From the September-October 2014 issue of News & Letters
U.S. CRISES: RACISM, POLICE, LABOR STRUGGLES
New York News and Letters Committee prepared a flyer on Eric Garner (see: “NYC Police murder Eric Garner” this issue) headlined: “Wanted For Murder: Daniel Pantaleo.” It denounced the fact that the cops who killed Garner are still working and getting paid; noted the lack of justice for poor, young, and working-class people; and called for building a movement on the principles of Marxist-Humanism. In Harlem, two women asked for more flyers for friends. One young Black man, a former prisoner, denounced both police violence and U.S. military force overseas. In a vigorous discussion with several people, all agreed that it is a travesty of justice that these cops are free, when anyone else charged with homicide would have been locked up. The events in Ferguson, Mo., were on the minds of many.
At the rally in Chicago in support of Michael Brown (see: “Kansas City for Michael Brown“; “We march in Oakland for #NMOS14” and “Thousands in Chicago: From NY to Ferguson, stop killer cops!“), I talked to some guys who remembered the protests over the police killings of LaTanya Haggerty and Robert Russ. The fact of police killings of Black youth wasn’t new to them, but the heavy militarization was a disturbing development. I also noticed that all the military equipment Ferguson cops were wearing and shooting could have been a lot more useful if it had been given to the Free Syrian Army.
Besides the murder of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, there has been an epidemic this year of brutality and murder. The New York Amsterdam News story, “Is Police Brutality a National Epidemic?” noted the Los Angeles police murder of Ezell Ford (see “Justice for Ezell Ford,” this issue), the Dallas police murder of Andrew Gaynier—who, his attorney says, was unarmed when shot by the cops—and another possible police murder in Ferguson. Later there was another police murder in St. Louis. Since Michael Brown’s death on Aug. 9, there have been nearly 20 police murders nationwide. In 2014 alone, more than 600 people have been killed by the police in the U.S.
New York City
Murrieta, Calif., has been getting a lot of publicity because people there (some, no doubt, outside agitators?) forced buses to leave without placing the migrants in a Border Patrol facility (see: “Honduran youth flee“). Here in Escondido the City Council is very anti-migrant. If the Planning Commission decision, rejecting a proposed shelter for unaccompanied migrant children arrested by the Border Patrol, is appealed to the Council, don’t expect anything different. Probably most of them won’t study the information they receive, just like the Planning Commission.
Former social worker
If classroom size was limited so that the ratio of students to teachers was 28 to 1, many laid-off teachers would be rehired and students would learn more.
I’ve been thinking about what happened to the movement in Wisconsin in 2011. At one point the national union leaders took over and made a choice to steer the movement towards electoral politics to recall Gov. Walker. That failed. The union leaders stopped the occupation of the State Capitol Building and disregarded people occupying it who were talking of a general strike. They pulled away from the self-organization of a mass action. How could that win? The leaders thought they might not be able to control that.
A quick report from battleground Detroit: a couple of thousand people filled downtown July 18, spearheaded by the various coalitions resisting emergency management, bankruptcy and pension cuts; with numbers from the Netroots Nation—young internet-savvy activists—and a large contingent of nurses (see: “Detroit says ‘Water is a Human Right!“). As one old leftist told me, “It’s great to see so many young people here we don’t know, so we don’t just have to keep talking to the usual suspects.” Because of the water shut-offs to residences, now totaling about 15,000, the march and rally focused on the demand for a moratorium on water shut-offs. The water department, now controlled by the emergency manager, has no plans to alter the shut-off program. A lot of media were there and hopefully the growing public outcry will have some effect.
Retired City of Detroit workers picketed AFSCME Council 25 headquarters because the union withdrew its appeal in the upcoming trial to determine whether Detroit is even eligible for filing bankruptcy, and whether all the proposed cuts to pensions in the Plan of Adjustment will be enacted. Answering AFSCME’s claim that they got the best deal possible, one retiree countered, “This is having a snowball effect all over the country, with other pension systems now under attack. Why couldn’t the union at least let it go forward without oral arguments? There are no guarantees of anything in this plan—the cuts could increase.”
It was wonderful to read about Mo’ne Davis, the Philadelphia Little League African-American girl pitcher who led her team to a 4-0 victory against Tennessee by pitching a complete game shutout early in August. Her victory shows not only her own power, skill and presence, but the efforts of the movements for freedom of Blacks and women. I remember when girls were not allowed in Little League and how hard they and their parents had to fight just so a girl could play. Even now it is not easy. Much resistance and prejudice remain, which is clear from the statistics: of 9,000 Little League World Series participants, only 18 were girls. I hope that Mo’ne has opened the floodgates and that no girl will ever have to think twice about participating in any sport; and I hope she and her supporters realize that she is standing on the shoulders of two intertwined movements for liberation.
Regarding the Women’s Liberation page of the July-Aug. issue of News & Letters, reading of women in jail because of suspicion over their miscarriages is outrageous! They must be freed (see: “Women WorldWide“). Jailing such women is a dangerous direction, in which I believe extreme so-called “pro-lifers” would like the USA to be headed. We, who trust women, must make our voices heard. Each person’s body is her or his own. Trust women.
Recently, a friend of mine had an abortion. She has consistently been against abortion, but was unexpectedly pregnant, and though it was hard, knew it was the right choice for her. I just wanted to say the work everyone does escorting women through the lines of anti-abortionists is awesome. And the people who protest just may end up coming in for services. Keep it up, y’all!
Em Bl clinic connections
PRISON AND SOCIETY
The racism in prisons is not a mere reflection of racism in society. Prisoners’ solidarity against it is widely recognized as “inspiring.” But it’s more. It takes a huge amount of reexamination of who you are. In prisons you are actually conditioned to hate the “other.” If we on the outside can try to do what the prisoners are doing, that could mean the end of this alienating society.
Thank you for sending me that short collection of articles about the hunger strike, Pelican Bay Hunger Strikers. It is very good. I passed it around my pod so everyone else could read it and we all agreed that it is a good and true representation of our struggle that was well put together. I would personally like to thank News & Letters for bringing our cause to a wider audience and all the support. From my heart you are honored and truly appreciated.
TO OUR READERS: Can you donate $5, the price of a subscription, for a prisoner who cannot pay for one? It will be shared with many others. A donation of $8 pays for a subscription plus the Pelican Bay Hunger Strike pamphlet to be sent to a prisoner.