Greek translation: Lecturing Ferguson? Again, are communists rebels or not?

The following is a Greek translation a previous polemic that appeared here. This translation appeared in Dromos (Greek for The Road), the newspaper of the Communist Organization of Greece (KOE). 

ΗΠΑ: Είναι οι κομμουνιστές υπέρ των εξεγέρσεων ή όχι;

Απ’ άκρη σ’ άκρη των ΗΠΑ έχουν εξαπλωθεί οι διαμαρτυρίες με αφορμή τη μη παραπομπή σε δίκη του αστυνομικού που εκτέλεσε, εν ψυχρώ, τον Μάικ Μπράουν στο Φέργκιουσον. Πλήθη ανθρώπων, κυρίως νέων, διαδηλώνουν και συγκρούονται, καίνε περιπολικά, αποκλείουν αυτοκινητόδρομους και απαιτούν δικαιοσύνη. Η προσπάθεια του Ομπάμα να παρέμβει κατευναστικά, απειλώντας ταυτόχρονα τους «ταραξίες», δεν αποδίδει. Την ίδια στιγμή, οξύνεται η αντιπαράθεση και μέσα στους κόλπους της οργανωμένης (και πολύ αδύναμης) βορειοαμερικανικής Αριστεράς, θυμίζοντας πολύ ανάλογες αντιπαραθέσεις στη διάρκεια της εξέγερσης των γαλλικών προαστίων το 2005 ή της ελληνικής νεολαίας το 2008. Στο κείμενο που ακολουθεί ο Έρικ Ριμπελάρσι, στέλεχος της νεολαιίστικης κατά βάση συλλογικότητας Kasama Project, απαντά στις άκαιρες και δογματικές επικρίσεις άλλων αριστερών στον ξεσηκωμό που έχει προκληθεί με αφορμή την αδικία στο Φέργκιουσον.

ΗΠΑ: Είναι οι κομμουνιστές υπέρ των εξεγέρσεων ή όχι; 

Δασκαλεύοντας το Φέργκιουσον…

Του Έρικ Ριμπελάρσι

 

Σε κάθε μεγάλο ξεσηκωμό, εξέγερση ή επανάσταση των ανθρώπων αυτού του πλανήτη, είναι οδυνηρό να βλέπει κανείς κάποιους αριστερούς που στέκονται στην άκρη και παραπονιούνται γι’ αυτήν ή την άλλη πτυχή της. Στην πράξη, παρά τα όσα λένε, δείχνουν περισσότερο αποτροπιασμό για τις δίκαιες εξεγέρσεις του λαού, παρά για το σύστημα.

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After Ferguson: Snapshots from a wave of protest

This empire is splitting open over the faultline that it was built upon: the humanity of Black people.”

After Ferguson: Snapshots from a wave of protest

by ISH

Three years ago, Occupy Wall Street set off a wave of national protests. The Occupy encampments set up from coast to coast were soon smashed by a wave of repression, and the movement faded from the headlines. That movement was complex and contradictory, but it seemed to mark a sea change shift in attitude toward structurally challenging the rules of US politics, especially among increasingly precarious young people. That movement also didn't actually go away. After this summer's brutal slaying of an unarmed Black youth by a white cop in Ferguson, Missouri, long-simmering tensions between communities of color and the forces of state repression boiled over into an urban rebellion in Ferguson itself and a wave of protests nationwide, especially now after the refusal of a majority-white grand jury to indict young Michael Brown's killer.

It's clear to observers and participants now that just as the Occupy movement was bolstered by the outrage over the judicial murder of Troy Davis back in 2011, so today's movement over Ferguson has been deepened by the experience of people working on Occupy and then moving on to focus on justice for Trayvon Martin or other issues where the white supremacist capitalist system is on full display. OWS was criticized by some for being too white and too middle-class, but in a healthy evolution we now see a burgeoning national movement forefronting survival issues for communities of color.

What's unfolding in the protests over Ferguson, and now, suddenly, over the protests over yet another refusal to indict a badge-wearing killer — this time the murderer of Eric Garner — suggests game-changing potential.

We asked friends and comrades to report on some of what they've seen over the past weeks of protests sweeping the country. We don't get to speak very often in this country of weeks of waves of protests, but here we are.

From Boston, one comrade writes:

When I first heard that Darren Wilson was not going to be indicted, it wasn’t that I was surprised, so much as stunned into a cold rage. Here was the system proving once again that it lets cops get away with murdering defenseless Black kids. I couldn’t sleep that night. The next day, I did my best to avoid the news, knowing that I would hear racist apologists trying to spin it all.

The night after the verdict I, and so many others, finally had a chance to vent our anger. I made my way down to Dudley Square and was stunned at the enormous crowd – probably close to two thousand who were there – Black and white, young and old, men and women. Normally at a lot of protests, I don’t listen to the speeches, but I did here. The speakers, young and old from oppressed Black neighborhoods spoke of how “America was guilty” and that the “system didn’t protect them.” There was open talk of revolution and taking liberation into “our own hands because no one is going to give it to us.” Once those speeches were over, we stood for four and a half minutes in dead silence to honor Michael Brown and all the other victims of police brutality and white supremacy.

