Revolution #575, December 24, 2018 (

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Please note: this page is intended for quick printing of the entire issue. Some of the links may not work when clicked, and some images may be missing. Please go to the article's permalink if you require working links and images.




Revolution #575 December 24, 2018

A Year-End Appeal from The BA Institute

| Revolution Newspaper |


Dear friends,

We are writing to ask for a contribution towards the promotion of a new speech by Bob Avakian: Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution (which you can watch HERE). The Bob Avakian Institute co-produced this speech and we are working with them to raise funds for this to reach broadly throughout society.

This country and this world are in turmoil. What Bob Avakian (BA) says about having a revolution in this two-part speech may be the only answer.

This country is preying on people who are not white. They are hunting human beings and something has to happen. What stands out about BA is that he has been an activist since he was a young man; he could see that the future is inhuman. Since then, BA has always been on top of what is going on in this country and in this world. In his speech, he talks about the 1960’s. There was persecution then of Blacks, Latinos and others; it's been going on since the time of slavery. Today, Trump says “Make America Great Again” but America was never great, it began by persecuting slaves and they took this land by massacring people.

In the film, BA is very contentious and conscious of what has happened in this country. He knows WHY these things are happening and WHAT is behind it all. BA is not a man to be fooled; he has it figured out: what has to be done, what Revolution will entail, and the steps that must be taken to get there.

While we continue to have questions and differences, BA's work has influenced our thinking. Coming from different perspectives, we perceived from BA’s talk a new awareness: he thinks something has to be done and thinks Revolution is the solution. It could happen, all empires fall. The Trump/Pence regime is trying to control the entire world, like Hitler. This is an example of a racist, fascist dictatorship. Fascism is consolidating all around us, spreading like dominoes all over the world. There needs to be a new understanding and organizing among people, which is what BA is talking about.

We suggest that everyone see this speech so that people see and hear what we saw; an awakening to what must be done. All of us, if we truly want to be freedom fighters, have to engage in what BA is telling us, and My God, the people of this country and all over the planet need this!

As 2018 comes to a close, please contribute generously to The Bob Avakian Institute to fund promotion of this speech so that this message can reach everywhere.

Thanking you in advance for your contribution.


Isabel Cardenas, American-Salvadoran U.S. citizen activist since 1960;

Herb Boyd, Author, Activist, Academic based in Harlem, NY;

Pastor Doris Johnson, Faith Tabernacle, Queens, NY;

Arturo O’Farrill, pianist and composer;

Abdullah Puckett, graduate student, Department of Anthropology, UCLA*;

Dread Scott, artist;

Veda Sterling, aunt of Alton Sterling, murdered by police in Baton Rouge, LA;

* for identification purposes only


Bob Avakian is the architect of a new synthesis of communism aimed at the emancipation of humanity and he leads the movement for revolution.

The Bob Avakian Institute is a nonprofit institute organized for educational purposes. Its mission is to preserve, project, and promote the works and vision of Bob Avakian with the aim of reaching the broadest possible audience.


the Bob Avakian Institute

The Bob Avakian Institute is a nonprofit institute organized for educational purposes. Its mission is to preserve, project, and promote the works and vision of Bob Avakian with the aim of reaching the broadest possible audience.

To donate online, go to:

Checks/money orders can be mailed to:
The Bob Avakian Institute (or The BA Institute), 1016 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago IL 60607

Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution

A speech by Bob Avakian
In two parts:


Watch it, spread it, fund it

Check out clips and audio of the film and Q&As

Find out more about this speech—and get organized to spread it »


Get a free email subscription to




Revolution #575 December 24, 2018



| Revolution Newspaper |


This week America tells us that it cares about children, by giving (some of) them a lot of stuff—while others go hungry and cold. Some people rebel against the consumerism and hypocrisy. They may donate to an organization trying to do something about the great disparities and inequities, or volunteer at a shelter.

But take the time this holiday to confront the true scope and scale of the horror—the needless horror—rained down on children every day by the U.S., here and around the world. Read what follows and then ask yourself: Why does this happen? And what is truly needed to address it?

This system kills children in war. The U.S. armed forces and U.S. arms go all over the world to murder children. For three years the U.S. has supported its “strategic ally” Saudi Arabia in a genocidal war against Yemen, backed first by Obama and then by Trump. The war has led to a famine that has already taken the lives of 85,000 children and threatens more. In August, Saudi forces bombed a school bus full of Yemeni children, massacring 40 and wounding another 56. This was an American-made bomb, sold to Saudi Arabia through the U.S. State Department in a war backed by the U.S. Fourteen days later, Saudi warplanes—made in the U.S.—attacked a refugee camp and killed at least 31 civilians, 22 of them children.1 But this is not an “isolated incident.” Go here, for instance, to learn about the My Lai massacre carried out in Vietnam by U.S. soldiers, in which over 500 women, children, and non-combatant elderly men were murdered, or to the whole American Crime series, which documents case after similar case of this. And these are not “accidental” at all—listen here to former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright justify the U.S. sanctions against Iraq that ended up causing the deaths of half a million children!

These wars and depredations go on because of a system that needs such wars, a system of great powers and empires in which each is driven by the imperatives of expand—or go under.


Within the U.S., this system pens in, locks up, and kills off Black, Latino, and Native American children and teenagers. On any given day, the U.S. has 60,000 children locked up in prisons or other “correctional facilities.” The rate of detention for Black youth is six times that of whites—and that rate is rising. On any given day, between 5,000 and 6,000 of these children and young teenagers are locked up in adult prisons or jails, where they are often victims of violence and sexual predation by guards and other prisoners. The violence and repression perpetrated by this system against these youths ranges from the racist “school-to-prison pipeline”2 to the abuse routinely carried out by police and on up to the outrageous murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by Cleveland police.

This system built itself up on the dehumanization of the Native American and African peoples to amass its original wealth, carrying out genocide against one and the enslavement of the other, and this original oppression has never gone away but has morphed its form as a built-in pillar of this system.


This system abuses, imprisons, and traumatizes children when they dare to flee the living hells that the U.S. has created in their home countries. This spring the world witnessed the ripping of children away from parents on the U.S.-Mexico border by the Border Patrol and ICE. These families were desperately fleeing the murderous conditions created by United States imperialism in their countries. Go to American Crime installments #79 and #75 on Honduras, which details what the U.S. has done there.

Today, as you read this, these imperialists have got nearly 15,000 innocent immigrant children locked down in detention centers, presumed guilty for the “crime” of fleeing for their lives, or seeking a better one. A CNN investigation revealed dozens of accounts from young detainees “describing overloaded and secretive shelters, treatment centers and secure detention facilities for undocumented minors, which at their worst have allegedly been home to neglect, assault and other horrific abuse. The allegations in these documents, as well as recent facility inspection reports and other lawsuits, range from unsanitary conditions and invasive monitoring of mail and phone calls to unair-conditioned rooms in hot Texas summers and dosing children with cocktails of psychotropic drugs disguised as vitamins. At one facility, children recounted being held down for forcible injections, which medical records show are powerful antipsychotics and sedatives.”

This system cannot live without dominating and plundering smaller nations, and then that same system demonizes, persecutes, and at the same time viciously exploits the desperate ones it drives here from those hells.


This system sells children for sex. At least 100,000 children and young teenagers a year are pimped out and even sold like cattle, just in the U.S. alone! The average age at which children are prostituted is between 11 and 14 years old. Many of these girls and boys are fleeing abusive homes, in many cases homes run or sanctioned by child welfare or “protective” services. Worldwide, the International Labor Organization estimates that 1,000,000 children a year are sold into sexual slavery. Leaving aside pimps and trafficking rings that work with the connivance of the police, these children are the victims of a system whose sexual relations reflect the patriarchal domination of men over women, whose dominant values and morality reflect the idea that other human beings are objects to be exploited. Put yourself in the place of an 11- or 12-year-old child cast into this hell.

This system came into being in a world in which women and children were dominated and oppressed and it integrates that age-old oppression into the very core of its workings.


This system lets millions of children worldwide each year die of preventable disease. The World Health Organization estimates that 5.4 million children under five years old died in 2017. More than half of these were due to conditions that could be prevented or treated with access to very simple and inexpensive interventions. Children in sub-Saharan Africa were 15 times more likely to die than children in high-income countries—not because children there are genetically weaker, but because of the way that the systems of U.S. and European imperialism have plundered Africa for over 500 years, and continue to plunder and dominate today.


None of this horror is necessary! All these horrors are required, maintained, and driven forward by a system, the system of capitalism-imperialism.

In the face of all that, heartfelt sentiments or prayers, money to charity, and even time volunteering to make things better become at best band-aids that don’t get to the root of the disease, despite your best intentions, your sacrifice, and even the real good you may do for what is after all a relative handful of people. Band-aids may be OK when you have a minor cut; but when you have something deeply wrong, band-aids not only substitute for but can stand in the way of what’s needed. So you may have lifted a few and you may have dealt with your anger, disgust, and anguish at what this system does, at least for a while; but the system itself goes on, untouched, grinding up millions, crushing lives, and mutilating spirits.

If there is a way to end needless suffering, then the point cannot be to just alleviate it. If there is a way to end needless suffering, anything short of that way will ultimately turn into an off-ramp and wind up prolonging it, whatever your intentions.

And there actually IS, in the real world, such a way: socialism on the road to a communist society and the emancipation of humanity, based on the new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian, BA—a whole deeper, higher, and more scientific vision of human emancipation. There actually IS a way to get there—revolution, the overthrow of this system through the defeat of its massive forces of violence and repression, when millions have been mobilized and the system itself is in deep crisis. There is a strategy for that revolution, there is the blueprint for the new society it will bring into being in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and there is the leadership for it in BA, the architect of a whole new communism and the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

This road is hard, but it is real. If you really care—and if you’ve read this far, you do—then to turn away from finding out about that road and deeply engaging the person who brought it forward would be unconscionable. If you do nothing else during this holiday period, see the new filmed speech by Bob Avakian, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.

THIS is a system that cannot be reformed—It MUST be overthrown! And there is a place for you in that process.

1. The recent Senate resolution opposing this war, passed when news of the war had finally been dragged into the light of day worldwide and when sections of the ruling class felt the necessity to curb and better control the behavior of Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman, will actually have no direct effect on the U.S. military role in Saudi Arabia and, even were the House to back it up, there are loopholes, delaying tactics, and legal areas of dispute that make it highly unlikely such a resolution would go into actual effect.  [back]

2. Black and white youths are roughly as likely to get into fights, carry weapons, steal property, use and sell illicit substances, and skip school. But nationwide, Black youths were more than five times as likely to be detained or incarcerated as white youths were. In six states, Black youths were 10 times as likely to be detained or incarcerated as white youths. Even the minimal Obama-era attempts to curb this disparity, a concession made in the face of public outcry and a mass upsurge of resistance, are now being reversed by the Trump/Pence fascist regime.  [back]



For more on how this system kills children in its wars:

For more on how this system pens in, locks up and kills off Black, Latino and Native American children and teenagers:

For more on how this system abuses, imprisons and traumatizes immigrant children:

For more on trafficking of children under this system:

For more on how millions of children worldwide die each year of preventable disease under this system:


Share on Twitter
Share on Facebook
Share on Instagram

Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution

A speech by Bob Avakian
In two parts:


Watch it, spread it, fund it

Find out more about this speech—and get organized to spread it »



Get a free email subscription to




Revolution #575 December 24, 2018

Holiday Special: Exclusive, Highly Condensed Edition of Michelle Obama’s Memoir Becoming

| Revolution Newspaper |



I was born into a community plundered, devastated, and tortured for generations, going back to hundreds of years of slavery, by the most murderous ruling class in the world, the U.S. capitalist-imperialists.

I learned the ropes of that system so well that I became the wife of its top enforcer. I lent him my “authenticity” when he blamed the masses for their own oppression and called them “thugs” when they rose up. I sanctified the military as it carried out its depredations worldwide. I modeled the role of “traditional wife and mother" (while balancing a career), planting a vegetable garden while this system bombed, imprisoned, and murdered children all over the world.

And for those who don’t like this system but don’t want to fully confront what it really does and must do, I served—and still serve—as a screen on which they can project their illusions.

The End

A clip from BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! In the fall of 2012, Bob Avakian gave a series of talks in different cities. This is a film of one of those talks. Watch the whole film and other selected clips at


Get a free email subscription to




Revolution #575 December 24, 2018

When the American Hitler and His War Criminal Defense Chief Battle It Out...
Do We Have a (Mad) Dog in Their Fight?

| Revolution Newspaper |


A war criminal and a fascist walk into an oval office... this could be the beginning of a joke, but the consequences for humanity are anything but.

Trump and his regime’s raison d’être—the reason that they are in power—is to upend what have been the prevailing norms of how the most powerful country in history is ruled and how it enforces and extends its imperialist domination of the world. Over the last few months Trump has been plowing ahead with his fascist program in many ways, including clearing out opposition from within his regime.

General James “Mad Dog” Mattis’ resignation as Trump’s secretary of defense was unprecedented in that while still serving in the regime, he wrote a stinging rebuke that directly repudiated the Trump/Pence regime’s foreign policy. Mattis warned that what Trump is doing is dangerous to core U.S. (imperialist) interests. He is straight-up advocating that what has been U.S. policy of world domination since World War 2 is the best if not only way to extend and enforce that domination. Mattis, who represents a significant section of the U.S. “national security establishment,” wrote of being “clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors ... We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.”

Mattis tendered his resignation as of the end of February. Trump abruptly said, you’re gone by January 1. Such a serious split at the top of the ruling class, particularly when it concerns the essential element of government—the deployment of the armed forces—reveals extremely high stakes.

If you aspire to justice for the masses of people here and around the world, guess what? YOU, and your values, are not the WE of which Mattis speaks. At the same time, if and as this conflict sharpens, it could provide possible openings for important mass struggle from below to drive out the whole regime.

