The following letters are from young comrades and friends of PLP who particiapted in the antiracist activities during the Thanksgiving weekend in Ferguson following the courts’ refusal to indict killer kkkop Darren Wilson.
Going to Ferguson, I was reminded of how important this struggle is. We are dedicating our lives in working towards a future for the international working class.
This was my first time being arrested and at no point did I lose confidence in the strength of this Party, at no point did I feel like I was being left behind.
The only violence I felt in Ferguson was from the police. The strength, discipline and organization of the PLP were inspiring to myself and the people of Ferguson. We sent a message that cameras and Black police officers are not enough. Mike Brown was not the first and he will not be the last. This struggle is ongoing and it was imperative that the strength of our comrades showed during the protest and that it continues to permeate throughout the working class. We have strength in number. These are our streets and we will continue to fight back until the international working class takes power.
★ ★ ★ ★
This past weekend I was in Ferguson, Missouri, and had a big impact on me. The mere chants and shouts allowed the people of Ferguson who struggle to survive to witness a brief view of solidarity. It was heartening to see people from all over the country come together for a good cause while fighting for justice for Mike Brown and his family as well as all the other young dead Black souls in the field. Fear is just a tool. We have to move ahead with courage.
What precisely inspired me are the traits I’ve observed and the moments I experienced in my life. Other than those instances, I seldom have what amounts to a direct inspiration.
Our task is to resist. I wish it were different but we must fearlessly accept these circumstances, even embrace them, by focusing our attention on what’s going on around us. We will then gain a sharp appreciation for what makes some people advance and others fall behind. Being in Ferguson I was inspired to take that step. In struggle, in love, in humanity, in communism.
★ ★ ★ ★
One thing capitalists do exceptionally well is piss off workers. Workers like Mike Brown’s parents, whose child was murdered by the State on August 9th. Darren Wilson was the murderer and as a reward, he raised four thousand dollars from crowd funding and was paid mid-six figures for a George Stephanapolous interview. So for murder, he got presents instead of punishment.
As the bosses anger people every day, it creates an opportunity for our comrades from PLP to remind people of the need for an egalitarian society. We responded to workers’ anger by showing solidarity with the people of Ferguson this past weekend. They responded to our display of solidarity with support very step of the way.
I was one of the people who got arrested in Ferguson. In the protest, Fergusonites defended our action. While in the police van, a Fergusonite said “Y’all crazy“ for going up against the police. After being arrested, and while being detained for twenty-four hours, Fergusonites thanked us for being on the side of the people. Despite being arrested I knew we did the right thing and as usual, the police were wrong.
Although I joined the Party around 2013 and was active then, I have been around less recently. This weekend renewed my desire to be more active in PLP. Through continuous actions like the ones from this weekend we all got the opportunity to sharpen our political skills. We have a long way to go, but this weekend we won and will continue to show workers our support through our actions all across the world.
★ ★ ★ ★
Ferguson is the best experience I’ve had with the PLP. All the leadership got arrested and the rest stepped up. As a result, I have much more confidence in the working class.
I learned that what we do has a profound effect on the international working class. The preachers sold us out, but the friends we made last time stood by us. We took the streets and stayed on the streets. We showed workers that they should not be afraid. In fact, it was the cops who were afraid.
I commend all the people, especially the new ones who stepped up and gave leadership. They made a new banner after the cops stole ours. Our bullhorns were taken but our voices were loud enough to still reach them [the cops and National Guards].
For the experience we gained, for the confidence we gained, this trip was worth everything. We should go back to Ferguson soon. This is one moment in history that can die down soon, but if we take the lessons and apply them, we will grow in numbers and experience. There will be many more Fergusons.
★ ★ ★ ★
The experience in Ferguson was exhilarating and new for me. I’ve never felt so scared, but empowered in my life. The first night we went to the Ferguson police department and protested. We chanted and eventually we linked up and stepped out in the streets, which the police did not like. A few of us in the PLP got arrested. It was definitely a scary situation, but it showed me how actually peaceful the protesters are and how violent and dangerous the police actually are.
★ ★ ★ ★
After spending 24 hours in jail, our comrades and friends all came out smiling and full of renewed energy, ready to continue the struggle. Those who got arrested on Friday night for defying the cops’ rules guaranteed that the rest of us had a great day organizing on Saturday. What we did on Saturday was also inspiring to those who were arrested. It made for a great bus ride home.
Friday night we took the streets for several hours before the final confrontation and arrests. Several onlookers said it was the most organized and they had seen while they were in Ferguson. We made many connections.
On Saturday, we made more connections, distributed literature and our “Darren Wilson Wanted Posters“. We went to a mass meeting and also went door to door. We made more contacts and pulled off a Party dinner — a Forum attended by several of our local rebel leaders.
