Revolution #421, January 11, 2016 (

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

Interview with Law Professor David Cohen

Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism

January 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism

In December 2015, Sunsara Taylor interviewed David Cohen about the book he co-authored, Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism (Oxford University Press, 2015). Cohen is a law professor at Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, where he teaches constitutional law and gender and the law. Prior to teaching, Cohen was a staff attorney at the Women's Law Project in Philadelphia and litigated cases involving abortion clinic safety, reproductive rights, Title IX, and LGBT family law.

From the preface to Living in the Crosshairs: “Because of their work, abortion providers have been murdered, shot, kidnapped, assaulted, stalked, and subjected to death threats. Their clinics have been bombed, attacked with noxious chemicals invaded, vandalized, burglarized, and set ablaze. Individual abortion providers have been picketed at home and have received harassing mail and phone calls. Their family members have been followed where they work, their children have been protested at school, and their neighbors’ privacy has been invaded. Partly as a result of this terrorism, medical facilities providing abortion services have decreased by almost 40% since 1982, 89% of counties in the United States have no abortion provider, and only 14% of obstetrician gynecologists perform the procedure.


Sunsara Taylor: David Cohen, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. You, not long ago, co-authored the book, Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism, together with Krysten Connon. Could you start by describing this book and telling us why you wrote it?

David Cohen: Sure. Thanks so much for having me here for the discussion. The book looks at the lives of abortion providers around the country and in particular at the types of targeted harassment and individualized terrorism they face as a result of being abortion providers. The book came out of a case I’d been working on for a long time and then Krysten, my co-author, helped at the very end, representing an abortion provider in Allentown, Pennsylvania, who had been sued by protesters who protested her clinic. The protesters not only sued her individually with some crazy claims, but they also picketed her home, they sent fliers to her neighbors calling her a “murderer,” giving out her personal information. They sent mail, hate mail to her mom who lived somewhere completely different than she did, and one of the protesters who wrote an online newsletter, still does write an online newsletter that he mailed to people in jail for committing violence against abortion providers, included her name and information about her as well.

Because of this, she wore a bulletproof vest to work and it really was one of those things where, you know, I’d actually been doing this work for a long time and I knew the full story, but Kysten heard this for the first time and, shame on me for not reacting this way since I’d known this for so long, but Krysten’s reaction was, “This is horrible! And this is something people don’t know about, that someone who is engaged in a lawful job in the United States, providing constitutionally protected health care, wears a bulletproof vest to work because she fears for her life.”

So it was really from starting to think about her experience from that lens, which is: a lot of people don’t know about this. People might know about protesting that happens outside a clinic or just the general debate about abortion. But we didn’t think people knew about the ways that anti-abortion extremists target individuals, and that’s why we wrote the book, and the book tells the stories of people around the country who have suffered from this kind of targeting and talks a little bit about what the law can do better to try and improve their lives, and offers some solutions to the issue.

ST: I found myself very emotional reading these stories. It’s disturbing, the level of harassment, the invasiveness of it, the way it permeates every aspect of abortion providers’ lives, and I wonder, precisely because it is so unknown and untold, if you could take us through a few of the stories so people really get a vivid sense of what this means.

David Cohen: Absolutely. I mean, if people know anything about this topic, what they know is the high-profile violence, like what happened in Colorado Springs a couple of weeks ago. That certainly got all the media attention it deserved and it probably deserved more, because it quickly left the media landscape once San Bernardino happened. But, you know, that kind of thing gets the attention. When Dr. Tiller was murdered or assassinated in 2009, that made national news and there’s been seven other killings in the past 20+ years of abortion providers, and those things are known and people hear about them. But what they don’t hear about are the everyday experiences of abortion providers. We are not trying to say this happens to all abortion providers, that’s far from it, but it happens to a lot and it happens all over the country. Not just in the most conservative parts of the country but in liberal parts, too. And it really affects abortion providers’ lives.

What we’re talking about are things like home-picketing, showing up at someone’s house on a Saturday or Sunday morning, with anywhere from five to 100 people, or even more. The picketing could be, you know, very peaceful except for the invasion that just being outside someone’s home is, to very loud and aggressive and seemingly very threatening. This happens to abortion providers around the country.

We talked with people who have been followed around town. They’ve been followed leaving work. They’ve seen anti-abortion protester extremists who followed them into a local business and started harassing them and yelling at them in the middle of the hardware store, or while they’re eating dinner at a restaurant and they’re recognized.

We heard many stories of death threats that are conveyed through the mail or online or on phone calls to the house. One of the people we talked to, her kids answered the phone and she got a death threat. Or her kids got the death threat. Other people told us stories of their kids’ schools being protested as a way to get at the parent who is working at an abortion clinic.

We heard stories of physical assault, trespassing, vandalism, personal information being disclosed that is usually private information, hate mail being sent to someone’s home or their parents. Probably, you know... it’s all outrageous... it really is all outrageous but probably the most outrageous thing that we heard, and we heard two stories about this, was a provider’s parent being protested at their nursing home. Here we have someone who’s taking their extremism to such a level that they go to a nursing home to protest or scream or harass someone whose kid is working at an abortion clinic. That level, it just boggles my mind still. When I look at those sections of the book, and read those stories, to think that someone would do that.... But these kinds of stories, they happen all over the country and they really show what abortion providers, many abortion providers in this country, have to live with in order to provide this legal, necessary medical care.

ST: It’s shocking, the level of harassment that the individual providers go through. In addition to the threats, the kinds of things, targeting their children, or in your book, you detail protesters coming to the wedding of a provider’s son or the funeral of a provider’s husband, and these kinds of things that even encroach upon what ought to be a part of somebody’s very private and personal life.

David Cohen: Yeah, we call this in the book “secondary harassment” because most of what we talked to people about was directed at the providers themselves but some of it is directed at other people. It’s almost like the extremist is saying, “I know that by harassing you, the provider, I’m not gonna get anywhere because you’re so stubborn and pigheaded and I’m not gonna affect you. BUT if I harass someone or terrorize someone who is close to you, whether it’s your neighbor or your kid or your parent or your spouse or anyone close to you, then maybe you’ll stop doing this because you care about them.” So this kind of secondary harassment, and I think your reaction is the same we have, which was everything we write and talk about in this book should be, people should look upon it negatively and not part of the normal democratic process, but this kind of targeting of someone else whose, you know, kids or parents, or other loved ones or neighbors, it just feels particularly worse. Maybe it shouldn’t feel worse, because it’s not like the abortion providers deserve it in any way—so, I guess, there’s maybe a sense of these other people deserving less, but no one deserves it and it should happen to no one. It just shows how outrageous these anti-abortion extremists who target individuals are, that they would go to all of these lengths to try and stop abortion.

ST: You also brought out the ways the anti-abortion terrorists and harassers utilize the state, and I’d like to ask you to talk about this in a couple different ways. One that you highlighted is lawsuits and other ways that anti-abortion fanatics use the state to go after providers and then get all kinds of personal information about them or tie them up in the courts and waste their money. Then, the other was people who are actually in law enforcement who are in positions of the state who really abuse their authority and their power to themselves target providers.  

David Cohen: Yeah, I mean it’s absolutely both of them. So you know if you get a really determined anti-abortion extremist in political power they can use the power of the state in some very abusive ways. We saw that with Dr. Tiller in Wichita, Kansas, before he was assassinated. The attorney general for the State of Kansas, Phil Kline, was doing everything he could possibly imagine to harass Dr. Tiller, and actually ultimately Phil Kline was disbarred because of what he was doing. He was using the power of the state to indict Dr. Tiller and investigate him and get his patient records and put him on trial and literally put him on trial, and it was when he was ultimately... Dr. Tiller was acquitted in the trial just a few months before he was assassinated. And Scott Roeder, who assassinated George Tiller, was sitting in the courtroom when Dr. Tiller was acquitted, and it was... he said it was his disappointment and horror that Dr. Tiller was acquitted that led him to ultimately assassinate Dr. Tiller. You see, there the power of the state used in this way just egged on this extremist.

That’s one category, like you said; the other category is the anti-abortion extremists who are not part of the state but use the state to investigate providers and harass providers, filing complaints, often anonymously alleging that the provider is doing something wrong; or filing a lawsuit and doing the same thing, and that means that the provider is now tied up in the state investigatory apparatus. That takes up time, that takes up energy, and [there are] potential penalties. And you see this as a tactic all over the country with anti-abortion protesters monitoring the clinics so that if they ever see an ambulance leaving the clinic they report that and they file complaints against the clinic for doing that, when in reality that’s actually good medical practice. If there’s a problem—abortion has one of the lowest complication rates of any surgical procedure, it’s incredibly safe, but as with any medicine, there can be complications and when they arise, if something happens that is outside the skill of the doctor, then it’s good medical practice to call an ambulance and have that person transported to the local hospital to be taken care of. That is following the guidelines. That’s doing exactly what you’re supposed to. It is not a problem. But the anti-abortion extremists turn it into a problem and start investigations because of it. It’s a big problem to be able to use the state in that way. Abortion providers face this targeting from not only the individuals, but also the state apparatus.

ST: You mentioned that some people have heard about the high-profile cases of now 11 people who have been murdered by anti-abortion violence, clinics that have been bombed, clinics that have been destroyed and vandalized, although even those things don’t get as much attention as they should. But what you’re describing altogether is actually a much bigger sea of anti-abortion terrorism. These are not isolated acts. They are not all centrally coordinated, but it truly is a movement in which thousands and thousands of people participate in different forms and different levels of harassment of different providers all over the country. Is that true?

David Cohen: Yeah. I mean, I haven’t thought about it numerically the way you just put it, but if you think of all the home protests targeting individuals and you think of all the hate mail that’s been sent and phone calls and personal information that’s been used against people, you’re right, there’s thousands and thousands of people out there targeting abortion providers. And I agree with exactly what you said, which is we are not saying in our book and no one is saying that these people are a part of a secret organization that’s coordinating this targeted form of harassment. That’s not what’s happening here. But they are all part of the United States where this kind of targeted harassment flows from extreme rhetoric that’s used around abortion and they are sort of just carrying out what’s part of the political dialogue. When you call people murderers, when you call them killers, when you say that they are selling baby parts, there are gonna be people who hear that and say, Wow, I have to do something about that and I’ll do things that are beyond the normal course of political recourse.

ST: This goes a little bit beyond the scope of what you address directly in your book, but I’d like to explore your thinking in terms of what you think is the view of women that animates this anti-abortion movement—both from those in power, people demonizing abortion and passing laws that are closing down abortion clinics across the country, as well down to the level of people acting on their own, or with their congregation, or with these decentralized ways on the street to harass the women or providers of abortion. What is the view of women, and what would this society look like if they actually had their way?

David Cohen: I don’t think it’s just one thing, but it’s all negative. For some people, women are just absent, they don’t even care about women’s lives, women’s health, women’s needs, women’s wants; they just completely erase the woman from the picture, which is a huge problem, obviously. With other people, I think there’s this idea that women are public, their bodies are controllable by the public, and the public has an interest in what women’s bodies do. For other people, it’s a matter of control over women, controlling women’s sexuality, controlling women’s reproduction, controlling women’s place in society. I think there can be a lot of different strands to this that sort of answer the question, “What does it say about women in society and people’s view of women in society,” and it’s all negative and it’s all horrible and it’s all against a progressive view of equality and gender equality, and I think it really goes to the heart of what’s happening here, which is that these people don’t think of women as fully participatory people within our society.

ST: You detail all of these horrendous things that abortion providers have to go through—the amount of harassment, the amount of stigma, the amount of shame, the amount of isolation, the amount of fear that’s instilled by the anti-abortion movement. This has taken a toll. But overwhelmingly the people that you spoke to were pretty defiant in the face of this, and I want you to share a little bit of what were some of the motivations that made them feel that it was worth it to withstand all this.

David Cohen: We’re very lucky that, for the most part, abortion providers do not let this make them stop. It does prevent some people from going into the field and that’s a huge problem. That’s not the only reason people don’t go into the field, but it’s one of the reasons people don’t go into the field, and that’s a big problem. But once people are in the field, they tend to say that, for various reasons, they’re not gonna let this kind of terrorism and kind of targeting stop them.

Of the 87 people we talked to for the book, only one of them stopped performing abortions because of the harassment we talked to them about, and that’s consistent with studies that have found numerically that less than 2 percent of abortion providers around the country leave the field because of this kind of targeting.

But the reasons that people continue are really inspiring and just show the level of care and commitment that abortion providers have. Some of it is because they feel this really close connection with their patients and this satisfaction they get from helping them in this time of need and this time of medical need, as well as physiological and social need. If you think about it, being an abortion care provider is one of the areas in medicine where you can solve a person’s immediate medical problem relatively quickly. You think of a lot of other medical issues and they take years to resolve, if they can ever be resolved, and they take a lot of care, whereas abortion is, especially a first-trimester [abortion], is a quick, easy procedure with very few complications that will change someone’s life and change it for the better. It won’t solve any of the problems a person had that led them to this moment in life, but it will solve that medical problem, and for some providers it’s really rewarding to be able to help women through that time in their life and be able to solve that problem.

Others feel this deep commitment to the movement, whether they identify the movement as reproductive rights, reproductive choice, reproductive justice, women’s rights, human rights, whatever it is. They see whatever they are doing as being part of this broader movement, which is something that most medical care providers don’t have. And so the people we talked to identified this as a major part of it in saying, “I could have been a dermatologist but what would I have been connected to?” That as an abortion provider, they’re connected to this movement.

Another reason is that some people are just stubborn, where they say, “If I leave, I’m gonna leave on my own terms, I’m not gonna leave because someone forces me out.”

And then the final answer we got that we weren’t really expecting, frankly, when we asked the question why do you continue, was that some people said they continue because they remember or they were told stories from a relative about the era of when abortion was illegal, and when abortion was illegal women were injured by unskilled abortion providers, back-alley providers, and some women died. A lot of women died. So they remember this time when illegal abortion didn’t mean no abortion, it meant unsafe abortion, and they said to themselves that if I leave because of this terrorism, then I am getting us one step closer to that time when abortion was not available from skilled practitioners and women will have to resort to other means that will make them unsafe. So they saw their continuing on as a way to protect women’s health and to prevent us from slipping back into that era before Roe v. Wade.

ST: Over the last few summers, I’ve been part of, with the organization, been part of traveling the country and organizing people to stand up for abortion rights and that was one of the things, too, that the first time we traveled—up to North Dakota, down to Mississippi, from coast to coast—every single place we stopped, and this blew my mind, it was not something I was anticipating, every single stop we made strangers came up and told us about loved ones who died from illegal abortion. And these are stories that people have carried, largely in secret, in shame—but they’re very, very common. I think almost everybody has a story like that in their family and most people have no idea.

David Cohen: Exactly, that’s exactly true, and I mean part of the reason that the title of the book says “untold” is not just because the media isn’t telling these stories, but in some respects a lot of the people that we’ve been talking to haven’t been telling these stories. Their story of their great grandmother who died of an illegal abortion is not something that they tell to many people, and because of abortion stigma and because of the shame that surrounds the issue in this country, they keep quiet about it. And it’s the same thing with the harassment, the harassment is something they internalize, they look at it as normal in their field so they don’t think it’s worth talking about and because of that, that’s another reason why these stories are untold, people just not talking about it.

ST: I just wanted to note, a minute ago you said of the 87 providers you interviewed, only one stopped providing abortion because of the harassment. I wanted to note for our readers that of the 87 that you interviewed, all but five of them have experienced this harassment directly. So this is not something that happens to 10 out of 100 and only one quit, this happens to the overwhelming majority of people with only a very small number quitting. I just think that’s worth noting.

David Cohen: Right, although we didn’t have like a representative sample of providers around the country. We were certainly trying to find people who have had these experiences. But the Feminist Majority Foundation did a study that was released earlier this year that found that this kind of targeted harassment of providers has gone up in the past four years. They did a similar study in 2010 that found about a quarter of clinics around the country had staff members who were suffering this kind of targeting, and the most recent survey found that last year, 2014, four years later, over half of the clinics in the country had staff workers who suffered this kind of individual targeting. So it’s more than doubled in the past four years, the incidents of this kind of targeting, which is VERY concerning.

ST: What’s your sense of why that is?

David Cohen: I think is has a lot to do with the political climate, that there’s been a record number of abortion restrictions passed around the country over the past four years. Ever since the Tea Party took over a lot of state legislators in 2010 there’s been this huge domination in the political realm of thinking: what are we gonna do to restrict and stop abortion, and so the legislators do it through the political process but there’s always extremists who take their message and do it through this targeting. So I think that they go hand in hand and I think that’s what we’re seeing.

ST: I wanted to circle back because I think perhaps we didn’t draw it out fully enough for everybody who may not be as familiar with it. But we both talked about people’s personal information, address, name, children’s names, this sort of thing being disclosed by anti-abortion harassers, but I wondered if you could just describe why is that significant and how does it fit into this picture?

David Cohen: Using people’s personal information is a key tactic of this anti-abortion targeting and terrorism because the anti-abortion extremists dig through public records, they do whatever they can to find out as much information as they can about abortion providers and then make that information public. Knowing people’s personal information can be a very innocent thing, but when it’s done by the people that we’re talking about, there’s a subtle and often not-so-subtle message behind it which is, “I know who your kids are, I know where you live, I know what car you drive, I know where your husband goes to work, and I’m telling you I know this information, not so that we can strike up a bond and have a deep, meaningful relationship, but I’m telling you this information so now you know that I know this personal information about you, and maybe I’ll use it in a way that will harm you, so if I know your kids’ names, then I might be able to go to their school and picket, and if I know where your husband works, I know I can do the same thing, if I know where you live, I can come to your home.” The use of this personal information is either the first step into doing something worse or it’s a not-so-veiled threat that I’m gonna do something worse now that I have this information.

ST: And of course it’s a threat against a backdrop where there’s all kinds of people who have been motivated to carry out that violence. Even if you yourself don’t do anything to further target a provider, if you are putting that information out publicly you are knowingly making it available to a whole sea of people who have been whipped up to think that providing abortions is tantamount to murder, and some of whom have been whipped up to feel they are called on by god to act violently—or even murderously—against the provider. So, you are handing it over to all that.

David Cohen: That’s exactly right. All of this takes place against the backdrop where there have been extreme acts of violence. Now 11 people murdered by anti-abortion violence, arsons and bombings and other physical attacks. And abortion providers know this. They are keenly aware of this history that’s happened to people in their profession, and so having this personal information, showing up at someone’s house, going to their other work place, it is particularly threatening to an abortion provider because of this history, and the anti-abortion extremists know it and play on that and they use that to their advantage because they know that all they have to do is stand in front of someone’s house and it makes that person scared because of this history. So it really is this deliberate use of fear of violence to try and accomplish their political goal, and that’s why we call it terrorism.

Terrorism is violence or the fear of violence to try and accomplish a political goal that people can’t accomplish through normal political channels, and that’s where anti-abortion extremists find themselves. They’ve been unsuccessful for 43 years now, next month, in overturning Roe v. Wade, but they’ve been very successful at restricting access to abortion, though abortion is still legal throughout the country as much as they’ve tried to make it otherwise, and they are frustrated. They are angry that this is not something they have been able to resolve through normal political process, and so they resort to violence and so they resort to fear of violence to try and accomplish that goal. That is terrorism.

ST: Well, that was going to be my last question. Why do you call it terrorism? So, I’ll just ask you one more thing related to that, which I thought was very interesting. The Department of Homeland Security had actually categorized anti-abortion extremism as a form of domestic terrorism at one point, but because of political backlash, they removed it from being categorized as domestic terrorism. This was just a few weeks before Dr. Tiller was assassinated. Do you want to say anything about why that was removed, what were the forces that pushed back against that?

David Cohen: There was a lot of political pushback to the release of those two documents in 2009. It was in 2009 that the Department of Homeland Security released those documents. Anti-abortion forces were pissed about this. Military forces were angry because the document also talked about the risk of terrorism from people who used to be in the military and then get involved in these militia movements. There were a lot of organizations that really pushed back against these documents. Janet Napolitano, who was the head of the Department of Homeland Security at the time, issued a statement saying that these documents were released before they were supposed to and she withdrew them. So the backlash worked. It made the Department of Homeland Security fearful of labeling the anti-abortion extremists as terrorists and of course, as we said, a few weeks later Dr. Tiller was assassinated by domestic terrorists. They called it what it was supposed to be called and then they backed off and then they were proven right.

ST: Any closing words?

