Monday, January 31, 2022

Imperialism Coordinates Effort to Prevent People’s Revolution in Sudan

STATE DEPARTMENT SEEKS TO HALT MASS DEMONSTRATIONS

January 21, 2022

Sudan demonstration on Jan. 17, 2022 Sudan demonstration on Jan. 17, 2022. | Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Reprinted from Fighting Words Imperialism Coordinates Effort to Prevent People’s Revolution in Sudan – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

Two United States envoys from the State Department visited the Republic of Sudan on January 19 in their continuing campaign to neutralize the mass democratic movement which is demanding the exit of the western-backed military forces now ruling the oil-rich country.

Molly Phee, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs along with David Satterfield, Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, sought to pressure the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) and its affiliates to adopt a Washington-influenced mediation strategy facilitated by the United Nations offices of the Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Yet the resistance committees operating on a grassroots level in several major cities throughout the north-central African state have been steadfast by insisting that any UN-brokered process in Sudan must lead to the establishment of a civilian government. Unrest has persisted in other areas of the country particularly in the eastern region surrounding Port Sudan, an important resource for maintaining the country’s trade with other African states and geo-political regions.

On January 18 and 19, thousands took to the streets in the capital of Khartoum and barricaded key areas of the city and its environs. It was reported that seven people were killed in clashes with the security forces. The Sudanese Communist Party condemned the repression leveled against the popular movement while calling for a broad coalition to overthrow the military regime.

Another coup which displaced former Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on October 25, 2021 and then subsequently reinstalled him on November 21, could not conceal the role of the repressive military apparatus prompting the resignation of the interim civilian leader in early January. Hamdok has largely remained silent while hundreds of thousands of people have continued to demonstrate on a daily basis.

Over 70 people have been killed by the security forces since October 25 while youth, journalists, rank-and-file workers and other professionals, including healthcare employees, are facing constant harassment by the agents of the military regime. Inflationary spirals and consumer shortages are continuing despite the infusion of funds from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and other sources. Since the beginning of the uprising in December 2018, there has been no sustainable resolution to the conflict between the military and the mass democratic movement led by the FFC, where the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA) plays an important role in setting the political tone and character of the struggle.

U.S. Seeks to Maintain Hegemony in the Region

The purpose of the U.S. interventions is to maintain the Sudanese government and political tendencies within the influence of the western states. Under the previous tenure of President Donald Trump, the military and transitional regime where Hamdok served, were pressured into accepting several policy initiatives from Washington. These included the pledges to pay hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars to the survivors of three bombing attacks carried out in East Africa and the Gulf of Aden between 1998-2000. During this time period, there was a completely different government in power in Sudan which in April 2019 was overthrown by the military in response to mass demonstrations in the streets.

The second significant policy shift imposed by the Trump administration in 2020, was the agreement that the Transitional Sovereign Council would on its own “normalize” relations with the State of Israel. This decision championed by Trump as an outcome of the Abraham Accord, was specifically designed to undermine solidarity with the Palestinian national liberation movement. However, this decision by the previous Sovereign Council where Hamdok shared his position alongside military strongman Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, was forbidden by law due to the Israeli Boycott Act adopted by the Sudanese parliament in 1958.

According to a report published by the Associated Press:

“U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said earlier this week that Phee and Satterfield would reiterate Washington’s call for Sudanese security forces to ‘end violence and respect freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”’ Before arriving in Khartoum, the two attended a meeting of the Friends of Sudan group in Saudi Arabia to rally support for U.N. efforts to end Sudan’s deadlock. The group includes the United States, Britain and other international governments and world financial institutions.”

Therefore, the itinerary of the Biden administration envoys reveals clearly the allies that Washington is using to curtail the demands of the Sudanese masses. Britain is the former colonial power in Sudan, while today, the U.S. is attempting to shape the transitional process in the country in order to maintain Sudan within the western camp, utilizing a prospective pliant administration to influence the broader regional dynamics in the Horn of Africa.

The role of Tel Aviv is important to the entire process of an imperialist-engineered political dispensation. Although officially there has been no exchange of diplomats between Khartoum and Tel Aviv, reports indicate that there is substantive collaboration with Israel in suppressing the mass democratic movement in Sudan.

This same above-mentioned Associated Press report notes:

“Also Wednesday (Jan. 19), an Israeli delegation met with top Sudanese military officials in Khartoum, according to a Sudanese military official and Israeli reports. The Sudanese official said the delegation, including officials from the Mossad spy agency, met with Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the coup leader and head of the ruling Sovereign Council, and other military officials. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters. The Israeli public TV station Kan also reported the visit and said the plane carrying the Israeli delegation made a brief stop in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh before heading to the Sudanese capital. Israel maintains close security ties with Egypt, the first Arab country to strike peace with Israel.

Sudan normalized ties with Israel in 2020 as part of a series of U.S.-brokered deals between Israel and four Arab countries. The agreement paved the way for the African country to reintegrate into the international community after two decades of isolation under former president Omar al-Bashir. Israel has been silent on the October coup and its aftermath, indicating it intends to maintain normalized ties with Sudan, which formerly was a top critic of Israel in the Arab world.”

These measures were adopted by the Sudanese transitional administration with the understanding that it would result in access to loans provided by international financial institutions and directly from the U.S. and other western capitalist states. Sudan was removed from a list of “state sponsors of terrorism” while being forced into the open arms of the West and the State of Israel.

Yet the purported advantages of “normalization” have not benefited the Sudanese masses in their quest for a better life. Millions remain discontented and want change now. The FFC and other progressive organizations inside the country are mobilizing the people despite the increasing levels of repression including the interruptions of the internet and the censoring of the mass media.

Imperialism and the Strategic Position of Sudan

The country of Sudan prior to its partition in 2011, which created the Republic of South Sudan, was the largest geographic nation-state in Africa. Even today, more than a decade later, there are approximately 45 million people in Sudan.

Sudan is heavily endowed with natural resources including large deposits of petroleum, natural gas, gold, silver, chromite, manganese, gypsum, mica, zinc, iron, lead, uranium, copper, kaolin, cobalt, granite, nickel, tin, and aluminum. Its geographic location places the country firmly within northern, eastern, central and Horn of Africa regions.

There are seven other contiguous states which border Sudan: Egypt, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Libya. All of these neighboring countries have important natural resources, agricultural commodities as well as waterways and ports.

Therefore, the political, economic and social status of Sudan is important as it relates to the impact of developments inside the country on other neighboring states. The current internal conflict in Ethiopia has further exposed the military regime in Sudan that has objectively sided with the rebel interests fighting the central government in Addis Ababa. A longtime border conflict between Ethiopia and Sudan has provided a rationale for a military build-up in the border areas. Egypt, a close ally of the U.S., has categorically opposed the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), a hydro-electric energy generating project, the largest of its kind on the African continent. Egypt is concerned that GERD will redirect water from the Blue Nile having a negative impact on its access to the river.

The military forces which have ruled Sudan since April 2019 have demonstrated their willingness to follow the imperatives of U.S. foreign policy. Although it is not possible to foresee the political character of a future civilian government, Washington is concerned over the risk of having to deal with an administration unbeholden to imperialist interests in the region and internationally.

The Continuing Struggle for Voting Rights

DETROIT MLK DAY OPENING REMARKS

January 18, 2022 

Photo: Detroit MLK March for 2018 Detroit MLK March for 2018

By Abayomi Azikiwe

The Continuing Struggle for Voting Rights – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

Note: These remarks were prepared and delivered in part to the 19th Annual MLK Day virtual webinar held in the city of Detroit. The event has been held online for the last two years due to the pandemic and its impact on the city and its environs. This webinar was organized by the Detroit MLK Committee chaired by Dorothy Aldridge, veteran Civil Rights and Human Rights activist. Presenters for the webinar included co-host Aurora Harris, poet, lecturer and community organizer; Sarah Torres, musician and MLK Committee member; keynote speaker Catherine Coleman Flowers of Alabama, environmental and Civil Rights organizer; Bilal, spoken word artist and musician; Wardell Montgomery, poet and songwriter; Joe Kidd and Sheila Burke, musicians and songwriters; One Single Rose, poet and singer of the Black National Anthem; Jorge Parra, member of the GM injured workers organization of Bogata, Colombia; Jesus Rodriguez Espinoza, former Counsel General to the United States in Chicago for the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; John Kelly, Museum of Free Derry, Northern Ireland; Iman Saleh, Yemeni Liberation Movement; Darryl Jordan, environmentalist and former Director of EMEAC; Rev. Bill Wylie-Kellerman, author and retired pastor at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church; Lloyd Simpson, Detroit Will Breathe and People Against Corporate Theft (PACT); Toyia Watts, President of the Charlevoix Village Association (CVA); Rev. Edward Pinkney, organizer and former political prisoner in Berrien County, Michigan; BWard, poet and activist; Yasmine Suliman, organizer of the Detroit Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), Frank Hammer, veteran union leader and community activist, provided translation for the Colombian injured GM workers, John Harvey and TJ, American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters; among others.  

