Reporter’s Notebook

Taking the Revolution to Where Things Are Hottest



Right when the Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour was starting in Los Angeles, we got word that the District Attorney in Sacramento and the California Attorney General had decided not to charge the pigs who gunned down Stephon Clark last year in his grandmother’s backyard. This came right after six pigs in Vallejo, California, executed Willie McCoy in a hail of 25 bullets while he was sleeping in his car in a Taco Bell drive-through.

We had just come to LA from all over the country to launch this historic tour, to spread this revolution and its leadership everywhere, up against all the bullshit “solutions” that are no solution, and to recruit thousands of new people into the revolution. But we couldn’t stand aside from what was happening in Sacramento and Vallejo. Police murder after murder after murder of Black and Brown people, and the racist justification that these pigs “feared for their lives,” concentrate so much about this country and why we need a revolution.

It was really important—especially at this time when there is way too much silence on this—that people in Sacramento and Vallejo didn’t just accept these cold-blooded killings, that people have expressed their outrage and protested in defiant ways. This captured national attention. At the same time, we know that the oppression of Black and Brown people is systemic, that this system cannot be reformed, and that police murder will go on and on and on… until this system is overthrown. So we were determined that Stephon Clark and Willie McCoy would not just be more hashtags on an endless list, and that we would put real revolution on the map in Sacramento and Vallejo. As the Revolution Club, Los Angeles, statement on Stephon Clark said:

Ask yourself: Are we going to protest for days or weeks and then allow our anger to be corralled and swept into the killing confines of this system that shows us over and over again that you can’t vote this shit away or tweak some law that will somehow make pigs stop killing our youth? Will another 50 years go by until it’s our grandkids dying outside of our doorsteps and all we can do is cry while the murdering pigs who killed them stand over their bodies “getting their stories straight”? Fuck that!

“Let’s get down to basics: We need a revolution. Anything else, in the final analysis, is bullshit.
—Bob Avakian, leader of the revolution

In making the decision about whether or not to head up to Sacramento and Vallejo, it was crucial to base ourselves on the reality of police terror against Black and Brown people as a key concentration of social contradictions under this system—and the revolutionary potential represented by all those affected by it, and all those sickened by it, if as HOW WE CAN WIN says, this is “transformed, through struggle, into revolutionary understanding, determination, and organization”—and not base ourselves on the strengths/weaknesses of the existing movement against police brutality.

Related to this, we had to take into account the current political situation. On the one hand, you have the fascist Trump/Pence regime unleashing open white supremacy and encouraging the pigs to be even more brutal. And on the other hand, you have the Democrats who have no solution to the conditions that this system has created for masses of Black people, besides putting forward more diverse faces to continue the status quo of mass incarceration and 1,000 killings by police every year.

This was on full display in the Stephon Clark case, as our article on the Crossroads in Sacramento pointed out, with the Republican DA and the Democratic Attorney General Xavier Becerra both coming to the same conclusion that the pigs who killed Stephon were justified. And the pathetic reform that these California Democrats are putting forward in order to funnel people’s anger back into the system, Assembly Bill 392, would do nothing to change that. At a time when the Democrats are trying to be all diverse and “woke” for the 2020 election while refusing to confront Trump’s white supremacist fascism, an uncontrollable outbreak of real struggle against police murder, connected up with the leadership we have to put an end to the system that causes it, is something these lying politicians really don’t want to see!

So while it was important for the majority of the tour to get started in LA, four of us got in a car and hit the road from LA to Northern California!

Part 1: On the Road

It was a beautiful day as we drove over the Grapevine (the mountains between LA and Bakersfield) and into the Central Valley. The hills are extra green right now cuz it’s been such a wet spring, and they’re alive with wildflowers. As we drove past all the farms and orchards in the Central Valley, which provide a lot of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts for the whole country, we reflected on the conditions of the workers, the toxic pesticides and fertilizers people are exposed to, and the high asthma rates. We talked about how irrational and environmentally destructive agriculture is under capitalism, where what is grown and how it is grown is all determined by the competitive chase for the highest profit. For example, one of the big cash crops in California right now is almonds, which are mostly produced for the world market. But these trees require a huge amount of water, even during droughts, which have been getting worse in recent years. And there are the horrific conditions of animals under capitalism, which we thought about as we drove by the Harris Ranch feedlot on Interstate 5, where thousands of cows are packed tightly together awaiting slaughter.