Then we took to the streets, marching and chanting. I stayed with the protest, far in the rear, until we reached the South Bay House of Corrections, where we stood in solidarity with the inmates. The prisoners could be seen through their barred windows saluting us and waving. In one cell, the prisoner spelled “Mike” (backwards). I am not sure if he was saying “Mike Brown” or giving his own name. But I like to hope that “Mike” stood for all of those, Mike Brown, the South Bay prisons, and millions of others who suffer under the jackboot of this racist capitalist system.

From another comrade in Boston:

I wasn't able to attend the huge Wednesday night protest march in Boston — this one nearly shut down Rt. 93, Boston's major highway — but I was quite literally swept up in a spontaneous protest march on Tuesday night in downtown Boston, immediately following the verdict.

I left the restaurant/pub where I had been decompressing after work and in the distance I heard chanting. Pausing to listen, as the chanting came closer, I could tell it wasn't random noise, and I could make out the words: Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!” They turned the corner on Beacon Street and before long I was falling in and chanting alongside them, work-bag swinging at my side, raising my fist. A comrade I've known since Occupy greeted me with a marching one-armed hug. It was a young crowd, mostly college students, interracial and often led by young people of color, though majority white, I would say. And predominantly female, led by Black women, as it seemed to me.

The march had taken the street, stopping traffic, and garnering an occasional honked horn of solidarity from vehicles we passed. We turned up hill and headed for the Massachusetts Statehouse, 150–200 of us, I'd say, but growing, this demonstration called by individuals via Facebook just the minute before. Other friends and comrades I know would show up shortly — word was spreading. Outside the steps of the Statehouse — a short phalanx of state troopers already posted by the locked gate, blocking the steps — organizers stopped the march and directed us into a circle, encompassing and blocking the road. All the time chanting continued: “Black Lives Matter!” “No Justice? No Peace! No Racist Police!”  Then organizers led us in a moment of silence for the slaughter of Michael Brown. We held hands, our heads bowed, for several minutes. United in our silence, in the spirit of loss and injustice.  

Still holding the road — police directed traffic elsewhere — we evolved into an open mic rap session, reminiscent of Occupy, speakers addressing the crowd, expressing emotions, personal stories, concerns, political philosophies, strategic outlooks, and local connections to the events in Ferguson.

A comrade in New York City says,

I went with some comrades to one of the Ferguson solidarity protests in New York on November 24. There were several protests that day, 3–4, and each shut down major streets, highways, bridges, and tunnels. Thousands of people came out in the cold to aggressive defy the police and shut parts of the city down so that the police and state occupiers would have to reckon with the people they occupy. It was inspiring to see so many people angrily defying both the cops and the sell-out “community leaders.” People are now seeing that police repression and violence in the US has a direct link to the drug war casualties in Ayotzinapa, the Israeli apartheid in Palestine, and America's ongoing imperialist wars.

From Brooklyn, New York:

Tuesday night I attended a meeting at St. Jacobi Church in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. St. Jacobi was the original home to Occupy Sandy and strongly supported Occupy Sunset Park in the heyday of OWS. The occasion was preparation for an action to tie the ongoing movement around Ferguson with the Palestinian resistance and the Ayotzinapa movement in Mexico around the murder of 43 students by the narco-state, and it included a video conference with activists in Mexico. The meeting was really well attended, and some of the young people I talked to there were really clear on the connection between these three issues. Their approach to connecting these issues was sophisticated and organic, and they were also clear that these movements are not about making demands of the government, they're about organizing the people to fight. People were making stencils and stickers with terrific artwork and slogans like, “From Ayotzinapa to Ferguson, the State Protects Killer Cops.” Many of them were veterans of Occupy Wall Street, but cross-pollination with movements around immigrant rights and indigenous peoples was really evident. The meeting, held in English and Spanish, was a mix of activists and community folks, and unlike many Occupy meetings, was majority Latin@. People seemed upbeat and excited about sustaining and developing a real movement making the most of such obvious connections. In New York City we're waiting for the imminent decision whether to indict the cops who killed Eric Garner, and it will be really interesting to see how this strongly radical movement counterposes itself to the 'peaceful, legal' response being called for by pacifiers like Sharpton.

From Albany, Georgia:

We had a small but really pissed-off turnout at the police department downtown at 2am on the night of the verdict. Later on some of us went to the courthouse for a prayer vigil held by civil rights movement old-timers.

Next day a couple of us went to the Albany State Campus and we got a lot of support. One student told us “I'm not really into protests. What we really need here is a riot.”

Officials here claimed that we do not have a police problem because the police here have the body cams. Likely that is an outright lie. In the past, dash cam evidence mysteriously disappeared or happened to be corrupted at exactly the important moment.

From Portland, Oregon:

At 4pm on the day after the announcement, we rallied (as was pre-arranged), downtown. I think about a couple thousand people showed up for the initial rally and short march around the area, but I didn't have a good vantage point. After the initial rally and march, the group split in two; roughly half moving to demonstrate rage, the rest singing a song and dispersing.

