Film Review — “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution”

[Almost all bourgeois media depictions of the Black Panthers have been highly sensationalized, racist, and scarified, designed for bewildered viewers to dismiss.  Some have had a more sympathetic, even empathetic, edge, though usually told in terms that say, “that’s in the past, it won’t happen again.”  But this review connects this new film with its relevance  today in a society riveted and outraged by  the everyday, country-wide, routine police killings of blacks. — Frontlines ed.]

Wickham: The Black Panthers redux

by DeWayne Wickham, USA Today, February 17, 2015
New documentary tells another story of revolutionary group than the one we’ve been told.
NEW YORK — The Black Panther Party is back.
Not the one-dimensional, gun-toting, leather-jacket-wearing caricature that dominated news coverage of the black revolutionary organization during its heyday in the 1960s.
And I’m not talking about the Black Panther Party that was both the target and creation of COINTELPRO, the secret FBI counter-intelligence operation that sought to “neutralize” the Panthers by virtually any means necessary.

Book Review: About Black Prison Organizing

[The movement and struggles of prison activists has played a major, even central, role in the social movements in the US.  But it has not often been recognized or embraced by many other activists and movements which, led by liberal reformists and organizations, avoid the injustices and enslavements of the “criminal justice” system.  Prison organizers, political prisoners, and prisoners as a whole have played a huge role in social movements  in the US (and in most countries throughout the world, as seen from Ireland to Palestine, South Africa to India, Peru to China).  But in the US, the role has been magnified by the mass incarceration of millions, whose pathways and influences in an out of prison have multiplied as a result.  This book review traces recent writing on the roots and links of the prison movement. — Frontlines ed].

The Prisoner’s Rebellion at Attica Prison, New York, 1971

A Hidden Legacy of the Civil Rights Era

by JAMES KILGORE, Counterpunch

Dan Berger’s latest volume, Captive Nation, is perfectly timed. In a moment where interest in mass incarceration across the political spectrum is on the rise, sanitized versions of carceral history will doubtless emerge. Berger’s account offers an instant antidote to any such efforts. He warns us we will be negating a long history of righteous rebellions of the oppressed if we opt for quick fix policy packages that do not address the inequalities underlying the rapid growth of incarceration.

Berger’s personal profile as an historian casts him in a unique position to tell his tale. He represents a bridge between the praxis of the 60s and 70s and today’s decarceration campaigners. Back in the day, activists connected to those in prison by striking up extensive correspondence via snail mail and making in person visits. In this age of digital communication, Berger has stepped back in time and used those old “analog” methods to establish relationships with a number of those still incarcerated for their activities in that era, people such as Veronza Bower, Sundiata Acoli, Jalil Muntaqim (also known as Anthony Bottom) and David Gilbert. These relationships were key to Berger’s framing of the stories he tells as well as his analysis.

Prison Intellectual Culture: The Case of George Jackson

Two things particularly struck me as I read Captive Nation. The first was the amazing radical intellectual culture that emerged in prisons during this period, a culture, I should add, that appeared almost totally absent in the federal and state prisons where I resided from 2002-09. Berger’s depictions of the richness of political debate and the eagerness of people inside to connect prison resistance to the Black liberation struggle and other movements of the era, were staggering. The politics of the rebels/revolutionaries Berger describes were not mere legal maneuverings aimed at overturning individual cases or re-doing legislation. Rather, they aimed to depict and contest the political economy and ideological foundations of a “system.”

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US Empire: Crusty, Hulking, Feet of Clay, Short of Breath and Challenged

[The clock is ticking uncomfortably fast, apparently–Frontlines} Janet L. Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, checking the time after a financial ministers and governors photo on Friday. Credit Gary Cameron/Reuters

WASHINGTON — As world leaders converge here for their semiannual trek to the capital of what is still the world’s most powerful economy, concern is rising in many quarters that the United States is retreating from global economic leadership just when it is needed most.

The spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have filled Washington with motorcades and traffic jams and loaded the schedules of President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew. But they have also highlighted what some in Washington and around the world see as a United States government so bitterly divided that it is on the verge of ceding the global economic stage it built at the end of World War II and has largely directed ever since.

“It’s almost handing over legitimacy to the rising powers,” Arvind Subramanian, the chief economic adviser to the government of India, said of the United States in an interview on Friday. “People can’t be too public about these things, but I would argue this is the single most important issue of these spring meetings.”

