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Brutality by Design
As was the focus of a recent article (1), the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has been recognized by the federal courts to be among Amerika’s most abusive prison systems, where a “culture of sadistic and malicious violence” reigns, involving the seeming inability of correctional officers to keep their hands off prisoners. (2) Though this is acknowledged, Texas officials have done nothing to rein these abuses in. And why? Because, like the inherently abusive and oppressive nature of the overall Amerikan criminal injustice system – it’s all by design.
Compelling Submission to Slavery
Government sanctioned brutality underlies the U.S. prison system; just as it did the U.S. chattel slave system of which the prison system is a continuation; and just as it did the German Nazi concentration camp system. Under the old North Amerikan slave system it was openly admitted that people simply will not willingly submit to bondage and unremunerated forced labor. The human spirit naturally rebels against such a condition. Therefore the wealthy interests whose economic domination, power, prestige and wealth itself relied on slave labor, had to devise a system which would compel the submission of those to be kept in bondage.
So they dehumanized their victims to strip them of all claims of entitlement to human dignity, compassion and consideration. But this alone was not enough to force them to submit to slavery. “This was to be done… by means of beatings, whippings, or any other similar form of violent and mutilative punishment or humiliation. Sociologically speaking, this then illustrates clearly that the South had become a society that was compelled to resort to the use of coercive force because of the ultimate failure of law to support or enforce subservient behavior in slaves.” (3) And because slavery is the basis of the U.S. prison system, (as embodied in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution), this same resort to brutality and violence to exert “control” pervades it. So as was done with the slaves of yesterday, U.S. prisoners are projected to the broader public as objects of suspicion, fear, ridicule and hate.
In this sense, we are the new “niggers”. And when guards wish to demean us, we’re often told that we’re only “inmates”, “offenders”, etc., which means, something less than human. Yet in reality, the only thing that differentiates us from the ‘public’ (and who among them can honestly say they’ve never violated any of the innumerable laws of the oppressive state?), is we’ve suffered the formal indignity of having the government brand and stigmatize us ‘criminals’. But on the other hand, the same guards who run these prisons frequently admit to us, the only difference between us and them is they’ve “never been caught”, which makes them the worse sort of hypocrites, who devote their lives to punishing others (breaking up homes, families and communities, and subjecting us to all manner of abuses in the process) for violating laws that they don’t respect themselves.
There’s also the fact that in Amerika people of color and the poor (the traditional “niggers” and poor social “trash”) are the primary targets of aggressive policing of their communities, criminal prosecution and mass imprisonment. Criminal injustice in Amerika is far from blind – and definitely ain’t colorblind. Indeed the boon of mass imprisonment on the last several decades is aptly recognized as a “New Jim Crow” system for disparaging and disposing of marginalized racial and national minorities. But what accompanies this system, that many aren’t aware of, is raw slavery, which could not exist without dehumanizing and brutalizing its victims. Once U.S. prisons are recognized to be a system of enslavement, and the lie is exposed that slavery in Amerika was ever abolished, the abusive conditions that pervades them make perfect sense. Let’s take the TDCJ where I’m presently imprisoned for example.
With 109 prisons and over 152,000 prisoners, Texas operates Amerika’s largest state prison system. And every prisoner confined in Texas is forced to work without pay… Only those very few with documented serious medical or mental health conditions which impair work performance, and those held in the TDCJ’s torturous segregation units, are not made to work. Often those with documented medical and mental health exemptions are still forced to work – their exemptions being simply ignored.
Those who refuse to work are punished, thrown in segregated confinement, and their imprisonment is typically extended. The entire Texas prison system is organized around its prisoner labor, with the prisoners literally performing every job short of running the cell blocks. Actually, until the federal courts banned it in the 1980’s, prisoners were doing this too, working as “building tenders” whom the guards armed with pipes, street knives and bats, and gave impunity to terrorize other prisoners (through stabbings, beatings, rapes and extortion) to keep order for the TDCJ administrators. (4) The same sort of unholy and oft denied alliance that police have long maintained with ‘organized’ criminal elements in poor urban communities, to supply, protect and secure graft from drug operations and other ‘crimes’ and to remove competitors and compel residents’ submission.
TDCJ prisoners also substituted for licensed medical staff.(5) Otherwise today TDCJ prisoners still do everything from growing all the food we eat (and which the TDCJ also sells commercially for profit), raising livestock and crops on hundreds of thousands of acres of TDCJ-owned farmland (which are aptly called “colonies”), to building and maintaining the prisons that hold us. The prisoners plant, tend and harvest everything from cotton, beans, carrots and potatoes, to peanuts and more. This work is performed by “hoe squads” of prisoners using primitive manual labor methods like those of the field slaves of yesterday or Third World peasants, while armed guards on horseback “oversee” them.
The prisoners, like the old slaves, refer to these overseers as “bossman”. To see one of these terms at work is to witness a scene like something ripped from an old slave movie. The TDCJ also runs an in-house enterprise called Texas Correctional Industries, which uses prisoners’ slave labor to make everything from the clothes we and the guards wear (which are made from the prisoner-grown cotton) and also commercially sold garments, boots, state and U.S. flags, linen, etc., to the steel cell doors, beds, lockers, sink/commode units, and even walls and other fixtures that go into the prisons’ constructions and cells. Texas prisoners literally forge the chains that bind them.
As a further abuse and insult, the TDCJ does not provide its prisoners with seasonal clothing for cold winters or Texas’s scorching summers, like long underwear (thermals), gloves, hats, shorts, t-shirts, etc. Instead we must purchase such items from the prison commissaries (remember these are clothes the prisoners make themselves without payment), using whatever money we can manage to get friends and family to send us. Most prisoners have little to no outside support, and the TDCJ doesn’t encourage our developing or maintaining communication lines to the outside.
Those of us who don’t receive money are allowed to mail only five one-ounce letters per month, the cost of which is set up as an outstanding debt that we must repay if and whenever we may receive any money. Prisoners are therefore forced to devise all sorts of hustles and schemes to generate means of acquiring clothes, hygiene supplies (which the TDCJ also does not give us), and even food (I will discuss the grossly inadequate nutrition we receive below).
Also, most TDCJ prisons lack air-conditioning, so this slave labor is performed in the sweltering Texas heat, which is of course worse for those who work inside unventilated buildings. Even the guards who serve as little more than overseers (armed watchers and disciplinarians), protest the lack of climate-control in the prisons. (6) Indeed prisoners have been dropping dead from these conditions and have been forced to refuse life-sustaining medications to avoid the potentially fatal effects that these medicines can cause from extreme exertions in hot weather. And of course, TDCJ administrators, who ensure their own offices are air-conditioned, could care less.
Which brings us to the cruelest feature typical of such mean systems of enslavement. Namely the ‘owners’ who live in luxury and comfort at the slaves’ expense, generally care nothing about the health of their workers, especially when, as here, the slaves are easily and readily replaced from a steady supply of surplus workers; as was also the case during the trans-Atlantic slave trade and in the Nazi concentration camps. Which is why those slaves were starved, denied health care, and literally worked to death. But it was only called genocide when its focus was on ‘white’ people.
Many overlook or don’t realize that it was the exploitation of slave labor that helped drive the German Nazi’s genocidal program against Poles Gypsies (Sintis and Romanis), Jews, Slavs, the mentally disturbed, and others. These people were swept up en masse into concentration camps where many were worked to death, performing forced labor to enrich and sustain German corporations and the Nazi state and military that served them. Similarly TDCJ’s prisoner health care system has long been recognized to be unresponsive to the health needs of its prisoners. As said, but for federal court intervention in the 1980’s, prisoners were made to rely on only their peers for health care. (7)
And just as the Nazis did to those they captured under their Aryanization programs, the property of U.S. prisoners is typically confiscated and kept by arresting police under “civil forfeiture” laws. We should remember that the Nazis, as did the slavers of yesterday’s North Amerika, legitimized their inhumane practices by embedding them in law. Then too there’s the high incidence of communicable deadly diseases like chronic hepatitis (HCV), HIV and AIDS, which commonly circulate in U.S. prisons at pandemic levels and go largely untreated.