Long road trips, besides being a good time to relax and listen to music, are also a great opportunity to talk about deeper questions. So we took the time to get more into the strategy for revolution developed by Bob Avakian, and reground ourselves in why we were going on this trip. We read out loud the beginning of chapter 3 of THE NEW COMMUNISM, on “The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution.” While we had all read this before, in reading it again with fresh eyes, it really jumped out at us how different this is from the (non-revolutionary) approach of trying to unite with the movement and be the best fighters against injustice, and on that basis bringing some revolution to people. Bob Avakian lays out a whole strategic approach that starts first of all from what would be required to win an actual revolution and how we work today with those challenges in mind. For example, he speaks to the “encirclement and suppression” problem and poses the question: “How do we transform the situation so that, when the time comes, it’s not going to be the case that they can easily contain this revolution to those sections of the people that they’d, frankly, just as soon kill off anyway…”

One of the main things we grappled with is the concept that BA lays out of “hastening while awaiting.” There are many factors involved in getting to a revolutionary situation. It’s not just a matter of the revolutionaries having the will power to make it happen. There is the overall situation in society and the world which is setting the stage, and there are all these different forces acting on that stage from their own perspectives and class interests. For example, in Sacramento you not only have the pigs murdering people, which caused the masses to be “jolted” into political life, you have Republicans and Democrats responding to that, you have operatives for the system like Al Sharpton swooping in, you have “community leaders” preaching about reconciliation and “healing,” you even have a lot of activists talking about “revolution” when they really just mean protest and change within the system. But none of this will go anywhere good if we’re not hastening things as far as possible toward revolution.

In discussing this, comparing and contrasting it with how we had acted in these types of situations in the past, we came to a deeper appreciation of the need to step to people straight up with revolution and the leadership we have for revolution in BA. And this requires disturbing the air, challenging all the false paths and mental shackles holding people back, and stirring up controversy. And through doing that, we were determined to attract and organize those people who really are looking for away out of this madness, who want to want to put a STOP for real—not only to this nightmare of police terror but to all forms of oppression, so we’re not here generations from now protesting the same shit and worse.

Part 2: Day 1 in Sacramento: Lines Get Drawn, People Step Forward and Things Get Hot... in a Supermarket Parking Lot

[The following was originally posted at a few weeks ago.]

After briefly stopping at the infamous state capitol building to record a message from the tour, the spot we ended up at was a strip mall near the neighborhood where the pigs murdered Stephon Clark that many of the people in the area frequented. There were a number of commercial businesses and a major supermarket in a larger shopping plaza, and there was a major passageway that much of the traffic had to go through to get to the stores there. We started off at the busiest intersection with some chanting and speaking about revolution and the murder of Stephon Clark. With our banner barely unfurled, after just a little while of being there, a man from mall security came in to try to shut us down. He threatened us, ripped up one of the signs with pictures of Stephon Clark and Willie McCoy (another victim of police murder in nearby Vallejo), and was putting hands on the people with the Revolution Club, including jabbing one comrade in the throat with his walkie-talkie before trying to choke the comrade with his hands. Not only did we refuse to be backed off by this wannabe pig, but a situation opened up where people began to come to our aid, pull up their cars and yell at this guy, recording him and catching him in the act, and there were people who came to stand with the revcoms. This was important because people got a clear sense of what side we were on and the question of where you were going to stand was posed very sharply. The security guy had ripped the sign with Stephon Clark’s and Willie McCoy’s faces on it and was openly attacking the message we were bringing forward, which we made clear in both the agitation and chanting we were doing.

A middle-age white woman who had initially been in her car recording when this wannabe pig was coming at us, yelled at him to stop putting his hands on us, before this wannabe pig turned to her and called her a bitch and threatened to beat her if she got out of the car. Moments later, she got out of her car and came over to further record him and see how we were doing. While we were talking to her, she said, “I’m here with my daughter, and I’m not someone who does all this, I am usually just in my church, but wrong is wrong. It’s wrong to put your hands on someone, and [tears began to come to her eyes and she pointed to the signs of Stephon Clark and others murdered by police] it’s wrong to shoot someone, and what happened to all these people is just... WRONG.”

Another person who stopped to stand with us was a young Black man who had just gotten off work from the nearby supermarket when he saw us being attacked and decided he had to step in. He was engaging with the message we were bringing about the need for people to get organized for revolution, with real doubts and questions about whether people could really come together to do something like that, including himself who he said is caught up in having to work like a slave. He didn’t just stand with us against the wannabe pig; after engaging with what the revolution was bringing people, he felt compelled to join in on the spot and worked with us to get out the statement to the cars coming through, and by the time he was leaving he was working on how to join us both to impact the upcoming protest on the anniversary of the murder of Stephon Clark, and to come together afterwards to watch the film of BA’s speech, as well as helping to get out materials to let other people know and bring them into this.

