Category Archives: African Struggles

American Blowback: Cop-on-Cop Crime in LA

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By George Ciccariello-Maher and Mike King
February 9, 2013

Christopher Dorner

Yesterday was not simply a day like any other, and yet an entire system is grinding into motion to ensure that the peculiarities of the day be promptly forgotten: another crazy person lost it and committed unthinkable acts. The act of killing stands in and speaks for the person: look what he has done, of course he must be crazy. Case closed.

What they want you to see is just another Adam Lanza, just another inexplicable act, and when the act speaks for the assailant, words are secondary and there is no need to listen. But this is not, and has never been, a good way to understand reality.

What they want you to forget is the sheer strangeness of what is happening in Los Angeles. Christopher Dorner allegedly killed a police officer and two civilians. This was not a random shooting by a right-wing gun-nut mourning the loss of the “Real America.” Here is a man with good things to say about liberal democrats, a supporter of heightened gun control, a former LAPD officer and Navy reservist, targeting his own institution, which he accused of racism, violence, and corruption.

Dorner’s “Last Resort”

We know all of these things because what is most peculiar about this entire case is the written testament that Dorner has left us. In a letter titled only “Last Resort” and addressed to “America,” he makes clear his grievances, his objectives, and the rationale behind his actions – a chilling declaration of war on the Los Angeles Police Department.

The press is busy citing only those bits of the statement which make Dorner seem crazy: when he addresses Tim Tebow or Larry David, for example, or when he laments the fact that he will not survive to see The Hangover 3. (See for example, Buzzfeed’s “Everything You Need to Know,” which conspicuously says very little). But the vast majority of the letter paints a picture of someone who, while clearly undergoing some sort of mental break, is astonishingly lucid as to the causes and candid as to what he intends to do about it. These causes and these intentions, regardless of what you may hear on MSNBC or Entertainment Tonight(both will essentially carry the same message), begin and end with the LAPD.

The LAPD has long played a vanguard role in white supremacist policing in the United States. Whether it be the conscious recruitment of racist cops from the south in the 1960s under William Parker (sparking the 1965 Watts Rebellion) or the continuity of well-worn brutal methods under Darryl Gates (sparking the massive 1992 L.A. Rebellions), there has been little new under the sun. Even after 1992, when change seemed for a moment inevitable and when the Bloods and Crips had, themselves, laid down arms and put forth a plan to rebuild the city, this long-needed transformation didn’t materialize. Instead, South Central became South L.A., Gates was canned, and the LAPD forcibly destroyed the gang truce. Nothing had changed.

It wasn’t long before the next scandal. Toward the end of the 1990s, what many had already known became public knowledge: that the LAPD, and especially the Rampart Division, routinely brutalized suspects and planted evidence. As a result of this revelation, the LAPD was charged under the RICO Act (as a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) and placed under the federal oversight of a consent decree that would only be lifted in 2009.

Not coincidentally, “Globocop” Bill Bratton, currently en route to advise the Oakland Police Department, amidst widespread public opposition, is credited with cleaning up the LAPD, and Dorner’s statement appears on many websites alongside a picture of the former officer beaming alongside Bratton (it has emerged that Dorner mailed evidence to Anderson Cooper last week, including a gift from Bratton, on which he wrote “Thanks, but no thanks Will Bratton”).

According to Dorner’s statement:

“The department has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King days. It has gotten worse. The consent decree should never have been lifted. The only thing that has evolved from the consent decree is those officers involved in the Rampart scandal and Rodney King incidents have since promoted to supervisor, commanders, and command staff, and executive positions… Are you aware that an officer… seen on the Rodney King videotape striking Mr. King multiple times with a baton on 3/3/91 is still employed by the LAPD and is now a Captain on the police department? … As a commanding officer, he is now responsible for over 200 officers. Do you trust him to enforce department policy and investigate use of force investigations on arrestees by his officers?”

One indication of this is the fact that, during the course of more than a decade of investigation of the Rampart case, only five officers were terminated, which suggests just how shallow the investigation efforts were. Dorner ominously adds that “I will correct this error,” and deems his actions a “necessary evil” not only to clear his own name, but to force “substantial change” within the LAPD.

According to Dorner, he was suspended in 2008 after reporting a superior for use of excessive force against a suspect, and eventually terminated in 2009. Dorner goes on to describe the prevalence of white supremacy in the police force: from anti-Semitic taunting to openly anti-black sentiment. After one incident involving use of the n-word, Dorner recalls confronting other officers physically, for which he was reprimanded. In retrospect, he reflects, with regard to the speaker of the word, “What I should have done, was put a Winchester Ranger SXT 9mm 147 grain bullet in his skull.” On the day that his fellow officers were given what were effectively paid suspensions, “That day, the LAPD stated that it is acceptable for fellow officers to call black officers niggers to their face and you will receive a slap on the wrist.”

A Bloody Fight for Honor on the Other Side of the Blue Line

“I am an American by choice, I am a son, I am a brother, I am a military service member, I am a man who has lost complete faith in the system, when the system betrayed, slandered, and libeled me. I lived a good life and though not a religious man I always stuck to my own personal code of ethics, ethos and always stuck to my shoreline and true North. I didn’t need the US Navy to instill Honor, Courage, and Commitment in me but I thank them for re-enforcing it. It’s in my DNA.”

–Christopher Dorner

It is clear from Dorner’s communiqué that he feels that he is following a code of honor against an unlawful body that has sullied his name; his objective being to reclaim his honor. Through his spectacle of violence he is also overtly drawing attention to his self-identity – as a black man, as an “honest officer”/ conscientious worker, and as a veteran – counter-posed against institutions of corruption, deceit and abuse. In an effort that he clearly self-defines as terrorism, Dorner invokes old-West, rugged individualism: “Unfortunately, I will not be alive to see my name cleared. That’s what this is about, my name. A man is nothing without his name.” At length, Dorner goes through ideal-types of various officers’ grouped by race, and explicitly cites their role in reproducing white supremacy. He makes clear that he is patriotic and loves the government (and Chris Christie); his war is with the LAPD.

Not unlike many mass killers, Dorner’s writing exhibits a hyper-vigilant(e) feeling of betrayal and unwavering need for revenge. His writing reflects a self-conscious awareness of this role, a self-forged morality that invokes clear Zarathustra-like qualities of the Overman imposing his will on weak and vile petty tyrants. Dorner says:

“I am here to change and make policy. The culture of LAPD versus the community and honest/good officers needs to and will change. I am here to correct and calibrate your morale (sic) compasses to true north.”

