Category Archives: Racial Unity in the Class Struggle

‘#KillerCopsBuySneakersToo’: Athletes Fight Racism

 

Image result for michael jordan watching lebron james

Eric Garner’s final words before being choked to death by police for selling cigarettes

Back in the 90’s Michael Jordan was asked if he would support Democratic Party challenger Harvey Gantt, who was running for a North Carolina senate seat against incumbent and strident racist Jesse Helms. Jordan refused and reasoned, “Republicans buy sneakers too”.  

Fast forward 25 years to Lebron James demonstrating a similar ambivalence when asked to take a position on the racist police killing of Tamir Rice. Tamir Rice was twelve years old when police officer Tim Loehmann shot him in the stomach for playing with a toy gun; he could have been wearing the latest Lebron sneakers as he was murdered.   In seven years, Tamir could have been Lebron James’ teammate.  

Tamir Rice was 12 years old when gunned down by police

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Riots, Freeways, and BART Stations: Reflections on How We Attack White Supremacy

This reflection was written by a comrade of the Advance the Struggle crew on November 29th, a day after the Black Friday shutdown of the West Oakland BART Station.  It was not published because it provoked some internal debate and discussion within our crew that we wanted to have prior to putting it out online.  

We offer it here in its rough and unfinished form as an artifact of what some of us were thinking of in the beginning of the national rebellion against the non-indictment of the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner.  

Riots, Freeways, and BART Stations: Reflections on How We Attack White Supremacy

The police execution of Mike Brown is not simply another example of black youth experiencing a state sponsored murder.  In addition to the tragedy of another black life stolen by the white supremacist state, Mike Brown’s death has called into being a nationwide movement against police brutality.  This movement has further impressed upon many people’s consciousness the delegitimization of the state that the murders of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin and others have left.  Further, the rebellions and direct actions that have been carried out by individuals, communities and organizations have demonstrated an expansion in the repertoire of resistance tactics that new and experienced militants are willing to carry out in order to disrupt the white supremacist capitalist economy and its racialized state.

So far, the two main forms of militant action that people have taken have been street rebellions characterized by informal, decentralized and evolving leadership structures as well as targeted direct actions featuring highly organized, formal and centralized leadership structures.  The rebellions that happened in the streets of Oakland on the the three evenings after the announcement of the non-indictment of Darren Wilson were examples of the former, while the Blackout Collective’s shutdown of the West Oakland BART Station is an example of the latter.

Both sets of actions were successful in disrupting sections of the economy during the holiday season, inflicting high value damage to a capitalist economy during its peak season.  Further, both actions played a role in developing the leadership capacities of young black militants, and secondarily other militants of color and white militants, though in very different ways.  Reflecting on these experiences may help us to begin thinking through how we can build upon the successful acts of resistance we’ve taken, and move forward together in continuing our organizing operations.

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Event! 9/24/14: From the Freedom Summer to Ferguson: Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Summer and the Struggle Today

 Advance the Struggle along with La Peña Second Generation proudly announce an exciting event on the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Summer.  The event will take place on Wednesday September 24th, 6:30pm at La Peña Cultural Center (3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA).  Below is a description of the event and the leaflets for the series.  Hope to see you there! 

With the recent protests and riots in Ferguson against the killing of Michael Brown by a white police officer, the issue of racial oppression has been thrust to the forefront of American popular consciousness.   It is telling, that events in Ferguson happened 50 years after the Freedom Summer movement descended on Mississippi to fight black disenfranchisement by building black political power.  Critical lessons were drawn from the Freedom Summer experience, such as the brutality of the state and it’s functionaries, the treachery of the Democratic Party towards black political demands, and the need to build independent political power and organization to challenge the structures of white supremacy.

Similarly, in Ferguson we have seen the deployment of the National Guard and the full repressive apparatus of the state to contain legitimate outrage by disenfranchised black residents over the killing of Mike Brown.  Now that the larger protests have subsided, Democratic Party operatives are calling for a renewed voter registration drive for black residents in Missouri and the South to channel their rage into votes for the Democratic Party machine.  But it is important to remember that this is the same party that houses both Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and his close political ally Jeff Roorda, a vocal police supporter and the man behind the Darren Wilson legal fund support page.  We have to ask: is this the only option?

This event will shed light on the insights from participants in the Freedom Summer on these critical questions in order to help inform the struggle against racial oppression today.

