Rhode Islanders fight to stop eviction

first_imgWW photo: Bill BatemanThe Rhode Island Tenants and Homeowners Association and Rhode Island Peoples Assembly rallied at the home of Joann Manning in Providence on June 28 and July 7 to protest her family’s impending eviction by Midfirst Bank. Supporters say Manning’s family has been robbed of their home through foreclosure, but she wants her family to be able to stay in their home by paying rent. The bank owns the house and is trying to sell it for such an obscene amount that no one has purchased it, and it will sit vacant if the family gets evicted.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Continue reading

Central Park Five settlement finalized

first_imgPhoto from a leaflet for an Oct. 29, 2012, protest for the Five.“This is now the icing on the cake,” said Raymond Santana, one of the Central Park Five. “My whole life has been about fighting this case. … Back in 1989, our voices were taken from us and we were silenced, and now, to have it back, to stand up tall and to take what’s rightfully ours, it’s our humanity. … Finally … we can just exhale and we can relax and then enjoy the moment of this victory. … It’s overwhelming. It’s still sometimes unbelievable.” (ny1.com, Sept. 5)Nearly 12 years after filing their lawsuit against the city of New York and its police department for racially motivated violations of their civil rights, false arrest, malicious prosecution, wrongful conviction and imprisonment, the settlement of the Central Park Five case was approved by Judge Ronald Ellis on Sept. 5 in the amount of $41 million.The amount represents $1 million for each year that Santana, Kharey Wise, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson and Yusef Salaam served in prison. They served between 7 and 13 years. Then teens, the five are now men in their 30s and 40s.In June, Mayor Bill de Blasio officially settled the notorious “Central Park Jogger” case, and the comptroller approved the awarded monies. On Sept. 5, de Blasio stated, “This settlement is an act of justice for those five men that is long overdue. We can finally put this case behind us, and these five men and their families can begin to heal these wounds and move forward.”The Central Park Five, as they became known, were five innocent Black and Latino youths, ages 14 to 16, who were arrested April 1989 for the rape of a white woman in Central Park. They were convicted and imprisoned the following year. In 2002, they were exonerated when Matias Reyes, who was in prison for a different crime, confessed to the rape and his DNA matched evidence from the victim.In 2007, Mayor Michael Bloomberg filed a motion to dismiss the five’s lawsuit, which a federal judge denied. However, the settlement agreement included exceptionally strong wording by the city’s Corporation Counsel that the settlement is not to be construed as an admission of any wrongdoing by the police detectives or the district attorney’s prosecutors, past or present. This followed vicious courtroom attacks on the five by city lawyers during the years of litigation.On Sept. 9, Michael Tarif Warren, a lawyer for the five, stated that “even though the corporation counsel is implying that with investigators and prosecutors such as Elizabeth Lederer and Linda Fairstein, there was no malfeasance, the fact that this $41 million is the highest settlement that the city has ever engaged in for wrongful conviction completely refutes his assertions.” (Amsterdam News, Sept. 11)Supporters of the five say Lederer and Fairstein conspired with the police to railroad the teens, the two have profited hugely from this case, and they must be held accountable. That has led to calls for an investigation into how the case was handled.In the article Salaam said, “It is all overwhelming and bitter sweet. … We are all still trying to process what I call a sort of victory. I’m glad the battle is over, but I know the damage done isn’t covered by the amount we were awarded. No amount can replace the loss of freedom, justice and equality. … There was nothing allocated to address the pain and suffering our families went through.”Salaam added his concern for Black communities, saying that “we are far too often the ones at the end of the stake, roasted over the coals to satisfy the sadistic nature of the sick presence of institutionalized racism.”What happened to the teens was a legal lynching, leav­ing the five with the indelible scars of being labeled criminals. The damage done is irreparable, and justice so long delayed is equivalent to justice denied, the five say.The will to win and the tenacity of the men, their families and the community to never give up kept the case alive in people’s minds and hearts during the past 25 years. Even small victories are important.There’ll be more challenges ahead for the Central Park Five. The struggle continues.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Continue reading

