Saturday, November 15, 2014

For Labor, Black and Brown Defense Against Racist Police Terror!

There is No Justice in Capitalist America! Down with the Militarization of the Police!
"Class War" news journal Vol 2 #3 [].
The complete version of the article as an embedded .pdf file, with links extensive footnotes, at [].
In the spate of police executions and vigilante murders from Amadou Diallo to Oscar Grant to Michael Brown a popular notion has gained ground that the police are out of control. The police are in fact under control and are a fully operational part of the state terror directed against black, brown and immigrant communities.
Photo: Johnson County Iowa’s recently-obtained MRAP. It had previously been used by military troops in Kuwait (Mark Carlson/The Gazette-KCRG).

Since the murder of Trayvon Martin, the exoneration of Zimmerman has shown complicity of the entire state apparatus with the racists’ terror program. Amadou Diallo’s executioners were exonerated; Oscar Grant’s executioner, Johannes Mehserle was freed with a slap on the wrist and to date there has been no arrest or even charges brought against Michael Brown’s police executioner. Instead we see the resignation of the U.S. Attorney General Holder who had promised justice to the citizens of Ferguson, Missouri, a promise he could neither keep nor keep his job after making.
It has been reliably established that a black person is killed by cops or vigilantes every 28 hours in the U.S.A. [] [].
Only the most flagrant abuses of police brutality and terror come to light, while the black, brown and immigrant communities face daily harassment, beatings and murder at the hands of the racist cops. We record the victims. As self-appointed class memory we strive to keep alive the names of all of the victims of racist police terror that come to our attention.
The list goes far back across the whole of U.S. history and the one thing we are sure of is that we will never know them all [] [].
The purpose of this article is not to present an all inclusive list, an impossibly incomplete roll-call of conscience. Furthermore, between the time we write this and the time this is in your hands, there will be more outrages as surely as the capitalist bourgeoisie rules the U.S.A.
According to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings, the 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police” [] [].
Thus a black youth is 21.2 times as likely to be killed at the hands of the police as a white youth. For those who wonder what white privilege is and claim it does not exist, these numbers should provide a clue. The use of force across all of history has always been an illustration of power relationships. Where power is money and poverty is powerlessness. Capitalism is incapable of resolving the intergenerational poverty afflicting oppressed black and brown and working class people [] [].
According to a groundbreaking study by researchers from Johns Hopkins University: “The researchers found that of the nearly 800 children originally surveyed, only 33 moved from birth families in the low-income bracket to the high-income bracket as young adults. They found that the children who started out in the middle-class were more likely to move up. In addition, race played a pivotal role: Forty-five percent of white men from low-income backgrounds ended up in wellpaying trade jobs such as plumbing, or as factory workers, while only 15 percent of Black men found the same.
As a Stanford article also says [,%20Wealth.htm] []: “The wealth gap is the most acute indicator of racial inequality. Based on data from the 2002 Survey of Income and Program Participation, white median household net worth is about $90,000; in contrast it is only about $8,000 for the median Latino household and a mere $6,000 for the median black household. The median Latino or black household would have to save nearly 100 percent of its income for at least three consecutive years to close the gap. Furthermore, 85 percent of black and Latino households have a net worth below the median white household. Regardless of age, household structure, education, occupation, or income, black households typically have less than a quarter of the wealth of otherwise
comparable white households…..
….For example, a recent report on mortgage lending and race by the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota found that black Twin City residents earning over $150,000, in comparison to whites earning below $40,000, were twice as likely to be denied a home loan. Those fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to get a loan were more than three times as likely to have a sub-prime loans….
Here we have the capitalist class’s bankers substituting automatic racism for any consideration of credit-worthiness. The real crime of the housing bubble was that those long denied access to capital were scammed from the highest levels, from Bush [] []
and Greenspan [] [] on down.