In January 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) intervened in the voting rights struggle in Selma, Alabama after years of work already carried out by local activists along with organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

These momentous efforts led to a series of confrontations with Dallas County deputy sheriffs and Alabama state troopers which culminated on Bloody Sunday March 7 at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. By the end of the month the political atmosphere in the United States had shifted in favor of the federalizing of the National Guard to provide protection for the thousands who marched from Selma to Montgomery.

Later that year in August, the then President Lyndon B. Johnson was compelled to sign into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This represented the first comprehensive voting rights legislation since the era of Reconstruction during the late 1860s to the mid-1870s, and the Civil Rights Act of 1957, involving the role of the Justice Department in protecting access for African Americans to the franchise.

In the aftermath of the mass demonstrations, voting registration drives and vigorous debates on the nature of racial oppression in the U.S. during 2020, there was a sense of a democratic breakthrough in regard to the large turnouts in states around the country against the previous administration of President Donald Trump. The ascendancy of the current administration of President Joe Biden and the election of two new Democratic Senators from the State of Georgia, where voting restrictions have been well documented since the gubernatorial race of 2018, were realized as a direct result of grassroots political advocacy and organizing.

False charges of massive voter fraud by the Trump administration and its followers did not succeed in the post-election period from November 2020 to the inauguration of the new presidency and Congress nearly a year ago. The January 6 attempted coup by anti-democratic and neo-fascist elements at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. provided a clear view of a right-wing threat to the social interests of the masses of African Americans, Latin Americans, Asian Americans, Indigenous nations and other progressive and genuine working-class segments of the population.

Although the coup failed to overturn the 2020 elections, efforts have been underway since this time period to reverse the capacity of oppressed, working-class and democratic forces to participate in the electoral process. At least 19 state legislative bodies and their governors have passed and signed into law restrictions on the right to vote, the open and objective counting of ballots and the certification of all elections from local institutions to the offices of the federal government.

The failure of the Senate to pass several voting rights bills that would in effect nullify the restrictive laws which were upheld by the conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court, must be met with mass action. All antiracist and mass democratic forces have no alternative than to organize to meet the challenges of the coming months. We as the Detroit MLK Committee are appealing to all of those within our listening and viewing audience to join in this renewed effort to halt the reinstitution of legalized segregation and the denial of fundamental democratic rights for the rapidly emerging majority population within the U.S.

Dr. King and the Struggle for a Just Society

Today we are facing one of the most serious crises in the history of the U.S. and the world. In regard to the compounding economic, social, political, cultural and educational downturns, the public health disaster prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated clearly the contradictions within western capitalist society.

Although the administrations of former President Trump and his successor Joe Biden supported legislation to provide a modicum of relief to those tens of millions of families impacted by the pandemic, these programs have ground to a screeching halt with the inability to pass social spending legislation. The passed infrastructure bill cannot address the social needs of the masses of nationally oppressed peoples and the working-class.

Moreover, here in the city of Detroit and undoubtedly in other regions of the U.S., the funds allocated to assist working families as it relates to housing, utilities, water costs and supplemental funds for households with children, are often not spent on the purposes for which they were allocated. In addition, the bureaucratic structures in many municipal areas have failed to properly disperse these funds to the people in the greatest need.

Even in situations where the administration of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funds and COVID Emergency Relief Assistance (CERA) have been more efficient, the agencies responsible have run out of resources since the need is so enormous. We call upon the Congress to revisit its own inability to foster legislation which is critical in maintaining social stability.

As Dr. King said during 1968 just prior to his assassination:

“The nation waited until the Black man was explosive with fury before stirring itself even to partial concern. Confronted now with the interrelated problems of war, inflation, urban decay, white backlash, and a climate of violence, it is now forced to address itself to race relations and poverty, and it is tragically unprepared. What might once have been a series of separate problems now merge into a social crisis of almost stupefying complexity. I am not sad that Black Americans are rebelling; this was not only inevitable but eminently desirable. Without this magnificent ferment among Negroes, the old evasions and procrastinations would have continued indefinitely. Black men have slammed the door shut on a past of deadening passivity. Except for the Reconstruction years, they have never in their long history on American soil struggled with such creativity and courage for their freedom. These are our bright years of emergence; though they are painful ones, they cannot be avoided.”

Within the tradition of this commemoration of MLK Day, we seek to continue the actual legacy of Dr. King in the linking of the struggles against racism, poverty and militarism. The speakers and cultural workers all speak to this historical trajectory in which Dr. King was inextricably involved.

The current spiral of inflation which has forced many people into deeper impoverishment, should be immediately addressed by the federal government. An initiative launched by municipal retirees in Detroit to provide a “pension booster” shot for those impacted by the more than 7% annual inflation during 2021, is a relevant demand to be advanced which has national implications. These deteriorating social conditions for broad sectors of the society will not be resolved without political education, mobilizations and organizing.

MLK Day for 2022 should serve as a focal point for the renewed movements seeking the end to racial oppression, class exploitation, gender discrimination, environmental degradation, the collapse of public education and other social ills. Our willingness to study, organize and act will be the most outstanding tribute we can pay to the legacy of Dr. King, the Civil Rights Movement and all campaigns for the betterment and liberation of humanity.

Implications of the Expanded 1619 Project

DEBATES OVER EDUCATION AND VOTING RIGHTS RAGE ACROSS U.S.

January 16, 2022

African enslavement and the sugar industry African enslavement and the sugar industry

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Reprinted from Fighting Words Implications of the Expanded 1619 Project – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

African American woman journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has released a nearly 600-page hardcover book entitled “A New Origin Story: The 1619 Project” as a continuation of the work which began with the release of a New York Times Magazine special issue during the Summer of 2019.

The year represented the 400th anniversary of the kidnapping and importation of approximately 20 Africans from Angola stolen from a Portuguese vessel and transported to the British colony of Virginia.

In August of 1619 the British settlers had occupied sections of what later became known as the State of Virginia for more than a decade. After the introduction of enslaved Africans in the colony, the plantation system accelerated through the production of tobacco and other agricultural commodities which required the acquisition of more human laborers who would never be paid for their work.

By the time of the separation between the British Crown and its possessions, there were 13 colonies extending from the southeast to the northeast of the territories. The formation of the United States of America during the latter decades of the 18th century did not end African enslavement or the confiscation of Indigenous land.

In fact, Hannah-Jones advances the argument made by other scholars that the unprecedented Somerset v. Stewart case of 1772 in Britain, where it was ruled by Lord Mansfield that,

“The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory”, served to undermine the economic status of the Europeans colonized by London in North America. Many interpreted the Somerset ruling as the beginning of the end of the Atlantic Slave Trade.

Therefore, the political leadership of the colonial territories which later became the U.S., were motivated, not by the ideals of freedom, due process, and electoral representation. They were compelled to break from the British monarchy in order to exert their own economic interests within the expanding world system based upon the Atlantic Slave Trade and the super-exploitation of African people throughout the Western Hemisphere.

The purported ideals of 1776 did not extend to the liberation of enslaved Africans across the country. For nearly a century after the Declaration of Independence from Britain, enslavement continued until the Civil War (1861-1865) within the U.S.

Hannah-Jones points out in Chapter I of the book that:

“Indeed, when the South seceded from the Union, white Confederates believed they were the inheritors of the founders’ revolutionary legacy and upholders of the true Constitution. Jefferson Davis gave his second inaugural address as president of the Confederate States of America on George Washington’s birthday, vowing that the Confederacy would ‘perpetuate the principles of our Revolutionary fathers. The day, the memory, and the purpose seem fitly associated…. We are in arms to renew such sacrifices as our fathers made to the holy cause of Constitutional liberty.’”

Even after the Civil War and the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments along with other Civil Rights Acts from 1866 through 1875, the overthrow of Reconstruction beginning in 1877 resulted in the reimposition of forced labor through peonage, sharecropping, tenant farming and the penal system. By the conclusion of the 19th century, the fallacious concepts of “separate but equal” had been firmly entrenched in U.S. Constitutional law requiring a decades-long struggle in the 20th century to claim the humanity of African people and other oppressed communities.

The new book is an interesting mix of historical essays and literary works. The poetry chapters are based upon significant historical conjunctures.

A variety of issues are discussed in the book including the role of the sugar industry in enslavement and colonialism; Black music; capitalism and its growth spawned by the Atlantic Slave Trade; the contradictions within democratic practice; the importance of fear; healthcare; the Black Church; punishment and the criminal justice system; etc.

Significance of the 1619 Project in the Present Period

The publication of the book comes at a time of contentious debate and political struggle over the status of African Americans and other oppressed peoples within the framework of the U.S. political and social system. Writers such as Hannah-Jones have come under attack by conservatives and liberals for the arguments made in both the New York Times Magazine and photographic supplement of 2019 and the subsequent popularity and praise these have garnered.

