Archive for December 2011

Preventive Detention Threatens Occupiers, All Dissidents

The recently passed preventive detention measure poses a direct threat to the Occupation movement, said Dr. Margaret Flowers, an organizer with the encampment at Washington DC’s Freedom Plaza. People in power would like to paint dissenters as allies of terrorism. “Occupy London was actually determined by London police to be a terrorist organization,” said Flowers. Had she even imagined, back in 2008, that Barack Obama would be leading the preventive detention charge? “It doesn’t matter who is put into the system, it only works for the top one percent,” she said.

The Democrats’ “Killing Embrace”

The Occupy movement is constantly “being invited into the killing embrace of the Democratic Party,” which is ”just another face of the enemy,” said Carl Dix, of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Dix, a founder of “Stop Stop-and-Frisk,” harkened back to 2008, when virtually the entire Left “got swept up in Obamamania.” “The guy who says he is the best leader for the empire isn’t going to represent your interests,” he said.

NATO Committed War Crimes Against Libyan Civilians

NATO’s refusal to investigate civilian deaths in its seven-month bombing campaign against Libya is in violation of Article 15 of the Geneva Convention on the Wounded and Sick, Francis Boyle, the world-renowned University of Illinois professor of international law. The Article states that combatants are obligated “to go out and search for the wounded and sick, also the dead,” said Boyle, “but it doesn’t look like NATO really cares.” In fact, NATO policy was not to investigate civilian deaths in Libya – a practice that guaranteed the official death toll would be zero. “To violate the Geneva Conventions is a war crime, there is no doubt about it,” said Boyle.

Christmas in Newark is for Demonstrations

For the People’s Organization for Progress (POP), Christmas was simply day-182 of its marathon of demonstrations for jobs, housing, education, justice and peace. POP and its many allies spent the holiday at their usual places of protest in downtown Newark, New Jersey, keeping a promise to demonstrate for 381 consecutive days – the duration of the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott. Min. Thomas Ellis, of the anti-violence Enough is Enough Coalition, said “fighting for jobs for people in the community is one of the issues that we stand with POP on…. POP stood up against the war before the war started in Iraq, and the Enough is Enough Coalition stood with them on the corners of Broad and Market Streets, in March, 2003.”

American Revolution was a Racist Revolt

Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston, said, the American revolt of 1776 against British rule “was basically a successful revolt of racist settlers. It was akin to Rhodesia, in 1965, assuming that Ian Smith and his cabal had triumphed. It was akin to the revolt of the French settlers in Algeria, in the 1950s and 1960s, assuming those French settlers had triumphed.” Dr. Horne explores the racist roots on the American Revolution in his new book, Negroes of the Crown. “It was very difficult to construct a progressive republic in North America after what was basically a racist revolt,” said Horne. “The revolt was motivated in no small part by the fact that abolitionism was growing in London…. This is one of the many reasons more Africans by an order of magnitude fought against the rebels in 1776, than fought alongside them.”