Adjustable Rate Mortgages were peddled as the sure-fire path to first-time home ownership. In fact, this was legalized robbery that threw millions onto the street, while at the same time the program permitted the bundling of  these loans as securities which the bond rating agencies pronounced “AAA,” and these securities’ basic worthlessness became the playthings of hedge fund speculators who tanked Wall Street and the broader economy for private gain. The result was a great and rapid increase in black unemployment and even the most rosy analysis shows there has been no improvement in black female employment since the 2008 stock market collapse. Both the racist denial of home loans and the racist indifference to consequences of the variable rate mortgage program are serious reasons to consider reparations to the black community, not out of the public treasury, but out of the treasure of Wall Street and the banks. And although the national dialogue spurns any talk of reparations for slavery and the very introduction of the subject quickly reveals deep seated hatred and fear, we call for immediate reparations to all those who lost their homes as victims of a conspiracy of the bankers and their class’ state.
Instead of providing free quality education and medical care and jobs for all, the capitalists reign terror over populations whom they have marginalized out of the productive economy. The NCES study of high school graduation rates clearly shows that poverty and race impact the drop out rate, in an economy with few options even for the highly educated [] [].
The options of the millions who have been “left behind” in the “race for the top” are minimal, as they are the fodder for the school-to-prison pipeline, one of the few highly profitable growth industries and places where high school graduates can get a salaried job as the jailers of over two million prisoners, who mostly come from among the 46 million living in poverty. This is a poverty not of their own making. The empirical data shows that these millions are born into families in an economic twenty percent (quintile) whom capitalism has condemned to poverty for generations. The empirical data only addresses incomes and doesn’t show a community that never had sports or arts programs in the local schools. It doesn’t list parks and libraries that never have been built.
And it doesn’t address environmental racism or the bourgeois city fathers’ terminating the water supply, as in Detroit. The skin color privilege-based fears of the ‘other,’ the black and brown and immigrant, compounds the fear of economic insecurity, and both serve to divide the working class for the benefit of Capital. And thus in the class society, whether you’re a high school kid in Raleigh-Durham or Prof. Henry Gates at Harvard, the hard working Black person is assumed by police to be breaking and entering their own homes [] [].
The hard working white person may encounter the police in a speed trap. Consider this traffic stop of an unarmed black man being shot at the gas station [] [] and this
video of a father being tasered while picking
up his kids at their school [] [].
Amadou Diallo was shot for holding up his cell phone. In St. Louis VonDerrit Myers was shot on October 8th holding a sandwich [] []; the community has no reason to believe the police version, and neither do we, which in the meantime has
already changed [] [].
The working class in America will be incapable of uniting and making significant gains unless they come to the defense of the black, brown and immigrant communities.
Karl Marx wrote of chattel slavery “Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded.
This is true today, where blacks face vicious de facto segregation, despite the promises of the liberal civil rights movement, which won formal democratic rights for blacks, but was unable to confront the material basis of black oppression and the de facto segregation in society, which has its roots in American capitalism. Even though not completely analogous, since unlike the Irish, blacks in America are not an oppressed nation, but very much Americans, Marx wrote of the British and Irish working class: “And most important of all! Every industrial and commercial centre in England now possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians. The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life. In relation to the Irish worker he regards himself as a member of the ruling nation and consequently he becomes a tool of the English aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself. He cherishes religious, social, and national prejudices against the Irish worker. His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the “poor whites” to the Negroes in the former slave states of the U.S.A. The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money. He sees in the English worker both the accomplice and the stupid tool of the English rulers in Ireland. This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short, by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes. This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organisation. It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power. And the latter is quite aware of this.” (emphasis added, Letter: Marx to Sigfrid Meyer and August Vogt in New York,1870).
Black liberation in America is integrally tied to the fight of the working class to abolish capitalism. And conversely, the multi-racial American working class will not make significant gains unless it rises to the defense of black, brown and immigrant rights.
Photo: Minneapolis Teamsters Local 544’s Union Defense Guard

Police Are Racist Terrorists and Strikebreakers -
As Russian revolutionary socialist Leon Trotsky wrote in 1932, about the ranks of the police drawn from the working class, “The fact that the police was originally recruited in large numbers from among Social Democratic workers is absolutely meaningless. Consciousness is determined by environment even in this instance. The worker who becomes a policeman in the service of the capitalist state is a bourgeois cop, not a worker.” (What Next? Vital Questions for the
German Proletariat, January 1932).