In response to the Hannah-Jones and the New York Times publications, the former administration of President Donald J. Trump, commissioned the “1776 Project” in a hostile attempt to refute the work of African American journalists, artists and scholars who have developed alternative paradigms to the fictional narratives promoted by the educational system and popular culture.

Trump was not acting alone in his release of the “1776 Project” just days prior to his exit from office in 2021. The conservative movement in the U.S. views the ideological struggle over the contours of historical studies and other social sciences as a means to justify the censoring of African American studies, including the banning of books by Black and other people of color authors.

An article published by Derrick Clifton of NBC News in January 2021 says of the conservative effort:

“During the closing days of the Trump administration, the outgoing president fulfilled a promise to issue a report that promotes a ‘patriotic education’ about race and the birth of the nation. The ‘1776 Report,’ released on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, followed Donald Trump’s September announcement to form a commission to refute teachings on systemic racism, critical race theory, and deeper examinations of how slavery has affected American society. The ‘crusade against American history is toxic propaganda, ideological poison, that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together, will destroy our country,’ he said at the time.”

Yet that report does not complete the refutation of the 1619 Project. There is also the “1776 Project Political Action Committee” which has declared its intentions saying:

“We are a political action committee dedicated to electing school board members nationwide who want to reform our public education system by promoting patriotism and pride in American history. We are committed to abolishing critical race theory and ‘The 1619 Project’ from the public school curriculum.”

Then another effort called “1776 Unites” is a program by conservative scholars, many of whom are African American, to contradict the views advanced in the 1619 Project that the growth of African enslavement during the 17th century is the underlying historical conjuncture which has shaped the political, economic and cultural life of the U.S. The 1776 Unites approach is to emphasize the professional and business accomplishments of African Americans.

According to their website:

“We are building a positive movement in response to the overwhelming narratives of oppression, grievance and ignorance to America’s history — and its promise for the future.” However, despite the professional, athletic, scientific, cultural, economic and intellectual contributions made by people of African descent in the U.S. since the 17th century, the statistics related to impoverishment, educational attainment, incarceration, healthcare, victimization by law-enforcement and the criminal justice system cannot be denied by those seeking to literally “whitewash” history and social studies.

These attacks on antiracist education have extended to public libraries which provide avenues for enhancing literacy through books and other learning materials that are often not available in schools. The enemies of the 1619 Project falsely characterize all education methods that are based upon the actual history and social dynamics of the U.S. and the world as “Critical Race Theory.”

Nonetheless, CRT was developed by scholars such as Derrick Bell at Harvard Law School during the 1980s and 1990s. Its tenets are based upon the institutional nature of racial oppression in the U.S. These concepts are usually not taught in  K-12 educational settings.

Hannah-Jones has stated in several interviews that no one has produced a fifth-grade teacher who is writing lesson plans based upon the legal concepts within CRT. Obviously, the use of CRT as a wedge political issue by conservatives is part and parcel of the arsenal deployed to halt the further democratization of U.S. society.

These attacks extend into the state legislative campaigns to restrict voting rights all across the U.S. through the passage of bills which prohibit early voting, same-day registration, mail-in ballots, the delivery of water and food to people waiting in line to vote, among other measures. Consequently, with the failure of the Supreme Court and the Congress to uphold the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the midterm elections of 2022 will serve as a measurement of the impact of these right-wing assaults on nationally oppressed communities and their allies.

This updated and expanded 1619 Project book makes an important contribution to the debate and discussion over the history, contemporary situation and indeed the future of the U.S. and the world. The outcome of this struggle against racism and capitalism will not necessarily be determined within the realm of academic discourse. It requires a continuation of the mobilization and organization of the masses for the total liberation of the people.

Pentagon Drone Attacks Killed Many Innocent People with Impunity

REPORT VINDICATES STRUGGLE AGAINST “PERMANENT WAR” AND “TARGETED ASSASSINATIONS”

January 11, 2022 

Reprinted from Fighting Words Pentagon Drone Attacks Killed Many Innocent People with Impunity – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

Pentagon drone attacks kill civilians Pentagon drone attacks kill civilians. | Photo: Jim Huylebroek/The New York Times

By Abayomi Azikiwe

A frontpage New York Times Magazine report on Sunday January 2 revealed in chilling detail the systematic targeting of peoples in territories where the United States government had declared a frontline battlefield against its fabricated “war on terrorism.”

In fact, the “war on terrorism” was a calculated efforts to enhance and secure the status of the U.S. as the dominant imperialist country in the world.

The use of drones has become a major weapon in the war arsenal of the Pentagon since the usage of this long-range ordnance minimizes U.S. casualties. The less injuries and deaths reported by the corporate and western government-controlled media outlets, the more the Pentagon and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) can attempt to build support for aggressive military actions against perceived enemies.

In justifying the use of drone warfare, the Pentagon and its allies continue to say that civilians unconnected with the so-called “terrorists” or “jihadists” are never injured or killed. Nonetheless, the New York Times reports and in years prior, the revelations from WikiLeaks, exposed these genocidal war crimes for the world to see.

With the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 and the refusal to fully exit Iraq and Syria, the White House, Pentagon and State Department are looking for additional avenues to assert their military and economic prowess amid a rapidly shifting international situation. Although tensions are escalating between Washington and the governments of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation, and others in Latin America and Africa, the political status of the current administration of President Joe Biden would be further compromised in the event of a major geo-political conflict in Eastern Europe, the Asia-Pacific or South America and the Caribbean.

Obviously losing influence around the world, the Biden administration has issued threats against Beijing and Moscow. They have accused China of planning to retake Taiwan and Russia of positioning itself militarily to intervene in neighboring Ukraine. These allegations are baseless since it is the U.S. which has sought to minimize and destabilize the governments in Beijing and Moscow. Holding a “Democracy Summit” while ignoring large and significant states such as Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, etc., can only fuel international tensions.

The New York Times Magazine article written by Azmat Khan with photos from Ivor Prickett says:

“The Times obtained more than 1,300 confidential Pentagon assessments of allegations of civilian casualties in the American-led air war in the Middle East, between September 2014 and January 2018, during the height of the war against the Islamic State. Based on those documents, The Times recently reported patterns of failed intelligence, decision-making and execution behind deadly airstrikes. These documents detail the criteria and rationales for how the Pentagon chose to classify civilian casualty allegations as either credible or non-credible.”

Although these documents only cover a period of four years during the war against the so-called “Islamic State” in Iraq and northern Syria, the drone and other targeted bomb attacks on people within these two countries and neighboring nations such as Yemen, have been going on since the post-2001 intervention in Afghanistan. Even prior to the invasion of Afghanistan, the utilization of targeted assassinations through bombings has been standard practice of U.S. imperialism and its allies.

Khan does deal with the impact of the air war in Afghanistan as well. Many innocent civilians lost their lives as a result of the purported failure of the Pentagon to properly target its designated enemies within ISIS, the Taliban and other organizations. The Pentagon’s own internal investigations and assessments reinforced the disregard for human life in the “war on terrorism.”

Moreover, the “Islamist” groupings from al-Qaeda to ISIS and its affiliates, have their origins in the wars waged by the Pentagon and NATO in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. These organizations have been used by the U.S. to overthrow states in Africa and Asia which represented independence from the western imperialist policies. At the same time, the very existence of al-Qaeda and ISIS and their being labelled as “terrorists”, provides a rationale for the continued deployment of U.S. military forces and the launching of drone attacks.

Even with these contradictory narratives in place, the failure to understand the geography of these countries and the predominant languages which are spoken, contributed immensely to the deaths and injuries of noncombatants. The New York Times reports on drone attacks reveals that the wrong areas, towns and villages were struck while there was no thorough investigation of these errors where casualties occurred.

Khan notes in the same NYT Magazine report that:

“In some assessments, the Pentagon simply confused towns with the same or similar names and dismissed the claims, the documents show, as happened with a reported airstrike on a Syrian town in March 2017. Several social media posts said that the strike had hit a neighborhood in Maskana, part of Aleppo Province in Syria, killing at least eight people. An internal Pentagon team flagged the claim for further review. The documents show that assessors zeroed in on Maskana, but it was the wrong one. There is a town with the same name in Homs, a different province of Syria. The reviewers were unable to find correlating airstrikes, and the allegation was dismissed.”

These facts require an independent investigation into the war crimes and the punishment of those responsible. However, the policy of military impunity seems to be thoroughly ingrained into the policies of the Pentagon.

Those Who Exposed War Crimes Should Be Exonerated

What is often overlooked in the period between the beginning of the first Iraq war in 1991 and continuing through the invasions of Afghanistan (2001), the occupation of Iraq in 2003, the destruction of Libya (2011) and the continuing destabilization efforts against Syria (2011-present), is that significant resistance to these genocidal wars took place outside and inside the military.

