Autoworkers’ rebellion shakes India

first_imgIt should be remembered that auto mogul Henry Ford employed 3,000 gangsters at his Rouge plant outside Detroit to try to stop workers from joining the United Auto Workers. But company violence couldn’t stop the union drive at Ford, and it won’t stop the workers in India.Most recently, Indian autoworkers at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant rebelled on July 18 against company goons and police. The huge factory, located 20 miles south of Delhi, India, can produce 550,000 cars per year.The rebellion was sparked by a supervisor who abused and insulted a Dalit worker — whose caste used to be known as “the untouchables” — and then the worker protested. Instead of taking any action against the supervisor and without any investigation, company managers suspended the worker.The Maruti Suzuki Workers Union issued a statement on July 19 in which its president, Ram Meher, asserted that when workers and union representatives were negotiating with management about this suspension, the company called in “hundreds of bouncers on its payroll to attack the workers. … The gates were closed by the security on behest of the management and the bouncers brutally attacked the workers with sharp weapons and arms.” (NDTV.com)The union official explained further: “They [the bouncers], joined by some of the managerial staff and police later, beat up a number of workers, who have had to be hospitalised with serious injuries. The bouncers … also destroyed company property and set fire to a portion of the factory. The gates were later opened to oust the workers and enforce a lockout by the company.”Although the company’s officials are blaming the workers and denying any were injured, it is clear that the workers were defending themselves. Many were injured.Instead of rounding up the bouncers, India’s capitalist government arrested 91 workers on July 18 for their alleged involvement in the events that day. Among them was Yogesh Kumar, the local union’s organizing secretary. Police are hunting down all 3,000 workers in its “murder investigation,” blaming them for the death of the “human relations” boss who died in the fire that was set by the company thugs.The company has now declared a lockout of the workers at the Manesar plant.The labor movement in the U.S. must protest this anti-union witch hunt, and show solidarity with fellow union members in India.Autoworkers produce 94 cars an hourConditions in the Manesar plant are intolerable. A car rolls off the assembly line every 38 seconds. That’s 94 cars per hour. Arriving a second late to punch in means a worker gets a pay cut. Returning even a minute late from the two allowed breaks results in losing a half-day’s pay.These workers have fought hard for a union. They had to go on three strikes last year, lasting a total of 64 days, just to get union recognition.Regular workers get 13,000 rupees per month, which is worth $236. But 40 percent of the workers are temporary “contract” workers who get just 5,000 rupees or $91 monthly.This superexploitation resulted in Maruti Suzuki getting $60,000 in profit off each of its workers. This outfit makes 45 percent of India’s cars and is majority owned by Suzuki Motor Corporation of Japan. Most of the rest is owned by Indian financial institutions.However, it isn’t just Japanese and Indian capital that are exploiting these workers. Germany’s Volkswagen owns 20 percent of Suzuki, a stake that used to be owned by General Motors.The struggle at the Maruti Suzuki plant “has sent shock waves through corporate boardrooms … at home and abroad,” said R. V. Kanoria, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. (Financial Times, July 22)Moreover, it must be resonating through India’s 1.2 billion people, over one-sixth of humanity.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Solidarity Day 6 in Boston: Hundreds demand ‘Drop the charges’ in anti-union frame-up