Berkeley, Calif., community rallies to save Post Office

first_imgBerkeley, Calif., Dec. 6: Stopping raid and saving P.O.WW photo: Judy GreenspanBerkeley, Calif. — At noon on Dec. 6, more than 150 people gathered on the steps of the main Berkeley Post Office to demand that this historic building not be sold. Supporters sang “We Shall Not Be Moved” for an infomercial that organizers hope “will go viral.”The protest marked the longest occupation of the Berkeley Post Office, which has lasted over 40 days. A local group of homeless activists called “First They Came for the Homeless” has led the effort to occupy the area outside the building.This group had previously set up a protest encampment outside the local Staples store. Staples has forced its low-paid, non-union workers to perform U.S. Postal Service jobs, thereby aiding the closure of U.S. post offices. Every Staples store has a USPS sign in its window and contains a mailing station similar to those at the post office. Encampment organizers say Staples aids the union-busting efforts to privatize the USPS. Through its information booth, the encampment is fighting to “Save the Public Commons,” which includes the public services of the USPS.Local organizer and Berkeley attorney Moni Law announced at the rally that Hudson McDonald, one of the largest developers in Berkeley, had recently backed out of an earlier commitment to purchase and develop the main Berkeley Post Office. Law challenged the crowd to continue its efforts to stop all attempts to close the historic building.Dave Welsh, a retired postal worker, singer and activist, talked about the importance of the continued occupation of the post office. “On Thursday, December 4, we received word that the encampment was being raided by the postal police inspectors. We brought a large group down to support the encampment. The tents were confiscated but the information booth remains.”Welsh described some victories in the national campaign to Save the People’s Post Office. He credited the success in stopping the closure of the Berkeley Post Office to the strong support of the local community.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Continue reading

Emergency appeal from the Baltimore People’s Power Assembly

first_imgDemand Justice for Freddie Grey! Indict, Convict & Jail Killer Police!AMNESTY FOR ALL JAILED YOUTHPhoto : Richard ReillyApproximately 350 people have been arrested in Baltimore stemming from the April 24 protests that spilled into the night both in downtown Baltimore and at the Western District Police Station. Police donned riot gear and charged into young protesters in both places. In the neighborhood where Freddie Grey was murdered, police chased youth, clubbed people and formed phalanxes that swept the streets.We have yet to find out the extent of the charges that many of these youth are being held on. Legal support is being organized and youth are slowly being released. At this moment, many remain in jail.Solidarity with arrested youth critical!It is most important that we stand in solidarity with these young people and that we demand amnesty and their release from jail.The anger, pent-up frustration and rage that many people across this country have witnessed on their television screens is based on decades of racist abuse and neglect in communities all across Baltimore.It is about police terror. It is also about unemployment and low wages, decaying housing and lack of services. Just two weeks prior to Grey’s murder, the city announced water shutoffs to 25,000 households.The Baltimore People’s Power Assembly, which has been organizing against police terror for many years, has heard first-hand accounts from youths as young as 12 years old who have been handcuffed and driven around in police cruisers, terrorized and then released. Women have spoken to us about sexual assaults by police. Beatings and shakedowns are common.Freddie Grey is not the first victim of police murder in this mostly Black city. His name is added to a long list of victims: Tyrone West, Darin Hutchins, Anthony Anderson, George King, Maurice Johnson and many others.We cannot allow the city, police or media to divide us. We cannot equate property damage with the loss of human life. Freddie Grey cannot be brought back to his family or friends; a window can be repaired.‘Outside agitators’: a diversionThe Baltimore People’s Power Assembly, whose organizers have lived in this city for decades, welcome all those who want to come to Baltimore in solidarity with the people. We understand that police terror and structural racism is a national problem and that it is not confined just to our city.The Baltimore Police Department and mayor have used the “outside agitator” card to distract attention from the real issue of indicting, convicting and jailing the six police officers who killed Freddie Grey. If the mayor is indeed worried about “outsiders,” then get the cops out of the community, the majority of whom do not live in the city and who constitute a virtual occupation army. We say, tell Gov. Hogan to withdraw the state police, whom he has deployed.Please call the mayor, police commissioner and state’s attorney to demand:Justice for Freddie Grey — indict, convict and jail killer police.In this crucial hour, we demand full amnesty for all arrestees, their release from jail, and an end to police repression and arrests.For those who would like to contribute to the struggle for justice, we have set up two Paypal accounts:One is for general protest expenses, which include flyers, posters, banners, food, water and other supplies: tinyurl.com/BaltoProtestFundAnd a special legal defense fund: tinyurl.com/BaltoLegalFund2011 Charles St.Baltimore, MD 21218443-221-3775Please note that the Baltimore Peoples Assembly is using the spelling “Grey” in respect of Freddie Carlos Grey, who spelled his name with an “e”, and the many friends and family in the community who have confirmed this.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Continue reading

