Peltier: ‘Recapture the freedoms we’ve lost’

first_imgLeonard PeltierFrom greetings sent by Leonard Peltier, imprisoned leader of the American Indian Movement, to the Day of Mourning in Plymouth, Mass., on Nov. 22.I’m saddened that we have to call this a Day of Mourning, but we must take every opportunity to remind this nation when it comes to keeping its word about treaties, about human rights, about the environment, about excess pollution — that it has failed miserably on all of those concerns. I also want to remind the major religions that speak about peace and love and brotherhood and are celebrating this thing called Thanksgiving, that we, the Native people of this land, realistically overall have nothing to truly be thankful about regarding the arrival of the Pilgrims.And I would also like to remind the major various religions of this country that in all their teachings it says you reap what you sow. And if that is a true statement, if that is the law given by the Creator, then you have to only look around at the news of the day to see that that statement is coming to pass. This country is not keeping its solemn word under god that it gave regarding our treaties. And they don’t keep their own Scriptures that say not to bear false witness or lie. They’ve tried to keep us from honoring our fathers by destroying our culture. They violated their word where it says “thou shalt not kill,” violated every one of their commandments regarding our people in this land. And they will truly reap what they sow. …I want to encourage all the young people to always remember that your health and the health of the earth are the most important things that you possess. And that self-discipline is the most important thing that you can learn. And taking responsibility for ourselves and our future is the most empowering thing that we can do. … Educate yourself to our true history, educate yourself to what is really going on today, and educate yourself as to what needs to be done to make a better tomorrow for yourselves and your children’s children, our future generations. …We need each other. If I am ever to be free, I need you. And the truth is, none of us is truly free right now, because any people who is afraid of their government is not free. We all need to be warriors of one. Each needs to know how to defend themselves on any level. And as I’ve said before, we need to recapture the freedoms we’ve lost and protect the ones we still have.In closing I want to encourage each and every one of you to stand up in your own way in whatever way you can for what’s right, try to right what’s wrong, and know that in my heart and in whatever way I can help you, that I will be with you. We need each other, you need each other, and we need the help of all peoples to correct this great damage that is taking place throughout the earth. Our battle is not with a race, a people, or a color, our battle is with ignorance and greed that is ruling the governments of men today.In the spirit of Crazy Horse and all those beautiful people who have stood up for what’s right in the past, and the ones standing up now, stay strong and support one another,Your Friend Always and in All Ways,Leonard PeltierFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Baltimore PPA protests new killings by cops

first_imgBaltimoreWithin a two-day period in late January, the Baltimore City Police Department shot two Black people, killing one of them. In response, the Baltimore People’s Power Assembly held a protest in front of the Baltimore City Police Headquarters on Jan. 31 to demand justice for Darin Hutchins, whom the cops killed on Jan. 24.Later the day of the protest, the Baltimore County Police killed Edwin Bright Sr. All of the victims were African Americans.During the week before the protest, Sara Benjamin and Steven Ceci of the People’s Power Assembly conducted an investigation in the neighborhood where Darin Hutchins was killed and spoke to eyewitnesses. Those who knew Hutchins explained that he had a history of mental illness. PPA spokesperson Benjamin declared, “The police and the system criminalize Black people and stigmatize people who have psychiatric illnesses.”The story the eyewitnesses told was much different than the public relations story the police department handed the media. Benjamin explained that the witness who stood next to Hutchins when he was gunned down by Officer Donald Gaff told her that before firing the two shots, the officer gave Hutchins zero time to drop a kitchen knife.Ceci, another PPA organizer, added, “We are angry that the news media has repeated the public relations story told by police spokespeople before they spoke to anyone in the neighborhood or to any of the witnesses.” He reported that the witness who stood next to Darin Hutchins did not feel endangered by him at any time; in fact, she put her arm around him. Instead, she was terrified by the police and “at this moment has asked that her name not be published for fear of reprisal.”Ceci also said the witness, a friend of Hutchins, said, “The white cop who shot Darin moved the knife and put it on a table” even after she objected. She “had to scream at the cop to stop shooting.”One of the youngest activists at the Jan. 31 protest, Kira Lynae, concluded the PPA rally by calling for an end to devaluing Black lives: “Black lives matter, as do the lives of all those marginalized and oppressed, including the LGTBQIA community, women and those with disabilities, who are many times forgotten.”PPA organizers took note of the scores of police cars lined up during the rally, plus the plainclothes police who were standing by ready to infiltrate the demonstration, a practice implemented at all recent #BlackLivesMatter protests.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Quebec protest rejects gov’t austerity

