Patrick Dorismond was approached on his way home from work by undercover cops who asked to buy drugs from him. The cops attacked and killed him with one shot through the chest. "A young man was killed for saying no to drugs," screamed one protester.
Workers gathered in front of the Holy Cross Church in Flatbush where the funeral was to be held, while others gathered at the funeral home to march with the hearse to the church. Today's events were organized and attended by Brooklyn's Haitian and Caribbean community.
By the time the groups converged at the church there were over 7,000 people present. The NYPD, with 1,000 cops assigned to the area, had barricades everywhere trying to contain these masses of workers onto the narrow sidewalks. We used our bullhorn, the only sound system around, throughout the morning, creating an open mike that became the voice of many protesters.
When the service ended, the casket and mourners were escorted out to a side street, which also led to the 67th precinct one block away. Again the workers surged forward, some to follow the casket and some responding to chants from our bullhorn to march to the 67th precinct. Then the fighting began. The cops had no intention of allowing such a mass of angry workers near their station.
A tug of war between the protesters and the cops went on for some time. Meanwhile, a string of liberals, like the ACLU's Norman Siegel, were negotiating with the cops to allow some kind of march but Giuliani and Safir (the police chief) were having none of it. Unknown to them, the protesters were getting fed up too. Finally one pocket of them broke through a barricade.
A genuine street battle ensued. Bottles and batteries started to rain down on the cops. The cops fought back swinging into the crowd with clubs and pepper spray. The youth didn't back down and led the way. They threw everything they could find at the cops, then retreated quickly for half a block. The cops would find only empty streets. Then the youth would launch another round and the events would be repeated.
Bringing in the cavalry, two lines of cops on horseback galloped down the street. This action enraged the workers. They leapt into the streets after the horses passed and dragged out every remaining barricade. They flipped them over and crisscrossed them so that one entire block became an obstacle course for the horses. Buying time this way, the workers raced to the next intersection and blended once again into the crowd.
After a few more such skirmishes the day ended, although tension was high all night. Flatbush remained under heavy police presence. On the other hand, any empty cop vehicle had its windows smashed and tires slashed. These workers are not finished, nor is their rage calmed.
Our task now, as we bring this issue to our jobs and schools, is to link it sharply with May Day. Every contact, every new member, every angry worker needs to become an organizer for May Day. The first step is bringing all these new and old friends to our May Day dinner, Sunday April 9.
As our recent experiences around the Diallo verdict and the school walk-outs reveal, and the battle of Flatbush confirms, there are enormous opportunities for our Party to lead and participate in working-class struggle, especially when fascism is advancing. What have we learned from these recent developments?
First of all, it takes a long- term outlook. Our Party, for example, has been building work in Flatbush for many years. Ten years ago we responded to the racist attack blaming Haitians for the AIDS epidemic when all the liberals turned their backs on the issue. Our work in many of the community organizations has been sporadic over the years. Our weakness was that we could not fully understand where this kind of work could lead because at that time we could not see big results. But we continued to build a modest base with many students and young workers.
The anger of the masses exploded on Saturday because of many reasons. While Sharpton appeared at the head of the procession from the funeral parlor to the church, and his call for "federal supervision" of the NYPD may have influenced many, there were other thousands who saw the only answer to racist attacks by the cops was to fight back. They reacted to Mayor Giuliani's racist remarks attacking Patrick Dorismond as a criminal.
The spontaneous voice of these workers and youth was especially angry when the cops, acting in their usual racist brutal way, began pushing people around. Barricades went down, bottles were thrown at the cops, and 27 cops were hurt.
But all these things won't amount to too much if we don't work consistently in these mass organizations and develop and solidify closer and deep ties with as many workers and youth as possible, leading them to march on May Day and join PLP. Had we worked in these mass organizations more intensively for the past ten years, we would have been in a better position, with a larger mass base, to lead this action, politically and organizationally.