The militants scuffled with police for a few hours with some, short freeway blockages, lots of blocked traffic, police charges, pepper spray and about a half dozen arrests.

Saturday night, pretty much the same crowd returned for a similar level of street confrontation, this time with the cops trying out their flash bangs and about 10 arrests.

Some things I think are notable:

• The Tuesday event was organized by a coalition of black clergy (with a lot of quotes from MLK) and the radical community, especially the AAPRP.

• The coalition failed to make a break-through in bringing out people in its target communities in north and northeast Portland.

• The break-away on Tuesday and the event on Saturday were agitated for and lead largely by a small number of new emerging young Black activists.

Today there was a significant high school walk out this afternoon of at least 1,000 students near downtown. I'm headed down after work in a few hours to try to catch the tail end of the announced demo at the capitol.

Another comrade in Portland writes in:

Monday night was like a punch in the gut to anyone in the United States who cares about justice and humanity. The Ferguson grand jury's failure to indict was a declaration of open season on Black people; a declaration of war.

A demonstration was called for the following day by a coalition of local peace and justice groups. Several thousand people turned up Tuesday evening, in a mood of anger and rage. After listening to speakers from various organizations, the crowd marched through downtown, chanting "No Justice, No Peace" and "Hands Up Don't Shoot!" The crowd returned to the Justice Center. While preparing to disperse, while "We Shall Overcome" was sung from the stage, a group of Black youth shouted that they were not done and led a breakaway march of several hundred that marched through the city, shutting down bridges and highways and confronting the police for several more hours.

On Saturday morning there was a rally in Northeast Portland (a historically Black residential neighborhood). The crowd was genuinely multiracial and made up primarily of families there with their children. The "radical activist" milieu was noticeably absent. After speeches from educators and high school students, the group marched for several miles through the gentrified "Alberta Arts District." Marching peacefully on the sidewalk, and obeying traffic laws the group disrupted the peaceful brunches of many a white person who preferred not to notice that the country is burning. Upon reaching the destination, the listened to a final speech and dispersed.

On Saturday night a crowd of about 500 met again on the steps of the Justice Center. After an hour or so of speeches, the Reverend Jesse Jackson (who happened to be in town on other business) arrived and spoke to the crowd about redemption and reconciliation, demanded a Federal Grand Jury and urged the crowd to be peaceful. The crowd then marched through downtown Portland, blocking traffic and shutting down business as usual for four and a half hours, the amount of time that Mike Brown lay bleeding in the street. At one point outside of a shopping mall there was a particularly tense stand off with the riot police that culminated in the police throwing flash bang grenades into the crowd and then charging. The crowd continued to march. The night ended in a die-in behind the police headquarters. At this point riot police moved in from all sides and declared that everyone was under arrest. The crowd tightened up, locking arms and called loved ones to report their situation and make arrangements for the following days. After about a half hour of chanting "Let us go!" the police made 10 arrests and let the rest of the crowd leave one by one through their armed cordon.

From marching peacefully through neighborhoods with my four month old son, to running from flash bang grenades and preparing to spend the night in jail it has been a powerful week. Portland, one of the whitest cities in the US, stood up and declared that Black Lives Matter. This empire is splitting open over the faultline that it was built upon: the humanity of Black people. We must continue to march, to rebel, and to build a movement that can fight militantly and creatively for Black liberation and for the destruction of this murderous system.

Eric Garner, Mike Brown: Shut it down, Shut it down

As we marched toward Columbus Circle I ran into an old friend. This friend and I used to give know-your-rights trainings about interactions with the pigs. We worked in a copwatch together. As we quickly caught up with each other about our more recent past, this friend gave me a look, and said ‘here we are again.’ We then both paused and about the same time we said to each other, ‘But it feels different this time.’

 

It certainly did feel different. We were smack in the middle of a sustained resistance to police brutality that was not seeking justice from the ‘legitimate’ political and legal channels. We were there for Eric Garner, but there was a larger context. There was a clarity, among thousands of us, many thousands around the country, that this system is killing Black people with impunity. And that even when people are awakened to the senseless taking of Black life by the racist police forces around the country, the justice system still won’t indict its police officers, the same officers who are unleashed to enforce the violent authority of the one percent. The system sleeps on us. They think they can do whatever the fuck they want and get away with it. But it was different this time. Since Ferguson we have all been wide awake.”

 

Eric Garner, Mike Brown: Shut it down, Shut it down

by Nat Winn

 

Another unarmed Black man is murdered by the police. Another grand jury refuses to indict the pig. The story is getting old, yet the outrage and determination not to accept this shit is growing and growing. Like everyone I know here in New York City, I am filled with that rage.

Wednesday a grand jury refused to indict the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death in Staten Island for the unspeakable crime of selling loose cigarettes.

The refusal of a grand jury to indict Darren Wilson, the police murderer of Mike Brown, has already sparked mass outrage around the country and the world. Hot on the heels of that outrage, the US justice system has again spit on our collective faces, telling us that in their twisted logic Black lives don't matter: They will simply not indict one of their police officers for murdering a Black man.

Shut it down!

