Tag Archives: police murder

Report from “Black Lives Matter” Demo at City Hall, Chicago 31 December 2015

About 150 demonstrators from Black Lives Matter, Revolutionary Communist Party, Socialist Alternative, Independent Workers Party of Chicago and other worker-activists occupy the ground floor of Chicago's City Hall on 31 December 2015. Photo by IWPCHI

About 150 demonstrators from Black Lives Matter, Revolutionary Communist Party, Socialist Alternative, Progressive Labor Party, Independent Workers Party of Chicago and other worker-activists occupy the ground floor of Chicago’s City Hall on 31 December 2015. Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago, IL, USA (31 December 2015):  About 150 activists in Chicago (IL, USA) held a spirited and righteous – if politically naive – demonstration at City Hall on the final day of 2015, calling on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to resign.

Activist Addresses "Black Lives Matter" Demo at City Hall Chicago (IL, USA) 31 Dec 2015. Photo by IWPCHI

Activist Addresses “Black Lives Matter” Demo at City Hall Chicago (IL, USA) 31 Dec 2015. Photo by IWPCHI

Led – apparently – by “Black Lives Matter” activists (we were never able to confirm it), the crowd assembled on the first floor of Chicago’s City Hall and was addressed by speakers from – probably – BLM.  A dozen or so police monitored the demonstration and basically let it occupy the ground floor in front of the elevators for 45 minutes, at which time the entire demonstration boarded the elevators and headed to the 5th floor, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office is located.  There the crowd reassembled in the hallway just outside his office; various speakers addressed the crowd and led it in chants calling for Emanuel to step down.

Activists Address "Black Lives Matter" Demo at City Hall Chicago (IL, USA) 31 Dec 2015. Photo by IWPCHI

Activists Address “Black Lives Matter” Demo at City Hall Chicago (IL, USA) 31 Dec 2015. Photo by IWPCHI

Outrageously, there was no sign of any trade union members in attendance, and only a couple of the city’s main revolutionary socialist groups had a presence there, including the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) – who brought an excellent banner along.  Socialist Alternative was there as well, as was the Progressive Labor Party.  The International Socialist Organization and the Spartacist League were nowhere to be found, though they may have been at the earlier Democratic Party-led demo featuring Jesse Jackson and Father Michael Pfleger.  Unfortunately, we don’t have enough members to cover both demonstrations! Those larger parties do, though, so it’s odd that they missed the demo we attended.

"A Fish Rots From the Head - Impeach Rahm" protest sign at Black Lives Matter demo at Chicago (IL, USA) City Hall, 31 Dec 2015. Photo by IWPCHI

“A Fish Rots From the Head – Impeach Rahm” protest sign at Black Lives Matter demo at Chicago (IL, USA) City Hall, 31 Dec 2015. Photo by IWPCHI

After about a half an hour in front of the (apparently empty) Mayor’s office, the demonstration headed to the street and began a march from City Hall to the site on Michigan Avenue near the Tribune Tower (where the city is to have its “Chicago Rising” New Year’s Eve soiree), marching right down the middle of the street as the cops frantically tried to keep the traffic disruption to a minimum.

Chicago Cops on Bicycles Vainly Attempt to Corral Black Lives Matter Protest in Chicago 31 Dec 2015. Photo by IWPCHI

Chicago Cops on Bicycles Vainly Attempt to Corral Black Lives Matter Protest in Chicago 31 Dec 2015. Photo by IWPCHI

The “Chicago Rising” New Year’s Eve event was  originally supposed to be free of charge to the public – but out of alleged concern for “public safety” the city fathers chose instead to sell tickets to the event for the “low, low price” of $90 or $150 per person!  In order to get to the Hyatt Hotel on East Wacker Drive where the giant LED star symbolizing Chicago’s “Rising” was to ascend the building, citizens had to pay $150 at ticket booths that were set up behind barricades blocking off the street.  This is in keeping with the Democrats’ apparent desire that only the rich be allowed to participate fully in the cultural life of Chicago while the poor and working class citizens can all just go to hell.

