Revolution #387, May 18, 2015 (

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

High Stakes in Baltimore

Updated May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


In the past week, this system has once again shown its true nature. In two separate decisions—the cases of Tony Robinson (an unarmed young man shot seven times) and Justus Howell (killed with two shots to the back)—it backed up murdering cops and gave the green light for MORE police murder. We cover both these cases in this issue. A day later, cops in Miami were exposed as having sent and received over 200 vicious and pornographic racist emails, joining their brethren cops in other cities where this has also been dragged into the open. And Obama topped it off by paying tribute to the police at a police memorial in DC, claiming to "heal the rift" between the police and those whose oppression they enthusiastically enforce.

The following editorial ran last week, but remains timely. What will be done—when the people have risen up, but the oppressors keep hammering down?


The struggle for justice for Freddie Gray began when someone videotaped the murderous assault of the Baltimore police on a young man innocent of any crime. It gained momentum as people went into the streets, day after day. And it hit a high point in the rebellion of April 27. This rebellion—and then the way in which many other sections of society refused to stop fighting for justice, even after the rebellion was slandered and violently suppressed—forced the powers-that-be to file charges.

April 21: Thousands march in front of the Baltimore Western District police station to seek justice for Freddie Gray, who died after being taken into police custody. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

There are high stakes—very high stakes—in what happens next. High stakes for the powers-that-be themselves—the capitalist-imperialists—who sit atop a world of exploitation and oppression of every kind. These capitalist-imperialists rely on their police to enforce that order within this country, even as they rely on their armies to go all over the world to do the same. When the right of these police to run around like mad dogs in the communities of the oppressed comes under challenge, that is a big, risky problem for them. And when people not only protest but actively resist as they did on April 27 and in the days that followed, that challenge is bigger.

But there are even higher stakes for the oppressed and those who hate oppression, and for the revolutionaries leading the fight against that oppression. High stakes in mobilizing people to fight through and win this battle... and far higher stakes in bringing to people the word that there IS a solution to this, that revolution is possible, and that emancipation from this madness can be achieved, and in organizing people to carry forward that revolution. Will this opening be seized to bring forward the work that Bob Avakian has done on this very question, and the leadership that he has provided? Will those who ARE stepping forward to this be organized in a way that can lead to an ACTUAL revolution? Will this be done in a way that enables people to go up against all the repression that will be brought down on them as they do so? And, in that context, will the struggle for justice be fought through in such a way that it is NOT derailed, but instead strikes real blows against the ability of the powers to keep on hammering down on people, and at the same time leads people further toward revolution and emancipation?

Rising Up Against a World of Brutality and Oppression: What Was Revealed

The rebellion on April 27 was a great thing.

DOWNLOAD & SPREAD: PDF for print | JPG for web

Revolution correspondents have been listening, learning, and engaging with people who were at the heart of what happened in Baltimore. One thing that emerges is the heroism of the young rebels. The exact circumstances of how the initial clashes between youths and police came about are unclear, but on Monday, April 27, hundreds of teenage, mostly high school youths found themselves in a situation where they were being confronted by the police who heartlessly murdered Freddie Gray. The pigs were threatening these youths and moving to shut them down. The youths didn’t back down in this situation, but for hours and hours went toe to toe with these highly militarized police. The Stolen Lives poster was in the mix as these youths righteously confronted the pigs with what this system and its enforcers are all about.

This revealed the courage and potential power of the people, when they stand up together in courage. Such defiance in the face of great odds is liberating. And this was far from “mindless.” People were out to make it unmistakably clear that there MUST be justice. Symbols and instruments of violent repression were dealt with. People in the crowd made sure, at different points, that bystanders—like a group of construction workers early on—were not targeted.

You don’t find courage to do that because you’re trying to “loot” a drugstore. There was a largeness of mind and sense of purpose, along with unbreakable joyous defiance, that grew during the rebellion and that people need to know about. People told us how youths were grabbing diabetes medicine from the shelves for people who can’t get needed medicine, in a community where an epidemic of diabetes is an element of a slow genocide. And where the powers-that-be brag that in their generosity they provided a single drugstore for the oppressed.

So, a section of people for whom this system has no future but jail or early death had risen up, against great odds and real violence. For this courage, they were attacked as “thugs” by Obama and the mayor of Baltimore, instruments and mouthpieces of a system that stands alone in criminality and thuggery.

Then, on April 29, thousands of people took to the streets demanding justice, many if not most of them college students, including from elite, mainly white universities like Johns Hopkins in Baltimore (even as Black students were playing a decisive role). While some had mixed feelings about the intensity of the rebellion, others defended the youths. And they were all there standing with the oppressed, making clear that the violent murder of Freddie Gray was the issue here and that they were not having it.

In sum, this rebellion revealed the potential of the most oppressed to rise up against big odds, with courage. This rebellion transformed how everyone saw things: it made very clear the urgency of this injustice and that it must not and would not be tolerated. And it showed how, when this is done, there is potential to win active and important support from people who do not face that same hell, but can be won to sympathize.

The Challenge

Strive to be strategic commanders of the revolution, not just tactical leaders, and not just strategic philosophers.

Revolutionaries have been out among the people in Baltimore, standing with them. They have been spreading word of the revolution: the path forward for it, the leadership we have in Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party, and the ways now to spread this further. Carl Dix has done this in speeches and talks and organizing, and members of the Revolution Club have also been talking with people, and organizing them to represent and to stand up. Old and new members of the club have gotten together to watch and discuss the film of Bob Avakian’s dialogue with Cornel West, and to begin to get into works like BAsics, the handbook for revolutionaries with quotes and essays from BA. They are getting out Revolution, the Party’s newspaper, and spreading word of, our website. They are out there in the streets when people protest, and they are making plans, with the people, on how to carry forward the fight for justice as part of all this. They are planning as well to go to students and indeed all sections of people, with this same basic message. Our reporters have been there too, and in these next days and weeks, we will be reporting more on this.

A Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party ON THE STRATEGY FOR REVOLUTION

What revolutionaries do in situations like Baltimore can play a big role in making revolution. The Party’s statement on its strategy talks about how this system gives rise to great suffering, and sometimes this leads to “sudden jolts and breakdowns in the ‘normal functioning’ of society, which compel many people to question and to resist what they usually accept. No one can say in advance exactly what will happen in these situations—how deep the crisis may go, in what ways and to what extent it might pose challenges to the system as a whole, and to what degree and in what ways it might call forth unrest and rebellion among people who are normally caught up in, or feel powerless to stand up against, what this system does.”

The statement goes on to say that in these kinds of situations, “many more people are searching for answers and open to considering radical change.” At just such times, leaps must be “made in building up the movement and the organized forces for revolution, creating in this way a stronger basis from which to work for further advances.

But that is not all. There are ways in which jolts like this, as they develop and in combination with other things, including what revolutionaries do, can go further. The statement says that things “can come together in such a way that the system is shaken to its foundations...deep cracks appear and magnify within the ruling structures and institutions...the raw relations of oppression are more sharply exposed...conflicts among the powers-that-be deepen, and cannot be easily resolved, and it becomes much more difficult for them to hold things together under their control and keep people down. In this kind of situation, for great numbers of people, the ‘legitimacy’ of the current system, and the right and ability of the ruling powers to keep on ruling, can be called seriously and directly into question, with millions hungering for a radical change that only a revolution can bring about.”

On the streets of Baltimore, April 25. Photo: Special to

Baltimore has brought all that into sharp relief. People want to hear about revolution, and they want to get into BA to find out more about what kind of revolution and how to make it, in a way that is different from “normal times.” They want to wear the “Revolution—Nothing Less!” T-shirt, and let others know about this. They hunger to be part of a genuine force that is working to change things, in a real way. And from this vantage point, the struggle for justice for Freddie Gray, as part of the larger struggle against police murder and the criminalization of a whole people, is more, not less, important. A letter from a reader, which emphasized the centrality of getting the word out on BA and the revolution he has envisioned and been giving leadership to, also made this point:

The revolutionaries must also lead the masses to continue to fight the power, including leading them through all the twists and turns, major developments, and heavy repression, slanders, and diversions thrown at the struggle by this system and its enforcers, mouthpieces, defenders and apologists. And, in fact, the masses must be led to understand the scope and scale of the outrages that they are rising up against—the fact that there is a national, decades-long, and unrelenting epidemic of police brutality and police murder, and that they are not isolated in being outraged by and fighting against this epidemic of police murder and brutality, as the system and its mouthpieces constantly try to make them think and feel that they are. This is one of many reasons that broadly getting out the posters and banners from with the faces and names of victims of police brutality and murder has been, is, and will continue to be so important, as is continuing to fight to broaden and deepen the struggle against police brutality, murder and mass incarceration, bringing forward and leading people broadly, from many different sections of society, to take up this fight.

All this must be built upon, urgently, and with leaps. There is no room for hitting the pause button. But what happens in Baltimore cannot stay in Baltimore. It must be taken up all over society. Word of revolution needs to get out all over, and resistance must spread to every city.

Stakes Are Raised

Let’s go back to this question of the high stakes.

There are high stakes for the powers-that-be. Baltimore is a big city. In frothing at the mouth and demanding more violent repression, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer repeatedly railed that this was going on only 60 miles from the nation’s capital. They don’t want the spirit of Baltimore spreading. They didn’t like—at all—the fact that they were not able to isolate the uprising anywhere near to the degree they wanted to, that protests broke out around the country. And they don’t like what all this does to their image and interests around the world where they brand themselves champions of freedom and equality.

From the very top, the rulers of this system are moving on two tracks to put what emerged back in the bottle, to lock it down, cover it up, smother it and crush it. Obama called the rebels “thugs.” Some cops had the nerve to compare the protesters to a lynch mob—when the real lynch mob in blue does its dirty work day in, day out in every city and town. They brought very heavy charges against people arrested. Bail for one protester, accused of breaking a window in a pig car, was $500,000! Twice that of the police charged with murder of a human being.

When Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announced charges against six cops, this was a decision by the powers-that-be, or at least a section of them, that something had to be done to chill things, for now. But it’s a long way from charges to conviction and jail, and there is a world of police brutality and murder to STOP, and a whole new world to bring into being. This road of voting for some savior that the rulers put up in their elections—the same rulers who caused and perpetuate the problem in the first place—is a very, very deadly trap.

And along with this, the system is running every hustle and diversion it can. All of a sudden Obama—after first calling these youths thugs—began to profess great sympathy. He revived his “My Brother’s Keeper” program, which promotes different charities and small projects, often run by businesses that claim to make a difference for individuals. As Malcolm X said, these dual tactics are like that of a wolf and his trickier cousin the fox—the point is, they both want to eat you!

There are also high stakes for forces representing the views of the middle class—views that want to cool things out, that want both sides to “tone it down.” These forces propose different kinds of solutions, most of which involve “keeping things peaceful” (i.e., keeping people from rising up) and hoping for what amounts to band-aids to deal with cancer. Many of them have real sympathy for the masses and very much oppose what is being done by the system, and can be united with in different ways—but this line cannot lead the struggle, or that struggle will go nowhere. And these views also affect people who are not middle class, which adds to the importance of criticizing them.

Why? Because NONE of this gets anywhere in addressing the real situation. And the more that people are led to see and push for their real interests on this, the rougher it could get for these rulers.

First of all, there must be JUSTICE for Freddie Gray. The whole world saw what happened to him. He was minding his own business, feeling fine when the pigs jumped on him, and dead when they were finished with him. They murdered him, and they need to go to jail. If they don’t this is another signal that it is open season on Black and Latino youth, that these pigs can murder with impunity. And that can NOT be allowed. And the powers-that-be must DROP ALL THE CHARGES against ALL THOSE ARRESTED IN THE PROTESTS. The system itself admits there would be no charges against the police who murdered Freddie Gray if not for the rebellion, and demanding justice is not a crime.

But even more than that, what has been happening to Black people has been nothing less than a slow genocide. (The intensity of this slow genocide has also affected other oppressed groups, even as the persecution of these groups—and intense police violence against them—flows from their own dynamics.) This genocide has been and is being caused by a SYSTEM—capitalism-imperialism—and relying on charities or even talking about “structural change” is meaningless and worse without the MAIN STRUCTURAL CHANGE that must happen: the radical overturning of this ruthless system of capitalism and white supremacy, through revolution, and its replacement by a whole new system in which the power is devoted to eliminating all oppression and exploitation, meeting the material needs of the people as it does so, and supporting revolution all over the world.

And this gets back to the point: We NEED a revolution, we need to get organized for an ACTUAL revolution. What the masses have done in Baltimore has increased the possibility of that... and increased the challenges that revolutionaries must recognize and meet to actually move closer to being able to make that revolution.





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

What Are Rebellions Against Injustice Good For?

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


First, are rebellions against injustice good? That’s a debate in itself. Some people say, “Rebellions just hurt the people doing them.” Please. Without resistance, without rebellion, people are just hammered into the ground. They are totally at the mercy of the powers-that-be. Think, in any particular rebellion against injustice, of where things were going before people straightened their backs! Without struggle, without defiance, without rebellion against oppression, there can be no progress. And there never has been. Those who say differently are distorting history.

Now a lot of people say rebellion against oppression is good, because it forces the powers-that-be to listen and to make concessions. And that’s true. Others add that it gives people a sense of their collective strength when they stand up together. People rebelling against injustice lets all of society know that there’s a big problem here, and that there are people demanding that their humanity be recognized. And those things are true, too, and they’re part of why rebellions aimed at injustice are in fact very good and should be upheld—even if and when they get a little “rough around the edges” sometimes and aren’t perfect.

But if that’s all the further we take it—well, it ain’t far enough. All those very good things on their own will not and cannot do away with the SYSTEM that gave rise to the need for rebellion in the first place. And if we don’t do that, then eventually things will go back to the oppressive way they were before people stood up. We need to actually overturn and get rid of this system, this capitalist-imperialist system, through revolution. We need to bring in a whole different economy based on meeting people’s needs and supporting revolution, and a whole different system of political power to back that up and go after every structure and vestige of oppression and discrimination. And we need a whole different revolutionary culture, too, promoting cooperation and a recognition of our shared humanity and a determination to overcome all forms of oppression. If we don’t do that—if we rest satisfied with rebelling against injustice and don’t go forward from that to make revolution—then we’ll be fighting the same things 50 years from now. And we can’t have that.

Besides, the revolution we’re talking about is not just a dream. Bob Avakian (BA), the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has gone deeply and scientifically into why we need such a revolution... the strategy for how it could actually be made and won... and how you would actually build a new society that people would want to live in, aimed at human emancipation. Think about it—that’s huge! So if you are serious about emancipation, if you are serious about an actual revolution, then you need to get seriously into BA.

And that gets to the main thing that rebellions against injustice are good for. When people stand up, they change the way everyone looks at right and wrong, just and unjust, legitimate and illegitimate. Those who rise up themselves begin to see the possibility that things don’t have to stay this way. They begin to see the possibility that they can change things, fighting together, collectively, and reaching out to others as they do. They begin to question all kinds of things about the world and search for a way out and a way forward. They force the rulers to back up and maneuver, and sometimes to fight among themselves. That shows the weaknesses in their rule that these powers try to keep hidden, it opens up “the cracks in the wall,” and all that can encourage even more people to surge forward.

Revolutionaries can and must lead this struggle, this questioning, and this defiance to where it NEEDS to go—to a movement for an actual revolution. Revolutionaries can and must struggle, right in the thick of things and aim to speak to all of society, against every move and scheme and impulse to turn all that into just another way to slightly rearrange the current setup. And if they do, then rebellions against injustice, along with other things, can play an important part in preparing the ground, preparing the people, and preparing the vanguard leadership for a real revolution.

The fight to uphold rebellion against injustice is an important one. It is sharply contended right now, and it should definitely be waged. At the same time, what we most fundamentally need is an actual revolution. So, again, if you are serious about an actual revolution, you have to get seriously into Bob Avakian and get with and get organized into the movement for revolution, with the Party that he leads as its leading core.






Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

An Urgent Fundraising Challenge:
Put RCP Publications on Higher Ground

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |



A prisoner sits in a hellish cell in one of ameriKKKa’s prisons—maybe one of the torture-chamber Special Housing Units—going through a copy of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. This is the handbook for revolution in today’s world. The prisoner is underlining, preparing notes, planning correspondence to the Revolution. (See a sample of correspondence from prisoners on BAsics here).

A college student, on a campus without an organized presence of the revolution, downloads materials from for a study group to begin to cohere and connect organized forces with other elements in society for revolution. And she begins to study and circulate the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).

Activists in the battle against police murder pack up hundreds of “Stolen Lives” posters printed from PDFs downloaded from, and bundles of the bilingual print edition of Revolution. They head for the latest outbreak of struggle and rebellion to unite with and connect the movement for an actual revolution with angry youth rising up against police murder.

In an Internet café in Cairo, or Shanghai, in Ukraine, Colombia, or rural Mexico, or in a city, town, or campus in one of 179 countries around the planet, people gather to log on to in English or Spanish, to study and wrestle with the latest articles, videos, artwork, posters, and polemics on the biggest questions facing humanity, and to learn about the movement for revolution in the “belly of the beast.” Among other things, they find in seven languages Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

What do all these experiences have in common?

Two things:

They are part of an emerging movement for an actual REVOLUTION, and a new stage of communist revolution fighting to emerge on the ground worldwide.

And people are connecting into publications and resources that are projects of RCP Publications, which publishes work of Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party, and produces the website


The financial base of RCP Publications cannot sustain even current demands. And even more importantly: Times are changing... and there is a rapidly growing and ever greater urgency for the works from RCP Publications, especially the works by BA, and to be out there, reaching into every corner of society and the world, and to everybody who is rebelling against and questioning the ways things are and looking for a way out of the madness.

The drive to raise money and cohere a bigger sustainer base for RCP Publications is one key way right now to accumulate forces for revolution, organizing people to support the vanguard, and bringing in important resources, enabling revolutionary work to surge forward on many fronts.

Another way to look at this: This fundraising drive plays a dynamic role in all three prepares:

Prepare the ground, prepare the people, and prepare the vanguard—get ready for the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.

RCP Publications—Connecting BA and the World

Let’s look at just two of the projects of RCP Publications and consider the stakes of these getting to a whole other level: connecting Bob Avakian (BA) and the world, and producing website and Revolution newspaper.

RCP Publications is the main way people connect with Bob Avakian. The website hosts the most complete set of the works of BA and provides roads for people coming at this from all different levels to engage with BA’s work and leadership.

The website plays a crucial role in spreading the films BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live and REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIANso that, as people awaken and lift their sights, they are connected with the leadership of BA and how to understand the world and join the movement to bring a whole new world into being.

And RCP Publications is the publisher of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, and is where people connect with the book—being introduced to quotes through powerful posters, downloading the free e-book, and getting “driven” to the book from articles and other material in Revolution. The back of the book isn’t hype, it is a reality that in a serious way:

“You can’t change the world if you don’t know the BAsics.”

And people cannot get their hands on BAsics, and other works of BA without putting RCP Publications on another financial platform. / Revolution Newspaper

Take your time, and carefully read the paragraph that appears at the bottom of the current issue page at the Revolution section of every week.

And think about how the paragraph ends— is “the guide, the pivot, the crucial tool in drawing forward, orienting, training, and organizing thousands, and influencing millions—fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution—hastening and preparing for the time when we can go for the whole thing, with a real chance to win.”

How critical is that?

The Times, the Stakes, Bridging the Gap

The gap—between the role RCP Publications and can play in a movement for revolution and in changing the terms of discourse and the spirit of rebellion in society on the one hand, and its current reach and influence—cannot continue. To bridge this gap, RCP Publications needs to be put on a much more solid, sustained financial platform.

OK, so how are we going to do this? We are going to do it in a way that expands and strengthens the movement for revolution.

Here’s how this breaks down: We need—and there is a basis for—hundreds of people sustaining RCP Publications, from all walks of life. We need the existing base of sustainers to donate and then be more consistent, and to dig deeper. And we need to expand the network of sustainers.

We need individuals and groups in the communities of the oppressed collecting change, cashing in bottles and cans, donating a regular amount each month and raising money through bake sales, tamale sales, barbeques, and parties. This kind of financial assistance helps pay the bills, but has deeper significance for building a movement for revolution with a backbone among those who catch the most hell in this society and who are acting as emancipators of humanity.

We also need networks of sustainers on campuses—donating money, organizing (fun!) fundraisers, and establishing coherent revolutionary organization on campuses. Think about that (and this whole project!), working back from what it would take to pull off an actual revolution in this country, where those who catch the most hell every day and who would be the hard core base for a revolution would not be isolated and crushed.

We need hundreds of sustainers, donating—collectively—thousands of dollars a month. This is still a shoestring budget, but it will put us in position to expand, to meet the challenges of the times, and it will be a base to build on to meet the exponentially greater challenges to come.

We want to have frank and serious discussions with people about the current situation in society and the world, the possibilities for revolutionary advances—and the role of RCP Publications in this process, and the ways in which you can contribute, including but not only financially.

Strengthening and expanding our current base of sustainers is, as we have noted, a great opportunity to make advances in building revolutionary organization. This is not a one-time campaign. This—organizing people in communities, on campuses, and beyond, to regularly sustain RCP Publications—has to be part of what we do. It has to be like breathing in and out so to speak.

The core of this effort is to draw on and organize people who have already been exposed to the movement for revolution into sustainer networks. We need to reach out in communities (both in the inner cities, but also—where colleges are out of session—in communities of students, artists, musicians, and scenes of political and cultural rebellion) where the revolution has been taking root and the works of BA and Revolution have been in the mix. We need to sit down with people who have been gravitating to the movement for revolution and discuss how critical it is to have this website and newspaper, why this is something that the people must support and spread.

A reliable sustainer base requires getting with people and digging into the need for the current struggles to go forward with the orientation of actually stopping this and about all the big questions that are posed by what is going on, and why revolution and communism and BA need to be out there in the mix. And on that basis, why to commit to a monthly contribution of $50 or $100, or from those with the most limited resources in society, of $5 or $10. Those contributions count for a lot.

As people commit to sustain RCP Publications, we need to strengthen our capacity to collect their initial contribution and their monthly donations if they are not in position to, or choose not to, donate online.

Beyond those who will make up the core of the financial base for RCP Publications, we want to reach out to people we meet or who are one way or another connected to the movement for revolution. Every visitor to the Revolution newspaper section of and e-subscribers will be greeted with a “popup” challenging them to donate to and sustain RCP Publications. They are going to be alerted—in an unavoidable way— to the reality that we need funds, and encouraged to donate monthly or quarterly. And look to the print edition of Revolution and for flyers, posters, brochures, and other fundraising materials. (If you have expertise in online fundraising techniques, contact us through!).

Urgency and Determination

This is a finite plan to transform the financial situation for RCP Publications and in the next several weeks. And then to achieve a culture change, where organizing people into networks of sustainers is part of everything we do in the movement for revolution.

Let’s return a final time (for now) to the difference YOU can make. The work of RCP Publications is work for the only real solution to the horrors humanity faces. It is not putting a band-aid on cancer; it is about getting to the core of what is wrong with this world, uprooting it through revolution, and moving to a world without oppression of any kind. Those are the stakes, and they are magnified by the historical moment we are in.