Dorner’s writing also features a list of thanks to everyone from George H.W. Bush to Charlie Sheen. The following quote has extensively repeated in the press, and bears some interrogation: “If possible, I want my brain preserved for science/research to study the effects of severe depression on an individual’s brain.” To dismiss this as simple madness, is to individualize this man and his actions (however they are interpreted) as apolitical and random, another tragic coupling of broken people with fully-functional weapons. It is clear, through his chronicling of long-past slights un-avenged, interspersed with calls for more gun control and an endorsement for Hillary Clinton for President, that he is troubled. Dorner writes, “Ask yourselves what would cause somebody to take these drastic measures like I did. That’s what is important.”

This is surely a discussion the LAPD would not pine over if it did not happen. It is a discourse that is foreign to the press, even the likes of liberals like Chris Matthews, that Dorner lauds. Soldier-Officer Dorner sits, using his training against the force that trained him, waiting to unleash his next attack. The extent to which we go to Dr. Drew for helpful insights in the next few days and not victims of police brutality or whistle-blower cops or to analyses of race and policing in our cities, the extent to which we talk about gun control and not how and why the men who beat Rodney King got to run the LAPD instead of being run out of it, is the extent to which we sit and wait, feeding ammunition to the next Christopher Dorner.

A Defection in the Occupation Forces

Now Dorner has declared war on the LAPD and he has named targets: “The enemy combatants in LA are not the citizens and suspects, it’s the police officers.” To a list of different offenders, he adds the ominous promise: “You are a high value target.” The parameters of the violence he has seen meted out to everyday poor residents of Los Angeles structures his own response, such as when he urges:

“Citizens/non-combatants, do not render medical aid to downed officers/enemy combatants. They would not do the same for you. They will let you bleed out… don’t honor these fallen officers/dirtbags. When your family members die, they just see you as extra overtime at a crime scene and at a perimeter. Why would you value their lives when they clearly don’t value yours or your family members lives?”

He has studied the new counterinsurgency doctrine, as rewritten in 2006 by General David Petraeus, and he turns its language against its authors, comparing himself to insurgent forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. “I will bring unconventional and asymmetrical warfare to those in LAPD uniform whether on or off duty. ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance] is my strength and your weakness. You will now live the life of the prey.”

Frantz Fanon argued pointedly that exploitation, occupation, and colonization simply cannot exist without racism and torture of one form or another. As a result, it is useless to oppose the violence of occupation, or the torture made so palpable in Zero Dark Thirty, without opposing the occupation itself, of Iraq, of Afghanistan, of South Central L.A. Yes, something similar could be said of the LAPD, and here we begin to grasp why this most violent of institutions has so rigidly resisted change: because its historically brutal and terroristic tactics, the daily oppression and humiliation exerted most directly at poor black and brownAngelinos, are merely symptoms of the LAPD’s structural function.

When Fanon resigned his post as a psychiatrist to join the Algerian Revolution, he was merely putting into revolutionary practice what he had practiced in the analyst’s chair for years. For Fanon, mental neuroses, especially among people of color, were the result not of any inherent trait or familial trauma, but of the profound trauma imposed by white supremacist and colonial society. And since social structures generate many mental illnesses, we cannot hope to cure these without destroying the institutions that make people sick in the first place.

It was this imperative that led Fanon to throw himself into the armed struggle, and when he did so, he wrote that: “A society that drives its members to desperate solutions is a non-viable society, a society to be replaced.” There can be no more powerful symptom of desperation, no more direct indicator of the non-viability of existing institutions, than this hunted man named Christopher Dorner.

There’s nothing pretty about the desperate actions of a soon-to-be-dead man, but we owe it to ourselves, and to the world, to at least attempt to understand. To be clear: Dorner’s statement is not a revolutionary manifesto, and he certainly didn’t grasp the structural relationship between occupation and LAPD brutality, but his statement and his actions are deeply symptomatic of a social illness that it does not name. If the adage “you reap what you sow” were not already the slogan of the week when unrepentant Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, who embraced the murderous dehumanization of his profession, was killed at a Texas gun range last Saturday, this is now undeniable.

Shoot to Kill: Counterinsurgency and Collateral Damage

Given its social function, the LAPD simply cannot be anything but racist and brutal, and as though attempting to prove Dorner’s point, the response to his attacks has been as brutal as anything. The thin blue line of secrecy among officers has been replaced by a thick blue line, protecting officers and their families while unleashing unrestrained violence on southern California. In only the most infamous incident of yesterday, two women delivering newspapers were shot by trigger-happy officers who, it seems, mistook their royal blue truck for Dorner’s gray one. Dozens of bullet holes riddled the back of the pickup, their clusters suggesting a clear intent to kill without identifying. Within the context of legitimate, open threats to officers, the “shoot anything that moves” approach is perhaps an accentuation, but hardly an aberration, from the norm.

The application of a counterinsurgency model of urban policing in cities like Los Angeles is longstanding. In Los Angeles alone, from bulldozed houses in “Operation Hammer” and the invention of gang injunctions in the mid-late 1980s, to the racialized use of checkpoints, and the routine abuses Dorner points to today, the “War on Crime” is a war in every sense of the word. The LAPD gang unit trains troops headed to Afghanistan in how to develop informants and use counterinsurgency tactics to control “hostile” populations and spaces. The abuses that Dorner lists are the effects of this logic of occupation, a term officers themselves use to describe their work. As with criminal Ramparts officers getting promotions, Dorner sees the daily routines of abuse as morally wrong, but without seeing the logic of the broader structures in which those practices are embedded.

The violent overlap between modern warfare and domestic policing, of which Dorner is a strange byproduct of, is especially acute among police officers that are returning veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. The increased levels of PTSD and violence among veterans in general, is amplified, not only by holding a job that empowers, and sometimes requires, the use of deadly force, but because the current methods of contemporary urban policing have become enmeshed with the overall objectives, strategic logic, and daily practice of counterinsurgency.

As Oakland brings on former LAPD Chief William Bratton to add a play or two to Oakland’s counterinsurgency manual, the OPD, City Council, and District Attorney continue to refuse to fire and criminally charge Miguel Masso, an Iraq veteran who had previously tortured a man in custody when with the NYPD, before shooting and killing 18-year old Alan Blueford in East Oakland last May, as he laid on the ground and cried “I didn’t do anything.” Despite Masso’s account of what happened seriously conflicting with the coroner’s report and witness accounts, Masso still has his job. Without pathologizing veterans it is clear that there are serious concerns here. For the time being, Masso is another one of those cops who gets paid leave, who gets to walk the streets, who may get a medal or a promotion down the line – though there are many people in Oakland continuing to try and see otherwise. It is the commonness of excuses for police abuse/murder, the erasure of the victims as collateral damage that should be highlighted when trying to make sense of this broken, rogue former-LA cop.

A Gravedigger in Uniform

“I am the walking exigent circumstance you created.”

