Revolution #388, May 25, 2015 (

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

In One Week:
Murdering Police Go Free All Over the USA

Updated May 26, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |



In a single week, in Grapevine, Texas; in St. Louis, Missouri; and now in Cleveland, Ohio, the system let murdering police go free. In that same week, the Supreme Court ruled in a case of a woman in San Francisco that cops cannot be sued for shooting at severely mentally disabled people who allegedly "threaten violence." And in the same week, the President of the United States gave a pat on the back to one of the most fascist police forces in the country. THIS MUST STOP!*

On the night of November 29, 2012, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, a Black man and woman, were driving in downtown Cleveland when the police began chasing them, joined by the highway patrol, sheriffs and two other communities' cops. After a 25-minute chase, the two ended up trapped in a cul-de-sac in East Cleveland, a poor, mainly Black community. As the car was stopped, 13 Cleveland pigs shot 137 bullets into the car, 23 bullets hitting Russell and 24 bullets hitting Williams. The police claim they heard a gunshot coming from the car Timothy Russell was driving, but no gun or shells have been found in the car or along the route of the chase.

On May 23rd, a judge acquitted the only policeman charged with a serious crime in this horrific murder of all charges because he said he could not determine which of the pigs fired the fatal shots.

On February 20, Ruben Garcia Villalpando was pulled over by a cop in Grapevine, Texas.  Fernando Romero described what's recorded on the pigs' video camera: “My brother-in-law is out of the car with his hands up, and the first thing he asks is, 'are you going to kill me?'” The pig first cursed at Ruben, then shot him twice in the chest at close range, murdering him.

On May 18th, a Tarrant County Grand Jury no-billed Robert Clark, the pig who gunned down Ruben Villalpando in cold blood.

On October 8th in St. Louis, 18 year old Vonderrit Myers was murdered by a St. Louis pig who claimed  he was acting in self defense. Vonderrit was with several friends and, as his aunt Jackie Williams said, “My nephew was coming out of a store from purchasing a sandwich... I don’t know how this happened, but they went off and shot him 16 times. That’s outright murder.”

On May 18th, a St. Louis County attorney announced that no charges would be filed against murdering pig Jason Flannery.

In August 2008, San Francisco police barged into the room of a group home where Teresa Sheehan lived; their “job was to transport her safely to a mental health facility”. The cops claimed Sheehan had a knife, and shot her six times, severely disabling her. (See “The REAL Record of the Holder Department of IN-Justice: Supporting Police Violence in EVERY CASE Before the Supreme Court.”)

On May 18th, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that cops cannot be sued for shooting at severely mentally disabled people who allegedly “threaten violence”.

Also on May 18th: Barack Obama traveled to Camden New Jersey – an impoverished city notorious for its brutal police and relentless oppression of Black people. He held up the police there as a “symbol of promise” to the rest of the country, and vowed to help bring methods used in Camden – methods that have brought a huge increase in arrests for low level “offenses” like not having lights on a bicycle. Arrests have reached their highest level in years in Camden, and at least a dozen people have filed claims of “excessive force” against the police.

There is an epidemic of police brutality and murder. Murdering police are almost never arrested. When they are they are usually let go. 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).

And this is not going to change without even more massive, more defiant and more widespread struggle. And we NEED a revolution, we need to get organized for an ACTUAL revolution. What the masses who rose up in Baltimore did 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.

This SYSTEM cannot do away with MURDER BY POLICE
But REVOLUTION can do away with this SYSTEM


* An earlier version of this article incorrectly made it appear that in all five of these instances, the system let police who murdered people go free. That was the case in three of these instances, and the same agenda of promoting police violence against people was at the heart of the other two examples, but we apologize for the error on a serious issue. [back]






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Carl Dix

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

137 Shots—The Whole Damned System Is Guilty!

Cleveland Judge Lets Cop Involved in Murder of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams Walk!

by Carl Dix

Download PDF for printing

May 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Another killer cop walks—Michael Brelo, a Cleveland cop, was pronounced not guilty on May 23 by Judge John O’Donnell. Brelo was one of about 100 Cleveland area cops who, on November 29, 2012, pursued the car Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were in after cops heard the car backfire and decided shots had been fired at police headquarters in downtown Cleveland. He was one of 13 cops who together fired 137 shots—yes, they fired 137 shots—at Russell and Williams, who were unarmed. Brelo fired 49 shots during the chase, the last 15 of them while standing on the hood of the car.

Brelo was the only cop charged for the killing of Russell and Williams, but he was only charged with manslaughter. And now he has been exonerated.

In letting this cop walk, Judge O’Donnell drew from the playbook the system uses to exonerate killer cops again and again, AND wrote some new pages for that book. The judge accepted the magic words cops always use when they kill someone—“I was in fear for my life.” In accepting this justification, the judge said this fear was reasonable because the shots fired by the other 12 cops could’ve led Brelo to think Williams and Russell were firing at him. (To do this, the judge had to conclude that someone in fear for their lives would reasonably climb onto the hood of the vehicle of people who were shooting at him to fire at them.)

The judge also said he couldn’t convict Brelo for manslaughter because he couldn’t determine beyond a reasonable doubt that either Russell or Williams would’ve survived if Brelo hadn’t shot them. In other words, the judge let this cop get off for killing two people because other cops were also shooting them! On top of this, the prosecution put a use-of-force “expert” on the stand who testified that Brelo was wrong to shoot at Russell and Williams from the hood of their car—not because he was shooting at unarmed people, but because in doing so he was putting himself in harm’s way, which may have meant that other cops would have to risk their lives to save his if he got shot!

This amounts to the system saying that its modern-day enforcers have a free rein to inflict the same kind of torture, brutality, and murder on Black people that the slave chasers used to inflict on runaway slaves.

What can you say about a system that has cops out there who fire 137 shots at unarmed people, whose prosecutors can’t build a case against these killer cops, and whose judge thinks all this is reasonable and justified?

That it’s no damned good; has been around too damned long; and needs to be gotten rid of as soon as possible in the only way this can really be done—through revolution.

We should live in a world where those entrusted with public security would sooner lose their own lives than kill or injure an innocent person. It will take revolution, nothing less, to bring that world into being, and we in the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), and our leader, Bob Avakian (BA), exist to bring that revolution about.

This society gives cops the benefit of the doubt when they kill or brutalize people. All they have to do is say they were in fear for their lives, and they get a pass for their murderous deeds. Darren Wilson used this to justify the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Matt Kenny, a Madison, Wisconsin, cop, used it to justify the murder of Tony Robinson. And now Brelo uses this and walks for the murder of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.

This is outrageous, and it must not be tolerated. City officials and “responsible leaders” have called for people to respect the judge’s ruling. NO! This ruling invites disrespect. Everybody should respond to it with scorn and outrage. In Cleveland and all across the country, if you were enraged when the cops murdered Russell and Williams, and are enraged anew by the system letting one of those killer cops walk, you need to take to the streets and deliver a clear message that these kinds of horrors will not be accepted! People have to throw themselves into building up massive, determined resistance to these horrors whenever and wherever they occur. And we must bring our outrage and determination together into a powerful and growing nationwide movement of resistance, numbering in the millions, that is aiming to STOP this shit.

And if you’ve had it with hearing again and again that cops have gotten away with murdering somebody and want to see it ended, you need to get with the movement for revolution the RCP is building. Run with us as we fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution. Watch the DVD of the dialogue between Bob Avakian (BA) and Cornel West, REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion. Get into BAsics, the book of quotations and short essays from the work of BA. Be part of getting ready and in position to make revolution when the time is right and bring a totally different and far better way for people to live into being.





Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Statement by the Cleveland Branch, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA


May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


This week in Cleveland we are seeing a rerun of the same disgusting, outrageous movie. The authorities committed an unbelievable outrage. They exonerated the pigs who cold-bloodedly and sadistically murdered Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. The masses threatened to get angry and rise up against it, and suddenly “leaders” were put forward to tell them to be peaceful. “Don’t rise up, don’t rebel. We’ll only hurt ourselves. Things are gonna get better if we just play by the rules.”

This is shameful. These people pour water on the struggle, when REAL struggle and resistance is the only hope that people have of a better day. This must change.

Malcolm X used to talk about the role of house slaves back in slavery. The house slaves worked in the “big house.” It was still slavery, but it was better than being out in the fields, slaving under the sun, in conditions of sheer hell. These house slaves would be allowed a little better clothing and scraps off the master’s table. When the bitterly exploited field slaves would threaten to rise up, these house slaves were sent out to calm them down. “Do things the right way,” they’d say. “If we rise up against our own plantation, then where will we be?” What was the result? Slavery kept on going, consuming the lives of whole generations of millions of African-American people, until war finally put an end to it.

75 years ago, in Europe, the German Nazis tried to kill all the Jews in Europe. They appointed councils of better-off Jews to work through—Judenrat, they were called. They would give these Judenrat scraps to quiet down the masses and pacify them. And the Judenrat would also finger the more militant Jews who wanted to fight the Nazis, to get rid of them. “If you rise up, they’ll kill us all.” What was the result? The Nazis were able to put ALL the Jews in camps and kill them.

For months these modern-day house slaves and Judenrat have been telling people, “Oh, we have the ear of the Justice Department. Now things will change. So just play by the rules and don’t get out of order.” NO! This is bullshit. This is the INjustice Department, in charge of keeping this same system going. This is the INjustice Department which defends the police in the Supreme Court each and every time a case comes up against them.

Today this system—which the INjustice Department enforces—has no future for millions of Black and Brown youth. Because of this, there is a slow genocide going on, and it could speed up at any time. Those who say that we should be peaceful and work within the same system that is bringing this down on people—whatever their intentions—are playing the roles of house slaves and Judenrat.

Right now, there is justice that must be won in the case of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. And it is six months since pigs rolled up and murdered 12-year-old Tamir Rice in less than two seconds, and still there is no word of an indictment. Sharp struggle and fierce resistance are urgently required.








Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Bring BA To The Start of What Could Potentially Be "A Long, Hot Summer"

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


June 21 officially marks the summer solstice, when the sun begins to shine warmest and is at its highest in the northern hemisphere during planet Earth’s year-long revolution around the sun. Along with the rising temperatures, this is the start of what could be a “long, hot summer” politically in this country.

This is an initial call to all readers of Revolution newspaper to join us that weekend in kicking off this summer with mass outings taking revolution and Bob Avakian (BA) to the people, in an atmosphere of charged political ferment and questioning.

While revolutionaries in different cities will organize varied and diverse activities that mark this weekend, the orientation is one of to the masses in a mass way” with BA Everywhere as the leading edge of the whole ensemble of revolutionary work. To find out more about the campaign to get BA Everywhere click here.

What does this mean? As we go out—including bringing people we are just meeting, or who are taking up the movement for revolution, out to be a part of this—we are boldly putting forward a pole of revolution, that it does not need to be this way and that there is another way represented by Bob Avakian, a radically different world that can be brought into being through communist revolution, and there is an actual strategy for this revolution. There is a radically different way society can be organized, and in this context, this world of horrors we see, experience, and live through is completely and absolutely needless; there is a way out of the world of police murder of mainly Black and Latino youth, of the degradation of women, of wars of empire, of environmental catastrophe and global warming, of the criminalization and deaths of immigrants as they flee devastated and poverty-stricken homelands. Even while people righteously stand up, rebel, protest, and organize in various ways to put a STOP to all these outrages, they should be part of the process of being led to understand that all of this is caused by and part of the underlying system of capitalism-imperialism and its inherent driving dynamics and imperatives. What is needed and possible is another system, a society without all these horrors, and where, without the constraining dynamics of capitalism and its thuggish enforcers in its military and police forces, we would be actually able to collectively go to work on the emancipation of all of humanity as part of a worldwide process, a society and process described in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal). This is based on BA’s work in re-envisioning a new framework of the emancipation of all of humanity. Raising funds to popularize this radical vision and this leader, BA, is part of the BA Everywhere campaign, a multi-faceted, mass fundraising campaign to project BA, his voice, and his work way out into society, far beyond what it is today.

When the revolutionaries boldly project BA and this revolution, it opens the door and attracts people broadly, from those who are catching hell every day to students and others who are questioning what kind of society we live in—and who hunger for people to discuss and debate why we are in the situation we’re in, the possibility of another future, and how we can get there.

Who should be a part of the summer solstice weekend events? Everybody who wants to know more. Everybody who, whether they feel they personally know that much about BA, his vision, and his work, or even disagree with much of what he is saying, sees the importance of people in all corners of society engaging BA’s work. Everybody who sees the importance of this leader being a point of reference throughout society.

We would really like to hear ideas from our readers on what this weekend should look like, and ways they would like to contribute, participate, and be part of it. To start this process, here are some proposals in broad strokes of what we are currently envisioning and planning for as a basic framework:

* We envision crews of people, wearing the BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! T-shirts out in the neighborhoods of the oppressed and other areas of the city, in the outdoor parks, basketball courts, concerts, and cultural institutions. These T-shirts have appeared in the midst of and in the wake of struggle, with pictures from Ferguson to Baltimore attesting to the power and impact of people wearing these shirts, projecting what is most needed at these crucibles and moments of struggle. Projecting this slogan with a revolutionary élan, in other words, an infectious energy and enthusiasm for this revolution, even as most of the people wearing these shirts are in the process themselves of grappling with what this revolution is all about. BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian has been critical to this process of people learning more about BA and the revolution he is leading, and has been very popular in breaking things down for people.

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

In the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, BA says: “Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight to not only end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity.” As “revolution is more in the air,” we envision and aim to have growing numbers of people, especially from among those the system has cast off, wearing these T-shirts as a living manifestation of this course. This is a radically different orientation, worldview. and position than someone like Obama, who just recently slandered as “thugs” the youth who defiantly and righteously rebelled against injustice in Baltimore. There are anecdotes of people who, on seeing this T-shirt in the crucible of struggle, have bought it, and while wearing it proudly, have held themselves to different standards, grasping in a basic way that it signifies something righteous, just, and lofty, with a morality that goes with it. This is part of the beginning transformations and process of making revolution.

* We envision inviting all the people we’ve met over the last year, including and especially out in the streets during the protests of the fall and spring, to be part of this weekend—and reach back to those we have known for several years, or even decades. Thinking has been shaken loose by recent events, and we cannot underestimate the potential effect this could have on how people see the need, the possibility, or the desirability of radical change in this society. Since one of the key aspects—and actual objectives―of this weekend is really getting a lot of “new” people involved in this movement for revolution; many people may just want to observe and be a part of the scene, or help with food and logistics, planning for the celebratory dinners during the weekend. At the same time, revolutionaries have an orientation of organizing everyone we meet this weekend into the revolution—at a minimum, getting them an e-subscription to Revolution online; but also through the Revolution Club, BA Everywhere, the local Revolution Books, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, and End Pornography and Patriarchy. This is part of manifesting and implementing the slogan “Get Organized for An Actual Revolution.”


* Along with fundraising for the T-shirts so that we can produce, distribute, and subsidize thousands more among those who can scarcely afford it but really need and want it, the primary focus of the weekend is fundraising for, publicizing, showing and distributing REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. This is the title and theme of the historic dialogue between the revolutionary Christian Cornel West and the revolutionary communist Bob Avakian that took place at the Riverside Church in New York City last November, attended by 1,900+ people from all walks of life, and also the title of the film of this Dialogue—now available online and on DVD. For those who are not familiar with the film, first, watch it at the earliest moment, and as you are doing so, contribute through funds and other means to help spread it.

To the right are some further reflections on the recent impact of this film in West Baltimore; the potential glimpsed here needs to be realized, with growing numbers aware of this and watching the film, in scale and scope nationally. As we say below, There are tens, if not hundreds of thousands, across this country who are like the individuals at the gathering in West Baltimore described in the account, searching for answers, open to radical questioning and radical change, looking for leadership, but who don’t yet know about BA.

We intend changing this, and need major funds so we can have ads and publicity for the film, online and on billboards, so that the millions who should see it, especially through the summer, actually know about the film, are driven to it, and have a chance to view it. Fundraising is a key aspect of this weekend so that we can project beyond our immediate presence to all those in society who need to know about and watch this Dialogue, and at the same time give people a way to contribute, forging community in the process. This is a very meaningful and an entry-level way for people to contribute as they are engaging the content―agreeing with some things, disagreeing with others, and being provoked to think and reflect about the rest.

Everywhere we are, we are raising funds, showing excerpts of the film, selling DVDs, with mass publicity in the form of posters and thousands and thousands of palmcards that saturate key neighborhoods. Imagine scenes of people gathering around flat screen TVs at city basketball courts to watch excerpts from the film, or at a rec center in the projects, all the while raising money so that word can spread, and discussing and debating what they saw. This would also impel and influence those among the wealthier strata to contribute so we have funds commensurate with what it takes in this society to really publicize a major film.

* Through the weekend, celebratory BA Everywhere dinners, which have proven very popular, could be either a punctuation point on Saturday night, or a culmination of the whole weekend, where people get together to break bread, watch excerpts of the film, share their experiences through the weekend, perhaps listen to some music or cultural performance that is more in line with the world we are trying to bring into being, without all the oppressive and exploitative relations, especially without what has become the all too common standard in the “revolting culture” of degrading women—all the while forging community.

Again, with this basic proposal, we would really like to hear ideas from our readers and ways they would like to contribute, participate and be part of it. Watch for updates as we firm up our plans for this weekend, and be part of making this happen—through your thinking and actual participation.





Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Further Reflections in Getting this Film Out In the World

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution recently, two weeks back, had an article with a rather matter-of-fact title, “Watching Clips from the Dialogue Between Cornel West and Bob Avakian in West Baltimore.” This account describes the reaction, responses, and further questions of people, mainly from West Baltimore, where Freddie Gray was murdered. They “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.”

This account describes the visceral responses to Avakian’s laying out a vision of a radically different world: What if the world did not have to be this way—without police murder, without the objectification of women as sex objects, without the criminalization of immigrants, in fact a world without borders—posing, in this context, whether we need religion to “get through the night” as a salve to the horrors of this world. This account describes the responses of the people to Avakian’s argument that we need to actually “win” the revolution, and be serious about it, including drawing forth others into the process of figuring out how, on the foundation of a basic framework to do so. “I leaned forward when I heard that” commented someone on Avakian’s notice that “if you’re going to go up against [the enforcers] of this system, you have to take seriously into account what they will bring down on people who try to fight them.” And most of all, people talked about their sights—and hopes being raised to the possibility of something radically different. “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.” [emphasis ours]


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

People responded to and commented on the chemistry, the mutual respect between West and Avakian, with their differences, but united on their concern for those who are “the least among us,” with the account going on to state: “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...” In this Dialogue, people experienced the pre-figuring of a radically different world, and this has come through in account after account of people’s responses, sincere and heart-felt, to the Dialogue and the film of it.

This is but a mere glimpse of the potential response to this Dialogue, and in an atmosphere of intense political and intellectual ferment that follows the defiant and mass protests against police murder, mainly of Black and Latino youth, a much-needed and critical element.

There are tens, if not hundreds of thousands across this country who are like the individuals at this gathering, searching for answers, open to radical questioning and radical change, looking for leadership, but who don’t yet know about BA.

This is what we seek to change with BA Everywhere, raising the funds so that all of them know about BA and what he represents in basic terms. BA Everywhere is a multi-faceted fundraising campaign to project Bob Avakian—BA—his voice and his work way out into society, far beyond what it is today. All those who have engaged BA in some form―whether by watching the Dialogue, or being provoked by a quote in BAsics, or reading a section of his memoir—and think he needs to be heard and seen by millions more, or can be won to see the impact this can have on society, needs to be part of this campaign to actually make this happen, to “make BA a household word,” and ways should be found for them to contribute and participate in this process.

Let’s, for a minute, look at what has happened since Ferguson, the moment when youth at the bottom of society and cast out by the system stood up and defiantly rebelled against the police murder of Michael Brown and the non-indictment of the cop responsible, Darren Wilson. Youth rebelling defiantly, and in the process, drawing forth the support and protest actions of broader swathes of society—not only in Ferguson, but Madison, Baltimore, Cleveland, and nationwide. This results in a shifting societal polarization that not only favorably arrays a range of social forces against these acts of police murder and its rationalizations, but is also sparking bigger questions and discussions about the nature of this society and what is variously understood as the “system,” its enforcers and its institutions of rule, and the history and place of Black people in it. While putting “the system,” scientifically the capitalist-imperialist system, on the defensive and forced to respond, it leads to a dynamic and polarization that is ever-shifting, but on the whole what characterizes and is manifesting the potential churning of society on one of its key fault-lines as it has historically evolved, the oppression of Black people from the time of slavery to its continuing legacy to today. This moment, potentially (i.e. not certain or a guarantee) continuing into and escalating through the “long, hot, summer,” holds within it, tremendous potential towards a revolutionary re-polarization—and hastening a time when the revolutionary seizure of power is on the agenda.

At a moment like this, what is most needed is “the masses of people more broadly, need to be led to correctly understand—and act on the correct understanding of—problem and solution, and the fact that, through communist revolution, there is a way out of the horrors and outrages that they are rising up against and that this system forces them to endure every day.”

All of this—the full package of the “problem/solution,” what is the source of all this oppression and needless suffering and what is the solution to it, the communist revolution, the fact that it does not have to be this way, and the leadership for it—is concentrated now at the highest level in BA, Bob Avakian. This is why The Dialogue, and other works by BA raises sights—and raises hopes, on a scientific foundation.

Commenting on the Dialogue, Ardea Skybreak has said: “It was like there was magic in the air. It was one of the most hopeful things that I’ve seen in a very long time. I think it was historic in many different dimensions: in terms of the topic that was approached; the people who were involved in it, the two speakers; the moment in time. I felt like I was able to see a great demonstration of morality and conscience applied to dealing with the problems of humanity—that both speakers stood out this way....”[emphasis ours]. (From “Ardea Skybreak: On Attending the Dialogue Between Bob Avakian and Cornel West.”

All of this is why we need to and will focus on making a real leap in fundraising for, and publicizing, showing, and distributing REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between Cornel West and Bob Avakian.





Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Obama's Three-Pronged Offensive: Fraud, Repression, and Sugar-Coated Poison

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Renewed and even more powerful upsurges against murder by police this spring have compelled Barack Obama to go on the offensive.

NOT against murder by police, but against the righteous struggle of the masses of people.

Obama has been very busy lately. One day he may be telling a gathering of cops how much he values their work, and how much this society depends on them. The next day he may speak to a group of college-bound inner-city youths and tell them he “understands” them, and wants to work with them to overcome their problems.

These efforts are not disjointed or disconnected. They are part of a full-court press intended to suppress growing rebellion and resistance among the basic people. They are intended to send a message broadly to society that “the system works” for those who work within it. They aim to isolate and marginalize people, among the basic masses as well as intellectuals and other middle class and well-off people who don’t “go along with the program.”

Obama’s offensive has three prongs. One, fraud. He is pushing programs he claims will help solve the problem of brutalizing, murdering police, but will actually do nothing of the kind. Two, repression. Obama is not only giving moral backing to the cops, he is pushing programs that step up police power OVER and AGAINST the masses of people. Three: sugar-coated poison. He is using words of concern and promises of money, designed to mislead, confuse, and derail the struggle of the people.

Losing Their Legitimacy

In December 2014, the Obama administration pulled together a task force to devise a plan for “21st Century Policing.” Earlier this month, shortly after the rebellion in Baltimore, the report of the plan was released. Obama stated that the plan’s aim is to promote “effective crime reduction while building public trust.” It calls for “improved community policing, community policing grants, body worn camera tool kits,” and other measures.

A central concern and focus of this report is that police across the country are losing or have lost legitimacy in the eyes of many people, especially Black and Latino people. The task force’s overriding goal is to “build trust and nurture legitimacy...” between the cops and the people they brutalize.

But what IS this “legitimacy” that they want to “nurture”?

The “legitimacy” of the police is the legitimacy to use force, including deadly force, under full protection of the law. Check out the Department of IN-justice report on the murder by a cop of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri—towards the end it cites one court ruling after another in which U.S. law, based on the U.S. Constitution, legitimizes the police murdering unarmed people under all kinds of circumstances and with all kinds of “justifications.”