But thousands of people in New York were ready for this decision and prepared to act. The decision around Garner's murder was rightly seen as a continuation of the injustices that have roused our discontent in Ferguson. More and more of us are beginning to understand that the murder of Black men by the police and its justification by the powers that be is to be expected. And related to this expectation is the understanding that we cannot seek justice through the racist American justice system – we must seek our own justice in the streets!

When the decision came down that Garner's murderer would not be indicted, calls for protest spread like wildfire. I ended up going to a protest in Times Square at 5pm. It turned out to be the same day that the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree was to be lit. The goal of many of the protesters was to “shut down” the lighting of the tree. Shit was on!

When I got to the protest there were about a hundred people present. Like other protests I've been to since the Ferguson decision came down, this crowd was younger, multi-national and militantly anti-establishment in its orientation. Chants were yelled out in English and Spanish and I was struck by what appeared to be a Latino worker I saw who was wrapped in a Palestinian flag. The connection between Ferguson, Palestine, and Ayotzinapa, Mexico — where 43 student protestors have recently been disappeared causing a huge wave of protest — has been a prominent internationalist feature of this wave of rebellion in the United States.

Chants included “No indictment is denial, we demand a public trial,” “I can't breathe” (Eric Garner's last words), and “If Eric don't get it, shut it down!” among others.

As time passed the crowd grew larger. After an hour, there were a few hundred more protesters in Times Square. By then another march that had started at Union Square converged with our protest and people started calling out “Shut the tree down!” We took off and marched toward Rockefeller Center, a few blocks away. When we got half way there, the streets between us and the Center were barricaded. The pigs were out in full force, and as we then marched north on Sixth Avenue we were blocked from that direction as well. At 51st Street, we were able to break through some barricades and take the street. We marched in the street from then on, turning onto Madison Avenue and clogging up a key vein of the midtown traffic grid. The protest seemed to grow much bigger: The traffic was stopped and we owned the streets.

We stopped at Madison and 47th Street and demanded to be let through the barricades that prevented us from getting to our destination. The protesters and many onlookers shouted their indignation at the cops. “How do you spell racist – NYPD!” (for New York Police Department), “Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Shut it Down, Shut it Down!”, “Hands Up! Don't Shoot!”, “I can't breathe, I can't breathe!”, “I got my hands above my head! Please don't shoot me dead!” Suddenly word got through the crowd that there was an opening a block away. Protesters headed there and broke through the barricades one more time. As we headed west, this time off the sidewalks and on the street, our numbers had doubled at the very least. Sixth Avenue was shut down.

The pigs dug in near the entrance to the block where the tree lighting was going on. Protesters demanded “let us through!, let us through!” The pigs announced that everyone in the street was now under arrest. Many of the protestors refused to back down. All of us chanted at the pigs, “I can't breathe, I can't breathe!” and “Shut it down, shut it down!” Eventually the pigs bum-rushed us and arrested whoever they could. They undoubtedly had targeted some people out. There remained hundreds of us who had crept up on the sidewalks. We continued to express our outrage to the pigs. Many started chanting “Fuck your tree!, Fuck your tree!” There was a standstill between the cops and the crowd of young people.

At one point a young protestor called an Occupy-style mic check. Another march was headed to Columbus Circle, and the Occupier asked all of us to march to Columbus Circle and meet up with the other march. And so we went, into the night, determined to shut shit down, to register our decision about the worth of the life of a Black man named Eric Garner.

Running into an old friend

As we marched toward Columbus Circle I ran into an old friend. This friend and I used to give know-your-rights trainings about interactions with the pigs. We worked in a copwatch together. As we quickly caught up with each other about our more recent past, this friend gave me a look, and said “here we are again.” We then both paused and about the same time said to each other, “But it feels different this time.”

It certainly did feel different. We were smack in the middle of a sustained resistance to police brutality that was not seeking justice from the “legitimate” political and legal channels. We were there for Eric Garner, but there was a larger context. There was a clarity, among thousands of us, many thousands around the country, that this system is killing Black people with impunity. And that even when people are awakened to the senseless taking of Black life by the racist police forces around the country, the justice system still won't indict its police officers, the same officers who are unleashed to enforce the violent authority of the one percent. The system sleeps on us. They think they can do whatever the fuck they want and get away with it. But it was different this time. Since Ferguson we have all been wide awake.

Shutting down the West Side Highway, again

We got to Columbus Circle, by the south edge of Central Park. We headed west and converged with another march. When we got to the West Side Highway we were well over a thousand. We shut that shit down again! For the second time in as many weeks the West Side Highway was shut down. A statement was made again that could be heard around the country: You may kill Black people and let your filthy pigs walk away from it, but from here on in, this disdain for Black life won't go unchallenged. You will kill and we will shut shit down! We will gather strength until you will no longer be able to do what you do. And we create a better world in the process, without the pigs and without the one percent they serve.

There were dozens of arrests on this night. When we took West End, the pigs came at us full force. But they could not shut us down. They could not crush us. There's something brewing here. The country and the world are watching. People of all races and nationalities are standing together to say that our lives are precious, Black lives are precious, and if you take one needlessly, hatefully, we will fight you. We will not stand down. We will not get out of the street. We will shut shit down. We will take your power and build something beautiful.