As we do this work, we not only can lead sharper mass struggle against police terror but also can expose the role of ALL cops as racist goons of the bosses. At the same time we can better expose the liberals like Sharpton-Siegel-Hillary Clinton. Their gimmicks of community policing and federal supervision of the NYPD are "cures" that are worse than the current disease. We need sharp internal struggle to guarantee these things. It reflects our overall aim to be leaders of our class.
When we do manage to pull these lessons together we develop politically. We become seasoned communists ready for the exciting yet difficult road to revolution.
The specter of mass working class rebellion against killer cops is haunting New York City's bosses. All the leading Democrats and other liberals are now blaming the rise of militant protest and anti-cop violence on Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his police commissioner, Howard Safir.
Giuliani and Safir are obvious racist thugs, who have given the cops a license to shoot first and lie later. But rehashing what we already know, or fighting only the Giuliani-Safir forces won't help workers build the struggle for communist revolution, the only way to end cop terror. Under the profit system, the police will always serve as the rulers' front line of defense against our class. But sometimes the plan isn't so clear. We have to look beyond the obvious and identify the enemies who parade as our friends so that we can fight harder and better.
But the issue goes beyond these statistics. At the heart of the argument among the big bosses is what strategy to use to turn U.S. society into an effective police state as the main, Rockefeller liberal wing of the ruling class prepares to develop fascism at home and to wage imperialist wars abroad. These liberals have a plan: "community policing." Their leading spokesman in New York is William Bratton, Giuliani's first police commissioner. Bratton & Co. understand that terror can't be effective unless the cops have a wide base of support among the very workers they're terrorizing. This is the role of "community policing." The liberals want to dump Giuliani because he and Safir haven't bought this program.
Community policing is a deadly, racist trap. Bratton first carried out this strategy in the late 1980s in Boston, where he had been police commissioner before coming to New York. He had cops infiltrate churches and schools in black, Asian, and working-class white neighborhoods. Working with police-friendly collaborators, they fingered "criminals." The Boston courts are now jailing workers in record numbers, mostly for non-violent offenses.
But Bratton was just a figurehead for his real employers, the liberal bankers and industrialists who run Massachusetts and have close ties to the Rockefeller Establishment. Helped by a hand-picked gang of academics and union leaders, they created a think-tank called the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC). This crew devised the criminal justice master plan that included Boston's "community policing." MassINC's sponsors include Fleet Bank, Bell Atlantic, Mellon Bank, Boston Edison, IBM, the AFL-CIO and the Massachusetts Teachers' Association. No fewer than six Harvard professors serve as advisers or directors. Other support for this scheme comes from the Boston Coalition, which is funded by Joe Kennedy and the State Street Bank, among others.
In 1996, MassINC published its first recommendations. They left little to the imagination. The report began with a call to "build more prison cells and fill them." To keep the prison pipeline flowing, the bosses urged, "maintain the momentum toward community policing." They underscored the need to hire more black cops and make "changes in recruitment, training, and promotion practices." The report praised police "collaboration with community groups" and encouraged more police work in "schools, welfare, housing and health care."
With help from their Harvard henchmen and the AFL-CIO, Boston's captains of finance are realizing their dream. MassINC boasts that the population doubled in state prisons and quadrupled in county jails between 1985 and 1999. Never mind that more than half are in for non-violent violations like drugs and petty theft. Many are doing time for first offenses.
First the Massachusetts bosses demonize and lock up one segment of the working class. They do this in the name of "protecting" everyone else. Meanwhile, this Big Lie is supposed to create a climate of opinion favorable to the rulers' grand strategy for war and the militarization of society. By promoting respect for government authority, "community policing" tries to advance patriotic class collaboration. One of MassINC's leaders is Ira Jackson, a fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School and a former Bank of Boston executive. He also helps direct Harvard's International Security Program (ISP). This ISP works closely with the Rockefeller-run Brookings Institution and Council on Foreign Relations in formulating U.S. imperialism's increasingly hawkish foreign policy. As the bosses gird for war, the ISP worries about the growing alienation between civilians and the military in the U.S. MassINC's goal is to close a similar gap between civilians and the police.