Some of the most well-known people who exposed these criminal acts are Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden, a private contractor with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Chelsea Manning, a former soldier accused of sharing military secrets with WikiLeaks. Snowden was driven into exile in Russia, Manning was court martialed under the Espionage Act and served seven years in U.S. military prisons, while Assange is facing extradition to the U.S. to stand trial.

There is no way that Assange can have a fair trial in the U.S. since both the Democratic and Republican parties are implicated in these war crimes which were exposed by WikiLeaks. Since the crimes of the Pentagon have long been exposed and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan illustrated the futility of the occupations, Assange, Snowden and Manning should be pardoned for their work.

Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years (2012-2019) until there was a right-wing change of government which ousted him from the building. He was arrested by the British authorities while the U.S. heightened its efforts to have him extradited to stand trial for supposedly hacking into State Department and Defense Department files. A lower court in Britain held up the extradition due to mental health concerns expressed through the lawyers for Assange. Nonetheless, the British High Court overturned the decision under the guise that the U.S. has given guarantees that Assange would be treated fairly and not placed in heavily restricted custody.

A report published by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on the High Court ruling emphasizes that:

“If convicted in the U.S., Mr. Assange, 50, faces a possible penalty of up to 175 years in jail, his lawyers have said. However, the U.S. government said the sentence was more likely to be between four and six years. Mr. Assange faces an 18-count indictment from the U.S. government, accusing him of conspiring to hack into U.S. military databases to acquire sensitive secret information relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which was then published on the Wikileaks website. He says the information exposed abuses by the U.S. military. But U.S. prosecutors say the leaks of classified material endangered lives, and so the U.S. sought his extradition from the UK.”

This argument that the exposure of war crimes cost lives is absurd. It was not Assange that carried out drone attacks and other bombing operations against innocent civilians and journalists. The lives were taken by the Pentagon based upon imperialist designs to control large swaths of territory in Central, South and West Asia along with Africa. It was the Pentagon war planes directed by high-ranking military officials, intelligence operatives and politicians that killed and maimed millions over the last two-to-three decades.

In addition to the mass killings, tens of millions more have been internally displaced and turned into refugees. The political, economic and military institutions of the U.S. and NATO countries are the ones that require prosecution, imprisonment and dismantlement in order for corrective justice to be achieved.

Detroit Retirees Fight for Pension Booster

January 12, 2022

Reprinted from Fighting Words Detroit Retirees Fight for Pension Booster – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

Detroit retirees and supporters fought cuts to pension in 2013. | Photo: cnsnews.com

By David Sole

The COVID-19 pandemic year 2021 has seen the highest rate of inflation in about 40 years in the United States. The rapid increase in prices for all sorts of consumer goods is especially hard on retirees with fixed incomes. In Detroit, Michigan some retirees are fighting back.

There are about 11,200 City of Detroit General Fund retirees whose pensions lost a modest 2.25% annual cost of living factor in the 2014 settlement of the Detroit bankruptcy. Since the bankruptcy Inflation had been creeping up. For those 6 years the loss to inflation was 8.83%. But 2021 has seen inflation jump at least another 7%, a huge decrease in purchasing power.

The Social Security Administration responded to the 2021 inflation jump by raising all Social Security checks by 5.9% starting in January 2022. (However, Medicare is taking much of this back with a basic monthly premium increase of 15.5 percent, or $21.60, from $148.50 to $170.10 a month). The Texas state legislature also took note of the damage the 2021 inflation has done to retired Texas teachers and other school workers. This month over 400,000 retirees will be sent a “13th check” up to a maximum of $2400. This amounts to a 8.3% one-time payment.

Detroit General Fund retirees have launched a struggle, demanding that the city officials provide a pension “booster shot” of $1400 to each retiree. This is 7% of the average pension of $20,000 per year. Retirees from the Moratorium Now Coalition and the Detroit Active and Retired Employees Association issued the following statement:

2021 COVID Induced Inflation Cut Pensions 7%

City of Detroit Retirees Deserve $1400 Pension “Booster Shot”

City of Detroit General Fund Retirees have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Retirees are among the most vulnerable population due to declining health and income. The death rate of Detroit General Fund Retirees during the pandemic has exceeded expectations by 151%.

Inflation for 2021 was at a forty year high of 7%. This surge has decreased retiree buying power substantially. For comparison, from 2015 to 2020 retirees lost only 9% in six years from inflation increases.  General Fund Retirees stopped receiving cost of living adjustment due to the bankruptcy plan of adjustment in 2014. (Police and fire retirees did not lose all of their cost of living protection).

Retirees are having a hard time providing for their basic needs during the pandemic. Detroit’s elected officials could use some of the $826 million Federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to rescue Detroit’s General Fund Retirees.

There are about 11,200 General Fund retirees with an average yearly pension of $20,000 (2020 figures). A 7% “booster shot” one-time payment would be $1,400 to rescue these retirees from this severe loss. The cost to the City would be less than $16 million – less than 2% of the total American Rescue Plan package. This is what these funds were intended to do!

We call on Detroit’s Mayor and City Council to take immediate action to protect City of Detroit General Fund retirees who gave so much to the city in their years of service by rescuing General Fund Retirees with a $1,400 pension “booster shot.”

It should be noted that of Detroit’s $826 million in ARPA funds, $400 million was set aside to cover “shortfalls” and $426 million was to go to “community investment.” The Detroit Police Department is to get $50 million of those funds – three times what it would cost to help out the retirees.

It has been reported that a special grant from the Federal government of $15.5 million has been given to the business concessions at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport. The 11,200 General Fund retirees don’t think it is too much to ask to see some of this money go to rescuing them.

To sign the petition supporting the Detroit retirees getting a pension booster go to https://chng.it/TYmxSNSPGP

The U.S. Senate – Bastion of Reaction

January 27, 2022

Only mass struggle won voting rights

Reprinted from Fighting Words The U.S. Senate – Bastion of Reaction – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. Only mass struggle won voting rights. | Photo: AP

By David Sole

On January 19 the U.S. Senate voted 48 -52 against changing its rules. This doomed efforts to protect voting rights in the country. Two Democrats joined 50 Republicans to keep voting rights bills from being voted on. This should not be a surprise considering that the U.S. Senate is, and was designed to be, a stronghold of racism and reaction.

The Constitution of 1789 created two legislative houses of Congress. The House of Representatives was the more popularly elected body, apportioned by population. The Senate gave each state two Senators, regardless of population.

Voting in those days was limited to white men with property. So the House of Representatives itself wasn’t very representative. African Americans were denied the right to vote until ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870. Worse yet, enslaved Africans were counted as “3/5 of a person” and that additional count was given to the white slave masters for purposes of elections. Property restrictions eventually were eliminated for white males to be able to vote. Women were excluded from voting in the United States until the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution in 1920. Native peoples were excluded until the Snyder Act of 1924, but still weren’t allowed to vote in all states until 1962.

After the Civil War the franchise was given to African Americans. This right was then taken away in many states, especially in the South, from around 1876 by “Jim Crow” laws. The Civil Rights movement challenged these voting restrictions and succeeded in winning the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Now, 57 years later, there is a widespread movement at the state level to again eliminate or minimize voting rights aimed mainly at African Americans.

What about the Senate? Each state had two Senators. This means that every state had the same strength in the Senate no matter its population. In the 1790 census Massachusetts had about 379,000 population and New York 340,000 (of which 21,000 were enslaved). The southern plantation states of Georgia (54,000 free and 29,000 enslaved) and South Carolina (142,000 free and 107,000 enslaved), with much lower population, had equal say in the most important legislative body in the country.

A look at the number of Senators from the North and the South, shows that the southern planters controlled a majority (or equal number) in the U.S. Senate from 1790 (16 to 10) to 1846 ( 30 to 28). In the following 14 years the balance swung against the South in terms of control of the Senate. The expanding power and population of the capitalist controlled northern states led directly to the secession of southern states and the bloody Civil War (1861-1865).

Just to ensure that Senators were subservient to the rich and powerful in each state, U.S. Senators were chosen by state legislators, not by direct election, from 1789 to 1913. The 17th Amendment, which was passed in 1913 giving direct election of Senators, is a futile attempt to make the system “more democratic.”  Today both the House and Senate in Washington, D. C. are known as the “Millionaires Club” because of their many wealthy members.

Without tracing voting rights enacted into law but suppressed for decades, it is important to recognize that the population inequalities of the Senate remain. The working class and oppressed nationalities are concentrated in large urban areas. States with large rural areas, mainly white, and much lower populations wield power in the Senate far beyond their numbers.

Just take New York State with a 2020 population around 20 million. It has 2 Senate seats but has more people than 15 states that rank lowest in population. Those 15 states control 30 Senators. California has to make due with 2 Senators representing a population of about 40 million people.

The rule change that would have allowed two voting rights bills to come to a vote on the Senate floor this month concerns the “filibuster.” The filibuster is not in the Constitution. Rather it is a rule of that body. Parliamentary procedure generally allows debate over an issue to continue until a large majority of the members vote to close debate. In the U.S. Senate that number is three fifths or 60 out of 100 Senators.