Alas, here we are again, but shit is different this time.

Ferguson: Indict the system, turn anger into organization

This is a revised version of an article posted last night that was open to being read as counterposing support for the immediate task of spreading the Ferguson rebellion with the longer term tasks of communist organization. We do not view these tasks in opposition to each other. Rather we see them as intimately connected. It is precisely through participation in and support for the spontaneous struggles of the people that revolutionaries develop the networks among the oppressed that form the foundation of the communist organization which we believe remains critical to actually bringing down the system responsible for the death of Michael Brown and so many other young Black men.

by Nat Winn

The system has laid down THEIR verdict. Now, and in the coming days, the people will give OUR verdict.

It has been a long time since the people, in their broad mass, have anticipated and prepared to respond to the oppression and disregard that the United States government has shown Black youth. The police murder of Michael Brown in August of this year in the small midwest town of Ferguson, Missouri, has served as  a rallying call to young Black people and all who support their fight against oppression. Both the racist authorities and the people in the streets have been anxiously awaiting this decision on whether to indict Brown's murderer, which is now here. The national guard has already been called out. The emergency has already been declared. And the people in the streets have been building together to insure that the mockery of justice that is now upon us doesn't go unchallenged.

Predictably, yet another Black life is deemed expendable, and the right of the police to wage a reign of terror over Black communities has again been validated by the grand jury's decision.

Now those of us who stand with the young people of Ferguson must tell the truth: in order to seek justice, to end oppression — the people themselves must unite and rise up. There will be no condescending saviors. We must decide our duty and do it well.

There are times in history when “the people” run ahead of the revolutionary forces in society. While it is clear that many communists, anarchists and other revolutionary-minded people have been strengthening ties with the people in Ferguson and preparing to respond to the grand jury decision that was just laid down; it is also true that the decision may potentially lead to events that we as an emerging revolutionary ecosystem are not yet prepared to influence. And yes — revolutionaries should seek to engage movements such as the one in Ferguson to help lead them in a revolutionary direction.

What then is it that revolutionaries can provide to the people of Ferguson and their allies?

A crack in a faultline

The rebellion in Ferguson and its aftermath is reflective of a larger problem that the government (at national and local levels) cannot easily resolve or co-opt. Look at how many times the brutality of the police has led to these kind of rebellions within Black communities: Police brutality was the cause of urban rebellions in the 1960s including Watts, to Rodney King in the 1990s, to Cincinnati in 2001, to East Flatbush last year after Kimani Gray was killed, to Ferguson today.

Why is this? Why can't the government and its lackeys like Al Sharpton contain and satisfy the anger of Black people, especially youth? Wouldn't it be easy for the government to just arrest this cop, bring him out in handcuffs and take him to jail? And yet this doesn't happen – and that has been a pattern.

The answer with this has to do with the role of police in relation to Black people.

Black people have been pushed to the margin of societies. The US rulers have not figured a way in which to integrate Black people into the economy since the turn toward de-industrialization. Increasingly many Black people are unemployed for most of their lives and targeted for prison and ethnic cleansing. They are being isolated, frequently being pushed out of urban cores with the poor enclaves in which they live surrounded and occupied by police forces.

Why are the police given all the military equipment we now see them using in Ferguson? What is all that for?

The fact is that it is the job of these police to terrorize Black people. This is what they are trained to do. They are taught during their training, just as we are taught through mass media, that Black youth will not work, that they are criminal, and that they must be controlled. This is not a question of “some bad cops” or of “hiring cops from the communities they patrol.” The pigs are the pigs. Their role is to terrorize Black people and there is no reforming that basic fact.

This is why the county police in Ferguson think that it was okay to murder Michael Brown. This is why no branch of government will just arrest him. What kind of message would it send to their police, bedrock of this system of repression? If police were prosecuted for brutalizing and executing Black people, then police couldn't do their job, there would be no trust between the police and their political leaders and the system that oppresses Black people wouldn't work.

It must first be realized that the events in Ferguson represent a faultline in the broader society. That is, it is a problem of the capitalist system of oppression that cannot be easily resolved or co-opted by the ruling classes.

Rebellion is right, but it is not revolution

The rebellion in Ferguson has inspired all who care about human liberation. It's right to rebel and to spread the spirit of rebellion. Solidarity actions have broken out across the country to express the rage felt against this display of contempt for Black life. It's encouraging to see people challenging officially-approved channels of “nonviolent” protest.

While the spread of rebellions to other cities could have a positive effect on the consciousness and fighting spirit of the people, such rebellions alone will not, by themselves, lead to liberation. Obviously we think solidarity actions, including urban rebellions with a real base in their community, are good. But are riots enough to take the struggle to the next level?

Street-fighting alone, however, is not itself the same thing as making revolution. We need to begin to take the steps to turn the righteous anger of Black youth, and everybody else in this society who identifies with the spirit of the Ferguson rebellions, into the kind of politically serious and disciplined organization that it will actually take to overthrow this system and replace it with something much better.

Our responsibilities

What Ferguson exposes is the urgent need for communist organization.