– Christopher Dorner

Much like Dan Freeman, the main character in Stan Greenlee’s classic book and film, The Spook Who Sat By the Door, Christopher Dorner is the dialectical gravedigger of a dying system: armed, trained, and prepared by a system which prizes cop culture, which massively arms the police and unleashes them on the poor and racialized, and which in its late stages demands that black people do the work of white supremacy. In this circumstance, those skills are being utilized against the police. Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz said, “This is a somewhat unprecedented, or at least rare occurrence – a trained, heavily armed person who is hunting for police officers.”  LAPD Chief Charlie Beckadded, “Of course he knows what he’s doing; we trained him. He was also a member of the Armed Forces… It is extremely worrisome and scary.”

For Marx, capitalism would sow the seeds of its own destruction and produce its own gravedigger, the proletariat. Fanon recognized, however, that this gravedigger might be characterized more by the “desperate solutions” to which they turn than by their class consciousness. In the United States today, late capitalism is equally shot through with white supremacy and upheld by brute force by increasingly heavy-handed police. It should not surprise us when the gravediggers assume an ominously different form.

George Ciccariello-Maher is assistant professor of political science at Drexel University. He is the author of We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution and can be reached at gjcm(at)drexel.edu.

Mike King is a Ph.D candidate in sociology at UC Santa Cruz, and can be reached at mikeking0101(at)gmail.com. Both study policing and counterinsurgency.

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Constitutional referendum, presidential elections to be held in Zimbabwe

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The following analysis below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. To understand more of the history of the ZANU-PF and its ongoing revolutionary shaping of Zimbabwe, then I’d highly recommend everyone in reading “New Democracy & ZANU-PF: Zimbabwe’s Revolutionary Path,” which was published by Return to the Source

Constitutional referendum, presidential elections to be held in Zimbabwe

January 27, 2013

Zimbabwe’s two major political parties agreed to a new draft constitution Jan. 17. After nearly two years of deliberation, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), reached an agreement that may replace the country’s current constitution and pave the way for a presidential election later this year. This draft proposal will go before the Zimbabwean people for approval in a nationwide referendum later this year.

Following the agreement, President Robert Mugabe, of ZANU-PF, called for peaceful presidential elections as early as March 2013. Fearing defeat, the unpopular MDC immediately came out against holding elections.

Most analysts believe that Mugabe and his party, ZANU-PF, will handily defeat Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC at the polls. An August 2012 survey by Freedom House, a pro-imperialist Western think-tank, found that more than 31% of people support ZANU-PF compared to the 20% who support MDC in the upcoming elections. The study found that the MDC had lost 18% support since 2010 while ZANU-PF had gained 17% support in the same period. Even Zimbabwe Vigil, a pro-MDC firm based in Britain, predicted in September 2012 that ZANU-PF would win the upcoming elections because of corruption in the MDC.

The draft constitution comes amid the profound revolutionary changes taking place in Zimbabwe. White colonists, never more than 4.3% of the population, ruled Zimbabwe for many decades. Then Zimbabweans waged a 15-year liberation war against white minority rule that led to negotiations and ended Ian Smith’s racist regime in 1980. This victory established African majority rule and most whites left the country. Still, wealthy whites continued controlling most of Zimbabwe’s good farmland and resources. Former colonial power Britain claimed to support land reform and resettlement, but failed to fund it. Britain ignored their agreements with Zimbabwe’s government and stirred up trouble.

After a series of austerity measures forced upon Zimbabwe by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the people of Zimbabwe began occupying large farms and taking control of their own resources in 2000. President Mugabe and ZANU-PF supported these farm occupations through the Fast Track Land Reform Program. The reform redistributed 7 million hectares of Zimbabwe’s land to more than a million small farmers. Many large landowners were dispossessed and their land given to the rightful owners.

The land reform drastically changed ownership and power relations in Zimbabwe. The U.S. and Britain responded with economic sanctions, sending Zimbabwe down a destructive path of hyperinflation and economic turmoil. In the 2008 presidential election, Britain and the U.S. tried to use Zimbabwe’s economic crisis to violently destabilize the country and oust Mugabe, trying to replace him with the puppets of the MDC.

Although the MDC won a plurality of the votes in the first round of the 2008 presidential election, they withdrew from the runoff in an attempt to delegitimize the democratic process. In the runoff, Mugabe defeated the MDC candidate Tsvangirai in a landslide. Mugabe nearly doubled his absolute vote total from the first round of elections – 1.1 million in the first round to 2.2 million in the runoff. Shortly after the election, Mugabe and ZANU-PF formed a power-sharing government with the MDC that included Tsvangirai as prime minister.

Land reform is not the only area of Zimbabwe’s economy experiencing serious progressive change. In 2012, the Zimbabwean government began enforcing the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill, which requires at least 50% black local ownership of all businesses and companies. This policy is extremely popular among the Zimbabwean people, who see it as means of exercising their right to control over their own resources. By November 2012, Zimbabwe had indigenized 120 major mining companies and created 400 Employee Share Ownership Trusts to better redistribute the nation’s wealth to the people.

In spite of the continued sanctions and economic warfare from the U.S. and Britain, Zimbabwe’s economy continues to recover and has grown at a remarkable rate since 2009. According to Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti, the country saw 8.1% growth in 2010 and 9.3% growth in 2011. Agricultural production experienced growth from the land reform as well, with tobacco production expanding from 2008′s record low of 105 million pounds to 330 million pounds in 2012. As Zimbabwe recovers, more black Zimbabweans will share in their nation’s wealth than in the 33 years since the end of white minority rule, leading to a more balanced, collective economy.

As Zimbabwe approaches its 2013 elections, the danger of imperialist meddling in southern Africa runs high. Wikileaks revealed in August last year that Tsvangirai, of the MDC, had used his 2009 visit to U.S. President Barack Obama to lobby for greater sanctions on Zimbabwe in order to bring down Mugabe and ZANU-PF. Banks and corporations in the U.S. and Britain have a vested commercial interest in seeing an end to ZANU-PF’s progressive, national democratic policies and anti-imperialism. True to form, the MDC showed their loyalty to their foreign masters by unveiling the Jobs, Upliftment, Investment, Capital and Environment Plan on Nov. 29 of 2012. This scheme proposes to reverse ZANU-PF’s indigenization policy, facilitating U.S. and British corporate domination.

It’s no surprise that the people of Zimbabwe have turned against the MDC, given the party’s allegiance to Britain and the U.S., at the expense of the people. However, the US, Britain, France and other Western European powers are waging a campaign to re-colonize Africa, most recently seen in the U.S.-backed French military intervention in Mali.

Military interventions by imperialist powers in Somalia, Ivory Coast, Libya, Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now Mali demonstrate the willingness of the U.S. and Western Europe to use military force against governments or people that resist their dominance.

Progressive activists, organizers and revolutionaries in the U.S. must resolutely oppose any attempt by Western powers to intervene in Zimbabwe, especially with elections on the horizon. People in the U.S. should support the right of the Zimbabwean people to determine their own destiny, as expressed through the policies of ZANU-PF, and they should fight moves for the re-colonization of Africa.