Black Lives Matter demonstrators advance on Trump Tower from Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL (USA) on 31 Dec 2015. Photo by IWPCHI

Black Lives Matter demonstrators advance on Trump Tower from Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL (USA) on 31 Dec 2015. Photo by IWPCHI

The police, on bicycles, had apparently been ordered to keep their bloody “hands off” the demonstration; they made a futile attempt to block the protestors from marching from Trump Tower to Michigan Avenue – but after the protestors, urged on by a young woman activist, quickly were re-routed around the police daisy chain, the cops otherwise left the protestors to their own ad-hoc devices. This may have been due to previous arrangements with the organizers of the demonstration: we observed one of the men leading the chants “fist bumping” a number of bicycle cops in a far too friendly manner.

The marchers briefly blocked the intersection at Wacker and Michigan Avenues just south of the bridge over the Chicago River.  It looked to us as if they’d be there for a while, so we took a break at a local pastry shop for less than 10 minutes. By this time the crowd had dwindled to about 50 people or less.  When we emerged from the coffee shop, the demonstration had disappeared.  We overheard the police on their radios saying the demo was at Washington and Michigan, but even though we immediately headed to that location and arrived in 5 minutes, the demo had vanished without a trace and we were unable to relocate it!

Revolutionary Communist Party banner: "Murdered by Police" at Black Lives Matter demo in Chicago, IL (USA) 31 Dec 2015. Photo by IWPCHI

Revolutionary Communist Party’s excellent banner: “Murdered by Police” at Black Lives Matter demo in Chicago, IL (USA) 31 Dec 2015. Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones presente! (at top of banner L and R encircled in red)  Photo by IWPCHI

There seemed to have been very little in the way of planning for this march; no one was informed as to where it was headed or if there would be any events later on.

The primary political demands of the protest leaders were for the resignations of Emanuel and Alvarez and for an elected civilian police review board to be created to “oversee” the cops.  The protest leaders also urged the demonstrators to register to vote, although it was not clear who they intended us all to vote “for”!  Seeing that they do not even call for a new political party to be formed we can only conclude that they intend to vote for the Democrats again, since the Republicans are so convinced that it would be futile to run candidates for Mayor in this heavily Democratic city, they don’t bother to do so.

The “Black Lives Matter” movement has done an excellent job of organizing powerful demonstrations against police murder which has exposed to the entire world the deep racism that remains at the heart of the US capitalist system.  But their demands fall far short of what is necessary to end the endless series of killings of black workers by the racist cops.  Nothing short of workers socialist revolution is necessary to put and end once and for all to racism and racist killer cops here in the USA and throughout the entire capitalist world.  We see racist cops attacking workers in EVERY capitalist state, from the US to France to South Korea, Egypt and Israel.  The killer kops of kapitalism are the enemies of the working class!

The idea that an elected civilian police review board would give the workers “control” over the police department is a popular one. Unfortunately it is our duty as revolutionary Trotskyists to tell you, sisters and brothers, that it is completely impossible for the working class to exert “control” over the police in a capitalist state!  The police exist to protect the private property rights of the capitalist class – the wealthiest 10% of the population. The capitalist state is not “neutral” when it comes to adjudicating the endless conflict between the workers and the capitalist bosses.   The cops, courts and the military in every capitalist state are owned and operated by – and exert their power in the interests of – the capitalist class.  The only way that the working class can truly “control” the police is if the workers overthrow the capitalist state itself and replace it with a revolutionary socialist workers state. THEN – and only then! – can we have complete control over the killer kops of kapitalism – and put them in jail where they belong!  Those who tell you, sister and brother workers, that you can “control” the cops without first overthrowing the capitalist system are either naively misleading you… or are consciously telling you lies – plain and simple.  We believe that when it comes to the majority of Black Lives Matter activists it is naivete rather than deliberate lying going on; although some of the BLM leaders are definitely in the camp of the Democratic Party and therefore are deliberately trying to keep the protests well within the boundaries of what is “acceptable” to the capitalist class enemy.

We spoke with a number of activists from different groups, emphasising the vital necessity of organizing a revolutionary socialist working-class political party to break the stranglehold enjoyed by the twin parties of capital in the US’ completely undemocratic political system.

