The Latest From The Partisan Defense Committee-Free The Class-War Prisoners-Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Free Leonard Peltier, Free Lynne Stewart And Her Co-Workers-Free The Remaining Ohio 7 Prisoners!Oakland Cops Attack Occupy Protesters, Again (January, 28, 2012)
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Reposted from the American Left History blog, dated December 1, 2010.
I like to think of myself as a fervent supporter of the Partisan Defense Committee, an organization committed to social and political defense cases and causes in the interests of the working class and, at this time of the year, to raising funds to support the class-war prisoners’ stipend program. Normally I do not need any prompting in the matter. This year, however, in light of the addition of Attorney Lynne Stewart (yes, I know, she has been disbarred but that does not make her less of a people’s attorney in my eyes) to the stipend program, I read the 25th Anniversary Appeal article in Workers Vanguard No. 969 where I was startled to note how many of the names, organizations, and political philosophies mentioned there hark back to my own radical coming of age, and the need for class struggle defense in the late 1960s (although I may not have used that exact term at the time).
That recognition included names like black liberation fighter George Jackson, present class-war prisoner Hugo Pinell’s San Quentin Six comrade; the Black Panthers, as represented here by two of the Omaha Three (Poindexter and wa Langa), in their better days and in the days when we needed, desperately needed, to fight for their defense in places from Oakland to New Haven; the struggle, the fierce struggle, against the death penalty as represented in Mumia’s case today; the Ohio 7 and the Weather Underground who, rightly or wrongly, were committed to building a second front against American imperialism, and who most of the left, the respectable left, abandoned; and, of course, Leonard Peltier and the Native American struggles from Pine Ridge to the Southwest. It has been a long time and victories few. I could go on but you get the point.
That point also includes the hard fact that we have paid a high price, a very high price, for not winning back in the late 1960s and early 1970s when we last had this capitalist imperialist society on the ropes. Maybe it was political immaturity, maybe it was cranky theory, maybe it was elitism, hell, maybe it was just old-fashioned hubris but we let them off the hook. And have had to fight forty years of rear-guard “culture wars” since just to keep from falling further behind.
And the class-war prisoners, our class-war prisoners, have had to face their “justice” and their prisons. That lesson should be etched in the memory of every pro-working class militant today. And this, as well, as a quick glance at the news these days should make every liberation fighter realize; the difference between being on one side of that prison wall and the other is a very close thing when the bourgeois decides to pull the hammer down. The support of class-war prisoners is thus not charity, as International Labor Defense founder James P. Cannon noted back in the 1920s, but a duty of those fighters outside the walls. Today I do my duty, and gladly.
Oakland Cops Attack Occupy Protesters, Again
JANUARY 30—Two days ago, the Oakland Police Department (OPD)—aided by 14 other police agencies—turned downtown streets into a virtual war zone, firing tear gas, smoke bombs, flash-bang grenades and “less lethal” beanbag and rubber bullets at Occupy Oakland demonstrators. The protesters had assembled to take over an abandoned building and turn it into a neighborhood community center. By the end of the night, the cops, with batons swinging, had trapped hundreds of protesters outside a downtown YMCA. In total, some 400 people were arrested, many for “failure to disperse,” even as the trapped demonstrators were chanting, “Let us leave!” A 19-year-old woman was hospitalized with internal bleeding after being beaten by the cops. Free the protesters! Drop all the charges!
At a press conference the next day, Democratic mayor Jean Quan denounced the protesters as “violent” while City Council member Ignacio De La Fuente accused them of engaging in “domestic terrorism.” Coming in the wake of Obama’s National Defense Authorization Act, which enshrines into law the indefinite detention of American citizens, this is a deadly serious charge.
It is the OPD that terrorizes the streets of Oakland, attacking protesters, occupying the ghettos and gunning down blacks and other minorities with impunity. The brutality of the OPD is so notorious that it is being threatened with federal receivership. This stems from the nearly decade-old settlement of the infamous Oakland “Riders” case, where a murderous gang of cops (named after the KKK nightriders) was unleashed on the West Oakland ghetto as part of the racist “war on drugs.”
Such federal interventions are not about “justice”; they are a con game designed to clean up the image of the police. As a Bay Area Spartacus Youth Club comrade underlined at an October 29 Occupy Oakland rally held to protest the police attack that left Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen fighting for his life (see WV No. 990, 11 November 2011): “Along with the courts, prisons and military, the cops make up the armed fist of the state, which defends the property and profits of the capitalist ruling class. Cops are not workers, they are strikebreakers. They shot Oscar Grant down in cold blood. Cops are not potential allies, they are our enemy.”
Addressing the populist politics of the Occupy movement, our comrade continued:
“The slogan ‘We are the 99 percent’ actually blurs the class line and disguises the class nature of the capitalist state and all its political parties....
“The current economic crisis has sparked the mass protests. But to actually end exploitation and oppression, you have to do something fundamentally different. We are fighting to build a multiracial revolutionary workers party that will lead the workers in smashing the capitalist state, expropriating the banks and corporations and building a socialist world in which those who labor rule.”
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(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 995, 3 February 2012)
Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.