were a month or so behind in payment and would rarely pay a worker who quit. Even missing pay for a few days, let alone several weeks, could easily mean the difference between eating or not. Recall that the workers went back into Rana Plaza even after large cracks were discovered not because they were unaware of the danger but because their bosses were threatening to withhold the pay of anyone who didn't show up for work. The collapse of the building was not certain, severe hunger for themselves and family was assured if they refused.

After a long day the flood reverses direction and the streets teem with tired women on their way home. And a visitor begins to get a sense of what $37 a month minimum wage means. Here rickety, hastily thrown-together shacks serve as the counterpoint to the modern concrete structures where the garments are sewn. In Dante's Inferno, the medieval Italian poet portrays Hell as having nine distinct levels with each lower level reserving more horrors and tortures. After just a few days in Dhaka a visitor begins to sense that Dhaka's hell is also stratified into layers, going further and further downward. A large section of the workers (many, most, almost all? I don't know) live in conditions that really defy description. Because Dhaka is on the flood plain there is water everywhere. Generally it is foul and stinking of human excrement. Still, people are forced to rely on such sources of water for bathing and cleaning. Not surprisingly, mosquitoes are everywhere and the skin of the children who live and play in this squalor is full of sores. Many of the children have the extended stomachs symptomatic of malnutrition.

A large percentage of the young women already have children to take care of when they arrive home (again, I really don't know how many). Not only do the garment companies not offer any assistance, often the women must conceal the fact that they have children in order to get the job in the first place. Before going back to work the next day the women must prepare food for themselves and their children with labor-intensive and primitive means.

What I found astounding is that despite the squalor and poverty, the women somehow manage to wash their clothes and keep clean. A hard battle every day, on top of the factory work, to keep from becoming completely degraded.

When I last visited Bangladesh there were "'only" one or two million garment workers. Now there are four million. The repeated murderous fires and building collapses are tragic concentrations of the bitter reality that these millions face daily.


Photo: AP




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

65th anniversary of the Nakba: Ethnic cleansing and the birth of Israel

May 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


May 20, 2013. A World to Win News Service. May 15 is Nakba Day, marking the Zionist expulsion and forced exodus of many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to create a Jewish state in 1948. Every year on this day, Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and the countries where they have been driven into exile hold protests and other activities to express their determination to see their people return to their historic homeland.

This year, according to news reports, about ten thousand people took part in demonstrations in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel itself, often waving keys to what were once their family homes. Israeli police on horseback attacked a gathering in East Jerusalem, and soldiers forcibly dispersed protests in Hebron and several other West Bank towns and villages. One of the fiercest clashes took place in front of Ofer, a military prison for Palestinians near the town of Ramallah, where dozens of people were injured and arrested. This year's Nakba celebrates 65 years of Palestinian resistance in the face of violent repression, wide-scale imprisonment and complex and difficult political conditions.

On this occasion we are reprinting the following article from the 10 December 2007 AWTWNS. Population figures have changed since then; today there are approximately 1.5 million Palestinians in Israel, 3.8 in the West Bank, and 1.7 in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Youth Movement, and millions more in the global Palestinian diaspora. The continuing expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank and the "Judaization" of Jerusalem are further expanding the spaces reserved exclusively for Jews and strategically fragmenting the remaining Palestinian areas.

The author of the book discussed in this article, Ilan Pappe, was driven out of Israel in 2008. (For details, see Guardian, January 20, 2009.) The Winter 2013 issue of The Jerusalem Quarterly has a new study of the village files, aerial photos and maps the Zionists made in 1940-48 as they drew up detailed plans for the mass expulsion of the Palestinians.


Palestinians call what happened to them beginning in 1947 the Nakba—Arabic for catastrophe. It was perpetrated by Zionist leaders looking to form the state of Israel on Palestinian land without the Palestinians.

Palestinian women hold symbolic keys and chant "the right of return will not die," during a rally to mark the Nakba Day in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Wednesday, May 15, 2013.
Photo: AP

During the Nakba about half the Palestinian population were brutally forced from their land, villages and homes, fleeing with only the possessions they could carry. Many were raped, tortured and killed. [Estimates of the exodus vary; the UN Conciliation Commission Report of 1949 says 726,000 people were driven out.] To ensure that there would be nothing for the Palestinians to return to, their villages and even many olive and orange trees were so well razed that few visible remnants remain. When the Nakba ended, there had been 31 documented massacres and probably others. Some 531 villages and 11 urban neighbourhoods were emptied of their inhabitants.

Former Arabic village and road names were Hebrewized. Ancient mosques and Christian churches were destroyed. Theme parks, pine forests (trees not native to the region), and Israeli settlements sit atop many of the old Palestinian villages. All this was to wipe out any physical evidence that the land belonged to Palestinians and give finality to the Nakba.

How many times have you had a discussion about the plight of the Palestinians with supporters of the existence of the Israeli state and met the argument that the problem arose from Palestinian intolerance of Jewish settlers? How many people know—or admit—that from the beginning Zionism had planned to permanently expel the Palestinian people from their land? In many Western countries, Nakba denial is as obligatory as Holocaust denial is condemned. How did this happen?

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Israeli historian and senior lecturer at Haifa University Ilan Pappe, explores the period of the Nakba (One World Publisher, Oxford, 2006). The premise is that the Nakba was nothing less than an act of ethnic cleansing, normally regarded by international law as a crime against humanity. To support this theory, the author outlines various definitions from different current sources, including "an ethnically mixed area being turned into a pure ethnic space." He shows how the slaughter and/or forced expulsion of the Armenians in Turkey, the Tutsis in Rwanda and the Croatians and Bosnians in former Yugoslavia is akin to what the Zionists did to the Palestinians on a massive scale in 1948 and are still doing today. Pappe also draws a connection between ethnic cleansing and colonialism as it occurred in North and South America as well as Africa and Australia.

His research is based on primary sources: newly released material (1990s) from the Israeli military archives, David Ben-Gurion's diary where summaries of many of his meetings are recorded, the rereading of the older archival material through the prism of the ethnic cleansing paradigm and extensive use of Palestinian oral history archives.

Pappe provides a brief historical background leading up to the Nakba and a few chapters at the end of the book about the situation today for Palestinians. The following is a very sketchy timeline of events leading up to the Nakba.

The first Zionist settlements began in 1878, when Palestine, like much of the Middle East, was a part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1917, with the end of WWI and the defeat of the Ottomans, the British army marched into Palestine and took over. Later that same year, the British Lord Balfour issued the Balfour Declaration, which promised a "national home" for the Jews on Palestinian land even though by most accounts, Jews constituted at most only 8 percent of the population and even less according to some estimates. The League of Nations legalized the British occupation by giving it a mandate to run Palestine. In 1938 major fighting between Jews and Palestinians broke out. The bombs of the Zionist military organization Irgun killed 119 Palestinians; Palestinian bombs killed eight Jews. In 1947 Britain told the newly formed United Nations that it would withdraw from Palestine. In November the UN approved the plan to divide Palestine into two states. By December 1947, the Zionists began mass expulsions of Palestinians. When the British pulled out in May 1948, the Zionists declared independence. The Nakba continued into the early months of 1949.