And everyone who finds things at, or in the publications of RCP Publications, that you find compelling, necessary to be part of political discourse, and that give you a sense that there is a way out of all this madness: DONATE, SUSTAIN, AND SPREAD THE WORD.

Right now, do three things:

  1. Send a substantial donation through the donate button at, through check or money order to RCP Publications, or through your local Revolution distributor. And commit to sustain on a monthly or quarterly basis.
  2. Get with others and make plans right away to reach out to people you know who visit, who read Revolution and who read books like BAsics from RCP Publications. Challenge them to make a generous donation now. Shore up or restore sustainer relationships, to reach out to others, and to organize ways to collect regular contributions.
  3. Write us with your experiences (we don’t need unnecessary detail, but do need to learn from your experiences, insights, problems, questions, and suggestions).



At the present time, RCP Publications cannot accept any contributions or gifts from readers who reside outside the borders of the United States.


From RCP Publications:




Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Statement from Carl Dix

Madison, Wisconsin -


by Carl Dix | May 12, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Tony Robinson and his mother, Andrea Irwin

Tony Robinson and his mother, Andrea Irwin

Today the system let another killer cop get away with murdering a young Black man. It was announced today that Matt Kenny, the white cop who fired 7 shots into Tony Robinson's head, torso and arm—all of them fired in the space of 3 seconds, from “front to back” in the words of the District Attorney (DA) will face no charges. Before making this announcement the DA went thru his own background. That his mother had been the youngest person in a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) chapter back in the 1960's. And that he was the 1st and only Black DA in the state of Wisconsin.

I don't give a damn what role his mother played back in the day, and I sure don't care that he's the first Black face they've put in the position of sending Black people to prison in disproportionate numbers (Black people make up 6 % of the population of the county that Madison is in, yet they are 50% of its prison population.) What matters here is that he pronounced those hurtful words—that another police killing of a young Black man had been found to be justifiable homicide. These are words that he has pronounced again and again, as during his tenure as the DA of the county that Madison is in he has had 7 cases of police killings, 13 police involved, and he has yet to prosecute a single killer cop!

Now he is refusing to even bring charges against the policeman who killed Tony Robinson. The DA is telling us we have to take the cop’s word for what happened, saying there is not sufficient evidence to prove the cop who murdered Tony Robinson is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But that is what a trial is supposed to be about! Where we can get all the evidence on the table and where the cop’s story can be questioned and compared to real evidence. So now we are being told that’s not gonna happen. There is NO reason to believe the story the DA ran out at the press conference.

But even if what he said was true, this was murder. The DA described three calls to 911 that made clear that Tony was having trouble—one said he was running out into traffic in front of cars. Another said that he had taken mushrooms and was acting “crazy.” A third said he had attacked two people. This was obviously a case where somebody needed to help a young man in trouble. Not kill him! And a number of regular people who encountered Tony while he was having this trouble were able to immediately deal with it. Yet when the cop arrived, he ended up killing Tony.

This cop didn't approach Tony to figure out what was wrong with him and how he could help him deal with whatever it was. Instead he forced his way into Tony's apartment and confronted him. The cop said Tony punched him and continued to attack him, backing him down the steps. At that point, despite the fact that he knew Tony was unarmed, the cop gunned him down. According to the DA, the cop felt he had no choice but to shoot Tony because he feared for his life and for other people in the apartment

This was the cop's story. Tony was no longer alive to dispute any of it or to tell his version of what happened. We know that cops often lie to cover their asses when they inflict brutality and murder on people. At a press conference following the DA's announcement, a lawyer for the family said the officer's story had changed over time. And they pointed out inconsistencies between the cop's story as relayed by the DA and what actually happened. One was that they understood that the cop was told not to go into the apartment alone. Another was that there was no one in the apartment but Tony. And a third was that, even though the cop said Tony was attacking him outside the apartment when he shot him, a video of the shooting shows the officer outside the apartment firing into it.

Everyone who hates to hear that another person's life has been snuffed out by the cops—who hates to hear those words justifiable homicide being used to describe the unnecessary loss of another life at the hands of the police—needs to join the resistance to this horror and be part of forging a massive and determined movement aiming to STOP the ugly reality of police getting away with murder.

Why do police kill people again and again? Why do they kill so many unarmed, innocent people. Why do they kill so many people who are having mental episodes, people they have been called to help? And why do they almost never get punished in any way for their murderous actions? Because they are out there doing what the system has them there to do—beating down, locking up and even killing people this system hates and fears. Black and Latino youth are disproportionately targeted by the police and the whole criminal “injustice” system because this system has nothing for them and fears how they will respond to the savage oppression they face in this society. This system has no answer except its police who patrol the ghettos and barrios like an occupying army, spreading terror and inflicting brutality and murder.

Their cops don't “protect and serve the people.” They protect and serve the system that rules over the people. They spread terror in Black and Latino communities, brutalizing and even murdering people arbitrarily. And the whole system backs them up in doing this.

Tony Robinson and all the other people whose lives are stolen by police who are sworn to protect and serve - the Freddie Grays, the Rekia Boyds, the Walter Scotts, all of them—didn't have to die and don't need to keep on dying. And again, even if everything the cop said was true, even if Tony was high and did all the things they claim he did, Tony Robinson didn't have to end up dead. As Bob Avakian put it, in commenting on the 1998 police murder of Tyisha Miller, a 19-year-old African-American woman who police were called to help because she had suffered a seizure and was unconscious in her car and ended up shooting 12 times, killing her:

If you can't handle this situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way. Not only out of the way of this situation, but get off the earth. Get out of the way of the masses of people. Because you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome. And frankly, if we had state power, and we were faced with a similar situation, we would sooner have one of our own people's police killed than go wantonly murder one of the masses. That's what you're supposed to do if you're actually trying to be a servant of the people. You go there and you put your own life on the line, rather than wantonly murder one of the people.

We can have a different kind of society—the state power Bob Avakian (BA) is talking about there. This is a state power aimed at getting rid of all oppression, everywhere. We have the leadership in BA and the Party he leads. We have a vision and plan. Get into all that at An actual revolution is not easy—I’m not going to lie about that. But it is possible, and necessary. And as we fight for justice we have to be getting organized for that revolution.





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Revolution Interview with D. Watkins:

Super-Segregation, Police Terror, and People's Uprising in Baltimore

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution Interview
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.

D. Watkins is a young writer who came up in the hard streets of East Baltimore. His work has been published in the Huffington Post, Aeon, The City Paper, Vice, and Salon. His memoir, Cook Up, is due to be published by Grand Central Publishing in 2016. He has also been teaching English this spring at Coppin State College in Baltimore, not far from the heart of the uprising around Freddie Gray. Revolution caught up with D. Watkins at his office at Coppin, where he was collecting students’ final assignments and nursing a sore knee from a basketball game the day before.


Revolution: In one of your pieces, “Stoop Stories,” you talked some about the history of Baltimore since the end of the Civil War, and said, “It is now 149 years later and nothing has changed.” That piece came out last year, so it’s now 150 years later—but can you get into what you meant?

D. Watkins
D. Watkins. Photo: Kyle Pompey

D. Watkins: How I grew up in Baltimore is just sitting around Black neighborhoods. So I lived on Ashland Avenue, in Lafayette housing projects, spent some time in Somerset housing projects. Went to high school in Dunbar. So all these places where I lived and went to school were nothing but Black people. I had no experiences with white people until I went away to college. And that was like a culture shock for me. I didn’t see the world the way they saw the world, and they didn’t see the world the way I saw the world. And we didn’t clash in a real negative way, but I didn’t build any of those connections of relationships that would allow me to stay, so I ended up dropping out.

And then I thought about my friends, and where we hung at, who we played ball with, who we had activities with—and it was always all Black. Our schools was Black, people who went to church went to Black churches, people when we went to parties it was Black parties. It was no interactions with any other races. And then some of the white people who I started to meet as I started stepping outside of our neighborhood had similar experiences. So Baltimore has always had a history of being super-segregated. There are a few places where the races are starting to clash and meet and intermingle. Ones like the Station North area—a lot of people in the Station North area are buying into the whole diversity kick. I meet friends at Red Emma’s and The Bun Shop all the time and we trade ideas and things like that. But even still, when I go back into my old neighborhood, it’s like, “What’s Red Emma’s?” “What’s Station North?” They still don’t know.

I’ve only gained access to this other world through education, through being exposed to different things. But Baltimore remains a segregated place. I’m going to a high school on Friday to speak—it’s all Black. High schools I’ve been to in other places, in more affluent areas, have been all white. And the way the city’s structured it seems like it’s all gonna be like that.

Revolution: There’s a whole long history to this in Baltimore, of segregated housing policies by the government...

D. Watkins: Well that’s American history, you know what I mean? It’s American history—block busting and red lining and trying to construct certain neighborhoods where they want to keep Black people out. So speaking of Baltimore history, that’s American history. Thing that’s special about Baltimore is, it was the first place after Manhattan to reach a million people. So at one point the population was a million. It had the largest free Black population. Lot of them were professional, business owners and things like that. And the Black population here has always been, like, in control. So this is one of the places where the Mob didn’t dictate. They were like wholesale, you know—whether it was alcohol, drugs, whatever. They were wholesale to Black people but they couldn’t actually dictate and run these businesses because they were never able to be let in. So Baltimore has always been a place of control, and people have a strong sense of pride, and arrogance. I haven’t been all around the world, but I’ve been to a bunch of places and I’ve spent time in a lot of different places. And I will say that this city has some of the most personality-strong, arrogant people I’ve ever met. I’m from here—I love it. I love it. It’s fun. It’s fun. But it’s bad too because sometimes your mind is so closed that you can’t really allow another person to come in and share some ideas that can help you experience this world better. That’s the downside of it.

But as far as segregation and as far as keeping the neighborhoods split, that’s definitely American history.

Revolution: There are some things about Baltimore like—the unemployment rate is high in the city, but it’s even higher in places like Sandtown-Winchester, like 50 percent.

D. Watkins: If you live in a place like Sandtown-Winchester or if you live in a place like the Black side of Park Heights, you’re gonna die 20 or 15 years earlier than a person who lives in Roland Park. It’s the same health care disparities, it’s the same education disparities, it’s the same unemployment... it’s crazy because even the times when the government reports increase in jobs overall, they miraculously find a way to go down in the Black community. We don’t really understand. But I kind of do understand—it’s because of systemic racism. This guy who I was doing events with named Karl Alexander, he completed a 35-year study that showed a Black person with some college has less of a chance of getting a job than a white person with some jail. That’s just due to social fabric. How do you control social fabric? Through these neighborhoods. Through these tax bases. Through these schools. So even if a Black neighborhood is established and potentially you have the opportunity to come through and build social fabric, lot of these neighborhoods are dismantled through urban renewal and gentrification, on top of the lack of opportunity that’s already there anyway.

I think a lot of times people underestimate the power of social fabric. Social fabric—it’s like, “So-and so, how are you doing, man, I’ve got a nephew, he’s been getting into trouble. I know you’re a journalist so you know that skill. Could he tag along, could you teach him how to conduct an interview? Maybe he can find his way in life?” And you’re like, “OK, sure, but you’d better do my taxes.” You know what I’m saying? We can barter and trade and introduce things to people outside of college, like electricians and plumbers and things like that. So social fabric allows us to trade these crafts and skills and help people especially who have trouble finding their way, you know, and it’s good. But this city is notorious for destroying that. And a lot of these cities who have been heavily gentrified are just notorious for not respecting communities of people who don’t own homes. Just because you don’t own a house, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a community. And all that ties back to the same systemic racism, and the systems that create officers like the officers who killed Freddie Gray and these officers who are killing people all over the country. Ties right back into it.

Baltimore. Photo: Revolution/

Revolution: Speaking of cops who murder people, you’ve said the Baltimore Police Department are a bunch of terrorists. Can you get into how that actually comes down, including in your own experience?

D. Watkins: OK, so I got into an argument with a guy, an intellect, an African gentleman, not a lot of American experience, but he has his views. And he asked me, “You don’t think it’s a problem that you called them terrorists?” And I said, well, one of my first encounters... the first time a cop actually put his hands on me, I never broke the law in my life. I didn’t do anything wrong. I had a disagreement. I was a kid, I was in middle school. And like, “Yo, why do you always make us lie on the ground?” And he said something to me about, none of us are going to be shit. He said something like that. And I remember telling him, “If I grew up and never even had a job, I’ll always be better than you.” That’s what I told him. And I get kicked in the ribs. Boom. This is shit terrorists do. You can come to me, you can talk to me any type of way you want—and the minute I show any type of resistance, I deserve for you to put your hands on me even though you initiated it?

When they come into these neighborhoods their language is always foul and disrespectful. They work in these neighborhoods for years and have zero relationships with any of the community members. They never use the word “love.” Many of them participate in illegal activities. There’s so many stories of Baltimore police officers who are caught up in the drug trade. There’s stories of Baltimore police officers who would pick up people off the corner and hand deliver them to drug dealers who are looking for them. Heavily involved in the drug trade.

For me, they’ve always terrorized my neighborhood. They’ve always terrorized my family. The only good cops that I came across was the ones that used to run the PAL [Police Athletic League], and they had a direct involvement with us. They played ball with us. They got to know us as people, as humans. They got to see parts of themselves inside of us and that was good. What did they do with the PAL league? Shut it down. That was the only positive experience.

But if you have some kids or like a brother or like a friend, and me and my group of friends roll up on your kid or brother and break his back and drag him, there’s no other word to call me other than terrorist or horrible person or demon. There’s nothing else. So I was telling the guy that. And we had a good conversation. I was telling him a great tool for the oppressors is to have you think you’re not even being oppressed. Or have you think that your job and your nice sweater and all that stuff is keeping you from being oppressed.

Revolution: On your point about your experience with PAL, a big part of these police “community relations” type of thing is to try to cover over the main thing that goes on, which is, as you said, police terrorizing these communities. Last summer, there were hundreds of cops who invaded housing projects in Harlem and rounded up several dozen youths on bullshit charges—and then the police and the media were talking about how they had police-sponsored basketball at those projects.

D. Watkins: Yeah, I definitely believe it can be a distraction. But I think I was forced to acknowledge that because that’s all we were gonna get. We got nothing else. We got no justice, no protection, no equal rights under the law. The only time they would ever, ever, ever try to be cool with us is when we were playing ball together. That’s it. So I definitely don’t think it solved some of the major systemic issues, but I also don’t think it hurt.

Revolution: We’ve been talking to people in the ’hood here, and we hear story after story of just how constant is the violence by the police against the people—disrespect, yes, and also violence all the time. One woman talked about seeing several times plainclothes in unmarked cars jumping out and start beating on guys just walking down the street.

D. Watkins: The worst—knockers are the worst! They’re the worst. They are the worst.

Revolution: And Freddie Gray—what was his crime? He made “eye contact” with a cop...

D. Watkins: Well again, people have you saying, “Well you know, Freddie Gray has been arrested 18 times” [in a mock chiding voice]. And I say, OK, he’s been arrested 18 times—let’s just ignore the fact how easy it is to be Black and get arrested. It’s so easy, so easy. All you got to be is having a bad day. It’s so easy. Just because he’s been arrested doesn’t mean he deserves to die! How can you say that?! That’s the biggest blow to humanity. The fact that you can say with a straight’re trying to justify that? It’s like a lynching. You’re justifying that? How can someone fix their lips to say that? “Well, you know, he’s been arrested 18 times.” I feel like I’m in another world or something. I don’t care if he’s been arrested 250 times. It’s like, we’re supposed to believe in the legal system but he doesn’t deserve... Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, all these guys, these Mike Browns, all of these people. Even people who had weapons, who did crimes, and who was murdered by cop, all of these people are innocent—because in America, you’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. I don’t care what the situation was.

So I watch these videos of non-Black people dealing with cops, and I see amazing restraint. I saw a white guy running towards a cop, like, “Kill me, I dare you, I’m gonna fuck you up, hurt you.” And the cop is like, “Please, please, I don’t want to hurt you.” Seriously, I don’t think I would ever see a Black video like that.

People talk trash about the uprising. They look down on us and call us “crazy” and “thugs” and all of that. But at the end of the day, that revolutionary action is what brought about those results.

On top of that, when they talk about that fake little shooting that happened a couple of days later, where a guy supposedly had a gun—think about that situation. What time in history do you hear about a Black guy having a gun, that cops see, and them not shooting him? They thought about it. He wasn’t even hurt, and they call like four ambulance trucks [laughs]—to give him CPR and mouth-to-mouth, and he’s lying on the ground. They probably was like, do you want juice and cake? [Laughs.] Are you enjoying your stay here? Come on.

So regardless of what anybody says about the uprising, that action is making people think about it. What’s the aftereffects? Like, “I could be charged for this. My career could be over for this.”

What hurts me more than anything is that it’s 2015 and minorities and poor people and Black people, we still have to force people to see us as humans. It’s annoying. I’m trying to write books—I gotta stop and prove to you that I have a pulse? That you can hurt my feelings, that I have empathy and grief? I still have to prove that? Are you Thomas Jefferson? [Laughs.] Because you know, he believed that. He wrote that in his journals. He wrote that there’s nothing wrong with slaves under his capture, because they don’t feel grief. They don’t feel pain. They’re not capable of feeling the same things I feel, so there’s no way in the world I should be considered a bad, evil person, because they can’t feel pain. He thought that.

J. Marion Sims thought that—his statue is in Central Park, he’s the guy that invented the vaginal speculum. He did that by testing on African slaves. He also used to do tests on African babies, I forgot what the condition was that was making babies sick—and he was experimenting on them. He would take a shoe awl and beat them into the baby’s head—of course in that experiment he had a 100 percent death rate. But he invented the vaginal speculum and, again, he said the same thing. He said these women, they don’t feel pain. They don’t feel pain like us, so I can experiment on them freely. And it’s “good for medicine” and “good for humanity.”

And so here we go, now 150 years later, still sitting here, saying, yo, when you hit me in the head with that club, it hurts.

Revolution: Black people aren’t officially considered three-fifths of a human as in the original Constitution, but the reality is Black people under the system are considered less than human...

D. Watkins: Yeah, that’s what’s going on. That’s what’s going on.

Revolution: We were talking earlier about housing in Baltimore—one of the things that’s striking for people new to the city is what you see in a lot of the Black neighborhoods, where there would be a row of abandoned houses, and then maybe one house or two where people are living in and then more abandoned houses, and so on. And that’s a big contrast with some other areas of the city where there’s new development.

D. Watkins: Yeah, let’s have some cops get rehab grants from the government to move into some of these neighborhoods and have them participate in the fabric of the community, let’s do that with them.

Revolution: If you had a radically different society come into being through revolution, with a whole different system and ways for people to live, then the youth and others who now have no future under this system, their energy and creativity could be unleashed to transform these neighborhoods and all other kinds of things.

D. Watkins: Right. It was difficult... de-industrialization was rough on Baltimore. I was born in the ’80s, I’m at the tail end of this. But a lot of people, old people I knew growing up, always used to be like, you get a job at Bethlehem Steel, you’re good. A dude working at Bethlehem Steel can buy a house, have a stay-at-home wife, have about four kids, send them kids to college, drive a Cadillac, and still put money in the bank. You could do all that with one job. One job. They start to lay off and they shut down. Lot of the GM factories here shut down. Like any place that goes through harsh de-industrialization, it opens the door for the crime element to move in. You’re losing that good job where you’re taking care of all those people, and you know you can’t replace it with nothing—it’s very, very easy to be depressed. Right? And when you’re depressed you want to escape. The quickest way to escape is drugs. But the quickest way to get some of that money you was making from those jobs, is to sell them. Two different sides of the spectrum.

So heroin addiction, we’ve had a strong history of that. But crack hit the city so hard, and to a lot of these good neighborhoods, to the point where people didn’t see the importance of staying in the city to try to rebuild, and try to get rid of the aftereffects of this crack cocaine tidal wave. So a lot of people thought the best thing to do was to vacate, leave their houses behind—if you have any type of opportunity to get away from the city.

’Cause it was crazy. I was born in the ’80s and coming up in the ’90s, and I always call it the “semi-automatic era”—it was nothing to see these big, dramatic guns being whipped out [makes automatic gunfire sound], you know. It was crazy. Drug wars, drug turf, drug territory, and all these things. Baltimore, 300 plus murders a year, on average. So for us kids, this might’ve been like an eight-year span, we might’ve been to like 100, 200 funerals, you know what I’m saying? Obituaries all over the place. My old crib, I used to have a wall, all of them obituaries tacked up over the wall, it was like wallpaper. Fallen friends.

So that explains a lot of the boarded-up houses. And now the crack has died down. The drug trade and all of these things have shifted and changed. Everybody’s popping pills now—and pills are just a less violent crack. A person who really, really wants a Percocet is probably not going to steal all your video games or run down the street with your flat screen. Crack was just a different type of animal.

Now, some people are trying to come back into the city, on top of urban renewal where you got some more businesses and professionals coming back into the city. So it’s still like a mix. But a lot of people who tried to fight it out through those crack times are some of those people who I was talking about earlier—the social fabric, they’re losing their homes. They’re not even able to stay even though they stuck around through the roughest times.

Revolution: One of the things the uprising did was to break down some of the divisions—like two days after the uprising broke out, there was that demonstration of thousands of students, including from campuses like Johns Hopkins, with different nationalities, but including many white students. They weren’t buying into those, from Obama on down, who were calling the youth “thugs” and talking about “senseless violence.”

D. Watkins: Yeah, I thought it was kind of cool to see a lot of people rally around a Black kid who probably they would never talk to while he was alive. That was interesting because, you know, I’m not really concerned with people who just did it because it was the “hot” thing to do to run to Pennsylvania and North Avenues. I’m not into that. But I am into people who said, “Wait a second, they treated a human like this? I have to do something.” I’m inspired by them. Because some people really don’t get it unless something dramatic happens. So I like that aspect of it. And I know a lot of them are going to fade when the story fades. But my whole thing is, anyone who wants to build, with a person like myself who’s trying to promote literacy and use that as a tool to develop critical thinking we need to push for generational change then I’m down. Then any of them who just wanted to march just because they felt like they were helping, I appreciate that, because there’s strength in numbers. And that means something too. But I do believe that some new revolutionaries and some new people who are gonna be fighting for social change will definitely birth out of this movement. And I do think some phonies who’ve been around, who act like they’re trying to be for that, got exposed. And I think that was good too.

I’m writing something right now called “The Baltimore Model.” Normally people have uprisings or burn stuff down as a result—and here, they didn’t even wait for the result. [Laughs.] You know what, we don’t even own these neighborhoods anyway. We don’t have any say in this stuff. This store’s been ripping me off for years anyway. This government’s going to twist us anyway. So what—let’s just show them we can get like Haiti over here, if you want to make it like that, as far as with their history, insurrections and uprisings and all that. I think a lot of people are paying attention.