first_imgThousands in protests in Montreal and Quebec City, Nov. 29, 2014.Around a thousand people protested the Quebec government’s austerity program in front of the National Assembly in Quebec City on Feb. 12, the day the parliament opened its 2015 session.The coalition, “Let’s Refuse Austerity,” is also planning major, provincewide but region-based protests on International Women’s Day, Earth Day and May 1.Back in November, the coalition had organized major protests involving tens of thousands of people in Montreal and other Quebec cities. And on Feb. 6, when Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard went to Abitibi-Témiscamingue, a small city in the western part of the province, over 200 protesters showed up in snowy, harsh cold to say that he shouldn’t cut jobs, health and other social services and education.Some 500 militants from the Federation of Health and Social Services, a component of the Confederation of National Unions (CSN), occupied the offices of 16 members of the National Assembly during the week leading up to the Feb. 12 conference and protest. [“National” in these names refers to Quebec, not to Canada.]The National Assembly is considering a law, PL10, that would drastically cut health care services. For example, the Côte-nord — the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, between Saguenay Fjord and Labrador, the second-largest region of Quebec — would be reduced to just one health center for 146,000 square miles. ( the CSN, another significant member of Let’s Refuse Austerity is the Association of Student Union Solidarity (ASSE), one of the leaders of a successful and militant student strike in 2012 that brought thousands of students into the streets for protests that lasted for months.A spokesperson for ASSE said at a press conference on Feb. 12 that the students would engage in “economic disruptions,” including blocking bridges, as they did in 2012. Camille Godbout, their spokesperson, said they would not rule out any tactic. (Huffington Post Quebec) The ASSE is also calling for actions Feb. 23-27, as well as supporting the other mobilizations.The president of the Federation of Quebec Workers (FTQ) and the president of the CSN, the two largest labor federations in Quebec, both spoke at the Feb. 12 rally.Daniel Boyer of the FTQ said the government has chosen the wrong strategy. Rather than austerity, it should look to increase revenue.He said, “The richest of our society should pay more taxes, businesses should pay more taxes. It is abnormal that over 1,000 businesses each year pay no taxes.” (La Presse, Feb. 12)Boyer charged that the government was attacking the poorest members of Quebec society and cutting social programs built up over decades. (Radio Canada, Feb. 12)Jacques Létourneau, president of the CSN, claimed that Premier Couillard was “playing with words” when he claimed that “Quebec’s government will work out a plan for economic growth in the next few weeks.”“A government which is cutting employment, which is shutting down services, in our opinion, is not a government which is pushing forward this idea of relaunching economic activity,” Létourneau concluded.The fall of oil prices has caused major economic difficulties in Canada, especially in the Western provinces. Canada’s currency has slipped by 20 percent in relation to the U.S. dollar. However, while Quebec has to pay more for imports, its exports are more valuable.Quebec in many ways is a distinct society inside Canada. A majority of Quebec’s residents speak French. The immigrants it attracts are mainly from places like Haiti and North Africa, where French is a common second language. It has a historical trajectory that is unique in Canada, going from a conquered province to a recognized part of Canada.Its union movement grew up and struggled hard not just in the major cities of Montreal and Quebec, but also in the woods and in small isolated settlements, where unions provided the only protection workers had against the Catholic Church and local banks.Relying on deep traditions of solidarity, the union movement and progressives in Quebec are trying hard to build a movement to defeat austerity. pan>FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Baltimore jury acquits uprising defendant

first_imgAfter just 30 minutes of deliberations following a two-day trial, on Oct. 13 a Baltimore jury found Alkebu-Lan Marcus not guilty.Marcus was one of hundreds of protesters arrested after the Baltimore police killing of Freddie Gray. He had joined thousands of youth in Baltimore in taking over the streets — an uprising that was only quelled through the use of thousands of city cops, state troopers and National Guard soldiers. The fact that Gray was the 353rd person killed by cops in 2015 in the U.S. was a major factor in the two-week-long rebellion. ( was charged with “failure to obey a lawful order” and “interfering with an arrest” during mass protests on April 25. The arrest took place when a police squad rushed onto a crowded sidewalk to arrest Morgan Malachi. Marcus was arrested when he and others tried to pull Malachi out of police hands.Left to right, Alkebu-Lan Marcus, Morgan Malachi and J. Wyndal Gordon.WW photos: Joseph PietteMarcus and Morgan Malachi were both part of a “Philly Is Baltimore” contingent. Malachi was eventually charged with disorderly conduct and “refusal to obey a lawful order.” Video of their arrests clearly shows all she was doing was speaking into a bullhorn. There was no cause for an arrest and she was finally acquitted at the end of her trial on July 23.Following Marcus’ trial, defense lawyer J. Wyndal Gordon