We need to do real work to develop networks of people that can respond to events like Ferguson and have real influence over the debates in the broader society when events like Ferguson pop off. Pretending like such networks already occur will not work.

To be clear, there are emerging networks being formed among revolutionaries and this is obviously positive. However this will not replace networks between revolutionaries and the broader people, which are currently primitive. If the people engage in street fighting, then they should be supported and joined, but this cannot be replaced by small revolutionary networks spread out around the country seeking to ignite such rebellions through sheer force of will.

The outrage of the people needs to be transformed into revolutionary organization, not merely courageous yet unorganized fighting. The people in Ferguson are seeing the need for organization and creating it. But there needs to be revolutionary organization. These can include organizations at many levels: Street level organizing projects, mutual aid projects, strong media projects, revolutionary art, music, the capacity for rigorous investigation into 21st century political economy, and more.

All this involves fusing communist ideas with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. We need to have a sense of direction – direction toward developing the strategy and program that can challenge the existing order of things, and truly begin to liberate Black people and all those who suffer from the inequality, alienation, and misery of capitalism.

Faultlines as spaces where communist organization can take root

Openings to connect communist ideas with a section of the people are not spread evenly throughout society. Those problems in society that are very hard for the ruling classes to resolve have disproportionate potential for communists to develop connections with broader sections of the people. The brutalization and murder of Black people by the police has provoked militant resistance time and time again, It is correct to organize around this faultline.

In Ferguson the people have stared down the barrel of the police gun and have stood their ground. There are those who have argued that there is no potential for revolutionary change in the United States. They say that the majority of society is bought off, more concerned with owning the new iPhone or Nike sneakers than with fighting for liberation.

What would such skeptics have to say about Ferguson, about the willingness of the people to risk arrest and physical harm to demand justice for a young man gunned down by police in their small town? It seems clear that Ferguson in fact reveals something deep about the potential for struggle. But how fundamental the nature of this struggle becomes is now key.

We communists work from the understanding that the people in Ferguson and around the world need liberation. Our responsibilities are not merely to tail behind the spontaneity of the rebellion. We need to be building the types of organization and developing the sophisticated networks that can challenge this society and its rulers that perpetrate police murder of Blacks. What we can offer at our best is a strategy and program for liberation that many people can unite around.

Illusions about the potential for justice in the capitalist USA are worn thin in places like Ferguson. This is a moment when it's important to crystallize what oppressed people are teaching us every day about the way the world works with ways of sustaining the fight and pointing it toward victory.

California Prisoner Hunger Strike Suspended

 

Below is the statement on the suspension of the California Prisoners Hunger strike.  More updates, news and statements can be found on the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity website.

 

Statement Suspending the Third Hunger Strike

Greetings of Solidarity and Respect!

The PBSP-SHU, Short Corridor Collective Representatives hereby serve notice upon all concerned parties of interest that after nine weeks we have collectively decided to suspend our third hunger strike action on September 5, 2013.

To be clear, our Peaceful Protest of Resistance to our continuous subjection to decades of systemic state sanctioned torture via the system’s solitary confinement units is far from over. Our decision to suspend our third hunger strike in two years does not come lightly. This decision is especially difficult considering that most of our demands have not been met (despite nearly universal agreement that they are reasonable). The core group of prisoners has been, and remains 100% committed to seeing this protracted struggle for real reform through to a complete victory, even if it requires us to make the ultimate sacrifice.  With that said, we clarify this point by stating prisoner deaths are not the objective, we recognize such sacrifice is at times the only means to an end of fascist oppression.

Our goal remains: force the powers that be to end their torture policies and practices in which serious physical and psychological harm is inflicted on tens of thousands of prisoners as well as our loved ones outside.  We also call for ending the related practices of using prisoners to promote the agenda of the police state by seeking to greatly expand the numbers of the working class poor warehoused in prisons, and particularly those of us held in solitary, based on psychological/social manipulation, and divisive tactics keeping prisoners fighting amongst each other. Those in power promote mass warehousing to justify more guards, more tax dollars for “security”, and spend mere pennies for rehabilitation — all of which demonstrates a failed penal system, high recidivism, and ultimately compromising public safety.  The State of California’s $9.1 billion annual CDCR budget is the epitome of a failed and fraudulent state agency that diabolically and systemically deprives thousands of their human rights and dignity. Allowing this agency to act with impunity has to stop! And it will.

With that said, and in response to much sincere urging of loved ones, supporters, our attorneys and current and former state legislators, Tom Ammiano, Loni Hancock, and Tom Hayden, for whom we have the upmost respect, we decided to suspend our hunger strike.  We are especially grateful to Senator Hancock and Assembly Member Ammiano for their courageous decision to challenge Governor Brown and the CDCR for their policies of prolonged solitary confinement and inhumane conditions. We are certain that they will continue their fight for our cause, including holding legislative hearings and the drafting legislation responsive to our demands on prison conditions and sentencing laws. We are also proceeding with our class action civil suit against the CDCR.

