Revolution #404, September 14, 2015 (

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Which Side Are You On?

Why There Must Be a Truly MASSIVE Outpouring Against Police Murder on October 24 and Why YOU Are Needed

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |



By now you’ve seen it more times than you can count. A Black or Latino person, at any time, just walking down the street or driving to work or standing in front of a hotel or even in their home, has their life snuffed out for no reason whatsoever. Video after video of people with their hands up, people running away, people surrendering, people pulled over for a traffic stop, or doing absolutely nothing but minding their own business—verbally abused, body-slammed, tased, gang-stomped and/or outright murdered, often after they have surrendered. Picture after picture of parents, of partners, of children demanding justice, of communities pouring into the streets. Time after time of the victim then being demonized and slandered, of authorities claiming “this wasn’t racial,” of killer cops walking free because they claim “they were scared.” And now one side of the media, the politicians, and powers-that-be viciously attacks those who protest... while the other side says “go slow, be patient, it’s complicated.” No! There’s absolutely nothing complicated here. And there’s no more time for “going slow.” How is any of this legitimate? What kind of society tolerates a system that views and treats an entire group of people, based solely on their skin color or language, as suspects, as criminals, and worse—as people having no rights or even humanity which the police are bound to respect? How long must this go on? Police murder and terror must stop, NOW!


This situation is not static. Either the protests and resistance will be repressed or derailed and the controversy shut down, with the horrors not only staying in place but intensifying... or people will come forth in much greater numbers and determination than before, and seriously change the terms of how all of society looks at this and acts on it. There is a way to do that, to fight this, right now, and to take this fight to a higher level. This October 24 in New York City thousands and thousands will pour into the streets, insisting to the world and the country: THIS MUST STOP! This outpouring aims to change the terms of how people think about this and act on it, and to politically rock those who order and carry out this terror back on their heels. This will draw a sharp line in all of society: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?? Everybody who agrees with the simple demand that POLICE MURDER AND TERROR MUST STOP should be there on October 24. Let’s make clear to the whole world, in our numbers and determination, that there are many, many people who refuse to tolerate these outrages, who will not be silent and complicit in the face of them. NOBODY with a beating heart and a functioning conscience should stand aside. (A call from Cornel West and Carl Dix... #RiseUpOctober to STOP Police Terror)


There is a place for you in this. Your ideas, your support, your efforts are urgently needed—now—to make this happen. In fact, this can only happen on the scale and scope that is absolutely necessary if many many people throw in on this, now—people who have been fighting this, as well as people who are just now coming to the fight. You are needed. We face a decisive moment, a crossroads, where terms are being set as to what is legitimate, what will be tolerated and what will be opposed. Lives are at stake. Be part of determining the outcome.


Also see: October 24, New York City: POLICE MURDER MUST STOP! The Struggle to Stop Police Murder





Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

October 24, New York City: POLICE MURDER MUST STOP!

The Struggle to Stop Police Murder

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Stolen Lives poster
Poster PDF (for print) color | black & white       JPG (full size, for web)

Police murder of innocent people rages, unchecked. Every day, some cop rips away a Black person or a Latino, at any time, snuffing out their life for no good reason. Look at the video of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Washington state—the cops who killed him walked free this week. Or listen to the testimony of Latoya Howell or Sharon Irwin as they talk of the recent murders of their loved ones by the police, and then call on people to stand and rise up. Or look at the STOLEN LIVES POSTER—really look at it—look at the faces, think about what they meant to people, ask yourself why this outrage happens over and over and over again.

Nobody should have to live this way—no people should be subject to this kind of racism, this kind of arbitrary terror, this kind of systematic cruelty—and any system that does this and continues to do this, after hundreds of years and rivers of blood shed to change it, does not deserve to survive. We need a revolution. And right now, thousands and thousands and thousands of people need to stand up and march together in New York City on OCTOBER 24 to say: POLICE MURDER MUST STOP. This outpouring will draw a sharp line, posing the question for the whole world to see: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?




People have been resisting this horror in a way and with a power not seen for decades. Think about Ferguson, when people rose up against the wanton killing of Michael Brown—and yes, that WAS a wanton, unjustified, outrageous MURDER. Think about how people flooded the streets of the cities over the refusal of the grand juries to even bring to trial the murderer of Michael Brown and the pig who choked Eric Garner to death, for the “crime” of supposedly selling cigarettes. Go back to the spring—the powerful demonstrations on April 14, and then the uprising in Baltimore when yet another young Black man—Freddie Gray—was grabbed for nothing, his spine broken: murdered by a gang of killer cops. Think about the ways in which all kinds of people united in these outpourings—how the people who face this hell every day were joined by many others throughout society. It hammered at the legitimacy of the police to run roughshod in the Black and Latino communities; it put the U.S. on the defensive all over the world; and it gave heart and hope to millions and millions in the U.S. And powerful as it was, it was only the beginning of what is necessary and possible—including the potential for all this to be an important part of a movement FOR revolution, as things develop.

And this is something that the powers-that-be do not want. Bob Avakian has made the point that:

Even with the very real changes in the situation of Black people, as part of the larger changes in the society (and the world) overall—including a growth of the “middle class” among Black people, an increase in college graduates and people in higher-paying and prestigious professions, with a few holding powerful positions within the ruling political structures, even to the extent now of a Black president—the situation of Black people, and in particular that of millions and millions who are trapped in the oppressive and highly repressive conditions of the inner city ghettos, remains a very acute and profound contradiction for the American imperialist system as a whole and for the ruling class—something which has the potential to erupt totally out of the framework in which they can contain it.

BAsics 3:18

A Political War Over Their Legitimacy

Think about that: “the potential to erupt totally out of the framework in which [the imperialists] can contain it.” This potential frightens the capitalist-imperialist class that rules this society, profoundly. They do not want this eruption, at all, in any way, shape, or form. Not even a hint of it. They do, and have always done, for 400 years, everything they can to prevent it, to punish any expression when it happens, and if at all possible to nip it in the bud before it can happen. Why do you think they roll up as they do on 11-year-old Black children, brutalizing and intimidating them, trying to break the spirits of these beautiful youngsters—not as an exception, but as their standard operating procedure, part of their damn “playbook” in every major urban area?

Because they not only don’t want this kind of eruption, but because their system cannot provide a decent future for millions of Black and Latino youths and can only offer police terror and prison, the powers-that-be keep counterattacking the rising struggle against police murder, and they have stepped this up to a vicious pitch. Right now, there is what amounts to a political war going on. A war over whether it is “legitimate” for the police to murder Black and Latino people and then walk free because these bullying cops say they “were afraid” of an unarmed man, no matter what the actual reality of the circumstances were. When this defense stands time after time, when it is approved by the Justice Department as it was in Ferguson and then is used to exonerate the killers of Jonathan Ferrell in North Carolina, or last week, when those who murdered Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Washington state were exonerated—then this becomes the force of law. Is all that going to stand? Or will there be powerful force, even more powerful than before, that asserts and demands in the face of this absolutely illegitimate use of force: “NO! THIS MURDER BY POLICE MUST BE STOPPED NOW AND THE GUILTY ONES—ALL OF THEM—MUST BE PUNISHED.”

There is a political war going on over whether resistance to police terror and murder is not only justified but necessary, a matter of survival, or whether people must stay on their knees and beg for change. When FOX News devotes day after day to non-stop demonization of protesters and then when CNN picks this up by “raising the question for debate” of whether the protesters are “making it impossible and dangerous for the police to do their job” (their “job,” no one ever mentions, of hammering oppressed people into “their place”)—and when all this is coupled with endless, almost religious, news coverage of police funerals along with breathless accounts of the manhunts for people alleged to have killed them—this is the “free press” (that is, the ruling class media) at work, manipulating minds and numbing spirits, not only changing the subject, but delegitimizing the protesters.

There is a political and moral war very explicitly going on over whether Black and Brown lives do and should matter—and why they never have to the powers-that-be in this society. WHY do nearly one out of two Black children under six live in poverty in a society whose rulers love to brag about and flaunt their great wealth (wealth in large part pumped out of the bodies of people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and of millions of exploited in this country as well)? WHY are over two million people in prison, way the highest percentage in the world, with the majority Black and Latino? WHY on every single indicator of health and flourishing are Black and Latino people invariably in much worse shape than white people? Is it their fault? Or does it come from a system that since Day One has been synonymous with an economic system, a political system, and a culture that cannot do without white supremacy?

People must be confronted with all this and challenged in a powerful way: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?? And that is the point of October 24, and the demonstrations on the days leading up to it.

One Way or Another, Things Won’t Stay the Same—the High Stakes

These conditions and this suppression of a movement are not coming from the imperialists’ strength; it is coming from their understanding of their own potential weakness and the still only-beginning-to-be-tapped potential of the people. And that makes them even more frenzied in their attacks, and it actually raises the stakes of this political war. If this whole counter-attack of stepped-up police violence and the justification of that by politicians and media, if this whole thing of letting these police who murder our people go free because they say “they’re scared,” goes unchallenged or is challenged but on too small a level... if the movement to STOP POLICE MURDER is isolated or put on the defensive... if the resistance is crushed and if, through all of that, the people on the bottom of society find that their hopes, so painfully raised, are once again dashed... then the negative consequences will be deeply, deeply felt for many years.

This political war is not staying static—one side or another will win out. History has examples where a determined minority of society, facing oppression but on fire with justice, refused to back down in the face of force and lies and went on to transform the thinking of millions and change everything; it has even more examples in which people try to get by, to duck their heads, to survive—and end up swallowed up by a horror greater than they ever imagined.

In fact, there has been a slow genocide going on for decades now, with the mass incarceration and police terror that has been waged against Black and Latino people. That is not exaggeration or hype. Look at the logic, dynamics, and momentum of the last few decades—with the massive, relentless demonization of Black and Latino people, the institution of mass incarceration, the growth of an armed, fascist-racist movement, all against the “backdrop” of the history and structure of this society: Things could go there faster than many people realize. These are the potential stakes if October 24 is not what it must be.

Needed, Urgently: A MASSIVE Demonstration on October 24 Against Police Murder

5 Stops

In short, it is urgent that the people’s side of this political and moral war make a major leap, with thousands and thousands and thousands flooding the streets of New York on October 24, saying POLICE MURDER MUST STOP! And challenging millions, here and all over the world, with the simple but fundamental question: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? This demonstration must be large enough and determined enough, it must speak the truth with enough certitude and boldness, to actually change the terms of how millions and millions of people are thinking about this... and what they are willing to do about it. This demonstration must come back at all the repression, the slanders, the distortions, all the more powerfully, enabling people to see through the lies to the real truth, challenging them, awakening them.

The basis for this exists. It exists in the turmoil through society, it exists in how sharply this battle is now joined and how many people are paying attention to it and aching to do something about it. And this basis can also be seen in the beginning response to the plan for October 24. Look at the video of August 27, and listen to the speakers—these speakers, coming from a whole variety of experience and understanding, let you know the real deal, they tear the cover off the lies, and they could move all kinds of audiences. There was certitude in what they said and how they said it, in the justness of their cause, and the audience of hundreds responded powerfully. Beyond that, there is the increasingly diverse list of signers of the call for #RiseUpOctober, and that reflects the potential to bring the spirit and views and fighters from other struggles against a common enemy together against this outrage. There are people reaching out to the coalition that is organizing October 24 from campuses and unions, people wanting to learn about it, people wanting speakers. Look at that Stolen Lives Poster and think of the ways that it could be used to make the question come alive to those who don’t know about it or don’t want to know about it.

But all this has to be marshaled and raised to something on a different level, it has to be organized, and the people who are willing, or would be willing if they knew about it, have to be challenged and welcomed to take part, to bring their ideas and initiative and energy into the mix. What has happened shows the potential, but that’s all it shows. But IF that reaching out and organizing is done, in a way that lets people into things and gives them a framework in which they contribute their fullest, then this movement can bring out people with determination and certitude from all over, in numbers not seen before around this battle, and change the terms of how people see it, whether it’s after all OK... or whether it must STOP. Again, all of society will be challenged: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

Think of what would be changed if October 24 is what it needs to be: What if the hundreds of people who already do want to see this happen and want to work for it, and the thousands who could be won to work for it if only they were reached and mobilized—what if they DO go all-out and accomplish this? And what if thousands and thousands and thousands pour out in New York on October 24, in a tremendously diverse and extremely determined manifestation and through that influence millions, all over the world? What if there are banners in the crowd from school organizations and unions, from churches and professional associations, combined with strong organized showings of those sections of people most oppressed by the police—with the families of police murder victims at the forefront? What if there are all kinds of people and nationalities, from the suburbs to the mean streets, joined by famous artists and prominent people of conscience? What if revolutionary communists are deep in the mix, boldly bringing forward Bob Avakian’s analysis of the problem we face and the work he has done on the solution to it, raising people’s sights and pointing to the real possibility of revolution and a whole different future? What if the efforts are made even more forcefully to reach out to those who are fighting against the oppression and degradation and dehumanization of women and all victims of gender oppression... those battling against the way the U.S. lays waste to the whole world and rains down terror from the skies in doing so... those working against the lunatic, profit-driven plunder of the environment... the fighters for the rights of immigrants...and if these folks come out and join their voices and bring their “fronts of battle” and experience into the mix? And what if revolutionaries, radicals, liberals, and people who may not have a whole worked-out view but just know in their hearts that police murder must stop—what if all those people march together?

Then the so-called legitimacy of this murder and violence by the police will be put on the defensive... the people will get a greater sense of their potential fighting power and potential alliances and can become more organized and their sights will be raised to the possibility of larger struggle... those who rule will be pushed back, politically, and increasingly fight amongst themselves... and we will be closer to ending this terror and, yes, to revolution and human emancipation.

Which Side Are You On?

Everyone, no matter what you think about any other question, has to decide: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? The side of those who violently bring down police terror and then let these police go free... or the side of those who will not tolerate that and are ready to act to STOP it?

We are at an important moment, a crucial crossroads. Terms are being set as to what is legitimate, what will be tolerated and what will be opposed. Lives are at stake. Be part of determining the outcome. Take that step, and help make it happen.






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Voices from August 27... A Challenge to Everyone

"Come to New York City on October 24"
STOP Police Terror!

Updated September 12, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On August 27, 2015, hundreds of people packed the First Corinthian Baptist Church (FCBC) in Harlem, New York City to take up Rise Up October.

People came together this night—families whose loved ones have been murdered by the police; folks from the religious community; college and high school students; people from the neighborhoods; activists, revolutionary communists; and many others—to put out the call and challenge:

WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? WHERE WILL YOU BE ON OCTOBER 22-24? Get organized. Come to New York City. Come one, come all. Be part of standing up and saying no more! Change history.

The whole evening provided a dynamic expression of the diversity of outlooks, agendas and philosophical frameworks of those coming together for Rise Up October and of the powerful love, unity, and determination to STOP police terror and make October 22-24 a serious step towards changing everything. Here are voices from those who spoke this night. The full webcast is available at and at























Get organized.
Come to New York.

Families of those murdered by police... people from the communities... college and high school students...Come one, come all. Be part of standing up and saying no more! Change history.

This will draw a big dividing line in society, posing the question for millions of people: Which Side Are You On? This will give heart to those who suffer this brutality and murder 24-7. And it will open the eyes of many more people in this society who don't suffer this brutality—and challenge them to join in acting to stop it.

Get organizing materials & comprehensive coverage here and at

Co-MC Nkosi Anderson, graduate student at Union Theological Seminary, #RiseUpOctober Steering Committee

I wish that I could say that we are gathered here tonight for a celebration. But that is not the case. In fact it is quite the opposite. We are in a state of emergency in this country. Broken windows type policing and mass incarceration and the police killings of Black and Brown people are terrorizing our communities. These injustices cannot continue. And so, we are all here tonight to stand together to say: NO MORE. THIS STOPS NOW....

Now I want to emphasize the network component. Tonight’s speakers represent the wide range of perspectives, backgrounds and orientations towards this problem of unjust policing. But here tonight we stand together to fight it. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network is part of the larger movement in this country and around the world to stop police terror. And so are various organizations and individuals in this fight, activists like Black Lives Matter, religious groups, student organizations, etc. We need all hands on deck in this fight. And only by working together can we ever hope to overcome, but overcome we shall. The purpose of this evening is to build momentum for Rise Up October.

Reverend Willie Francois III, assistant pastor at First Corinthian Baptist Church

It is a joy to welcome you to First Corinthian Baptist Church. We open this space to the real moral architects of America, people who are able to see through the smoke and see through the blood and the fire, to see and fight for a world that is feasible, a world where all people are free. That’s why this is a sacred space. And I welcome you to this sacred space. And it is not sacred because of the name that is affixed on the outside, it is not sacred because of the symbols that surround it. But it is sacred because of the work of freedom and justice that it is committed to. Because in this place we know that we cannot say Jesus without also saying justice simultaneously. So we welcome you to this space. This is a sacred space. It is sacred because of the work that it does. So it is important for you to be here today.... And so we welcome you to this place, a sacred place that is sacred because you are here today, and the divinity that is in you, and the power that is in you, and the sacredness that is in you will now add another flame to this movement to end mass incarceration. Because we know police brutality and policing is the front door of mass incarceration. So we’re here today to shut the front door of mass incarceration.

Noche Diaz, Revolution Club, New York City

This has got to stop! This is why we got these shirts on that say “BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!” We’re talking about going up against these monsters and taking this system down without becoming the monsters that we’re fighting... Speaking of monsters, we’re coming up on the 60-year anniversary of the lynching murder of Emmett Till. I remember when I heard Bob Avakian tell the story of Emmett Till when I was 15 years old. I had tears flowing down my cheeks. When I heard about Mamie Till preparing her son to go down to Mississippi, and I heard echoes of my own mother and my own family telling me how I had to walk the streets, right here in New York, in the Bronx, to not be seen as a threat, to not be seen as a “criminal” or a “thug.”

This is a veil of terror that generations have been strangled and suffocated with. And this is what began to be dragged into the light when people began to rise up, starting in Ferguson when the youth took to the streets and said no, not this time, we’re not taking this anymore—and then spreading everywhere. All throughout society, including people who aren’t facing this everyday, standing with them, stepping out with them, saying this has got to stop. And we learned some things about how people have to live in what they tell us is the “great USA.” We learned that we don’t even know the half of how many people they kill every year. The youth who cannot even walk the streets or leave their own homes because of the fear of this police terror. This has got to be the mission of a generation to stop this. Lines began to form in the ashes of the rebellions and that needs to be taken to a whole other level in October where “which side are you on?” becomes the message all throughout society and a whole new generation begins to shake everything up.

Reverend Stephen Phelps

I had an opportunity to meet with [former commissioner of the NYPD] Ray Kelly in his massive offices at One Police Plaza, and I was rather annoyed by my fellow clergy and the softballs they were lobbing at the Commissioner. And I said to him, Commissioner, members of my church, members of my staff—I was then at Riverside Church—are terrified to see your men in blue. Just terrified. This is degrading the whole social fabric. And he said, “Somebody’s gotta pay for safety in this city. Somebody’s gotta pay.” Well, we got rid of him, but we did not get rid of police terrorism....

One of the things that God says according to the traditions is that he hates brutality against the oppressed... What’s it mean if god hates that? Does that mean that we forgive and sit back and wait? I don’t think so. Does it mean “vengeance is mine,” sayeth the Lord, therefore we sit back and wait? Does it mean doom is coming? Sit back and wait for doom? I don’t think so. No, I think there is only one thing that we really need to get into about what God hates. God hates it when people are shaken and refuse to wake up.

Jamal Joseph, former Black Panther, prosecuted as one of the Black Panther 21, Columbia University professor, artist and activist

[After talking about the 1985 NYPD murder of 66-year-old grandmother, Eleanor Bumpurs; the 1973 police murder of 10-year-old Clifford Glover; and a Black man coming home from WW2 in 1943 shot by police in Harlem...]

The history lesson is to say that nothing has changed in terms of state violence and state terror. There has been resistance... But nothing has changed in the way that our Black and Brown boys, men and women, in this case our grandmothers, our girls being slammed on the ground with no respect for their humanity. We are dealing with a state that doesn’t consider us humans, brothers and sisters. Human beings who have treated other human beings like dogs. Slavery has built this country. Built it because it was free labor and people got rich. They got rich off the slave trade...

Police are not here to protect us, they are here to protect property, and so we have to engage this idea. We have to engage this of this insanity that makes the young men and the young women in this room at risk when they step outside of the door. It is insane, it is crazy. We are in an insane asylum. But this is what we are saying. On October 22 to 24, the inmates are about to take over the insane asylum. Sweeping and dynamic change is going to come because from this night we spread forward, and we show the police, we show the state, we show state violence that we are human. All power to the people.

Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, a former senior policy analyst for, and whistle-blower on, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), activist with the DC Hands Up Coalition

I’m so happy to be here. This is a wonderful spiritual moment for us to recommit to our fight for justice... I’d like to tell you why I am supporting Rise Up October. You see, I am the mother of a son who has been stopped by police over 30 times. That means my son’s life has been threatened over 30 times. He has been terrorized by the police in the Washington, DC area. He has suffered severe depression and anxiety. You see, I am every Black mother. Because I don’t know a Black mother whose son has not been terrorized by police. I don’t even think we have the right to call ourselves mothers if we don’t stand up and protect our children. I don’t think we have the right to call ourselves fathers unless we stand up and protect our children... As parents we need to stand up and say either you are going to either take us out or you’re going to stop harassing our children. But you gotta make a choice because it cannot be both.

The mayor of Washington, DC two days ago announced that under a new program, it’s really under a pretext because of the rising crime rate in DC, she’s going to hire 500 more police. She didn’t say: I’m going to create 500 new jobs. No, what she’s doing is she’s putting in place structure to kill and to incarcerate and to terrorize our children. And so the streets of Washington, yesterday and today, we have been in the streets protesting this program. The program will allow police to search the homes of “ex-offenders”—and in Washington, DC, one out of every five Black guys are ex-offenders. Which means that all Black men in DC, essentially, will be covered under this law. So once you are labeled an offender, you are always an offender, there is never an “ex” before your name. So this program will amount to the reactivation of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. But instead it will be the Fugitive Slave Act of 2015.

Gina Belafonte, co-director of the SANKOFA Foundation founded by Harry Belafonte

I’m a human being. I come from a legacy of freedom fighters, a legacy that I carry and share with everyone in this room... I come from a family that is rich and multi-cultural. I am unapologetically Black... I am unapologetically WHAT? [audience answers: Black!] Unapologetically? [audience: Black!] We ready, we coming. We ready, we coming.