told the press, “The prosecution of Mr. Marcus was an attempt to suppress free speech.”He said there was no evidence of an order to disperse, despite prosecution claims. “No one heard it. It was like a dog whistle that only police heard.”Gordon also pointed out: “You have the right to resist an unlawful arrest. A person who comes to the aid of someone who is unlawfully being arrested — you have that right as well.”Members of the Philly Coalition for Racial, Economic and Legal Justice, the Philadelphia Trayvon Martin Organizing Committee and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly rallied with signs outside the courthouse during the court proceedings and made sure the courtroom was packed with supporters.The epidemic of police killings that motivated the protests in Baltimore; Philadelphia; New York; Cleveland; Ferguson, Mo.; Oakland, Calif.; and many other cities continues. As of Oct. 12, the death count of men, women and children, including trans people, who have perished as a result of confrontations with cops in 2015 is 923.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

#RedForEd blazing as Arizona teachers walk out

first_imgThe spreading education workers’ struggle is ablaze in Arizona. On Thursday, April 26, an estimated 75,000 public school employees refused to report to work and began a historic walkout. Helicopter photos showed a red river of people advancing through the streets in Phoenix toward the Capitol.On Friday, the school workers were back, rallying in the tens of thousands. Speakers in Phoenix included representatives of the Arizona Education Association, Arizona Educators United, students, the Latinx community and parent-teacher organizations. The protests continued on Monday, April 30, and on Tuesday, May 1–International Workers’ Day.School workers are demanding restoration in public funding to the 2008 level for devastated schools, competitive and lasting salary increases for all education workers and no new tax cuts for the rich until per-pupil spending is at the national average.Just before the walkout date, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a tax break for coal mining companies that will cut state revenues by $12 to $30 million a year.According to AEA President Joe Thomas, 78 percent of its teachers voted for the action. This is the first statewide education workers strike ever in Arizona, and potentially the largest U.S. education walkout ever, as 820,000 of the state’s 1.1 million students could be affected. ( from West Virginia Arizona teachers and school support staff in Arizona paid close attention to the West Virginia education strike in February and began taking matters into their own hands in early March. After a private Facebook page, “West Virginia Public Employees UNITED,” was used to organize actions and communicate before, during and after the strike, Arizona school employees started their own grassroots-led Facebook group called Arizona Educators United.According to Labor Notes, “30,000 people joined [AEU] within the first 10 days,” with 45,000 members by mid-April. In solidarity, supporters of AEU not working directly for the public school system also set up “Arizona Parents and Allies United” on Facebook.Noah Karvelis, a K-8 music teacher in Phoenix and organizer for AEU, created the #RedForEd movement on social media to unite education workers throughout the state. Red was the color worn by West Virginia school workers during their 1990 and their most recent strike. It has traditionally been the chosen color of most working-class as well as socialist struggles internationally.The first #RedForEd event, organized by AEU, was March 7. Teachers, paraprofessionals, classroom aides, school bus drivers, school cafeteria employees, secretaries and custodians all over the state sported red clothing. As they made “selfies,” posting pictures on social media explaining why they were fighting for public education, #RedForEd began to go viral.Arizona education workers continued to wear red every Wednesday as school workers began to strike in Oklahoma and walked out in Kentucky. In Arizona, teachers and school support workers quickly began holding informational pickets, walk-ins and rallies at the Capitol. They mobilized a huge protest against reactionary Gov. Ducey during his weekly hate-filled radio show.Ducey has made it clear that he is against any type of action that defends public education. Despite crumbling public schools and miserably crowded classrooms, he used the fake argument that if schools shut down as a result of a walkout, “our kids are the ones who lose out.” (Arizona Family, April 19) Ducey is the former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery and a previous board member of a union-busting outfit misnamed “Teach for America.”Why teachers are walking outShortly after AEU organized #RedForEd Wednesdays, the AEA offered solidarity and support. The two organizations are asking for five concrete demands. The first and foremost among Arizona education employees is a 20 percent salary increase.  Elementary level teachers’ salaries are comparable to those of Oklahoma teachers, and secondary level teachers’ pay to West Virginia teachers — almost rock bottom in U.S. teacher salaries.AEU and AEA are also fighting for competitive pay for all education employees and that the salary increase be a permanent increase, as opposed to just a one-time bonus.Education advocates want public school funding raised back to its 2008 level.  