Ferguson: State of emergency called after anniversary protests

first_imgAug. 10 — The city of Ferguson, Mo., is under a state of emergency the day after Black youth fought back against the police during a march near the site of Michael Brown’s killing.August 9 was the one-year anniversary of the racist, cold-blooded killing of the African-American teenager by white cop Darren Wilson. Despite the facts, a grand jury found “no cause” to charge Wilson with any crime, and a federal review found that Wilson “acted lawfully” when he shot and killed the unarmed 18-year-old. A rebellion against racism and racist police terror erupted in Ferguson in the aftermath of Brown’s killing and spurred solidarity across the U.S.Commemorative vigils and marches on Aug. 8 and 9 to remember Brown and say “Black lives matter” were set for Ferguson, New York and other cities around the United States.St. Louis County authorities imposed a state of emergency today after Sunday night’s protest in Ferguson, where gunshots erupted during the march and volleys were exchanged with police. When the gunfire began, cops in riot gear were trying to disperse protesters who were blocking traffic and allegedly smashing storefront windows on a street where part of last year’s rebellion took place.Police and politicians called the protesters and those involved with the shootings “criminals” and said “two groups of agitators” started the gunfire. When cops in an unmarked car came on the scene, the alleged “gunman” purportedly defended himself and shot at police. Tyrone Harris was then critically wounded by plainclothes cops. Police said more than 40 rounds had been fired, but not by whom. (reuters.com, Aug. 10)Karen Harris said her nephew Tyrone attended the protests because he and Brown were friends. She said Tyrone was not carrying a gun and had not fired at police. He was “running for his life” like everyone else when the gunfire began. (cnn.com, Aug. 10)As the County Executive announced the state of emergency, a demonstration of hundreds of people was taking place, marching from Christ Church Cathedral to the federal building in downtown St. Louis. Protesters raised a banner, held up by two helium balloons, which read: “Racism Still Lives Here #FIGHTBACK.” Cops arrested 56 people outside the U.S. courthouse, according to stltoday.com. (Aug. 10)FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Continue reading

As long as police war exists, Black Lives Matter struggle will not go away

first_imgThe ongoing racist war against Black and Brown people, especially youth, continues to take center stage across the U.S. Even the upcoming presidential campaign cannot escape the justified widespread anger of young people who are the main targets of police terror.  Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democratic presidential candidate, was prevented from speaking for at least 10 minutes during a campaign rally on Oct. 30 in Atlanta, when several demonstrators disrupted her speech with chants of “Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!” Clinton was forced to interject, “Yes, Black Lives do matter” during her talk. Bernie Sanders, another Democratic candidate, has also been confronted by BLM protesters on his campaign trail.  James Earl Rivera, another young victim of police, holding baby.The disruption in Atlanta came four days after a horrific development that made national and international news. That is the violent attack on an African-American teenage woman by a white male deputy in a Spring Valley High School classroom in Columbia, S.C.  Video footage of this attack, captured by students with camera cell phones, went viral on Twitter and other forms of social media. Ben Fields, the police officer, is shown grabbing the young woman around her neck, flipping her backwards out of her seat, throwing her on the floor and then tossing her across the room. She had to be hospitalized. The “excuse” for attacking this teenager was that she was being “defiant” in not putting away her cell phone when the teacher asked her to.The footage also shows some of her predominantly Black classmates covering their eyes, indicating that they did not escape the trauma of seeing their classmate being physically assaulted. Rockland Sheriff Leon Lott fired Fields on Oct. 28 for “violating department policy.” The firing of the deputy, while substantiating the criminality of this act, is not enough. Fields should have been immediately arrested, charged and indicted for this heinous act. However, this particular assault cannot be viewed within a vacuum.  These kinds of assaults on young people — including those as young as 4 years old — by armed police are occurring on a daily basis, as is mass incarceration. The militarization of the schools, especially in oppressed and working-class areas, is an extension of the police occupation of whole communities.  There is a growing chorus in the Black Lives Matter movement and among their supporters to demand that police get out of the schools and that they be disarmed. The police are the criminals, not youth of color.    Thabo Sefolosha sues NYPDThabo Sefolosha, the 31-year-old professional basketball forward with the Atlanta Hawks, announced on Oct. 26 his plans to file a $50 million lawsuit against the New York Police Department. Sefolosha was recently acquitted of all charges by the NYPD following a vicious attack on him and former Hawks player, Pero Antic, outside of a Manhattan night club last April.  Sefolosha, a Black man of South African descent, was charged with disorderly conduct for trying to defend himself against several white police officers, who broke his leg. He missed participating in the playoffs due to the injury. The attack on Sefolosha was caught on video camera.   New York City prosecutors attempted to convince Sefolosha to take a plea bargain in order to settle out of court, as they tried to play down the NYPD’s sordid role and force Sefolosha to admit some semblance of guilt.  Sefolosha, to his credit, decided to have a jury trial. The jurors quickly acquitted him of all phony charges, totally clearing his name. The charges against Antic, who is white, were also dropped.Sefolosha has made clear that the motivation for his lawsuit is to make a strong statement that no one should have to go through what he experienced — which millions of people of color do — when he was subjected to police misconduct and brutality. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Continue reading