Socialist Alternative's Leaflet Pushes Pro-Capitalist Democrat Sanders for President! Leaflet acquired from Socialist Alternative activist at "Black Lives Matter" demo, City Hall, Chicago 31dec2015. Pro-Sanders meeting to be held at Chicago Democratic Party hangout "Manny's Deli" on near south side! Photo by IWPCHI

Socialist Alternative’s Leaflet Pushes Pro-Capitalist Democrat Sanders for President! Leaflet acquired by IWPCHI from Socialist Alternative activist at “Black Lives Matter” demo, City Hall, Chicago 31 Dec 2015. Pro-Sanders meeting to be held at Chicago Democratic Party hangout “Manny’s Deli” on near south side! Photo by IWPCHI

The self-described “Trotskyists” of Socialist Alternative were handing out leaflets pushing the candidacy of the phony-socialist Democrat Bernie Sanders!  We criticised this policy as basically being an outright betrayal of the working class.  SA defended their support of Sanders by claiming that since the workers were naively supporting him, and because, in SA’s analysis, Sanders is a social-democratic improvement over Hillary Clinton, SA should not discourage workers from supporting Sanders.  This is not revolutionary Trotskyism at all, but tailing after the naive political backwardness of US workers instead of leading them away from pro-capitalist candidates and in the direction of revolutionary socialism.  Sanders is a pro-capitalist candidate who has garnered financial support from the National Association of Realtors – among other sections of the US bourgeoisie.  Sanders has also come out side-by-side with Hillary in support of the US’ murderous war against the workers of Afghanistan, as well as the US’ cynical and fraudulent “War on Terror”.  Encouraging workers to vote for such a pro-capitalist, pro-war cretin as Sanders amounts to a complete betrayal of the working class and is the opposite of revolutionary Trotskyism.

The other extreme pole of the revolutionary working class party vis a vis electoral politics was represented by the RCP, whose rep stated to us that it was pointless to participate in bourgeois elections at all!  Workers should simply join the RCP and organize demonstrations.  Eventually- according to the RCP – the demonstrations will become so large that we can immediately overthrow the capitalist system!  The only problem with this concept is that it has never succeeded in the history of the world.  The revolutionary workers party must prove it will fight intransigently for the interests of the working class by leading strikes and by producing honest and self-sacrificing leaders who always uphold the highest principles of the revolutionary socialist movement – including as elected representatives of the working class in legislative bodies.

We say that a revolutionary workers party needs to utilize all methods at its disposal to organize the working class and to prepare them to overthrow capitalism.  We should participate in bourgeois elections while it is legal for us to do so, seeking non-executive elective offices only.  At the same time we must never stop pointing out to workers that revolutionary change will require more than simply electing a “socialist President”, as it has time and time again been PROVEN that the machinery of the capitalist state can not be seized and forced to work in the interests of the working class; it must be completely overhauled from top to bottom and a workers state created to completely replace it.  Marx and Lenin taught that trying to use the capitalist state machinery to defend the rights of the working class would be like trying to force a steel mill to produce baby clothing; it’s impossible!  The capitalist state was designed to defend the private property rights of the capitalist class and it cannot be reformed to promote and defend workers’ rights; the capitalist state must be “smashed” or broken up to its foundations and an entirely new workers state created in its place.  Every fake-socialist party that has ever tried to use the capitalist state machinery to defend the workers’ rights has failed and usually ends up being overthrown in a military coup and its party leaders and many of the best leaders of the trade unions executed.  One of the most tragic examples of this occurred in Chile with the fake-socialist Allende government in 1973.  The Venezuelan working class, betrayed by the “Bolivarian” fake-revolutionaries known as the “Chavistas” are today heading down the same disastrous road to defeat taken by Allende and his fake-socialist party. “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it”.  We in the Independent Workers Party of Chicago study history so that hopefully we can prevent such a disaster from occurring to the workers of the United States and the rest of the world in the future.