Yet many on the left ignore this lesson and work to thereby ruin the development of class political consciousness of the masses. Foremost today is Sawant’s Socialist Alternative/Committee for a Workers International (Soc Alt/CWI), who maintain the police are ‘workers in uniform’ who are somewhat misguided and contain some bad apples. Thus it becomes possible for city council member Sawant to take part in the selection process for a new Seattle Police Commissioner. For working class political prisoners this is like choosing the military police who will be your firing squad. (Shades of Scheidemann!)
The labor movement has organized cops and prison guards into “unions”, particularly AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees). When these cop “unions” demand or strike for better pay and working conditions, they are striking for their “rights” to racist and antiworking class violence and to make more money doing it. During times of struggle, the cops can, will and do enforce the bosses’ laws, including anti-union, strikebreaking laws, such as Taft-Hartley. Class struggle militants within the labor movement should organize a struggle to drive the cops and prison guards from the unions and labor federations.
The police forces are the core of the capitalist state and are institutions for the defense of capitalist social relations. The public power of the state includes prisons, courts, and educational system, and as Engels wrote “institutions of coercion of all kinds,” (fundamentally the police and army). The police are strikebreakers and racist terrorists who stand above society and whose main job is defense of capitalist property relations.
The 2011 West Coast Longview EGT / ILWU Longshore Union struggle saw virtually their entire union local membership arrested. Union members and supporters faced police harassment and intimidation on the streets as the port bosses tried to break the struggle. This was no anomaly. The Longshoremen in Longview engaged in class struggle tactics not seen in years in the American labor movement. Any serious labor struggle will be met with police violence. In 1937, ten unarmed strikers in Chicago were gunned down, mostly shot in the back, by the cops in the infamous Little Steel Memorial Day Massacre [] []. In 2012, 44 South African Lonmin miners at Marikana were brutally gunned down by the ANC government police [] [].
Capitalism in crisis means workers and the oppressed are literally paying in blood. If the black and brown communities are on the front line of police terror today, a resurgent multi-racial working class will be in the cop crosshairs tomorrow. As Farrell Dobbs, a leader of the famous 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters Strike wrote: “Under capitalism the main police function is to break strikes and to repress other forms of protest against the policies of the ruling class. Any civic usefulness other forms of police activity may have, like controlling traffic and summoning ambulances, is strictly incidental to the primary repressive function. Personal inclinations of individual cops do not alter this basic role of the police. All must comply with ruling-class dictates. As a result, police repression becomes one of the most naked forms through which capitalism subordinates human rights to the demands of private property. If the cops sometimes falter in their antisocial tasks, it is simply because they—like the guns they use—are subject to rust when not engaged in the deadly function for which they are primarily trained.” - from "Teamster Rebellion" book [].

The Left, Labor, and the Democratic Party of an Increasingly Bonapartist State -
There is a whole syphilitic political chain from the Democratic Party into the AFLCIO/ Change to Win Labor Federations, the State Feds, the Central Labor Councils and the union locals. These Democratic Party union leaders bring the ruling class ideology into the workers movement, tying the workers to the bosses and the dead-end of electoral politics.
The inner cities and Barrios are hell-holes for the oppressed black and brown masses, lorded over by largely Democratic Party administrations, who unleashed the police on largely white Occupy youth during those demonstrations, and who daily unleash them on the black and brown communities. Obama has well-earned the title “Deporter-in-Chief” with his record-setting attacks and deportations of immigrant workers [] [].
The ruling class’ answer to capitalist decay is more police, more prisons and jails, more NSA spying, more repressive laws, and militarized police in an increasingly Bonapartist state.