Protesters demand stop to sheriff-ICE lovefest

first_imgAs part of an ongoing campaign against Alameda County Sheriff Gregory J. Ahern, and in support of the struggle against deportations, Workers World Party held a picket line in front of Glen Dyer Jail in downtown Oakland, Calif., on Monday, April 17, demanding Ahern stop cooperating with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.Ahern not only continues to cooperate with ICE by notifying them about prisoner releases, but he is also the head of the California Sheriffs’ Association, which promotes the same practices. He even signed a letter as the head of its political action committee to support the nomination of arch-racist Jeff Sessions for U.S. attorney general.Organizers vow to keep the pressure on Ahern to stop cooperating with ICE. This demonstration was held on the same day that the Caravan Against Fear held a protest against Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Continue reading

Class struggle, not tariffs, will save jobs

first_imgBuckets of steel pipes waiting to be loaded onto a cargo ship.Donald Trump on March 8 signed proclamations that impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel as well as a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum. He tweeted, “Trade wars are good and easy to win.” He claims the tariffs will protect jobs in those industries.It would have been appropriate to have his buddy and “adviser,” tycoon Carl Icahn, standing behind him. Icahn raked in a cool $30 million by selling some of his stock in steel-hungry Manitowoc, a construction crane maker, a week before Trump’s tariffs were announced. The stock’s new owners might lose from the higher steel costs to Manitowoc. It’s doubtful that the Trump regime will investigate this as a clear case of insider trading.But demagogue that he is, Trump knew that having a fellow billionaire present would have signaled that his tariffs are aimed at helping only the owners. U.S. workers have lost more than 60,000 steel jobs since 2010 from changes in technology that increase productivity, not from competition with foreign workers.So instead of Icahn, Trump lined up a dozen or so steelworkers, decked out in jeans and hard hats, to witness the signing. Both AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and United Steelworkers President Leo Gerard applauded Trump’s move. Gerard said, “Trump was able to see the steelworkers’ agenda.”Trumka told the press: “We need to protect our industry from cheating. That is what these tariffs can do. We’re excited about it and we think it is good for the country but we think it is good for the industry.” (cnsnews.com, March 9)The two union leaders both attacked China, accusing that country of “overproducing” steel and aluminum. China ranks only ninth in steel imports to the U.S. and fourth in aluminum.Most of Wall Street opposes Trump’s new tariffs. Many of their economists predict that far more other jobs will be lost than steel jobs saved. Of course, these wizards of high finance don’t care about workers any more than Trump does, but they are concerned that Trump’s tariffs may disrupt their carefully crafted global network designed to force subsidiaries to pay the lowest wages to their workers to win supplier contracts. If Trump’s measures touch off a trade war, that might lower their profit margins.Thus, the Council on Foreign Relations estimates that 40,000 auto jobs will be lost due to the price hike for steel. The Associated General Contractors of America states that 30,000 construction jobs could be lost because of Trump’s tariffs. The Trade Partnership think tank estimates that for the 30,000 jobs that Trump’s tariffs might save, 150,000 other jobs will be lost. (qz.com, Mar. 5)Impact on working classHow should the working class view Trump’s tariffs? Should we line up behind the anti-worker, pro-corporate bigot-in-chief to “protect” the steel industry?In 2013, U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi began a cost-cutting, “streamlining” program called the “Carnegie Way,” named after Andrew Carnegie, the founder of the steel company. The billionaire Carnegie, along with his goon Henry Clay Frick, locked out unionized workers in 1892 at the Homestead factory in Pennsylvania. Frick brought in dozens of mercenary Pinkerton agents, who shot down at least 16 workers as they threw out the union from the plant then.Workers at U.S. Steel’s Gary Works plant have discovered that the company’s “Carnegie Way” plan has lived down to its name. Frank Bokodi, who has worked at Gary Works for three years, said that while USS “‘reported losses totaling hundreds of millions of dollars translating into zero profit-sharing and a horrible union contract with no raises in pay and major concessions by the USW [Steelworkers union] for its members, … Longhi has collected tens of millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses, yes bonuses for hundreds of millions in losses.’” (Northwest Indiana Times, May 10)Should workers “protect” the bosses at Allegheny Technologies, who locked out 2,200 USW members in 2014? For seven months the company waged war on its workers with security guards and scabs, trying to force a concession-filled contract. But the workers won that long struggle.The largest steel producer in the U.S. is the Nucor Corporation, with more than 200 facilities and more than $16 billion. There is no union at Nucor, and all of its plants are in “right to work” states, which means anti-union states where the workers have the right to work for less pay. In the blast furnace steel factories, it takes some 10 human-hours to produce a ton of steel. At the electric-furnace Nucor factory, that same ton of steel can be made from recycled materials in 0.4 human-hours, that is, one worker produces the same there as 25 do in a blast-furnace plant. Most of the Nucor plants’ floors are packed with automated machines.It’s the shift from worker-intensive unionized blast furnace steel plants to highly automated, nonunion electric furnace factories that robbed thousands of USW members of their jobs, not foreign workers.George W. Bush imposed a 30 percent tariff on steel for 13 months in 2002. The result? Studies indicate that 200,000 workers lost their jobs because of the higher steel price, with a loss of $4 billion in wages. (tradeparnership.com, Feb. 4, 2003)In a socialist society, automation and trade should be good for workers, with each advance reducing the backbreaking labor necessary to produce the commodities that the people need. But under capitalism and imperialism, the bosses use these as weapons to drive down our wages. For the last 40 years, they have waged a relentless campaign to destroy our unions.After adjusting for inflation, wages are only 10 percent higher in 2017 than they were in 1973, with annual real wage growth just below 0.2 percent. (brookings.edu) Meanwhile, productivity grew more than 70 percent. (epi.org) Union membership for “private sector” workers is 6.5 per cent, the lowest rate since 1932.Union leadership can and should do everything they can to save good-paying jobs and benefits. But supporting Boss Trump in blaming U.S. workers’ plight on foreign workers, while calling for tariff “protection” of the steel industry, won’t save workers’ jobs.What will? The same things that have always worked for working people: solidarity with workers and oppressed here and abroad and struggle against the bosses.Fry is a former steelworker and autoworker, union steward, bargaining committee person and strike vice chairperson.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Continue reading