Ruben Garcia Villalpando, unarmed and with his hands in the air, was gunned down in cold blood by a pig in Grapevine, Texas. His killer was just no-billed (not indicted) by a Tarrant County grand jury. Marta Romero, Ruben’s wife, spoke poignantly about what the “legitimacy” of this system means. “If my husband had killed a police officer, he would be in jail. But since it was the opposite, will they just leave it this way? Because an officer killed a man, because he killed an illegal and nothing more? What are a human’s rights then? Now an animal gets more rights than a man.”

The police are enforcers of a system that has absolutely no future for the masses of youth. As Bob Avakian said, the police “enforce the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in.” Nobody should accept those conditions, or the “legitimacy” of the people and institutions that enforce them. Unfortunately, however, most of the time people just accept it or take it for granted, because they think there’s no other way.

So it is a fine thing indeed—one of the best things to happen in this country in a long time—that courageous, defiant youths, from Ferguson, to New York, to Oakland, to Madison, and most definitely to Baltimore, as well as dozens of other cities, have challenged and begun to reject that legitimacy. It is a fine thing indeed that many people from better-off sections of society, including many white people, came out in the streets and in other ways have expressed support for those youths.

For Obama, and the system of capitalism-imperialism he represents and enforces, this is a problem. But for revolutionaries, and anyone who wants a better day, this is a GOOD thing—because revolution and liberation require that people no longer accept the right of the rulers to violently control them and are willing to challenge that. This battle of legitimacy is a big part of what Obama is trying to deal with here.

21st Century Policing

On the one hand, the Obama program for “21st century policing” wants to make a show of changing some of the most outrageous police practices. He calls for body cameras on cops—but cameras on the scene not only did not save Eric Garner, choked to death by a Staten Island, New York, pig on video, the DA didn’t even charge him, despite the evidence right there! Or Obama makes a big deal about halting the shipment to urban police forces of massive heavy weaponry used by the U.S. occupation armies against oppressed people all over the world.

But look more closely at what Obama said when he announced this program, and at what he did. “Law enforcement agencies should create policies and procedures for policing mass demonstrations ... to minimize the appearance of a military operation.” In other words, it’s fine to run a military operation against protests, just don’t have it appear like one. He also said: “We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling that it’s an occupying force.”

Obama’s directive is deceitful bullshit on an even more fundamental level. As the Washington Post reported, “most of the militarization [of police forces] takes place outside the 1033 Program [established in 1997 to transfer military hardware from the Department of Defense to local police departments]. ... Since 2003, for example, the Department of Homeland Security has been giving grants to police departments around the country to purchase new military gear. That program now dwarfs the 1033 program.” So Obama’s grand “directive,” as he surely knows, will have little effect on the ability of police forces to continue to obtain military weaponry.

This, and other measures like it, are part of the “fraud” part of the program—making people think that what he is doing will actually get to the essence of the problem and change things.

Look at the reality, and don’t go for the fraud. People in communities like Sandtown-Winchester in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri,  feel like the cops are an occupying force because they are, and act like, an occupying force. Unarmed Akai Gurley was gunned down in the stairwell of a Brooklyn, New York, housing project by cops who didn’t even see him but had been trained to regard anyone there as an “enemy.” Beating people, arresting them for making eye contact, shooting them in cold blood, taking them for deadly “rough rides”―that’s how these pigs roll, it’s what they do. And when more is needed, they break out with tear gas, tanks, rifles, head-to-toe body armor, and more―and that’s exactly what an occupying army does.

Stepped Up Repression in The Name of “Trust”

The second part of Obama’s program is founded on increasing the intense repression of the police, and backing the police and their brutal, murderous activities to the hilt. This is why he has been making such a big point of speaking to police gatherings, of meeting with and declaring his support for police in places like Camden, New Jersey. Our article on Camden shows that they have turned that city into an open-air concentration camp—and THIS is what Obama wants to uphold and spread!!

This goes further, and again, we have to look beneath the surface. He calls for a big emphasis on building trust. And everywhere you turn, people are echoing this: “Oh, we need to restore trust” and “Oh, we’ve got to work together on this problem and restore trust.”

NO!!! The one thing that the oppressed do NOT need is trust for those who have been hired and trained to oppress them. Think about how absurd and idiotic this is. Would you say that the problem of slavery was that the enslaved people and the slave drivers didn’t trust each other? Would you say that the problem in the Nazi concentration camps was that the prisoners didn’t have enough trust for the guards? Would you say that the problem with the way white people took over America and committed genocide against the Native American Indians was that the Indians didn’t have trust for the whites? Then why in the world should anyone who wants liberation and freedom and justice want to build “trust” between an oppressed community and those who so viciously oppress them?

Obama hopes that “building trust” will demobilize people and get them back out of the streets. Sometimes you hear people say, “Well, I don’t like it when they brutalize people, but the one good thing they did was the Police Athletic League”—NO! The Police Athletic League and programs like that are designed to make people accept the brutality and murder as just the result of “bad people” and to not get that the police as an institution are designed to defend a system of oppression. Any “trust-building” is designed to cover over that and confuse people and puncture their militancy. This is why it was very righteous for a crowd at a recent town hall meeting of mainly Black people in Philadelphia to drive out the Black mayor and police chief of that city when they came to “listen to grievances” and “build trust” after they exonerated the cops who killed Brandon Tate-Brown last December. (Check out the video.)

And let’s be clear. Another big thing they are talking about when they say “let’s build trust” is building snitch networks. This is not only, or even mainly, about who’s doing crime. A lot of the time the police know who’s doing crime—and half the time they’re in on it. This is about informing.

Let’s go back to this question of legitimacy—of whether people think that the cops have a right to wield this force to defend the system. When and as their legitimacy comes into question, and as a movement for revolution develops, they will use this “trust” they have built—the snitch networks and all that—to try to destroy that movement.

This is not something we’re talking about 10 or 20 years down the road. As we have said, the current upsurge against police murder of Black and Latino people has changed things to the point where a real revolutionary situation could possibly develop out of the further unfolding of that, along with other developments. So there are very high stakes indeed in going up against this and tearing the covers off it.

Brother’s (Jail) Keeper

The third part of the Obama offensive is “sugar-coated poison.” Many middle class and well-off people are actually trying to find and develop ways to help inner-city youths whose lives are mangled by this wretched system. Many of them played positive roles in the big struggles that began in Ferguson last August.

Obama seeks to channel and (mis)direct those positive impulses and weave them into systems of control that reinforce and perpetuate the very system that spawns the problem. The Brother’s Keeper program, which Obama is reviving, is a cornerstone of this overall plan. It is a vital component of the way Obama is working to strengthen the system’s ability to repress the masses of people.

How can this be so? We’ve covered this in other articles, including in this issue, and we’ll have more to say in the future. But let’s say for the sake of argument that every single program in “Brother’s Keeper” actually helped young men (for the program is ONLY directed at males!) to be more educated and all that. There would still be no jobs!! There would still be the rank and pervasive discrimination built into every level of society—not just employment, but housing... credit... education... the criminal IN-justice system. There would still be the cultural demonization and dehumanization. This shit is just so much charity, and charity don’t change shit. It may help an individual here and there, but it doesn’t begin to get to the SOURCE of the problem. Charity cannot change that—charity cannot change the nature of this capitalist system, and the way that white supremacy is a vital part of its whole functioning. (See “On Obama’s 'My Brother’s Keeper' Speech.”)

People influenced by this need to ask themselves about the cost of participating. You can’t pick and choose—this is an integrated offensive, a whole program. You may think, for a while at least, that you are using the system to do good work; but what’s really going on is that the system intends to use you to facilitate its dirty work, to pacify the masses and continue its horrendous oppression, here and worldwide. As long as this system goes on—and especially in the particularly dangerous genocidal conditions of today—this is deadly.

Obama is not “changing.” He is not “finally beginning to do something.” He is doing precisely what he was brought into the presidency to do. He is fighting to demobilize and defuse the struggle of the Black masses in a way people like John McCain and Mitt Romney could never do. He is promoting the killing illusion that this system can be reformed, for Black people and for millions more who want to see an end to oppression and inequality. He is trying to restore people’s hope in something that really is completely hopeless. And to do that, he has been inviting people to the White House, pretending to listen intently to them, making them feel a part of things, like they have influence, like they and their concerns really do “matter”—and all the while, in doing so, getting them to tone down their critique and in fact to change their concerns, and in some cases, it seems, to go after those who won’t.

All this has to be seen through and rejected for what it is: an attempt to shore up faith in something that needs not faith but penetrating analysis and revolutionary overturning.

We NEED a Revolution

The Obama program for “21st Century Policing” is a program of viciously intensified, heavily militarized policing; extensive snitch networks; surveillance and spying everywhere; coupled with a few feeble “charitable” and educational programs for some inner-city youth. Even on the face of it, this is not even an attempt to address the underlying “social problems,” as Obama put it. It is an interwoven program of fraud, repression, and sugar-coated poison pills. It is, in fact, a program to strengthen the system’s ability—through its police, its jails, and its system of laws—to suppress, contain, and control a section of people for whom it has absolutely nothing to offer.

This 21st Century Policing will in fact contribute to the slow genocide of Black people, and position the system of capitalism-imperialism to hasten the pace of that genocide. It must be opposed. As we wrote last week in the article “High Stakes in Baltimore:” “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 #388 May 25, 2015

Will you stand up against the massive assaults on abortion rights in Texas, Kansas, Tennessee, and nationwide?

PROTEST! Wednesday, July 1

Fetuses are NOT babies! Abortion is NOT murder! Women are NOT incubators!

Updated June 29, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Nationwide Protests July 1
Join one of these or organize your own!


On July 1st, as abortion clinics are forced to close in Texas and Tennessee and when new unprecedented new abortion restrictions go into effect in Kansas... Join in defiant protest.

We will stand, side by side, carrying the faces of women who died from lack of safe, legal abortion. We will read their stories. We will wear faux bloody pants, representing the women who lost their lives, and those who will die, as a result of the escalating assault on this basic right. We will RAISE HELL and demand that women be treated as full human beings!

Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!
Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement!

Scheduled protests for July 1:

New York City
6pm - Union Square

Speak-out & Die-in
5pm - Westlake Park

Los Angeles
Protest "Hollywood Women's Center"
(anti-abortion center)
12 noon - 862 N Vermont Ave

San Francisco
Protest - 1pm
Archdiocese of San Francisco
1 Peter Yorke Way

Protest. Gather at 4:30
Congress & San Jacinto in Downtown Houston

Noon, Protest at St. John's Cathedral
E. 9th & Superior
March through downtown to other sites that
represent the oppression of women!

Seattle, April 2014 protest for abortion rights
Seattle, April 2014.

Sticker for July 1 protest, Union Square Park

Sunset Park

July 2014, Abortion Rights Freedom Ride members in front of Harris County Republican Headquarters in Houston, TX.
July 2014, Abortion Rights Freedom Riders in front of Harris County Republican Headquarters in Houston, TX.

Photos: Special to

Stop Patriarchy, the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women, is calling for national actions on July 1st to protest new abortion restrictions scheduled to go into effect in Kansas and Tennessee that day.



Protest July 1!

June 9, a Federal Court upheld the Texas anti-abortion law HB2 which means that all but 8 clinics in the huge state of Texas will be forced to close. On July 1st, new restrictions on abortion are scheduled to go into effect in Kansas and Tennessee.

These laws are part of a national onslaught against abortion rights and birth control. Over 330 restrictions have been introduced nationwide already this year! This CANNOT be tolerated if women are going to be treated as FULL HUMAN BEINGS! These laws will have devastating effects on the lives of women across the country, and especially in the deep South, where new restrictions have forced many abortion clinics to close. These unprecedented attacks on abortion rights, whether they come down in Kansas, Ohio, Tennessee or wherever, are attacks on ALL WOMEN. None of these laws have anything to do with "life." They are about slamming women back to the Dark Ages, reducing them to mere breeders.

On July 1st, as many as half the abortion clinics in Tennessee are expected to close due to new restrictions which will require abortion facilities to meet the same physical standards as a mini-emergency room (even though early abortion is an extremely simple, outpatient procedure).

The new Kansas law sets a dangerous precedent by banning the most common and safe procedure for performing an abortion after the first trimester of pregnancy. The effect is devastating when a woman needs a second trimester abortion and is denied. Now in 2015, starting but not ending in Kansas, the next stage of banning a medical best practice for abortion has been signed into law. If best practices for doctors in giving women the choice to decide what to do with their futures can be banned at earlier and earlier points in the pregnancy, the legal right to a safe abortion is a formality, not a reality.

Everyone who cares about women's lives must take a stand. Take to the streets July 1. PROTEST!




Contact to get involved:

A fetus is not a baby
Download PDF poster


Did you know...
Abortion rights are in a state of unprecedented emergency!
It is urgent that everyone act now to stop this war on women. Forcing women to have children against their will is a form of enslavement.

Right now, in 2015...
The right to abortion — a simple, safe, and responsible choice — is being eradicated, lied about, and stigmatized.

Click to download PDF with citations

Stop Patriarchy fact sheet


From The Michael Slate Show: A Summer of Taking Patriarchy by Storm
On June 12, Michael Slate (KPFK, Los Angeles) interviewed Alex Petersburg and Riley Ruiz, two members of End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women, about Stop Patriarchy’s summer campaign. Read or listen here






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Over 330 Restrictions on Abortion So Far This Year:

Nothing to Do With "Life," Everything to Do With the Enslavement of Women

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Vicious and escalating attacks on women’s access to abortion have reached a new level. So far this year, more than 330 restrictions on abortion have been introduced by 43 states, and as of April 2, over 50 were made into law. (Guttmacher Institute)

Just imagine: A woman in Pennsylvania, many miles from an abortion clinic, was locked up for buying the abortion pill for her daughter (as laws continue to pass that restrict the use of medication abortion). A SWAT team stormed a high school in Dallas when a fetus was found in the toilet, looking for the “suspect”—a teenage girl who miscarried. These are just two small examples of the kind of dystopian future to which this anti-abortion path leads.

What’s happening?

Abortion providers are heroes
Sendoff for the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, summer 2013, New York City.

As of May 1, 19 states have introduced bills that target doctors and providers: Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP). This is a whole category of law that ranges from yanking public funding to casting a net of medically unnecessary standards, regulations, and requirements that are applied to no other outpatient medical facility—including facilities that offer much higher-risk procedures! These laws have had the purpose and effect of closing a staggering number of abortion clinics across the country in recent years.

On July 1, Tennessee will join the 22 other states that have enacted a law requiring abortion clinics to undergo medically unnecessary and financially impossible renovations; this threatens to close half of Tennessee’s abortion clinics, and is estimated to leave only four standing. This kind of law—requiring clinics to remodel to become “ambulatory surgical centers,” or mini-emergency rooms—was responsible for the forced closure of more than a dozen abortion clinics in Texas alone in 2014. Abortion, a simple and safe procedure, does not in any scientific sense require these types of facilities. There are abortion clinics that have operated for decades without ever having to call an ambulance. These laws are all about making abortion impossible to access.

Kansas set a dangerous precedent by banning the most common and safe procedure for performing an abortion after the first trimester of pregnancy. Other states, like Ohio, have introduced laws that would ban abortion at six weeks, when the “fetal heartbeat” can be detected—before most women know they are pregnant. These bills hyper-focus on the heartbeat of a fetus (a potential life growing inside of a woman), while devaluing the woman’s real and full life and forcing her into motherhood against her will.

Arizona and Arkansas have joined the 27 other states that require doctors to read a script of anti-abortion junk science that has been disproven (called “counseling”). This includes “informing” women of risks that aren’t real, and unscientific ways of characterizing the fetus—all geared toward making a woman second-guess her decision, and filling her with fear, guilt, and shame.

Florida and North Carolina are joining the many other states that legally require women to make multiple trips to the quickly diminishing clinics by imposing “waiting periods” of 24 to 72 hours between their first appointment and their abortion procedure. These waiting periods, coupled with the false “counseling,” are crafted to delay, dismiss, and confuse women seeking to make a crucial and perfectly responsible choice about their reproduction.

On the federal level, the House of Representatives just passed a ban on abortions 20 weeks into pregnancy. This means that women who are unable to access an abortion before that, women who do not know they are pregnant until this point, women who have experienced abuse or have a change in life circumstances, or women who discover dangerous risks of their pregnancy or serious fetal anomalies will all be forced to carry forward a pregnancy and bear a child against their will! Also included in this anti-abortion bill is a 48-hour waiting period. Finally, there is a requirement for the doctor to call the police on their patients (or “alert authorities”) if they are minors who don’t want to tell their parents for a number of reasons.

All this and more add up to an unacceptable leap backwards in the battle for reproductive control. As birth control and abortion become impossible to access, women are forced to bear children they don’t want or can’t take care of. If this direction toward completely robbing women of rights does not change, a generation of women will be cut off from being able to determine their own futures, find themselves trapped in abusive relationships, attempt desperate and dangerous methods to self-induce abortions, and have their hopes and futures foreclosed. Forced motherhood is female enslavement—the open regarding of women as tools, property, instead of people. Whether these laws target minors, doctors, clinics, late-term abortions, public funding, whatever, they are part of a concerted national attack on women’s humanity.

“Life begins at conception” is a cover-up

You’ve probably seen a similar scene before: Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas, when he signed the bill banning most abortions in the second trimester into law, did so against a backdrop of giant pictures of fetuses and in the name of “life.” Have you ever noticed that these types of pictures always have the fetus on its own, as if it did not rely on and exist inside of a human being? It’s as if the woman whose uterus the fetus is attached to does not exist at all. It is that “invisible” woman’s life and future that are in the crosshairs of this whole anti-abortion machine.

Also, all those fetus pictures are months past conception and look more like babies than a fertilized egg does (though no matter how developed it is inside the woman, it is still part of a woman’s body until it’s born). To say that life begins at conception is to say that the continued development of (literally) a cluster of cells, or a fertilized egg, should take precedence over the real needs of every real woman.

Abortion Rights Freedom Riders on the Capitol steps in Jackson, MS, November 4, 2013.
Abortion Rights Freedom Riders on the Capitol steps in Jackson, MS, November 4, 2013. Photo:

It’s completely immoral to force women to give birth and raise children they don’t want. Saying that fetuses are already children is just one way to reduce women to the role of incubators or baby-making machines. As more independent “personhood” is given to the living tissue inside of women, the more the humanity of women themselves is denied. The fact is, a fetus is not a baby, a woman is a full human being, and no one should ever be treated like a factory or mere life support system, without any control of their lives. This is, in effect, enslavement. To find out more about what an abortion actually is, see “What Is an Abortion and Why Women Must Have the Right to Choose.”

“Dismemberment” of women’s humanity

What happened in Kansas, and then the next day in Oklahoma, is nothing short of the trampling of the “personhood” of women. The claim being made by those writing and supporting this law is that the dilation and extraction (D&E) procedure, widely accepted in the medical community as the safest way to perform an abortion after 13 weeks, involves the “dismemberment” of a fetus and should not be allowed.

The law itself is full of unscientific and emotional language (humanizing the fetus), and does not offer any exemption for women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest (further dehumanizing women).

“Dismemberment” is not medical language, and therefore legally very murky about when exactly a doctor could be prosecuted. And anyway, what the hell would be wrong with dismembering a fetus, if that is the safest way for a woman to terminate her pregnancy? Again: fetuses are NOT babies! Yet this law sets exactly the wrong priorities, where the fetus is being said to deserve protection and empathy, and women are condemned to forced motherhood and a lifetime of hardship.

A lot of these other recent laws (hundreds have been passed in recent years) have been doing so in the space afforded to them by the Casey vs. Planned Parenthood decision. That 1992 Supreme Court decision said that states have the right to restrict abortion in the name of protecting the woman’s health, as long as it does not place an “undue burden” on women’s right to abortion. As a result, we see the whole avalanche of totally medically unnecessary laws that claim to be about protecting women pushed by people and organizations that openly aim to end all abortions in all circumstances.

However this “dismemberment” law is more along the lines of the federal “Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act” passed in 2003, which outlawed a safe and common method for performing abortions in the third trimester. Can you imagine making it illegal for doctors to perform the safest and lowest risk procedure of its kind in another area of medicine? The medical best practice? What if the safest method of heart surgery or brain surgery were outlawed and doctors could be charged with felonies for performing them?

The effect is devastating when a woman needs a second trimester abortion and is denied. Now in 2015, starting but not ending in Kansas, the next stage of banning a medical best practice for abortion is being signed into law. If best practices for doctors in giving women the choice to decide what to do with their futures can be banned at earlier and earlier points in the pregnancy, the legal right to a safe abortion is a formality, not a reality. Read “New Fascist Kansas Law Criminalizes Most Second Trimester Abortions” to find out more about this awful new law.

A crushing combination

Right now, more than 40 states ban abortion at some point in the pregnancy, and at least 10 ban abortions at 20 weeks with the claim that a fetus can feel pain at that point. Now the U.S. House of Representatives has handed to the Senate a federal bill banning abortions after 20-weeks. There are exceptions for pregnancies which put the mother's life in danger, or which result from rape or incest, but even in these cases the bill includes a mandated waiting period with "counseling," and for minors, a requirement of reporting the rape or incest to the authorities. (New York Times). (If the Senate also approves the bill, something that is not expected in the short term, it will become law).

First of all, it should be known widely that the “fetal pain” junk science, just like the junk science that’s being fed to women as part of their mandatory “counseling,” is exactly that: junk. A fetus—even at the point when it has nerves, a nervous system, and reacts to stimuli—still does not feel pain the way a person does, period. It definitely can’t feel the kind of ongoing anguish a woman feels from having her life curtailed and crushed. And anyway: So what if a fetus physically feels pain? Since when is not feeling pain a prerequisite for medical procedures? For more on this, see “A Fetus Cannot Feel Pain, but a Woman Denied the Right to Abortion Suffers Intolerable Pain.”

All these laws enacted together form a vehicle of ruination for women, with the sole purpose of forcing them to give birth against their will. Bans on abortions after 20 weeks, requiring multiple trips and waiting periods that make it harder and harder to terminate pregnancy before it’s illegal, forcing clinics to close, mandating misinformation, and all the rest together, compose a vicious weapon against women. There must be a fight to put women back into the center of the conversation about reproductive rights, because that is actually what all this is about: the enslavement of women.

Women who need abortions didn’t “do anything wrong” and it isn’t a “certain kind of woman” who needs an abortion. For more on why many different kinds of women need abortions, and much more see “Chasing the Abortion,” an interview with a doctor at one of the few abortion clinics left that provide women with abortions in the third trimester. All women must have access to the procedure that can allow them to take their lives in the direction they wish. The current situation—of rapidly growing “abortion deserts” where women are right now being forced into motherhood or driven to risk abuse, prison, and death by giving themselves abortions—is the situation that is being embraced, promoted, and moving toward federal law as we speak.

At Stake: Liberation or Enslavement of Women

Break All the Chains!

Break ALL the Chains!
Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution

Sampler Edition | Full Work

If you are a person who has believed that abortion is “murder,” it is time to take a good look at reality, explore the links in this article, challenge what you’ve been told, and act on the truth that fetuses are NOT babies and women are NOT incubators.

Abortion rights are in a state of unprecedented emergency, and the push to control and degrade women, and redefine them as incubators, is winning. If you are a person who already believes women should have the right to abortion, it is time to get off the sidelines, off the defensive, and fight like hell to change the terms of this debate so we can change the deadly direction in which we are headed.

The anti-abortion agenda leads toward a nightmare for women, and frankly, for all of society, and must be STOPPED. Even if you’ve never thought too much about abortion, but you’re a person who cares about the future of women, what is legally and socially acceptable when it comes to their humanity, hopes, dreams, and freedom or enslavement, don’t wait a minute more. Join the fight for abortion on demand and without apology, and learn more as you fight. (Go to and the Stop Patriarchy page at

There is absolutely nothing wrong with abortion or many women having them, if they are pregnant and don’t want to or can’t care for children, period. No woman should be denied that choice, and no woman should be lied to about that choice, or made to feel “irresponsible” or any kind of guilt or shame for deciding against motherhood—no matter how pregnant she is. Fight to end these egregious attacks on women’s humanity, because it really is the liberation or enslavement of women that is at stake.