So now I have opportunities to talk to the mayor and other politicians and all that stuff. Or the police department. And I’m not interested in really speaking to them because, I shouldn’t have to tell you obvious stuff. If you want to meet with me, then meet with me under the capacity of constructing some type of program... I shouldn’t have to pitch you ideas and programs. You should already know if a person is human, they deserve to be treated like one. I don’t want to have a meaningless conversation about some stuff that you should already know. Like if I take this laptop and slap you across the head, it’s gonna hurt. Why do I have to tell you that? Why do I have to sit here and say, look, I know you guys are in power, if I slap you with this laptop it’s gonna hurt. You should know that already, it’s obvious.





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Despite Devastating Environment Impact

Why Is the U.S. Opening the Arctic to Drilling?

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Monday May 11, the Obama administration announced it had approved Shell Oil’s plan for drilling in the Chuchki Sea in Alaska’s Arctic Ocean. Now Shell only needs approval on the final drilling permits, likely no problem for them.

This decision is a complete outrage. The Arctic is melting. More than any other country, the U.S. has caused the buildup of greenhouse gases, bringing on global warming/climate change and threatening the planet and humans with catastrophe. Now, after bringing on such destruction by burning fossil fuels, the U.S (and other powers) are seizing on the melting to begin grabbing for newly accessible fossil fuels whose burning will make the situation even worse. Drilling in the Arctic threatens horrible oil spills in some of the last relatively pristine oceans on the planet. A major spill in the Arctic could ruin beautiful and precious species and ecosystems, and batter the way of life of the Inupiat people, who depend on these ecosystems. (See “The Fight to Stop Arctic Drilling, the Stakes for the Planet.”)

Any country, any government, any system that would make such a decision to drill in the Arctic, especially given the deteriorating state of the environment, is entirely, completely illegitimate.

Kayakers protest Shell Oil drill rig in Seattle
Kayakers protest the Shell Oil drill rig in Seattle. Photo: Greenpeace

People broadly are shocked and pissed off at Obama’s decision, and rightfully so. This week, Shell moved one of its drilling rigs into Seattle’s harbor to load and prepare before towing it to Alaska to drill. Protests to oppose Shell have been called by sHell NO. Environmentalists plan to hold a kayak flotilla opposing Shell’s drilling rigs and also have vowed to shut down Shell’s work at Terminal 5, where the oil rigs will be loaded.

This is important and needs to be spread further to stop Shell’s and all Arctic drilling.

At the same time that there is growing opposition, many, including many environmentalists largely from the middle strata, cannot make sense of why Obama is doing this. A spokesperson for the Natural Resources Defense Council, for example, called Obama’s decision “inexplicable.” But this is not true. It can be explained. Yes, it’s entirely wrong and will cause further damage to the planet. But the reality is that Obama, and any representative of U.S. capital, as well as the capitalists of other countries, are compelled by the laws of capitalism to go forward, despite the damage this will cause.

But why is this so?

First of all, let’s just clear away some bullshit. In announcing this decision, Abigail Ross Hopper of Obama’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) claimed it was based on a “thoughtful approach” and that the drilling “will continue to be subject to rigorous safety standards.” Bullshit! The BOEM itself admitted there was a 75 percent chance of oil drilling in the Arctic causing a major spill at some point. A major spill could ruin this ecosystem for decades—as did the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, which killed off much marine life, including some endangered Orca whale families that are now headed toward extinction. Before the Exxon Valdez spill, before the Gulf oil spill, oil companies and the government bodies that facilitate their exploitation of the Earth also claimed they had the means and were taking every precaution to guard against spills. And they didn’t. With all the talk from Obama and others about all the safety precautions they are taking since the Gulf spill, the truth is oil spills and accidents, derailings of exploding oil trains, pipeline ruptures, etc., have continued and even gotten worse. The Obama administration also signed off on Shell’s supposed ability to drill safely in 2012 and gave them the green light. Then, Shell’s Arctic drilling resulted in a series of fiascos: drilling rigs ran aground or caught on fire and Shell contractors committed multiple felonies by covering up safety violations and dumping pollutants into the ocean.

The truth is this: Drilling can’t be done safely, for two reasons. Drilling in the oceans, especially in deep water such as in the Gulf of Mexico, or facing the extreme weather, storms and ice of the Arctic, is inevitably dangerous and hard to control. In the Arctic, oil would be almost impossible to clean up. And even more, none of this can be done safely because what’s driving these actions is not regard for the environment and its protection, but the compulsion to make profit and to gain control of these resources and get them to market before some other country with some other company does. Protection of the environment—including safety—are simply obstacles and annoyances that have to be overcome in the pursuit of profit. Shell has sunk billions into this venture at great risk, while other companies have held back from starting to drill, judging the risks too great or the profits to be gained not yet clear enough due to the still-low price of oil. Shell is compelled to make good on this investment in its competition with other capitalists. A New York Times article details how Obama was “pre-occupied” with opening up the Arctic even as the Gulf oil spill was still causing shockwaves. Obama made it possible, the Times says, “to clear Shell’s path through the often fractious federal regulatory bureaucracy.”

Special Issue of Revolution on the Environmental Emergency

This Revolution special issue focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and Earth's ecosystems. In this issue we show:

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Also available in brochure format (downloadable PDF)

But the stakes of all this are much bigger than any one company and its own profits. The Arctic is now seen by the world imperialist powers as one of the last great “prizes” to be fought over and grabbed. Tremendous wealth, profitability, and strategic power are at stake. A 2010 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “U.S. Strategic Interests in the Arctic,” says Arctic ice melting “is responsible for the newfound profitability and geostrategic relevance of the region. Access to oil, gas, minerals, fish, and transportation routes formerly locked in by thick ice are, for the first time, becoming accessible and viable sources of profit.” This report tells how a shipping company that used the Northeast Passage along Russia’s Arctic coastline from South Korea to the Netherlands saved as much as $300,000 for each vessel trip due to cutting thousands of miles off their route which would normally have to go around the Asian subcontinent and through the Straits of Hormuz and the Suez Canal. Because of the immense melting in the region, passage through the Arctic is now often open in summer for the first time in recorded history.

The Arctic contains as much as 22 percent of the earth’s remaining undiscovered oil and huge quantities of natural gas, as well as many precious minerals. The world’s powers are engaged in and are beginning to ramp up a race over who can position themselves best to gain control over these resources and the vast wealth they contain—and over who can position themselves to be top dog “decider” over who gets what and the best conditions for their own country in relation to the newly opening shipping lanes. Growing voices in the U.S. ruling class feel the U.S. is falling behind in this race because they don’t have enough icebreakers and ships that can operate in the extreme conditions of the Arctic, and that they don’t have other needed “capabilities,” militarily and otherwise, to protect U.S. interests. Canada, Russia, and others are seen as “gaining advantage” over the U.S. Planners speak about the U.S. strengthening its position to be able to “resolve disputes” in the “shared Arctic commons,” but underneath this lies growing inter-imperialist rivalry over what the big powers view as a strategic prize.

The U.S. has already vastly expanded oil and gas production to become the world’s leader. And it is using these resources, as well as its lead in fracking technology, as a weapon in rivalry with other capitalist countries, for instance battling Russia over Ukraine. Control over Arctic resources means strategic power and domination. None of the great powers or big oil companies can afford to stand aside from the race to grab for this or else they will risk losing out, being driven down, and even under by competitors.

And this is not just about economic competition. The projection of military power—while not yet to the point of endangering a direct conflict, is a growing aspect of competition between the U.S., Canada, Norway, Russia, Denmark, and others like China, who are trying to find a way in.

A presidential directive put in place by George W. Bush, but continued under Obama, outlines a strategy requiring the United States “to assert a more active and influential national presence to protect its Arctic interests and to project sea power throughout the region.” Another strategic paper from the CNA Military Advisory Board said climate change was a threat to U.S. “national power” and advocated that the U.S. needed to step up its ability to project military power in the Arctic as it melts. (See “Climate Change and U.S. Global Supremacy.”)

This is the backdrop behind the decisions to allow Shell to open the way to drill in the Alaskan Arctic and thus open the way for others to rush in. This drilling is part of, and will accelerate, a rush by all the big powers to pry open and plunder the Arctic, while uttering false words about “safety,” “thoughtfulness,” and “environmental concern.” All of this shows more clearly why Obama is hardly the “environmental president” and even more, why this system is not capable of doing anything but destroying the Earth’s environment—no matter how blatant and dangerous the situation is.





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Watching Clips from the Dialogue Between Cornel West and Bob Avakian in West Baltimore

May 1, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


What follows is drawn from an interview with several revolutionaries who work with the New York City Revolution Club and who came to Baltimore to join in the fight for justice for Freddie Gray and to spread the revolution among the freedom fighters there.



Watch the film now! Share it and spread it through social media!

The atmosphere in the room was electric as nine people, mainly from West Baltimore, where Freddie Gray was murdered, gathered around the tiny screen of a DVD player to watch excerpts from REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion. From teenagers to people in their 50s and older, men and women, and some who had done long bids in prison—everyone in the room was glued to the screen, hooting, laughing, and clapping at times, and at other times audibly silent, intensely listening to the dialogue—with some particular intensity to the part where Bob Avakian laid out in clear and serious terms how it could be possible to make an actual revolution and defeat the brutal power of the rulers.

Three selections from the Dialogue were shown, the first being from the opening presentation by Avakian on “What if the world didn’t have to be this way?”, the second one from the Q&A, “Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?”, and also another Q&A section roughly titled, “How are we the oppressed supposed to accomplish true revolution peacefully when we’re up against those who have so much power to destroy? I see a no-win in that situation.” The excerpts ran 30 to 40 minutes.

The “What if...” section of the Dialogue drew a visceral reaction, with people kind of expecting BA to speak on the question of police murder, but then really deeply feeling the way he goes at that and at the way you’re assaulted in every way as a Black person in this society. And when BA goes on to lay out a vision of a world where the lives of all of humanity really do matter, it resonated deeply and opened new horizons beyond what people had ever even dared to imagine could be possible—where not only would there be an immediate end to the murderous terror of the police, but women would no longer be devalued and abused as sex objects and there would be no more immigrants because there would be no more borders to divide and oppress humanity. When BA talked about women being able to walk down the street and be able to look every man in the eye, one woman in the group just erupted—she was verbal as well as applauding. And other people joined in, partly because they did actually agree, but partly also because she drew a line by being so vocal, and you had to choose which side you were on. If you weren’t going to applaud, then it was kind of like you weren’t serious about all of this oppression. And then came the point where he talks about getting to a world where women aren’t battered, raped, abused, and then deprived of the right to control their own bodies.

During the second cut, people were listening a lot, and it was interesting—a couple of people in the room were familiar with the reference to 1968 and urban rebellions, they had a sense of widespread rebellions all across the country. People were really listening to where BA talks about why we are still here struggling, we’re still living under the same system. People were really responding to the back and forth between BA and CW over the role of art and having a different kind of culture—the point about the tenderness, the sweetness, and the collectivity. When BA said, “It’s not weak to love,” that really struck a chord—people not expecting it, but then really appreciating it. And also the thing about hip hop and Ice-T going from rapping about cop killers to playing a cop on TV. That was something that really had people with it and laughing. And that last banter between BA and Cornel about “god doesn’t ask for your permission”—and some people responded to BA, “oh, don’t worry you’ll hear god.” That was a response some people had at the end of that cut. But off of that, people were in a very lively, uplifted mood.

When the third cut came on, where BA gets into how you could really make a revolution and win, the whole way people were sitting literally changed. People moved their chairs forward and leaned in. Then this section framed a lot of the seriousness of the tone of the conversation that followed.

One young guy was talking about how people don’t always see a white dude get up there and talk about how they’re feeling in ways that are convincing in the way BA was, and with the seriousness in what he was talking about. Others appreciated that, but were also talking about how there’s something about this country, that it has been white supremacy, and it has been Black people catching the most hell. So there was some back and forth around that, how to understand that. It wasn’t so much a question of “white people are the problem” but more it was: “What is the problem with white people?” There was a lot of sincerity, broadness of mind, and just genuine sentiments of wanting a world where human beings can just be—and the kind of way they were dealing with this was everyone has oppression, white people can be oppressed, too, under this system—they were trying to figure out how to correctly understand this. But it’s not just that—the question is what kind of world do we want to live in? Do we want to live in a society where whole sections of people are treated that way? No! There was a lot of fluidity that was in the room.

The other big theme of the conversation was this question of winning, making it something worth winning. People talked about sacrifice—not just dying, but being willing to sacrifice for revolution and living your life for something. And this is where the seriousness of how people were taking this really came through. One guy referenced the “What if” part and then the point that if you’re going to go up against them, you have to take seriously into account what they will bring down on people who try to fight them. He said, “I leaned forward when I heard that.” He said how he’d hate to be motivated and get into that and come to find out people are not on that same page. There was back and forth on that, too. OK, what’s the responsibility of people who do see that, and leading people who are not yet ready to make that level of commitment and sacrifice?

Summing up the conversation afterwards, one Revolution Club member said, “You really got a sense that people want to fight, they want to stand up, they really want to see how serious BA is, you know. Is he real or what? I could see people engage BA—is he real or what? And they’re watching him, and when he talked about that serious thing, could we actually win, they were quiet, they were listening, they really wanted to know. And they asked us, are you guys serious, basically? Are you guys going to stand with people here in Baltimore, because if you’re not, you’re getting our hopes up for nothing... One guy at the meeting, he keeps the Stolen Lives poster on his wall so that he’ll never forget that he has to fight this every day... At the end of the meeting [one woman] said she was “worried” because she felt so good. She felt so full of hope. We talked a little bit about this thing of how much it hurts for people to hope, but how much this raises people’s hopes and sights and dreams. Physically you could see she was so full of excitement—but she was also thinking, ‘am I a fool to hope?’ It was sort of an unspoken—or actually a spoken—thing. People were trying to take a measure of us, and of BA. I don’t think there was a question in people’s minds that BA is for real.”

There were several ways that people indicated that while this was the first time they’d heard BA, they wanted to hear a lot more. One way it came out was in the course of the discussion, several people quoted from BAsics—and then everybody in the room wanted a copy. People were figuring out about saving their nickels and dimes so they could make down payments on copies of it. Also in the course of the discussion, it was brought out how this film, in other sections, really gets into this question of if we really want emancipation, it’s not about revenge—and people were very eager to know they could see the whole movie. A date was set to watch the whole film.






Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Interview with Environmental Activist Organizing to Stop Shell


May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Short interview with Zarna Joshi, Seattle resident and environmental activist with sHellNO, which is sponsoring actions to stop Shell’s drilling in the Arctic.


Revolution: Can you tell our readers why you’ve called these protests and why people should come out to them?

Hundreds of kayaktivists take to the water during a protest against drilling in the Arctic and the Port of Seattle being used as a port for the Shell Oil drilling rig Polar Pioneer, May 16, 2015, in Seattle. (AP photo)
Hundreds of kayaktivists take to the water in Seattle during a protest against drilling in the Arctic, and against the Port of Seattle being used by the Shell Oil drilling rig, Polar Pioneer (in background). May 16, 2015. (AP photo)

Zarna Joshi: These protests are about the people of Seattle showing their opposition to Arctic drilling and the chaos of climate change. We want to send a message to the fossil fuel industry that we’ll never allow them to destroy the Arctic—not on our watch. The Arctic’s fragile ecosystem is already on the brink of collapse from climate change! We need to make a rapid and just transition to clean energies and green jobs, not keep repeating the same mistakes of the industrial revolution and continue down this path of greed and exploitation. A catastrophic oil spill in the Arctic (scientists have predicted there’s a 75 percent chance of this happening) will massively increase carbon pollution and ocean acidification and that will lead to the extinction of species all over the world. Burning Arctic oil will push the world past the level of 2 degrees warming, warmer than anything considered safe for the Arctic or humans. We must stop this disaster from happening.

Revolution: What is the basic plan and aim of the protests, what do you hope to accomplish?

Zarna Joshi: The festival of resistance is three days of direct action. May 16 is the family-friendly flotilla, where hundreds of protesters will get in kayaks, canoes, boats, barges, and whatever else they wish, and be a massive show of strength on the water against fossil fuel infrastructure. We’re going to show Shell, and any other company that wishes to drill in the Arctic, that while they have money, we have people and our people will stop this. On May 17, there will be a potluck and family picnic in Jefferson Park, which will be a chance for people in this movement to share food and music and build ties and connections in this movement. Then on May 18, there will be mass direct action on land showing Shell and the oil companies that we will never let them succeed in this plan to drill in the Arctic.

Revolution: How do you connect these actions to the larger environmental dangers, including climate change?

Zarna Joshi: These actions are about so much, including climate change. These actions are showing that the people are ready to move beyond this archaic fossil fuel economy. We want green jobs, sustainable infrastructure, investment in clean energy, justice for indigenous peoples all over the world, and protection for our fragile ecosystems and endangered species. The sHellNo movement is addressing the root cause of climate change—this system of greed, exploitation, colonialism, and racism that is ruining our planet. The people of Seattle are saying “sHellNo!” to that system.





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

From the Arctic to Nigeria:

Shell Oil—Destroying People and the Environment

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader

Soon after the election of Obama, Shell formed connections with the new administration. Shell took up Obama’s formulation that energy “needs” must be “balanced” with the needs of the environment. Shell put out PR messages that climate change is real and a “concern” and that society needs to respond -- trying to “re-brand” themselves as the “eco-friendly” oil company. They’ve used this branding to gain first shot in competition with other companies for plundering the Arctic for oil, and to try to pull a cover over the eyes of millions about the reality of Shell as a leading cause of the climate crisis and a leading destroyer of the environment.

In the Arctic, Shell sends representatives to negotiate with the Inupiat indigenous people who live off the land and seas. Shell’s reps sit down to chew whale meat together, voice their concern and commitment to drill safely, and promise all kinds of jobs and money for services to people who are in deep need of ways to survive.

Shell is just lying, trying to fool people into believing they, and this system they are a part of, are actually taking account of the people and the environment. Exposing this big lie is an actual scientific study that has been done that traced the top companies most responsible for producing greenhouse emissions throughout history. Guess what? Shell is number 6 on the list. They rank only just behind Exxon, Chevron, BP and a few others as leading individual producers of these gases that are strangling the planet. Shell alone is responsible for producing over 2% of the world’s greenhouse gases historically, measured starting with the initial industrial revolution of 1751- until 2010. (See "Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854–2010," Climatic Change, November 22, 2013.)

A woman walks past a burning oil pipeline in Kegbara Dere, Nigeria, in 2007. The fire burned for 45 days and 45 nights, blanketing the village with ash and torching the young cassava plants.
A woman walks past a burning oil pipeline in Kegbara Dere, Nigeria, in 2007. The fire burned for 45 days and 45 nights, blanketing the village with ash and torching the young cassava plants. AP photo

According to the World Health Organization, climate change already kills 150,000 people every year, from things ranging from extreme weather, to damage to food production, to increased disease. And this is expected to get much worse, even catastrophically worse, if the whole trajectory of the build-up of greenhouse gases and the warming of the planet continues as it is. This is a nothing but a catastrophe in the making and the poorest people on the planet will suffer and die from it in a much more dramatic and disproportionate way.

Now none of these companies act on their own, they are part of a whole network of imperialist power relations. But for argument's sake, you could take Shell’s 2% contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, and calculate roughly that Shell is responsible for 2% of the 150,000 people who die annually from climate change. Or in other words Shell is responsible for killing 3,000 people every year.

The Murder of Activist Ken Saro-Wiwa in Nigeria

And Shell’s murderous history and environmental destruction goes much further and deeper. Over many decades in the Niger Delta, Shell has been responsible for massive oil spills and other environmental disasters and has been directly tied up with murderous repression by the Nigerian military of indigenous peoples who have been standing up to try to defend their land, waterways and lives.

A fact sheet from the Center for Constitutional Rights documents Shell’s long history of destruction in the Niger Delta. It says since 1958 Shell has been “working closely with the Nigerian government to quell popular opposition to its presence in the region. From 1990-95, Nigerian soldiers, at Shell’s request and with Shell’s assistance and financing, used deadly force and conducted massive, brutal raids against the Ogoni people living in the Niger Delta to repress a growing movement in protest of Shell.” This included colluding with the Nigerian government in the arrests, prosecution and convictions of nine Ogoni leaders, including the prominent human rights leader Ken Saro-Wiwa, on phony murder charges. All nine were executed by the Nigerian government.

Special Issue of Revolution on the Environmental Emergency

This Revolution special issue focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and Earth's ecosystems. In this issue we show:

Read online....

Also available in brochure format (downloadable PDF)

 A team of scientists quoted in this report say the Niger Delta is “one of the 10 most important wetlands and marine ecosystems in the world. Millions of people depend on the natural resources of the Delta to live. And Shell has been a prime force that have turned large regions of the Delta into “one of the world’s most severely petroleum-impacted ecosystems.”

In the Niger Delta, over 50 years an estimated 1.5 million tons of oil has been spilled. The report says this amounts to the “equivalent to about one ‘Exxon Valdez’ spill in the Niger Delta each year." The Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska caused massive ecosystem destruction that has had on-going impact on marine life for decades and is still being felt. Shell and other oil companies commonly burn billions of tons of gas in “flaring” each year in Nigeria. This gas is a byproduct of the oil drilling but is considered not profitable enough to try to harvest. Gas flares cause huge toxic plumes and the contamination of waterways and people’s lands with chemicals including carcinogens. This flaring also has contributed more greenhouse emissions that “all other sources in sub-Saharan Africa combined”.

The costs to people's lives, people’s health and destruction of the rich ecosystems and species in this whole region, is incalculable, and haslargely not even been systematically studied. This is a result of the whole way that imperialism dominates oppressed nations and writes off the lives of the vast majority of humanity as of no consequence. This is the real Shell, and the real face of capitalism-imperialism.






Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Revolution Books New York Emergency Meeting:

A Call to Everyone Who Cares About the Future of Humanity and Our Planet: Raise the Funds to Save and Move Revolution Books

May 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On May 7, Revolution Books in New York City held an emergency meeting. Andy Zee, spokesperson for the store, made opening remarks. Following is an edited and expanded version of those remarks.

May 7, 2015, Andy Zee spoke to a packed audience at Revolution Books on the emergency facing the store.

Your being here tonight really matters. It matters in a personal way to everybody who’s worked in this store, but it matters much more for the future of humanity. This is not hyperbole. Each of you and others who have responded to the Call to Save Revolution Books, are on the cusp of a social movement that must grow overnight to raise the money to Save and Move Revolution Books RIGHT NOW.

Faced with the necessity to move, we can and must turn this situation into new freedom—making RB a major factor in New York City, with impact around the world. The necessity to raise the $150,000 in emergency funds can be the catalyst to build a huge base of support for and involvement with Revolution Books at a moment when the Baltimore uprising captured the imagination and conscience of people around the world. We are entering times when people feel the import of Revolution Books.

The situation is this:

RB has been operating at this location on a month-by-month basis. The store has just been leased at market value—a much higher rent—and RB must move by the end of May. Confronting this situation, we have decided to make a BIG move that will be signal to all that REVOLUTION BOOKS IS NOT GOING AWAY, but instead will become even more of a force and pole of attraction by moving to Harlem.