To refuse to participate in bourgeois elections is to render the revolutionary workers party utterly useless to the working class from now until the time of the workers revolution.  The Bolsheviks of Lenin demonstrated very clearly how a revolutionary socialist party could utilize the bourgeois democratic system to effectively and in a principled way put forward a revolutionary socialist program.  In this way they were able to continually expose to the eyes of the workers and peasants of Russia the utter political bankruptcy of the capitalist system and its hired politicians of all stripes.

What’s the point of organizing a political party if you’re not going to participate at all in any political process except the revolution itself?  How do we get from where we are today to where we want to go?  Revolutions can’t just be pulled out of the air.  It takes years for a revolutionary party to prove to the working class that it means exactly what it says and that it will not sell out the workers in exchange for government offices.  The example set by the Bolsheviks of Lenin in the period leading up the the great Russian Revolution of 1917 is the model upon which the Independent Workers Party of Chicago is based.  We encourage all workers to read “The History of the Russian Revolution” by Leon Trotsky (who became Lenin’s right-hand man during the Russian Revolution) to see how Lenin’s Bolsheviks masterfully used bourgeois democratic processes to lead the Russian working class to understand the absolute necessity to overthrow the capitalist system – not just in Russia but throughout the entire world.  The Bolsheviks’ revolutionary socialist program never led them to present frauds like Bernie Sanders and the Democrats as “friends of the working class”, nor did it lead them into the dead end of refusing to participate in bourgeois elections.  A truly revolutionary socialist party with a truly revolutionary socialist program avoids both of these extremes easily.  That’s the kind of program Marx, Engels and Lenin created; it’s the kind of program Trotsky defended; and it’s the kind of program we aspire to base our revolutionary Trotskyist party on.  They were the best leaders the working class ever had and we’d be betraying your trust if we urged you, our working class brothers and sisters, to follow any example besides theirs!

Workers of the World, Unite!

—- IWPCHI

 

Solidarity With The Citizens of Ferguson, MO Protesting the Police Murder of Michael Brown!

Thoughts on Ferguson, MO and the Murder of Michael Brown by the Police State

[As we publish this tonight (14 August 2014) we learn that the rebellion of the citizens of Ferguson, MO is continuing amid police assaults against the right of the citizens there to assemble and address their just grievances against the government. Tear gas has been deployed against the workers and many people have been reported injured and arrested. – IWPCHI]

Why do we call for workers revolution? Why should we not just settle for reforms of this decaying, murderous capitalist system?

Another day, another US citizen gunned down by those trigger-happy thugs – the police – allegedly hired by the citizens “to protect and serve” the citizenry. This time it is young Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri; a town whose racist history was nicely outlined for us yesterday by the New York Times. In an editorial entitled “The Racial History Behind the Ferguson Protests” the Times delivers the following indictment of the degree of racism that still exists here in the “post-racial” U.S. Presided over the the nation’s first black President:

“It doesn’t take a federal investigation to understand the history of racial segregation, economic inequality and overbearing law enforcement that produced so much of the tension now evident on the streets. St. Louis has long been one of the nation’s most segregated metropolitan areas […]. Until the late 1940s, blacks weren’t allowed to live in most suburban St. Louis County towns, kept out by restrictive covenants that the Supreme Court prohibited in 1948. As whites began to flee the city for the county in the 1950s and ’60s, they used exclusionary zoning tactics — including large, single-family lot requirements that prohibited apartment buildings — to prevent blacks from moving in. Within the city, poverty and unrest grew […] By the 1970s, many blacks started leaving the City of St. Louis as well […] attracted to older, inner-ring suburbs like Ferguson […] because they were built before restrictive zoning tactics and, therefore, allowed apartments […] As black families moved into Ferguson, the whites fled. In 1980, the town was 85 percent white and 14 percent black; by 2010, it was 29 percent white and 69 percent black. But blacks did not gain political power as their numbers grew. The mayor and the police chief are white, as are five of the six City Council members. The school board consists of six white members and one Hispanic […] The disparity is most evident in the Ferguson Police Department, of which only three of 53 officers are black. The largely white force stops black residents far out of proportion to their population […] [b]lacks account for 86 percent of the traffic stops in the city, and 93 percent of the arrests after those stops. Similar problems exist around St. Louis County, where earlier this year the state chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. filed a federal civil rights complaint alleging widespread racial profiling by police departments.”