A recent study by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee shows that Arizona spends roughly $924 less per pupil in inflation-adjusted dollars today than it did 10 years ago. While the Arizona Legislature was still in session, AEU focused its attention on combating a reactionary school voucher bill, SB 1467, which would take money from public schools and give them to private schools. In the West Virginia victory, strikers defeated charter school and school voucher bills.After feeling the heat from the #RedForEd movement, Gov. Ducey announced a “plan” to raise pay to 20 percent by the year 2020 and increase public education funding by $371 million by 2023. But Arizona education workers saw this proposal as too little, too late — an insincere offer that does nothing to improve pay for school support staff. Instead, the reactionary governor’s weak offer appears to be just another tactic to divide the working class. Teachers marching on April 26 also said they emphatically refused raises that would come at the cost of cutting social services for poor, Latinx or disabled students. (Payday Report, April 26)Finally, AEU and AEA activists are making it clear they do not want to see any more tax breaks for the rich. While state funding for Arizona students and public schools has steadily decreased in the last ten years, tax breaks for Arizona’s top 1% have increased. Education workers in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky correctly took aim at the energy bosses and extraction industries in their states as the root of the budget problems. Arizona school employees are also directing their anger at the state’s big business.Fighting racism through education strugglesThe education workers’ walkout comes after decades of struggle by Latinx teachers and supporters against racially discriminatory funding of school districts in their communities. In 2010, the Arizona State Legislature passed a law against teaching Mexican-American history in the Tucson public school system. This was only defeated in December 2017 when a federal judge ruled the law unconstitutional. According to Payday Report, the state’s student population is 45 percent Latinx, and over half of the student population is children of color.Arizona has a brutal history of racism, massacre and exploitation against Indigenous nations and Latinx people, who have faced centuries of settler colonialism. The state did not recognize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a federal holiday until 1992, only then bowing to the economic pressure of a massive peoples’ boycott. Another boycott of Arizona was initiated after the state Senate passed SB 1070, representing and endorsing the virulently anti-im/migrant actions of racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County.Support for the education workers’ strike was emphatic in rural San Luis, Ariz., on April 26, when teachers marched and gathered with students and community members at the Cesar Chavez Cultural Center. Chanting “Fund our schools” and clanging cowbells, they hung a #RedForEd placard on the statue of farm workers union leader Chavez. (Phoenix New Times, April 27)The unity and militancy of education workers demanding increased support for public schools and for their students is a huge blow to the white supremacist state structureEducation workers strike in the global class warThe strikes and walkouts, which started in West Virginia and spread to Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona, are primarily being waged in “right-to-work” (for less!) states where work stoppages of any sort are illegal. It’s important to acknowledge the fact that these struggles are majority-women, rank-and-file-led.There are rumblings that educator work actions may soon begin in Arkansas, Mississippi and South Carolina. Many of the education workers in these states undoubtedly voted for the racist Republicans, but the walk-ins, walk-outs and outright strikes are a clear action against the right-wing agenda set by reactionaries backing privatization and profit.Arizona Gov. Ducey is a Republican, like the governors of West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky who attempted to break the public education workers’ actions. But Democratic governors have also been antagonistic toward public sector unions, despite the fact that the union bureaucracy donates millions of dollars to that party of capitalism each election cycle through political action committees.The capitalist Democratic Party is no alternative, typically showing its true anti-union colors in areas where it is the majority party, in an attempt to contain and stop militant mobilizations. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called teachers’ unions a “selfish industry.” (New York Daily News, Jan. 23, 2015)Education workers in so-called “blue states,” such as Colorado and Wisconsin, have already participated in rebellious walkouts. Three thousand teaching and research assistants struck at Columbia University in New York City on April 24 over the university’s refusal to even participate in negotiating a contract.Teachers in Puerto Rico, led by the courageous Puerto Rico Teachers Federation (FMPR), have struck against colonialism: the closing of public schools, speeding privatization through charter schools and racist gutting of public services in order to service big banking debt. FMPR has a history of standing up to U.S. imperialist big business. (See “FMPR: ‘A fighting instrument’,” Workers World, April 19.)That education workers’ strikes in the U.S. have inspired working people throughout the globe is a nightmare for the billionaire class. Rank-and-file education workers are realizing what a mighty power they have when they fight collectively.Otis Grotewohl is a WWP member and union activist in West Virginia who was involved there in the education workers’ strike and is monitoring other education strikes.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Protests hit Northeastern contract with ICE

