CRUEL AND UNUSUAL — Hank Jones and Ray Boudreaux spoke before the Pasadena ACLU May 12 to tell the story of the “San Francisco 8,” former members and/or associates of the Black Panther Party who have been charged with the 1970 killing of a San Francisco police officer. The case against the men, initially dismissed in 1975 because confessions from some of them had been based on torture, was reopened in 2007.
At first glance, the SF8 are just another case of police abuse and the corrupt criminal (in)justice system. Our sympathies are with them, as they are with Mumia and Leonard Peltier and hundreds of other political prisoners, but no lasting movement has developed with the kind of strength to affect the outcome of the trial and end their persecution. The community knows the cops are a daily obstacle and are even dangerous, but the community has not seemed ready to get behind a campaign to end it.
There seem to be three models of resistance to police. The first model, which members of the SF8 ascribed to was the Black Panther model. It involved outflanking the police by building community support and conducting armed patrols of neighborhoods to monitor police.
The second model is the “police accountability” model that has been adopted by the Coalition Against Police Executions (CAPE), a coalition of Oakland non-profit organizations. This aims at reforming the police but essentially leaving them as they are, with some minor changes such as sensitivity training an extra layer of bureacracy in the form of citizen review boards.
The third model is the spontaneous eruption of anger and desperations by those members of the community that deal most directly with the police. Young black and brown men and boys from the hood that are unemployed and involved in informal markets often through gangs have shown what their response to police abuse is: riots and “cop killing.” While these responses are barely worth considering as “models” they are inform the analysis, especially considering that they are the most hotly sought after constituency for both reform organizations such as the non-profit sector (see Ella Baker Center’s “Silence the Violence Campaign”) AND militant community organizers (like the Panthers).
Instead of repeating the same sob story about police “terrorism,” and boring folks with legal details from the case, can we pose this question to working class black and brown communities: out of these three strategies – militant direct action community organizing, liberal compromising non-profit coalitions, random acts of violence – which approach is the most effective? When they answer that the militant direct action community organizing (panther) model is best, can we pose a follow-up question: who’s going to build such an organization to do that work?
Instead of imploring people to act in sympathy for these innocent old men, we should present them with the opportunity to act on their own behalf in these old men’s righteous example.
San Francisco 8 Members Blame Murder Charges on Police Corruption
Glenn Beck: Challenge to ‘Radical’ and ‘Pan-Africanist’ Obamites
In this article, Glenn Ford of Black Agenda Report calls out the hypocrites who love Obama yet claim to hate imperialism. Imperialism is a complex relationship of unequal power between nations, with a select few nations at the center of the commanding structures and the great majority of nations at the receiving end of the core countries’ dictates. The core countries got to the core because of their upward progress in the division of capitalist labor, starting with West Europe’s innovative city-based manufacturing and trans-oceanic plunder, evolving into European and North American industrial factory production and colonialism, and the present-day “financialization” of the world economy and the global network of sovereign nation states. The world today is the product of history which is pushed forward by class struggle. The independence of the former colonies was a victory for the global working class, and should be defended today. That’s precisely why the US – no matter who the president is – should never be supported in its foreign policies which even more than its domestic policies are inevitably at odds with the interests of the global proletariat.
“It requires rivers of obfuscation and oceans of purposeful omission to separate the Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States from the crimes planned and carried out in his office.”
A child wounded in the US bombing of Farah
A recent airstrike in Farah, Afghanistan is said to have killed 120 people.
Here’s an excerpt from a report by Jeremy Scahill:
After US Strikes, Afghans Describe “Tractor Trailers Full of Pieces of Human Bodies;” Meanwhile, Obama Readies 21,000 More Troops
As President Barack Obama prepares to send some 21,000 more US troops into Afghanistan, anger is rising in the western province of Farah, the scene of a US bombing massacre that may have killed as many as 130 Afghans, including 13 members of one family. At least six houses were bombed and among the dead and wounded are women and children. As of this writing reports indicate some people remain buried in rubble. The US airstrikes happened on Monday and Tuesday. Just hours after Obama met with US-backed president Hamid Karzai Wednesday, hundreds of Afghans—perhaps as many as 2,000— poured into the streets of the provincial capital, chanting “Death to America.” The protesters demanded a US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In the face of such horrific murderous barbarism, the silence from the “Antiwar” left in the U.S. is deafening. IS there an Antiwar left, left? Comments welcomed.
St. John Vincent: Oakland's Own Bad Ass Labor Militant
Buried in Oakland California, Vincent St John is one of the most important and unkown labor militants in American history. He always stayed committed to his semi anarcho revolutionary syndicalist politics and never joined or supported any political party including the early communist party.
Vincent St John on the IWW
James P Cannon, the carrier of American trotskyism was very much influenced and trained by Vincent St John during the turn of the century. Here is a memior about Vincent St John and how important and talented Vincent St John was as an organizer and a trainer to younger worker militants.
Cannon on Vincent St John
French workers take matters in their own hands. They side stepped laws and unions, and fought the employers directly. With that said, workers in the US have something to learn.
Members of a trade union give a press conference at the Caterpillar factory in Grenoble, central eastern France, on April 1st, 2009. French workers detained five managers at a plant run by US firm Caterpillar to protest plans to slash hundreds of jobs, in the latest of a string of "bossnapping" cases. Employees barricaded their bosses in a management office to demand new negotiations on laying off 733 workers at the factory in Grenoble. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT (Photo credit should read JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images)
French Workers Struggle – NYT
WSWS French workers revolt against unions
David Harvey, a leading geographer Marxist, makes important points on the contemporary economic crisis on how the capitalist elite has concentrated enormous amounts of wealth while the working class is being thrown into poverty and unemployment, and eliminating this crisis will only led to another crisis later on.
David Harvey On Crisis Upping the Ante
David Harvey on Crisis
David Harvey on Crisis Katrina-like Phenomenon
Workers in Maputo
International capital, in its search for outlets for investment in these times of worldwide stagnation, turns increasingly toward Africa. China, which itself had become the focus for foreign investment a couple decades ago, now has enough capital of its own to unleash on the world and Africa is one of its favorite targets. It is encouraging to see that Mozambiquan workers stand up to the exploitation and oppression that comes with this investment, as they have throughout the history of their interaction with the capitalist world system. As African ruling classes try so desperately to attract capital, the workers defend themselves from the consequences. As our president, partly of African heritage, takes steps to establish African Command – a regional military mega-center – and encourage capital to flow into the region, US workers have a new opportunity to develop international proletarian consciousness and to express solidarity. Solidarity is best expressed through being inspired to resist the system and do a fair share of the fighting. Are we fulfilling our duties to our class? African workers are.
Read about the Mozambique strike here.