[Source: New York Times, Editorial Board, “Racial History Behind the Ferguson Protests”, 13 August 2014]

Such is the state of affairs throughout the United States, from New Jersey to California: black and Hispanic workers in the “post-racial” era supposedly ushered in by the election of Democrat Barack Obama continue to suffer brutality and murder at the hands of the police forces of the US.

Michael Brown was shot down by the cops, as have been so many other black and Hispanic youth, while he was unarmed and – according to witnesses – had his hands in the air in a gesture of surrender. It availed him nothing – he was shot down like a dog by a rabid member of the United States’ burgeoning paramilitary police state, which has increasingly taken the attitude that the citizens exist to serve the police, and not the other way around. In response, the citizens of Ferguson organized a protest and demonstrated their long-pent-up frustration with their continued abuse at the hands of the Ferguson police department. That some in the crowd saw an opportunity to loot and acquire a few valuables does not impugn the motives of the vast majority of the peaceably assembled and angry citizens one iota. All in all, the degree of looting and destruction was quite minor compared to what might have been expected given the enormity of the crime committed by an “officer of the law”.  Yet the reaction by the Ferguson cops and the slander heaped upon the righteously protesting majority of the citizens of Ferguson by the capitalist news media attempts to make it appear as though Mike Brown and his fellow citizens are all criminals out to create “chaos”, which can only be averted by the forces of law and order, i.e. the same racist police department whose gunman murdered Brown in cold blood!

This shameless slandering of the citizens of Ferguson and their murdered brother is to be expected of those disgusting “knights of the pen” – the hired propagandists of the capitalist press who never tire of licking the soles of the feet of their capitalist masters.  But surely we could expect much better from the first black President of the United States!  So what did that paragon of the “lesser evil” Democratic Party have to say about this latest wanton murder of a fellow U.S. citizen of color?

The President of the United States was on vacation in the capitalist class’ summer playground on Martha’s Vineyard – an idyllic former whaling community on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. He somehow found time to break away from a round of partying with his filthy rich Hollywood friends and billionaire political donors on the island to issue the following official statement:

“The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

August 12, 2014

Statement by the President on the Passing of Michael Brown

The death of Michael Brown is heartbreaking, and Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family and his community at this very difficult time. As Attorney General Holder has indicated, the Department of Justice is investigating the situation along with local officials, and they will continue to direct resources to the case as needed. I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding. We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds. Along with our prayers, that’s what Michael and his family, and our broader American community, deserve.”

[Source: whitehouse.gov, “Statement by the President on the Passing of Michael Brown, 12 August 2014]

So, according to the alleged top representative of the black working class of the United States, the first black President in U.S. history, Michael Brown wasn’t murdered by a racist cop; he has merely “passed” into the great beyond, by some undetermined means! It’s as if he died of natural causes! How far removed from the reality of the day-to-day lives of African-Americans is this tinhorn alleged representative of his fellow black citizens, the paragon of that phony “party of the working class”, the Democratic Party!

But should we be at all surprised at Barack Obama’s indifference to the murder of Michael Brown? After all, he has recently approved of the conduct of the insane Zionist leaders of israel and their wanton slaughtering of civilian men women and children in Gaza , witnessed and condemned by the entire civilized world! And this is, after all, the same Democratic Party commander-in-chief who has requested and obtained from his own Justice Department a legal opinion that declares  that it is eminently legal and in conformance with the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights that the President of the United States has the “right” to order the assassination of a U.S. citizen for his spoken and written declarations of support for and friendship with a group labeled as “terrorist” by the United States Government! Why should we be surprised that such a man as Barack Obama would denigrate the outright murder of a U.S. citizen by a police officer as the mere “passing” into the next world of the victim of that police murder? A man who thinks nothing of approving the slaughter of hundreds of women and children by a nation he considers to be led by his personal friends and who routinely authorizes the murder of suspected terrorists – and who brags about it! – and who is principally responsible for the continued torture of 149 people at the US torture center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and who has ordered his “Justice Department” to imprison heroic citizen-whistleblowers who have courageously exposed massive domestic and international spy operations targeting law-abiding citizens of the entire planet can not be expected to possess the capacity to characterize the murder of Michael Brown as anything other than the mere “passing” of Mike Brown into the Great Beyond.