Nations Want Liberation: The Black Belt Nation in the 21st Century

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The following article below was originally published by the political news blog Return to the Source:

By Vince Sherman & Frank Thomson, with contributions from Black Uhuru
June 24, 2012

Thousands rally for Trayvon Martin in Sanford, FL.

In the past year, the United States has experienced an upsurge in black political consciousness as hundreds of thousands of organizations and people poured into the streets to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, the 17 year-old African-American youth brutally murdered in Sanford, FL. Martin’s case has drawn enormous attention to the daily terrorism inflicted on African-Americans by both the US government and vigilante terrorists, like George Zimmerman, who uphold and enforce a vicious system of white supremacy.

As the movement against police brutality and racist oppression continues to grow, Marxist-Leninists must grapple with the burning question of how to build a revolutionary national liberation struggle capable of ending white supremacy and imperialism in the United States.

Seeking to capitalize on the growing struggle against racism, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) has republished a series of articles from the 1980s reflecting their understanding of “The History of Black America” in its newspaper, Socialist Worker. Complete with all of the errors endemic to their bizarre Trotskyite understanding of revolutionary history, these articles are a flaccid attempt for a mostly white organization – an organization that expelled several activists of color from its Washington DC branch in 2010, no less – to make itself relevant to the struggle of African-Americans against white supremacy.

However, one article in particular, republished on Saturday, June 16, stands above the rest in its historical revisionism, its fallacious analysis, and its generally poor syntactical construction. Lee Sustar’s piece, “Self-determination and the Black Belt” is a hit piece on the Marxist-Leninist demand for African-American self-determination, the entire concept of the Black Belt nation, and black nationalism in general.

Rife with historical errors, strawman characterizations, and misspellings, Sustar’s piece itself is barely worth a response. Never missing an opportunity to denounce and slander Josef Stalin, Sustar makes the totally absurd claim that “The Black Belt theory was part of a sharp “left” turn by the Communist International (Comintern) used by Joseph Stalin to mask his bureaucracy’s attack on the workers’ state,” arguing that somehow upholding the demand for African-American self-determination allowed Josef Stalin to better consolidate his so-called “state capitalist regime in Russia.” (1) The relationship between the struggle for black nationalism and the USSR is never explained or warranted by Sustar.

Neither is his claim that the demand for black self-determination was based “on the works of a Swedish professor who aimed to theoretically justify the political turns of the bureaucracy which was coming to control Russia.” (2) Sustar never names this Swedish professor, supposedly the progenitor of the demand for black self-determination, nor does he offer any evidence that such a professor had any impact on the development of the black national question adopted and implemented by the Communist International (Comintern). But a lack of evidence never stands in the way of the ISO’s vicious slander of Marxism-Leninism so the omission of key facts is both unsurprising and expected.

However, the continued relevance and renewed importance of the black national question in the 21st century demands serious consideration by Marxist-Leninists. It is important to respond to these unprincipled criticisms and slander of the experiences of black nationalist organizations and the CPUSA. The ISO may have published this piece nearly 30 years ago, but the same theoretical bankruptcy demonstrated in this re-published essay continues to inform their strange blend of Cliffite-Trotskyism today.

Instead, Marxist-Leninists must put forward a principled and materialist evaluation of the successes and failures of these various groups struggling for black liberation that appropriately contextualizes their specific struggles.

The Soviet Union and the National Question

V.I. Lenin

The Marxist-Leninist position on the African-American national question and the Black Belt South developed directly out of the Soviet Union’s own experience with actualizing the demand for self-determination for oppressed nationalities. The October Revolution of 1917 and the founding of the Soviet Union marked the end of tsarist oppression of the nations in the transcaucasus and Central Asia. In addition to Russia, many other nations under the Tsarist empire participated in the proletarian revolution in October 1917, and the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, began to work towards the creation of a voluntary federation of free, self-determined nations.

The destruction caused by the Russian Civil War, waged between 1918 and 1922, along with the Allied invasion of Russia by fourteen countries in 1921, forged a sense of unity between the underdeveloped constituent nations of the former Russian empire and the Bolsheviks’ revolutionary government. After exiting World War I through the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and emerging victorious over the tsarist White Army, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) met with representatives from these formerly oppressed nations and formed the Soviet Union in 1922. The Soviet Union’s recognition of its constituent nations’ right to self-determination finds its embodiment in the 1917 “Declaration of the Rights of the Russian People,” which legally guaranteed “equality and sovereignty of the peoples of Russia, the right of peoples of Russia to free self-determination up to secession and the formation of independent states, abolition of all national and national-religious privileges and restrictions, [and] free development of national minorities and ethnic groups inhabiting the territory of Russia.” (3) Thus, any analysis of the Soviet Union must account for the complexities of its international composition, rather than viewing it as a purely Russian political phenomenon.

After the formation of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) implemented a policy of korenizatsiya to encourage the indigenous development of revolutionary leadership among the USSR’s constituent nations. While the CPSU argued that the process of socialist construction for each nation was generally the same, it acknowledged a firm belief that “each nation which has overthrown capitalism seeks to plot the course of its economic, political and cultural development in such way as to be most in conformity with its concrete historical features and progressive traditions.” (4) Korenizatsiya was a means by which the CPSU would help create indigenous communist parties, culture, and economies tailored to the specific needs of the nation in question. The central component of this, in the view of the CPSU, was the cultivation of native communist leadership in each nation’s party and the promotion of national minorities in higher Soviet institutions. (5)

In practice, the CPSU “supported local languages, educated and promoted local elites and thus built new loyalties to the socialist cause” as a part of korenizatsiya. (6) Reza Zia-Ebrahimi of the London School of Economics & Politics describes this process in a 2007 article entitled “Empire, Nationalities and the Fall of the Soviet Union,” pointing out that “each Soviet republic was flanked with an official culture, official folklore and national opera-house. (7) Soviet authorities went as far as to develop written systems for local languages that had previously lacked them.” (8) She notes that this policy of nativization also had the effect of combating Russian national chauvinism, citing Ukraine in the 1920s as an example, in which “a Russian residing there also had to be educated in Ukrainian.”(9)

Though the precise manifestations of korenizatsiya oscillated over the history of the USSR and at times nations had less operational freedom – particularly during the glasnost period brought on by Gorbachev – the Soviet state’s dedication to raising the status of national minorities and guaranteeing political representation demonstrates a genuine ideological commitment to national self-determination that inspired oppressed nations around the world. (10)

Developing the Black National Question

Harry Haywood, one of the founders of the Marxist-Leninist line on the Black Belt nation.