first_imgProtesters block Boylston Street near Northeastern President Aoun’s house, July 31.Boston — As night fell on July 31, protesters from Movimiento Cosecha, who had gathered outside the house of Northeastern University’s president, announced that they would be occupying the area until Northeastern canceled its $2.7 million contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Protestors blocked Boylston Street, singing and telling stories until 1 a.m., when cops moved in and arrested 11 occupiers.One week earlier, Cosecha and supporters had gathered in a park near the Northeastern University campus. They marched with signs decrying Northeastern’s connection to ICE through the Ruggles T subway station and into a student orientation taking place.Once there, they held a speakout explaining the university’s contract with ICE to the new students and dropped a banner reading, “Northeastern, we won’t be complicit” from a walkway between buildings. They called on the students to aid in telling the university to shut down its contract and informed them that this was just the first of Cosecha’s actions.Cosecha rallied supporters at the Ruggles T station again on July 31 and led them on another march, going through downtown Boston during rush hour and ending outside university President Joseph E. Aoun’s home.They proceeded to hold a speakout, demanding that Aoun cancel the contract. Speakers included undocumented organizers from Cosecha, a representative from FIRE (Fight for Im/migrants and Refugees Everywhere), and the fiance of a man who was taken by ICE just days before their wedding.Cosecha organizers then revealed that they intended to continue this protest as an occupation and that they would be camping outside Aoun’s house until their demands were met. As the occupiers prepared for the night and the following morning, the cops moved in and arrested them all.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Racism, sexism, Islamophobia — and double standards for cuss words

first_imgCongressperson Rashida Tlaib made history Jan. 2 when she proudly took the oath of office with her hand on the Koran, wearing a traditional dress from Palestine. Representative Tlaib is the first Palestinian woman elected to the House of Representatives and, with Ilhan Omar, one of two first Muslim congresswomen.Islamophobes were up in arms, posting outrageous claims that the congressperson from Michigan’s 13th District was disrespecting or even violating the Constitution by choosing the Koran over the Christian Bible. These backward attitudes, however, do not reflect Tlaib’s constituency. The population of the 13th District is 56 percent African American and more than 70 percent people of color, with the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East. As state representative and Detroit councilperson, Tlaib represented her Southwest Detroit neighborhood, the heart of the city’s Latinx community. She has a large Muslim constituency. As a congressional candidate, Tlaib — whose seat was previously held by John Conyers — appealed to progressive sentiment. She was arrested during the hotel workers strike here and ran on a record of supporting reproductive rights as a state legislator. Among her popular campaign promises were pledges to push for the impeachment of President Donald Trump and fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Tlaib made front-page news nationwide last week with comments made during a reception held by the liberal group MoveOn. Her exact words were: “We’re gonna go in there and we’re going to impeach the mother—-er.” This drew the ire of Trump and his ilk, but also of moderate Democrats. (Detroit Free Press, Jan. 4)“This is a person that I don’t know. I assume she’s new,” said Trump, revealing complete ignorance of Tlaib’s groundbreaking achievement in being elected. He accused her of “disrespect” and called her statement “disgraceful.” This is the president who repeatedly displays bigotry against immigrants, people of color, Muslims, women, LGBTQ2S+ people and people with disabilities — and isn’t shy about using swear words. “You can’t impeach somebody who’s doing a great job,” he boasted, claiming mass popularity. In fact the president has lower approval ratings than every president since Harry Truman. Tlaib tweeted back: “I always speak truth to power. #unaplogeticallyme.” (Detroit News, Jan. 4)Two trends in the Democratic PartyDemocratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized not only Tlaib’s use of curse words, but also the call for impeachment, saying it would divide the country. Congressional Democrats, including most from Michigan, distanced themselves from the congressperson’s remarks. Liberal news columnists are accusing Tlaib of hurting the Democrats, even making it harder for them to beat Trump in 2020.More moderate Democrats argue that the Mueller Commission has to complete its investigation before impeachment can be considered. Tlaib’s campaign pledge, however, appealed to millions of working-class and oppressed voters, who have been saying “Not my president” since the 2016 election. This base sent a record number of women, people of color, younger candidates and out LGBTQ2S+ people to Congress. Many of these voters were activated by the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016. In the midterm primaries they chose new candidates, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Queens, N.Y., over longtime incumbents favored by the party’s establishment. Ocasio-Cortez denounced Republicans’ “faux outrage” over the curse word.There is clearly a biased double standard employed here against an Arab Muslim congressperson, who was speaking off the cuff at a reception and not in any official capacity.The backlash against Tlaib is a rightist reaction to the midterm elections. Revolutionaries should have no illusions that any real, dramatic changes can be made through the bourgeois parliamentary process. However, they should be prepared to oppose any racist, Islamophobic and otherwise bigoted attacks on the right of oppressed people to elect progressive candidates from their communities.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