The pro-capitalist bourgeois press has characterized the minor looting in Ferguson as “chaos” that must be vigorously opposed by the very same racist forces of “law and order’ that committed the murder in the first place. We see it as an eminently justified expression of the boundless outrage felt by the citizens of Ferguson at the murder by “their own” police department of a law abiding citizen – and perhaps, hopefully, as the beginning of a civil war of the long abused and downtrodden victims of the United States capitalist class against their intolerable oppression at the hands of the “lawful authorities”!

And by the way: what “right” does the Ferguson, MO police department – or ANY police department in the United States! – have to deny the citizens their Constitutional right to peaceably assemble in the center of their – not the police department’s – town at any time or at any place of the citizens’ choosing?

To the police of Ferguson, and to the members of the US Police State across the nation: ever hear of the Bill of Rights? It’s a fascinating document that you are all allegedly sworn to uphold – not that your oaths are worth a damn, since you are so used to lying in court immediately after swearing to tell the truth “so help me God”.  Still, you should read the Bill of Rights some time – you’ll undoubtedly find it to be shocking.  Example:

“Amendment I

Congress shall make no law […] abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Clue: since Congress can make no law abridging a US citizen’s right to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances, that means that YOU the police can’t pretend that you are “defending the Constitutional rights of citizens” by REFUSING to allow the citizenry the free exercise of their right to assemble whenever and where ever they choose to assemble to protest!

The fact is that the US capitalist class has no use for the millions of poor workers who struggle to survive in America’s hellhole poverty-stricken communities. The capitalists see no reason to spend money feeding, clothing and sheltering what they consider to be a surplus population of workers who the capitalists have no intention of ever hiring in order to squeeze profits from their labor-power. And so, if the poor workers and unemployed will not either join the military and assist the US capitalist class in stealing the raw materials of and murdering the many enemies of the US capitalist class all over the planet for sole purpose of the enrichment of the US capitalist class, or if these excess human beings will not consent to be beaten into submission by the police forces of the nation and submit to being forced to live poverty-stricken, attenuated lives, then the US capitalist class has a “final solution” for them: life in prison or death in the streets at the hands of the racist cops! THIS IS THE FUTURE FOR BLACK, HISPANIC AND POOR WHITE WORKERS IN THE 21ST CENTURY CAPITALIST WORLD!

We say: FUCK THAT! We seek to organize the multi-racial US working class into a revolutionary army to sweep away the US capitalist class and their racist, oppressive, murderous capitalist system once and for all – and to replace it with a civilized, egalitarian socialist workers government, which will guarantee food, clothing, shelter, a first-class education and comprehensive cradle-to-grave health care for everyone! The greed-based system of capitalism, which annually steals trillions of dollars of wealth created by the labor of the working class and places it in the bank accounts of a few hundred billionaires and multi-millionaires has got to go! And their racist cops, courts and heartless, bought-and-paid-for politicians must be swept into the dustbin of history as well! Only then can the Michael Browns of the nation be safe from random murder by the police! Only then can we look forward to a post-racial future of full equality for all working class people: men, women, black, white, immigrant and citizen!

We need to organize revolutionary socialist political parties to achieve this goal.  Workers must organize themselves in self defense against the murderous US police state and fight not for the empty and temporary reforms being begged for by the likes of Democrat Al Sharpton and the sellouts of all the other black members of the racist, pro-capitalist Democratic Party, from Barack Obama on down – all of whom can be counted upon to defend the racist US police state and the the racist, exploitative capitalist system!

We stand in defense of the black working class of Ferguson, Missouri! Workers of Ferguson, Missouri, Unite! Workers of the World, Unite! For a workers socialist revolution in the United States of America and throughout the capitalist world!

Independent Workers Party of Chicago