But NOT on terms in which huge sections of the so-called “progressive” movements and their pundits such as The Nation magazine, along with the Democratic Party and its mouthpieces such as the New York Times, MSNBC, CNN, etc., are dealing with this. They have fallen head over heels indoctrinating masses of people in the most craven American chauvinism, and this is extremely dangerous. It’s not as if Mattis earned the “affectionate” nickname of “Mad Dog” centuries ago. He directed war crimes in the Iraq War deploying the horrific chemical weapon white phosphorus to burn the flesh of Iraqi citizens in Fallujah in 2004. Joan Walsh wrote a lead piece in The Nation magazine that was nothing other than an appeal to scurry to Mattis’ defense—a disgusting call to what she sees as the “safer” foreign policy for those Americans who have been insulated up to now from the deadly impact of U.S. wars and foreign policy. She positively referred to the literal war criminal Mattis as a “lifelong military leader and public servant.” What we starkly see here is the complicity of a progressive strata with a war criminal who collaborated with and legitimatized a fascist (Trump) for two years, with the impact of numbing people and lining them up to support what has been the bloody mainstream of the U.S. ruling class.

What Mattis represents, and what he argues for in his resignation as Trump slams forward with his program, has been the dominant mode of bludgeoning the world to submit to U.S. dictates. This has been a program that combines brutal military slaughter with the threat of massive military capacity including nuclear devastation, covered over and facilitated by “multilateral” honeyed words of democracy and cooperation, with the forceful imposition of bourgeois democratic norms on the people of the world.

Trump is cutting the knot on that package. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and “America First” are not just nostalgic slogans to satisfy a rabid base fearful of a world where their privilege is eroding... but concentrate a fascist program that is a response to the reality that the imperialist program that has held since WW2 is failing—with the longest war in U.S. history in Afghanistan an acknowledged disaster. The old world order has been increasingly racked with deepening problems, and the top dog, the U.S., has been losing its edge in a world system of imperialism.

The Trump/Pence regime’s foreign policy is at one and the same time radically reactionary and rooted in the uninterrupted world view and history of “Manifest Destiny,” a quasi-religious belief that America is divinely entitled to enslave, to destroy—including through genocide—to conquer and expand anywhere it deems its “interests” to be, without a shred of concern for other peoples or lands. Manifest Destiny, from its inception, has white supremacy as the thread running through it. This mission of world domination is not just historic, but runs right down to today, through both Democrats and Republicans, including the Afghanistan/Iraq wars of Bush and Obama, and Obama’s horrific wars in Libya and Yemen now carried forward by Trump—wars with genocidal impact that continue to crush in the most torturous ways millions of people, including millions of children.

Wake up! If you have an ounce of concern for the people of the world, face up to the reality that when Mattis speaks of “we,” the reality is that: WE are not THEY. We—in the interests of humanity—need a revolution to sweep aside this system. The time is now—when those on top of this system are deeply divided—to recognize the stakes for humanity, and to go to work and prepare and organize people for an actual revolution.



Get a free email subscription to




Revolution #575 December 24, 2018

Raising Funds for the Revolution Club and Developing Networks of Support for the Revolution

| Revolution Newspaper |


From the Revolution Club, Chicago:

As we head into the end of the year and the world convulses with the disaster this system means for humanity, the movement for revolution has focused some attention toward fundraising as a crucial part of building the revolution that is needed to overthrow this system and replace it with a new socialist republic in North America. In Chicago, where the Revolution Club has been making a concentrated effort for the last year and a half, we have initiated a $30,000 Winter Fund Drive to fund this effort and contribute to developing networks of sustained support for the revolution. This letter is to share some of what we’ve been doing and learning and wrestling with.

The concentrated work in Chicago is discussed by Bob Avakian in the Q&As of the talk he gave this summer, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, especially Part 2 of the Chicago Q&A where he leads a discussion of this with the people attending his talk. He says Chicago has become a concentration point of important contradictions and struggles in society, in particular our youth killing each other and the threats by the Trump regime to even more violently come down on people. And he describes how the effort in Chicago is “to turn this around, to make a breakthrough, to where revolution became something on the ground as an attractive force, especially for these youth.” He points to the possible international effect that this could have. He says we have not yet made the breakthrough needed and we are not going to give up on doing that and points to some of the elements needed to make this breakthrough, and then he puts this question and problem to the people in the room to speak to and help solve.

Taking that same approach of putting the problems of the revolution to the people, the Revolution Club in Chicago looked at what it costs to put in the kind of effort we’ve been making and need to continue to do, and are putting this problem to the masses of people to help solve. We also are learning from BA’s talk overall and the strategy statement, HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution, and wrestling together with how to apply this to understanding and approaching fundraising in a strategic way, in relation to “aiming for something very definite—a revolutionary situation.”

Developing a Fundraising Plan

We pulled a committee together to help get us all focusing on fundraising and develop an approach and plan. And then we have had varying kinds of discussions with the Revolution Club as a whole or in smaller groupings as we’ve started to work on those plans and further develop them. Two things we have wrestled with and continued to come back to from the part of HOW WE CAN WIN on “What we need to do now,” are 1) how fundraising is part of the organized forces and leadership of this revolution becoming the “authority” that people look to and follow, and 2) what this has to do with defeating the attempts of the ruling powers to crush the revolution and its leadership, and with opposing and disrupting the moves of the ruling powers to isolate, “encircle,” brutalize, mass incarcerate and murderously repress the people who have the hardest life under this system and most need this revolution. We have also talked about how what we do with this now is training and preparation for when there is a different kind of situation, as discussed in the part of HOW WE CAN WIN, “How we could defeat them,” and the organized support and assistance of the masses of revolutionary people in their millions will be even more crucial for every need of the struggle.

One thing we haven’t talked about as much or as explicitly but is also very important to all this is the relationship of fundraising to spreading the word about the revolution and its leadership, one of the first tasks discussed in HOW WE CAN WIN and in the film of BA’s speech. Not only is fundraising needed to even be able to spread the word (funds are needed to pay for things like flyers, posters, etc.), but spreading the word of the fundraising needs itself is part of spreading the word of revolution, and breaking through the lack of hope that is suffocating people.

The plans we developed were with the actual financial needs in mind and thinking about how to involve people broadly in this and develop networks of support for the revolution: how people who support what the Revolution Club is doing and feel they are part of it can concretely contribute to that work through donating and becoming part of fundraising, and in so doing are also changing their relationship to the revolution and becoming part of strengthening the “authority” of this revolution and its leadership; how what the Revolution Club mission is in Chicago can further spread to becoming known by many more people and the basis to involve many more people (who want to see an end to the outrageous police murders and to the heart-breaking violence among the people) in supporting it.

We decided we needed to set the goal at what was actually needed, figure out a realistic time frame to meet it, and put this out to people and involve people. Our plans, some of which we’ve begun to do and others we are still developing, are: working with people to do fundraising events and projects; spreading the word broadly of the fundraising campaign through social media, palm cards, posters; working with people to reach out and involve their networks; phone-banking to supporters and contacts of the Revolution Club; and street fundraising as well as canvassing. In everything, there is the key element of people being brought into what the fundraising is for (on the level of the Chicago project, the whole revolution, and the particular immediate needs) and being able to take that out to others. To help with this, we developed a basic fundraising call and made it into a palm card that people can read and take out to others and has the ways to donate online and in person.

Events and Projects

So far, we have held two fundraising events at the Revolution Club Organizing Center and we are beginning to meet with musicians and other contacts to work on at least two more events at other locations. The fundraising events at the center have not raised large amounts of money, but they have raised some and they’ve been important in many ways. The first event raised $180 and the second event raised $106, including $40 for a beautiful hooded scarf that was crocheted by a Revolution Club supporter and donated to sell as a fundraiser.

The first event was a celebration and benefit party in November that included a ceremony recognizing and honoring new members joining the Revolution Club. In addition to the money donated, a lot of people donated food and drinks, including by some of the local businesses near the center. At that party, there was a real sense of a community of people coming together around making revolution. People joining the club brought their friends and loved ones with them to be part of this. The focus of the program and the ceremony was the Points of Attention for the Revolution, and one person commented after the program that she was inspired by the Points of Attention and another said he was struck by how this movement is for humanity, it is not selfish.

The second fundraising event was a Future People Open Mic. We decided to do this after a discussion with people in the Revolution Club about fundraising and a couple of members proposed doing an open mic as a fundraiser. We talked together about what it should be and how to do it: an open mic called Future People that is guided by and popularizing the Points of Attention for the Revolution, a cultural event that is part of what it looks like to fight for a radically new and better world, an event that puts the needs for funds out broadly and involves people in donating and raising funds for the Revolution Club.

To build for the open mic we reached out to strategic sections of people, including going out to several high schools as well as poetry and art events and other significant events. At the high schools we took the large banner we made in support of the immigrant caravan that all kinds of people have been signing. We laid out the banner and we spoke over a bullhorn about future people fighting for a world without borders, for equality of women and men and differently gendered people, for the emancipation of humanity and not for revenge. A number of students came up to put messages on the banner and were interested to hear about the open mic and what the Revolution Club is about and doing.

At the schools and at the poetry and art events we passed out flyers for the open mic that had the Points of Attention for the Revolution on the back and this was attractive to some of the people seriously checking this all out. At one event in a progressive suburb, people were gathered to hear a talk about the segregation in Chicago and the decimation of the public schools. We went with the open mic flyer and also passed out a pamphlet of the important and timely article, “Question: What Do You Do With a System That Gives No Future to Millions of Black and Latino Youth; Whose Police Brutalize, Lock Them Up and Even Kill Them in Cold Blood, and Then Covers It Up? Answer: Overthrow It.” At everything we went to, we went together in Revolution Nothing Less T-shirts and represented in a way that it was clear we were presenting as an organized force—and this was definitely part of how people engaged and related to us and drew some who seem to be looking for how to make radical change.

The open mic itself was not that well attended, but some who came indicated that word of the open mic had gotten out beyond the usual circles. There were also good and powerful performances. One young woman who performed had found about it a couple days before when she met the Revolution Club team at an outing where we had displayed the new posters of the faces of people killed by Chicago police. Her brother was murdered by police in 2010 and she brought a picture of him to the open mic and dedicated one of her poems to him and to everyone killed by police. Another person who performed is an ex-prisoner who met the Revolution Club a few months ago and has been part of spreading the word about the revolution in various ways. He wrote a “revolutionary poem” for the open mic and ended it with ripping up a U.S. flag. A number of members of the Revolution Club performed poetry or read quotes from BAsics, the book of quotations from Bob Avakian that is the handbook of the revolution. One Revolution Club member performed a poem inspired by the battle to defeat the legal charges against Maya, who is outrageously facing seven years in prison for doing a silent protest for immigrants. After the open mic people danced and talked together and one person got a copy of BAsics which she started reading on the spot, while another picked up a copy of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. A number of people took stacks of the fundraising palm card with them when they left, to pass out in places they go and among people they know.

Other Ways People Are Contributing and Fundraising

Other significant contributions to the winter fund drive so far are: a supporter crocheting and donating scarves, caps, and bags to sell for funds to support the Revolution Club; and another supporter—a doctor who herself has donated $2,000 in the last year—writing a fundraising letter and beginning to get it out to her networks. A musician is working to pull together some other artists for a meet-and-greet with the Revolution Club where we’ll develop further plans together for one or more fundraising events. A couple members of the Revolution Club are working with another musician to put together a punk show fundraiser in February. These are all important developments, even while they all need to be followed through on and the whole effort needs to grow to involve exponentially more people.


Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution

A speech by Bob Avakian
In two parts:


Watch it, spread it, fund it

Find out more about this speech—and get organized to spread it

Download, print and spread the word with this Revolution Club Chicago fund raising palm card (PDF—two-sided).


for the costs of Revolution Club Chicago’s legal defenses and challenges HERE


to support the work of the Revolution Club Chicago HERE

November 2018
A Tale of Two Cities, and the Need for Revolution

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I want you to get to know, and to donate generously to the Revolution Club, Chicago, the “Rev Club Chi.” I had the pleasure and the honor to meet them and to do some revolutionary work with them on a recent trip to Chicago.

Read more.


Get a free email subscription to




Revolution #575 December 24, 2018

Interview with members of the Revolution Club, Los Angeles, on their trip to San Diego and the San Ysidro point of entry at the border

| Revolution Newspaper |


Thousands of migrants are amassed at the U.S./Mexico border—forcibly held on Mexico’s side in an arena in Tijuana. They walked thousands of miles to apply for asylum only to be treated as a subhuman burden by officials on both the U.S. and Mexico sides. These are people who have had to flee for their lives because this system has devastated their home countries. On Sunday, November 25, there was a protest on the U.S. side of the border in support of the caravan, with the demand: Let Them In! This coincided with a protest on the Mexican side of migrants demanding that the U.S. expedite the asylum process. When people decided to make a run for the border, the protest was met by Border Patrol, who attacked the migrants with tear gas.

The Revolution Club, Los Angeles went to the border at the San Diego/San Ysidro point of entry for this protest and the week after, to learn about the situation, and to bring people the strategy for revolution, HOW WE CAN WIN, How We Can Really Make Revolution, and the speech by Bob Avakian, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. The following are excerpts from an interview with two members from the Revolution Club, LA who were part of these trips.


Q: HOW WE CAN WIN lays out that we need to oppose and disrupt the moves of the ruling powers to isolate, encircle, and brutalize and mass incarcerate the most oppressed, the people who have the hardest life under this system and who most need revolution. We need to encircle them by bringing forth waves and waves of people, determined in opposition to this system.

What was it like actually trying to apply this strategy down there? How do you see going down there as part of applying this strategy? And how do you guys see the fascist response to this caravan—teargassing children, sending even more troops to the border—as a strategic weakness of this system?

Rev Club member 1 (RC1): Somebody pointed out to me that this is the largest border that’s maintained between an oppressed and an oppressor nation in the world. This is also one of the most economically prosperous borders in the world as well. So how does this system maintain that? They can’t just shut it down, because they need that commerce coming back and forth. But then at the same time, they’ve created such horrible conditions by oppressing these other countries, by fucking them up even worse than they’ve fucked up this country, that people have to flee. They’ve basically set these houses on fire so that they can make something off of the fire sale, and now there’s all these people who have nowhere to live. The United States can’t take them in, because then that would be a contradiction to them where they would be like, “oh, good, now you’re going to become someone we have to take care of then”, instead of the burdens being on the countries the U.S. has messed up.