A minority of Senators can hold up voting on an issue they oppose, often indefinitely, just by talking endlessly. That is called the “talking filibuster.” This tactic was most notably used by Southern racist Senators during the Civil Rights era to kill civil rights legislation, But now if 41 Senators even threaten a filibuster, the Senate chairperson will refuse to consider the bill.

The Senate has repeatedly changed their rules to limit the filibuster and revert to simple majorities to pass legislation and vote on nominees to various positions in government. Budgets, Supreme Court nominees, trade agreements, arms sales and military base closings are among 116 exceptions to the filibuster created from 1969 to 2014, This did not happen on January 19 for the proposed voting rights bills. Fifty Republicans, joined by two Democrats decided that maintaining the filibuster was more important than protecting the voting rights of millions of people.

How can we ever pass even modestly progressive legislation in Congress? The Voting Rights Act, which became law in 1965, gives us a clue.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was not a legislative victory. It was not handed to the nation by generous and progressive politicians. Southern racists were strong in the 1960s and the filibuster rule was very much alive. The bill was the result of a struggle by the masses of the population that organized, rallied, marched and often died for the goal of equal rights.

The lynching of 14 year old African American Emmet Till in Mississippi occurred on August 28, 1955. On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her seat to a white man in a city bus. This sparked the 13 month Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The next ten years saw the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and young activists from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) work bravely and tirelessly to challenge laws and rules that effectively barred African Americans from voting across the southern states. The sacrifices by these activists are too numerous to chronicle here.

But by 1964 the entire nation, and the whole world, had their attention on the heroic freedom fighters and the murderous racist repression that they faced. In 1965 two SNCC organizers along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put forward a call for a march from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol in Montgomery for voting rights. The original proposal came from two SNCC veterans, Diane Nash and James Bevel.

Organizing went on for several months prior to the march. On February 26 Jimmie Lee Jackson, a church deacon and protester, died after being shot days earlier by a state trooper at a peaceful demonstration.

On March 7, 1965 civil rights marchers peacefully began. They started to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River but were met with a massive and brutal police attack on the bridge. TV cameras rolled as the demonstrators were beaten senseless and driven back. This became known as “Bloody Sunday.”

A second march began March 9 but turned back at the bridge when leaders decided to wait for support from a Federal court. That night Unitarian minister James Reeb was murdered in Selma.

The march finally stepped off March 21, only after 1900 Alabama National Guard troops under Federal command were sent in. On March 25 over 25,000 protesters gathered at the State Capitol. That same night Detroiter Viola Liuzzo was murdered by the KKK while driving some protesters back to Selma from Montgomery.

That decade of struggle from 1955 to 1965 exposed the horrors of racism and repression. More importantly it galvanized many millions of activists and supporters to go into the streets. Churches, labor unions and many other organizations in all communities were coming together. In 1964 and 1965 huge uprisings broke out in northern cities like New York and Los Angeles against racism, poverty and police terror.

It was precisely the massive protest movement and the very real threat of civil war that terrified the capitalist ruling class, who are the real power behind the politicians in Washington. To try to dampen the fires of revolution the Voting Rights Act became the law of the land just 5 months after Bloody Sunday. On August 6, 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill.

This is the lesson for today, when reactionary, racist forces seem hell-bent on turning back the clock on voting rights, women’s rights, labor rights and other progress people have won from decades of struggles. It won’t be politicians who give us our rights. It must be the people themselves who rise and fight innumerable battles that will grow into more concentrated confrontations. If old leaders cannot prove equal to the task, as seems certain, then new, dynamic leaders will come forward.

This is the only way forward. On that path our fight for narrow legal  rights and an end to individual injustices will build our confidence for demanding and winning  real racial, economic and social justice. The entire capitalist system is already exposing itself as a complete failure and the root cause of much of our problems. Replacing it with a system that puts the needs of the many above the profits of a few, a socialist system, will become more and more reasonable and achievable when the masses are in motion.

U.S. Generals Warn of Coming Civil War

January 16, 2022

A civil war is a class war. Capitalists are few in number but have gathered substantial forces to fight for them. Photo: Neil Jamieson / Forbes

By David Sole

Reprinted from Fighting Words U.S. Generals Warn of Coming Civil War – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

Around the first anniversary of the violent attack on the United States there have been endless commentaries about the continuing “threat to democracy” here in the U.S. Those in the mass media that decry the violent insurrection of January 6, 2021 generally are sincere liberals who are unable to do more than expose the very real dangers of the ultra-right. However, they fail to shed any light on why this danger occurred, why it persists, what class forces give it strength and, most importantly, how to fight it.

The events of January 6, 2021, and the entire Trump presidency, shattered the illusion that bourgeois democracy is unshakeable. What is called “Democracy” is a “form of government in which people choose leaders by voting” (Merriam-Webster.com). But underneath this complex system of government is the foundation of capitalist production. For the capitalist class of billionaires, bankers and corporate bosses the type of government they operate under is subordinate to their goal of always increasing and protecting their profits.

It is now out in the open that the norms of democratic government are not permanent or secure. The clearest warning came out on December 18, 2021 when the Washington Post printed an opinion piece signed by three retired U.S. generals titled “The military must prepare now for a 2024 insurrection.”

The three authors of the warning were Paul D. Eaton and Antonio M. Taguba, who are retired major generals of the Army, while Steven M. Anderson is a retired Army brigadier general. They point out that 124 other retired military officers signed a pro-Trump open letter “attacking the legitimacy of our elections” back in May 2021.

The three generals conclude that there is “the potential for a military breakdown mirroring societal or political breakdown…” They “are increasingly concerned about the aftermath of the 2024 presidential election and the potential for lethal chaos inside our military, which would put all Americans at severe risk….it is not outlandish to say a military breakdown could lead to civil war.”

The warning by these high ranking U.S. military officers should not be discounted because they are loyal participants in an imperialist military machine which has ruthlessly carried out invasions, wars and genocide on behalf of the capitalist class.

Their solution to the very real dangers they expose is that the military apparatus can solve the problem within its own ranks. Putting faith in that would be disastrous.

Civil war, in this era, is class war. It is the expression of the intense and irreconcilable tensions between the broad, exploited working class and the exploiting capitalist class. In the current United States arena it has emerged sharply with the defeat of Donald Trump in the 2020 election and all the lies and propaganda following. It reached the very halls of Congress on January 6, 2021. Rather than subsiding, the conflict is being vigorously pursued by right-wing forces in every state, city, town and rural enclave.

Voting rights, women’s rights, environmental protection, health and science are just some of the issues that are under attack. As in all civil wars the exploiters (the capitalists) are a small minority. According to Forbes Magazine, there are just 724 billionaires in the U.S. They would pose little problem for the workers and oppressed except for their ability to utilize their enormous wealth to mis-educate and misdirect segments of the population to fight for them.

The very existence of the small but powerful capitalist class, along with the very real fears and problems for the many layers of the working class and the middle class, guarantees that white supremacist, right-wing tendencies will continuously be regenerated.

If there were a leadership in the U.S. that put forward and fought for a popular program to solve the problems of working class and middle class people, right-wing support would disintegrate. The Democratic Party often raises popular issues verbally but does not deliver on them – precisely because they are tied firmly to the Wall Street capitalist class.

Just look at the passage of the 1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill signed into law November 15, 2021. This finances big construction projects and swells the profits of big business interests. But so far Biden and the Democrats are unable to pass the 1.9 trillion dollar Build Back Better bill which has appropriations for many programs to benefit poor and working people. Wall Street does not want to raise the expectations of the masses.

Voting rights, an issue fundamental to the very definition of “democracy,” is also not secure. The capitalist class does favor “democracy” as a way to control the masses by letting them think they have a say in how they are governed. But Wall Street also worries that voting might get out of their control as economic conditions worsen, threatening their profits and their hidden rule. In that case the super-rich would rather encourage and finance those who are keen on curbing voting by African American and other progressive forces.

It is often said that the whip of reaction drives the revolution forward. Only under intense blows will the illusions of the masses in the United States be shattered, will new, more radical leadership emerge and a strong counter-offensive develop. This is what is necessary to drive back the reactionary forces of racism and oppression. It can also move the struggle forward to overthrow the capitalist class and their system of exploitation.

Wet’suwet’en Water Protectors Evade RCMP

AS POLICE MOBILIZE FOR RAID

January 8, 2022 

Reprinted from Fighting Words Wet’suwet’en Water Protectors Evade RCMP – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

Photo: Gidimten Checkpoint

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 4th, 2022 – Unceded Gidimt’en Territory, Smithers (BC):

Two weeks after Wet’suwet’en water protectors evicted Coastal GasLink workers and occupied a key pipeline drill site, water protectors executed a strategic retreat to avoid arrest and violence at the hands of dozens of militarized RCMP. Before a large-scale mobilization by police, water protectors vanished into the woods, evading police violence and criminalization. We expect an imminent assault on our people at the direction of Coastal GasLink as we continue to occupy and utilize our yintah.