One documented example was found in the Virginia Department of Corrections where I was originally confined (for 21 years), and for whom Texas is presently holding me. The situation was exposed by the ACLU in a 2003 report which found the VDOC was deliberately allowing such deadly diseases as HCV to circulate untreated among its prisoners, while in violation of Virginia’s laws VDOC officials deliberately falsified reports on the levels of prisoner HCV infection and those dying from it. (8) The report, which was hushed up, revealed that the VDOC was outright refusing to treat over 10,000 known HCV cases (over a full third of its entire prison population).
It stated: “Although it is estimated that up to half of chronic HCV patients can be cured if treated early with an appropriate regimen of interferon and ribavirin, only 50 Virginia inmates out of an estimated 12,800 infected were receiving Hepatitis C treatment as of November 1, 2002, and only 320 have received the therapy since the treatment protocol was implemented. Liver biopsies – procedures performed to assess liver damage prior to initiating HCV treatment – have fallen considerably in recent years. Only 33 inmates were scheduled for biopsies as of November 1, and the number of liver biopsies dipped dramatically last year, from 204 in 2000 to 127 in 2011.” (9) It should be noted that one of the practices for which the Nazis were found guilty of “crimes against humanity” during the Nuremberg Trials for war crimes, was their confining German citizens and others under conditions where epidemics ran rampant. (10)
If such acts were crimes for which German leaders were punished with executions, they are no less crimes when committed by U.S. officials. Indeed U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Nuremberg prosecutor Robert H. Jackson stated this as a basic principle: “If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.” (11) But of course this is typical U.S. rhetoric, since as the present case among many others demonstrates, as admitted in a Washington Monthly editorial: “War crimes tribunals would be the worst thing that could happen, [because] they would amount to… a system of legal guilt for top [U.S.] officials.” (12)
And just as the Nazi propaganda industry did, the Amerikan government and media join together in villainizing minority groups by perpetuating criminal images of them to the national ‘majority’. And they selectively criminalize actions stereotyped as behaviors typical of these groups. Too, both these societies systematically used prisons to dispose of mentally disabled people, and angled to portray ‘criminal’ inclinations as biologically innate to certain undesirable minority groups. More telling is the fact that while New Afrikans/Blacks are only 13% of the U.S. social population, we are over half the prison population, a population that is forbidden to procreate.
This per se has genocidal implications. While the Nazis were explicit in their eugenics policies, the U.S. objectively carries out similar practices in imprisoning Black males at their most fertile ages and thereby undermining births within this social group. (13) Legal scholar Michelle Alexander revealed the economic incentive behind mass imprisonment/disappearances of New Afrikan/Black males, because we no longer have any economic worth to Amerika on the streets.
She also observed that genocidal policies have been historically applied to those peoples who find themselves in this unfortunate position. “The collapse of inner-city economies coincided with the conservative backlash against the Civil Rights Movement, resulting in the perfect storm. Almost overnight, black men found themselves unnecessary to the American economy and demonized by mainstream society. No longer needed to pick cotton in the fields or labor in factories, lower-class black men were hauled off to prison in droves. They were vilified in the media and condemned for their condition as part of a well-orchestrated political campaign to build a new white, Republican majority in the South. Decades later, curious onlookers in the grips of denial would wonder aloud, “where have all the black men gone?”
“…The new system does not seek primarily to benefit unfairly from black labor, as earlier caste systems have, but instead views African Americans (sic) as largely irrelevant and unnecessary to the newly structured economy – an economy that is no longer driven by unskilled labor. “It is fair to say that we have witnessed an evolution in the U.S. from a racial caste system based entirely on exploitation (slavery), to one based largely on subordination (Jim Crow), to one defined by marginalization (mass incarceration).
While marginalization may sound far preferable to exploitation, it may prove to be even more dangerous. Extreme marginalization, as we have seen throughout world history, poses the risk of extermination. Tragedies such as the Holocaust in Germany or the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia [or the genocide against Native peoples here in North Amerika - Rashid] are traceable to extreme marginalization and stigmatization of racial and ethnic groups. As legal scholar John A. Powell once commented only half in jest, “It’s actually better to be exploited than marginalized in some respects, because if you’re exploited presumably you’re still needed.”
“Viewed in this light, the frantic accusations of genocide by poor blacks in the early years of the War on Drugs seem less paranoid. The intuition of those residing in ghetto communities that they had suddenly become disposable was rooted in real changes in the economy – changes that have been devastating to poor black communities as factories have closed, low- skilled jobs have disappeared, and all those who had the means to flee the ghetto did. The sense among those left behind that society no longer has use for them, and that the government now aims to simply get rid of them, reflects a reality that many of us who claim to care prefer to avoid simply by changing channels.” (14)
Slavery Does Not Teach Freedom
As one Texas prisoner recently pointed out to me, the TDCJ’s slave system teaches prisoners how to become thieves, swindlers and predators. As already noted, most prisoners have little or no outside financial support, and where the TDCJ doesn’t pay them any wages for work, they can only obtain things they need and want by stealing, conning or preying on others. In some cases they are driven by necessity. Like in the Nazi ghettoes and prison camps, TDCJ prisoners do not receive nutrition adequate to maintain good health under conditions of hard labor. Per its own policy, the daily calorie intake of TDCJ prisoner diet plans does not exceed 2500 calories, which is the minimum daily calorie intake needed for a sedentary to only moderately active adult to maintain good health.
Remember, these prisoners are performing the same grueling labor as yesterday’s chattel slaves, and thus require at least the same level of daily nutrition. Yet TDCJ prisoners are provided less nutrition than were the slaves of yesterday. Chattel slaves were recognized as needing 4200 to 5400 calories per day to remain fit to perform their labor, particularly as field hands. (15) The TDCJ also does not serve any fresh fruits to its prisoners, and serves desserts at only one meal per week.
This denies basic nutrients and daily glucose needed for health and energy. Leaving prisoners hard pressed to find ways to supplement their diets and get sweets from the prison commissaries which, as I’ve noted, calls for their engaging in side hustles, theft and preying on other prisoners – anti-social behaviors that will follow them back to society. This is what so-called rehabilitation boils down to. Slavery doesn’t teach people how to be free. It only dehumanizes, which is why international law to which the U.S. is a signatory outlaws slavery in all its forms.
With the vast majority of Texas’s prison population being people of color and Texas being one of the country’s most notoriously racist states, and its prisons openly practicing old style slavery, it requires no major stretch of the imagination to recognize that a large percentage of its staff are the worst sort of racists. In fact in a recent New York Times article written by a TDCJ guard, it was admitted that in Texas, “Employment screening for correctional officers is inadequate.” (16) But prison systems don’t screen their employees to determine racial views. In Virginia I often heard racist white guards sarcastically confess, “it’s not against the law [or rules] to be racist.”
Furthermore, TDCJ guards have the nation’s highest arrest rate for prison employees, (17) demonstrating that there’s indeed no difference between us and them, with quite a few of them even getting caught. So when we hear tough-on-crime and prison industry financed politicians howling about the need for more prisons and to stay the course of mass incarceration we should remember (as hard as it may be for some to accept) that what they’re really promoting is slavery, genocide, crimes against humanity and a system that only teaches and reinforces criminality, not rehabilitation.
Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!
1) Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, “U.S. Prison Practices would Disgrace A Nation of Savages Texas. A Case on Record” (2013)
2) Ruiz v Johnson 154 F. supp. 2d 925, 986 (S.D. Tex. 2001)
3) “Securing the Leg Irons: Restrictions of Legal Rights in Virginia and Maryland”
4) See, Ruiz vs Estelle, 503 F supp. 1265 (1980)
6) Larie Lowry, “In Texas, Inmates and Officers Swelter.” New York Times, November 22, 2013
7) Op cite, note 4
8) Laura Lafay, Accountable to No One: The Virginia Department of Corrections and Prisoner Medical Care (ACLU, 2003)
9) Ibid, p. 9
10) See, “Four Power Agreement”, 59 Stat. 1544, 82 U.N.T.S. 279, Sept. 10, 1945, in Burns H. Weston. et al., eds., Basic Documents in International Law and World Order (St. Paul, MN West, 1990)
11) Richard A Falk, “The Circle of Responsibility,” Nation, January 20, 1970. p 27 (quoting Jackson).
12) Townsend Hoopes, “The Nuremberg Suggestion.” Washington Monthly, January 1970
13) The international Convention on Genocide defines the crime of genocide as “imposing measures intended to prevent births within” any national, or ethnic or racial group, such as destroy that group in part or whole.
14) Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Era of Colorblindness (The New Press, N.Y. 2010) pp 207-08
15) Richard Sutch , “The Care and Feeding of Slaves”, in Paul A. David, et al. Reckoning With Slavery: A Critical Study in the Quantitative History of American Negro Slavery (N.Y.), Oxford University Press 1976)
16) Op cite note 6
17) Matthew T. Clarke “Record Number of Texas Prison Guards Arrested,” Prison Legal News (May 2007), p. 26
Recently a new visitation policy has been put into effect across the entire VADOC prison system. The new policy places even greater restriction on friends and families of those confined, requiring all new visitors to go through the new VADOC online application process to then be approved for visitation, with a minimum of 30 days to process the online application. If a visitor is not immediate family (this includes cousins) then they are only allowed to visit one prisoner throughout the entire VADOC system. All visitors registered prior to the implementation of the new visitation policy have been grandfathered in, but ultimately will be subject to the new visitation stipulations.
The VADOC has presented the new policy as a way to streamline the visitation process, that will allow for a more rapid sign-in process at each prison. Going so far as to say this will benefit friends and family of prisoners.
SPARC did a little investigation and called Beverly Richardson, the point person who addresses all issues relating visitation, and questioned her on the reasoning behind the new visitation policy. When we asked for an elaboration explaining the new policy Ms. Richardson said the VADOC “wanted something more consistent and would provide tighter reigns on those who could get into the prisons.” Ms. Richardson even alluded to the idea that individuals were entering prisons under false aliases, which is hard for us to believe since prior to this new visitation policy all visitors were required to present valid state-issued ID. Now this raises one of two questions, either the VADOC C/O’s are incompetent and were not checking for valid ID or this is just a complete fabrication by the VADOC itself to justify their efforts at restricting the public from seeing prisoners. Either way the VADOC doesn’t come out looking any better than the garbage heap that it is.
Ms. Richardson even acknowledged that families and friends view this new policy as an attempt to keep them from having visitations, yet she assured us it is for the benefit and safety of all (this is eerily reminiscent of the doublespeak utilized by the US imperialist state to justify its ever-expanding surveillance, policing and militarization of all domestic spaces under the guise of “fighting the war on terror”).
It has already been difficult enough for friends and families to visit their loved ones in the prisons before the enaction of the new policy; many times we have driven families down to Red Onion and Wallens Ridge for visits and they have been turned away for the most trivial reasons. One of the most egregious examples that comes to mind, and speaks to the pettiness of the VADOC, was after driving over seven hours from Richmond with two middle-aged sisters and their 80 year old grandmother, who had to bring seven oxygen tanks with her, refused admittance of their mother because she “didn’t have proper identification”. This was in the middle of summer, under 90 degree heat. One of the sisters had to forgo their visit as well in order to care for their mother as they sat with us in our rental vehicle trying to stay as cool as possible.
Are we to think that this new policy is going to somehow mitigate prior outcomes such as this? We most definitely say “No”, in fact we agree with friends and families of prisoners this is only a further attempt by the VADOC to crush the will of the oppressed. The VADOC must realize the class and racial/national character of the prison population and the families from which the come. They must realize that many of the friends and families of prisoners do not have home access to the internet, do not have an email address and are computer illiterate. They must also realize that because of the tenuous nature of being proletarian, this population is subject to frequent address change. If visitor’s addresses as listed on their ID’s differentiate from their most recent housing that is grounds enough at this point to refuse admittance.
Where is the justice in all of this? If we take the VADOC’s official line at face value, that is they view their institution as a means of “correcting” a segment of the Virginia population from their “anti-social” behaviors, we would therefore assume that the VADOC recognize the integral role of outside support by families and friends of prisoners in the process of “correcting”. We would also assume that the VADOC would show a greater effort to facilitate developing strong and positive emotional bonds between families and friends with the prisoners they visit. But we are not naive enough to accept the VADOC’s official line in regards to what its role is under capitalist society. We understand that the VADOC is only one element of the state to perpetuate class and national oppression. The cold, hard facts speaks for themselves, the pervasiveness of medical neglect, sexual assault, filthy living conditions, racism, and overall soft torture techniques confirms that the VADOC is meant to instil terror upon the proletarian population of Virginia.
The only goal SPARC has is the total destruction of this repressive state apparatus, there is no reforming it as an institution. No piece of legislation is going to fulfill the needs of prisoners and the communities from which they come. We want revolutionary socialism, we want the self-organization of prisoners and their families for total liberation. The prison system must be destroyed.
NEXT COURT DATE for the CUNY 6: February 18
NEXT COURT DATE for Khalil + Taf: March 11
The following is a speech given by a RSCC comrade at the recent court appearance on January 9th.
CUNY for the People!
We are here today in support of the CUNY 6 and Taffy and Khalil. We are here because we are taking the future of CUNY into our hands. The two sides of this struggle have been clear.
We want a CUNY that serves the people of New York City. They, the present CUNY administrators, want a CUNY that serves the capitalist-imperialist system.
CUNY haggled and begged David Petraeus to teach and to produce lackey policymakers among people in our communities.
The working class is firmly opposed to Petraeus teaching in CUNY. It wants a CUNY open to all proletarian people. It wants a CUNY where students learn to serve the people, to become revolutionaries who return to the neighborhoods we come from, to uplift our class through militant struggle.
CUNY welcomed ROTC back to recruit more oppressed-nationality people from our communities. This was part of a national strategy to recruit proletarian youth to join the ranks of the imperialist war machine.
The working class is firmly opposed to the ROTC returning to CUNY. It wants to be able to fight and defend itself from its class enemies.
When we fought against these imposed measures, CUNY responded by taking away the only thing that linked students in CUNY together with our communities—the Guillermo Morales / Assata Shakur Community & Student Center at City College.
The working class is firmly against the backhanded seizure of the Morales / Shakur Center. It wants a revolutionary community center on every single CUNY campus.
Why is CUNY doing all this? Because they want to change the class character of CUNY. This is happening because CUNY is excluding proletarian people of New York City from attending the only institution that they can hope to attend.
This is happening because CUNY is taking in top-graduating students in and outside of New York City and trying to make Colin Powells of out them. As if being the first Jamaican man to serve as Secretary of State is something to be proud about!
CUNY is trying to pick off a section of people in our communities and train them to serve imperialism, a system that continues to dominate the oppressed countries abroad and the proletarian communities here. This is the new problem we are facing.
CUNY, just like the electoral system in New York City, is trying to use people that look like us—like Colin Powell, like DeBlasio’s son—to create illusions about this system.
Let me be clear about this: as long as this current system exists, as long as the US remains a capitalist society, nothing will ever be in the working class’s favor. The ruling class has the power to rule over us.