David Cohen: One thing that I think is important to talk about a little more is that this deeply affects abortion providers’ lives in ways that make them change what they do with their life, in terms of taking different routes to and from work, wearing disguises to and from work, thinking about where they own property so that it’s a safer location, and ultimately thinking about having a bulletproof vest or purchasing a gun or carrying a gun to protect themselves. Some of these things I just mentioned, it’s just shocking when you take a step back and you say these are doctors, nurses, and administrative assistants, volunteers who work for a lawful profession, providing health care in the United States, not in a military zone, and they’re thinking about bulletproof vests and guns, something is REALLY wrong when that’s the reality for a lot of abortion providers.

ST: Well, I agree with that, and I thank you for coming back to that. I do think that everyone who is reading this, people who are learning about this and haven’t heard this before, we have a responsibility to stand up and be part of changing the political atmosphere and taking on and defeating the war on women that is driving all this. You are absolutely right, this is not a situation that anybody should have to live with, and no one should accept. That is on all of us! I want to thank you, David, for joining us for this interview, thank you for the work you did on the book, and I hope to talk to you again soon.

David Cohen: Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.






Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

From Stop Patriarchy

Stand Up for Abortion Rights!
Counter-Protest the March for "Life"

January 22, 2016 in Washington, DC
January 23, 2016 in San Francisco

Updated January 18, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


Fetuses are NOT babies.

We received this video from of a college student and other young revolutionaries challenging boldly challenging their peers to confront the abortion rights emergency and take a stand for abortion rights on January 22 in DC and January 23 in San Francisco:

Brave protesters demanding "Abortion on demand and without apology!" STOPPED the so-called
Brave protesters demanding "Abortion on demand and without apology!" STOPPED the so-called "March for Life" (march for forced motherhood), January 22, 2015, in Washington DC; 8 of them were arrested. Photo: Stop Patriarchy

Abortion is NOT murder.
Women are NOT incubators.

Stand up for abortion on demand and without apology this January on both coasts.

Abortion rights are in a state of emergency! Clinics across the country have been forced to close through unjust laws and anti-abortion violence. Women and staff are shamed, harassed, and threatened. Christian fascist politicians are fighting to shut down Planned Parenthood. Thousands of women are once again risking their lives and prison to self-induce their own abortions. Eleven people have been murdered by anti-abortion terrorists. And a looming major Supreme Court case will affect abortion rights for decades to come.

The time is NOW to stand up for abortion on demand and without apology!

Each year, tens of thousands of fanatics march against women's right to abortion and birth control on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Be part of standing up in counter-protest, letting the world and the powers that be feel our demand that abortion be available to every woman without shame, restriction, or stigma.

Forcing a woman to have a child against her will is a form of enslavement. It traps women in abusive relationships, drives them into poverty, forces them to give up their dreams and forecloses their lives. Denying abortion rights is a keystone of the entire web of degradation, violence, rape, discrimination and oppression that women face throughout society.

This must be stopped! Women are not bitches, hoes, punching bags, sex objects, breeders or property of men. Women are full human beings!

Get organized. Be in DC and/or San Francisco for these counter-protests. Mobilize your school, religious congregation, community group, family and friends. Spread the word far and wide. Donate and raise funds. Do not let the future belong to the woman-haters. Be part of defeating the war on women.

Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!
Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement!
Facebook event for DC:
Facebook event for SF:
For more info & to get involved:
For DC -
For SF -

Initiated by Stop Patriarchy

Endorsed by:
Carol Downer, co-founder of Feminist Women's Health Center, Los Angeles
Merle Hoffman, CEO, Choices Women's Medical Center
Cindy Sheehan, Peace Activist and Author
Sunsara Taylor, writer for Revolution newspaper
Deep Green Resistance
Joy of Resistance Multicultural Feminist Radio – WBAI
Occupied Wall Street Special Projects Affinity Group

Women's Liberation Front (WoLF)
World Can't Wait





Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

Children Make Desperate 2,000 Mile Journey Seeking Safety:

Now They Face a New Terror—Homeland "Security" Police

Updated January 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


On December 23 the Obama administration announced that the Department of Homeland Security will launch a wave of armed raids on hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of homes around the U.S., beginning this January. The Washington Post reported, “The adults and children would be detained wherever they can be found and immediately deported.”

The targets of these assaults will be the parents and their children who in 2014 fled for their lives from hellish violence, as well as extreme poverty, in their home countries in Central America—from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala—many after a son, a brother or a daughter had already been raped, murdered, kidnapped, tortured or disappeared by armed gangs and/or the police.

The violence was so terrifying that some did not even dare go home to collect their ID or family photos. They ran with their children, a little money, the clothes on their backs. Many who could not flee themselves sent their adolescent children on their own. They braved the 2,000 mile journey through Mexico, where thousands would be raped or robbed by gangs or police, and hundreds would die in a journey that could take weeks or months. They rode atop freight trains, they walked through jungle and desert, they lived with fear every minute of every day.

When they finally got to the Rio Grande River, the border between the U.S. and Mexico, they thought they had reached safe haven. In the thousands they sought out and turned themselves in to the U.S. Border Patrol, and asked for asylum. You could see the relief in their faces as they were taken into custody, expecting a fair hearing of their obviously legitimate claims for refugee status.

Who are these people? In a piece in the NY Times, Sonia Nazario described one family:

“In a migrant shelter in Ixtepec, Mexico, I met July Elizabeth Pérez, 32, who was clutching her 3-year-old daughter, Kimberly Julieth Medina, tight in her arms, and keeping a careful eye on her two other children, 6-year-old-Luis Danny Pérez and 12-year-old Naamá Pérez. She arrived at this shelter after fleeing San Pedro Sula, a city where she grew up and worked as a waitress but that is now the deadliest town in Honduras, a country with one of the highest homicide rates in the world. She was aiming to reach the United States, where her mother and grandmother live legally in Florida—3,000 miles away.”

The stepped up, U.S. backed repression against refugees traveling through Mexico has given a green light to criminals and police to prey on them. Tens of thousands of refugees from Central America have been kidnapped for ransom while attempting to reach the U.S. border. Survivors tell of being enslaved working in marijuana fields or forced into prostitution.

But in these tens of thousands of mostly women and young children, the rulers of the U.S. did not see desperate human beings—human beings who were in fact fleeing a social meltdown. No, they saw the possibility of a flood of desperate people—driven in one way or another by the workings of capitalism-imperialism to try to make it to the U.S. And so they moved decisively to seal off the escape routes from the searing fire in Central America that they themselves had ignited. During the 1980s, the U.S. directly and through its flunky governments waged and led genocidal campaigns in several Central American countries to crush rebellions influenced by its imperialist rival, the Soviet Union. Their economies have been devastated by the “free trade agreement” imposed a decade ago, and gangs have filled the economic void, creating countries with vast areas run by gangs and police under their influence.

Those refugees—including children—who somehow made it to the U.S. border were hustled off to detention camps that were so inhumane they became an international scandal, and kept there for months, even when there were family members or communities already established in the U.S. that were offering to take them in. They were run through a “legal process” of asylum hearings that were outrageously rigged against them. Some mothers who had crossed with their children were forced to wear electronic bracelets to track their movements and ensure they reported for immigration hearings. Some youth did not even have lawyers to represent them in these complex hearings, and standards for proving “well-founded fear of persecution” were impossibly high. Of the 6,100 adults with children processed as of November 24, 2015, nearly 80% were denied asylum. Of the almost 20,000 unaccompanied children, almost half were denied asylum.

Now those people will face a new terror—“Homeland Security” police. Their homes will be surveilled. Then will come the knock at the door, the armed men pouring in, the shouting, the glaring lights, the children and parents taken away in handcuffs, put on planes, and sent back to the very places from which they fled for their lives. Of the people deported back to Central America since the beginning of 2014, at least 83 have been murdered, according to a UK Guardian study.

Reports of these planned raids follow a whole program where the U.S. has pushed its “partner,” the Mexican government, to unleash a reign of terror against Central American immigrants as they attempt to enter, or travel through, Mexico. The U.S. gave Mexico over $80 million to launch the Southern Border Plan (Plan Frontera Sur). Mexican police have been sent to patrol its southern border with Guatemala. In 2014 over 20,000 raids were carried out in bus stations, hotels, highways, and hotels, hunting “suspected” refugees. Barriers and other structures were built to prevent people from getting on trains, and to knock them off if they somehow made it to the top of the trains. Some police fired tasers at people on the tops of the trains.

The effect of this has been to make an already dangerous journey into a terrifying horror. Forced off the trains, young children, or parents carrying toddlers, must now walk through difficult and dangerous terrain. And forced away from the historic migration routes—which are dotted with way stations set up by religious and charitable groups—people must now travel in more isolated areas where they are much more vulnerable both to nature and to criminal attacks.

The injustice of deportation and the U.S.-imposed horror of the journey are both done with a point—to spread the word among people in Central America that no matter how horrible their situation is, it is just not worth it to try and come to the U.S., and if you somehow succeed, you will likely be deported anyway. The Wall Street Journal reported, “the operation aims to send the message to would-be crossers that they won’t be allowed to remain in the U.S.”

This is how the self-proclaimed great defender of human rights “solves the refugee crisis”! Donald Trump—he of the fascist lies about and threats to immigrants—took credit for prompting Obama’s move. This is, without exaggeration, like some monster forcing people back into a burning building. And in this case, it is the same monster—U.S. imperialism—that set the building on fire.

Yet people continue to come, because when parents see their children’s very lives in danger there is no measure they will not take, and no risk too great, to try and protect them. These refugees have had to face all the dark forces that can be mustered by the U.S. empire to stop them.

Everyone of any nationality and in whatever situation should stand with them. It is time and past time for growing numbers of people in this country to defend and welcome these refugees, to fiercely condemn, oppose and resist the criminal barbarity of forcing children to their deaths, and to do all this as part of preparing to get rid of this monstrous system that can only heap more and more suffering on people here and around the world.


Bob Avakian, "Why do people come here from all over the world?"

Clip from "Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian" given in 2003. Learn more about Bob Avakian here

Above: Immigrant children, who were stopped while trying to cross the border, seen here sleeping on the floor of a holding cell in Brownsville, Texas, June 2014. Photo: AP

The Department of Homeland Security carried out its first wave of armed raids on the homes of refugees from Central America over the New Year’s weekend, taking 121 women and children in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas into custody. Those picked up were transported to detention centers near the border, where they are being processed before being forced to return to the violence and danger in the countries they fled. What these immigration agents are doing is completely illegal. Lacking arrest warrants, armed agents barged into immigrant homes after lying about why they were there and threatening those inside with arrest if they didn’t open up. Once inside, anyone who couldn’t show an identification card was hauled away.

One family described hearing their doorbell ring at 4:30 am; followed by searchlights looking in every window; then armed agents lying in wait for hours. When someone finally left the house he was stopped. The agents had no legal right to enter the house without a warrant, so they lied and told him they wanted to search the house for a man wanted by the law. The immigrant still refused to let them in, so he was threatened that “non-collaboration with the police department could lead to your arrest.” When he finally gave in, the agents rushed inside the house, demanded to see everyone’s identification card, and took away a mother and two children from El Salvador.

Between July 18, 2014, and Nov. 24, 2015, U.S. courts heard 46,956 cases for immigration violations by unaccompanied minors. Of the 19,326 cases in which courts have ruled so far, 9,109 children ordered deported back to horrific conditions that drove their families to send them on the desperate journey from Central America to the U.S.

Above: Central American families, including young children, riding on top of a freight train through Mexico on the way to the U.S. border, July 2014. Photo: AP

Basics, from the talks and writings of Bob AvakianNow I can just hear these reactionary fools saying, “Well, Bob, answer me this. If this country is so terrible, why do people come here from all over the world? Why are so many people trying to get in, not get out?”...Why? I’ll tell you why. Because you have fucked up the rest of the world even worse than what you have done in this country. You have made it impossible for many people to live in their own countries as part of gaining your riches and power.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:14

CHEERS to the New Sanctuary Movement

January 12, 2016

Religious and immigrant rights groups around the country have condemned the armed raids against refugees here from Central America carried out by Homeland Security at the start of this year, calling them illegal, deeply immoral, obscene, and inhumane. They are organizing opposition through online petitions, statements, press conferences, and more. Warnings about possible raids are appearing in Spanish on Twitter. A campaign to educate immigrants is taking place on social media, using hashtags like #Not1More, and #WatchICE. Tips and phone numbers to call if ICE agents show up are being provided, and people are urged not to sign voluntary deportation papers and to ask for their lawyers.

A very significant development within this growing resistance is the new Sanctuary Movement among religious congregations and immigrant rights groups, vowing to offer refuge to illegal immigrants being targeted by federal raids. The original Sanctuary Movement arose in the 1980s, when churches in the Southwest especially provided sanctuary for immigrants from Central America to obstruct and prevent the government’s efforts to deport them. At that time too, thousands and thousands of Salvadorans and Guatemalans were desperately trying to escape from the repression and the genocidal military campaigns being waged by the U.S. directly and through its flunky governments to crush rebellions influenced by its imperialist rival, the Soviet Union.

Read more

In October and November of this year, more than 12,000 people traveling as families were apprehended at the Mexican border. This is over twice the number apprehended in the same months last year.

Above: Immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador, including children, after being stopped in Texas while crossing the border, June 2014. Photo: AP




Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

CHEERS to the New Sanctuary Movement

January 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


Religious and immigrant rights groups around the country have condemned the armed raids against refugees here from Central America carried out by Homeland Security at the start of this year, calling them illegal, deeply immoral, obscene, and inhumane. They are organizing opposition through online petitions, statements, press conferences, and more. Warnings about possible raids are appearing in Spanish on Twitter. A campaign to educate immigrants is taking place on social media, using hashtags like #Not1More, and #WatchICE. Tips and phone numbers to call if ICE agents show up are being provided, and people are urged not to sign voluntary deportation papers and to ask for their lawyers.

A very significant development within this growing resistance is the new Sanctuary Movement among religious congregations and immigrant rights groups, vowing to offer refuge to illegal immigrants being targeted by federal raids. The original Sanctuary Movement arose in the 1980s, when churches in the Southwest especially provided sanctuary for immigrants from Central America to obstruct and prevent the government’s efforts to deport them. At that time too, thousands and thousands of Salvadorans and Guatemalans were desperately trying to escape from the repression and the genocidal military campaigns being waged by the U.S. directly and through its flunky governments to crush rebellions influenced by its imperialist rival, the Soviet Union.

Churches in Arizona and other states are once again considering or have already announced plans to offer sanctuary to Central Americans, including the Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona, which launched the original Sanctuary Movement. The pastor, Alison Harrington, said hundreds of churches across the country are poised to participate in an “underground railroad” similar to those that aided Central American refugees in the 1980s. “We feel we are once again living through a nightmare. Once again, human lives are at stake.”

Rev. Ken Heintzelman, head pastor of Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix said his congregation “believes it has a moral obligation to protect Central Americans fleeing violence.” And he added that the U.S. helped create the conditions driving families to flee Central America. “We have made life intolerable for people who want to live peaceful family lives and we don’t take any responsibility for that.”





Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

Statement from

More Police Murder... More Murdering Police Go Free
This Cannot Go Down Like This!
This Cannot Go On!

December 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Tamir Rice

Quintonio Legrier

Bettie Jones

Monday: After over a year of lies and cover-up, the IN-justice system now says they will bring NO charges against the police who murdered Tamir Rice! This is outrageous. This is intolerable. Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old boy, playing with a toy gun in a city park. He was shot down in less than two seconds by police who rolled up on him.

Saturday: At 4:30 in the morning December 26, the day after Christmas, a Chicago cop murdered 19-year-old Quintonio Legrier, a student at Northern Illinois University and Bettie Jones, a mother of five and grandmother of 10. Quintonio had been struggling with mental health issues and his family wanted help. Instead, the police pulled up to the apartment house and fired, killing both of them.

How many more will these murderers in blue shoot down people?!? How long can this be tolerated, from people who are supposed to “serve and protect”?? What kind of a system does this??!?

This cannot go down like this! This cannot go on!

Everyone, everywhere, act now! Join protests, or call protests if nobody else is. Make a sign and get out where people are and call on them to join you. Spread this message by social media, and print it up and get it out everywhere.

Black people have been kidnapped, murdered, enslaved, exploited, Jim-Crowed, lynched, segregated, rioted against, discriminated against, beaten, scorned and slandered, imprisoned, bitten by dogs, lied to and lied on, soft-soaped with hope and promised and tricked, sold out and shot out and shot down in the streets, and just goddamn brutalized and killed over and over, since day one. And here we are going into 2016, and nothing has changed.

How long?!? As long as the system that did all this and does all this still stands.

Humanity needs revolution, a real revolution, a communist revolution. There is a way to win and a new world to build, there is a plan for all this, there is a leader—Bob Avakian (BA)—who has shown the way, and there is a party that he leads, the Revolutionary Communist Party.

As BA has said:

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)

And as he has vowed:


Go to the BAsics page.
Free E-book Now Available:
Right-click to download the e-book for the Kindle here. Right-click to download the e-book for other e-readers here. For instructions on downloading and moving files from your computer to your e-reader, click here.

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

Get with this leader and get with this Party. We aim to make good on this vow. Visit the website, and find out more. And join with us, now, in the streets to protest and resist this huge outrage that has just been perpetrated. Bring your anger, your sorrow, your outrage and your hopes for emancipation.





Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

The Chicago Police Murder of Darius Pinex

Five Years of Lies, Cover-up and Murder—How Long Will This Continue to Go On?

January 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


Darius Pinex

Darius Pinex, murdered by Chicago police January 2011

On a dark, freezing night in January 2011 in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, Darius Pinex and his passenger were pulled over by police in a “high-risk” traffic stop. The police beamed blinding lights into the windshield, the cop’s vehicle blocked Pinex’s car, and out sprang two cops with masks on and guns drawn, fingers on the trigger. Within minutes, Raoul Mosqueda and Gildardo Sierra had fired a hail of bullets. Sierra alone fired eight shots into the vehicle. Darius Pinex—father of three, brother to six, and a beloved son and grandson died at the scene—a fatal gunshot wound to the head. He was 27. The state’s attorney ruled this murder a “justifiable homicide.” The “Independent” Police Review Board did nothing.

How many times have we seen this... an unarmed Black or Latino person minding their own business gunned down for no reason—like they did to Darius Pinex? How many times have we heard the fabricated stories of the pigs... and then seen the video as we did with Eric Garner in New York, Laquan McDonald in Chicago, or Walter Scott in South Carolina? How many times have we seen the prosecutors let these murdering, brutalizing pigs go free and justify it with the racist excuse that they feared for their lives, as they have just done after murdering 12-year-old Tamir Rice? Time and time again, the people are criminalized and demonized by this white supremacist system and this demonization is then invoked to justify cold-blooded terror and murder.

In the case of Darius Pinex, some truth is reaching the light of day.

Gloria Pinex and three sons at Rise Up October in New York, October 2015.

Gloria Pinex and three sons traveled to New York City last October 22-24 for the Rise Up October actions, as part 100 families of people murdered by the police joining together with others for #Rise Up October—Stop Police Terror—Which Side Are You On?

Gloria Pinex’s heartfelt message: “To all the mommas going through what I am going through and they trying to bamboozle you: Stay strong.” She added, “The police are doing their job. If this wasn’t their job, why they keep getting away with it?”
(Photo: Special to

Determined to fight for justice, Gloria Pinex, Darius’s mother, filed a federal civil lawsuit against her son’s murderers for wrongful death. Gloria had to sit in the same courtroom with these pigs as the attorney for the city of Chicago—acting to defend not just the two cops but the police and the city government as a whole—blamed Pinex for his own death. Because of a slip-up in the testimony of a police dispatcher, the cops’ lies about why they had stopped Pinex began to come apart during the trial. But even then, the judge would not direct a finding in favor of the Pinex family, and the jury allowed the murdering pigs to go unpunished last March. Now, the federal judge has overturned that outrageous jury verdict.

In a scathing 72-page ruling issued on January 4, Judge Edmond Chang cited Jordan Marsh, the lead Chicago city attorney defending the murdering cops, for intentionally concealing crucial evidence before and during the trial and for intentionally misleading the court about his reasons for doing so. The judge ordered a new trial in the civil suit against Sierra and Mosqueda and ordered the city and Marsh to pay the almost $500,000 attorney fees to the legal team that represents the Pinex family.

The judge’s ruling came in a time of coast-to-coast, border-to-border resistance to police terror, at times breaking out into rebellion like the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 after the police murder of Mike Brown, or the uprising in Baltimore last year after the murder of Freddie Gray. There are defiant protests like the mass disruption of holiday shopping and air travel in Minneapolis. And millions and millions are being challenged to confront, and resist the reality of an epidemic of police murder of Black and brown people.