first_imgAfter two charges were dropped at hearing, union militant Stevan Kirschbaum speaks to crowd of Boston bus drivers and other supporters.WW photo: Brenda RyanDorchester, Mass. — It was the second pre-trial hearing for Stevan Kirschbaum, a founder of Steelworkers Union Local 8751 of Boston’s school bus drivers and chair of the union’s Grievance Committee.As with the first court hearing in this saga of company repression versus union militancy, his fellow drivers, other unionists and supporters from the community once again packed the courtroom here on Oct. 6. Some 300 turned out to show they completely reject the bonus charges filed against their brother by the multi-billion-dollar transnational Veolia Corp., which holds the contract to run Boston’s school buses and has been trying to undermine their union.Team Solidarity, the voice of the militant umbrella group called United School Bus Union Workers, which has brought together bus workers from several cities in the greater Boston area, had called for packing the court on this Solidarity Day 6 to demand that the anti-union, frame-up charges against Kirschbaum be dropped.From left to right: Georgia Scott, Monica Moorehead and Lela Roseboro. Team Solidarity leaders Scott and Roseboro and WW managing editor Moorehead spoke at the Oct. 6 Dorchester rally.WW photo: Brenda RyanThe call for solidarity was heeded. The overflow crowd, mainly school bus drivers who came originally from Haiti and Cape Verde, packed the courtroom, including sitting on the floor, and also held a picketline outside the courthouse in Dorchester, Mass.Kirschbaum had been hit by Boston police with four bogus felony charges in early July. The charges were issued after a June 30 rally and march in the school bus yards demanding that Kirschbaum, along with three other union leaders — Andre Francois, Garry Murchison and Steve Gillis — be reinstated to their jobs as drivers following their illegal firing by the France-based Veolia conglomerate last November. Veolia is notorious for union-busting and privatizing tactics, here and worldwide.Inside the courtroom, the Veolia/Boston police frame-up began to unravel. The court dismissed two of the felonies: breaking and entering and malicious destruction of property. People’s lawyers Barry Wilson and John Pavlos provided a militant and defiant defense, pounding away at the lies by the state and Veolia, revealing them to be fabrications and an outrageous frame-up.Not a shred of credible evidence was provided by the prosecution. Veolia supplied fraudulent and falsified documents. Veolia and the state once again tried — but failed — to get a court order barring Kirschbaum from the bus yards. It was an obvious effort to deny the membership their representation rights, since Kirschbaum hears and acts on many grievances by the workers.Attorneys Wilson and Pavlos argued expertly for the dismissal of all the charges. The judge refused their request, however, and scheduled the trial on the two remaining charges for Nov. 24. The demonstrators then marched from the courtroom and held a fiery occupation, picket and rally in front of the court.As the hated union-buster and general manager of Veolia, Alex Roman, and his assistant manager left the court, they got a taste of justified anger as the workers and their supporters booed Roman and chanted “Union!”The workers vowed to continue the struggle until all the charges are dropped, the four illegally fired union leaders are reinstated, and a just contract is won.“Pack the court house Nov. 24!” Rehire the 4 illegally fired USW 8751 leaders! Contract Justice NOW! For more info go to http://bostonschoolbus5.org/ and to donate to support the 4 fired leaders visit http://www.youcaring.com/other/support-the-fired-8751-leaders-drop-the-bogus-charges-/214181″FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Fired GM workers—four years in tent encampment, it’s time for justice

Aug. 1 marked the four-year anniversary of the tent encampment outside the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia, by Asotrecol, the Association of Injured Workers and Ex-workers of GM Colmotores. Asotrecol began the occupation to protest the work practices at General Motors’ Colombian assembly plant. At that time, the U.S. government was GM’s largest stockholder and creditor under the terms of the 2009 bankruptcy bailout.July 31 solidarity protest in front of GM world headquarters, Detroit.WW photo: Martha GrevattIn Colombia, GM hires people when they are young and strong, makes them sign a waiver on their right to join the plant union, and then makes them work long hours under brutal conditions that leave them with debilitating injuries. Asotrecol members are fired after suffering such injuries, following which their medical documentation is falsified to show their injuries as non work-related, making them ineligible for workers’ compensation.In 2012, Asotrecol members conducted a hunger strike, sewing their lips shut to draw attention to their plight. This led to mediation with GM, but talks broke down when Asotrecol refused to accept a paltry sum to settle their grievances. Since then, GM has refused to negotiate with Asotrecol.The U.S. Embassy, which is supposed to monitor labor rights violations under the Labor Action Plan of the U.S.-Colombia free trade agreement, has been no help. When Asotrecol members chained themselves to the embassy building in protest, they were brutally beaten by embassy police. Asotrecol President Jorge Parra was detained and member Manuel Ospina suffered a fractured kneecap.These heroic workers have persevered through tremendous hardship: living in tents, seeing their children go without and facing foreclosure. Their struggle has attracted worldwide support, including from Detroit activists who demonstrated July 31 outside GM world headquarters. In Colombia, labor delegations visit the encampment regularly. Injured oil workers, fired under similar circumstances, joined the encampment in February.Asotrecol’s struggle has put pressure on GM; now workers injured in the plant are holding onto their jobs.Asotrecol also found an ally in “Víctimas de Banqueros” [Victims of Bankers], which defends homeowners from eviction. Carlos Trujillo was able to stave off foreclosure almost four years. In May, Víctimas successfully blocked an eviction. His lender, Colpatria, committed mortgage fraud by illegally charging an exorbitant interest rate. In a sneak attack on June 24, with no notice and no chance for Víctimas to mobilize, riot cops arrived at the house. They evicted the family and detained Carlos overnight.Now injured workers are facing an ominous threat from the Colombian government. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is soon expected to issue an anti-labor decree, giving the fired GM workers’ struggle a new significance. The decree allows employers to lawfully fire workers who are injured on the job, with a maximum six months’ salary severance payment. This will gut the legal rights of injured workers who won’t be able to pass physical exams for other employment and will, therefore, be left destitute.This will “legalize” the illegal treatment of injured workers by GM, Coca-Cola, and foreign oil and mining interests.This is one of many reasons union supporters are joining Asotrecol in the tents in an anniversary solidarity action on Aug. 3.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this read more