From the Freedom Summer to Ferguson-

Solidarity with the CUNY struggle!

Students from the Ad-Hoc Committee protesting war criminal Petreaus.  Photo Credit: NYMag

Students from the Ad-Hoc Committee protesting war criminal Petreaus. Photo Credit: NYMag

We in Advance the Struggle write to express solidarity with the Ad-Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY (City University of New York), including members of the CUNY 6, who were brutally assaulted and arrested for protesting CUNY’s hiring of war criminal David Petraeus, along with the Liberate CUNY Front and the students suspended for defending the Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur student and community center.  These comrades have not only exposed and resisted the increasing militarization of educational institutions in New York, but across the US.  As we have seen here in California with the appointment of former director of deportation Janet Napolitano as President of the University of California system, and “anti-terrorism expert” Arthur Tyler as Chancellor of City College of San Francisco, this is a disturbing trend that must be stopped.

The repression faced by our friends and comrades in New York is the same type of repression faced here in California by university students up and down the West Coast.  From Davis to Irvine and back up to Berkeley, students have organized against imperialist occupations in solidarity with Palestinian people, fought deportations, mobilized against fee increases and budget cuts; only to face direct repression by the UCPD, as well as legal attacks by UC administrators for speaking out and taking direct action against the likes of Zionists and many other forces of U.S. imperialism that get co-signed by the University of California system.  All tactics used by the state and administration to silence resistance to these policies.

While ties between the imperialist war machine and American universities is nothing new, the ruling class’ ‘securitization’ of the university is a troubling shift in structure and function highlighting a changing terrain of struggle. ‘Securitization‘ in this sense means both the increased repressiveness of the university through its integration and collaboration with the capitalist state and the increased role of debt and financial markets in the life of the university. In the age of violent austerity that strips state universities of any public or democratic character; students are forced to take out higher loans to finance their education, which the university business managers then sell to Wall Street investors.

This shift in the role of university education highlights a changing terrain of struggle, making it important to defend and reclaim spaces where we can take a break from the grueling demands of competitive and isolating workloads, and as a place where we can form a community of resistance against the university system – which remains part and parcel of capitalist exploitation.

Mass mobilization to defend the Morales/Shakur social center. Photo cred: http://realworldnews.tumblr.com/

Mass mobilization to defend the Morales/Shakur social center. Photo cred: http://realworldnews.tumblr.com/

This resistance must continue and expand at sites of production, reproduction, circulation and in the streets to fight a system that glorifies and hires war criminals, torture apologists and deportation lackeys whose policies have killed, tortured, and destroyed millions of lives throughout the world; the same system forcing austerity cuts that destroy quality affordable public education and other social services for many working class and oppressed peoples.

Therefore, Advance the Struggle expresses full solidarity with our comrades in New York and around the world, who struggle against the advancement of US security and imperial military interests.

Drop all charges against the CUNY 6!

Drop the charges against Taffy and Khalil!

Petraeus and Napolitano off our campuses now!

Liberate CUNY and all campuses!

For united proletarian action against capitalism and imperialism!

Who you calling an Outside Agitator: Rebellion in Brooklyn

Justice for Oscar Grant: A Lost Opportunity?

Justice for Oscar Grant: A Lost Opportunity?

On March 14th, Brooklyn had a rebellion against the NYPD killing of 16 year old Kimani Gray.  He was shot in the back. The community of East Flatbush rose up and 46 people were arrested from the rebellion. As usual, the establishment is blaming the outside agitator for the rebellion. The usual forces who do this are politicians of color who have decade long roots in the established components of the “community,” accumulating political power to rise higher in the state power structure. These people are our political enemies for liberation.  

 

In Oakland, the politicians of color, and the capitalist media, blamed outside white anarchist for the Oscar Grant rebellions. This was a joke. The anarchist could not pull off actions of such caliber. It was an organic rebellion made by largely the Black working class and dispossessed sections of society. It was youth of color who had enough.  What did not exist in Oakland during the Oscar Grant rebellions, nor in Brooklyn with the Kimani Gray rebellions, is an organization that speaks to, and coordinates these particular rebellions. These rebellions are not to turn into non profit permitted protest, nor ideological stages for demagogues, but fluid anti-permitted actions that are organized by Black and West indie youth.