We demand the resignation of Pedro Pierluisi & the dictatorial fiscal control board

first_imgFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this The following statement was issued by A Call to Action on Puerto Rico on Aug. 4. The organization can be contacted at [email protected], on their Facebook Page: A Call to Action on Puerto Rico and on Instagram: prcalltoaction. The collective A Call to Action on Puerto Rico / Un Llamado a la Acción por Puerto Rico from the Diaspora celebrates Ricardo Rosello’s resignation.  It is a triumph of a people already fed up with the political, economic and social abuses perpetrated by the United States and its colonial administrators against the people of Puerto Rico.Our people demand the end of colonialism and the destitution of all representatives of the colonial empire. We understand that the quick replacement of Pedro Pierluisi as colonial governor is an attempt of the metropolis through his dictatorial Fiscal Control Board and its colonial lackeys to try to appease the just indignation of the people, reestablish its colonial control and maintain order.Puerto Ricans in the archipelago and Diaspora, from all sectors of society, made their demands in the streets. Their protests made clear that they will not accept any government of corrupt and unscrupulous blanquitos, nor the dictates of a Fiscal Control Board imposed by the U.S. There will be no peace for the empire nor for their colonial lackeys.  It is time for decolonization. It’s time for a Free Puerto Rico! #Rossellórenuncia #Telegramgate #IndependenciaparaPuertoRico  #esadeudanoesnuestra #cancelthedebt #ACalltoActiononPuertoRicolast_img read more

Pandemics have a way of fomenting social revolutions

first_imgThe following is a slightly edited talk given during the Workers World Party webinar “What Road to Socialism?” on May 16.Welcome everyone to this important national meeting of Workers World Party. I wish we could be meeting in person, but dire circumstances make that impossible. So we have to have this digital meeting. But that doesn’t mean we can’t accomplish a great deal.Larry HolmesI’m sure that most of you are thinking about what the next week will bring. Can you get back to some normal routine? How many people will die and suffer? Or maybe you’re wondering what the next two months will bring. That’s very human.But it’s important to look at what’s happening from a historical perspective. It’s important to remember that pandemics, especially ones the size of the pandemic the planet is contending with now, have a way of fomenting social revolutions. The most oppressed of the planet’s population get angry because of the already terrible conditions, in addition to the bad conditions that the pandemic imposes on them, and then become ready to revolt. This is especially true if the dominant system is a decrepit, decaying system that really just needs a good kick to push it into the trash bins of history.The bubonic plague of the 14th and 15th centuries played a big role in arousing the peasantry in the struggle to end feudalism. One pandemic that some of you may know a little bit about is the 1918 influenza. A very bad, very deadly pandemic. It is believed to have killed somewhere between 50 and 100 million people, including three-quarters of a million people in this country. And that was at a time when the population of the U.S. was about 105 million.That pandemic did not have the same impact on the economy that the present one is having for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important reason is that that was during World War I, the first global imperialist war, and most of the U.S. economy was directed toward the war. All the working class was directed toward war production.That’s different than now. It’s primarily weapon systems and bombs that imperialism makes now. That buffers the economy to a certain extent. Also, U.S. imperialism had an advantage. Europe was devastated by World War I; the U.S. was not. As a matter of fact, what the war did was begin to push U.S. imperialism into position so that it would ultimately grasp the capitalist system in a big way and become the leading imperialist power.Pandemic and economic depressionMedical science 100 years ago was undeveloped by comparison to today, so the expectation of people about what government and medicine could do to protect them was completely different than what it is now. This current pandemic will be viewed historically — this is a turning point in the decline of U.S. imperialism and world capitalism.No matter what happens to the pandemic — whether a vaccine is discovered, whether we even have more tests (which people are so frustrated about) — that’s not going to change what this pandemic and the economic crisis that existed before it is doing to the global capitalist economy. There’s still going to be a worldwide depression — the unemployment and all the misery and suffering – and part of that is going to be permanent.Why? Because this pandemic has caused a permanent rupture at a time when all the scientific and technological achievements of capitalism — particularly of U.S. capitalism and all the wonderful integration of the economy based