Pappe's book reveals how meticulously the Zionist movement planned, executed, lied about, and then denied their takeover of Palestinian land and the removal (through force and terror) of its population. He presents Israeli policies against the Palestinian minority inside Israel as well as in the West Bank and Gaza in their proper historical framework, setting the record straight on truths that conceptualize the situation faced by Palestinians today. Pappe only briefly touches on the role of Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement in the late 1800s, to show how deeply rooted the concept of "transfer" of the indigenous population was, how the "demographic problem" as viewed by most Israelis today is a continuation of the original Zionist exclusionist view. A map from 1919 clearly illustrates Zionist intentions to grab all of Palestine. The Herzl ideologues stated that "strangers" lived in their biblical land and by stranger they meant everyone who was not Jewish, although most of Palestine's Jews had left after the Roman period. And even today, a recent poll indicated that 68 percent of Israeli Jews want Palestinian citizens of Israel to be "transferred."

Much of the book's exposure concerns David Ben-Gurion, one of the masterminds and leading overseers of the Zionist project and the ethnic cleansing that implemented it. From the mid-1920s, Ben-Gurion functioned as the unofficial defense minister (or minister of war) of the not-yet-officially-formed state and later became its founding prime minister. He worked on an international level as well as locally organizing other Zionists around his methods and goals. It was in his home that ethnic cleansing was first discussed with a combination of security figures and "Arab affairs" specialists (Jews who grew up in the region and could speak Arabic) who would advise future governments of Israel (Pappe calls it the Consultancy). His view toward achieving a Zionist state was ambitious and strategic. He thought it could only be won by force, but that the Zionists had to wait for the opportune historical moment to be able to deal "militarily" (as Ben-Gurion put it) with the demographic reality on the ground: the presence of a non-Jewish native majority population.

When in 1937 the British offered the Jewish community a future state (on a much smaller percentage of land than the UN was to give it in 1948), he accepted that as a good beginning in that it formalized the idea. He had far more ambitious plans. In 1942 Ben-Gurion publicly stated the Zionist claim for all of Palestine, but later came to believe that this was not realistic and that 80 percent would be sufficient for a viable Israeli state.

The book talks about one important strategic project guided by Ben-Gurion—the "village project" of mapping all of Palestine. Through the use of aerial photography, details of every Palestinian village were recorded: its access routes, quality of land, water springs, main sources of income, socio-political composition, religious affiliations, names of its mukhtars (traditional village heads), relationship with other villages, the age of individual men and an index of "hostility" toward the Zionist project measured by involvement in the 1938 revolt against the British policy of allowing increased immigration of Jews into Palestine (including those who may have killed Jews).

Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces as they mark Nakba Day in Jerusalem, Wednesday, May 15, 2013.
Photo: AP

Those involved in the village mapping understood that this growing database was not a mere academic geography exercise. One person who went on one of these data collection operations in 1940 recalled many years later: "We had to study the basic structure of the Arab village. This means the structure and how best to attack it... how best to approach the village from above or enter it from below. We had to train our 'Arabists' (the Orientalists who operated a network of collaborators) how best to work with informants."

The book describes another preoccupation of Ben-Gurion and the Consultancy—the "demographic balance" between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. Whenever there was a majority of Palestinians living in an area it was considered a disaster. The public policy that was adopted was to promote widespread Jewish immigration. But the Jews who were moving to Palestine since the 1920s preferred living in the more urban areas which were inhabited by Jews and Palestinians in equal number, whereas the countryside was overwhelmingly inhabited and cultivated by Palestinians. The Zionists understood that immigration would not counterbalance the Palestinian majority and that use of other means would be necessary. Already in 1937 Ben-Gurion told his cabal that the "'reality' of a Palestinian majority would compel the Jewish settlers to use force to bring about the 'dream'—a purely Jewish Palestine." "We have to face this new reality with all its severity and distinctness. Such a demographic balance questions our ability to maintain Jewish sovereignty." "They can either be mass arrested or expelled; it is better to expel them."

When the British decided to leave in 1947 the Palestine question was transferred to the UN, which, like the British, also accepted the Zionist claims on Palestine and that partition of Palestine was the best way to solve the issue. Even if you accepted the Zionist logic, a partition according to relative population would have allowed less than 10 percent of the land for a Jewish state. But after considerable negotiations, UN Partition Resolution 181 of November 1947 allotted the Zionists 56 percent of Palestine. While Jerusalem, because of its religious significance to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, was kept as an international city, much of the most fertile land was included in the Zionist portion.

Although disappointed again, Ben-Gurion appreciated the international recognition of the Jewish state while ignoring the part which stipulated how much and which territory. He declared that Israel's borders "will be determined by force and not by the partition resolution." Ben-Gurion skillfully sidestepped what little there was of the worldwide opposition to their schemes. While the Zionists publicly proclaimed to uphold the Resolution, inside the country they began to implement their own plans. This ignoring of agreements "before the ink is even dry" became characteristic of subsequent negotiations Israel engaged in.

Pappe relates how Arab leaders opposed the partition of Palestine and boycotted these UN negotiations. They refused to participate on the grounds that giving their land to a settler community (by then one-third of the population, who owned only 6 percent of the land and had long proclaimed that they wanted to de-Arabize Palestine) was illegal and unjust. Resolution 181 created tremendous anxiety for the Palestinians. They sensed the impending showdown with the Zionists. The slaughter began in December 1947, even before the British left Palestine.

Pappe details the combination of meticulous planning as well as allowing "unauthorized" initiative to the more terrorist military groups, like the Irgun, Stern gang and Palmach (special commando units that pioneered the building of Jewish settlements). With a group of military and civilian people, including well-known figures like Moshe Dayan (a military leader who was army chief during the 1956 Suez crisis and defense minister during the Six Day War in 1967) and Yitzhak Rabin (a general and two-term prime minister assassinated in 1995), Ben-Gurion established and supervised plans to prepare the military forces of the Jewish community for an offensive against the Palestinians.

Plan C (a revised version of Plans A and B) spelled out the actions that would be taken: killing Palestinian political leadership and those who financially supported them, killing Palestinians who acted against Jews, killing officers and officials, attacking villages that seemed more militant and might resist future attacks by the Israeli army, and damaging Palestinian sources of livelihood.