The Left in America is largely tied to the Democratic Party in some way, shape or form. They are very careful about stepping outside the boundaries of liberal reformism. So rather than raising the historic organizational forms, political demands and political program of the workers movement and the oppressed, they fall back on patchwork electoral reforms in the vain idealistic hope that somehow, someway capitalism can be made into a just and humane system. In contrast, Trotskyists seek to build a class conscious fighting workers movement linked to the oppressed communities based on the historic workers’ program that attacks the material basis of oppression and exploitation, which is the wage system. Any serious reforms will be won as the byproduct of revolutionary class struggle against capitalism.
The fight for reforms, even the most minimal reforms, needs to be linked to the struggle against the capitalist system itself, to the historic demands and organizations of the working class and oppressed. Immediate reforms always very quickly come up against the limitations for such reforms under capitalism. In this period, the general crisis of capitalism and the decline of the U.S. Empire, the fight for reforms, even the most minimal reforms requires combating the underlying system of capitalism, its twin political parties and requires militant methods of class struggle. Class political consciousness and the forms of self-organization that it produces are required if workers are ever to break away and forge ahead from catch-up, strictly economist, losing wage battles. Socialists join in the fight for every immediate reform, but we explain that reforms that workers win today are immediately subject to attack by the bosses. This is what the ruling classes are doing right now with a vengeance, as capitalism suffers from its greatest crisis in decades and the capitalists roll back decades of social gains. Making their system work, restoring their rate of profit, calls for taking this profit from our very flesh and bones.
The ruling class understands very well what they need to do to survive as a social class. Either the multi-racial working class will realize what it needs to do to survive as a social class, and will organize and mobilize around a workers’ program or they will face destitution, state terror, environmental barbarism and endless war.
Almost seven years into the worst capitalist economic crisis since the Great Depression, with the working class and the oppressed under massive attack, the Left and the laborfakers in America are still largely peddling the Democratic Party and limiting political program to the same liberal reforms, creating illusions in capitalism, rather than putting forth a fighting workers/labor party with the Transitional program which fights for a workers’ government.

The Historic Fight Against Racist Police Terror and the Defense of the Working Class -
The most advanced layers of the left and workers movement have called not only for reforms of the system in the face of racist police terror and strike-breaking, but have organized in self-defense. Rather than relying on the capitalist state, the masses have relied on their own self-organization, solidarity, militancy and leadership. The Black Panther Party [] [], the Deacons for Defense and Justice [] [], and Robert F. Williams [] [] all recognized the need to organize armed self-defense in the face of racist terror.18 Unfortunately for the Panthers and Williams, they did not recognize the workers movement as the key. Isolated from the multi-racial organized working class, with limited social power, they faced murderous state repression.
During the 1930’s, the Minneapolis Teamsters, under the leadership of Trotskyists, organized workers’ defense guards and pickets and drove the cops and anti-union strikebreakers from the streets of Minneapolis in the famous Battle of Deputy Run [] []. The Minneapolis strikes were a key moment in the history of American labor and the Teamsters went on to organize workers’ self-defense guards to also drive the fascist Silver Shirts out of the Twin Cities. The power of organized labor was also shown during the 1982 Anti-Klan Labor/ Black mobilization in Washington, DC that stopped the Klan. Unlike Occupy, where petty-bourgeois youth, lacking social power, were attacked by the cops, the cops were more restrained as organized contingents of largely black trade-unionists mobilized (i.e., Nat Turner Brigade, John Brown Brigade), particularly from the powerful ILA Longshore union, which has the power to shut down ports on the East and Gulf coasts.
Photo: Black Community Members Square off against the Cops in Ferguson.

At a public forum in 2012, longtime ILWU class struggle militant Jack Heyman spoke on the necessity for Labor defense []: “…Mandela said, ‘if the present government does to you what the Apartheid government did to you then you must do to them what you did to the Apartheid government.’ The ILWU is known for taking stands on racial justice in this country as well…there was a Black family that moved into a previously all-white neighborhood in El Sobrante. The neighbors burnt crosses on the yard, broke windows, terrorized the family. We in the Longshore union established armed defense guards. Armed defense guards, to protect the family, and we let the racists know that we were intent on making sure this family lives in that neighborhood safely like everybody else. And the racists stopped their actions and the family living in that community without harm to them. That is the way to fight back against police brutality…It is up to us to arm ourselves, to defend ourselves against police brutality.