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

#Say Her Name Vigil Shines Light on Police Murder of Black Women

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


sample image

On May 20, over 300 people gathered at New York City’s Union Square for Say Her Name—a vigil to shine a light on the murder and abuse of Black women, including trans women, by police and other law enforcement authorities. Many were young Black women, among whom there was a deep sense that these lives need to be remembered as just as precious as those of the men killed by police, but there were men and women of all nationalities there as well. Others were of all ages, different genders and all walks of life, and the powerful vigil stopped many tourists, commuters and people hanging out in Union Square.

The mood in Union Square was one of anger, sorrow, and determination to rescue these names from slander, dehumanization, or oblivion, and to fight to put an end to the ongoing horror that goes beyond just the taking of individuals, but that tears holes in the hearts of friends, families, communities, day after day, year after year.

Coinciding with the vigil, the African American Policy Forum released “#SayHerName: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women,” an important and damning document “highlighting stories of Black women who have been killed by police and shining a light on forms of police brutality often experienced by women such as sexual assault.” Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Director of the African American Policy Forum and co-author of the brief, spoke at the vigil. (See the Revolution interview with Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw here.)

Speaking Bitterness and Outrage

 People gather at Union Square, New York City, as part of SayHerName nationwide protests against police murder of Black women.

Union Square, New York City, part of SayHerName nationwide protests against police murder of Black women. Photo: Special to 

This was solemn ceremony. Among the victims of police murder recognized were Miriam Carey, Kayla Moore, Michelle Cusseaux, Rekia Boyd, Shelly Frey, Alberta Spruill, Shantel Davis, and Tanisha Anderson. In each case, a family member, escorted by a pair of activists, leaders, artists, would come to the mic. The escorts would speak first, telling briefly who this person was that was lost to us now, using the words of friends and family to bring them alive. Then family members spoke of anger, love, and outrage.

“What did the police officer see when he pried open the door? A Black woman? A lesbian? He said it was just a look in her eye [that made him shoot her.] What face would you have on if police broke into your house?” These were the words of Frances Garrett, whose daughter Michelle Cusseaux, 50, was shot dead by Phoenix police after Frances had called them to ask for assistance getting her daughter to clinic for treatment for her bipolar disorder. She and another relative of Michelle Cusseaux were escorted and flanked on stage as she spoke by playwright, performer, and activist Eve Ensler and Carl Dix—representing the Revolutionary Communist Party, and co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network.

Shelly Frey was 27. A Houston cop suspected her friends of shoplifting and shot into their car to stop them from leaving. Wounded, denied an ambulance for hours, Shelly died in the front seat of the car. Shelly Frey’s mother said: “We have to stand together, we can’t let this just go away. A week after Shelly was killed, we didn’t hear about Shelly anymore... The police always say that they ‘were in fear of their lives.’ That’s a lie. And if you didn’t have any heart for the people, why did you take that job? Now the lives of our loved ones have been stolen from us. Shelly had two beautiful children. Now the five-year-old asks the nine-year-old ‘when is mommy coming to pick us up?’ How do you answer that?!”

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Eve Ensler and Carl Dix with family of Michelle Cusseaux, murdered by Phoenix police in 2014. Photo: Special to

Rekia Boyd, 22, was with a group of friends in an alley; an off-duty cop had words with a guy and fired into the group. Rekia was wounded, she told the cops “I don’t want to die,” they told her to “Shut the fuck up.” Alberta Spruill, 57, a city employee, was at home when police with the wrong address attacked her home on a “drug raid”—they threw a concussion grenade in, Alberta died of a heart attack.

Kayla Moore’s sister said: “The police stole Kayla’s life, but they can’t kill her spirit. I won’t let them, my father won’t let them, we won’t let them.”

Shantel Davis’s mother told the crowd: “When Shantel was killed, I became an instant activist and I haven’t stopped since.”

Rekia Boyd’s brother declared: “To viciously take her life like that, and to show no remorse, that’s a slap against humanity.”

After each family member finished talking about their loved one, a large poster-picture of that person was put into the back of the crowd and was passed hand-to-hand to be displayed at the front. The MC took the mic and called out, for each person: “Who will carry Rekia Boyd? Who will carry Alberta Spruill? Who will carry Miriam Carey?” And the crowd would shout back loudly and solemnly: “We will!” as the family member sat down amongst the others in a place of honor on the stage, and the next group got up to speak.

Union Square, New York City, May 20
Union Square, New York City, May 20. Photo: African American Policy Forum

Leaders of the vigil emphasized that this day of remembrance and vigil needed to be followed by stepped up struggle. Shortly before ending, Climbing Poetree (Alixa and Naima) each performed powerful spoken word pieces, and then ended together with the following:

To destroy us
they’ll have to annihilate our angels
we summon the strength
of all those who came before us
and all those coming

We must weave freedom
in our fingers
when the world gives us nothing
but believing
a new day’s coming.






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

The Revolution Interview

Kimberlé Crenshaw: Say Her Name—Highlighting the Stories of Black Women...Resisting Their Murder by Police

May 25, 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.


On May 20, hundreds of people gathered at Union Square in New York City for #SayHerName: A vigil to remember Black women and girls who have been murdered by police. This was part of a national campaign, SayHerName, marking the violence and murders of Black women and girls at the hands of the police. There were events held across the country. After the action, Sunsara Taylor interviewed one of the organizers, Kimberlé Crenshaw, for Revolution/ Crenshaw is a scholar in the field of critical race theory and a professor at UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School, specializing in race and gender issues. Crenshaw is co-author in a report issued in February 2015 titled #SayHerName: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women. (The report is available online at the African American Policy Forum site.)


Sunsara Taylor: So we had this amazing action today, highlighting Black women killed by police, and I wondered if you could say what drove you to want to organize this, why you felt it was so important?

 Kimberle Crenshaw speaks to SayHerName gathering at Union Square, New York City, part of nationwide protests against police murder of Black women.

Kimberlé Crenshaw speaks to SayHerName gathering at Union Square, New York City, part of nationwide protests against police murder of Black women. Photo: African American Policy Forum

Kimberlé Crenshaw: Well first we were doing it in solidarity and in response to the call from the Black Youth Project 100 who called for a day of action on May the 21st, to highlight the killing and police abuse against Black women and girls. We have been pursuing a campaign called Say Her Name that corresponds with that call. And in particular we’ve been trying to collect and provide frames for the stories around Black women who have been killed by the police. Our belief is that just saying the facts isn’t enough—we have to basically use the facts to shift the frame. So we wanted to use this opportunity, first of all, as a day of remembrance prior to the day of action, to put forward what the action is about. So we wanted to bring a group of families together to tell the stories of their daughters, to lift the daughters up, and to clearly show a) that Black women are killed and abused by police, b) they’re killed and abused in ways that are similar and can be fit within existing frames, if you just remember to say their names. So they are killed in driving while Black situations. They’re killed when the police see a “look” that they think is suggestive of an intent to harm or kill the police, so the police react prophylactically against Black women as well as they react against Black men. So we wanted to highlight that. And we also wanted to highlight the particular ways that Black women, because they are Black and women, are subject to sometimes unique forms of state violence. So both the ways that they are experiencing similar risks and the ways they are experiencing things that are unique as Black women—we want to lift up both these things.

Sunsara Taylor: Do you want to say anything more about what is unique in their experience?

Kimberlé Crenshaw: One of the things that is unique about gender racism in American society is that Black women are subject to many of the racial stereotypes that people think apply primarily to men, but in fact apply to women as well. So that when Black women are facing some circumstances that they face because of their gender, they a) don’t get any benefit from a patriarchal society efforts to create like “damsels in distress,” right? They’re never the “damsels in distress.” They’re the “angry” Black women, they’re the “scary” Black women, or the “dangerous” Black women. So when the police have been called in situations where otherwise they might be expected to help, they frequently turn those situations into situations where the Black women themselves are being criminalized. Many of the cases that we’ve heard about today, from Michelle Crusoe to Tanisha Anderson, are cases where Black women have been in crisis in some way—families have relied on the state to come in and intervene in a way that’s helpful. And the states come in and ended up killing them. So in these instances we see women being killed in their homes, being killed in their bedroom, being killed in front of their children, being allowed to bleed to death or draw their last breath with the family being kept away from them. This level of inhumanity reflects the convergence of all kinds of ways that Black women have not been given the benefit of being seen as mothers, being seen as people who are loving and care for their children, people who children care for. I mean it’s like the pain and the trauma of an inflicted death is just not felt, not seen, not given any emotion whatsoever. And so we see these as moments where them being women who are Black precludes them from getting the concern they might otherwise get, if they were women who were not Black. On the other hand, the very fact that so many of these women have been killed, and their killings have not been part of the readily available names of victims of police abuse that represent the vulnerability of all of us, is a second level of dynamic of subordination. It’s like, their lives can’t even be lifted up. And what signal is that giving to the state, what signal is that giving to society about the importance of their lives? If they’re not valuable to those of us who care about racial justice—why do we think they would be valuable to people who don’t?

Sunsara Taylor: Yeah. What do you think is driving this epidemic which is coming to the surface now, where people are starting to see, yes, mainly recognizing the men, but also increasingly women. How do you see this epidemic of police murder? Where is it coming from?

Kimberlé Crenshaw: We know that increasingly the police in a neo-liberal state are the piece of the state that does most social work. It’s social work of containment, it’s social work of control. When mental health and physical health and education and other life-affirming policies and practices of the state are withdrawn, it only leaves the police as the main point of intervention for most social kinds of things, right? So you have a shrinking state with respect to affirmative life aspects. And you have an increasing state when it comes to... so now what do you do with people? Well you coerce them. You intervene with discipline and punishment. And then you also have a crisis of policing itself. So you have the role of what the police do. I mean, you have the question of who the actual individuals are. So you have a constant demand for police, and the only requirement is that they are willing to take this role—not that they are competent and capable to take this role. You’ve got a perfect storm, with increasing deployment of the police to deal with mental health, right? To deal with the enforcement of poverty. To deal with other forms of, you know, geographic displacement and marginality. I mean some of the women we’ve talked about, one in particular, was killed basically because she was homeless. So you have the function of the state, not being protecting and serving but to constrain, punish and kill. And you have individuals who are perfectly capable of that project.

Sunsara Taylor: And do you have anything to say about why you think that’s what’s happening? If you pulled back the lens, why is that?

#SayHerName Report

Kimberlé Crenshaw: Well, you know, it’s not an accident that we have increasing distribution of wealth upward. I mean, that does something. It’s not just, “Oh our paycheck is worth 60 percent of what it was 200 years ago,” and on the other hand we have the greatest level of wealth concentration in our history, dating back to the 19th century—it’s nothing compared to what we have now, ok? So that upward trajectory of wealth actually opens up a whole social sphere of competition, number one. The racial wages of white supremacy become more important when real wages are less significant. And the jobs that are available are jobs of containment and constraint. So two of the most powerful unions in our republic right now are security-oriented— the police...

Sunsara Taylor: ...and security guards...

Kimberlé Crenshaw: ...the police tried to bring the mayor to his knees! For basically saying any father of a Black child would say, right? He’s not supposed to say that. So the mayor is gonna be punished for telling the truth. I think that was a real raw moment, where the power of this union is really made evident. The other moment, you know, is the recognition that one of the most significant factors in resisting efforts to de-criminalize and to reduce mass incarceration, are prison guard unions, right? So here we have sort of a classic working class, race kind of divide, which then is fueled and animated, reflected in a certain right-wing kind of politics that almost reflexively comes out in defense of police, no matter what. You kill an 11-year-old boy—well he should’ve known better than to play with a gun. You kill a Black woman who is in a mental crisis —well, she shouldn’t have given him that look. It’s the being Black while Black kind of, right, kind’s in this environment that that becomes an offense around which you might be killed. So it’s not that we haven’t seen this before. It’s just that we think it’s hyperbole, you know, to talk about lynching as an activity that bonded white working class and white elite people together over the need to contain and control Black bodies, or slave patrols is effectively being an expression of a joint project of containment, even though there are huge class interests that are different between groups of people. So it is not surprising that in this moment, of a Black president, that there would be a convergence of a certain aggressive expression of the need to push down, push back, and control. And the only reason this is even remotely surprising to us is that somehow when a white person becomes cloaked with the state, their expression at that point is as police, as opposed to people with jobs and people who have biases and other kinds of interests who are in a position to actually express that through some kind of lethal force. So it’s not surprising. And I’ll just throw in, of course people will say, well not all the people who engage in this were white. The person that killed...

Sunsara Taylor: ...Eric Garner, there was a Black sergeant...

Kimberlé Crenshaw: ...there was a Black sergeant. But also it was a Black woman who killed the woman in Oakland, I can’t remember her name now. People forget that cultures can be racialized, which means even those cultures can take on the characteristics and logic of the institutions that they’re in. There’s nothing new about that either.

Sunsara Taylor: So I’m going to combine my last two questions. In terms of solutions, in terms of what you think needs to happen, on two levels. Macro, not just next steps, but actually asked everybody, what does justice look like? What does victory look like? And then, relatedly, what do you feel about today, what’s come together, where do you think we’re at in this, where would you like to see this go? So first on real victory, and then where we’re at how do you see going forward.

Kimberlé Crenshaw: Real victory is that the role of the police to protect and serve is not just mythical, but it actually is made real. So the goal would be to shift from constraint, containment, and coercive deaths to—actually the police do protect the entire population, and they actually serve that. It’s not unrealistic or a pipe dream, to begin with what kind of society would we have to imagine, where the police did serve that role. And that means that we’re thinking not just about the police but we have to think about it. So what are the institutional-level changes that need to be made in that cultural space so that the values of protecting and serving the population are far more dominant than the value of simply taking control of situations and punishment. So that would have to be, a being that generated concrete interventions. On the micro level, next steps, I would like to hope that after these two days, especially with the multiple actions that are taking place in response to these projects across the country, that it would be impossible to fall back into the tendency of talking about police violence only in male terms. I think that would be a minor victory. Because this is closest to us. We should at least be able to influence those of us who are on the same side of this issue. And second, I would hope that having broadened the frame to include women as well as men, the demands of the movement go beyond topical questions about accountability to substantive things like—body cameras are useful if there is a reinterpretation of what is legitimate or illegitimate force. I mean the Eric Garner case shows that cameras, to catch the facts...

Sunsara Taylor: ...Rodney King...

Kimberlé Crenshaw: ...yeah, this is the story we learned...exactly. So, being able to shift the dialogue, not just on the question of capturing the facts but bringing new meaning to what policing ought to be, what’s justifiable and what’s not. So I think, in fact, including women in some of these narratives may help us reveal the lie in the consistent, consistent...reframe the rhetorical, “They were going to kill me,” “I knew my life was in danger.” And I think it moves beyond the individual level debate—did he or did he not have his hands up, did he or did he not resist arrest—to a broader understanding. These are entire communities that are being held under prerogatives of police departments. Policing is about containment and control, and it still is. So being able to show entire communities, I think pushes against that individualizing thing, to look more structurally at how police actually function in a society that is still organized as one that has deep racial hierarchies.

Sunsara Taylor: Is there anything else you want to add?

Kimberlé Crenshaw: Say her name.






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Genocidal Realities

Prison Rape: A Human Rights Crisis in the USA

by Li Onesto | May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Rape is about power and control. It’s about humiliation and degradation. It’s the use of force to brutally violate a person’s body.

Rape is one particularly horrific abuse of prisoners. This is done by prison guards, particularly in women’s prisons, and also carried out by inmates against other inmates.

In men’s prisons, rape is a concentrated expression of the predatory and patriarchal mentality men are indoctrinated in by this society—in a situation where there are no women to dominate. Prison authorities use rape as a tool of punishment and control. In prison, authorities allow and create conditions where rape among inmates is widespread. And prison guards who rape and sexually assault prisoners in men’s and women’s prisons are hardly ever punished.

The U.S. government incarcerates millions of people, the majority Black and Latino, calling them the “worst of the worst,” and treats them like sub-humans with no human rights; subjects them to conditions of solitary confinement that amount to torture; denies them the most basic medical care. Prison rape, allowed and carried out by prison staff, is part of all this.

Dr. James Gilligan, who was on the faculty at the Harvard University School of Medicine for many years and is now on the faculty at the New York University School of Medicine, has talked about how rape in prison is a domination tactic, with corrections officers groomed to look the other way: “While the predators—the more violent, powerful inmates—are in effect being given a bribe or a reward to cooperate with the prison authorities, as long as they cooperate, the prison authorities will permit them to have their victims.” (2013 ABC news interview)

In 2010, at least 140,000 inmates had been raped while incarcerated. (Human Rights Watch)

In 2011, nearly 200,000 people were sexually abused in U.S. detention facilities. (Bureau of Justice Statistics)

The widespread rape in U.S. prisons inflicts severe physical and emotional pain and trauma on the vulnerable young men who are its victims, just as it does to women. It carries great risk of infecting victims with HIV/AIDS. In popular culture, prison rape is usually depicted as a product of a prison population of predators and psychopaths, carried out despite the best efforts of authorities to stop it. But in fact MOST of those committing these crimes against prisoners are corrections staff, not inmates. With over two million people behind bars in the U.S. (overwhelmingly men) this amounts to one in 10 being sexually abused while in prison. (“Shame of Our Prisons: New Evidence,” New Yorker, October 24, 2013)

Rape as Torture

The human rights organization Stop Prisoner Rape argues that the sexual assault of prisoners by corrections officials or other inmates amounts to torture under international law. Their fact sheet points out that:

1. Victims of prisoner rape are left beaten, bloodied, and in some cases dead. Many contract sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, syphilis, and hepatitis C. The long-term psychological harm is equally devastating, and may include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance abuse, learned violent behavior, and suicide.

2. ...Prisoner rape has been used in some cases as a tool to punish inmates for misbehavior. Male inmates have testified that they were forced into cells with known sexual predators as a form of punishment for unrelated misconduct. Prisoner rape is also discriminatory; marginalized populations such as gay and transgender inmates are disproportionately targeted for abuse.

3. ...It is common for corrections officials to participate in or acquiesce to the sexual abuse of detainees. In some cases, corrections staff have set up inmate-on-inmate rape by intentionally housing vulnerable inmates with known predators.... The failure of corrections officials to take appropriate steps to prevent and address prisoner rape may amount to state acquiescence. (SPR Fact Sheet: Prison Rape is Torture, October 2007)

Serial Rape in Women’s Prisons

In 2014, a horrific situation at the Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama, came to light. An investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) found that women inmates had been repeatedly raped by prison guards. At least 36 of the 99 employees had had sex with prisoners—about 36 percent of the staff. DNA tests confirmed that some officers were the fathers of some of the inmates’ children. Women had been told that if they wanted to get needed items like tampons and toilet paper, they had to agree to perform some kind of sexual service. The DOJ report said: “Tutwiler has a history of unabated staff-on-prisoner sexual abuse and harassment. The women at Tutwiler universally fear for their safety. They live in a sexualized environment with repeated and open sexual behavior, including: abusive sexual contact between staff and prisoners; sexualized activity, including a strip show condoned by staff; profane and unprofessional sexualized language and harassment; and deliberate cross-gender viewing of prisoners showering, urinating, and defecating.”

Prison officials knew all these crimes were happening and, as a policy, women who complained about this abuse or tried to make legal claims were routinely and severely punished. (See “The Crimes Against Women at Tutwiler Prison.”)

This kind of horror for women prisoners is happening in other prisons as well.

On May 22, a class action suit was filed, detailing reports of serial rape and sexual abuse by male corrections officers at the all-female Rose M. Singer Center in the Rikers Island jail in New York City. The lawsuit alleges that rape is “endemic” in the Singer Center and that “This abuse is only possible because, in the face of repeated warnings, the City of New York has enabled a culture of complacency to perpetuate at Rikers Island and thereby consented to the abuse of women in its custody.”

Two (unnamed) women are suing a corrections officer, Benny Santiago, and the city of New York. The women say they were raped repeatedly by the officer with the complacency and consent of the city. The suit details reports of serial rape and sexual abuse by eight corrections officers, including one instance where an inmate was dragged into a janitor’s closet and another where the inmate became pregnant. The lawsuit says: “These officers’ conduct was open and notorious. On at least one occasion, women in custody overheard a correction officer raping a woman in her cell. Another correction officer routinely raped women in the officers’ station.” One woman who is still incarcerated says she was raped more than four times a week by Santiago and that he “implicitly threatened” her family in an effort to keep her quiet.

Transgender Prison Population

Gay, lesbian, and transgender prisoners are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault in prison. The most recent national inmate survey by the Justice Department found that sexual victimization was reported by 3.1 percent of heterosexual prisoners, 14 percent of gay, lesbian, and bisexual prisoners and 40 percent of transgender inmates.

A 2009 study of sexual assault in California state prisons found that trans inmates are 13 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other prisoners. In California, as many as 50 percent of trans people in detention facilities report being raped while incarcerated. (“Protecting Trans Prisoners,” Slate, January 6, 2015)

Immigration and Indian Reservation Detention Centers

In 2013, the government released a report based on surveys carried out between February 2011 and May 2012 at hundreds of state and federal prisons and county jails, and 15 special confinement facilities. (New York Times editorial, May 25, 2013)

The study found that some institutions had rates of sexual abuse at least twice the national average. More than 40 prisons and local jails were cited in addition to two military facilities and a jail on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Over the last 20 years, there are documented widespread reports of sexual abuse in immigration facilities. A letter from Human Rights Watch to Obama stated: “A 2010 Human Rights Watch report compiled incidents and allegations of assaults, abuses, and episodes of harassment in the national immigration detention system—including the assaults of five women detained at the Port Isabel Service Processing Center in Texas in 2008 when a guard entered each of their rooms in the infirmary, told them that he was operating under physician instructions, ordered them to undress, and touched intimate parts of their bodies. In 2009 the Women’s Refugee Commission released a report that documented incidents of sexual and physical abuse of unaccompanied children in immigration custody, including the repeated sexual assaults of children at the Away From Home Texas Sheltered Care Facility in Nixon, Texas.”(Human Rights Watch, February 11, 2015, Letter to Obama)

The detention facility on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, the Oglala Sioux Tribal Offenders Facility, houses both men and women and is the most crowded Indian Country jail in the nation. The almost 11 percent rate of reported sexual abuse by staff members here was higher than any other adult facility covered by the study. A New York Review of Books article noted that “Although the Bureau of Indian Affairs runs many jails in Indian Country, it does not run this one. But the Oglala Sioux jail shares important characteristics (albeit in extreme form) with ones the BIA does operate, and anecdotal evidence suggests that rape is widespread in these federally run facilities as well.” (“The Shame of Our Prisons: New Evidence,” October 24, 2013)

Juveniles and Rape

Incarcerated youth are frequently, and often repeatedly, raped in juvenile detention centers throughout the country. A 2010 Department of Justice report found that over 12 percent of all youths held in juvenile detention reported sexual violence. The youth were most often victimized by staff and counselors and 20 percent said they were assaulted more than 10 times. Over 8,500 males and females under 18-years-old were surveyed and 1,720 reported that they had been sexually assaulted. (Salon, June 6, 2013)


In 2003, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and President George W. Bush signed it into law. PREA is supposed to screen and identify possible predators and victims and then come up with procedures to ensure investigation of complaints by outside law enforcement; wardens and guards are to be instructed about sexual abuse; and abusers, whether inmates or guards, are supposed to be punished.

The enormity and horrible dimensions of prison rape are clear. And in the face of this, the government proposes what amounts to reports of wardens professing “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse; anti-rape posters on bulletin boards, hotlines to report sexual abuse, and educational videos for inmates and training sessions for guards.

Meanwhile in the 12 years since PREA was passed, reports of sexual victimization have remained high and the victims of rape and other sexual abuse in prison are still getting no justice. Reports of rape or coercive sex suffered by inmates rose by 11 percent between 2008 and 2011. The American Civil Liberties Union estimates that from 2003 to 2012—nearly two million inmates were sexually assaulted.