on globalization and technology — means very little. Because when people look at the economy and look at world capitalism and imperialism, they do not see strength. To the contrary, they see weakness. They see a system that is falling apart.This contradiction, more than any other contradiction in my lifetime, spells out that from now on, in a very clear and brutal way, capitalism is fighting socialism. The old, decrepit, dangerous system is fighting to block the birth of something new on a global level.If we had a socialist system, it would be absolutely no problem at all to shut down the economy as long as was necessary and advise people to shelter at home. They wouldn’t have to worry about losing jobs or losing food or whatever they need. It’s only under this degenerate, dying system that these greedy capitalists are freaking out. They’re demanding, “Open up the economy, send workers back to the factories. We don’t care if they get sick. We don’t care if they die; we need to make the profits.”That contradiction is very clear and very stark. The working class — all sectors of it — is being hit very hard. No sector is hit harder than Black and Brown workers, women and gender-oppressed, and LGBTQ2+ workers, the disabled — always the most oppressed of the working class. But that doesn’t exclude other sectors, who maybe a little while ago thought they were relatively “privileged.” They’re finding that those privileges are blowing away in the wind.Working class is fighting backWorkers are not just freaking out. They’re doing that, as we all are. But they’re fighting back. They’re angry. They’re saying: “No, we don’t want to go to a plant or a factory or some workplace where we will get sick and maybe die.” There are tremendous, militant, glorious wildcat walkouts and strikes, not only in this country but around the world.There’s a tremendous strike going on in Washington state now of farmworkers, the most oppressed of all workers, migrant workers. It’s important for us to understand that, because of this militancy, this workers’ rebellion is going to grow. Workers are going to need help in order to organize themselves in a way that they’ve never been organized since the 1930s. They’re depending upon the help of revolutionaries like us, socialists and communists, who are dedicated to the working class — not to tell them what to do, not to substitute ourselves for them, but to help them in every way we can.We are Workers World Party. Our name says it all. We exist to help our class in any way that we can to liberate themselves.I think that one of the big lessons of the Bernie Sanders campaign and the Jeremy Corbyn campaign in Britain — good, important, progressive campaigns in many respects that had a lot of support — is that even with the support they had, they were not grounded in the struggle of the workers. They may have put forward demands, universal health care and other good things that we all support, but they weren’t in the workers’ struggles.Now people who were supporting them on both sides of the Atlantic are realizing that the next thing we have to do is to ensure that our struggle is grounded in the working class — that it’s part of the working class getting organized, getting powerful, becoming independent of bourgeois parties and fighting on its own. Without that, electoral campaigns will have little meaning in the progress of a struggle.I’m very proud, and members of my generation are very proud, about what we were able to accomplish. I’ve been in the struggle for almost a half a century. My comrades and I fought against the racist, imperialist Vietnam War. We sided with the Vietnamese. We supported liberation movements from Palestine to South Africa to Puerto Rico. We supported Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation struggle. We supported the struggle of women to free themselves from patriarchal oppression. We solidarized ourselves with the struggle of LGBTQ2+ comrades and that entire community to free themselves from oppression. We supported the struggle of people with disabilities.We struggle with the youth and the Black and Brown workers who are the targets of racism and national oppression. We’ve tried to intervene in the workers’ movement, sometimes very effectively. And we’re proud of it. But we are not the ones who decide exclusively what we can accomplish during our lifetime. Events and conditions decide that.I’m speaking now predominantly to young comrades and friends. You have a different role because of what is happening now and because of this crisis that the world is entering — that capitalism is entering into. There is the possibility that in your generation, you may actually be able to bring capitalism to its end — but this is not guaranteed.I want you to think about this and meditate on it and relate to it. If you’re serious, if you’re bold, if you have the patience, if you have the staying power, then that’s one thing the older generation can give you. We may have made mistakes, and there may be some things we didn’t see. But we had staying power. That’s why many of us are still here. After the better part of half a century, we get that.That’s worth a lot. If you get that, you just may be able to accomplish revolutionary things in your lifetime.Don’t leave it for other generations, if you can accomplish it now.Long live our party, long live the socialist revolution, and good health to all of you.Holmes is the First Secretary of Workers World Party and a theoretical contributor to WW newspaper. He met the party through the American Servicemen’s Union and joined the party as an antiwar GI.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

International movement demands: ‘Justice for Major Tillery!