In CUNY, they can silence us with policies like the Expressive Conduct Policy.
They can suspend my comrades and kick them out of school.
They can send the NYPD after us and hunt us like animals.
They can stockpile weapons—hollow-point bullets, shotgun ammunition, Glock automatic pistols with night sights, body armor, riot helmets, pepper-spray dispensers—that the NYPD doesn’t have to intimidate us.
But where is our power to rule over them?
Where is our power to embarrass and kick out reactionary teachers?
Where is our power to expel racist school administrators?
Where is our power to stop-and-frisk a cop?
Where is our power to put our bosses in their place?
Our power lies in the destruction of this system and the construction of a new one. To do that, we must unite and seize our power. We must build our own organizations to counter theirs.
This is why the struggle in CUNY is part of the larger class struggle happening in proletarian communities everywhere; our fate as students is the fate of the communities that we come from. We cannot transform CUNY to serve the people unless we also transform all of society to serve the people.
City College is Harlem University!
I am writing to make you aware of the injustice and abusive retaliatory behavior in which is being shown by the administration and security officers here…I was involved in an altercation with another offender we engaged in a fight..The floor officer C/O Fort called a distress code and security personnel arrived. Me and the offender was separated. I walked away…directly in front of the rapid-eye-camera as I stood there the K-9 officer came beside me as the LT Dyson stood behind me LT Dyson asked me what the fuck I am doing as I stood there non-aggressive non-threatening with my hands to my side at which point the K-9 officer walked towards me and instructed his K-9 to maliciously attack me for no justifiable reason at all…I was able to jerk my ankle out of the K-9’s mouth…out of fear I ran away from the K-9 and its officer…I was ultimately restrained by security handcuffed and shackled.
I requested medical attention. Escorted to medical dept. while receiving medical treatment. The same K-9 officer appeared demanded the nurse to stop what she was doing which was sterilizing and placing ointment on the bite wounds. He told me he had to take pictures of the bite wounds in order to protect hisself. I told him that he was not concerned with my safety when he allowed his K-9 to attack me I declined allowing him to take pictures. As a result I was pulled off the medical bed forced to my knees simultaneously the shackles were snatched from beneath me my face hit the floor causing me to break my tooth due to me being in handcuffs and shackles. The nurses were screaming…C/O Wells and C/O Vareen placed their knees and arms on my back neck and legs as the K-9 officer gave instruction on how to position my leg for photographs. After that I was denied medical attention and took to the SHU.
Even though the entire incident was reviewed by investigators using rapid-eye camera, the fact the K-9 assault was not mentioned (attempt to sweep incident under the rug because all my charge said is I was separated and restrained).
Im being denied proper medical and dental attention still have not received a tetanus shot as I requested due to the constant irritation and itching sensation I am experiencing.
I am being held in SHU out of retailiation. I guess because I was released by ICA but Intel put a hold on me. This was a malicious act and a act that was unprovoked intended to inflict pain and cause me physical harm for no legitimate reason.
Dominican immigration authorities involuntarily expel Haitians. Photo source: Miami Herlad
DOMINICAN REPUBLICAN -The puppets of imperialism who run the Dominican Republic have begun their horrific terrorism against Haitian residents of the DR. More than 350 Haitians have from their homes. Many have been forcibly deported by Dominican authorities. Others have fled in fear after a mob of Dominican reactionaries killed a Haitian man in Neiba, Baoruco.
The Miami Herald quotes a leader of a immigrants’ rights organization in saying “People are being threatened to leave. What is the voluntary nature of their return? They did not want to die.”
This “anti-immigrant” hysteria (neither Dominicans nor Haitians are “immigrants” to the island) arives in the climate created by a new ruling by the boot-licking Dominican Constitutional Court, which tightens immigration enforcement, stripping at least 300,000 Haitians and people of Haitian descent of their Dominican citizenship. The law extends retroactively as far back as 1929, indiscriminately attacking Haitians in what can only be called a legal codification of ethnic cleansing.
The blame also lies on the wealthy Dominican media which whips up bigotry and chauvinism. They use the Haitian people as a scapegoat to distract from the crimes, inflicted on Dominicans and Haitians alike, by neo-colonialism and comprador-bureaucrat capitalism.
The US uses the tentacles of monopoly-capital and brunt military force to control the affairs of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, leeching resources off the island and using poverty to force Dominicans and Haitians to migrate to the US to work cheap, low-wage jobs. In the US they also face barbaric racism and white chauvinism, especially from law enforcement and other thuggish overseers.
The people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic cross the border between the two countries regularly, expressing the organic internationalist spirit of two great people.
Similarly, the crimes of the Dominican state not only threatens and terrorizes Haitian residents of the Dominican Republic, but also poor Dominicians - especially darker-skinned Dominicians - who do not have and cannot afford identification cards.
The power of the state and mass-media reactionaries to galvanize a backwards segment of desperate people around imbecilic anti-Haitian scapegoating is a toxic effect of this backwards society of imperialism and neo-colonialism.
These developments cannot be understood without understanding the Caribbean as a battleground where the US imperialists use CAFTA-DR, CARICOM, HOPE, (Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement) and other weapons to exploit the people and soak up blood-soaked capital like a filthy, mildewed sponge.
In the Dominican Republic, the United States dominates imports of basic subsistence goods such as food, agricultural machinery, petroleum, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, fabric, using the country as a giant slave shop to produce and export gold, silver, sugar, nickel, cocoa, coffee, and other consumer goods to the US. The US represents 46.1% of the DR’s exports and 42.5% of their imports. The situation is quite similar, if not more dramatic, in Haiti, where the US represents the majority of subsistence imports and represents 81.5% of Haitian exports such as designer apparel, mangoes, cocoa, and coffee.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic’s shared neo-colonial servitude. Above: A gold mine in the DR. Below: An apparel factory in Haiti.
This is also true in Jamaica, (where 30.1% of the country’s imports - primarily subsistence goods - come from, and 38.7% of its exports - alumina, bauxite, sugar, yams, rum - go to the US) Cuba, (a country which remains antagonized by aggressive US embargoes, where the largest export partner of goods such as coffee, citrus, and tobacco is the USA’s imperialist partner Canada, and Raúl Castro’s “reforms” have lead to the growth of Special Economic Zones for exploitation by foreign capital) Barbados (where, after Trinidad and Tobago, the US is the largest importer and exporter) and Trinidad and Tobago. (40.3% of exports and 30.8% of imports) Other Caribbean countries such as Grenada, the Bahamas, and Saint Vincand and the Grenadines are maintained almost entirely as giant tourist playgrounds for the hedonistic appetites of the Western imperialist bourgeoisie. Lastly, other Caribbean countries such as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands remain the direct colonial possessions of the USA.
This is true too of the countries of Central America, and the internally colonized nations of the continental US Sunbelt. (such as New Afrika, which through Florida is a gateway between the US and the Caribbean)
It is in this system of blatant no-colonial oppression that the Dominican comprador-bourgeoisie blames the suffering of the Dominican masses on their Haitian sisters and brothers, who have a shared history of anti-colonial revolt and revolutionary struggle with the Dominican people.
We hope to see a genuinely free and socialist Haiti and Dominican Republic that drives out the imperialist blood-suckers and promotes freedom amongst and equality between the Dominican and Haitian people. It is the duty of all exploited and oppressed people living in the US, not just children of the Haitian and Dominican people, help bring an end to this present situation by making revolution in the US.
March from CUNY Central Offices down 3rd Ave to Baruch @ 2PM
42nd St & 3rd Ave
Rally Outside CUNY Board of Trustees Meeting @ 3pm
Outside Baruch Vertical Campus building
E 25th St between Lexington and 3rd Ave
Recently, the CUNY Board of Trustees has put forth a motion known as the “Expressive Conduct” Policy.