That would mess up the whole exploiter/exploited dynamic that the U.S. has going in its favor right now. So that’s how I understand how this Stop (Stop the Demonization, Criminalization and Deportations of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border)1 is something they can’t resolve and how it’s so critical.

There’s no way for people to seek asylum. They weren’t even allowed to go through the process on that day. We’re not even talking about crossing at unauthorized points, and anyone who knows the law knows that even those unauthorized crossings are legal if you’re seeking asylum. But here they tried to come through the main entry and they were denied. So they did what they rightfully should have done, saying “No, we’re coming in anyway.” And the U.S. just had to bare its ugliness, its fangs. They couldn’t even pretend, well, it’s the process, the process. No, they had to unleash their weapons, their tear gas on people.

That happened right after there had been a march on the U.S. side in support of the caravan. So that was kind of the scene for the day when the teargassing itself went off.

Rev Club member 2 (RC2): It was a very chaotic scene. There was smoke all through the air. Then all these military trucks look around—they were patrolling. People are trying to get in because they can’t go back. Some of them will die if they go back. They’re fleeing the violence, the poverty. And then you see the picture of the woman with her two kids who were fleeing the smoke. I read that some of the kids got sick from inhaling the smoke. That’s fucking criminal, for the system to put their enforcers on the border to attack people who are unarmed, who are fleeing the violence that this system carries out in their countries, and the poverty and ruining the economy and making it impossible for people to live in their countries. And to greet people like that at the border with rubber bullets and teargas. That’s criminal!

This is a criminal system that cannot be reformed. That’s the whole point of the 5 Stops. These are things that cannot be reformed under this system. This is the foundation of this country up until now, a country founded on slavery and white supremacy and genocide of Native people and wars of empire, the theft of land. They like to promote themselves as the land of freedom and democracy and all this bullshit. And look what they do. Look what they carry out all over the world.


Q: So you guys were there for a few days. What was that like, being right there at the point of entry? What was the approach to that and what were some of the responses from people passing by?

RC1: We went to the college the first day spreading the word about the revolution, wielding HOW WE CAN WIN and BA’s work, doing agitation, talking about the situation at the border. But we didn’t really actively organize folks. Every day we kept summing this up. Are we organizing people? Each day we got a little more on point with that. So the first day at the university was like going around and getting the word out. At the end of the day I thought we had some good conversations. We went to this one teach-in they had where they were putting all sorts of bullshit out from the stage—like, this is going to provide an opportunity for the new ruling party in Mexico to do something good for the people... so off of that, we got into more in-depth conversations with people.

When we were down at the border, you were dealing with a lot of folks who mainly were living on both sides of the border. And here you see the need to understand the cause of all of what’s happening. Even some people who sympathized with the caravan didn’t understand why it was that these refugees were forced to come here. One person who said his heart goes out to them, he thought they had been brought here by the old ruling party in Mexico as some attempt to destabilize the new incoming party. But he still had sympathy for them. He wasn’t blaming the refugees, but he didn’t fully analyze the driving force of this as capitalism, and all the horrors it’s created in Honduras.

So while it is good that we got out this information, to make it grow, to get to the level it needs to, we need to get people actively taking it up. Not just, “Cool, I’ll check it out,” but finding ways to plug in themselves. You could see that, by the last day, in terms of that, we were really firing on all cylinders.

RC2: The approach was from HOW WE CAN WIN. Everything we do, how is that getting us to where we need to go—to being in position to make revolution? We did start off not all there, but we kept summing up, and we kept emphasizing, look, we’re going to make mistakes, and as scientists, we need to sum up, and how can we actually make leaps and continue to grow and actually do the work that’s needed to get to that point where we can go all out (for revolution). This is the stage, like Part 2 of HOW WE CAN WIN (where we are doing the political work to prepare the ground, spreading the word, transforming the people, forging logistical networks and a mass movement for revolution, and bringing forward leaders, all with the aim of hastening while awaiting a revolutionary situation where we are in a good position to go up against the system and actually win). This is what we need to do now.

We went out there, and in the agitation we were exposing what had just happened. What kind of system sends its military to the border—we talked about it already, but what system does this to human beings? A criminal system. That’s what was coming out of the bullhorn and the conversations we had. That was the essence of it.

Q: I think people can learn from that. You said you were applying and summing up based on our strategy, HOW WE CAN WIN, using HOW WE CAN WIN as a concrete measure of the work you were doing. So what was in that process of summing up? What kind of questions did you guys get into when you summed up, and how do you see the difference in approach?

RC2: BA makes the point of not just getting “thumbs up.” That first day I thought that was just what we were getting, just “thumbs up.” But what were we trying to do? We talk about the horrors of the system, and there’s actually a way to put a stop to this. What is the role of the masses of people? What role do they have in carrying that out? What’s our role, to unleash people to do that? That’s some of the things that we got into. For whom and for what? (For the emancipation of all of humanity, to get to a communist world.) That was the main thing.

RC1: It felt to me like the one thing that finally clicked was one day we were talking about asking for donations. We were also talking about why we didn’t get this one guy’s number. And I thought to myself, “I don’t know, I just don’t ask for donations,” because like, I don’t want to seem like I’m begging, and then I didn’t ask for this one guy’s number because he didn’t seem like your “typical revolutionary.” He seemed like a good person, but not someone who seemed down for the whole thing. But then I told myself, wait, I’m not asking for donations because what? We actually do need millions of dollars—for materials, even gas money to travel to spread the revolution. Talk about being un-materialist if you don’t get that! And then, this one guy, I just assumed he couldn’t be won to play an active role. But how much is this not seeing the potential for this guy, and people like him, to potentially make a big influence? The more I grounded myself in the reality of what was needed, the emergency situation we’re in, that I was able to break with the idea of just more passively “spreading the word.”

That’s great if people do spread the word about this, but you can do that really easily without having to really change your perspective or your orientation on the situation. Spreading the word is something you can and should just do in your spare time. But actively trying to create a revolutionary situation, and conduct a revolution, you’ve got to be doing a whole lot more than that.

It really felt like it was a kind of click, a eureka moment, where I just go, I’m going to be acting commensurate with what’s needed. For some reason that just clicked. Maybe it was all the summations we had.


Q: You were saying you were talking to people who had a lot of sympathy and heart for this caravan, but they didn’t really understand why the caravan was coming in the first place. I wanted to get into what were the responses to bringing out the message of revolution to people? How did people see or understand why this caravan was coming to the U.S., and why it was being teargassed? How did people see that? Is that something you got into with people you were talking to?

RC2: What people said most was, “They’re risking their kids. It’s an unnecessary risk. Why are they putting their kids through that?” We spoke to what people were saying. The thing that I got from that was people don’t really have a grasp of why all this is happening. That was some of the things that we got. Like in agitation and in conversations, why is this happening? Why is it that people had to flee their country?

Most of the people we ran into, they live in Tijuana, but they work in San Diego or San Ysidro. So they were talking about the inconvenience of being stuck for hours in the line trying to cross over. And they had some resentment because of that toward the people in the caravan. But then, in the struggles that we had with people, we said, look, raise your sights. You were stuck in a line for two or three hours. But then these people are stuck in this fucking shelter and they’re being threatened by the fucking fascist regime in power. There’s military at the border. So that was the struggle with people to raise their sights and not have these fucking petty complaints.

RC1: We ran into this. I’d say it was pretty common. You could tell that whole line of “They’re being bused here”—whoever started that conspiracy theory, it’s giving folks something to hang their hat on, folks who want to be mad because of the situation that’s going on, now all of a sudden, they’re like, “Yeah! They’re getting bused here.” It gives them a quick, easy out...

But we would challenge people with this. There was this young woman, and we challenged her about this, why would you be mad at these people? And she said, I guess I’m a little selfish. But she got challenged on it and she basically changed her thinking.

RC2: She said, “I didn’t see it that way.”

RC1: It was the same with another guy. He was mad because he had to wait in line. He didn’t have some theory for it. But I told him, you’re asking the wrong question. You need to ask why are these people in this situation? They’re being forced to flee for their lives. And he was like, yeah. A lot of people were glad to be challenged and have their sights raised.

This one woman was concerned. She said, “I see what they’re doing, but they’re coming in at the wrong spot.” The proper spot? I didn’t even want to go into the details about how you can’t get in the proper spot. I told her this is like someone is starving and you’re mad at them because they come in the back door trying to get some food. You’re not asking why they’re starving. It didn’t take much to pierce through the veneer. Like somehow it could have been avoided. No, it couldn’t be avoided. These people are fleeing for their lives.

If you just raise to them the moral aspect of it they would back down real quick. And then when you showed them the actual driving force behind it, the evidence of the system of capitalism (the fact that people are compelled to come here because of the dynamics of capitalism/imperialism) then they would even understand more so. And then there’s this aspect of, you’re not down there just exposing it. You’re actually organizing to do something about it. That’s the X factor in this. Nobody else is not just trying to fight this one outrage, but to do away with this outrage all together.

One guy got really excited about it. He had this vision, we’ll get a bunch of signs and stuff. We were like, yeah, we’ll do that. But more important is that people understand what the Revolutionary Communist Party is trying to do. So that people finally realize not to fall for one line or another. They actually see that the Revolutionary Communist Party is leading with the way out. It’s not a short term, “We’ll buy you some time for a month,” but actually end the driving force behind this.

RC2: The last day we met this Latino guy who was very excited about revolution. He was talking about how he was afraid the young women...

RC1: He said that 10 percent of the young women in these camps were getting prostituted by the cartels. He said in a few months it will be like 50 percent. He remembers when the Haitian immigrant crisis occurred last year in Tijuana. Now you see a lot of young Haitian girls walking around pregnant, and they don’t have a partner, and it’s because there’s a good chance the cartels grabbed them up and prostituted them. It’s got this real hatred for the cartels because of the way they run stuff down there.

He said if you’re an ex-prisoner, they tell you, you’re either going to use or you’re going to sell. Some friends got killed because they wouldn’t do either. Somehow he’s managed to escape. He’s not even sure how he’s escaped it.

These people aren’t just sitting in some shelter killing time. People are fleeing for their lives and now they’re having to watch their back to make sure they stay alive because they can’t get asylum.

This guy, he wanted to get this message out, and he wanted people to get organized because his heart really went out for them.

There was this young woman I talked to in the park. I remember she was concerned about revolution. She said, “It sounds like a lot of violence, people may get hurt.” I explained that’s why we’re doing this work right now. Because we can’t be foolish. I showed her the trailer of BA’s new talk, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, and she’s like, “It sounds like he’s taking it serious, like he’s not foolish with people’s lives.” I thought that was good that she was able to get that from the trailer. We also did challenge her about the violence that occurs right now. But then again, you can understand why people don’t want to just haphazardly go into something like this. They want to go in with the best chance of getting out of it with something good on the other end. And if you add in the fact that if you don’t do it right, you can be in the same mess again.

I used HOW WE CAN WIN a lot of times when I was talking to people and made the point of how we’re in Part 2 right now. And the work we’re doing is critical to making Part 3 (the stage of armed struggle in the future) be able to get off when conditions have radically changed and millions are ready to put it all on the line.

I led with it. I don’t know how good a job I did with making sure that people really understood the importance of Part 2. It’s a process. You have these conversations, and people were like, yeah! And then they go back to “It’s Mueller time.” Or we need to get Bernie in, or Elizabeth Warren. Like I said, it’s a process.

People would openly admit that they spend a lot of time checking out Rachel Maddow or something like that. You really have to get all of that stuff out of there. It’s almost like, shoot down all these things they think are going to solve it. It’s like, OK, let’s walk that through.

RC2: We had a lot of conversations with a lot of people. We sat down with someone who was talking about getting Bernie in, or Elizabeth Warren, to be part of the revolution. He had these illusions. I mean, for some people, mostly American people, they might have a heart, and had to struggle with that person that these are all representatives of the system. One thing they all agree with, Trump is America First, that type of shit. Even the Mueller shit, we said to this person, OK, you’re waiting for that, but even for that to happen, there has to be people out in the streets, pouring into the streets and protesting and demanding the removal of this regime. We had a lot of back and forth struggle with this person.

RC1: At the teach-in we went to on the first day, we actually made an announcement about what we were about. They had to pay a little attention to what we were doing. So when people came out, we were like, “What did you think of what we had to say,” and there was a lot of, “Oh, yeah, that’s good.” And we were like, “No, did you get what we were talking about? Did you get we were talking about a revolution?”

I talked to two guys who talked about spending a good chunk of their lives in East LA and how the police would mess with them back then. There was a certain sentiment of, “What gives them the right to treat us bad?” Talking about the police. I tried to get into, “your outrage is justified, but it’s not just that these police are bullies. They are bullies, but it’s not just that they happen to be bullies, it’s actually that they have to do this in order to maintain their system.” This one guy talked about when he was young the cops would round up him and his friends, because they were in gangs, and they would make them strip, and they would take their clothes and throw them away and they’d go, alright, go survive. It was humiliating, running around the street naked trying to find your clothes.

I tried to get into what compelled that to be the kind of behavior that was encouraged. You can imagine some cop getting a promotion because he’s really good at getting all the young kids to be afraid of him.

Under the system, people aren’t trained to do the critical thinking, to probe deeper. I mean, shit, it’s hard even to have the time, given their day-to-day life. So when the news channel promotes some conspiracy theory, and you’ve got five seconds to pay attention to it, it fits your feeling that there’s something wrong and this is the quick solution. So I think bringing to people the need to probe, to ask questions, to say, does that add up? This huge group of people from another country would all of a sudden just decide they don’t want to obey the rules and laws? That alone should make you question. There’s something out of the ordinary there. Which again is where the, “oh, it was so-and-so busing them up here” helps to solve that. Why all of a sudden there’s this huge influx ?

RC2: Some of the conversations I would have, I was putting forward the problem of why are these things happening. And I would bring in the solution, and the leadership and strategy we have, to be able to go out and do what’s needed. A lot of the people were interested, and they wanted to know more, so we told them to go watch the film, and we would set up appointments with them. And we set up tasks, of taking the palm cards out and going to their friends or family members to organize a screening of the film.