Battle for Port Covington: Gentrifiers vs. workers, oppressed

first_imgOnce again, as happened with the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, real estate moguls and developers are pressing for millions of dollars of Baltimore residents’ money in order to construct a white-privilege community. Meanwhile, impoverished East and West Baltimore continue to suffer from decay and disenfranchisement.Especially after last April’s uprising against the police murder of Freddie Gray, this is both an insult to his memory and a slap in the face to Baltimore’s Black community.Kevin Plank, the multibillionaire owner of Under Armour, a sportswear conglomerate, and his parent real estate company, Sagamore Development, have asked the city to underwrite municipal bonds in order to build and develop a “mini-city” enclave of waterfront parks plus new offices for Under Armour, middle- to upper-class housing, and other industries owned by Plank. This $600 million in tax increment financing, which means “payment in lieu of taxes,” from the city is the largest such request in U.S. history.Unfortunately, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the majority of the City Council have endorsed this project, which will continue the legacy of segregation and blight while effectively denying access to these areas for the oppressed. It will criminalize their very presence, as has happened in Harbor Place, another municipal brainchild that was supposed to “redevelop” the city and bring jobs for the unemployed. Instead, it resulted in minimum-wage jobs along with the development of more condos and residential units for the wealthy.Most community leaders have called this nothing but corporate welfare, comparable to the building, 50 years ago, of the Charles Center, which promised to bring a thriving downtown, surrounded by robust affordable housing and parks. However, that dream became a nightmare of increased unemployment, closed businesses, and lack of accessibility or affordability for Black people.The Maryland American Civil Liberties Union and Public Justice Center say the following in their “Comments on the Port Covington Master Plan”: “We should show that Baltimore has learned a hard lesson: that the existence of ‘two Baltimores’ — one empowered, wealthy and thriving, the other still redlined and marginalized — is no longer sustainable. … As it stands now, the Port Covington Master Plan is a prime example of structural inequality on a massive scale — and of the same old waterfront-focused economic development approach that hasn’t worked to reverse Baltimore’s decline, and will contribute in fact to the disinvestment in other neighborhoods. While ‘big and bold,’ this vision is decidedly limited to the old school of trickle-down economic development.”By far the most pressing issue in this whole city-financed project is the fight for affordable housing for all working people and the oppressed. The project’s many opponents include the ACLU; Maryland Working Families; the People’s Power Assembly; the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; UNITE HERE Local 7; City Advocates for the Homeless; and the Baltimore Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by the Rev. C.D. Witherspoon.At a tense City Hall meeting of more than 100 people on July 27, advocates for the poor and oppressed were vocal in their condemnation of the “deal” between the city and these capitalist parasites. Jon Laria, a spokesperson for Sagamore, arrogantly asserted that “I am not going to sit here — and I am not going to ask Sagamore to sit here — if there is booing and jeering back and forth.”Laria and his gang of lawyers and public relations people, as well as Sagamore’s security goons, were reacting to a tidal wave of harsh criticism from the crowd. One person summed it up by yelling, “A poor Black city supporting kayak and boat slips!?” Laria responded, “I am fairly sure that African Americans kayak too.” Rev. C.D. Witherspoon of the SCLC then shouted in response to this racist and paternalistic comment, “Working-class people in the city will never benefit from these amenities. This is for rich white people! You want it, pay for it yourself!”City Council President Jack Young gave his wholehearted support to this giveaway. Sharon Black, who is running an independent socialist campaign, is challenging Young for the City Council president’s seat. She and Andre Powell, a write-in candidate for mayor, have been vocal as well as active in denouncing the city government’s giveaways to big business interests.An article in the Baltimore Sun exposed Plank’s “promise” that affordable housing units will be built: “Critics contend the affordable housing agreement is too weak. It requires 10 percent of Port Covington’s affordable housing units be built for people who make less than $26,000, but it contains what the critics call a ‘loophole’ that allows the developer to pay money into an exclusionary housing fund instead of building the units. The developers do not have to build the housing for the poor unless they receive federal low-income housing credits.” (Sept. 19)Baltimore city schools, some of which have already been closed, will be further victimized by this robbery. It will divert $315 million of state aid from the school system until the bonds are repaid. There is basically no enforcement code in Sagamore’s promises.It’s all just another example of “capitalism at a dead end.”FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Release date set for Rev. Pinkney