 
As austerity is forced on us and the welfare state is eroded, the state has become almost a solely disciplinary force; one that’s focus is to terrorize and police the predominately black and brown  surplus populations of the city in order to ensure the smooth functioning necessary for capital accumulation.  With this in mind, struggles around police violence in communities of color will increase in number and importance.  We have written extensively about these experiences and the lessons we have drawn from them, and would encourage others to check it out.    

Here is a 10 point program to propose to our NYC comrades for the development of such a movement. These are the crystallized lessons we learned from the Oscar Grant movement.
 
 1) Coordinate unpermitted struggles in the streets in general terms. No permits.
 2) In particular, have successful snake marches that can make quick turns at moments notice against the state.
3) Have a spatial analysis of your landscape in order to do this.
 4) Have general assemblies in the street, to deepen the participatory character.
5) Play music in the streets that keeps the energy going.
6) Develop organic leaders through democratic means from these movements so its moves beyond the “tyranny of structurelessness .”
7) Link with Ghettos and Barrios across NYC and beyond.
 8) Orient towards the unionized working class of color, who are sympathetic to this rebellion. As the majority of ILWU local 10, who is majority Black, was sympathetic to the Oscar Grant rebellion, they shut down the port on October 23rd, 2010.
9) Politically struggle against the politicians of color, clergy and NGOs who will seek to co-opt this struggle for their own political capital.
10) Publicly advocate a revolutionary organization in these high times of struggle, to explain to the masses in struggle why spontaneous struggle is not enough.  
 
Hopefully, this movement in NYC, coupled with an increase of organized rebellion that maintains an anti-statist character, armed with a vision of a building a revolutionary working class movement, a new force for liberation can emerge in NYC.  With all that said, we would like to re-post Fire Next Time’s piece.

East Flatbush Rebellion, Not “Outside Agitators”

The following is a brief reportback from Will, a member of FNT who witnessed two of the last three nights of protests in East Flatbush following the police killing of 16-year old Kimani “Kiki” Gray.

eastflatbush

The “outside agitators” are back!

The legend of the outside agitator has returned. Clowns like city councilman Jumanee Williams and the leadership of Occupy the Hood are fueling the myth that last night’s rebellions was led / caused by white people or outside agitators.  I was there at last night’s rebellion, and let me tell you: there were fewer then 10 white people involved in a rebellion of hundreds of young Black militants.  Last night was led by young Black militants. Period.

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ALL OUT FOR MARCH 15th Protests to Defend ILWU Local 4 Locked Out Workers! For International Labor Solidarity!

In Advance the Struggle’s Notes on ILWU Local 4 Lockout, it argued that an orientation toward Asian longshore is necessary in order to challenge the PNGHA and United Grain capitalist attack on ILWU.  We are pleased to announce that Japanese National Railway union, Doro Chiba, has now entered the battlefield, organizing international solidarity for the longshore workers. They are mobilizing against Mitsui- United Grain, Friday March 15th. The Bay Area Transport Workers Solidarity Committee (TWSC) is supporting this international day of action, with a rally in San Francisco, Friday March 15th, 4:30PM at 1 Montgomery and Market.

Doro-Chiba asks ILWU members three questions, “Is our protest action against the Mitsui HQ meaningful for your current struggle? If so, what is your opinion about the optimal moment of our action? What are the most important demands?” These questions should be answered by the rank and file of the ILWU to generate a worker resistance with an internationalist perspective. The ILWU officialdom on the other hand is doing the opposite; they are channeling frustration against Japanese capital, or foreign companies that treat American workers badly. Organizing on an internationalist basis, with Japanese and other Asian labor organizations, is the first step to undercutting their anti-foreigner, xenophobic politics that the ILWU beaucracy is promoting.

All out for March 15! Now that San Francisco is organizing a solidarity rally on March 15th in conjunction with Doro Chiba, we call on labor solidarity activists to do the same in San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and Hawaii. The more the international solidarity develops contributing to the defense and support of ILWU local 4 rank and file, the more we can demonstrate the working class is in motion against the capitalist attacks that seek to destroy the power of unions, hollowing them out to pave the way for unchecked capitalist profit.     

Several hundred ILWU members and supporters marched to Mitsui-United Grain’s Vancouver headquarters on March 8, 2013.

Several hundred ILWU members and supporters marched to Mitsui-United Grain’s Vancouver headquarters on March 8, 2013.

Bay Area Transport Workers Solidarity Committee (TWSC)

RALLY TO DEFEND ILWU !