Are we ready? Are we coming? Are we rising up in October? Which side are you on? You really need to take a look in the mirror and make a very clear and precise choice. You need to educate yourselves and prepare yourselves for this movement. I’m going to get emotional because I went down to Ferguson. I was not prepared. It’s no joke. They think it’s a game, they think it’s a joke. We need to prepare ourselves for this moment. We need to look, truthfully look into the eyes and see another human being there. We need to uplift and shine a light on the most marginalized, our transgendered and gay women; Black gay and transgendered gay women are the most marginalized. Say their names. We need to somehow figure out the way for all of us to deeply understand that as human beings, as long as we are not hurting anyone else, we need to allow ourselves to be all that we choose to be. I want to thank you all...for helping me, to guide me in this struggle, to help me carry on this legacy. I support Rise Up October.... This has got to stop.

Co-MC Kimberli Diaz

When you came in you were handed a rolled-up poster called the Stolen Lives Poster. Can you please open that up and take a look? Now, as you see, on that posters are the names and photos of just a small, small portion of lives that have been stolen across this country for many, many years. Now lift those posters up in the air. This is to symbolically lift up the names and the lives of these beautiful souls that are no longer with us. They are no longer with us because their lives were stolen by police murder and police terror. As we look over these posters, I’m sure you noticed that some of the names and dates that are there are from a long time ago. As some of the other speakers have noted, this isn’t something new. This isn’t something that just started last year with the murder of Michael Brown. This is something that has been going on entirely too long. And this tonight is a declaration that we’re all going to join together to make sure that it stops once and for all. October 24 will be an even bigger gathering to show that this must stop once and for all.

Juanita Young, mother of Malcolm Ferguson, murdered by NYC police March 1, 2000

I’m still trying to get Rivera put away for my son’s murder. In 2000, my son Malcolm, Ferguson was murdered in the Bronx by police officer Luis Rivera, he blew my son’s brains out. The DA Robert Johnson refused to indict this cop. I took the case to civil court. In civil court my attorney was able to get Luis Rivera to truthfully admit what really happened. According to Rivera, he murdered Malcolm for no reason. When you ask why did he shoot him, he says he don’t know. But why is this man still out on the streets today? That’s why I have to keep asking for justice because there is no way this man is still able to walk and be a police officer. And I have to cry everyday because I can’t touch, see or hear my son. My family is destroyed by the loss of their brother... We need to rise up in October. We need to let the people know, we have had enough. We have had enough of y’all coming into our communities and destroying our families. If there's any way possible you can help bring some more families to New York for October 22, 23, and 24th, please do. I come to you as a mother, as a family member. And we as families up here ask you to stand with us.

Mertilla Jones, grandmother of seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones,
murdered by Detroit cops May 16, 2010

I want to see what side people are on. Aiyana, seven-years-old, asleep—they came in and automatically blew my granddaughter’s brains out in front of me. Like I said, I seen the light of life leave out of Aiyana’s eyes. I never seen anything like this in my life. I don’t care how ghetto they say I am, how hood they say I am. I’ve never seen nothing like that in my life and I hope to never see it again. And I shouldn’t have had to see it on my seven-year-old sleeping. I traveled all the way from Detroit, Michigan to ask everybody: which side are you on?

Sharon Irwin, grandmother of Tony Robinson, killed by Madison, Wisconsin police March 6, 2015

This is my grandson. He was 19. He’s young. He is Black and he is beautiful. And I am here to tell you that they took his life with seven bullets. [The cop] shot him three times, dropped his flashlight, picked it up, shot him three more times, looked at him and shot him again. Tony was unarmed and nothing he did deserved that. I’m looking at all these people, the human side of this. I cry every day. I have to go through hundreds of pages of evidence because they didn’t indict him—they said, no, he didn’t do anything wrong. And I say to you, if you lie to justify your actions, are they justifiable? No. And he lied, and the Madison police lied, and the DA lied. And they disgraced my family, they made us the criminals, they made my grandson a criminal that he was not. And I’m telling you, I’m tired and I’m not standing for this anymore. We are one people. We are the human race. But they are targeting Black folk. I’m sorry, I get very emotional. I feel this this every day. My daughter feels this every day. Our grandchildren feel this every day. Yes, I am from a rich and multicultural family and like she said, I am unapologetically [hands mic to Tony Robinson’s aunt] Black.

We have, as a people, been taught to stay divided, because they can control us easier. Hey, if we stood up, there’s seven billion of us! If we stood up, what could anybody do? It is time to wake up. It is time to see we are not different. We are a people with different cultures and different ways to live. But we are human! And it is time!

Lorien Carter, aunt of Tony Robinson, killed by Madison, Wisconsin police March 6, 2015

The reason Rise Up October is so important is because there ain’t enough room in this church for all of the names. The reason why Rise Up October is so important is because in Madison, Wisconsin we are the number one worst place for minorities to live in this country and the number three “happiest place” in the country. We are the number one city in the entire country for minority youth incarceration, 18 and under. Our population of jail consists of three-fourths Black children. Meanwhile, our population outside consists of eight percent Black people. The truths that they are providing to you are not truths at all. The reason why Rise Up October is so important is because I neglected the facts and my nephew has paid. Because if any one of you, if it makes you feel uncomfortable I’m glad, it should. The blood of all of these people stains your hands, the same way it does mine. My nephew, yes he was biracial. It could be your nephew, it could be your grandchild. This is no longer polarized.

LaToya Howell, mother of 17-year-old Justus Howell, murdered by Zion, Illinois police April 4, 2015

I want you to all be aware of the realness of this tragedy. Every time I come up before all of y’all I don’t know what to say. But every time I look at a young face I think of my son and think of his demise. Every time I see little boys I shed a tear because I know that one day they can grow up and be killed—be killed, taken from us. That means all of our teaching, everything we told them not to do, everything he knew not to do, everything he was and was going to be, was stolen from him. And it’s all because of racist, coward police. It ain’t right. It’s not right. It’s not enough. I can’t stress this enough, it’s not enough to just press “like” on your Facebook status. It’s not enough to just tell somebody: Oh, did you hear about so-and-so, they got killed by the police?

But guess what’s next? We’re going to rise up together as one and fight it together. Otherwise that face that you see passing on the street could look like your boy, could look like your granddaughter, your children. And you could walk around feeling like something was snatched from you. When I heard it—have you ever felt scared and just knew something was wrong and then y’all took that breath and said, whew, I’m glad that wasn’t mine. I never got that chance to breathe. That was my boy laying there in the street. They wouldn’t even let me go back and see him. They wouldn’t let me go in the hospital, they told me repeatedly that he wasn’t in the hospital, that that wasn't my son. But it damn sure was. And that could be yours, you could be here just like me if you don’t stand up and tell the next person that the terror has to stop....

So I ask you all today, which side are you on? Would you stand by the way and watch another kid get gunned down, beaten? Another woman get raped? Would you stand by and act like it ain’t happening? I ask you today to stand up and choose your side. Power to the people. There is power in numbers. Put your fists in the air. Power to the people y’all!

Nicholas Heyward, Sr., father of 13-year-old Nicholas Heyward, Jr., murdered by NYC police September 22, 1994

Rise Up October is something that should have been done many, many Octobers ago. My son was killed—I use the word “killed,” but really he was murdered. Whenever you shoot and kill someone who is unarmed, committed no crimes, no threat to anyone and you shoot and kill that person, that is murder. My son was an honor student. Yesterday, August 26, he would have been 34. It was a very painful day for me, I cried just about half the day. The reality is that Nicholas Jr. is no longer here because of a cowardly cop who shot and killed him while he was playing with his friends an innocent game of cops-and-robbers with a plastic toy gun that didn’t look nothing like a real gun, they were all colorful guns and looked nothing close to a real gun.

Joanne Mickens, mother of Corey Mickens, murdered by NYPD March 13, 2007

My son Corey Mickens was killed in Manhattan, March 13, 2007. He was murdered while he was sitting in a restaurant eating. He was shot 12 times but they tried to say he had a gun. They shot him but it turned out he didn’t have a gun. And the person that murdered my son is the same officer involved in another shooting... I’m fighting for justice for my son. I’m going to be out here fighting for justice for all. Please don’t give up the fight, everybody. I’m still out here for the fight, for justice for my son.

Reverend Jerome McCorry, faith coordinator for Rise Up October Initiative and for
Stop Mass Incarceration Network

Tonight brother Reese is here with me because we have decided to be true to the cause. They taught me when I was ordained that you really have to serve in three ways. Your time, your talent and your tithe.... When you look at these family members—stand up and face the audience and give them a hand. We have put an unfair burden on these families... They tell their stories, but the truth of the matter is, if you rely on me to be real honest with you I’m going to tell you it’s the church that faces some condemnation. We don’t give money to pay nobody’s funeral, we don’t put folks on planes to get them to where their loved ones are, unless you’re a member in good standing. There is a role that all of us must play tonight to help these families on this tour, to help these families to get back here on October 22-24. To get the family of John Crawford III, from Beavercreek, Ohio, shot dead in a Walmart Store... It’s a broken system. Families after families, like that of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old with a toy gun, playing in a park by himself, the police shot him down dead. These families have to travel, and they have been doing it at their own expense. We have to take that burden off of them. They shouldn’t worry where the next meal is coming from. They shouldn’t be concerned about where they’re going to stay when they travel. We at the Stop Mass Incarceration Network are going to be bringing 100 families representatives to New York in October, and we’re going to get them here. But we need your help in order to make that happen.... If you’re going to be here in October 24 put your hands together [applause]. And so to put that same hand that you clapped with and dig down deep and do what’s necessary to support this movement as you’ve never supported it before. Now there’s somebody in the audience here with that $500 gift, this is your time.

Will Reese, the NYC Revolution Club

I want to tell you a story while you’re thinking about this $500. You’ve seen this poster [of people killed by the police]. You have it in your hand. Two weeks ago I was standing with an enlargement of this poster, and there was this kid who was about the same height as the poster, standing affixed in front of that poster. So I walked over to him and said, “You know what this is about, don’t you?” He looked up and he shook his head, “Yeah.” I said, “You think about this?” He said, “Yeah, I do.” He said, “The police kill people.” And then he said, “Did they kill the little girl too?” He was looking at Aiyana Stanley-Jones. And I told him the story of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. And he said, “The police are killing everyone.” I asked him, “How old are you?” He said, “I’m seven.”

Some people tonight have said tonight, it stops here. It begins here. And there are people across this country who are listening to what we do here today. There are people who are watching what we do here. And as we move forward, things have to be different. And I’m going to ask you as you’re thinking about whether you can do $500—what do you tell that seven-year-old? I’m not going to tell you what I told him. What do you tell him? “It’s going to be all right baby”? “It’s going to be all right, just do the right thing”? See what these people said about how they taught their children to do the right thing, and their children are dead. What are you going to tell that kid? It’s not some abstract question. What are you going to tell people across the country? Are you going to do something different? This is your chance to do something different. There is more than one $500 here. And I’ll tell you something else. Somebody always has to be first. And I want to know who the hell it is. I want to know who it is. There’s the hand. $500. There it is. Another $500. And another one...

Carl Dix, representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party, co-initiator of
Rise Up October

Don’t let people tell you we can’t do better than this... Don’t let anybody tell you that America is eternal, and that the best we can hope for is getting some itty-bitty changes in HOW they dog us. Don’t let them suck you into framing what you’re trying to do in the language and the terms of the system. Don’t let them tell you that we have to limit ourselves to working within the channels this system puts out there. We’ve seen this movie before, and the result is the whole genocidal situation we face right now—and yes, I said genocide. So I’m challenging everyone here, especially you young people—get into this revolution, get into Bob Avakian and what he’s brought forward about how to make revolution—keep your sights aimed where they need to be: on emancipating all of humanity. You can do this by going to our website——or come to our new bookstore opening up this fall in Harlem at 437 Malcolm X Blvd at 132nd Street... but do get into him.

Now, coming from where I’m coming from—the need for and possibility of revolution—I understand that we have to fight right now—we can’t let them beat people so far down that we could never rise up against the things they do to us. We have to mobilize everyone we can, wherever they’re coming from and however they see the problem and the solution, to fight this madness we face. Again, that’s why you came here tonight—to find out what we must do to stop police terror and murder.

Dr. Cornel West, Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at
Union Theological Seminary, co-initiator of Rise Up October

Black people at our best, a hated people, taught the world so much about love. Treated unjustly but taught the world so much about justice. Traumatized, but taught the world so much about how to be cool. Black people at our best have been truth tellers, which means we’ve been cross bearers before we were flag wavers.... The problem in the age of Obama is that once we got a Black president we got too many people more concerned by the breakthrough at the top, then lose sight of those stuck in the basement, those wretched of the earth that Franz Fanon talked about, in the midst of the American Empire. That’s what Stop Mass Incarceration is all about...

But how do we do it? It’s a spiritual question as well as a political one. For Black people, any time we decide to straighten our backs, to speak the truth, to bear witness, and be willing to live or die for something, any time we decide to do that, the powers-that-be start shaking.

[Pointing to the pictures of the faces of victims of police murder on the stage] Their afterlife [will] work through us. Because we gonna have Sankofa, which means we not gonna move forward till we first look back and remember the best of those who came before us. That constitutes wind at our back. That’s what Stop Mass Incarceration’s about. That’s why I call it the love train. Get on the love train! Curtis Mayfield said you don’t need no ticket, just get on board! Get on board! Stop mass incarceration, and decide what side you’re really on. And come with us.





Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

The Problem Is NOT "Anti-Police Rhetoric"...
The Problem Is the Murdering Pigs

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


A growing crescendo of cops, their supporters, and the powers-that-be are insisting that a big problem in society is not that the police are murdering Black and Latino people, but that the police are themselves victims of what presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called a climate of “violence, chaos, and disrespect” towards police. They have organized “Blue Lives Matter” rallies in Washington, DC, and in Maryland, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Texas, and many other states.

They have been making ominous threats against people advocating and participating in resistance to police terror. They make the outrageous and dangerous accusation that those who use and popularize the hashtag and chant “Black Lives Matter” are engaging in “hate speech.”

Scott Walker, another Republican running for president, recently said a “rise in anti-police rhetoric” is behind “a disturbing trend of police officers being murdered on the job.” Ron Hickman, sheriff of Harris County, Texas, said the “rhetoric” of people protesting police brutality and murder by police has escalated “to the point where calculated, cold-blooded assassination of police officers happens.”

Two things to say about all this.

Stolen Lives poster
Poster PDF (for print) color | black & white       JPG (full size, for web)

#1: It is bullshit. Any time a cop is killed it is amplified loudly and endlessly in all the bourgeois media. When police murder people, those people are hardly mentioned, unless there is a video or determined protest. More than 800 people have been murdered by police so far this year in the U.S. Fascists like Huckabee and the cops who moan and groan and get endless air time about a supposed “trend” of increased violence against police are straight up lying, and they know it. Society’s “trend” is mounting police violence, including murder, against the masses of people. Meanwhile, 16 cops have died from gunfire all this year, and it is unclear from the police’s own accounts how many of them died from the fusillades of bullets unleashed by their fellow cops.

And the reality is that there is a “rising trend” of police violence against people, particularly Black and Latino youth. So far in September alone, 32 people have been killed by police, and that number will almost certainly have risen by the time you read this.

#2: It is part of a seriously dangerous political and ideological counter-offensive attempting to isolate, confuse, frighten, and derail the entire mass movement against police brutality and murder at a time when it must make a giant advance forward and attain much greater societal impact. It is aimed at strengthening the ability of the police to brutalize, murder, harass, and arrest people, and to have a free hand in suppressing resistance to their brutality and murder.

An Intolerable Situation

On September 5, police in Virginia Beach shot 30 bullets into a car driven by 28-year-old India Kager, killing her and Angelo Perry, her husband. Police gave the pathetically shameful and vicious justification that they trailed Kager and Perry and opened fire on them because they had “credible information that he [Perry] was going to commit a violent act...”

Kager and Perry are but two of the more than 800 people murdered by police this year.

Out of these hundreds of murders committed by police this year alone, how many of the killers have even faced an interrogation?

Out of the thousands murdered by police over the past decade, how many of the cops who killed them have been prosecuted, much less convicted? How many have of the killers been sent to prison?

You won’t need a calculator to answer that. You won’t need more than the fingers on one hand.

This situation is intolerable! Being angry about it is completely legitimate! Being determined to resist and to STOP it is completely justified! Finding a way to accommodate to it, trying to tone down your fury, trying to make your protest and resistance acceptable to the powers that be, attempting to somehow find “common ground” with the armed forces of the state who are gunning down and brutalizing our youth every single fucking day—now that’s shameful and cowardly.

All the attention paid to this lie of the supposedly growing attacks on cops covers up the mounting violence and including murder the police inflict on the people. It focuses people on a non-problem, and gets people asking the wrong questions. The problem is the sustained, systemic, and increasing violence against Black and Latino people that is deeply ingrained in the entire fabric of this system, is carried out mainly by the police, and is “justified” time and again in the legal system.

Being a Black or Latino person, especially a youth, has gotten much more dangerous over the past few decades. Literally millions of youth have been pulled over, harassed, beaten, and often arrested by stop-and-frisk programs in New York and other cities. More than 2.2 million people are in prison in the U.S., and they are disproportionately Black and Latino. More than 80,000 people are held in the torture of solitary confinement every day in this country. And it is a cold, sobering fact that an average of more than three people are killed each and every day by police in this country.

The vicious, deceitful ideological assault in defense of the police is aimed at perpetuating and intensifying exactly this intolerable situation.






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

The Message of the "People's Pope":
Subservience to a System of Genocide and Oppression

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On September 22, Pope Francis will visit the U.S. He is being branded the “People’s Pope” for giving up some of the traditional ceremonial trappings of the position. He is acclaimed for expressions of concern over extreme abuses of capitalism, and sympathy for the poor in a world of extreme and savage inequality.

But the essential message of this pope, like every pope before him, is subservience. Subservience to a world order of genocide and oppression of whole peoples. Acceptance of a world built on exploitation enforced with violence. Submission to the most obscene degradation of women as less than human. And the pope condemns and opposes any attempt to seriously stand up against the suffering produced by a global system of oppression.

Blessing Genocide

While in the U.S., the pope will declare Junipero Serra a “saint.” Junipero Serra was a Spanish Catholic priest during the time when colonialism was carrying out the physical and cultural genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas—enslaving them in the mines of South America and the “missions” of the West Coast of what is now the U.S. It was in large part on that basis—extracting incredible wealth from the land, on the bones and blood of millions of indigenous people—that capitalism rose to dominate the world.

Junipero Serra did not oppose that genocide; he was a major figure in carrying it out by establishing the mission system in what is now California.

Speaking of the role of the Catholic Church in what he admits were crimes against the indigenous peoples in the Americas, Pope Francis said, “I also would like us to recognize the priests and bishops who strongly opposed the logic of the sword with the strength of the cross.” In fact, the cross and the sword were both essential to the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and Serra himself executed both roles—violently enslaving Native Americans, viciously whipping those who tried to escape or rebel, and at the same time proclaiming all this the will of the Christian “God.”

The book A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California’s Indians by the Spanish Missions, by Elias Castillo, exposes how the mission system led to the deaths of over 60,000 Native Americans from 1769-1821. Serra’s genocidal agenda was expressed in a letter he wrote in 1775 about the deaths of Indian children: “In the midst of all our little troubles, the spiritual side of the missions is developing most happily. In [Mission] San Antonio there are simultaneously two harvests, at one time, one for wheat, and of a plague among the children, who are dying.”

Enslaving Women, Demonizing LGBT People

A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California's Indians by the Spanish MissionsThe book A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California’s Indians by the Spanish Missions, by Elias Castillo, exposes how the mission system enslaved the Native people and led to the deaths of over 60,000 from 1769-1821. Elias Castillo, a three time Pulitzer Prize nominee for journalism, did extensive research into the history of the missions. He will be at Revolution Books in Berkeley at 2444 Durant Ave., September 22, 7 pm. $5-$25, a benefit for the bookstore.

Pope Francis has announced a “one-year special offer” for women to be absolved of the “sin” of abortion by lower-level church functionaries. This is a vicious attack on a woman’s right to decide for herself whether or not to have an abortion by—among other things—demanding women feel guilty if they do not accept the role of forced breeders. All is branded as extending Pope Francis’ “vision of a merciful church to women who have had abortions, easing their path toward forgiveness.” (ABC News)

As for the pope’s declaration that “The Lord” calls for “mercy” towards LGBT people, why should they need “The Lord’s” mercy!? Because, according to the pope, same-sex relationships are demonic—declaring that moves to legalize same-sex marriage are the work of the devil. (“Pope Francis Against Gay Marriage, Gay Adoption,” Huffington Post, March 13, 2013)

And seriously: How can the Catholic Church’s institutionalized enabling of sexual abuse of young boys and girls be divorced from this whole package of virulent patriarchy? The Church hierarchy continues to perpetrate this horrific environment.

It is the pope who should be “repenting” the role of the Catholic Church for thousands of years of preaching the subordination of women, enforcing their oppression in a million ways, and demonizing people who love others of the same gender!

The Pope’s Role in the “Dirty War” in Argentina

Before being selected as pope, Francis was Cardinal Bergoglio, the highest-ranking Catholic Church official in Argentina. Those who put him in his current position were well aware of his history there, and it sheds an ugly light on what was really represented by the elevation of an Argentine cardinal to the position of pope.

Pope Francis’ statements of concern for the conditions of the poor are widely acclaimed, but the cold reality of his stand towards the oppressed was revealed during the "Dirty War" in Argentina—a reign of fascist terror, murder and torture from 1976-1983. The Dirty War was carried out by a junta—a group of U.S.-backed generals who seized power in a coup in 1976. It targeted suspected armed guerrillas and students, intellectuals, trade unionists, and radicals. As many as 30,000 people were abducted, tortured, and "disappeared."

Whatever his own views were of the coup, Pope Francis (then Cardinal Bergoglio) ordered his priests to stop supporting the anti-fascist resistance movements and even to stop working in the urban slums because the powers-that-be considered that activity seditious. Despite his edict, some clergy and even some Catholic Church officials opposed the fascist regime in different ways. A hundred priests, nuns, and other clergy were killed by the regime, including a bishop, Enrique Angelelli, who was about to expose the murder of two priests. But don’t expect a sainthood nomination for any of those Catholics.

The pope did not oppose and instead was complicit in the detention, torture, and exiling of dissident priests. And he legitimized the fascist generals by appearing with them in public and holding Mass with them.