Before long, it wasn’t just the wannabe pig trying to intimidate and drive out the revolution, but the actual pigs, who showed up in force. They made some announcements and tried to back us off, but were not able to and eventually had to back off for various reasons, including the fact that people came to stand with us and that the authorities are on somewhat the defensive politically after being rocked by the protests against the murder of Stephon Clark and the refusal to bring charges against the cops who killed him. Throughout this whole back-and-forth with the pigs and wannabe pig, many people were drawn into finding out what we were saying and some even connected up and took materials to spread the word, but at this point most of the traffic was in cars, and many of the people we reached were rolling down their windows and reaching out for material, raising fists, and honking in support. So we decided we were just getting started.

We seized on the opening we had made and took to marching around the area and toward the major supermarket, going through the parking lot chanting with our visuals and banner. The six of us coming through, representing as a serious force, had an electrifying effect throughout the shopping area. We set up near the front entrance to the supermarket where we were able to speak to many more people on the bullhorn, and had a number of one-on-one engagements. Many of the people we reached were Black and Latino, some white, and mostly working class. In speaking to people en masse, we brought out not just exposure of the system and the murder of Stephon Clark, but also fought to really bring alive that there is leadership that people have in BA and that we were there to recruit people to get with the strategy for revolution that he has brought forward, and to begin acting on that strategy. We fought to give people a basic understanding of why having this leadership in BA is a real strength that people have if we’re going to really make revolution to end all oppression. We drew from HOW WE CAN WIN in posing how this goes against the lying politicians, those who front for the system and preach reconciliation, and dead-end solutions and reforms that won’t end a damn thing. We put to people that while the struggle that has taken place right here is important, this needs to be transformed into revolutionary understanding, determination, and organization. And, importantly, that means we’re here to recruit YOU, and that this was being done throughout the country with this national Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour.

Of the engagements we had with people, this included a woman who was part of the Black Student Union at her college and had been part of the protests in the city, and who live-streamed about 10 minutes of our agitation on Facebook. It included a guy who read closely the Points of Attention for the Revolution, commenting on how he really likes the point about breaking all the chains, and how women, men, and differently gendered people are equals and comrades. And it included a young white woman who responded to hearing about the strategy for revolution and the need to bring forward people now who could prepare for and lead an actual overthrow when the time is right by saying “I want to be a leader.”

It seemed to us that many of the people we interacted with here were people who didn’t find it too hard to agree with us that anything short of revolution was ultimately bullshit. But this does pose questions about how to involve and organize in an ongoing way those who have now been initially drawn toward the revolution, and how they can be part of meaningful ways to have an impact and contribute to making revolution. With everyone we talked to, we emphasized the importance of coming to the screening of BA’s speech that we set up for the next Tuesday in Sacramento, and also joining our contingent at the Stephon Clark march on Monday. We got out hundreds of copies of the Revolution Club statement about Stephon Clark with the Points of Attention for the Revolution on the back, and a number of people took stacks of them to get out to others.

One thing we did not do well at was putting to people the need for funds and fundraising as an important way to do that. But we do know getting people together in the coming days to further spread the word throughout the city, and to come together to watch BA’s speech, will be important markers and ways to go to work on this problem.

Coming next week: Sunday in Vallejo

“You Think You’re Woke...
But You’re Sleepwalking Through A Nightmare —

This System Cannot Be Reformed, It Must Be Overthrown!”

The Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour

Read about the Tour stepping up and stepping out »

Read the Call to the Tour »

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Revolution Club Bay Area @RevClub_bay Mar 16
Here in Sacramento! 52 yrs after the Black Panthers were on these same Capitol steps & the pigs are STILL getting away with murder. #StephonClark

Revolution Club at the State Capitol in Sacramento

Presenting the Lifetime Fire Extinguisher Award to Al Sharpton at Sacramento, CA State Capitol

Points of Attention for the Revolution

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

1. We base ourselves on and strive to represent the highest interests of humanity: revolution and communism. We do not tolerate using the revolution for personal gain.

2. We fight for a world where ALL the chains are broken. Women, men, and differently gendered people are equals and comrades. We do not tolerate physically or verbally abusing women or treating them as sexual objects, nor do we tolerate insults or “jokes” about people’s gender or sexual orientation.

3. We fight for a world without borders, and for equality among different peoples, cultures and languages. We do not tolerate insults, “jokes” or derogatory names about a person’s race, nationality, or language.

4. We stand with the most oppressed and never lose sight of their potential to emancipate humanity—nor of our responsibility to lead them to do that. We work to win people of all backgrounds to take part in the revolution, and do not tolerate revenge among the people.

5. We search for and fight for the truth no matter how unpopular, even as we listen to and learn from the observations, insights and criticisms of others.

6. We are going for an actual overthrow of this system and a whole better way beyond the destructive, vicious conflicts of today between the people. Because we are serious, at this stage we do not initiate violence and we oppose all violence against the people and among the people.


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