Then Plan Dalet (or Plan D) was drawn up, the blueprint for the systematic and total expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland. Plan D described operations in the following way: "destroying villages (by setting fire to them, by blowing them up, and by planting mines in their debris) and especially those population centres which are difficult to control in a constant manner; or by mounting combined control operations according to the following guidelines: encirclement of the villages, conducting a search inside them. In case of resistance, the armed forces must be wiped out and the population expelled outside the borders of the state."

In the course of carrying out Plan D the Zionist leaders were not so concerned with resistance on the part of the Palestinians or other Arabs who might come to their defense, as opposition from the Arab states was half-hearted and their soldiers poorly trained and equipped. Publicly the Zionist leaders railed about the possibility of a "second Holocaust," this time at the hands of the Arabs, but privately they were fully aware that the war rhetoric of the Arab states was not matched by serious preparation on the ground. Often irresolute army leaders from the Arab states were ignored by some Arab soldiers who took initiative and fought valiantly to defend the Palestinians. The Zionist leadership's main fear was the British army. But while it was still in Palestine, the British army rarely intervened against the massacres, even when beseeched to do so by the local Arab population.

Expulsions began by December 1947, in villages and larger towns. The following is a condensed description from Pappe's book of what happened in Haifa under British eyes.

The morning after the UN resolution, the Hagana (the main military group that would become the Israeli army) and the Irgun (an early split from the Hagana, led by future prime minister Menachem Begin, which also later became part of the army) unleashed a campaign of terror on the 75,000 Palestinian residents of Haifa. Jewish settlers who had come in the 1920s and lived in the hills around the city took part in these attacks alongside Zionist military units.

Various tactics were used. Frequently artillery shells and sniper's bullets rained down on the Palestinian population. Oil mixed with fuel was poured down the roads and ignited. Barrels full of explosives were rolled down into the Palestinian areas. When panic-stricken Palestinians came out to put out the fires they were sprayed with machine-gun fire. Jews who passed as Palestinians brought cars stuffed with explosives to be repaired at Palestinian garages and the cars were detonated.

In a refinery plant in Haifa, Jews and Arabs worked shoulder to shoulder and had a long history of solidarity in their fight for better labor conditions against their British employers. The Irgun, which specialized in bomb-throwing into Arab crowds, did so at this refinery. Palestinian workers reacted by killing 39 Jewish workers, one of the worst and also one of the last retaliatory skirmishes in that period. Later Hagana units went into one of Haifa's Arab neighborhoods, Wadi Rushmiyya, and expelled people and blew up their houses. The British army looked the other way while these atrocities were being committed. Two weeks later the Palmach went into the Hawassa neighborhood of Haifa, where around 5,000 of the poorest Arabs lived in dismal conditions. Huts and the local school were blown up, causing the people to flee. Pappe regards this as the official beginning of the ethnic cleansing operation in urban Palestine.

By March 1948, Ben-Gurion commented to the Jewish Agency Executive, "I believe the majority of the Palestinian masses accept the partition as a fait accompli and do not believe it is possible to overcome or reject it... The decisive majority of them do not want to fight us."

The armies of the Arab countries were no match for the well-equipped Zionist military clandestine units, which had received weapons from Britain, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. Arab irregulars ambushed Israeli convoys but refrained from attacking the settlements. The Consultancy decided that ruthless retaliation was not sufficient and they needed to change to more drastic actions.

Ben-Gurion used the Arab world's attempts to rescue the Palestinians to whip up a fear factor among the Jewish community that he carefully nourished to the extent that it overcame any opposition these tactics would engender. The "security" of the Jewish state (then as it is still today) became the overriding fear that allowed many Israelis as well as people outside the country to turn a blind eye to what the Zionist leadership was doing, what their plan constituted.

Until March 1948, the Zionist leadership still portrayed their activities as retaliation to hostile Arab actions. Then, two months before the British were to leave, they openly declared that they would take over the land and expel the indigenous population by force. When the British left in May, the Zionists declared their state. They were officially recognized by the U.S. and the USSR. Ruthless expulsion went into high gear and the word retaliation was no longer used to describe what the Israeli military forces were doing. Ben-Gurion said, "Every attack has to end with occupation, destruction and expulsion." There was no longer any need to distinguish between the "innocent" and the "guilty." Pre-emptive strikes and collateral damage became acceptable and necessary.

Deir Yassin

On a hill to the west of Jerusalem lay the town of Deir Yassin. The massacre there is well known throughout the world but bears mentioning here as it reflected the systematic nature of Plan D as applied to hundreds of villages throughout Palestine. Pappe describes how on April 9, 1948, Jewish soldiers burst into the village and sprayed the houses with machine-gun fire, killing many. "The remaining villagers were then gathered in one place and murdered in cold blood, their bodies abused while a number of women were raped and then killed.

"Fahim Zaydan, who was twelve years old at the time, recalled how he saw his family murdered in front of his eyes: 'They took us out one after the other; shot an old man and when one of his daughters cried, she was shot too. Then they called my brother Muhammad, and shot him in front of us, and when my mother yelled, bending over him—carrying my little sister Hudra in her hands, still breastfeeding her—they shot her too.'

"Zaydan himself was shot, too, while standing in a row of children the Jewish soldiers had lined up against a wall, which they had then sprayed with bullets 'just for the fun of it,' before they left. He was lucky to survive his wounds."

When villages were entered, destroyed and the inhabitants rounded up, decisions were made about who would live and who would die. Intelligence officers on the ground aided the military officers in this decision. The intelligence officers with the help of local collaborators (hooded spies) would point out different people to the main intelligence officer.

Israel and the Palestinians today

As a result of the Nakba, there are now almost 4.5 million Palestinians dispersed throughout the world, in addition to the 1.4 million under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and 1.3 million in Gaza, a formerly sparsely populated desert strip now full of crowded refugee camps and towns. About 1.5 million Palestinians continue to live in Israel itself as second-class citizens. The Jewish population of Israel numbers roughly 5.5 million. The Zionist state now comprises about 78 percent of historic Palestine, not counting the still-growing number of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It has no parallel in the world—a state consciously built, since its inception, for one people, one culture, on religious grounds and with no real permanent borders.

Pappe's argument that the Nakba was an act of ethnic cleansing is convincing. The human and physical geography of Palestine was transformed by the consciously punitive Zionist plan to wipe out Palestine's history and culture and thus deny any future claim Palestinians could make to their land. Through the years since the Nakba, the killing machine that is the Israeli army has continued its dirty work. Pappe lists the following: Kfar Qassim in October 1956, Israeli troops massacred 49 villagers returning from their fields. Qibya in the 1950s, Samoa in the 1960s, the villages of Galilee in 1976, the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982, Kfar Qana in 1999, Wadi Ara in 2000 and the Jenin refugee camp in 2002. There has not been an end to Israel's killing of Palestinians.