first_imgFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this On May 17, word spread via social media that Major Tillery, a political prisoner at Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution Chester, was sick with chills, a sore throat and a fever for several days. On hearing of Tillery’s illness and knowing that COVID-19 was running rampant in U.S. prisons, the international prisoner defense movement sprang into action. It launched a petition, in English and French, and a phone and letter-writing campaign directed to SCI Chester administrators.Call-in campaign on behalf of Major Tillery.In addition to demanding medical treatment for Tillery, the campaign protested the total prison lockdown. Prisoners have been denied showers and cleaning of cell blocks, as well as phone calls or other communication with the outside. Food for sick prisoners was placed on the floor outside their cells.Tillery has alerted supporters that a major roadblock to receiving treatment is Dr. Paul Little, employed by Wellpath, who has the final say on which prisoners receive COVID-19 tests. Tillery writes: “They saying they are protecting the elderly by locking us up for 24 hours, but with no air and no movement for months is killing us with [our] respiratory problems, no vitamin D. In the last 9 days we have received nothing.  …  They are using this pandemic as punishment.”It was Tillery who blew the whistle in 2015 when Mumia Abu-Jamal was near death due to untreated hepatitis C in SCI Mahanoy. When the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) retaliated by moving Tillery to SCI Frackville, he filed a federal pro se lawsuit demanding medical treatment for Mumia and all prisoners. At Frackville, after he succeeded in obtaining services for aging prisoners, the PADOC retaliated again and moved him to SCI Chester.Tillery, whom Abu-Jamal describes as a “jailhouse lawyer who shook the prison walls,” has been held in solitary confinement for 20 of his 37 years in prison “because of something prison administrators hate and fear above all things: prisoner unity; prisoner solidarity.” (For information on his case, see statistics list one prisoner and 14 guards as COVID-19 positive at SCI Chester as of May 18, but do not say how many prisoners were tested. Statewide, 226 inmates and 157 guards have tested positive, with five prisoners and one guard dying from the virus.In addition to the call-in campaign, the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration rallied outside SCI Chester on May 19, urging officials to release inmates, especially the elderly and sick. The protests and call-ins had an impact. By May 20, people incarcerated at SCI Chester were getting showers, phone calls and access to prison kiosks. The prison also started randomly testing 30 to 40 people at a time. However, as of this report, Tillery has not been tested. Letter from Richard Wright’s daughterProminent among those galvanizing international support for Tillery is Europe-based activist Julia Wright, daughter of author Richard Wright. Excerpts from her letter to Kenneth Eason, SCI Chester Administrator, follow:Dear Mr. Kenneth Eason,I just watched with deep interest your January 2017 talk on “The Path to Prison” (TEDx Talks/You Tube). My father, the late African American writer Richard Wright, used to quip: “Who would ever want to be a cop or a prison guard?” But as a journalist he also taught me how to listen to all sides of all stories, so I paid careful attention to your reminiscences of your traumatic childhood years at the hands of bullies.You spoke of your fears resulting from bullying: Would you get your lunch money stolen? Would the contents of your bookbag be strewn on the ground for you to crawl all over? Would you get beat up? No wonder you developed a stutter, a difficulty to look people in the eye, and started to pull your hair out.As my father recalls in his book “Black Boy/American Hunger,” he too was bullied at an early age, but his mother, who was the wife of a sharecropper, the son of a slave, could not afford boarding school. She gave him a thick stick and sent him out to face the bullies or return home to corporal punishment. The result: a narrative which is now taught in U.S. schools.Your mother chose a different but sincere path: She sent you to the Milton S. Hershey School for Disadvantaged Children. You say in your comments: “At last, I felt safe.” You graduated and eventually become a prison custodian and now, under COVID-19, the acting Superintendent of SCI Chester.Central to the problem of bullying is the preying by virulent and violent elements over vulnerability and helplessness. The super bully today is the virus threatening bullies and bullied alike. To the extent you, an African American single parent’s son, were bullied when little, I hope you can place yourself in the shoes of the elderly, vulnerable and immunocompromised, whose immediate release would constitute no threat to the community.I was struck by your lifelong respect for your mentor Milton S. Hershey (who died in 1945, the year [Wright’s famous novel]“Black Boy” was published). Clearly, you sincerely cherish Hershey’s vision of help for the disadvantaged before it is too late.Consider that this is your opportunity to turn your prison into a safe, caring, disinfected, COVID-19-free space. Just as your mentor Milton S. Hershey turned his school into a model of safety, welcoming bullied children, now you have the opportunity of becoming the Black Hershey of the U.S. carceral system by turning SCI Chester into a new experiment of safety, justice for all and an enlightened policy of release under COVID-19 for all to emulate.I call upon you to provide testing for all inmates and staff, with transparency on numbers of positive cases; to disinfect all cells and common areas; to provide regular access to showers, hygiene and PPE for all inmates and staff.  Provide yard, phone and internet access to all prisoners on a regular basis, with regular walk-throughs by prison administrators, including yourself.And grant the immediate release of as many prisoners as possible from SCI Chester, including Major Tillery who is elderly, African American and more likely to catch the virus, [as he is] already immunocompromised. His having set up a welfare program for elders behind bars is not a threat to the community, on the contrary.  In the spirit of your mentor, yours sincerely, Julia Wrightlast_img read more