Boston is one of the cities to which the liberals point with pride as a successful example of policing. They would love to clone it elsewhere. The Boston Coalition has a ten-point "Operation 2006" plan, which is intended as a model for other cities like Chester, PA, Gary, IN, Louisville, KY, Tampa, FL and, most importantly, Los Angeles. Bratton & Co. have already made clear that Giuliani's main sin is his refusal to consider the "community policing" model for New York. It is already being implemented across the river in Newark. Bratton's pal, Rutgers' professor George Kelling, a Harvard Kennedy Fellow at the influential School of Criminal Justice, is responsible for the ideological backbone for this program.
So it's only a matter of time before New York, LA and other major U.S. cities get on board with the liberal program for mass imprisonment that has so well served the bosses in laboratory cities like Boston, Newark and San Diego. There can be just one big hitch. Workers don't have to fall for it. The most militant section of the working class doesn't have to line up behind Al Sharpton and welcome racist terror under the guise of "community policing." If our Party continues to develop in influence and boldness, it will have a lot to say about the direction in which workers head as the rulers attempt to carry out this deadly plan. The PLP has done a bold, effective job of helping galvanize mass anger against Giuliani & Co. We must now redouble our determination and skill to bring our ideas into the struggles that will inevitably erupt against even deadlier liberal-sponsored terror.
These Democratic misleaders are using the anger of many workers and youth against racist police terror to call for a "cure"--community policing--that is even worse than the current Giuliani-Safir disease (see editorial). We must fight tooth and nail against this liberal "solution."
Community policing tries to recruit workers to become cops against other workers. In Boston, where community policing was implemented several years ago, black and Latin youth have been complaining of "routine mistreatment" by the police. These same youth co-operated with the police in setting up their neighborhood policing tactics. A recent survey of 300 youths reports that 210 had been stopped and questioned "without reasons." (Boston Globe, 3/28)
Workers and youth must not be won to build the bosses' community policing. The only way to destroy fascist police terror is to smash capitalism and build a communist society.
Based on a "true story," the movie, tells the story of Erin Brockovich (Julia Roberts), an apparently working-class woman "down on her luck" whose tireless research proves deliberate pollution by Pacfic Gas & Electric (PG&E) in California, causing poisonings and deaths. She is motivated by a desire to obtain compensation for workers and others who've been poisoned.
Brockovich achieves the respect and admiration she feels has escaped her. She relates to, and cares about the workers. She mouths off to anyone in her way, mostly lawyers and bosses' representatives.
The obvious sexism--flaunting her breasts and wearing short skirts--is portrayed as helping to attain her goal (of compensation for the workers), but apparently it did not entice workers to sign on to the case.
PG&E representatives, while bumbling and inept, are clearly violent against the workers in the toll of death and disease inflicted on them from the polluted water. The message is that PG&E, a major corporation, can be brought to its knees by the right combination of lawyers, legal assistants and people willing to sign their names. Crusading legal assistants can triumph!
It's a win-win situation for capitalism. The bosses admit some blatant excesses, workers can win in the courts and the do-gooder lawyers get their "just rewards" (millions in legal fees).
The workers are also portrayed as ignorant and naïve victims, largely focused on getting their individual piece of the pie. The message of this and many "fight-back-against-the-rich" movies: don't kill capitalism, just call your lawyer!
Beginning in the early 1930's, Paul Robeson made a unique contribution through his artistry: he put his art in the service of the international working class, especially in the fight against racism. While never proclaiming himself a member of the Communist Party, Robeson was a communist in his every word and deed.
Why was it logical for him to become a communist? As he looked around at the world during the Great Depression, the only white people he saw with black friends were communists. The only group who made a central issue of racism against black people at that time were the communists. He saw communists fighting the evictions of workers, putting their furniture back into their homes when they couldn't pay the rent. He saw communists fighting for integration in housing and in the unions. He saw communists always being on the side of the working class. It was natural for him, a passionate integrationist, to gravitate to communism.