Pappe ends his book with the hope that Israelis will wake up from their distorted view of wanting retribution, shed racism and religious fanaticism, and wake up to the truth portrayed in this book. He thinks that not accepting the Palestinian right of return equals the continuing defense of the "white" apartheid-like enclave and upholding Fortress Israel. He says that Palestinians and Jews coexisted peacefully before the Nakba and even now many have strong social ties, which shows that the two peoples can live in harmony. He calls for the transformation of Israel into a secular and democratic state.

Pappe's book does not concern itself with the central role that Israel has come to play as the bastion of American imperial interests in the Middle East. Without the military and political backing of the U.S. government and the unparalleled financial support that is central to Israeli society and its way of life ($3 billion a year in U.S. government aid, along with officially encouraged private funding), Israel would not be what it is today—if it even existed at all. Nonetheless, the book is well worth the read for its historical accuracy and as a vivid reminder of the tragedy that is the Nakba.



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




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Emergency Call! Join Us in Stopping Torture in U.S. Prisons!

May 12, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Special to Revolution:
Artworks from Prisoners

Click to view full gallery.

Tens of thousands of people imprisoned in the U.S. are being subjected to torturous, inhumane conditions. Many are:

Many are forced to endure these conditions for months, years and even decades! Mental anguish and trauma often result from being confined under these conditions. Locking people down like this amounts to trying to strip them of their humanity.

These conditions fit the international definition of torture! This is unjust, illegitimate and profoundly immoral. WE MUST JOIN IN AN EFFORT TO STOP IT, NOW!

People imprisoned at Pelican Bay State Prison in California have called for a Nationwide Hunger Strike to begin on July 8, 2013. They have also issued a call for unity among people from different racial groups, inside and outside the prisons. People who are locked down in segregation units of this society's prisons, condemned as the "worst of the worst," are standing up against injustice, asserting their humanity in the process. We must have the humanity to hear their call, and answer it with powerful support!

Letter from a Prisoner:
On the Struggle of the California Prisoners

I just finished reading the statement sent by CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] SHU prisoners ("Peaceful Protest to Resume July 8, 2013, if Demands Are Not Met") and I wanted to express the following. First, I would like to say that I'm glad that SHU prisoners haven't given up on the struggle. For, there are many people, to quote Frederick Douglass, "who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation. They want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning."

Read more

A nationwide and worldwide struggle needs to be launched NOW to bring an end to this widespread torture before those in the prisons are forced to take the desperate step of going on hunger strikes and putting their lives on the line!

To the Government: We Demand an Immediate End to the Torture and Inhumanity of Prison House America—Immediately Disband All Torture Chambers. Meet the demands of those you have locked down in your prisons!

To People in this Country and Around the World: We Cannot Accept, and We Should Not Tolerate This Torture. Join the Struggle to End Torture in Prisons Now!


June 21, 22 and 23 Will Be Days of Solidarity With the Struggle to End Prison Torture! There will be protests, cultural events, Evenings of Conscience, sermons in religious services, saturation of social media—all aimed at laying bare the ugly reality of wide spread torture in U.S. prisons and challenging everyone to join in fighting to STOP it.