PREA is like writing a human rights manual for a plantation owner during slavery.

This system cannot and will not solve the problem of prison rape because it is the result of and is part of the whole way prisons function in the U.S.—which has nothing to do with rehabilitation and everything to do with cruel and vindictive punishment and the social control of huge sections of society, especially Black and Latino youth, who the system has no future for.






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Genocidal Realities

Driver's License Suspensions—Another Pathway to Mass Incarceration

May 25, 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.


Having your driver’s license suspended can pose a serious, often impossible burden on anyone, especially on those without the option of public transportation. And for people who are already straining to keep their lives together, it can be devastating—and lead not only to losing a job, but to being sent to, or back to jail.

But if you thought that driver’s license suspensions were only reserved for bad drivers—like as a result of conviction for DUI (driving under the influence) or excessive moving violations—think again. In fact, suspending driver’s licenses has become a basic tool supposedly for enforcing the collection of unpaid fines. In practice, it serves as a way to systematically punish, and jail, poor people unable to pay court fees. It is another one of the ways that the criminal (in)justice system plays the role of gatekeeper for the New Jim Crow that the majority of Black people are forced to live under today.

What have been the consequences for people trying to survive, and hold their families together, who have had their licenses suspended? The Justice Department’s recent report on Ferguson describes a woman about to have her driver’s license suspended:

I am a hardworking mother of two children and I cannot by any means take care of my family or work with my license being suspended and unable to drive. 

The New York Times described a man in Tennessee who lost a job with medical benefits and Christmas bonuses at an industrial bakery because he was thrown in jail as a result of a revoked driver’s license. This was the fourth job he’d lost for the same reason. What was keeping him from holding on to a job?—$4,509.22 in fines, court costs and reinstatement fees he has to pay to get his license back. When he was caught driving with a suspended license, new fees were added to the old ones. Being jailed as a "repeat offender," he lost another job, and then had to pay $40 a month to be on probation! Finally, he went to jail again for violating probation—because he couldn’t make those payments.

The Times reporter found that the Tennessee courts are “so clogged with ‘driving while suspended’ cases that some judges dispatch them 10 at a time.” Since the law in Tennessee allowing the suspension of licenses for unpaid debts was passed in 2012, almost 90,000 licenses have been suspended, while over the same period 170,000 additional licenses were suspended for unpaid traffic tickets. For both types of suspensions, more than 40 percent of the drivers suspended were Black, in a state with a Black population of only 16 percent. And in California, four million licenses have been suspended for failure to pay, or failure to appear in court. ("Driver’s License Suspensions Create Cycle of Debt,” New York Times, 4/14/15)

According to a 2010 Report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law—“Criminal Justice Debt: A Barrier to Reentry”—at least 8 of the 15 states with the largest prison populations suspended licenses based on missed debt payments: California, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. At least four states suspended licenses for failure to appear in court for an arrest warrant, issued for failing to pay debts. In fact, nationally, 40 percent of license suspensions are for unpaid traffic tickets, unpaid child support and drug offenses. ("Driver’s License Suspensions Perpetuate the Challenges of Criminal Justice Debt;” Jessica Eaglin, Counsel, Justice Program, Brennan Center for Justice, 4/30/15)

We wrote recently how warrants for failure to pay child support are used to send large numbers of Black men to jail. In addition to requiring the amount of the debt owed to increase each day while serving time in jail, all 50 states have legal mechanisms to suspend driver’s licenses for not complying with child support orders. This not only makes it much more difficult to find and keep a job with a suspended license, it also makes it more difficult for people to make their court appearances. Inevitably, many people resort to driving with a suspended license, which makes going to jail only a matter of time.

A lawyer in the public defender’s office in Nashville, Tennessee, asked by the NY Times reporter for the average charges for court costs, picked up some files on her desk and read the outstanding debts: $598, $1,100, $5,600, $14,872 and $3,800. And this doesn’t include the separate fee for having your license reinstated.

The Crime of “Criminal Justice Debt”

Often, the result of court action includes a fine as punishment. But “Criminal Justice Debt” is something different: a whole separate category of fines—charged to the defendant by the court—to pay the government for the "service" of being booked, held in jail, and prosecuted! This piling on of additional “Criminal Justice Debt” fees and fines can add up to hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars. In California alone, there is more than $10 billion in uncollected, court-ordered debt. New fines are added at each step of the legal process. In addition to fees for booking, jail, prosecution, and probation, there are also fees for requesting a public defender.

It is now common for states to charge poor defendants fees for trying to exercise their "right" to have a lawyer! In other words, the right to be appointed counsel if you cannot afford one—a so-called cornerstone of this country’s legal system—in practice no longer exists for those on the bottom of society who most need it, with Black and Latino people bearing the greatest burden. This practice routinely pushes defendants to waive, or give up, their right to a lawyer, and sends them to jail. As a report from the Brennan Center for Justice summed up: “Although ‘debtors’ prison’ is illegal in all states, reincarcerating individuals for failure to pay debt is, in fact, common in some—and in all states new paths back to prison are emerging for those who owe criminal justice debt.” ("Criminal Justice Debt: A Barrier to Reentry,” Rebekah Diller, Alicia Bannon, Mitali Nagrecha, Report of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, October 4, 2010)

There are in reality two systems of justice in this country, rooted from the beginning in the system of slavery and the legal structure to enforce it. And it has continued through Jim Crow segregation, up to today. The consequences of these “inconveniences”—having your driver’s licenses revoked, overwhelming fees piled on, and a warrant issued, all leading to time in jail, loss of a job, and even greater difficulty finding another one—is one way that intolerable conditions of life are enforced for millions of Black people in the inner cities, and now for a massive number of Latinos as well. The connection between the "crime" of the regular workings of the criminal justice system and the mass incarceration and wanton murder by police is as clear as it is unjust, and unacceptable.





Revolution #388 May 25, 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 #388 May 25, 2015

Why People Are Stepping Up to Sustain RCP Publications and Why You Should Too!

Updated August 10, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |



As people send their donations and pledge as sustainers, they are sending notes to challenge others to do the same. Here are some of the comments:


The comment below was accompanied by a $100 donation:
Thank you for all you do. We are not in a position to become a sustaining member at this time, but at least we can contribute something to this all important effort to remove the chains of slavery.

from Wisconsin readers


We can’t be behind, we gotta be the vanguard. If we don’t have the resources, in terms of the newspaper and the website, it will deviate the direction of the movement for revolution. Because we gotta win the argument with the masses, so that they see that this is the group, the RCP and BA, that they should follow. When you got a solid purpose—and our, the Party’s theory and understanding of revolution, you have to get it out there, because there are a lot of reformers that sound like revolution but they have their doubts are not really for revolution.

Reader in San Francisco Bay Area


I hope this donation goes at least in part to support the work of Carl Dix and Sunsara Taylor. Mr. Dix is doing outstanding work concerning mass incarceration and Ms Taylor is doing excellent work with her StopPatriarchy organization and writing for the paper. Both deserve as wide a venue as possible to promote their ideas and efforts and I hope Revolution news provides every opportunity for this to happen.

From a reader who is sustaining for $10/month


As a high school student, I decided to make a donation because I came to the realization that we need more bookstores like Revolution Books. If it was not for the couple months I volunteered and attended events, I would not have thought change and revolution was possible. And thanks to the organization, I am beginning to make sense of things at my own pace, and bringing others with me throughout the process.

—Black woman from Harlem who just graduated from high school, about to start college, who’s going to donate $5 a month to and $5 a month to NYC Revolution Books


"To strengthen RCP Publications I recently became a sustainer. I am contributing $50 a month. I think RCP Publications is important because it does something nobody else is doing at the present. It is giving humanity a scientific way out of the horrible situation that we are stuck in. When I first started reading Revolution and BA over a decade ago I was afraid of what was being said. The idea of getting rid of this society was something I never thought about in a real non idealistic way. The paper and Bob Avakian brought this to life. When I read the paper the first time years ago I became frightened by its radical vision and I stopped reading the paper after a few issues. However, within a year I had renewed my subscription and have not missed a paper for many years. I read and re-read all the works of BA. The idea of a communist revolution is real to me and is needed for all. That is part of the reason that I am and others should consider sustaining RCP Publications."

—From a high school teacher in the Midwest


"People need this newspaper because they are kept so ignorant and believe in the system and the Democratic Party, but also they need the leadership of Bob Avakian, because it isn't just needing to rebel, we need a whole different world and that is possible. We don't want a situation like in Egypt, where people rebelled and even drove out a dictator, but what did they get—another dictator!"

–From a supporter on a fixed income who donated and will sustain at $5 a month


“I donated $20 and will sustain at $5/month because there are people on the front lines catching hell. People like in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Chicago. We have to reinforce them and support them, either giving what I can or spreading the word and the newspaper.”

—a supporter


“If you want to know about the world, and get connected; if you want to stand up and fight back against what is being done to people, go to this Party, take up this Party’s newspaper. If you want revolution, we have a strategy for revolution. This newspaper is a key component of this strategy. The newspaper is the voice of the RCP and provides the foundation and guideline for the whole process for revolution, especially through publishing the works of Bob Avakian through articles. This paper exposes and expresses why things are the way they are, it does not have to be this way. The newspaper is the guideline so thousands of people can stay connected and learn. I am donating $10/month and also collected $20 from a friend and am letting others know about the website, especially to watch the Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian.”

―an Iranian supporter of the RCP who lives in the U.S.


“I will support the courage of RCP as a donator and sustainer. Why? Because of the commitment of BA and what I’ve come to know is the only way out of capitalism in all its forms. I’ll donate $5 to $10 a month to sustain RCP Publications.”

—a devoted reader on a fixed income


“There is so much injustice and suffering going on in this capitalist-imperialist country and around the world, and I believe RCP Publications and Bob Avakian’s leadership need to be widely promoted in order to prepare the people to fight and bring about a much better society and world through revolution. I am giving $20 to the RCP Publications fund drive. I encourage whoever is yearning for a better world to do away with all this suffering, to contribute in any way, whatever you can. And if you can, SUSTAIN the work—consistently apply the method of analyzing and changing the world, and consistently give money to the revolution. It is hard work, but it must be done and we can do it if we apply the revolutionary method and not take it for granted. We sometimes get complacent, but we can and need to change, and we can all contribute so much more to emancipate humanity!”

—an Iranian supporter of the revolution who lives in the U.S.


“This is a time when a revolutionary crisis can make a big leap. In Ferguson and Baltimore, people are fed up and are open to see what revolutionary forces are saying. The system has this big contradiction: They can’t give up on the oppression of Black people that makes people resist; yet they can’t allow them to rise up without repressing them; but they can’t keep repressing them without them rising up. It is a big contradiction for them.”


“With the work of the revolutionaries and the newspaper, the system is more and more exposed. The activities of the Party need to increase to bring the truth to people. On the TV they only show the looting and not what causes it. They try to portray brave and courageous people as ‘thugs.’ We need to expose the whole system is the problem, no matter who is president―the police are instruments of repression, and these crises can lead to something else—a revolutionary situation.”


Why I am Supporting RCP Publications Fund Drive—And Pledge to Do More

“I am a regular sustainer to newspaper, but I see the need to increase my donation to support the call to put RCP Publications on higher ground so that more people can learn about it. I want to support it, so they can carry out the work of helping to build even further the movement for revolution and introduce Bob Avakian, leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA to even more people, not just here in the U.S., but to millions and millions of people around the world. That revolution and communism is not ONLY desirable, but eminently possible!

“What have I learned from newspaper? I am learning and struggling to view things on a scientific basis and go on the basis of reality and not what seems to be ‘practical’ or the easy way out.

“One of the things that newspaper has been very good at is pointing out various proposals that different people have made in response to the current epidemic of police murder and brutality. For example, there are people who suggest that waiting for the IN-justice Department to do an investigation is helpful.

“Nothing could be further from the truth—for months Mike Brown’s family and many other people waited for the IN-Justice Department’s report on Ferguson—and when it came out, it was a slap in their faces and pouring salt on their wounds! The report did expose some of the vicious methods used to exploit people—like jailing them if they did not have the money to pay fines from traffic tickets piling up, but otherwise, Eric Holder and others in the ruling class just gave the murdering cops a pass and a free ride, and said that they couldn’t find any basis to indict Darren Wilson for Mike Brown’s murder. This was a dead end that the system wants people to get into—to stop struggling and rely on this criminal system which is incapable of doing anything halfway decent for any human being on this planet.

“There wouldn’t have been ANY IN-Justice Department report on Ferguson if it wasn’t for the fact that the people of Ferguson stood up, rebelled, defied the system and decided that the murder of Mike Brown and everything else is intolerable.

“You DO NOT have to agree with all or even some of what newspaper is about in order to engage with it. What IS required is that you have the questions and curiosity as to what is going on in the world and what to do about it.

“I am going to double what I currently am donating, even though that would be a financial sacrifice due to my current situation. I am also challenging other people to step up and donate to newspaper and donate what they can.

“Without money, RCP Publications would be unable to do the important work that it needs to do. If you don’t have money—have bake sales or flea markets to raise money for this precious newspaper, and commit to being a regular sustainer. If you have funds, dig deep and give a large one time donation and become a sustainer on a regular basis.”


June 4, 2015

“Why I Sustain?

“I’ve been a sustainer for a number of years. I sustain because the RCP and the newspaper Revolution/ is the only thing going in the world today. When I was young I had high hopes for Mao’s China but that revolution got turned back by a capitalist line. I had high hopes with the revolutions in Peru and Nepal until a capitalist, status quo line turned those revolutions around, too.

“Other than the RCP and what’s left of the RIM [Revolutionary Internationalist Movement] all the other lines in the world represent capitalism, feudalism, slavery or barbarism. No, things aren’t going to get better by ‘falling apart.’ This kind of anarchism is no solution. The world needs to see that right here, in ‘the belly of the beast,’ in Babylon itself there are those who can see beyond the horror and have a plan and strategy to achieve a much better world for us human beings.

“So, to all those whom I’ve heard say, ‘tell me when you’re having the revolution and I’ll be there,’ well the time is now. Give some money and be a part of it. It’s the least you can do. Get some literature and spread the word, that’s something you can do also.”


I became a monthly sustainer for RCP Publications because I want to see copies of BAsics in Hebrew, Arabic, Farsi, Korean, and any other language you can think of.  I want to see the works of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism reach all corners of the earth and all sections of society so the oppressed everywhere know there is a way out of the horrors this system subjects people to and that way out is Revolution.  I also want to help people connect up with the Revcom website and revolution newspaper so they know that there is a party with the strategy and leadership that makes an actual revolution in this country possible.

—From a student/unemployed member of the Revolution Club
and a new sustainer for RCP Pubs


I am subscribing as a monthly sustainer for $10.00 per month. I wished I could do more, but is what the current pocket can bear. I have selected 5 organizations to assist in their efforts for a very different world, and as a Socialist, Communism of course is a long term goal...

Thank you for all your work.



"I just want to say what inspired me most was the way the RCP threw itself into the mix in Ferguson, NY City and Baltimore, seriously determined to raise the level of understanding and resistance—and provide leadership. I said to myself these people are serious about making revolution and not just paying lip service to it. I was seeing RCP banners and t-shirts on news sources other than revcom."

—From a reader who made a substantial donation
and doubled his sustainer commitment


Reading the Constitution for The New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)

"I donate because an Actual Revolution is the only sane and logical way forward for humanity and the planet! And even though I may be separated from the high energy areas of the country, I get a rush thinking about the youth, with the Revolution Newspaper in their hands for the first time, kinda like a modern day singing telegram for the oppressed!"

—From a reader on a fixed income in a very small town


“I want to support the courage of others trying to change the world—hopefully for a better future for others to come.  People are risking the most valuable thing they have, which is their life, for a good cause, and that is admirable.”

—A woman who grew up in a country dominated by U.S. imperialism and
who is pledging $25/month to sustain RCP Publications.


"I am donating a $100 towards the fund raising, in addition to my monthly sustainer for Revolution newspaper. I am donating this amount because I feel at this critical juncture people need to connect with the leader of revolution, Bob Avakian, to really put an end to police brutality and murder of unarmed black and brown youth, and all the other horrors of this System; and build a far better world. For this purpose a lot of funds are required to upgrade Revolution newspaper, distribute revolutionary literature, videos, books and other works of BA, so that people can learn about his vision and strategy for revolution and become part of the movement for revolution for emancipation of humanity." 

A reader in Texas


“I urge everyone to help raise funds and donate to help put RCP Publications on a higher ground:
Because black, brown and poor are being murdered by the police in the 'Land of the free.'
Because the capitalist imperialists are committing crimes against the planet and humanity.
Because women are denied their basic rights in different forms, being raped and sold to sex slavery.

Because millions are homeless, refugees and crying out for change, as they are caught between two outmoded reactionary forces of capitalist imperialists and backward Islamists fundamentalists who seem to many as the only alternative! 

Because the science, theory and the leadership is there to end all of this and prepare the masses for an actual revolution, but there is a huge gap that can be fulfilled by putting the idea and leadership out there.”

A reader in Texas




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





Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Visitors to from all over the world

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


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.

Here is the list of countries:

Antigua and Barbuda
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
Brunei Darussalam
Burkina Faso
Cayman Islands
Congo, Republic of the
Congo, Democratic Republic of the
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea
Faroe Islands

Great Britain
Guam (USA)
Hong Kong
Ivory Coast (Cote D'Ivoire)
New Zealand

Northern Mariana Islands
Palestinian Territories
Papua New Guinea
Puerto Rico
Republic of Serbia
Russian Federation
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saudi Arabia
Sierra Leone
Slovak Republic
Solomon Islands
South Africa
South Korea
Sri Lanka
Trinidad and Tobago
Turks and Caicos Islands
United Arab Emirates
United States
Virgin Islands (British)





Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Points of Orientation on the Recent Vicious Crimes in Washington, DC

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


1)         Capitalism—a society which openly upholds the values of dog-eat-dog—is riddled with vicious and sometimes horrifying criminal acts carried out by individuals in the grip of this ideology. That is part of why we have to get beyond this society and its relations and values.

2)         All nationalities of people carry out these crimes, against their own people and against other nationalities. Yet when Black people commit, or are accused of carrying out these crimes against white people, then it is made the cause of national outrage, wall-to-wall coverage, and calls for greater punishment. The system is using these instances to whip up and reinforce racism, and to attempt to dehumanize and demonize ALL Black people.

3)         It is worthwhile to remember some previous examples of this kind of thing: Carol Stuart’s husband killed her and blamed her death on a “Black carjacker”; Susan Smith killed her children and also blamed it a Black carjacker; and in the case of the Central Park 5, five young men—four Black and one Latino—spent decades in prison before they were exonerated. In each of these cases, the system whipped people into hysteria against the Black supposed culprits; in each of these cases, it was only later that it came to light that these were NOT the actual criminals (and in the first two cases, it came to light that the white accusers had actually committed the crimes!). In “Propaganda Instruments of the Ruling Class... And the Railroad of the Central Park 5,” an excerpt from BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, Bob Avakian breaks down how this works.






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Judges, Congress, Obama—Hiding in Plain Sight:

U.S. Rulers Battle Over How, Not Whether, to Continue Their Massive, Criminal NSA Spying

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


The past month has seen representatives of different sections of this system’s ruling class—from the courts, to Congress, to the White House—openly arguing over how to amend the U.S. Patriot Act, passed shortly after 9/11 to give the government free rein to wield unprecedented powers of all kinds. But this is not a debate over “reining in” an “over-reaching” national security state; nor is it about "balancing individual privacy with the efforts to protect the American people" against the danger of terrorist attack. This is a conflict among different ruling sections of the world’s most powerful empire over how to enable their global spy apparatus—the U.S. National Security Agency, or the NSA—to continue its once-secret, vast and horrific surveillance operations that are essential to maintaining their global domination, but have shaken and outraged people in this country and around the world. This debate continues to rage as we write.

This massive and criminal spying was first brought to light by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the NSA who courageously stepped forward and made at least hundreds of thousands of secret government documents public. As a result, beginning with journalist Glenn Greenwald’s reporting in The Guardian in June 2013, a continuing stream of exposures has revealed a magnitude of surveillance that is utterly horrific. The NSA has been collecting massive amounts of information about telephone and Internet usage by literally billions of people around the planet.

The NSA programs include bulk collection of information on every phone call in the U.S.; about who is calling whom, duration of calls, etc. (known as “metadata”) which can be used to draw out links between different people and patterns of actions, and as a basis for homing in on specific individuals, including the content of calls. This includes vacuuming up data directly from the servers of major U.S. companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook.

As we wrote in November, 2013 after months of bullshit denials coming from those in power:

It's become clear since the flood of NSA exposures began in June that the U.S. is, in fact, doing everything they claimed they're not doing. They said they don't spy on the phone calls of everyone in the U.S.—they are. They claimed that the "metadata" they're collecting is not really spying—this is, in fact, invasive surveillance that provides the kind of "intel" that the U.S. uses to track and even assassinate people—including U.S. citizens—without trials. They said they only collect data with cooperation of phone and Internet service providers—in fact, they've broken into the communication networks that carry vast amounts of personal information. (“What's Driving the U.S. to Massively Spy on Billions of People?”)

The Debate: How to Pursue the Interests of This Empire

In looking at the current conflict within their ranks, it’s essential to break out of the terms of the debate taking place within the ruling class. As we wrote previously in relation to this NSA scandal:

...we can see how the divisions within the ruling class have become very intense, in the context of questioning among broad numbers of people about the illegitimacy of the spying and growing distrust of the government.... These differences among the rulers are NOT mainly over concerns about the gross violation of people’s basic rights and privacy. The contention is over how best to pursue the overall interests of their class, in the face of the huge political storm unleashed society-wide and across the globe by the Snowden leaks—over what “reforms” should be made to quiet down this storm and repair the legitimacy of the state in the eyes of the people, while safeguarding the capabilities of the U.S. intelligence apparatus. ("Obama's Speech on the NSA: The Empire's SPIES & LIES")

For broad masses of people in this country these revelations have brought to the surface and intensified a growing concern and mistrust in the system and those who rule it. And they have had an impact internationally, particularly in Europe, where there has been disillusionment of broad masses about their own country’s involvement in the same spying operations.

Federal Appeals Panel Rules NSA Spying Illegal

It is in the context of this increasing lack of confidence that on May 7 a three-judge federal appeals panel in New York issued a ruling holding that the NSA’s vast, massive collection of phone and Internet metadata on millions and millions of people in this country is illegal. This ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU shortly after Edward Snowden’s release of NSA's secret documents. Specifically, the judges found that the NSA’s claim—that the language of Section 215 of the U.S. Patriot Act enabled them to carry out this massive, secret collection of information—was wrong and illegal. In making this finding, the three judges were going against the previous findings of a District Court which had found that these actions by NSA could not be challenged by a court. But the judges didn’t conclude that it was against the U.S. Constitution—just that it needed to be approved by Congress.

A glimpse of the federal judges’ level of concern about the impact of Snowden’s revelations on the broad masses of people in this country stands out in the text of the ruling. They compare the situation today with the period of the early 1970s, which had been tremendously affected by Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers—documents showing the government had lied about the purposes of the Vietnam war, and that they didn’t believe they could win it; and by the break-in of the FBI office in Media, PA, which first revealed the existence of “COINTELPRO”—the FBI”s “counter-intelligence program,” used to viciously attack and murder members of the Black Panther Party, to threaten MLK with exposure of his sexual activities in an effort to get him to commit suicide, and to carry out other secret operations. In the ruling’s Background section, the judges write:

In the early 1970s, in a climate not altogether unlike today’s, the intelligence-gathering and surveillance activities of the NSA, the FBI, and the CIA came under public scrutiny. The Supreme Court struck down certain warrantless surveillance procedures that the government had argued were lawful.... In response to that decision and to allegations that those agencies were abusing their power in order to spy on Americans, the Senate established the Senate Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (the “Church Committee”) to investigate whether the intelligence agencies had engaged in unlawful behavior...