Among the many activists inspired by the Russian Revolution was African-American communist Harry Haywood. In his autobiography, Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist, Haywood recounts his excitement at the many achievements of the Russian Revolution, noting its specific importance to African-Americans: “Most impressive as far as Blacks were concerned was that the revolution had laid the basis for solving the national and racial questions on the basis of complete freedom for the numerous nations, colonial peoples and minorities formerly oppressed by the czarist empire.” (11) Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks’ handling of the national question in North Asia prompted Haywood to join the CPUSA in the winter of 1923 and to visit the Soviet Union as a part of a student delegation in 1925.

Sustar views genuine African-American revolutionaries like Haywood, who developed the demand for black self-determination in the Soviet Union, with condescending contempt. He writes, “For these leaders, the Comintern’s theory of self-determination for the Black Bell (sic) must have appeared as a revolutionary commitment to fighting the enormous racism in the U.S.” (12) The implication, of course, is that Haywood, Otto Hall, and James Ford were more or less passive recipients of the black national question line – a falsehood that flies in the face of historical fact – and that they were basically duped into accepting a position hoisted upon them by Stalin.

In actuality, the black national question established by the Comintern came about through vibrant debate and struggle between African-American comrades, the white comrades in the CPUSA, and Soviet comrades, who contributed their own first-hand experience in building a multinational republic of the 15 unique constituent nations of the USSR. During his four-year visit to the Soviet Union, Haywood meticulously analyzed the character of black oppression in the US alongside other comrades.

The CPUSA’s position at that time was that black workers were subject to harsh societal prejudice based on race, but fundamentally they experienced the same capitalist exploitation as white workers. Haywood and the Communist International (Comintern) came to criticize this position because “To call the matter a race question, they said, was to fall into the bourgeois liberal trap of regarding the fight for equality as primarily a fight against racial prejudices of whites.” (13) This simplistic view placed total emphasis on building the trade union movement irrespective of race, leading the CPUSA to mistakenly see the struggle for black civil rights “as a diversion that would obscure or overshadow the struggle for socialism.” (14)

Furthermore, looking at the exploitation of African-Americans purely as a question of race “slurred over the economic and social roots of the question and obscured the question of the agrarian democratic revolution in the South.” (15) In describing Reconstruction, Haywood writes that the “revolution had stopped short of a solution to the crucial land question; there was neither confiscation of the big plantations of the former slaveholding class, nor distribution of the land among the Negro freedmen and poor whites.” (16) The White Supremacist counter-revolution of 1877 brought an end to Reconstruction, and through fascist terrorism by paramilitary groups like the Ku Klux Klan, African-Americans were denied the political rights and economic opportunities afforded to White citizens. Thus, Haywood writes in his 1948 book, Negro Liberation, “The uniqueness of the Negro problem in the United States lies in the fact that the Negro was left out of the country’s general democratic transformation.” (17)

Influenced by Lenin’s Draft Theses on the National-Colonial Question and Josef Stalin’s Marxism and the National Question, both of which identify African-Americans as an oppressed nation within the US, Haywood and the leadership of the Comintern launched an intensive study of the character of African-American people. (18)  In Marxism and the National Question, Stalin outlines the objective conditions for nationhood, which are, “a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture.” (19) Using the criteria set out by Stalin, Haywood notes that “Under conditions of imperialist and racist oppression, Blacks in the South were to acquire all the attributes of a single nation.” (20)

A common territory is one of the criteria for nationhood. Although African-Americans were spread out across the US, Haywood argued that the “territory of this subject nation is the Black Belt, an area encompassing the Deep South,” because even after the post-war Northern migrations of black workers, the Black Belt “still contained (and does to this day) the country’s largest concentration of Blacks.” (21) Additionally, Robin D.G. Kelley writes in his book, Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression that “This region, dominated by cotton plantations, consisted of counties with a numerical black majority.” (22) The demographic concentration of African-Americans, along with their historical tie to the land, led the Comintern to adopt a resolution affirming the presence of a black nation in the American South at its Sixth World Congress in 1928. (23)

The Black Belt Nation, derived from James Allen’s 1938 pamphlet, Negro Liberation.

Sustar’s article spins a web of sophistry in trying to back-handedly argue that Lenin would have opposed the Comintern’s line on the black national question. While he acknowledges that Lenin viewed African-Americans as an oppressed nation, he then proceeds to ignore that fact in painting Lenin’s position as one in harmony with the ISO’s Trotskyite position: That the struggle for national liberation is simply “a means to fight chauvinism and racism in the working class.” (24)

In actuality, Lenin maintained that “it is necessary that all Communist Parties render direct aid to the revolutionary movements among the dependent and subject nations (for example, in Ireland, among the Negroes in America, etc.) and in the colonies.” (25) True to Trotskyite form, Sustar leaves out any mention of the other toiling masses besides the proletariat, whose support is vital to the national liberation struggle. Lenin writes, “the cornerstone of the whole policy of the Communist International on the national and colonial questions must be a closer union of the proletarians and working masses generally of all nations and countries for a joint revolutionary struggle to overthrow the landlords and the bourgeoisie.” (26) The term “working masses” unmistakably refers to the peasantry and the petty-bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations, who can and must support the proletariat for a revolutionary national liberation struggle to succeed. Much as Trotsky held contempt for the Bolshevik line on a strategic alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry in Russia, the ISO holds contempt for the strategic alliance between the multinational working class and the other nationalist classes comprising the oppressed African-American nation. He can hold that position, but it is characteristically anti-Leninist, as is the entirety of Trotsky’s theory of revolution.

The Comintern’s groundbreaking new line on the African-American question maintained that “African-Americans had the right to self-determination: political power, control over the economy, and the right to secede from the United States.” (27) In a broader sense, however, Haywood’s line on the national question represented an affirmation of the revolutionary character of black nationalist movements, whose efforts could strike blows against US imperialism from within. While Marxist-Leninists view nationalism as a bourgeois ideology, it can nevertheless fuel revolutionary movements against imperialism in colonized nations, whose economic and social development were held back by foreign exploitation.

Organizing in the Black Belt Nation

Sustar has an incredibly superficial understanding of the black national question in theory, but his historical evaluation of its impact is equally flawed.

When Haywood returned to the US in 1930, the CPUSA had already begun implementing the African-American national question by sending party cadre into the Black Belt to organize and raise the demand of black self-determination. Suster claims that “the new perspective launched the CP into a series of senseless sectarian attacks on reformist Black and working-class leaders, alienating the party from the mass of workers,” the actual effect of the Party’s focus on the black national question was tremendous growth in its black membership. (28) The Alabama Communist Party was particularly successful in building strong ties with African-Americans through applying the theory to political organizing. Kelley notes that “From the beginning, Birmingham blacks exhibited a greater interest in the Party than did whites.” (29) The party’s appeal among African-Americans came from its outspoken opposition to racism and its support for national self-determination. Kelley writes that “During the 1930 election campaign, the Communist Party did what no political party had done in Alabama since Reconstruction: it endorsed a black candidate, Walter Lewis, for governor. The election platform included complete racial equality and maintained that the exercise of self-determination in the black belt was the only way to end lynching and achieve political rights for Southern blacks.” (30)

The Alabama Communist Party’s orientation towards building a strong, independent African-American movement translated into exponential growth in black cadre. Starting with a mere three organizers in 1929, the Party “was augmented to over ninety by the end of August 1930, and over five hundred working people populated the Party’s mass organizations, of whom between 80 and 90 percent were black.” (31) Contrary to Sustar’s baseless claims, the correct application of the national question to organizing fueled the early rapid levels of growth for the CPUSA among African-Americans.