Bah Abdourahmane; Ron Ahnen, California Prison Focus; Gbenga Akinnagbe, actor and director; All Of Us Or None members: Sundiata (Willie) Tate, Manuel La Fontaine, Sheila Blake, Dorsey Nunn, Marilyn Austin-Smith, Elder R. Freeman, Oakland; Rafael Angulo, Clinical Associate Professor, USC School of Social Work; Yejide Ankobia, Red Clay Yoga; Larry Aubry, Advocates for Black Strategic Alternatives; Mike Avila; Nellie Hester Bailey, Occupy Harlem;  Tim Baldauf-Lenschen, student activist, University of Maryland; Mike Baldwin, SF Bay Area activist; Fanya Baruti, Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People's Movement; Elizabeth Bell; Joe Berry, Coalition of Contingent Academia Labor/ New Faculty Majority*; Brooke Bischoff, Prescott College*; Rev. Dr. Dorsey O. Blake, Presiding Minister, The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, S.F. CA; Uncle Bobby, Oscar Grant Foundation/Committee; Brian Bonne; Blase Bonpane, Ph.D., Director OFFICE OF THE AMERICAS;  Kwan Booth, Journalist, Oakland CA; Felice Brown, Glen Burnie MD; Ashley Burks, NYU student; Attorney, John Burris, Oakland CA; Rev. Richard Meri Ka Ra Byrd, KRST Unity Center Of Afrakan Spiritual Science, LA; CAL Football* Players - Alejandro Crosthwaite, Khairi Fort, and Richard Rodgers, Berkeley; Susan Castagnetto, lecturer, Scripps College*, So. Cal; M.J. Christian, Los Angeles; Lauren Clifford, Green Party of California; Marjorie Cohn, Professor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law and editor, "The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse"; Solomon Comissiong, Executive Director, Your World News; Andres Thomas Conteris, Nonviolence International*; Antonio Corona, Brown Beret National Organization; Lloyd Cox, Oakland; Matt Courter; Marion Crawford, advocate against Injustice, Louisville KY: Randy Credico, impressionist and social comedian; Alejandro Crosthwaite, Cal Football* player; Chuck D, Public Enemy*; Petr Dann, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin; Earle Davis, Artist/Musician, Berkeley, California; Colin Dayan, Vanderbilt University*; Stephanie Demos; Noche Diaz, Revolution Club NYC, and Stop Mass Incarceration Network; Melvin Dickson, former Black Panther Party member; Roger Dittmann; Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party; Dianne Durham, Publicist – Out of Bounds*, Oakland; Sand Fessler, RAW {Rochester Against War}, & Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars; Ever Ivan Florez, A Victim of CDC; Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report; Khairi Fort, Cal Football*; Joel "Phresh" Freeman, Graffiti Artist, Oakland; Pamela Fruge; Bob Gorringe, Codepink*; Chris Gwartney, Monterey CA; Margaret Haule, Community Activist; Robyn Hewitt, Las Vegas NV; Nicholas Heyward Sr., father of Nicholas Heyward Jr., who was murdered by the NYPD in 1994;  Hip, UC Berkeley*; Mike Holman, Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund*; Foluke Jose, Cal State University, Northridge*; Steven Joy, UCLA*;  Noel Juan, Music Director, San Francisco; Beth Kasner; Robin D. G. Kelley, Professor of American History, UCLA;  Kevin Keresey, Filmmaker; Gregory Koger, a revolutionary communist who was imprisoned as a youth and spent many years in solitary confinement; Wayne Kramer, Jail Guitar Doors USA; David Kunzle, Distinguished Professor, UCLA Emeritus; James Lafferty, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild / Los Angeles; Jonathan Laks, Santa Monica, CA; Michael Lange, Actor, Oakland;   Verbena Lea, Redwood Curtain CopWatch, Peoples' Action for Rights and Community; Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, San Francisco (organizational endorsement); Clarence Leonard; Stanley Lewis; Katie Lindsey; Angelina Llongueras, member of the San Francisco Revolutionary Poet Brigade; Cadelba Lome Li' Loibl, Registered Nurse; B.M. Marcus, Community Director, Community Advocate and Development Organization, Brooklyn; Martha, Berkeley, California; Dr. Antonio Martinez, Institute for Survivors of Human Rights Abuses* and co-founder of the Marjorie Kovler Center for the Treatment of Survivors of Torture*; Chris Martinez, Los Angeles; Cynthia McKinney, former Congresswoman & 2008 Presidential Candidate for the Green Party; Erma McKinney; James McKinney, Instructor, City College of San Francisco; Marilyn McMahon, California Prison Focus*; Christa Meyer, Monterey; David Meyerhof; Natasha Mohammed, Travis Morales, Stop Mass Incarceration Network; Samsarah Morgan; Jacob Muehlbauer, Austin, TX; Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture*, and author, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America; Luke Nephew, New York; Efia Nwangaza, Malcolm X Center for Self Determination, Greenville, SC; T.S. O'Sullivan, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Katherine O'Toole, Oakland; Kathleen D. Olsson, KPFA Radio*, Oakland; Oscar Grant Foundation (organizational endorsement); Joseph V.A. "Joe" Partansky, MBA, Former U.S. Army Mental Health Specialist and current advocate for persons with mental disabilities; Aidge Patterson, artist and activist, New York; Brian Pike, Universal Life Church Rabbi; Veronica G. Powers M.D.; Prison Watch Network (organizational endorsement); Mary Prophet, Educator, Oakland; Laura Pulido, Professor, American Studies & Ethnicity, USC*; Belinda Ramos, son serving life in a California State Prison; Mary Ratcliff, SF Bay View;  Larry Redmond, Chicago; Rev. George F. Regas, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP)*; Aleister Ren, revolutionary, poet, and musician; Roman Rimer; Richard Rodgers, Cal Football*; Steven Rood, Attorney, Oakland; Temitope S, So Cal; Karen Saari, Bodega, CA; Elizabeth Sanchez, East Bay Community Law Center*, Berkeley, California; San Francisco Bay View, national Black newspaper (organizational endorsement); Peter Schey, President, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law*; Roger Scott, Member, AFT Local 2121;  J. Tony Serra, Lawyer, SF; Mansoor Shah; Zadik Shapiro, Attorney; Cindy Sheehan;  Sheila, New York;  Dyne Suh, Los Angeles; Dan Siegel, National Lawyers Guild*; Peter Smith; Social Justice Committee (of the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists*); Tora Spigner, RN, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center*, Planned Parenthood-Shasta/Diablo*, Mother's Love Doula Services*;  Lavelle Spitz, Independent hip hop artist/humanitarian in training; Michael Stocks, Film technician; Dyne Suh, Los Angeles;  Debra Sweet, Director, World Can't Wait; Nick Szuberla, Nation Inside*; Martha Teklu; Temitope S, So. Cal; Prof. Edgar L Torres, Latino Educational Association*, City College of San Francisco*;  Evelin Avila Torres, UCSC*;  John Turok, Occupy Oakland*; Michael Treece, San Francisco; Scott Trent, Guilford County, NC October 22nd Coalition; Troy Troyer; Luis Valdez, Founding Artistic Director, El Teatro Campesino, CA; Jeremy Varon, longtime anti-GTMO activist; Louis Vitale, O.F.M.; Patty Villasenor; Jim Vrettos, Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice*; Will Walke, Oakland;  Arianna Wassmann, Stanford University student; Corey Weinstein, M.D., San Francisco Correctional Medical Consultant; Arinna Weisman, Buddhist Insight Meditation teacher and minister; Liza Wendt, retired teacher; Cornel West, author, educator, voice of conscience; Robin Woerner, New Haven;  Clyde Young, revolutionary communist and former prisoner.


*For identifications only

For more information and to join in this struggle contact the Stop Mass Incarceration Network at (347) 979-SMIN (7646) or at


Read more about the Hunger Strike at:

Hunger Strike at Pelican Bay Prison:
The Humanity and Courage of the Prisoners...
And the Moral Responsibility to Support Their Demands

(Revolution #240, July 24, 2011)

Prisoners at Pelican Bay End Hunger Strike...
The Struggle Against the Inhumanity of Solitary Confinement Continues
(Revolution #241, July 31, 2011)



Permalink: to-send-revolution-reporters-to-cover-the-trial-of-george-immerman-en.html

Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Donate Funds to Send Revolution Reporters to Cover the Trial of George Zimmerman

May 19, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Get the REAL story from the trial and hear the voices of the people of Sanford, Florida.

On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin dead and walked free. But all over the country, tens of thousands took to the streets in protest and then, more than six weeks after the horrible crime, Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder. Now the trial is scheduled to start June 10 and millions of people, all over the country—and the world—will be looking to see what is going to happen... and whether or not there will be justice for Trayvon Martin.

Revolution newspaper needs to be there!—to cut through the lies and cover-ups, to provide stories and analysis that no other reporters will do. We've seen how the mainstream news has covered this story—giving George Zimmerman a constant platform to spin out his lies and deceit. And we've seen the importance and power of the voices of the people in Sanford—their anger, their stories and insights. This is also something reporters from Revolution will be bringing into the coverage as the trial begins, getting out into the community of Sanford, and wherever there are signs of discontent and protest, talking to the people and bringing these interviews to the rest of the world.

But money is needed to make this happen. Everyone who burns with anger at the murder of Trayvon Martin and wants to see JUSTICE... Everyone who recognizes the importance of reporting the TRUTH and giving voice to the voiceless... needs to donate generously to make sure Revolution reporters are in Sanford, Florida on June 10 when millions of eyes are on the trial of George Zimmerman.


Send checks or money order to RCP Publications, PO Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654; or donate here—earmarked for “Revolution Reporter Fund."




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013


June 9, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | is a unique, inviting, and challenging presence on the Internet. There's just nothing else on the web like—in content or style. Here all kinds of people can find both philosophical and political challenges to engage and get with the revolution, as well as practical and organizational channels to do so. The website——can and must play a pivotal role in putting the new stage of communist revolution on the map, and carrying out our strategy for revolution.

The radically transformed, revitalized launched last October. But it is still WAY too much of a secret.