International Day Of Action

Stop Mitsui Union Busting and Concessionary Contracts

Fight the Lockout of ILWU by United Grain in the Port of Vancouver, Washington

Friday March 15, 4:30PM @ 1 Montgomery/Market Sts., SF

On March 15, 2013 there will be international actions and protests against the union busting lockout of ILWU Local 4 members by the Mitsui-owned company United Grain in the Port Of Vancouver, Washington.

Since the concessionary contract at EGT in Longview, Washington, other grain handlers have imposed a similar contract in NW grain ports after longshore workers voted 94% to reject it. The contract eliminated the union hiring hall, imposed a 12 hour day and allowed the replacement of union members if they stopped work for health and safety reasons. The other anti-union grain monopoly Cargill/Temco signed a separate agreement which includes many of these draconian measures which is being heralded by union officials as a “victory” because, they say, Cargill is American-owned. Longshore workers in Portland, the West Coast’s largest grain port, voted that concessionary contract down.

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Notes on ILWU Local 4 Lockout

The Grain handlers capitalist coalition PNGHA and the UNITED GRAIN corporation, owned by Mitsui, are at war with ILWU. The crushing of ILWU is a serious defeat for the entire working class. In Vancouver, Washington, ILWU members now face there ninth day of being locked out. The ILWU’s political strategy so far has been to file an unfair labor practice grievance against United Grain Corp. complaining that a lockout is “extreme.” Grain handlers have long prepared for this situation, hiring security guards, and scabs -replacement workers- sub-contracted by union busting firm J.R. Gettier and Associates. On Longshore and Shipping News, a youtube is presented titled ILWU workers reach deal with U.S. company; Japanese company locks ‘em out. 

In this, two ILWU workers talk about their situation as if American companies are good, and United Grain, run by a Japanese company named Mitsui, is bad. One of the workers stated, “We’re American workers, trying to get American jobs.” This presents itself as a practical problem for the Marxist left. One of the basic tasks of the revolutionary left is to push for a (working) class against (capitalist) class political perspective, armed with an internationalist view of linking with workers abroad. The West coast longshore is geopolitically and internally racially divided. Los Angeles ILWU Local 13 is largely Chicano, Oakland/SF Local 10 is majority Black, Portland, Seattle and the Northwest are majority White, with the latter having a long history of racism. Beyond the internally divided locals, there is no clear links with Asian Longshore. This international link would be key in isolating Mitsui and the PNGHA. Between ILWU on the West coast and Asian longshore workers, the volume of commodity trade is integral to global capitalism. Domestically, there is a one sided class war, by the capitalist, towards the working class, partly through the crushing of unions.

This video, entitled Wealth Inequality in America, demonstrates the extreme character of inequality of wealth in the US:

The video demonstrates the attacks on ILWU local 4 are getting channeled towards Japanese capital. This modern day xenophobia, which paints a foreigner as the enemy, is poison to the working class.  This displaces the class antagonism onto a foreign other, instead of focusing on the common class enemy.

This PNGHA, United Grain capitalist offensive is based on the Longview, Washington ILWU local 21 contract signed in February 2012. This contract is the worst contract in ILWU history. In summary the contract attacks all forms of rank and file power. Below are six central points of the Longview contract.

1) Section Article II 5.05- the union losing the control of hiring hall

2) Article IX 9.01- No strikes or work stoppages of any sort

3) Article IX 9.02- Delegitimizing the variety of picket lines and conservatively narrowing the definition of acceptable picket lines

4) Article IX- 9.03- Requiring the union to behave as agent of workplace discipline to reinforce the capitalist valorization process

5) Article IX- 9.04- Framing the union and the company as a team that needs to unite in a world of competition.

Many in the left were proudly arguing that this contract was a victory for the working class. This includes official voices of Occupy Oakland, coupled with multiple “socialist” groups. The capitalist are quite fond of the contract as well. Pat McCormick, spokesman for the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association — said, “We’d be happy to sign the agreement the union signed,” referencing the contract between ILWU Local 21 and Kalama Export Co. and Export Grain Terminal (EGT) in Longview. The content of the contract is the radical increase of the intensity of work, and the elimination of the power of the hiring hall, coupled with an array of changes favoring the boss’ power in determining the rules of the workplace. The PNGHA proposed contract, modeling itself off the Longview contract, contains over 750 changes in the contract. It was voted down by 94% of 3,000 Northwest longshore workers; thus, creating a tense stalemate in the Northwest.

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