Communism was everywhere in all kinds of ways during these events. It was a great weekend.
★ ★ ★ ★
I was a participant in the Ferguson project this past weekend. It was an amazing, intense and inspiring experience. Over the weekend our project of mostly college students marched, rallied, met and organized in this town where the anger at the whole capitalist system is so apparent.
Far from the racist media (like CNN) that has been showing the residents of Ferguson as wild and out of control, we have seen just a glimpse of how Black workers here live. In our visit to the projects in Canfield, we learned that there is martial law here. The National Guard, who are permanently positioned in front of the police station, also close down the entrances and exits to public housing between 5 PM and 7 AM. We visited the memorial where Mike Brown was murdered as well.
But we also got a glimpse of how Black workers are fighting back. Every night, a large crowd gather and march. We attended a community meeting with over 500 people who assemble regularly.
I am part of the group that went to Mississippi in 1979. I am honored to have had the opportunity to be with our new generation of brave and dedicated PLP leaders.
★ ★ ★ ★
It was a great weekend of opportunity. It was very scary and frustrating. I was very upset at how the police treated citizens and protestors. These police need to understand that they are violating the rights of the citizens. The first amendment says we can assemble for protesting, marching and rallying. We have a right to speak our mind and to protest. I think the people who were arrested should file lawsuits against the city of Ferguson. If 200 people or more file a lawsuit, it will be on national news. And just maybe the federal government will do more. I think everyone should also file a complaint against the city of Ferguson and the Federal Government.
★ ★ ★ ★
The Ferguson Project was my first protest. When I initially was invited, I immediately decided that I wanted to be a part of such a positive movement. When I asked my mom to go she said no but I quickly came up with a successful lie so that I was able to go. I am glad I did because this trip was an eye opener.
This environment was completely different from what I’m used to. On the first night, we protested in front of the police departure and it was really great to voice our opinions. There were snipers on the top of the building keeping watch and ground troops guarding the courthouse and multiple businesses. There were a lot of Humvees parked, keeping patrol. It felt so surreal, like we were filming a military movie. I was comfortable and felt safe in my group until things got out of control when the police decided to escalate. I saw people being thrown to the ground, getting beaten with batons and getting arrested. People were running for their lives, in fear of getting hit and being the next victim [of police brutality]. They [the police] began to spray those who they couldn’t catch with pepper spray and mace. Out of the Progressive Labor Party about 16 were arrested, but we came back stronger than ever the following day to show our support for their bravery.
★ ★ ★ ★
This weekend was by far the most intense, immersive political action I’ve ever participated in. We accomplished so much, both in terms of community unification and ideological discussion. We lost a lot of out leadership to arrests the first night, but I loved watching our people regroup and reorganize and assume extra responsibilities in order to protect and support one another, the communist cause, and the fight in Ferguson.
★ ★ ★ ★
It was a pleasure to be a part of the Ferguson trip during Thanksgiving weekend. It felt right to fight racism with PLP and our extended working class families. I had been to Ferguson once before, so I was not totally unprepared, but I was still very nervous given the recent aspects of police violence by the local police, State troopers and National Guard.
My fears were realized when I was pepper sprayed in the face and arrested. I spent twenty-four hours in jail, 6 of those hours spent totally blind. Despite this being my first time arrested, there was not one moment I thought the Party would leave me behind. I knew that we were all in this together, as comrades, both inside and outside. We raised our morale and turned our “grueling“ prison cells into a bonding moment for all.
★ ★ ★ ★
Although this was not my first experience protesting and rallying for an issue of injustice, it was my first hands on organized demonstration. The grand jury’s decision (even though it was expected) affected me a whole lot more than I would have thought. I am fed up with the way my brothers and sisters are threatened daily. After feeling extremely emotional and enraged during the last weeks, going to Ferguson was a great experience. It helped me channel those frustrations towards solving racism and unnecessary murders throughout the world.
★ ★ ★ ★
During our time in Ferguson, I was arrested. My experience in jail and the events I witnessed were inspiring. Though I had seen lots of footage and thought I was following the situation well, the military police surprised me. Though I wish we were better organized in some ways, the discipline of the Party made me feel strong. I am looking forward to carrying on the fight for Eric Garner, for Akai Gurley and for all victims of this fascist State.
★ ★ ★ ★
My first experience protesting in Ferguson was exciting. For the first time I had the chance to say that we’re tired of so much injustice and discrimination we are subjected to in the United States. As an immigrant, I want to send a message to all those who are facing the same problems. I believe that if we unite our voices will be heard.
The following letters are from young comrades and friends of PLP who particiapted in the antiracist activities during the Thanksgiving weekend in Ferguson following the courts’ refusal to indict killer kkkop Darren Wilson.