When he went to the Soviet Union to see for himself this great working class achievement, he discovered the only country in the world that actually declared racism to be against the law. As a black man growing up in the United States, the grandson of a slave, it was the first time in his life he felt he could walk around freely without experiencing racism. In fact, the named a mountain after him.
Despite the anti-communist and racist attacks by the government and by black "leaders," despite attacks by segments of the white working class, at Peekskill and elsewhere, he still maintained his principles defending unity of black and white, of communism and of the Soviet Union. He stood with others who were open communists, like Ben Davis, the first black communist councilman from New York City. He refused to back down in his support of communists when they were jailed by the government.
It was for all these reasons, and for his commitment to use his art to serve the working class, that during his lifetime Robeson was never promoted in black history month, why the ruling class buried his history. People who came to appreciate Paul Robeson came to appreciate communism as well.
This is why he was not only banned from traveling abroad (they feared his message) but from speaking in the U.S. as well. Interestingly enough, when I participated in an attack on the Ku Klux Klan recently in New York City, we were criticized for violating the Klan's right of "free speech." Yet while the police were mobilized to defend the Klan, they were also used to stop Robeson from speaking-which shows you how meaningless that concept is.
We should learn a very important principle from Robeson's life, one free of any ego thing, that fighting back against oppression is the best thing we can do with our lives. If we are not involved in fighting back, our lives are not worth that much. It is not enough to "get an education," and "get a better job." We must learn from Paul Robeson that we must become involved in the fight for the kind of world he was fighting for.
To all this, the audience of approximately 100 working-class students, mostly white college students and about 25 mostly black and Latin high school students were enthralled. They "lit up" and clapped when they heard about the action against the Klan in New York City. Afterwards many of them came up to talk and asked what they could read about Robeson. Three white professors confided that the fact that he was a communist was what they wanted to hear.
A black minister who grew up in Arkansas said he didn't know much about Robeson but given what he had just heard, Robeson had to have been a tremendous source of inspiration and pride and had to have been respected greatly by black people.
A letter received afterwards from the teacher who had invited us thanked us for "bringing this powerful message of commitment and courage through the example of Paul Robeson's remarkable life....I have heard nothing but praise from faculty and students for your presentation."
In the past year there has been a noticeable upsurge in the class struggle in the U.S. A mass multi-racial protest against the flying of the Confederate flag over the South Carolina Statehouse. A militant, multi-racial strike against scabbing by dockworkers in that same state. A six-week strike by 19,000 SPEEA engineers against Boeing supported by large numbers of mechanics in the International Association of Machinists. Large, angry and combative protests against the KKK and racist police murders of four black men in the last 13 months in New York City. Multi-racial youth protests against fascist Proposition 21 in Los Angeles.
In some of these actions PLP has given political leadership based on the Party's past and on-going organizing among workers and students and inside mass organizations. It is significant that some number of workers and students, both members and friends of PLP, will come to May Day directly from thesre front lines of struggle. This development enables the Party to grow and deepen and spread communist political leadership in the mass movement.
Who can march on May Day? You can! Those who are PLP members or not. Those who agree with all of the Party's ideas and objectives and those who agree with some. Those who identify with particular fightbacks, against racist police terror, against exploitation in the factories, against Workfare and prison slave labor. Those in solidarity with the jailed UNAM strikers in Mexico, those for working class international solidarity, for workers power, to destroy racism, war and fascism. All march on May Day to feel the strength of the working class, to enjoy the comradeship of old and new friends on the buses, at the march and picnic that follows.
Who are May Day leaders? Anyone who wants to be! We lead the fight to mobilize May Day marchers, to explain the Party's ideas on the buses, to solicit new Party members and Challenge readers, to have a disciplined and secure march.
Sounds good! But May Day doesn't organize itself simply because we want it to. It requires detailed plans and hard work.
(In our next issue, we will outline the detailed, six-point plan to organize 600 May Day marchers from Upper Manhattan in NYC.)
During the past two weeks a PLP member, who is a candidate in the NY Metro Area Postal Union (NY-MAPU) election, focused on these questions while speaking to groups of workers in the swing (lunch) rooms of four large postal facilities in Manhattan.