Black workers were hit hardest by the Great Depression’s rampant unemployment due to racist firing preferences by White managers. In response to the mass demand among African-Americans for jobs, the Alabama Communists organized an unemployment relief campaign in 1933. By the end of the year “the Party’s dues-paying membership in Birmingham rose to nearly five hundred, and its mass organizations encompassed possibly twice that number.” (32) The unemployment relief campaign was particularly successful in its goal “to increase the number of black female members, who often proved more militant than their male comrades, from open confrontation to hidden forms of resistance, and would later prove invaluable to local Communists continuing their work in the mines, mills, and plantations of the black belt.” (33) The Alabama Communist Party maintained high diversity because of its attention to the plight of African-Americans, and in particular, the plight of African-American women.

Southern communists heavily involved themselves in the sharecropper labor movement, whose composition was primarily African-American. In Alabama, for instance, the Party organized the Share Croppers Union (SCU) in 1931, which grew to “a membership of nearly 2,000 organized in 73 locals, 80 women’s auxiliaries, and 30 youth groups.” (34) The SCU was openly organized by Alabama communists, and while it drew substantial support from the African-American community, it was also subject to a harsh crackdown by state and non-state actors. (35) Nevertheless, “the SCU claimed some substantial victories. On most of the plantations affected, the union won at least seventy-five centers per one hundred pounds, and in areas not affected by the strike, landlords reportedly increased wages from thirty-five cents per hundred pounds to fifty cents or more in order to avert the spread of the strike.” (36) The mass appeal of the SCU, an explicitly red trade union, and its tremendous victories demonstrate the power once possessed by the CPUSA in the American South.

Because sharecropping and rural wage labor was dominated by African-Americans, the SCU gave Alabama communists an interesting opportunity to apply the national question to trade union organizing. African-American communist Al Murphy was chosen as the Secretary of the SCU, and the bulk of the union’s leadership was always black. (37) Kelley writes that as Secretary, “Murphy, an unflinching supporter of the Party’s demand for self-determination in the black belt, had very definite ideas about the radical character of the SCU. He saw within each and every member ‘standard bearers of Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser, Frederick Douglass,’ and regarded the all-black movement as the very embodiment of black self-determination.” (38) The SCU came to represent the embodiment of Black self-determination applied to organizing because African-American cadre themselves comprised the union’s leadership, rather than the white labor bureaucrats that marked most other industrial trade unions in the 1930s. Nearly all of the Party’s black leadership had no prior experience in radical movements, making the SCU an authentic people’s trade union reflecting the class conflicts of the South. (39)

Perhaps the only aspect of Sustar’s piece with a kernel of principled criticism is his claim that the black national question was never “consistently put forward in practice.” While the CPUSA did implement and adapt the theory to much success, the rise of fascism and the breakout of World War II produced zig-zags in the Party’s line on African-American liberation, much to the detriment of the Party. For instance, the CPUSA abandoned Haywood’s line on the national question in 1935 in order to collaborate with conservative middle class black organizations in anti-war work related to fascist Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia. (40)

It is important to understand that Sustar is completely wrong in his assessment of the line’s implementation. Contrary to Sustar’s claim that the black national question “means subordinating the needs of workers to those of the middle class in the oppressed nation,” it wasn’t until the CPUSA dropped the demand for black national self-determination in 1935 that the Party began tailing the conservative black petty-bourgeoisie. (41) While the demand for a black nation was gaining traction among the black proletariat in the American South, the political pivot to a more rightist position proved costly to the CPUSA and actually fueled their waning influence in the working class. Sustar’s claim is outrageously ahistorical, and the facts actually demonstrate that abandoning the line seriously damaged the proletarian character of the black nationalist movement that the Party was building.

This political zig-zag was the product of Northern communists, who dominated the CPUSA leadership at the time. (42) Additionally, the sudden appearance of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), one of the only national trade unions to allow black members, prompted communist leaders to fold the SCU into the CIO in 1936. Although organizing within the CIO had tactical advantages in terms of available resources, the dissolution of the SCU “exacted a costly toll from the Alabama cadre, especially black party organizers.” (43) Because of racist internal policies limiting African-American leadership, “Black Birmingham Communists, for the most part, did not (and often could not) become pure union bureaucrats in the way that their comrades had in Northern and Western CIO unions.” (44) Reflecting deeper changes in their political line, the Alabama Communist Party’s influence declined across the South as it gradually lost its mass base among the African-American Nation.

One of the more bold claims made by Sustar is his claim that the CP pushed a line not shared by African Americans: “in the early 1930s, it was the Communist Party–not Black workers and farmers–who called for self-determination of the Black Belt.” Exactly who else is to put out slogans and calls? Is it a communist party’s job to wait until the people have perfected their demand and in the meantime there is nothing to do but twiddle one’s thumbs and hope for the best? Absolutely not. We say it is the job of the party to collect the best sentiments of the masses and translate them into coherent revolutionary action. Additionally, the tremendous success of the Communist Party in the South, especially among African-Americans and despite incredible state repression, indicates that the workers and sharecroppers in the South responded positively to the line precisely because they demanded it.

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Dream Defenders protest sentencing of Marissa Alexander

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The following article below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news organ of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

African American woman gets 20 years for firing warning shot to ward off abuser

May 13, 2012

Marissa Alexander in court Thursday, receiving the news of her having to face 20 years imprisonment for defending herself against an abusive ex-husband.

Jacksonville, FL – On May 11, students from the civil rights group Dream Defenders protested at the sentencing hearing of Marissa Alexander, a young black woman who was convicted of aggravated assault stemming from an episode in 2010 where she fired a warning shot at her abusive ex-husband Rico Gray, who had previously beaten her.

Dream Defenders burst out singing, “We who believe in freedom will not rest until it’s won,” as the prosecutor read its last arguments. Cops inside the courthouse converged on the protesters and quickly escorted them out of the courtroom and the courthouse. But that wasn’t before Dream Defender Ciara Taylor, senior at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University started the chant, “No justice, no peace!”