Sit-In and Protest at Baltimore High School
Once the Ferguson grand jury decision was announced, with no charges at all being pressed against killer-cop Darren Wilson, many people went wild. Yet another life of a Black male had been taken prematurely by a cop. The outrage in Ferguson, Missouri spread to cities all over the country, and to other parts of the world too!
Here in Baltimore, Maryland, a student sit-in and protest was held at my high school. I was lucky enough to be able to take part.
On the day after the verdict was announced, school system officials did not acknowledge the case at all. If those officials wouldn’t give Michael Brown’s life the acknowledgement it deserves, then the students would! We planned a sit-in to be held in the auditorium on the following day.
The administration heard of this protest plan, and tried to pacify us by coming up with an official assembly, giving us an hour to speak on the case. All they wanted to do was contain the high emotions of everyone and keep the student body under control.
If school system officials truly cared about developing our understanding about this major injustice, or if they truly wanted to help us become socially conscious fighters and learn how to struggle effectively against all the innocent lives being snuffed out by the kkkops, they would have taken the initiative. At the very least, they could have devoted some time during the previous day’s PA announcements to discuss the injustice of Michael Brown’s killer facing no consequences at all.
When that hour in the auditorium was up, we stayed in our seats and refused to leave. Myself and some other students took the lead at this event, and it was a beautiful thing to see. Powerful spoken-word pieces were performed; stories about experiences with police brutality were shared; and impassioned speeches were given.
We then left the building to hold a protest outside the school, picketing and chanting vigorously, even though it was snowing and cold. After protesting boldly, we went back inside to watch a documentary (videotaped by PLP members) about the protests in Ferguson. Then we had a lively, heartfelt discussion, with quite a few students speaking and expressing their views on racism, police brutality and related issues.
We also talked about the police murder of Baltimore’s Tyrone West who was unarmed and beaten to death in July of 2013 by a dozen cops, none of whom have faced any charges at all! Several students at our school have participated in one or more of the weekly “West Wednesday” protests after Tyrone West’s sister came to our school and spoke at a meeting of one of our student clubs.
Everything during our amazing day of protest went well, and I saw that some people were genuinely passionate. However, a lot of people’s anger was limited to only their feelings about police brutality. But in reality, it’s this capitalist society that we need to be angry with. Under capitalism, police brutality will continue to be common.
One of the most important aspects of the day’s great activities is that those of us in Progressive Labor Party had a couple hundred flyers left from the citywide protests of the night before, where we had distributed 400. It explained why we need revolution and communism. By the end of our sit-in, picket line, and speak-out, we distributed every single one of the 200 remaining flyers!
After receiving and reading the leaflet and listening to how one’s socioeconomic status and “race” are connected to his/her mistreatment, students — of ages ranging from fourteen to eighteen — now know more about the corrupt society that they are brainwashed to love. The Progressive Labor Party is spreading knowledge and will be gaining more members.
Conscious High School Student Building Unity Through Struggle
On November 26, friends and I planned on walking out of class at 9 o’clock for a cause. Appalled by the decision to not indict Darren Wilson after he murdered Michael Brown, a senior came up with the idea to have a peaceful “sit-in” in the auditorium with students from our school and our neighboring school.
The idea was constructed the day before the sit-in was scheduled. Later that night, we caused an uproar on social media by talking about the sit-in. That was the day after the racist decision was released by the grand jury in Ferguson.
Early the next morning, there were rumors that the media found out about it. So, it turns out that this got a lot bigger than what we had expected because the whole high school got involved, and the administration decided not to cause an escalation by opposing it. Instead, they chose to make it semi-official.
Juniors and seniors were set to meet in the auditorium first. Then, after an hour, we would be sent back to class, and the freshmen and sophomores would meet after us. However, the administrations’ plan to send us back to class didn’t fly with the seniors or some of the juniors. We were not willing to compromise in this situation because we were not willing to have our voices cut off. We decided not to go back to class!
The original objective of the sit-in was to raise awareness of the situation, express our solidarity, and show that we are not oblivious to what’s going on around us. Once the administration saw that we were not backing down from our beliefs, they tried to work with us, and gave us a say on something that we, honestly, were going to do, with or without approval.
We elected leaders and by that time, our communist teacher from last year, who we had invited appeared. With his ideas as well as those of my fellow classmates, we were able to make a difference and have our voices heard. We decided to march and chant outside the school, which many of us did, and then watch a documentary on the current events of Ferguson.
Following that, we gave ourselves the opportunity to finally express our viewpoints, one which is often very limited.
I’m very proud to say that this sit-in united my class, my school. As young Black women and men, along with white students and young people of other background, we’ll go down in history as “Young adults who were determined to have their voices heard.” I could not be more proud of my fellow students!