This is a big move. HARLEM is where RB should be now. Harlem with its rich history of struggle and intellectual ferment, and pathbreaking art, music, and literature. At the same time, Harlem has been and remains today a concentration of the foundational oppression of Black people: of housing projects run like prisons, militarized police raids on those projects; setting up, framing, and sending the youth to prison. And all this runs smack up against the energy, creativity, and cultural legacy of the people and place of Harlem. In recent decades, there is a new diversity of people in Harlem—new immigrants from Central America and Africa, as well as middle class white people, including students. There’s a new energy in the air. All of this will infuse the new RB, and RB will bring the potential of a radically new world through revolution to Harlem and the world.


These funds are absolutely essential to sign a lease, to fulfill past obligations, to renovate the new space, to move and to publicize the move. This $150,000 is WHAT IS NEEDED. It is not optional.

Edwidge Danticat speaking at Revolution Books, July 31, 2013

Walter Mosley at Revolution Books, August 22, 2013

Revolution Books fills a great need and this is a time when RB is needed more than ever. Because of this acute need, there is a basis to find the people who see this reality and provide them with an opportunity to contribute to the place that is about ending all that torments humanity and is a center for building a movement for revolution to bring about a radically different and better future.

This morning I re-watched a YouTube of a Baltimore youth on the morning after the uprising ... he was filled with passionate determination that he and the brothers and sisters gathered round him would not take this abuse any longer. He was running on adrenaline. He turned the cell phone camera on a young woman friend’s wound from a plastic police bullet the night before... With great emotion, he described how the police do the youth and said, on the morning after a night of fierce struggle to break free, “I’m optimistic.”

Beginning last August in Ferguson and continuing through the fall nationwide, then re-energized with the April 14 “Shut It Down” Protests Against Police Murder in cities across the country, and now on a whole other level with Baltimore—where people’s outrage and hunger for real change burst forth in ways not seen in decades. A new day is being shaped. A new people needs Revolution Books.

You can see this potential written on the faces of the youth who filled the streets with joy and determination declaring, “Black Lives Matter!” and “Stop Police Murder!” At the same time, important new books, films, and art are being created which dig into and tell the stories of slavery, the civil rights and Black liberation movements, and the situation of Black people today. There are new insights and revelations, controversy, and debate over the scale and scope of this oppression, how foundational to America is it, is it systemic, and what is the solution?

It is written in the footsteps of the hundreds of thousands of people who marched in September in New York City to Save the Environment.

It is written in the faces of people who traveled to the desert Texas town where a protest was held last weekend against the brutal incarceration of innocent women and children fleeing poverty and war in Mexico and Central America.

It is written in the rage of young women and men from the campuses in the U.S. to the streets of India, Pakistan, and South America... speaking the unspoken against the rape, degradation, and oppression of women.

All this could be the first winds of a complex struggle with the potential to be a part of the fight for real liberation.

Yet, the murder of Black youth by police continues, war rages on in the Middle East, nothing is done to save the planet... and the system continues on  every front and in every sphere—destroying lives and crushing spirits. These horrors drive home that Revolution Books is needed now more than ever. It is also a moment when Revolution Books could be lost. But, you, and we, have something to say and do about that. Your contribution, your raising funds, your being a part of moving and renovating RB will make the difference.

RB’s mission is this: People come into Revolution Books from all over the world to find the books and the deep engagement about why the world is the way it is and the possibility of a radically different way the world could be. Scientific and poetic, wrangling and visionary, Revolution Books is at the center of building a movement for revolution.

It is quite simply true that there is no other place, no other bookstore, that is dedicated to this mission. RB gives people the opportunity to engage with a scientific understanding of history and the world today. The store is infused with the morality and vision that lifts people’s sights to struggle for a world that is overcoming all forms of exploitation and oppression. And RB does this with big arms to engage and embrace wide spheres and tributaries of intellectual and cultural life that are a part of fighting for a new world.

What makes this possible is the scientific method and approach, the vision and architecture for a radically new society made possible by a pathbreaking strategy for revolution. All of this and more is concentrated in the new synthesis of communism developed by the revolutionary leader, Bob Avakian, “BA.”

Bob Avakian has looked deeply at the first attempts of the slaves to form new societies to overcome all forms of oppression—the Russian and Chinese communist revolutions of the 20th century—digging into their great accomplishments as well as their errors and shortcomings and why they were defeated by imperialism decades ago. He draws from a broad range of human experience, and has developed a new synthesis of revolution and communism. This is a framework for a new society that is moving to end all the inequalities, all the divisions—the oppression of different nationalities; the oppression of women and people of different genders; the division between those who have the privilege of working with their minds and those who work in manual labor; as well as working to overcome the devastation of the planet.

The movement for revolution that RB is at the center of today, what happens here in the store every day, and the society and world we are fighting to bring into being involves a process—a scientific method and approach that gives great scope to intellectual work, ferment, and dissent as a key part of how people come to understand and act to change the world.

Revolutionary theory, history, science, and the arts live at RB and are appreciated, engaged, and critically mined for insight and inspiration, to enable us all to deepen our understanding of the world and to discover and to act on the pathways to liberate humanity. This is not just a dream, but is rooted in the deep contradictions of the system of capitalism-imperialism that rules the world today. Revolution Books is where all of this is probed and engaged by a diversity of people and viewpoints, and where there is a movement for a real revolution that is leading the struggle to make it a reality.

Authors, filmmakers, actors, and poets remark that the critical engagement and dialogue at RB is like no other. There is a passion for getting at what’s true, a morality of serving the people, dialogue carried forth with a mutual respect that comes from the profound place of putting the interests of the oppressed of the world first in heart and mind.

Everyone can experience this ethos and principled struggle at its highest level in the new film of the historic dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian that took place at Riverside Church on November 15, 2014 before 1,900 people, REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion. Watch the video and get a living sense of what is opened up by BA and the revolution that is at the heart of RB. More, at Revolution Books people can find and dig into Bob Avakian’s extensive body of work—books, films, talks—work that opens up a new era for revolution and a new stage of communism.

Revolution Books fights for critical thinking. Youth learn the method and import of science and the science of revolution. RB involves a unique and rare mix of people, from university students to people from the hardest streets, youth and people with years of experience, different nationalities, people from all over the world, and different genders—all coming together to grapple with how to understand and respond to all the various ways the system comes at the people—and why and how humanity can do so much better.

At RB, the whole world comes first ... people engage and learn the real history of this country and its imperialist role in the world today. All of this comes from the deep morality put forward by Bob Avakian that we need to bring forward a people and movement for the emancipation of all humanity—and not “the first shall be last and last shall be first.”

Revolution Books’ move to Harlem—where, as I said earlier, the hard streets and projects that live under the constant terror of the NYPD are right alongside the campuses of Columbia University and the City College of New York and a wealth of cultural richness—will enrich one of the unique treasures of Revolution Books: the mix of people who engage ideas together with urgency and collective spirit. The sense of being isolated and despised that those who catch the hardest hell experience gets broken down, the important work that artists and scholars do enriches those normally denied access to this knowledge, and the intellectuals are impacted and transformed themselves, coming to understand the reality of this country on a whole other level.

Take a look at the breadth of writers, artists, and voices of conscience who have read, performed, dialogued, and spoken at RB including: Edwidge Danticat, Eve Ensler, Ngügï wa Thiong’o, Arturo O’Farrill, Saul Williams, Walter Mosley, Lewis Lapham, and Wallace Shawn, among many others. These beautiful and important voices, engaged at this place, with this breadth of audience and the revolutionary method and approach I’ve talked about tonight, this, too, is at stake in our fight to re-open Revolution Books in Harlem. There is NO PLACE else where people engage the burning questions of today the way they are discussed at RB. Watch the videos, listen to what those who have spoken and performed at RB have said about their experience.

Before moving on to how we are going to raise the funds and make this move a big deal, let me underscore that what is at stake is nothing less than the present and the future, and, in a very living sense, what we learn from the past. How people understand reality shapes what they do, how they fight back, with what objectives, how they determine friends of the people from enemies, how differences among the people should be taken up, how to fight and how to win—not just the immediate struggle, whether in the streets or in the realm of ideology and culture, but how to win in bringing about a whole new society through revolution. Without Revolution Books, without this place with the scientific spirit of discovery, the critical thinking, the poetic spirit, and the engagement with revolutionary theory and a broad spectrum of intellectual, cultural, and scientific work, without a place that can connect people to the movement for revolution and its leadership, no matter how heroically people fight, no matter how passionately people expose and denounce the current state of the world, it will stay as it is.

Take a moment and think, and ask yourself what you can do now to answer the call:

Humanity Needs Revolution

The Revolution Needs Revolution Books

Revolution Books Needs You!

Tonight I am asking you to give all you can to the emergency fund drive. Make a pledge and donate part of the funds tonight and more going forward. EVERY DONATION MAKES A DIFFERENCE. But, if you can give $500, $1,000 or pledge $5,000, do so.

But even if all of you here give all you can tonight, to raise $150,000 will require providing hundreds and even thousands of people the opportunity to make a huge difference by contributing to Revolution Books.

When you ask people to donate, you are building the community that will sustain RB. A community of people engaged with the books, the films, the programs, and the movement that RB is at the heart of.

Yes, people need money to survive in this outrageously expensive city, but that, too, underscores the need for a world where people could live and flourish collectively. Many people donate to many causes, but very few causes get to the root of getting free of a system that requires charity to deal with the outrages that are the product of that system itself. Giving to the Emergency Fund of RB is about changing that. That’s why struggling with people to donate big funds is not about giving to “our” thing, but about donating for the future.

I want to say to people who are new to this that you don’t have to agree with everything I've said tonight—whether about the new synthesis of communism or the necessity and possibility of revolution—to be a part of saving Revolution Books. If you can recognize the great difference it makes that we have a place where people are engaging revolution, where this conversation takes place; and, on the other hand, if you can see the reality that without this bookstore where the questions posed by a movement and a theory that says that the world doesn't have to be this way and that it could be radically different through revolution and which looks at revolution in a radically different way than is the common discourse in society, including in the universities, people's political imaginations of what could be possible would be stunted. If you recognize that, you can see why RB really matters and why you should support it.

You can be a part of the movement to save Revolution Books, donating and raising funds, while you are finding and figuring out what you think about the revolution it is at the center of, the process of doing and thinking, engaging and struggling that is the lifeblood of the movement for revolution and of RB. We have plenty of room for people to engage and argue over all these questions. But... do so while making sure that Revolution Books continues to thrive. Because if we don’t raise the money, then that could be cut off. We should understand that. Together with your support, we are determined that will not happen.

Some people have said this is a lot of money to raise and they’re right. So we need to break this down. I am asking you tonight to be a part of working on figuring this out. The plan is being forged as we are carrying it out. But here are some ways to begin to think about it:

What about 100 students becoming Friends of RB for $60 a year. That comes to $5 a month. And, it also comes to $6,000. Can’t we go out and find 50 professors who will donate between $250 and $1,000? We should aim to raise $15,000 to $20,000 from professors. We should go door to door and get lots of people to contact friends and relatives and workmates and raise $100-$250 from them. We are working to find patrons and large donors. And, in June, we will launch an Indiegogo Campaign with the objective of raising something on the order of $50,000... All of this is to stimulate thinking and to get things going.

Revolution Books needs loans—funds so that we can quickly renovate new space and make the move. As we do fundraising over the summer and then re-open the store, these loans will be repaid.

Immediate Plans:

For the next eight days, we are going to go far and wide raising funds and spreading word of the emergency fundraising to Save and Move Revolution Books. Then beginning Friday night, May 15, we are going to have an Open House Weekend of events to raise funds that will be a grand send off for Revolution Books on 26th Street.

Once again, think of the difference it will make to have Revolution Books re-born in Harlem, able to dramatically expand its programming and stock of books, changing people and changing the world.

Dig deep into your pocket, heart, and conscience. DONATE and SPREAD THE WORD—play your part in opening up vistas for understanding why the world is the horror it is for the majority of humanity, and how it could be radically transformed.

Humanity Needs Revolution

The Revolution Needs Revolution Books

Revolution Books Needs You!




Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Huzzah! Why I Gave to Revolution Books

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


The following is a reflection from a young member of the NYC Revolution Club about why she donated to the campaign to Save & Move Revolution Books. Revolution Books will be forced to close the doors of its current location on May 31 and must raise $150,000 to re-open in Harlem.


Recently, supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and youth in the Revolution Club organized people to attend Nirbhaya (at the Lynne Redgrave Theater)—a play about a young woman, Jyoti Singh Pandey, who was brutally gang raped the night of December 16, 2012, and the massive outpourings of protest this sparked in India and across the globe. It was a heart wrenching, beautiful play with immense power.

The second time I saw the play, I observed that our group stood out. We were together a group of all kinds of folks. Folks who have just hit the streets in Baltimore, curious about the possibilities of making revolution, burning with questions about why the world is the way that it is, and how we can change it. Folks of all ages, gender identities, races, socioeconomic statuses, sexualities—if a college board were to see us, surely they’d call us diverse, take a photo and put it on their website to sell their university (ew!)—it was truly an incredible mix of people from all walks of life, with many experiences and here we are sitting together to watch this play. With different accents, dialects, with a love of the people and hatred of their oppression—I noticed that folks attend events like this in groups—but groups unlike this one—groups of say, Black women, or white women, as it may relate to them. Homogeneous groups. When do people get together with a mixed group of people like this? So that their thoughts may be challenged, so that all experiences are reflected, and not just experiences, but ideas, ideas that may reflect those experiences or ideas that get to the root of why we, this rainbow group sitting in this theatre, have different experiences of oppression and how we can end it all.

In college I went to many events, events at anarchist bookstores, events at lesbian and gay centers, events that engaged ideas of social justice and NONE of them had an audience like the grouping that sat together that evening in Nirbhaya. NONE of them brought together the kind of audience that is frequently in the house at a Revolution Books event. This is rare. This is so precious, and special. This is what the world could be like. This is what the Revolutionary Communist Party fights for.

And why? Why do they fight for this? Not just because yes, when you see a group of folks coming together to talk about oppression it may give you the warm fuzzies, as it does me, but the RCP just won’t let it end there, no. It is not a part of their principles to give up, and “be a knife in the backs of the people” and so they never give up on people. They never gave up on me and have treated me with incredible decency, respect, and dare I say love—like a fucking human being. And leaders in the RCP treat all people like that because again it’s informed by theory; not to say that they are not nice people or caring, but it is precisely because they care they’ve dug beyond the surface to truly understand the world and how to change it, which informs their being, if you will, or rather their acting on what they know to be true. And at the helm of this leadership is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Bob Avakian (BA), whose understanding of how this world works is the very reason why he has never given up on the possibility and necessity of making a revolution. It is this understanding that precedes the actions of the leadership in the RCP—knowing full well that in order to make a revolution all kinds of people who want to be free of their chains MUST and CAN be led. It is this need that also makes it a necessity for all kinds of folks to understand what the problem is and what the solution is, while digging into the work of BA to end the horror that is capitalism-imperialism. Whether or not people agree with BA is not a determining factor in how the RCP works with people—in fact many folks, who don’t agree that humanity needs communism, have and continue to work with this party. We mustn’t take this for granted anymore.

Let’s fight for the work of BA to be known widely across this country and the world. Let’s fight against the lies and slanders against the RCP. And that can only be a reality if we FIGHT to re-open this bookstore, and, yes, make the bookstore an even more amazing space for people! Yes, I use the word “fight,” because this struggle takes hard work. It will make you uncomfortable, and scared, but it will also bestow on you the greatest responsibility of all—the responsibility to free all of humanity and what can be more important than that?

A program at Revolution Books, New York.

It’s not an accident or some fairy tale that such a mix of people came together on one evening—it took work, it took a fight, with no ego involved—no intention of moving up in the ranks of social movements, begging for the “cool” look-at-how-intersectional-this-movement-is scraps. What can be more important than giving your money to that? We give, give, give to all kinds of crap all of the time, and I say this with no judgment because indeed we do have to live in this horrible exploitative world alongside our burning to change it. But, instead of say buying cage-free chickens here or there, or buying American made clothing, or local vegetables in an attempt to be free or under the illusion that those choices will free us you can really DO something with your money! You can sustain a bookstore that is a part of a movement of ending all of oppression and in doing so opens its doors to anyone and everyone who wants to lift their head, raise their fist, and, yes, put on their reading glasses and critical thinking hat. This is the MOST important thing you can do with your money and this is why I gave to Revolution Books! And I did dig deep because I know just how tragic it would be if New York City lost Rev Books, and how tragic it would be in the movement for revolution if this space were lost! Because until we reach a day where money is obsolete, where the exchange of goods for money is a thing of the past, where Rev Books is never being threatened to close, then we CAN and MUST fight like hell for this bookstore, just as they have fought like hell for you, and continue to fight (and critically think) like hell for all of humanity. Give, give, give. Sustain for $5 a month (or if you can give, give more!) and become a friend of the store. It felt amazing to know I was giving my money to something bigger than myself. Make an investment in the future of humanity and help save Revolution Books!






Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

May 13, 2015:

30 Years Since the Massacre of the MOVE Household and the Incineration of Osage Avenue

May 12, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Osage Avenue burns after Philadelphia police dropped bomb on MOVE house. May 13, 1985. 11 people died and 61 homes burned down.

Thirty years ago, the mayor of Philadelphia was Wilson Goode, the city’s first Black mayor, and lots of Black people and progressive white people put their faith in him to make the oppressive system “work” for the people.

But thirty years ago, on May 13, 1985, city authorities, acting on Mayor Goode’s direct orders, carried out a massacre against the residents of a house on Osage Avenue on Philly’s West Side, and then unleashed a catastrophe for the mainly Black community around it.  Their target was the home of a collective of Black radicals, the MOVE organization, which had already been the victim of years of violent assaults by the system aimed at crushing this rebellious group and anyone connected with it.*

On May 13, 1985, hundreds of police surrounded and attacked the home in the morning, firing thousands of bullets and using explosives on a home in which they knew there were a number of children.

But that was not enough for this system.

When MOVE did not surrender, the mayor ordered that a bomb be dropped on the roof. The MOVE house became a raging inferno. 

But that was not enough for this system.

They unleashed a wall of gunfire against anyone who tried to escape the flames, forcing them back into the fire to die. Between the bullets and flames, 11 people were murdered, including five children. Only two occupants survived the massacre. 

But that was not enough for this system.

The MOVE house was in a neighborhood of houses built closely together, yet the city ordered the Fire Department NOT to put out the flames, even as they spread beyond the MOVE house, roaring from one building to the next. By the end of the day, a whole block of houses, home to 250 people, had been destroyed.

But that was not enough for this system.

While the perpetrators of this horrendous crime – the mayor and the police – walked free, the only adult survivor, Ramona Africa, was arrested and spent seven years in prison for refusing to renounce MOVE, while the surviving child, Birdie Africa, was seized by the system and taken away from his family.

And with that, these authorities – those who serve the needs of a system that bellows with rage when youth in Baltimore fighting for justice break some windows, who cry crocodile tears about the deaths of Black men and the systematic impoverishment of the Black community, who cannot shut up about how “exceptional” America is – with that, these monsters called it a day!

Drawing the Line

In the wake this stunning and horrifying event, many people were paralyzed, partly by the sheer nightmarishness of what had happened, but also by the fact that this crime was carried out under the authority of a Black mayor. Far too many people who would have been outraged and outspoken if the same thing had happened in a city with white political leaders were silent in the aftermath of the massacre on Osage Avenue.

In response to this shameful situation, Carl Dix and others initiated the Draw the Line statement to denounce the MOVE massacre, and struggled fiercely for people to act on conscience and principal, not on false hopes, illusions and cowardice. The statement was signed by more than 100 prominent Black figures and others. It denounced the collusion of Black elected officials in the repression of the Black community, saying, in part: "When Black elected officials use their positions of power to attack Black people, or to cover up for or excuse such attacks, they are no friends of ours."

Never Forget or Forgive the MOVE Massacre!

Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!


* This included the persecution of Mumia-abu-Jamal, former Black Panther, revolutionary journalist and MOVE supporter, who had been framed up and locked away in prison three years earlier, where he remains today, fighting for his life! See “F*%king horrible”: The Public Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal?”. [back]





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

From A World to Win News Service:

Nicaragua: Sugar is poison

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


sample image

Cane cutter poses for a portrait in the fields where he works. In the past two decades, at least 20,000 workers lost their lives to a chronic kidney disease attributed to working conditions on sugar cane plantations in Central America. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

11 May 2015. A World to Win News Service. "Sugar is poison." This is a warning we frequently find in the media these days, about the dangers of consuming sugar. But sugar is a "poison" even for those who produce it.
In the past two decades, at least 20,000 workers lost their lives because of working conditions on sugar cane plantations in Central America. They all suffered from a chronic kidney disease called CKDnT. According to La Isla Foundation, from 2002-2012 in Chichigalpa, a vast area of sugar cane plantations in northwest Nicaragua, about 75 percent of the deaths of men aged 35-55 were caused by CKDnT. Nearly every family has lost a member to this epidemic.

This unusual kidney disease is not due to common factors such as hypertension and diabetes. While most studies (for example, by Boston University and the School of Public Health) show a clear correlation between the disease and the work these men are doing, big companies like Ingenio San Antonio (ISA), Nicaragua’s oldest and biggest sugar mill, do not accept that there is a connection between CKDnT and working conditions on its plantations. As the Guardian revealed in its 16 February report, these companies "are supporting research into possible non-occupational causes – recently donating £430,000 for research into genetic and childhood links to CKDnT."

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends 45 minutes of rest after 15 minutes of heavy work in conditions of extreme heat, to keep the body from overheating. During the harvest months, ISA's field hands work for eight to 14 hours in 38 C [100 F] temperatures. They work six or seven days a week, cutting an average of seven tonnes of sugar cane every day. They are paid 23 cordobas (almost 1 dollar) for a tonne of cane. Whether CKDnT is directly caused by these working conditions, toxic chemicals or a combination of factors, it is very likely an occupational disease.

"If we don't die of the disease, we'll die of hunger, because there is nowhere else to work," a man says in a documentary about the CKDnT epidemic in Nicaragua, Under Cane, by Ed Kashi. These words give a clear picture of life in that country today.

Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Latin America (after Haiti). Its economy is driven primarily by the agricultural sector, mainly coffee, cotton, sugar and bananas. More than a third of Nicaragua's sugar production is sold to the U.S. In fact, the U.S. is the country's largest trading partner, providing 25 percent of Nicaragua's imports and receiving about 60 percent of its exports.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, 48 percent of the population of Nicaragua live below the poverty line, and 79 percent live on less than $2 a day. Most of the country's indigenous people, according to UN figures, live on less than $1 per day.