“We feel that this case shows the absurdity in our broken system in that a Black woman who is a victim of domestic abuse who defends herself is going to jail for 20 years while a killer like George Zimmerman is walking free,” said Dream Defender organizer Michael Sampson. “This is a clear episode of a racist criminal justice system choosing to make a victim of yet another person of color but as well, this shows also a sexist criminal justice system that doesn’t care for the struggles of women and victims of domestic abuse.”

Alexander was sentenced by Florida Judge James Daniel to 20 years in jail under the state’s 10-20-life, mandatory-minimum law.

“Such a law seems to disproportionally affect Black and brown youth,” said Sampson. “The system needs changing and we’re gonna organize and mobilize to demand freedom for Marissa Alexander and as well come back stronger and fight back against this tyranny.”

The Dream Defenders are the same student group that marched 40 miles from Daytona Beach to Sanford demanding justice for Trayvon Martin. The same group also shut down the Sanford police headquarters by blocking the doors on April 9. Two days later, Zimmerman was arrested due to public pressure.

“Dream Defenders is a student civil rights group dedicated to defending the dream of Black, brown and other oppressed peoples in this society who are often the victim of this corrupt system,” said Dream Defender Cecelia O’Brien. “We will continue growing and keep defending the dream of oppressed peoples in Florida and nationwide until our voices are heard. We cannot be drowned out.”

Zimbabwe: Call to intensify rural development

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May 12, 2012

Minister of State in Vice President Joice Mujuru’s Office Sylvester Nguni cuts the ribbon during the official handover of Mashumba Irrigation Scheme to the Mudzi community.

There is need to intensify development in rural areas through co-operatives and industrialisation since the areas can immensely contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, a Cabinet Minister has said. Addressing hundreds of villagers during the commissioning of 122 various projects valued at US$37 million in Mudzi on Thursday, Minister of State in Vice President Joice Mujuru’s office Sylvester Nguni described rural areas as the “bedrock” of Zimbabwe’s development.

The projects that are being carried out in Mudzi North, West and South constituencies are set to uplift the livelihoods of thousands of villagers in the drought-prone area. Community Trust Development Technology in collaboration with other non-governmental organisation is spearheading the projects, which include an irrigation scheme, dip tanks, dams construction and rehabilitation, nutrition gardens and cattle sales pens.

Said Minister Nguni: “The assets I am handing over to you are a testimony that rural communities can be a major contributor to the national economy. “Such developmental projects in rural areas have to be intensified as we continue fighting the illegal economic sanctions imposed on us by the West.”

He urged the people to work hard and desist from relying on food handouts.

“Be self-reliant. You have been given a hand by the various stakeholders and they have offered another US$15 million and 28 590 metric tones of beans, wheat and cooking oil for the continuation of the programme for another year but that does not mean we have to wait for their assistance. Let us make use of the direction they have given us and produce such that we stand on our own,” he said.

NGO’s, said Minister Nguni, should complement Government efforts and stop meddling in the country’s politics.

“I am happy to get a report from the local leadership that the NGOs working here are abiding by the laws. This should be the case countrywide not what we are seeing in other provinces where they (NGOs) are spreading the gospel of regime change. Government will not hesitate to ban such organisations for their intention is to destabilise the country politically,” he said.

Source

Robert Mugabe: ‘Sjambok Mzungu’ (Whip of the White Man)

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The following article below was originally published by the Sons of Malcolm news blog: 

By Garikai Chengu
May 10, 2012

A young Robert Mugabe once remarked that if you “educate the masses, politicize the masses and instill ideology in the masses then Empire will crumble under the weight of the masses.”

For daring to politicise people Robert Mugabe endured a decade in Ian Smith’s jails. During this time Mugabe continued educating the masses and himself, obtaining several degrees. The world’s most educated Head of State knew that all three revolutions revolve around education: the first that frees the native’s mind. The second that captures the State House and the third that transfers economic power from the white minority to the black majority.

Comrade Mugabe often notes that his greatest weapon in the trenches against white minority rule was the politicised mind of the masses. The comrades on the front line, the villagers that harboured the comrades, the musicians and ideologues that graced all night politicisation vigils or “Pungwes”organised by villagers, the native financiers that bankrolled the vigils and supplies for comrades on the front line – all played a part in liberating Zimbabwean minds and inevitably territory.

Robert Mugabe carried the radicalism and militancy needed to overthrow white minority rule into office and he has consistently applied that same militancy to democratising the economy. This unwavering quest for political as well as economic democratisation is the essence of Mugabeism.

Cde Mugabe’s socialist “Education-For-All” policy adopted at independence – much to the chagrin of the IMF – is the reason why Zimbabwe has the highest literacy rate in Africa.

A hungry man will gnaw away at his ideals. Whitehall knows this. As such, the British sought to bring down Cde Mugabe’s socialist project by way of illegal economic sanctions. The prevailing level of education amongst Zimbabweans meant that the people knew who their true enemy was. Infact, far from gnawing away at pro-people ideals at the ballot box, Zimbabweans are set to resoundingly re-elect Cde Mugabe in a matter of months.

At independence, a staggering 42% of Zimbabwe’s land area was owned by just 4000 white farmers. Today that land has been divvied up amongst 413,000 black households. Benefiting 1,000,000 people – who have been part of the largest demographic movement in southern Africa in the past decade. A bloodless revolution if ever there was one.

70 per cent of the redistributed land has benefited 270,000 poor rural families and their urban counterparts, who on average have acquired 20 hectares of land.

If President Mugabe has simply dished out this land to “cousins and cronies” as British media would have us believe, then 1 million beneficiaries or 1 million “cousins of Mugabe” will make election night a long one for the British establishment.

Despite recurrent droughts and dry spells and sanctions induced lack of capital, Land Democratisation has been a resounding success. Thanks to new black farmers, today Zimbabwe boasts the fastest growing agricultural sector (19.8%) in the world.

The final chapter in the ongoing struggle for economic independence is Cde Mugabe’s Indigenastion and Economic Empowerment Legislation. Today Zimbabwe also boasts the fastest growing mining sector (44%) in the world and Indigenisation is set to create a Sovereign Mineral Wealth fund. The economic democratisation programme will also transfer 51% ownership of all corporations to the black majority; establish Community Share Ownership Trusts and Employee Share Ownership Schemes.

The National Economic Empowerment board estimates that over the next five years Indigenisation will transfer $3billion dollars from predominantly foreign owners to local employees and communities. Indigenisation is also set to create 1 million jobs. In short, Indigenisation shall re-orient Zimbabwe’s economy to put poor before profiteer.

Robert Mugabe is affectionately known by the common man up and down the African continent as “sjambok mzungu” or “whip of the white man.” The west loathes President Mugabe because his policies have the power to transform Zimbabwe into a truly independent, egalitarian and prosperous socialist nation. Whitehall and Washington also detest Mugabeism because its resource nationalism will invariably encourage neighbours to follow suite.