New Antiracist Activist
Solidarity in Merced
Recently I attended an action where college teachers, students, and many community people were demonstrating in Merced, CA against the disappearance of students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, racist cop murders in the U.S., and the “drug wars” against Black and Latin youth in both countries.
As part of the #USTIRED2 movement, Merced was one of 43 cities having such demonstrations, one for each student kidnapped and presumed murdered by the Mexican government. They demanded an end to Mérida Initiative (“Plan Mexico,” the billions of U.S. aid to Mexican security forces), and an end to the media blackout on narco-terror in Mexico. Many posters read “Ayotzinapa, Ferguson, Gaza” and “State Repression.”
Some of the same people are planning a “teach in” to follow up: there will be speakers on (1) Gaza and the U.S. funding of Israeli military, (2) Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and police militarization, and the Mexico and U.S. connection to War on Drugs.
Many people agreed that this was all about police and state terror against workers in both countries. An older Latino man and I tried to figure out what has changed, why now there was a rapidly growing resistance even though mass incarceration, police murder, and state terror has stolen hundreds of thousands of lives in both countries for many years. After speculations, we realized there was a simple, yet profound truth: “everything has a breaking point.”
In Mexico many are saying, “They have taken everything, even our fear.” In Ferguson the heroic Black youth have kept at it month after month and many are trying to figure out deeper questions about the bigger breaking point, when the “whole system has to go.” It gave me a lot to think about on the long drive home, but suffice it to say there is real possibility and power in international working-class solidarity.
Bay Area Red
Conference Builds New Fighters
I walked in during the keynote speech. It was powerful. After awhile we were split into groups, began our workshop and discussed fascism. We learned that the victims of it and its cause and effect all comes down to capitalism. Then we discussed the solution — communism — and how to build a base. After lunch we all gathered and watched clips from Ferguson and talked about the significance of it and heard stories from people who had gone. Then we organized our march. With signs and catchy chants, we proceeded through Harlem, eventually making contact with the police. But we kept going.
★ ★ ★ ★
Fear is an instrument that suppresses the working class. As a tool of control, it can cause workers to feel isolated and powerless.
The mere chant and shout of defiance allowed the people of Harlem — every day men and women who struggle to survive — a brief, refreshing view of defiance and courage. It was heartening to have my fellow comrades side by side shout out to the ruling class and to the cops who attempted to disperse our rally. You saw people, everyday people peering out from the crowd, with curiosity, confusion, and hopefully the light of inspiration.
Fear is merely a tool. Some of us were very afraid to rally today, but in order to travel toward our destination, a worker-run society, we have to take the step. Courage and heart is the key.
It was inspiring to take that step to every day workers.
In struggle, in humanity, in love, in communism.
★ ★ ★ ★
Today was the first time I’ve ever done anything or come out to an event with PL. During the workshops I learned a lot more about what communism is and about what communists believe in. I did not know what to expect coming to the conference but I did enjoy myself and learn a lot. At the march I felt really empowered, I admit I felt very nervous when I saw the first cop lights flash but everyone kept going so I tried following them. I was quick to think the worst was going to happen but we weren’t doing anything wrong.
★ ★ ★ ★
This was my first experience in a Progressive Labor Party rally. I felt excited and glad to be a part of something that really hits some of the problems that the U.S. has — racism, and working-class oppression. I’ve re-educated myself on fascism and how the U.S. is becoming more of a fascist country.
We marched in Harlem to protest on behalf of belief in equality for everyone. No more should anyone be oppressed based on their “race,” religion, or sex. We are the change that needs to be made here, and we will be heard.
★ ★ ★ ★
Today was very influential. I’ve never participated in a communist movement. It felt good to be a part of a positive cause. The previous movements I’ve seen did not go well. Because of the violence between the police and the community I was initially fearful the same outcome would happen. But surprisingly, no violence and unnecessary actions took place. I felt really safe around my group members.
★ ★ ★ ★
I’ve been to past rallies; however I have never felt so scared as when I rallied in NY. It was cool.
★ ★ ★ ★
Each rally is always different. It is the reason I get excited to yell and scream and make some noise. I want to let fascist police, bosses, and also other workers know that our presence is here. It’s my motivation to continue and participate in PLP. Down with capitalism!
★ ★ ★ ★
Today I experienced my first march. I felt very empowered and scared. It was a fun experience. I thought I was going to get arrested and it made me think of how people stay strong even if the police are there.
★ ★ ★ ★
Speaking as one who is now designated a “veteran,” I must say I was pleased and proud at the recent student conference. The young people leading our struggle are smart and committed. The multiracial character of the conference indicated that, unlike most so-called left political formations emerging from the 1960s, PLP has really succeeded in generating a young leadership that does not just preach, but actually embodies the necessity of fighting racism. The key role played at all levels by young women shows, too, that we take the fight against sexism very seriously. And the dedication manifested in the work in Ferguson shows that our young leaders are energetic and bold.