The fact is that Governor Brown and CDCR Secretary Beard have responded to our third peaceful action with typical denials and falsehoods, claiming solitary confinement does not exist and justifying the continuation of their indefinite torture regime by vilifying the peaceful protest representatives. They also obtained the support of the medical receiver (Kelso) and Prison Law Office attorney (Spector—who is supposed to represent prisoners interests, and instead has become an agent for the state) to perpetuate their lie to the public and to the federal court — that prisoners participating in the hunger strike have been coerced — in order to obtain the August 19, 2013 force feeding order.

We have deemed it to be in the best interest of our cause to suspend our hunger strike action until further notice.

We urge people to remember that we began our present resistance with our unprecedented collective and peaceful actions (in tandem with the legislative process) back in early 2010, when we created and distributed a “Formal Complaint” for the purpose of educating the public and bringing widespread attention to our torturous conditions.

After much dialogue and consideration, this led us to our first and second hunger strike actions in 2011, during which a combined number of 6,500 and 12,000 prisoners participated. We succeeded in gaining worldwide attention and support resulting in some minor changes by the CDCR concerning SHU programming and privileges. They also claimed to make major changes to policies regarding gang validation and indefinite SHU confinement by creating the STG/SDP Pilot Program. They released a few hundred prisoners from SHU/AD SEG to general population in the prison.  But in truth, this is all part of a sham to claim the pilot program works and was a weak attempt to have our class action dismissed. It didn’t work.

In response we respectfully made clear that CDCR’s STG-SDP was not responsive to our demand for the end to long term isolation and solitary confinement and thus unacceptable.  (See: AGREEMENT TO END HOSTILITIES)

Our supporting points fell on deaf ears, leading to our January 2013 notice of intent to resume our hunger strike on July 8, 2013 if our demands were not met.  We also included Forty Supplemental Demands.

In early July, CDCR produced several memos notifying prisoners of an increase in privileges and property items, which are notably responsive to a few of our demands, while the majority of our demands were unresolved, leading to our third hunger strike, in which 30,000 prisoners participated and resulted in greater worldwide exposure, support and condemnation of the CDCR!

From our perspective, we’ve gained a lot of positive ground towards achieving our goals.  However, there’s still much to be done.  Our resistance will continue to build and grow until we have won our human rights.

Respectfully,

For the Prisoner Class Human Rights Movement
Todd Ashker, C58191, D1-119
Arturo Castellanos, C17275, D1-121
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C35671, D1-117
Antonio Guillen, P81948, D2-106
And the Representatives Body:
Danny Troxell, B76578, D1-120
George Franco, D46556, D4-217
Ronnie Yandell, V27927, D4-215
Paul Redd, B72683, D2-117
James Baridi Williamson, D-34288. D4-107
Alfred Sandoval, D61000, D4-214
Louis Powell, B59864, D1-104
Alex Yrigollen, H32421, D2-204
Gabriel Huerta, C80766, D3-222
Frank Clement, D07919, D3-116
Raymond Chavo Perez, K12922, D1-219
James Mario Perez, B48186, D3-124

 

No, that racist vigilante did not rescue a family

 This first appeared at IVN.

This was a suspicious story from the beginning.

We have seen news reports of protesters doing thousands of dollars of damage to be wrong. The claims of separate attacks by protesters over the Zimmerman verdict turned out to be false. Now added to the list of  false news reports appears to be the story of George Zimmerman heroically rescuing a family of four from a burning SUV.

The initial report was that George Zimmerman was ‘just coincidentally’ driving by after a car accident occurred, that he leaped out of his vehicle, fire extinguisher in hand, to come to the rescue of the family of four trapped inside as the vehicle caught fire, pulling them to safety. That was followed by the claim that the family he rescued had planned a press event to thank George Zimmerman, but that they canceled due to threats from Trayvon Martin supporters.

It appears they may have canceled the event because they did not want to be part of the fraud of making Zimmerman out to be a hero, when that story was not precisely true.

Read more...

We Remember Manuel: Photos from Anaheim's Struggle Against Police Brutality

On July 21st, 2012, a young man named Manuel Diaz was shot and killed by the Anaheim Police Department. Diaz was unarmed, but--as the story often goes--the killer cop felt that his life was "in imminent danger" nevertheless. Diaz was hit once in the buttocks and again in the back of the head, and was reported dead shortly thereafter.

Anaheim erupted into protests shortly after, and the police response only angered the community further: video evidence shows cops unleashing a K-9 unit on children and firing rubber bullets at crowds filled with angry mothers, youth, kids.

A year later, hundreds of community members and their supporters--along with the families of over 30 victims of police violence in California--assembled in Anaheim to express our continued outrage not simply at last summer's crimes, but at the continued assault by cops everywhere against particularly young Black and Latino men.

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Irrationality of love - Chris Crass on Zimmerman verdict

The following was a facebook status of Chris Crass after George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin.

by Chris Crass

Zimmerman acted logically in a white supremacist society viewing a Black boy as a dangerous threat who needed to be contained and punished if necessary. The jury's verdict is logical in a white supremacist society in which Black people's lives have been and are so systemically devalued and denigrated that when Black people call injustice, the logic of white supremacy is to say "those Black people create racial hostility". When police forces intimidate, harass, threaten and arrest people across the country for protesting and rising up against this verdict they will be acting logically in a society designed to serve the interests of the ruling class and maintain white supremacy as a key principle that helps organize and maintain systemic inequality.