first_imgRev. Edward PinkneyThe Michigan Board of Parole has announced that political prisoner the Rev. Edward Pinkney will be released on June 13. This is exactly two and a half years from the date of his sentencing and the minimum time in the two-and-a-half-to-10-year sentence of this 68-year-old African-American activist.Rev. Pinkney had been a target for many years in the small town of Benton Harbor in western Michigan. He led protests against police brutality and misconduct. He exposed Whirlpool Corp., headquartered in Benton Harbor, for racism in hiring and layoffs. The giveaway of public park lands for a fancy private golf course was also a target of Rev. Pinkney’s organizing. Politicians who collaborated in these injustices found Rev. Pinkney in the streets campaigning for their recall.In 2013, Rev. Pinkney led a petition campaign to recall then-Mayor James Hightower. Although more than enough petition signatures were turned in, the recall was never held. Berrien County’s prosecutor decided that the dates on several of the petitions had been altered and a judge threw out the entire recall effort.Five felony charges of forgery were then brought against Rev. Pinkney, alleging that he had altered the petition dates, although absolutely no evidence implicated him — no confession, no witnesses and no forensic evidence!A militarized SWAT team surrounded his home with weapons drawn in April 2014. Fortunately, Rev. Pinkney and his spouse, Dorothy Pinkney, were out to dinner and were warned away by neighbors. Many believe that, had he been home, he would have been killed. Later tried by a white prosecutor, a white judge and an all-white jury, he was found guilty.Rev. Pinkney was transferred to different prisons across Michigan. During his stay in remote Marquette Branch Prison, 500 miles from family and friends, a national campaign was organized by his supporters, who exposed that racist prison guards had targeted him with threats of injury and death.State high court responds to appealIn August last year, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld Rev. Pinkney’s conviction in a bizarre opinion that based itself on the idea that Pinkney must be guilty because he had the most animosity to Mayor Hightower, the recall’s target. That decision was immediately appealed by Tim Holloway, Rev. Pinkney’s attorney.With less than one month left to serve of Rev. Pinkney’s sentence, the Michigan Supreme Court has asked for further briefs to be filed. In an order dated May 17, the court requested more extensive written arguments on two points raised on appeal. One issue is “whether the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted evidence … that related to the defendant’s political and community activities other than the mayoral recall effort for the purpose of showing the defendant’s motive to commit the instant crimes.”The other issue involves whether a Michigan election law should be interpreted to include any person or just the election officials to whom the law clearly applies. This request for further briefs does not insure that Rev. Pinkney’s appeal will actually be heard, as the Michigan Supreme Court refuses to hear the vast majority of cases submitted to it. Nevertheless, Holloway wrote that the court order “definitely is a step in the right direction.”Rev. Pinkney is eager to walk out of the prison doors on June 13 and resume his political activities. He especially wants to draw attention to the miserable and dangerous conditions inside the prisons and lend support to fellow inmates who gave him so much backing and protection while he was behind bars.Supporters in southeast Michigan are preparing for a July 8 mass meeting in Detroit to welcome home this heroic community leader.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