The fight against white supremacy & for solidarity in the U.S. South

first_imgThe Sixth International Assembly of the International League of People’s Struggles took place in Hong Kong June 23-26. Founded in 2001, ILPS is a coalition of more than 200 anti-imperialist mass organizations from around the world that “promotes, supports and develops the struggles of the peoples of the world, including the workers, peasants, women, youth, professionals and other sectors of society against the ideological, political, military, economic, social and cultural domination and attacks of imperialism and reaction.” Loan Tran, who attended as a representative of the International Action Center, spoke at the assembly. Tran’s remarks, slightly edited, are presented below. For more information about ILPS, see ilps.info.The U.S. SouthI would like to focus specifically on the context of the U.S. South, with the understanding that the United States of AmeriKKKa is a prison house of nations. The whole of the U.S. is stolen and colonized Indigenous land. The South in particular was where the land was then toiled and developed for ruling-class profit by stolen, enslaved Africans at the start of the 17th century and Black sharecroppers by the mid-19th century. Today, Black workers, along with more and more migrant workers from Latin America and the Caribbean, make up a significant portion of the labor force in the South as low-wage farm workers, fast food workers, domestic workers, city workers and incarcerated workers — whom we can also consider as part of what has developed as “surplus labor.”It should come as no surprise that the South is the least unionized region of the country, where most states have made unionizing illegal. Still, many workers are able to organize through workers’ assemblies — such as the Southern Workers Assembly — and “social unions” in order to lift up demands for workers and oppressed people.The South is also home to at least one-third of the population of LGBTQ people in the country, a majority of whom are also Black, Brown and Indigenous. LGBTQ people of color and LGBTQ workers face additional layers of challenges, not just in the workplace — if we are able to find work — but also within the movement, where marginalization of LGBTQ people often continues. That indicates the continued need to update whom we see as the “working class.”In 2016, in North Carolina, a state law was passed criminalizing transgender people’s ability to access public facilities. The law also included preemptive measures preventing local city governments from setting minimum wage standards for contract workers; the law also made the process more difficult for workers to file lawsuits charging discrimination, without having to take it to the state level. The marrying of transphobia and homophobia to the attacks on labor and workers’ rights is a classic divide-and-conquer strategy. We saw this strategy duplicated in states across the South in the months that followed.  We often find the South characterized as inherently backwards, but on a very subjective basis. The material reality facing workers and oppressed people in the South includes public institutions that have been severely disinvested in, leaving working-class communities with little or no access to education, job programs, health care and more. Racism and reactionary movements didn’t originate in the South because workers and oppressed people are less educated or inherently bigots; racism and reactionary movements get seeded in the South because it is an effective staging and containment ground for the ruling class in the U.S. and around the globe.North Carolina, for example, is home to Fort Bragg, one of the largest military bases in the world. All along the southern coast, working people live with military bases right in their backyards and are surrounded by military propaganda and recruitment efforts that largely target poor, working-class Black and Brown people. The military is presented as a viable option for economic security when the reality is that we have young people — new workers — who are left with very few options. The capitalist ruling class is then either building an army of surplus labor by holding oppressed people in cages or is building a literal army of surplus labor tasked with bombing and killing people in the Global South. It is often both.It would be remiss of me not to speak briefly to the questions surrounding white workers and the growing debate within the revolutionary movement regarding whether or not any revolutionary potential exists in the U.S. The argument is often made that, no, this is not possible because all workers in the U.S. are settlers. At a very preliminary starting point, I want to argue that we must question this, considering Indigenous people are still fighting for their land, more and more people from the Global South are being forced north by U.S. imperialism, and Black people continue to be subject to slave-like conditions in the U.S.This is just one of many contradictions that exist for the working-class movement in the U.S., and we must continue to seek out the best line that allows more class solidarity within the U.S. and with anti-imperialist struggles across the globe. As materialists, we are tasked with organizing within the conditions as they exist. A key feature of the struggle in the U.S. is that we are contending with a multinational working class whose histories have developed side by side and often been a target of divide-and-conquer strategies — separating white workers from Black and migrant workers, and so on. There is much work to be done to clarify the common enemy and to build the organizing skills of the oppressed masses in order for there to be a movement capable of defeating racism and winning socialism.The struggle against white supremacyWith this context in mind, the struggle against white supremacy is central to the class struggle being waged by workers and the oppressed in the U.S. It’s not just that one cannot happen without the other; it’s that, especially in the case of the U.S., these struggles are one and the same.There are some concrete examples from recent years I would like to lift