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Black Ministers Form “Occupy The Dream” in “Lock-Stop” with OWS
“The Black church cannot afford to sit on the sidelines, but must be on the front lines of this fight for justice,” said Rev. Jamal Bryant, of the newly-formed Occupy the Dream movement. Bryant, who was joined at a Washington press conference by former NAACP executive director Dr. Benjamin Chavis and Occupy Wall Street activist David DeGraw, said African American clergy will demand an immediate moratorium on housing foreclosures, strengthening of rights to Pell Grants for college education, and $100 billion from Wall Street for economic development. “These companies owe a debt to the citizens that made them the wealthy entities that they are,” said Rev. Bryant, calling the sum a “drop in the bucket.”  Occupy the Dream will target Federal Reserve sites in various cities on January 16, Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, depositing crutches, walkers and wheelchairs at the scene to symbolize how the economy has been crippled by the quasi-public agency’s policies.
“We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the African American community in this campaign for economic fairness and justice, said David DeGraw, reading a statement written by “about 30” Occupy Wall Street organizers.” Rev. Chavis, now a co-chair, along with media mogul Russell Simmons, of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, said, “It is in our interest to build coalitions beyond ourselves.” Black people must “participate in our own resurrection, our own empowerment.”
Black Church Not the “Lynchpin” of Rights Fight
“Black American thinkers running the gamut from liberal, progressive to radical espoused secular humanist views on white supremacy, economic capitalist exploitation, women’s rights, on imperialism, all of the issues that affect contemporary African Americans,” said activist and scholar Sikivu Hutchinson, author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars. Even Dr. Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference “were actively disavowed and demonized by the mainstream Black church organizations for their radicalism, particularly Dr. King during the latter part of his life,” said Hutchinson. “This idea that Black theological traditions are the lynchpin of Black human rights thought and civil rights resistance and political organizing, is extremely egregious.”
People’s Organization for Progress to Rally for Voting Rights, Economic Justice
“The issues that P.O.P. is fighting about are issues of working people,” said Adrienne Taylor, an activist with the Communications Workers of America, Local 1040, in Newark, New Jersey. P.O.P marks day 176 of its planned 381-day marathon of daily demonstrations for jobs, education, housing, justice and peace, with a major rally for economic justice and voting rights set for January 15. Protesters will be on the streets of Newark on Christmas and New Years, said P.O.P. president Larry Hamm.
Congress Doesn’t Care if DC Residents “Live or Die”
Government-funded abortions and free needle programs have once again been made illegal in Washington, DC. The U.S. Congress, which under the Constitution has exclusive control over the nation’s capital, “is riding our backs into the grave,” said Anise Jenkins, of the Stand Up for Democracy in DC Coalition. “They don’t care if we live or die.” President Obama “was willing, as he was in April, to sell us out,” despite having gotten “over 90 percent of our vote” in the 2008 election, said Jenkins. “Does he expect us to continue to vote for him, because he thinks we have no alternative?” She urged support for legislation that would make Washington, DC, a state. “We’re the only jurisdiction in the country that has to suffer this oppression” of rule by Congress.
Most Blacks, and Nearly Half of Americans, Are Economically Insecure
A study shows 62 percent of African American households and 45 percent of all American families live with economic insecurity. Donna Addkison, president of Wider Opportunities for Women, which commissioned the study, found that 80 percent of single Black mothers “working the equivalent of full time still are not earning enough to get” beyond economic insecurity. “We’re talking about a baseline, we’re not talking about even cable television or cell phones,” but the costs of housing, food, transportation, health care and child care, “basic needs,” said Addkison. “Economic issues are women’s issues.”
Political Prisoners Central to Black Movement
Movement-building “must deeply involve the plight of political prisoners,” said Dr. Jared Ball, editor and columnist for Black Agenda Report and professor of communications at Morgan State University, in Baltimore. Political prisoners should be valued for their experience, their analysis, “and the standard they set for the rest of us,” said Ball. The movement “wouldn’t do half bad by replacing some of the Dysons, Simmons and Sharptons with folks like Ashanti Alston, Mutulu Shakur and Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoats.”
Buju Banton Appeals 10-Year Sentence
Lawyers for Jamaican Reggae and Dance Hall artist Buju Banton have appealed his ten-year conviction on cocaine charges in a trap set by the Drug Enforcement Agency. “Buju Banton has a voice that many in conservative positions and in power would rather see silenced,” said Aula Sumbry, of the Buju Banton Defense Support Committee. The singer is currently incarcerated in a prison near Miami.
Congolese Election A Fraud
“The results of the elections are clearly showing that there was fraud, a staged kind of fraud,” said Bahati Jacques, of the African Faith and Justice Network. Jacques, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, suggests a negotiated solution that would impose a runoff election between President Joseph Kabila and the official second-place candidate, Etienne Tshisekedi. Or, Tshisekedi could be proclaimed president, on the basis that the party that engaged “in fraud deserves no trust at all.”
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Mumia Being Set Up for Assassination

Pennsylvania authorities intend to have Mumia Abu Jamal killed if he is transferred to the general inmate population, said Pam Africa, of International Family and Friends of Mumia Abu Jamal. The Philadelphia District Attorney agreed last week to no longer pursue the death penalty in the killing of a police officer, 30 years ago. “This is a devious trick of theirs,” said Ms. Africa. “This is the same government that attempted to assassinate [American Indian Movement activist] Leonard Peltier, this is the same government that murdered [San Quentin inmate and Black Panther] George Jackson, and the list goes on.”

McKinney: Preventive Detention to Quell Dissent

Former Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney denounced congressional moves to establish indefinite preventive detention for so-called terrorism suspects, including U.S. citizens. “What happens to a group of people who want to go to Libya and report the truth?” asked the former Georgia congresswoman, who led several fact-finding delegations to Libya before and during the NATO assault on that country. “Who will they put on the terrorist list, to be detained? It could be you, it could be me, it could be the young people of Occupy, it could be anyone who dares to dissent.”

Blacks Must Return to Grass Roots Organizing

“The idea that protest politics is played out, or that it doesn’t garner results, is completely ahistorical,” said Newark city councilman Ras Baraka, a speaker at a People’s Organization for Progress (POP) rally, last week. “Everything we have been able to do in this community and this country has always centered around our ability to organize to protest, to march, to sit in, to speak out,” said Councilman Baraka, a school principle whose father is the poet and activist Amiri Baraka. Since June, POP has held daily demonstrations for jobs, housing, adequate education, social justice and peace, and vows to continue for 381 days, to match the duration of the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Actions on Foreclosures

Organizations associated with the Occupy movement and The New Bottom Line launched campaigns against home foreclosures in dozens of cities. New York Communities for Change targeted properties abandoned by banks and “severely over-leveraged buildings that are not getting any repairs done,” said  NYCC legal and political director Amelia Adams. In Minneapolis, Neighborhoods for Change joined with OWS to send teams to live with families in two foreclosed properties. Out-of-work householder Monique White said she believed, mistakenly, that “the Obama [home foreclosure] program was for people like myself,” while Vietnam-ear veteran Bobby Hull reported that when he tried to join the program with Bank of America, “they could never find my information, and then didn’t converse with me.”