When racism does not discriminate

first_imgIt is a universally undisputed fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James is considered the greatest basketball player active today. Among his many unprecedented honors, he has won the National Basketball Association’s regular season Most Valuable Player award four times. A three-time NBA champion, James has won three MVP Finals awards since he entered the NBA in 2003 as the number one draft pick when he was only 18 years old. James is currently playing in his eighth consecutive NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, an NBA all-time record.James, an African American, was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, by a single mother. His brilliant basketball talent has made him a multimillionaire and a global icon, especially with the help of social media. Now 32 and the father of two sons and a daughter, James has also been outspoken when it comes to racism. He and his teammates wore hoodies in solidarity with Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Black teenager murdered in 2012 by a racist vigilante. This heinous crime helped to spark the international Black Lives Matter movement.James wore an “I can’t breathe” practice shirt following the murder of Eric Garner, a Black man choked to death by white New York police officers in July 2014 — one month before 18-year-old Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.LeBron James’s celebrity, however, could not stop him and his family from ­recently experiencing a racist attack. On May 31, the racist N-word epithet was scrawled on a gate outside his home in the exclusive Brentwood section of Los Angeles. As of early June, no one had been brought in for questioning, much less arrested.In response to this incident, James stated at a news conference in Oakland, Calif., on May 31, a day before game one of the NBA Finals: “No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being Black in America is tough. And we’ve got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African Americans until we feel equal in America.” (usnews.com, May 31)How prophetic his statement was. Considering that just one day before the racist slur was discovered, on May 30, five police officers were fired for the slaughter of two young Black people, Marquintan Sandlin and Kisha Michael, who had been fatally shot multiple times while unconscious in a car. This incident took place in Inglewood, also part of Los Angeles County, on Feb. 16 of last year. Protests led by the families of the victims and the community demanded more transparency from the police about what led to the incident where five officers shot into the car at least 20 times. Along with this demand should be the bigger question: Why weren’t these officers arrested and charged with murder?As most Black Lives Matter activists know all too well, when killer cops are either fired or put on a desk job, it reeks of another coverup in the ongoing racist police war on Black and Brown people.So what is the lesson to learn from these two incidents?Laws under capitalism protect the police from any kind of real justice, unless there is a powerful movement to bring pressure from below. And it does not matter whether the victim is as well known as LeBron James or not known previously to the public, like Marquintan Sandlin, Kisha Michael, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd and countless others. No person of color is immune from the stain of racism, which can only be thoroughly washed away by a socialist transformation of society.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

The Movement for Black Lives calls for Black, Brown, Indigenous solidarity

first_imgThe following statement was issued by The Movement for Black Lives at policy.m4bl.org.The Movement for Black Lives joins MiJente and the national call to shut down U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions, abolish ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and resist a fascist future where families are caged.We understand that this moment represents the continued legacy of detaining, abusing, and separating Black, Brown and Indigenous people. This is an intentional legacy, bolstered by policies and safeguarded by police, judges, and elected officials meant to harm and destroy our communities and our commitment to a different and just world. Further, we are also clear that it is the violent and oppressive role of the United States abroad, and specifically in Central America, that has displaced many of these families and led them to this country seeking safety.As a movement that is pro-Black, pro-woman, pro-LGBTQ, pro-migrant and pro-family, we are appalled by this Administration’s actions. Children and their families belong in safe places, not detention camps. The internment of children at the border pushes all of us to call into question the state apparatus, and its continued operation as a detriment to the lives of Black, Brown and Indigenous people across the world.As a member of The Majority, a coalition representing movements and organizations across the country, we are united in calling for all of our communities to come to together to protect and defend each other. Whether it is the murdering of Black children by police like Antwon Rose in Pittsburgh or the caging of children and families at the border, it is more clear than ever that freedom will come as a product of our collective work.“We must love each other and support each other” is more than a chant — it is a mandate for how we must show up in these times. We are freedom fighters who stand on the shoulders of our Ancestors and side by side with our comrades as we fight for a world in which our collective liberation is realized; join us.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Food Not Bombs Solidarity vs. COVID-19