I do, however, have a couple of points of criticism, one tactical, one theoretical.
First, the march undertaken during the conference should have been better planned and carried out; a couple of times the marchers needlessly taunted the police in locales where large numbers of us could have been arrested. And while at times it is worthwhile — even good — to get arrested, this was not one of those times, with so many of the marchers being from out of town.
Second, while my afternoon workshop showed that a number of student comrades are doing skillful political work, my morning workshop was pretty weak on its analysis of what fascism actually is, as well as of why communism is its only antidote. The relation of fascism to the political economy of capitalism was not discussed; and at times it seemed that the word “communism” was being invoked in a quasi-magical kind of way. More concrete analysis is needed of what is wrong with capitalism — why it cannot imaginably meet the needs of most people on the planet — and of its connection to fascism. Whether or not the Party believes that we are, at least in the USA, “in” a state of fascism was not discussed with enough rigor.
These points of criticism point to ways in which we need to grow and develop. But the conference indicated that we are well positioned to do so. We have a world to win.
★ ★ ★ ★
Today I experienced my first march. I felt very empowered and scared. It was a fun experience. I thought I was going to get arrested and it made me think of how people stay strong even if the police are there. After this I am not sure if I want to experience this again.
Lesson Learned From a History of War: Fight for Communism
The murderous Great War ended 96 years ago. To overestimate the impact of this war upon world history might be impossible. It was by far the bloodiest war in history until that time.
The slaughter horrified even those many patriots who had anticipated it and celebrated when it began.
The Great War was pure imperialist — capitalist slaughter for empire and territory. There were no purposes that could remotely be called morally redeeming.
It wasn’t for “freedom,” whatever that means, or for “national self-determination,” or for an end to colonialism, or against racism or brutality. All these notions mask the fact that the Second World War was imperialist. No such ideological excuses can hide that the Great War was over the division of the earth, a war for, not against, subordination, colonialism, and empire.
It was a war among “democracies” — in that Germany was no less “democratic” than the United Kingdom (both were parliamentary monarchies) or, monarchy aside, than the United States.
The Great War led millions of people worldwide to seriously question or even reject “patriotism” as a cover-up for capitalist and imperialist rule.
This massive revulsion against imperialist slaughter and the misery it brought to the vast majority of the peoples of the world inspired social and political progress. The Russian Revolution and the international communist movement; the militancy of organized labor; the certainty that a better world than capitalism, imperialism, and the devastation they produce must be possible.
The Great War was an event with mighty lessons for all of us today. No wonder it is neglected, largely forgotten. Those lessons were dynamite in 1918, and still are.
Today I remember my great-uncle George Devine, a veteran and a victim of the Great War.
I never knew him. He went off to war at the age of 17 or 18. In 1918, he returned “shell-shocked”, driven insane by the stress and shock of trench warfare. He never recovered.
My late mother remembers him living with her and her parents for brief periods in the 1920s. But then he had to return to the Veterans Administration hospital for brain injuries at Perry Point, MD, where he lived the rest of his life. He died there on January 31, 1941.
Poor young man! His whole bright future at the age of 17 ruined forever!
And not to defend his country, or any noble ideal at all. To save J.P. Morgan & Sons, and other U.S. banks, whose huge loans to the United Kingdom would have been lost if Germany had won the war.
My late grandmother, his only sibling, could never speak of her younger brother George without weeping. Not wishing to cause her distress, we never asked her about him. And now it is far, far too late.
I remember him today, on the 96th anniversary of the end of the war that ruined his life.
Yet he was but one of millions of young men, and tens of millions of men, women, and children the world around whose lives were blasted by that terrible, imperialist war.
For me, great-uncle George stands in for all of them — all the people killed by wars for exploitation, for the enrichment of the few at huge cost to the many.
And I prefer to believe this: As long as I, we, learn the lessons of the Great War, and struggle for a world of justice, free of exploitation, free of capitalism, free of inequality — great-uncle George, and the myriad of those like him throughout the history of the awful 20th century, did not die entirely in vain.
A loving communist nephew
Standing Up for Communism
A recent experience reaching out to Chicago workers about a police murder has shown me again that communism is strong, and nationalism is weak, and a tool of the bosses.
I went to Polk and California on the west side of Chicago to participate in a community demonstration against the police murder of a young black man two days before. I live only a few blocks away but Ogden Ave has become a dividing line in our area between black families on the north and mostly Latin to the south. I didn’t know anyone in that community and didn’t know who else from the Party would be there.
I wore my May Day T-shirt from last year, with “Workers of the World Unite!” on it. I had Challenges and leaflets explaining the events in Ferguson, Missouri. When I got there, before the starting time, there were people sitting on their front porches and sitting and walking along the sidewalk. I offered them Challenge and the leaflet. Almost everyone was hungry for information and analysis. One young fellow began reading the leaflet out loud. I waited as he read the first few paragraphs.