Postal management wants postal workers to be grateful that we have a job, claiming we get "good" wages and benefits, etc. However, what little we get are not "gifts" from management. The simple truth--something not taught in school or in the media--is that every penny of postal revenue is earned by the labor of postal workers, not by management.
People pay 33cents to send a letter. Collectively, postal workers get the letter to its destination.
However, the money is "legally stolen" from us by postal management (they get the revenues). Postal workers get back only some of it in wages and benefits. The rest of the value our labor creates pays for operating expenses (gas for trucks, electricity, labels, etc.), bonuses for supervisors, new technology (machines which are used to eliminate jobs) and PROFITS. The same is true in all other companies. Most workers in the swing rooms nodded their heads in understanding this practical explanation of the "labor theory of value."
Although Congress has not yet privatized the USPS, partial privatization is already here in the form of "contracting out": ten Priority Mail centers, postage on the internet, small contract post offices, etc. With five straight years of huge profits, wealthy private corporations want a piece of the profit pie.
The new Postmaster General (PMG) William Henderson told mailing industry leaders at the National Postal Forum: "Cost cutting alone won't secure our future. We must create new business models...Call it deregulation, privatization or liberalization...." Can't be clearer than that.
Privatization puts profits into the bosses' hands. It doesn't help workers. The current mediocre salaries and benefits of postal workers will be dramatically reduced once private companies acquire more of the action using non-union labor, including many part-time workers. Fighting this threat is the responsibility of every worker.
In the election campaign the PLP member has met several former co-workers with whom he has had little or no contact for over 20 years. After hugs & kisses, updates on grown children, sharing of memories, and talk of the union election, many of these old friends asked: "Are you still active with radical politics?" The answer was: "Yes. Would you like the latest copy of CHALLENGE?" Their answers? "Yes."
A friend of Jason Rodriguez, who was murdered by the Montebello police, described how after the cop shot Jason, the whole Montebello police department conspired to keep this knowledge from his family for five days. Finally, relatives located Jason at a hospital 20 miles away. Jason's friend called on everyone to build the March on April 1st at the Rampart Police station and said we can't be passive in the face of these attacks.
Two communist poets read angry poems about the need to fight the bosses and to end racism and capitalism with communist revolution, building a society where we all share what we produce, without the cops' club and pistol in our faces.
Another speaker reported on the clash of cops and demonstrators in Brooklyn protesting the latest NYPD murder. The speaker said the bosses have a big problem: the very youth they're terrorizing are the ones they're relying on to defend their empire. These same youth and workers will be their gravediggers, especially when more youth go into the bosses' army and factories to fight to build PLP and lay the basis for the long-term fight for workers' power. Finally. a speaker asked all those who wanted to join PLP to raise their hands. Ten young organizers did just that!
There is still a lot of excitement about the school walkouts and the coming march on the Rampart police station. We're building a movement and what each one of us does counts--every CHALLENGE read and distributed, every discussion exposing capitalism, every walkout and protest against police terror that we're involved in--it all develops us as leaders of our class that will ultimately destroy this racist, capitalist system.
We need to more clearly lay bare the plans of the liberal rulers who are "exposing" the LAPD the better to control them for their own purposes. They want community policing, where the cops enjoy the support of community leaders in putting more youth in prison.
In order to combine theory with practice, we are having a series of classes on building the fight against liberal fascism, building May Day and the PLP--and then go out and do it!
The ambulance took him away.
They took us downtown. The hat passed around We got bailed out the next day.
I've seen the idled gang of Local 433
bring the superintendent down to his knee.
I've seen angry youth fighting the state,
chanting in unison and burning the symbols of the culture they hate. I've seen campesinos for the first time read Marx, internal explosions ignited by strategic sparks. I've seen workers build a society, argue political economy, and feel truly free.
I've seen in struggle where people unite. I predict a sunrise.
In this darkness we must fight.
Capital will crumble as their skyscrapers fall.