We can begin to change that immediately! Here's how:

Make sure the URL appears everywhere people are refusing to be beaten down... everywhere people resist injustice... and in environments where the oppressive ideology and outlook of the system is being challenged. The URL needs to be in the mix all summer and beyond: on signs and t-shirts, from the stage and (where appropriate) on the walls, in online links from social media and other websites, and throughout society.

Also: Use and spread the QR code. And spread the word that people can subscribe to the Revolution e-sub list by texting REVCOM to 22828.

Send your experiences, questions, insights, and photos of promoting to:


Download printable palmcards

Palmcard (PDF)
Web Post (jpg)

Palmcard (PDF)
Web Post (jpg)




Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Statement from the Los Angeles Branch of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

June 5, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


In mid-April, someone chalked messages attacking the RCP and Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP, on the sidewalk in front of Revolution Books in Los Angeles. Whoever wrote this signed the name "Black Riders," which is a short-hand name for the Black Riders Liberation Party (BRLP). In discussions of this with representatives of the BRLP, they have completely disavowed having anything to do with these chalked messages, stating this is not something they would do.

We are issuing this notice to the public in order to contribute to setting standards in the movements of resistance. These standards must draw an important distinction: on the one hand, there is the necessary struggle, even sharp struggle, that should be carried out in a principled way over differences in political principles and strategy, over line and approach; on the other hand, there is very harmful and dangerous wrecking activity—attacks on individuals, gossip and slanders, rumors, and so on—which is objectively counter-revolutionary. Within movements of resistance it should be clear that such wrecking activity falls outside of the bounds of genuine political debate and polemics and, further, that such activity should not be, and will not be, tolerated.

In this country, there is a long history of this kind of activity carried out by counter-revolutionary forces with the mission of attacking and destroying genuine revolutionary forces. Whether from the right, from the "left," or straight-up government counter-intelligence agents, these forces use all sorts of methods, including slanders and "dirty tricks," attempting to foment violence between different forces involved in movements of resistance. This has also provided a free hand for the state to suppress, repress, and frame people—and even set people up to be murdered. For those who have forgotten, or never knew, the U.S. government fomented and manipulated this kind of activity as part of carrying out cold-blooded murder against the LA Black Panther Party leaders Bunchy Carter and John Huggins at UCLA in 1969.

It should be clear that this kind of thing can only serve to demoralize people and weaken their ability to get organized to stand up and resist the outrageous injustices and crimes brought down on the people by the powers-that-be. We must learn from and apply the lessons of this bitter experience.

In light of the above, when incidents like what happened at Revolution Books occur, it is important where possible that those who have been the target and that those whose name has been given as the "author" are able to clarify the situation. This can send a message to whoever is behind such attacks that they cannot succeed in fomenting antagonisms by opportunistically exploiting the political differences which exist between different organized forces.





Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Bradley Manning Trial Opens

Exposing War Crimes Is an Act of Moral Courage, Not a Crime!

June 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Bradley Manning. Photo: AP

The court-martial of Bradley Manning began on June 3 at Fort Meade, Maryland. Manning is charged with "aiding the enemy" for his alleged role in releasing computer files to the organization WikiLeaks. Many of these files exposed, for the first time, horrific war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the alleged act of bringing to the world's attention the actual war crimes of his government and the army he served in, Bradley Manning is facing the possibility of many years, even life, in prison. He has already been jailed for over three years and subjected to almost a year of brutal, degrading torture by federal and military officials.

The trial of Bradley Manning is the most significant political trial in this country in many years. As a recent article on said, "The continued sadistic persecution of Bradley Manning reveals much about the ways the U.S. coheres its empire, and the fearful, vengeful punishment it seeks to extract when it is exposed. Far from being the worldwide champion of such 'democratic values' as freedom of speech and freedom of the press, as the representatives of this system never tire of proclaiming, a look beneath the system's façade reveals a gruesome reality of murderous wars, atrocious war crimes routinely covered up, and harsh persecution of people who expose these crimes.

"The government is out to silence and shut down any individual or any media outlet that exposes the truth about crimes committed by the U.S. military. Anyone who wants to see truth revealed, war crimes exposed and stopped, and justice done must demand that the persecution of Bradley Manning be ended, his charges dropped, and that he be freed."

There is a place where epistemology and morality meet. There is a place where you have to stand and say: It is not acceptable to refuse to look at something—or to refuse to believe something—because it makes you uncomfortable. And: It is not acceptable to believe something just because it makes you feel comfortable.

Bob Avakian
Chairman of the Revolutionary
Communist Party, USA
BAsics 5:11

The prosecution said in their opening statement that Bradley Manning consciously and willfully put lives—American lives—in danger. "This is not a case about an accidental spill of classified information. .... This, Your Honor, this is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of documents from classified databases and then literally dumped that information on to the Internet and into the hands of the enemy. Material he knew, based on his training and experience, could put the lives and welfare of his fellow soldiers at risk. This is a case about what happens when arrogance meets access to sensitive information."

The government is trying to portray Bradley Manning as an arrogant, depraved, criminal individual who "craved notoriety," and who "literally dumped" hundreds of thousand of documents "into the hands of the enemy."

In fact, as Manning's attorneys brought out in their opening statement, Manning is a human being of deep morality, compassion for any people who suffer injustice—not just Americans, great conviction, and the courage to act on that conviction. They described an incident on Christmas Eve 2009 in Baghdad that was a turning point for Bradley Manning.

Manning and other soldiers were elated when they learned that a convoy of U.S. vehicles they were monitoring had evaded explosive devices placed in the road. But soon after, a car with a family of five Iraqi people, two adults and three children, drove over the bombs. All were severely injured and hospitalized. One person died.

Pics from the Bradley Manning contingent at the Chicago NATO Summit Protest. May 2012.

Bradley Manning continent at protest of thousands against the NATO summit in Chicago, May 2012.

As the lawyer explained, "Everyone [in the Army barracks]...was celebrating. Everyone was happy. Everyone but PFC Manning. He couldn't celebrate. He couldn't be happy. The reason why is he couldn't forget about the life that was lost on that day. He couldn't forget about the lives and the family that was impacted on that Christmas Eve. And from that moment forward PFC Manning started a struggle.

"...His struggles led him to feel that he needed to do something, that he needed to do something to make a difference in this world. He needed to do something to help improve what he was seeing. And so from that moment forward, and that was January of 2010, he started selecting information that he believed the public should hear and should see. Information that he believed that if the public saw would make the world a better place. But importantly, information that he specifically selected that he believed could not be used against the United States. And information that he believed, if public, and everyone knew it, could not be used by a foreign government."

Bradley Manning came face-to-face with the monstrous horrors of the wars the U.S. was waging and the routine cover-up of these atrocities. As he said at a court appearance in February, "I believe that if the general public had access to the information, this could spark a domestic debate as to the role of the military and foreign policy in general. ...I felt I accomplished something that would allow me to have a clear conscience."