Chicago is a concentration of all this—the police terror, the outrage, and all kinds of scrambling and moves by the powers that be to manage widespread anger and outrage.

City Attorney’s Office: Enablers of SYSTEMATIC Police Terror

Hours after the public release of Judge Chang’s decision, Jordan Marsh, a 20-year veteran of the Chicago Law Department, resigned. Marsh’s co-counsel in the case had been allowed to quietly resign during the summer. The exposure that the cover-up of the murder of Darius Pinex involved not just the police on the spot, their supervisors, the dispatchers but also the legal department for the city of Chicago sent shockwaves through the city and nationally. The Chicago Sun-Times and the New York Times ran editorial board statements about the depth of the crisis.

Many people were also dismayed that Marsh was simply allowed to resign (pension intact) rather than being fired and disbarred. As Steve Greenberg, lawyer for the Pinex family, said, “There’s just a total disregard for the truth and it runs to the highest levels. There is a culture to cover up and win at all costs.”

The judge’s ruling brings to the light of day how such a cover-up works. Acting as the city’s attorney in the case, Jordan Marsh had literally hidden the existence of a Chicago Police Department radio dispatch that the cops heard the night they stopped and killed Darius Pinex. The CPD and Marsh did not want this dispatch to come into court because its content blows out of the water the pigs’ lies for BOTH the reason they stopped Pinex’s car in the first place AND the pretext for their aggressive, guns drawn, “high-risk” traffic stop.

The police had claimed for more than four years that the dispatch they heard that night said a car matching Darius Pinex’s car was wanted in a shooting and that there was likely a gun in the car. NONE of that was TRUE and none of it was broadcast over the dispatch that night. The dispatch Marsh concealed described a different car and said nothing about a shooting or a gun. As the New York Times pointed out, even just by running his license plate in their system, Darius Pinex would be alive today. It proves the police were lying and that the two cops had set in motion a chain of events that led to Pinex’s murder at their hands.

Judge Chang’s ruling goes into great detail on the egregiousness of this concealment and the role it played in the earlier trial verdict. (The text of the judge’s ruling is available at the Chicago Tribune website. For more on the cover-up, see “Criminal Conspiracy by the Chicago PD—How to get away with murder“ at

During the wrongful death case, Jordan Marsh had the gall to basically say, “Tell Ms. Gloria Pinex we are sorry for her loss, but this is a courtroom for legitimate cases”—knowing full well that he was a key part of the machinery to cover up a murder and deny her justice.

One of the immediate and direct consequences of the conspiracy to protect the murdering cops: Six months after killing Darius Pinex, the cop Sierra murdered again. In this second murder, a leaked police dash-cam video shows Sierra firing repeatedly into the back of a prone Flint Farmer. The gun Farmer supposedly had turned out to be a cell phone.

“The Police Are Doing Their Job”

The families of both Darius Pinex and Flint Farmer heard those lying words—”justifiable homicide.”

Gloria Pinex and her family have been fighting for justice for five years—fighting heroically through the tears, the sleepless nights. The family has been determined to get to the truth—Gloria read through everything she could get her hands on because she knew she was being lied to from day one. She examined the evidence and struggled to understand why this happened to her son.

There are different forces in the mix of the current scandals and the protests rocking Chicago and different viewpoints and outlooks, including revolutionaries. Reflecting on what she has been going through and thinking about, Gloria Pinex spoke frankly: “So when I met the revolution, I was enlightened with everything, and not even really knowing what the revolution was about, I was ready and willing to fight. And I knew I had to fight for my son’s rights—and then I stood up for everyone else’s rights. I’m still in it to win it. This shit got to stop. It must end... I didn’t see this shit and was asleep until this happened to my son. You all did wake me up and I am glad. And since I been woke up, it is right there—pow!—in your face every m’fucking day.”

Gloria and three sons traveled to New York City last October 22-24 for the Rise Up October actions, as part 100 families of people murdered by the police joining together with others for #Rise Up October—Stop Police Terror—Which Side Are You On?

Gloria Pinex’s heartfelt message: “To all the mommas going through what I am going through and they trying to bamboozle you: Stay strong.” She added, “The police are doing their job. If this wasn’t their job, why they keep getting away with it?”






Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

From Stop Mass Incarceration Network:

It's Right To Protest Murder By Police!

Oppose the Convictions of April 14 Protesters and Drop the Charges Against All Those Arrested for Protesting Police Terror

January 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


Blocking train in Los Angeles, April 14

Blocking train in Los Angeles, April 14.

Nearly every day, we hear of cases and see videos of police murdering and brutalizing people, disproportionately Black and Latino. Walter Scott: shot in the back as he was running away. Eric Garner: choked to death on a NY City street. Omar Abrego: beaten to death as he was coming home. Michael Brown: shot and killed with his hands up as he was walking to his grandma's house. John Crawford: shot in a Walmart for holding a toy gun the store was selling. Ezell Ford: shot in the back outside of his home. Tamir Rice: 12 years old, playing with a toy gun in a park, shot within 1.7 seconds by police.

And again and again and again, the police are exonerated and hardly ever investigated, let alone punished. The cops who murdered Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford and Omar Abrego: all got off scot free. It has been over a year since Ezell Ford was murdered and there have still been no legal proceedings against the murderers. It has been a year since Tamir Rice was murdered, and grand jury proceedings are just now beginning.1

What is the government's answer to these howling and unjust crimes?

To arrest, prosecute, intimidate and imprison those who protest against them.

In LA, three young revolutionaries were just convicted of serious misdemeanor charges from an arrest at a national protest against police murder on April 14, 2015. They have recently been sentenced2. Seven others, from different perspectives, are also facing upcoming trials from this arrest. That day, in over 30 U.S. cities, thousands took the streets. In LA, over 1,000 people participated in this protest which included high school walkouts, a march through Skid Row and the shutting down of the Blue Line train for over an hour. This national day of protest helped to keep open the door of mass resistance against murder by police which began in 2014.

In addition, numerous people from the Black Lives Matter movement and others who filled the streets in the last year and a half to protest police terror are all also facing upcoming trials.

These brave resisters have already faced more time in jail and in the courts than most of the police who murder and brutalize Black and brown people. This is unacceptable.

These arrests and prosecutions are meant to send a message of fear and intimidation to force people to accept the business as usual of murder and brutality by police; they are meant to send a message that "if you act in meaningful and determined political resistance, we will shut you down." Whether it be the tanks and tear gas in the streets of Ferguson, boycotts and bully threats aimed at silencing prominent voices who speak out or mass arrests in Baltimore, LA or NY. We will not accept this.

We demand:


1. The Cleveland police who murdered Tamir Rice have walked free, with no charges filed. [back]

2. They were sentenced to two years "summary probation," large fines and community labor. [back]



Benny Anderson, brother of Johnny Anderson, killed by Lakewood sheriffs, 2015
Rafael Angulo,
Clinical Professor, USC School of Social Work
Nicole Berry, sister of John Berry, killed by Lakewood CA Sheriffs, 2015
Paris Bey,
cousin of Janisha Fonville, killed by Charlotte, NC police, 2015
Peter Coyote,
actor, writer and Zen Buddhist priest
Carl Dix,
co-founder, Stop Mass Incarceration Network; Revolutionary Communist Party
Carey Downs,
father of James Rivera Jr., killed 2010 by Stockton CA police
Leanne Estrada, mother of 17 year old Hoopa Tribal Member Richard Fredrick Tis-Mil Estrada, killed by California Highway Patrol on 12-18-2014
artin Garbus, attorney
Kimberly Griffin,
mother of Kimoni Davis, killed by Hanging Rock OH police, 2015
Georgia Farrell,
mother of Jonathan Ferrell, killed by Charlotte, NC police 2013
Yohana Flores,
daughter of Ernesto Flores, murdered by San Bernardino County police, 2015
Chemika Hollis,
partner of Nate Wilks, killed by police in Oakland, CA, 2015
Alice Howell, grandmother of Justus Howell, killed by Zion IL police, 2015
Sikivu Hutchinson, author
Tawanda Jones,
sister of Tyrone West killed by Baltimore police in 2013
Kevin Kellom,
father of Terrence Kellom, killed by Federal ICE agents in Detroit, 2015
Alicia Kirkman,
mother of Angelo Miller, 17 years old, killed by Cleveland Police in 2007
Tom Morello,
musician, activist
Rev. Cecil L. Murray,
Pastor retired at First AME Church, Los Angeles. Professor, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, USC
Edith Obdulio Oliva,
father of Carlos Oliva-Sola, killed by LA Sheriffs, September 2013
Erica Parker,
sister of Dante Parker, murdered by San Bernardino Sheriffs, 2014
Nate Parker
Marcus Pettiford,
son of Anthony Anderson, murdered by Baltimore police, 2012
Mary Ratcliff,
Editor, San Francisco Bay View Newspaper
Ishtyme Robinson, mother of Ahjah Dixon, died in police custody, Corsicana, Texas, 2010
Andre Royo,
Chris Silva, brother of David Silva, beat to death by Bakersfield CA police, 2013
Sunsara Taylor,
writer, Revolution newspaper,
Terri Thaxton, sister of Michael Nida, killed by Downey CA Police, 2011
Paul Von Blum, Senior Lecturer, African American Studies Dept., UCLA
The Lareko Williams family, Lareko Williams was tasered to death by Charlotte, NC police, 2011
Rev. Frank Wulf, Pastor, USC United University Church, Los Angeles





Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

On the Significance of RiseUpOctober: Building on Strengths, Overcoming Weaknesses... And Fighting to Actually Put an End to Police Terror and White Supremacy Through Revolution

Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

November 30, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


RiseUpOctober, RUO—the mass demonstrations against police murder that took place in New York in October—represented a significant advance in the fight against this terror, and the overall fight against the oppression of Black, Latino. and Native American people of which it is a key part. The three days of action—the march and rallies on the 24th, the nonviolent direct action to shut down Rikers Island prison on the 23rd, and the reading at Times Square on the 22nd of the Stolen Lives, those killed by the police—each in its own right and taken together had a powerful impact on public opinion. The controversy that raged afterward in the media, mainly with the filmmaker Quentin Tarantino’s comments at the march and the defense of Tarantino by others, kept the issue squarely in the public mind, with people representing the action making the point to millions: murder by police must stop—Which Side Are You On?

RUO brought forward and together the voices and participation of people from different sections of society, including students and prominent voices of conscience,around the “reasonable” demands to Stop Police Terror and the police murder of unarmed youths, and convicting and sending the killer cops to jail. On the 24th of October, the march of nearly 4,000 people was bold and defiant, with contingents from different campuses and organizations, and people from Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, and as far away as Texas and California. There were students from the historically Black colleges, the elite colleges and community colleges, along with those from the bottom of society, those “who catch the hardest hell,” joined by activists and others from the social movements and the broad progressive middle strata, all declaring to society, “Which Side Are You On,” STOP Police Terror.

Family members of those killed by police. New York City, October 22, 2015. Photo: Phil Buehler

This political and moral challenge was underscored by the parents and family members of the Stolen Lives, those killed by the police, who came to NYC from across the country, reading the names and telling the stories of their loved ones together with prominent voices of conscience at Times Square on the 22nd. Their powerful and courageous truth-telling was part of bringing home the hard and horrible reality of police murder. The workings of this system and the conscious policies of its rulers seek to keep people divided, and the most bitterly oppressed feeling isolated—and these manifestations of RUO broke through that barrier.

RUO was a powerful political and moral response in opposition to and as part of the political battle over the legitimacy and the right of the police to blow away lives without any consequences or justice. RUO was a necessary intervention to change the terms of discussion and to influence public opinion at a critical juncture. All summer the rulers of this system were on the offensive, attempting to re-seize the initiative after the uprisings of Ferguson and Baltimore had put the question of police terror on the societal agenda. They were posing as the victims, and defending and asserting the right of the police to continue raining terror and murdering people in genocidal proportions.

RiseUpOctober hit back hard at this, speaking the truth and mobilizing people, and as the 24th approached, the powers that be hit back in turn. It is no mere coincidence that Obama and James Comey, the head of the FBI, spoke on the 22nd and the 24th of October on these issues, defending the police in no uncertain terms. Nor is it coincidental that directly after the mass demonstration, the New York Post, Fox News, the PBAs (“Police Brutality Associations”), NYPD chief Bratton, and the rest went on a rampage.

Eve Ensler, Carl Dix, Cornel West, Quentin Tarantino, on march with family members. Photo:

Carl Dix, who along with Cornel West co-initiated RUO, hammered away at this legitimacy, and from this perspective, pointed to the real role of the police in enforcing the oppressive system, and brought alive the solution in communist revolution to get beyond this and its leadership in Bob Avakian (BA), while at the same time working to get everyone he could to get involved in this fight. Other people came together with Carl and Cornel, and this variety of voices and perspectives and the lively debate that ensued added to the strength of RiseUpOctober and modeled something very important for people.

RUO forged and advanced a much-needed and defiant pole of genuine resistance and struggle, giving people a way to act commensurate with the horrors and outrages of the all-too-common stories and videos of police terror and police murder. RUO also included the nonviolent direct action to shut down Rikers Island, a torture chamber and hellhole of a prison right in the middle of New York City, housing mainly Black and Latino inmates—and this action of resistance and struggle is a real leap toward what is needed to end the New Jim Crow, the program of mass incarceration.

Evaluating Strengths and Weaknesses

October 24—Thousands took to the streets of NYC for the culmination of three days of Rise Up October, led by families of victims of police murder (above), many carrying large pictures of men and women whose lives were unjustly stolen.

In evaluating an initiative like RUO, from the standpoint of its objectives, the criterion is its effect on the political terrain, on favorably changing public opinion and people’s thinking in line with the actual reality and putting an end to police terror, and organizing forces in the struggle and movement for this. Let’s remember: the point of RiseUpOctober is to STOP police murder; everything it does is designed to contribute to making that fight as strong as possible. And part of the thinking that went into this is that, in order to STOP this, you will need millions and millions of people feeling compelled to choose sides... and compelled to STRUGGLE AGAINST THE SYSTEM that gives rise to such murder and repression.

RiseUpOctober represented a significant advance, and this struggle and its organization, Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN), needs to be carried forward, grow and politically escalate, especially as people are righteously standing up in Chicago, Minneapolis, and other cities against police murder, and on campuses against racism and white supremacy.

At the same time, all of these advances—from bringing together different sections of society in struggle and resistance, in questioning the legitimacy of the police and the system of which they are objectively the enforcers, and the heightened profile of Carl Dix on the political terrain, as a revolutionary communist leader and follower of BA and courageous truth-teller about and fighter against police terror—need to be built on with strategic perspective to hasten the time when a radically different system and society can be brought into being through revolution, and this, as well as many other horrors, can be ended once and for all. 

In this context, there were some secondary shortcomings to be looked at, interrogated, and solved going forward.

First, we needed more of an organizational and infrastructural core at the heart of the initiative. We also needed to have raised more funds for advertising and promotion, so that many more people would hear of and be able to participate actively in this resistance. Even though RiseUpOctober did have real and powerful impact, had the RUO movement been able to solve these problems that impact could possibly have been even greater. This is a collective responsibility for the movement as a whole, and we should grapple with others on how to solve these problems, and really grow SMIN with vibrant chapters nationwide.

Bringing Out the Need for Revolution and the Leadership of Bob Avakian

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

Second, as revolutionary communists, while we worked hard on fulfilling and bringing to life the key objectives of RUO, all too often we lost sight of WHY we take part in these struggles. On the one hand, we hate this outrage with all our might; many of us came into the movement for revolution through this and related battles, and the more that we have understood how deeply interknit it is into this capitalist system and how utterly unnecessary it is, the more—not the less—angry and outraged we have become.

At the same time, unless and until there is a revolution, this horror will go on. It’s that simple. For that reason, we unapologetically lead and participate in these struggles with that larger goal in mind, drawing the links to the system whenever we can and pointing to the solution in revolution and the leadership for that revolution in Bob Avakian (BA).

It is in this regard that we think we fell down some and did not fully enough carry out our responsibility. And a lot of this got concentrated around not letting people know about BA—maybe letting people know some things, but not consistently giving people the full picture of who he is, what he’s brought forward, and how he leads. To put it another way, not stepping off enough from the scientific fact that the outrage of police murder is made all the more unbearable by the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way, there is another way possible through revolution, and there is leadership for that revolution in BA, and the Party he leads.

This is what people need most from us. There is a lot more we could and should have done in bringing to all the need to study and follow BA’s leadership, and becoming part of the process of helping to realize this revolution, including through following, the official website of Revolution newspaper, and the main way for people to get the ongoing leadership of BA and the Party.

BA and the Struggle to Uproot the Oppression of Black People and All Other Oppressed Nationalities

In speaking of BA in particular, a lot of people don’t know that he’s been a fighter on this question since way back in the 1960s, going back to the earliest days of the Black Panther Party, whom he worked closely with. People should check out the “TIMELINE—Political Activism and Revolutionary Leadership of Bob Avakian (BA), During the 1960s-1970s, and Continuing to the Present Time” at to learn more on this. But it goes way beyond that.

Bob Avakian, over many decades of work, has scientifically shown how the oppression of Black people, since the time of slavery, has been central to the history of this country and integral to the workings of this system of capitalism-imperialism, interwoven into the economic, social, cultural, and ideological fabric of this country. Because of this, the system and its rulers have no solution, no answers to all of its horrific manifestations, from police murder to mass incarceration to rampant discrimination in jobs, housing, and all other areas of life.

Do you know anyone else—any person or organization—that has managed to bring forth an actual PLAN for a radically different society, in all its dimensions, and a CONSTITUTION to codify all this? — A different world IS possible — Check out and order online the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).

He has done the work to show that with a radically different system, a different economic and political framework, and social relations and ideas that aim to get beyond all exploitation and oppression as part of a worldwide process, there IS a solution, there IS an answer, and we can put an end to the horrors and get to work on rooting out the inequalities of this system. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) goes into this very concretely. This Constitution is a concretization of the work done by BA on what such a society should look like, and an application of the new synthesis of communism which he has developed over decades, a whole new framework and a world-historic contribution to the science of communism and the emancipation of humanity. 

Bringing this society into being will take a revolution, and BA has also developed a strategy for this revolution, and is the leader of this Party implementing and leading this strategy. This strategy of course takes in many, many questions—the oppression of women, the wars waged by imperialism, the destruction of the environment, the persecution of immigrants—and shows the real living links to the capitalist society we live in, and the need to get beyond that. As part of this strategy, he has scientifically analyzed the oppression of Black people as one of the crucial fault lines of this system, one that goes to its very roots and foundations. From his earliest and formative political experiences in the 1960s, the centrality of the oppression of Black people in this society, and the resultant vulnerability of this system on this question, its “Achilles heel,” has been a hallmark of BA’s leadership—that has been scientifically deepened through decades of theoretical work and leading the revolution in the U.S., including deeply examining the struggles of Black people for liberation, and being part of and drawing the correct scientific lessons from the most advanced revolutionary experiences of the 1960s with the Black Panthers.

BA has shown how bringing growing numbers of people into motion around this crucial fault line of this system can deepen and widen the cracks of this system, doing this in a way that hastens the moment when the whole thing can be brought down and a radically different world brought into being through communist revolution. Concretely leading these struggles to end police murder and terror, and its manifestations in SMIN and RUO, are an application of this, with the perspective and goals of advancing the objectives of communist revolution—again, a revolution that can and goes to work on fundamentally resolving not only the oppression of Black people, but of women, of immigrants, and bringing to an end this country’s wars of empire and its destruction of the environment, within and as part of a radically different system aiming for and working towards the emancipation of all of humanity.

And people should definitely know that it was BA himself, as leader of the Party, who is responsible for the Party taking up this initiative, and others like it, going back decades. If you want to check out his thinking on the importance of initiatives like SMIN and RUO, and how they relate to getting to a world where things like police murder and white supremacy really are no more, check out his essay, “The Mass Initiatives and Our Strategic Objectives”.

The Problem... The Solution... And the Process

Why is this important? As people struggle and fight the power, bigger questions are posed such as what is the source of these injustices, what is the relation to other horrors such as the oppression of women and immigrants, the wars and the destruction of the environment, and can we end these and what will it take? There ARE answers to these questions, and it is the responsibility of the revolutionary communists to not only bring the answers to the people, but lead a process for them to increasingly get a scientific approach to society and all of reality, one that is denied the vast majority of people by the workings of this system, and organize them into the actual revolution.