Once upon a time there was no sugar cane, coffee or cotton growing in Nicaragua or anywhere else in the Americas. The European conquerors of the New World brought not only "guns, germs, and steel," but also cotton, coffee, sugar and slaves. And the story of triangle trade began: "Sugar from the Caribbean was traded to Europe or New England, where it was distilled into rum. The profits from the sale of sugar were used to purchase manufactured goods, which were then shipped to West Africa, where they were bartered for slaves. The slaves were then brought back to the Caribbean to be sold to sugar planters. The profits from the sale of the slaves were then used to buy more sugar, which was shipped to Europe, etc." (Wikipedia, "Triangular Trade")

As an 18th century French traveller put it, "I do not know if coffee and sugar are essential to the happiness of Europe, but I do know well that these two products have accounted for the unhappiness of two great regions of the world: [Latin] America has been depopulated so as to have land on which to plant them; Africa has been depopulated so as to have people to cultivate them." (Quoted by Sidney W. Mintz in Sweetness and Power, the Place of Sugar in Modern History, 1985, Viking).

This story is not over. The history of Nicaragua, like so many countries, is one of people who have always worked growing crops that were never meant to nourish them, forced by slave masters and then by hunger itself to accept this work.

This is the logic that rules the economy and lives of Nicaraguans today, under the presidency of the former revolutionary, Daniel Ortega. There are huge plantations where sugar, cotton and coffee are grown for export, and the profits of the sale are invested to plant more... because that is the blind logic of capital. One of the country's few exported manufactured products is its high-end rum, prized by the international luxury trade. Its flavour does not reveal the bitterness of its creation in the cane fields, sugar mills and refineries. Crops are grown with the hope that they can be sold to meet the demands of the global internationalized market, not to meet people's needs.

Ortega is a leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front. In 1979, after a guerrilla war, it led the overthrow of the Somoza family dynasty that had ruled Nicaragua for 43 years, ever since it was put into power by the United States, whose soldiers occupied Nicaragua for two decades. The U.S. reacted by trying to strangle the country's economy, planting its main port with explosive mines and other acts of sabotage. The CIA organized an army of old-regime goons and mercenaries known as the Contras. It financed this army through secret arms deals with Iran and involvement in the first major wave of the cocaine trade, with genocidal results in U.S. ghettos.

Washington's strategy was not to directly overthrow the Sandinistas but to pressure the government by punishing the population itself through campaigns of murder, rape and torture in the countryside, killing 30,000 people. The country's infrastructure was so devastated that to this day there is no longer any direct road between the capital city and the Caribbean.

Ortega, like General Augusto Sandino, after whom his group was named, eventually accepted a deal with the U.S. But unlike Sandino, who also accepted an agreement that brought an end to a guerrilla war against U.S. occupation in 1933 but was betrayed and assassinated, Ortega was eventually allowed to rejoin and help modernize the political system that enforces the status quo in Nicaragua.

While Carlos Pellas, owner of ISA, nicknamed the sugar king and close to Ortega, has become the country’s first billionaire, many workers who had to leave their jobs because they were suffering from CKDnT have to use a fake ID and go back to work cutting cane, because there aren't any other jobs. They know that they'll die soon either way, of chronic kidney disease or hunger. 

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 #387 May 18, 2015

Interviews in West Baltimore:
Living Amid Poverty and Police Violence...and Fighting for a Whole Different World

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Baltimore, Maryland is a major city in this country that is not only marked by extreme poverty and degradation for hundreds of thousands of Black people, but as a central part of that oppression, by brutal treatment and murder at the hands of the police. Anger and outrage boils all the time and has risen to the surface. As people have lifted their heads, stood up, a core of people have been drawn to the revolution and to fighting for a different world, free of all oppression. Recently, in the wake of the uprising and rebellion protesting the murder of Freddie Gray, reporters from had the unique opportunity to interview Black people of different ages who are living and working in West Baltimore.

As we arrive in West Baltimore, the first thing that jumps out are the boarded up row houses everywhere—and then every block or so amidst a row of houses, there will be one place with a wreath on the door or a plant on the stoop. Families are still living there. But what about the places where people used to live...where are the people now? How are they surviving? At a stoplight, you see homeless people trying to eke out an existence on the streets.


"In West Baltimore, the first thing that jumps out are the boarded up row houses everywhere—and then every block or so amidst a row of houses, there will be one place with a wreath on the door or a plant on the stoop. Families are still living there. But what about the places where people used to live...where are the people now? How are they surviving? At a stoplight, you see homeless people trying to eke out an existence on the streets. "
Photo: Revolution/

It’s not hard to figure out what the backdrop for the rebellion was—as one youth from the Revolution Club said: “People are just struggling to keep up above, you know, just alive, basically out here. It’s real hard for people. Ain’t no jobs. Ain’t shit out here, just abandoned shit. It’s a wasteland. It’s like a prison, it’s like a outside prison, for real.”

The unemployment rate for Black youth in this part of the city is 50 percent. Another Revolution Club youth put it this way: “What really stands out here is this whole third world reality of how people live in the first world reality, and the tremendous poverty... I mean this is a big U.S. city and... out here there’s some working class, but there’s also a lot of just totally cast off sections of the people.”

And in the midst of this, the people are constantly harassed, brutalized, and worse by the pigs who act like an occupying army. One recent statistic that came out gives just one outrageous indication of what the people face: Between June 2012 and April 2015, the Baltimore city jail refused to accept nearly 2,600 people brought to them by cops because they had injuries that were too severe for them to be admitted to jail.

In the wake of the murder of Freddie Gray, the scene is still tense—and people have stood up and said NO MORE! Enough is enough. We are excited and anxious to talk with people from West Baltimore—to learn about their lives and the rebellion itself and how they are looking at the revolution.

First off, the leaders of the Revolution Club are “educating” us: “It’s like the big city of Baltimore but it’s like an old Southern city or something. It’s like the Jim Crow era for real, you know. Black are just like beat down here, badly. We’ve gotta lift these people up. When I drive through I can see everything closed down. Abandoned buildings with wind blowing through ‘em and shit. It’s just depressing as hell. That’s my picture of Baltimore—there’s nothing here. So that’s why I’m like: they ain’t got nothing to lose. But they changed this motherfucker. You ain’t got nothing’ to lose here, you know. And then like you saw how Monday like they rose up and they was like: fuck the police!”

Life in West Baltimore and the Constant Brutality by Police

How are people surviving?

Get with the
Revolution Club

Revolution Club, Baltimore, May 2
Revolution Club, Baltimore, May 2. Photo: Special to

One of the Revolution Club leaders says, “It’s a good question. It is a lot of young people, you see some of them and what they do, they raise their money, enough to get like some soda and chips and that’s how they do it. And they’re working for somebody. And we hear story after story after story about how much the police are in on a lot of the drug economy, including controlling what market gets to run more freely than others. In other words, in certain parts of town people are picked up if they’re caught dealing and their product is taken and delivered to the other part of town where it’s more regulated by the police. So that’s some of what goes on.

“A number of the women that we’ve met are nurses And that seems to be what employs a good number of people, is the hospitals around here.”

We ask, “You think more of the women have jobs, actually, than men?”

Revolution Club: “Seems like most of the women work and most of the guys are hustling, always hustling trying to sell a shirt, t-shirt, a CD, whatever.... Cuz I don’t see no jobs out here. You might see a corner store but it’s so small, who’s working there? You got like one or two people, maybe working. It’s crazy. I’ve been in other cities too and I ain’t never seen nuthin’ like this. So that’s why I’m like: they ain’t got nothing to lose. But they changed this motherfucker. “

As we talked with people, we learned more about what life is like with the constant police harassment, brutality and murder. Freddie Gray died when he established eye contact with the police—and then ran. People said, “Who would not do the same?”

One woman in her 30s who does volunteer work in the community described the following scene: “It’s really hard. A couple of weeks before Freddie passed, the teenagers were out here running. They were playing hide and seek. It was the sweetest game of teenage boys playing hide and seek ever in the field. But I told them, I was like: ‘You guys really shouldn’t...’ I didn’t want to tell them to stop playing. But I was like, ‘You really shouldn’t run around because they may think that you’re running from something that you didn’t do.’ You can’t tell them to not play. Teenagers playing hide and seek, are you serious?!... These are all straight A students. They’re all straight A students.

“So I just saw them running outside, and all I could think was they might be killed because they’re just playing. That’s something that you don’t want to, as a volunteer, think about. I don’t want to think about that when they’re outside playing. But that’s real. Like even the coach at the recreation center in this neighborhood, some days he doesn’t have practice because you just never know.”

C is a young man in his mid-20s who grew up in Baltimore. He works as a cook. He describes the daily harassment and brutality from the police: “I been working since I was 10, selling newspapers, anything I could get my hands on, to touch something. But we’re not looking for a dollar any more. It’s crazy. I think they just trying make us fellows be nothing because they take from us. And for us to lash out like we did last week, to show them that we’re tired of it. Cause we tired, we’re human beings, cause overall we’re getting scrutinized by somebody that think that just because we are Black we gonna go out and commit a crime. There’s thousands of millions of brothers and sisters that go out there that make an honest living, not to commit crime.

“Last week I got stopped five times. What’s that? I can’t go out to the corner store, if I put something in my pocket, they think it’s drug money. I got victimized by the police. I got brutalized by the police in 2012. All because I was walking in a drug neighborhood. So they thought I was a druggie, chased me, dragged me across the asphalt. I didn’t reach out to do nothing cause it happens every day. They not going to get in trouble for it. They are not going to answer for it because there’s a brotherhood within the brotherhood within the police department.”

The Youth Rose Up—and Changed Things

Baltimore, May 2
Baltimore, May 2. Photo: Special to

The youth and others made a statement in rebelling. It started off when the police shut down the major transportation hub at the mall at around 1 o’clock in the afternoon. At the same time, the high school forced the students to leave. The consequence? The Revolution Club reports: “All these youth, and some regular people from the neighborhood, were all gathered there because everything was shut down and they had nowhere else to go. People were mad and they didn’t know why the riot cops were there. And whatever people came there thinking that they were going to do or not do, what the police did actually drew some lines about what was going to happen. People just took all the Stolen Lives posters we had and started walking right up to the line of riot cops with the posters. They were just holding it up. People would walk up to the line and run back because the police would move like they were going strike or pounce on people. So there was a lot of that—people testing how close they could get with the posters.”

The youth refused to back down in the face of the police repression—and they rose up and changed things.

From the Revolution Club: “That rebellion was something great. It uplifted people here and around the whole world. It uplifted people everywhere. And now people thinking that after this rebellion, they thinking a lot of the police gonna get off. And they like: what we gonna do next? They thinking about what’s next. They feel it. But then there’s also people who don’t feel it, you know, that are trying to ignore it, trying act like it’s not going on and will just go back and be happy in their safe, regular lives...

“Since Ferguson it’s kind of been a whole political situation that’s been in a lot of motion—and then there is Baltimore. The rebellion here was quite a bit more fierce. Overwhelmingly the rebellious youth were confronting the police. The news showed videos of the police cars trashed and burning. There was even this scene where we were walking and some of the kids started throwing stones at the construction workers for a second, and other people were like: Nah, they ain’t police. Stop that! And some people grabbed them and said no, that’s not what we’re doing.

Baltimore. AP photo

“What was the rebellion about? People were just tired of living this way. It’s not the case that it had nothing to do with Freddie and the murder, but it was the case that it was about more than that. It was about how that crystallized how people actually live out here.

“We heard the police was throwing rocks at the people, going for people’s legs. Then the police go running one way and all the kids go running this way yelling to each other as they went: the police coming that way! They were working together, you see. Then you had some guy come out there like: They goin’ kill y’all. He didn’t want them to be fighting the police—they gone kill y’all out here. The reality: the police already killing people. You need to be standing with them. And the youth were like: we’re standing up. The youth didn’t want to hear that shit.

“It was joyous times. Police cars went running through the middle...they would just speed through and all hitting people. It was a lot of high school and some younger that were part of some of the main action. And older dudes, some of them were joining in at different points, but the driving force of it was these high school youth. The police was running from the kids. The kids were just chasing them. I was just like, was so beautiful, you know what I’m saying, to see the police running like that. I never seen the police run like that.

“A matter of fact, in terms of the ‘looting’ that went on: a lot of what you saw in the street of people carrying, you know bussing around a lot of stuff, you saw a lot of Pampers, children’s shoes, laundry soap, diabetes medicine—insulin shots. A lot of that kind of basic necessity stuff. It was also clear like some people were getting this to help other people. You don’t shoplift Pampers for yourself, or the diabetes medicine is probably for your grandma or something like that. And that was a big part of what people took. I’m sure people took sneakers and things like that but it was...”

Accumulating Forces for Revolution

 “The youth have the defiance in them: fuck this society and fuck this system because they don’t give a fuck about me anyway. They grab our posters of Stolen Lives—they show them everywhere. They just don’t have a way out. But we do. They don’t want to get their hopes up too high to think that there’s a way out. They want to see if we really down for revolution—and we are. And taking this to them, that’s the great thing I see. I see them as a base to raise up and influence the world—these young people, and the older people too.

“I see them all as a base to do something, even though they not doing nuthin’ now, and they caught up in all this other shit. I just see them as being changed, but it will take struggle, a lot of struggle with these people to change. I see like myself in a lot of these people cuz I see like they went to prison, and I just think that they can do so much better, you know what I’m saying. I know they can. But it’s going take struggling with these people and’s just steady hard struggle to get people out of what they in and it’s going to take work. It’s going to take some time to do this.

“Like what Carl Dix been saying: we gotta make shit clear to people. What is this state prosecutor doing, what is going on? Get into that. Make people aware of that, and more—let them know the problem, the system of capitalism, letting them see how it really works, why does this keep happening. And we’re showing people how serious we are, basically. And just bringing all that we have—our Revolution newspaper, the book BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, everything we have... I think we got a chance to raise people’s sights to something bigger because I see the potential in a lot of these people out here. So that’s why I think they can change and do something a lot better.

“And then we got BA [Bob Avakian] in the world—it’s like the youth and people don’t even know about BA. If they had time to sit down and study the theory of revolution, what the science of communism really is, they could understand the world a lot better. Right now they don’t understand the world. They think a lot of Illuminati, they think a lot of different bullshit that we gotta shake them out of—this religious shit, this gang shit.

“But what we bringin’ is bigger than all of this. It’s just something great. I just think it can change people because I know how it changed me. You know, I could be one of them, just hopeless, you know. But I got hope in this science of communism—that’s the hope I’ve seen.”





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Santa Cruz Students Face Draconian Punishment for Shutting Down Highway 1 Defend the Highway 6!

May 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On March 3, six students from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) chained themselves together, linking arms through metal tubes and trash cans, and shut down Highway 1, the main artery along the coast, for five hours. The action—part of four days of protests at UCSC and other University of California campuses against tuition hikes and police brutality—included a student strike at Santa Cruz which completely shut down the campus. In response, Santa Cruz city officials and the UCSC administration are bringing down draconian punishment against these courageous students.

Shutting down the highway in Santa Cruz
Highway 1, Santa Cruz, March 3. Photo: Shawn Kranitz/Fresno Peoples Media

Initially the six were charged with three misdemeanor charges and a felony, “conspiring to execute a plan of conspiracy.” Facing the felony charge and threatened with 18 months in prison, the six pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors. The judge has already said that she plans to sentence the students to 30 days in jail and the city announced that it will seek $40,000 in restitution from the students—the cost of the police in arresting them. And UCSC has suspended the students for 10 months, saying that they cannot even set foot on campus until 2016!

Speaking at his initial arraignment, Ethan Pezzolo, one of the six, and a second year student at UCSC, said, “I am standing before you today to tell you that I am not a criminal. But there are real criminals in this world, real acts against our humanity that occur every day. The real criminals are the police officers who, working under a white supremacist, systemically racist umbrella of state-sponsored violence, murder countless Black and Brown people as they cry out under the weight of their oppression.”

A climate of hate has been fanned against these students. According to the Huffington Post, threats toward the activists have been seen on the “Official Group of UCSC Students”—a closed group on Facebook. And more than 4,000 people have signed a petition on urging the chancellor to expel the students.

These courageous students—who are setting a moral example—are to be sentenced on June 19. And even BEFORE the sentencing hearing, the judge has announced the jail time and large fine that she plans to deliver. Meanwhile, 68 students from Stanford University are facing misdemeanor charges for shutting down the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge in a protest on January 19—part of actions around the country to protest police brutality and murder on Martin Luther King Day.

This cannot be allowed to stand! These students need to be defended and supported in the courts, against UC Santa Cruz’s outrageous suspension, and in public opinion. This is a crucial part of building the new wave of resistance across the country.






Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Madison Cop who Murdered Tony Robinson Walks Free

“It’s Not Over”—Protest in Madison

May 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On May 13, 300-400 people marched throughout the streets in the city of Madison to protest the decision to not prosecute the cop who killed Tony Robinson. In a hail of 7 bullets another young Black man was shot and killed and the pigs walk free.

Speaking to the District Attorney’s excuses for not bringing the cop to trial, Carl Dix said “The DA is telling us we have to take the cop’s word for what happened, saying there is not sufficient evidence to prove the cop who murdered Tony Robinson is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But that is what a trial is supposed to be about! Where we can get all the evidence on the table and where the cop’s story can be questioned and compared to real evidence. So now we are being told that’s not gonna happen. There is NO reason to believe the story the DA ran out at the press conference.”

And Carl Dix emphasized “But even if what he said was true, this was murder.” (See “Statement from Carl Dix, Madison, Wisconsin—NO CHARGES FOR COP WHO GUNNED DOWN 19-YEAR-OLD TONY ROBINSON COP ONCE AGAIN GETS AWAY WITH MURDER!”).

The march, followed by a People's Tribunal, was called by the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, a direct action organization.  Brandi Grayson, co-founder of the YGBC said: "It's important for people to understand that the black community in Dane County and the State of Wisconsin is in a state of emergency," said Grayson. "We are in a crisis, so there's no time for us to be silent or to abide by someone else's definition of order."

Madison, May 13
Madison, May 13

The march was a multi-national mix of community activists, students from local high schools, teachers, and others. Some local leaders supported the students who planned to "walk out" of school in their expressions of grief, anger and protest. And some teachers came out with them to make sure they were safe. Many of the high school students were shocked and stunned by the decision not to prosecute the killer of Tony Robinson.

Madison, May 13
Madison, May 13. Photo: Special to

Before the protest, the Superintendent of Schools sent out a letter saying in part “We also know that there will be protests planned for Tuesday that our middle and high school students may be asked to participate in. ...First, we ask that you would encourage your student to stay in school during the school day as to not negatively impact their instructional time.” And the “progressive” mayor threatened to arrest protesters.

Madison, May 13
Madison, May 13. Photo: Special to

Nevertheless, many students did march. One student decided to skip taking a test in school to take part in the march. "We had this really huge test today, that I really wanted to miss because I really wanted to come have my passion," she said. "I think it's really important to get involved since we're the next generation."

The sentiment in the crowd was: It’s not over! The poster of the faces of those murdered across the country by police was seen everywhere in the march with many donations coming in raising over $200. Many want to continue to talk about the way forward, and there was a wide range of ideas of what that means: community control of the police and courts, and also a mass movement to STOP police murder. The STOP Police Murder banner was carried throughout the march by various people who joined up with supporters of Revolution Newspaper and the Revolution Club.

Protest in downtown Minneapolis, May 13.
Protest in downtown Minneapolis, May 13. Photo: Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune via AP

After the Tribunal people took the street at an intersection. 28 people were arrested in nonviolent civil disobedience in front of the Dane County Court House and Jail. A number of people blocked the two doors going into the jail while others stood arm and arm in the middle of the street refusing to let business as usual go down.

There were solidarity protests in other cities including Oakland, CA and Minneapolis, where according to activists, police pepper-sprayed a 10-year-old protester.

Oakland CA May 13, 2015 protest against cop murderer of Tony Robinson going free

A group of 20 people demonstrated in downtown Oakland May 13 against Madison, Wisconsin District Attorney's decision to let the murdering cop off!







Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Justice for Justus Howell:

"It was bloody murder! I'm screaming bloody murder!"

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Between 40 and 50 determined protesters, led by Justus Howell’s mother and family, and the Revolution Club of Chicago, waged a spirited demonstration on Friday, May 15 in Waukegan, Illinois, demanding “Justice 4 Justus”. 17-year-old Justus Howell was shot twice in the back and killed by Zion police officer Eric Hill on April 4, 2015.

Justus Howell

Justus Howell
Photo: Howell family

This demonstration was one day after Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim called Justus’ murder “justified.” It was also three days after the Madison, Wisconsin cop who killed Tony Robinson in Tony’s house was cleared of criminal charges, and two days after significant protests in Madison. All of this is also only a few weeks after the Baltimore rebellion. Waukegan is the seat of Lake County; Zion is a town of 24,000 (60% Black and Latino) in Lake County, about an hour’s drive north of Chicago, close to the Wisconsin border.

Police claim Justus had a gun and turned as if to shoot while he was running. The local paper, the Daily Herald said in an article after the May 15th demonstration: “A video of the shooting released on Thursday [May 14th], and posted at, does not make it readily apparent that Howell is turned toward the officer, and the investigation showed that the teen was shot twice in the back.” Witnesses at the scene, quoted extensively in various media when Justus was killed, said they saw no gun.

The anger in Zion, especially since Thursday’s ruling that the murder is “justified”, is intense.

"One of my worst fears was confirmed when they said there would be no justice for gunning down my son,” said LaToya Howell through tears into a megaphone for the crowd. "We need to advocate for our youth because if we don't do it, these injustices will continue to happen. It has to stop today. It has to stop now. We need to stand up for our rights."

At the rally, LaToya Howell also said, "This is inhumane. This is brutality in its worst, worst form...Everybody who's seen that video saw the thing I saw. I saw them gun my son down with his back turned. He was not a threat....That was a crime that was committed. They murdered my son." Later, while occupying one of Waukegan’s intersections, LaToya grabbed a megaphone: "It was bloody murder! I'm screaming bloody murder!"

"It’s happening all over the world! Officers are getting away with murder!" said an older Black woman to NBC Chicago TV, which led their 6 pm news with coverage of this protest.

Family members of Justus’ and others from the community insisted that the Revolution Club’s Stolen Lives banner, which includes a photo of Justus, lead the march. “It’s about ALL the children in this banner,” said one. High quality 11 x 17 prints of the Stolen Lives poster were distributed and money was raised for them. The Revolution Club speaker got a “tremendous” reception at the rally.

After a brief rally, the protesters, led by Justus’ family and the Stolen Lives banner, took the streets, and systematically closed one after another intersection of downtown Waukegan. Family members and others were determined to “shut it down.” One long-time community activist called for the US Department of Justice to intervene.

The Chicago Tribune described the scene at one intersection: “A (public) bus was held up for several minutes. Officers tried to intervene but were unsuccessful in asking the protesters to move. The bus ultimately reversed and backed away from the scene.”

Lake County as a whole, and many towns in it, all have a reputation for having notoriously corrupt officials and police. And Lake County is right next to the infamous Cook County.
The State’s Attorney was recently elected as a “reformer” – and people saw the results on full display as he tried to justify his decision that Justus’ murder was justified.

County officials were so worried about the demonstration that they closed the County Courthouse at 1:00 pm. "Through social media, there are several groups who said they intend to come to the protest today," said a Lake County administrator, apparently referring to the Facebook event hosted by the Chicago chapter of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network.