Following the protests against hiring of former General and CIA Director David Petraeus and reintroduction of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) into CUNY, it is clear that the “Expressive Conduct” Policy is part of the ongoing militarization of CUNY. The “Expressive Conduct” Policy aims to quell any dissent which occurs within the walls of the CUNY campus.
The recent proposal for the policy illustrates that there are two visions of what CUNY should be.
On the one hand, the Board of Trustees envisions CUNY to be a mechanism for capitalist class oppression. They want CUNY students to graduate to take on mini-manager positions within a system that benefits the capitalist minority over the oppressed and exploited majority of this city. This is a CUNY which is not only privatized but also gentrified with limited accessibility to the oppressed-nationality proletariat of this city.
On the flipside, there is the vision of CUNY which Assata Shakur and Guillermo Morales, Black and Puerto Rican Liberation fighters. They were socialists who were involved with the Black Liberation Army and FALN. Both Shakur and Morales were CUNY students— specifically City College alumni—who participated in the 1969 student strike that opened CUNY up for black and Latino working-class students for the first time.
It is in their footsteps by which we are guided. Their vision of what CUNY should be is not history. It is the vision that we are also fighting for today.
The “Expressive Conduct” policy has been put on the table after the protests that opposed General Petraeus coming to CUNY. The Board of Trustees are aware that the recent movement against the militarization of CUNY can lead to a broader struggle which can challenge the BOT’s vision of CUNY.
Students within CUNY are an insurgent population. Many of us are of oppressed and working class backgrounds. Access to CUNY opens up the possibilty of understanding this system of oppression and exploitation and fighting against it. What better way to curtail an insurgency by stopping it before it occurs.
If the creation of a educational curriculum tailored to the needs of reproducing the exploitative system is an example ideological repression, then the new “Expressive Activities” policy is an example of legal repression both which can be looked at as pre-emptive counter-insurgency measure.
This repression is also symptomatic of a wider increase of the repressive apparatus of the state throughout white supremacist capitalist-imperialist patriarchal society.
We see it all around us on our campuses, where hordes of public safety officers are omnipresent, especially when there are protests and political events on campus.
We see it at City College, where the administration raided and seized the Morales / Shakur Community Center over a weekend in October.
We see this with the surveillance of organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine and Muslim Student Associations.
We see this with the suspension of comrades Khalil Vasquez and Taffy Sourov.
Outside of CUNY, we see the crushing of dissent through the imprisonment of military whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
We see it with the countless nameless oppressed-nationality and working-class people who are victims of mass incarceration.
We see it with the increasing numbers of ever-present cameras at the MTA train stations, buses, apartment lobbies and just walking down the street.
Particularly, we see this repression embodied in the so-called “boys in blue” (NYPD) who occupy the hood and stop-and-frisk us by the hundreds of thousands. The NYPD overstep their jurisdiction to spy on Muslims. This is the same NYPD which can be found to operate in occupied Palestine even.
This repression in wider society is a repression which is of a class character; it is used to keep one class in power and another class powerless.
This repression also exists within the CUNY system and one way it has manifested itself is through the “Expressive Conduct” Policy. The BOT is merely administrating the needs of the ruling class in this city to repress us and keep us powerless.
The only way for the powerless in CUNY to oppose this “Expressive Conduct” Policy and fight to liberate CUNY for the people.
Abolish the Board of Trustees!
Guaranteed admissions for proletarians of NYC!
Community centers on every campus!
Students Without Borders’ Hip-Hop Embraces Revolution MIC Event, where they did fundraising for the recent typhoon disaster in the Philippines.
Since the founding of the anti-imperialist, anti-fascist Queens College (QC) student organization Students Without Borders in April 2013, there have been several attempts on the part of the college administration and CUNY police (‘Public Safety’) to derail the political work of SWB. Indeed, despite the fact that SWB has undergone all the procedures necessary in order to be recognized as a student club, we are not listed along with the other clubs on campus.
The recent repression faced by SWB must be seen in the wider context of the struggle against the militarization of CUNY, a sequence that began with militant actions against the appointment of General Petraeus as adjunct ‘professor’ and arrest of six comrades (the ‘CUNY Six’). The struggle has intensified recently with the illegal seizure of the Morales-Shakur Center at City College of New York (CCNY) by the CCNY adminstration, the subsequent suspension of militant leaders Khalil Vasquez and Tafadar Sourov, and the grotesque indictment and arrest of those young militants by the capitalist state acting in concert with the repressive machinery of the CCNY administration.
In the spring and summer of 2013, administration mysteriously lost the E-Board election paperwork that we had submitted to them. Not long after we resubmitted the paperwork, they lost it again. After submitting the paperwork for the third time, we were finally recognized as a club by the administration. Without election forms, it was impossible to reserve spaces for meetings or other events.
This was the beginning of a pattern of deliberate repression of political work by our organization at QC.
SWB has over thirty members, but we were never offered a club room, even though such a space is normally provided once a club is officially recognized by the administration at QC. This is particularly telling given that there are rooms occupied by non-functioning clubs. There are numerous vacant club rooms on campus.
On October 30, as several comrades from SWB were handing out flyers for the defense of the Morales-Shakur Center at CCNY, an armed ‘Public Safety’ agent approached us, asked questions and demanded a copy of our flyer. After about ten minutes, he left. Five minutes later, a ‘Public Safety’ SUV pulled up next to us. Two agents emerged from the vehicle and repeatedly asked us questions along the lines of: “Is everything okay here”? They claimed that the very fact that we were assembled prompted their queries. It is clear that this incident was an attempt on the part of CUNY security to intimidate us. It is also clear that the reason they tried to intimidate us was referable to the political nature of our activities.
The most recent example of repression that SWB has faced came out of our attempt to hold an event called H.E.R. (Hip-Hop Embraces Revolution) Open Mic, an event dedicated to artistic performances on anti-imperialism, anti-patriarchy and anti-fascism.
I filled out all the paperwork for the event. I originally asked for a room on November 27, but later canceled that request and asked to reserve a room on November 13, because the latter date could be effectively used to mobilize people to attend our upcoming anti-militarization General Assembly planned for November 21.
In the email that I sent to the relevant administrator, I made it abundantly clear that I wanted to cancel the request for a room on November 27 and instead reserve a space for November 13. In her reply, the administrator wrote “no problem,” and stated that she would sign and stamp the form for the location/time in question. This exchange occurred on October 31, two weeks before the event was scheduled.
During the week of the event, it came to our attention that another club somehow reserved the space that we thought we had reserved, at the same time we reserved it. Their event was a screening of the film “Batman.”
The ensuing series of events was an elaborate, bureaucratic farce, although ultimately the bureaucratism only pointed to (and masked) a concentrated effort at political repression.
After we investigated the situation, the administration claimed that we never had reserved the space. They stated that the form was supposed to get signed and stamped by one administrator and then approved by a second. The problem was that Adminstrator Two supposedly never saw the request for November 13, although they did have a record of the request and cancellation of the room for November 27. The cancellation for November 27 was sent to Adminstrator One in the same email as the request for November 13. However, the second part of the message was never passed along by the Adminstrator One to Adminstrator Two.
Thus the area in question was not double-booked; the administrators had just selectively communicated with each other. After speaking with Adminstrator Two, who gave us the approval for a space on November 13 in a new location, we were then supposed to speak with Administrator One to get the newest paperwork signed and stamped. I did this the following day. When speaking with Administrator One, she said that the venue was not suitable for the event, since there would be classes in session and our event would be too loud. She then spoke on the phone with Administrator Two and both agreed that the venue was not suitable, given the nature of our planned event.
Adminstrator Two knew full well the nature of our event the previous day when she approved it, but now she had suddenly and without warning changed her mind. We then realized that there was not enough time to reserve a new space, since our event was supposed to take place the following day. We then spoke with clubs in the student union and got their approval to hold our event in the open common club area, which has been used in the past for similar events in a less formal style without requiring administration approval. We went ahead with our event on November 13, at the originally scheduled time in the common club area.