When he got to the line I liked, and which I felt separated us from the liberals, I emphasized it: “that the rebels were not mistaken, they pretty much had their enemies in their sights and met them…” It made me wish that segregation was not so strong in Chicago — it’s kept me from having much chance of meeting these people any other way.
After a while, another PL’er and I were confronted by a guy who said he was a Nation of Islam nationalist. He said that he and the black community could never be free following a European style philosophy, and demanded that we stop distributing literature. I challenged this idea, but a local political leader or undercover cop was watching, and I thought they might be setting up an incident. I walked away towards my car, but as I went I continued to hand out literature. The nationalist confronted me again, and I decided that since I had no base on this block, I decided to put my literature away for awhile and see how things developed.
More and more people kept coming. More Party people arrived and some of them began getting out literature as well. This same nationalist fellow confronted one of them like he had me. He talked back like I had but he held his ground and never put away his literature. Speakers started, more people were coming, and we marched to the police station soon after. I went to get my literature and got all of it handed out. People were friendly and glad to see us there and welcomed our class perspective. I liked pointing out the Challenge article on the back page which read, “No Cops, No Crime” about China in the early revolutionary days of the Cultural Revolution.
On our way back to the car, a young mother and her daughter stopped my wife and me and said that they had been trying to get in touch with some group and gave us her email address.
So nationalism is weak. Communism is strong. We have a lot of work to do to win black workers to the Party.
The feeling of cynicism and apathy, which so commonly afflicts those who understand the path our world is heading for, had me in its grips for a long time. I wasn’t losing hope, but I wasn’t exactly looking forward to anything either. But when I made the decision to go down to DC (see page 5), to show support for my comrades there, I knew it was the right one. The five-hour bus rides were full of laughs, sleep and serious deliberations on the way back.
I asked the highly technical question: “Why is everyone in PL so… chill?” I’m sure there’s a good answer — the type of people who will dedicate their lives to revolution tend to have a deeper understanding of things. Those who are critical of the world around them are probably critical of the sh*t they do. But for now I’m just enjoying the fact that even though some of these people I haven’t seen in months, and some of these people I’ve only just met, there’s still the mutual connection it seems only comrades can have.
The political work was sharp. Older comrades did an amazing job of supporting younger leaders. There were a few wrenches in the works, mainly people touting nationalist, black economy ideas. There was also a fire alarm during the panel discussion. It ended wonderfully, with a rally, working-class fists and voices from the neighborhood going up in solidarity.
DC was a place where some new perspective was gained about what it means to organize. From the students there who shared the lessons they’ve learned, to just getting out and having a rally, it reminded me of what our communist world will look like. As I step back into my capitalist world with increasingly meaningless obligations, that even as I write I’m pushing up against, I’m inspired once more to work towards a communist world that now seems much more possible.
NYC Red Student
Struggles from the Underground
The time has come to address a primary issue that many of us face and which we are silent about. This key issue is how to keep ourselves in line with our principles when facing capitalists in our careers.
As for my experience, I struggle daily with it. I am a part of the capitalist aspect of a non-profit, and I find it very hard to cope when I attend financial conferences and grant meetings. In a room full of the ruling bosses, I feel as though I am injected with toxins as I shake hands with the one percent and politicians. “Wooing” them becomes an objective for me as my goal is geared towards assisting my superiors to recoup funding, or advocating for potential new funding in order to keep our project functioning.
At those moments, I feel as though I have compromised myself and that I am going against our Party’s strong core principles. But here is the silver lining for me: the struggles of the workers (both employed and unemployed) who are our clients seeking our help at the non-profit out-weights it all. Seeing how tired and hopeless our brothers and sisters and potential comrades are changes my perspective. Fighting to keep our doors open for our brothers and sisters is the driving force and it prompts me to see this struggle in a new light.
I see this dilemma as working with other comrades in disguise collectively to ensure that the safety nets of the working people remain protected. This is a primary opportunity to share our Party’s objective and introduce them to a new way of living.
What has surprised me in my journey during my first year as a communist is how I have been able to reshape the mind of my trusted manager/friend, thus having him express the same shared beliefs without me pushing. Seeing how my manager/friend has evolved as the struggle of the workers at our project has increased, and how his beliefs have change to being somewhat in line with what we believe in is a small victory to the advancement of our Party. It’s only a matter of time before we can build a movement that will encourage people to fight for a new society of communism that works for the benefit of all peoples.
La lucha continua! Power to the working people!
End Racism from Belize to the U.S.
The Eric Garner march in August was important to me because it was the first time I was able to be a part of something I was angry about something that’s in our community. That was my first time taking a stand and putting it out there that I’m going to fight for what I believe in.