One new Revolution Club member made sure that everyone at the rally had the current issue of Revolution, and the Revolution Club statement with its two main principles: Humanity needs revolution and communism! And Fight the Power, Transform the People, for Revolution!

People who drove up from Chicago at the rally had lively discussion on the way to and from the protest. Key questions included how to understand the world; the need to be scientific vs. ignoring or opposing something if you don’t like it, even if it’s true; and the importance of the Revolution and Religion dialogue.

Many challenges confront demonstrators and the Revolution Club. The biggest one is how do we proceed from here, on many levels? To get Justice for Justus Howell, now that criminal charges have been rejected. To stop ALL the murders by police, that happen in major cities and small towns such as Zion. To build and strengthen the movement for revolution, including among people who have just heard of it, and are itching to know more.

More plans are being made. The next Justice for Justus rally is next Saturday, May 23.





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015


May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers in Chicago

Revolution Club, Bay Area, April 14
Rev Club, Bay Area, CA. Photo: ©Lonny Meyer

Get with the
Revolution Club

Saturday, April 25, some of us in the Revolution Club in Chicago went to the funeral of Jeffery Kemp (JJ) murdered by police in Chicago April 17. He was 18 years old when he was murdered.

Jeffery was shot once in the back by the police and the bullet went straight through his heart, killing him. On top of the outrage and pain of the police murdering another young man, some of us knew Jeffery. He had marched, together with his high school class, in the 2013 October 22nd National Day to Stop Police Brutality.

We couldn’t even get into the chapel where the funeral was being held because so many people came out for JJ. We held the Stolen Lives banner, with JJ’s picture included, outside the funeral home together with some of Jeffery’s friends. After the service ended, many people came up to talk about how police murder could be stopped. People spoke of their outrage, sadness, and anger and what was going on from South Carolina to Baltimore. We passed out a handful of whistles—some of the guys were too cool to take them but a number of young women took them.

Then the police came to mess with people gathered outside the funeral home, something police often do in Chicago at the funerals of people they have killed. Some who had gotten the whistles and understood what they were for began blowing them. Handfuls of whistles were now being grabbed up and passed around. Soon the whistling was deafening. People were surrounding the police. The two police cars that came in initially were forced to back off.

Then police backup came. People were dancing in the street, whistles blowing joined by shouts of “Justice for JJ!,” “Fuck the Police!,” “Fuck 12.”

One cop pulled out a can of mace. A young mourner stood right in front of him shouting “mace ME!” The commander made the cop put the mace away.

Police withdrew to the top of the street. Police dogs were brought in. POLICE DOGS! ON BLACK YOUTH! Just like in Birmingham back in the day! The dogs never got used.

After a tense standoff, plenty of photo opportunities, and dancing, people got in their cars and drove off, police dispersed. No one was arrested.

Justice for JJ!

Police Murder Must Stop!

Indict! Convict! Send the Killer Cops to Jail! The Whole Damn System is Guilty as HELL!

Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Prince Draws Thousands to Baltimore Concert

May 12, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a correspondent in Baltimore

Prince's "Rally 4 Peace" concert, Baltimore, May 10
Prince's "Rally 4 Peace" concert, Baltimore, May 10. Photos: Special to

Prince's "Rally 4 Peace" concert, Baltimore, May 10

Sunday, May 10—Thousands came to Prince's "Rally 4 Peace" concert at a downtown arena where he debuted his song "Baltimore," which references the police murders of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray and has a refrain that goes "If there ain't no justice then there ain't no peace." The song features Eryn Allen Kane, and special guests at the Baltimore concert included rapper Doug E. Fresh and singers Estelle and Miguel. The song, which Prince dropped for free download on SoundCloud on Saturday, and the concert are another sign of the huge impact that the Baltimore uprising is having on broad sections of society.

Prince told the audience, "I am your servant tonight, Baltimore. We are your house band." Along with the new "Baltimore" piece, Prince played many fan favorites, like "1999," "Little Red Corvette," "When Doves Cry," and others. He declared "No curfew" several times—a pointed reference to the 10 p.m. curfew enforced by thousands of National Guard troops and law enforcement from Baltimore and other agencies that had been imposed after people rose up on April 27 in a cry for justice. After "Purple Rain," Prince said, "The system is broken. It's going to take young people to fix it. We need new ideas, new life."

Toward the end, after the band left the stage, the audience chanted "No curfew!" Prince returned with what Rolling Stone magazine called a "thrilling cover" of Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"—which has a chorus with the repeated lines "Keep On With The Force Don't Stop. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."

Many at the concert were hardcore Prince fans who mainly came to hear and see him, others came as a way of making a statement in support of justice for Freddie Gray. Everyone there was aware that Prince was addressing in his way the fight for justice for Freddie Gray. There was a mix of Black and white people, from college age to those from the '60s generation and older, and many from Baltimore suburbs and farther away. Gray was a prominent color of clothing—Prince had requested people to wear gray "as a symbolic message of our shared humanity and love for one another."

A white college student, a big Prince fan who said he traveled six hours from Pennsylvania to come, said he was "disgusted" with the police killing of Freddie Gray, and that "finally, people are taking a stand against the marginalized, and who are obviously being targeted by the police because of their race." What did he think of Prince doing this concert? "It's incredible. Prince is such a high-profile cultural icon that for him to take a stand is an amazing thing." A '60s generation white man said, "Right now, what I want is for the police murder to stop, like it says there"—he pointed to the Stolen Lives poster, which was being passed out by the hundreds to concert-goers. A Black man who had a family member killed by police said, "It takes someone like Prince to stand up, stand up for people's rights, equal rights for people. It's something that this city and this country needs, because this has been going on for centuries."

The Revolution Club and other revolutionaries wearing "Revolution—Nothing Less!" t-shirts were an energetic presence outside the arena—calling out to the crowds of people with the chant "Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!" and connecting people with the way to put an end to murder by police and other horrors of the system, through an actual revolution. They got out "Revolution—Nothing Less!" t-shirts, Revolution newspapers, and many Stolen Lives posters for people to take into the concert. A carload of people on the way to the concert stopped to get some of the t-shirts—they had come from Ferguson and were involved in the fight for justice for Michael Brown there.

The situation in Baltimore is that six cops involved in murdering Freddie Gray have been charged with crimes, but that is far from those killer police actually being convicted and sent to jail.

And there are even higher stakes here for the oppressed and those who hate oppression, and for the revolutionaries leading the fight against that oppression. As we wrote in Revolution, “High stakes in mobilizing people to fight through and win this battle... and far higher stakes in bringing to people the word that there IS a solution to this, that revolution is possible, and that emancipation from this madness can be achieved, and in organizing people to carry forward that revolution. Will this opening be seized to bring forward the work that Bob Avakian has done on this very question, and the leadership that he has provided? Will those who ARE stepping forward to this be organized in a way that can lead to an ACTUAL revolution? Will this be done in a way that enables people to go up against all the repression that will be brought down on them as they do so? And, in that context, will the struggle for justice be fought through in such a way that it is NOT derailed, but instead strikes real blows against the ability of the powers to keep on hammering down on people, and at the same time leads people further toward revolution and emancipation?”






Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

"Million Moms March" Against Police Murder

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Million Moms March, May 9, Washington, DC

On May 9, 2015, hundreds marched in Washington, DC, for the “Million Moms March.” The march was organized by Maria Hamilton and Mothers for Justice United. Maria Hamilton’s son, Dontre Hamilton, was murdered by Milwaukee police in 2014, shot 14 times after sleeping in a Milwaukee park. Like almost all other cases in the country, no charges have been filed against the cop. She and mothers of more than a dozen others, mostly Black, who were killed by police nationwide, together with a mixed crowd of several hundred, marched. Signs included faces of some of the thousands killed by police nationwide.

There was a support rally in at least one other city; Memphis, Tennessee, where ten or more mothers who have lost children to murder by police took part.






Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Genocidal Realities

Black Men Being Lynched—Past History, or Present Day Reality?

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


In speaking to the situation facing Black and Latino people in the U.S.—mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline, the criminalization and demonization of a whole generation of youth, the overt or just-below-the-surface racism prevalent in society, etc.—Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party has said what is taking place is a slow genocide that could easily become a fast genocide. The word “genocide” comes from the ancient root words “genos” (people) and “cide” (killing)—according to the UN, genocide is the deliberate imposition on a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group of “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” This regular feature highlights aspects of this slow genocide.


“The ‘Bible Belt’ in the U.S. is also the Lynching Belt”

BAsics 5:5

On Monday morning, May 11, a passerby found the body of a Black man, Roosevelt Champion III, 43, hanging from a tree in Greensboro, Georgia. Greensboro is about 80 miles east of Atlanta. Roosevelt was hung by a tie-strap (nylon strap used to tie down cargo). His feet were scraping the ground, his knees were in a slightly buckled position, and there was no trauma to his body. The week before, Roosevelt had been questioned twice by the local police in connection with an investigation into the murder of a white woman. He was treated as a suspect, but they didn’t bring any charges at that time. Immediately after his body was discovered, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was brought in to perform an investigation. One day later, the official story and results of the autopsy were made public: His death was pronounced a suicide.

A month and a half earlier, on March 19, Otis James Byrd, 54, was found hanging from a bedsheet in a tree in a small town in Claiborne County, Mississippi, 60 miles southwest of Jackson. Police reported that his feet were two feet off the ground, there was no sign of trauma or that he had stood on something. His nephew reported to the Los Angeles Times that the police told his family that Otis’ hands had been tied, but he was able to work his way out and tried to loosen the grip around his neck. When the newspaper asked the police if this is true, they wouldn’t confirm the story. There has been hardly any press or follow-up to this story since then, and the authorities have inferred it to be a suicide. His family has hired an attorney to open an independent investigation and demand that the authorities release the evidence they have collected. The family believes that Otis was murdered.

In August 2014, Lennon Lacy, 17, a Black high school football player, was found hanging by two belts from a wooden swing set in a predominantly white trailer park in Bladenboro, North Carolina. Local police ruled it a suicide, and the autopsy report recorded the cause of death as “asphyxia due to hanging.” Lennon’s girlfriend is white. His family and his girlfriend say it was a lynching—bringing to mind the bitter story of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old who was murdered in Mississippi 50 years ago by white racists for allegedly flirting with a white woman.

This is not happening in America in the time of the old Jim Crow era, it is happening today under the New Jim Crow, a time when Black and Brown people are being gunned down every day by police in this country, when 2.2 million people are in prison, nearly a million of whom are Black, when there are more Black men under the control of law enforcement than were enslaved in 1860. As Carl Dix has said, “This genocidal program is real... it’s illegitimate... it’s immoral... and it must be stopped.”

We have seen the people rise up in righteous rebellions in Ferguson and in Baltimore, along with tens of thousands taking to the streets in resistance all over the country, making it very clear that this needs to stop and we refuse to live this way. At the same time, racist KKK-types and white supremacist flag-wavers have re-emerged recently in events like “Flags Over Valdosta” in Valdosta, Georgia, which was in response to a protest at Valdosta State University by Eric Sheppard and several other Black students exposing this white supremacist system while stepping on the American flag. (See “Walking on the Flag Leads to a Shit Storm at a Georgia University.”)

There is more to investigate about what happened in the cases of each of the three men who were found hung, but one thing is for sure: The investigations were all conducted very quickly and came to the same conclusion—that these deaths were self-inflicted, despite very suspicious circumstances and serious questions raised by the families and others—an all too familiar official story.





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Thousands Dying as Killer Cops Go Free

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


When Carl Dix spoke at a rally in Baltimore on May 2, he started by leading the crowd in a chant that’s been taken up in marches and rallies throughout the country: “Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cops to Jail. The Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell!” Carl went on to say that while the cops who killed Freddie Gray have being indicted, this is not “the system working” and this is “just one step.”

He said, “This is their system showing its fear of you. They saw you stand up. They saw you saying ‘not this time.’ They hear you saying ‘no more.’ So they said, ‘Well, maybe we should indict and maybe they’ll go home and maybe they’ll forget about it.’” He said, “I have seen them a few times indict killer cops. But I haven’t seen them convict too many killer cops. I have not seen killer cops go to jail. You gotta stay on the case like that. You gotta fight through to make this happen.”

So what ARE the facts when it comes to killer cops being indicted, convicted, and going to jail under this system?

A recent Washington Post analysis revealed: “Among the thousands of fatal shootings at the hands of police since 2005, only 54 officers have been charged ... [and] most were cleared or acquitted in the cases that have been resolved.” (“Thousands Dead, Few Prosecuted,” April 11, 2015)

This study was the first time there’s been an effort to identify every officer who faced charges for such shootings since 2005. The Post and researchers at Bowling Green State University looked at a wide range of public records and interviewed law enforcement, judicial, and other legal experts. The Post study concludes, “Only in rare cases do prosecutors and grand juries decide that the killing cannot be justified.”

The Post identifies certain common factors in the cases that led to officers being charged. It says that in an overwhelming majority of the cases the person killed was unarmed. It also says there were “typically other factors that made the case exceptional, including: a victim shot in the back, a video recording of the incident, incriminating testimony from other officers or allegations of a cover-up.” Of the 54 cases, 28 were ones where the victim was shot in the back. In 10 of the 54 cases, prosecutors found that the cops either planted or destroyed evidence in an attempt to exonerate themselves.

But there is one big factor the Post’s analysis leaves out of the equation: cases in which families refused to accept the “explanation” of the police, where there was protest and struggle against the killings, and sometimes determined marches and rallies of hundreds of people.

At least 28 of them—more than half—were cases where there had been protests against the killing. This includes these well known cases: seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones killed by Detroit police in 2010; 18-year-old Ramarley Graham killed by NYPD in 2012; 23-year-old Sean Bell killed by NYPD in 2006; 22-year-old Oscar Grant killed by BART police in Oakland in 2009; 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston killed by Atlanta police in 2006; 17-year-old James Brissette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison, killed by police on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans; 30-year-old Malissa Williams and 43-year-old Timothy Russell, killed by Cleveland police after a car chase; 38-year-old James Boyd, a homeless man killed by Albuquerque police for “illegal camping”; 28-year-old Akai Gurley killed by NYPD in 2014; and 50-year-old Walter Scott killed by North Charleston, South Carolina, police in 2015.

In all of these cases, the system had to take into account that fact that the families and friends of the person killed and broader numbers of people were not letting police murder be swept under the rug; that there was struggle and the people were demanding: “Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cops to Jail!”

But again, these are all RARE cases. Of all the thousands and thousands of instances of police killings in 10 years, ONLY 54 cops have been charged. And even in these rare cases it does not mean that the cops end up being convicted or doing any time behind bars.

And in these rare cases, where a cop is even charged, the majority of times the cops were NOT convicted. And then, in the even smaller number of instances where cops were convicted of anything or if they plead guilty, they got very little time behind bars, on average four years and sometimes only weeks—for murdering someone.

The Post article includes many examples, including these two:

The Post also tells of another case in South Carolina where a sheriff’s deputy says he had to open fire on an unarmed man who was grabbing for his gun. But the autopsy report showed that the victim was shot in the back four times as he was running away. In fact, in HALF the criminal cases identified by the study, prosecutors cited forensics and autopsy reports showing unarmed suspects who had been shot in the back.

Actually, it wasn’t that long ago that it was perfectly LEGAL for a cop to shoot someone in the back. Then, in 1985, the Supreme Court ruled (Tennessee v. Garner) that officers could not justifiably shoot someone simply to prevent him or her from escaping. The ruling said the suspect had to pose a significant threat of death or serious harm to either law enforcement or innocent bystanders for the shooting to be legally justified.

So now the law says cops can’t shoot people in the back who are running away. But we still get cops shooting people down in cold blood—including in the back as they are running away—and almost always getting away with it or just getting a slap on the wrist.

The study found, “Of the 54 officers charged for fatally shooting someone while on duty over the past decade, 35 have had their cases resolved. Of those, a majority—21 officers—were acquitted or saw their charges dropped.” (The other 19 cases are still pending.)

Out of the total 54 officers charged, only 11 were convicted. Nine were convicted in state prosecutions and got sentences ranging from six months to seven years. In one of the other federal cases, involving the shooting death of the 92-year-old woman in Atlanta, civil rights violations were added to manslaughter charges and the two cops were given prison sentences of six and 10 years.

According to the Post, "In at least six cases, lawyers for the officers were able to get charges reduced, resulting in lighter sentences. These cases included convictions as well as instances where judges deferred convictions and just put officers on probation." These officers on average only did about two-and-a-half years behind bars.

As Revolution newspaper pointed out when the cops who murdered Freddie Gray were indicted: "This ONLY happened because people not only demonstrated, but ROSE UP POWERFULLY IN REBELLION and the powers-that-be openly feared much worse as protest spread across the country. The prosecutor now posing as the great friend of the people, and especially the youth, would have almost certainly 'moved along' with no charges at all had not the people risen up and DEMANDED JUSTICE.” (“On the Indictment of the Pigs Who Murdered Freddie Gray”)

The system we live under with its criminal INJUSTICE system is set up to protect the armed enforcers who murder and brutalize the people everyday. It is up to the people to demand and struggle to “Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cops to Jail” because the “Whole Damn System is Guilty as Hell!”





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

From a Revolution Club member

Baltimore 5/2/15

A Day I Will Never Forget

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


I could hardly contain myself in the van ride to Baltimore. I was bursting with excitement just thinking about standing with the defiant ones of the Baltimore uprising. What a historical moment to be in. What a privilege to be a young revolutionary in this moment, with the willingness, the energy, and the tools to get us the FUCK out of this nightmare of oppression!

There’s a lot I could get into about the whole day being in Baltimore but there is one particular part I wanted to talk about. After the rally and the march through the neighborhoods, we ended at the intersection that has now been seen worldwide, where the youth rebelled. Looking around at the boarded up CVS, across the street from dozens of condemned apartments, I felt incredible anger. A fucking wrecked CVS was cause to send troops in to occupy a whole city, which itself has been wrecked for decades, with its residents terrorized and brutalized for decades. It was painfully clear, even just being there for a day, that this system really does not have any future for these youth, and really does not give a shit about this whole section of people.

Get with the
Revolution Club

As the march wrapped up, the Revolution Club contingent continued to chant, “Everywhere we go, people wanna know, who we are, so we tell them, we are the REVCOMS, the mighty mighty REVCOMS!” and this drew a lot of people to us. It was a beautiful scene, with lots of people, mostly residents of Baltimore, taking photos with our banner which read, “We Refuse to Accept Slavery in Any Form & Fight the Power and Transform the People For REVOLUTION” as well as the enlargement of the Stolen Lives centerfold, talking to people about this revolution, and signing people up with the Revolution Club.

Baltimore, May 2. Photo: Special to

We quickly noticed a large group of members of rival street organizations sitting on stoops on the same block we were on. A few revolutionaries approached them to come and look at our Rev Club banner. Within minutes, there were about a dozen members of the street orgs posting up in front of our banner to take photos with it. It was one of the most powerful things I have ever seen. I could hardly hold back the tears. Was I really witnessing this? The very youth we are told are the ‘worst of the worst’, but that could be and need to be the backbone of a movement for revolution, actually getting connected up with this revolution...!? Yay. That’s huge!

Why? Because these youth grow up in the hell holes of this country. They are told from day one, that their lives mean nothing, and will count for nothing. They are taught the only way to get any respect or to have any worth in their lives, is by getting ‘theirs’, regulating ‘their’ corner. They are forced into a position where it becomes a ‘rational’ choice to enter into a gang, to survive. And it’s not like they haven’t tried to change their conditions. But there is no room for them to do this, under this system. The only room for them is in the prisons, or in the ground. They are the ones, with nothing to lose, but their chains. And right now, they are beginning to lift their heads, raise their sights, and if we are going to have any chance of taking this moment as far as it could go, and by that I mean in the direction of a real revolutionary situation, we need them to get organized with this movement for revolution. And ultimately, if we are going to have a real chance of winning, actually seizing power when the time is right, we need these youth! And they need this. Like BA says, “This system has no future for the youth, the Revolution does!”






Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Latest Front in War on Women:

New Fascist Kansas Law Criminalizes Most Second Trimester Abortions

April 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On April 7, the governor of Kansas signed into law a bill which criminalizes most abortions in the second trimester. The “Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act” uses deliberately false, unscientific, and inflammatory language to ban the safest and most medically accepted procedure for abortions in the second trimester. Doctors in Kansas who provide this procedure for their patients will now face misdemeanor or felony charges.

This new law, actively promoted by the National Right to Life Committee as part of their 2015 legislative agenda, represents a major new offensive in the unrelenting and systematic assault on a woman’s most fundamental right to control her own body and determine if and when to have a child. On April 8, a similar bill was passed by the Oklahoma legislature, and other similar bills are being pushed in Missouri, South Carolina, and South Dakota. All of these laws and bills must be actively protested and opposed.

Julie Burkhart of the Trust Women Foundation and the South Wind Women’s Center in Wichita, Kansas, has called the Kansas law the “physician intimidation and criminalization act.” Kansas has long been a focal point for fascist attacks against women and the doctors who serve them. In 2009, Dr. George Tiller, one of few heroic providers of late-term abortions in the entire country, was shot down in cold blood in Wichita by an anti-abortion fascist. And Kansas is one of the states that already have some of the most draconian laws designed to create insurmountable hurdles to women seeking abortions—parental notification, 24-hour waiting period, and mandatory fetal ultra-sound.

The new Kansas law prohibits “dismemberment abortion,” which it defines as “causing the death of an unborn child, knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body in order to cut or rip it off.”

This lurid and completely unscientific and non-medical description is deliberately designed to promote the damaging lie that abortion is murder and that fetuses are babies—all in an effort to further stigmatize a procedure which is absolutely essential for women’s ability to control their lives and their health. The truth of the matter is: A fetus is NOT a baby! And abortion is NOT murder!

A Fetus is Not a Baby
Download PDF poster

Let’s dig into the science of this. A fetus is not an “unborn child”—it is living tissue, which is growing and developing, but is not yet a human being and has no life separate from the life of the woman in whose uterus it is. For more on the science of what an abortion is, read “What Is an Abortion and Why Women Must Have the Right to Choose; Life Cannot and Should Not Always Be Preserved.”

The procedure which is being prohibited—the use of forceps—is one essential part of the process of dilation and evacuation (D&E)—the abortion method which is used for pregnancies in the second trimester when a simple vacuum-aspiration is no longer possible. While abortion in the second trimester is still a very safe procedure, it is more complicated. The fetus, although still far from being able to survive separately from the woman (even at the end of the second trimester) is larger, and must be taken out of the woman’s uterus in pieces. This is done by a combination of forceps to remove larger pieces of tissue, curettage to gently scrape the uterine lining and remove tissue, and finally suction to make sure all the tissue is removed.

Banning the use of forceps is effectively banning the use of the D&E procedure and forces a woman into the only other alternative still available: having a medically induced abortion, using a combination of drugs that terminate the pregnancy and induce labor. This procedure involves two to three days of waiting, and in the second trimester often must be performed in a hospital due to the increased risk of complications. While both procedures are safe with proper medical care, there is significantly a higher risk of complications with the medically induced abortion in the second trimester.