The event was successful. It put forward a revolutionary political line in a popular way to a large audience. The next day I received an email from Adminstrator One, stating that SWB would not be able to take out any rooms for at all for the rest of the fall semester of 2013, and that if we do hold events without the area reserved in the future, ‘Public Safety’ will shut down the event. We are one of the only (if not the only) club to get such a response from the administration for an informal event such as this. Even though—or rather precisely because—we had a productive meeting and raised funds for Anakbayan-USA’s Typhoon Haiyan relief campaign, we were faced with this harsh penalty.
This repression demonstrates the sharpening of contradictions between revolutionary students and the administration of Queens College. It also demonstrates the increasingly heavy handed tactics used by the CUNY administration. This political repression is only going to increase as we reinforce and expand our connection with the student masses in the course of our militant struggle.
Punish Manmohan Singh for the usage of chemical weapon on his own countrymen!!
This statement was originally published by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and concerns the use of chemical weapons by the Indian state against Maoists and adivasi people. Reposted from Signalfire
Manmohan Singh with Obama
America shows no reluctance & seems to be eager to attack Syria for the usage of chemical weapon. some of the European countries backed up to its global propaganda. The Indian premier Manmohan Singh offered his support to America over the usage of chemical weapons but stood with Russia as far as attack is concerned. The same Manmohan Singh who spoke against the usage of chemical weapons with no disinclination, using the chemical weapons on his own countrymen. If the Assad regime of Syria is guilty then Manmohan Singh is liable for punishment. The basic down trodden people never accepted the comprador regime of the imperialism and has been waging the struggle against, since it has been established. People with number of mass movements countrywide had been unabatedly carried forward this legacy.
Manmohan Singh with Dmitry Medvedev, Hu Jintao, Dilma Rousseff and Jacob Zuma.
This mass movement, now with a firm strategy is advancing with the aim of establishing new democratic revolution. By undergoing through the intense fascist repression, to keep alive the movement, people have understood that there is no alternative except the armed struggle. And so that the Indian people have acknowledged this form of struggle and since last 44 years this struggle is continue unabatedly like the heartbeats of the people. Till date the Indian government had perpetuated severe repression on people but they never could suppress the revolutionary movement. So that the madden government had begun using chemical weapons and evidence were found in recent one sided attacks on large scale on revolutionary people by Garhchiroli police this year, in which several have been killed. Now, according to international law would Obama come forward to punish Manmohan Singh and his Government? Maoists are the citizens of this country. The adivasi people of the Garhchiroli are also citizens of this country.
The Manmohan Singh led united progressive alliance (UPA-2) Government has waged a war against the people of India in the name of operation green hunt. Weather Maoist or not, rural or urban area, mass struggle or armed struggle, whether it is hunger strike or candle march, either a simple statement or criticizing cartoon, nothing is being tolerated by the government. If an idea of opposing the government comes in your mind that too becomes a threat for the country. Is it the biggest democracy of the world persisting in India and Manmohan Singh boasts about? What does democracy mean to them? They give you the direction and finally give rise to some planned dissent just for a show and that would be well within their control and they display that fabricated dissent as a model of democracy.
And within few days this opponents becomes a minister or president of mahamandal or owner of an educational institution, without any surety a billion dollar creditor or comes into limelight as honorable rewarded social server. And while playing this game they use poverty and other such problems of the people on a large proportion. One could see the proliferation of such awarded social servers in Garhchiroli district. In front of the very eyes of these so called social servers, adivasis are being murdered in the district but they have nothing to do with that. Their lips are locked with the government subvention. The people who were killed by police in the last eight months were all adivasis. For Garhchiroli operation green hunt is nothing but an excretion campaign. As they are running short of rifle bullets now they begin using chemical weapons to kill adivasis. Through this, it is very clear now that this is a defeat alarm for the government.
On April 12, in village Sindesur of Dhanora taluka of district Garhchiroli in an encounter conspired by police in which 7 people got martyred, 2 villagers and 5 mass organizers were among the dead. Among them 5 people got killed by bullets but no scars of bullet injuries were found on 2 dead bodies. Among these two are Mukesh, a villager, and Com. Champa, their death seems to be suspicious. when the PLGA warriors, directly engaged in exchange of fire gave the whole report to the committee, we were completely astonished hearing this shocking experience. When firing was going on they experienced exhaustion, vommiting, headache, allergy, inhalation problem and infection and cough. Initially we considered that it might have happened due to dust. But when on 19 May in an encounter in village Hetadkasa of the same district, all the PLGA members had undergone through the similar problems of exhausting, throat infection and inhalation problem. The PLGA commander present at that moment, when carefully paid attention to this, he realized that the police was shelling some types of bombs that are exploding in the air and fired some particular type of bullets that have given rise to this problem.
At the same time at another side where encounter did not take place, none of the comrade had experienced this. After this incident it has become clear now that the police is using chemical weapons. Then it reveals that the usage of chemical weapons is the exact reason behind the suspicious death of two people in Sindesur incident. The comrades involved in these incident, made complaints about inhalation problem for several days. They recovered after receiving good medical treatment by PLGA doctors. Now it is clear like sunlight that the Indian government in cahoots of Maharashtra government with no reluctance is using chemical weapons. This act is not only shameful for humanity but a biggest crime against humanity too. Who knows, the government must be using chemical weapons in Kashmir, north-east and on rallies and against the agitators to disturb them? If anybody would have paid attention towards this, then only it will get exposed.
We call upon justice-loving people and intellectuals of the country and worldwide that they should with pro-people chemical experts and human rights activists investigate and impartial probe of the arms depository, ammunition of the police camps of the Gadchiroli must be done to unmask the truth. Their arsenal of chemical weapons and weapons of mass destruction would show that the government is waging war against people. Murdering and taking the photographs of those scattered bodies full of blood and preparing flexible banners of those photographs and putting them in villages to terrorize and all above official stamping of Gadchiroli police is an act of ignominious to humanity. This mentality screams loudly and tells that there is no value of human being for this government.
Prithviraj Chavan kicking it in a fancy hotel during an entertainment awards gala
For them Adivasis are nothing but wild animals to be hunted and they are proud of it. People cried loudly when they saw the photographs of women activists martyred in Medri. The people never been part of the movement their heart cried too but police along with ministers seen celebrating in five star hotels. The chief minister of Maharashtra, Prithviraj Chavan and home minister R.R. Patil are seen giving awards to them for killing their own citizens. The throne of these comprador rulers has stood on the dead bodies of Adivasis. This is shame for humanity. The superintendent of police Suvez Haq speaks brazenly that they will shoot the people, which constitution has given him this right? Whether Maoists or anybody else, has anybody got the right to kill his own citizens? Killing the political opponents is the policy of the government.
Political opposition is being finished by physical annihilation. This is not a democracy but regime of medieval age. great human being wrote the constitution in a hope to give justice to poor, wretched, Dalits, Adivasis and affected people but it is being naked in the capitalist market. The peak of the shamelessness is that the 5th Schedule of the constitution being crushed under iron boots and it is called the development of Adivasis. This is happening all over in India. Just as Maoist leadership is concerned more than 3 lakh police and paramilitary forces were given mandate for conducting atrocities on people of the region. Displacing Adivasis from the jungle or terrorizing them so much so that they could not think about anything else rather than saving their lives. They not even should think about their water-forest-land and dignity. Such is the fascist attacks are being perpetuated by the government. Is this the biggest democracy of the world?