up. I would like to make a nod to the fervent efforts throughout the 1930s into the 1960s and 1970s, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement, where communists, and Black communists in particular, were waging revolutionary struggle to build unions, Black-white worker solidarity, and of course beating back racist segregation efforts, confronting the Ku Klux Klan and police alike — who were and are merely evolutions of slave patrols.In 2016, following the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old Black father in Charlotte, N.C. — the masses poured into the streets under the banner of Black Lives Matter — which really took off with the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014. Charlotte is the third-largest banking city in the U.S., behind New York and San Francisco. It is home to headquarters for major banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo, which in the 1980s and ‘90s made most of their  money off predatory mortgages to Black homebuyers. Charlotte is often called the “Wall Street of the South.”When the masses poured into the streets for Keith Lamont Scott, Charlotte became the first southern city where a major rebellion against police terror took place. This in and of itself is significant. What makes it even more significant is that these demonstrations took place for weeks in the heart of downtown, in front of the banks and corporations that fortify the inherent relationship between white supremacy and finance capital. Demonstrators took to fighting the police directly, despite the cops’ expensive military-grade equipment, and destroyed bourgeois private property of the banks and hotels. It became clear — when the National Guard was called into North Carolina and directed to protect buildings by beating protesters and even killing another Black man, Justin Carr — just how effective a tool white supremacy is for capitalist interests.One year later in 2017, following the election of the racist, misogynist, fascist pig Trump, hundreds of neo-Nazis and white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, Va., in an alleged effort to defend the statue of Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate States Army during the Civil War; a war not about states’ rights — as often told in bourgeois history — but a war of Southern Confederate states to defend their right to own slaves. Even deeper than that, it was a war between the competing interests of the slave-owning ruling class and the increasingly finance-backed and -industrialized ruling class. Students from the university as well as organizers and activists from across the region showed up in Charlottesville to confront these racists. As some may know, the daylong clashes between anti-racist demonstrators and Klan members left one woman, Heather Heyer, dead from a car that ran into the crowd, along with many, many others who were brutally injured and hurt by Klan members and cops alike.Two days later in Durham, N.C., in solidarity with Charlottesville, our comrades organized a demonstration in front of a Confederate monument which stood in front of the old courthouse. The monument was erected in 1924 — a period in which the Black community of Durham, much like in other cities across the country, such as Kansas City, had made significant economic and cultural advances. The Confederate monument stood in front of the building that many Black people have to walk by each day. It stood as a message that they were not welcome there and that despite their successes in that town, white supremacy was still law and only white people would be allowed to benefit from capitalism.In a tremendous show of people power, that Confederate monument was literally toppled in 2017 as hundreds chanted, “You can’t stop the revolution!”The days and weeks that followed the monument toppling saw statues being torn down, removed, defaced and vandalized across the South — from Baltimore to New Orleans.In response to this revolutionary wave across the region, the KKK openly called for a demonstration in Durham, N.C. Their numbers were small compared to the thousands of oppressed people who came out into the streets to confront them, while they were sheltered by the local police in the courthouse building.We knew that this struggle was never just about statues: It was about using white supremacy as a tool for bourgeois-class rule. It was never about cheap pieces of metal or copper, it was about underscoring that there is a class which benefits from the exploitation, degradation and murder of another class. And to be clear, the class that benefits is very much the class founded by white, slave-owning men. The class that is exploited is very much made up of nationally oppressed workers.We should consider the concentration camps at the U.S.-Mexico “border” a monument to white supremacy. We should consider the same of the prisons, of dilapidated public housing, of deadly manufacturing companies, of underfunded schools, of outdated and unkept public infrastructure from roads to the water pipes in Flint, Mich., for example. There Black communities are going on five years without clean drinking water. These are precisely the conditions needed to ensure that oppressed people do not rise up.Those of us with alleged participation in the toppling of the monument in Durham waged a staunch campaign asserting that “fighting white supremacy is not a crime,” as we faced felony charges for this necessary action. We organized a People’s Tribunal Against White Supremacy where community members were able to testify about the real crimes taking place; attacks on workers, attacks on Black people, attacks on migrants, attacks on affordable housing, attacks on public education, and more.So much of white supremacy is codified into the law. In this particular case, there was yet another preemption law that had been passed in 2015 preventing local government from removing Confederate monuments. It had to be approved by the state general assembly.But just because something is law, clearly, as we know, doesn’t make it real. If anything, it reiterates to us whom the law is made for. Ultimately all the felony charges were dropped, but