We had the 5 Stops on a display on the street corner, and a lot of people kept coming by and stopping and reading it. We would go up and ask them, so what do you think? And they were like, yeah, I agree. And some people off of reading that just came up and gave donations. I thought that was significant. We would get into HOW WE CAN WIN, and emphasizing that we have the leadership of BA. So people took up the newspaper, and tasks.

RC1: I remember this one guy in Chicano Park. He was fascinated by the fact that we had a Constitution. He was in a rush. But then he was, “Let me get a picture of that Constitution.” I don’t even think we got into what the Constitution is all about. But there’s something about that that appeals to people.

Q: You’re talking about showing the trailer of BA’s speech. Is there more to say about how we utilized that, and what were the responses to it? I think things like dropping a donation when they see the 5 Stops, making appointments, all that’s important. Is there more to say about that?

RC2: We showed the trailer of the new film to some people. The response was that they agreed, and they didn’t know there was someone like Avakian who’s putting this forward. So they were like intrigued and wanted to know more.

One way that we involved somebody was setting up a film showing at their college. They said they would go and talk to a professor or some of the staff to see if they could get a room. So they were able to do that. Some of the things I was thinking was, people we met in the city, like bringing them all together and have a film showing at the school. It’s a work in progress right now.


Q: One of the last questions I wanted to get into was comparing and contrasting what you guys learned in the method and approach in bringing the message of revolution to people and organizing people into the movement for revolution. Is there any comparing and contrasting you can do about that? What did you learn about method and approach to going and running with this?

RC2: Well, this was my first time leading others in a crew, in the Revolution Club. Learning to do that, how to become a strategic commander of the revolution and a leader among the people. And for method and approach, that’s very important to have a scientific method and approach. Obviously people are going to make mistakes, but if you have that approach, you sum it up collectively, and you’re grounded on the new synthesis of communism that Avakian has developed, you’re grounded in that scientific method and approach, and that enables people to go out and carry out the work that’s needed.

Even in my thinking, I made some ruptures, and I learned a lot. Even in orienting people to go out and carry out revolutionary work. All of us, we’re still learning. But for me it was very exciting to go out in the world and bring this to people, and even leading and unleashing others to go out and do the same.

With everything grounded on for whom and for what, that this is for the people. It’s not about ourselves, it’s not about egos, or any of this shit. It’s about the people of the world.

BA makes the point. We have two choices, either to condemn future generations to the same or worse, or make revolution. That’s a task that we set out to do.

So I learned a lot. Comparing and contrasting how to organize people on the spot. That is something we’ve been wrangling with, and we’re learning how to do that. Also giving people tasks to take up. Even setting up appointments with people to meet up, and start a working relationship with people. That’s a way for them to step into the movement for revolution.

RC1: The main takeaway I came away with from this is: the more grounded in reality you are, that you’re not just going to be able to spontaneously get a bunch of people to do the right thing at the right time. In order to make people fight through, push back, they’re going to have to be deeply grounded in what’s necessary. The more grounded you are, the more you understand how important the work you’re doing right now is. At least right now, we can openly go out and do this. And when you gather that knowledge, you act in accordance. I found that that was the biggest change in my approach and my method grew out of that at the same point. What’s the saying? You want revolution so bad you have to become scientific. You realize you’ve got to be on top of it so bad, all of a sudden you start following up on every little thing you can, or catching up on things, or having even more thorough conversations with folks.


Q: Is there anything else you guys want to add?

RC2: People need to watch the speech from BA, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, because it does get into, emphasizing in the first part that this system cannot be reformed, some of the things that we talked about here, but he gets into it deeper, of why and what is the history of this country? And then emphasizing why we need revolution. And then the second part is how we can do it. He does answer a lot of the things that people say—they’re so powerful, or people are too messed up. And BA talks about it in the film.

So people need to watch it, and people need to have their thinking challenged. People should welcome that because if people are really serious about putting a stop to everything that goes on in this world, and everything flows from this system, the unnecessary suffering. So people should welcome the challenge and actually take up and be a part of this movement for revolution, in whatever beginning ways. But there’s a place for people in this movement. So take this up, and go out in society and actually do the work that’s needed to get to where we need to go.


Q: What would you say to people reading this or hearing this all over the world?

RC1: Besides Fuck the Police and La Migra? They do need to hear that, because it’s part of the revolutionary spirit, the fighting spirit people need to have in order to be willing to do the right thing at the right time. It becomes more and more clear what BA is demonstrating. I know I take it for granted. I know I don’t fully understand it because it’s on a higher level. He’s demonstrating 40 years of science, and work that’s been put into this revolutionary theory. So he’s a master at it, and he demonstrates that through the process that he leads. And the more you watch the speech and these Q&A’s, the more you can come to take up this science and revolutionary understanding and be able to demonstrate it, to use it yourself when you’re out there doing this necessary work. So people should appreciate what we have in BA.

As I said, I don’t think I fully appreciate it, but as I engage with him more and more, I start to understand why it’s so important, and why other people should engage with him as well.

1. The 5 Stops are concentrated descriptions of major social contradictions and oppressive conditions affecting the masses of people here and around the world. Under the system of capitalism-imperialism, none of these contradictions can be solved in the interests of the people here and worldwide. These 5 Stops point to compelling and fundamental reasons why we need an actual revolution that overthrows and uproots this system. [back]


Spread this trailer everywhere.

Share widely on social media

People who had walked thousands of miles to apply for asylum were confronted by riot police, helicopters, machine guns, and soldiers. Border Patrol threw tear gas at these migrants, including small children and babies! (Photo: AP)

LA Revolution Club talks with people at the San Ysidro border.

LA Revolution Club member talking to people at the San Ysidro border commented: "A lot of people were glad to be challenged and have their sights raised."


Get a free email subscription to




Revolution #575 December 24, 2018

Commitment and the Process of Building a Movement FOR Revolution

June 11, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


People need to be serious in whatever commitments they make—they need to follow through on such commitments—and we should set and struggle for this to be the standard and the actual reality. But getting involved in the movement for an actual revolution has a specific dynamic that differs, say, from joining a sports team or a music group. We should not demand “zero to sixty” right away—or, in any case, try to force a leap, rather than winning people to it as part of an overall revolutionary process. What we need to be building is a continually developing mass movement for revolution—yes, an actual revolution—with a vibrant “Ohio,”* through which exponentially growing numbers of people can be actively involved and continue to advance (not all, but many of them) through the dialectical interplay of contributing and learning in continually increasing dimensions. As for those who do reach the “advanced end” of this “Ohio,” again this raises the question of their becoming not only part of the Revolution Club but also making the further leap to becoming part of the communist vanguard; but here again as well, the question of commitment should not be approached (even if in a somewhat “backhanded” way) from the negative, defensive position that amounts to: “We have had people make commitments and then not keep them, and then disappear (‘ghost’) on us; so we are going to make sure you don’t (can’t) do that!” Rather, we should proceed with the recognition that commitment, while it involves and requires (repeated) leaps along the way, essentially corresponds to and is grounded in what aspirations have been awakened, or brought forward, in people, and what they are coming to understand is required in relation to that. So, again, while we do need to have a serious attitude with regard to people making and carrying through on commitments, this must be commensurate with what their understanding and sentiments are at a given point, and most essentially must be in the context of and contribute to the broader mass revolutionary movement that they are part of (or becoming part of) and, while not involving any tailing, should proceed from what they themselves have been won (yes, won through struggle, even at times sharp struggle) to see as a necessary and essential contribution to the revolution.


* The “Ohio” refers to the Ohio State marching band’s practice of marching in such a way as to spell out “OHIO” when viewed from above; in this process, band members who begin the first O, then move through the other letters of the word until they are at the last “O”. The point is that there is an analogous process involved in building any kind of progressive or revolutionary movement, in which people “move through” various levels of understanding and commitment, though this is not (“in the real world”) quite so linear and in lockstep as the Ohio State marching band!*






Revolution #575 December 24, 2018

To the Revolution Club and all those who want to be part of digging more deeply into the Speech by Bob Avakian over the holidays

| Revolution Newspaper |


The holidays are a great time for people to come together.  And a great time to let them in on the revolution we so badly need—why we need nothing short of that, and how to do it.  It’s also a great time to let them “meet” the leader of the revolution—Bob Avakian.  In other words, let’s show the Speech to and use BA's Official Biography with everyone we know.

The holidays are also a great time for people to raise and give money to make the year ahead far better than this one. 

So, we are encouraging you to pull people together to make plans—to do so based on digging into the pamphlet How We Can WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution.

How We Can WIN begins the section on What We Need To Do Now with “To make this revolution, we need to be serious, and scientific.” Let's start with the basic question: what is everything we're doing working towards?

How We Can WIN lays this out:

All this is aiming for something very definite—a revolutionary situation: Where the system and its ruling powers are in a serious crisis, and the violence they use to enforce this murderous system is seen by large parts of society for what it is—murderous and illegitimate. Where the conflicts among the ruling forces become really deep and sharp—and masses of people respond to this not by falling in behind one side or the other of the oppressive rulers, but by taking advantage of this situation to build up the forces for revolution. Where millions and millions of people refuse to be ruled in the old way—and are willing and determined to put everything on the line to bring down this system and bring into being a new society and government that will be based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. That is the time to go all-out to win. That is what we need to be actively working for and preparing for now.

But doing that needs a strategy.  And while How We Can Win has different parts of the strategy, the first one and a big one is spreading the word.  Here’s what BA says about that in the speech:

First, it is important to understand that, although it is true (as I have said in The New Communism) that revolution cannot and will not be made just by “spreading the idea of revolution around, and perhaps getting some positive responses,” nevertheless it is also true that spreading the word about this revolution can itself be very important revolutionary work—an important part of building the movement for revolution. The fact is that, among those who really need to know about this, including those who most desperately need this revolution, very few have even heard about it—and they are living with the belief that this world, as it is, is the only one that’s possible, and for many this means that, on top of being subjected to continual brutality, degradation and torment, they are suffocated by the lack of hope. Raising people’s sights to the possibility of a radically different world can not only bring hope to people, on a scientific basis, but can also awaken a potentially powerful force for the revolution that could make this hope a reality. For these reasons: “We need to be on a mission to spread the word, to let people know that we have the leadership, the science, the strategy and program, and the basis for organizing people for an actual, emancipating revolution.” Here again is the importance of the point I emphasized earlier about the great strengths we do have—and what is still missing: masses of people “who catch the worst hell under this system, and those who are sickened by the endless outrages perpetrated by this system,” who need to be brought forward, wave after wave, and developed into conscious revolutionaries and revolutionary leaders.

Getting organized into the ranks of the revolution means acting together with others in a unified way, as an organized force, guided by the strategic plan and leadership for the revolution. So, let’s ask ourselves: what are we doing when we show the film?  How does that bring revolution closer?  How is this so critical to bringing in what is missing?

A big part of the revolution is relying on the masses of people for support.  Why do we need that money?  And how do we raise that money in a way that gives people an understanding of what the revolution is all about?  What happens when someone gives money—how does that change them?  And how is raising money—and working with people to raise money as they know how—how can that be part of them also raising their consciousness?

BA talks a lot about the “Points of Attention for the Revolution” (POA) in the film.  Why do you think he does that?  Why are the POA important?  How should the POA influence and be part of fundraising activities?

** In Part 2 of this speech, BA talks about the importance of people starting with “basic tasks that they can readily carry out and feel confident doing which make a real contribution to building the revolution, and can learn to take on more responsibility as they gain more experience and a deeper understanding.  The important thing is that they are part of the process of building the revolution, together with others.”

What does he mean by this being “a process?”  How would fundraising or hosting a film showing (or helping to spread word of that) fit into that?

** Where should we set up film showings or carry out fundraising?  What do you think about what How We Can Win says about who should be part of the revolution?  Why? 

** How can the discussion and engagement in those screenings be part of people wrangling with, and working on the problems of, the revolution, and why is that approach important?


The point is that everything we are doing, at all times, is part of making revolution—actively working, according to a strategic approach and plan, to move things, as fast as possible, toward the time when it will be possible for millions to fight all-out with a real chance to win.

Grasp Revolution, make plans and set goals.

Let's bring in 2019—building up the organized forces for revolution!




Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution

A speech by Bob Avakian
In two parts:


Watch it, spread it, fund it

Find out more about this speech—and get organized to spread it

Points of Attention for the Revolution

The Revolution Club upholds, lives by and fights for the following principles:


Get a free email subscription to




Revolution #575 December 24, 2018

You Can’t Change the World If You Don’t Know the BAsics

| Revolution Newspaper |



Every week, Revolution features one quote from BAsics, by Bob Avakian, the handbook for revolution. We encourage Revolution Clubs and other readers, everywhere, to take the time to discuss the quote—the whole quote—and to write us at with accounts of these discussions, or thoughts provoked in yourself by reading the quote.


Basics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian

"You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics."

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is a book of quotations and short essays that speaks powerfully to questions of revolution and human emancipation.

Order the book or download the book in ePub format HERE


Get a free email subscription to




Revolution #575 December 24, 2018

American Crime

Case #34: America's 1972 Christmas Bombing of North Vietnam

| Revolution Newspaper |


Bob Avakian has written that one of three things that has "to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this." (See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")

In that light, and in that spirit, "American Crime" is a regular feature of Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.



The Democratic Republic of Vietnam (called “North Vietnam” by the U.S.), its People’s Army, and the National Liberation Front (NLF) in South Vietnam had been waging a just people’s war for national liberation against the U.S. since 1961 (and before that the Vietnamese had been fighting the French colonialists).1 The U.S. had been bombing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the liberation fighters in the south since 1965, but its “Christmas bombing” in 1972 was the most intense and devastating air offensive of the entire war.

For 12 days, from December 18 to 29, U.S. round-the-clock bombing pounded and decimated North Vietnam’s densely populated capital city of Hanoi as well as its nearby seaport and industrial center of Haiphong. Especially targeted and destroyed were radio stations/transmitters, railroads, power plants, docks and shipyards, bridges, petroleum and munition storage depots, and airfields. Along with these targets, which affected North Vietnam’s logistical and war fighting capability, nearby provinces and villages were also bombed. This included bombing some dikes along the Red River delta to flood areas around Hanoi.2 Hospitals, civilian population centers (shopping streets, homes, housing complexes), factories, and diplomatic missions were destroyed as well. Eighty percent of North Vietnam’s electrical power production capacity was demolished.