...We are faced today with a controversy similar to that... We must confront the question whether a surveillance program that the government has put in place to protect national security is lawful.... As in the 1970s, the revelation of this program has generated considerable public attention and concern about the intrusion of government into private matters.   

The ruling by this three-judge panel has complicated the battle between different sections of the ruling class over how to respond to and get around the ruling, while keeping the NSA’s massive metadata collection intact.

U.S.A. Freedom Act

Much of the struggle between those in power has been focused on the USA Freedom Act, a bipartisan bill first submitted to Congress in 2013 in response to Snowden’s release of the NSA documents. While it has gone through many changes, the intention of this act from the beginning has been to give the appearance of restraining, or preventing the NSA from collecting and storing this bulk data through amending the Patriot Act’s Section 215. What it actually does is give a green light to NSA’s massive surveillance by defining how it should be carried out. A final version of this act was passed handily by the House of Representatives on May 13, 2015, by a vote of 338-88.

But there has been and continues to be sharp opposition to the Freedom Act or any amending of the Patriot Act, especially among those who were the original architects of the expansion of NSA’s already vast surveillance operations following 9/11. In November 2014, a former Director of the CIA who had been Director of the NSA when 9/11 took place, Michael V. Hayden, co-authored (with a former U.S. Attorney General, Michael Mukasey) an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal entitled “NSA Reform That Only ISIS Could Love: The misnamed USA Freedom Act is exquisitely crafted to hobble the gathering of electronic intelligence.” They wrote: “Those people and everyone else at the NSA live in constant dread of failing to detect a terrorist attack. Nonetheless, the sponsors of the USA Freedom Act prefer the counsel of hypothetical fears [of loss of privacy] to the logic of concrete realities.”

Days following the passage of the Act, John Yoo—Justice Department General Counsel under George Bush and a war criminal and chief architect of the U.S. policy of open, legal torture—criticized the version of the Act signed by the House because it could make it more cumbersome for the NSA to continue to do the very same spying they have been doing. Yet the final version of the Act was backed by the current head of the NSA, James Clapper, and supported by Republican House Speaker John Boehner and many other House Republicans.

The new “Freedom” Act passed by the House has also been endorsed by the Obama Administration. The White House statement openly praised the way the Act preserved the “freedom” that the NSA needs to keep all of its massive surveillance in place. It said the president believes “...we should end the Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program as it currently exists by creating an alternative mechanism to preserve the program’s essential capabilities without the government holding the bulk data.” [our emphasis]

In other words, what the so-called U.S.A. Freedom Act will actually do is let the NSA have access to all the files it wants, when it wants them, for whatever their purposes; only keeping them in the various phone and internet companies’ storage facilities instead of their own. Those companies will be required to preserve all phone data and make it available to the NSA at any time. To their credit, the ACLU, which filed the lawsuit that was the basis for the recent court decision, has withdrawn its backing for the Freedom Act, as has the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

On the other hand, with key parts of the Patriot Act—including Section 215—supposedly going out of existence unless the Senate approves the House version of the Freedom Act by June 1, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican Senators continue their own opposition to the passage of the Act, and until now have kept it from being voted on.

There is likely to be much real and manufactured “drama” between now and the end of the month, and some basic things need to be understood. First and foremost, it is crucial to challenge and break out of the whole framework that says the interests of the masses of people here or internationally are represented by any of these conflicting ruling class programs; that the debate over spying carried on by the government is (or should be) about "balancing privacy concerns with necessary measures to prevent terrorist attacks" about strengthening U.S. “national security” in order to keep Americans “safe.”

A crucial point that needs to be grasped is that the repressive activities of the NSA and other intelligence agencies reveal a system at work—the system of capitalism-imperialism. The NSA is part of a state that enforces the interests of the ruling capitalist-imperialist class—in other words, the dictatorship of the ruling class, the bourgeoisie.

The massive spying on all kinds of activities of people around the world is a result of the reality that those who hold power in this country—the U.S. capitalist-imperialists—are facing all kinds of complex, growing challenges to their global empire. The necessity to respond to those challenges is what is fundamentally driving them to so intensely spy—on their rivals, on their allies, and on billions of ordinary people. As we wrote shortly after the Snowden leaks first came out:

This capitalist-imperialist system enslaves workers in its sweatshops in Bangladesh and its oil fields of Saudi Arabia. It has created a planet of slums and environmental devastation, its morality and culture have produced an epidemic of rape. And this system wages constant wars around the world against the threats from rivals or smaller-scale reactionary forces, and brings down violent repression against legitimate protests and opposition to its crimes. That is why this state sees the vast majority of people on this planet—billions and billions of people—as potential threats, and maintains such intense and broad surveillance. And that is why the state apparatus—the dictatorship of the capitalist-imperialist class (the bourgeoisie)—does what it does to people. (From “Five Points of Orientation on the Revelations of Government Surveillance”)





Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Why We Say "The System Has No Answers" to Police Terror Against Black People

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Why we say “the system has no answers” to police terror against Black people:

First of all, what IS the system? It is the economic and political system that has ruled America since its founding: first, capitalism (along with slavery) and then, as capitalism spread its tentacles worldwide, capitalism-imperialism.

Capitalism, as a system, means that production is not for human need. Instead, things only get produced as a means to make profit for the few people who own and control the means to produce things, the capitalists. Capitalism forces billions of people worldwide to labor to make that profit for the capitalists, casting them aside when they can no longer profitably exploit them. Capitalism forces the capitalists themselves to ruthlessly compete against each other, and each capitalist must either expand or die.

Capitalism, as a system, integrates other forms of oppression—men over women, one nationality over another—into its functioning. In the U.S., this capitalist system has been interwoven with white supremacy from its foundation and ever since. White supremacy is the marrow in the bones of American capitalist-imperialist society.

At every phase of this system’s development, the rulers have brutally exploited Black people. These rulers developed laws and social codes to enforce this. First the capitalists/slave owners violently kidnapped generations of Africans, killing millions as they did so. They forced the slaves to work on the plantations to accumulate the basis of America’s great wealth. Then, after the Civil War, they confined Black people to sharecropping in the fields of the South, and they used lynch mob terror and segregation to hold them down. Then, as Black people went to the cities, these capitalists super-exploited them as workers, last hired and first fired, and segregated them into ghettos and again repressed them with terror and murder—this time by the police.

Further, a whole ideology of racism was developed to justify this, and this has been woven into the fabric of this country’s culture. All too many ordinary white people were corrupted and stupefied into going along with this and enforcing it. This racism has gone through changes and adaptations with each change in the economic system, but it has never been eliminated. In some ways, it is more vicious and insidious today than ever.

Today, the development of this system has led to a situation where the capitalists can no longer profitably exploit millions of Black people. There are no jobs for millions and millions of people—not because there is no work that society needs done, but because there is no profit to be made by doing that work—and this has hit Black and other oppressed peoples the hardest. So unemployed people stand in front of falling-down houses, hospitals, and schools, in part, because the capitalist-imperialists who rule have decided it is not worth it—not profitable—to fix things up, and in part to reinforce the idea that Black people do not matter.

That’s only half the story. Black people have played a powerful role in the whole history of this country. They have sparked powerful, system-shaking struggles—and when they have stood up, others have followed their example. The struggle against the oppression of Black people can hit powerfully against this system and can inspire other struggles as well—we have seen this over the past year. Those on the very bottom, with nothing to lose, can become emancipators of humanity—and the potential for this as well has stood out very powerfully in the past period.

Because of this, along with the fact that the capitalists no longer have a way to profitably exploit many millions of Black people, the rulers of this country look at these masses of unemployed, cast-off Black people as potential “social dynamite.”1

But capitalism cannot and will not change this systematic oppression. They’ve had hundreds of years to do this, but they never have. They have not because they cannot, for the reasons we’ve gone into. Instead, today, the capitalist-imperialist rulers have developed a violent, vicious program of mass incarceration and police terror to deal with these new conditions. They treat an entire people as criminals. They have labeled and treated whole generations of youth as nothing but “suspects” and have warehoused millions in prisons. This program is genocidal—and that genocide could “speed up” into a fast genocide if conditions change.

To reverse this would—and will—require a massive, major change in the economic structure. AND it would—and will—require a massive upheaval in the political and legal system and the culture itself: a real revolution. This change CAN be made—but not within a SYSTEM that is built on the rules of capitalism-imperialism and the rule of the capitalist-imperialist class.

Why do we say WE NEED A REVOLUTION? Because we do—because nothing less than a real revolution, dismantling their system of rule and bringing in a new state power, with a new economic system, and backing up the people as they make the urgently required transformations in every sphere can do what is needed. Only such a revolution can eliminate not only the oppression of Black and other oppressed nationalities (Latinos, other immigrants, Native Americans), but also the oppression of women and other oppression based on gender, the plunder of the environment, the persecution of immigrants, and the war crimes this system so routinely carries out. It CAN be done—and it is up to us to do it.


1 This is also true for Latino people and other oppressed nationalities, like the Native American Indians—each of these peoples have their own history, but in every case they have been brutally dispossessed and exploited by this system and victimized again by white supremacy—and today, they too are cast off in their masses. [back]





Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Obama's "Symbol of Promise": A Fascist Police State for the Oppressed

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On May 17, Barack Obama went to Camden, New Jersey, where he proclaimed changes in police tactics to be “a symbol of promise for the nation.” And declared: “If it’s working here, it can work anywhere.”

It has to be said without hype that this is a promise of a fascist police state for communities of the oppressed.

The HBO news show Vice did a stunning report on this “model” at the end of Season 2. They showed that the heart of this model is massive surveillance of the oppressed communities. Video cameras are trained on almost every bit of public space, and all that feed is funneled into a high tech command center where police employees are watching what everyone does on the streets, every minute of the day. (And these records are digitized and saved, potentially forever, unlike standard surveillance video, which is erased and reused every few days.) Camden police are also hoping to hook all this up with “facial recognition software,” so that the name and other information about each individual shown will come up on the screen when the camera turns on them.

Vice also showed what it means to have the police “getting out of their cars” (the mantra of “Community Policing”) and actually getting “to know the residents.” In the desperately poor Black and Brown communities of Camden, where there are no jobs, no rec centers, hardly even stores, much less movie theaters, people have to explain themselves to heavily armed cops at every turn, whenever they come out of their apartments. Hanging out in a park, sitting on a stoop, eating a sandwich outside a store—young men and women are repeatedly told by the cops to “keep walking,” “keep moving,” and threatened with arrest if they do not, even though they are clearly not in violation of any law or ordinance.

A white youth comes into the area; cops stop him and demand to know why he is there. He says he is checking up on a homeless friend. They tell him to leave, and that they will arrest him if they see him again.

Vice interviews numerous residents who say it is impossible to do anything in their neighborhood without being harassed. What Obama calls a “symbol of promise” has been a massive escalation of tickets and arrests for very minor “infractions.” According to an ACLU report issued on May 18, summonses for “riding a bicycle without a bell” went from three in the year before the new model, to 339 the year after. Disorderly conduct summonses went up by 43 percent, from 1,766 to 2,521. Summonses for failure to maintain lights and reflectors on a vehicle went up by 421 percent, from 496 to 2,579. Remember, this was the very same bogus excuse the pig used to stop Walter Scott in South Carolina just before he murdered him.

The total number of misdemeanor and violation cases filed went from 97,000 to 125,000, an increase of 28,000 in a single year. This is in a city whose total population is less than 80,000!

This is a nightmare marriage of NSA-type surveillance and a hyper version of the “Broken Windows” policy of saturating oppressed neighborhoods with police who harass and arrest people for everyday activity—essentially criminalizing simply being alive.

Carl Dix, co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has stated repeatedly that what is going on in the U.S. in recent decades, with police brutality and mass incarceration in particular, is “a slow genocide that could easily become a fast genocide.” What is happening in Camden is “slow genocide” picking up steam—branding an entire city as criminals, feeding into the machinery of mass incarceration. It is an open-air concentration camp.

Obama’s promotion of this as a national model is not a positive move in any way. It is unconscionable to promote Obama as a positive factor in the struggle against police abuse, brutality, and repression. And it is equally unconscionable to take the view that this kind of fascist police state is OK, or even a good idea, if YOU are not affected (yet). What IS required for those who would maintain their humanity in times like these, is to oppose the whole agenda of mass incarceration and police murder.






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Two Standards of "Justice": The Prosecution of MOVE 9 and the Exoneration of Killer Cop Brelo

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


In light of the utterly contemptible verdict on May 23 by Judge O'Donnell exonerating the Cleveland cop Michael Brelo in the murder of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, think about this contrast:

After the police barrage of gunfire and flooding, MOVE members, including young children, emerge facing police guns.

In August 1978, the Philadelphia police launched an extremely violent all-out assault on a house in Powelton Village of a radical Black organization, MOVE. The police opened up with a barrage of gunfire on the house, and then flooded out the MOVE members barricaded in the basement with fire hoses. The cops kicked and stomped on one MOVE member, Delbert Africa, as TV cameras rolled.

During the wild firing on the MOVE house, one cop was killed—most probably by the gunfire from other cops. But the survivors of the police attack were the ones that the Philadelphia DA charged for the death of the cop. The MOVE 9, as they came to be called, were found guilty and sentenced to 30 to 100 years in prison each—despite the fact that the trial judge publicly admitted that he had no idea who fired the shot that killed the cop!

The car that Timothy Russell with Malissa Williams were in, after the police fired137 shots at them. The cop Brelo fired 49 of those shots—15 of them while standing on the hood of the car and shooting straight down through the windshield. Photo: AP

In November 2012, about 100 Cleveland area cops chased the car driven by Timothy Russell with Malissa Williams in the passenger seat. Brelo was one of 13 cops who fired 137 shots at Russell and Williams, both unarmed. Brelo himself fired 49 of those shots—15 of them while standing on the hood of the car and shooting straight down through the windshield. Brelo is the only cop out of all those involved in this brutal double murder to be hit with any serious criminal charges.

In his ruling, Judge O'Donnell concluded that, of the 23 bullets that hit Russell, any of four could be considered the fatal shot that was the direct cause of his death. And, O'Donnell ruled, "Because three unequivocally fatal wounds were caused by one, two or three other people besides Brelo, and because I am unable to find beyond a reasonable doubt which shot caused the cessation of Russell's life, I find on count one, the voluntary manslaughter of Timothy Russell, that the essential element of causation has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt." O'Donnell used the same line of "reasoning" to exonerate Brelo for the killing of Malissa Williams.

This judge's sick logic was that because there were multiple bullets that hit Russell and Williams, and because there were other shots other than those fired by Brelo that could've been the immediate cause of death of the two victims, Brelo should be found innocent.

The question that any thinking person with a sense of justice would have about this obscene verdict is: Why the fuck weren't all the cops who fired at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams put on trial, and found guilty of murder?

There are two standards of "justice" under this system: one for the oppressed and those without power, and another for those who serve and protect those in power and the system that brings down horror after horror on people here and around the world.




Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Baltimore, Freddie Gray: The Stakes Are Still High

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


sample image

BAsics in B’More


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. But this is just a glimpse of what is possible, and we need a lot more...

Read more

The uprising in West Baltimore on April 27 drew a line in society. Everyone was called on, in one way or another, to choose sides. On one side: HUNDREDS OF YEARS of slavery, Jim Crow, and the New Jim Crow, enforced with the whip, the lynch mob, and today—murdering police. Barack Obama—for all his “reaching out”—called the youth who rose up “thugs” and refuses to back off of that or apologize. (See “Obama’s ‘Let Legal System Work’ = Let Murdering Police Walk.”)

On the other side are those who refuse to accept the dehumanization, brutalization, and epidemic of police murder of Black and Latino people.

Two days after the Baltimore uprising, something else remarkable happened. Hundreds and hundreds of people, mostly college students of all nationalities, marched through Baltimore demanding JUSTICE for Freddie Gray. Representatives of the system took a look at the equation. (See an interview with student activists.) They flashed back to the 1960s as part of that, when the uprisings of Black people were a core element of revolution being in the air—and made a call to take the very, very rare step of arresting six police who were involved in the brutal, sadistic murder of Freddie Gray.

On May 21, a grand jury essentially upheld the charges against those six police.

What Are the Stakes in How This All Develops?

Last week we wrote: “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.”

And we emphasized: “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?”

As the days pass, these stakes have not dissipated, but remain high.

A section of people for whom this system has no future but jail or early death rose up, against great odds and real violence. 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.

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

Now, what revolutionaries do in this situation 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 RCP’s strategy 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.”

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. And 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.







Revolution #388 May 25, 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 #388 May 25, 2015

The Baltimore Police Murder of Tyrone West—and the Hard-Fought Struggle for Justice

"We're not going to stop till killer cops are in cell blocks!"

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution/ reporters who have been in Baltimore covering the uprising after the police murder of Freddie Gray have heard horror story after horror story of other people killed and brutalized by the pigs in this city. The names of most of these victims are unknown except by their family and friends. But many in Baltimore know about Tyrone West—his family and their supporters have been waging a determined fight to win justice for Tyrone, and joining with other families and the larger struggle against police murder and brutality.

Tyrone West. Photo: Courtesy of the family of Tyrone West

On July 18, 2013, Tyrone West, a 44-year-old Black man, was driving through a northeast Baltimore neighborhood when he was stopped by an unmarked car with two plainclothes cops. Soon, 11 or more Baltimore cops as well as cops from the Morgan State University campus arrived on the scene and set upon Tyrone, who was unarmed—and he died as a result. Witnesses interviewed by TV news crews said that the cops had pulled Tyrone out of the car by his dreadlocks and viciously pepper-sprayed and beat him, as he cried for help.

The official “investigation” dragged on for months. In December 2013, then-State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein announced that the police had used “objectively reasonable force” against Tyrone West and that no charges would be filed against any of the cops involved.

We had a chance to sit down and talk with Tawanda Jones about the police murder of her brother Tyrone West and the fight that she, her family and others have been waging to demand justice.

“He was beat worse than Rodney King”

Tawanda recalls that July 18, 2013 started out as a “beautiful day” but then “turned into the worst nightmare that I ever, ever experienced in my whole life.” She and her brother had been able to spend some time together to talk and go pick up some dinner. One of the things they discussed was the not-guilty verdict that had just come down in Florida on George Zimmerman, the racist vigilante who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Tyrone asked to borrow Tawanda’s car, a Mercedes-Benz, to pick up a friend who needed a ride—and that was the last time she saw her brother.

Later that night, when Tyrone hadn’t been heard from for a long time, everyone began to worry. Then, Tawanda remembers, her fiancé ran in with the news: “The police killed your brother.” “I remember falling out, the pain was so real,” Tawanda remembers. “I couldn’t fathom it, to the point I screamed so loud that I upset my aunt, and I dropped my phone. The phone went on speaker, and I could hear her with these blood-curdling screams, ‘No! No!’”

She says no one from the police called the family—they had to learn about what happened to Tyrone on the TV news: “It was late-breaking news. They said it was a traffic stop, and you see a green Mercedes Benz in the middle of Kitmore Road. And then I seen witnesses on TV coming up crying, sobbing, saying ‘Oh my god, they didn’t have to beat him like that, he was beat worse than Rodney King.’ He was saying, ‘Help, help, why’re you doing this to me?’ He was beat. He had his driver’s license hanging out the window, and they pulled him out by his dreadlocks. Why did they do that?”

Tawanda Jones, sister of Tyrone West, with Dr. Cornel West. Baltimore, May 11, 2015. (Photo: Justice for Tyrone West Facebook page)

Tawanda says, “I know in Freddie Gray’s case, I noticed that the cops got charged because they didn’t get that man medical treatment, which they should’ve gotten him. Nobody called the ambulance for my brother. The only reason an ambulance came to that scene was because Nicholas David Chapman, who was tasing and pepper-spraying my brother, splashed it back in his eyes, and they called for him... What about my brother? What about his eyes? What about his breathing? What about his life? No one called for him. They let him die like an animal.

“Then they want to act, just like those police were pretending in Eric Garner’s case, the heart-rending scene where he was saying ‘I can’t breathe’ and the paramedics pulled up and they were pretending like they were working on him—I saw the same thing in my brother. My brother was hog-tied, pepper-sprayed, tossed on the ground, worse than an animal.”

Lies and Stonewalling from the Police

Tyrone’s family went down to the police headquarters immediately that night to demand answers. Tawanda says, “They brushed us off and told us to come back tomorrow. They were dealing with a homicide in the city and they would meet with us tomorrow and speak to us. We got no sleep that night—we stayed up all night.”

The next day, July 19, the police came to the family’s house. And immediately, Tawanda says, all kinds of “red flags” went up, pointing to all the lies and cover-ups from the police that continue to this day. “The first thing they asked,” Tawanda remembers, “was, hey Ms. Jones, did your brother have health problems? I’m thinking like, are you kidding me, what do you mean health problems? He was beat to death. Did you or did you not hear the eyewitnesses?” But this question foreshadowed the police cover-up story that would emerge—that Tyrone died not at the hands of the brutal police but because of health problems exacerbated by the summer heat, dehydration, and physically struggling with cops.

One of the cops then pulled her aside and claimed that they had found a small amount of drugs in her car that Tyrone was driving. Tawanda recalls thinking, “Drugs? What are you talking about?! I’m a school teacher. My brother didn’t have drugs, he don’t use drugs. They’re like, ‘Well, we have your car on drug hold—whenever it becomes available we’ll let you know.’... Long story short, that was a lie. They took my car to the impound lot. I still have my car. Anybody know if my car was on a drug hold, they would’ve tore it apart.”

But the prosecutor would later claim, to the family’s face, that one of the cops had noticed Tryone’s pants pulled up and a “bulge” in his socks, supposedly with drugs. Tawanda says, “First of all, my brother had on shorts. To this day, we have never received any of my brother’s property, nothing. Bu he had on black shorts that came to his kneecaps, a white tank top and invisible ankle socks where his ankles were showing. So how do you have a ‘bulge’? And then they never tested for any drugs. If there’s drugs, why not test him and say what it was? It’s a bunch of foolishness. Anything to make my brother look bad and pull up his record—as if that was justifiable to kill him!”

Tawanda and other members of the family went down to the scene of the murder of Tyrone and talked to the neighbors to try to find out more about what happened, since they in no way trusted what the police were telling them. Tawanda says, “Only 11 cops admitted to hitting him and putting their hands on him. But witnesses say they seen 15 to 25 men and women on my brother. They beat him from one side of the street all the way to the other side. And then David Lewis from Morgan [a cop from Morgan State University] sat on my dying brother’s back, pushing his knee until my brother wasn’t breathing, wasn’t talking—wasn’t screaming ‘help, you got me, what’s going on’—none of that mattered anymore, he was gone... Some neighbors said he was screaming ‘Trayvon Martin,’ and I think that’s true because we was just talking about that... That was our last conversation.”

Through their research, the family discovered that the two undercover cops who first stopped Tyrone in the car had almost killed another man, 36-year-old Abdul Salaam, in the same neighborhood just 17 days earlier.

And they also found out that the neighbors living near the scene of Tyrone’s murder had pulled out their cells phones and taken videos of the police attack. But the family has never seen any of the videos. Does Tawanda think the police have the videos? “Oh, yeah. I know the police got them... Witnesses said that the police had come, knocked on their doors and demanded their cell phones, while [Police] Commissioner Batts sat on the corner. He was at the end of the block while his officers were knocking on doors, making them give their cell phones. So we know this to be true—there’s videos out there. I want to see the videos. We know that if it happened the way they’re saying it, that video would’ve been shown day one. If he was fighting officers and all that, they would’ve showed that. Instantly.”

Trying to uncover these videos and other information has been part of the struggle for justice for Tyrone—and it has not been easy. Tawanda explains, “It took them 154 days just to literally sit down with my family to tell us that the preliminary autopsy report stated that my brother died of cardiac arrest due to dehydration exacerbated by the heat—the hot weather, and the struggle with the police officer. I’m thinking like, you gotta be kidding me, there’s a water bottle on the top of my car, he just drunk a whole bottle of water, I saw him. My brother had no health issues. Just had a physical, healthy as an ox, believed in eating right, exercising, things of that nature.”