One of the most notorious crimes of the Argentine junta was stealing the babies and young children of the poor, or of political opponents, and giving them to officials of the regime to raise as their own. (La historia oficial/The Official Story is a powerful 1985 film depicting this.) Alicia de la Cuadra, a co-founder of Madres de Plaza de Mayo, whose daughter and newborn grandchild “disappeared,” asked Bergoglio for help. He appointed a priest to look into it. That priest informed her that her grandchild was adopted by a family “too important” to oppose.

An article in Revolution on the pope’s role in this Argentine Dirty War makes an observation that cuts to the bone: “Bergoglio’s role during the Dirty War reveals the truth about his attitude toward the oppressed. As long as they are docile slaves who don’t resist oppression and exploitation, he will be their ‘humble servant.’ But once they rise up in resistance ... [his] true colors come to light.” (“The New Pope: A ‘Humble Man of the People’... or Fascist Collaborator?“ April 18, 2013)

Defending the Greatest Crimes in the Name of “God”

Pope Francis is a spiritual and political defender of the worst crimes in history and worst abuses of humanity in today’s world... under the guise of “forgiveness” and “humility.”

But let’s give credit where credit is due: All of these things the pope defends—violent extermination of conquered peoples; dehumanizing oppression of women; demonization of sexual relations outside the patriarchal norm; subservience to oppressive authority—all of these things are enshrined in the Bible.

And the pope calls on the faithful to accept that all this is “God’s will,” obscuring and ruling out of order any serious and scientific approach to getting to the bottom of the actual forces in the real world that are responsible for exploitation and oppression.

There is a radically different approach and morality expressed in this quote from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian:

The notion of a god, or gods, was created by humanity, in its infancy, out of ignorance. This has been perpetuated by ruling classes, for thousands of years since then, to serve their interests in exploiting and dominating the majority of people and keeping them enslaved to ignorance and irrationality.

Bringing about a new, and far better, world and future for humanity means overthrowing such exploiting classes and breaking free of and leaving behind forever such enslaving ignorance and irrationality.

—BAsics 4:17

That liberating outlook and morality stands in stark and radical contrast to everything the pope represents, and opens the door to not accepting but ending all oppression and exploitation.






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

What Is the Essence of What Exists in the U.S.?

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |

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

Rubble in Yemen from U.S. backed-Saudi Arabia air strike, September 8, 2015.
Rubble in Yemen from U.S. backed-Saudi Arabian air strike, September 8, 2015. AP Photo

When a monopoly of political power—and, in a concentrated way, the monopoly of "legitimate" armed force—is in the hands of one group in society, and that group excludes others from that monopoly of power and force, then that is a dictatorship of the ruling group—or class—regardless of whether or not that ruling group allows those it excludes from power, and over whom it rules in fact, to take part in elections to vote for different representatives of the ruling class, as happens in the U.S. and a number of other countries. Political rule in the U.S., regardless of whether or not there is an open and undisguised tyranny, is and always has been a bourgeois dictatorship, a dictatorship of the ruling capitalist class (or, in the early history of the U.S., before the defeat and abolition of the slave system, through the Civil War, what existed was the dictatorship of the ruling classes—the slaveowning as well as the capitalist class, or bourgeoisie).

BAsics 1:23

Murdering cops grab Eric Garner in chokehold for selling a single cigarette, July 2014.

Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, 2003. U.S. soldier poses next to a prisoner who died from torture. AP Photo

Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, 2011. AP Photo



What we need is an actual revolution—and if you are serious about an actual revolution, you have to get seriously into BA.

For people reading this who are new to the revolution and new to, if you want to see why this is true, go directly to the source. Take the time to watch the new film of the incredible Dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West in November 2014, REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion. Check out two other key works—REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian and go to the section at on Bob Avakian to see what BA and his work and leadership are all about.

Get the book here






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

California Prison Officials Forced to Stop Some of Their Crimes:
The Struggle to END the Torture of The Pelican Bay SHU Continues

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


September 1, 2015. California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and Governor Jerry Brown have agreed to a far-reaching settlement in a class action lawsuit filed against them on behalf of all of the men now imprisoned in the nightmare of long-term solitary confinement and sensory deprivation in the SHU—the Security Housing Unit—at Pelican Bay State Prison. The suit, Ashker v. Brown, was based on the 8th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment and the denial of due process.

The two major terms brought about by the settlement are: 1) Prison officials can no longer send prisoners to long term isolation in the SHU based solely on their alleged gang affiliation, but only based on specific serious rules violations; and 2) Prisoners "validated" as affiliated with a prison gang can no longer be confined to the SHU indefinitely, as they were before.

These changes are expected to significantly reduce the number of prisoners being tortured in the SHU; and they will put an outside limit of 10 consecutive years on the length of time a prisoner can be forced to endure what's been described as being "buried alive." But as significant and dramatic as these developments are, CDCR will not stop using long term isolation as a systematic tool to control and crush the life out of thousands of prisoners at Pelican Bay and the three other state prisons that use the SHU. It cannot be forgotten: Tens of thousands of prisoners throughout this country are still being tortured in solitary confinement!

First filed by two prisoners in 2009, the lawsuit was taken up and amended as a class action suit by attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in 2012. This was after the first of three courageous hunger strikes launched by the prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU, which drew widespread attention to the torture of solitary confinement. 30,000 prisoners throughout the California prison system took part in the third hunger strike in 2013 and they were joined in solidarity by prisoners in other states, and by some prisoners in other countries. These prisoners risked their health and their lives in a struggle to end the "Living Death" of long-term isolation in the SHUs in Pelican Bay; Corcoran State Prison; Tehachapi; and in prisons throughout the country. Their struggle has increased the awareness of people in this country and internationally of the utter depravity and inhumanity of what is being done to tens of thousands of human beings inside the prisons of this self-proclaimed "greatest of all countries." It has drawn forward condemnation here and internationally. And it has been a decisive factor in reaching this settlement.

Solitary Confinement IS Torture

This country has over 2.2 million prisoners—one quarter of all the prisoners in the whole world. This system of mass incarceration has disproportionately targeted Black and Latino youth and an estimated 80,000 of these prisoners are forced to endure solitary confinement in the prisons, jails, and detention facilities in this country. The greatest number, under conditions almost too cruel to describe, are entombed in California. This is all part of a whole program of slow genocide targeting huge sections of Black and Latino people for whom this system has no future and needs to control.

Imagine spending years locked 22 ½–24 hours a day in a concrete box the size of a parking space, 8 feet high, with a toilet, sink, and only concrete slabs for a bed, a stool, and a desk. Imagine years in this vault with no windows; no sun; only a steel door with a slot to push food through, and to handcuff you when you are taken out of this tomb for "exercise" in the "dog run"—your "recreational yard" only slightly larger than your cell, with concrete walls so high you never see the sun.

Imagine a life of near-total solitude, with no group involvement, no one to talk to, not even a normal human conversation with another prisoner. Guards have punished prisoners for trying to just speak to another prisoner passing by. Imagine never experiencing the touch of a loved one, or anyone, other than a guard.

Imagine years without a single phone call except in an emergency, such as a death in the family. One of the plaintiffs in the suit was denied a phone call when his stepfather died, because he had had a phone call several months earlier when his biological father died. If your family is able to make the trip to the Pelican Bay SHU in Crescent City near the Oregon border, 800 miles from L.A., you cannot touch them, or see them, except through thick Plexiglas; and you can speak to them only through a telephone. Still, you will be strip-searched before and after your "visit."

Prison and government officials in this country are fully aware of the well documented, devastating psychological and physical effects of prolonged solitary confinement. They also know that there is an international consensus that the type of prolonged solitary confinement practiced in California at Pelican Bay and the other Maximum Security Prisons violates international human rights norms and civilized standards of humanity and human dignity. The United Nations Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has concluded that even 15 days in solitary confinement constitutes a human rights violation.

The psychological and physical effects of prolonged solitary confinement are well documented. Anxiety and nervousness, headaches, insomnia, lethargy or chronic fatigue, nightmares, and fear of nervous breakdowns. Also, confused thought processes, an oversensitivity to stimuli, irrational anger, social withdrawal, hallucinations, violent fantasies, emotional flatness, mood swings, and chronic depression. Half of the suicides in California's prisons are by prisoners in the SHUs. Yet none of this has prevented government officials in California and throughout the country from developing and implementing these sadistic practices for decades.

Prison authorities to this day have never admitted that what they are doing to these prisoners is torture. This chilling comment by a spokesperson at Corcoran State Prison about the prisoners being subjected to this torture speaks volumes about the depravity of those who daily oversee this system, and who are praised by those in the seats of power in America: "These are the inmates who have proven they cannot play well with others."

Dramatic Changes in the Arbitrary Use of Torture

Prior to this settlement, prisoners could be and were "validated" as "gang associates" merely for possessing a "banned" book; a certain tattoo; an indigenous symbol; or even a poem the authorities claimed was associated with gang membership; or being fingered by another prisoner. Once validated—even if the prisoner had committed no serious rule violation—he was "sentenced" without even a hearing to years of solitary confinement in the SHU. As a result, half of the more than 1,100 prisoners in the SHU at Pelican Bay are there solely because they are believed to be associated with a prison gang.

Those prisoners sent to the SHU solely based on their alleged status as a gang affiliate were kept there indefinitely, with a review for possible release to the general population only once every six years, and with similar flimsy evidence enough to keep them in isolation for another six years. This meant solitary confinement could last for years—even decades—with only one way for these inmates to get out—by "debriefing", which means giving prison officials the names of other gang affiliates to put on their list. Many prisoners refuse to do this because they see it as snitching. And prison authorities know full well that "debriefing" can mean mortal danger not just to the prisoner, but to their family on the outside, making it a very risky act. But the torturers running Pelican Bay and elsewhere in California turned reality upside down by claiming the prisoners themselves were the cause of living in the hell of solitary confinement by choosing not to debrief.

To get a sense of the magnitude of CDCR's crimes: of the 10 named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, six have spent over 20 years in solitary confinement, and one over 30 years. CDCR reported there were 1,106 prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU in 2011, and almost half (513) had been there more than 10 years; 222 had been there over 15 years, and 78 over 20 years. According to the prisoners' complaint, no other state in the country so consistently retains this many prisoners in solitary confinement for such lengthy periods of time.

This settlement is expected to significantly reduce the total number of prisoners being destroyed by long-term solitary confinement in California's SHUs. CDCR is required to review within the next year the cases of all of those prisoners already in the SHU indefinitely based solely on being validated. Every prisoner who has not had a serious, "SHU-eligible" violation within the past 2 years is to be released to the general population in prison.

According to the New York Times, there were 2,858 prisoners in solitary confinement across California as of September 1.  The number of prisoners in solitary confinement began to be reduced when the CDCR, with the start of the hunger strikes, began implementing certain changes that have been incorporated in the settlement. The secretary of the CDCR, Jeffrey Beard, estimates that now the number could fall by as many as 1,800 inmates. [NYT, 9/1/15]

But some of those prisoners who will be released from the SHU because of this settlement will be subjected to the same cruel, punishing conditions for as long as two years as they go through a process of getting out.

Those prisoners who have completed a years-long sentence in the SHU for a serious rule violation will still face another two years in a mandatory four part Step Down Program before they can return to the general population. During this time, according to "Attachment A" of the settlement, prisoners will remain in the SHU, in conditions barely different than before. How different? Prisoners in the SHU are denied all phone calls except for an emergency. For the first six months, in Step 1, they will be allowed to have one phone call every three months. They will be allowed one personal package, be able to get slightly more from the canteen, and for the first time can have one photograph. But they still are allowed "yard access" for only 10 hours a week. In Step 2, these same changes that will be increased. It is not until Steps 3 & 4 that they will begin access to things like GED programs, and some interaction with other prisoners.

This settlement is very detailed, and there are many "exceptions" to this overall picture. For instance, one 'crime' that can still put prisoners in the SHU for a year—and was used against them following their recent protests—is taking part in a hunger strike. And there will be no change in the unwritten rule that no prisoner in the SHU is eligible for parole.

Indeterminate solitary confinement—which has for most prisoners meant a lifetime—is all but ended in California. And prisoners must have committed a serious rule violation to be condemned to the SHU. But the basic, horrific operation of California's SHUs remains intact. In other words, Pelican Bay is STILL a Torture Chamber.

What Has Made These Changes Necessary for the Rulers of This Country?

First, the decision by those in power in California to accept this settlement has been the product of the determined, heroic struggle—against what seemed all but impossible odds—by the prisoners themselves. The prisoners wrote in their statement on the settlement:

"California's agreement to abandon indeterminate SHU confinement based on gang affiliation demonstrates the power of unity and collective action. This victory was achieved by the efforts of people in prison, their families and loved ones, lawyers, and outside supporters."

Their struggle awakened the conscience of decent people in this country and around the world who learned of it. Very prominent figures spoke out in support of their demands. Editorial boards at the major newspapers gave a certain amount of backing. All this added to the questioning going on in this country about the way it's ruled, and began to interfere with, and expose, the claim to the "moral high ground" that the U.S. imperialists have used to justify their international political and military aggression. Millions of people around the world learned of the utterly inhuman crimes being carried out in U.S. prisons—undermining the system's legitimacy. And this has become a big problem for the U.S. rulers, who go around bragging how this is the "freest country in the world," and criticizing rival countries for human rights violations.

U.S. imperialism faces an intensifying, complex international political, as well as military rivalry, which includes challenges to its right to proclaim that its interests represent the interests of the world. Having this exposure spread around the world—just one of the horrific parts of the system that has used mass incarceration, police terror, and the rest of the workings of this system to condemn Black people, as well as Latinos and other oppressed peoples—only adds to their difficulties.

This settlement comes at a time when the powers-that-be see the need to maneuver and make certain changes in their systematic, inhuman treatment of tens of thousands of human beings to try to repair the image of U.S. imperialism.

The prisoners' statement on the settlement continues:

"Our movement rests on a foundation of unity: our Agreement to End Hostilities. It is our hope that this groundbreaking agreement to end the violence between the various ethnic groups in California prisons will inspire not only state prisoners, but also jail detainees, county prisoners and our communities on the street, to oppose ethnic and racial violence. From this foundation, the prisoners' human rights movement is awakening the conscience of the nation to recognize that we are fellow human beings."

The Agreement to End Hostilities from the prisoners in Pelican Bay, published on August 12, 2012, scares the hell out of this ruling class—as it calls forward those on the bottom of this society. Those in power have counted on, and fueled, antagonism which pits different groups of people against each other in the prisons and in the ghettos and barrios, instead of against the system responsible for these conditions, and all of the other horrors that are haunting this planet.

The system has been forced to end some of the most horrendous ways it tortures prisoners in solitary confinement. We have seen the power of resistance from behind the prison walls with the heroic hunger strikes waged by the prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU. And there is great potential here—to build off and push forward with even more determination in the fight that must continue to END solitary confinement.






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Yes, it is a system—but what is that system?

May 4, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Women visit a region of Amazon rainforest in Ecuador that was destroyed by Texaco/Chevron oil drilling. Photo: AP

Imperialism means huge monopolies and financial institutions controlling the economies and the political systems—and the lives of people—not just in one country but all over the world. Imperialism means parasitic exploiters who oppress hundreds of millions of people and condemn them to untold misery; parasitic financiers who can cause millions to starve just by pressing a computer key and thereby shifting vast amounts of wealth from one place to another. Imperialism means war—war to put down the resistance and rebellion of the oppressed, and war between rival imperialist states—it means the leaders of these states can condemn humanity to unbelievable devastation, perhaps even total annihilation, with the push of a button.

Imperialism is capitalism at the stage where its basic contradictions have been raised to tremendously explosive levels. But imperialism also means that there will be revolution—the oppressed rising up to overthrow their exploiters and tormentors—and that this revolution will be a worldwide struggle to sweep away the global monster, imperialism.

BAsics 1:6


Inmates return from a farm work detail at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana, 2011. Photo: AP

Nike factory in Viet Nam, 2000. Photo: AP

You can think of this in terms of politics and the state: If you didn’t have, not only laws but a state apparatus of repression with the armed forces, the police, the courts, the prisons, the bureaucracies, the administrative function—if you didn’t have that, how would you maintain the basic economic relations of exploitation and the basic social relations that go along with that? How would you maintain the domination of men over women, the domination of certain nationalities or “races” over others, if you did not have a superstructure to enforce that, or if that superstructure—the politics, the ideology and culture that is promoted, the morality promoted among people—were out of alignment with those social and, fundamentally, those economic relations? Once again, you wouldn’t be able to maintain the order, stability and functioning of the system.

This is fundamentally why a system of this kind cannot be reformed. This goes back to the point that’s in the Revolution talk about systems, and how they have certain dynamics and “rules.” You can’t just play any card you want in a card game or slap a domino down any time you want, anywhere you want, because the whole thing will come unraveled. And you can’t have, as any significant phenomenon, cooperative economic relations in a system that operates on the dynamics of commodity production and exchange in which labor power itself, the ability to work, is a commodity.

A lot of reformist social democrats will talk in these terms: “Let’s have real democracy in the superstructure” (they don’t generally use terms like “superstructure,” but that’s the essence of what they mean) “and then,” they’ll say, “on that basis let’s ‘democratize’ the economy.” What would happen if you tried to implement this “democratization” of the economic base? That economic base would still be operating on the basis of, would still be driven by, the anarchy of commodity production and exchange in which, once again, labor power is also a commodity—in fact, the most basic commodity in capitalist relations and capitalist society—and soon your “democratization” of the economy would completely break down, because the dynamics of commodity production and exchange would mean that some would fare better than others, some would beat out others—plus you have the whole international arena where all this would be going on.

BAsics 1:21

Ferguson, Missouri, August 2014

Ferguson, Missouri, August 2014. Photo: AP

The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.

BAsics 1:24


If you can conceive of a world without America—without everything America stands for and everything it does in the world—then you’ve already taken great strides and begun to get at least a glimpse of a whole new world. If you can envision a world without any imperialism, exploitation, oppression—and the whole philosophy that rationalizes it—a world without division into classes or even different nations, and all the narrow-minded, selfish, outmoded ideas that uphold this; if you can envision all this, then you have the basis for proletarian internationalism. And once you have raised your sights to all this, how could you not feel compelled to take an active part in the world historic struggle to realize it; why would you want to lower your sights to anything less?

BAsics 1:31

What we need is an actual revolution—and if you are serious about an actual revolution, you have to get seriously into BA.






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Yes, this society was NOT designed to give Justice
to Black and Latino people. But why is that so
—And what must be done about it?

May 4, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |



There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.

BAsics 1:1

"Now, of course, slavery was not the only factor that played a significant part in the emergence of the U.S. as a world power, whose economic strength underlies its massive military force. A major historical factor in all this was the theft of land, on a massive scale, from Mexico as well as from native peoples. But, in turn, much of that conquest of land was, for a long period of time up until the Civil War, largely to expand the slave system. “Remember the Alamo,” we are always reminded. Well, many of the “heroes” of the Alamo were slave traders and slave chasers....And expanding the slave system was a major aim of the overall war with Mexico, although that war also led to the westward expansion of the developing capitalist system centered in the northern United States."

BAsics 1:2

Seven Mexican shepherds were hanged by white vigilantes near Corpus Christi, Texas to drive Mexican landowners from the land, November 1873.
Mexicans were also frequently the targets of lynch mobs, from the mid-19th
century until well into the 20th century. Above, seven Mexican shepherds were
hanged by white vigilantes near Corpus Christi, Texas to drive Mexican
landowners from the land, November 1873.


Revolution Club, San Francisco, December 2014

Revolution Club, San Francisco, December 2014.

Let's get down to basics: We need a revolution. Anything else, in the final analysis, is bullshit.

Now, that doesn't mean we don't unite with people in all sorts of struggles short of revolution. We definitely need to do that. But the proffering of any other solution to these monumental and monstrous problems and outrages is ridiculous, frankly. And we need to be taking the offensive and mobilizing increasing numbers of masses to cut through this shit and bring to the fore what really is the solution to this, and to answer the questions and, yes, the accusations that come forth in response to this, while deepening our scientific basis for being able to do this. And the point is: not only do we need to be doing this, but we need to be bringing forward, unleashing and leading, and enabling increasing numbers of the masses to do this. They need to be inspired, not just with a general idea of revolution, but with a deepening understanding, a scientific grounding, as to why and how revolution really is the answer to all of this.

BAsics 3:1

What we need is an actual revolution—and if you are serious about an actual revolution, you have to get seriously into BA.






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Yes, we need a revolution—but what KIND of revolution? and HOW will it happen?

May 4, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Communism: A Whole New World and the Emancipation of All Humanity─Not "The Last Shall Be First and the First Shall Be Last."

BAsics 2:1


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

"It is right to want state power. It is necessary to want state power. State power is a good thing—state power is a great thing—in the hands of the right people, the right class, in the service of the right things: bringing about an end to exploitation, oppression, and social inequality and bringing into being a world, a communist world, in which human beings can flourish in new and greater ways than ever before."

BAsics 2:10

There is nothing more unrealistic than the idea of reforming this system into something that would come anywhere near being in the interests of the great majority of people and ultimately of humanity as a whole.

BAsics 3:2


If you conceive of revolution as someday the world is somehow going to be radically different and at that point we will do something to radically change, that won't happen—but that's not what we're doing. We have to elevate our sights and lead consistently with the understanding that the world does NOT have to be this way, and we ARE building a movement for revolution.

BAsics 3:6


BOB AVAKIAN    The Vision, the Works, the Leadership for a New Stage of Communist Revolution    GET INTO BA!

If you want to know about, and work toward, a different world—and if you want to stand up and fight back against what's being done to people—this is where you go. You go to this Party, you take up this Party's newspaper, you get into this Party's leader and what he's bringing forward.

BAsics 3:34

What we need is an actual revolution—and if you are serious about an actual revolution, you have to get seriously into BA.






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Interview with Planetary Scientist Cathy Olkin

The Exciting, Amazing Exploration of Pluto

September 12, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


In July, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft reached the dwarf planet Pluto after a nine-year voyage and began sending back the first-ever close-up images from the largest body in the Kuiper Belt region beyond the inner planets of the solar system. The following is a transcript of an interview aired September 4 on The Michael Slate Show on KPFK Pacifica Radio with Cathy Olkin, deputy project scientist for the New Horizons mission.


Photographs of Pluto taken from the New Horizons spacecraft July 13, 2015.

Pluto from the New Horizons mission
Four images from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument to create this sharper global view of Pluto.

All photos: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Michael Slate: I’m very pleased to welcome to the show Cathy Olkin, who is a New Horizons deputy project scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. She’s a planetary scientist with interest in the icy, outer solar system worlds, and she’s had a helluva time this summer, probably one of the high points of her life, if not the high point. Cathy, welcome to the show.

