The anti-budget cut movement and struggle for public education in California over the last year has inspired worldwide resistance, and has brought in a lot of new people who have never organized or been political before. The March 4th movement provided an outlet for people to get involved and educate themselves about the budget cuts; it also created a base to build off for the next cycle of struggle. Since March 4th conferences have gone down and a new date for mass action has been picked: October 7th… but will October 7th be qualitatively different than March 4th? Will more sectors of society be brought in? Will struggle deepen and become more militant? As the economic crisis deepens and affects more and more people internationally, there is a real need for a militant perspective examining why the budget cuts are happening, who is causing them, and who is suffering from them.
So far the education sector has largely lead resistance to the cuts, on college campuses specifically, but these cuts go far beyond the universities. It is not just education that is being destroyed; social services, such as free and/or affordable healthcare are being cut; there are massive foreclosures and a lack of affordable or public housing; unemployment remains high. Anyone can see that these cuts aren’t just affecting students, but the working-class as a whole. While all these cuts are happening in the public sector the top corporations and banks were immediately bailed out by the Federal Government as soon as their financial instruments evaporated in the bubble pop. If it wasn’t clear to you before that this system was based off of exploitation and a class divide between the rich and the poor, massive bailouts to the capitalists and bankers while we are left to struggle for the basic necessities of life should make it clear.
Police attack people protesting the racist murder of Oscar Grant. - July 9th, 2010, Oakland
These budget cuts are also occurring during a time period of massive state violence to communities of color and queer people; the passage of the anti-immigration bill SB 1070 is causing and supporting more profiling of immigrant populations and ICE raids; the Oscar Grant movement has exposed the police’s continual assault against Black women and men that stems from the days of slavery; and there is consistent harassment and murder of queer and gender oppressed people. Is a budget cut struggle solely confined to defending education enough to really fight the cuts and the crisis? Is it enough for the people most affected by it to be brought in? No. We need a larger analysis that identifies the true enemy, the capitalist system, which relies on other systems of oppression (patriarchy, racism, & homophobia) to target and discipline people of color, women, and queer folks to keep divisions within the class that makes uniting and resisting harder.
The Oscar Grant movement and the 2009/2010 rebellions in Oakland have triggered a lot of discussion about violence versus non-violence. What are the correct tactics to fight against state violence? How do we get justice for innocent Black and Brown men and womyn who are brutalized and murdered by the police? These are the questions that continually ran through my mind at the 2010 protest/rebellion on July 8th in downtown Oakland. During the earlier part of the protest a lot of non-profiteers, liberals, and regular people were talking about this debate between violent and non-violent resistance, and largely condemning acts of ‘violence’. Youth Uprising (an Oakland non-profit) was passing out flyers for their community gathering, which said “violence isn’t justice.” All around there was encouragement to be non-violent and peaceful. There was also a serious racialization of violence by the media, the churches, and the local government and non-profits. Violence is characterized as something coming from outside of ‘the community’; beware of the ‘outside agitators’ that come in the form of white anarchists. Before the verdict was released I listened to my co-workers talk about these ‘agitators’ who were coming into Oakland from everywhere to wreak havoc in our city. It was alarming to see this panic and fear of anarchists being conjured up by the bourgeois media and the State. There is some truth to this statement that violence does come from outside of the community, but not in the form of anarchists, but in the form of racist killer cops. What’s really violent is living in a world where people die everyday from curable diseases and hunger; where working-class youth are deprived of an education by closing schools and building more prisons; where the police can kill innocent men and have it recorded on video and still not be guilty of 2nd degree murder!
When we think about the victims of police brutality in our communities, names like Oscar Grant and Sean Bell come to mind. We know that young black men are constantly victimized by the police, but we don’t often talk about the way police violence is used against womyn.
Police brutality, when it happens to a Sean Bell or Oscar Grant, quickly takes a certain shape in the public’s mind…(he was a drug dealer, a gang banger, etc.)
But what about the womyn who are victims of police brutality? We don’t talk about police violence that happens to womyn enough or at all, so we’d like to spark that discussion.
This first video is of police deputy Paul Schene, beating this teen girl, who’s been incarcerated. This happened last year, but he went to court back in March, and pleaded not guilty to 4th degree assault. This was before the video was leaked. Before this he had been investigated for shooting people twice, killing one, in the line of duty. Both times his acts of violence had been justified. How surprising.
The second video is news footage of the cops beating another black teen, Sheila Stevenson, whose crime was bicycling on the sidewalk at night.
We need to start talking about the ways in which police brutality is used to discipline womyn’s bodies. Whether it be strip-searches, cavity-searches, pat-downs, rape, sexual harassment, or just straight up assault and murder, womyn are systematically targeted by a police apparatus that represents and is a reflection of the racist, sexist, capitalist state it serves.
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.
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