Give the Broadcast Spectrum to the People

Members of the Georgia Green Party, local Occupiers and Atlanta community radio station WRFG demanded that the Federal Communications Commission halt auctions of the broadcast spectrum to private parties and make commercial media pay the cost of community broadcasting. “The FCC ought to give these frequencies back to the public, back to not-for-profit community broadcasters, who will be glad to provide access to local voices, local news coverage and public service that commercial broadcasters have refused to provide us,” said Bruce Dixon, a Green Party activist and managing editor of Black Agenda Report.

Congo Elections Rigged

Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila engineered his own reelection by pushing through constitutional changes that eliminated a runoff vote and by appointing his own supporters as judges and elections officials, said Kambale Musavuli, of Friends of the Congo. “Kabila is supported by the United States,” he said. Despite the election theft, “We Congolese can organize to make sure that we really achieve the independence that Patrice Lumumba dreamed of in 1960.”

Jared Ball: J Edgar a “Horror Film”

In Clint Eastwood’s new film J Edgar, the infamous “Hoover returns, even in death, to remind the liberal, the affluent, the white, that their place atop the social pyramid is legitimate and must be protected by any means necessary,” says BAR columnist Jared Ball. “Black activists don’t even appear…. We get nothing of his concern over the Black Panther Party, or the surveillance and deportation of people like Claudia Jones and CLR James, or culpability in the killings of Malcolm X and Fred Hampton, to name a few.”

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Obama’s Civil Liberties Record “Very, Very Bad”

Under President Obama, the state of civil liberties in the U.S. has become “very, very bad” and is “actually worse” than under the Bush administration, said Bill Quigley, Loyola University professor of law and associate legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. One reason for the decline is that “so many of us were beguiled by the beautiful rhetoric and speaking voice of President Obama,” said Quigley, author of a recent article titled “Twenty Examples of the Obama Administration Assault on Domestic Civil Liberties.” Had President Bush or a President McCain undermined civil liberties to the extent that Obama has, “people would have protested, would have organized, would have educated and would have challenged” the Republican in the White House.

Ejected Occupiers Should “Come on Down” to DC

As Occupy sites are shut down one by one across the country, dislodged activists should relocate to the Occupy Washington DC encampment at Freedom Plaza, said David Swanson, activist and publisher of the influential web site War Is A Crime. The Occupy Movement needs to target the political servants of Wall Street in Washington, as well as the finance capitalists in Manhattan. “We have to go after both the people who are funding the campaigns and asking for the corruption, and those [politicians] who are soliciting and accepting the money.”

Poverty, Not OWS, is a Public Health and Safety Hazard

It is the height of hypocrisy for big city mayors to close down Occupation sites on the “pretext” of public health and safety, when Black neighborhoods face jobless rates of 30-35 percent, representing huge threats to life and limb. Activist and author Paul Street said Black communities are “plagued by a host of incredible public health and safety issues,” with boarded up homes, no place to buy fresh vegetables, and an absence of doctors. Street wrote the article “Urban Neoliberal Racism, Mass Poverty, and the Repression of Occupy Wall Street.”

Occupation Movement Can’t Substantiated Its Claims

“It’s a positive thing that large numbers of white youth have become somewhat socially engaged and been willing to try to step out and put themselves on the forefront of some aspects of the social struggle,” said Kali Akuno, of the U.S. Human Rights Network. “The negative piece, however, is making claims that can’t be substantiated, because they haven’t organized the 99%.” Black communities have “started to step out and say, Hey, we like some of what we see” in OWS, “but we object to folks speaking in our name and trying to articulate our interests without our input.” Akuno reserved particular criticism for the Occupy effort in Atlanta, where he is based.

NYC Top Cop Gets Bull Connor Award

New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelly is the winner of the Bull Connor Award, named for the Birmingham, Alabama, public safety commissioner who set dogs on Black children in 1963. Kelly oversees a stop-and-frisk policy that is on track to accost and humiliate 700,000 people, this year, the vast majority of them Black and Latino. Kelly has proven himself, like Connor, to be unrelenting “in hounding Blacks and Latinos, persecuting Freedom Fighters, and keeping the city safe for upper class white men.”

Newark’s People’s Organization for Progress Adds Allies

“I think it is really important that union people and progressive groups support each other,” said Pat Fahy, of Newark, New Jersey’s IBEW Local 827, who had just addressed a rally of POP, People’s Organization for Progress. POP has been holding daily demonstrations since June for jobs, social justice, adequate housing, education and peace, and has so far been joined by over 110 community, church, student and labor groups.

Employers Steal Workers Blind

Employer theft of worker wages is rampant in the U.S., said Kim Bobo, executive director of Interfaith Worker Justice and author of “Wage Theft: Why Millions of Americans Are Not Getting Paid and What They Can Do About It.” One out of four low wage workers isn’t paid the minimum wage and three-quarters of low wage workers are not paid overtime, said Bobo. She blames much of the problem on declining union strength and “ridiculously weak” federal enforcement of workers’ rights.

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