Cathy Olkin: Thank you for having me.

MS: Sure. Well, me along with everybody else in the world I think, I hope, was just mesmerized and stunned at what happened on July 14 this year, with the exploration of Pluto. To be blunt, I hadn’t really thought about it, didn’t know that much about it and was there even a reason to go there. But, as we got into it, it just sort of ripped open my head and just made me as curious as hell, and also amazed. This was something that was as amazing as it was historic, and that was one of the things I wanted to talk with you about first. The press information from the project says that reaching this third zone of our solar system which is apparently what going to Pluto means—has been a scientific priority for years. Why is that?

Cathy Olkin: It’s been a scientific priority for well more than a decade, to go to Pluto and see what it looks like, as a stepping stone to the Kuiper Belt, which is the third zone of the solar system. When I was in school, I learned about the nine planets. There is the terrestrial planets and the gas giant planets and then there was the misfit, Pluto. But, around about 1992, more objects that shared the similar space as Pluto were being discovered—these Kuiper Belt objects. There’s thousands of these icy worlds in the outer solar system, and we didn’t even know about them just a couple of decades ago. So, one of the main scientific priorities was to go to this region of the solar system and learn about all these bodies that are inhabiting our solar system that we didn’t know about before. Pluto was the largest of these objects. It was discovered in 1930, and so we had known about it for a while. It was the best studied and so what better place to start than by looking at Pluto.

MS: You know, one of the things too though, in relation to that, it’s been a science priority for all the reasons that you’ve been saying, and there’s also something that makes this in and of itself a historic event. I mean I don’t think it’s something that anybody really thought you know, except you guys and others who are in the same world. But you know, if you had asked me like, three years ago, I would have said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, going to Pluto. What’s going on?” In fact, Pluto had the ignominious push down of, “Oh, you’re not a planet any more buddy—you’re a dwarf planet.” This idea of the historic character of this mission—can we talk about that a little?

Cathy Olkin: Yes, it’s amazing to me. I mean, it is historic. One thing that I think is amazing that Pluto was discovered not that long ago and in some people’s lifetimes, it was discovered and explored. It was amazing at the encounter to have Clyde Tombaugh's children there—they’re grown adults you know, with their own grandchildren now, but to have that close connection to the person who discovered Pluto is really quite astounding. It really is a whole new world—a whole new area that we’re exploring in our solar system, places we’ve never seen before, things we’ve never seen close up and it’s really been transformational in our understanding of our solar system and how the solar system formed, to realize that there’s this reservoir of primordial objects out in the outer reaches of our solar system that are really kind of the remnants of solar system formation. It seems to me quite clear that we needed to go there and see what it was all about.


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MS: Now getting there, that’s really intriguing in its own right because everything seemed to have to be so finely tuned, worked and reworked before you could even think about embarking on this in order to get there. There was all kind of questions came up: fuel, the energy, the speed, everything. It was a fairly hairy endeavor to get there, wasn’t it?

Cathy Olkin: It was and it was complicated even before the New Horizons Project was funded. People had been trying to get a mission to go to Pluto since the late 1980s. So, there have been lots of false starts. The idea of sending a small spacecraft really quickly with limited instrumentation, or how can we get there in a reasonable amount of time. It took 9 ½ years for New Horizons to traverse the solar system from Earth out to Pluto. That’s a really long time. You need to make sure your computers are working, your cameras continue working—everything needs to be in working order 9 ½ years later. If you think about it, probably not that many people use a computer today that was built more than a decade ago.

MS: What actually changed in the attitude towards getting there, the thing that would unleash you to be able to do that?

Cathy Olkin: One of the big things was there was a decadal survey so, basically consensus in the astronomy community that really we had to go and see this third zone of the solar system—and that was really quite a tipping point for being able to get the project funded and moving forward, but along the way there were many difficulties. One thing is, the power supply for New Horizons is plutonium, and so that’s not something that people have a lot of on hand. The U.S. government had some but it wasn’t quite enough, and so we worked very hard to get the plutonium we needed to make sure we could launch safely.

All the other pieces had to come together to be able to make the mission work out. As we were traveling, we launched in 2006, and it was after 2006 that more small moons of Pluto were discovered. When the project was first proposed, we knew about Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, and then in about 2005, about a year before launch, two more small moons were discovered using the Hubble space telescope. Those are called Nix and Hydra. Then as the spacecraft was traveling out towards Pluto more deep surveys of the vicinity of Pluto were done and, lo and behold, there are two more moons. Those are now named Kerberos and Styx. So, even our understanding of Pluto and its environment was transforming during the years that we were building the spacecraft and traveling out to Pluto.

Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy

Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy

by Bob Avakian



Order from Insight Press

MS: Now, one of the things you also came up against, which I thought was really—and I don’t know if this was just my not knowing it, but it was really ingenious—the point that you had to maintain a certain amount of speed to actually get past everything you had to get past in order to even to have a chance of getting to Pluto and this whole idea of the big gravity assist from Jupiter. I was just blown away by that. One, that that was even possible to get that kind of assist—and how that made a critical difference in being able to carry the mission out.

Cathy Olkin: That’s right. Being able to fly past Jupiter was really important because it cut off more than three years of flight time for the spacecraft. Like I was saying before, 9 ½ years is a long time. So you don’t want to have to go more than 12 years in getting to Pluto because then perhaps, computers wouldn’t be working or everything wouldn’t be functioning quite as well. So, it was really important to hit the opportunity of flying past Jupiter. And when we flew past Jupiter, not only did we get the gravity assist but we had an outstanding opportunity to practice using all of our instruments in a real planetary flyby. And so, that was another great thing that came from the Jupiter flyby.

This idea of a gravity assist had been previously done with the Voyager spacecraft and so that in and of itself wasn’t new. But the critical nature of it was in that we were trying to get to our prime target, which was very far out in the outer solar system. The Voyager spacecraft flew past the giant planets and did gravity assist along the way, but their targets were those giant planets and their moons. So, it was inherently different. When we launched, we had a pretty decent window of opportunity for launching the spacecraft—more than a month, but only the beginning part of that month would allow us to fly past Jupiter. So, it was really fortunate that we got off early in our launch window so that we could have that flyby.

MS: One more question on this, maybe two more questions on this, sort of the things behind the scenes that were necessary to get done, in order for this to happen. I also read in a number of spots about the hazards facing the mission, including even a speck of dust no bigger than a grain of rice could have actually just ruined the whole thing.

Cathy Olkin: Yep, that’s right. That’s right. Yeah, we began to become concerned about the potential hazard being in the Pluto environment when Pluto’s small moons Kerberos and Styx were discovered. These small moons along with Nix and Hydra, the other small moons of Pluto, when if something were to hit them, it would like just make a crater and there would be ejecta, or dust being ejected from the surface of the body, where the gravity would pull that dust back down to the surface. It could reach escape velocity and then be in orbit in the Pluto system. So you could imagine that these small moons could be debris generators. They could generate small grains of dust or rock or ice that could be flying around in the Pluto system, and just something the size of a grain of rice, it could go through the spacecraft and take out critical functions, because the spacecraft is flying at about 14 kilometers per second. It’s hard to think in units like that because when you drive a car it’s miles/hour not kilometers/second, but one way to kind of think about it is, if you’ve ever done a 10 kilometer race—people do 10K races all the time—that would be being able to complete it in less than a second. So, that gives you an idea of how fast we are flying through the Pluto system. Because we are going so quickly, even small things were a real hazard, and these small moons could generate these hazards.

So there was a huge effort put on by the project to go back and look at all the possible risks—what could be exposed on the spacecraft, how strong was the insulation that was covering the spacecraft—it’s put there to help equilibrate the temperature of the spacecraft, but you know it also could be a little bit of a barrier. So how strong is that?

Deep searches for more moons of Pluto so that we could know if there were potentially more objects that could generate debris. We had a number of campaigns on approach to Pluto, where we were looking for really small moons. We’d take long exposures and shift a little bit where we were looking, and take another long exposure and look for anything down at the level of noise in the image that could be moving in orbit around Pluto. It was a huge effort, and in the end, we decided that it was safe to fly through the Pluto system, which is really what we wanted because that’s what we designed to get the most scientific return. Then of course, now we’ve flown through the system and we know that it works, so that all worked out well in the end. There was a bit of concern, yeah.

MS: I read a quote from you where you were describing the unprecedented detail about Pluto that was collected and you said that if we dropped New York City Central Park onto Pluto, you would be able to see the ponds in the park. That’s how unprecedented this view is. Clearly this had to require some extraordinary equipment.

Cathy Olkin: That’s right. So, we took really high-resolution imaging. We took imaging of the whole surface of the encounter hemisphere, the side that we flew by, at better than half a kilometer/pixel everywhere. But then we had selected regions that were much higher resolution. We had some resolutions that were on the order of 50 yards. Each pixel would be about 50 yards on an image. So we’ll be able to get amazing detail in many of our images and have gotten some of that data back. But none of the really highest resolution data has come back quite yet.

So it did take a really comprehensive suite of instruments that were designed to do this initial reconnaissance of the Pluto system. We had the LORRI camera, which gives us our highest-resolution data, and it’s what will be giving us those images where you’d be able to count the ponds in Central Park—if you could transport Central Park to Pluto. It’s effectively like an eight-inch telescope inside of New Horizons, and the aperture looks out one part of the spacecraft.

And then we have another instrument called Ralph, and that instrument is really two instruments in one. It’s a color camera and an infrared spectrometer, which really just means it's a way of mapping the composition of the ices on the surface. So there was lots of thought put into how do we have to build the instruments to be able to get the data back that we wanted. The Ralph instrument, the one that takes color images, the field of view of that color camera is almost six degrees, and that’s how large Pluto would look from New Horizons' near closest approach. So it was designed so that Pluto would be filling the whole field of view near closest approach. Those were the sorts of details that went into designing the instruments to return the science that the mission needed.

MS: This information coming back to the Earth is a process that apparently is gonna take about 16 months, so we’ll be looking forward to seeing more and more of that, hearing more and more about that.

Cathy Olkin: Just one point on that. Yes, we had to be very patient to get to Pluto and we have to continue to be patient, because Pluto is very far away and it will take 16 months to get all the data down—but that’s nothing like waiting the 9 ½ years to get there.

MS: Good point. (laughs) And humanity has been waiting for so long for people to be able to think about going there, so that’s a very good point. Carl Sagan said once that somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known, and I thought that was a good kind of capturing of the spirit of the whole New Horizons Project. I wanted to ask you to talk about some of the things that you thought were the most fantastic that you’ve learned so far about Pluto. One of the things I was thinking about was just the surface of the planet. That just blew my mind, how different it was from what people expected. Can you talk about that a little?

This simulated flyover of two regions on Pluto, northwestern Sputnik Planum and Hillary Montes, was created from New Horizons' close-approach images. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Cathy Olkin: Yeah, the planet has just blown me away. The images are stunning and the detail that we’ve seen—I’ve been thinking about what we’d see on Pluto for a couple of decades now and I’ve just been blown away. The mountains that we’re seeing is one thing that is interesting. I expected that we might see some topography, some mountainous areas, but I thought maybe it would be like the rims of an ancient crater basin or something. These mountains don’t seem to be like that, so we’re still trying to understand what caused the mountainous regions that we’re seeing on Pluto.

Another thing that’s just been fascinating is this area that we informally call, Sputnik Planum. It’s in the heart shape that’s on Pluto, which we informally call Tombaugh Regio. In Sputnik Planum, it’s a flat plain of ices and you can see these polygonal shapes with troughs defining the different polygons. There’s dark areas in some of these troughs, some of it sticks up, and there’s this pitted surface where you see details of maybe sublimation with the ices evaporating into the atmosphere. Then in other parts it looks like there might be evidence of flow of these ices. You can see near the northern part of Tombaugh Regio, where it looks like the ices have kind of flowed around some of these mountains or protrusions in the area. It’s just amazing to me the diverse terrain that we’re seeing and the different land forms, and it’s just more than I would have ever expected.

MS: One of the things that surprised me and I think surprised a lot of people is the fact that people often looked at Pluto as being sort of a dead rock. In fact, from what you guys discovered, there’s apparently a lot of ongoing geological events as you’re pointing to, that apparently are showing that the planet is stunningly alive, as one person described it.

Surface features of Pluto
This image, sent back from New Horizons spacecraft September 5-7, is dominated by the informally named icy plain Sputnik Planum, the smooth, bright region across the center.

Dark features of Pluto

This 220-mile-wide view of Pluto, taken from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on July 14, illustrates the incredible diversity of surface reflectivities and geological landforms on the dwarf planet.

Cathy Olkin: Yeah. Really, the questions that it brings up is what is powering these flows of the ices across Sputnik Planum. We knew that there’d been changes on Pluto. I’ve been studying Pluto for a long time, and we had seen that the atmospheric pressure on Pluto had changed between 1988 and 2002. We knew that there were some dynamics going on in the system, but the idea of moving ices is just amazing to me. So yeah, this is an active world, and that really makes me and many of my colleagues have to scratch our heads and go back to the drawing boards and try and understand what is powering this. What is the source of heat that would potentially make these shapes that we’re seeing on the surface? So, it’s an exciting time to be a planetary scientist.

MS: Yeah, definitely, and also to be somebody just reading about it, because you guys are doing a hell of a job.

Cathy Olkin: Thank you.

MS: Let’s talk about the atmosphere. That’s another thing that got a lot of people really surprised. The atmosphere on Pluto was very different than what they expected.

Cathy Olkin: That’s right. So, the atmosphere is very different, in a number of different ways, too. One thing that was stunning was the image that we took soon after closest approach where we looked back at Pluto and you could see the hazes being lit up by the sunlight that was behind Pluto. It’s really remarkable, beautiful to see that. First of all that image was just beautiful. And then second of all, it’s stunning because the hazes extend out to about 80 miles above Pluto’s surface. They have layers. You can see details of layers in the hazes when you look closely at the image.  It’s astounding to me that the hazes go up that high. And so, we knew that Pluto’s atmosphere was quite extended, but didn’t expect to see hazes up that high.

There had been ongoing debate about whether there were hazes in Pluto’s atmosphere at all. Many of us who thought that maybe there were hazes, or I thought maybe sometimes there was haze and other times there wasn’t, because the ground-based data was kind of hard to understand what we were exactly seeing, but to see the haze extend that far up was just amazing to me.

Then also the New Horizons spacecraft gave the first ever measurement of the atmospheric pressure on Pluto at the surface. We have ground-based observations that you can do where you watch a star pass behind Pluto and you can get an estimate of the atmospheric pressure, but that's up at about 100 kilometers in altitude. But if you look right down at the surface you can’t measure that atmospheric pressure from Earth. So, we needed New Horizons to do that. And the initial part of the data has been returned, and it looks like the pressure in the atmosphere is less than 10 microbars. A microbar is about a millionth the pressure of the atmosphere on Earth. Earth’s atmosphere is primarily nitrogen, as is Pluto’s, but Pluto’s is a much thinner atmosphere. So, we saw that it was 10 microbars. The interesting thing there is that we expected it to be more, based on some ground-based measurements that we had done before. And so that’s a big mystery too. What does this mean about the atmosphere? So a lot of us are digging into this data and trying to understand what’s going on.

MS: Now, one thing that you guys have all talked about is that as the New Horizons Project went past Pluto that it’s going on and it’s actually going to open more doors, and doors that are going to be just as exciting as what was discovered with Pluto, including the Kuiper Belt.

Cathy Olkin: That’s right. So, Pluto shares its orbit, shares its environment, with thousands of other objects. We call all these objects Kuiper Belt objects. These bodies orbit out past Neptune. The New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto. We didn’t have enough propellant on board to stop and orbit around Pluto. We knew that when we designed it. We don’t have the capability right now to launch a competent spacecraft with good instruments and be able to orbit Pluto, so we made the choice to fly by, and so we’ve flown by and we will keep going right now. We’ve been searching for other targets out in the Kuiper Belt that we can look at, and our search team identified two potential targets. We will write a proposal to NASA to ask to have what is called, an “extended mission.” Our prime mission was to go to Pluto, and we’ve done that and now we’re getting the data back and analyzing it. But we’re looking forward and we’d love to be able to fly past another Kuiper Belt object so that we could look at more diversity in this system. So, we’ll be writing a proposal to NASA and with any luck we’ll get an extended mission and be able to fly by another Kuiper Belt object and learn more about it. One thing I will say, this other object, both our potential targets, are much smaller than Pluto—more like one of Pluto’s small moons, on the larger side of the small moons.

MS: One of the things that really struck me is that there's this whole point, and I've read it a number of places, that people were saying that when you go into the Kuiper Belt, you're going into this place that's like the furthest outlying region away from the sun. Once you get out of that belt, you go into interstellar space. Then there's a question that comes up. Somebody posed that, in going through the Kuiper Belt and investigating that, it poses the real opportunity, the chance, to really discover things that were not even conceptually possible a little while ago, which is finding the basic ingredients from when the solar system was formed. That's a pretty heavy and amazing possibility, right?

Cathy Olkin: Yeah, it is. These Kuiper Belt objects, one of the reasons they're very interesting is because they're kind of like the building blocks of the planets. They're like the leftover remnants from solar system formation. You can think of the outer solar system as the Kuiper Belt for the solar system. So these are small bodies, that some of them would have accreted into the planets, Mercury, Venus, out to Neptune. But many of those objects out far enough are really the remnants of this solar system formation. So that's part of the reason why we really want to go out there and explore, to see what these bodies look like. What's left in this cold storage? So that's definitely one of our goals.

MS: My last question. Again, quoting Carl Sagan, where he talked about how we live in a world that's really dependent on science these days, more so than ever. But the problem is that so few people in the world actually know about science. In some cases, people are never given the chance to learn science. In other cases, people become very sort of cynical—they get very small-minded and stupid around it. But this mission, one of the things that I was really intrigued by was the approach that what's discovered here as part of this New Horizons mission, it's not going to be people rewriting textbooks but writing whole new textbooks, and that you really strove to put this before the people. Going into it, having some idea of what you might discover, but not having anything for sure, and not even being able to be absolutely positive that you would get all the way there without all the things we were talking about, the hazards and the problems that could jump up. But you guys seem to pursue things from the standpoint of something I think is very important, and that's from the basic human need to be amazed by what we live amongst, and understanding how this all works. I wanted to get your thoughts on that.

Cathy Olkin: Sure, I'd be happy to. Sharing the mission with the world was something that we on the mission team really wanted to do. We're so excited to be exploring Pluto, and we wanted to share that with everyone else, even not knowing what we would see or how it would go. This was exploration. This is exploration that we don't get to do much of any more. There was the time when Lewis and Clark would be exploring the West, or many other different phases of history where there was exploration going on. And this was exploration at its most profound going on today. It just was really important for us to share that with everyone.

Everyone can be excited by learning new things and seeing what's going on with Pluto and what have we managed to accomplish. It was a little risky, because we didn't know what we would see, and we didn't even know if the spacecraft would survive closest approach. We were optimistic. We had done all our homework. We really felt confident in our choice to fly through the system where we chose. But it was important that people could see this in real time, because that's the excitement. One day, no one knew there were mountains on Pluto. And the next day, they were out there and everyone could see: Wow! Look at those mountains on Pluto. Isn't that amazing? The same goes for the glacial ice flows on Pluto, these exotic ices, nitrogen ice and carbon monoxide ice. And imagine being on Pluto and seeing that happen. It's amazing.

I think there's something really immediate. The great thing is, in this day and age, we can share that easily with the Internet and the other ways to extend information, the media outlets. I believe that we had a responsibility to do that so we can excite the next generation, so they can come up with whatever their New Horizons Pluto encounter equivalent will be, when young kids who saw this get to grow up and say, I want to do something like that. It may not be planetary science. It's anything that excites and engages people to say, I'd like to learn more about this, that or the other thing. It's really a responsibility that I think we all understood, that we needed to be open and transparent about what we're learning, when we're learning it, and take the whole world.

MS: And you've done a remarkably good job at that. So thank you very much, Cathy.

Cathy Olkin: Thank you.






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

From A World to Win News Service

Refugees Bring Europe the Message of an Intolerable World

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


September 7, 2015. A World to Win News Service. Why are so many people forced to leave their homes and seek safety in Europe?

Immigrants at the port of the island of Lesvos, Greece, on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. Immigrants at the port of the island of Lesvos, Greece, September 5, 2015.
AP photo

First, let’s look at some particulars: almost half of the more than 300,000 people who have crossed into Europe so far this year are from Syria. Why are inhabitants of a country noted for its great culture, people proud to be Syrians, and far from the most impoverished lands in the Middle East—in fact, people of all social classes, including many professionals and others from the middle class—fleeing their country, knowing that many will die along the way and few can be sure of what awaits them?

Only people who understand nothing about the world—or politicians with the most malign intentions—could claim that the aim is to eke out an existence on social benefits (“welfare”) in cold, dreary and hostile Europe.

The real answer is basically simple, although complex factors are involved: The Western powers have turned Syria into such a disaster that a huge portion of its 18 million people have been killed (250,000), displaced (at least 7.6 million in camps and other places of refuge in Syria) or driven abroad (more than 4 million).

Over the last decade, although the reactionary Bashar al-Assad government did its best to integrate the country into the Western-dominated world market, largely at the cost of its rural population, the U.S. sought political domination and did not tolerate the regime’s ties with Russia, an imperialist rival, or with Iran, whose power structure they also considered a political problem.

Under cover of the 2011 movement against the Assad regime, the U.S. used its money, arms and agents to kindle a war intended to replace Assad with other Syrian ruling class elements often referred to as “moderates” or “pro-Western.” In pursuit of this goal, the West and the countries that joined in this undertaking, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, each with their own reactionary political and ideological interests, financed and armed Islamist groups, setting into motion forces that are now mostly out of anyone’s control.

The rise of armed jihadis, especially Daesh (ISIS), is considered a problem for the monopoly capitalists who rule the U.S., but nothing more than that. At least so far, these imperialists have followed a policy of perpetuating the civil war to weaken the Assad regime while also trying to figure out how the Western powers themselves could eventually pick up the pieces and control a future Syrian regime while bringing the Islamists to heel.

The disastrous consequences of this policy were very predictable. But for the U.S. and its European allies, there was no crisis until hundreds of thousands of Syrians showed up on Europe’s doorstep.

How, today, are the Western powers reacting to this situation? By stepping up the civil war that brought all this into being in the first place! The problem, for them, is not what happens to Syrians but whether or not they can control Syria, as a key part of trying to control and reorder the Middle East and beyond. These are the same motives that drove the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, which set the Islamic world on fire in the first place.