“Our warriors are not here to be arrested. Our warriors are here to protect the land and the water, and will continue to do so at all costs,” stated Sleydo’ (Molly Wickham), a wing chief of the Cas Yikh people. “Every time that the RCMP, the C-IRG, has come in to enforce CGL’s injunction they have done violence against our women. They have imprisoned our Indigenous women and our warriors. We will not allow our people to be political prisoners.”

For the fourth time in four years, the RCMP appeared to mobilize for a large-scale assault on unceded Wet’suwet’en land, booking dozens of hotel rooms to bring police from throughout the province to facilitate pipeline construction and to assert control over unceded lands at gunpoint. Water protectors have blocked drilling beneath Wet’suwet’en headwaters for more than 70 days. In the last couple of days there have been increased patrols by non-local RCMP, C-IRG, and helicopter surveillance over private Wet’suwet’en residences far from any project worksites.

After the first 56 day occupation, RCMP made 30 arrests before escorting Coastal GasLink workers into Coyote Camp to bulldoze and burn down several cabins, homes, and structures. Within a month, land defenders retook the site, once again evicting CGL workers and blockading the drill pad. Arrests were also made at Gidimt’en Checkpoint, a re-occupation of our traditional village site on Cas Yikh yintah that is not impeding Coastal GasLink work.

“We know that we have to uphold our responsibilities, and no matter how much they try to beat us down we will never forget who we are as Wet’suwet’en people. We will always uphold our responsibilities to Wedzin Kwa, to our yintah and to all of the future generations,” stated Sleydo’.

Wet’suwet’en people have never ceded or surrendered the 22,000 square kilometers of traditional Wet’suwet’en land to British Columbia or Canada, and have proven in the Supreme Court of Canada that Wet’suwet’en ownership of this land remains unextinguished. Our hereditary chiefs fought for years within colonial courts to protect our yintah as they have done on the land since time immemorial. Under Anuc nu’at’en (Wet’suwet’en law), House Chiefs representing each impacted Wet’suwet’en group have banned Coastal GasLink from Wet’suwet’en lands, and in 2020 issued an eviction notice to the company that remains in effect.

Since 2019 the RCMP have spent over $20 million criminalizing Wet’suwet’en authority over our lands, deploying in military garb with drones, helicopters, ATVs, snowmobiles, mobile command centers, and K-9 units. RCMP have pointed sniper rifles and assault weapons at unarmed Indigenous people, and used physical and psychological torture techniques on water protectors engaged in non-violent civil disobedience. To date, police have made 79 arrests, including four Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs.

“I don’t think Coastal Gaslink, the government, or the police understand that the Wet’suwet’en have been here for thousands of years. Despite all the money and effort C-IRG and CGL utilize in an effort to get rid of us, we are never going away. Ever,” says Sleydo’.

Take a Walk at the Crime Scene

THE FRAME-UP OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL

January 8, 2022 

Reprinted from Fighting Words Take a Walk at the Crime Scene – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

By Michael Schiffmann

If you happen to live in Philadelphia, I’d like to suggest that you take a walk at the crime sce ne of one of the most famous murder cases of our time in which the African American journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted for the killing of Officer Daniel Faulkner, a member  of the Philadelphia Police Department, at 4 AM on December 9, 1981.

Why?

The whole thing was declared an open and shut case at Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial and in fact it took  a jury only 15 days to listen to the case, find the defendant guilty AND sentence him to death,  but on closer inspection, some of the evidence heard by the jurors turns out not to have been what it then seemed. Looking even closer, next to none of the evidence turns out to be genuine.

The Official Murder Scenario 

At the trial, the scenario of the prosecution was roughly this: for some reason, Faulkner had  stopped Abu-Jamal’s brother Billy Cook’s VW who then parked at the curb in front of the  building 1234 Locust, with Faulkner pulling up behind him. Both got out of their cars,  marched towards the sidewalk between the VW and the police car when a quarrel arose.

Faulkner spreadeagled Cook on the hood of the police car and was about to handcuff him, but then Cook struck at the officer, which was when Faulkner started to beat him with a flashlight. At this point Abu-Jamal, who was moonlighting as a cabbie and happened to be nearby, ran  across the street from the parking lot vis-√†-vis 1234 Locust and shot Faulkner in the back.

Faulkner then turned around, stumbled on the sidewalk and, falling on his back, managed to  draw his gun and to shoot Abu-Jamal in the chest. As Faulkner, who had lost his revolver in the  process, lay prone on the pavement, Abu-Jamal stepped over him and fired several shots at  point blank range, one of which hit the officer in the head and killed him instantaneously.

Two Very Serious Difficulties 

How did the prosecution arrive at the above version of events? There were four witnesses at the  trial who claimed to have been near the scene and to have seen the whole event or parts of it.

1) The prostitute Cynthia White said she stood at the southeastern corner of the intersection 13th and Locust and saw Abu-Jamal do the things described above. 2) Motorist Michael Scanlan said  he was in the middle lane of Locust west of the intersection when he saw a man who he could  not identify do the things to Faulkner that White also described.3) Cab driver Robert Chobert claimed he had pulled up behind P.O. Faulkner’s squad car when  he heard shots and saw Abu-Jamal firing away at the prone officer. 4) The pedestrian Albert Magilton said he was crossing Locust from south to north right in front of Scanlan when he saw Abu-Jamal run towards 1234 Locust, but he said he did not see the shooting.

At the crime scene, we see that White’s and Scanlan’s claim that Abu-Jamal shot Faulkner in the  back while running from the parking lot is very difficult to sustain. The bullet that did indeed hit  Faulkner in the back exited in one piece right above his throat and if the bullet came from the direction of the parking lot, it should have been found, in one piece, in, at, or on Locust 1234.

It was not.

There has never been an explanation for this simple fact. In a much longer article, I explore  some theoretical possibilities, but they are unlikely in the extreme.

The second difficulty with the prosecution’s scenario is even worse, because it is beyond any  possible repair. In order to understand this, all you have to do is go to the place a bit east of  1234 Locust where the dying Officer Faulkner was found by his arriving fellow cops, which  today is marked by a plaque for the fallen officer.

Not only White and Scanlan, who claimed to have seen the whole sequence of events, but also  Robert Chobert, who said he only saw the killing, claimed the perpetrator shot Faulkner by firing several shots, execution-style, while standing over him.

But Faulkner was hit only once, by a bullet that hit him beneath the socket of his left eye and basically blew his brains  out. If that shot was part of a series of shots fired at point  blank range in which all the other shots missed him – where  are the traces of these shots? There would have had to have  been either the bullets themselves, or enormous traces of  them, in the sidewalk.

There exist multiple immediate post-shooting photos of the  sidewalk area where Officer Faulkner came to lie, some of  which were even inspected by a NASA photo specialist – but these bullets or any traces of them were simply not there.

A False Scenario that Is Massive Proof for a Frame-Up 

While there is a slight possibility that the man coming from the parking lot, and that would  mean, Abu-Jamal, might have shot Faulkner in the back (a possibility I explore elsewhere),  there is no such thing in the case of White’s, Scanlan’s, and Chobert’s description of the crucial event of that tragic night, namely, of how Officer Faulkner was killed and died.

The description of these three witnesses is clearly and unequivocally false as what they all in  an essentially identical fashion describe did not happen and cannot have happened. But that  can only mean that these three witnesses lied, and since they – as far as we are aware of – didn’t know each other, someone else must have told them to do so. This was a frame-up.

Two Star Witnesses That No One Saw 

It is clear from the above that the decisive, identical testimony by White, Scanlan, and Chobert must have been coached to converge on the desired version of Abu-Jamal being a merciless killer who fired away at a defenseless cop.

But it gets worse, if that is possible. Overwhelming evidence shows that two of these three  witnesses, namely, Cynthia White and Robert Chobert, were not even where they claimed to  have observed the death of P.O. Faulkner from.

Consider this.

The presence of Cynthia White, the only witness who claimed to have both seen all of the event and being able to identify the perpetrator, was unequivocally denied by ALL three other core prosecution witnesses – not only Robert Chobert, who might not have seen her because she was  behind him, but also Michael Scanlan and Albert Magilton, who she was right in front of.

Furthermore, no one else, no witness for either the prosecution or the defense, saw her at the  southeastern corner of 13th and Locust where she claimed to have been.

And Robert Chobert?

There was one witness who claimed to have seen his cab behind P.O. Faulkner’s police car. That witness was Cynthia White. For her, see above.

At the trial, Albert Magilton said there was no cab behind Officer Faulkner’s car. Michael  Scanlan said the same thing, no cab behind Faulkner. No one else said they saw the cab.

And there is even documentary proof that it was indeed not there, namely, several photos by  press photographer Pedro P. Polakoff who arrived at the scene ten minutes after the shooting that  showed an empty space behind Faulkner’s police car where Chobert’s taxi should have been.