only because we organized a mass movement that was able to stand up and fight and draw on the decades and centuries of anti-racist organizing in the South against racism and white supremacy. If you break the so-called law, you must have the political cover and solidarity of a mass movement.There are many challenges, of course, in building this kind of mass movement in the U.S. where more and more labor is atomized. And workers are largely alienated from each other as the result of the capitalist development of technology and an emerging “gig economy.” This muddies the role and responsibility of multinational corporations that are not seen as employers, but as simply service providers — like Uber or Lyft, for example.There is not a coherent worker identity. Some of this incoherence is a result of a weak, mainstream, bureaucratic labor movement that continues to fall behind on updating its understanding of the working class and the need to integrate key struggles for national and social liberation. Some of this is a result of the deepening capitalist crisis which is quite literally killing people — whether the killers be politicians, police, landlords or bosses.Building international solidarityIt would be naïve of us to believe that Trump’s administration alone has unleashed a new kind of white supremacy or has introduced this latest stage of capitalist decay. It is important to note, however, that he has encouraged a new level of uncensored white-supremacist violence that can only and will only benefit the capitalist ruling class, which is capable of creating its own laws and rules to serve its interests. Trump’s blatantly white-supremacist remarks about im/migrants and Muslims and his blatant misogyny make him a convenient figurehead for the capitalists, who bank on violence against workers and oppressed people for their profit.Any critique or analysis of Donald Trump as simply stupid or dumb is useless for building a revolutionary movement to resist him. It makes our task more difficult and is rather ahistorical. He is precisely the kind of president who the global conditions of finance capital have produced at this point in time. He is pushing fascist policies and practices, and in the U.S. we are still playing catchup to understand what this means. In large part, his fascist actions are taking root because we still have work to do to strengthen the revolutionary left pole embedded among the masses.There is a lot more that could be said here but I’ll start wrapping up by asking: How might we resist capitalist and white-supremacist rule and laws? How might we wage a struggle that rejects white-supremacist capitalism ideologically and also in action?We must continue to push revolutionary class consciousness that resisting white supremacy, fascism and capitalism are not crimes. And that democracy under capitalism is not democracy at all: It is authoritarianism. We must work to expose the role that this kind of authoritarianism plays in puppet governments and dictatorships in oppressed nations around the globe. It goes without saying that we see models for this across the globe, right now. Inside the U.S., communities have blockaded ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] vehicles to prevent deportations and are preparing for Trump’s revving up of the deportation machine. Outside the U.S., we see the resistance in Palestine, the Philippines, Sudan, Haiti and beyond. I believe that in the U.S. we have much to learn from our comrades in the Global South and there are some key lessons we share from the center of the empire that would be of use, too.In order for us to build effective solidarity between the North and the South, it is crucial that we move toward more shared understanding of the role of white supremacy in all of our struggles. There are oppressed nations within the false borders of the U.S. that can play an important and strategic role in resisting empire. We must recognize the centrality of the Black struggle, of the Chicano/Chicana struggle, of the Indigenous struggle for sovereignty. Oppressed people within the borders of the empire are also fighting for self-determination, and we must uplift the idea that this self-determination cannot come at the cost of self-determination for oppressed people and nations outside the U.S.I know that comrades in the U.S. are ready, and very much need, to centralize and internalize the mandates from our comrades in the Global South. One way to do this is to build more unity in the fight against racism — one of capital’s strongest and well-proven tools for advancing the interests of empire.We cannot leave the task of building international solidarity, of connecting the struggles from inside the imperial core to those resisting imperial violence in the Global South and around the world, to the liberals, to the social democrats, and, in the U.S., to the Democratic party, which is just as much, if not more, of a warmongering party as the Republicans.It goes without saying that the global capitalist crisis is indeed very local. The manifestations of contradictions among the ruling class and ruling parties themselves can be found in every struggle taking place around the world. Our duty as revolutionaries, especially those of us who are inside the belly of the beast, is to take advantage of the disintegration among the ruling class and leverage that in solidarity with the struggles of oppressed people elsewhere. As a revolutionary in the U.S., I must reiterate that I see my first and foremost priority as the defeat of the very empire through which my organizing still enjoys relative privileges — at least for the foreseeable future. But as we know, everything changes, and our best bet is to be prepared, build mass and international solidarity and connect the struggles of workers and oppressed people everywhere against the common enemy, the primary contradiction and the biggest threat to all of humanity: U.S. imperialism.  Yesterday we toppled statues, tomorrow we topple ICE, the Pentagon and the U.S. war machine, the prisons and the concentration camps of the poor around the world. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Continue reading