In short, Mugabeism is an ideology that believes in transferring not only political power from the minority elite to the masses but also an unwavering commitment to the transfer of the means of production – land, minerals and corporations – from the privileged few to the downtrodden many.

Robert Mugabe’s western detractors waste no opportunity to remind the world of his mortality. So much so that the western media’s rather macabre practice of “Mugabe watching” has been elevated to somewhere between a fetish and a creed.

Robert Mugabe’s supporters, however, also waste no opportunity to remind detractors of the irrelevance of President Mugabe’s mortality: a leader that rules by way of politicising the masses, economically empowering the masses and instilling ideology in the masses shall continue to rule from the grave.

Garikai Chengu is a graduate student at Harvard University and author of – The Black Man’s Burden: A manifesto for an African Century, 2013. He can be contacted on garikai.chengu@gmail.com

Oakland police drop charges against Bakari Olatunji

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The following article below was originally published by Uhuru News

The people are victorious! Oakland police drop charges! Bakari Olatunji freed! Forward to the Oakland Freedom Summer Project!

By Diop Olugbala
May 9, 2012

On Tue, May 8, 2012, members and supporters of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) and Oakland Freedom Summer Project emerged from the California State Court victorious after discovering that the Oakland Police Department had dropped its charges brought against our comrade Bakari Olatunji.

We went to the court to stand in unity and resistance as we faced the arraignment of comrade Bakari, who was facing felony charges stemming from the police attack on him and other members of the Uhuru Movement during an Oakland Police Dept (OPD) “open house” event.

It was at this event where InPDUM attempted to serve the People’s Subpoena to Police Chief Howard Jordan to appear at the Court for Black Justice and Reparations.

The date of arraignment was preceded by several days of relentless struggle waged by members and supporters of InPDUM from around the world.

Since Bakari’s arrest, the OPD, the jail and the DA’s office were bombarded with phone calls from comrades and supporters from as far as Paris, France and London, UK.

In addition, InPDUM Oakland was already mobilizing the African community here around the weekend of resistance on May 4 and 5.

This weekend of resistance included a candlelight vigil, a march for Black Justice and Court for Black Justice – all actions which served to expose the OPD’s colonial oppression of the African community.

This tremendous response from the people in support of Bakari was topped off by the show of support on the day of the arraignment by InPDUM forces as well as other organizations, including the Onyx Organizing Committee and Occupy Oakland.

Although a press conference was called to express our opposition to Bakari’s arrest and charges and to further expose the OPD as the real criminal organization in Oakland – no ruling class media showed.

This response from such media as the Oakland Tribune, ABC, CBS and NBC news is consistent with the historic stance these forces have taken in uniting with the state against the African community – whether through silence or manipulation of information.

Despite the media boycott of the Uhuru Movement, we moved forward with our resistance, standing as a united force in the courthouse, where our presence was amplified through the dozens, if not hundreds of calls to the State that called to free Bakari.

Bakari’s Case an Example of Counterinsurgency

InPDUM was clear that Bakari was targeted because of his involvement in the Uhuru Movement. He has lead countless struggles over the last 20-30 years in Oakland against the police repression of the African community.

The most recent and perhaps significant struggle that Bakari was a part of was the campaign to Defend Lovelle Mixon, a 26-year-old African who killed four cops who were part of a squad of police who assassinated him.

While every organization and individual in the Bay Area who claimed to be revolutionary and progressive ran for cover in the aftermath of the Lovelle Mixon struggle, it was Bakari and the Uhuru Movement who not only raised up the right of African people to resist, but also defended Lovelle Mixon and held him up as a hero for the African working class.

This stance taken by comrade Bakari put him directly in the crosshairs of the State, evident in the way he was targeted by police at the open house where he was arrested.

Further, Bakari’s arrest was evidence of the OPD’s inability to tolerate criticism, particularly from the African working class and is the latest manifestation of a rogue police force that disregards any form of law and order.

While comrade Bakari faced trumped up charges, the real criminals of the Oakland Police Department wielded, and continue to wield a license from the U.S. government to murder young African men, as they recently did 18-year-old high school senior Alan Dwayne Blueford on Sunday, May 6 – just two days after Bakari’s arrest.

More significantly, Bakari’s freedom is evident of the State’s inability to withstand the organized resistance of the African working class.

While he was locked up in Santa Rita County Jail, Bakari was approached by several jail employees and one sheriff who were recognizing his significance based on the amount of calls they were receiving, if they were not outright begging him to call off the dogs!

Surely, it was for fear of political consequences from the African community that the State decided it was not in its interests to keep Bakari in prison. Thus, they released him and retracted all charges against him.

We Won the Battle, but the War Continues! Revolutionary Organization Will Win!

When we struggle we win! When we stand up they fall down! Moreover, the highest, most effective form of African struggle is resistance under the leadership of organization.

This is the principle that has informed all the work done to free Bakari. This is the principle upon which the court for Black Justice was built. And this is the principle that will result in our ultimate liberation.

The Uhuru Movement has long worked to rebuild a strong movement for Black Power in Oakland.

It is Oakland where the Black Panther Party was founded in the 1960’s.

It was in Oakland in which the African People’s Socialist Party rebuilt the movement for Black Power after the Panthers were crushed militarily by the U.S. And it is in Oakland where we are working to re-establish a base of power from which we wage the African Liberation struggle from the West Coast region of North America.

Our strategy to liberate Oakland has already begun, and will be advanced through the successful completion of the Oakland Freedom Summer Project.

From July 9-29, 2012, we will deploy revolutionary forces from throughout the U.S. into Oakland to wage a month-long campaign to initiate the renovation of the Uhuru House and advance the struggle for African community control of police and education.

This struggle has already begun with the Court for Black Justice, and was aided by the victory of the Free Bakari campaign.

The extraordinary record of police repression in the schools and streets of Oakland provided the basis for mass participation in this campaign.

The OPD’s oppressive record served as the basis for the People’s Verdict of “GUILTY” at the Court for Black Justice.

Now, we are entering the phase in which we must build revolutionary organization to enforce the People’s Sentence.

This will all be tied together during the Oakland Freedom Summer Project.

InPDUM is calling on African students, workers and revolutionaries throughout the world to come to Oakland to join in what promises to be a historic project.

To watch the video of Bakari’s arrest, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxFj1E4lzxU

What Must be Done:

Register for the Oakland Freedom Summer Project. Click here to REGISTER NOW: http://uhurusummerproject.org/register.shtml

If you are in Oakland, attend the weekly mass meetings to build the Oakland Freedom Summer Project:

Every Sunday at 4PM, Uhuru House – 7911 MacArthur Blvd

At week’s meeting on Sunday, May 13, we will hold a special VICTORY RALLY as we forward the struggle to build the Committee for African Community Self-Defense!

One Party! One Movement!

Build the Revolutionary Mass Organization for African Liberation!