The more people understand the common root of these injustices in the system of capitalism-imperialism, and the fact that these horrors are completely needless and can be done away with through revolution, then the more people’s sights are raised to a radically different world that is necessary, possible, and desirable, and the more people are impelled and compelled to fight even more ferociously—and with an increasingly conscious goal, in thinking and organization, of getting beyond this. This, after all, is the point of fighting to put an END to these horrors, and this takes leadership concentrated in science and a thoroughly scientific approach to society. At this moment in history, the most thoroughly scientific approach to society and the most advanced science of the emancipation of humanity through communist revolution, the solution to all this madness, the way out, is concentrated in the work and leadership of Bob Avakian.

Going Forward

In the little more than a month since RiseUpOctober, this struggle has further intensified, with both RUO, the Revolution Clubs (which are led by the Party), and Party members like Carl Dix right in the middle of it. This must not die down, but must instead go forward. We will be working as hard as we can to build this struggle as broadly as we can, and to do this as part of preparing for revolution, putting an end to this horror. And we look forward to participating with all the people in RUO and many more besides to make this winter and spring a time when the question “WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?” resounds even more powerfully, throughout this society and the whole world.


For more on Bob Avakian, go to:


For more on how the Party views and participates in mass struggles and their relationship to revolution, see BAsics, Chapter 3, especially 3:1, 3:2, 3:3, 3:30, and the Party’s statement on strategy which supplements that chapter.





Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

Black Woman Dies After Hospital Calls Police and Forces Her Out

January 9, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


Barbara Dawson

Barbara Dawson

Barbara Dawson, a 57-year-old Black woman, checked into Calhoun Liberty Hospital in Blountstown, Florida, on December 20. She complained of abdominal pain. Dawson had a history of breathing problems; she regularly used an oxygen tank to assist her breathing. Barbara lived across the street and often received treatment at Calhoun Liberty Hospital.

Less than eight hours after arriving at the hospital, Barbara Dawson was discharged. Still in pain and seeking help, Dawson refused to leave, so the hospital called the police.

The final moments of Barbara Dawson’s life can be heard on audio recorded by the police dash-cam.

“No, no, no, no,” Barbara pleads with the police to let her stay. You can hear the desperation and terror in her voice as she begs for help. Over and over she calls out, “Oh my God, oh my God... please don’t let me die.”

The cop responds, “Here’s what’s going to happen. You can walk out or I can take you out of the hospital.”

The tube connecting Barbara’s oxygen tank is removed. The cop places her under arrest. Handcuffs are placed around her wrist. Barbara cries out for help as she’s pushed toward the hospital parking lot where a police cruiser waits. Without the oxygen tank she relies on, she repeats a familiar refrain, “I CAN’T BREATHE...I CAN’T breathe...I can’t breathe.”

As the cop reaches for his keys, Barbara collapses to the ground a few feet from the car.   For 20 minutes, the cop and hospital staff can be heard telling her, “There is nothing wrong with you,” and shouting at her to get up as they attempt to lift her body into the car. They struggle to get her limp, shackled body into the car and the cop radios for a larger vehicle. After 20 horrific minutes on the ground, a doctor checks Dawson’s vital signs and readmits her to the hospital for “symptoms totally different than what she had been released from earlier.”

Barbara Dawson was pronounced dead an hour after she collapsed in the parking lot. The cause of her death: a blood clot in her lung.

The Dawson’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, asked at a press conference this week, “Why didn’t she [Barbara] get the benefit of the doubt? Not just the benefit of the doubt. The benefit of humanity. From the hospital and from the police officer. Nobody gave her the benefit of humanity. She was a human being.” The simple answer is: she was Black and female in the United States of America, therefore her life did not matter.

The death of Barbara Dawson illustrates, on many levels, the illegitimacy of the system that currently dominates. Barbara Dawson died from a blood clot in her lung, but it is the SYSTEM that killed her.

Think about it: What kind of system allows its hospitals to deny care because it hurts their “bottom line” and treats those seeking medical care as if they are too stupid to know that there is something wrong with their own body? What good is a system that uses its armed enforcers, the police, to forcibly deny medical care to someone crying out for help, literally dying? What good is a system whose police “serve and protect” by arresting, brutalizing, harassing, incarcerating, dehumanizing, and murdering the people? The answer is: a system that needs to be swept from the face of the Earth through revolution.





Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

An Invitation to Learn About—and Change—the World

Upcoming showings of REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and discussions of BA's outline of the new synthesis of communism—near you.

Updated December 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


People are grappling with big questions: Is there a way to change, to really change the way that people around the world are forced to live? What would it take to not just change the many ways that people are oppressed, but to actually END oppression altogether? And what will your life be about in relation to that?

The world today IS a horror—but it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a way forward, a way out of the horrors. As we say on this site:

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

If you are someone who is grappling with the big questions, right now is the time for you to dig deeply into the work and leadership of Bob Avakian (BA), even as we fight forward to change the world. Two good ways to start doing this is to get into BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!—a six-hour film of a talk by Bob Avakian—and the outline developed by BA himself laying out the key elements of the new synthesis of communism that he has brought forward. This outline—The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, and Core Elementsprovides “a basic grounding and guideline... to encourage and facilitate further engagement with the new synthesis.”

In the coming weeks, there will be opportunities for you to get into this film and the new synthesis outline together with other people at Revolution Books stores in different cities. See the schedule below.

New York City

Revolution Books, 437 Malcolm X Blvd./Lenox Ave.

Contact Revolution Books at the address above or 212-691-3345 / for upcoming events.


Revolution Books, 1103 N. Ashland. 773-489-0930,

Contact the store for upcoming events

Los Angeles

Revolution Books’ temporary space at the Multicultural Artists United (MCAU) Gallery, 220 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park, between Beverly & Temple.

January 21, Thursday, 7:30 pm: Discussion of Bob Avakian’s The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, and Core Elements.

February 4, Thursday, 7:30 pm. Screening and continuing discussion of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

Contact Revolution Books for upcoming events at 213-304-9864


Revolution Books, 2444 Durant Avenue

January 19, Tuesday, 7-9 pm: Screening and discussion of sections of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

Contact Revolution Books for more info at above address or 510-848-1196 /


Little 5 Points Community Center, 1083 Austin Ave @ Euclid Ave.
(enter building from back parking lot, take elevator to 3rd floor) Free Parking

Contact Revolution Books for upcoming events at 770-861-3339 or


Revolution Books, 1158 Mass Ave., Cambridge

Contact the store for upcoming events at 617-388-0133 or


Revolution Books, 2804 Mayfield Rd, at Coventry, Cleveland Hts

Wednesdays, January 13 and 20, 6:30 - 8:30 pm: Screening and discussion of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live.


2501 Holman (in Project Row Houses)

January 17, Sunday, 4pm: Come to watch and dig into Part 3 of BA Speaks:  REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

For information, call 832-865-0408, or email


Revolution Books, 89 S. Washington St. (off 1st Ave. in Pioneer Square)

Saturdays, 1 pm: Screening and discussion of sections of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

For more info, contact Revolution Books at the above address or 206-325-7415 /






Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

Revolution Club Member Asks Spike Lee at Chi-Raq Q+A...

"Do you think the problem is human nature or the nature of the system?"

December 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a Revolution Club, New York member:

Through contacts I found out that Spike Lee was doing a Q+A after the screening of Chi-Raq in Brooklyn.  Immediately, I tried to contact everybody I could think of to attend and intervene as I was planning to go to Columbia University. One other member of the Revolution Club was down to attend. I debated going and 20 minutes prior to it starting I made the decision to go because (1) nobody else was going and (2) I had just read an article on that day that said revolutionaries should go and interact with audiences of Chi-Raq; and given Spike Lee was doing the Q+A—it seemed irresponsible to not attend).  So with very little preparation (materials, etc.) I rushed to meet my fellow club member.

The film artistically is well made but ideologically it is sharply contradictory. I had read the New York Times review and was somewhat familiar with the Greek play.  So on my way to the theater I thought about a question to pose.  It’s a two-hour film and I was getting lost in the process.  As soon as it ended we passed around all the BA quote cards we had.  Spike Lee entered the theater and I knew I had to insist on getting heard—so I raised and waved my hand very high (and I was the second person to get called on).  I introduced myself and as soon as I said communist; Spike Lee replied “Oh oh here we go”.  I asked “Do you think the problem is human nature or the nature of the system?”  I said “I follow a leader Bob Avakian” and Spike Lee said “Who?”  I said “Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolution Communist Party who is convinced that characters like Chi-Raq (the main character who is the leader of the Spartans gang) can go from ‘irredeemable monsters’ to emancipators of humanity but not through the church (because the parallels in the film for Black people was the gang life or the church) but by fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution; like the defiant youth in Ferguson and Baltimore.  So to pose my question again do you think the problem is human nature...” And he asked “human nature?”  I said “Yes, like it’s in people’s nature because I am firmly convinced that it is in the nature of U.S. imperialism and it’s going to take a revolution to get rid of that system.  And I invite you and everyone in the audience to get into Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism that’s providing a way out of this madness.” 

He thanked me for my comments and said “We obviously have different outlooks.”  He went on several tangents: he’s gotten a lot of flack for the film; as soon as he entered the theater he jokingly said who’s going to be the first to ask me about Black sexuality—and so he continued on that stream.  And then he tried to answer my question by getting into the social constructs of society that give rise to gang life—so he didn’t think it was in people’s nature.  But, then he couldn’t get over the phenomena of Black on Black crime; he even compared the gang life back in the day when innocent people wouldn’t get hurt (or the rules of thug life) and talked about the mothers whose kids get innocently killed.

The question posed set a certain tone for the overall audience.  Usually people’s questions aren’t deep but Spike Lee’s responses were interesting.  One person asked about working with the city of Chicago; and Spike Lee went on an important tangent on Laquan McDonald.  He had met with the mayor before filming; and talked about the hypocrisy of the mayor, given all the footage that’s been released and all the trouble he’s in given people want him out of office.  He did agitate for a bit on the outrageous murder of Laquan McDonald and asked “How much more footage do they have?”  Somebody else in the audience asked about the role of the police—which in a tangent to my question in talking about the brutality of the police he said everybody wants to talk about Black Lives Matter but what about the mothers of those who’ve been killed by Black on Black crime?  So in a response to the role of the police he basically said they’re painting a bad picture of themselves by choking Eric Garner to death and by continuing to kill unarmed men.  The Q+A was brief so this was the extent of the exchange. 

I was sitting all the way in the back and was going to give him a copy of the paper.  So as I was climbing over my seat he came up to me to shake my hand; I handed him a paper and he quickly walked away.  The other Revolution Club member and I started selling the paper to the audience (we had a lot of freedom) and got out all of our copies. 

As we were leaving I noticed Spike Lee was signing autographs. The crowd was thinning out and I decided to approach him again.  He basically said “now is not the time” then he said “you’re the communist, right?” I nodded.  I said “I’ll leave by saying this: everybody is so locked in the permanence of today; and I would insist that you get into the works of Bob Avakian because there is a lot of materialism there.  We need a revolution.  And if what he’s saying is true that things don’t have to be this way—then it’s bigger than you and me. It’s actually about the people of the world; and us having a chance of getting free.”  He didn’t say anything and I didn’t want to push it, so I said good night and so did he (he was also getting ready to introduce the next showing of his film). 





Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

"The First Time I Read This Quote from BA I Cried"

A Revolution Club Member Responds to Bob Avakian on the Liberation of Women

December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


My reaction to the compendium Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on Women’s Emancipation and Communist Revolution has been twofold: 1. visceral, which I will dig into after the period ends this sentence, and 2. understanding its importance in unleashing women and all kinds of folks around the “woman question” in order to make an actual revolution, one worth fighting for, and ALL the way emancipation (number 2, I am also calling “every ‘feminist’ and everyone, period, needs this in their stocking/holiday bag”).

As promised, expanding on number one: The first time I read this quote by BA in the Break ALL the Chains! compendium sampler, I cried:

Recently I heard a startling statistic: one out of every four women in the U.S. will be the victim of a sexual assault during her lifetime. One out of four!, and the number is expected to rise to one out of three. Right there, even if this “way of life” did not produce any of the other seemingly endless outrages and genuinely monstrous crimes—all the way to world war—that it does produce, even if what stands behind the statistic were the only thing seriously wrong with this system, that alone would be enough to rise up against it and not stop until it had been overthrown and something better put in its place. (“Provocations,” Revolutionary Worker #228, October 29, 1983)

Even re-reading it to others, and as I write this I tear up. The words “that alone would be enough to rise up against it and not stop until it had been overthrown and something better put in its place” are in fact the words that make me cry. Reading it, processing it, hearing that the violence against women ALONE is reason enough to make a revolution takes my breath away. I have never heard anything like that before, something so powerful, something that validates the experiences of women. Something that decries the horror of what happens to women here and around the world as just that. Not some side issue. Not something that women complain about. Not something small or insignificant. A horror worth fighting against, and making great sacrifices to get rid of. Not ameliorate. Not hold safe space for. Get rid of once and for all.

A wave of emotion rushes over me. I am reminded of my childhood. I am reminded of the men I adored and loved who violated me. Assess you part by part. Relate to you not as a person but as a girl, and then a woman. You become to them the same as the women they watch in porn, the women they hoot and holler at. You hate your body. You feel disgusting. You feel ashamed. You have no name for it. No category except pain. You carry it with you every day; sometimes it’s more present than other times. I imagine all of the times I’ve been harassed on the street. A constant reminder of who you are. A piece of meat. A thing to be used.

Stop the War on Women!

I imagine, as if a slave being auctioned, a woman on a block being evaluated based on how sexually titillating she is to men. Whether or not she can reproduce. I imagine the young woman in Ethiopia who is kidnapped and then raped. I imagine the woman in Harlem raped by police officers. I imagine the women in prison shackled as they give birth, perhaps an unwanted pregnancy because a CO officer raped her. I imagine the women in Mexico working at maquiladoras, U.S.-owned factories, disappeared, kidnapped, and raped, whose bones are found later on. I imagine the women in Middle Eastern villages being stoned to death after a white sheet without blood is used to claim she is not a virgin. We are each other and they are me. We are suffocating. We can’t breathe. We are, as a comrade has said, plants growing underneath a rock.

Imagine unleashing women to be a part of a revolution to put an end to the anger, frustration, shame, degradation, humiliation, beatings, self-hatred of women here, and around the world. Imagine women fighting to emancipate not just themselves but to emancipate all of humanity. Imagine a world without the constant threat of rape. Without women holding back for fear of being brutalized. Imagine women seen as human beings, girls as contributors to society, and not as things to be bought and sold. Imagine women did not have to keep moving to stop themselves from grappling with their oppression because it causes them too much pain. Imagine women not having to choke on their anger anymore!

Bob Avakian synthesized the experiences of women in a few sentences. They are bulky and smooth all at the same time. And by that I mean it is easy to read and yet encompasses the heaviness of experiences of a whole section of society in a way that packs a hard punch. Reading through the compendium I feel as though he’s writing to me. I think at the same time how it actually is nonsense to think that only women would have access to the truth on where women’s oppression comes from and how to end it. Bob Avakian isn’t just a man, he’s a revolutionary communist, applying a scientific method and approach to get at reality and how to transform it. How and why women need to be unleashed in order to make a revolution and struggle over the “woman question” in order to make all the way revolution! He breaks down the origins of women’s oppression. He actually goes there: boldly speaking the truth about the social role of women, and why and how this revolting culture must be resisted, and gotten rid of. His approach gets under the surface and gets at the heart of what it’s actually going to take to fully emancipate women and how, and why. And it is exciting. It is fucking exciting to know there is someone out there who has done this work and that there is in fact a solution to the horrors of this system.

I urge everyone, especially in light of the ongoing assault on women’s right to abortion, to read, to dig into, to refresh on Break ALL the Chains. To quote one of my favorites:

You cannot break all the chains, except one. You cannot say you want to be free of exploitation and oppression, except you want to keep the oppression of women by men. You can’t say you want to liberate humanity yet keep one half of the people enslaved to the other half. The oppression of women is completely bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited, and the ending of all such conditions is impossible without the complete liberation of women. All this is why women have a tremendous role to play not only in making revolution but in making sure there is all-the-way revolution. The fury of women can and must be fully unleashed as a mighty force for proletarian revolution. (BAsics 3:22)






Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

On the white supremacist occupation in Oregon:

Kid Gloves for Fascists—Iron Fist for the Oppressed

January 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

On January 2, a heavily armed group of fascist white supremacists took over the headquarters of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, and occupied its central building. Contrast the “hands off” approach of the system to this incident in Oregon with the violent repression of the Occupy movement, to take just one recent example. And as many people have pointed out, if a group of armed Black, Native American, or Latino people occupied federal property—or anything else—they would be attacked with vicious, overwhelming force by the government. No need to wonder if that’s true. In fact that has happened over and over. Following are three examples of the legal display of weapons, or use of weapons in legitimate self-defense against government violence, resulted in ferocious attacks by the system. As we go to press, this occupation continues and it is not clear what the outcome will be, but it is clear that up to now the government has given these fascists a lot of space to do what they want to do.

Sacramento, 1967

Black Panther Party, Sacramento, CA, May 2, 1967
Black Panther Party, Sacramento, CA, May 2, 1967 (AP photo)

In 1967 the Black Panther Party launched armed patrols of Oakland’s ghettos, to monitor and observe brutalizing, murdering police. The Panthers openly carried guns, in compliance with California law. California’s political leaders, including Governor Ronald Reagan, responded with a proposed law outlawing the open carry of firearms in the state.

On May 2, 1967, 30 Black Panthers in leather jackets and berets—24 men and 6 women—walked into the California State Capitol in Sacramento carrying rifles, shotguns, and handguns, pointed upward. Legislators scrambled to leave the building, or hide under their desks. In response to a reporter’s question, 16-year-old Panther Bobby Hutton replied, “We’re the Black Panthers. We’re Black people with guns. What about it?”

Five Panthers were arrested outside the state capitol that day on felony charges of “conspiracy to disrupt a legislative session”. The State of California soon passed a law known as the “Panther bill” that outlawed open carry of guns. Throughout the country, the Panthers came under ferocious attack by the police at every level of government for the next several years. Panthers were victims of police beatings, spying, break-ins, fabricated setups, and outright murder. Bobby Hutton was murdered by Oakland police less than one year after the Sacramento action.

Attica, New York, 1971

Attica prison, New York, 1971
Attica prison, New York, 1971 (AP photo)

Attica prison in upstate New York was built to hold 1,600 men but by 1971 the prison population was over 2,200, 54 percent Black, 9 percent Puerto Rican, 37 percent white. It was a hellhole of racist brutality, routine beatings, denial of medical care. On September 9, 1971, 1,200 Attica prisoners seized control of half the prison, taking 38 prison guards hostage. For four days, the Attica Brothers controlled D-yard, issuing a call to people on the outside to witness the brutal nature of the system and support their stand.

The Attica Brothers formed a leadership and negotiating committee made up of Black, Latino, and white prisoners. Among the prisoners as a whole, there was an unbreakable unity. They were highly organized and disciplined. Despite the fact that they had suffered under the sadistic prison guards, they gave their hostages decent living quarters, food rations and set up a security force to protect them.

On September 13, at the order of Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who had ignored the prisoners’ demand for a meeting, 211 state troopers and corrections officers retook Attica using tear gas, rifles, and shotguns. After the shooting was over, 10 hostages and 29 inmates lay dead or dying. At least 3,000 rounds of ammunition had been discharged. Prison officials initially said the hostages had been killed by the prisoners. But pathology reports later revealed that all hostages and inmates died from gunshot wounds. None of the prisoners had had any guns.

Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 1973
American Indian Movement members and supporters, Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 1973 (AP photo)

Wounded Knee, South Dakota, 1973

In the spring of 1973, hundreds of Indian people and their supporters occupied the village of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. They demanded an end to the U.S. government-backed murder and intimidation of American Indian Movement (AIM) supporters on the reservation. They demanded that treaties signed by the U.S. that gave the Lakota people (also known as the Sioux) the right to self-rule and to the land surrounding the Black Hills be honored.

Federal authorities surrounded them with an army of over 300. The Indians refused to back down. They used weapons to defend themselves and held off the government forces for 73 days. The courage and militancy of the fighters at Wounded Knee grabbed the attention of people all over the world and helped build powerful support for the struggle of Native peoples. Wounded Knee—the site of the 1890 massacre of 300 Sioux men, women, and children—became a symbol of renewed Indian struggle and resistance.

After this siege, the U.S. government unleashed an intense, murderous repression against the people of Pine Ridge. AIM members came to the reservation from all over the U.S. to support the struggle. It was as part of this AIM mobilization that Leonard Peltier came onto the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975.

