Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Coming Bart Strike: The Bay Area’s Battle Against Union Busting

Flier for the rally.  Spread the word!

Flier for the rally. Spread the word!

The capitalist offensive against unions, Wisconsin style, is coming to the Bay Area. BART’s administration has a surplus of money, but the proposals they have put forward for the three BART unions is a concrete step towards their destruction. The destruction of these strong public sector unions will only expand to the rest of the unionized sector, further enslaving the working class to capital. Only a classwide offensive, a movement of drivers and riders, and other workers striking in solidarity, can reverse this process. ATU 1555, ATU 192, AFSCME 3999, ILWU 10, and SEIU 1021 have called for a rally and march, August 1st in downtown Oakland. This is a good step, but concrete actions will need to be taken when the strike unfolds August 5th. The two key objectives will be to unify BART workers and riders in mass mobilizations, breaking the media sponsored attacks, as well as integrate other key working class forces into the struggle, AC Transit, MUNI, ILWU 10, and public sector workers; all of whom, collectively, can shut down the whole system. That form of power along with broad community support is what it will take to counter this attack and form the basis for a broader class offensive.

Please attend the rally and march August 1st, and tell your co-workers and friends.

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#HoodiesUp: All Out to the Justice for Trayvon Rally and Community Speak Out (7/15)


Here is a copy of the flier.  Please Distribute far and wide!

Here is a copy of the flier. Please Distribute far and wide!

Another Black youth murdered in cold blood, and the murderer, according to the courts, is not guilty! The case of Trayvon Martin is an example of what America is composed of, the racism that deeply penetrates its veins, and the state that overseas its process. Trayvon Martin was vilified by the courts as a thug, and its murderer was defended as a noble citizen. How many Black and Latino youth have to be victims of such violence? When will we build a movement so powerful that can challenge such violence? When will the working class be organized to shutdown the system when such racist violence occurs? These are the critical questions of the day. We have experienced the Rodney King movement, the movement around the murder of Sean Bell, Kimani Gray, Kenneth Harding, and Oscar Grant. Yet these murders continue unchallenged.

Our strategy against such murders shall be, in the short term, organizing militant protests when such verdicts are executed and organize the working class in the long term as preparation for such moments. Only until the working class, located in strategic industries, that shutdowns components of the system, will we see a viable movement challenging the system. In the Oscar Grant movement we experienced a wave of rebellions on January 7th, and January 14th, 2009, as well as ILWU local 10 shutting down the port on October 23rd, 2010. The combination of street rebellions and shutting down industry are effective tactics against the state. The state, a concentration of power, will not take anything seriously, until there is a force that challenges such power ascends in the field of political battle. Our history of struggles against police brutality has been paralyzed between disorganized bursts of anger coupled with nonprofit lead forces that channel anger back into the system.

We need a militant organized movement of the working class who utilizes its position in society against state supported racist violence. The racist nature of American society will never be challenged until the working class begins to shutdown the system as a political response. A political organization with such explicit aims is needed to accomplish such tasks. Now is the time to organize for justice.

Come support the rally occurring Monday, July 15, 2013 at 14th and Broadway in Downtown Oakland.

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Zimmerman: Guilty or Innocent, still a Racist Vigilante

Trayvon
For the past week, I’ve been glued to the television screen watching as much as I can of the George Zimmerman trial. Accused of second-degree murder, the state of Florida is prosecuting Zimmerman for racially profiling and then shooting to death African-American seventeen-year old Trayvon Martin. Since those reading this will surely be acquainted with this infamous and racially-charged event, I will only briefly recount the happenings of that fateful night.

On the night of February 26th, 2012, Trayvon Martin was on his way back to his dad’s home in a gated town home community in Sanford, Florida, in the central part of the state. Carrying a bag of skittles candy, a can of Arizona iced tea, and wearing a hoodie on that rainy night, Trayvon Martin was walking through Zimmerman’s neighborhood as the latter followed him in his car, suspicious of the young man because of the color of his skin and due to a series of robberies committed in his area in the previous months. The prosecution holds that Zimmerman needlessly followed and then provoked Trayvon into a scuffle that ended in the teen’s death at the hands of Zimmerman’s pistol from point-blank range. The defense has an easier road to follow; while the state must prove beyond reasonable doubt to the jury (9 women, 8 of which are white) that Zimmerman murdered Trayvon with “malice” and “ill will”, all the defense team has to do is sow enough doubt in the case against their client and uphold Zimmerman’s theory of self-defense. They’ve done this with some success. They’ve poked holes and sought to deligitimize every prosecution witness from Trayvon’s friend Rachel Jeantel, who was on the phone with Trayvon during the initial stage of his confrontation with Zimmerman, to the Sanford police investigator of the crime, and the medical examiner who diagnosed Zimmerman’s head injuries as essentially insignificant.