British Chancellor George Osborne said it openly: to deal with the refugee “problem,” the UK would participate in bombing Syria. French President Francois Hollande came out and said more or less the same.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry used this occasion to warn Russia against sending more aid to the Assad regime. (Significantly, according to the New York Times, one of Washington’s main concerns is the Russian provision of new air defense systems, which would be of no use in the current civil war but could be employed against or deter an all-out NATO attack.) The U.S. announced it would step up its campaign to organize a mercenary army in Syria that could directly represent its interests.

Rather than take warning from the civil wars and the way Western intervention has fueled jihadi forces, the U.S. and its accomplices are playing double or nothing, escalating an intolerable, genocidal situation in a desperate attempt to come out on top one way or another, no matter what the human cost.

Imperialist interests are also determining the way European governments are dealing with the refugees, especially their conflicting national interests and political visions for how to serve those interests. The bitter dispute about the German-Swedish proposal that the European Union allocate a percentage of today’s total number of refugees to each EU country is closely connected to different agendas about the future of the EU and power relations between the European countries.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron clothed his opposition to accepting mandatory EU immigrant quotas in moral terms. He claimed it would be wrong for the UK to accept any of the refugees entering Europe, because “We want people not to make that dangerous crossing in the first place.” This sudden fit of concern for non-British lives stinks of hypocrisy. Cameron long ago adopted a radical rhetoric against immigrants, including those from the EU, calling for ordinary Britons such as landlords to police the status of suspected foreigners and for criminalizing immigrants working on the black market. Now he is continuing to combine anti-immigrant lunacy with his crusade against more European political and economic integration, specifically insofar as that favours Germany and France.

France’s Hollande loudly joined the voices criticizing the UK for not letting in more refugees. His claim for the moral high ground is undermined by his own government’s cruel policies toward immigrants—for example, forcibly stranding people in the no-man’s-land between the French and Italian borders last summer, and the standardized police violence against Roma (Gypsies). The position he announced was almost the same as Cameron’s in terms of stinginess in saving human lives: France would accept a few tens of thousands of Syrian requests for asylum over the next several years. But unlike the UK, it would accept the German proposal to accept asylum requests from Syrians already in Europe and not just those still in Syria and refugee camps in adjacent countries.

German imperialism is using the situation to try to spruce up its looks, thanks to the wiliness of Chancellor Merkel. She welcomes Syrians for the same reason that she led in the devastation of Greece: German economic and political interests. Many commentators have pointed out that the number of newcomers Germany has offered to admit every year corresponds almost exactly to the number of people needed annually to renew its shrinking workforce. There is undoubtedly a mix of need, chance and other interests involved: Germany didn’t specifically seek to import Syrians, but once they were next door, Merkel may have seen a way to simultaneously bolster the country’s economy, push for EU integration at a time when this means increased German predominance, and take the high moral ground Germany needs (and sorely lacks) to justify a place at the head of Europe.

It should be noted that under U.S. leadership, both Germany and Sweden are continuing to play an active role in the ongoing occupation of Afghanistan with ground troops and aid in setting the targets for air strikes. Afghans are still the largest group of refugees in today’s world, and the second largest entering Europe.

More generally, in this situation Merkel and her counterparts alike have adopted an attitude of trying to make a big distinction between refugees (Syrians) and immigrants (South Asians, Africans and others). The point is that some might be granted rights, when in the rulers’ self-interest, while others are undeserving and have no claim to justice. This is an extremely poisonous and potentially very dangerous position.

Morally, if some human beings are born with rights, some can be gifted them, and yet others have no claim to justice, then where does this end? Can’t these same arguments be used to justify border repression, mass expulsions and worse? Politically, does this mean Germany will accept some often middle class people and trained professionals deemed “assimilatable” and kick out or block the rest? Are Hungary, with its Gestapo-like open violence, Austria, with its on-and-off spigot, and places like Greece being used to do the dirty work for Germany and other better-off European countries by restricting and repressing mass migration?

When 3,000 people were known to have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean in 2014, and 2,500 deaths at sea were recorded in the first six months of this year—more than 700 in one capsized ship alone—there was no political crisis in Europe. No head of state in Europe or the other major imperialist powers lifted their voice to cry out that this was intolerable. Cameron more or less said that it would be better if they drowned than if they reached the UK, and Hollande, shamefaced, waddled on behind him. Merkel was mainly silent. There was no “immigration crisis” until hundreds of thousands of people literally marched into the middle of Europe. Why should we believe that any of these ruling classes have the slightest humanitarian motives now?

Whether they are called refugees or immigrants, these travellers are bearing a message: the world has become unbearable. While that is felt far more sharply in some places than others, the problem is not any particular group of people or country, but the whole world as it exists today, the global order. The idea itself of “protecting” European and North American borders is illegitimate. It is an attempt to justify and enforce that order by declaring that those who happen to be born in the “wrong” place can’t expect to enjoy the privileges shared by those whose “rightful” place happens to be in countries where the rulers are enriched by that order and have bought some social peace with the crumbs.

The attitude of the ruling classes, openly anti-foreigner in some countries and more hypocritical but still viciously imperialist-nationalist in others, has greatly encouraged unofficial physical attacks on immigrants in parallel with the official use of tear gas, stun grenades, beatings, dogs and razor wire. The most vile, potentially genocidal ideas have become mainstream. The governing parties in the UK, France and other better-off countries argue that they can’t be seen as too pro-immigrant to avoid provoking the rise of fascist parties. This reasoning is utterly corrupt because it amounts to using the threat of worse to justify horrendous and unjustifiable policies. What is true is that the terms of the immigration debate the mainstream parties have accepted, along with other factors, make it likely that fascist parties will greatly benefit from this situation, which is likely to get more acute despite the efforts of Merkel and others to turn it to their advantage. At the same time, many thousands of people have come out to warmly welcome the newcomers in Germany, Austria and other countries, including those whose governments are the most openly hostile to immigrants.

At a demonstration in Paris, thousands of people chanted, “Open the borders, we want air.” Solidarity marches were also held in Spain, Poland and the UK, and a major protest is planned when European Union ministers meet in London on September 14. Those people are right and millions more should be brought to join them. Such crises bring out the best and the worst in people, revealing diverging but equally possible future paths for these societies and the world.


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 #404 September 14, 2015

The U.S. - Iran Nuclear Deal & the Imperialists' Dilemma

by Larry Everest | September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Since the article below originally appeared at in August, an attempt by Republican senators to reject the nuclear deal negotiated between the Obama administration and five other world powers on one side and Iran on the other was defeated on September 10. That means that for now, the Iran nuclear agreement is going forward and will reportedly be formally adopted and go into effect on October 19.

The analysis in the article outlines the reactionary nature of this agreement—and the motives of the U.S. and Iran for negotiating it.

Several points made in the article have come into sharper relief in the past few weeks. First, the bitter infighting within the U.S. ruling class over the deal (and Israeli opposition to it) remains extremely sharp and, possibly in combination with developments in the region, may yet gut or derail the deal. This infighting reflects both “the imperialist dilemma” in the Middle East that is spoken to in the article as well as deeper, more all-around divisions within the U.S. ruling class.

Whether the U.S. will succeed in turning “Iran from an enemy to an ally, an ally which it hopes can help stabilize the region and eventually become part of the U.S.-dominated global order” is also far from certain. There remain sharp tensions and differences between the two countries. This was underscored by Ashton Carter, Obama’s secretary of defense, who wrote in USA Today (September 4) that the U.S. would “redouble” its anti-Iran efforts after the deal went through and that the option of a military attack on Iran would remain on the table.

This and other developments over the past month underscore that this agreement has never been about bringing “peace” or anything positive to the people. The U.S. is busily trying to repair the sharp differences that emerged with key clients Saudi Arabia and Israel over the Iran deal by offering these butcher regimes billions more in military aid. The reactionary war in Syria rages on and tensions are sharpening there between the U.S. and Russia. The U.S. imperialists continue their bloody maneuvers on many fronts to maintain dominance in the region, and thousands daily are fleeing this region that imperialism and local reactionaries have turned into an unlivable inferno.

There remains “nothing good for humanity anywhere” in this deal or the oppressive world order that produced it.




Obama claims the nuclear deal with Iran is about peace. It’s not. On both sides the deal is being driven by the needs and perceived opportunities of a global oppressive superpower (the U.S.) and a regional oppressive power (Iran). The U.S. sees enlisting Iran as a stabilizing force in a region where the U.S. empire is facing pressing threats (such as ISIS) at a time when they confront increasing challenges from rivals around the world like Russia and China. For the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran, this is about gaining recognition by the U.S., stabilizing their regime in the face of domestic discontent and expanding their role as a regional oppressor. There is nothing in this deal on either side, or in the arguments of belligerent opponents of the deal in the U.S. or Iran, that is in the interests of the vast majority of humanity.

On July 14, a nuclear agreement was signed between the Islamic Republic of Iran, a reactionary regional power, and the U.S. and other reactionary global powers. Iran has agreed to drastic cuts and limits to its nuclear energy and technology program and very intrusive inspections by the world’s dominant countries for at least a decade. In return, the U.S., Russia, China, Germany, France, and Britain have agreed to lift the sanctions—severe restrictions on Iran’s trade and financial dealings with other countries—that have crippled its economy and created enormous suffering for ordinary Iranians. This deal also marks the U.S.’s first official recognition of the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic and its nuclear enrichment program.

This agreement is a very big move and gamble by the rulers of all the countries involved to try to advance their own interests—not the interests of the people. It’s motivated by the enormous changes that have shaken the world and the Middle East over the past 14 years, and the deep difficulties and challenges all these powers face. The agreement has, in turn, sparked new contradictions. These include a huge fight within the U.S. ruling class, vehement opposition by key U.S. allies like Israel, and divisions among Iran’s rulers. Whether the deal moves ahead or is torpedoed isn’t certain, but either way, it’s likely to lead to other big shifts and changes. It’s important to dig through what’s going on here, because these kinds of changes and difficulties can be part of creating a situation where a real revolution becomes possible.

A Radical U.S. Shift to Deal with Big Failures and Big Problems

The wealth and power of the U.S. and the very operation of its capitalist economic and political system depend on worldwide exploitation and oppression—enforced by cold-blooded violence. For decades, controlling the Middle East has been one of the ways U.S. imperialism has dominated the planet. This region is where much of the world’s oil and natural gas are located. It’s a crossroads linking Africa, Europe, and Asia. Global trade routes run through it. And it’s very important militarily—for example, in world wars and in the global contention between rival powers. Losing control of the Middle East would be a body blow to the U.S. rulers, with profound repercussions.

Over the past 70 years, the U.S. has faced different challenges to its Middle East dominance—for example, national liberation struggles during the 1960s and the Cold War rivalry during the 1970s with the Soviet Union, which by that time had become a capitalist-imperialist power.

In recent decades, the U.S. has faced enormous new challenges concentrated in the rise of ever-more virulent strains of reactionary and often anti-U.S. Islamic fundamentalism, and sharpening conflicts with global rivals like Russia and China. In many ways these challenges have been concentrated in Iran. It is a powerful regional state with huge petroleum reserves. It’s been a major pole of Islamic fundamentalism with its own agenda and ambitions which have undercut U.S. control, and clashed with the interests of key U.S. allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. This is why the U.S. refused to recognize the Islamic Republic for over 30 years and instead tried to strangle and overthrow it. (The nuclear issue is part of this larger context: Iran has never had a nuclear weapon, but the U.S., with its huge nuclear arsenal, and Israel, which also has a large number of nukes, are determined to prevent Iran from even gaining the know-how to make a nuclear weapon.)

The George W. Bush administration tried to deal with these contradictions by invading and occupying Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. But those wars failed and backfired. The U.S. has not been able to crush its enemies and establish stable client regimes. Instead, the clash between reactionary, outmoded imperialism and reactionary, outmoded Islamic fundamentalism has greatly escalated in very complex and intense ways, impacting other deep problems and contradictions across this volatile region. (For example, the rapid growth of Islamic fundamentalism has stoked sectarian or religious warfare between followers of the Sunni and Shi’ite branches of Islam, which has also been directly fueled by oppressive regional powers such as Saudi Arabia and Iran.) This bubbling cauldron of contradictions now threatens to tear the region apart.

This situation has forced the Obama administration to radically change course and try to turn Iran from an enemy to an ally, an ally which it hopes can help stabilize the region and eventually become part of the U.S.-dominated global order (also attempting to make sure Iran doesn’t link up with U.S. rivals instead). The nuclear deal is seen as the first step in that process.

(Iran’s rulers also feel they need to cut this deal. These reactionary religious leaders have claimed to be revolutionaries and anti-imperialists, but their theocracy, led by Shi’ite fundamentalists, is another very oppressive form of capitalism that remains embedded in the imperialist-dominated world economic system. Their rule is threatened by the economic devastation and international isolation caused by U.S., United Nations, and European sanctions, the threats of war by the U.S. and Israel, deep discontent within Iran, and the regional growth of Sunni Jihadism.)

The Imperialist Dilemma

So why are right-wing Republicans denouncing Obama for supposedly marching Israel’s Jews to “the door of the oven” like Hitler during the Holocaust, and screaming that the U.S.’s “enemies don’t fear us, our allies don’t respect us”? And why are other ruling class critics, including some Democrats, worrying that the deal is a blunder? Because Iran still has its own needs and interests, and this deal could make it even stronger in the region (legitimizing its status and giving it access to frozen funds, investments, and global markets). This could undercut key U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, and end up weakening U.S. regional dominance. And this deal does signal that the U.S. can’t just bomb, invade, and bully its way around the world—and that’s a very dangerous signal for a global gangster to send to rivals big and small.

Obama responds that the U.S. tried attacking and invading countries like Afghanistan and Iraq under the Republican George W. Bush, that this turned into a disaster for the imperialists, and that war with Iran could be even more dangerous for them. So now, striking a deal with Iran and getting its help is the only way to prevent the U.S. from being drained by endless wars and growing chaos in the region.

In other words, both camps among the U.S. imperialists can point to some truth—and neither has any good answers. They could be damned if they make this deal, and damned if they don’t.

Deal or No Deal—the U.S. Brings Only Horrors to the Middle East

The U.S. rulers and the region’s reactionary powers have no solutions for the contradictions they face and the unimaginable nightmares they’ve created for the peoples of the Middle East. Instead, they’re aggressively making moves to preserve their power and the very oppressive political-economic order that’s the root cause of these horrors.

Obama claims this deal means fewer nuclear weapons and less danger of nuclear war. But Iran has no nuclear weapons. It’s the U.S. and its ally Israel which together have thousands. Are either of them giving up a single nuke? No. In fact, both the U.S. and Israel have repeatedly declared their right to use military force, including nuclear weapons, anywhere they see fit. (And prominent U.S. generals argue that the deal helps the U.S. militarily.)

Obama says the agreement makes war in the region less likely. Maybe between the U.S. and Iran—for now—but meanwhile the U.S. is supporting Saudi Arabia’s merciless blockade and bombing campaign against Yemen, which has killed thousands and thrown millions into starvation. The U.S. is escalating its bombing of Syria, a country already as close to hell on earth as one can imagine. It’s collaborating with the despotic Turkish regime’s vicious assaults on Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. The U.S. continues to support Israel—as Palestinian children are being burned alive under Israeli occupation and people in Gaza live in rubble, and as Israel continues the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people. And the U.S. is more responsible than any other force for all these dislocations and suffering, heartbreakingly captured by the tens of thousands of men, women, and children risking drowning to death crossing the Mediterranean Sea to escape the region’s chaos and violence.

Why should this setup be continued? Yet that’s what the U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement is about—so there’s nothing good for humanity anywhere in it. The only way to end these horrors is through communist revolution. The argument over the Iran deal shows that the rulers are not all powerful and that revolution is possible. But that won’t happen unless everyone who really wants to stop the nightmares we see or hear about every day—like constant wars—learns about and gets connected to the revolution at That’s where you can get into Bob Avakian—BA—the leader of the revolution, find out about the Revolutionary Communist Party’s strategy for revolution, and become part of the movement for revolution.





Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Mass Murder of Civilians in Yemen "Made in USA"

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Bombs—“made in the USA”—are falling on thousands of Yemeni civilians as they herd goats and sheep, farm their fields, shop at city markets, work at factories, attend schools, or simply are asleep in their beds. Hundreds of buildings are being destroyed, with civilians buried in the rubble. Children scream in agony as cluster munitions spread destruction and death. More than 4,500 have been killed since the bombing began on March 26 of this year, more than 1,000 of them civilians, including hundreds of children, and at least 23,500 have been wounded.

Rubble in Yemen from U.S. backed-Saudi Arabian air strike, September 8, 2015. Photo: AP

Yet another form of the horror occurring daily in Yemen are the so-called “double tap” strikes, where bombs are dropped and then, when people come to help those hit, they themselves are bombed. Iona Craig in The Intercept writes of one such attack where a bomb was dropped on a group of more than 100 men who had come to trade animals and goods at a market, with at least 50 of them killed. One witness said: “After 50 it was hard to tell... The rest were all body parts. People cut to pieces. What parts belonged to who? We couldn’t tell. Some were animal parts. Some were human.” Minutes after the bombing, as rescuers and bystanders moved to assist the wounded, another bomb was dropped, killing at least 35 more.

But that still is not all. Add to the terror from the skies a naval blockade of Yemen’s ports in the Gulf of Aden, creating major shortages of food, medical supplies, and fuel. The United Nations World Food Programme estimates that 13 million people, half of Yemen’s total population, are hungry, and six million are on the brink of starvation. Other relief agencies report that 15 million Yemenis lack access to basic health care, and that four out of five—nearly 21 million people—require humanitarian aid. Many are fleeing Yemen, joining the millions of other refugees driven from their Middle East and other homelands that are being crushed or ripped apart.

Mass Murder “Made in USA”

Who is responsible for all of this? There is the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which spearheads a coalition of nine Arab states dropping the bombs and carrying out the blockade. The Saudi regime is attempting to re-establish its domination over Yemen, to restore there the dictatorial Saudi-backed president who was overthrown and forced to flee Yemen late last year by tribal Houthi rebels from the north of Yemen bordering Saudi Arabia and who now control large parts of the country, including the capital, and who the Saudis say are politically and militarily supported by Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival, Iran.

The Saudis and their coalition partners deny that their bombings are deliberately targeting civilians, even though many of the bombs are falling far from military targets. In a recent report, Human Rights Watch documents a dozen air strikes in a five-week period that killed 59 civilians in the Houthi stronghold of Saada City in northern Yemen, destroying or damaging homes, five markets, a school, and a gas station where people were lining up to get fuel. And there is no evidence at all that these sites were being used for military purposes. These and many other such air strikes constitute collective punishment of Yemenis living in Houthi-controlled areas. Such collective punishment is a violation of international humanitarian law, which states that civilians and civilian structures can never be deliberate targets of attack.

But the question of who is responsible for this collective punishment and the terrorist horrors coming down on the people of Yemen only starts with the role of the Saudi coalition. The U.S. supplies the planes and bombs, provides the “logistics” and “intel” that guide where the bombs are dropped, and has the blood of innocent Yemeni people on its hands. The vast majority of the weapons—the jet planes and the bombs (including internationally banned cluster bombs)—being used to slaughter and maim the Yemeni people were made in and supplied by the U.S. And the Saudi-led naval blockade is supported by seven U.S. warships in the Gulf of Aden, with more than 2,000 U.S. Marines aboard. In short, the slaughter of innocent civilians is fundamentally “made in USA.”

It is unclear how much the slaughter in Yemen was “greenlighted” in advance by the U.S., or whether the Saudis launched this assault without extensive consultation with the rulers of the U.S. based on their own conflict with Iran and other factors. But whatever the case, the U.S. has from the beginning, and increasingly, backed this massacre militarily and diplomatically.

The relationship between the U.S. and their junior partners-in-crime—the viciously oppressive Islamic fundamentalist Saudi rulers—is a key element of U.S. domination of a region that is a hotspot of contention between reactionary global and regional powers. And so the U.S. is sticking by and backing the Saudis militarily and diplomatically, regardless of what new and even worse conflicts and chaos the Saudi/U.S. crimes set in motion.

But the central role of the U.S. in support of the Saudi-led coalition is largely covered up by the mainstream U.S. media which, while reporting on U.S. military support for the Saudi coalition, usually fails to bring out the role of the U.S. when it comes to the deaths of thousands of civilians. For instance, in the New York Times article on September 13, the horrors coming down on Yemeni civilians is described in some detail. At the same time, the U.S. role in this is muted.

On March 4, the king of Saudi Arabia sat down with President Obama in the White House, and when the talks were over, they jointly announced the U.S. will soon finalize a $1 billion arms deal with the Saudis—on top of the more than $90 billion in military aid provided by the U.S. to the Saudi regime between October 2010 and October 2014.

This is blood on the hands of the rulers of the U.S.

STOP wars of empire, armies of occupation, and crimes against humanity!





Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Police Assault of James Blake: What Do They Call a Black Man Who Attended Harvard?

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Malcolm X once asked, “What do you call a Black man with a PhD?” He answered with bitter irony, “a nigger.”

That reality hasn’t changed in America more than 50 years later. On September 9, James Blake was standing in front of a Manhattan hotel, minding his own business, not doing anything unlawful, when he was suddenly attacked by cops who slammed him to the ground and cuffed him—without any explanation at all. This happens 24/7 all across the U.S. to people with black and brown skin. Often, it ends up in the victims being seriously injured and/or jailed on false charges, even murdered at the hands of the cops. If they’re lucky, they “only” end up bruised and mentally traumatized, while the incidents get swept under the rug by the authorities.

But this time, the victim, James Blake, is a well-known former top tennis pro who attended Harvard, was waiting to be taken to an appearance for a corporate sponsor at the U.S. Open tennis tournament. The police claim that they mistook Blake for a suspect in a credit card fraud ring. Blake is speaking out courageously and he has access to the media—so this incident of police terror has become a big deal. NYPD Commissioner William Bratton was forced to issue a public apology to Blake but also said, “I don’t believe there was a race factor at all.” Seriously, can anyone imagine the pigs doing the same thing to John McEnroe?!

Because of Blake’s speaking out, it’s come to light that the white cop who assaulted him, James Frascatore, has a whole history of repeated violence and racist insults against Black and Latino people—a history which obviously had up to this point been covered over by the police authorities. Blake is righteously demanding that not only Frascatore be fired but that the NYPD issue apologies to all the victims who filed complaints against this cop and were ignored.