On June 26, 1975, in an FBI raid on the AIM camp at Oglala, two FBI agents and one AIM activist were killed. In 1977 Peltier was framed for the murder of the agents and railroaded into prison. He is still in a federal prison and is respected around the world as a voice for Native people and an inspiring political prisoner who refuses to be broken.






Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

The Myth of Mother Teresa:
Pope Francis Puts an Enemy of Women and the Poor on the Road to Sainthood

January 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


On December 18, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had “verified” a second “miracle” attributed to Mother Teresa since her death in 1997, paving the way for her to become canonized—declared a “saint.” (According to Catholic mythology, it takes two miracles to prove that the person being prayed to is in heaven: the first makes them “blessed”; a second “miracle” means they can become a “saint.” The myth is that only those in heaven can “intercede with God” on the person’s behalf.) Mother Teresa’s first supposed miracle—the claim that a beam of light from her picture made an Indian woman’s cancerous tumor go away in 2003—is contradicted by the explanation of the woman’s doctors, who said that she didn’t have cancer and the tumor responded to medical treatment. This time, we’re told a man in Brazil with a serious viral brain infection was cured by supernatural healing in 2008 after his wife prayed to the Blessed Mother Teresa.

The pope’s official designation of Mother Teresa’s official “sainthood” isn’t expected to come until September 2016. But for the Catholic hierarchy, from the Vatican on down, Mother Teresa has been a “saint” for decades.

As we have written earlier, Pope Francis is being branded the “People’s Pope” for giving up some of the traditional ceremonial trappings of the position; for his expressions of concern over the worst abuses of capitalism; and for his expressions of sympathy for the poor in a world of extreme and savage inequality. He has called the Church “obsessed” with condemning same-sex relationships and forcing women to bear children against their will by opposing not just abortion but any form of birth control—while making clear there cannot and should not be any fundamental change in the Church’s position. And he’s even called for “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” (See “The ‘People’s Pope’: This Is NOT a New Catholic Church” at

But Pope Francis has also sent a message that the Church will support you only if you accept the framework—the current world order—and work for modest reform. The essential message of this pope to the poor and oppressed, like every pope before him, is subservience in this world—which means subservience to a world order of genocide and oppression of whole peoples, while waiting for relief in an imaginary “after-life.” It means accepting and working within a world built on exploitation enforced with violence; and 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.

The Myth of Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa has been made/turned into a world-famous icon because she embodies that same message. She has been promoted and is seen worldwide as a model of dedication and sacrifice to help relieve the suffering of the poor and destitute of the world. Much of this surrounds her work among the sick and dying of Calcutta, India—now called Kolkata—which earned her the title of “Saint of the Gutters.”

But the incredible hype that has been created around Mother Teresa for decades, so valuable in service of the interests of the Catholic Church and of the imperialist powers and their system, has been called out and exposed from many different angles—by doctors, social workers, academics, and others—who’ve examined the way people are mis-treated at the missions, and much, much more.

The reality of Mother Teresa’s life is that of a religious fundamentalist, a fanatic and bigot, whose concern for the poor was wrapped in a message of acceptance and obedience. Her centers for the sick and dying were not about treatment but about teaching acceptance of their permanent “wretchedness,” while manipulating them in service of the expansion of Christianity among people of other religions. She used her worldwide platform to promote vicious attacks on women around the world fighting against centuries of patriarchy, including the most basic right to control their own bodies through access to abortion and birth control. Mother Teresa used her reputation to bring acceptance to dictators like Jean Claude Duvalier of Haiti; to intervene on behalf of swindlers like the Christian fundamentalist and convicted embezzler Charles Keating; and to praise and promote the war criminal Ronald Reagan at the very time he was having people slaughtered in Central America. In exchange for her endorsement and photo ops with her, millions of dollars were contributed to her charities.

Pope Francis chose his visit to the U.S. last October to canonize a genocidal missionary—Junipero Serra—knowing, and excusing the fact, that Serra and the Church were responsible for the killing of 60,000 Native Americans in his California missions. (See “Genocidal Maniac Declared a Saint: Junípero Serra and the Pople’s Message for Today“ at And now he has decided the value to the Church of elevating Mother Teresa to sainthood is worth the risk of exposure of the Vatican’s actual message and motives.

Enemy, Not Advocate, of the Poor

At the time of her death, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity had opened 517 hospices and homes for the poor and sick in more than 100 countries. The medical journal Lancet, after a visit by doctors to the Missionaries of Charity facilities in Kolkata, published a report in 1994 of the kind of treatment the destitute, with HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis, were receiving. And two years ago, a paper published in the Canadian journal Studies in Religion/sciences religieuses by professors from two prominent Canadian universities examined nearly all of the written materials ever produced about the life and work of Mother Teresa. If you thought the mission of the Missionaries of Charity was to bring care and treatment to those in most desperate need, you’re not even close. What these journals found was grotesque—and intentionally so.

The doctors were shocked by the supposed treatment of those who had come for help in these “homes for the dying.” While there were doctors who called in from time to time, usually the sisters and volunteers made decisions about treatment for the two-thirds of the people coming there hoping to find a doctor. They found a lack of hygiene and unfit conditions, a shortage of actual care, and inadequate food. And even those who were dying in incredible pain were denied painkillers; instead they were simply left without receiving even the most basic care.

This was not due to a lack of funds—the foundation created by Mother Teresa raised hundreds of millions of dollars. These conditions were in fact deliberate—an approach to caring for the sick that glorified their suffering instead of relieving it. As Mother Teresa herself put it (in response to a question at a 1981 press conference, “Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?”): “I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.”

A volunteer in Kolkata described what she found inside these missions this way: “My initial impression was of all the photographs and footage I’ve ever seen of Belsen [Bergen-Belsen, a Nazi concentration camp] and places like that, because all the patients had shaved heads. No chairs anywhere, there were just these stretcher beds... there’s no garden, no yard even. No nothing.” There were just two rooms with over 50 men in one and over 50 women in the other—dying.

A New Theoretical Framework for a New Stage of Communist Revolution What is New in the New Synthesis? An Explorer, a Critical Thinker, a Follower of BA; Understanding the World, And Changing It For the Better, In the Interests of Humanity Some Thank Yous That Need To Be Said Aloud Order the book here Download the full interview in PDF format here

On her first day, this volunteer saw a 15-year-old boy who was dying. A doctor told her he’d been trying to treat the boy, who had a relatively simple kidney complaint that got worse and worse for lack of antibiotics. The boy needed an operation, and the doctor was angry. He said: “Well, they won’t take him to the hospital.” She asked the doctor why they didn’t just get him a cab to the hospital and demand he be treated. The doctor said, “They don’t do it. They won’t do it. If they do it for one, they do it for everybody.”

Conversion, Not Treatment

All of this is consistent with the actual mission of Mother Teresa and her centers—to convert the people under their “care” to Christianity. In February of this year, prominent Hindu nationalist politicians in India criticized the actual motives behind the centers as principally bringing people into the Catholic Church from other religions. This went so far as to keep the baptisms of Hindus and Muslims secret—even from those being baptized! On the verge of death, people were asked not whether they wanted to convert to Catholicism, but if they wanted a “ticket to heaven.” If so, the nuns would pretend to cool the patient’s forehead with a wet cloth, while in fact baptizing them. Apparently, she was video-recorded saying:

Something very beautiful: not one has died without receiving the special ticket for St. Peter as we call it. We call baptism “Ticket for St. Peter.” We ask the [dying] person do you want a blessing by which your sins will be forgiven and you receive God. They have never refused. So 29,000 have died in that one house from the time we began in 1952.

The centers run by the Missionaries of Charity in Papua, New Guinea, don’t have any patients in them; they’re solely used to convert the local people to Christianity.

Nobel Peace Prize for Promoting the War on Women

Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. By then she had already been elevated to a global icon for the work of her Missionaries of Charity in India. Upon receiving the award, you might have expected her to make a worldwide appeal to put an end to the horrific conditions faced by vast portions of humanity around the world, and to point to the role of wealthy and powerful nations and governments in perpetuating this suffering. But in her speech accepting the award, she never mentioned the war on the poor by this system, to say nothing of resistance—instead, she poured out the most vicious attack on women all over the world. After first blaming mothers forced to go to work for the rising use of drugs among young people in the West, she went on: “I think that today peace is threatened by abortion, too, which is a true war, the direct killing of a child by its own mother.... Today, abortion is the worst evil, and the greatest enemy of peace.” (The Missionary Position, Christopher Hitchens, p. 57)

This so-called “helper of the poor” has “helped” the Church’s efforts in forcing millions of women to risk back-alley or self-induced abortions that lead to the death of tens of thousands of women every year from botched abortions. The Church—and its icons—are soaked in the blood of women, from head to toe; while countless more millions of women are forced to bear children against their will, due to the Church’s opposition to birth control.

Servicing the Interests of Imperialism

In Mother Teresa’s travels around the world promoting her work and raising money, she took the time to publicly embrace—literally—hated dictators and world leaders who were carrying out crimes against humanity. In 1975, to curry favor with India’s Congress Party, she endorsed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s suspension of civil liberties, saying: “People are happier. There are more jobs. There are no strikes.” In addition to her prominent photo ops with the wife of the hated dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier of Haiti, she visited the arch-conservative Prime Minister of England Margaret Thatcher—and their private meeting didn’t focus on the homeless and the “Cardboard City” that had become a major issue in England, but on opposition to abortion, at a time when a bill was going through Parliament to make it less available to women.

Mother Teresa went to the White House in 1985 after President Reagan gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Reagan was overseeing genocidal wars in El Salvador and Guatemala and arming the Contras against Nicaragua; in 1980 Archbishop Romero and four nuns were murdered by the U.S.-backed regime in El Salvador. Despite all this, Mother Teresa had no trouble telling the world, “I am most unworthy of this generous gift of our President, Mr. Reagan, and his wife and you people of the United States.” And she went on to say, “I never realized that you loved the people so tenderly.”

In the same period, she went to Nicaragua and El Salvador and then to Guatemala, where she said, at a time when the slaughter of the indigenous peoples had become a worldwide issue: “Everything was peaceful in the parts of the country we visited. I do not get involved in that sort of politics.”


For the Catholic Church, and for the imperialist system, there have been few more valuable myths in the contemporary era that have been spread among the masses of people worldwide than “Mother Teresa.” This actual symbol of fundamentalist ignorance and blind subservience and obedience—who taught the poor not to rebel against, but to accept, endure, and indeed relish, their wretchedness; who contributed to the aggressive reassertion of the patriarchic oppression of women; and who was a willing apologist for those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity—is once again being dragged out to deliver the message.

What we need is not yet one more saint to make slavery more tolerable. What we need is leadership in the fight to do away with slavery. We need a revolution. And we need it as soon as possible.






Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

Talk by Sunsara Taylor:
Confronting the Abortion Rights Emergency — Fighting for Complete Liberation

December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On December 15, a program at Revolution Books in Harlem, New York City—The Abortion Rights Emergency—STOP the War on Women!—featured a panel with Merle Hoffman (CEO of Choices Women’s Medical Center, which began doing abortions in 1971, and author of Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Board Room); Sunsara Taylor (writer for Revolution/ and initiator of; and Sikivu Hutchinson (feminist atheist activist and author of Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels and Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics and the Values Wars). The following is the transcript of Sunsara Taylor’s remarks.


Unbelievable as it might seem...

Last Wednesday [December 9], a woman from Tennessee, Anna Yocca, was arrested and charged with first-degree attempted murder. This, after she was rushed to the hospital, bleeding profusely, her life in danger. The state alleges that she had attempted to use a coat hanger to self-abort her pregnancy. According to the news, Yocca was 24 weeks pregnant and her alleged self-abortion did not work. The fetus was still alive. But when she got to the hospital, instead of recognizing the fundamental right of every woman to decide for herself when and whether to have a child and assisting her in an abortion, which should have been available to her safely in the first place, the hospital removed the fetus and put it on life support—forcing her to become a mother against her will. Then, instead of prioritizing the safety and privacy of this patient, the hospital turned her over to the criminal justice system.

Finally, instead of recognizing that the severe restrictions and shame heaped on abortion in Tennessee and around this country have created a situation where women are once again resorting to the coat hanger—a method that claimed the lives of thousands of women before abortion was made legal (and rightly, and in large part due to the clarity and moral courage of Merle Hoffman, the coat hanger has become a symbol, an infamous symbol, of those horrendous days when abortion was illegal)—instead of looking at this situation and seeing that the crime was attempted murder by the state of Anna Yocca for putting her in this situation, the state instead charged her with murder!

As we speak, she sits in jail, and this is a precedent, a legal precedent, that can be used against many, many women.

Now we could spend hours detailing the cases of other women like this, and you’ve heard of some others, both in this country and around the world. And we could spend hours more detailing the violence and terror against abortion providers—including the murders at Planned Parenthood recently in Colorado. We could talk about—and Sikivu mentioned this and I’ll touch on it briefly right now—the poisonous campaign targeting Black women in particular, comparing them, if they get abortions, to the lynch mobs that murdered Black people—a campaign that at the same time vilifies Black women, belittles lynching, further demonizes abortion for all women, and views Black women the same way the slave masters did, by the way, as nothing more than breeding machines. We could talk about the particular challenges to immigrant women—especially those without papers, to young women, or we could examine the way even the most privileged women are oppressed when abortion is criminalized...

But instead, I refer you to the many things I and others have written about this at, to the many books, including those by the two speakers tonight, available here at Revolution Books, and urge you to learn more.

Break All the Chains!

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

Sampler Edition | Full Work

I want to address a question that is beneath the core of all of this—the question of WHY? Why are these laws being passed? Why do politicians knowingly use this hateful rhetoric that whips up terrorists? Why do they spread lies? Why do they do things like oppose birth control and sex education that would actually reduce the rate of abortion? Why do people who claim to be about “life” go on killing sprees? WHY?

I think the most important thing to understand in all this is something recently said by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party. He wrote: “Unbelievable as it may seem, in the 21st century there are still people—including people in positions of power and authority—who are determined to force women to bear children, regardless of the situation, the feelings, and the better judgment of those women themselves. That is a way of enslaving women to the dictates of an oppressive male supremacist, patriarchal system; and that is what the cruel fanatics who are determined to deny women the right to abortion are really all about.”

Years ago, in his book Preaching from a Pulpit of Bones, Bob Avakian wrote further about this (and I witnessed this directly myself for the first time 20 years ago in North Dakota and many times since): anti-abortion fanatics praying, “Lord, please break this curse of independence that has afflicted women.” This fight has never been about “babies.” Fetuses are NOT babies. This fight is about controlling and enslaving women.

Now, the fact that after the tremendous struggle of the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s, which is what it took to win this right, this kind of hatred of women is back with such a vengeance—and as Merle spoke to, this has been ongoing for decades, an escalating emergency—the fact that this is back is but one indication that patriarchy and male supremacy is woven deeply into the system of capitalism that we live under. It cannot be reformed away. We need a revolution.

By revolution I don’t mean a bunch of protests or political upheaval. I am not talking about replacing who is in power within the same basic setup. I am talking about overturning and putting an end to capitalism-imperialism, to its armies and its courts, its unjust laws and murderous police, and bringing into being a new, revolutionary state power—a socialist state in transition to a communist world. Revolution is needed to liberate women from not only this form of enslavement, but also from the epidemic of rape and sexual violence, the beatings and abuse, the trafficking of women and girls as sex slaves throughout the world, including in this country, the degradation and dehumanization of pornography, and the many other crimes of this system; the rampant police murder directed especially against Black and Brown people; the war on immigrants; the destruction of the environment, and the horrendous and escalating nightmare of what the U.S. does around the world, its imperialist drones and occupation, wars and torture, all of which fuel and reinforce Islamic fundamentalism and all the reactionary and enslaving forms of that against women and others, as well. We need a revolution.

And it is very fortunate for humanity that someone has done the work to develop the scientific understanding of how this can be done and is leading this. That person is Bob Avakian. The scope of the work he has done to develop the strategy for revolution, the vision of a new society, and the scientific method needed to carry this forward goes beyond what I can address in these brief remarks. But everyone who is serious about liberation has a responsibility to get deeply into his work and to help make it known to others. Go to, get the book BAsics, come regularly to this bookstore, Revolution Books. And particularly germane to this evening’s topic and discussion is the compendium, Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution, where he breaks new ground on how the liberation of women and the fight for the liberation of women is and must be a driving force in making a revolution to emancipate all of humanity.

Before concluding, I want to raise two final things—which draw on this body of work and which I think are essential for defeating the war on women.

First, the Bible taken literally is a horror. The Bible commands that non-virgin brides be stoned to death, that gays and lesbians be killed. It upholds slavery, and blames women for supposedly causing the downfall of man by eating the so-called forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. In this way women are blamed for everything bad that has ever happened—and told, in the book of Timothy, that they can only redeem themselves by obeying their husbands and having children. This horrendous stuff is in the Bible because it was written by human beings who lived in patriarchal, slave-owning societies before science, and the moral codes they dreamed up reflected those oppressive societies. But this Dark Ages stuff sits at the core of the anti-abortion movement, and it is time we start taking this on head on. The fact is: god does not exist, and it is a very good thing that that is true. But even if you believe in god—and I know there are a lot of people who support abortion rights who do, and I am happy to stand with them—but even if you believe in god, we all must agree that the Bible taken literally is a horror and this kind of Christian fascist biblical literalism must be taken on, not tolerated or compromised with.

Second, we cannot defeat this war on women by relying on the structures of this system—their elections, politicians, the Democratic Party, or the courts. These are all part of a system that needs patriarchy, and they repeatedly compromise with and cede the moral high ground to the fascists—talking about how abortion is a tragedy or should be rare, as if there is something wrong with abortion. Never calling out these fascists for the woman-haters they are or challenging their fascist biblical literalism. Relying on them is how we’ve gotten into this mess, where yesterday’s outrage over and over again becomes today’s compromise position and tomorrow’s limit of what can be imagined. We need to get OUT of this dynamic. We must change the terms—saying and acting on what no politician will say: Forced motherhood is female enslavement. Abortion must be available on demand and without apology.

We must rely on ourselves and we must put ourselves on the line. Right now, this means mobilizing to be in Washington, DC, and San Francisco this January for the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, to show our strength and our determination. To stand up and say we will not accept slavery in any form. To do this right in the face of thousands of anti-abortion fanatics who march every year. This is how we change ourselves. This is how we change the thinking and challenge the passivity of millions of others—and call them forward to join us. This is how we beat back the vicious attacks on women from the halls of power and the fascists on the street. I and the Revolutionary Communist Party are all in and will be doing this as part of getting ready for revolution—just as we recognize the need for and are proud to stand with people who come from very different perspectives, like those on this panel with me tonight, who see from their own lives and experiences the great importance of this fight for the future of women.

Wherever you are at in this process, join with us. Become part of—the full name being End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women—which brings together people from many different perspectives to fight this together. Get your own organization or group involved. Give money to support this work! Stand up. The future of women is being fought out and it’s going to be decided. I know the emergency has been building for years, but things like this don’t stay two-sided forever. One side or the other is going to win, and the scales are tipping the wrong way. It’s not a time to be on the sidelines. It’s not a time to be demoralized. There is a tremendous potential to wake up millions and reverse this whole direction. Which future we get is up to each of us.






Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

Bob Avakian on "Emmett Till and Jim Crow: Black people lived under a death sentence"

Bob Avakian: "The police, Black youth and what kind of a system is this?"

Clips from "Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian" given in 2003. Learn more about Bob Avakian here

What Does It Tell You When a Two-Year-Old Black Child Is Terrified of Police?

January 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

A woman who is the mother of a Black youth killed by the police in 2007 and who is active in Rise Up October told me the police came to her house looking for one of her sons—something to do with his car. When the police came to the door, her two-year-old grandson looked at the police and asked, “Are you going to shoot my uncle? Are you going to kill my uncle?” The police said, “No, we just want to talk to him.” Think about what this says about how deeply ingrained in the minds of Black people, even a two-year-old, is the fear that the police might hurt or kill someone they love. This is the fear every Black person lives with in Amerikkka, even as young as two years old.

In the speech titled Revolution: Why Its Necessary, Why Its Possible, What Its All About, in the section "Emmett Till and Jim Crow: Black people lived under a death sentence," Bob Avakian (BA) makes that point: “Listen to the following statement by the author of a book about lynching. He said, ‘It is doubtful that any Black male growing up in the rural South in the period 1900 to 1940 was not traumatized by a fear of being lynched.’ What is he saying with this? Nothing less than this: no Black male growing up in the rural South in that period could be free of that fear. Every Black male was haunted and scarred deeply by that fear. Think about what that means and think about how this touched Black people as a whole....”