An “independent” investigation was, says Tawanda is nothing but “foolishness”: “All they did was regurgitate what the officers said. None of the witnesses’ statements on there. You have a dozen or more credible witnesses, ranging from 80 years old to an 8-year-old kid that saw a man brutally get beat. There were video footage—where are the videos? Just like with Freddie Gray, we know for a fact that had that video not been produced, we wouldn’t even be here now.”

And, says Tawanda, “To this day, 664 days, we still don’t have any autopsy pictures. How do you say it’s a complete autopsy with no autopsy pictures? And it took 154 days just for you to come out with the first initial report that we got that said my brother died of positional asphyxiation. A 300-pound man sat on my brother’s back. My brother was brutally murdered. He was already handcuffed, then pepper-sprayed, tased, tossed to the ground.”

“They took something from my family they cannot give back”

Revolution/ asks Tawanda what Tyrone was like. She says, “My brother was a father. He was an artist. He was a grandfather as well. At the time of his death he only got to meet one grandson, but he had a new granddaughter born into this world and he never got a chance to embrace. He was a church man—he went to church every Sunday, he never missed a day of church. He was a glue to my family, he kept my family together. He made sure we was OK. He was a gentle man, he was soft spoken. He was the love of our life. They took something from this family they cannot give back.”

“And that’s the reason we do what we do,” Tawanda says. “We started something called West Wednesday where we protest week after week—because we don’t want another family feeling this pain. Because we know it’s so real, it never goes away. It never goes away.”

“It’s been such a struggle”

Revolution/ asks Tawanda about the fight for justice for Tyrone, and working with other families of victims of police murder. She talks about going to various town hall meetings and talking to officials, including the mayor—and being given empty promises and the run-around. They took the information they had uncovered about the two cops who stopped Tyrone—how they had almost beaten another man to death nearby and even had “peace orders” (a type of restraining order) on them but were still out on the streets—to the prosecutor, who told them those were “administrative issues” that were a matter for “civil cases.” Tawanda’s response: “What are you talking about? We want real justice, where these officers go to jail!... And even with real justice, that still ain’t going to stop the pain. When we get these killer cops in jail, then I can grieve. Right now I can’t grieve.”

Tawanda tells us, “It’s been such a struggle. Ever since this happened, like I said, week after week we protest. I done stood with Eric Garner’s family in New York. I’ve meet Michael Brown’s family. Shantel Davis’s family in New York. I’ve met Freddie Gray’s mom before her son died—we were out there protesting, praying together, holding hands, walking through the Gilmor neighborhood. I was saying, ‘He’s gonna make it, God is good.’ And then turned around next day, he didn’t make it. It’s really sad. I’m tired of meeting grieving families. But I do so that people can know it’s real. Had we not been protesting, we would’ve never met Abdul Salaam, who was brutally almost killed by those same two cops. And we met another young lady that David Lewis had brutalized at the school—he’s a Morgan State cop, he was up there beating on a woman, almost broke her neck...

“Ever since I’ve been fighting for justice for my brother, I’ve been targeted. I went to Al Sharpton’s protest, and all I was chanting was what I always chant: ‘We won’t stop until killer cops are in cell blocks.’ Fox 45 (TV news) lied on me—they edited what I said, and said that I said ‘kill cops’ and linked me to the two cops brutally murdered in New York City. That went viral... But my brother’s death couldn’t make national news.”

“This fight is real”

Tawanda says, “I know everyone’s into different religions, and I respect anybody and everybody’s religion, even if you don’t have one.” But, she says, “What helps me through this whole process is my strong faith in God. I’m a Christian woman.”

She adds, “And this fight is real. We done lost loved ones. You could say it’s the will of God. But when something brutal like that happens, it’s no will of God. These police are supposed to be heroes. But when something happens to me and I say, I’m going to call the police—why do I have to worry if they’re going to kill me? We live in a time when you got to worry about the cops and the robbers. It’s disgusting.”

We say to Tawanda that these cops are not serving and protecting the people—they’re serving and protecting the system that is oppressing people and bringing down all kinds of horrors on people here and around the world. She agrees that the police do not serve and protect the people, and says, “I’m here to be the voice of the people that can’t speak, and that’s the victims of police murder. It’s not a ‘Tyrone thing.’ It’s a worldwide thing... It can happen to you. It will happen to you if you don’t take seriously this thing that’s happening.”

Tawanda talks about how she has learned, through the experience of waging this fight, that the mainstream media misleads and outright lies to people. She gives as an example the case of Anthony Anderson, a 46-year-old Black man who died from internal injuries in 2012 after being tackled by a Baltimore cop who claimed Anderson was dealing drugs—how she at first believed the accounts in the news that told the police story that justified the killing.

“If you don’t know,” Tawanda says, “you’ll believe that media that this is a ‘bad guy.’ The victims are not the bad guy. Me learning and seeing what they did to my brother and making him out to be the boogey monster—that’s what they did to little Tamir Rice, playing in the playground. God damn! God damn! A baby—12 years old. I have a 12-year-old son. It’s disgusting.”

Tawanda ends our interview with these words: “To me, I just feel like the poor man’s reality is police brutality. Because it’s not happening to rich people, I’m sorry, unless they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, you know, and they get stereotyped and they look like us and they get gunned down like us. But if they’re just living their normal life—this is not happening in Roland Park or places like that. It’s different. And I feel like a slave, and it’s like slave catchers....

“That’s why we’ve been doing this—we’ve been doing it with or without the media around us. If it’s 5 people, 10 people, 500, or 5,000—we’re not going to stop till killer cops are in cell blocks. Till people are held accountable for their actions.”




Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Interview in West Baltimore: "We need a revolution. We do."

May 25, 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 from an interview conducted a little over a week after the April 27 rebellion. A, who is in her 30s, does volunteer work in a West Baltimore community.


Revolution: It’s just shocking when you first drive into the city and you see these boarded up row houses everywhere, where people used to live...and meanwhile as you’re driving down the streets you see homeless people trying to eke out an existence on the streets.

A: Exactly. It’s really hard. The amount of people who don’t have money to just do regular things...I mean, the working class is starving now. So I don’t know about the people who are below the poverty line...sometimes it feels like we’re in a third world country because people don’t have water. There are a lot of our kids that go to school who are homeless; they actually live in a shelter. So, it’s really hard. And I can only imagine what people are going through that don’t have jobs. I know you have some people who have some type of assistance. But some let’s say if you don’t have a child, you can’t get any assistance. And that’s ridiculous. If you are a productive member of society and you are putting in your time and your efforts to try but you don’t have the education and you don’t have anything, so how do you get more if you don’t have more. It’s just really hard. It’s really hard for the people of Baltimore. And it’s been like this for a while.

Horror Stories About the Police

Revolution: What is their experience...young people with the police?

A: I hear a lot of horror stories, and I can’t even believe that most of the things I hear have really happened. But I know that they have—because I’ve seen it first hand. I was riding on this street one day and I saw a mini-van drive up full of Caucasian guys. And I’m like: oh shoot, what the heck is going on? They come out of their car with lead pipes and I’m like... I was terrified. I’ve never seen anything like it. But two of the guys they were after took off running cuz they didn’t want to get beat. They didn’t want to get beat so they left the one guy there, and he’s tussling with the police officers. And then he ran. But I can only imagine what they would have done to him if they could get him. Like they just jump out of the car and start beating somebody up, when they should say: put your hands up or freeze. But they didn’t say anything, they just got out ready to abuse. It was hard and scary.

And you don’t know what’s gonna happen next, you know, it leaves you uneasy when you don’t know what’s coming. With all the things that have gone on with Freddie... like a few weeks before Freddie was killed, the kids were just saying: “I don’t know what’s going on with the police. They’re acting really crazy.” They were stopping people like stop-and-frisk. We don’t have that here, but they were still doing it.

A man with his sons at the CIty Hall rally in Baltimore, May 2.
A man with his sons at the CIty Hall rally in Baltimore, May 2.

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? They’re not trying too... 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.

One summer this is what I saw: I’m a smoker so I was out on the corner smoking and a black car pulls up in the alley. Two white guys came out and there was a Black guy walking across the field. They just jumped on him and took him in the car. They didn’t have on any police anything—no jacket, they didn’t have their badges or anything. And I was just like: Do I call the police? Do I not call the police? I didn’t know what was happening. I was in shock. I was in complete and utter shock.  

And honestly all pockets of the city aren’t like this. All the poor neighborhoods of the city aren’t like this, but this area [West Baltimore] in particular is a hot box. There are certain parts in this area that are historic—Franklin Square, Holland Park Square—they are historic. And it’s my opinion that the city and the state, they want to bring in taxpayers. And the easiest way to get taxpayers in is to get the ...I don’t want to say it... to get them out. You know what I mean? And that’s just how I’ve been looking at it. This is how it really was. And that’s how it feels. I feel like Fox News is trying to incite riots, incite fear, they’re trying to scare the Caucasians and then incite others into doing something... That’s really how it feels.  

Revolution: There’s a whole section of the population that once was employed but it’s been more profitable for these jobs to go elsewhere in the world and the youth have become...

A: ...a lost cause, yeah. It’s this horrible cycle. It’s really hard to be encouraging to young people who don’t think that they’re going to make it past 21, let alone 25.  It’s really hard to try to encourage them to want to do better if they already think that they can’t do anything, they can’t be what they want to be. There are programs—there’s basketball, there’s football—but what else is there? It’s almost like they’re programmed like that. It’s really hard to get them out of that. Because all they see is drugs and drugs and killing and prison. That’s it.

The Monday when everything broke out...the high school was right there. They let the kids out of school and then shut down all of the transportation. And you corner children—you don’t corner children! They didn’t know what to do and so one person threw something and so everybody threw something. But can you imagine the amount of fear? If I would have come out of high school and seen a line of police officers in every direction that I looked I don’t know what I would have done. Would I have run? I have no idea what I would have done. And I’m not saying that what they did was right but I was terrified, I was really terrified. Monday was like the craziest day in this neighborhood ever.  

Revolution: But what did you think about the uprising?

A: I didn’t know if I should go join ‘em. I was like: “what is going on?” I just saw fires. There was fires on every corner and in every direction. And so I live nearby. The first thing that came to my mind, that I should be able to protect myself in my house.

Revolution: But they weren’t going after people.

A: No, no, no, they weren’t going after people. I think the people who looted just really needed some stuff.

Revolution: The young person that was arrested for cracking the window of a police car got much higher bail than the cops who were charged with...

A: ...murder.  

Revolution: ...murder. There is a question of right and wrong here and these people are on the freedom fighters' side of the equation and these cops are criminals.

A: He [the young person arrested for cracking the window of the police car] turned himself in. He told us he went home, he told his parents what he did. And they said: “Well, you need to turn yourself in.” And he did. He went and turned himself in and $500,000 later he’s still in jail because of this. His parents can’t afford the bail.

Revolution: How are people you know, people in this area, looking at the fact that before this rebellion happened police brutality and murder were going on, and then this happened and all these people at the top are scrambling? And then a few days later they charge the cops.

DOWNLOAD & SPREAD: PDF for print | JPG for web

A: People are...the day that they said the police officers were indicted, people were happy for a moment. But then they were like: oh but wait, they have to get convicted. That’s never gonna happen. We all know it’s not gonna happen. So we’ll be doing the exact same thing when it’s time for the trial. That’s just what’s gonna happen. Did you see that on Cinco de Mayo in Los Angeles there was a young man killed by the police officers? He’s homeless. I just don’t understand... I’m not scared. I’m just nervous for my people because if they don’t get convicted, it’s gonna be ten times worse. They’re gonna have to go outside their neighborhood. They’re gonna have to go outside and protest even more or...I don’t want to say rioting, but something’s gonna happen, something’s gotta give. Cuz people are tired. People are still being harassed by the police officers in this city after this happened.

Impact of the Defiant Ones Standing Up in Ferguson

A continues: I really think Ferguson was a different type of wake-up. Because it was Ferguson, and then Eric Garner, and then us. And there was a lot in between. But I think I’ve seen them come out and come out strong with positive protests. Of course, we got the bad protests and looting stuff on TV, but we were all ready to stand with them. I mean we had protests here for when Mike Brown passed, and that was like everybody opened their eyes with Mike Brown. I think before it was easy to sweep everything under the rug, but it’s like back to back to back to back. And it’s like we have to do something.

Revolution: The people in Ferguson stood up against police type tanks and tear gas.

A: Oh yeah, they done opened our eyes, they opened our eyes. And it was like a smack in the face. It was like: ok, wake up. It was like with Eric [Garner]: didn’t I tell you to wake up? And it was with Freddie, I couldn’t even watch the video. I still haven’t seen that entire video. I heard him scream once and that was enough. The first scream I believe that they murdered him. It’s a difference between doing a job and just being completely disrespectful.  

Revolution: They are doing their job.  That’s the inescapable conclusion. In another society you would have people (and institutions) that would rather risk their own lives than take the life of somebody else. But the job of the police in this society is to actually keep people down. That’s their job. And they have been given a green light. It’s just one after another. I mean we had one centerfold in Revolution—92 unarmed people, killed by the police since January 1.

A: That’s sick.

What’s funny is that I was talking to one of the young guys I know and I said: “Are you gonna go out and protest with us?” He was like: “Why, so that they can beat me for protesting next week?” And I was like, “Wow, I didn’t think about it like that.” Some people won’t come out because they’re scared that once all of this dies down that they’re gonna be left out there alone. You won’t be alone, you just have to talk to us, talk to people, have a conversation. I told several people I would help them as much as I possibly could. I don’t know what good I could do, if you’re being beat by police, but I’ll do that.

Revolution: It’s important to fight for dropping the charges of those arrested—I mean we have to have the backs of the people who were on the front lines of this. And they have to know that we have their backs. And I think it’s really important. We also have to have the back of some other people. This case of where that Washington Post reporter claimed that Freddie Gray had killed himself in the van and that the other person in the van had heard it. And then that person got on television and said he never made any such statement...and his life is in danger now.

A: Oh yes. He’s being protected by the Nation of Islam. I went to a protest this past Saturday, not a protest, but they were gathering at Penn/North and so a friend of mine and I walked up and I took pictures of them. And he was surrounded by Muslim guys and they wouldn’t let anybody close to him. But his life is really, really in danger.

Just like the only person who will be in jail when all this is over is the guy who smashed the police car on Pratt Street—because of course a police car is worth more than a Black man’s life. Of course it is. I need a punching bag. I’ve been doing an exercise with my kids—scream and let the aggression out.  

On Watching Excerpts from the Film Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion—A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian

Revolution: The other night we got to see parts of this movie Revolution and Religion and your face lit up when the part about where Bob Avakian says “it’s not weak to love.” Maybe you could elaborate about your thoughts on that and the rest of the film excerpt.  

A: I’m trying to instill that, that it’s not weak. Because they see TV and everything’s gay. Oh, that’s gay, this is gay. I’m like: “What are you talking about?” That’s just human beings. You should want to give somebody something, you should want to share, you should want to give. Because if you don’t give, you’ll never get it. And that’s another thing that I encourage them: if you never give of yourself, what do you expect in return?

Revolution: What did you think when Bob Avakian was talking about when all of what’s done to women would be a thing of the past. I would love you to talk a little bit about that too because there’s a whole world of hurt out there....

A: I don’t understand why men on any given day, when I feel like I’m at my ugliest and when I feel like I’m at my prettiest. I’m going to be harassed. And it makes you not want to be pretty, to not want to feel good about yourself just because of the attention you may get. It’s horrible. It really is. And I don’t know how to get guys out of that. I do know how to get guys out of that. You’ve gotta have parents at home. But let me think about that.

Look at the videos, look at what’s being forced down their throats. No more... you know he was talking about, not The Whispers, but he said something about Marvin Gaye, they [Bob Avakian and Cornel West] were talking about a lot of musicians, but there aren’t that many positive songs. You may get one for a soundtrack, like the one for Selma. I love it. I wish I could listen to it every morning before I start work.  But there aren’t that many. There used to be stations where you could...I don’t even listen to the radio. I’m so tired of “take this and take that off.”

So yeah, we definitely need to get with our kids and get with our parents and try to teach some manners. It’s just manners, it’s about being polite. I mean even when you’re talking to somebody and they’re like this, it’s about changing society... not changing it, yes, changing it completely. But kind of taking the beliefs, the teachings of our grandparents, like they taught us to be respectful, they taught us to listen while adults are talking. They don’t do that anymore, they allow the children to be part of the conversation. You’re gonna have your 5-year-old sitting there and we’re talking about what we did last night.  That’s inappropriate but they don’t see where they’re messing their children up. They just want to cuss them out and beat ‘em and [sighs]. We need a revolution. [laughs] We need a revolution. We do.

Revolution: What did you think about this whole message of: we do not have to live this way and we need an actual revolution?  

A: I’m excited. I have like a lot of adjectives. I’m excited, ready, slightly confused...not confused, but I’m just... I’m ready. And I don’t know if that makes any sense. But have you ever been so ready, but you don’t know what you’re ready for, but you know you’re ready? That’s how I feel. I don’t know how I can help, but I’m gonna find a way to help. And I’m ready to get my friends on board, family, my neighbors. I already put my sign [the Stolen Lives poster] on my window. I’m gonna give everybody a poster and I’m going to ask them to put it in their windows. But I’m really excited. It’s hard to use “excited” for something that’s not convictional, but yeah, I’m ready. That’s the only word I can use, if that makes any sense. I don’t want to talk about it. I want to do. I will do whatever you need. That’s how I feel right now.

Luckily I don’t have any children, but I can’t even imagine losing a child to a police officer. It doesn’t make sense, but I just can’t imagine what his mom or any of those people’s parents or family members are going through. Because your life isn’t supposed to be taken by a police officer. You’re supposed to be helped by a police officer.

Revolution: Any more comments on the film?  

A: I can’t wait to see the entire piece. Saturday morning it’s gonna be all revolution. I’m gonna watch the whole thing. And they told me about the BAsics book. I can get that as an ebook.






Revolution #388 May 25, 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 #388 May 25, 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 #388 May 25, 2015

Baltimore: Taking the Battle for Justice for Freddie Gray to the Doors of the FOP

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

On Tuesday, May 19, an audacious group of 50-75 marched to the headquarters of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) in Baltimore.

Since charges were announced against six of the police who brutalized and killed Freddie Gray, the FOP has been in the forefront of organizing a backlash and demanding that the charges be dropped and no cops ever be tried for this horrendous crime. (see “Charges, Backlash, and the Fight for JUSTICE for Freddie Gray”)

Baltimore, May 19

Baltimore, May 19
Baltimore, May 19. Photos: Special to

The march was called by members of Freddie Gray’s family, and taken up by people in the area around where Freddie had lived, and a number of middle class people of different nationalities joined them. Many told us that they came out because this struggle for justice can’t just “die down,” that it needs to be carried forward. A popular chant throughout the day was “Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell.”

It was a long march, starting at the giant mural just completed at the site of where police had first chased Freddie Gray on April 12 for the “crime” of making eye contact with a cop, and then threw him down, hog-tied him and threw him in a police van. And then the march went miles out of the hood to the FOP headquarters.

As the march stepped off and went through the areas where the powerful uprising was centered, many were joyed to see people continuing to take the streets. Many people greeted the march with fists, chanted along, danced with the beat of the chants, and nodded vigorously. Drivers honked their horns in support. Lots of people grabbed up the "STOP Murder by Police" posters and other materials that the Revolution Club was taking out.

Baltimore, May 19

Baltimore, May 19
Baltimore, May 19. Photos: Special to

To get to the FOP headquarters, the marchers also needed to pass through areas that in the past have been bastions of white supremacy. There was some hostility, including some white men yelling things like “Hey ni—ers, this is my neighborhood, get out of here!”—but there were also those who came out of their homes supporting the march, raising fists and greeting marchers with smiles and waves.

The scene in front of the FOP headquarters was intense. There were lines of cops standing in front, and marchers faced them down. Powerful messages were delivered by members of Freddie Gray’s family and others.

A powerful letter “from the front line in Baltimore” was read out: “Once again, looting and some youth violence has become the center of debate, just like in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, as if bottles being thrown, cars burning or drug stores crumbling to the ground are more important than human beings. They are not.” (The whole letter can be found here)

A woman visiting from the NAACP in Tacoma, Washington, fresh from the fight around the police murder of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco, spoke to the national importance of the battle against murder by police now.

A member of the Revolution Club spoke about a four-year-old who had made bracelets for Freddie, remembering how he used to play with her and get her ice cream, having to learn to grow up in a world where the heartbeat of a community can be ripped out at any time by murderous cops—and about why horrors like these murders by police happen, why it doesn’t have to be this way, and how we are getting organized, NOW, for an actual revolution to make real a world where a people’s police would sooner risk their own lives than brutalize or murder one of the people.






Revolution #388 May 25, 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 #388 May 25, 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 #388 May 25, 2015

BAsics to Baltimore Pledge from Art Blakey II—Jazz Musician/Activist

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


I have said that every person should have a copy of BAsics. It is a handbook that is truth in words to this system of oppression from the very first chapter and the very first line ["There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth."], and it goes even deeper the more you deeply read into this very important and informative writings from the talks of Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party. It has brought me to really see the world, and all of its conditions in stark reality of the capitalist/imperialist that the problems of police brutality, murder, and the prison industrial complex, and all of the degradations and horrors against humanity, that is going on here and around the world. Most importantly, there is a strategy and solution to these horrible conditions that has a great potential that has been inspired from someone that has never given up the fight for emancipation, and has inspired me through his talks and writings that I should not give up in this fight for humanity. I have known that the world is a horror, but in BA, I know that there is a solution that is worth working towards and is worth fighting for. Although I got introduced to Bob Avakian from his recording of "All Played Out", I was taken in by how it struck a nerve of truth and real talk about this repressed system, and that what lead me to learn more and to be a part of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and what it really means to be a emancipator of humanity. As the back of the book says, "you can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics." I recommend to others to get with BA and look deeper into BAsics, the works, writing, and the man, and if you hunger and want to see a whole different world, and dare to hope that it is possible, then this is the handbook that can open the path toward a new and better world, to be challenged, inspired, and liberated, that a revolution is possible, and is needed, with the ultimate goal of emancipation of all humanity free of exploitation and oppression through communism. I think it is imperative that those that are looking for not just answers, but real answers and real talk, get with BA, and get into BAsics, and get with the revolution. I will be sending a pledging $25 dollars for the cause, and I urge others to make a pledge to donate to get a copy of BAsics into every home, and in the hands of those who want to see a real change, and to get with BA and dig deeper to learn what is needed and what is possible.





Revolution #388 May 25, 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 #388 May 25, 2015

Hundreds Protest in Cleveland:

Judge Lets Cop Walk in Murder of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


May 22, 2015: Outrage at judge's pronouncement of "No Charges" for cop who murdered Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in a barrage of 137 bullets.
May 22, 2015: Outrage at judge's pronouncement of "No Charges" for cop who murdered Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in a barrage of 137 bullets. Photo: Special to

Michael Brelo, a Cleveland cop, was pronounced not guilty on May 23 by Judge John O’Donnell. Brelo was one of about 100 Cleveland area cops who, on November 29, 2012, pursued the car Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams were in after cops heard the car backfire and claimed shots had been fired at police headquarters in downtown Cleveland. (See “137 Shots—The Whole Damned System Is Guilty! Cleveland Judge Lets Cop Involved in Murder of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams Walk!” by Carl Dix).

After the verdict came down, people gathered outside the IN-Justice Center and spoke bitterly about this outrageous verdict. Malissa Williams’ cousin bitterly denounced the savage killing by 13 cops shooting 137 shots at her cousin and Timothy Russell. With tears she said that her cousin was a good person and no one deserves to be murdered and the cops are given no punishment. She yelled out, “We want justice!” A Black union activist said how the decision just shows how this system considers Black people worthless and this has been true from when we were dragged here from Africa and called for fighting back against this injustice.

May 22, 2015: Outrage at judge's pronouncement of "No Charges" for cop who murdered Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in a barrage of 137 bullets.

May 22, 2015: Outrage at judge's pronouncement of "No Charges" for cop who murdered Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in a barrage of 137 bullets.