Workers and peasants will control it all.
Our Party was involved in the ten-month strike at UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) from the beginning. We fought hard and made many deep friendships. We are learning from our strengths and weaknesses, drawing important lessons from this mass struggle.
A 1987 CHALLENGE article described another strike at UNAM. It exposed the strike leadership's reformism and pro-capitalist electoral line. It predicted these leaders would become a new electoral party to mislead masses of angry workers and students. That's exactly what happened. The PRD was born, the party that constantly attacked the militant strikers. Fighting for our ideas is a long-term proposition, which will win the respect and participation of the most serious class-conscious youth and workers.
When the strikers refused to accept the rulers' proposals, the capitalists used their cops, courts and jails to re-establish control of the campuses. They arrested 1,000 students, our young comrades among them. Most have been released from jail. Some still face serious charges.
This exposed the whole fascist bureaucracy controlling UNAM, and unmasked the liberals and intellectuals who helped the authorities smash the strike. The Catholic Church and all the electoral parties were exposed as servants of capitalism. Thousands of students learned that capitalist education only meets the needs of the market. The needs of the working class will only be met when the workers' red army smashes the bosses' state power, abolishes private property, and seizes the factories, farms and schools, which rightfully belong to us.
We answered, "Destroy production for profit. Establish communist relations based on the needs of the working class." We tried to use the strike as a "school for communism." This means that the main measure of victory is winning strikers to "serve the working class" by joining PLP and the long-term fight for communism. We exposed "free market" capitalism (neo-liberalism) and nationalism as two sides of the same capitalist coin. We influenced many students and workers. Some joined the Party and study groups.
Many will become cynical, trapped in anarchism, or will join the guerillas and end up fighting for another set of bosses. Che Guevara was revived as a popular hero of the strike, while the fact was buried that the Communist Party had led the workers to power in Russia and China. We must continue to confront growing fascism with mass organizing.
The rulers are dismantling UNAM because of the deepening crisis of overproduction and the sharpening rivalry between U.S. and European imperialists. Mexico is a major battlefield in this struggle for markets and cheap labor. The local capitalists as well as the imperialists are all responsible. Their competition is leading to fascism and war. Fascists like Burgoa and Carranca used Brigido Navarrete's goon squads to impose academic business-as-usual at the point of a gun.
PLP is rebuilding the international communist movement. This is not an easy task and requires a long-term outlook. CHALLENGE is crucial to this process, our main ideological weapon in the fight for the political leadership of the masses. We plan to write more for the paper and distribute thousands of copies in the coming weeks. Most important, we can have many more youth marching on May Day under the red flag of communist revolution.
Putin's consolidation of power represents a victory for those Russian bosses out to revive the country as a superpower. Russia, with all its problems, still has the military power to challenge the U.S. The missile launching sent exactly that message.
Putin will establish a sort of "national-socialist" government (state capitalism/fascism). Guy Hermet, a French expert on Russia, was interviewed by Pagina12 (a Buenos Aires daily) and described what Putin will do: "Putin, in my opinion, will follow a `national-Bolshevik' line. This means that even though he is not a communist, even though the Zyuganov Party ["communist"] opposes him...there are certain similarities. Putin represents the desire to restore the power and dignity of Russia. You can clearly see this in the Chechenya war. Therefore, Putin will follow a different orientation than that of Yeltsin. Russia is entering a more nationalist stage....Putin doesn't have the image of a man who dismantled communism, like Yeltsin. He is a sort of symbol of reconciliation between the present and the past."
Stratfor, the Internet intelligence service associated with the Baker oil interests, more or less agrees with Hermet. Its March 27 bulletin says: "Western leaders appear befuddled over just who this man is, what he wants and what he is likely to do. Indeed, the curious notion that Putin is pro-Western has taken hold in some sectors. This is whistling past the graveyard. With the election now behind him, Russia's president is likely to grab hold of the economy by taking control of Russia's oligarchs. And he is equally likely to challenge the U.S. on its plans for a national missile defense. Such a Russian challenge will threaten to split America from its allies in Europe."