And later, BA says: “It is doubtful that there is a young Black male, growing up in the U.S. today, in the South or the North, who does not have a very real fear of being brutalized or even murdered by the police. And again, this touches all Black people.”






Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

Digging into the New Synthesis Outline with a Large, Diverse Group of People

January 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:


by Bob Avakian, Chairman,
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Summer 2015

Read more

We held three salons in this area on The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, and Core Elements by Bob Avakian (the outline). This correspondence is mainly on the first two.

The salons were large (we broke into two groups in the final salon) and included people with various levels of understanding. They were attended by a mixture of veterans, Revolution Club members, a few veteran comrades, and new and newer people, some of whom were current university students or recent graduates. We decided to focus mainly on digging into, engaging, and struggling over some of the key points in the outline rather than trying to “cover all the points,” as the way to open up the engagement with BA and the new synthesis. Digging into these basic points, and speaking to the thinking/questions of the newer people, was engaging and challenging for everyone involved.

We began this first salon with BA’s “Introductory Point of Orientation” and the “Method and Approach: Communism as a Science—Further Development of Dialectical Materialism,” the first point in that section on freedom and necessity.

Everyone spoke, and overall people were very stimulated and engaged, including by being in a group with a bunch of different people and hearing different views. People thought it was very exciting and important to take the time to dig into basic, foundational questions, not mainly practical tasks, etc., which a number of people said they did not get the chance to do normally or in the course of doing political work/working on the mass initiatives. People expressed a real interest in digging into BA and the new synthesis further, although we have to make sure that happens, as the sessions also revealed much more work and struggle to be done.

The importance of the new synthesis in terms of not just what people think, but how they think, really stood out. People are not used to thinking about how they think, what their method and approach are, what is scientific, what truth is, what theory is, instead they’re used to thinking phenomenally.

On the question of science, people were eager to dig into this and got the point that it is about reality, and has to be systematic, and evidence based, and not just apply to one person or situation but more universally, and that it has to be provable or repeatable. This was an important beginning, and it was a positive thing that people were trying to draw on and apply this to all the questions we were discussing.

Many of the newer people were influenced by relativism and identity politics, which came out in the form of the role and importance of “lived experience.” People could more readily see that we had to be for all humanity rather than a single group, than they could the scientific question—that there is one objective reality, science is about getting to that, and that you can’t change the world unless you proceed from that method and approach. Also, people, again including some comrades and those around us for a long time, were much more able to criticize populism than populist epistemology, in particular how this has been a problem in the communist movement and our own thinking. Things got more sharpened up around populist epistemology, more than relativism overall, and there was contestation about relativism which needs further sharpening up. People’s mode of thinking is phenomenal; they’re able to criticize populism but not that mode of thought or to examine their own mode of thinking.

Some of the newer people also tended to proceed from the mass initiatives—not revolution and communism—including that the initiatives were a key part of the strategy for revolution. And none of these newer people seemed clear on actual revolution, which was also apparent in the discussion of the strategic approach to revolution, and what communist consciousness means (lot of emphasis on it being scientific, but detached from/not specifically connected to actually making revolution). One new person articulated a different line—more improving things for everyone—and it definitely impacted her view of what methodology is required. Afterward one veteran remarked that the sessions made him think about how buried we are in the day-to-day struggle and how important it is to step back and see the bigger picture.

What Is Science?

People were excited to get into what is science. The general understanding that emerged was along the lines leaning toward positivism—that you have to have evidence, collect data, it must be testable, reproducible, universal, and internally consistent. Someone raised the issue of “lived experience,” which we also got into in our second session. Others objected. One student argued that lived experience is not the only way to measure the truth—the criteria is internally consistent, logical, repeatable, and applicable to everyone, and as another person put it, science “brings us together.”

Later and in other sessions, I raised that science first and foremost has to reflect objective reality, including internal contradictions, development, motion, the leap to synthesis, and conceptual knowledge.

Other issues that came up that we weren’t able to pursue: science has been used against the people, and it can be going toward an agenda. (We didn’t fully get into the relationship between scientific and partisan—or “agendas.”) A student raised: “I have a problem with social science. Also we don’t know yet if god exists or not; there’s no evidence to prove god doesn’t exist.” A recent graduate said: “That’s not my major [science], but now seeing how science can be applied to everyday life, and the system is set up so we’re not trained to be scientists.” We got into this a bit, could have much more.

Dialectical Materialism

This was a new concept to many people who were digging into the science of communism for the first time. So I had to do some background. Dialectics and materialism represent a huge leap in human understanding that went against thousands of years of idealism and metaphysics (matter as unchanging “billiard balls”) by Marx, who applied it to history and society. The goal of communism is based on this and scientifically determined—comes out of scientific analysis of how society is organized, what’s essence of society, how it has changed and how there is now a basis to end oppression. It’s not easy to be scientific, and BA has made those breakthroughs. I referred to BAsics 4:4.

The New Synthesis

There was confusion and different lines over whether the key here was that the new synthesis represented a leap and foundation for a whole new world. One person said that it’s a work in progress, and that tells you things could change in the future. Another said: “I don’t know the old synthesis, so how can I evaluate the new one?” A veteran comrade made an important point: you have to get into the substance, you have to look at the previous stage of communist revolution—what are the lessons learned; is what’s learned adequate to the task of preparing for revolution and getting to the 4 Alls; is the new synthesis a significant rupture with even the best of communist movement prior; do these constitute a radical and necessary rupture. This outline is a clearer guide to answering those questions in the affirmative.

Freedom and Necessity

We read BA’s statement on freedom and necessity (quoted at the beginning of Ardea Skybreak’s book Of Primeval Steps & Future Leaps and discussed in the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and in “Ajith—A Portrait of the Residue of the Past,” in Demarcations #4) and cited this as a crucial way BA has further developed dialectical materialism and the science of communism. The newer people especially had not heard or thought about this, so we had to explain some basic terms—necessity, freedom, etc. (a number of people raised the need for a definition of terms).

A veteran comrade talked about how “inevitablism” (the idea that the achievement of communism is inevitable) means there’s no (or less) role for consciousness, as if people will pick up the science on their own, and this negates the role of the party. But people had a harder time with the deeper issue spoken to in the quote—the dialectic between causality and accident and the many layers of reality (and then yes, “inevitabilism” would undercut the fight for scientific probing of reality on all its levels).

A university student raised she was confused about constraint and freedom, but said something like “communism is not freedom”—that communism has a tendency to dictatorship, a lot feel communism is dictatorship.

So much was raised and we were not able to dig into so many things, including the statement about communism. People were anxious to get together again to get further into the new synthesis and challenge themselves further. A number of people continued the discussion that day and the next.

Session Two

To begin the second session, I briefly returned to why we’re digging into this outline and BA’s new synthesis: There are crises and cracks in the wall in this system, which is a horror; BA’s new synthesis is a revolution in human thought and represents a coherent foundation for a new stage of communism; the possibility of making an actual revolution and forging a new communist world has been greatly heightened as a direct result of the new synthesis of communism—it’s what people DON’T know about and urgently need to know—there’s a way out and a leadership to lead us out! We are wrestling with theory here—why? Because without revolutionary theory—theory based on a consistently scientific method and approach, and in particular the scientific method and approach of dialectical materialism—and without this theory being taken up and applied by growing numbers of people, there can be no emancipating revolution, and the horrendous outrages and abuses to which the masses of humanity are continually subjected will go on—and on. And I directed people to read or re-read “‘If you are serious...’ An Invitation to Learn About—and Change—the World” from

I then recapped and deepened a couple of points from the last discussion: Science isn’t just the systematic collection of evidence, it’s also making the leap to understanding how things work, how they came to be, the contradictions within and driving something, how it can be changed, how it interacts with other things (drawing from the interview with Ardea Skybreak). And how confronting this “necessity”—i.e., reality and what you’re up against—is the basis for grasping freedom, i.e., the ability to work on and transform that reality. Confronting reality as it actually is sounds like a simple thing, but it’s not. There are furious arguments against doing that, including in the communist movement—many ways people don’t—it’s not automatic or natural and this means science and the scientific method further developed by BA.

The first question (What is a scientific theory of knowledge, and what is relativism?) sparked a lot of discussion about people’s views of abortion and women’s rights (one person initially asked whether men have anything to say about abortion) and more generally the politics and morality of different issues, but it was more difficult for people to get to the epistemological issues. For example, one young man said, “It’s not murder, but in the antis’ minds they equate that with murder; I don’t see that.” I asked, “How do you know?” “That’s what I believe: woman’s right to do what she wants.” A young woman jumped in. She said, “It’s not scientific. A woman has to give birth to a fetus, but if there is no birth, it is not a baby.”

This got us back to a discussion of what science is and how it’s different than relativism. Some again had a more linear or positivist view: a university student again argued that science is internally consistent, proven by experiment, and true to everyone. A recent graduate added that: “Truth and science is to give up all emotion; it’s truth for everyone, and reality is out there regardless of what people think or experience.” Another: “Just because you say it’s true doesn’t make it a fact. If a tree falls in the forest, it still makes a sound [this example I heard a number of times]; if everyone had their own reality, we wouldn’t get anywhere.” And another student: “Humans are part of the objective world. Ideas flow from that and are part of that objective reality, but they don’t determine what is the objective world—e.g., the Sun does not go around the Earth.”

It was pointed out that “objective” means independent of all perceptions. But the question of whether there’s one objective reality was still contested: The young man said: “There are many realities—there’s lived experienced, there’s objective reality... but lived experience colors what your reality is, as in you haven’t gone through what I’ve gone through.” People wrestled with this in terms of its political implications. A university student said: “The hidden assumption of identity politics is you’re fighting for a certain group of people—we’re not fighting for a certain group of people but humanity.”

On populist epistemology and whether the oppressed have a special purchase on the truth, some people raised there can be good populism—in the sense of something we’re fighting for becomes popular. In speaking against populism, a university student raised the example of the oppressed voting for Nazis. She then connected populism and religiosity. She argued that in previous movements in Russia and China, the leaders were far beyond their contemporaries, who were often illiterate and couldn’t understand. So to promote their ideas, there had to be a dictatorship and to maintain that dictatorship they made their leaders gods or idols. She asked, “Is there another way to promote the idea without making it religious?”

I thought this would take us in the direction of getting into a long discussion of the first wave of communist revolution, which I feared could have taken us off track—but I did want to set the record straight. The point of dictatorship of the proletariat is to move toward communism. Mao broke ground in addressing the contradiction being posed and worked on narrowing the gap. The university student countered that the way Mao and others did that was to promote the Red Book in a way that made Mao a god. I responded that no, that wasn’t Mao’s outlook or what the Cultural Revolution in China was about. At the same time, BA has further advanced the understanding of how to narrow this gap between the leadership and the led. All this was worth real digging and interrogation. In thinking about this exchange now, I think maybe it would have been worth going there in the sense that the whole emphasis in the new synthesis on training people how to think is precisely to narrow this real gap and the opposite of promoting a religious view of leadership.

One person, older in years but newer to revolution and BA, said that being part of an oppressed group doesn’t mean you have all the answers—perhaps insight into life experiences, but it is not difficult for anyone to research or see reality, whether oppressed or not. One recent graduate was still grappling with all this. She said, “Populism and populist epistemology: yes and no. Some who are oppressed come out as revolutionaries and some don’t. It’s hard to get the whole big picture, but there are different narratives and perspectives and always will be, but we need to come to an understanding that we can all agree on.”

We went back to why is this epistemology crucial. A Revolution Club leader said, “If there is no way to understand what is true, you default to who is the most powerful guy around. Without science the only other option is conventional wisdom.” A young man said, “When I said before that people have different realities, I meant points of view. But there is an overarching objective reality on top of that. It makes sense, this BAsics quote (4:10), but I can’t express it. If reality and truth are not objective, the ones with more resources and money will get their say.”

The issue of one reality is still at issue—is reality all-encompassing and objective, or is it what people think? Can you apply science to human society? All of this is related to people being victims of deceit and self-deceit until they see class interests behind things—but also related to taking up the method of looking at the world scientifically regardless of what people think and not caught up in narratives.






Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

Discussing Bob Avakian's New Synthesis with Spanish-Speaking Immigrants

January 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Several Spanish-speaking immigrants got together recently to dig into Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism. Below is a report on that lively discussion. Because of limited materials in Spanish, we referred a lot to quotes from Lo BAsico (Spanish edition of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian).


by Bob Avakian, Chairman,
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Summer 2015

Read more

It was exciting to do this with new people who we have been working with on the fault line of police brutality. These people, mainly from Central America, have gotten the newspaper, seen the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and have copies of Lo BAsico. But it makes a big difference to actually read from Lo BAsico in preparation for this discussion of The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, and Core Elements (Outline). I really got an appreciation for how valuable Lo BAsico is for introducing people to the new synthesis. Some of the outline can be intimidating to new people because it literally is speaking a new language for them. The quotes in Lo BAsico, Chapter 4, were what we mainly used. Most people did the readings and everyone followed the re-studying of the quotes during the discussion. (At the time of preparation, the Spanish translation of the interview with Ardea Skybreak, Science and Revolution: On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, was not available.)

(From Chapter 4 of Lo BAsico we discussed #1, 14, 6, 7 and 10.)

But even before getting into the outline itself and the Lo BAsico quotes, we made an introduction (prepared for another English-speaking salon) about the historical sweep for humanity starting 200,000 years ago and summarizing the development of classes and oppression and the first stage of communist revolution. This was controversial right away because one woman raised that she knows that the world cries out for change and the idea of communism and people having equality and rights, but she has heard contradictory things about communism. Some people argue that in Cuba, for example, people have access to great education and health care but other people say that people are trying to sell their shoes off their feet in order to get money for food and that there is great poverty and suffering... “So where is the communism,” she asks. “I don’t see that it has ever existed.”

Special Issue

People need the truth about the communist revolution. The REAL truth. At a time when people are rising up in many places all over the world and seeking out ways forward, THIS alternative is ruled out of order. At a time when even more people are agonizing over and raising big questions about the future, THIS alternative is constantly slandered and maligned and lied about, while those who defend it are given no space to reply.

Contains Interview with Raymond Lotta, Timeline of The REAL History of Communist Revolution, and more...

So this led us to go and pull out copies of the Revolution newspaper special issue: “The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future” and read the section on what the revolution was able to do right away about the oppression of women. Others talked about other achievements, like the barefoot doctors in China, and a veteran talked about how when he visited China young kids spoke about a different future for people around the world and felt like they were a part of bringing that forward. But then we talked about the reversal of the revolution in China after the death of Mao and why there is a basis for that reversal because of the inherited inequalities and class differences. So this was really good and the woman who posed the question came out of it promising to read that special issue, and we put a challenge to her to take responsibility for doing that.

I went through the whole outline and very briefly summarized the four component parts of the new synthesis. Then we started going into the Lo BAsico quotes around method and approach. Right from the first quote there was controversy because another person said, “When it says understand reality... whose reality? It depends who you ask, doesn’t it?” So this led us into a discussion of relativism and the problem with “your narrative” and “my narrative,” etc., and that there is a basis for getting at and understanding objective truth. But there have been problems in not maintaining a rigorous scientific method and attitude among communists. We talked about how the new synthesis opens up an understanding of wrong tendencies toward instrumentalism and not confronting the truths that make one cringe. We talked about the example of the capture of Chairman Gonzalo in Peru and the difficulties that the comrades there had with that and the harm that it caused.

We also began discussion of Lo BAsico 4:10 and the problem with people accepting things based on how much authority is behind it, and Lo BAsico 4:7—truths that make you cringe; class truth and what problems that caused in the Soviet Union and later in China; how BA speaks to this and argues for a scientific method and approach for a new stage of communism, based on recognizing shortcomings of the first stage.

So there was a back and forth—looking at the real accomplishments but, also looking at BA’s fearless, critical method and approach in order to go forward and further next time.

People found the discussion both challenging and very helpful because they really had not seriously studied or looked at these things in the past. One woman came out saying, “Wow, I really have some work to do to study this special edition [of the history of the communist movement] and read more of Lo BAsico.” Two other women really appreciated this too, and I thought the discussion took on the argument for relativism and how you have to take responsibility for what is true and fight through with people to find out what is true and what isn’t and take responsibility to act based on that.

One of the things that I also learned in this session is how controversial the new synthesis is, even among some who have been around this movement for years. When we were discussing how BA approached the dialogue on religion and revolution with Cornel West and how he struggled with Cornel about what is true but also had the attitude of appreciating what Cornel brings to the table, one woman talked about how she is Catholic but does not close herself off from learning from others coming from either different faiths or no faith. When she spoke about her religious faith, one person started making fun of what she was saying. He was called out on this, and the religious woman herself let him know that this isn’t right. We need to listen and learn and understand where people are coming from and how they understand reality—and then, if it is wrong, we have the responsibility to struggle with them. If religion does not reflect reality, then struggle with people about why and what harm religion does, and with specifics, the way that BA does. Don’t take an attitude of smug arrogance and make fun or light of people’s way of thinking.

Plans for the next discussion were made. I decided to play the section from the film of BA’s talk Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About (this video has Spanish translation) on historical materialism, and open the discussion on the quote about no predetermined pathways from Ardea Skybreak’s book Of Primeval Steps and Future Leaps (i.e., I wanted to get into the first sub-topic in the “method and approach” part in the outline).






Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

From A World To Win News Service

Saudi Arabia: the West’s chosen Islamist head-cutters

January 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


4 January 2016. A World to Win News Service. The latest executions in Saudi Arabia should make it very clear that the Western powers’ “war on terror” has nothing to do with opposition to chopping off heads and sectarian religious fanaticism. Instead of condemning this crime, the U.S., UK and other Western powers have continued to give the Saudi regime, if not their public political blessing, at least their practical backing—in the name of the necessary alliances they claim flow from that “war on terror.”

These crimes were part of the beleaguered Saudi royal family’s efforts to defend its rule by wielding state violence and religious authority, both represented by the executioner’s sword. The most prominent of those put to death was Nimr al-Nimr, a leading Shia cleric tried in secret and convicted of supporting the protest movement that swept the Shia population in eastern Saudi Arabia and neighboring Bahrain in 2011, especially among youth influenced by the Arab Spring. Several people accused of participating in political rallies at that time, arrested when they were young teenagers, are set to be executed next.

Nimr’s execution, along with that of several other Shias, was a heinous response to legitimate protests against discrimination in employment, education and other fields—proof, if any is needed, that the Saudi regime, rather than moving away from religious fanaticism under the year-old reign of King Salman and his princes, is escalating its use of religiously-justified murder against any political challenge.

Even more, it was a deliberate provocation against Shia political forces internationally, especially the Iranian regime, very likely with the hope of forcing the Iranian ruling clergy—themselves notorious for mass executions—to react in such a way as to complicate the endeavors of those within the Iranian regime seeking agreements with the U.S. and those in the American ruling class who believe that U.S. interests now require such agreements.

It was also meant to put an end to challenges to the legitimacy of the House of Saud coming from Al Qaeda, Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and the like, inside as well as outside the kingdom and even among the myriad members of the royal family, seizing the role of leader of all Sunni believers with overtones of a religious showdown.

The executions were a barbaric act but not a deranged one—they served very clear political goals, the same goals behind the Saudi-led war on Yemen and Saudi efforts to confront the Syrian Assad regime and its Iranian backers on religious grounds and contend with Daesh sharia by imposing Saudi sharia. These are goals which, in some aspects, converge with thinking among the Western powers about how to shape the chaos in the Middle East to their advantage.

The difference with Daesh is not that the Saudi regime is more “moderate” or in any way less cruel. The monarchy’s relationship with the U.S. is complex and potentially volatile—the U.S. has played both sides of the Sunni/Shia divide, including working with the Iranian Shia fundamentalist regime in some places at some times. But the fact is that the U.S. and its allies would not have been able to dominate the Middle East without their alliance with Saudi Arabia, as fraught as that alliance might be for both sides right now.

Obamas with Saudi King

Obama personally came to meet with King Salman after his enthroning a year ago, and his reign has been hailed as inaugurating an era of reform by Westerners like the leading American liberal commentator Thomas Friedman (New York Times, 25 November 2015—written at a time when these executions were already set to take place). The main "reform" so far has been holding elections for insignificant municipal bodies, and allowing women to vote in them, although not to drive to the polling places or anywhere else, or make any decisions without the permission of their male guardian. Over the last year the Saudi regime has stepped up its executions, in some cases crucifying the decapitated victims and leaving their bodies to rot on public display. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

That’s why U.S. President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President François Hollande have kept silent in the face of these executions. At first deputies were deployed to cluck their tongues about the general atmosphere of “sectarian tensions in the region,” as if Western intervention itself were not the biggest factor churning the voracious whirlpool of religious conflict in the Middle East. As shock waves mounted, their governments expressed concern solely about the possible political inconveniences arising from the killing and not the injustice of it.

