Racist violence won’t stop workers’ fight back!
Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 10:02AM

BALTIMORE, May 15 —After 37 days of refusing to hold any discussions with members of the Johns Hopkins University sit-in about their powerful anti-racist demands on May 8, president Ronald Daniels used state power to break into locked-down Garland Hall. About 80 armed Baltimore City police forcibly ended the occupation and arrested everyone inside after fire department personnel broke through the Hall’s heavy glass doors.
This sit-in at Hopkins has helped set the foundations for future struggles, proving that the antiracist work we do today counts. It also forces us to define the meaning of victory.
Violence against the working class
One arrestee was a trans woman. She was misgendered, strip-searched, and humiliated. That afternoon, she and the others who had been arrested at the Garland Hall occupation were released and welcomed back with great comradely respect and excitement.
Later that evening, a weekly West Wednesday was held. That week’s rally was right outside Central Booking where those arrested at the sit-in had been detained. Once again West Wednesday was huge, with many participants and supporters from the sit-in enthusiastically attending.
Beating back racism with multiracial unity!
The West Wednesdays have grown as the antiracist struggle has sharpened and taken on a mass character. As CHALLENGE reported in the last issue, right after the conclusion of the powerful 300th West Wednesday on May 1, a racist hiding out in the dark attacked two people by the car belonging to Tawanda Jones–sister of Tyrone West. That racist punched two women in the face as they challenged him about his repulsive ideas, and he then got a taste of his own medicine.
One week later, in the middle of the night of May 8, just a few hours before the large-scale police action against the sit-in, a group of about six people, apparently led by fascists, forcibly pushed their way into the sit-in through a door that wasn’t chained shut at that moment.
This group had a bolt cutter, hoping to cut the chains on various doors and end the lock-down of Garland Hall. One of them violently grabbed a Black woman and tried to throw her down a staircase. Their plan failed when members of the sit-in, despite an injury, were able to get the racists out of the building. Therefore, for West Wednesday on the evening of that same day, a security plan was quickly developed,to ensure the safety of the rally.
At the rally, everyone marched around the corner to face the jail, and chanted very loudly, in massive unison, to support not only the jail’s general population, but also one of the inmates in particular: Keith Davis Jr. He was the first person shot by police, subsequent to the police killing of Freddie Gray. Davis has since been falsely accused of murder, and incarcerated in that prison while awaiting his fifth trial, scheduled for July. Rally participants were moved to see that prisoners were holding themselves up above the cell floors, keen to see and hear the rally. One of the prisoners that cheered the rally from his cell was Keith Davis himself!
Racists get scared;masses mobilize
At today’s West Wednesday, the racists made their presence felt, circling with their cars and sometimes parking near the rally. One of them was driven by killer cop Nicholas Chapman, one of the two animals who initiated the murderous attack on Tyrone West in July of 2013. Perhaps his goal was intimidation. Or perhaps he was scoping out the sizeable rally and starting to seriously worry that West Wednesday, along with additional elements of this struggle, is going to succeed in getting some accountability, and he may well be facing firing, and a cell block.
By the time this article is published, participants from the sit-in will have had a meeting with Hopkins president, to push for complete amnesty and, even more importantly, to continue pushing hard for the three demands: no private armed police force; no contracts with ICE; and justice for Tyrone West. Hopkins alumni, concerned academics, students, and community members are being mobilized in support. In addition, Hopkins students are being urged to continue attending the West Wednesday rallies.
The meaning of victory
There was some sense of defeat that the Hopkins sit-in had been forcibly ended without yet winning any of its three important demands.
      A member of Progressive Labor Party, one of the speakers at the May 8th rally, pointed out that the sit-in actually succeeded, very effectively, at popularizing an understanding of the issues, and the need to vigorously and boldly fight racism.
The speaker pointed to a link between this struggle and early opposition to the Vietnam War. The speaker said that when the Vietnam War began, antiwar students and workers were spat upon and yelled at. Over the next seven years of leafleting, teach-ins and struggle, as well the masses witnessing the mostrosity and devastation of the war in the evening news, most workers in the U.S. grew to become opponents of the war.
Large numbers of workers, students and soldiers came to understand that this war, which killed about two million Vietnamese and 58,000 U.S. soldiers, disproportionately Black, was rooted in the dynamics of imperialism — a system that PLP continues to fight worldwide to replace with a communist, sisterly and brotherly egalitarian world.
When U.S. capitalists suddenly expanded that war by invading neighboring Cambodia, based upon the growth of political consciousness over seven years, half the colleges in the U.S. went on strike, virtually overnight.
Similarly, said the Party speaker, the sit-in at Hopkins, through its boldness and its consciousness raising, has helped lay the groundwork for larger struggles in the future, exclaiming to everyone at the rally “What you have done, counts!”

Article originally appeared on The Revolutionary Communist Progressive Labor Party (http://www.plp.org/).
See website for complete article licensing information.