As we reported in last week's CHALLENGE, many Washington hawks, like Brzezinski (former President Carter's National Security Adviser) and current Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright, are warning about a new Cold War, with Russia and China in mind as U.S. enemies (one reason for Clinton's India
visit was to use that country to counter China in Asia).
Even though bosses' mouthpieces like the Wall Street Journal report that "peace is breaking out" all over the world, the facts point otherwise. The Soviet communist leader Lenin wrote a century ago that capitalism and imperialism inevitably lead to war. It's still true.
There's no crystal ball to predict when "Cold war II" would become another world war, but that's the general direction. As Bertolt Brecht, the German communist poet-playwright, once said: "When the bosses talk peace, better get your helmet."
In the recent congress, the PCF "modernized" itself by embracing capitalism more openly, breaking totally with the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Meanwhile, outside the PCF congress near Marseilles, several dozens dissidents protested, carrying red flags and portraits of Lenin and chanting, "We are Communists and want to stay that way." But the PCF hasn't been communist for decades. It helped French President Charles DeGaulle crush the massive May 1968 general strike that threatened French capitalism in May 1968. Millions of workers and students paralyzed France. DeGaulle used the PCF, which was hated by the most militant workers and youth for years of betraying to their struggle, attacked the strikers. DeGaulle, fearing soldiers in the French army would join the strikers, also called on the West German army to help crush the strikers.
Real communists must forget about the PCF and begin the hard task of building a new revolutionary communist movement. It must be based on fighting all forms of capitalism and winning workers and youth to fight for a communist society, where production can then serve the needs of the working class and not that of a few bosses.
On February 18, the four cops who shot Amadou Diallo were found "not guilty" by a jury in Albany. That same week Malcolm Ferguson, a 23-year-old African-American, also unarmed, was gunned down on the second floor of his building by the police.
The cops were scared. When they killed this second unarmed man just three blocks away, there was another demonstration. The same night we took to the streets. This time we went all the way to the 43rd precinct. The police put up barricades and put on their riot gear.
I had the pleasure of being at this protest. It was very exhilarating. We made signs that said, "Shoot me, I have a wallet" and "come and get me, I'm a protester." The demonstration lasted about two hours. Now every time someone calls the police they come with two cars and a van full of cops.
Everyone is afraid to call the police because they're afraid they'll get beat up or killed! So the whole Soundview area continues to fight, wait and hope the police are made to pay for their crimes.
As the recent murder of Patrick Dorismond in midtown Manhattan demonstrates, this is not just the problem of a few "bad" policemen but a systemic problem with the entire racist criminal justice system. The policemen who killed Maynard Ferguson and Patrick Dorismond were Hispanic so simply recruiting more minority police officers is not the solution.
East Harlem HS student
Elections are that part of capitalist democracy used to legitimize the power the bosses use to oppress the working class. The rulers use it as a tool to channel workers' anger into believing they change things choosing their next oppressor. Elections also serve to settle disputes among the different capitalist factions. When elections don't do the trick, the rulers of any country quickly turn to open dictatorship over workers and their enemies within the ruling class.
On May 16, elections will take place here in the Dominican Republic, among several bourgeois forces and revisionists (fake leftists). PLP members and friends met to discuss what to do in this electoral circus. We agreed it's not enough just to tell workers "don't vote" in the electoral farce. Hundreds of thousands of workers and youth are mobilized by the different electoral parties through mass rallies and other activities. We must use this opportunity to bring them our politics, using CHALLENGE, showing them the failure of the capitalist system and winning them to see PLP as the only alternative.
To accomplish that we must increase our efforts, particularly among young workers and teachers. Many of them are very disillusioned with elections, seeing that, once in power, the winning candidate always forgets his promises.
Our activities during this period will include a May Day march attacking the electoral circus as a fraud and calling on workers and youth to help us build a mass PLP. To organize for the march we will distribute several leaflets to workers in the free-trade zones and in several schools. We will also reproduce PLP's pamphlet on elections to discuss it at PLP dinners among comrades and friends in order to better understand the nature of the bosses' elections. Finally we will print 1,000 copies of a local CHALLENGE to bring our communist politics to workers.