The assault on Blake has put a big spotlight on the reality that the dogs are still in the streets. If you’re Black or Latino in Amerikkka, in the eyes of the police you’ve got a target on your back that says “criminal” and at any time you’re liable to being subjected to harassment and brutalization, even killed outright. The time is now—everyone has to take a stand, choose a side: Are you on the side of bringing down police terror on people, and letting those cops walk free...or are you on the side of those who say NO to this intolerable situation and are acting to STOP it?

What do they call a well-dressed Harvard-educated Black man with a pass to the U.S. Open?








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Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

From a reader:

San Jose Police Shoot and Kill Four Men in Nine Days in August

September 10, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From the film of the Dialogue REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN:

"Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?"

In just nine days in August, the San Jose, California, police department shot and killed four men. The police across this country prove themselves day in and day out to act as accuser, judge, jury and executioner, whatever the circumstances. In each case, the police claim the victim was armed and dangerous.

It is difficult to get details of incidents that the powers-that-be do not want widely known and the masses of people do not expose themselves. One question: even if these mainly young men of color (three out of four are Latino) committed crimes, even horrendous crimes, were they armed at the time of their execution?

On August16, two pigs shot and killed 29-year-old Matthew Castillo, who the police claim was one of three suspects in the killing of another man on August 13 (possibly a drug deal that went bad).

The next day, another San Jose cop fatally shot 40-year-old Richard Jacquez, a second suspect in the August 13 killing. Jacquez was unarmed. An official statement issued by the SJPD said he had reached for his waistband. Even after this lie was exposed, police spokesman Sgt. Enrique Garcia claimed that Jacquez did not comply with officers so they shot him and, when he turned to face the cops, they shot him again. It made no difference that he was, in fact, unarmed.

This change of story was so outrageous that the recently retired San Jose Police Department Independent Auditor, LaDoris Cordell, filed an official complaint. She questioned why the initial “false claim” was made in the first place. She told the San Jose Mercury News, “In communities of color, this is the concern, that the standard response is that ‘he made a furtive movement and went for something in the waist.’ I can tell you, I’m getting emails from people in San Jose saying, ‘How are we going to trust the police department?’”

You can’t! Not when the whole system is rigged against the masses of people!

Nine days earlier, on August 9, two San Jose cops shot and killed 22-year-old Edrian Rivera. They claim he was armed with a meat cleaver.

Barely six hours later, just after midnight on August 10, two other San Jose pigs responded to a call from a woman who said her brother was drunk, armed, and suicidal. The police claim they shot at, but did not hit, 30-year-old Aaron Phillips who they said had a handgun. They claim he went into the house and committed suicide. (I am so sick of “suicide by cop.” In socialist society, security forces will be trained, and held accountable, to handle the severely depressed and mentally ill with care and respect—not push them over the edge!)

These earlier two incidents got very little media coverage.

Since this series of murder by police, the SJPD has posted a new section to their online presence—officer-involved shooting Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)—and have posted its employee manual and use-of-force guidelines. So, now you can read the official method by which the system is rigged. In a statement, the SJPD said, “We believe it is important for the community to understand the investigative process, monitoring and incident review process.”

What people need to understand is something Bob Avakian stated in Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About, a filmed talk, also quoted in BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian:

“The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.”

BAsics 1:24








Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

San Antonio Sheriffs Murder Unarmed Gilbert Flores, Then Go After the Video Exposing Their Crime

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On August 28, county sheriffs in San Antonio, Texas, shot and killed Gilbert Flores as he had his hands up.

It might well have been yet another police murder: covered up, whitewashed, and blamed on the victim—with lies about how he was a threat to police, and a bunch of irrelevant bullshit about his personal life or his background.

In fact, the blaming of the victim happened—police claimed Gilbert Flores was “armed with a knife.” And media reported all kinds of allegations that, even if true, didn’t justify police murdering him.

But the shooting was caught on a video taken by Michael Thomas, a bystander. If you haven’t seen the video, watch it.

The video shows Flores running from the two Bexar County Sheriffs deputies, who approach him, one holding a shield. Flores then raises both his arms into the air. Although there is a period in the video where one of Flores hands is obscured behind a pole, Michael Thomas—the man who took the video—told reporters Flores raised both hands. The video clearly shows Flores, shirtless, presenting no threat to police.

The video shows Flores being shot—at least two shots are heard. In the video, Michael Thomas exclaims, “They just cold-blooded shot him!” After Flores falls to the ground, the police who shot him wander around, seemingly uninterested in whether he is dead or alive. Flores died at the scene.

Michael Thomas sold his video of the murder for a $100 fee to KSAT, a San Antonio TV station, which aired the video on its newscast. The video provoked widespread outrage at an outrageous murder. And the system lashed back. CNN and other news sources ran repeated stories that police had a second video that showed Flores had a knife in his hand. No such video has yet been produced, but mainstream media reported over and over on the murder of Flores as if he was armed.

Then the Bexar County sheriffs went after the TV station for showing the video. The sheriff’s office tweeted out: “broadcasting a man’s death for $100 sparked threats to our deputies’ lives. Let KSAT know what you think.” And they posted a phone number for the station. This was a conscious call on cop-lovers who follow the sheriff on Twitter to go after the TV station for showing the video. To their credit, the station refused to stop showing the video.

This move by the Bexar County Sheriff’s office—to mobilize their police-loving Twitter followers to go after a TV station for showing a video of them murdering someone, and then and claim they, the murdering police, are the victims here—is part of an ominous pattern. A pattern of turning reality upside down and portraying the epidemic of police brutality as a non-issue while portraying righteous anger at that epidemic of police murder as something criminal (see “October 24, New York City: POLICE MURDER MUST STOP! The Struggle to Stop Police Murder”).

The murder of Gilbert Flores is an outrage. The killers must be indicted, convicted, and jailed. And the whole way the system is moving to try to silence exposure and protest against police murder highlights how urgent it is that everyone in society choose sides NOW in this battle to stop police terror.






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Prosecutor in Pasco, Washington, Sets Killer Cops Free

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader in Washington:

Rally for Antonio Zambrano-Montes, February 11.Erika Zambrano at a rally February 11, with photo of her husband, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, who was killed by police. AP photo

Seven months ago, on February 10, police in Pasco, Washington, shot and killed Antonio Zambrano-Montes, who was unarmed. After stalling for months, local prosecutor Shawn Sant in effect became an accessory to murder by police when he announced on September 9 that he will not charge the three cops involved in the shooting of Zambrano-Montes.

Eric Garner... Michael Brown... John Crawford...Antonio Zambrano-Montes... and many more... In outrage after outrage, the police carry out cold-blooded murder of unarmed people, and then are allowed to walk free. This must STOP!

What the cops did to Antonio Zambrano-Montes was MURDER, straight up. As documented on a video that went viral, as well as in an autopsy and news articles, including in Revolution newspaper, Antonio was shot twice from behind while running away. He was then shot many times again when he turned to surrender.

Zambrano-Montes, originally from Mexico, worked in the orchards in the area. Among other things, he had been weighed down by injuries received in a fall while working, which had prevented him from making an income. On the day of his murder, he was not acting rationally and clearly needed help. Instead of providing help, the three cops executed Antonio with a storm of 17 bullets.

Sant issued a statement that makes claims that are clearly contradicted by the actions and words of Antonio that can be seen and heard in the video. The prosecutor said, “I believe that a unanimous jury would not find the presence of malice and the absence of good faith beyond a reasonable doubt in this case.” This is just another way of him saying that if he’d taken these killer pigs to court, he would have just let them walk anyway—so he’s going to save time and just not file any charges. This is a hard kick in the teeth to a community that is already under the boot of the Pasco police and the powers that be.

The people demand that these killer cops be tried, convicted and sent to jail!

THIS IS NOT OVER. There are people in Pasco who are determined to not let this injustice go down—and they must be supported.

August 22, 2015--Pasco, Washington
August 22, Pasco, Washington. Photo: Special to

Supporters of Revolution/ have been part of the protests in Pasco against the murder of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, standing with the struggle, and bringing the movement of revolution to the people. On August 22, we met people who took up the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirt and started learning more about Bob Avakian (BA), who is leading a movement for an actual revolution. And Which Side Are You On?/Rise Up October is being built here, calling on people to go to the October 24 national march in New York City to STOP police terror and murder.







Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Cheers to Susan Hunt for Refusing to Take Hush Money Meant to Cover Up Her Son's Murder by Police

Darrien HuntDarrien Hunt (Photo: Darrien Hunt Memorial Facebook page)

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


A year ago last August, Darrien Hunt, a 22-year-old Black man, was walking down a street in Saratoga Springs, Utah, with a souvenir replica sword when he was confronted by two cops who fired seven shots at him. Six bullets, at least one in the back, hit and killed him. Three months later, a prosecutor announced that no charges would be filed against the murdering cops.

Susan Hunt, Darrien’s mother, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and the cops. On September 10, Hunt said that the city had offered a $900,000 settlement—and that she had turned it down because terms were that she would have had to agree to not speak publicly about Darrien’s murder. She said, “To me it was a gag order, ‘Here’s the hush money, don’t ever say Darrien’s name again.’ ... My biggest concern is for the truth to be told.”

Compare and contrast Susan Hunt’s courageous and principled stand—and the deeply unjust and immoral actions of the police who wantonly murdered a young man and the authorities who backed and justified the crime. Which side do you cheer?






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Carl Dix Speaks on #RiseUpOctober:
It HAS to Happen

August 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


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

Carl Dix
Carl Dix is the co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. (Photo: Revolution/

Sixty years ago tomorrow, Emmett Till was brutally murdered. Why? Because they say he whistled at a white woman. Four days later, two white men came to his family's house and dragged Emmett off. They took him to a river, made him take his clothes off and beat him nearly to death. They gouged his eye out and shot him in the head. Then they tied his body to a 75 pound fan and threw him in the river. They were never punished for this murder, even tho' they admitted to doing it in an interview run in Look magazine.

Saturday will be another solemn anniversary. 10 years ago Hurricane Katrina roared ashore from the Gulf of Mexico. Katrina broke thru the levees in New Orleans and flooded 80 percent of the city. Hundreds of thousands of people were driven from their homes. Thousands and thousands of mostly poor Black people were left to die as the authorities failed to provide rescue from the flood waters or emergency supplies of food and water. Nearly 2,000 people DID die. Black people were herded into pens in the New Orleans Superdome that reminded many of the way enslaved Africans were jammed into the holds of slave ships. Blacks who acted to save their own and others' lives were condemned as "looters." The governor of Louisiana gave orders to shoot looters on sight. And police did gun down people who were doing nothing more than trying to escape the flood waters. In the weeks that followed, the authorities used Katrina to ethnically cleanse New Orleans, driving 100,000's of mostly Black people out of New Orleans. I saw some of this up close because I was in New Orleans several times in the aftermath of Katrina, and I fought together with people against the way Black people were driven out of the city.

These two anniversaries are gone into, deeply, in our newspaper, Revolution.  I urge everyone to get multiple copies of Revolution here tonight. Let's think about these two horrific anniversaries. And think about this—from Emmett Till to Sandra Bland... from the catastrophe of Katrina to the ongoing catastrophe of mass incarceration... from all the horrors of the slave ships, the Middle Passage, the centuries of enslavement and lynch mob terror, South AND North, to what we're here tonight to talk about—WHAT WE MUST DO TO STOP POLICE TERROR AND MURDER... think about what America has meant.

So what MUST we do to stop all this? I'm gonna talk tonight about the only REAL way to put an end to this, and then I'm going to talk about Rise Up October, the huge National March to Stop Police Terror on October 24 here in New York City, which is something that everyone can and must jump into right now to push these killers back. And to start all this, I'm going to share with you a quote from Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Here's what BA says:

There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness: Black people playing a crucial role in putting an end, at long last, to this system which has, for so long, not just exploited but dehumanized, terrorized and tormented them in a thousand ways—putting an end to this in the only way it can be done—by fighting to emancipate humanity, to put an end to the long night in which human society has been divided into masters and slaves, and the masses of humanity have been lashed, beaten, raped, slaughtered, shackled and shrouded in ignorance and misery.

That ugliness is so real, it is painful to even think about. There is the way they nearly wiped out the native peoples who lived here and stole their lands, and then put the few who survived into concentration camps called reservations. There is the way they dragged millions of Africans to these shores in slave chains. Oh yes, this capitalist system came into being dripping with blood from its every pore as Karl Marx said. There's the subjugation of women, which is ages old and current day with the culture of servitude and rape and viewing women as sex objects, and the attempts to control women's most private decisions of when or whether they want to have a child. There's the way they do immigrants who are driven here by hunger and horror the U.S. causes in their homelands, desperately seeking work and then persecuted—deported in record numbers by Obama and insulted by fascist idiots like Donald Trump.

Carl Dix

There's the imperialist wars—the powers that be sometimes tell us about the Americans who die in these wars, but do they tell us about the people they kill? They killed over a million people in Iraq these past two decades. They killed three million people in Vietnam and three million more in Korea. And do they tell you why? Well, Cornel can tell you—it's for EMPIRE. And I was in their army, I saw how they try to break people's spirits and turn them into mindless killing machines for their imperialist wars. When they told me in 1970 that I had to ship out to Vietnam, I said "HELL, No!" I did two years in Leavenworth military prison because I refused to kill my Vietnamese brothers and sisters for this system. And now they're even putting all of human life in danger by destroying the environment of the planet we all live on.

We can't turn away from this ugliness. We have to confront it.

But there's something else. There's the great beauty that Avakian talks about. The potential to emancipate all of humanity.

This is not a dream. This is not "don't worry, we'll get justice some day." This can be done. Humanity CAN be emancipated. And the way to do this is through revolution—thru getting RID of this system and bringing in a system that is based on freeing people from all that ugliness and developing whole new ways for people to relate to each other and to the whole world.

A lotta people tell me, "Carl, you're crazy. You can't make revolution. They're too powerful." But what's crazy is going along with this system and expecting things to get better. And let me tell you about their power—I've seen it up close, and I've seen the very real potential to defeat that power.

We saw the potential to make revolution in the 1960's, when Black people stood up against the oppression enforced on them, sparking much broader resistance here in the U.S. and striking a chord with people around the world. The potential to defeat them and their power was shown in Vietnam where peasants who were inspired and organized defeated their big powerful army—and part of how they did that by inspiring soldiers like me to rebel. Back then we wanted to question and change everything. We saw glimmers of a different morality, a whole different way people could relate to each other. We saw a glimpse back then of the beauty Bob Avakian is talking about.

In a few parts of the world people did get free, and here in the belly of the beast, the system got knocked back on its heels. But things didn't go far enough. We never made revolution here in the U.S., leaving power in the hands of the capitalist exploiters. Where revolution had been made, power was seized back. The attempt to change everything got defeated, and people around the world and in this country have paid a heavy price in blood and misery for this ever since. A lot of people got too beaten down and gave up. What we got was a few faces in high places—some Black, some Latino, some women. What else we got was over two million people in prison.

Today one in two Black children grow up in poverty. We got crack and AIDS and all the horrors that go with what Lorraine Hansberry called a "dream deferred." But that's where Bob Avakian comes in—because he never gave up on the people and he never gave up on revolution, and not only that, he made new breakthroughs in revolution, including in basically solving the problems that the revolution ran up against back then.

Don't let people tell you we can't do better than this...don't let anybody tell you that America is eternal, and that the best we can hope for is getting some itty-bitty changes in HOW they dog us. Don't let them suck you into framing what you're trying to do in the language and the terms of the system. Don't let them tell you that we have to limit ourselves to working within the channels this system puts out there. We've seen this movie before, and the result is the whole genocidal situation we face right now—and yes, I said genocide. So I'm challenging everyone here, especially you young people—get into this revolution, get into Bob Avakian and what he's brought forward about how to make revolution—keep your sights aimed where they need to be: on emancipating all of humanity. You can do this by going to our website——or come to our new bookstore opening up this fall in Harlem at 437 Malcolm X Blvd at 132nd St. ... but do get into him.

Now, coming from where I'm coming from—the need for and possibility of revolution—I understand that we have to fight right now—we can't let them beat people so far down that we could never rise up against the things they do to us. We have to mobilize everyone we can, wherever they're coming from and however they see the problem and the solution, to fight this madness we face. Again, that's why you came here tonight—to find out what we must do to stop police terror and murder.

Stolen Lives poster
Poster PDF (for print) color | black & white       JPG (full size, for web)

Let me start out by getting personal. When I tell you the police have killed over 700 people so far this year, these are not just statistics to me. In the decades I've been working to stop murder by police I've seen the devastation killer cops inflict on families and on communities. I met Mertilla Jones five years ago. It was just days after a SWAT team broke into the wrong house and murdered her 7-year-old granddaughter, Aiyana Stanley-Jones. I met Juanita Young 15 years ago, just days after a cop who had arrested her son Malcolm Ferguson the previous week for protesting the murder of Amadou Diallo murdered Malcolm. I met Nicholas Heyward almost 20 years ago, two years after his 13-year-old son, Nicholas Jr, was gunned down by a cop while he was playing with a toy gun. These are just a few of the thousands of people who have been murdered by police. Ask these parents what it's like to mourn your child, without even justice. Or ask my wife, whose brother was shot down by cops right in front of his mother, just a day after they had told her they were gonna kill him. All this is a big part of why I'm doing all I can to mobilize people to act to STOP police getting away with murder. And it's why you need to join with this effort

People who front for this system are asking, "what are your demands?" They say, "You can't just tell us to stop letting our cops kill you, you have to have some 'reasonable' demands.'

It tells you something about this system that to them stopping the police from murdering innocent people and terrorizing Black and other oppressed peoples is "unreasonable." Let's leave that aside for now. OK, here are some demands. How about indicting, convicting and putting the killer cops in jail? And I don't just mean the ones who get caught on video killing someone next week. I mean all the killer cops, including those who have killed 1000s of people over the past years and decades. This is a "reasonable" demand because there is no statute of limitations on murder!

How about dismantling the new Jim Crow of mass incarceration and the whole genocidal program this concentrates? Don't be bragging about how Obama pardoned 46 people when there are 2.3 million people locked down. How about doing something about this for real? How about dropping the charges on everybody who got arrested protesting murder by police over the past year? How about shutting down that dungeon and butcher shop they got over there on Riker's Island, and the other dungeons just like it in other cities? And we do have an overarching demand: how about you STOP unleashing your cops to kill our people?

These are pretty reasonable demands, unless you are presiding over a system that NEEDS official murder, terror and massive unjust imprisonment. These are the demands that people need to throw down over and fight for as part of ending these horrors. And RiseUpOctober, the big national march in NYC on October 24, is aimed at making a big leap in the fight to do this.

When you're up against a genocide, and that IS what we're dealing with, you don't ask the people presiding over it to make some changes to smooth out the rough edges of that genocide or to slow down its intensity. You act to stop it.

And when you're up against a genocide, you don't listen when they say: "you've made your point—now you can stop disrupting the business as usual of our system." We haven't "made our point" until all of society is in an uproar saying that THIS MUST STOP. We haven't made our point until everyone has felt compelled to choose sides on this because they understand that there is no middle ground, and people feel challenged to be in the street saying THIS MUST STOP. We haven't made our point until, like Rev McCorry says, these so-called champions of human rights stand revealed before the whole wide world for the frauds that they are, and the whole world sees that THIS MUST STOP.

Video of the full event held on August 27:
What We Must Do to STOP Police Terror and Murder

Diverse, Intense & Uncompromising: A Night in Harlem to GET READY for #RiseUpOctober in NYC, October 22-24, 2015

THIS is why we have to be out there on October 22, 23 and 24. When we stand out there on October 22 reading the names of those the police have murdered—with prominent people joining with loved ones of those murdered and with clergy and others to, as Kimberlé Crenshaw and Janelle Monáe have called on us to do: SAY THEIR NAMES. This will send a powerful message. When people take to the streets in cities all across the country on October 22, people won't be able to turn their heads and say they didn't see it. On October 23, when students and clergy alongside and in solidarity with those who feel the lash of this every day, engage in non violent direct action and shut down one of their institutions of misery and terror—that will send a powerful message to all—this movement is serious.

Then on October 24, we, all of us, will march in from Grant Homes and Strivers' Row in Harlem, from Washington Heights and Jackson Heights, from Bed-Stuy and Hunts Point and from Jamaica and Staten Island. There will be students from CUNY, Columbia and dozens of other campuses from this area, people from Newark and Paterson and Hartford, numbering in the thousands and thousands. We will be joined by thousands and thousands more from Atlanta and Chicago, from Detroit and Cleveland, from New Orleans and Mississippi and many other places. Millions of people all across the country and around the world will hear our powerful cry: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? Millions more are gonna say, okay, I gotta choose sides and many of them will decide they have to be with the ones trying to STOP this.

We will change history. We will inspire thousands and yes millions, who are tired of being treated like criminals and tired of seeing cops patrolling their communities like occupying armies, to see that they don't have to take this, to see that it's not their fault. And they will stand up and act to stop this. We will rally to their side thousands of people from other sections of society who refuse to stand aside while horrors are inflicted on people because of the color of their skin. We will open the eyes of those who don't suffer these horrors, challenging them to quit swallowing the lying justifications the authorities give for continuing to give a green light to killer cops, challenging them to get off the sidelines—Which Side Are You On? Are you on the side of acting to STOP these horrors? Or are you on the side of continuing to let them go down? There's no middle ground, no neutrality, on this. You gotta choose a side. And I don't mean just giving us your sympathy. I mean actively joining in the resistance and mobilizing others to resist too. You gotta join with this effort to make October 24 as powerful as possible. You gotta listen when somebody here tonight tells you what you can do and who you can hook up with to be part of RiseUpOctober, or, and let me be real—if you and people like you don't throw in on this—it ain't gonna happen.

And it HAS to happen.

I don't want to have to keep on making hashtags with the names of people killed by the police. I don't want to keep adding names to the lists of the lives stolen by law enforcement. I don't want to have to keep adding pictures of people the police have murdered to banners like this. I don't want to let this genocide keep going so that future generations will be here discussing what to do about it 20 years from now. We've got to act to stop it now.

So let's get out there, let's do all we can to STOP this, and then let's do more—let's make October a big step toward a world where when the next generation learns about Emmett Till and Katrina, it really WILL be history, a history that has been overcome and that no longer echoes and booms in the reality of the present. A world where humanity has straightened its back and emancipates itself.






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Cornel West & Carl Dix Call for a Major National Manifestation Against Police Terror

#RiseUpOctober 24 to STOP Police Terror
Which Side are You On?

Come to New York City!