The massive bombing campaign was code-named Operation Linebacker II. U.S. planes, including the massive, 159-foot-long B-52 bombers, which can carry 70,000 pounds of bombs, and F-111 fighters flew an average of 100 bombing runs a day, raining death and destruction on the Hanoi-Haiphong area day and night. One U.S. pilot casually bragged that “We took off one airplane a minute out of Guam for hours. Just on time takeoff after on time takeoff.”

A wing of Hanoi’s hospital was destroyed by B-52 bombers on December 22. It was North Vietnam’s largest medical facility and research center. Among the dead were 28 doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.

Dr. Nguyen Luan described the scene to Britain’s BBC news:

Cries and moans filled the dark night. We had to use knives, hammers and shovels to break through the concrete walls in order to get to the victims trapped inside. As a surgeon, I operate on people to save their lives. Now I was using my surgical knife not to save people but to cut apart the corpses in the bomb shelter so we could rescue those still alive.

On December 26, the day after Christmas, Hanoi’s large residential and shopping area of Kham Thien was flattened by nearly 100 tons of bombs dropped from B-52s, killing and wounding nearly 600 civilians and destroying 2,000 houses. One resident of the area recounted the horror:

Bombs struck a shelter accommodating 40 inhabitants. I found my wife dead, with only her upper torso left. The bombs pulverized my son, my brother and many others into the soil. Blood and pieces of shredded human flesh remain here and there.

On the evening that the bombings began on December 18, as 129 B-52s roared over Hanoi, 10-year-old Ha Mi watched her friend’s home blown up as she and her sister hid under the stairs of their own home, hearing the B-52 bombers overhead. “Advancing, they were looming, coming towards you with a very low hum. It’s frightening.”

The U.S. government claimed its B-52s dropped about 15,000 tons of bombs in 739 assaults, with another 5,000 tons dropped by other aircraft. However U.S. antiwar veterans’ publications estimated that more than 100,000 tons were dropped, with Hanoi hit by more than 40,000 tons of explosives in the 12 days—the explosive equivalent of the two atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during World War 2. The U.S. government claimed that 1,600 Vietnamese civilians were killed during the Christmas bombing,3 but Vietnamese sources estimate there were 2,300 civilian deaths—about 1,500 in Hanoi alone.

The U.S. declared Operation Linebacker II a big success even as it suffered heavy losses—in planes shot down and pilots captured and killed. While the official U.S. claim is that 11 B-52s were shot down and 11 other aircraft, Vietnamese sources have argued the toll on the U.S. Air Force was significantly greater: that the People’s Army of Vietnam (called the North Vietnamese Army—NVA—by the U.S.) had “...successfully gunned down 81 U.S. aircraft in just 11 days and nights.” America’s “Christmas Bombing” generated worldwide outrage and protests.

Representatives from Sweden and the Vatican compared the Christmas bombings to the kinds of atrocities carried out by the Nazis in WW2.


President Richard Nixon (1969-1974) ordered Operation Linebacker II, following the same logic that guided him in ordering an earlier bombing raid in 1972: “These bastards have never been bombed like they’re going to be bombed this time.” Nixon even told his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, that he wanted to use nuclear weapons against North Vietnam’s dikes, saying, “No, no, I’d rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that, Henry?” When Kissinger responded he thought that would “just be too much,” Nixon replied, “The nuclear bomb, does that bother you?... I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes.”

Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was a main architect and engineer of the Christmas bombings. He said B-52s were the weapon of choice in Operation Linebacker II because of their “ability to shake the mind and undermine the spirit.”

Presidential military aide General Alexander Haig, who helped plan the operation, argued the U.S. should “strike hard ... and keep on striking until the enemy’s will [is] broken.”

Generals John Dale Ryan, John W. Vogt, Jr., and John C. Meyer were the direct commanders of Linebacker II. The entire U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the pilots and other military personnel who took part in this war crime.

South Vietnam President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu (1967-1975) collaborated with U.S. imperialism against the national liberation struggle in Vietnam, including during the 1972 Christmas bombings.


The U.S. claimed the 1961-1975 Vietnam War was being fought to defend free and democratic South Vietnam from an invasion by communist North Vietnam. In 1972, the U.S. was negotiating with the North Vietnamese to bring what Nixon called an honorable end to the war. But when peace talks broke off on December 13, Nixon and Kissinger blamed the North Vietnamese, claiming they had “stalled” and walked out of the negotiations, and then also claimed that bombing them was the only way to force them back to the table and reach a real peace agreement.

Nixon instructed his aides to say the rationale for the Christmas bombing was that “We need to get across the point that the reason for the success of negotiations was the bombing and the converse point that we did not halt the bombing until we had the negotiations back on track.”


The war of liberation being fought by the Vietnamese people of North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front was part of a wave of anti-colonialist, national liberation struggles that swept Asia, Africa, and Latin America during the 1950s, ’60s, and into the ’70s. The U.S. imperialists were determined to crush these struggles and maintain or extend domination over and exploitation of these regions. America’s war in Vietnam was also aimed at encircling revolutionary China, led by Mao Zedong, and contending with the then-imperialist Soviet Union. According to estimates released by the Vietnamese government in 1995, two million Vietnamese civilians and one million soldiers were killed during the war.

The U.S. rulers knew by the mid-1960s that they could not win the war in Vietnam, even as they lied to the public about their great military progress. By the late 1960s, their war losses were mounting, and the war had spawned massive upheaval and protest against the U.S. around the world. By the early 1970s, the antiwar movement in the U.S. had also taken hold among America’s own troops—weakening their morale and fracturing their cohesion, discipline, and fighting ability. During the Christmas bombings, for the first time elite U.S. pilots reportedly rebelled by trashing officers clubs, making antiwar statements, and finding ways to opt out of flying missions. Many did this because they opposed or questioned the bombings; others did so out of a realistic fear of being shot down.

The U.S. rulers were also facing new challenges around the world, in particular from the Soviet Union. Formerly a socialist country, the Soviet Union had by that time restored capitalism and emerged as an an imperialist power, and the U.S.’s main global rival. The Soviets were backing the Vietnamese liberation fighters, and extending their reach around the globe, including by using national liberation struggles to expand their empire.

So the U.S. began withdrawing its troops and secretly began peace talks with the North Vietnamese in 1970, not simply to extricate themselves from Vietnam, but also to reposition themselves globally and take on the Soviet Union.

Those negotiations were near their end stage in December 1972, and the Christmas bombings were aimed at giving the U.S. greater leverage in the talks, crippling North Vietnam militarily, demoralizing the Vietnamese people and robbing them of their will to fight, and to take blood revenge against a people that had defied and defeated them. The U.S. sought to ensure the survival—at least for a period—of their reactionary clients in South Vietnam, and to be able to save face and credibility by claiming they’d achieved an “honorable” end to the war. And the U.S. bombings may well have been aimed at sending a message to the Soviet Union, revolutionary China, and the world, that despite their looming defeat in Vietnam, the U.S. retained both the military capacity and the political will to wreak enormous death and devastation.

The U.S. claimed Operation Linebacker II was a military success, and it may have had some impact on the final peace agreement signed in January 1973. But it didn’t fundamentally change the fact that the agreement mandated the U.S. withdraw all of its troops and advisers and dismantle all its bases in Vietnam. Nor did the Christmas bombings succeed in either destroying North Vietnam’s military or the will of the Vietnamese people to fight on. In April 1975, North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front finally overthrew the pro-U.S. government in the south, finally unified Vietnam, and inflicted a serious defeat on U.S. imperialism.


Vietnam Christmas Bombings: 1972 Mutiny of B-52 Crews,” Vietnam Veterans Against the War

North Vietnam, 1972: The Christmas bombing of Hanoi,” Rebecca Kesby, BBC World Service, December 24, 2012,

The Christmas bombings of Hanoi in retrospect,” Voice of Vietnam, December 29, 2007

Operation Linebacker II”; “Operation Linebacker”; “1972 in the Vietnam War, Wikipedia

The War Is Suddenly Grim for the B-52 Fliers on Guam,” Richard Halloran, December 30, 1972, New York Times

Why the B-52 Failed,” by David Bacon, January 11, 2016, Foreign Policy in Focus

The Vietnam War, a film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, Part 9 "A Disrespectful Loyalty" (May 1970-March 1973)



1. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam was founded in 1945 in northern Vietnam under the leadership of Hồ Chi Minh. However, since 1955, South Vietnam had been ruled by reactionaries beholden to the U.S. In 1960, the National Liberation Front, in alliance with North Vietnam, began a guerrilla war in South Vietnam to overthrow its reactionary rulers, drive out U.S. imperialism, and reunite all of Vietnam. [back]

2. The extent of damage to North Vietnam’s dikes is a subject of debate. It appears some dikes were hit during Operation Linebacker II, but the U.S. never carried out an all-out attack on the dikes, which Henry Kissinger estimated could have drowned 200,000 people. [back]

3. The Vietnam War, a film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, Part 9 "A Disrespectful Loyalty" (May 1970-March 1973) [back]


For 12 days, from December 18 to 29, 1972, U.S. round-the-clock bombing pounded and decimated North Vietnam's densely populated capital city of Hanoi as well as its nearby seaport and industrial center of Haiphong.

See also:

Case #96: Vietnam, March 16, 1968—the My Lai Massacre

THE CRIME: On Saturday morning, March 16, 1968, 100 soldiers from Charlie Company, U.S. Army Americal Division, entered and took over My Lai, a small hamlet in Vietnam’s countryside. “We met no resistance and I only saw three captured weapons.... It was just like any other Vietnamese village—old papa-sans, women and kids,” a soldier said. “The order we were given was to kill and destroy everything that was in the village,” another soldier later testified. Read more


Case #47: The Bombing of Cambodia, 1969-1973

THE CRIME: On the night of March 18, 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War, 60 U.S. B-52 bombers began raining explosives from the skies over Cambodia. A U.S. official said at the time “We had been told ... that those carpet bombing attacks by B-52s were totally devastating, that nothing could survive.”

Thus began America’s first campaign of saturation aerial bombing. It was called “Operation Menu” and for the next 14 months, a total of 3,800 airstrikes of B-52 and F-111 bombers dropped 108,823 tons of explosives on this Southeast Asian country less than half the size of California. Cambodia (and Laos) shared a border with Vietnam, and the Hồ Chí Minh trail (named after the North Vietnamese leader), a military and supply route for the Vietnamese liberation forces, ran through Cambodia. This highly effective military and logistical supply route, and the Vietnamese bases along it, were the main targets of the U.S. bombing. But these were not “surgical strikes”—wide swaths of the lush countryside were obliterated, and the U.S. bombed anything that moved. Read more

Hanoi, 1972, Carrying the dead and injured.


Get a free email subscription to




Revolution #575 December 24, 2018

American Crime

Case #33: The 1944 Lynching of 15-Year-Old Willie James Howard for Writing a Christmas Card to a White Girl

| Revolution Newspaper |


Bob Avakian has written that one of three things that has "to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this." (See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")

In that light, and in that spirit, "American Crime" is a regular feature of Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.



In December 1943, Willie James Howard, a 15-year-old Black youth, was in the 10th grade in Live Oak, Florida, and working at the local dime store. For Christmas, Willie James gave cards to all his co-workers, including a 15-year-old white girl named Cynthia Goff. He signed the card to Cynthia “with L.”

Apparently, Willie James heard that Cynthia was upset about receiving the card. On New Year’s Day, he delivered a second note to explain, saying, “I know you don’t think much of our kind but we don’t hate you all. We want to be your friends but you won’t let us... I wish this was [a] northern state. I guess you call me fresh. Write an[d] tell me what you think of me good or bad... I love your name. I love your voice, for a S.H. [sweetheart] you are my choice.”

Cynthia showed the note to her father, A. Phillip Goff, a former state legislator. On January 2, Goff and two other white men, S.B. McCullers and Reg H. Scott, drove up to Willie James Howard’s house. Willie’s father, James, had left for work at the lumber company. Willie’s mother, Lula, said in an affidavit she provided later that when her son came home, Goff grabbed him and ordered him to come along. According to Lula Howard, “I tried to pull him away, and also kept pleading and asking what Willie had done. By this time Mr. Goff had pulled a revolver out from somewhere on his person and leveled it at me. He dragged Willie out to the car, got in with the other white men, and drove off....”

The three white men with their young captive then drove to where Willie’s father, James Howard, was working and forced him into the car as well. Then Goff and his friends drove Willie James and his father to the banks of the Suwannee River. According to testimony that James Howard gave to an attorney later, Goff and others tied Willie’s hands and feet and forced him to stand at the edge of the water. Then the white men gave Willie a “choice”—be shot to death, or jump into the river. Willie, with his hands and feet bound, jumped into the cold waters of the Suwannee and drowned.

The next morning, the town’s Black undertaker was told by the sheriff to retrieve Willie James Howard’s body from the river. The body was immediately buried in an unmarked grave at the “coloreds only” Eastside Cemetery. Goff gave a statement to the sheriff denying he and his two friends had murdered the Black youth.

Fearing for their lives, James and Lula Howard and their family fled from Live Oak and moved to Orlando a few days after Willie James was lynched. A woman who was in Live Oak at the time recalled decades later, “We found out at school the next day. It was so scary, but that was in the 1940s. We thought the KKK were coming to get the rest of us.”

An attorney visiting Live Oak at the time heard about the lynching and brought it to the attention of the NAACP. The NAACP demanded that Florida Governor Spessard Holland open a full investigation.

The grand jury did not return any indictments against Goff and his accomplices. The U.S. Justice Department refused to intervene. No one was ever punished for the lynching of 15-year-old Willie James Howard.


A. Phillip Goff, a former Florida state legislator, S.B. McCullers, and Reg H. Scott, the three white men who carried out the lynching.

The Live Oak grand jury, which issued no indictments for the lynching of Willie James Howard.

Florida Governor Spessard Holland, who replied to NAACP’s demand for a full investigation into the lynching of Willie James Howard by sending them Goff’s denial of any responsibility and warning of “particular difficulties involved where there will be testimony of three white men and probably the girl against the testimony of one Negro man.”

U.S. Justice Department, which declined to act on demands for investigation and charges in the lynching of Willie James Howard.