When I was eleven months old my dad was killed by a cop and instead of being treated and instead of calling EMS, they put him bleeding in the back of the cop car and took him to the precinct and let him die. They figured he was just another street kid. My father was 21; he was here in New York while I was still living in Belize.
I lived there until I was sixteen. It’s a really beautiful place, a jewel. But in the working-class neighborhoods it’s all about gang wars over drugs. The government calls these little “truce meetings” with the leaders of these gangs, take pictures and looks good, and a few days later more people are shot. The cops are all bribed by the gang leaders and you fend for yourself.
Most people work for the tourist industry. Others work in the banks. Other people make extra money carving beautiful wooden statues of our national bird out of wood to sell to the tourists. Opportunities for education are bad and it comes down to money. In high school I wanted to study biology and chemistry to become a doctor, and I realized that only the rich can do that.
There’s no healthcare in Belize. Most people take the two-hour bus ride to Mexico to the hospitals near the border. Poor people have to go there because the Belizean dollar is stronger than the Mexican peso. Forget about it during a medical emergency, and every child grows up knowing to not go to the hospitals in Belize because they’re for the rich.
Racism is in Belize in every way possible, and when I came to the United States it was a shock because I thought it would be completely different, but it’s just the same. In Belize, politicians tell people what they want to hear and make promises, and have these puppets come to the neighborhoods where people are outraged and calm everyone down and to trust the government, just like after Eric Garner. After a police or gang shooting the cops claim to be “interviewing” the suspects they arrest but they’re all on the payroll and their mentality is, “Let them all kill each other so we don’t have to do anything.” It’s just like how the NYPD treated my father.
I used to think I would never go back because there is nothing for me there. Belize is such a small country, and it’s like no one else in the world cares about what’s going on there. How can you live in a place where every day you don’t know if you’re going to die or not, if you or your kids can just walk outside into a crossfire? But I see what’s going on everywhere and it makes me angry, and people in Belize need to know there’s an organization fighting back. Now I would go home and see if I can make a difference.
I’m excited to go with the Progressive Labor Party to Ferguson if I can. I don’t think people in Belize know that there are places where people are fighting back. For me, Ferguson would be an experience to see people standing up and fighting instead of being divided and struggling alone.
EMT from Belize
FIGHTING AND LEARNING IN FERGUSON
During the Ferguson October weekend, we practiced building with the working class. We learned so much from each other, but more from the workers in Ferguson. We learned from the courage of the youth in Lost Voices, who lead hundreds in daily marches to the Ferguson police station with PLP chants like “Mike Brown means we’ve got to fight back,” and their own “Who do we want? Darren Wilson! How do we want him? Dead! He left Mike Brown? Dead!”
On Saturday, we watched a documentary about Lost Voices with the members of the group, and had a sharp conversation with some of them about the direction of Lost Voices. One member thought we should vote, but we struggled with him over the need for a violent revolution for communism because the capitalist ruling class will never allow an election to overthrow a system that works for them! They listened.
In the middle of this, we suddenly heard that someone was being harassed by the police outside. They were harassing a black member of Lost Voices who had pulled up in a car driven by a young white worker. The car had an out-of-state license plate. Dozens of us poured outside, surrounded the police cars and started chanting “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” That became “FTP! F*ck the police!” and “Hey hey! Ho ho! These racist cops have got to go!” We sent them packing. The cops saw our strength and took off in a full retreat.
The working class has power and once we flex our muscles, the rulers don’t stand a chance.
★ ★ ★ ★
My morale about this weekend was low before we went door-to-door selling CHALLENGE, because I was cynical about the effectiveness of going door-to-door. I was wrong.
The police harassed us within 30 seconds of arriving at the first apartment complex of almost completely black workers. When we spoke to a black Vietnam veteran, he told us some things about life in this apartment complex.
Children can’t even bounce any type of ball without police harassment;
People can’t leave their porches without the police stopping and asking where they were going;
St. Louis County Police began really moving in after Mike Brown’s shooting, so now they get harassed by the Ferguson PD AND the St. Louis County PD.
We talked with several more workers and everyone was happy to receive CHALLENGE and thanked us. When we went to a nearby apartment complex, the reaction to CHALLENGE was awesome, and people were even more receptive to our ideas. One of the conversations we had was with a young mother and her child, a high school student. They were excited when we articulated our vision of communism, especially when they thought about life without the police and landlords.
Everyone we spoke to was very turned on by our ideas.
★ ★ ★ ★
The trip to Ferguson that I made with my comrades taught me about commitment to our Party, and what commitment to the international working class means.