Racist guards attack Soledad prisoners

first_imgIn a 3 a.m. raid July 20, approximately 200 Black prisoners at California’s Soledad state prison were violently taken from their cells with nothing on but their boxer shorts.The men were herded into the chow hall, handcuffed with zip ties and forced to sit shoulder-to-shoulder without masks for hours, while their cells were ransacked. Their property, including books, letters and legal papers, was confiscated or destroyed.Guards brutalized and beat many prisoners, including Talib Williams, whose spouse Tasha Williams has written several extensive articles about this racist cell extraction for a national Black newspaper, the San Francisco Bay View. (tinyurl.com/y47mhuo8) He told her that prison guards were shouting, “Black Lives Don’t Matter” and calling the prisoners the N-word. An elderly prisoner was tossed down a flight of stairs.Talib Williams, in prison for 18 years (since he was 17 years old), has spent the last six years at Soledad and has published four books. His most recent was on the racist and violent history of Soledad prison toward Black prisoner organizers like George Jackson. According to Tasha Williams, the guards seized much of his library, including works of Jackson and Black revolutionaries and a list he compiled of Jackson quotes.George Jackson’s legacyGeorge Jackson, 1971On Jan. 13, 1970, a group of Black and white Soledad prisoners were released to the exercise yard, which provoked a fist fight. A white guard marksman shot and killed three Black prisoners. Black prisoners started a hunger strike in protest; a grand jury exonerated the guardOne week later, a white prison guard was killed and three prisoner leaders — George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo and John Wesley — were charged with murder and became known as the Soledad Brothers. A broad defense committee came forward, and Jackson published his famous work, “Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George JacksonThe California prison system and especially Soledad prison — notorious for violence against Black prisoners — hate George Jackson, his writings and his legacy.Tasha Williams, who heard firsthand accounts of the violent attack from several Soledad prisoners, said prison officials claimed they were investigating gang activity. Talib noted that he saw a piece of paper about his father being in the Black Panther PartyMost of the Black prisoners have no prior gang affiliation. That is often used as an excuse to attack incarcerated people who speak out, advocate for others and fight the system. Several of the prisoners reported being questioned about the Black Lives Matter movement and being asked if they were BLM membersTasha Williams believes the violent cell extraction was carried out to intimidate Black prisoners. In an interview with this reporter, she said, “Officials were trying to incite them into a riot. This was a targeted hit job. The men were blindsided. They weren’t organizing anything. There was nothing going on. They told my husband if he sagged his pants under his ass and had less books in his cell, he wouldn’t be bothered. My husband and the others are not going to play that game.”Williams is asking people to spread the word and mobilize support for the people inside. (San Francisco Bay View, July 20 and 22)FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Continue reading