May 22, 2015: Outrage at judge's pronouncement of "No Charges" for cop who murdered Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams in a barrage of 137 bullets.
Cleveland, May 22, 2015.
Photos: Special to

From noon into the night several hundred of people, mostly Black and young, marched for miles, blocking a major highway in both directions, blocking intersections, marching to Progressive Field where the Cleveland Indians were having a baseball game. Protesters went through a club and restaurant district chanting, carrying a huge Stolen Lives banner for all to see. About 100 marched from the Just-Us Center to join a march of hundreds for Tamir Rice at Cudell Center, where he was murdered by police and still no charges after six months.

Even though the mayor has gone on and on about how the police will not come down on peaceful protest, hundreds of police were out in riot gear, with horses, blockades, and more. Dozens of people have been arrested, including a media person and a legal observer for National Lawyers Guild.

Through the day into the night, there was a deep expression of outrage and hatred against the police for killing again and again and then walking, and for most people in the city this was a case of legal lynching. There was a deep determination that we are building a movement to stop the police murdering our people and for some being drawn to the movement for revolution that the RCP is building.

There is urgent work to do.






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Two LA Schools Walk Out Against Police Murder

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Friday, May 22nd, students from two South Central Los Angeles high schools walked out of school in response to the announcement last week that no charges were filed against the cop who murdered 19-year-old Tony Robinson in Madison, WI, and in solidarity with the rebels of Baltimore. 

Los Angeles high school walkout, May 22

LA high school walkout, May 22Los Angeles high school walkout, May 22. Photos: Special to

Together with the L.A. Revolution Club they marched to the memorial site where Ezell Ford was murdered by LAPD last August, then to nearby 77th Street police division for a speakout.  After the speakout they came across police pulling guns on people in a car and blew whistles and shouted until the police angrily backed off. 

Some of the marchers then went down to Compton to join a vigil with the family of Mayra Cornejo as part of the national #sayhername vigils and protests this week (see “#Say Her Name Vigil Shines Light on Police Murder of Black Women" for a report on the Say Her Name event in NYC). Many of the students took up wearing the Revolution Nothing Less t-shirt.






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Basic Points of Revolutionary Orientation for the Rapidly Changing Situation in the Middle East

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Internationalism poster

This week the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) has reportedly made big gains, capturing the cities of Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria. This has intensified the debate among the U.S. rulers over how to respond. There are other rapidly evolving crises and clashes across the region. In this light:

Some key things revolutionaries and opponents of oppression need to understand and act on:

1. ISIS and U.S. imperialism are both utterly reactionary forces which have nothing to offer humanity and have caused horrific suffering, oppression, and death—the U.S. by far the lion’s share. Supporting either strengthens both.


Humanity needs a whole other way

2. The growth of ISIS and other reactionary Islamist forces shows, yet again, that nothing good comes from U.S. wars and occupations. The U.S. rulers claim they are fighting to liberate downtrodden peoples so they can determine their own futures. This is a lie. “The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy, but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.” (BAsics 1:3)

3. Communist revolution is the only way out of this madness, and it is urgent to make revolution in this country at the soonest possible moment and to fight for revolution everywhere by spreading Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism, encapsulated in COMMUNISM: THE BEGINNING OF A NEW STAGE A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, (available in seven languages), and worldwide to bring forward another liberating pole for humanity.

4. Revolution is possible. Developments in the Middle East and elsewhere show that the U.S. rulers are not all powerful. Their grand designs have backfired and they’re in deep trouble and have no solutions to the horrors they’ve created.

5. Their troubles are not OUR troubles—they are the troubles of mass murdering oppressors and we shouldn’t side with any faction of the ruling class in their arguments over how to maintain their global power and system of exploitation and plunder.

6. Instead, their crises and defeats must be seen as an exposure of the bankruptcy of their system and an opportunity to accelerate work for an actual revolution: “Prepare the ground, prepare the people, and prepare the vanguard—get ready for a time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.” (See On the Strategy for Revolution“ by the RCP).

5 Stops

7. These preparations must include opposing the crimes of imperialism, oppressive powers, Islamic fundamentalists and all reactionary forces, but most especially the towering crimes of our rulers here in the U.S.: Stop Wars of Empire, Armies of Occupation, and Crimes Against Humanity!

8. This also means repudiating their poisonous ideology of America #1 and only American lives count and putting world humanity first. “American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives.” (BAsics 5:7)

“Internationalism—the whole world comes first.” (BAsics 5:8)






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Saudi King Snubs Obama's Summit: Alliance Tensions, Regional Upheaval, Intractable Contradictions

by Larry Everest | May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On May 14, President Obama held a summit with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) at Camp David near Washington, DC. Its aim was to strengthen “security”—i.e., military and intelligence—cooperation among them in the face of growing threats in the Middle East region. These reactionary, oil-pumping, brutally repressive monarchies line the southern shore of the Persian Gulf, through which 30 percent of oil traded by sea flows. These states, Saudi Arabia in particular, have been key cogs in the U.S. empire regionally and globally, and they’ve been closely aligned with and dependent on the U.S. for decades, including for military protection.

So when the President of the United States—the global godfather—invites these states to a gathering, the expectation is that they come. There may be debates and differences behind closed doors, but it’s all smiles and shows of unity in public.

But not this time.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa pointedly refused to attend, even after having agreed to attend months earlier. And the leaders of Oman and the UAE didn’t show either. Other high officials attended, and publicly all involved downplayed the significance of the no-shows. (Bahrain’s king attended a horse race in the UK.)

But make no mistake: this was a snub—a rare public display of sharp and growing differences between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, even as they remain allies deeply entangled with each other on many levels.

Why should the oppressed and revolutionaries care about a dust-up between bloodthirsty reactionaries? Because it points to the profound changes jolting the Middle East and U.S. imperialism, which are part of the global mosaic out of which revolutionary crises can emerge—depending in part on how people understand and act in the face of these conflicts.

A Decades Long Reactionary Alliance and Pillar of a Reactionary Regional Order

The Middle East is a region that imperialism has been holding on lockdown for over 100 years, dominating its development and crippling the lives of its millions of peoples. The imperialist world, headed by the U.S. for the past seven decades, has done so because this region has been key to its wealth, prosperity, and global power; it’s a crossroads of commerce, a platform for global military dominance, and an energy spigot.

The U.S.-Saudi relationship, forged during World War 2, has been a key pillar of the U.S.-dominated regional order and of U.S. global domination overall. Saudi Arabia, a country of 26 million, has been the world’s key oil producer and an important piece in the global financial system. It has helped prop up pro-U.S. regimes across the Middle East and beyond. It has provided critical military assistance to the U.S.—against Iraq and Iran in particular. Saudi Arabia’s neighbor Qatar hosts a major U.S. air base and the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based in Saudi-dominated Bahrain. Saudi Arabia helped bankroll the U.S. covert war in Afghanistan during the 1980s, a war that helped bring down the U.S.’s main rival at the time—the then-imperialist Soviet Union.

The U.S. has been Saudi Arabia’s military protector. For example, the 1991 U.S. invasion of Iraq —the Persian Gulf War—was carried out in part to defend and reassure Saudi Arabia and Kuwait after Saddam Hussein’s forces invaded Kuwait, and make clear that U.S. imperialism was the Persian Gulf’s dominant power and would brook no shift in the balance of power there.

And Saudi Arabia’s own armed forces are extremely dependent on U.S. arms, training, and technology. Over the past 20 years, the Saudis have bought $400 billion of U.S. military equipment. One military expert told the New York Times, “The Saudi air force could not carry out day-in, day-out bombing missions [in Yemen now] without help from U.S. trainers and maintenance experts and the flow of spare parts and ammunition.” U.S. advisers are “embedded in industrial, energy, maritime and cybersecurity offices within the Saudi government.” (May 11, 2015) The two countries also have close intelligence ties.

The Contradictions Driving the U.S.-Saudi Rift

Saudi Arabia is typical of the oppressive, prison-like U.S.- and European-backed tyrannies that have enforced imperialist dominance. It’s an absolute monarchy whose rule is undergirded by an alliance with the extremely reactionary “Wahhabist” Sunni Islamic clerical establishment. Beheading is a legal form of capital punishment. Dissent is ruthlessly suppressed. Women live under the heavy weight of all kinds of religious-patriarchal strictures. Bigotry against other religions is law. Saudi Arabia is the epitome of reactionary obscurantism, but the consequences of the collapse of the House of Saud for the U.S. rulers would be catastrophic.

Yet across the Middle East, enormous anger and a host of social, religious, economic, and other contradictions have been seething under the surface. By 2000, the U.S. imperialists sensed that they were sitting on a potential powder keg. The so-called “war on terror” they launched after the attacks of September 11, 2001 was an aggressive effort to reassert and deepen their hold on the Middle East and Central Asia by revamping the region’s social and economic order, focusing first on Iraq. Yet their 2003-2011 invasion and occupation not only failed to turn Iraq into the platform they sought but, in connection with other regional and global contradictions, had the effect of opening a crack in the regional pressure-cooker—spawning widespread mass upheavals, fueling reactionary Islamic jihadism, massively disrupting the regional balance of power, and uncorking regional rivalries.

For well over a decade, there have been tensions between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia over a number of issues, including the kingdom’s promotion of Sunni fundamentalism. But now the rapidly evolving situation in the region has led to sharper divergences in the perceived needs and interests of U.S. and Saudi rulers on a number of fronts. For example, the Saudis opposed any concessions to the mass uprisings of the “Arab Spring,” including U.S. maneuvers to ease Hosni Mubarak out of power in Egypt in order to better preserve Egypt’s military. The Saudis have been particularly worried by Iran’s growing influence in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, and its nuclear enrichment program. In 2008, they demanded the U.S. “cut off the head of the snake”—in other words go to war against Iran. They also argued for more aggressive U.S. action in Syria.

The Obama team, for its part, feels that the U.S. simply cannot commit to another ground war in the Middle East; both Iraq and Afghanistan have proven extremely costly for the imperialists, and they now have even bigger challenges globally they must attempt to deal with. Obama’s approach has been to rely more on drone assassination and terror, manipulating and working with any and all reactionary forces that can be useful for a moment—mercenaries, advisors, bombing, and other forms of violent defense of U.S. interests. This is a key reason the Obama administration is working to cut a deal with Iran, but this has brought Saudi-U.S. differences to a head, with the Saudis fearing that Iran could become the region’s dominant power, undermining Saudi interests, and perhaps the stability of the monarchy. (See “U.S. Empire Makes Move to Meet Rising Challenges.”)

The Implications: Great and Unpredictable Upheaval

The Saudis and other Gulf states are worried that the U.S. is no longer fully committed to their defense or able to deploy the military forces that could be required. The GCC countries demanded a NATO-like defense treaty that would commit the U.S. to go to war to save their monarchies, but they were rebuffed at the May 14 summit. Obama promised to use force to defend the Gulf states, to “stand by our GCC partners against external attack,” but refused to commit to a formal defense treaty. So the U.S. and Saudi Arabia remain tethered together, even as antagonisms are growing between them.

Faced with what it feels are threats to its vital interests, the Saudis have taken independent initiatives, some of which are at odds with U.S. policy or make the contradictions the U.S. is facing more complex, and the situation more unpredictable. For example, in Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states (along with Turkey) are reportedly supporting anti-Assad jihadists, including the Al Nusra front. The Saudis motives: Their goal is to bring down the Assad regime and weaken Iran, one of the main patrons of the Assad regime—no matter how many people are slaughtered in the process. The U.S. has some agreement with this initiative, yet continued Saudi support for jihadists is also making matters more difficult in Iraq, where ISIS recently captured the key town of Ramadi. One key reason ISIS has been able to grow and continue operating is de facto Turkish and Saudi support for ISIS in Syria. (Because Turkey refuses to close its border, jihadist forces are able to get supplies, fresh recruits, medical care, etc.)

But fundamentally what is driving the upheaval is the intractability of the contradictions roiling the region. There are profound global and regional rivalries being fought out—and most fundamentally the imperialists and reactionary powers cannot resolve the suffering, oppression, and social, national, and religious faultlines that have given rise to this. After all, it’s 100 years of imperialist domination that created or preserved this mountain of oppression in the first place.

Yemen is an example. The Saudis, with U.S. backing (even as the U.S. has differences with the Saudis over the campaign) began a savage bombing campaign there March 26, which continues at this writing. Hundreds has been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced. (And note: Obama did not condemn this slaughter at the May 14 summit—he increased military aid!). The Saudis are doing all this in order to impose a pro-Saudi client in Yemen and prevent a force sympathetic to Iran from emerging. Yet it has nothing to offer the people of Yemen—no solutions to the poverty and misery that have gripped this, one of the poorest countries in the world, for generation after generation.

Three Critical Things to Understand

There are three critical things to understand about the rapidly unfolding situation in the Middle East.

1. There are major changes in the world, and old rules no longer apply. This is creating huge challenges for the U.S. Things are in great flux, and none of the players involved knows how things will end up. These rivalries and conflicts are not being stage managed; all are responding to events and groping for solutions to vexing contradictions. In the context of the whole regional cauldron and big global shifts, these kinds of developments—including the growing arguments in the U.S. ruling class over what to do—taken together could come together in ways that create profound global jolts, jolts that are part of what the RCP’s “On the Strategy for Revolution” talks about, and part of what makes this a moment when a revolutionary situation and an actual revolution are increasingly possible.

2. No matter how disingenuous (lying) and self-contradictory their claims of bringing “democracy” and “freedom,” the U.S. rulers will try and “lead” people through these choppy waters as they attempt to protect and advance their imperialist interests—training people to support action against whoever the U.S. deems the greatest threat of the moment, and training people to ignore the crimes of those the U.S. finds useful to ally with at any given point. All this is generally sold to people under the rubric of “protecting American lives” and protecting America from “terrorist attacks,” while the rulers actual calculations are driven by concerns of imperialist empire: maintaining U.S. global supremacy and domination of key regions.

3. Imperialism and reactionary powers will not collapse of their own accord, even in the midst of great turmoil and upheaval. In the Middle East at the moment, the force most likely to replace existing powers is reactionary Islamists who are equally horrific. The only way for anything positive to come out of the situation is for a genuine revolutionary communist pole to emerge and begin leading the masses to fight for their real interests and a radically different future and world. This underscores the urgency of making revolution in this country at the soonest possible moment, and spreading Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism, encapsulated in Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage—A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and spreading it far and wide, including throughout the Middle East.







Revolution #388 May 25, 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.






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Statement From the Editors of Demarcations: A Journal of Communist Theory and Polemic—"On the Arrest of K. Murali (Ajith) by Indian State Authorities"

Posted May 24, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


May 23, 2015

On May 8, the Indian state arrested K. Murali, also known as Ajith. He was undergoing treatment in a hospital near Pune in southern India. Murali, along with an assistant, was seized from the hospital by the Anti-Terrorism Squad, hauled before a court, and remanded to police custody. Murali has been publicly associated with the Communist Party of India (Maoist). As of this writing, no formal charges have been filed against Murali and he is facing draconian conditions of detention, with his health and safety matters of grave concern.

The arrest by the reactionary Indian state of K. Murali is utterly unjust. We support demands that he be immediately released and that he receive all necessary medical care and legal representation.

We say this even recognizing that Ajith has recently played a very negative role in the international communist movement. Writing under the name Ajith, Murali has unfolded an attack on the new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian. While containing issues of substantive disagreement his essay “Against Avakianism” is marked by rank distortions, baseless accusations of “revisionism” and ad hominem attacks against Avakian. Its purpose is to block the vital advance of the science of communism that is concentrated in Avakian’s work.

Demarcations, which bases itself on and fights for the new synthesis of communism, has featured three responses to Ajith’s essay. These carefully dissect and comprehensively refute his philosophical outlook and method, political line, and program (

This is a sharp ideological struggle that has great implications for the international communist movement. In carrying out this struggle with Ajith, we proceed from the interests of advancing the world revolution to emancipate humanity; and we demarcate right from wrong on the basis of principled and substantive analysis, argumentation, and polemic. These are standards of debate that we insist on for this journal and that we fight for in the international communist movement.

Our criticisms of Ajith are acute. At the same time, we give no quarter to reactionary state authority and attempts to suppress and silence voices, including those with whom we have severe disagreements. Here too we stand on principle. The arrest of Ajith must be strongly condemned.





Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

From A World to Win News Service

10 Years Later, French Courts Exonerate Police in the Deaths of Two Teenagers

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


19 May 2015. A World to Win News Service. When two teenagers fleeing from police were electrocuted in an electrical power substation in 2005, youths in the poor working class and heavily immigrant-origin urban suburbs (banlieues) surrounding Paris and other French cities exploded. Now, after nearly a decade of legal maneuvers, on 18 May a court definitively acquitted two police officers accused of failing to act to prevent their deaths, despite uncontested evidence that the police knew they were in mortal danger and could have saved them.

Three youths were returning home after a holiday afternoon football match near a housing estate in the town of Clichy-sous-Bois near Paris when they were approached by a police van. An investigation later brought out that they had committed no crime, but the police chased them anyway. They tried to escape by ducking into an electrical transformer shed. Two of them, Bouna Traoré, 15, and Zyed Benna, 17, were killed by a charge of tens of thousands of bolts. Their friend, 17-year-old Muhittin Altun, was severely burned.

For many people the deaths of Bouna and Zyed were two outrageous deaths too many and a concentration of the oppression and misery they face every day. A furious outpouring of mainly banlieue youths followed the electrocutions. The police descended on the suburbs night after night, with arrests, tear gas and beatings. Still, the youths in these areas continued to resist. The state issued the first nationwide state of emergency since the end of the Algerian war in 1962. Demonstrations were banned, and with only a few exceptions political organisations and public figures remained passive.

The state waited two years before announcing that it would investigate the police most directly responsible for the deaths of Bouna and Zyed. People were told the familiar refrain, to put their faith in the judicial system. While no one was ever charged with murder or manslaughter, two officers were finally charged with "failure to aid a person in danger."

The investigation revealed the police had reason to know that the three teenagers were near the EDF power substation and could have gone inside. In a recorded conversation with his dispatcher over the radio, one of the officers who had chased them said, "If they've gone into the EDF site, I don't give them much chance." (Guardian, 18 May 2015) Yet he failed to try to find and warn them, or do anything to help them. The dispatcher failed to call the electricity company to have the current shut off. They did not even call the emergency medical services. Bouna and Zyed are said to have died a half an hour after the police left the area.

For ten years the justice system stalled or found a way to justify the cops. When they were finally brought to trial, the prosecutor, who asked for the charges against them to be dropped, argued that if the police had known of the danger, they would surely have acted to protect the youths. The panel of judges accepted this logic, despite the recorded evidence of the conversation between the two implicated police, and ruled that the accused had no reason to be "certain of the imminent danger" facing the youths. (Le Monde, 18 May 2015) As legal observers pointed out, this decision was not based on facts or the law but explicitly political. Criminal charges and the civil suit brought by the families of the victims were dropped. No further appeal is possible.

This verdict has emboldened reactionaries in France to redouble their attacks on the youths from the banlieues. Zyed and Bouna are being called "thugs" and held responsible for cars burned after their death. The victims' families, still grieving their loss ten years later, have been told that they are responsible for not raising their children with sufficient respect for the police and the laws of the republic. The verdict is being used to hammer the message that the rebellion in 2005 was unjustified.

Instead, the police are being portrayed as victims because they had to stand trial on minor charges. While the openly racist National Front (FN) has hailed the court decision, saying that "Justice has finally been done in France," the Justice Minister of the governing Socialist Party (PS), Christiane Taubira, a black woman who had been targeted by outrageous racist insults, took only a slightly more nuanced stand, calling on everyone to "respect the decisions of the justice system." Meanwhile, many people are saying that the verdict showed the fundamental injustice of the "justice system" and France itself.

After the verdict was read, a large and angry rally was held outside the courthouse in the department where Clichy is located, and there were skirmishes with the police. The anguish and anger at the French court system expressed by the youths' families and friends are being shared by thousands of people on social media, making "ZyedEtBouna" the most followed Twitter hashtag in France.

Several people denounced what they called the "violence" of the judges' decision. One wrote that with its verdict, the "justice system" acted just like the police and, in a way, sentenced Zyed and Bouna to death after the fact, not because of anything they did but because of who they were, their immigrant backgrounds and banlieue postal code that amounts to a life sentence for millions of youths. Others tweeted on the theme that for the police, the "imminent danger" is the banlieue youths themselves, and an electrical transformer is as good as any other weapon to kill them.

While the official "far left" opposition (the Left Front led by Jean-Luc Melenchon who took the massacre of the Charlie Hebdo staff by Islamic fundamentalists last January as an occasion to literally shake hands with the militarized police usually used against demonstrators) is trying to rival the far right in defending the police in the face of the outrage following the verdict (see his Twitter statement), many youths, from immigrant backgrounds and of all nationalities, and others, are calling the harassment, abuses and killings carried out against banlieue youths a dividing line. At the same time, although religion played very little role in the 2005 upheaval, reactionaries across much of the political spectrum are trying to connect this rage against the police with Islamic fundamentalism, which only feeds that current.

The conditions in France's suburbs that fuelled the 2005 rebellion after Zyed and Bouna were electrocuted, and the authorities' continuing difficulties in sweeping their deaths under the rug, remain a source of explosive potential.


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 #388 May 25, 2015


May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution Books in New York City—the flagship Revolution Books nationally—closed on Saturday, May 23, to pack up and prepare to move as soon as funds are raised to re-open and the new location secured.

The weekend of May 17-19 saw an important first step in the battle to save and move Revolution Books as the store came alive with three afternoons and evenings of music, readings, poetry, and comedy. Tables of used books spilled out onto the sidewalk. Hundreds of people, old friends and new, came through in response to the Revolution Books EMERGENCY call for the “In-Person Crowd-Funding Weekend to Save and Move Revolution Books.” People bought books, folks from Harlem baked and brought cookies and brownies to raise funds, artists performed and donated work, and of great importance, the initial goal of raising $5,000 over the weekend was raised, beginning the drive for the $150,000 needed to move Revolution Books.

sample image

Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber

The spirit was celebratory, serious, funny, defiant, and determined. There were magical moments when people felt deeply, together, what it meant to have this completely unique place that provides the space and the challenge to get into the books, the conversation, the debate, the art, and the science of why the world is such an unrelenting horror for most of humanity, and how this could all be so radically different with revolution. There was a palpable collective sense of what that different world could be like—as people created and witnessed all kinds of performances, laughed, talked, debated, ate wonderful home-baked cookies and brownies, looked at and bought great books, got serious and started reaching out to their friends to tell them just what is going on here and why they have to be part of making sure this will not be lost. And, at the close of Sunday evening, the young MCs, the musicians, and audience cheered and hooted as the last five, 10, and 20 dollar bills and credit cards came out of pockets to put the donations over the top.

With the $5,000 raised this weekend as well as other donations before and since, an important, if small, beginning was made in the major funding that is needed to save and move the store. Dozens from all walks of life and of all ages have donated so far, from a “change jar” that added up to $60 collected from many basic people in Harlem, up to a few generous contributions and loans from people who love this store. What most stood out on this weekend were the words, sentiments, and understanding that were expressed about what Revolution Books means now and in the future: why it matters and why it absolutely must not be lost.

Several performers lamented the demise of many important cultural and intellectual venues and bookstores in New York City. Andy Zee, the spokesperson for Revolution Books in NYC, acknowledged this ... but set a different tone of determination—that Revolution Books will not be lost, it will re-open in Harlem. He helped people see that this is because people like those who came together at RB last weekend can reach out to many thousands more who live in this world—with all its outrageous injustice and devastation—and who can be won to see the difference that Revolution Books makes. That a future without a flagship Revolution Books is a world deprived of the place where revolution reaches out and engages the whole world.

This was not only a declaration of intent, but was living throughout the whole weekend.