This is why we and all who believe in justice and equality for all people are "irrational", "illogical", "emotional". This is why we so often feel crazy in these moments of profound injustice. And this is why we must tap into our emotions, into our love and our rage, our seditious emotionality that connects our hearts to one another (against the divisions that work so hard to keep us apart), that connects our pain to the collective pain of people everywhere who know what this verdict means in the lives of children of color who are targeted and the lives of white children and non-Black children who are socialized to hate Blackness (even though we are suppose to feel alone and alienated). This is why we must expand wisdom and historical knowledge and speak truth against the logic of white supremacy (even though we are suppose to believe ourselves incapable of understanding the world around us, let along being actors shaping it).

Rage against this verdict and every verdict that tells my white son to devalue the lives of the Black children in our community. Love our people and act with courage, vision, and the logic of liberation that beats in our hearts. Solidarity is the tenderness of the people. Revolutionary struggle building mass people power for systemic change is the soul of the people. White supremacist logic wants us to feel powerless in the face of this verdict. Liberation logic wants us to go deeper into the sources of positive power to advance systemic change.

To my white people, let us step up in this moment and provide a different leadership in white communities about what this verdict means. Justice for Trayvon Martin!

 

Chokwe Lumumba voted mayor of Jackson, Mississippi

As a part of a larger plan to develop broad people's power for Black liberation, Chokwe Lumumba has successfully been voted mayor of Jackson, Mississsippi. A comrade from MXGM said to us: "now the real struggle begins." To read about the larger political plan of NAPO/MXGM, check out the Jackson-Kush Plan.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 4, 2013

NATIONAL CONTACT:  Kali Akuno

PHONE:  323.422.6025

LOCAL JACKSON CONTACT: Chokwe Antar Lumumba

PHONE: 601.629.7684

 

 

Chokwe Lumumba Elected Mayor of Jackson, MS with Clear Mandate

The People of Jackson Have Spoken: “One City, One Aim, One Destiny”

 

With more than 85% of the vote, the people of Jackson clearly voiced their support for Chokwe Lumumba’s vision of a unified, democratic Jackson.  Lumumba, an attorney with a long record of grassroots activism and leadership in Jackson and nationwide, offered his heartfelt thanks to residents for their faith and confidence in his candidacy.

“I want to thank each and everyone who made this victory possible. I am grateful for your vote and your trust.  I am committed to upholding that trust,” says Lumumba .  “ This has been a team effort from the very beginning.  We have always said, ‘The people must decide.’ And the people have spoken for a revitalized Jackson that works for all of us, not just the few. ”

The hotly contested race drew national attention as Lumumba is considered one of the most progressive candidates ever to be elected mayor of a major city – particularly in the South.   The Mayor Elect was outspent by more than 4-1 by his primary opponent as well as the target of vicious attack ads.  Despite the challenges, Lumumba stayed focus on issues of economic justice, democracy and the underlying root causes of Jackson’s social problems.

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Sniping Chokwe: reactionary hysteria amidst Jackson's elections

On the day of and in the week leading up to Jackson's elections, reactionary hysteria is being whipped up about candidate Chokwe Lumumba, a founding member of the revolutionary New Afrikan People's Organization (NAPO), who is running for mayor of Jackson as a part of the Jackson Kush Plan, a plan attempting to use a combination of mass movement of the people and radical left participation in elections to spark a Black liberation movement in the South of the United States. While Chokwe Lumumba was projected to win, a new endless tirade of reactionary media attacks have been launched: fliers targeted at radical Black neighborhoods claiming that Chokwe was a police informant, radio ads of Chokwe discussing religion, and more. Kasama will continue reporting on these events as they unfold. -Eric Ribellarsi

Update: Chokwe Lumumba has won this round of the elections, and now will almost certainly win the mayor position.

This article first appear on Jackson Free Press.

In the final hours of the Jackson mayoral election, a group called Citizens for a Better Jackson is making a push to beat back gains made by Ward 2 Councilman Chokwe Lumumba.

The political-action committee statement of organization lists longtime political operative Bob Hickingbottom as a director. Hickingbottom's PAC, which has not submitted a legally required campaign-financial disclosure report showing the group's political fundraising and spending, is running radio spots featuring a portion of a speech Lumumba gave in 2009 in which he expresses doubt in whether Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Reached this afternoon by phone, Hickingbottom refused an interview. "I'm out here today trying to vote and pick up my grandson and I'm just so doggone hot today and I'm just not up to it," Hickingbottom said, adding that he would speak to JFP editor Donna Ladd after the election.

In the radio ad, which a Jackson Free Press reporter heard Monday morning on BDAY 99.1, Lumumba states:

"Don't come down to Mississippi talking about organizing if you're not going to be able to work with church people because if you can't organize church people, then you're not going to organize Mississippi. Now I have enough sense to know what churches to go into. I had a discussion with my minister, and I said, 'I don't know if Christ died and rose again. That's not my thing. I'm not into that."

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