Download the PDF of this pamphlet: A Declaration: For Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity

It is completely unacceptable for laws to be enacted that dictate to a physician which among the safe and established medical procedures he/she can or cannot provide for a patient. This rising tide of a new round of laws—being promoted and pushed through state legislatures by anti-abortion fascists like the National Right to Life Committee—is an ominous development, coming on top of decades of murder and terror directed against abortion providers and their patients.

It is the latest front in a whole war on women, a war which has forced the closing of dozens of clinics around the country, making abortion effectively unavailable to large swaths of the population, particularly in rural areas, leaving women with no choice but to take drastic and unsafe measures to try to end their pregnancies. Women’s lives are at stake. The anti-abortion movement has never been about babies, it has always been about reducing women to being incubators and foreclosing their ability to make decisions about their lives and to contribute to society in the fullest way.

Abortion on Demand and Without Apology! Women are NOT Incubators! Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement!




Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

BAsics in B'More


May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


“I’ve been reading that book [BAsics]. I’m somewhere in the middle of the book now. And I understand that something has to be done. I understand that it’s not a racial thing; it’s not a religious thing. As a human being our human rights are being violated on various different levels. I understand that we have to combine forces in different walks of life in order to get this thing done. Am I willing to do that? Yes, I am. ... Like you said, we live in a world that can be a better place. The way things are, you know it should be better. And we can change that. We can change that. And I believe, whatever has to be done, whether it be sacrifice, whether it be just bringing it to the table, whether it be discussion or whatever level, it’s just necessary. ’Cause what am I gonna do, just be here and wait for my expiration date? No. Cause then life would be in vain. I am gonna finish BAsics. It has my attention.”

—From interview with middle-aged man who met with the revolution in Baltimore

We need urgent funds for hundreds of copies of the book, BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, to be shipped to Baltimore, and to be subsidized for those who most need it but have scarce resources to afford the full price. There are reports of youth collecting money from friends and neighbors to get a copy, others of people working through the book, as in the quote above from an interview to be published in Revolution. But this is just a glimpse of what is possible, and we need a lot more...

In the wake of the uprising in Baltimore, there is a different mood in the air.

Youth and others, cast out by the system, dehumanized and degraded by the police every day, in conditions of abject poverty and systemic neglect—have, with the uprising and the rebellion, with defiance and courage, raised their heads and raised their sights. With things and thinking shaken loose, there are controversies and debates, and many are seriously questioning the way things are, and considering and grappling with possibilities of something different.

In the midst of this ferment, revolutionaries and others are in Baltimore stepping forth with BA, Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution—through his works, leading with the film of the Dialogue with Cornel West, available online, and BAsics, a book of quotations from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, including the actual reading of quotes in response to peoples questions.

Concrete questions are getting asked, posed, and discussed. There is a pace, scope, and real seriousness not characteristic of normal times. They include: what is the role and essential function of the police; why do immigrants come here from all over the world; how should we look at the role of women in society; what is the role of elected officials and our democratic rights; what is the real problem underlying both the poverty and the role of the police;—and what is the solution to all this madness; if you say revolution is the answer, then what is the actual strategy for a revolution; what is the role and content of leadership; what comes after the revolution?

For many, BAsics has come alive and is in demand as the handbook for revolution—with answers, and solutions: answering in basic terms the questions posed above, sparking further questions, and providing people with a scientific understanding of the world and society, how it could be radically different through revolution—and the role of people in this process, in knowing and changing the world, in living lives with a morality corresponding to the world that needs to and can be brought into being.

We need you—to donate funds and contribute generously, to take this call to your friends, and do everything possible so that many more people can get BAsics.

As people raise their sights, and ask questions that have everything to do with whether humanity can be free of this madness wrought by the system—it is our responsibility, collectively, to make sure they are able to access the most scientific and liberating answers that exist, the most honest and straight-up truth of why things are the way they are and a liberating vision of how the world could be, meeting BA through this, and changing how they understand the world and themselves in the process.

Donations and checks can be made to:

RCP Publications, Attention: BAsics in B’More
PO BOX 3486, Merchandise Mart
Chicago IL 60654






Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

A Revolution Club discusses the “High Stakes in Baltimore” and getting organized for an ACTUAL revolution

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

The Revolution Club in my city hosted a discussion of the Revolution newspaper article “High Stakes in Baltimore.” This was a vibrant and fun discussion where we got a chance to seriously wrangle with what is breaking open in society right now and the role and responsibility of revolutionaries. There were varying levels of familiarity with the strategy for revolution from the Revolutionary Communist Party, but a thread running through the discussion and struggle was what it means to apply it to this situation to make the greatest advances towards revolution as possible, to get organized for an ACTUAL revolution.

Over a dozen people gathered, some who had been in the movement for revolution for some years and others who were newly checking it out. We opened by showing a clip from the film, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! The clip was titled "Revolution Is Possible: the Strategy for Revolution." Then the person leading the discussion read the whole article, “High Stakes in Baltimore.”

The article says that there are high stakes in what happens in Baltimore for the powers-that-be and even more, for the revolutionaries. The discussion leader asked everyone how they see that. What are the stakes in this for the powers-that-be?

The discussion was rich and most everyone participated and contributed in one way or another, and here I can only capture some of the key points (and what is in quotes below is taken from my notes, not word-for-word what people said).

Early on in this part of the discussion, someone asked an important question: Doesn’t the fact that the ruling class made a concession to the uprising of the people in Baltimore and brought charges against the cops who murdered Freddie Gray, create false hope that the system is working? Is this what the ruling class wants? The person who posed this said, “I have mixed feelings. It is righteous to fight for justice. But what if the cops end up getting 20 years? That would be the minimum they should do, but it's not going to stop police murder. So will that pacify people; will the whole thing stay intact? How will the revolutionaries handle that in the mix of fighting for justice? In calling for the cops to be indicted and convicted, are the revolutionaries raising false hopes among the people? How can the revolutionaries put this in the context of what the system really is and the revolution we need?”

People spoke to this from different angles. A young woman answered, “I don’t think it's false hope. There are righteous things to fight for, like the right to abortion. We should fight for justice. But the battle isn’t over if we win a victory. We should not forget why we started to fight in the first place. And if we don’t fight, things could get much worse.”

Someone else joined in and said, “People need to see they are fighting as part of changing the world in a bigger way. If we don’t fight against police murder, the pigs will feel like they can get away with anything. Convictions of these pigs won't come down without a serious fight from the people, which we have to be part of. Through that, we shouldn’t give people the illusion that this will solve everything, but through the fight we should train conscious fighters.” Part of what this means is putting to people the need for revolution front and center, and then getting into any one particular struggle in that context.

People also spoke to the contradictions among the rulers themselves. There is this hard-core fascist social base that is cohered around white supremacy as one of its main things. They do not want to see the slightest brake being put on the right of the police to kill with impunity. So if another section of the bourgeoisie feels they have to give a concession to the people to go all the way to a conviction, that could really sharpen this divide among the rulers themselves and we will see more of the fascist pig forces coming out. They used the analogy from Bob Avakian about how living in this system is like living in a big open-air prison surrounded by a very high wall. That wall seems impenetrable from a surface look, but if you look deeper, you can see cracks in that wall. The charges brought down on the pigs who killed Freddie Gray are like a crack in the wall, and we have to hit at that crack with everything we've got. And if we go at it this way, all throughout exposing the deeper problem and solution of communist revolution, this can contribute to de-legitimizing the system as a whole.

Building on this, someone else talked about how if this system has to put the pigs in jail, it will inspire people to really see their own strength. It is true that as long as this system has police, they will keep killing people, but if this system is forced to charge cops for it, it can have a huge effect on the people themselves who fought for that, in helping them see the effect they can have on society.

Another person talked about there being a basic issue of justice involved, a question of morality: if you break someone’s neck, you should go to jail. If things like what happened to Freddie Gray are accepted by people, “you are sending the message that this is OK. The system wants people to think they can’t do shit to change anything. There never would have been any indictments without a rebellion, and a lot of people know this. This emboldens people.” She also walked through the necessity those ruling this system are facing: they're fucked if they do send the cops to jail and fucked if they don't. “They lose either way. They actually don't have a future for Black and Latino people and have a great need for social control and violent repression of Black and Latino people and youth in particular. So they can't really let go of that. And yet, the more they do this, and the more people resist it, the more this exposes the illegitimacy of the whole system.”

To emphasize this, one person spoke to the fact that this is not a situation in which the ruling class has it all together. They are not offering indictments as a calculated ploy in a situation in which they have everything under control. Far from it! “The pigs and the system don’t have their shit together.”

Another person spoke to the positive impact concessions can have on the spirit of the people: “When we make the system indict the cops, people see, ‘We made them do that? What else can we do?’” At the same time, the person went on, we need to lead not with the goal of putting cops in jail, but with the fact that a better world is possible, and yeah, as part of that, we have to fight to put these murdering cops in jail. We can force them to back down and that is important, and important for people to feel.

There was more said in the discussion: about the precedent it would set for the pigs to NOT have a green light to kill Black and Latino people with impunity, and would that raise people's sights to an expectation that this system couldn't really keep meeting—charging and convicting the pigs every time they murdered someone?; and also about the problem for them when they go all around trying to dominate the world in the name of “freedom and democracy” and the reality of their system gets exposed. People talked about how the oppression of Black people is built into this system—economically and ideologically—and how they can't do away with it at this point. In that context, what gets exposed when even after a Black president, a Black attorney general, and now in Baltimore a Black mayor and prosecuting attorney and even Black pigs, Black people still can't get justice under this system? But if they do move to convict these police, that would exacerbate major contradictions among the ruling class, including outraging the fascist, white-supremacist social base in the U.S. Someone referenced how there are already sharp divisions between these fascists and the section of the ruling class represented by Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby. Or you could see that in the divide between the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, and Patrick Lynch, the head of the NYC pig union. These pigs threw down in opposition to the slightest whiff of criticism, so imagine how they'll react if they actually get charged with murder?

People also talked about the social role of the police as armed enforcers of this system. This is why the system so rarely brings charges even in the most outrageous cases (and then even when they do that, almost never end up with convictions), because killing Black and Brown youths is an essential part of their job and overall social role. If these Baltimore pigs are indicted—which will be a MAJOR fight in its own right—will there be a wave of illusions coming off that? Probably, but that’s part of the process that we have to lead people through as part of re-polarizing all of society for revolution.

Part of what was important in this discussion was that people were wrangling with the complexity of the whole situation, the necessity faced by a range of class forces to deal with what is a major fault-line contradiction of this system, and really coming to see that those in power do not have it all sewn up.

Moving on from there, we got into a discussion of what the “even higher stakes” are for the oppressed and revolutionaries. In this, we took off from a really important point from the article: “What revolutionaries do in situations like Baltimore can play a big role in making revolution.”

Some of what had already been put on the table in the meeting around this point helped frame things—first, that we actually DO have an answer to the howling contradictions that are opening all this up in the first place. We actually can bring about a society that does away with the systematic oppression of whole peoples and the wanton murder by police. This is completely possible with a radically different state power brought about through revolution.

Also, earlier in the discussion, someone talked about the orientation in the slogan “get organized for an ACTUAL revolution,” and had posed this in contrast to people who've been fighting hard to end police murder but whose concrete demands are “not so different from the Democratic Party.” Another referenced that had raised that we should see ourselves as “strategic commanders.” “It’s not like we should only go out with a bullhorn and agitate. There’s more. We have to expose the system, but we also have to be strategic commanders, we have to be aiming to lead the whole thing.”

After some further discussion, the person leading helped frame what we were getting into by talking about the concrete situation in Baltimore, including all of what's led up to this since the cop murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. I won't recap that here, but it's really important that we understand the actual specifics of the concrete situation we are in and the significance of what this opens up. The fundamental illegitimacy of this system has been exposed to millions, and thousands are opening their eyes to it: tens of thousands who have been ignorant of this reality up until now and tens of thousands who experience it but who thought they were alone. The person leading talked about the reality behind the analysis in Revolution newspaper that out of the contradictions opened up since Ferguson, interpenetrating with other contradictions, an actual revolutionary situation might emerge. And what it means to now be working to “prepare the ground, prepare the people, prepare the vanguard... get ready for the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all out, with a real chance to win.”

Agreeing with this, someone said, “Protest itself won’t lead to a new economic and social system. It takes a revolution. There is a Party with a strategy and a leadership. The revolutionaries need to do more than protest. They need to bring their analysis into the situation. ”

But what is the content of that?

One person put the question this way: “We need to get into BA. He talks about hastening while awaiting. We need to boldly put out our demands, but also what needs to be done to make revolution...”

In wrangling with this further, someone asked about being in Baltimore in particular and what kind of work we would have to be doing.

This was a good question and we got into it. First, there are two unifying slogans in the Revolution Club: “Humanity needs revolution and communism” and “Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.” How would all this be made known and be applied in this situation?

In reflecting on this, and in reflecting on what the work of the Revolution Club has been, one person said, “Well, we are good at chanting, but are we good at being tribunes of the people, like Lenin called for?” (This is from a major work by Lenin, What Is to Be Done?, where Lenin differentiates revolutionaries being “trade union secretaries,” meaning good organizers of the mass struggle, from being tribunes of the people, bringing masses a broader understanding of the world and what is the problem and solution.) They talked about how people need to see from us that we are the leaders of a future socialist state, that we are serious about seizing state power and we know what to do with it... we are about the emancipation of all of humanity. People need to see that seriousness and purposefulness from us wherever and whenever we're out.

People agreed with this, but still, what is the larger work to accomplish this?

One person raised an important contradiction that if we were in Baltimore, the situation would be really intense, and how would you handle it if people, especially the youth, didn't want to stop and talk? Could you really get people to read revolutionary theory in that situation? Disagreeing with this, someone else argued that people will read in that situation, and some may read even more because there are new questions posed and people are seeking answers to things that before “they would otherwise accept.”

We got into the whole ensemble of the kinds of work we need to be doing, and in this context underscored the importance of another article in Revolution: “Watching clips from the Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian in West Baltimore.” Someone in the discussion talked about the significance of people starting to hope getting connected up with appreciating how serious BA and the Party he leads are about making revolution... and what that opens up in their thinking. At the same time as we do have to continue fighting the power in real and meaningful ways, there needs to be ongoing, mass defiance to the crimes of this system. In this context, someone in the discussion referenced a statement from Carl Dix from around Christmas of last year, “Murder By Police Should Not Be Tolerated!.”

The whistles are also a really important form of mass defiance, enabling people to act together, fighting collectively in a situation where otherwise people are so atomized and separated off from others. This too is part of forging a revolutionary people.

But overall, as long as people don't themselves become conscious fighters and increasingly conscious emancipators of humanity, they will be led into one dead end or another. The person leading the discussion walked through some of the core contradictions that getting into BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian speaks to: What is the problem? Is a radically different world possible? Is revolution possible and how would you go to work on that now? What is a scientific method to actually know what's true and to be able to learn about and evaluate all of reality, including all different kinds of analyses and programs? How should people be living, and treating each other, today in line with that future? Is there leadership for this? What is my role and responsibility to all that? BAsics is a handbook for revolution and all those who hate the hellhole they're forced to live in today need to be getting into it along with the film of the Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian, and also be consistently reading (and getting organized around) and Revolution newspaper.

There was some struggle about all this: What is the synthesis here? What is the relationship between “preparing minds and organizing forces for revolution?” There was also struggle about why we shouldn't just rest content with being a revolutionary force within mass protests (as important as that is), but need to be working to change the thinking of whole blocs of people in a revolutionary direction.

There was some important and beginning wrangling with what it would mean—if in this situation right now in Baltimore and in general—for the Revolution Club be going to the hood in some new ways, and helping the masses get organized for an actual revolution. People were bringing different kinds of broader social experience to bear on this. One spoke to experience as a labor organizer, giving people a sense of organization, finding and recruiting leaders among the masses. Someone else referenced having been in the U.S. military (and coming to reject all of that) but that there were things that could be learned about getting organized, the need for people to work together and trust each other, the need to get organized even from that.

There were different experiences cited that can be learned from in this new context: marches in the hood; canvassing and going door-to-door; showings of the film of the Dialogue, and BA Speaks: REVOLUTIONNOTHING LESS!; getting up the “Stolen Lives” poster; building networks of organization around the newspaper Revolution; fundraising BBQ’s; and the need to contend with other class forces and lines about what is the problem and solution and about BA's work.

This discussion took place far from Baltimore, but everything we were wrangling with still applied. As the Revolution article said, “what happens in Baltimore, cannot stay in Baltimore.” Coming back to the clip we opened the discussion with, you got a sense of how all this really was part of “hastening while awaiting” the emergence of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people... how all this contributes to transforming the larger, overall terrain... through struggle and contention, re-polarizing for revolution.

As people left the meeting, a lot was going on in their heads and hearts. A big challenge was put on the table: serious revolutionary possibilities opening, time to think and time to act, time to rise to the challenge.





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

West Baltimore: “I Take a Lot of Pleasure Being Part of This... Even Though It’s in the Beginning Stages”

May 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution correspondents have been listening, learning, and engaging with people who were at the heart of what happened in Baltimore. Following is an interview conducted a little over a week after the April 27 rebellion.

We sit down with D to talk in a neighborhood in West Baltimore. Small stores which sell soda, chips, and some basic necessities are carved out of the bottom floors of houses. Nearby is a lot covered with grass, which constitutes the local park.

D is in his 50s and has lived in Baltimore all his life. He has seen police brutality and experienced it first hand. When he was just about to enter high school, his older brother was shot in the face and murdered by the police. Now the murder of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police not only brings back all the pain he and his mother experienced, but is moving D to act.

Revolution: How are you looking at what happened with the rebellion, and what needs to be done?

D: Do I feel like something needs to be done? Yes I do! Something should have been done a long time ago. Do I feel like it needs to be done the way they want it to be done, the police department and the powers that be in the city? It’s just sad that it took a whole bunch of rhetoric through the police department, the powers that be, the city officials, the government officials that turn their back on what is visible and tangible. It’s a dead end. Because the closer you get to taking care of something, the further you get from it—the way that they have it set up. We don’t get the results that we need to get. The powers that be get the results that they need to get. And as a consequence, we continue to suffer. Until we do something about it, we gonna to suffer. And I’m actually tired of suffering.

Revolution Club in Baltimore, April 25. Photo: Special to

I got a chance to meet this gentleman [from the Revolution Club] and he was telling me about the revolutionary movement and the revolutionary club. I can remember how it felt just meeting them. Is anything gonna come out of it? But at the same time, I told myself—if you don’t make a move still nothing will happen. So I came to the meeting. You called me like you said you would. We had a conversation. Now I’m here.

A gentleman spoke to me the other day when we had the meeting. And he was talking about how it’s not religiously connected. It’s not politically per se connected even though, to some point, we gonna have to deal with politics to deal with these people, you know what I mean? ’Cause that’s the way they have the arena set up. It sound good to understand that revolution is just not about one thing.

Revolution: How do you see that?

D: I’ve been reading that book [BAsics]. I’m somewhere in the middle of the book now. And I understand that something has to be done. I understand that it’s not a racial thing; it’s not a religious thing. As a human being, our human rights are being violated on various different levels. I understand that we have to combine forces in different walks of life in order to get this thing done. Am I willing to do that? Yes I am.

I take a lot of pleasure being part of this organization, even though it’s in the beginning stages. There’s some things that has to be done because of what happened to my brother. There’s things that has to be done because of what happened to people before him. There’s things that need to be done because of what’s gonna happen. There’s some things that need to be done because of what just happened. There’s gonna be more Freddie Grays. There was Freddie Grays before Freddie Gray, you know? Baltimore is in a state of urgency, a state of emergency. It has been that way for a long, long, long time.

It’s not totally about me, but it is. I mean God willing, I don’t know how many more years I got left, but I do have sons. And my sons have friends. My friends have children. And I think that my generation has somehow let them down. But it’s not too late because I’m still here! I got a chance to meet you all. I feel like we can initiate something. I feel that something big, huge, and powerful can come out of that. I understand that I need be serious about getting this thing done. I can’t do it by myself. It’s a pleasure to see some other people that’s on the same page that I’m on, that wanna do some of the same things.

Something has to be done. If it had to start in Baltimore, then so be it. If it had to start in another state, then so be it. But it has to start somewhere.

Revolution: Talk about your experiences with the police.

D: You have a concept that turns into a mis-ideology of what the expectations supposed to be coming from police. I was coming up a teenager. You know, they would introduce officer friendly in the school. Trying to get you acquainted with the police. But that didn’t work because at school it was one thing, home it was a whole different reality.

Even though I know it’s not a racist thing, in my experience there’s been so many people in Baltimore city that is Black or African descent, that’s been brutalized, murdered, treated badly, disrespected, their human rights being disrespected. And it’s not actually the man that’s standing next to you that’s disrespecting you. It’s the person that you’re putting your trust in to protect and serve you. And these are the people...we pay these people to do a job but they show us something else. They show us that they are no more better than who they call the thugs on the street. They’re no better than the gang members that’s on the street. And because of that, we have the Freddie Gray situation, the injustice that was done to him. I understand that the police have a job to do, but I would like to see them do it, because I have not yet seen them do what they’re paid to do.

Revolution: Some people like us might say that they actually are doing their job. That that’s what their job is: to keep people down. Murder, after murder, after murder, and all the other harassment and brutality that goes on is in part to control a whole population for whom they have no future whatsoever. Look at these young people, what future actually do they have in this society? Prison, jail, going into the military. The man in the Revolution Club was talking earlier about young men they’ve met. They’re out there every day hustling, struggling to survive. But there’s a certain hopelessness...

D: get anywhere.

Revolution: to get anywhere. And that’s a very volatile situation. What people’s lives are like in this society, with the whole system and setup, but the police play a certain role and keeping people down, threatening them if they dare to rise up.

D: One of the things that got my attention—the gentleman [BA] was talking about the proletariat. And I was already into another book called Pedagogy of the Oppressed. And when I was [reading] the BAsics, and it was talking about the system was set up to just keep us proletarians stuck. I work and I work, and I work, and I work and I work. I make my earnings off of my sweat, off of my ability to use my hands, my eyes, all my faculties physically. I work till I die. But my sweat and tears and my labor is really not beneficial to me. It’s beneficial to the other person. So I’m here to work all my life just to die. It’s not gonna produce nothing. The way that they have it set up, it’s not supposed to.

After a while when we continue to be a part of that systematic structure, we adapt to it. And then, we become complacent. Like, OK, now this is a way of life. I’m just gonna work until I’m dead. I don’t like that. [Laughter] I really don’t. And I think I’m here for much, much more. I think we all are here for much, much more. I think we are not gonna get more if we just sit here and do nothing, especially once I’m given certain information, I’m not being given that information for nothing, especially when my heart feel like it’s been convicted.

I had a conversation with two of my sons. I am raising two boys by myself. I take pleasure in doing that because this is what I am supposed to do as a father.