The neo-liberal policies of the imperialism adopted by Indian comprador rulers takes this country towards back. Resources and sovereignty has already been sold to foreign companies. Consumerist comprador culture is being injected in the blood veins, consequently crushing human values and social thoughts without a feeling of shame. In retrospect this is being assumed as a development by a section of the society. I have done enough progress, my life is better than others, this type of seeds of social Darwinism are being sowed. As a result the compassion for Adivasis and Dalits has become a thing miles away. In retrospect, some rewarded social servers through their NGOs in the name of removing poverty, they have made it their business to earn money and to grab some awards. Which officer kills more Adivasis and increases his scores of death is being made a hero in the democracy. The comprador leaders who make the corruption of crores of rupees and fills up their Tijoris are selling industries of the country to the foreign companies.
Water, forest and land is being sold, without forest there will be no Adivasis in a true sense, without Adivasis forest, forest vultures, various living species will not be protected. In a protection of these two, against government loot and repression by sacrificing their lives the Maoist guerillas has constructed the great human wall of China. And crossing this ladder has become impossible for the government. That is why the cruel grisly attacks of chemical weapons are being launched on the people. Punishment must be given to these attackers. Manmohan Singh, Prithviraj Chavan, R.R. Patil and other officers, are cognate to this. Manmohan Singh is a criminal for using chemical weapons on his own people. He is liable to the punishment and has no right to speak on Syria.
They must be punished for their crime against humanity. The number one enemy of the world people America, however; cries loudly over Syria but using chemical weapons against Maoists in India is the policy belongs to none another than America itself. The people who waged armed struggle in Syria for democracy are tenable then the Maoists in India are carrying forward the revolutionary movement for new democracy since 44 years. How would they become a threat for India? Obama and the Indian comprador rulers must have to check their minds; they are selfish and are to be all mouth and no trousers. They don’t have even a little honesty; human values are worthless to them. By putting forward the welfare and development of the people they carry out the agenda of loot and repression.
They commodify hunger, disease, illiteracy and in true sense are implementing the neo-liberal theory of Reagan – Thatcherism as Manmohanamics and Obamics to decimate the millions of people to get rid of economic crisis. The usage of chemical weapons on people is the gist of this policy. Pulling them down and punishing them is patriotism and great righteous work done for humanity. That is why we call upon the youths, the citizens in whom the humanity is still alive and true democracy loving people of the country to fight against this war on people especially against the usage of chemical weapons to punish the rulers in the people’s court for their crime against humanity.
Secretary Com. Sayhadri
CPI(Maoist),Maharashtra State Committee
Sept. 21, 2013
In recognition of the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the “Communist” Party USA has published some patent nonsense on their People’s World website, promoting pseudo-scientific conspiracy theories about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. They claim that Lee Harvey Oswald was “working under CIA direction” to assassinate Kennedy at the behest of a vast conspiracy of “…the military-industrial complex, the national state security apparatus, powerful right-wing business interests, the Mafia, anti-Castro Cubans, pro-segregationists and other power centers”.
Much of the article’s absurd claims are wholly un-sourced and unsubstantiated. Other claims are sourced back to Kennedy assassination conspiracy theory books and websites.
Kennedy assassination theories have their origin in the revisionist and pro-Democratic left in the US. One of the originators of these theories was Mark Lane, whose New York State Assembly election was supported by Democratic Party elites such as John F. Kennedy and Elanor Roosevelt. His prominent career would later include serving as legal counsel for the social-fascist People’s Temple. Lane produced one of the first printed Kennedy conspiracy theory articles, in the a December 1963 article of the National Guardian, a press outlet of the revisionist and pro-Democratic Party “Left”, including the CP-USA, Progressive Party, and the CIO. One of the first Kennedy conspiracy theorist books was “Who Killed Kennedy?” published in 1964, by Thomas Buchanan, a CP-USA member.
Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories spawned a cottage industry. Although originating as a byproduct of the cultural and intellectual decadence of the revisionist left, Kennedy assassination theories have gained steady popularity among the radical right where they mesh well with irrationalist anti-Semitism and serve radical rightist efforts to claim Kennedy among a pantheon of patriotic American heroes.
The allure of Kennedy assassination theories among the radical right.
The Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories serve to glorify the role of the imperialist president John F. Kennedy and hide his role as an anti-communist and an enemy of the oppressed.
Contrast the CP-USA’s fawning over Kennedy with the attitude of the revolutionary Black nationalist martyr Malcolm X. In a 1962 debate with Bayard Rustin, Malcolm pointed out that Kennedy “promised all the American so-called Negros who vote what he was going to do for him when he got in office, and has yet to do the first thing that he promised, but has paid off the Negro leadership so they are silent and say nothing about the promises that he originally made to get Negroes to vote for him”.
Malcolm stated in a May 1963 magazine interview, that Kennedy, like all US presidents, had “tricked the Negro, and made false promises to him at election times which they never fulfilled”. In a later television interview, Malcolm echoed these sentiments; “Any time a man running for president tells Negroes what he’s going to do for them when he gets in office, and after he gets in office, he has time to do something for everyone else except the people who put him in office. He has time to take a stand against … Castro, against Khrushchev… but when it comes time to correcting the injustices that are being inflicted against Negroes in this country, Kennedy sits up there like Nero. He’s fiddling while Birmingham is burning.”
Even in the wake of Kennedy’s assassination, Malcolm X remembered in a public sermon how Kennedy bought out the “Big 6” leadership of the African-American bourgeoisie as a counter-insurgency strategy to contain the March on Washington. In a follow-up interview, he made the subsequently famous comment on the Kennedy assassination; “Well sir, I don’t think anybody here would deny that when you send your chickens out in the morning from your barnyard, those chickens will return that evening to your barnyard, not your neighbor’s barnyard. I think this is a prime example of the devil’s chickens coming back home to roost. That the chickens that he sent out, that the violence that he perpetrated in other countries, here and abroad,be it four children in Birmingham, Medgar Evars, or Lumumba in Africa, I think this same violence has come back to claim one of their own. In fact as a farmboy myself, chickens coming home to roost never made me sad. In fact, its only made me glad”.
These statements would trigger his falling out with Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, the circumstances that lead to his ideological turn away from narrow nationalism towards the internationalist left, and to the events of his assassination.
While the revisionist CP-USA was getting cuddlier and cuddlier with the Kennedy administration, Malcolm X’s brutal honesty about Kennedy’s assassination signaled qualitative leap for the actual revolutionary left in the USA.
Far from being a “peace president”, as the recent CP-USA article portrays Kennedy, his administration pioneered the aggressive domino theory policy of US imperialism later followed by Johnson, Nixon, and others. The Kennedy administration began the murderous invasions of Laos and Cambodia as part of US counter-insurgency against Communist-led anti-imperialist struggles in southeast Asia. As Malcolm X noted, Eisenhower’s order to assassinate the Congolese nationalist and anti-colonialist Patrice Lumumba was carried out under the Kennedy administration. Under the banner of anti-communism, the Kennedy administration supported de Gaulle against Algerian independence from French colonialism.” Kennedy signed off on Operation Mongoose, which included thousands of absurd attempts to assassinate Castro with exploding cigars and other spy novel shenanigans, and the CIA-funded Bay of Pigs invasion, in which armed anti-communist Cuban exiles invaded the shores of the country to topple the Castro government.
The Bay of Pigs invasion
Under the Kennedy administration, we saw the CIA assassination of Iraq Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qasim, a national democrat, and the subsequent installation of the fascist Ba’ath Party regime. Kennedy praised the Shah of Iran for “steadfastness in remaining vigilant against the pressures of international communism”. He also favored regime change in British Guiana, Brazil, and Indonesia. Kennedy famously said that “Communist influence has penetrated further into Asia, stood astride in the Middle East and now festers some ninety miles off the coast of Florida…We must prove all over again whether this nation…can compete with the single-minded advance of the Communist system”, and spelled out US imperialist ambitions plainly when he said “the great battlefield for the defense and expansion of freedom today is the whole southern half of the globe - Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East”. Gore Vidal famously wrote that Truman and Einsenhower “knew that the Communist threat was all nonsense [and] that it was good for business”, whereas “Kennedy believed the nonsense, and he wanted to win the Cold War”.