first_imgFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this “Mutual aid” had become a buzzword on many lips when people began to realize, despite the steady stream of government lies, that COVID-19 was a real threat. With over 22 million U.S. workers already laid off, many are worried about meeting basic needs for food. Workers World Philadelphia spoke with Cindy Lou, an organizer with Food Not Bombs Solidarity, about how they are addressing this crisis. The organization has an established and respected reputation for providing food for Philadelphia activists’ events and weekly community food distributions. The coronavirus has not stopped their work. Workers World:  Can you tell us something about your organization?Cindy Lou:  The Food Not Bombs organization has been doing mutual aid for 40 years. There are four chapters of FNB in Philadelphia: West Philly FNB, North Philly FNB, South Philly FNB and FNB Solidarity, which I am a member of.Serving after April 30, 2018, court action to free Mumia.                                              Photo: Joe PietteUnlike a lot of other organizations which had to scramble to set up systems, we already had volunteers, transportation, supply chains and locations in place. All that was needed was to set it in motion!WW:  How does your operation function? What services do you provide?CL:  Usually we cook and serve weekly public meals.  But we decided that bags of prepared and canned food would be much safer. We got in touch with a supplier and arranged a drop-off of 600 pounds of food per week.Many of our members are confined to their homes, so we set up a mask-making group. A few of those masks go into every bag. We also made hundreds of bottles of bleach cleaner/disinfectant. One spray bottle went into each bag. We had set up fundraising apps, which we never had to use before, that enabled us to buy hundreds of bottles of liquid hand soap. Each bag gets a bottle.Lastly, as we learned from the MOVE organization, we always print truthful information and put it in the bag. Printing is another activity people can do from home.We also work in partnership with Philly IWW [Industrial Workers of the World], Philly Trans March, Socialist Rifle Association, SHARE Food Program, Philly REAL [Racial, Economic and Legal] Justice, For the People and Revolutionary Abolitionists Movement.WW:  Since we have enjoyed food provided by FNB Solidarity, it is clear this must involve some in-person contact. How does this work with COVID-19 restrictions?CL:  As we assemble these bags, working outdoors when possible, we try to practice social distancing and use liberal amounts of the hand sanitizer we made. We always wear masks and gloves.Once a week, six volunteers go to a public area, usually a busy transportation hub, set up a table, sanitize it and wipe it down. We then give out 80 bags to community members who pass by. Our volunteers are a mix of people from all walks of life — Black, white, Asian, a wheelchair user, young people, elders and trans.WW:  Besides food, what other mutual aid do you provide?CL:  By forming partnerships with many other groups, we had access to surgical masks. We bought hundreds, and volunteers gave these to hospitals, a public health clinic and even workers at an Amazon store. While driving around the city, we distributed masks to UPS, FedEx, Uber, taxi and post office drivers, sanitation workers and supermarket cashiers, if they needed them.Since many money-grubbing employers do not support the workers, we are supporting them. One member, who has stored the masks we purchased, drops them from their apartment window to our delivery people out front.We are also continuing to support four shelters a week with donations from a local grocery store. In this way, we reach out to those people whom society has marginalized: trans people, sex workers, houseless people, drug users and people in recovery from substance abuse.Our chapter has an incarcerated contingent which we support as best as we can, both monetarily and legally. We are worried and outraged that the mayor of Philadelphia and the governor of Pennsylvania refuse to #LetOurPeopleGo and decarcerate the prisons and jails during this COVID-19 crisis.We don’t know how long this will last. We don’t know if it’ll get better or worse. Whatever happens, we will adapt, and we will be there.last_img read more