PLP Leadership Collective, Dominican Republic,
The participants were very angry at how cops treat taxi drivers and felt that something must be done to confront those attacks. Although the meeting's organizers said many things, they never made the connection between the police harassment of taxi drivers, the police killing workers and the racist nature of the system. I then brought up the issue of Amadou Diallo, the African worker killed by the NYPD only because he was black. I said we can't trust the justice system. As taxi drivers we have to show our anger at the system that allows these thing to happen. Then many people also came up with different ideas on what action we should take. One driver from Egypt said we should organize a taxi caravan protest to the site where Amadou was killed. Other drivers had other suggestions.
This forced the organizer to put it on the agenda for a meeting of the taxi coalition. However, I am meeting with some taxi drivers and we're planning an April caravan to protest police terror.
We found that the May Day march will be on May 6th in Washington D.C. and that the Progressive Labor Party, a revolutionary political party, sponsors the demonstration.
We watched a good video on last years' May Day march, discussed the issue of police brutality and thought about some ideas that we can use to raise money to get buses. We decided to do fundraisers such as bake sales, and have a dinner party. Some of us will ask friends to donate money.
May Day shows people all over the world that we all care about our rights and that we are all going to fight to get them. If you care about fighting for your rights, I think it is a good idea to hop on the bus to Washington on May 6th, 2000.
My friend was going and I was expecting to see public speakers that would catch my attention as regards to the ideas and actually learn more about communism.
What was your reaction as hundreds of marchers marched with red flags and communist banners?
I was surprised because of the type of government that we have. I did not know there where so many communists in this country. I was shocked because I saw a big group of communists.
What did you like most of the May Day March last year?
Some of the chants and some of the speeches.
How will you help make this year's May Day March a bigger march than ever?
Try to make more people come up to it and explain some of the ideas to them, teach people about what the march is for, and explain what we want to accomplish from this march. Organize people and give them an orientation before they leave to the march. Finally, what I want to tell people is to "think about it and if you're down for the struggle, then you should participate in the march because it's a good experience."
Four days later there was a pitched battle there between 600 cops and 600 black and white longshoremen. The cops were protecting 20 scabs trying to lower the living standards of the organized longshoremen. The stevedore companies are pushing the longshoremen toward slavery. The continuing battle between capital and labor is the real fight around this racist symbol of the confederate flag.
The 13th amendment did not abolish slavery; the slavemasters left themselves a grand loophole. Slavery is not "illegal" when it is used as a punishment for crime. In the South there were increased arrests of young black men around harvest time and they were contracted out to the growers to work in the fields and on the roads--thus the old "Chain Gangs."
The fight against racist slavery needs to continue right here in Stockton, Calif. The Northern California Women's Facility on East Arch Road plans to enslave 75 more women for the profit of Golden State Lumber Company of Petaluma, CA. According to the January 27th Stockton Record, this company proposes to spend up to $2 million to build a facility in that women's prison. The prison already has a joint venture contract with American Moulding and Millwork.
The prisons say they pay inmates the minimum wage. However after deducting federal and state taxes an inmate's paycheck is divided into five parts, of which she receives one-fifth. [For more information on this see article page????, and PLP's pamphlet on prison labor, Ed.]
The racist confederate flag must come down! Racist prison slavery must end!
A Stockton Comrade
Your pamphlet on Prison Labor is devastating and your documentation makes it irrefutable and unanswerable. And that latter fact induced me to subscribe to CHALLENGE. I hope that your newspaper also documents all its statements.
I read one statement that is most questionable. It said that ALL cops are bad-like the Ramparts rats here in L.A. Can you prove that?
Yours in struggle for a better world and yours for truth instead of exaggeration.
CHALLENGE Comments: Thank you for your comments on the pamphlet. For proof that all cops serve and protect the racist rulers, see front page article and the editorial in this issue.