Polakoff himself has consistently said that the cab was not there even when he arrived and before he was able to take photos. And finally, there is a cop Philly journalist Dave Lindorff is  in contact with and who was one of the first to arrive at the scene after Faulkner was killed.

That cop has over the years insisted that Cyntha White could not have seen the shooting because she was a half block away and that Robert Chobert didn’t see it either because he was  NOT parked on Locust behind Officer Faulkner. Other evidence uncovered by Lindorff indicates he was parked north of the intersection on 13th Street, facing away from the crime scene.

So Why Don’t You Walk the Walk? 

If you’re in Philadelphia, I think you should indeed check out this intersection 13th and Locust Street. There is a plaque now where Officer Faulkner died and where the  Fraternal Order of Police regularly commemorates his death, claiming that it is clear that Abu Jamal “did it.”

But did he? Is he “guilty”?

Not if we take seriously the supposed legal pillar of the country, “innocent until proven  guilty.” There is no valid eyewitness testimony showing that Abu-Jamal was the shooter. Rather, and inadvertently, this testimony proves that there was a frame-up to falsely portray him,  not only as the shooter, but a particularly cold-blooded one at that.

That alone should be reason to throw Abu-Jamal’s conviction out and put those who deliberately framed him in the dock instead.

So why don’t you go to 13th and Locust with the facts presented here in mind and draw your  own conclusions?

But be warned: these conclusions might impel you to have dangerous thoughts, which in turn  might impel you to become active and demand that justice is done. It is not sure that any authorities, whether reactionary, centrist, or progressive, will like you for that.

New Filing in Case of Political Prisoner, Mumia Abu Jamal

By Johanna Fernandez, Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

Reprinted from Fighting Words New Filing in Mumia’s Case – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

Dear Friends:

In her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”

With continued pressure from below, 2022 will be the year that forces the Philadelphia DA’s Office and the Philly Police Department to answer questions about why they framed imprisoned radio journalist and veteran Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. That’s because Abu-Jamal’s attorneys have filed a PCRA petition (link below) focused entirely on the 6 boxes of case files that were found in a storage room of the DA’s office in December 2018 when the case was being heard before Judge Leon Tucker in the Court of Common Pleas.

The new evidence contained in the boxes is damning and we need to expose it. It reveals a pattern of misconduct and abuse of authority by the prosecution, including bribery of the state’s two key witnesses, as well as racist exclusion in jury selection—a violation of the landmark Supreme Court decision Batson v. Kentucky. The remedy for each or any of the claims in the petition is a new trial. The court may order a hearing on factual issues raised in the claims.  If so, we won’t know for at least a month.

The new evidence includes a handwritten letter penned by Robert Chobert, the prosecution’s star witness. In it, Chobert demands to be paid money promised him by then prosecutor Joseph McGill. Other evidence includes notes written by McGill prominently tracking the race of potential jurors for the purposes of excluding black people from the jury and letters and memoranda, which reveal that the DA’s office sought to monitor, direct and intervene in the outstanding prostitution charges against its other key witness Cynthia White.

Mumia Abu-Jamal was framed and convicted 40 years ago in the early 1980s during one of the most corrupt and racist periods in Philadelphia’s history—the era of cop-turned-mayor Frank Rizzo. It was a moment when the city’s police department, which worked intimately with the DA’s office, routinely engaged in homicidal violence against Black and Latino detainees, corruption, bribery and tampering with evidence to obtain convictions.

In 1979, under pressure from civil rights activists, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed an unprecedented lawsuit against the Philadelphia police department and detailed a culture of racist violence, widespread corruption, and intimidation that targeted outspoken people like Mumia. Despite concurrent investigations by the FBI and Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and dozens of police convictions, the power and influence of the country’s largest police association, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) prevailed. Now, more than 40 years later, we’re still living with the failure to uproot these abuses. Philadelphia continues to fear the powerful FOP, even though it endorses cruelty, racism, and multiple injustices. A culture of fear permeates the “city of brotherly love.”

The contents of these boxes shine light on decades of white supremacy and rampant lawlessness in America’s courts and prisons. They also hold enormous promise for Mumia’s freedom and challenge us to choose Love, Not PHEAR. Stay tuned.

Johanna Fern√°ndez

Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

Access Legal Document Here:

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C.L.R. James: FEPC Program No Aid to Negro Labor, 20 September 1943

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 38, 20 September 1943, p. 3.

Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for MIA.

Beginning on Wednesday, September 15, and continuing until September 18, the Fair Employment Practice Committee held public hearings on discrimination against Negroes and Mexicans by twenty-three railroad companies and fourteen railroad workers’ unions. The hearings have aroused nation-wide interest.

The Pittsburgh Courier, well known Negro weekly, reports that within recent days in the New York area, five thousand freight cars, loaded with munitions, could not be moved because the carriers were short 1,600 men a day. In another terminal, thirty-three trains were delayed during a twenty-four-hour period owing to the inexperience of new white employees, while skilled Negro railroad men with twenty to thirty years of experience were not permitted to touch the engines. It is claimed that in a long list of railroads Negroes cannot be promoted.

Doubtless these and similar crimes against Negro labor will be exposed The question is, what will the committee do? We feel safe to say that it will do nothing substantial. Evidence? There is its past history. The new committee itself is not prepared to take any more serious steps than its predecessor.

Collier’s Article Revealing

Last week there appeared in Collier’s magazine an article entitled Race Riots Coming, by Walter Davenport, the political editor, the writer says that the article is based on “considerable research,” and the content of the many thousands of words shows that this is true. We shall refer to this article again on another occasion. For the time being, it is sufficient to note what it has to say about the FEPC.

The old committee, says Collier’s, was absorbed by the War Manpower Board, “quickly losing. its identity.” The old committee was “not only smothered by the regulations and red tape of the parent organization, the War Manpower Commission, but was almost trampled to death in the first wild stampede of the conversion of industry from peace to war production.”

Some of a war-production agencies, says Collier’s, were probably convinced that the old committee “was a nuisance.” Yes, just that, “a nuisance.” Some of them, the article continues, have been quoted as “cursing” the committee as “a bunch of interfering pinkos trying to run the war like the New Deal.”

We remember that Mark Etheridge, the first chairman of the committee, was that distinguished Southern liberal and “friend” of the Negro who resigned from the committee and made a public declaration that the South would never stand for Negro equality. Even this harmless committee was “revolutionary” to the men who rule Washington. Between Roosevelt and McNutt, the committee was buried.

New Committee States Policy

They have now brought it out again. Collier’s tells us that the new committee has no greater powers than the old one. And the chairman? He is Father Haas. Here are his views, according to the article we are quoting:

“Coercion of employers won’t work and it should not be tolerated ... Although government contracts, at the direction of Mr. Roosevelt, include clauses forbidding the holder to discriminate, we may not revoke these contracts without great harm to production.”

The reverend chairman says point-blank that the committee will not fight to accord Negroes their equality. Profits come first.

Labor Action has insisted from the beginning that Roosevelt, the government, the old committee; the new committee are all deceiving the Negro people. We have said and say again that it was the militant action of the Negroes which compelled the government to do something to quiet them, to make them feel that they should wait a bit and see. That was and still is the aim of the FEPC.

Are we going to sit and watch this new committee carry on the same old tricks? The militant initiative of the Negroes in demanding their rights forced the formation of the committee. Roosevelt only took the step to quiet the deep dissatisfaction of one-tenth of the population. But the committee was buried as soon as possible and only the rising tension in the country caused Roosevelt to resuscitate it.

The Negroes and the Mexicans must not leave matters to the committee. Every Negro organization in the country must mobilize itself and by resolutions and. action show that they will no longer tolerate Jim Crow discrimination and a committee which accomplishes nothing.

Labor Most Important Factor

But far more important than any action by Negroes is action by the labor unions. A labor union may hesitate about taking steps to stop discrimination against Negroes in the armed forces. The average worker may feel that it is a shame but that he doesn’t know exactly what to do about it. Here he is wrong, but we can understand his hesitation. But every labor man must recognize how shameful and how dangerous it is for railroad companies and railroad unions to stand in the dock before the bar of public and world opinion, both of them charged with discrimination on account of race.

The strength of labor, the solidarity of labor, the future of labor, demand that all such stains and corruptions, which are the influence of the bosses, must be abolished by labor itself.

The labor organizations of the country should let the offending railroad unions know, in no uncertain manner, what their duty is in regard to Negro labor.

C.L.R. James: ‘We Shall Hold Our Own,’ Says Churchill, Still Defending the British Empire, 13 September 1943

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 37, 13 September 1943, p. 4.

Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for MIA.

Winston Churchill is a bold and confident capitalist leader, and his words are always worth watching. He is also bold and confident from natural temperament. That is why the Baldwins, Chamberlains, Samuel Hoares and all the petty politicians who fattened on the sweets of office in peacetime hated him and did their utmost to keep him out of office.