Following the COINTELPRO program of mass spying and murder directed against black, brown and working class activists of all colors, American leftists backed away from organizing armed self-defense on a broad and regular basis. Indeed Hoover’s campaign of blood against the Black Panther Party, The Brown Berets, the American Indian Movement and later against MOVE which was bombed by the Philly Police, [] [] put fear in the movement and advocates of self-defense retreated, while the war against the poor was camouflaged as a War On Drugs and sold to the American TV-watching public as justified on reality shows like “COPS” and in depictions of the “Thug Life” in HBO shows like “The Wire.”
After producing the 2012 report Operation Ghetto Storm, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) alongside other Black Nationalist organizations (The Black Riders in Oakland, the New Black Panther Party, etc.) have again made the claim that “Our survival is dependent on Self Defense!”
The MXGM movement argues for popular assemblies to develop the peoples program for self-defense and mutual aid [] []: “New Afrikan or Black Self-Defense Networks are alliances, coalitions, or united fronts of Black organizations whose purpose is to defend the New Afrikan or Black community from external (the police, FBI, white terrorist organizations, etc.) and internal (agent infiltration, intra-communal violence, etc.) threats to its safety and security.
This is a statement of what unfolds, or has the potential to unfold when the community becomes conscious and active. That in every urban and suburban community there is a potential for networks of rational-minded and stalwart individuals to come together to face the unfolding crisis. Just as in the past, the socially necessary organizations come together in their various local manifestations: clubs, churches, gyms, unions, and various enthusiast groups. During crisis they will come out of the immediacy of necessity (as in Ferguson) and they will, as is natural, form up into self-defense guards of the community.
This cannot happen by accident. This requires conscious intervention by vanguard elements who first recognize their necessity and see the project through. Squads will be formed up and action will be taken; these squads will lead and defend the people while squaring off against the police and racist terror. The intelligence and capabilities of these squads will increase exponentially as they are integrated, regularized and made field-ready. This is striking terror in the heart of the ruling class and their millions of lackeys. This is why they are bringing the war on terror home.
Labor must not allow Black and Brown self-defenders to stand alone!
The black, brown and oppressed communities see the regular and unending assaults and murders by police as being primarily race-based. Enforcement of perpetual poverty requires a cop culture that is infused with class, sex and racial bias. That bias is expressed both in fear and in rage, either consciously or unconsciously but most definitively brutal and extrajudicial, every 28 hours.
It is mostly because the organized workers movement, in particular the AFL-CIO and Change to Win top officials and their national, state and local labor councils have not mobilized the workers to stop police and state terror against the black and brown communities that the communities feel abandoned by labor and develop nationbased rather than class-based perspectives.
These communities look to their own race, having been isolated from the organizational forces of labor which have the organizational potential to mobilize the workers nationwide to take the actions needed to end police terror. Because the workers movement does not champion and defend the most oppressed communities, another class pole and orientation takes hold and offers its solutions. That ideological pole is Black Nationalism. Revolutionary workers see the limitations of Black Nationalism, its class contradictions and the kernel of revolutionary potential it contains when it organizes the communities for self-defense. In the black community, nationalist ideology has sometimes made strides embracing anticapitalism and avoiding national and ethnic isolation, but the cross-class orientation still limits such movements like the MXGM’s contradictory and populist program. Other avowed Black Nationalists are dedicated to capitalism and entrepreneurialism, and thus to reform. We are not doing a retrospective on Black Nationalism here, rather we are looking at the crisis of police terror and how the leadership of the working class and the reform wing of the black movement, both tied to the Democrats, act in consort to defuse the episodic and regular rebellions which emerge after the most brutal and publicized racist executions are exposed.
