As the Republican and Democratic Party convention circuses play out in the U.S., the recent massacre in South Africa (see page 8) shows the electoral system’s utter antagonism to the working class. On August 16, black and white police officers of the “freely elected” ANC (African National Congress) government shot dead 34 black miners striking at the Marikana platinum mine. “In the majority of cases, the bullet exited the body through the chest, suggesting the men were shot in the back while running away” (Independent, London, 8/30/12). To make matters worse, ANC regime prosecutors have charged 270 survivors of the massacre with murder, even though cops did the shooting. This has been withdrawn “provisonally” due to mass outrage.
CHICAGO, September 3 — At least 10,000 Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) members and supporters attended a Labor Day rally here, followed by a march around City Hall and to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) offices. Chanting, “the workers, united, will never be divided” and “we’re going to beat back the bosses’ attack.” Participants were enthusiastic and feeling their power. On August 30th, CTU’s House of Delegates had voted unanimously to strike on September 10. Speaker after speaker rose to report members at their schools were ready to strike. This developed after months of CPS insults and attacks on students and educators, followed by rallies, marches, informational pickets and outreach to parents and community by CTU members.
WASHINGTON, DC, August 27 — Workers and students organized by the Labor Committee of Occupy DC and PLP members targeted the embassy of South Africa, rallying to protest the murderous attack by the ANC-led government on the wildcatting platinum mine workers (see page 2,8). Thousands of workers and students saw our signs and heard our speeches and chants during rush hour. The Labor Committee passed out 500 leaflets while PL’ers distributed a Party leaflet and CHALLENGE.
BROOKLYN, NY, August 25 — “Racist cops you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide” rang out as demonstrators chanted throughout the summer in front of the 67th police precinct.
New York City’s cops, courts and media hoped to cover up the racist murder of Shantel Davis, a 23-year-old unarmed black woman who, on June 14, black NYPD Detective Phillip Atkins falsely accused of having a criminal record. For months protestors have fought back, forcing New York’s rulers to respond.
Shantel’s family and supporters, including many organized by PLP, have defied the cops, marching in the streets to that precinct without a permit, a change from earlier legal sidewalk marches.
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA — On July 21, the Anaheim police (APD) executed Manuel Diaz on Anna Drive. The next day they killed Joel Avecado. These deaths are a heavy loss for their families, friends and communities. The Anaheim police have killed at least eight young workers this year.
Every day, kkkops are killing and brutalizing young workers. Black, Latino and immigrant are the most attacked. Asian youth in Orange County’s Westminster, Filipinos in Los Angeles, and young white workers are also the targets of the bosses’ police.
The state of Illinois owes $83 billion to the pension fund of state university workers and teachers, state gov’t workers, and suburban and downstate public school teachers. The state wants to reduce its obligation to the thousands of workers who paid into the fund, and who either plan to retire or who now depend on their pension to survive. These workers don’t receive social security, and unlike high-ranking retired state officials, their pensions are barely enough to live on.
At a rally organized to protest the proposed cuts, a retired teacher spoke of how she depends on her $28,000/yr pension after teaching for 30 years. She and many other pensioners feel betrayed by the state for breaking the promise of a secure retirement in exchange for years of service. But what else can we expect from a rotting, decrepit system.
BROOKLYN, AUGUST 15 — Downstate Hospital workers held a rally on August 8 to fight proposed layoffs and to keep the hospital open. This week, nearly 400 workers received pink slips.
The threatened closing and layoffs affect all workers but are particularly racist and sexist. Downstate serves mainly poor black and Latino workers, most whom are Caribbean immigrants. The workers are mainly black, Latino and immigrant women. Capitalism is built on, and breeds, racism and sexism. These divisions cannot be eliminated without destroying the root cause.
On March 16, 2000, Patrick Dorismond and a friend were hailing a cab in Manhattan when undercover Detective Anthony Vasquez — not identifying himself as a cop — asked Dorismond if he had any drugs to sell. Indignant, Patrick told him “No!” in no uncertain terms. Patrick was angered by the insistent “dealer.” When Patrick tried to wave him off, the cop punched him. Patrick defended himself and immediately was shot by another cop and lay on the street in pool of blood, gasping for air. He died soon after.
The next weekend a large, militant demonstration occurred at Patrick’s workplace, attended by many rank-and-file community groups. The protesters tore down barricades and the police were told not to “escort” the marchers. While politicians and misleaders called for a federal investigation, the protesters’ mood was clearly different. People were very receptive to Progressive Labor Party literature and CHALLENGE. Some speakers championed the need to close down Wall Street and the city’s business districts.
In July, the names of Manuel Diaz and Joel Acevedo were added to those of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., Ramarley Graham, Shantel Davis, Rasheed Simms, Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, Sergio Guereca, Carlos La Madrid, Derek Lopez, Raul Rosas and countless others who have been murdered by the police. In the immediate aftermath of the Manuel Diaz murder, residents of the Anaheim, CA, neighborhood where he was shot took to the streets to confront the police over the unjustified killing. Police dispersed the crowd with tear gas, rubber bullets and a rampaging police dog that tried to attack an infant (Democracy Now, 7/24/12).
The murders and the police response have led many to wonder whether the police have declared war on black and Latino communities. In fact, for forty years now the police have officially declared war on the entire working class. Following the urban uprisings of the late 1960s, the ruling class looked for better ways to control working-class anger. Because black, Latino and immigrant workers are the most exploited under capitalism, the bosses fear their anger and use racist ideas and outright racist attacks to keep populations passive. Since the sixties, the police have become increasingly militarized.
A group of workers associated with several community organizations conducted militant protests in front of two car washes, property of two different owners. The group chanted “Car Washers United Will Never Be Defeated” and “Workers United Will Never Be Defeated,” as well as many other militant slogans. We showed our solidarity with these mostly immigrant workers, some undocumented, who’ve had “enough” and have decided to form a trade union to fight for their rights and to be heard. These workers are fighting for a higher minimum wage and better working conditions.
Justice and Workers’ Rights
Just the mention of these two ideas got the owners of the car washes to retaliate against the workers, reducing their working hours and harassing them to force them to quit their jobs. The main issue here is the soon-approaching union elections.