Almost everyone in our PLP contingent was fighting off some type of fever or respiratory infection, but no one complained. Not once. We knew the work we were doing this weekend was important for the international working class. We marched in the whipping rain and we called for armed revolution loudly and proudly. In between the sharp discussions analyzing our objectives and our plans, we marched, chanted, distributed our literature and CHALLENGE. We engaged other workers and students politically with so many positive reactions it even surprised us a little. And then we regrouped, took care of each other, bought more medicine, made criticisms and self-criticisms, and did it again. And again.
The person that taught me the most about commitment, however, was one of the leaders of the Ferguson rebellion. This 24 year-old male black rebel from Ferguson, who has two children, had this to say: “We got to fight back. Is that even a question? We don’t have the guns and tanks like they do but when we were all in the street together, confronting them you know, we felt like we could take over the world. And you know what? All of those people who came in and told us to calm down, they ain’t fighting. And then we saw people like y’all from all over the world coming and supporting us and we knew we were right... I’m doing this for my kids so they don’t have the life we had. I want my kids to grow up proud of me. I want them to say “daddy was a freedom fighter.” That’s what this is. We fighting for freedom.”
★ ★ ★ ★
PLP’s actions in Ferguson October reminded us of the power of internationalism. Along with CHALLENGE, we delivered a hand-written letter. Youth respected that veterans from the U.S. Navy sent a letter of solidarity to Ferguson rebels. They respected that comrades sent the message, “All the way from Haiti, we understand what your struggle is all about. Just like in Ferguson, the criminal cops massacre youth.” They respected that comrades from Mexico wrote, “We honor Michael Brown and all youth terrorized and murdered by capitalism.” To win the fight against cops and capitalism, the fight must cross, and finally demolish, national borders. These greetings and their reception show how potentially powerful PLP’s line “Smash All Borders” and “One world. One class. One Party” can be.
Too often, we underestimate the power of our politics. Ferguson October was as much a test of PL’s line as it was a test of PL’s young comrades. PL youth have learned a lot from the masses this weekend, mainly that workers are willing to fight for communism. Two Chicago students actively defended us when pacifist Unitarians tried to attack our bullhorn. In another case, students took up the chant, “They can’t stop the revolution. ‘Cause the only solution is communist revolution!” Upon hearing it for the first time, one woman-student replied, “Oh, I guess I can get down with that,” and co-led the chant with the PL’er.
These fightbacks aren’t just happening in the streets. For six days, protesters occupied the St. Louis University’s clock tower. Hundreds had turned a march into a sit-in, which turned into an occupation. Students and residents connected the racist cops in the streets to the racist policies on campus. Antiracist fighters clashed with racist pro-Darren-Wilson Cardinal fans and outside Busch Stadium.
In a flashmob, a dozen of mainly black and white protesters sang “Which Side Are You On” and unfurled a banner of Mike Brown at a St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. In the words of the flashmob fighters, “justice for Mike Brown means justice for us all.” Justice for Mike Brown requires an overthrow of not only the cops, but the masters of this state: capitalists. Ferguson is polarizing everyday people — including our friends, classmates, co-workers — to choose between siding with workers’ struggles to siding with the bosses and their ideas. Ferguson has set a new standard for what fightbacks should look like in the States. We are eager to bring these lessons back to our campuses, workplaces, and mass organizations!
★ ★ ★ ★
The Ferguson October Weekend of Action was a great opportunity for us to show our solidarity with the people of Ferguson. It was great witnessing the movement happening there. The major players behind the protests understand that the system is not working — and it never will. It was our job and will continue to be our job to make it known that only a communist society can put an end to police brutality, wars, poverty, all the ills that capitalism breeds.
Despite what the ruling class often portrays, people were generally receptive to what we had to say. The working-class youth in particular listened to us, collected CHALLENGE and joined in our chants. They encouraged our presence. The tide is indeed changing.
This trip also provided great opportunities for myself and my comrades to learn the ins and outs of organizing. At times we were frustrated but we challenged and supported each other to make this trip a success. For me, our involvement in the Ferguson Weekend of Action is just a glimpse of what our Party can do to bring forth a communist society.
★ ★ ★ ★
Last Saturday, three busloads of workers from Chicago joined the anti-racist protest in St. Louis against police brutality. On the bus and at the march, we distributed CHALLENGE and supported the enthusiastic chants.
CHALLENGE and the idea that we need a communist revolution were well-received, especially by the young workers and students. In fact one of the popular chants included “the whole damn system is guilty as hell”. Some, but not most, joined our chant, “the only solution is communist revolution.” We have a lot more work to do before that is a popular chant, but we will get there.
The PLP “Wanted for Murder” poster was quite popular. It is possible that the Ferguson Weekend will mark the beginning of a new anti-racist movement, but it’s too soon to tell. We do know that PLP will continue to immerse itself in and help lead these and other anti-racist, anti-capitalist struggles. I feel lucky to have been there.
★ ★ ★ ★