Phillip Goff admitted he and his friends had taken Willie James and his father to the banks of the river and tied up the youth’s feet. He claimed they wanted the father to whip his son “for his misdeed,” writing the letter to Goff’s daughter. But, Goff said, the boy jumped into the river to avoid a whipping. In other words, this lyncher claimed that Willie James Howard had killed himself.


The lynching of Willie James Howard and thousands of others are part of the reality of American society. Even after literal slavery was ended through the Civil War, the horrors of oppression continued for Black people in new forms—and lynching and its effects were a certain concentration of what the masses of African-Americans faced. For decades under the overt segregation known as Jim Crow in the South, every Black person there faced the threat that at any time they could be brutally murdered for anything they did that might “offend” some white people—or for nothing at all except the color of their skin—and nothing would happen to their killers. This was a key way that white supremacy and the subjugation of Black people were enforced.

It is not just that the whites who carried out these lynchings were racist monsters. These murders and other atrocities were rooted in, and served to keep in place, a whole system in this country. This is a system that could not have existed without first slavery and then near-slavery of millions of Black people—a system with white supremacy built into its foundations. And segregation of and discrimination against Black and other oppressed people continue down to today, from jobs and education to housing, health care, and all parts of society—and this continues to be backed up by official and unofficial violence and brutality.

In Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, the Equal Justice Initiative documents over 4,000 lynchings of Black people between 1877 and 1950 in just 12 Southern states. This number represents only the number of known lynching deaths—many, perhaps even most, went unreported or were covered up.

The murder of 15-year-old Willie James Howard took place 11 years before the torture and lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till. Willie James was lynched by white men outraged at a Black youth writing a Christmas card to a white girl. Emmett was lynched by white men outraged at a Black youth whistling at a white woman.



* “Willie James Howard Lynching,” from the website for the PBS program Freedom Never Dies.

* “Willie James Howard,” Northeastern University School of Law Civil Rights and Restorative Project.

* “60 years later, a cry for justice in Fla. killing: Black teen who liked white girl was taken at gunpoint and drowned in Suwannee River,” by Audra D.S. Burch, Baltimore Sun,December 10, 2006.

* “Before Emmett Till’s Death, Willie James Howard, 15, Was Murdered in Fla,” by Tonyaa J. Weathersbee, The Root,August 29, 2015.

* “Episode 7: Christmas Lynchings,” The Color Line Murders podcast.

* “Three Christmas Day Lynchings,”

* Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, the Equal Justice Initiative.

* “Emmett Till and Lynchings, Past and Present,”, an excerpt from the 2003 talk, Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About, by Bob Avakian.



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

An excerpt from REVOLUTION: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About. Watch the whole talk at

Other Christmastime Lynchings

According to the website, there were more than 70 lynchings of Black people in the week of December 19 to 25, from 1877 to 1950. As the compiler of the list notes, this number is incomplete because of unreported lynchings and inadequate databases.

Among the lynchings that took place on Christmas Day itself are the following:

* 1901, Prairie Blossom, Texas—J.N. McClinton, a Black minister and farmer, shot to death on the doorway of his own home.

* 1906, Kemper County, Mississippi—After a police officer was killed shortly before Christmas, George Simpson, a Black man alleged to be the suspect, was lynched. A white mob then lynched Simpson’s two sons. The murders of Black people by the racist posses continued, including the lynching of Colvin Nicholson on Christmas, described by a newspaper account at the time as “one of the most brutal, which has occurred since the days of Reconstruction.”

* 1928, Jackson, Louisiana—In an alleged dispute over a hunting dog belonging to the owner of a plantation, a group of white men attacked the family of Bob Taylor, a Black tenant on the plantation. They murdered Taylor’s 15-year-old and 20-year-old daughters and wounded another daughter and their mother.


Get a free email subscription to




Revolution #575 December 24, 2018

American Crime

Case #32: The 1991 Persian Gulf War – “Operation Desert Storm”

| Revolution Newspaper |


Bob Avakian has written that one of three things that has "to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this." (See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")

In that light, and in that spirit, "American Crime" is a regular feature of Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.



From January 16 until February 27, 1991, the U.S. led a massive war of aggression, based on lies, against Iraq, a war which killed some 100,000 Iraqi soldiers, wounded another 300,000, and led to the deaths of 70,000 civilians by January 1992.

On August 2, Iraq’s army invaded and occupied the neighboring country of Kuwait, a U.S. ally. President George H.W. Bush denounced Iraq’s action as “unprovoked aggression” and declared that it “will not stand.” Over the next five months, the U.S. built a military coalition and deployed more than 500,000 American and 200,000 allied troops to the Persian Gulf. The U.S. and its allies pushed through UN Security Council resolutions demanding an Iraqi withdrawal and the imposition of punishing sanctions.

Throughout these months, Bush claimed that “America does not seek conflict.” Yet Bush and his team rejected Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s offers to leave Kuwait, and at least 11 other international proposals to head off a U.S. attack. Bush secretly told his cabinet, “We have to have a war.”1

Phase I: “Instant Thunder.” The U.S.-led war began on the night of January 16, 1991, five months after Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait, with an unprecedented bombing assault code named “Instant Thunder.” For the next 43 days and nights, U.S. and British bombs and missiles pummeled Iraq from above. Coalition warplanes flew 109,876 combat sorties and dropped some 250,000 weapons—6,000 a day. The 88,500 tons of bombs were the explosive equivalent of six atomic bombs dropped on a country the size of California.2

Coalition planes targeted Iraq’s leadership and government and its military facilities and forces. But they also targeted Iraq’s civilian economic and social infrastructure—a war crime. U.S. and British bombs and missiles destroyed 80 percent of Iraq’s oil and gas refineries, many of its telecommunications centers, more than 100 bridges,3 and 11 of Iraq’s 20 power-generating stations. By the war’s end, Iraq’s electrical generation had been slashed by 96 percent.

Without electricity, water couldn’t be pumped, sewage couldn’t be treated, hospitals couldn’t function, and Iraq’s drinking water system was soon “in or near collapse,” according to the World Health Organization.4 Iraqi deaths from the devastating combination of contaminated water and crippled medical care began to soar. The old and the very young were hit hardest.

It was estimated that by January 1992, some 70,000 Iraqi civilians had died due mainly to the destruction of water and power plants. This hidden slaughter would continue for over a decade, taking the lives of at least 500,000 Iraqi children, as the U.S. and its allies imposed crippling sanctions that prevented Iraq from repairing this damage.5

Phase II: the ground war. On February 24, at 4:00 am local time, the U.S. launched its ground war from Saudi Arabia, moving into Kuwait and then southern Iraq.

The next day, February 25, Iraq announced it was pulling out of Kuwait, and made clear it would accept any U.S. or UN terms in return for a ceasefire. That day U.S. forces used tanks with plows mounted on them to push tons of sand into the World War 1-style trenches Iraqi troops were fighting from and bury them—some while they were alive—as heavy machine gun fire was also directed into the trenches. “What you saw was a bunch of buried trenches with people’s arms and land [sic] things sticking out of them. For all I know, we could have killed thousands,” said the colonel in command.

The morning of February 26, Bush rejected Iraq’s offer and other pleas to end the fighting. That day Iraqi forces were retreating north from Kuwait City to Basra. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell ordered U.S. forces to “cut them off and then kill them.”

U.S. planes attacked both ends of the convoy, blocking off any escape, and for the next 48 hours coalition aircraft and ground forces attacked anything that moved. Thousands were slaughtered, and the six-lane “highway of death” was left littered with burnt-out vehicles and charred bodies. Many were noncombatants, just trying to escape. One U.S. soldier said it was like “a medieval hell.” The White House declared the dead to be “torturers, looters, and rapists.”

The London Observer called it “one of the most terrible harassments of a retreating army from the air in the history of warfare.” Only after the slaughter was complete did Bush declare a ceasefire, at midnight on February 27.

The Pentagon later estimated that 100,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed and 300,000 wounded during the war. Meanwhile, 147 U.S. soldiers were killed in combat, another 235 died of other causes, and 467 were wounded.6


President George H.W. Bush. Bush pulled together an international war coalition based on a campaign of deliberate lies and insisted in the face of global protests and peace initiatives that the U.S. wage war, and carry it out with maximum destruction.

Bush’s war council, the so-called “Gang of 8”: National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft and his deputy Robert Gates, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell, Vice President Dan Quayle, Secretary of State James Baker, and White House Chief of Staff John Sununu.

The U.S. military, in particular Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and Gen. Colin Powell, committed war crimes and waged what has been described as one of the most one-sided slaughters in history.

The United Nations. The UN Security Council (controlled by the world’s biggest powers) passed 12 resolutions against Iraq. The Bush administration saw these resolutions as its primary vehicle for building a war coalition and giving Desert Storm “a cloak of acceptability,” as Scowcroft put it.

The U.S.-led coalition of 28 countries that participated in one way or another in the U.S.-led and -controlled war on Iraq. These included—in various ways and to varying degrees—Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt.

The U.S. media. The U.S. media overwhelmingly cheered on the Gulf slaughter. They broadcast hours of footage selected by the Pentagon to present an image of a clean, surgical war, and refused to show pictures of Iraqi casualties, which were readily available in the Arab media.

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney had instituted a press blackout banning media from the front, and any dispatches were vetted by the military. “More than 150 reporters who participated in the Pentagon pool system failed to produce a single eyewitness account of the clash between 300,000 allied troops and an estimated 300,000 Iraqi troops,” Newsday’s Patrick Sloyan reported. “There was not one photograph, not a strip of film by pool members of a dead body—American or Iraqi.”7


The U.S. concocted “satellite intelligence” showing Iraqi troops massing on Saudi Arabia’s border, when there were none, to justify sending hundreds of thousands of troops to the Gulf. To whip up war fever, it had a young Kuwaiti woman testify that she’d seen Iraqi troops in Kuwait take babies out of incubators and left them “to die on the cold floor,” and then spread what she said through the media. The story was made up; the young woman was the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador to the U.S. The U.S. also claimed war had been forced upon it after its “months of constant and virtually endless diplomatic activity” had been “totally rebuffed” by Iraq.

Bush said the coalition air war was aimed at “Saddam’s vast military arsenal,” not civilians, and that the U.S. simply sought to remove Iraqi troops and restore the “legitimate government of Kuwait,” and force Iraq’s compliance with UN resolutions.

On January 16, as the air war began, Bush declared:

This is an historic moment. We have in this past year made great progress in ending the long era of conflict and cold war. We have before us the opportunity to forge for ourselves and for future generations a new world order—a world where the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations.


Control of the Middle East, with its vast petroleum reserves and location at the junction between Asia, Africa, and Europe, had been a key pillar of America’s global imperialist empire since the end of World War 2. That control had been exerted through U.S. bullying, threats, CIA coups, military assaults, and a network of regional “allies”—murderous U.S.-backed regimes including Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states like Kuwait. The Bush administration felt Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was intolerable because it represented a potential threat to these allies, this setup, and to America’s domination of the whole region.

But Bush and the U.S. rulers weren’t just focused on Kuwait and the Middle East—they had their eyes on the whole world. Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait was taking place when the Soviet Union was engulfed in crisis and its empire was breaking apart. The Soviets had been the U.S.’s main global rivals for decades and their “Cold War” conflict had brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation more than once.

Bush and his main adviser, Brent Scowcroft, realized that with their main rival imploding (the Soviet Union collapsed shortly after the Gulf War), they were at an historic turning point which they could seize to create “a new world order”—not of human emancipation but of unparalleled U.S. imperialist global domination.

This realization shaped how the Gulf War was fought.8 Bush and Scowcroft wrote, “In the first days of the crisis we had started self-consciously to view our actions as setting a precedent for the approaching post-Cold War world.” Scowcroft called the Gulf War “the bridge between the Cold War and the post-Cold War eras.”

This gave the U.S. rulers the freedom and the necessity to carry out this most direct, massive, and devastating U.S. military intervention in the region.

The U.S. rulers had backed, armed, and unleashed the Hussein regime to batter Iran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war9 and to some degree built up its military capacity—including enabling it to develop chemical and biological weapons. And in the immediate aftermath of that war, the U.S. continued to work with the Iraqi regime. But the U.S. had sharply clashed with Hussein’s regime in the 1970s, and still didn’t trust him. Hussein had longstanding ties with the Soviet Union, was not fully under the U.S. thumb, and had ambitions for Iraq in the region (including stated opposition to Israel and support for the Palestinian people) that clashed sharply with U.S. interests.

Hussein’s sudden takeover of Kuwait represented a threat for all those reasons, especially because Iraq now had a large army, chemical and biological weapons (thanks to the West), and was pursuing the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Allowing Hussein to negotiate his way out of Kuwait, as he immediately tried to do, with Iraq’s military in one piece, its political weight increased, and its weaker Gulf neighbors intimidated, could alter the regional balance of power and pose dangers for key U.S. clients like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and allies like Israel and Egypt.10

So removing the danger Iraq posed and solidifying America’s grip on the region and the world required war—to crush Iraq as a regional player and send a clear message of U.S. power and dominance—across the region and around the world.

Scowcroft called “destroying as much of the Iraqi military machine as possible” their “foremost” objective.11 And Air Force strategists admitted that bombing Iraq’s civilian infrastructure was part of a deliberate strategy to give the U.S. post-war “leverage” over Iraq by destroying “valuable facilities that Baghdad could not repair without foreign assistance.”

The U.S. rulers could not create their “new world order” with their military encumbered by the legacy of its defeat in Vietnam. So the Bush leadership worked to rebuild the confidence of the U.S. armed forces and public support for military action abroad. “This will not be another Vietnam,” Bush declared. This dictated a strategy of overwhelming force, minimal U.S. casualties, and quick victory. “A spectacular victory was required,” Powell said.

This, and overall U.S. objectives, necessitated a military strategy that made the Gulf War one of the most one-sided slaughters in history and insured that tens of thousands of civilians would be killed—many during the war and far more afterward.12 Chillingly, the U.S. also had some 600 nuclear weapons in the region and was prepared to use them if Iraq used chemical or biological weapons.

On August 8, days after Iraq invaded Kuwait, Bush declared the U.S. did not “seek to chart the destiny of other nations.” In reality the U.S. was seeking to violently “chart the destiny” not merely of nations, but of the whole world.

1. Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate (Simon & Schuster, 1999), p. 185, corroborated by George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft, A World Transformed (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), p. 463 [back]

2. The U.S.-led air war terrorized children: “I have a son 5 years old. During the air raid he was shaking, shivering, saying ‘Bush is coming, Bush is coming,’” one Iraqi said. Air Force Lt. General Charles A. Horner, who had overall command of the air war, called such psychological terror a “side benefit.”  [back]

3. Coalition warplanes hit roads, highways, railroads, hundreds of locomotives and boxcars full of goods, radio and television broadcasting stations, cement plants, and factories producing aluminum, textiles, electric cables, and medical supplies.  [back]

4. This destruction was compounded by U.S. attacks on plants making water purification chemicals such as chlorine.  [back]

5. U.S.-led forces fired 320 tons worth of DU (depleted uranium) munitions, generating tens of thousands of pounds of dust and debris that are both radioactive and toxic. They attacked Iraqi oil refineries and chemical weapons depots, which together with Iraq’s actions, triggered massive oil spills and released a toxic stew of chemical agents, pesticides, acid rain, soot, and smoke from burning oil wells into the atmosphere.  [back]

6. “Why U.S. casualties were low,” Dennis Cauchon, April 20, 2003, USA Today citing Department of Defense figures.  [back]

7. Some reporters did resist the Pentagon’s blackout. According to Sloyan, “More than 70 reporters were arrested, detained, threatened at gunpoint and literally chased from the front lines when they attempted to defy Pentagon rules.” In the end, all the press accounts of the highway of death came from reporters working outside the Pentagon pool.  [back]

8. Scowcroft later wrote: “The final collapse of Soviet power and the dissolution of its empire brought to a close the greatest transformation of the international system since World War I.” World Transformed.  [back]

9. The 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war was one of the wars since Vietnam with nearly a million people killed or wounded. It was launched by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, with a green light from the U.S., in order to weaken and possibly overthrow Iran’s new Islamic Republic, which had come to power in 1979. The U.S. armed both Iraq and Iran at different points, dragging out the war to weaken both countries, and thus contributing directly to the extent of the slaughter.  [back]

10. The U.S. “liberating” Kuwait meant restoring a despotic and decadent monarch ruling a country where a mere 3.5 percent of the population—literate male citizens over the age of 21—were allowed to vote, where nearly two-thirds of the pre-war population of 1.9 million were non-citizens who performed 80 percent of the labor, and where women were relegated to inferior, second-class status.  [back]

11. The day after Iraq’s invasion, Bush ordered the CIA to draft plans for overthrowing the Hussein regime through an “all-fronts effort to strangle the Iraqi economy, support anti-Saddam resistance groups inside or outside Iraq, and [to] look for alternative leaders in the military or anywhere in Iraqi society.”  [back]

12. Greenpeace called the U.S.-led Gulf War “the most efficient killing campaign ever executed by any military force.”  [back]

On February 25, 1992, Iraqi forces were retreating north from Kuwait City to Basra in a long convoy of tanks, personnel carriers, trucks, buses, and cars. U.S. planes attacked both ends of the convoy, blocking off any escape, and for the next 48 hours Coalition aircraft and ground forces attacked anything that moved along that strip of roadway. Thousands were slaughtered, and the six-lane "highway of death" was left littered with burnt-out vehicles and charred bodies. Above photo: AP. Below photo: Kenneth Jarecke


Get a free email subscription to




Revolution #575 December 24, 2018

American Crime

Case #31: Double Murder by Police in Chicago—on the Night After Christmas

| Revolution Newspaper |


Bob Avakian has written that one of three things that has "to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this." (See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")

In that light, and in that spirit, "American Crime" is a regular feature of Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.



On the night of December 26, 2015—the night after Christmas—Antonio LeGrier called 911 because his 19-year-old Black son, Quintonio, was struggling with mental health issues and his family wanted help. Antonio called Bettie Jones, a 55-year-old Black woman who lived downstairs, to alert her to his son’s situation and let her know to be on the lookout for the police.

Bettie’s daughter Latisha told reporters afterwards that her mother had gone to the door—presumably to let the cops in the building—and then Latisha heard shots. She rushed to the hall to find her mother and Quintonio lying there bleeding. As Latisha came to the doorway, the police threatened to shoot her as well. One bullet fired by the police went through the front door and through several rooms in Bettie Jones’ home.

According to the two cops, when they entered the lobby Quintonio was coming down the stairs from the second-story flat carrying an aluminum bat. The cops backed up, but Robert Rialmo—the cop who opened fire killing both Quintonio and Bettie—said Quintonio came at him swinging the bat, giving him no choice but to shoot Quintonio to save his own life. He claimed Bettie Jones was standing behind the youth and was shot “by accident.”

In a report issued in 2017, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) revealed that the killer—Robert Rialmo—and his partner had lied about key details justifying these deaths. They concluded that Rialmo’s shooting of both LeGrier and Jones were unjustified. No, Quintonio was not swinging the bat that Rialmo claimed gave him no choice but to shoot the youth. In fact, when Rialmo’s partner was first interviewed, he never mentioned the bat being swung. Added to this, it was found that Rialmo was nowhere near Quintonio when he opened fire. Witnesses, shell casings, and other evidence showed that Rialmo was standing outside the building, halfway between the stoop and the sidewalk, when he fired into the lobby, killing both LeGrier and Jones.

Quintonio LeGrier had been shot seven times, and Bettie Jones three times, in a hail of police bullets inside the lobby of a two-flat (a two-unit apartment building) on Chicago’s West Side. It was Latisha, not the cops, who stayed with Quintonio and her mom, checking their pulse and making sure they were still breathing. It took the ambulance half an hour to arrive. Latisha said when they got there, the ambulance attendants “just dragged” her mother and Quintonio out of the house and down the steps to the waiting wheeled stretchers. Both Bettie and Quintonio died at the hospital.

Antonio LeGrier filed a wrongful death lawsuit two days after his son and Bettie LeGrier were shot and killed by police. No charges were brought by Chicago prosecutors against Rialmo for the killing of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones.

People in the neighborhood were furious and talked about how this happens way too often. One person commented, “They used to do it with a noose but now they do it with a gun and a badge.” One guy compared “how they do us” to slavery days. One of Quintonio’s friends at Northern Illinois University said, “Police are killing innocent children. People are being killed and it’s not right.” And Latisha said, “They tell me to be calm but there ain’t no being calm! They killed my mama!”

Quintonio LeGrier had graduated with honors from Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy and was studying electrical engineering at Northern Illinois University. Friends remembered Quintonio as being especially good at math and how he helped them with their homework. He was always smiling and cracking jokes. Quintonio was an avid runner and was part of a team of students who ran the 2013 Chicago Marathon to raise money for clean drinking water for African children.

Bettie Jones had five children. Her niece described her as “a lively spirit” who loved Smokey Robinson and step dancing. She had been fighting ovarian cancer, and was working on the assembly line at Alpha Baking. Latisha and her mother had plans to have a mother-daughter day together before Bettie was murdered by the police.

A Crime on Top of a Crime

Two months after the double murder, in February 2016, the attorney for the killer cop Robert Rialmo filed a lawsuit against the estate of Quintonio LeGrier—on the grounds of “assault and emotional distress”—to the cop! He said in justification, “Something that bothers Officer Rialmo and myself about the way this is going is the family filed the lawsuit [for wrongful death] before the funeral. It seems like people believe now that if you have a family member killed by a police officer it’s the functional equivalent of winning the lottery.”

On top of this, in mid-December 2017, Chicago city attorneys went to federal court for permission to sue the LeGrier estate as well! According to their logic, Quintonio was responsible for Bettie Jones’ death as well as his own, so his estate should pay any damages the city owed to the Jones family. When word of this became public, there was such outrage the city quickly backtracked and stopped pursuing the suit. Quintonio’s mother said the city just keeps pouring salt into her wounds.

It was just two weeks later that COPA issued its report, described above, which revealed that Rialmo and his partner had lied about their lives being in danger to justify the killing of Quintonio and Bettie. The Chicago prosecutors had access to all of this evidence against Rialmo when they made their decision not to prosecute him. And there was no prosecution of Rialmo after the COPA report was released.


Robert Rialmo and his partner, Anthony LaPalermo. Rialmo was the cop who shot and killed Quintonio LeGrier  and Bettie Jones, and LaPalermo backed up his lies to justify it.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson was Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked choice to be police superintendent. This was shortly before the double murder, amid the public outrage after the video of the police murder of Laquan McDonald was made public. Emanuel hoped that putting a Black cop in charge would quell criticism of the department, whose reputation for brutality is infamous. But Johnson disagreed with COPA’s recommendation that Rialmo be fired, saying his actions were “justified and within department policy.” This shouldn’t have been a surprise; Johnson’s record shows that he repeatedly approved police shootings, or ignored allegations of excessive force in case after case over years in positions of authority: Rekia Boyd, Dakota Bright, Niko Husband, Christian Green, and many more. And he has been involved in some of the most notorious recent police killings and scandals. Johnson came to Rialmo’s defense, calling for his exoneration despite the COPA report concluding that the killing was unjustified.

Chicago Police Department, or CPD—the second-largest police force in the country after New York’s—has a long and sordid history of shooting and murdering people with complete impunity. In 2017, the Department of Justice investigated the CPD after the uproar over McDonald’s murder and cover-up. They reported a police “pattern of unlawful force” and that “the failure to review and investigate officer use of force has helped create a culture in which officers expect to use force and not be questioned about the need for or propriety of that use.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago city government, over and over and over again, have protected the police, with prosecutors refusing repeatedly to charge cops for murdering Black and Latino youths, and pretending ignorance (really, ignore-ance) of the “code of silence,” which enables cops to cover for other cops who commit murder.


The excuse the cops used for this double murder was the one that is used over and over again—that they believed their lives were in danger. And despite the fact that in this case it was shown that their justification for these killings was based on lies, no charges were brought by the prosecutors. There is a constantly repeated refrain in this country: “Police officers stand as the thin blue line that protects society from evil and chaos.” From that perspective, if a disproportionate number of those killed by police are Black and Brown—Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones, Rekia Boyd, Laquan McDonald, and hundreds more—and even if the killing is unjustified, people are trained to think: “Well, yes, that looks bad, but we have to keep in mind that the police have a difficult and dangerous job, and there are a lot of cops who are killed in the line of duty, too.”


The real motive behind this double murder, and the ongoing crimes of covering up and justifying the wanton police killing, predominately of Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans, especially youths, goes to the actual role of the police in this society overall. As Bob Avakian 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)

In this society, whose origins are rooted in slavery and genocide, white supremacy is sewn into its fabric. The wanton murders of the most oppressed in this society—the murders they carry out without being provoked—are an essential part of their job. Because the more arbitrary these murders seem, the more broadly they deliver the message that no one is safe, everyone among the oppressed and exploited in this society has a target on their back.


The number of police shootings in Chicago has averaged one every week over years. Statistics compiled by the Guardian (UK) show there were 435 police shootings in Chicago from 2010 through 2015. Cops killed 92 people and wounded 170. The newspaper’s findings showed that about four out of every five people shot were African-American males.

Besides police murders, there have been repeated discoveries of organized operations by the police where torture and brutality were carried out systematically. In 2015, the Guardian wrote about the “black site” at Chicago’s Homan Square, supposedly a police-evidence storage facility, where people detained by the police, disproportionately Black and Latino, were taken “off the record.” (See “Homan Square: Chicago Police Dept.’s Continuing Criminal Enterprise” at People were tortured, some forced to make false confessions. Many disappeared for days and lawyers and families could not find where they had been taken while police “questioned” them.

Before this there was the years-long Burge torture scandal. Under Chicago police commander Jon Burge, many people were subjected to unbelievable cruelty, including electric shocks to their genitals. Burge was protected from prosecution for this torture until the statute of limitations ran out—and then only did minor time for perjury. He collected a pension for the rest of his life, which funded his retirement in Florida. Other cops involved in the torture with Burge are still on the force.

Chicago is not the exception; rather it is a concentration of what continues to go on all over this country.

Quintonio LeGrier

Bettie Jones

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.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:24

“How Long?! How Many More Times Do The Tears Have To Flow?”

A clip from BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian given in 2012. Watch the whole talk at


Get a free email subscription to




Revolution #575 December 24, 2018

American Crime

Case #30: Israel’s U.S.-Armed and -Backed Massacre in Gaza (2008-2009)

| Revolution Newspaper |


Bob Avakian has written that one of three things that has "to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this." (See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")

In that light, and in that spirit, "American Crime" is a regular feature of Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.



From December 27, 2008 to January 19, 2009, Israel, backed by the U.S., brutally and viciously attacked the Palestinian people in Gaza—a Palestinian territory on a small strip of land 25 miles long and five miles wide on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Egypt on the south and Israel on the east and north. Overwhelmingly, the Palestinian people in Gaza were driven from their homes in what is now Israel. The violent expulsion of the Palestinians from their homeland was most ferocious during the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe) in 1948.1 Israel has kept more than 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza with no way out. (See the Revolution/ special issue, Bastion of Enlightenment…or Enforcer for Imperialism: The Case of Israel.)

The number of Palestinians killed during the 24-day assault, which Israel called “Operation Cast Lead,” has been estimated to be between 1,166 and 1,417,2 including 844 civilians, 281 of them children.3 More than 3,000 were injured during the invasion.4

The attack that initiated the slaughter was launched on a Saturday, shortly before noon, when most people would be in the streets. The Israelis used U.S.-supplied F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters to attack all of Gaza’s main towns, including Gaza City, Khan Younis, and Rafah, striking more than 210 targets in the first 24 hours.5 On that day, at least 225 to 230 Palestinians were killed and more than 700 injured. It was the deadliest one-day death toll in 60 years of conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinian people call that day “The Massacre of Black Saturday.”6,7

During the first seven days, Israel pounded Gaza with bombs, artillery, and mortar shells, as Israelis sat on the hills of Sderot watching the mass carnage in Gaza below.8

Then on January 3, Israel launched a land invasion, sending thousands of troops into Gaza with tanks, armored personnel carriers, and artillery divisions.

Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert said this was “all-out war against the civilian population of Gaza,” and he said he hardly saw a military casualty among the hundreds of Palestinian bodies.9 The International Committee of the Red Cross discovered small children next to their mothers’ corpses and called the situation a “full blown humanitarian crisis.”10

Forty-two Palestinians were killed and another 55 wounded in a single attack on a United Nations school that was sheltering Palestinians who had been forced to flee their homes. Doctors said all of the victims were civilians, including many children. The Guardian reported that this “appears to be the biggest single loss of life of the campaign when Israeli bombs hit al-Fakhora school, in Jabaliya refugee camp, while it was packed with hundreds of people who had fled the fighting.” According to the Guardian, “Most of those killed were in the school playground and in the street, and the dead and injured lay in pools of blood. Pictures on Palestinian TV showed walls heavily marked by shrapnel and bloodstains, and shoes and shredded clothes scattered on the ground. Windows were blown out.”11

On January 19, when Israel knew a ceasefire was only hours away, they continued their assault, killing 54, including 43 unarmed civilians, 17 of them children in the last hours of the invasion.12

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report said that the Israeli military “repeatedly exploded white phosphorus munitions in the air over populated areas, killing and injuring civilians, and damaging civilian structures, including a school, a market, a humanitarian aid warehouse and a hospital.” This violated international laws of war. The HRW report pointed out, “The dangers posed by white phosphorus13 to civilians were well-known to Israeli commanders, who have used the munition for many years. According to a medical report prepared during the hostilities by the ministry of health, ‘[w]hite phosphorus can cause serious injury and death when it comes into contact with the skin, is inhaled or is swallowed.’ The report states that burns on less than 10 percent of the body can be fatal because of damage to the liver, kidneys and heart.” The white phosphorus shells were made in America.

It was estimated that the Israeli assault destroyed up to 60 percent of the agriculture industry in Gaza, and that “13,000 families who depend directly on herding, farming … have suffered significant damage.”14 Ahmad Sourani, director of the Agricultural Development Association of Gaza, said,” What we have seen in large areas of farmland is the destruction of all means of life.” Peter Beaumont of the Observer reported that most of Gaza’s agriculture infrastructure was destroyed. The Ministry of Agriculture was targeted, the agriculture faculty at al-Azhar University in Beit Hanoun was largely destroyed, and the offices of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees in Zaitoun, which provides cheap food for the poor, was ransacked and vandalized by soldiers who left abusive graffiti.”15

The Israelis attacked and destroyed science and educational institutions. They destroyed al-Da’wa College for Humanities in Rafah and the Gaza College for Security Sciences. Six university buildings in Gaza were totally destroyed and another 16 damaged. Two buildings that housed the science and engineering laboratories of the Islamic University in Gaza were demolished. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza City that contained tons of emergency food and medicine was destroyed. Two floors of the al-Quds hospital were destroyed and the hospital set on fire. The fishing industry in Gaza was targeted where “Gaza’s 40,000 fishermen have been deprived of their livelihood.”16

The death and destruction in Gaza was overwhelming:

In total, more than 20,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Nothing was left untouched by the Israelis—schools, shelters, businesses, roads, and bridges.17,18

The Aftermath

Following the war, there was an increase of children born with birth defects. The number of blood cancer cases doubled, and Norwegian medics found traces of depleted uranium, a radioactive and genotoxic material used in some types of munitions, in some Gaza residents who were wounded. Soil samples showed that there were areas that contained up to 75 tons of depleted uranium.19

One year after the war ended, 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza remained displaced.20

In September 2009, a UN special mission, headed by South African Justice Richard Goldstone, produced a report that accused Israel of “serious violations of international humanitarian law,” war crimes and crimes against humanity, and recommended bringing those responsible to justice.21

After the war, Israel, with the collaboration of Egypt and support of the Obama administration, imposed a draconian blockade that kept essential medical, construction, and food supplies from reaching Gaza. Israel even attacked civilian relief boats in international waters—murdering five people on one of them, the Mavi Marmara—in 2010, an act the Obama administration refused to condemn.22


President George W. Bush and his administration (2001-2009): On May 15, 2008, President George W. Bush, in a speech to the Israeli Knesset on the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel, said, “The alliance between our governments is unbreakable.” In referring to Israel’s struggle with the Palestinians, he said, “…we applaud the courageous choices Israeli’s leaders have made. We also believe that nations have a right to defend themselves and that no nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction.”23 Less than a month later and six months prior to the attack on Gaza, Israel began planning the war.

The main weapons (F-16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles, and a wide array of munitions) used in the Gaza Massacre were supplied to Israel by the Bush administration.24

The Bush administration blocked a UN vote for an immediate ceasefire the day the invasion started. Further, the U.S. voted against a UN treaty in December 2008 to regulate arms trade, and a resolution on “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”25

The Democratic Party-controlled 2008 Congress: Since the mid-1960s, Israel has served as a base, and an enforcer, for U.S. imperialism in the Middle East and beyond. By 2008, when the position of the U.S. atop a world of exploitation and oppression was being challenged and under stress from many directions, the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel was seen as all the more critical by the U.S. rulers—both Republicans and Democrats.

The Democratic Party-controlled U.S. Senate and House passed near unanimous resolutions giving full support to Israel and upholding its “inalienable right to defend against attacks from Gaza.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “We support the state of Israel, very strongly as a national policy, because it is in our national interest to do so.”26 Jerrold Nadler, a leading Democratic House member, said, “Israel has commendably made strenuous efforts to minimize harm to civilians, while Hamas has needlessly imperiled innocent Palestinians in Gaza.”27 A year later, top Democratic senator Chuck Schumer said, “[Y]ou have to force them [the Palestinians] to say Israel is here to stay” and “ strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense.”28

U.S. government and U.S. military: In their 2008-2009 assault on Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces made use of M-92 and M-84 “dumb bombs,” Paveway II and JDAM guided “smart bombs,” AH-64 Apache attack helicopters equipped with AGM-114 Hellfire guided missiles, M141 “bunker defeat” munitions, and special weapons like M825A1 155mm white phosphorous munitions—all supplied as American foreign aid. Israel is also allowed to spend 25 percent of military funding from the U.S. on weapons made by its own weapons industry.29

From 1949-2018, the U.S. has provided Israel with $135 billion in aid, with $95 billion being military aid. The George W. Bush administration supported Israel with $21 billion during its eight years, $19 billion of that going for military aid.30

Candidate and then President Barack Obama: When Barack Obama was running for president, he repeatedly made his support for Israel crystal clear. On July 23, 2008, standing in front of a local police station in Sderot, Israel, just a few miles from Gaza, Obama said, “If someone was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”31

In October 2009, the Obama administration blocked the Goldstone Report from reaching the International Criminal Court in order to stop any legal proceedings against Israel for the war crimes it committed against the people of Gaza that are documented in the report.32 And, as noted earlier, Obama backed the vicious blockade Israel and Egypt imposed on Gaza after the war.

The Israeli government: Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister and former prime minister, said the military operation in Gaza would expand and deepen as necessary. He said, “There is a time for calm and a time for fighting, and this is the time for fighting.... Right now, we have to hit Hamas hard.... I don’t see any other way for Hamas to change its behavior. Hamas is not just a terrorist organization. It actually rules Gaza.”33 Barak said that this was going to be a “war to the bitter end.”34


Israel claimed that they launched the all-out assault on Gaza because rockets had been fired from Gaza into Israel. Those rockets were in response to Israel’s earlier attack on Gaza that killed seven Palestinians. That attack by Israel broke a six-month ceasefire. Israel excused that attack by saying they found a tunnel between Gaza and Israel.35,36

The officially stated Israeli goal of Operation Cast Lead was “to diminish the security threat to residents of southern Israel by steeply reducing rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, weakening Hamas, and restoring Israel’s deterrence.”37


The Goldstone Report stated, “the (Israeli) operations were in furtherance of an overall policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population for its resilience and for its apparent support for Hamas, and possibly with the intent of forcing a change in such support ... that what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”38

“Wars” between Israel and Gaza are actually one-sided slaughters. Israel and its apologists defend the massacres by invoking rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel. This is an obscene pretext that denies the extreme one-sidedness of the death and devastation, and masks the real and fundamental factors involved, starting with the violent dispossession of the Palestinian people from their land.

The Palestinian people in the West Bank, in Gaza, within the borders of Israel, and in diaspora around the world have never stopped resisting being driven from their homeland, being dehumanized, and being subjected to genocide. And from its inception, Israel has dealt with that resistance through death, torture, and terror. That ongoing genocidal violence frames the specific situation in Gaza today.

In 2007, the Islamic fundamentalist organization Hamas gained political control in Gaza. Hamas and the trend it is part of are reactionary, based on a draconian interpretation of Islam. Nevertheless, the rise of Hamas posed a serious threat to Israel, including creating openings for the Islamic Republic of Iran—which the U.S. and Israel see as the top threat to their interests in the Middle East—to expand its influence in the region.

For the rulers of the U.S. in 2008 (and this is, if anything, even more true now), there was no ally like Israel in a region of the world critical to maintaining its position atop a planet of exploitation and oppression. The U.S. does pursue alliances with other countries in this region—Saudi Arabia and Egypt, for example. But the situation in those countries is much more unstable, and public opinion is much more inclined to identify with the Palestinian people. In contrast, that is not the case (at this point, at least) in Israel. Israel fills a role for the interests of the U.S. empire that no other ally in the region can. And this is, essentially, why the U.S. backed the massacre of the people of Gaza in 2008, and the ongoing crimes Israel commits against the Palestinian people.


1. Israeli historian Ilan Pappé carefully documented this in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, citing first-hand sources written by Zionists who established Israel and carried out the ethnic cleansing on which it is based.  [back]

2. “Gaza War (2008-2009),” Wikipedia.  [back]

3. Gaza In Crisis, Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappé, edited by Frank Barat, Haymarket Books, 2010, p. 94.  [back]

4. Chomsky and Pappé, p. 95.  [back]

5. “Israel Unleashes a Massacre in Gaza,”, December 29, 2008.  [back]

6. “Gaza War (2008-2009),” Wikipedia.  [back]

7. To read more about that first day, see “Israel Unleashes a Massacre in Gaza,” at  [back]

8. “Israelis Watch the Fighting in Gaza From a Hilly Vantage Point,” Charles Levinson, Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2009.  [back]

9. Chomsky and Pappé, p. 93.  [back]

10. “Gaza Children Found With Mothers’ Corpses,” Alan Cowell, New York Times, January 9, 2009.  [back]

11. “Gaza’s day of carnage-40 dead as Israelis bomb two UN schools,” Chris McGreal and Hazem Balousha, Guardian, January 9, 2009.  [back]

12. Chomsky and Pappé, p. 94.  [back]

13. White phosphorus ignites and burns on contact with oxygen, and continues burning at up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (816 degrees Celsius) until nothing is left or the oxygen supply is cut. When white phosphorus comes into contact with skin it creates intense and persistent burns. (See “Israel,” Human Rights Watch News, March 25, 2009.)  [back]

14. “Gaza desperately short of food after Israel destroys farmland,” the Guardian, January 31, 2009.  [back]

15. “Gaza desperately short of food after Israel destroys farmland”  [back]

16. Chomsky and Pappé, pp. 105, 108.  [back]

17. “What was the 2008 Gaza war?”  [back]

18. “Effects of the Gaza War,” Wikipedia.  [back]

19. “Gaza War (2008-2009),” Wikipedia.  [back]

20. “What was the 2008 Gaza War?”  [back]

21. “Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories,” September 25, 2009, UN General Assembly, aka Goldstone Report. (The report also cites some violations by the Palestinians. If true, they are miniscule compared to the egregious violations committed by the Israelis.)  [back]

22. “From A World to Win News Service: U.S. to Israel after the Gaza ship massacre: keep up the killing,”, October 10, 2010.  [back]

23. Address of US President George Bush to the Knesset, May 15, 2008  [back]

24. “U.S. Arms Transfer and Security Assistance to Israel,” William D. Hartung and Frida Berrigan, World Policy Institute Report, May 6, 2002. (Several sources, including Wikipedia and the Guardian, report that the F-16 fighter jets made by General Dynamics and the AH-64 Apache helicopters made by Boeing, were the main weapons used during this war. The above report chronicles all the weapons—fighter planes, helicopters, missiles, rifles, grenade launchers, 50-caliber machine guns, and ammunition—supplied to Israel by the U.S.)  [back]

25. Chomsky and Pappé, pp. 92, 94.  [back]

26. “US Senate supports Israel’s Gaza incursion,” Reuters, January 8, 2009.  [back]

27. “The Democrats on Israel,” Adriana Kojeve, January 22, 2009, Counterpunch.  [back]

28. “Schumer Says It ‘Makes Sense’ To ‘Strangle [Gaza] Economically’ Until It Votes The Way Israel Wants,” Zaid Jilani,, June 11, 2010.  [back]

29. “Washington’s Military Aid to Israel,” Chase Madar, Huffington Post, February 10, 2104.  [back]

30. “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel: Total Aid,” Jewish Virtual Library.  [back]

31. Times of Israel blog.  [back]

32. “U.S. to block Goldstone Gaza referral to ICC,” Laura Rozen, Politico, September 23, 2009.  [back]

33. “Israelis Say Strikes Against Hamas Will Continue,” Taghreed El-Khodary and Ethan Bronnerdec, New York Times, December 27, 2008.  [back]

34. “War Over Gaza,” New York Times editorial, December 29, 2008.  [back]

35. “US to block Goldstone Gaza referral to ICC.”  [back]

36. “US to block Goldstone Gaza referral to ICC.”  [back]

37. “Israel and Hamas: Conflict in Gaza (2008-2009),” US Congressional Research Service Report, February 19, 2009.  [back]

38. “Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories,” September 25, 2009, UN General Assembly, aka Goldstone Report, pp. 406, 408.  [back]

Palestinian family escaping the bombing in Southern Gaza Strip, 2008. Photo: AP

Israeli bombs strike Gaza Strip, 2008. Photo: AP

Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution

A speech by Bob Avakian
In two parts:


Watch it, spread it, fund it

Find out more about this speech—and get organized to spread it »


Get a free email subscription to