Updated September 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Call for Rise Up October pdf download


Michael Brown...Freddie Gray... Rekia Boyd... Andy Lopez...Tamir Rice

One after another—and so many others, precious Black and Brown lives—victims of police murder. We think of their faces, and furiously ache for justice. Over 1,000 people a year killed by police—yet since 2005, less than 60 indictments, less than 25 convictions! 1

Millions languish in prison, generation after generation, Black and Latino brothers and sisters. The spearpoint of a whole matrix of oppression.

People have struggled, resisted, risen up. This must go on and go further—all summer, in many different ways, intensifying.

At the same time, these repeated outrages cry out for a major, national manifestation this fall that states very clearly:


This demonstration will be resistance-based, uncompromising in spirit and, at the same time, pluralistic and diverse, involving hundreds of thousands of people, reaching into every corner of this society and powerfully impacting the whole world.

History has shown that no significant change has been won without mass determined resistance.

We refuse to be derailed by promises of reform that are merely that: promises.

We refuse to be intimidated by government repression or by threats from forces of open and unrepentant racism and fascism. We will respond to the urgency of the political situation by mobilizing hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets to say these horrors must stop.

We aim to amplify the many forms of resistance against police murder and mass incarceration. More important, we aim to change the whole social landscape, to the point where a growing section of people all over take ever-increasing initiative and make it unmistakably clear that they refuse to live in a society that sanctions this outrage, and where those who do NOT feel this way are put on the defensive.

Join us—on October 24 in the streets of New York City.


Initiated by Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party & Dr. Cornel West, author and educator

Initiating Endorsers include family members of those whose lives were taken by police:

Click here to see initial endorsers.





Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

September 15: Rally and Be in Court for Noche Diaz—On Trial for #ShutDownA14 Arrest

September 7, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Note from Editors: We received this from someone working on Noche Diaz’s political defense


Noche Diaz

Noche Diaz speaking at Times Square, New York City, on August 13 at a show stopping event that included major recording artists, community leaders, and family members of victims of police murder in the fight against police terror. Photo:

On September 15, Noche Diaz will go on trial in Brooklyn Criminal Court for charges thrown at him after he was arrested during the April 14, 2015, action in New York City that was part of the national #ShutDownA14 actions to Stop Murder by Police. Noche is a young revolutionary leader who works with the Revolutionary Communist Party and the NYC Revolution Club. He is known and loved by people in Harlem and far beyond, from pre-teens hassled by the cops to veteran fighters against police brutality and injustice. He is also well known to and hated by forces of authority, concentrated in the NYPD, for being on the front lines of struggle for years.

On April 14, thousands made no business as usual a reality across the country. In New York City, 1,500 protesters surged into the streets in protest against police terror and murder, breaking into the national media and inspiring many more. More than 40 were arrested. ALL cases except Noche’s have been settled without criminal convictions.

Consider this: The cops who murdered Mike Brown and Eric Garner did not even face a trial—nor were they punished in any way. This injustice goes on every day all over this country—Black and Brown people are killed at the hands of the police, and the killer cops walk free. Yet the people who protest police terror are the ones who are attacked, arrested, and hit with criminal charges.

Noche faces three misdemeanor charges from the April 14 protest: obstructing government administration, which could bring a one-year jail sentence; resisting arrest; and disorderly conduct. He has already spent more time in jail than 99 percent of those murdering cops and is being threatened with a full year in jail

The authorities are trying to send a message: Don’t you dare lead others to protest police terror—and especially don’t even think about making an actual revolution. The people need to send a very different message: We are NOT intimidated, we will NOT be silenced by these attacks and threats from the powers-that-be, we will stand with Noche and rally others to stand with him—to demand that all the charges be dropped. Noche needs to be out in the streets where he belongs, as a leader of the people. We will wage a fierce political battle to keep him out of their clutches.

As we do, we will step up the fight to STOP POLICE TERROR—joining with Noche, the Revolution Club, and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and many, many others in building for a powerful national march in New York City October 24 to STOP police terror and murder.

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network and Revolution Club are calling for everyone to pack the court on Tuesday, September 15, and to rally at the court at 9 am—120 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn—before going inside. They are also calling for people to write statements of support for Noche demanding that the charges be dropped and send them to

Since righteous protests erupted after the August 9, 2014, murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Noche has been blatantly singled out by the NYPD for persecution. In an interview with, Noche described what happened when he was arrested at a mass protest on November 25, 2014, the day after the announcement that the cop who murdered Michael Brown would not be indicted:

“[The police] were saying things like, ‘I know you, you already have a case, you better go home, cuz when we get you, you ain’t going nowhere for a long time, we’re gonna put you away...’ ... They were trying to isolate people who were trying to lead things, especially people in the Revolution Club, including myself. But they weren’t able to do that and they kept striking me on the back of the head.... The police had me pushed against a car, and finally were able to pull me out of the crowd. They had made a decision to really go get me. Despite efforts from the crowd to protect me, they got me. They slammed me to the ground. Then they pulled me up to my feet and took me behind the police line. One said, ‘Let’s take him down behind the truck where no one can see.’ So I stopped walking and faced the crowd.”

This fall Noche is scheduled for trial on charges stemming from that arrest, as well as another arrest in August 2014 in a mass action right after Michael Brown was killed. Keep reading for updates in the political and legal battle to demand that all the charges from all these arrests be dropped and that they stop targeting Noche!






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Reggae 4 Resistance Raises Funds for Battle to Free David "Iggy" Rucker, Alfredo Reyes, and Grant Newburger

September 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


HEAVYWEIGHTDUB! with Grant and Iggy.
Photo: Special to

HEAVYWEIGHTDUB! – Chicago’s finest Dub Reggae Band – rocked the house on August 26 for over three hours, raising money and spirits for the battle to free David “Iggy” Rucker, Alfredo Reyes, and Grant Newburger. Over $1,000 was raised to help pay legal expenses.

The three were arrested at protests last fall demanding NO MORE police murders of Black and Brown people, and are charged with vindictive felony counts carrying potential prison terms of seven years. The authorities are trying to send a message that this is what you will face for speaking out and protesting against police murder, for being a revolutionary, for standing with those on the bottom of society. (For more on the case, go to

Drop the charges on Alfredo, Iggy and Grant 5.5 x 8.5 brochure | Download PDF

Another message was sent by everyone who was part of this successful fundraiser. Here’s what HEAVYWEIGHTDUB! had to say:

“As a band, we understand the important role music plays in the struggle against oppression. We come from different backgrounds but we all felt it was important to support these defendants and to try to uplift the spirit of their supporters and others involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. We picked a side a long time ago and HEAVYWEIGHTDUB!'s music stands firmly with the masses of oppressed people worldwide.”





Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Genocidal Realities

Maternal Deaths—Yes! It is genocide!

September 14, 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.


What does it mean for a whole people to be counted as less than human, to suffer systematic poverty, discrimination, racism, abuse?

Consider this:

"In New York City, Black, non-Hispanic women were 12 times more likely than White, non-Hispanic women to die from pregnancy-related causes between 2006 and 2010."

This comes from a report issued at the end of July by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Report Health. The overall rate of pregnancy-related deaths in NYC declined from 33.9 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2001 to 17.6 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010. However, the gap between the rates of deaths for people identified as white versus those identified as Black was greater during the years 2006—2010 compared to earlier years (2001—2005). In the earlier period, Black women had seven times the death rate during pregnancy than white women. But that got worse in the following five years. Between 2006 and 2010, Black, non-Hispanic women were twelve times more likely to die in pregnancy than other women.

The report goes on to state:

"Although the causal relationships for the increased risk of death for Black, non-Hispanic women are not well established, pregnancy-related mortality is associated with obesity, underlying chronic illness and poverty—all conditions that disproportionately affect New York City's Black population. The chronic stress of racism and social inequality also likely contribute to racial disparities in health, such as differences observed in infant mortality, preterm birth and low birth weight and may play a role in pregnancy-related mortality, as well. Pregnancy-related mortality also disproportionately impacts Asian/Pacific Islander women and Hispanic women, though not to the same extent as that found among Black women."

A similar 2013 report focused on maternal and infant health in the Bronx, the poorest of the NYC boroughs, where 80 percent of the births were to women on Medicaid, and 41 percent of children under five lived in households below the poverty level of $17,916 a year for a family of three. "The borough's rates of infant mortality, and percentages of low birth weight, prematurity, teen pregnancy, and late or no prenatal care exceed—in some cases substantially—those of the city and country. While not addressed directly in our report, other studies have found that these outcomes are directly tied to the adverse impact of poverty and racism. Several of the poorest neighborhoods are particularly hard hit by these conditions. In addition, a large racial disparity remains, with African American/non-Latino black and Latina/o mothers and babies at the greatest risk."

Pre-natal care that starts early in the pregnancy has a large impact on whether babies are born healthy and women survive pregnancy. This is especially critical for women who suffer diseases of poverty, such as obesity, hypertension, and cardiac problems. But in the Bronx in 2010 only 58 percent of the women received prenatal care during the first trimester of their pregnancy. In the Central Bronx from 2008-2010, 18 percent of women received very late or no prenatal care.

The report also paints a vivid picture of other conditions of poverty and the oppression of Black communities that contributes to maternal and infant deaths: the stress of living under racist conditions; toxic environmental conditions in neighborhoods poor Black women tend to live in; the effects of trauma from physical, sexual or psychological abuse by partners or spouses; rape; difficulties in getting adequate birth control or abortion when confronted with an unexpected pregnancy (10 percent of the births in the Bronx were women aged 15-19, and 87 percent of those were unexpected pregnancies).

Compare all of these "reasons" for the deaths with the basic fact that for white women the rates of pregnancy-related deaths have dropped dramatically since the beginning of the 20th century, and continued to drop in the first ten years of the 21st century, while for Black women they have continued to be high and poverty-related causes have increased.

The only reason for Black women to die in pregnancy-related deaths at a rate 12 times that of white people is that we live in a society where decisions about health care are based on profit, not overall on the needs of the people, and we live in a society where the oppression of Black people and other people of color is fundamental to the continued existence of that society. There is no justification or rationale for this situation to continue to exist!

And measure it against a revolutionary society that will be built where profit-driven health care is in the history books, where in regards to health, the goal of the government will be to promote the all-around health and well-being of all citizens, including through low-cost and eventually free health care for all. Where it is written into the Constitution that "...the orientation, laws and policies of the government of the New Socialist Republic in North America shall also attach great importance to—and shall wield to the fullest extent the political, legal and moral force, authority and influence of the government on behalf of—achieving the full equality of nationalities within this Republic and to overcoming the whole history and continuing effects of national oppression, not only in this society but throughout the world."





Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Interview with John Deans, Greenpeace Arctic Campaigns Specialist

"It's time to close off these waters to oil exploration"

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


This interview was aired on The Michael Slate Show, KPFK Pacifica Radio, in November 2014. We are publishing this because of its continued relevance in light of the fight against drilling for oil in the Arctic region. See “Obama’s Trip to Alaska: Talking Climate Change to Preserve the System That’s Destroying the Planet.”


Michael Slate: As people may have heard, Barack Obama has been in the forefront of paving the road for huge oil companies to dramatically step up the destruction of the planet: the continued and in fact increased drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the establishment of offshore drilling on the East Coast of the United States, and most horrifically, greasing the skids for all-out oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean.

Here to talk to us about that and the overall situation is John Deans, who recently wrote, “Federal agency said Arctic drilling would likely cause disaster. Here's what you can do.” John, welcome to the show.

John Deans: Thanks.

MS: What did this new government report reveal? What's significant about it?

John Deans: This report is something that is required by the court. An environmentalist sued a few years ago, that the federal government, when they offered this lease sale in 2008, under the Bush administration, had not properly considered the environmental impact. So this was their latest attempt to try to clean up their record on the environmental impact statement. This statement lays out a whole laundry list of impacts. A couple of the most shocking highlights are that the government is saying that if Shell finds oil, if oil production happens in the Chukchi Sea as part of these federal leases, there's a 75 percent chance of an oil spill—75 percent—of a large oil spill, that's over 1,000 barrels. And they assume that there will be 800 small oil spills. Now that's a massive impact on the local ecology. That will affect the food systems for marine mammals, for the fish. They talk about distinct species of salmon being destroyed. There are massive impacts on the local ecology, and of course, extracting more billions of barrels of oil out of the Arctic Ocean is only going to exacerbate the climate change that's destroying this sensitive area.

MS: One of the things they also said in the report was that the report was actually changed because it raised the amount of recoverable oil that they were saying was there in the Arctic. What's the significance of that? It went from 1 billion barrels to 4.3 billion barrels.

John Deans: That's correct. The problem is that the government has based their environmental impact statement on the potential spilling related to a billion barrels of oil being extracted from the Chukchi Sea, and as environmentalists argued, and the court agreed, it was an arbitrary and capricious estimate. And so in this newest report, they've gone through and said, well, we think that 4.3 billion barrels is how much economically recoverable oil will be taken out. And that's out of about 12 billion barrels that they estimate are economically recoverable in total. They just think that 4.3 billion is the likely estimate for what would be extracted. So we're taking a hard look at that and examining their methodology. This is a very complex report, so we're trying to poke the report any way we can to try to make sure that they are in fact giving a realistic estimate.

MS: Now, the difference between that and the original report which said 1 billion. What is the point here? Because I understand it was because, when they were putting the lower amount, it was basically meant to indicate or imply that there's really not that great a danger of some massive catastrophe.

John Deans: Yeah, that's right. They're trying to sort of brush this under the carpet. This is the second time they've been taken to court and it's the third round of this environmental statement that they've drafted, so hopefully they'll get it right this time. We'll see if the third time's a charm. But, yeah, that's basically it: the more oil that comes out of the ground, the higher the likelihood is for a spill, and the larger the impact would be of that spill. So those things need to be considered. So we saw the percentage jump from I think a 40 percent chance of an oil spill, up to 75 percent. At 75 percent—those are good odds, so you can basically expect that there would be an oil spill if production happens in the Chukchi Sea.

MS: I read a couple pieces that said, it's pretty much a given if drilling starts, there will be an oil spill.

John Deans: Yeah. That's certainly what we've said all along, and the government's finally catching up to that. The thing about the Arctic, as you said, it's horrifying. Look at what happened in 2010, with the deepwater disaster in the Gulf of Mexico—a just absolutely horrific impact. And look at what happened in Prince William Sound with the Exxon Valdez. These spills are bad enough in areas that aren't iced in for the majority of the year. But when you go up to the Arctic Ocean, the National Academy of Sciences put out another report earlier that looked at what we could do about an oil spill, and essentially, the leading scientist on this said that we can't clean up an oil spill in the Arctic. We don't know the basic science behind how to do it, and we don’t have the equipment. So basically, the government knows that if 1,000 barrels of oil or above spills in the Arctic Ocean, most of it is going to stay trapped in the ice.

MS: I read somewhere where the U.S. Coast Guard has actually admitted that they have zero spill response capability in the Arctic.

John Deans: There's virtually no oil response capability. They've set up a couple of stations along the coast there, but there's not enough equipment, there's not enough training. And like I said, there's not enough understanding about what to actually do. The scientists were saying it's so bad that we want to go up there and burn oil to see what happens, which of course would be a disaster all in itself.

MS: There were four companies that were originally involved in this whole scene; only Shell Oil has attempted to develop their leases, and they were forced to stop. And I think it's important for people to understand why they were forced to stop, because it indicates what is possibly the outcome of beginning to drill for oil there. Why were they forced to stop? And what's the current status?

John Deans: Shell Oil is essentially the icebreaker for the industry in the U.S. Arctic waters. All the other companies, ConocoPhillips and others, have said, well, we'll see what Shell can do. And so far, Shell hasn't done a whole lot except to mess up. They've spent over $6 billion pursuing oil in the U.S. Arctic in 2012. Both of those drill ships ran aground. One of them, they had to scrap. One of them caught fire. It was just a complete mess. And that was just to drill some exploratory, what they call top holes, where they're not even getting to the layers of the rock under the sea floor that have oil in them. So, we've already seen that the company has a 100 percent success rate in completely messing up their operation. So we're going to use that as one of the things the government should take under serious consideration and say, look, you've got a perfect example of major oil going up, completely messing up their operations, so it's likely the environmental impact is really huge.

MS: Now one of the things I'd like to get into, it's kind of heavy because of the environmental impact. I want to talk about it in general first, because it involves so many things, including the increased shipping. I read that ships will end up discharging ballast waters with microbes or whatever, from other oceans, other sea waters, and what that would do to the ecology in the Arctic, but the impact of drilling in general and the damage that would do. Let's talk about that for a minute.

John Deans: Sure. In 2012, as Shell was making their way up to the Chukchi Sea, we actually sent our ship up there, and we did some exploring. Our campaigners and scientists went overboard in submersibles and surveyed the ocean floor, and we actually found higher numbers than anybody had predicted of the sea floor being covered in corals and brittle stars. That whole ocean floor ecology was much more vibrant than had been previously documented.

So it's a very vibrant area, but it's also very sensitive. Everything up there relies on everything else. So if you start destroying the ocean floor and you start harassing animals with increasing ship traffic, and even having a small oil spill—all of that adds up to a really huge impact. In fact, one of the things we've also done, Greenpeace and other environmental organizations, we’ve now sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Because they're basically going to give Shell Oil carte blanche to harass walruses and polar bears. And the drilling site is right near a critical habitat for walruses in particular called Hanna Shoal. It's the ship traffic, the noise, the harassment that could really lead to some very horrible consequences. And in the case of walruses, you can see they're already scrambling to find places to haul out [a behavior of pinnipeds—seals, sea lions and walruses—which involves leaving the water to regulate body heat, reproduce, and escape predators]. 35,000 just a few months ago hauled out on one beach. It was a huge story. And they had to come out on land when usually they're trying to haul out on ice. So there's multiple impacts when they add up.

MS: Let's move on to the impact of a major spill. That's the thing we've been talking about. We started off the conversation about that. What makes it so dangerous in these waters? What makes it so dangerous that you could actually say, well, there's going to be a spill if they start drilling? What is it that makes it so dangerous? I've read things about floating icebergs, the freezing conditions. Can we talk about that for a minute?

John Deans: Absolutely. The central issue is that climate change is affecting the planet. We all know that. There's no disputing that. But when you look at the Arctic, the effects are so much more extreme and so much more rapid. Temperature is rising multiple degrees, and what they're saying is that opens up waters. And that's true to a certain extent. But that doesn't mean that they're ice free. So you have these massive floating chunks of ice in the summertime, which is the drilling season, and these rigs have to be designed so that they can pick up and leave at a moment's notice and be towed away, or float out of the way of an iceberg. It's just a very hard place to work from that angle.

Also, there's a really short drilling season. You basically have from July through October, four months, to drill. So, what happens if a spill occurs in October? You don’t have much time before the ice starts coming, and before that equipment needs to get out of there for fear of being destroyed. The water is colder. Oil reacts differently. The specific type of oil that they might find acts differently than, say, how it might act in the Gulf of Mexico. So it's a very unique environment. It's very harsh weather. And a perfect example is when they moved their drill rig out, called the Kulluk, it ran aground because it went right through a winter storm, and the seas—I mean, we've all seen Deadliest Catch [a cable TV reality show about a fishing vessel in the Bering Sea], and what the oceans are like off the coast of Alaska. So that's what you should be picturing when you're picturing trying to drill for oil in Arctic waters.

MS: It's very heavy when I was reading up on this, the point about if spilled oil got under these large bodies of ice, there's just no way to contain or clean that up. Toxic traces can last a very long time, and travel very long distances on ice floes.

John Deans: Absolutely. And the document the government released looking at the environmental impact is really shocking. You look at the impact of the oil, and they talk about whales inhaling toxic gases that are coming out of the oil. They talk about polar bears being saturated in oil, losing flotation and the ability to stay warm. And this stuff lingers. We were in Alaska just a few years ago with some scientists, digging into the layers of sand in the waters surrounding the Exxon Valdez spill. And there's a layer of oil there. So yeah, this stuff sticks around. It volatilizes so you get emissions into the air. It sinks into different parts of the water column and gets spread all over the place. It coats marine mammals. It kills their food, the microorganisms and fish the feed on. So it spreads everywhere and it's a horrible disaster to imagine.

MS: I also want to read this part about the wholly inadequate response from oil companies to this danger. I read where one senior official in a Canadian oil company said that there really is no solution or method today that we're aware of that can actually recover spilled oil from the Arctic. And yet Shell says it can clean up 95 percent of a spill. The U.S. Geologic Survey says one percent to 20 percent, and they point out that with the Exxon Valdez, the recovery was only nine percent, and Deep Water Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico was only 17 percent.

John Deans: Right. And consider that Deepwater Horizon was in warm, relatively mild waters of the Gulf of Mexico, compared to the harsh, cold and stormy waters of the Arctic. So, yeah, those claims are absurd, and they're couched in very feeble science. And like I said, in April of 2014, the National Academy of Sciences, the best scientists that we've got, their national research council said, yeah, we don't know enough. The leading scientists trying to deal with oil in different conditions don't know enough about how it will act in the Arctic. So having a company say, oh, we can clean up 95 percent of it is just absurd, and nobody really believes that.

But the thing is, this is a moment when the Obama administration could take a real stand. Obama's just made very big claims on climate. He's starting to enact a lot of things. This is one area where they can say, look, our own research, the court made us go back, we had to look at this, and our research is saying there's a 75 percent chance of a spill, we could be decimating populations of sensitive animals, like threatened ducks that are protected under the Endangered Species Act, this project doesn't need to go forward. This is too dangerous.

There is an opportunity here for the president and his administration to step up and put their money where their mouth is and say, you know what, this area is off limits. We're not going to drill. It's too dangerous, and we can't afford to have more hydrocarbons and carbon going into the atmosphere.

MS: Of course, then he'd have to deal with the situation that he's just opened up all this oil drilling off the East Coast and he increased deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.

John Deans: It's absurd to think of opening up areas on the East Coast. And we have a chance to stop that, too. People really need to get engaged on this. There's a very good opportunity right now for people to engage on these issues and say, no, look, we're going to draw a line in the sand, we're going to draw a line in the ice and say, no, you can't go any further. This is enough. There's plentiful renewable energy, there's a whole new way we can charge our economy. We don't need these fossil fuels.

MS: I want to ask you one question around that because it's very important that people know that Greenpeace is actually out there fighting this, on the front lines of this. I was reading recently where you had the Arctic 30, a group of Greenpeace volunteers who were out there fighting the same sort of drilling, I think it was in Russian waters.