Hundreds of people rallied at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning at the beginning of his trial. Other events are being held across the world this week. An "I Am Bradley Manning" video challenges viewers to ask themselves what they would do if they had been in Manning's position, and to act in support of him now. Among the people it features are Alice Walker, Moby, Wallace Shawn, Maggie Gyllenhall, and Oliver Stone.

Debra Sweet, national director of World Can't Wait, told a reporter at the Fort Meade rally, "He [Manning] has given us a look inside the way this government bullies and pushes around whole countries, the way it has treated the Guantánamo prisoners, the way its treated other prisoners of war ... What is it that your government's doing? Torturing people! He said, I did this because I thought if regular people knew what their government was doing it would start a conversation."

Lawyers say the trial of Bradley Manning may last from 6 to 12 weeks. This "conversation"—and the fight to free Bradley Manning and to oppose the wars and atrocities he exposed—must continue and deepen. Revolution will have further coverage of this important trial as it develops.





Revolution #306 June 9, 2013

Interview with Jules Lobel, Lead Attorney for California Lawsuit Against Solitary Confinement

June 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Editor’s note: Prisoners at the Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) Security Housing Unit (SHU) who catalyzed the 2011 hunger strikes to stop long-term solitary confinement have announced they plan a new hunger strike (and work stoppage) in July 2013. See “New, Important Developments in Battle to Stop Torture in California and U.S. Prisons” for background on this critical struggle, and look to for ongoing coverage.

Jules Lobel is the President of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), and professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is the lead attorney in the important lawsuit, Ashker v. Brown, a lawsuit brought by prisoners against solitary confinement in the Pelican Bay Secure Housing Unit (SHU) in California.


A Note on the Interview
We are publishing this interview, which aired on April 26, 2013, courtesy of The Michael Slate Show on KPFK radio, Los Angeles. The views expressed by the interviewee are, of course, his own, and he is not responsible for the views expressed elsewhere in this newspaper and website. Michel Slate’s questions have been slightly edited for publication.


Michael Slate: Let's give people an overview of what the case is about, where it came from, what are the main issues that are being raised.

Jules Lobel: It challenges the solitary confinement up in Pelican Bay, in which prisoners are living in a small cell, essentially 80 square feet, twice the size of the average American walk-in closet, with no windows. They never get any phone calls. Pelican Bay is one of the most isolated places in the United States. It's about seven hours from San Francisco, 14 hours from LA where most of the prisoners are from, and therefore they get very few family or social visits. There's virtually no programming: no educational programs. They get recreation, but in another small area, which is theoretically outside, but it's got very, very high walls, and a mesh grate that covers it so you barely get any sun. they stay in these cells 23 hours.

Now, many people might say, well, how long could I survive in such a place? You know, 15 days, a month, maybe a year. We have almost a hundred prisoners who've been there over 20 years, and about 500 who've been there over ten years. So these people are spending decades in these kinds of conditions. And you might also say, well, what do they do to get in there? They must have done something heinous in prison: they killed a prison guard—well, for most of my clients, they have never done anything in prison that's a serious infraction.

You get put into this Pelican Bay solitary unit, which holds a thousand prisoners, simply by having some association with, or membership in, a prison gang. And the way that California determines who has association is you might have an artwork, like a Hispanic prisoner—and most of the prisoners there are Latinos—has an Aztec warrior with a spear pointed in a certain way, and California says, well, this is indicative that you're in some prison gang. And that's all you had to have done. You don't have to show any behavior that's misconduct, or that's antisocial, as long as you have some artwork, or your name appears on a list, or you write something that could be considered gang-related, you get put into this solitary unit for years and years and years.

And for most of them, there's no way out. The only way out is to do what's known as "debriefing," which is become an informant for the state, and not only foreswear your allegiance to the gang, but also tell the prison authorities everything you know about the gang, assuming, by the way, that any of these people know anything. And after 20 years, it's hard to imagine that even if they did know something, and even if they were members, they would know something much now.

So you have to become an informant, which puts you and your family at risk, and which my clients are unwilling to do, most of the people are unwilling to do. So they languish there with no hope of getting out, and spend decades there. Probably many of them will spend—unless something happens, will spend their whole lives there. At least that's what they have to contemplate.

So we brought a suit challenging this as cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8th Amendment, and also violation of the due process clause, because the Supreme Court has held that in this kind of confinement, you have to give people periodic hearings which are meaningful. And these folks aren't getting any meaningful hearings at all. They're just essentially rubber-stamped and kept in. Every six years they get some kind of review, but the review is essentially a rubber stamp.

So our claim essentially is that this is torture. And it violates both the Constitution and the international law agreements prohibiting torture. It's cruel and unusual punishment and it's a violation of due process to warehouse people like this for years without any meaningful hearings.

Slate: One thing that struck me is how routine all of this is, the dehumanization of the prisoners that are sent to the SHU, the dehumanization is just so damn routine. Even when you're talking about the fact that they can sit there and say—and I read various things that came out from the Center for Constitutional Rights and other things that talked about how, when people are looking for medical care, when they're looking for psychological health care, they're looking for different things, just some things that are bare necessities of staying alive, that they're routinely told, "Well, you know how to get better medical care." To do exactly what you're saying, become a snitch, get debriefed. I know a lot of prisoners have been very severely impacted by the many years in solitary. But one of the things that's inspired a lot of people I think around the world is the fact that these prisoners are also some of the prisoners—some of the prisoners who are involved in the lawsuit that you brought, some of them were also people who've been very heavily involved in the hunger strikes that basically echoed what was said in Attica back in the 1970s, that we are human and we demand to be treated as such. That to me is an essential point of all this.

Lobel: Yeah, I think our most basic claim is that this type of solitary for this amount of years is designed to and does strip people of their human dignity and their basic humanness. Because a key element of being human is social interaction. We are inherently social beings. We want to talk to somebody else, we want to have some interaction. These folks have not had normal human interaction for 20 years, many of them. By normal human interaction, I mean they have the ability to talk by yelling through the walls to their next door neighbor, in the cell next to them. But they never see anybody's face. These cells are four walls. There are no windows. There are little holes where sometimes you might be able to catch a glimpse of somebody. But they're basically stripped of the social interaction and the environmental stimulation which is a basic human need of all humans. But despite that, as you point out, many of my clients are people who have decided to resist this. And in that resistance, I think they've struggled to regain their humanness.

In fact, they did a study of prisoners of war who were put in solitary, and as John McCain said, solitary is in a way the cruelest form of punishment because it attacks your spirit. But they found that the one way that these prisoners of war could prevent going totally crazy was to resist. And that's what these folks at Pelican Bay are doing and they've written a letter to Governor Brown saying that unless California significantly changes what's going on up there, ends indeterminate solitary sentences where instead of just getting a sentence of one or two or three years, you get a sentence for your life—unless they do that, then they are planning on going back on hunger strike on July 8. And I think the world, and California hopefully will pay attention to them.