The 4 January editorial in the UK Independent could not have been more explicit: while distancing itself from the Tory Party’s shameless enthusiasm for the Saudi regime—noting that PM Cameron recently supported the successful Saudi bid for the chairmanship of the UN Human Rights Council—the newspaper concluded that “it is not in our interest to see, let alone provoke, the fall of the House of Saud.” This is also, of course, the policy followed by Obama, who a year ago proclaimed “the importance of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.”

The Western imperialists have always known what the Saudi regime is like. It has always practiced decapitating alleged apostates (accused of abandoning Islam)—the young Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh is still scheduled to be executed for this “crime.” Many of the 153 people executed in 2015 and the total of at least 2,200 people over the last three decades were migrant workers from South Asia and elsewhere, who have constructed the Gulf region’s palaces, palatial shopping malls, museums, sports stadiums and other architectural marvels in virtual bondage enforced by the sword.

The Saudi rulers are beholden for their swords, in the broadest sense, to the Western powers. In November, not long before the executions and long after the Saudi government announced its plans to carry them out, Obama’s State Department approved a Saudi request to buy 1.29 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of bombs and missiles. The State Department website gives a chilling itemization of the purchases, the kinds of munitions that Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have been raining down on the Yemeni people in a war that has killed at least 5,700 people, half of them civilians, since the air and land invasion began in March 2015. This war of aggression against a country Saudi Arabia has traditionally considered its rightful “back yard” could not be carried out without the logistical support, air refueling and targeting teams provided by the U.S.—this latter aspect making Washington directly responsible for the bombing of schools and hospitals.

Although the factors are complex, this war, like the executions, is being carried out in the name of the Saudi royal family’s religious authority against Shia and other disbelievers. (The Houthi rebels in Yemen, whose Zaydi religious banner makes their faith a cousin of Shiaism, are backed by Iran—which is far from the main factor in the rebellion by Houthis and others against the Saudi-backed regime.) This is another example of how the Saudis are seeking to escalate the religious dimension of the region’s conflicts—with concrete U.S. support.

Obama personally came to meet with King Salman after his enthroning a year ago, and his reign has been hailed as inaugurating an era of reform by Westerners like the leading American liberal commentator Thomas Friedman (New York Times, 25 November 2015—written at a time when these executions were already set to take place). The main “reform” so far has been holding elections for insignificant municipal bodies, and allowing women to vote in them, although not to drive to the polling places or anywhere else, or make any decisions without the permission of their male guardian. Over the last year the Saudi regime has stepped up its executions, in some cases crucifying the decapitated victims and leaving their bodies to rot on public display.

Members of the royal family (which, thanks to polygamy, numbers in the thousands) and high-ranking members of the regime itself have supported Al Qaeda, and the regime met Al Qaeda’s sharpest criticism of it, the stationing of U.S. troops in Moslem holy lands, with the transfer of those troops to bases elsewhere in the Gulf. In Syria, Saudi Arabia has armed and financed a shifting constellation of Islamist fundamentalist alliances. As for Daesh, which shares the Salafi (fundamentalist) ideology that legitimizes the rule of the House of Saud and similarly centers its system of oppressive relations on the extreme oppression of women, the group’s name change from ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Greater Levant) to the Islamic State signaled a direct threat to the Saudi regime’s claim to hold authority over the world’s Sunni Muslims.

The Saudi absolute monarchy calls for obedience as the earthly “protector of the Ummah” (the so-called community of believers) and not on the basis of direct religious rule like Daesh’s caliphate, run by a self-proclaimed descendent of Mohammed. This distinction is both a danger to the Saud dynasty’s existence, and at the same time not much of a difference at all, especially insofar as the Saudis respond to Daesh’s particular signature, its determination to exterminate Shias as apostates worse than infidels, by putting itself forward as the greatest Shia slayers of all.

The Western imperialist powers knew very well what they were getting in their relationship with the Saudi monarchy. Britain helped establish the monarchy in 1932, after encouraging the rise of Wahhabism (the specific form of Salafism associated with Arabian tribal authorities) in its campaign to absorb the Ottoman Empire into its own. In a 1945 treaty signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the U.S. promised to keep the Saudi monarchy in power, a pact renewed by George W. Bush in 2005. Although the U.S. grabbed the country away from Britain, as part of replacing British domination of the Middle East, the UK continues to maintain close financial and military ties with Saudi Arabia. France, under the Socialist president Hollande, is now also forging new political and military links with the regime.

Yet Saudi Arabia’s association with imperialism has deeply transformed the country and its ruling class. Like other Gulf states, it has become a major site of capital accumulation in its own right within the globalized capitalist economy dominated by the Western imperialist powers. This has happened both through the exploitation in the Gulf of laborers from the Moslem world and far beyond, on the one hand, and on the other the investment of Saudi and other Gulf capital in much bigger countries like Egypt, whose economy, politics and religious life are conditioned by this relationship.

In many ways, such as political influence and subsidies to regimes like Pakistan, the religious inculcation of the millions of Arabs brought to work in the Gulf and the sponsorship of enormous religious and “charitable” institutions and hundreds of TV preachers and media outlets, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies are the main vectors bringing modern Salafism to the Sunni Moslem world, even as all of these countries are connected ever more tightly to the international market and the global capitalist system, with all its inevitable rivalries among ruling classes that can only accumulate capital in deadly competition with one another.

It is true, as Obama said, that “the U.S.-Saudi relationship” has been invaluable to the U.S. and the West as a “force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.” But at the same time, that relationship has played a major role in creating the conditions for today’s instability in the region, where the U.S.’s continued domination is not secure at all. High stakes require desperate measures.

A great many people, especially in the Middle East, whose people are by far the main targets and victims of Daesh and all forms of Islamic fundamentalism, think that the U.S. deliberately created Daesh and the rest. That’s not literally true. Although Washington, London and Tel Aviv encouraged Islamism in opposition to more radical trends in the region, and although the workings of the imperialist system created the conditions from which Islamists arose, today various forms of Islamic fundamentalism are an intractable problem for the U.S. and other Western imperialists. Yet the reality underlying the “war on terror” is not a neat lineup of two sides. Instead, rival imperialists and regional powers are moving to advance their own reactionary interests in collusion and collision with one another on a very complex battleground. At the same time, in a general way, all the contending monsters are feeding religious fundamentalism of every sort, both intentionally and as a by-product of their political and military maneuvering and the backward economic and social relations they represent.

Imperialist capital now represented by people like Obama and his fellow “Western leaders” needs the rule of people like Saudi King Salman and his murdering princes, who call on ancient ideologies and social systems but would be powerless without modern imperialism. The U.S. and its partners and rivals can’t stop making Islamic and other religious fundamentalisms an increasingly major feature of the twenty-first century. The “war on terror” is a fraud—it is a contest over who can impose their interests and the most terror.


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 #421 January 11, 2016

From a reader:

Racism, Science,
and the Corporation That Owns a Day
Dr. Bennet Omalu's Story of Concussion

January 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


The more attacks I got from the NFL (National Football League), the more resolved I became to be myself. And every time I smelled racism, I even became angrier and more determined to be myself and stand for what I believed in, which in my mind was the truth.

Concussion, by Jeanne Marie Laskas

These are the words of Dr. Bennet Omalu in the book, Concussion. Concussion, written by Jeanne Marie Laskas, is a story about a doctor with multiple medical degrees from Nigeria who discovered CTE1 (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a brain disease, in football players. It is about the struggle for scientific discovery and a battle against the powerful NFL that did not want this disease and its causes to be brought into the light of day. (The book was made into a movie that was just released at Christmas, and I will have something to say about the movie at the end.)

The first third of the book gives you a sense about who Bennet Omalu is as he grows up in Nigeria, becomes a doctor, comes to the U.S. and takes up a job as forensic pathologist in the Allegheny County Coroner’s office in Pittsburgh, PA.

He talks about how he was shaped while in Nigeria:

I began to notice deficiencies in society I grew up in. My youthful idealism was strongly inconsistent with what I was observing. People accepted the status quo and somewhat embraced and encouraged mediocrity as a way of life. It really got me upset and impatient. I began to think that I did not belong to this society, with these people, with this system. I became more unsettled and angry.

But when Bennet Omalu came to the U.S., he found that in America, there was something for him to become angrier about:

But the thing that really complicated everything now was racism, which I still did not understand. At this time in my life, I had not read a lot about slavery and the history of racism in the United States. When I got here, I started reading the books.

He read about the Igbo people, his tribe in Nigeria, and how as slaves, chained to the decks of the York, they rose up in rebellion, took control of the ship, grounded it in Dunbar Creek, Savannah, GA, drowned all of their captors, and then gave their lives rather than become slaves by “walking into the creek in a collective suicide.”

Omalu continues:

If I had known all that before I came to the United States, honestly, I may not have come. I would have been so disgusted that I may have simply decided to remain in Nigeria. And the ironic thing was that America was a Christian nation founded on Christian principles! How can a Christian nation perpetrate such evil over centuries? I could not understand it. (Bennet Omalu is a devout Catholic, and this book is filled with much of his religious beliefs.)

Revolution/ has published a number of articles about concussions in football and about Dr. Bennet Omalu, so I’m not going to repeat what was said in those articles. For more on that, readers are encouraged to read “League of Denial Is a League of Criminals—The Outrageous Brain Injury Cover-Up of the National Football League” (Revolution #320 October 20, 2013) and “NFL Concussion Settlement: $765 Million to Suppress the Truth About Brain Injuries” (September 15, 2013).

A New Theoretical Framework for a New Stage of Communist Revolution What is New in the New Synthesis? An Explorer, a Critical Thinker, a Follower of BA; Understanding the World, And Changing It For the Better, In the Interests of Humanity Some Thank Yous That Need To Be Said Aloud Order the book here Download the full interview in PDF format here

What comes through in this book (as well as the movie) that has not been discussed previously about concussions and the CTE disease is the importance of science, scientific discovery, and the fight for the truth. In the book, Laskas poses this as the “good science” of Dr. Omalu versus the “bad science” of the NFL. This is not correct. The correct way to see this is that Dr. Omalu applied the science of forensic pathology to discover the clumps of tau protein in the brains of deceased football players while the NFL had its doctors lie and do everything to try to discredit Dr. Omalu, including claiming Dr. Omalu’s science “was faulty” and it was “voodoo medicine.”

We get to follow how Dr. Omalu made his discovery after he received the brain of Mike Webster of the Pittsburgh Steelers. As we previously reported, “In 2002, Mike Webster, age 50, died of a heart attack. In his final years he exhibited severe memory loss and dementia. He would put Super Glue on his teeth and Tasered himself to relieve his pain.”

Dr. Omalu followed meticulous forensic scientific procedures to dissect Mike Webster’s brain and study it very closely, including taking the dissected slides home to study them. At first, he found out that the Mike Webster’s brain did not have the characteristics of brains of those who had Alzheimer’s or dementia. This caused him to become more curious and to use all of the science he knew to keep at searching for some abnormality in the brain. He saw some dark splotches in the brain but did not know what they were.

It was his wife-to-be, Prema, who is a central figure in the book (and the movie), who gave Dr. Omalu the words to discover what was in Mike Webster’s brain, when she sang a song: “what the mind does not know the eye cannot see.” Dr. Omalu then remembered what a professor once told him: that “you can’t know what you are looking at unless you understand it.”

And this led him to dig deeper into scientific studies to try to figure out what those dark splotches could be. He was not deterred when, at first, he could not figure it out because he thought that “the rhythm of the evolution of science (was) fits and starts and wrong turns and denial and more fits and starts.” Dr. Omalu did a lot of research about concussions and read many studies done about concussions. He had a question about whether the brain can completely heal itself after a concussion. He found a study reported in a 1927 Journal of American Medicine article about 100 such patients, which concluded, “Not only is there actual cerebral injury in cases of concussion, but in a few instances complete resolution does not occur and there is a strong likelihood that secondary degenerative changes develop.”

His perseverance in his science in studying Mike Webster’s brain and with another scientist, his former professor at the University of Pittsburgh, also examining the brain, led Dr. Omalu to discover what it was.

When he did find that it was tau protein, which is an abnormality when it is found in clumps in the brain, he knew that he had discovered something that no one else had seen in football players. He gave it the name Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. For him, “Chronic stood for something that took a long time to develop; Traumatic stood for something related to or associated with trauma; and Encephalopathy stood for a sick brain.”

Dr. Omalu co-published a paper with his boss from Allegheny County Coroner’s office, Cyril Wecht, and with his former University of Pittsburgh professor. The paper, “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player,” was published in the journal, Neurosurgery. It sent shockwaves through the NFL. The NFL immediate went all out to discredit and intimidate Dr. Omalu. They led a campaign to try and force him to retract his article and to silence him. Bennet thought the NFL was saying to him, “We own this field. We are not about to bow to some no-name Nigerian with a bullshit theory.”

Dr. Omalu refused to retract his article, so the NFL then published sixteen papers in Neurosurgery in order to discredit Bennet’s findings.

One brain was not enough to prove concussions caused this disease.

Dr. Omalu got what he needed—an ally from a former NFL doctor of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Julian Bailes, who helped him get more brains from deceased football players—players who exhibited abnormal behavior similar to Mike Webster. Dr. Omalu found the same clumps of tau protein in those brains. He now had discovered a pattern—a pattern of football players who died at an early age, who had severe mental problems and who had received multiple concussive hits while playing football—all of them with this tau protein in an abnormal place in the brain.

Dr. Omalu did not know anything about football. All he knew about were the brains of football players who lived in pain, suffering, and extreme mental illness after playing the game. About the game of football, Dr. Omalu thought to himself, “It hurts so much that you have to bubble-wrap your body, maybe you should play something different.” He learned about the tremendous force on the head when a player gets “blind-sided” by a vicious hit. He became more aware of the actual impacts players were taking, and that the linemen (those in the very front) who lower their heads when blocking take head hits almost every play—and this led him to study about multiple hits to the head that were at the sub-concussive level. He made scientific calculations that showed these linemen, like Mike Webster, took thousands of these hits to their heads that resulted in sub-concussive hits.

He read studies about helmets and improved helmet technology and came to the conclusion: “Helmets are not the answer. The brain has a certain amount of play inside the skull. It’s buoyed up in the cerebral spinal fluid. It sits in this fluid, floats. When the head suddenly stops, the brain continues and reverberates back.... So you could have padding that’s a foot thick, but that not going to change the acceleration/deceleration phenomena.”

The NFL was stung by Dr. Omalu’s finding. The “cats were out of the bag” and articles started appearing everywhere, asking, “Are players being killed by football?”

The NFL is an $8 billion business. It promotes a culture of violence and misogyny that is as “American as apple pie.” A big part of this country comes to a stop on the Sundays when the games are being played. The NFL could not allow this extremely negative fact that its players were being found to have this horrible life-ending disease caused by the game they played.

The FBI was brought in to investigate Dr. Omalu’s boss Dr. Cyril Wecht. They confiscated boxes of records and then charged Dr. Wecht with a bunch of bullshit charges, like using the office’s fax machine for personal faxes or having an employee walk his dog. The feds threatened Dr. Omalu with deportation unless he testified against Dr. Wecht. Dr. Wecht told Dr. Omalu, “You’re going to war with a corporation that owns a day.” In the movie, he says to Dr. Omalu, “The NFL owns Sunday, like the church used to.”

And that’s what the rest of the book is about—the war between Dr. Omalu and the NFL. The war is not over, but as more brains of deceased players are examined, the more the NFL spends to try to control the science and research of CTE. At the same time, books and movies like Concussion and those who write about CTE in football keep the focus on this important issue about the health of those who play the game. And some of us can even tell you that a new world is required and is possible that will put an end to this madness of racism, of opposing science, and of corporations owning a day of a week.

Dr. Omalu is currently the Chief Medical Examiner of San Joaquin County in California. He was asked to be the medical examiner of prestigious Washington, DC, coroner’s office but turned that down when Prema reminded him that was not what he was about. Earlier he says, “The important thing is the discovery, and what you can do for the world, and how it can help people. No (it’s) not (about) you. You were just the messenger.”

In the book, Dr. Omalu speaks a lot about racism and how he thinks that is a large part of why he has been attacked. The discovery of CTE is very damaging to football. No matter who discovered it, whether they were white or Black, the NFL would have gone after them to discredit their findings. So being African or Black was not the principal aspect of why he was so viciously gone after. It was because of what he discovered.

He does have some thinking about being Black in the U.S. and he reflects on that at the end of the book on how he thinks that pertains to him:

...I do think there’s a mind-set—no matter how much we may want to deny it in this country—a perception of blackness. And sometimes it’s a subconscious mind-set. Where anything associated with blackness has a negative connotation. This mind-set has a very fundamental assumption. A false assumption that black people cannot be intelligent.

I think this is my story to an extent. It’s a manifestation of a way of thinking.

Like Albert Einstein has said. He said, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

The movie, which is based on the book, is not favorable to the NFL as it shows how Dr. Omalu (Will Smith) along with his two allies, Dr. Wecht (Albert Brooks) and Dr. Bailes (Alec Baldwin) take on the NFL and all the NFL throws at Dr. Omalu to force him to back down and to discredit his findings. The truth and those fighting for the truth are considered and treated by the NFL as “mortal” enemies.

The movie is riveting as you follow Dr. Omalu through his research to find out what is causing these former NFL players to become seriously mentally ill and then to commit suicide.

There has been controversy around the movie where Sony was criticized for making some deletions in order to “prevent the NFL from protesting the film.” So, there is a question of whether the film was softened so Sony could continue to work with the NFL. However, after seeing the movie, I don’t think it was soft on the NFL.

I was just listening to a sports talk radio program where the two announcers were discussing concussions and that there is this movie that people are talking about. Despite not seeing the movie, they thought that football has to improve on trying to reduce the “bone jarring” hits to the head. But they were also saying, “Well, you get concussions when you fall off a bicycle, so what’s really the problem?” A person called in, who had seen the movie, and he told them that they don’t understand. What he learned from the movie is that there are all these multiple hits, both at the concussive level and sub-concussive level, that all add up during a player’s career and causes this horrible and debilitating disease. And this is a serious problem because these players are never diagnosed as having a serous concussion, so they are allowed to continue playing. So, one of the announcers said, “I’m going to have to see this movie.

Everyone should check out this movie.

1. "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic sub-concussive hits to the head. CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s. However, recent reports have been published of neuropathologically confirmed CTE in retired professional football players and other athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia." (Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy) [back]






Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

Behind the Persecution of Anna Yocca:
Outrageous and Immoral Restrictions on Abortion in Tennessee

January 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

When a woman attempts a coat hanger aborttion...

It is inconceivable that a woman desperate enough to use a coat hanger in a failed attempt to self-induce an abortion, in order to avoid being forced into motherhood, could  actually be charged with attempted murder and thrown into prison! But that is exactly what is happening in Tennessee right now to Anna Yocca—she is currently in jail, unable to meet the $200,000 bail amount, and her arraignment was on December 22. As Sunsara Taylor has—correctly—stated in her piece on the persecution of Anna Yocca, “When a Woman Attempts a Coat-Hanger Abortion, It Is the Patriarchal SYSTEM That Is Guilty of Attempted Murder—Against Her!" This case is a result of, and itself comprises, an escalation of the attacks on women and on abortion rights.

We are in a state of a historic and unprecedented abortion rights emergency all across the U.S.—and as part of this, women are not only self-inducing abortions because of the lack of access to abortion, but they may then be subject to being criminalized and thrown in prison by the same system that has made it impossible for them to access safe and legal abortion care in the first place! It is immoral to force women into motherhood, or to put women in a situation where they feel they have no choice other than to take their lives into their own hands and attempt to self-induce abortion.

The wave of restrictions across the U.S. that is currently forcing abortion clinics to close at the rate of one every week and a half; the murders, threats, intimidation, and social stigma that women who have abortions and those who provide them are subject to at the hands of the anti-abortion movement; and the way that public opinion has been influenced by the anti-abortion movement to the point where even people who don’t want women forced into motherhood can at the same time view abortion as tragic or as if it is some sort of “justifiable homicide”—all this contributes to putting abortion care out of reach for thousands of women who need and want it.