A story: A fine poet, Brad Walrond, read a new piece: “Time Travel.” The background to the poem is that Brad had not written for several years. After grand juries in Ferguson and New York failed to indict the police who murdered Michael Brown and Eric Garner last November, Revolution Books hosted an incredible evening of poetry and music with Saul Williams, Jessica Care Moore, Faith Ringgold, Carl Hancock Rux, and Outernational. Inspired, Brad went home and all that he had been feeling poured into this poem that he wrote through the night. Then, last weekend, at the farewell to RB on 26th Street, the audience was transfixed as Brad debuted the poem, accompanied by Mikel Banks of Burnt Sugar.

When Brad finished, Andy Zee drew some threads from the evening together:

I just took in Brad’s poem ... he talks about being invisible; the people who are rendered invisible. Let me tell you, this store is about the people who have been rendered invisible, here and around the world, becoming not only visible but potentially becoming the emancipators of humanity, so everybody all over the planet can actually realize their potential, in a collective framework. At Revolution Books, revolution is not something of the past, it is something of the present and future, something we are actually working for right now, today, in preparation for a time when it might actually be possible.

If you look honestly at the world today, if you look at people fleeing North Africa and drowning in the sea; if you look at the situation of Black people being killed in this country every day and the mass incarceration of Black and Latino people; if you look at the planet being destroyed, it should occur to you that this system is in deep trouble! And there is the possibility, if people work on this in the right way, that we could change all this! It is an insane and criminally absurd world we are living in right now.

Performers at the In-Person Crowd-Funding Weekend

Comedian Aladdin

Poet-Singer-Songwriter Jessica Delfino

Comedian Elsa

DJ Frei Speech

Poet Sparrow

Poet Brad Walrond

Singer songwriter Steff Reed

Singer-songwriter Brett from the band American Anymen

Singer-songwriter Frances Rex from the band Boyz

Robin and the Lady Poet

Revolutionary artist Dread Scott

Industrial band Onyx Immaculate

Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber

And others!

What Revolution Books brings to this situation is the ability for people to engage the books, the artists, the scholars, the scientists—and most of all the movement for revolution and the new synthesis—the new understanding of the science of communism—that’s been developed by Bob Avakian. And we’re able to mix that up and look at all that and find out how the world can be radically transformed and be at the center at the movement that could make that real.

Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber, an extraordinary “Gotham based ensemble of pan-ethnic sound warriors; every one of them a border-crossing trans-national whether they’ll admit it or not...” as founder Greg Tate put it on their website, played on Saturday and Sunday nights, with their vocalists picking up books from the shelves and chanting and singing and reading on top of improvised, inspired wildness with deep funk propelling it forward. Sunday night’s vocalist, Karma Mayet Johnson, commented: “Only at Revolution Books could you go pull a book off the shelf and just read!”

An inspiring thread that ran through the weekend were the MCs, the hosts. Mainly young people, they told of how their lives had been changed at Revolution Books. A member of the Revolution Club said that before coming to New York, he had lived and studied in China, but he came back and attended a program at the store on China: “and learned more in 45 minutes at Revolution Books about the Chinese revolution than in 10 years of studying Chinese language and culture.” He made the connection between the lies that had been told about the history of this country—slavery and the genocide of the native peoples—and the lies about the aims and accomplishments of the Chinese revolution before it was defeated and reversed in 1976. He said that after that “all sorts of things started to unravel.”

People spoke of how their personal relationships had changed—now infused with talking and arguing about the big questions. A young designer who threw in to organize the weekend said: “It’s one of the only places in this city or anywhere, where people can come together and ask questions about how to get this country out of the hell it’s in.... Where people take it seriously and engage in the problems of people who are struggling in real ways, trying to lift us out of a dark place, and haven’t given up.”

One MC told of being “so annoyed” that people at RB would constantly ask “What do you think?” But thinking about it, she said: “What would it look like, what kind of change would it bring about in the world, if people asked that question of each other and actually came up with ideas and went out and executed them? This place is like a microcosm of that kind of conversation going on over and over and over again, about different questions and topics.” Andy Zee commented that how we “think about thinking” is a critical part of the new synthesis and the critical scientific approach to everything at RB, quoting Bob Avakian: “What people think is part of objective reality, but objective reality is not determined by what people think.” (BAsics 4:11)

A statement written by a young woman member of the NYC Revolution Club after she reflected on being an MC on Friday night was read Saturday evening. She ended with this:

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 #388 May 25, 2015

Seattle Protests Against Arctic Drilling

sHell NO—Shut It Down!

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On May 14, Shell Oil's drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, was towed into Seattle's Elliott Bay. Shell is readying two oil rigs and a fleet of other ships in ports in Washington State, as part of plans to drill exploratory oil wells in the Chukchi Sea in Alaska's Arctic waters. The rig docked and preparatory work was begun on it even though the city said Shell didn't have the proper permits to do so and threatened fines.

Protest at Port of Seattle, May 18.
Protest at Port of Seattle, May 18. (AP photo)

From the time the Arctic drilling was first announced, environmental groups and people broadly who care about the planet have been planning to mount determined opposition to Shell. (See the web site and the interview with environmental activist) Drilling in the Arctic is unconscionable, especially given the danger of oil spills to a key pristine ocean and the further acceleration of climate change this would contribute to (see "Despite Devastating Environmental Impact: Why Is the U.S. Opening the Arctic to Drilling?")

The local press dubbed the protests the "Oil Battle in Seattle." On Saturday, May 16, 500 kayakers and other boaters rowed out and confronted the drilling rig that loomed stories above them. Kayaks of many colors and 4 or 5 large, beautiful canoes from different native peoples went right up to the rig, despite warnings from authorities to maintain a 100-yard gap.

Then on May 18, 400 people marched to Terminal 5 on the Seattle waterfront, where work in loading and preparing the oil rig is being carried out. The march was led by large banners saying "sHell No--Seattle Loves the Arctic," "Respect Indigenous Rights," "Climate Justice for All" and "Save the Planet--Join Us!" Revolutionaries carried a banner saying "Capitalism Is Destroying the Planet We Need Revolution, Nothing Less." People carried a huge canopy with a painting of the Earth on it that was lifted up into the air as people ran and danced underneath it. Many chants filled the air, including "If you build it, we will stop it. If you ship it, we will block it."

There were contingents from Bayan, indigenous people from Alaska and Washington State, young folks dressed as seabirds or polar bears, neighborhood peace groups, students, anarchists, revolutionaries, and many different stripes of environmentalists and other concerned people. A young woman from Nigeria led chants connecting the struggle around the Arctic with the damage Shell has done in her country.

The protest arrived at the terminal and blocked the three main gates, with dozens of cops on all sides. Many expected to do a sit-down blockade and be arrested, but instead the cops stood to the side and the whole area was occupied for six hours. People were energized and very joyous--dancing to music, chanting and responding to speeches, and alternately relaxing in the sun. Shell's contractor, Foss Shipping, claimed that no work was stopped because they had known about the protests for months and been able to plan. But there were reports that some trucks bringing materials in for the Polar Pioneer were turned away.

Flyers with the article "The Fight to Stop Arctic Drilling, the Stakes for the Planet" were passed out broadly. Revolutionaries mixed it up and got into many questions with people, including why the U.S. was doing this and what would be required to save the planet.

People came to the protest out of many concerns about the environment and the people.

A middle-aged woman from Kitsap Peninsula told Revolution/, "I've been against the oil in the Arctic since before Prudhoe Bay went in. People don't realize how much it will destroy the native groups up there. If you destroy the whale migration routes, if you destroy the porcupine caribou herds' migration routes, these people depend on that for their livelihoods—you destroy them. It's also about climate change and oil spills—which Shell knows darn well they can't clean that up.... So it just has to not happen. I can't even believe that knowing there's a 75 percent chance of an oil spill, they're still going to do it. They don't care. It's human rights, too—those people, they've been there for thousands of years. It'll destroy their whole way of life, everything they live for. It's not right."

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:

  • the dimensions of the emergency...
  • the source of its causes in the capitalist system, and the impossibility of that system solving this crisis...
  • a way out and way forward for humanity—a revolutionary society in which we could actually live as custodians of nature, rather than as its plunderers.

Read online....

Also available in brochure format (downloadable PDF)

Some people we talked to saw what is needed to stop climate change and environmental destruction as being a larger movement, possibly combined with putting pressure on the politicians, particularly influencing state and local politicians, who some still had some hope would "do the right thing." Many saw the problem as greed or profit, or some form of capitalism. Many people said they did not know what it would really take to stop this or how to draw larger numbers of people into this struggle. People mostly did not understand why Obama would make the decision to open the Arctic. There was real openness to getting into these questions, including how this drive to drill was rooted in capitalism and how this points to the need for an actual revolution.

The Seattle flotilla and protests received national and international news coverage. Organizers said the actions changed the conversation in society about Arctic drilling and brought it to worldwide attention.

More plans are being made by sHell NO to oppose the drilling rigs, including protests this weekend in Bellingham, Washington, where a Shell support ship is docked. will be following and reporting on further developments. These actions are very important to spread and support, given the tremendous ecological stakes involved in preventing any drilling for fossil fuels in the Arctic.






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Santa Barbara—Another Outrageous Oil Spill

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Just as the Obama administration gave its approval to Shell drilling for oil in the Arctic, and as hundreds in Seattle protested and sought to block Shell drilling rigs—yet another oil spill hit the coastline at Santa Barbara, California. This spill, spreading in the ocean for nine miles, demonstrates again the disregard of this system for nature, and its inability to protect the natural world.

An estimated 105,000 gallons leaked from a pipeline into a culvert along the coastline near Santa Barbara. 21,000 gallons have leaked into the ocean. The area where the spill occurred is one rich with marine life. It includes the beautiful palm-tree lined shore at Refugio State Beach that now is fouled with oil. Pictures from the Huffington Post shows sea birds and other ocean life covered with oil, some dead.

The area along the Santa Barbara coast where the recent oil spill occurred is rich in marine life, such as these mussels and crab.
The area along the Santa Barbara coast where the recent oil spill occurred is rich in marine life, such as these mussels and crab. (AP photo)

Quite a bit of the coverage in the mainstream press has downplayed the spill, saying it was “nothing like” a much larger spill that hit Santa Barbara in 1969. Like this makes it ok?

In contrast with this, an article in the LA times quoted Linda Krop, chief counsel for the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center who visited Refugio State Beach, saying: “There was oil that was covering the beach and also being washed out to sea... To me this was a very significant event. The beach was just blanketed in black tar.”

Krop said, “Right now we have migratory whales, including endangered humpbacks and blue whales...We also have gray whales migrating back from Baja [California] to Alaska, and they come closer to shore. We also have a lot of very rare seabirds and other coastal endangered species. It’s a very, very sensitive, important place and we don't know what the eventual harm will be.”

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Doreen Farr said "This stretch of the California coast is unique in the world... This is more than an inconvenience, this is a disaster.”

The oil was being mopped up and skimmed from the waters, but studies have shown that at most 10-15% of oil that spills in the ocean typically is cleaned up.

The company that owns the pipeline, Plains All American Pipeline, is listed by the federal government as the fifth worst violator in reporting safety and maintenance infractions. Since 2006 the company has had 175 infractions and caused more than 16,000 barrels (672,000 gallons) of oil to spill causing $23 million in damage. Despite this, the company was still allowed to operate—the Obama administration and the entire system allows all this to continue. As they do, they lie that oil drilling and transport safety standards guarantee this can be carried out thoughtfully and safely, “balancing energy needs with those of the environment”.

Oil drilling, extraction of coal and gas, transport, shipping and burning of these fossil fuels is inherently dangerous. This is spreading environmental damage at a point when the world’s ecosystems are straining under the weight of this system's destruction. We need a system, right now, that protects the environment, that dramatically moves away from this rampant destruction, that rebuilds the energy foundation of society on a safe and sustainable basis, and that leaves these fuels that are causing a climate catastrophe where they belong—in the ground.






Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Check It Out:

Jacob Lawrence "One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North"

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Jacob Lawrence "One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North"—Panel 1 Panel 1: "During the World War there was a great migration North by Southern Negroes." (original caption by Jacob Lawrence)

Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12″ (45.7 x 30.5 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C. Acquired 1942. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph courtesy The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

Jacob Lawrence "One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North"—Panel 3Panel 3: "In every town Negroes were leaving by the hundreds to go North and enter into Northern industry." (original caption by Jacob Lawrence)

Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12″ (45.7 x 30.5 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C. Acquired 1942. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph courtesy The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

Jacob Lawrence "One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North"—Panel 14

Panel 14: "Among the social conditions that existed which was partly the cause of the migration was the injustice done to the Negroes in the courts." (original caption by Jacob Lawrence)

Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12″ (45.7 x 30.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mrs. David M. Levy. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

Jacob Lawrence "One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North"—Panel 15Panel 15: "Another cause was lynching. It was found that where there had been a lynching, the people who were reluctant to leave at first left immediately after this."

Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12″ (45.7 x 30.5 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C. Acquired 1942. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph courtesy The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

Jacob Lawrence "One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North"—Panel 17Panel 17: "The migration was spurred on by the treatment of the tenant farmers by the planter."

Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12″ (45.7 x 30.5 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C. Acquired 1942. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph courtesy The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

Jacob Lawrence "One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North"—Panel 22Panel 22: "Another of the social causes of the migrants' leaving was that at times they did not feel safe, or it was not the best thing to be found on the streets late at night. They were arrested on the slightest provocation."

Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12″ (45.7 x 30.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mrs. David M. Levy. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

Jacob Lawrence "One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North"—Panel 33Panel 33: "People who had not yet come North received letters from their relatives telling them of the better conditions that existed in the North."

Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12″ (45.7 x 30.5 cm). The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C. Acquired 1942. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph courtesy The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.

Jacob Lawrence "One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North"—Panel 48

Panel 48: "Housing for the Negroes was a very difficult problem."

Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12″ (45.7 x 30.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mrs. David M. Levy. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

Jacob Lawrence "One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North"—Panel 52Panel 52: "One of the largest race riots occurred in East St. Louis."

1941. Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12″ (45.7 x 30.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mrs. David M. Levy. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

Jacob Lawrence "One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North"—Panel 58Panel 58: "In the North the Negro had better educational facilities."

Casein tempera on hardboard, 18 x 12″ (45.7 x 30.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mrs. David M. Levy. © 2015 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Digital image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY

All images used with permission of MoMA

From a reader

I want to encourage readers who can make it to New York City this spring, summer or early fall to make it to the exhibit "One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series and Other Visions of the Great Movement North."

This is a rare exhibit of the entire series of sixty numbered panels, painted and captioned by Jacob Lawrence, documenting the great migration of what would end up being some six million Black people from the Jim Crow, sharecropping south, to what was supposed to be the "promised land" in the North – to New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Saint Louis and beyond. Completed in 1941, Jacob Lawrence's set of paintings bring that mass migration to life.

I'm not, unfortunately, a student of art history but its easy to feel influences of many cultures and radical artistic trends in art, literature, posters, dance, jazz and the blues in Jacob Lawrence's iconic technique -- vivid colors, striking shapes, energy, motion -- Bold as Love, as Jimi Hendrix would sing a generation later. Lawrence's medium of acrylic-like casein tempera paint on hardboard (wood panels) is almost shockingly basic. But you can stare at any one of these panels for hours, appreciating new angles, depth, and insights.

This exhibit of Lawrence's series of panels connects us viscerally and phenomenally with the human beings who made up the vast sea of ex-slaves and tenant farmers --uprooted from their shacks and eking out an existence from the land – as they made the dangerous trek into the unknown north, pulled by the promise of equality and a chance for a life in a larger world.

Lawrence takes us into the living rooms in crowded segregated ghettos, the hell-hole slaughterhouses and factories, and the courtrooms of injustice that Black people found in the cities of the north. We can view these images with even more bitter irony today, when the brutally exploitive jobs Black people were brought to do have largely been shipped by the workings of capitalism-imperialism to lands where workers can be even more viciously exploited, leaving millions of Black people trapped, locked down, and literally under the gun in the same cities – vilified, demonized, and dehumanized by the same system that built so much of its wealth on the sweat and blood of Black people.

Along with the complete series of Lawrence's paintings, the exhibit includes substantial and insightful documentation and insights into the great migration, the factors behind it, the travails Black people faced in the South and in the North. There are original printings of books by authors like Richard Wright and Langston Hughes. Along with the paintings, a not-to-miss event in the exhibit is a high quality video of Billie Holiday singing "Strange Fruit" -- a simmering and stunning rendition of that damning indictment of lynching. That video is available on YouTube.

If you can't make it in-person, visit MoMA's multimedia website focused on Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series at The website explores Lawrence's biography and career; artists and intellectuals who inhabited Lawrence's world and contemporaneous historical, literary, musical, and artistic interpretations of the Migration; historical and visual sources for Lawrence's work, especially the popular and print culture of the 1930s and 1940s;  and the social history of the Migration.





Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Ongoing and Growing Outrage and Protest in Cleveland

Updated June 1, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Police attack protesters Saturday, May 23 outside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland after a judge let the only cop charged in the police murder of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams go free. Photo: special to

Police attack protesters Saturday, May 23 outside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland after a judge let the only cop charged in the police murder of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams go free. Photo: special to

From the moment Michael Brelo, a Cleveland cop, was pronounced not guilty on May 23 there have been outbreaks of protest in Cleveland. Brelo was one of about 100 Cleveland area cops who, on November 29, 2012, chased and fired 137 shots into a car murdering two unarmed Black people—Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams (See “137 Shots—The Whole Damned System Is Guilty! Cleveland Judge Lets Cop Involved in Murder of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams Walk!” a statement by Carl Dix).


Protesting outside the NBA playoffs, Cleveland, May 24, 2015

Immediately after the verdict was announced, there were angry confrontations between protesters and police at the courthouse, and several protesters were arrested. Also, shortly after the verdict, protesters blocked traffic on a major freeway.

Two hundred people gathered at the recreation center where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was murdered by police six months ago speaking outrage and chanting “No justice, no peace.”

In the evening, protesters marching in Cleveland were repeatedly attacked by police in riot gear in Cleveland’s upscale district near the baseball stadium – Quicken Loans Arena (see video at

There were over 70 arrests throughout the first day of protests. Most of those arrested have been arraigned, and many pled not guilty.

Sunday 5/24...

On Sunday, May 24, over a dozen protesters marched in front of the playoff game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Atlanta Hawks chanting “Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail/The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”  Hundreds of people going to the game took notice, many giving thumbs up or fists in the air, and a few joined the protest. 

Then people blocked the intersection in front of the arena for 2 hours. A couple young Black women who joined the action and said, “We been looking for the protest, this verdict is so wrong, they think they can kill Black people and get away with it.”   

Monday 5/25...

May 25, 2015: As many as 200 people marched through housing projects and past schools in Cleveland, blocking streets, demanding justice. Image from video used with permission from Ed Sweeney.

On Monday, May 25, a couple dozen people gathered at a rally called by Cleveland Revolution Books at the Zelma George Rec Center. Four hours later, marching through housing projects, chanting, getting out Carl Dix’ statement and the statement from the Cleveland Branch of the Revolutionary Communist Party, the crowd grew to two hundred. People came out of their houses, youth joined on bikes in an angry, boisterous expression of outrage. People chanted “Fists up, fight back!” “Drop the charges,” and “Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell!” and “137 shots, how you justify that?!”

Getting out the Statement by Carl Dix, Cleveland, May 25, 2015.

An organizer from Revolution Books told Revolution that many people had been waiting for a chance to make a statement, and were challenged to get into the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and get with what Bob Avakian has brought forward.

Housing Project police harassed people throughout the afternoon, claiming they were concerned with the “safety” of the young people who joined – to which people responded, “What about Tamir Rice?” People refused to back down, blocking streets with their bikes.

The organizer from Revolution Books reported that people were raising a need to reach out and draw in people beyond the projects, and that is a challenge to solve. This evening, a protest has been called by religious forces. The struggle continues! 

Marching through Cleveland, 5/25, demanding no charges against arrested protesters and justice for Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.  Vine used with permission @edscle.

Tuesday, May 26...

Hundreds of religious people rally at Cleveland City Hall, May 26

Hundreds of religious people rally at Cleveland City Hall, May 26. (Photo: Twitter @ScottTaylor19)

Over 500 people of different nationalities from 40 church congregations in the Cleveland area marched through downtown to City Hall in protest of the not-guilty verdict. People loudly chanted, “We can't wait," calling out the injustices in the prison system and the racism among police. The Greater Cleveland Congregations, an interfaith advocacy group, delivered a letter to the prosecutor urging police reforms. A woman in the march said, “The march was important because we have to keep confronting the authorities. They don’t want to do anything, and we have to keep bothering them. And the diversity of people and religions was good.”

Weekend of May 29 - 31

Cleveland: Saturday, May 30, 2015.

On Friday, May 29, 15 people rallied in a poor area of Cleveland including several of the young people arrested on Saturday, May 25, when the not guilty verdict on cop Brelo came down. It was lively, with posters, chants, and lots of exchanges with people going by. People got out the Stolen Lives posters, revolution kits, and Revolution papers to cars and people coming from their apartments, and raised almost $50 for materials. The crew then went to where Al Sharpton was speaking to continue to spread the word and distribute the Carl Dix statement and the local RCP statement.

The next day there was a small march through a busy area of the Black community. From the minute people went into the street, horns blew, fists went up, and people grabbed the Stolen Lives posters and gave money. People disrupted traffic and cars were backed up, which only drew more attention to the call to STOP POLICE MURDER, as people saw the posters and heard the loud chants, like “Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cops to Jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell!” Hearing and seeing the big Stolen Lives posters, a shoe repair shop owner called people over to get posters to put up in his window.

Sunday May 31

Some 40 people, mostly Black, marched through East Cleveland, an extremely poor Black community, in rain and cold. The chant, "Indict, convict send the killer to jail/The whole damn system is guilty!" rang out loud and clear. As we came to the place where Malissa and Timothy were legally lynched, balloons were released to remember and honor them. The march was organized by Cleveland Renaissance, a movement of young people and by "my loud radio" a network radio and was joined by the movement for revolution. We blocked an intersection and marched to where Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell, unarmed and Black, were murdered with 137 shots by 13 pigs. As the protest broke up, a young Black woman said, " I felt I had to be here. We need answers to the current system, which will not bring justice. We can't let this die down."

The struggle continues!

Follow developments at





Revolution #388 May 25, 2015

Murder by Police Must Stop!

Chicago Sox Park: Taking a message to the Family Day baseball game

May 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

On the day after another killer cop was cleared of involuntary murder charges in Cleveland, people attending Sunday’s Family Day baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins got more than they expected. They were greeted by the large Stolen Lives banner, prominently featured on CNN and Huffington Post coverage of events in Cleveland. They were treated to a message calling for an end to police murder and a crew of revolutionaries, Revolution Club members, and SMIN supporters. The banner prominently featured the pictures of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, shot 137 times by Cleveland police in 2012 after a crosstown car chase conducted by more than 60 police cars and 100 cops.

Chicago Cellular Field
Chicago Cellular Field, May 24. Photo: Special to

We brought the banner and a sound system to the game and a message that murder by police must stop, that there is an epidemic of police murder and brutality and called on them to stand against it. It was very close quarters with 100s of Sox fans streaming out into the Cellular Field. Agitation on the sound system was drawn from Carl Dix’s new statement.

Beforehand, nobody knew how this was going to go, as Sox fans are not widely regarded as a progressive bunch. But we thought it was important to take this message out to this mainly white, middle of the road crowd. There were people from the Black community who stopped to take pictures of the banner, as well as white people who made a point of taking the Carl Dix flyer from a Rev Club member. We found that the backward in the crowd did not feel they had the initiative, and there were as many ‘thumbs up’ as there were snickers from the backward. One of the agitators spoke to this section of the crowd and asked what they would have done back in slavery days or as Jews were being shipped off to concentration camps. One white person made a point of coming back and thanking us. There we also a number of Black people who walked by and thanked us for doing this.

I got into a back and forth with a young white guy who demanded to know why there were no pictures of cops on the banner. I continued to go to each photo and tell their story. This got pretty loud and heated. While this was going on an older Black guy on a wheelchair shouted out that the young guy should take his story out to the Black community and see what their experience with the police was.