The trial in itself is fascinating in the way in which the opposing sides meticulously scrutinize every detail of the situation to reinforce their story. The media outlets broadcasting the trial routinely take breaks in which commentators of various backgrounds chime in and give their viewpoints on how the case is proceeding and usually betray their sympathies for the defense or prosecution. The entire spectacle is fixated on the whether George Zimmerman legitimately feared for his life due to Trayvon Martin’s aggression and employed his self-defense right to “meet force with force” (as the Florida self-defense law dubbed “Stand Your Ground” Zimmerman claims to have based his killing on states.). The defense seeks to build up Zimmerman as an honest and trustworthy American who fell upon an unfortunate situation that required the use of lethal force. Several of the defense’s 18 witnesses know Zimmerman personally and went on and on about his concern for his community, his work with small children, etc., all in an attempt to influence the jury’s perspective on Zimmerman. This strategy, for the defense, implies framing Trayvon as just another street thug, a good-for-nothing criminal who asked for what he got. They’ve honed in on his tattoos as an example of that, although when Trayvon’s mother took the stand she told the defense lawyer Mark O’Mara during her cross-examination that those tattoos were in honor of her and his grandmother. The defense rejects any accusations of racism against their client as they employ typical stereotypes of Black men to slander Trayvon’s legacy and justify his death.

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2012-2013 Classroom Struggle Review and Reflection

We picked up this end of the year reflection from our friends in Classroom Struggle. Advance the Struggle appreciates the hard work these warriors for public education have put in since their inception during Occupy Oakland.  As the attacks on public schools continue nationwide we feel their work continues to be the most inspiring in this extremely important sector of the working class.  CS Logo2

Friday June 14th, 2013 was the last official day of school in Oakland Unified School District, the last official day for students was Thursday the 13th.

Its always good to see the delighted looks on the faces of teachers and students as they ready their summer plans, and some don caps and gowns to celebrate the pinnacle of K-12 education, also known as high school graduation. Congrats to all of the class of 2013!

Militants in Classroom Struggle (CS) also look forward to summer, as it gives us a chance to review and reflect on the successes and failures of the school year and touch up our strategy for the coming school year (2013-2014).  

Last year at this time, we were preparing to occupy Lakeview Elementary School in protest of the closure of five elementary schools serving primarily black and latino families. This year the district did not close any schools. But they did try to eliminate the rest of the already decimated adult education/GED programs throughout the district. CS is thrilled to report that the district decided to save these programs rather than eliminate them (more on that below including the role CS played in support of the students and teachers of that program).

We continued publishing our newsletter – also called Classroom Struggle (formerly Education for the 99%) – putting out many high quality articles meant to move teachers in a more radical direction with the intent to fight against the worst of Tony Smith and the Oakland School Board not to mention austerity funding from the feds. and Sacramento. We continue fine tuning the newsletter by distributing it across the East Bay far and wide, and make every effort to gather feedback from all of our readership. The cover and back cover art is the work of current public school students and teachers, and we will feature a new header for each new issue.  The latest is linked here:

http://education4the99.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/5th-newsletter-go-critique-webview2.pdf  

It includes: a critique of the report on “teacher quality” published by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) and heavily endorsed by GO (Great Oakland Public Schools), a solidarity letter for our teacher comrades in Mexico currently fighting against similar neo-liberal assaults on public education we’re fighting in the U.S., testimony of a public school custodian, a report on the adult education fight, and a update on the trauma of school closures from a parent of of an affected student. Please check it out.  

We began making interventions in the Oakland Education Association (OEA) as site representatives. Passing motions in support of Adult Education students & teachers along with Mexican teachers fighting neo-liberalism. Our goal was to push the union to act above and beyond the narrow interests of teacher unionism. We got motions passed for OEA to help us build for two forums we organized. The first provided a report/analysis on the current funding issues in OUSD, the second gave perspective on the importance and challenges involved with building a base of parents, teachers/school workers and students, it featured a founding member of Chicago CORE (Caucus of Rank and File Educators). The teachers responsible for organizing widespread support for the fall 2012 CTU strike. We are still very critical of current stance of OEA’s leadership, but have seen the rep. council meetings heading in a more critical direction and featuring very promising debates. Continue reading