Let me paint a picture of some of the obstacles that women in Tennessee face in order to get an abortion. First off is a 48-hour waiting period. This means that a woman seeking an abortion would have to visit the clinic twice—once to kick off the 48-hour waiting period, and then again after the 48 hours to have the abortion. This is unacceptable, when you consider the whole war on women and the all-too-real life obstacles that many women face. Maybe there is an abusive partner who is determined that she would go through with a pregnancy in order to further his control over her, and she has to escape his control long enough to get into the abortion clinic. She may be poor and perhaps already has several children to care for, and the time off work and loss of income will be a big problem. Maybe she was a victim of rape and is still dealing with the trauma of being assaulted. Or she just does NOT intend to become a parent, maybe never, or maybe not until she finishes high school, college, or fulfills some other goals. Whatever the reason for women seeking abortions, it is immoral to force women to wait for a medical procedure when it may already be an undue burden for them to get into an abortion clinic one time, let alone twice.

During the first visit, the abortion provider must by law give a face-to-face “counseling”—and the law mandates the specific information that the doctor must give, such as the gestational age of the fetus, description of the abortion procedure, agencies that would supposedly provide help if she chooses to not have an abortion, etc. Doctors who do not do this counseling or do not do it in the way spelled out by the law can be hit with misdemeanor or felony criminal charges or have their licenses revoked. This provision, along with the 48-hour waiting period rule, has nothing to do with any medical reasons—it is nothing but a measure to make it more difficult for women to get abortions. To “borrow” the medical authority, expertise, and knowledge of abortion doctors in order to fulfill an oppressive agenda—this is immoral! To inflict shame and totally unnecessary obstacles on women in order to force on them a life-changing decision, like becoming a parent—this is immoral!

Add to this picture that 96 percent of Tennessee counties have no abortion clinics—in other words, 63 percent of women in Tennessee do not have access to an abortion provider within their county. This means the majority of women in the state will have to travel some distance in order to get an abortion, so there’s the added cost of traveling, including loss of income from taking time off work. Coupled with the 48-hour waiting period, this adds even more costs, because now a woman who wants to get an abortion may have to find a place to stay near the clinic for at least two nights. And if you have state health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, it may not cover the expense of an abortion procedure.

In Tennessee there are no clinics that perform abortions for women who are beyond the 16th week of pregnancy. This is the case in many states, and often low-income women are faced with “chasing the abortion”—doing everything they can to get money together for the procedure, but as the pregnancy continues the costs also continue to rise, and they just can’t come up with enough money before the pregnancy is in the second trimester. Then women in that situation are faced with the difficulty of traveling to another state in order to get a later-term abortion. (See the Revolution/ interview with Dr. Susan Robinson, one of the four heroic abortion providers in the U.S. who openly provide much-needed third trimester abortions: “Chasing the Abortion.”) It’s also very possible to not know you’re pregnant until late in the pregnancy, especially if you have irregular periods, and you might not have the time to gather your resources to get the abortion in time.

While I’m focusing on Tennessee here, these kind of roadblocks thrown in the face of women who need an abortion exist—and are increasing—in states across the U.S. and are forcing women to either take the desperate and dangerous course of self-inducing an abortion, or into motherhood against their will. This is happening now, in the U.S., in 2015/2016—and it is tied to how increasingly inaccessible and under assault abortion care, birth control, and scientific sex education have become.

Fetal tissue is just tissue. A woman is a human being

Another very fascistic element in all this is how Anna Yocca has been criminalized—and her case is not the only case where women have faced criminal charges for pregnancy-related issues. In some states, if you are pregnant and have a substance abuse problem, attempt suicide, or are suspected of having self-induced an abortion, you can be sent to prison! (See, for instance, “The Outrageous Imprisonment of Purvi Patel and the Wake-Up Call to Everyone: The Fascist War on Women MUST BE STOPPED!”) The unscientific idea that a fetus is a “human being” whose rights trump the rights of the pregnant woman is one that 38 states, including Tennessee, uphold through “fetal homicide” laws. Tennessee is one of the 27 states that take this idea even further by defining a fetus’ “rights” as beginning at the moment of conception. However, it’s not actually clear whether the fetal homicide laws will be tested with Anna Yocca’s case, because the state of Tennessee is prosecuting her under general homicide laws—and this could mean that the prosecution thinks their case will be strengthened by the underhanded assertion that the 24-week fetus was already a “human being.”

This is outrageous! And it must be said clearly that fetuses at any stage of a pregnancy are NOT babies, abortion is NOT murder, and women are NOT incubators. Women are FULL HUMAN BEINGS!






Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

There Must Be a Defiant, Mass Outpouring for Abortion Rights This Roe v. Wade Anniversary, January 22, 2016

by Sunsara Taylor | November 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Editors’ Note: In this article, Sunsara Taylor gets into the context of the abortion rights protests being called for January 22-23, 2016 and the crucial importance of those actions. January 22 marks the anniversary of the 1974 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide—for the first time, women could decide for themselves whether and when they wanted to give birth to children. Before Roe v. Wade, thousands of women in the U.S. were seriously injured or died each year from unsafe illegal abortions. Countless others were forced to bear children they did not want. This decision did not come from the Supreme Court suddenly becoming “enlightened.” Only in the face of the self-sacrificing fight of women and others and overall social upheaval of the 1960s and early 1970s—as well as the larger changes in the family and social role of women driven by the shifting economic position and dynamics of the U.S. in the world—did the Supreme Court grant the right to abortion. Even then, they did not guarantee women’s right to abortion but only to a certain scope of “privacy” in this sphere. And since Roe v. Wade, there has been an enormous and mounting assault on the right to abortion, spearheaded by Christian fascists and including court decisions and state laws placing increasing restrictions on abortion.


Brave protesters demanding "Abortion on demand and without apology!" STOPPED the so-called
On the last Roe v Wade anniversary, January 22, 2015, courageous protesters demanding "Abortion on demand and without apology!" STOPPED the anti-abortion “March for Life," in Washington, DC. The protests on the next Roe v. Wade anniversary, January 22-23, 2016, must be even more powerful. Photo: Stop Patriarchy

Spirited counter-protest against the 2015 "Walk for Life" in San Francisco, an annual woman-hating parade organized by a network of Catholic churches aimed at criminalizing abortion and imposing forced motherhood on women.
Spirited counter-protest against the 2015 "Walk for Life" in San Francisco, an annual woman-hating parade organized by a network of Catholic churches aimed at criminalizing abortion and imposing forced motherhood on women. Photo: Revolution/

Abortion clinics across this country are being boarded up. Twenty-two clinics have been shut down in Texas since 2013. In the same time, five clinics in Ohio have been shut down. In Montana, a clinic that was severely vandalized in 2014 has never re-opened. Just weeks ago in Claremont, New Hampshire, a Planned Parenthood facility that didn’t even do abortions was broken into and its computers, plumbing system, and medical equipment were destroyed with a hatchet. It is estimated that abortion clinics are being forced to close in this country at the rate of one every week and a half.

At the clinics that remain, an army of religious fundamentalists make it their mission to harass, shame, and threaten women every single day. “Murderer!” “Slut!” These words are hurled at girls as young as 11 and 12 years old. Then these women and girls are forced to endure a barrage of humiliating further restrictions—forced to make multiple trips because fascist lawmakers think the women and girls can’t be trusted with their initial decision, forced to get permission from parents or a judge as if their bodies don’t belong to themselves, forced to undergo a sonogram—sometimes vaginally—intended to provoke feelings of guilt and attachment to the fetus they do not want. Already, abortion is out of reach for huge swaths of poor, young, and rural women. Growing numbers of women are being forced to risk their lives—and sometimes end up in prison—by attempting to self-induce abortions. Others are being forced to have children against their will, with all the negative lifelong consequences of that.

Even Greater Dangers Looming

As bad as all this is, the situation threatens to get drastically worse very soon. Major cases loom before the Supreme Court that will determine how many of the drastic restrictions on abortion passed in recent years will stand—and how much further they might be allowed to go. These rulings by the Supreme Court—or just as starkly, the failure to consider and reject some of the laws currently on the books—could bring about the most sweeping and permanent changes in abortion laws in decades. They could take the most extreme closures and restrictions in the country in recent years—like those which threaten to close all but 10 out of more than 40 abortion clinics recently operating in Texas—and make them the standard across the entire country.

At the same time, there has been an orchestrated attack, directed by Christian fascists in positions of power, against Planned Parenthood--the largest abortion provider in the country. There have been moves to defund Planned Parenthood in the Congress and in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Texas and Utah. In Texas, police showed up at Planned Parenthood sites throughout the state and seized the medical records of women who’d had abortions, a gross violation of women’s privacy and a threat against any woman who’d consider abortion in the future. And through all this, threats and physical violence against abortion providers and clinics have escalated. Five Planned Parenthoods have been physically attacked—including with firebombs, arson, and hatchets—since the summer.

Break All the Chains!

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

Sampler Edition | Full Work

This Affects ALL Women

Due to the shame and silence that hangs heavy over abortion, the illusion is widespread that these restrictions and shrinking access to abortion will only affect a few women. This is not true. One in three women will get an abortion by the time she is 45 years old. One in three. This number cuts across religious and political beliefs. No matter how silently and shamefully this secret is kept, all of us are surrounded every day by women who have had abortions. This assault on abortion access and this terror against women’s clinics is aimed at and affects all women.

The consequences of not being able to access abortion and birth control are enormous. The ability for women to engage in sexual activity without shame and without fear that their entire lives will be jeopardized disappears without access to abortion and birth control. And, when women are forced to have children against their will, their lives are foreclosed. Often, they are forced to drop out of school, driven into poverty, kicked out of their homes, or trapped in abusive homes. Whether or not any individual woman suffers this outcome, the threat of this outcome and hatred for women bound up with this stalks and affects every woman and girl.

Abortion Is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of

There should be absolutely no shame involved in getting an abortion. Fetuses are not babies. Abortion is not murder. Women are not incubators. If a woman decides for whatever reason that she does not want to carry a pregnancy to term, she must be allowed to terminate that pregnancy safely and without stigma. When a woman is pregnant and does not want to have a child, abortion is a perfectly moral and highly responsible choice. Without the right to decide for themselves when and whether to have children, without unencumbered access to birth control and abortion, women can never be free to participate fully and equally in every realm of society. This is precisely why abortion rights are so important and this is precisely why they are so viciously under attack by Christian fascists and patriarchs. What is truly shameful and immoral is depriving women of the right to abortion and forcing women to bear children against their will. No matter how it is dressed up, this is nothing but woman-hating.

The Need for Mass, Independent, Political Resistance

The truth is this: This fascist assault on abortion has not been and will not be stopped by “pro-choice” politicians who go out of their way to express their “respect” for the woman-haters pushing these laws, who contribute to the shame and defensiveness around abortion by claiming it should be “rare,” and who have conciliated time and again with this whole fascist juggernaut, allowing us to get to where we are today with even greater dangers ahead.

This direction has not and will not be stopped by relying on the courts. It is important and true that, for now, abortion is legal and the recent spate of restrictions DOES violate women’s constitutional rights. But, relying on the courts is not how abortion or birth control rights were won in the first place, and relying on the courts since then has been a big part of how pro-choice people have been de-mobilized and made passive as these very courts have increasingly codified and “legitimated” greater and greater restrictions. In reality, what the courts do has always been highly political and influenced by the broader culture and demands in society.

Stopping this assault, reversing this whole direction and lifting the mountains of shame and stigma off women, requires massive, uncompromising, independent political resistance.

People must go into the streets and confront and expose the woman-hating nature of this assault. People must not only say the word abortion openly, but shout it out with pride and with anger at those who would take it away. Students and others must be woken up to the emergency afoot, shaken out of their complacency and mobilized to fight. Older people who remember the gruesome and terrifying days before abortion was legal must break the silence and tell the stories of friends, mothers, sisters who died or went through harrowing experiences for lack of legal access to abortion. People who oppose abortion must be directly challenged and argued with, not just one by one but in open-air debates and in a way that draws many more into thinking anew about this question. Celebrities and public figures must speak up and join those fighting back. People throughout every corner of society must be confronted with the reality and mobilized to fight. No one should be allowed to sit on the sidelines as women’s lives and futures and rights are foreclosed.

And all this must build for and come together in powerful expressions of mass resistance to this war on women this January 22 in Washington, DC, and January 23 in San Francisco. Right up in the face of the annual marches for “life” that oppose women’s right to abortion and birth control, right on the anniversary of when abortion was made legal, masses of people must pour into the streets, declare their support for Abortion On Demand and Without Apology and join the fight for the future of women.






Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

To NY Pig Commissioner William Bratton: Stop Putting the Responsibility to Stop Rape and Violence Against Women on Women!

January 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Recently, in a radio interview the New York City police commissioner William Bratton encouraged women going to clubs and bars in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn to adopt the buddy system if they take a cab late at night. Fuck you, Pig Bratton, for putting the onus on women to avoid rape instead of calling out the men that are carrying out these assaults! Fuck you for implying that the best answer to increased rapes is for women to never be alone or intoxicated late at night! Let's be completely clear: rape or sexual harassment or assault is NEVER the fault of the victim. Rape is a CRIME, and all too often women are made to feel like they are somehow complicit in the crimes committed against them because they were unable to prevent it, which keeps them locked in silence and shame.

Clip from "Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian" given in 2003. Learn more about Bob Avakian here.

This attitude is fundamentally no different than the Toronto cop who said, "Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." That asshole pig's comments kicked off the "Slut Walks" and people righteously took to the streets to demand an end to rape culture. This attitude is also not any different than the religious patriarchs like the Iranian mullahs who assert that women cannot be allowed outside without a man to escort them, "for their own benefit."

Let's also be clear that it's this patriarchal system that perpetuates male supremacy, gives rise to this revolting rape culture, and to social relations where men feel entitled to use women's bodies as if they are commodities or property. NO! This is not the truth, the truth is that women are FULL HUMAN BEINGS who deserve the right to be able to walk down the street, be on public transportation, in their own home, at school, in their dorm room, to just EXIST without the constant threat and terror of rape and harassment.

Let's also get clear on the fact that the role of the police is in serving and protecting this system which is horrifically oppressive towards women! The police have NO solution to rape or the overall oppression of women, and in fact are very much a part of the problem, and they should be the last ones that ANYONE should call on for any kind of justice or advice. (See, for example: "Police Rape & Impunity: A Revealing and Totally Outrageous Epidemic" and "Prison Rape: A Human Rights Crisis in the USA." We don't need the system to "work better for women," we don't need to call on the police who all too often have carried out rape, violence, and murder at the behest and in line with the interests of this system, and have overwhelmingly gotten away with carrying out crimes against oppressed people. What we need is a revolution that could actually liberate women, and put an END to rape, for once and all! What is needed RIGHT NOW is for thousands to wake up, and wage fierce cultural and political resistance to fight the war on women, with an eye to the FULL liberation of women.

So again, Pig Commissioner Bratton, you state-backed operative, FUCK YOU. You have no real solutions to stopping or ending rape, and you should be seen as totally illegitimate in terms of any kind of real solution to any of this system's problems. You have NO answers, but the Revolution does!





Revolution #421 January 11, 2016

Police Murder of Cedrick Chatman Approved by Chicago Powers

This Cannot Go Down! This Cannot Go On!

Updated January 18, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


In the midst of outrage over one horrendous police murder after another and exposures of the official cover-up from every institution, the video of the police shooting of 17-year-old Cedrick Chatman in January 2013 was forced into the light of day after a battle by the city to suppress it. The family wanted the public to see the video to counter the official lies and verdict that Cedrick’s shooting was justified. “You see him running away from the officers as fast as he possibly could--he never even begins to turn,” Brian Coffman, the family lawyer, said. “Fry [the cop] never says anything. He just gets out of the car, watches him run with his gun trained on him, and fires.” Not only did they gun down Cedrick in the middle of the day on a busy South Side street corner, but there is the sickening sight of the other cop standing with his boot on the mortally wounded, handcuffed teenager, as though Cedrick is some kind of animal in a trophy kill. This horror gives graphic illustration to the reality expressed by many that it is “open season” on Black people. THESE HORRORS MUST STOP NOW!

What has come out around this case is the fact that all the “institutional processes” involved knew about and officially approved the cop’s right to shoot this unarmed Black youth while he was fleeing for his life. In this case both the state’s attorney and the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) cleared Fry of any wrongdoing. Neither cop faced any discipline and they have been on the street to this day.

The official police story was that Cedrick and others had carjacked a car. The police said they saw a car that matched the description, stopped it and that they saw Chatman reach down for something in the car and then get out of his car and run with a black object in his hand that they thought might be a weapon and that he turned slightly toward the pursuing cops, so “fearing for his life” the cop, Fry, opened fire. But the investigation of the scene showed that the object was a black iPhone box, there was no gun. And video footage from three nearby buildings shows Cedrick was sprinting away from the cops. Coffman, who initially was hesitant to take the case, said, “The more I saw, the more I realized, ‘Oh my god, this is a giant scam.’ It was unbelievable. They were fighting tooth and nail to cover this up from the very beginning.”

The only thing that was not pig business-as-usual in this case is that the lead investigator for IPRA, Lorenzo Davis, found that the shooting was unjustified and recommended firing Fry, the cop who murdered Cedrick. Fry was not fired, but Lorenzo Davis was fired for refusing to change his decision. Davis examined the video and concluded that “Cedrick was just running as the shots were fired. You’re taught that deadly force is a last resort and that you should do everything in your power to apprehend the person before you use deadly force. I did not see where deadly force was called for at that time.” The head of IPRA (who is appointed by the mayor), a supposed independent and impartial investigative body, was determined to protect the police and intervened directly and ordered Davis to change his decision to “justified” on this case (and five others including the police murders of Laquan McDonald and Flint Farmer). Davis, who had been a Chicago cop for 23 years, refused and he was fired for “anti-police bias!” After his firing, the higher-ups at IPRA changed the decision on the shooting to “justified.” No charges were brought by the state’s attorney either. Case closed. Officially-approved murder—signed, sealed, delivered.

THERE IS MORE. The murdering cop has a long record of brutality and at least one other death. The wrongful death civil suit filed by Chatman’s family is the fifth civil rights lawsuit since 2006 in which Fry is named as a defendant. The other four allege violations of excessive force, false arrest and illegal searches. They all ended in settlements. At least one involved the shooting of another Black teen. Fry has been the target of 30 complaints throughout his career and ALL were marked as “unsubstantiated." In fact, Fry has faced no discipline whatsoever in his whole career.

AND THERE IS MORE. Instead of charging the killer cop, two alleged accomplices in the alleged carjacking who were 10 blocks away at the time the cops killed Cedrick, were charged with Cedrick’s murder! The prosecutors wrote that the men “set in motion a chain of events that caused the death of Cedrick Chatman.” This is a twisted logic—cops kill a man and get away with murder and two youth who weren’t even on the scene are charged for his murder. The murder charges were used as a club to force them to plead guilty to lesser charges. They are now in prison for 10 years while the cops are free and on duty on the street.

Yes there's a conspiracy, to get the cops off

"Yes there's a conspiracy... to get the cops off" is a clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian given in 2003. Learn more about Bob Avakian here

What does this tell us? That the whole process and routine machinery of the police, the law, the supposed investigative and legal “checks and balances,” and the executive (mayor and city council) is set up to give the stamp of approval to police murder and terror and to hide what’s really going on so they can keep doing it. Who was punished? Not the cops, not the head of the IPRA. They fired the investigator who wouldn’t back off his finding. This is more than a code of silence, it is a system that is in place to allow the police to murder with impunity, and at the same time routinize it, cover it up, and make it look like the process is fair and equal by suppressing evidence and demonizing a whole section of people that they viciously repress.

Brian Coffman said, “the symmetry between our case and the McDonald case is pretty obvious...This is a bomb that’s about to drop in the city of Chicago, where everyone suddenly realizes the system is broken.”

What this actually reveals is how the whole system really works, and is meant to work, yes, in Chicago, but all over the country, as Bob Avakian sharply reveals in the video “Yes there is a conspiracy ... to get the cops off.”

Everyone who is sick of what they have seen on these videos, everyone who can’t sit silent while police murder more people like Bettie Jones and Quintonio Legrier, everyone who wanted 12-year-old Tamir Rice to have a chance to grow up, everyone who has been protesting and refusing to be quiet—you need to be in the streets and schools raising hell!

And you need to be at the Midwest Regional Conference of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) to STOP POLICE TERROR on Saturday, January 23, 12-6 pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 125 East 26th Street, Chicago. (Go here for SMIN regional conferences coming up in other areas of the country.)