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No Equality in Struggle for Basics

School Board Member Claims Hispanic Kids Don’t Need Air Conditioning

by William Bigelow, 8 Apr 2015
A recording of a school board meeting has gone viral after a Martinez school district school board member was recorded suggesting that a school largely comprised of low-income and Hispanic students could do without air conditioning while another school with mostly white, wealthier students should receive air conditioning.

Texas: Some Hunger-Striking Mothers Were Put In Isolation At Karnes Immigrant Detention Center, Lawyers Say

[The massive detention and deportation of migrant workers and their families is still at record levels (in the many hundreds of thousands), and the detention industry (part of the larger prison industry) is a very profitable capitalist industry, with GEO and CCA the largest exploiters–and maintainers of large prison and detention populations, but in notorious abusive and overcrowded conditions.  Even more abusive are the family detention centers, which are the new growth industry for GEO and CCA.  In Texas, Karnes Immigrant Detention Center is among the worst. Many supporters, organized by Detention abolitionists, have protested repeatedly.  And from inside, the mothers have faced abusive repression but have gone on hunger strikes, to protest the detention/imprisonment conditions.  —  Frontlines ed.] 
Huffington Post, 04/02/2015
Image result for PROTEST AT KARNES

KARNES DETENTION Karnes Immigrant Detention Center

Authorities at Karnes Detention Center in Texas have responded to a hunger strike launched by a group of 78 mothers this week by placing some women in isolation with their children, according to lawyers and advocates working with the detained migrants.

The group of detained mothers announced Tuesday that they had launched a hunger strike, and demanded that they be released along with their children while they pursued asylum claims outside of detention. The Karnes facility houses hundreds of Central American women who crossed the border illegally with their children during a surge of migration from the violence-plagued countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras last year.

Everything The Police Said About Walter Scott’s Death Before A Video Showed What Really Happened

[Walter Scott’s murder by South Carolina police was captured on video — not by a police video, but by an anonymous person.  The horror of this, another in an endless series of criminal acts by police, is revealed in the video which is shown, below.  And the criminality of the police is revealed in their fabricated justification, released by the police department, for the murder.  When the video came to light, the police lies were exposed, and the individual cop was charged with murder, to take the blame for a murder that the entire department was, hours before, justifying. — Frontlines ed.]
by Judd Legum  —  April 7, 2015

 

backOn Tuesday, South Carolina police officer Michael Thomas Slager was charged with first-degree murder for the shooting death of Walter Scott. Charges against South Carolina police officers for shooting someone are extremely rare. But what was particularly remarkable in this case was, for at least two days, Slager was apparently unaware that video of the entire incident existed.

This provides a unique opportunity to observe how one police officer sought to avoid accountability for his actions.

Between the time when he shot and killed Scott early Saturday morning and when charges were filed, Slager — using the both the police department and his attorney — was able to provide his “version” of the events. He appeared well on his way to avoiding charges and pinning the blame on Scott. Continue reading

Economic Inequality: It’s Far Worse Than You Think

[Illusions like the “American Dream” (and the “Myth of Post-Racial America”) are useful tools for capitalist rule:  “the United States is now the most unequal of all Western nations”….”At the core of the American Dream is the belief that anyone who works hard can move up economically regardless of his or her social circumstances”…..”Our unique brand of optimism prevents us from making any real changes.”  For a long time, and especially now (as the pace of re-proletarianization of the “middle class” and as the disposability and suppression of black and brown workers continues to accelerate), this optimistic illusion has been useful to the capitalist system — useful, in keeping the masses down, “making do”, or blaming themselves for their plight, while dreaming of social mobility, or buying a lottery ticket.  —  Frontlines ed.] 
The great divide between our beliefs, our ideals, and reality
In their 2011 paper, Michael Norton and Dan Ariely analyzed beliefs about wealth inequality. They asked more than 5,000 Americans to guess the percentage of wealth (i.e., savings, property, stocks, etc., minus debts) owned by each fifth of the population. Next, they asked people to construct their ideal distributions. Imagine a pizza of all the wealth in the United States. What percentage of that pizza belongs to the top 20% of Americans? How big of a slice does the bottom 40% have? In an ideal world, how much should they have?
The average American believes that the richest fifth own 59% of the wealth and that the bottom 40% own 9%. The reality is strikingly different. The top 20% of US households own more than 84% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% combine for a paltry 0.3%. The Walton family, for example, has more wealth than 42% of American families combined.

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