Slate: As you were talking about this dehumanization, I was thinking, even the exercise yard that they talk about—not yard, the exercise pen—is called a "dog run." There's this whole thing that comes in around this, and I remember reading in a press release that the CCR put out that said that—it quoted some of the prisoners, and one of them talking about feeling like he was silently screaming 24/7, and another one talking about how his biggest worry is he had been in there so long that he was forgetting or he had forgotten what the touch of another human felt like, what a human touch felt like, what somebody else's skin touching your skin felt like. And you think about psychologically what happens to somebody in terms of what does make us human, what is required for a human being to actually flourish as a human.

And then I was thinking, even this thing of—I want people to know, to really contemplate this a little bit too, is that out of all the people that are in Pelican Bay, only 66 are actually in there for some kind of behavioral cause, some kind of misbehavior. That others are in there because of assertions and innuendo, and even some, I would venture to think that some are also in there for some of their political ideals.

Lobel: Many of the people are in there for their political beliefs. For example, one of my clients, a man by the name of Ron Dewberry who has an African name, Sitawa, he's there primarily because he's written pamphlets, and written histories of Black nationalist struggles and movements. And because of that they say he's a gang member. For many of the people it's because of their political ideology and not because of any behavioral misconduct that the outside world would think would be really bad, like riots or violence or something like that. I think this is a form that California uses to control people and not really to prevent violence in the prisons. I don't think it's worked to prevent violence. I think the function really is to repress people in the system.

Slate: The prisoners have actually issued a call for the unity of all the various nationalities inside the prison and outside the prison, and saying, look, when things start to get hot, step back and think a bit and let's put things into a bigger cause. And I thought that was really important in terms of what you're talking about, in term of these guys are—they are considered the worst of the worst. That's what we're told all the time, they're the worst of the worst. And they're living in what is unimaginable. I was just watching Herman's House the other day, on Herman Wallace in Angola, the man who's spent the longest time in solitary confinement in the country, and you're looking at the way that some of these prisoners are able to actually fight back and rise above that, it's extremely inspiring. And I do think the point of people actually standing in support and fighting in support of what the prisoners are doing is extremely important. And I wanted to ask you this. There's a whole point that's come out here where in the lawsuit that you guys brought against the state of California, the state has come back and said, well, really, they were asking for it to be dismissed because they say that since the hunger strike, they've already set in motion all kinds of reforms, and there's processes being put into place right now that will actually answer all of the demands of the prisoners. What do you guys say to that?

Lobel: The prisoners say, and we agree, that the reforms are a sham, that they're cosmetic, designed to make people believe that they're actually doing something without real serious movement. For example, they claim that it's going to be a new behavioral-based system. But it still can be the case that you can get put into solitary, to Pelican Bay, and you can be maintained there simply because of some association with a gang, as opposed to some specific misconduct. And as you pointed out, often people are put in there simply because some informant says, well this guy is a member of the gang. Well, the informant said that and he's trying to get out and he's saying whatever. We know that, when people are under enormous pressure, psychological pressure to inform, they'll say many things and may or may not be true, and that's why people are there now.

You made one other point which I want to comment on which is a very important thing has happened up there, which is that 32 leaders of different ethnic groups, Hispanics, whites, Blacks, have put out a call throughout the California prisons, not only for unity, but to end ethnic and racial violence in California prisons. You would think that the California authorities looking at this, and I believe it's had an effect already in the California prisons, would say, well this is a really good thing. We should encourage it. Instead they introduced this document as evidence that these folks are gang leaders and have tremendous control over their subordinates. Namely they're trying to urge everybody to end violence. Again, it's ironic that California looks at this statement, which I consider historic, as simply another form of gang activity.

Slate: I wanted people to get a sense of what goes on. During the hunger strike or maybe a little after that, Terry Thornton, who I don't think is any longer the prison spokesperson, but she may be, but she was at the time. She made a statement about when everybody's attention was focused on solitary confinement—and people should know, California is the only state that has indefinite solitary confinement, still uses it. It was thrown out a century ago as too cruel, too barbaric, in a time when a lot was cruel and barbaric. And it was noted then and California still to this day is the only state that actually practices and uses indefinite solitary confinement, meaning you can go in there when you're 22 and turn around you're 72 and you're still sitting in a small little box. And she had the audacity to say, "Is it really solitary confinement if you can take correspondence courses and watch something like 27 channels on your own TV? If I went to prison, I wouldn't want to share a cell with anybody." Now contrast that with what you said when you said that solitary confinement is beyond the pale for any civilized nation. Let's talk about that.

Lobel: Two things and then I'll answer your question. One is that I believe that this situation in Pelican Bay and California is the domestic equivalent in a way to Guantánamo. Because people are put into this situation indefinitely. They have no hope of getting out. And they haven't been charged with anything. They are simply there because they're believed to be, in this case gang members, in Guantánamo, terrorists. But there's no formal charges. And it's the same thing that we have here in California.

The second thing is I don't think it's quite accurate to say no other state practices indefinite solitary confinement. What California does, however, which is fairly unique is it practices it on a wholesale variety. There are people like Herman Wallace who have been in indefinite solitary confinement for many years in other states. But California has thousands of them. And that's where California is unique, in the numbers and also in the draconian nature of the conditions.

Now in terms of "This isn't really solitary confinement; it's not really so bad. People can watch TV, people can take correspondence courses." It's true. People can watch TV. But if the listener imagines themselves sitting in a large closet with no windows 23 hours a day and going out only to something which is marginally different for one hour a day, for many, many years, I think if you really put yourself in that situation you could see the terrible toll it must take on the human condition. To say that you can take a correspondence course or that you can watch TV doesn't go to the essence of our being, which is communicating with people. You can't communicate with a TV. Some people do talk at TVs, but the TV doesn't talk back. Now you can communicate possibly with the guy in the other cell, but you never see him, and it's not normal communication to shout over walls.

If this happens to you over years and years and years, it eventually crushes, or it's an attempt to crush, what makes us human. And even these guys who are survivors here, and many of my clients are—they haven't gone crazy, they don't claim that they're crazy. In a way then, they're the survivors, but it's taken a terrible toll on them. And I think it's totally insensitive and a flight from reality for the California officials to say, well, this really isn't solitary. They should try it for a little bit, and I'm sure they'd find it solitary.

Slate: And I think on that point, it just bears out what you said: beyond the pale of any civilized nation. And frankly, someone that could make a comment like that, oh boy! Jules, thank you very much for joining us today.