We were talking about Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I can remember the look that they had on their face. You got one that’s going to college and after getting that information, it’s like what am I going to college for? I’m already gonna have to pay a debt for the rest of my life. The system is set up for you to give me money, but when I do get a job I am gonna have to pay you back for the rest of my life. I’m working for the rest of my life for you. And I can remember when they came to that reality, the way they were looking, they were frightened, they were disturbed and they wanted answers.

So that was telling me that young people, they think like we do. But they don’t have a voice. Sometimes, when they don’t have someone to talk to or someone to share that thought with, they get in this real explosive state, like when stuff continued to build up and build up. You know you supposed to do something, and it done built up so high that it comes out in a way that people don’t understand because they think that we supposed to react a certain way, like what they call the riot here in Baltimore. We call it the uprising, they call it the riot. The young people reacted ’cause they felt like they needed to express theirself whether somebody agree or disagree.

Now when they start flipping buildings, and running up in stores and taking things, everybody wants to listen now.

Is we gonna have to work, work, work, until we die? It’s not right. And it’s far bigger than working and dying. There’s changes that’s have to be made in a whole lot of areas that affects all of us.

What if...? An excerpt from REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN

Revolution: The world actually could be a different way. If this was all that could exist, then I guess we’d all live with it. That’s part of that clip you saw the other night; what if the world doesn’t have to be this way and people didn’t have to live this way...

D: He put that real nice. You just couldn’t get around it. I thought about that too, when I left here. What if... we’re entitled to more, you know. The world could be a better place.

Revolution: And all of humanity could be living like what he spoke to—not just from a perspective of us here, actually you could change the whole world.

D: I want to say this: a lot of times, the way things are has something to do with people’s belief system, let’s say like religion. My mother, she raised me as a Christian, and from that point I chose to be a Muslim and then from that point it’s the spirituality. And I asked myself: why do I move from one thing to another thing, to another thing, what am I seeking out, what am I searching for? I am seeking a better life. We should be able to look and identify with each other as human beings without all these other negative entities interfering.

When you try to sort out what you want for your future but you can’t entertain one thought because there’s so much distraction and busy-ness around you. It was meant for you to be side tracked, it was meant for you not to be able to contemplate one thought of doing the right thing for you and another human being. It’s almost so clear it’s tangible, you can touch it.

And it’s... like you said, we live in a world that can be a better place. The way things are, you know it should be better. And we can change that. We can change that. And I believe, whatever has to be done, whether it be sacrifice, whether it be just bringing it to the table, whether it be discussion or whatever level, it’s just necessary. ’Cause what am I gonna do, just be here and wait for my expiration date? No. ’Cause then life would be in vain. I am gonna finish BAsics. It has my attention.

He [BA in BAsics] clarified and he shared some things, some revolutionaries before us. What our perspectives should be, how we obtain things, and the forces coming against us, and trying to get some certain things done. It was just so clear.

Revolution: He’s done a lot of work. And there is something concentrated in BAsics. He really is a very precious leader, and he’s made real breakthroughs on whole approach to communism—what that is, and how to get there, how to make revolution, including a strategy for this.

D: That’s something I wanted to ask.

Revolution: Look we are up against a very powerful force. So we actually have to develop the ways to get from here to there and make revolution. And that’s not all of what he’s about. The Revolution Club leader was mentioning the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America  and the new socialist society and how it would function, proceeding from the whole world comes first. We are internationalists. But part of that is actually developing a whole strategy for revolution. There’s a whole chapter in BAsics that’s based on the strategy Bob Avakian’s developed.

D: From what I’ve read, that’s been like the stopping point. When we get to the point of how do we do this? How do we initiate? I mean, dealing with a giant like that, you know the powers that be. There’s so many areas they can come from to actually hurt you without putting their hands on you. That’s the part of the book I am at now, where he was talking about how, one of the important things, is how do we do this? And I was in deep thought, ’cause I was like how do we do this? Because it seems like it’s a lot of work. You talking about dealing with a force that’s already strategic. They’ve been doing this for years. They the best they ever done, put it like that.

Revolution: But they have their weaknesses.

D: Yes they do. Absolutely. That’s what we seek out.

 Revolution: In order for a real revolution to occur, there must be a revolutionary crisis and a revolutionary people numbering in their millions. Clearly this is not the reality now, so how can this come about? So, it’s important to dig into the supplement in BAsics that addresses this.






Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

A Call to Students: NO JUSTICE? NO SCHOOL!




Updated May 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


The system has given a green light to police everywhere to keep killing Black and Latino youth.  They are being told they will not be punished for these murders, as they continue to murder people day after day.  How was that message delivered?  NO CHARGES were filed against the cop in Madison, Wisconsin who shot 19 year old Tony Robinson 7 times.  And just two days later in Zion, Illinois, they said the murder of 17-year-old Justus Howell with two shots in the back was “justified.”  The latest statistics show the painful truth that police are now killing up to 3 people a day! THAT’S EVERY 8 HOURS!

Now think about the murder of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who was alive and healthy until he encountered the Baltimore police and died a week later from a broken spine.  What was different about the murder of Freddie Gray than all these other murders?  THIS time, those pigs WERE charged with crimes for his death.  Why?  Because people in Baltimore rose up.  Teenagers bravely and heroically stood up to tons of armed police who were trying to stop them from being in the streets to demand justice.  Those rebels in Baltimore inspired people all over the country – and in the days after the Baltimore rebellion, thousands marched in the streets of New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. to stand with them and support their cry for justice, many of them college students from more privileged backgrounds.

A fight has begun, to STOP MURDER BY POLICE and the whole slow genocide of mass incarceration, a movement that is growing and becoming more determined.  Even while the powers-that-be try to stop it by arresting and threatening protesters.  High school students have played a very important part in this movement and need to step up to play an even bigger part – in demanding an end to murder by police and in fighting to drop all the charges against the protesters.  On April 14th there were high school students across the country who walked out of their schools to shut shit down.  Because they know that playing by the rules means nothing changes – the police keep shooting people down in the street and getting away with it.  On May 22nd, if you want to see a different future, if you want to be part of making a better world: break the rules, and do something that matters. 

A Call to Students: No Justice? No School!
Credit: Stop Mass Incarceration Network

WE CALL ON high school students, middle school students, college students: walk out of school on May 22nd.  March through busy streets or protest in front of the police stations.  Or go to the sites where people have been murdered by police in your city or town.  Get whistles and bring them with you to blow the whistle if you see the police harassing people.  On May 22nd we send the message: we will not tolerate murder by police.

This call is issued by high school students and others from Stop Mass Incarceration Network So. Cal. and Revolution Club L.A.  For more information or to get organized, go to: or or find us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram.





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Interviews with Johns Hopkins Students

Stepping Out from an Elite Campus, and Standing with the Rebels of Baltimore

May 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Thousands of students from Johns Hopkins University, Goucher, Towson, and other campuses in Baltimore and nearby rally at the City Hall after marching through the streets, two days after the uprising. April 29.
Thousands of students from Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College, Towson University, and other campuses in Baltimore and nearby, rally at City Hall after marching through the streets April 29, two days after the uprising. (AP photo)

On Wednesday, April 29—two days after youths in Baltimore rose up in defiant rebellion—thousands of students from colleges and universities in and around Baltimore, as well as from some highs schools, rallied and marched through the center of Baltimore to demand justice for Freddie Gray. It was very good and important that this protest took place. While there were various views among the students about the uprising, they were acting in the face of the attempts by Obama, CNN, the Baltimore mayor, and others to turn people, especially in the middle class, against the rebels by attacking them as "thugs" engaged in "senseless violence." The students were standing on the side of the oppressed and against the depraved and intolerable police murder of Freddie Gray.

A Revolution/ correspondent talked separately with two students at the Johns Hopkins University campus in north-central Baltimore who were active in organizing and leading the action. B., who is finishing his sophomore year, and K., winding up her junior year, are both Black students at this mainly white university, which is considered one of the top schools in the country and draws people from all over the U.S. and around the world. They are both originally from outside Maryland.

Breaking Out of the "Hopkins Bubble"

The Johns Hopkins campus is in a middle-class neighborhood—not all that far away, but quite different in character, from the poor, mostly Black neighborhoods in large areas of the city where people live in projects or in homes scattered among rows of abandoned buildings.

K. said, "For me, when I go to a new place I always like to explore. And one thing that happens here is this thing called the 'Hopkins bubble.' I heard it happens in other institutions as well, especially primarily white institutions, where students—there's this sense of, if you leave this mile radius around campus, all of the sudden the world changes, and you're not supposed to go there. But for me, I like to walk. I've walked to downtown, walked into Greenmount [a poor Black area of East Baltimore], I've walked throughout the city, just because I can't confine myself to one place in any new living situation. It's experiences like that that make you more attuned, wanting to help where you live. Like you can't just come to an institution and keep taking and taking from the city without feeling any need to give back or do something and have some sort of respect for the city."

B. said he had been aware of the situation in Baltimore beyond the "bubble" around the campus: "I know that there's two very different cities. And what upsets me is that a lot of kids come to a place like Johns Hopkins and they only know, really, the Inner Harbor area [a downtown tourist area] basically, of Baltimore. They don't explore any other areas, like they don't know how depressed the middle-east area is right next to where the [downtown] med campus for Hopkins is. It's very upsetting. Then they just say, 'I don't really like Baltimore, it's not like New York, it's not like Chicago.' But once something like this happens, they feel like why are people doing this, don't destroy my home. And I'm like, it wasn't your home to begin with. You're really intruding [laughs]. That's honestly how I feel."

Reacting to the Police Murder of Freddie Gray

What did they and their friends think when they heard about how Freddie Gray had died at the hands of the police? B. told Revolution/revcom, "We looked at it kind of, you know, the streak is continuing after Ferguson, all the events that have been happening—it's just been a lot of emotional turmoil. And we were really concerned because we kind of talked a few months ago, when Ferguson occurred, about what it'd be like if it had happened in Baltimore. And it so just happened that it did occur. And we kind of predicted the response would be larger since Baltimore is a larger Black community and it's a high-profile area. And I think we just wanted to make sure if it's right in our area in the future, we should definitely try to get involved. When it did happen, it was very upsetting. Lot of kids, students and friends who are from Baltimore, were really hurt, because this was their city. And after watching the riots and protests that were going on, just what people were saying about Baltimore, people were really hurt by some of the offensive comments that were made."

B. went on to talk about some of these comments: "A lot of racist remarks were made in general toward Blacks involving this conflict. And it kind of made Blacks on campus feel unsafe, some of the things people were saying on social media. The thing that made us more concerned was that it was through means like Yik Yak, which is an anonymous source of social media that you can post on. And it was really upsetting. Because you can't figure out who it is, but you just see people posting all these things, and it's just really upsetting. As a student here I'm upset about Freddie Gray but also about my safety on campus with things people were saying. You go to an institution that's supposed to be very educated and people were making very ignorant remarks, which was very concerning."

K. described her thoughts on learning about the police murder of Freddie Gray: "It was reminiscent of previous cases—of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir [Rice]. All these cases that had already happened. I was like, oh, here we go again. But, just when you see the video, and you see the pain of the man, and all these things that for me blatantly kind of raised suspicious alarms. I was thinking, how quick is this going to turn into an actual prosecution, when is it going to go to court, this and that. That kind of was my thinking initially. I was one of the students who were following it from a behind-the-scenes look, seeing where is this going to go? It was when you start to see it's not going to go in an efficient and timely manner where it needs to go, that you as a student can't sit back anymore. That's when I kind of got myself more involved and engaged."

Compelled to Act by the Uprising

K. and B. recalled how they were looking at things and what they were motivated to do when the uprising happened in West Baltimore. B. said, "When the rioting...well, I guess uprising, yeah, that's a better word... I'm on the side of it. It was bound to happen, honestly. Because people look at, 'Oh, the CVS burned down,' like that. But if you look at Baltimore on a daily basis, well that's what it looks like normally, it's a lot of depression, poverty, just a lot of issues that the city has not addressed. And they want to show you the side of Baltimore that tourists love, which is the Inner Harbor, the college campuses, university, stuff like that. But there's another side of Baltimore that doesn't feel like it's connected and their voices aren't heard."

B. went on, "So what I try to tell other students who thought that it was just a violent uprising was more that people have been trying to talk with the community leaders, they have been trying to talk to the politicians and everyone. And no one's hearing them out. And if your words aren't getting anything done, people are gonna have to take action in order to get some sort of attention. So honestly, I think it's very hurtful because people wanna complain, 'Why are they doing this?' But I'm like, 'Well, you weren't listening before and now you want them to stop. But there's no other way for them to be heard. What do you expect?'"

B., who wants to go into public health, said that one big issue for him is "food deserts"—places where people don't have grocery stores or other places they can get fresh and healthy food—and related that to the uprising. "If you notice, the areas where these uprisings are happening are also where they're dealing with food deserts and other issues... And you wonder why people are upset. They're being deprived of not only their voices but of nutrition, health, everything."

K. talked about her reaction to Obama and others labeling the rebel youth "thugs." "I mean, initially you get upset. For me, when I came here I wanted to know more. So I've worked in the Carmelo Anthony Community Center, which is a community center downtown. When you see these kids—they're just kids, like any other kids... I think 'thugs' is a euphemism for what people really want to say, which is nigger. That's what they're alluding to, that's what they're trying to say. But 'thugs' is a little bit more... softer. 'Oh, we'll just call them thugs.' Especially when you're talking about children who are growing up in a situation you may not even know about... Just going downtown to City Hall for different protests and hearing mothers speak, teachers speak, all these people speak, and the message was very consistent: that my son and daughter, my children are not thugs, our children are not thugs. That message was hit over and over and over. Because that's how the community feels, of course."

B. worked with others in the Black Student Union to take action. K. said that she organized with a group of friends: "Me and some friends saw that there was going to be a big rally with other colleges—primarily I think Towson and Goucher and maybe UB [University of Baltimore]. And so we were like, 'Why is Hopkins not involved? There was a meeting in our Office of Multicultural Affairs. We sat down, we kind of made a format of what we wanted to do, made signs, stuff like that, put it on Facebook. It was actually in addition to an event we were supposed to do before that was specifically going to be about Hopkins and racism at Hopkins. But then with all the events, we were like, alright, there's something that's very important for our community, for the city right now."

Things were very tense in the city at this time, with a state of emergency in effect and thousands of National Guard troops, state police, and law enforcement from other cities and states pouring in to reinforce the Baltimore police and the clampdown. B. said that his parents called to tell him to not get involved, and other students got similar calls. But, B. said, "I didn't agree with that. It didn't sit well with me at all. Because I was like, I'm not going to sit here as all these other students were going out and they want to protest. I'm supposed to be taking a part and trying to be part of Baltimore, I think it's my home. I don't think I should just be sitting around not taking a part in something that I care about. I just have to not listen, and go."

K. said that when she first heard about "the martial law being put into effect," she felt "really defeated." What did she mean by that? "At first, just from what I read and saw, I was like, 'I could be put in major danger, just by holding a sign and walking down on the sidewalk.' That's what I saw." She said she was not so much worried about herself but the safety of others who may come out to rally and march. "And so, I had to ask myself, 'What are you gonna do?' And then, by the time I woke up the next morning, I was like, 'You know what you're gonna do. We're still gonna go.'"

On Wednesday, April 29, the city was still under occupation, with a 10 pm curfew and heavily armed National Guard troops deployed to key areas of the city and rumbling through the streets in armored vehicles. K. said, "So we rallied everybody. We met in front of the Hopkins sign. Distributed signs, water bottles, any precautionary gear just in case. Surgical masks. Who knows, we just wanted everyone to be ready and safe."

As it turned out, the marchers from Johns Hopkins got a go-ahead from the police to march in the street. The group from Johns Hopkins joined the others gathered at Penn Station, a major transportation hub, and then they all marched through downtown streets to City Hall. Apparently, there was some high-level decision by forces in the ruling class that it would not be in their interests at that time to unleash a police attack on the protest by students from Johns Hopkins and other campuses.

An Inspiring Mix of Students

B. also described the beginning of the march from the campus: "There was a large group of us right on the street over there, and a lot of other students saw us and started to join us, which we were really happy about. They were asking for Black Lives Matter T-shirts, they were asking for signs."

The core group of the protest was mainly Black students, but then many white students and people of other nationalities joined in. B. said, "Yeah, that was what we really loved. We didn't get as many people for the Ferguson protest—but I think because this one was in Baltimore, people understood that 'this is current events happening right around me, just a block away, I need to do something to help out.' Which I was really proud of. When we started marching, people started following us, and they weren't there at the beginning, [so that] was really great. I think it was the fact that they saw so many students there in the beginning when we started, standing out there protesting, that first caught their attention, like, 'What's going on?'... There was no way you could say—even though some people did—that Freddie did this to himself. He was just taken. I think people realized this is what Black students, Black people are concerned about, just the fact that there's so much violence against us, and we're not getting attention for it, people don't care about it. I think all those factors combined to get a larger number of people who would not normally come out to something."

K. also talked about the mix of students involved in the march: "That was one of the things that was more uplifting for me, seeing that many people. Of course you can say different things—maybe they're going because it was like, 'Oh that looks cool.' Because we were being loud and stuff. But just this showing support, especially after the events, especially after the comments, especially after the tensions rose even on our own campus—it was good, it was nice."

Revolution/ asked these two students: Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Tony Robinson, Freddie Gray, and so on... what do you think it's going to take to put a stop to the murders by police?

B. said, "Of course whenever these things happen we have to take action immediately. We can't stand for this. But it's also gonna even take just protesting even when stuff isn't going on. I understand that when something actually happens, definitely take more action. But if there's a period when something's not happening, you should still protest—we're upset about this, because we still feel that this is happening. And it is. We've seen the pattern. There was a lull, and then another occurred. I also think it takes a lot of education on the college and school level. I think a lot of people have very concerning opinions and they don't really understand the social situations of the cities and areas around them. I think we need to educate people on race, on cultural competency, cultural sensitivity, and just understand that there are very fundamental dynamics in this country that we need to change."

K. said, "I will say that when it comes to this country, I don't think you can expect a population to deal with so much injustice, blatantly, in their face, consistently over and over and not have some sort of retaliation. I will say that one thing I've seen is these events have progressed and retaliation is getting stronger and stronger. Which is to be expected. I mean, my thing is, I don't like it when people come around and say, well, they should handle it some other way. I'm like, what do you expect? It was handled that way, 10 years ago. Guess what, nothing happened. And it's getting progressively higher and higher. And that's to be expected. So for me, if this consistent pressure doesn't keep up, if people throughout the nation still decide to basically like stomp on those who aren't as privileged or stomp on those who they feel are insignificant because of their race, if those stories keep happening—you're just going to see more and more of an uprising. I mean, it's not just Baltimore. There are other uprisings happening around, feeding off of what happened in Baltimore. Let's say something else happens in a different city, another story. Don't think that Baltimore is gonna be like, well it's not us this time. No. You're adding fuel to the fire. I would love, and I would hope, that the system is able to quench the flames by serving justice as they should. But if it doesn't...."


The heroic uprising of the oppressed in Baltimore sent shockwaves far and wide and deeply impacted all of society. The protest by thousands of students from Johns Hopkins and other campuses was one significant sign of the very positive effects of the uprising on people in the middle class. This has significant implications not only for the fight to stop murder by police, but the overall movement for an actual revolution. As the Revolution/ editorial "High Stakes in Baltimore" points out:

In sum, this rebellion revealed the potential of the most oppressed to rise up against big odds, with courage. This rebellion transformed how everyone saw things: it made very clear the urgency of this injustice and that it must not and would not be tolerated. And it showed how, when this is done, there is potential to win active and important support from people who do not face that same hell, but can be won to sympathize.





Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

Updated May 26, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |

Forum on Thursday, May 28
in Baltimore:


6:30 at First Unitarian Church, 514 N. Charles, Baltimore, MD
(near W. Franklin, near Lexington subway and light rail stations, and #3, 11,15, 64, 320 bus routes)

Baltimore has been thrust onto the front lines of the struggle to STOP murder by police by the response of the people to the murder of Freddie Gray. This response has forced the system to do something it almost never does: indict its police for killing someone. Things have to go much further. All the way to convicting and jailing the cops who murdered Freddie Gray. And this fight needs to be developed as part of the struggle STOP the horror of this system giving police a green light to brutalize and murder Black and Latino people.

Can the charges against the cops who stole Freddie Gray's life be made to stick? How do we carry forward the fight for Justice for Freddie Gray all the way to the end - to the killer cops being convicted and sent to jail? Why do police kill people again and again and almost always get away with it? What must be done to END this horror once and for all?  

Join us for a discussion of all this. 

Speakers will include:

Kwame Alston (Black Student Union, Johns Hopkins University)

Carl Dix (co-initiator of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party)

Adam Jackson (Founder & CEO of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, Baltimore)

Tawanda Jones (sister of Tyrone West who was murdered by Baltimore police in July 2013)

Marlene Kanmogne (African Students Association, Johns Hopkins University)

With other speakers to be announced soon.


Donation requested / No one will be turned away. 

Facebook event

Organized by Revolution newspaper / and the Revolution Club. 

For more information, 443-240-9972 
Carl Dix 

Carl Dix' speech at the May 2 rally in Baltimore can be viewed at  Carl Dix - Baltimore - May 2, 2015  






Revolution #387 May 18, 2015

From A World To Win News Service

Indian State Arrests K. Murali (Ajith)

May 22, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |



18 May 2015. A World to Win News Service. The Indian state has arrested intellectual and writer K. Murali, also known as Ajith. According to newspaper reports, he was seized by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) on 8 May along with his assistant C.P. Ismael at a hospital near Pune in southern India. Although formal charges have not yet been filed, the authorities have initially accused him of using false identification and membership in an illegal organization under the notorious Unlawful Activities Prevention Act that bans a broad range of political activities.

Indian media refer to Murali as a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). When taken to court on 9 May, the Indian Express said that he declared to the media, "I am a member of the CPI(M). I shouldn't have been arrested like this. My arrest is illegal."

After being held for a week, the two men were brought before a judge a second time on 16 May for a hearing on whether or not they should be released. Media people were not allowed in the courtroom, and the judge himself was not allowed to read the police report. According to the Express, "When the judge asked Ajith if he had any complaints against the police, the accused replied that despite the eight days of his arrest, the ATS had not informed him about the charges levelled against him." Nevertheless, the judge remanded the two to police custody for another week.

Murali, 62, recently underwent heart surgery and had gone for further medical care when he was arrested. A chilling picture shows him in handcuffs with a hood entirely covering his head. Indian newspapers say the government will keep him and Ismael in isolation at an unknown location while a special investigation team assists in their interrogation. This news, along with the known facts about the mistreatment of other suspected CPI(M) members and leaders, and repeated cases of torture and even murder in custody, has led to widespread concern for Murali's health and safety. In the first few days after the announcement of his arrest, dozens of progressive-minded individuals in India and other countries condemned his arrest.

One such statement signed by 28 activists and intellectuals demanded that the "ATS should disclose his health condition forthwith and provide him with the necessary medical help. We also demand that Ajith and his friend should be enabled to access a legal counsel of their choice as entitled by the constitution."


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.