This is the existential crisis of the American labor movement in a nutshell. To the extent that official labor cherishes, organizes, defends and feasts with the police and prison guards’ unions, they ignore and acquiesce in the campaign of terror against the most oppressed peoples. Only to the extent that the oppressed communities can see beyond the leaders of the movement and into its broader potential will they see a real class alliance as historically required. But because the racist enforcers are embraced by labor, the entire race divide among workers is reinforced, accentuated and becomes the dominant basis for ideologies (false consciousness), racism and its pragmatic cross-class racialized response, “Black Nationalism.” Both of these divide the working class and prevent the formation of the revolutionary workers party, and thus serve (unintentionally, but serve nonetheless) to keep the 0.1% enthroned atop their hoards of wealth.
The MXGM movement obviously learned from the isolation and subsequent degrading and destruction of the Black Panthers by the racist capitalist state. They see that the Black Self-Defense cannot stand alone, so they have a role for the People’s Self Defense Networks [] []. And they go so far as to say that security can only be achieved by defending against the forces of white supremacy and capitalist exploitation: “People’s Self-Defense Networks are multinational (or multi-ethnic and/or racial) alliances, coalitions, or united fronts whose purpose is to defend their communities against mutual enemies and threats and advance a common agenda based on shared interests, hopes, and aspirations. Oppressed peoples and communities can and will only be secure in this country when they are organized to defend themselves against the aggressions of the government and the forces of white supremacy and capitalist exploitation.
As a message, this is good as far as it goes. But the limits of nationalism harken back to the warnings by Lenin about the term ‘peoples’…as opposed to workers. When the oppressed see their liberation as part of the anti-capitalist struggle of the entire multi-racial working class they will change their language and the black capitalists and reformers will be left upholding the language of the peoples front, while in the neighborhoods and in industries their peoples front projects will be eclipsed by workers united fronts. The MXGM movement sees ‘peoples’, not classes, because the workers movement is not showing up. And in turn our objection to nationalism is not so much a fight against those who see the nationalism of the oppressed as their only road forward but against the leadership of the workers organization’s who stop the working class from building the multi-racial, anti-capitalist class struggle campaign to crush state terror.
Except in the rare and exemplary cases such as the ILWU Local 10 political strikes for Justice for Oscar Grant [] [] and to Free Mumia
Abu Jamal [] [], we have not seen organized labor take the organizational or political lead to initiate strikes or self-defense guards that would give hope and a class-based orientation for the oppressed to build their organizations upon. When political strikes by labor become the answer to police terror, interracial, multi-ethnic, workers self-defense guards will emerge and surpass the utility of isolated Black Self–Defense. Emergent self-defense in the oppressed communities has the potential to be the embryonic form of workers self-defense, and popular assemblies have the potential to become workers assemblies. To the extent that they maintain this potential and contradictory nature, revolutionary workers participate in and advocate for these organizations to develop class independence, programmatically and organizationally breaking from the parties of the capitalists; support which is the repetitive sin of the present-day leaderships of the movements of the workers and oppressed.
To be taken seriously by the communities of the oppressed, not only must labor break from the capitalist parties, but they must expel the police and prison guards from the ranks of labor.
Then the assemblies would be free to forge their own program and workers party that fights for a workers government. One that enforces the transitional program to end capitalist exploitation and its various ideological tools: white supremacy, racism, misogyny, homophobia and the nationalism of the oppressors.

An injury to one is an injury to all!
Defend Ferguson protesters!
Drop all charges and for the immediate release of all Ferguson protesters! 
For organized trade union contingents to Ferguson to demand justice for Michael Brown!
Down with the militarization of the police! No stop and frisk! Defeat racial profiling!
Down with La Migra and police attacks on immigrants! 
For immediate full citizenship rights for all immigrants!
No faith in the bosses’ courts! We need our own institutions to gain justice!
Turn the meetings and mobilizations into organizing meetings for Labor, Black and Brown selfdefense guards and tribunals!
Form up multi-racial Labor, Black and Brown self-defense guards to defend against racist police and vigilante terror!
For workers’ tribunals to bring murdering racist cops and vigilantes to justice! 
Build Labor, Black and Brown political strike actions to bring these criminals to justice!

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