Toppling a mass murderer

first_imgIt seems that in Britain, similar to here in the U.S., the ruling class has made sure to sing the praises of those who have committed the worst crimes against humanity in their “service” to the empire.Crowd downs statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, England.And, as here, the truth about them is finally seeing the light of day.One such figure was Edward Colston, a wealthy English merchant and Member of Parliament who died in 1681. For years a statue paying tribute to Colston as a great “philanthropist” looked out over the harbor at Bristol on the English Channel.How did Colston amass enough wealth to give a little away and become a “philanthropist”?Businessman Colston was head of the Royal African Company. This very profitable venture shipped about 100,000 captured women and men from West Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean.About 20,000 of them, stuffed into stinking holds aboard ship, died during the voyages of disease and dehydration. Their bodies, branded on the chest with the company’s initials, RAC, were unceremoniously thrown into the ocean.Those who survived the sea voyage were then sold into slavery, mostly in the southern part of what has become the United States, but was at that time an English colony.Colston’s wealth, dripping with the blood and suffering of so many victims, went on to pay for his seat as a Tory member of Parliament and change his image from mass murderer to benevolent businessman. Hence the statue.Until this June 7, when it was toppled off its base and rolled into the water by an enthusiastic and angry crowd shouting, “Black Lives Matter!”How many more statues are there that need to be toppled in imperialist countries that to this very day oppress and exploit hundreds of millions of people all over the world?Even more to the point, how soon will these symbolic acts be followed by the kind of mass movement that can actually topple the profit-driven economic system that produces the Edward Colstons of today?FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Black Trans Lives Matter! CeCe McDonald: the right to self-defense

first_imgThis is the first part of an article published Dec. 7, 2012, in Workers World in the series of articles by Leslie Feinberg on the local, U.S. and international campaign to “Free CeCe!” Trans woman McDonald was charged with murder for defending herself and friends when attacked by a white supremacist mob in 2011 in Minneapolis. In June 2012, Feinberg committed civil disobedience and was arrested for spray-painting “Free CeCe!” on the walls and pillars of the Hennepin County Courthouse where McDonald was to be sentenced. Sent to prison, CeCe McDonald served a much reduced penalty because of the powerful campaign for her freedom. She was finally freed on Jan. 13, 2014.CeCe McDonald and Leslie Feinberg, Hennepin County jail, Minneapolis, May 1, 2012.    WW Photo: Leslie FeinbergAt certain moments in history, the struggle of individuals to survive and organize against fascist attacks, police and prison terror sharply reveals the societal relationship of forces — between oppressor and oppressed, exploiter and exploited. These battles inspire unity and action that help shape and define political eras — like the demands to free the Scottsboro Brothers, Lolita Lebron, Leonard Peltier, George Jackson, Joann Little, Mumia Abu-Jamal.The struggle to “Free CeCe!” is sparking a growing, broad united front against white supremacy and antitrans violence. CeCe McDonald’s courage and consciousness, and the tireless and tenacious solidarity work by supporters in Minneapolis and the region — led by those who are oppressed — has widened and deepened the demand to “Free CeCe!” in cities across the U.S. and around the world.Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. and internationally now know more facts about the attack on CeCe McDonald than the judge and prosecutor allowed a jury to know during her trial.CeCe McDonald and her friends were assaulted in Minneapolis on June 5, 2011, by a group that announced its ideology as racist and fascist in words and action. The attackers shouted white-supremacist Klan language, transmisogynist epithets and a slur against same-sex love.CeCe replied that “her crew would not tolerate hate speech.”One of the attackers then assaulted CeCe McDonald with a weapon — smashing her in the face with a bar glass that deeply punctured her cheek.In the fight that ensued, one of the attackers died. He had a swastika tattoo.CeCe McDonald was the only person arrested by the police that night. McDonald has been punished ever since as the “aggressor” for defending her life and the lives of her friends — and surviving. Police, sheriffs, jailers, prosecutor, judge and prison administration have arrested her, locked her up and held her in solitary confinement for long periods.Stop the war on trans women of color!FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more