Conflict of policy there was, but less than appears at first sight. When the war came, everybody knew Churchill had to come in. They admitted him grudgingly and, as was expected, he has eclipsed them all.

But Churchill is bold and confident for another, and far more important, reason: he has the Labor Party leadership in Britain tamed. Far more than Roosevelt, he can speak without having to face a stir of opposition among the people which can be used by political opponents. It is this which allows Churchill to give free rein to his fluent, counter-revolutionary tongue and express the schemes and plots cooked up by himself and Roosevelt. Observe —

Defender of British Imperialism

Churchill startled the liberals and the people everywhere by saying openly of the British Empire: “We shall hold our own.” He said that he was not going to preside at the liquidation of the British Empire. He said this chiefly to Wendell Willkie, but also to Franklin Roosevelt. But he could say this so shamelessly only because the Labor Party leaders in Britain were committed to his policy on India. Had they been opposed to him, he has sense enough to know that it would not have been wise to speak so openly.

People were shocked when Roosevelt showed himself so tender to Badoglio and the House of Savoy. But for months Churchill had felt himself free to say: “One man alone (Mussolini) in Italy is responsible.” Obviously, he was preparing the way for a deal with the real culprits, the Italian capitalist class. But note that he said it, while Roosevelt was silent.

There are other instances. Now, recently, Churchill made two speeches. Both of them came immediately after long conferences with Roosevelt. One significant part of the Quebec broadcast goes as follows:

“Certainly we see all Europe rising under Hitler’s tyranny, and what is now happening in Denmark is only another example. Certainly we see the Germans hated as no race has ever been hated in human history, or with such good reason.”

Fear of the European Masses

So far, so good. But note now what follows: “We see them sprawled over a dozen once free and happy countries with their talons making festering wounds, the scars of which will never be effaced.”

Why does Churchill go out of his way to emphasize that the bitterness between the German people and the people of Europe will “never be healed”? It is because he is afraid (1) of Stalin’s determination to bolster up a de-Hitlerized Germany, and if that is the only means of getting his way in Europe; (2) of a proletarian revolution in the main countries of the Continent, which could open a road for the German proletariat.

What Churchill means is that rather than see that, he will do everything possible to emphasize the bitterness and keep Europe divided. A few days before, however, Roosevelt had said that the masses of the people in the Axis countries had nothing to fear. The real policy of these two, you may be sure, came from the mouth of Churchill.

Now, in his latest speech at Harvard, the English Prime Minister has calmly enunciated a truly monstrous doctrine. He blandly proposes that Britain and America rule the world by force of arms, even aiming at making everybody speak English.

And Contempt For Labor

Roosevelt has not dared to be so open. But it is good to know from their own mouths exactly what is in the minds of these defenders of a rotten and dying system. And it is important for workers to note that Churchill’s contempt for public opinion can be exercised so freely because the official opposition in England, the labor leaders, has sold out completely and has no policy of its own.

Note that Churchill brought to Quebec his wife, his daughter, bis Foreign Secretary, his Minister of Information (called in Germany, Minister of Propaganda), his chief of the Army, his chief of the Navy, his chief of the Air Force. But no single member of the British Labor Party was there!

Let no one think that when Churchill says: “We shall hold our own,” he speaks for the British people. In nine cases out of ten, he speaks for the imperialist counter-revolutionaries. For the moment, it is sufficient to say that the majority of the British people, the great masses of the workers in particular, have ideas fundamentally different from his. They cannot get the opportunity to express them and to clarify them because the labor leaders echo Churchill and confuse and suppress the people in the name of “national defense.”

Let us listen carefully to Churchill. Let us remember that he can say openly what Roosevelt thinks but prefers not to say. Roosevelt acts! And let us have no doubt that the great body of the people in Britain and America will sooner or later express themselves. We help them to do so by exposing the real policies of the wily Roosevelt and the bold and impudent Churchill.

C.L.R. James: Union Labor Must Lead the Fight for Negro Rights, 16 August 1943

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 33, 16 August 1943, pp. 1 & 4.

Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for MIA.

The racial tension in the country steadily gets worse. In areas widely separate from each other, outbursts have already taken place or people live in daily fear of them.

The recent demonstration by the Negroes in Harlem is of exceptional significance, because New York is one of the areas where relations between races are better than they are in most other places in the United States. But if it can happen in New York, it can happen anywhere.

Labor Action has repeatedly drawn the attention of the labor movement to the danger of this situation for labor. Once more we call their attention to the fact that it is necessary to act now.

The ruling class is already acting. Attorney General Biddle proposes to prohibit Negroes from going into industrial areas such as Detroit. Elsewhere in this issue Labor Action deals with this dangerous order, aimed not only at the Negroes but at labor and the people as a whole, regardless of race, nationality or creed. We mention it here merely to emphasize that racial tension and racial upheaval are not merely the concern of the Negroes and of the government.

Negroes and the Labor Movement

Labor cannot content itself by being sympathetic to the Negro. It has to take responsibility for the defense of the Negro people against the violence of their persecutors. But it must do more. It must take responsibility also for assisting the Negroes in their struggle for their legitimate rights as citizens of the United States.

The CIO, all things taken into consideration, has recognized the importance of white and Negro solidarity in the labor unions. In the course of the last six years Negro labor has made more progress toward its complete integration into the labor movement than during the the preceding sixty years. This is not to give a blanket endorsement to all policies and procedures toward Negro labor in the CIO. But the general trend can best be illustrated by the results of a poll recently taken among 10,000 Negro people by the Pittsburgh Courier.

Asked if Negro workers should seek closer cooperation with organized labor, 96.4 per cent of them replied “Yes.” Only 2.4 per cent said “No.” And 1.2 per cent were uncertain.

It is clear that the sentiment of the majority of the Negro people has changed tremendously from that of the old days, when so many Negroes looked upon white workers and organized labor as their bitter rivals for the favors of the employers.

Labor worked hard to achieve this measure of success. The racial upheavals will break up solidarity between white and Negro labor and undo all the good work which has so patiently been performed during the last few years.

Unions Must Take the Lead

One of the most striking features of the recent disturbances in New York and Detroit is the fact that in the factories white and Negro labor continued to work side by side, not only in solidarity but anxiously discussing together the fighting and the agitation in the streets. One of the leaders of the UAW in Detroit has reported that during the disturbances many workers called upon the leadership to take steps to put an end to what they felt instinctively was a danger to the union and a disgrace to American democracy. These workers were absolutely correct in their demand.

They were correct because the situation cannot continue as it is. If the fighting between whites and Negroes in the streets continues, sooner or later it will affect the relations in the factories. It will affect the relations in the unions. Unscrupulous employers are not going to miss the opportunity to encourage provocation leading to violence. They know that this must ultimately have the effect of creating bad blood between different sections of their own workers and recreating the situation which existed before the CIO.

One of two things must take place. Either the white and Negro solidarity in the factory must take upon itself the task of putting an end to the violence and division outside. Or the violence and division outside will continue until it starts to undermine the solidarity inside the factory.

What Defense Means

Workers in the factories asked their leaders to take steps, against the rioting, to do something. One reply was that nothing could be done, because the labor unions had to be on guard against forming what would be called vigilante bands. This makes no sense at all.

If unionists, Negro and white, make it officially known to the whole public that they do not intend to have racial disturbances undermining the solidarity of their unions; if they state also that since the government and the police show that they are either unable or unwilling to protect the Negro people and to keep order they intend to do so, how in the name of heaven could anybody call such organizations “vigilante bands”? At best, the argument is stupid. At worst, it is an excuse for inaction. In view of this situation, it is necessary for the unions to establish union and workers’ defense guards against reactionary fascistic bands.

We go further than this.

Nothing is so certain to make would-be rioters and persecutors of the Negroes think twice before they start anything as the fact that labor, organized labor, white and black together, has determined that racial persecution must stop.

But labor has a still greater responsibility. It has the good will of the Negro people more than ever before. It has within its ranks hundreds of thousands of Negro workers devoted to the union. The Negro community, as the Harlem demonstration showed, has reached a stage when it is demanding its rights as citizens. It is determined to have these rights.

The government practices Jim Crow in every field. It shows no intention whatever of doing anything else except making a few gestures.

Labor’s Grand Opportunity

This is labor’s opportunity. Labor must realize that its future place is at the head of the American nation. Labor must realize that if economic crises, fascism and imperialist war are to be conquered, then they can be conquered only by a fighting labor movement gathering around itself all the poor, all the oppressed, all the persecuted, making them see in labor their shield against oppression and the fighter for their rights.

The exploited tenant-farmer, the old people whom industry has used and cast aside, the small shop keepers and the white collar workers on whom the burdens of capitalism increasingly fall – all these groups, the Negroes and other minorities, are looking for a way out of the perpetual capitalist crisis and the crimes and barbarism of capitalist society.

Labor must teach all these people to look to labor. By taking upon itself the defense of the Negroes, labor will not only protect its own organization. It will take a long step toward its place as, the leader of American society.