The only “peace” the CP-USA can claim Kennedy promoted was “peaceful co-existence” between the US and the Khrushchev regime in the USSR, which conducted economic liberalization and drove the USSR onto the capitalist road under the pretense of dismantling the “Stalin cult of personality”, a gesture supported by the revisionist leadership of the CP-USA.
In the US too, Kennedy was close to the anti-Communist witch-hunters such as Joseph McCarthy, who ironically went after CP-USA members the most aggressively. As the populist US historian Howard Zinn put it, “McCarthy’s insistence that Communism had won in China because of softness on Communism in the American government was close to Kennedy’s own view”. McCarthy donated significant financial contribution to Kennedy’s father Joseph Kennedy, and JFK walked out in protest of a banquet honoring Edward R. Murrow. He also enthusiastically supported the Labor Managing Reporting and Disclosure Act (better known as the Landrum-Griffin Act) which banned CP-USA members and convicted felons from holding office in trade unions, tightened prohibitions against secondary boycotts, and gave the National Labor Relations Board injunction powers over unions that engaged in recognitional picketing of employers for over 30 days.
It was Kennedy’s brother, and fellow “progressivist martyr” Robert Kennedy, who as Attorney General wrote off on the FBI wiretapping of Martin Luther King Jr. So when the bourgeois media peddles the mythology of John F. Kennedy and the Kennedy familiy, it is peddling the mythology of imperialism, white supremacy, and capitalist exploitation to the masses.
At the same time, revolutionary communists in the US do not see Kennedy as the primary question facing the masses today. That is many older, progressive working-class people have a romanticized image of Kennedy and project onto Kennedy their own desires which are far more extreme. We are reminded of the historical example of Russia’s Bloody Sunday of January 1905 when thousands of families of striking munitions factory workers stormed the Winter Palace, singing patriotic songs and holding up shrines to Tsar Nicholas II, petitioning him to implement labor reforms, impose universal suffrage, and end the Russo-Japanese War. Despite their patriotism, these workers were attacked by the Tsar’s Imperial Guard. The icon of Kennedy is today’s Tsar Nicholas II.
The CP-USA’s love affair with Kennedy has its origins in the revisionism (the “revising” of Marxism to fit the needs of capitalism) of a once-revolutionary party. In his famous critique of the CP-USA’s revisionism, CPUSA member Admiral Kilpatrick wrote “With his smooth metaphysics and idealism, [William Z. Foster] was really trying to brainwash the working class and the common people in the USNA into believing that they had a great friend in Roosevelt, the representative of USNA imperialism. The truth of the matter is that it was Roosevelt who closed the banks throughout the country, making it possible for the USA monopoly bandits to rob millions of their pennies and dimes. Further, Roosevelt’s so-called National Recovery Act (N.R.A.), through various twists and turns, pumped billions of dollars into various capitalist industries in this country in order to keep a sick economy alive.”
Kilpatrick also wrote, in the same document, “One example of this revisionism and a candid expression of the tailism spoken of above is the slogan which Browder came out with at the Party’s eighth convention in Cleveland, Ohio in 1934. Browder’s ‘dynamic quotation’ was that ‘Communism is 20th century Americanism.’ How could a man who was living in the cradle of USA imperialism make such philistine statements at a time when the capitalist class was going through one of its worst crises and trying to force the whole burden onto the backs of the USNA working class? It was this kind of thinking which was responsible for tying the Party to the shirt tail of the Roosevelt administration and his New Deal.”
Similarly, Harry Haywood, in his famous critique of the degeneration of the CP-USA towards revisionism and white chauvinism, wrote “Central to [the CP-USA’s thinking is the notion of] a peaceful, parliamentary, constitutional transition to socialism would be the development of an anti-monopoly coalition which would be developed by ‘labor and popular’ forces gaining ‘decisive influence in key Democratic Party State organizations, and even liberal Republican movements.’ Thus would develop the ‘American Road to Socialism.’”
The “Communism is 20th Century Americanism” slogan was an early symptom of opportunism in the CP-USA
This is why the CP-USA to this day paints Kennedy as a “peace president” and paints Oswald as a pawn of the “military-industrial complex, the national state security apparatus, powerful right-wing business interests, the Mafia, anti-Castro Cubans, [and] pro-segregationists”. This is also why they opportunistically campaign for the Democratic party every election year, including in 2008 and 2012 when they campaigned for Obama. The CP-USA’s glorification and romanticism of Kennedy is a symptom of their status as a thoroughly rotten revisionist party that serves as a lackey of the Democrats, on the side of US imperialism and not the masses of people.
Yesterday, Tafadar “Taffy” Sourov and Khalil Vasquez, two leaders of the CUNY student movement, were arraigned at the Manhattan Criminal Court, after spending more than 24 hours in jail. They are now facing criminal charges, in addition to academic discipline, for their role as leaders in the campaign to save the Morales / Shakur Center at City College and the broader struggle to liberate CUNY for the people.
The allegations against them stem from an October 24 demonstration at City College against the CUNY administration’s illegal raid and seizure of the Morales / Shakur Center. The State filed multiple criminal charges against them, including several class A misdemeanors, such as inciting to riot, riot in the second degree, obstructing governmental administration, and two counts of criminal mischief.
More than a hundred students, faculty, and community members gathered to greet Khalil and Taffy as they emerged from jail. The supporters began the morning with a rally at 9 AM, featuring speakers from the Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee, IGNITE, the Internationalist Group, the Morales / Shakur Center Coordinating Committee, as well as other individuals. They packed the limited seating in the courtroom and the overflow crowd spilled into the halls outside.
Members of the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY faculty and staff union), Sister Circle Collective, People Power Movement, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Stop Stop and Frisk Freedom Fighters, the People’s Survival Program, and several other organizations joined Khalil and Taffy’s comrades, friends, and family to send a message of defiance and opposition against this latest round of repression against the CUNY movement.
The struggle to defend Khalil and Taffy continues on Friday, November 22, 9 AM at their second academic disciplinary hearing at City College and Wednesday, January 9, 2014, 9:30 AM at their second court date at the NYC Criminal Court.
The repression against Khalil and Taffy is the cutting edge of an ongoing reactionary trend to more thoroughly transform CUNY into an ideological bastion of white-supremacist capitalism. By punishing Khalil and Taffy, the ruling class hopes to strike fear in all CUNY students who might speak out and protest. Not only is the fate of two key student leaders at stake here, but the entire character of what CUNY will be in the coming years and decades is at stake.
Leaving the courthouse
As the speaker from RSCC said at the morning rally:
“In New York City, there are two visions of CUNY. There are two visions of who CUNY should serve. There are two visions of what CUNY should be. There are two visions of how CUNY should be governed. …
The capitalist class wants a CUNY where Black and Latino students from New York City are driven out. The working class wants a CUNY that is open to every high school graduate in New York City.
The capitalist class wants a CUNY that is more and more expensive. The working class wants a CUNY that is free.
The capitalist class wants a CUNY where students learn from a war criminal like David Petraeus, to become a tool of imperialism like Colin Powell. The working class wants a CUNY where students learn to serve the people, to become revolutionaries who return to the neighborhoods we come up, to uplift our class through militant struggle.
The capitalist class wants a CUNY without a Morales / Shakur Center. The working class wants a CUNY where there is a Morales / Shakur Center on every campus.
The capitalist class wants the police and the District Attorney to run CUNY. The working class wants the exploited and oppressed people of this city to run CUNY.
CUNY today exists to serve the needs of capitalism. The CUNY we want will be a base area for building a revolutionary youth and student movement for socialism.”
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