John Deans: The area of the Arctic that's most under development right now is the Russian Arctic. A state-owned oil company called Gazprom, who partners with companies like Shell. There are all these partnerships between corporate oil companies and the Russian state-owned companies. They have a drilling rig in Russian Arctic waters, and they still do. Our activists approached the oil rig and attempted to climb it, were approached by Russian authorities who fired warning shots into the water around them from their guns, held them at knife point, dropped from a helicopter onto our ship, arrested the ship and its entire crew and threw them in jail for a few months. Thankfully, they were granted amnesty as millions of people around the world cried out for justice on that. But it's a horrifying experience trying to suppress free speech. Our activists were incredibly brave and went right up against the threat, because who else was going to do it? That's why we're out there. We need to confront the sources of these problems. We need to bring the world's attention to what's happening. Because the oil companies and the governments they've bought and paid for want to keep this stuff in the dark and want to just keep on making billions of dollars.

MS: Yeah, and a final thing for you to comment on if you want to. I'm just reading [Greenpeace's assessment of] Shell's spill response plan for an accident in the Chukchi Sea waters, and it was recently approved by the U.S. government, and here's what it says. The assessment says, “Even a quick read shows that the company would be entirely unable to respond to an accident in the High North. In fact, it's more like a negligence plan than a spill plan, depending on a capping and containment system that hasn't even been built, on deflection barriers that will not work properly on ice, and with onshore clean-up plans that look like they've been drawn by children. At the same time, we hear that Shell is also paying to train Dachshunds to hunt out oil trapped under the thick layers of ice. Need I say any more?”

John Deans: Well, I'll give you more, which is that in 2012, their oil spill containment device, which is basically something they put over the hole which is intended to shut things down if anything goes wrong, tested in calm water, not up in the Arctic even, crushed like a beer can. So the device that they're relying on to be able to stop a blowout doesn't even work, let alone in Arctic conditions. So it's absurd. We've challenged their oil spill response plan. But the problem that we have here is that a lot of these decisions are political. Under law, the government can rubber-stamp these projects, even if they're going to have massive environmental impact. That's why it's so important for people to send a message to the Obama administration's Department of the Interior and say, look, you know now bad these environmental impacts are. It's time to cancel this. It's time to close off these waters to oil exploration.





Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Check It Out

Antarctic Edge: 70 Degrees South

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Antarctic Edge: 70 Degrees South is an exciting movie—part adventure to the polar south with scientists who are studying the environment in this beautiful, ecologically vibrant region—part clarion call about the dangerous transformations happening from climate change.

The film’s website says this is a “science-in-action” film “following a renowned team of scientists studying climate change in the fastest winter-warming place in the world. This documentary combines innovative science, dramatic imagery and two decades of scientific collaboration into a compelling character-driven narrative.”

The film takes you right inside the work of a team of scientists who travel to the West Antarctic Peninsula, where winter sea-ice presence has declined by three months and temperatures have increased by 11 degrees Fahrenheit, an amount of warming six times faster than the average worldwide. You travel with the scientists through the ice in a big icebreaker and in small Zodiac boats as they study how all these changes are impacting whale populations, Adélie penguins, seabirds, and krill and plankton at the base of the food chain. These are regions of tremendous beauty—roaring seas, tremendous ice sheets, sparkling mountains. You learn directly on the spot about what methods and technology scientists are using to learn about the populations of these amazing species, from out in the field to into the lab, which is right there on the boat. And these guys are working hard, nearly round the clock, but still clearly having fun!

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)

As you journey with them on the seas, the scientists describe the overall changes happening in the West Antarctic Peninsula and how different areas they travel to are being impacted at different rates. We learn especially about the melt of ice sheets here that is quickly transforming the environment in disturbing ways. You hear with real passion about the importance of their mission: “We have a sea level disaster facing us. We’re right at the heart of some of the largest climate change on earth, we’re right there at ground zero, this is an opportunity nobody gets,” and “There is a complete sense of responsibility, we can’t mess this up.”

This film brings you an understanding of how these changes in Antarctica affect the life and ecosystem there and the tremendous stakes of this. One of the researchers talks about how with less sea ice, winds mix the surface of the ocean, making it harder for plants to grow. This means less of the small shrimp-like krill, and ultimately less food for the Adélie penguins—which heartbreakingly may disappear within 10 years because of these changes. And you are taken beyond this—to the ways the Antarctic ice system interacts with the world system and its melting is further impacting world climate. You learn about the ways world climate is driven by the ocean system. All this is told in a living and fascinating way, but at the same time with an urgency that helps you see the need to stop this destruction.

One thing I really loved about the movie was the way the research is brought alive and opened up to people to invite them right into it. Again, from the film website: “There is urgent need to improve science communication to the general public. Too often research narratives fail to illustrate the excitement, challenges and passion required to explore the planet.”

This is a movie I highly recommend. I found it on Netflix. You can learn a lot, be inspired and also moved into saving our planet.






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

New Video: Natasha McKenna Murdered by Prison Guards

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Natasha McKenna was murdered by prison guards in February in Fairfax County, Virginia. Last week, Sheriff's officials released a video of the brutal, inhumane assault on this 5’3, 135 lb woman suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that led to her death. Natasha McKenna was shot with a stun gun and Tasered. She cried out, “You promised me you wouldn't kill me. I didn't do anything."

Watch the video here, now.

Fairfax County Sheriff Stacy Kincaid said the video shows “[E]xactly both the professionalism and the restraint and the patience that the deputies demonstrated in trying to get Ms. McKenna treatment...” What does it tell you that this murder-in-custody represents “[E]xactly both the professionalism and the restraint and the patience” this system has for a Black woman in desperate need of mental health care?

Which Side Are You On?





Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Jeers to Chicago Church for Backing Down on "Black Lives Matter"

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


The Beverly Unitarian Church in a mainly white middle-class neighborhood in southwest Chicago recently put up a “Black Lives Matter” message on the electronic sign in front of the church—and then took it down a few days later. The church said that they decided to take the step after receiving some hostile responses to the message on their Facebook page, including physical threats, from those attacking the church for being anti-police.

This is a time when police, their supporters, raving fascists, and right-wing ruling class voices are pushing the myth that cops are increasingly in danger because of what they claim are “hate speech” by those protesting murders by police and insisting that “Black lives matter.” This is a reactionary ideological offensive aimed at shutting down people who speak out and act against police terror—the murder after murder of Black and Latino people by the cops and their exoneration by the prosecutors, courts, and government officials. In this situation, all people of conscience face a critical choice: Cower and backtrack in the face of the threats and attacks by the brutal, racist police and their supporters—or take a principled stand to say NO MORE and act to STOP to the unjust and immoral targeting of Black and Brown people by pigs acting under the color of law.

Black lives do matter—and Black lives are under a deadly threat. And what the Beverly Unitarian Church did amounts to saying Black lives don't matter. Standing with the oppressed inevitably means facing hostility, taking on risks and often making real sacrifices. But to do anything LESS, to waver in the face of that challenge, is morally unacceptable to those who love justice and oppose oppression.





Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

From a reader:

Wrestling with BA's vision of the "Potential" in today's situation... and what it will take to make it real

September 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


There is the potential...


Dear Revolution,

I wanted to share some of the responses I got showing people the quote from BA on the back page of this issue of Revolution in downtown Oakland.

A middle-age Black man who works in a rehab clinic read it and said:

“Yes. There's a helluva lot of ugly stuff Black people have been through all their lives. I work in a place where people have been broken down. They try to get out of the cycle of taking drugs and not having a real life. And then they get jacked up for having it on them and they just get deeper into it and some die way early in their lives. I see people, men and women and children, just going hungry—the pain that their faces show when they stretch out their hands just to ask for money. It makes me cry.

“So this is talking about something beautiful coming out of this. I guess I don't see that potential very clear. To take all the people as you say, around the world, out of this darkness?”

I brought out some of the changes going on now in people fighting back and resisting police brutality and asked him how he thought that fit into what is in this quote. He said:

“Yeah, people are fighting back against it now more than they used to—but hey, have you seen that movie Straight Outta Compton? Those young people are into a lot of gangster bling bling. How are THEY gonna be an example to others to get out of that shit... when they show it off themselves?

I pulled out a quote from BAsics:

People say: “You mean to tell me that these youth running around selling drugs and killing each other, and caught up in all kinds of other stuff, can be a backbone of this revolutionary state power in the future?” Yes—but not as they are now, and not without struggle. They weren’t always selling drugs and killing each other, and the rest of it—and they don’t have to be into all that in the future. Ask yourself: how does it happen that you go from beautiful children to supposedly “irredeemable monsters” in a few years? It’s because of the system, and what it does to people—not because of “unchanging and unchangeable human nature.”
(BAsics 3:17)

I emphasized that the quote from BA that we started out discussing actually starts out with the word "potential," which means that there is an unrealized capacity—it is not there yet—and in order for it to be realized, there is work to be done. His response to this was, it's going to be a tough job... good luck.

I challenged him—that's not what is needed. What we need is people like him to get involved in the process of understanding the world in a scientific way and to take up the most scientific theory of revolution as brought forward by BA (pointed to the BAsics book) and become a maker of revolution based on this advanced understanding, and spreading this advanced understanding everywhere he goes.

He shook his head, said that the gangster mentality is just too deep, pretty hard to change. I raised to him that human consciousness is not some gene that people are born with nor is there some kind of unchanging human nature, it is socially determined. Just take the 1960s—a great upheaval such as that changed people’s thinking, some going from siding with the U.S. government in the Vietnam War to being against it.

He ended by saying that he could see that there are some changes going on, that more Black people are not accepting the ugly shit, and yes, maybe that kind of thing will keep going. I added to this that this whole aspect of fighting the power has the effect of changing how people think. He said that he's not ready to get all the way into this but would check it out, bought a copy of Revolution newspaper and said he would share it. He took up some palm cards to get the message out (people will see this quote right away when they go to

Another person I showed the quote to is a Latino law student getting ready to take his bar exam and working in a law clinic. He read through the quote, said that yes, it sounded all good but doesn't really get what this "particular role" of Black people is, why Black people are playing this crucial role? Why not other people as well?

And also what about this part: "fighting to emancipate humanity... to put an end to the long night.” He said, “I don't get it. Sounds kind of nebulous to me.”

On the "particular role of Black people"—starting with slavery—I started by showing him the BAsics 1:1 quote. He laughed and said that, well, yeah, he didn 't know much about that, that he has studied some things about the world colonization of peoples, but not Black history in the U.S. And that I must be thinking—"what kind of law student is this that doesn't know the basics of the history of this country and how the Black people's experience is heavily involved in that?” I said no—I am not surprised nor do I look down on him for not knowing, because this has been negated/downgraded/lied about through the conventional wisdom spewed forth in society.

I gave him an example—about the misnomer that Lincoln "freed the slaves" in the way that he personally made that his mission—but if we dig into actually what happened, we would find out that he personally didn't have the compulsion out of some moral certitude that slavery was wrong, but wanted to save the union which after all is the role of a president. But the main thing I challenged him around is, are you wanting to get to the truth of things? Are you curious about the role Black people played and are playing today?

He said that yes... he wanted to find out. I said okay, then let's go on this journey together—and I laid out some ways he could get involved in the movement for revolution more or less on the spot. He said: “I got my head full of it right now—studying for the bar and all that.” I said that, yes, this will require doing some work but there is a way in for everyone who wants to get involved and we can work with your schedule. We made arrangements to hook up in the library of the place where he works as an intern.

Then, as we were just about to get into the project he wanted to work on, he raised again, what about "emancipating humanity" sounding kinda nebulous. Just then his bus came so we agreed to talk about this part when we meet.






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

From a reader:

"I very much like the idea of something beautiful to rise out of all of today's ugliness..."

September 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


There is the potential...


On the first day of an English class last week, an instructor at a Midwestern community college gave out the palm cards of BA’s new statement. He asked the class to write their thoughts on the quote from BA. Here are a few samples of their responses.

A white woman wrote: “Despite its ostensible foundation of freedom and equality, the United States was built on subjugation and domination—from creating a ‘new world’ by wresting land from the indigenous people to growing their new nation by kidnapping and enslaving Africans. The legacy of slavery still taints our nation today, and the essence of that exploitation persists. Bob Avakian posits that from this ugliness beauty can arise: Black people being a force in emancipating all people. The systemic oppression of Black people in the U.S. has recently become widely discussed and acknowledged. Activists—Black activists—are demanding justice, demanding an end to police brutality, demanding an end to exploitation and dehumanization. And they are heard. Black voices are carrying on a tide of anger and sadness that crosses race and creed. In an increasingly connected world, censored voices are now audible. Tamir Rice is no longer an un-named Black youth, who may not have received coverage at all. He is known as a child, as someone’s son, as a human being. The dead are now acknowledged. Too late, undoubtedly, but it is a start. Beyond the effort to end the continued subjugation of Blacks in America, the real beauty lies in its connectedness to the dehumanization of any people across the globe. In fighting for themselves, Blacks can come from a place of forced subjugation to a force of change for all.”

A Black high school student who is taking college courses wrote: “I very much like the idea of something beautiful to rise out of all of today’s ugliness. I think it’s about time for several changes to be made in today’s society. If revolution is the way to achieve those changes then it must happen. Black people as a community have had unspeakable atrocities committed against us for far too long. Still in today’s society things like police shootings, the KKK and killing of Black people plagues the nation. ... I think this revolution idea is an idea that needs to happen for the Sandra Blands and the Tamir Rices of the world. We have to hold those at fault accountable and not let their deaths be in vain.”

A Black man in his early 20s wrote: “There is potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness.” I like when this is said. It shows the author/writer has hope for a beautiful change when it comes down to Black people and the system. I believe this article is completely correct. As a Black man, I know the discrimination brought up against us. So when this author/writer says, ‘Black people play a crucial role in putting an end to it,’ I think he’s right. Nothing can be changed, until you do something to change it. A wise person once said, ‘Faith without works is dead.’ So therefore we need to come together using faith and action to somehow make a change. As a race that had been tormented and discriminated since our ancestors, we definitely deserve change. Some things won’t come easy, but given our strong, hardworking background this should be something very achievable for us. This article is very meaningful and detailed. It uses strong text and makes a clear point. I think it’s great.”

A young Black woman wrote: “I feel that it is wrong for white people to take the role of masters over Black people. Everyone should be treated the same no matter what color skin they have. White people hurt Black people in any way possible for nothing. By Black people ‘fighting to emancipate humanity’ they could become free.”






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Correspondence from a Reader:

Prison Censorship of Revolution & Getting Around the Censors

September 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Dear Revolution,

I wanted to share this story with you. We sent a crew of revcom comrades and Rise Up October activists to a rally against police brutality happening in another city, and I was talking to a formerly incarcerated brother and he told me he knew Revolution newspaper from when he was behind the walls.

Then he told me a story—you know, one of those stories that strangely both infuriates you and warms your heart at the same time. He told me that he worked in the recycling room in the prison, and he started seeing copies of Revolution newspaper that guards had thrown away instead of letting them be delivered to the subscribing prisoners. He told me the papers were still in a plastic wrapper that meant they had gone thru the mailroom inspection but were not delivered to the prisoners. He said he got curious about the paper and started reading it and saw how deep the paper was so he started pulling the papers the guards had thrown away and taking them out on the yard and giving them to prisoners.

Yes, this story is infuriating because the pig guards are censoring and trying to rob prisoners of a life of the mind and suppress prisoners from having access to Revolution newspaper and the crucial articles in every issue, and at the same time, your heart is warmed because of the creativity of this brother who read the paper and knew prisoners needed it and helped make that happen.

This is a good story to keep in mind when we are coming up against obstacles. Keep in mind how much the masses of people, humanity, needs what we are doing, and be creative to find all the ways for them to meet the revolution.





Revolution #404 September 14, 2015

Three Points on Ohio's Proposed Down Syndrome Abortion Ban

Fetuses Are NOT Human Beings! Women ARE Human Beings, and MUST Have the Rights of Personhood!

September 7, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


We received this letter from someone active in Stop Patriarchy.

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

Ohio's proposed law H.B. No. 135 would ban abortions that are sought because of a fetal diagnosis of Down syndrome and make it a felony for providers to knowingly perform abortions under such circumstances. The state could also revoke a provider's license. The fact that this is even being considered is outrageous!

1. Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement!

Forced motherhood happens within a larger societal context, where women are raped, beaten, harassed, demeaned, degraded—treated as property, breeders and sex objects. When women are not allowed to decide for themselves whether to become a parent, then they are often trapped in abusive relationships, pushed into (or further into) poverty, and their lives and dreams are foreclosed.

Parenting a child—including a child with Down syndrome—can be wonderful, if that is what you want to do, and you're able to do so, but forcing women into motherhood against their will, by denying them the right to abortion, is wrong! This is even more so the case when women are forced to continue a pregnancy that would bring into being a child with severe disabilities. This is a life-long commitment, and the emotional and social burdens are full-time.

2. Abortion Providers Are Heroes!

Abortion providers already face attacks every day, including the threat of murder, and heroically continue to provide women with access. They should NOT be further criminalized and demonized by any law!

Under this Ohio law, abortion providers may find themselves in a position where they are forced to choose between patient confidentiality and avoiding felony charges and/or their license being revoked. It will have a chilling effect on doctors and their patients holding forthright and private conversations about their circumstances, diagnosis, and medical care. It could easily impact what treatments and tests abortion providers might be inclined to prescribe, which would negatively impact women's health. Women need to be able to talk with their doctors openly, without fear of the doctors being prosecuted. This is even more the case when considering the extra demands and burdens of carrying to term a fetus with disabilities.

3. Fetuses Are NOT babies  

To propose an anti-discrimination law to protect the “rights” of fetuses implies that fetuses are somehow people. Anti-discrimination laws apply to people, not fetuses! If fetuses are people, then women are no longer human beings in the eyes of the law; reality is turned on its head, pregnant women's rights are subordinated, and women become state-mandated incubators. (See “What Is an Abortion and Why Women Must Have the Right to Choose—Life Cannot and Should Not Always Be Preserved”)

For all the hype about the lives of “babies,” the anti-abortion, Christian-fascist-led movement to end all abortion, and even birth control, does not have the interests of women, or children—disabled or not—at heart. This battle over abortion has always been about control over women, and what the anti-abortion movement is fighting for has everything to do with the re-assertion of traditional patriarchy.

Consider the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” and how it was applied in Indiana: not to enact antidiscrimination laws to protect LGBT people, but to prevent any laws from being passed to protect the rights of LGBT people, and to protect “religious freedom.” Such laws offer a thin mask of legitimacy to cover over and strengthen ugly bigotry, oppression, and prejudice rooted in Christian fundamentalism. (See “Indiana’s anti-LGBT Discrimination: A Fascist Law, a Storm of Protest”) The same is true of fetal “personhood” laws—they masquerade as “concern for babies,” when really those laws objectively serve to dehumanize and attack women. An example of this, among those currently auditioning to head up this system, is Mike Huckabee, who finds it morally acceptable to agree with a law in Paraguay that forced a ten-year-old victim of incest to carry her stepfather's fetus to term.

This is not the first time that the anti-abortion movement has set legal precedent and twisted anti-discrimination laws to apply to fetuses. In 2013, North Dakota made it illegal for a doctor to perform an abortion because of fetal genetic anomalies, including Down syndrome. Indiana, Missouri and South Dakota considered similar laws this year. Seven states—Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Dakota—have laws banning abortions if the reason is gender selection. In 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives considered (but rejected) such a measure as national law.

This is the current direction, where women are increasingly forced into motherhood, into the back alleys, and criminalized and even jailed for miscarriage or self-inducing abortion. (See “The Outrageous Imprisonment of Purvi Patel and the Wake-Up Call to Everyone: The Fascist War on Women MUST BE STOPPED!Abortion is a basic, liberating, and fundamental right that women MUST have if they are to be able to chart the course of their own lives. Women are half of humanity, and if women cannot even make the essential decision about when and whether to become mothers, if women are forced into motherhood against their will for any reason, then they are enslaved. If women are not free, then no one is free.

Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!

Fetuses Are NOT babies, Abortion Is NOT Murder, and Women Are NOT Incubators!



To learn more about the fight to break the chains and unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution:

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

A Declaration: For Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity


End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women section of this website






Revolution #404 September 14, 2015


People's Arrest Warrants Served by #RiseUpOctober for Police Assault on James Blake

September 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Arrest Warrant served on James Frascatore for assaulting James Blake

On September 16, 3:00 pm at the New York Police Department's 17th Precinct, 167 East 51, a delegation of organizers for #RiseUpOctober, a mass mobilization to STOP Police Terror on October 22-24, served a People's Arrest Warrant for NYPD Officer James Frascatore for:

Count 1 - Felonious Assault and Battery on September 9, 2015 on James Blake
Count 2 - Aiding and Abetting a Genocide Against Black Lives

A People's Arrest Warrant was served for NYPD Commissioner William Bratton for:

Count 1 - Harboring a Felonious Criminal, James Frascatore
Count 2 - Aiding and Abetting a Genocide Against Black Lives

This People's Warrant was served on behalf of ALL the victims known and unknown of Officer Frascatore and the NYPD.

To get involved and donate:

On September 9, NYPD Officer James Frascatore ran up and body slammed James Blake, a Black man, to the ground. People everywhere have seen the surveillance video. Frascatore, in plainclothes, never identified himself as an NYPD officer. He made no effort to talk to James Blake before rushing him and slamming him to the ground.

After Mr. Blake was brutalized, the police released him, saying they had the “wrong person.” But then NYPD Commissioner William Bratton defended Frascatore, saying that Mr. Blake “looked like the twin brother” of the suspect the police were seeking. Bratton went on to say that in the attack on Mr. Blake, “Race had nothing to do with it."

Despite a record of previous unjustified assaults, Officer Frascatore has not been discipliined, and despite calls by Mr. Blake and many others that he be fired, he is on paid desk duty.

Organizers for #RiseUpOctober served warrant on Officer Frascatore and Police Chief William Bratton

Travis Morales of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, stated, "Mr. Blake could easily have ended up dead like Michael Brown or Eric Garner with the police claiming, ‘we feared for our lives’ and walking free. No, Mr. Bratton, race had everything to do with this brutality as it had so many thousands of times at the hands of your police that beat and murder Black and Latino people with impunity.”

Morales went on to say, “The brutality perpetrated against Mr. Blake is the very brutality that Black people suffer at the hands of the police every day in New York and across the country. This is why thousands of people from New York and around the country will fill the streets of New York on October 24 for '#RiseUpOctober - Stop Police Terror! Which Side Are You On?. They will draw a line sharply in society. There is no middle ground. There is no neutrality. Either you stand with the victims of police brutality and murder and those trying to stop it or you stand with this brutality and murder at the hands of the police.”