Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle

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Blood On Their Hands — The Racist History of Modern Police Unions

[During the Occupy Movement against the “1 %”, many activists were ambivalent about or opposed to including such issues as “stopping police killings” and “ending mass incarceration”, because some organizers insisted on including the police (“unionized workers”) in the over-broad concept of the “99 %”  —  thereby siding with police repression and state-sponsored violence against Black and Brown people.  This article breaks down some of the history of these police unions and how they ensure I’m,unity and prevent accountability for police who murder.  —  Frontlines ed.]
by Flint Taylor, In These Times, January 14, 2015

Police unions have always played a powerful role in defending cops—no matter how brutal and racist their actions. (Ben Musseig / Flickr)

Outraged by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s statements concerning the killing of Eric Garner, Patrick Lynch, the longtime leader of the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), the NYPD’s officers union, recently made the outrageous assertion that the Mayor had “blood on his hands” for the murder of the two NYPD officers.

In Milwaukee this past fall, the Police Association called for, and obtained, a vote of no confidence in MPD Chief Ed Flynn after he fired the officer who shot and killed Dontre Hamilton, an unarmed African American; subsequently, the union’s leader, Mike Crivello, praised the District Attorney when he announced that he would not bring charges against the officer.

In Chicago, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), a longtime supporter of racist police torturer Jon Burge, is now seeking to circumvent court orders that preserve and make public the police misconduct files of repeater cops such as Burge, by seeking to enforce a police contract provision that calls for the destruction of the files after seven years.  And in a show of solidarity with the killer of Michael Brown, Chicago’s FOP is soliciting contributions to the Darren Wilson defense fund on its website.

Such reactionary actions by police unions are not new, but are a fundamental component of their history, particularly since they came to prominence in the wake of the civil rights movement. These organizations have played a powerful role in defending the police, no matter how outrageous and racist their actions, and in resisting all manner of police reforms. Continue reading

On the Mass Political Movement Inside US Prisons

Pelican Bay Hunger Strike: Four years and still fighting

July 14, 2015, SF Bayview Newspaper

by Claude Marks and Isaac Ontiveros

Four years ago prisoners in California – led by those in the control units of Pelican Bay – organized a hunger strike to demand an end to the torturous conditions of solitary confinement. Two more strikes would follow, with over 30,000 prisoners taking united action in the summer of 2013 – both in isolation and in general population in nearly every California prison.

“Will You Stand Up and Let Your Voice Be Heard July 8th 2013?” – Art: Michael D. Russell

The strikes reflected significant shifts in political consciousness among prisoners and their loved ones. The violence of imprisonment was further exposed by demands and heightened organization from within the cages. Prisoner-led collective actions as well as growing public support dramatically have changed the political landscape.

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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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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.

Two-day uprising at immigrant prison was ‘predictable,’ reform advocates say

 

Inmates at the Willacy County Correctional Center, about 200 miles south of San Antonio, started fires and had “kitchen knives and sharpened mops and brooms to be used as weapons,” Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence told local news station KGBT. The prison is “now uninhabitable due to damage caused by the inmate population,” read a statement released by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

It took two days for county and federal police agencies to control the protests, with authorities even resorting to tear gas.
The inmates were reportedly protesting medical care at the facility, which is part of a little-known network of 13 prisons designated for immigrants, many of whom reentered the United States after being deported.

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The System Says: All 59 Police Bullets Were Justified, Every One

4 San Francisco cops cleared in Alex Nieto killing

Four San Francisco police officers will not face charges for shooting and killing Alejandro “Alex” Nieto last year in Bernal Heights Park, because Nieto pointed a Taser shock weapon that the officers reasonably mistook for a pistol, the district attorney’s office said Friday.

The officers fired a total of 59 shots, District Attorney George Gascón said in a letter to Police Chief Greg Suhr. Two later-arriving officers opened fire on Nieto after they heard the popping of their colleagues’ gun blasts and believed Nieto was firing back, the letter said.

But Gascón’s report said all four officers had “continued to believe their lives were in danger … until Mr. Nieto’s head and weapon went down.”

The four — Lt. Jason Sawyer and Officers Roger Morse, Richard Schiff and Nathan Chew — had responded to witness reports that Nieto, a 28-year-old Mission resident, had a gun and was acting erratically on March 21.

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Protesters demanding justice for Alex Nieto march from Bernal Heights Park to the Federal Building in San Francisco, Calif. on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014. The demonstrators are angry that the police shot and killed Nieto, who was holding a taser, in the park early on March 21. San Francisco police released the names of four officers involved in the shooting on Friday, Jan. 2, 2015, following a court order. Photo: Paul Chinn / Paul Chinn / The Chronicle / ONLINE_YES

The Broken System: No consequence, no confidence. A response to the non-indictment of Alex Nieto’s killers. 

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When Are Violent Protests Justified?

 [The New York Times is not starting this discussion, but noting that many are raising the question of mass violence (and a challenge to the “non-violent” mantra) in the wake of repeated state violence against oppressed people and popular protests.  This is a discussion long held, but growing and intensifying, as growing numbers of revolutionary activists discard polite appeals to an oppresive system, and take more active and determined steps.     —  Frontlines ed.]
By    | opinion | New York Times

Credit: Jim Young | Reuters

Demonstrators in New York and around the country, angered by a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, have seized on Mr. Garner’s last words as a rallying chant: “I can’t breathe.”

Some observers noted a chance congruence between those words and a quotation from the influential Martinique-born philosopher of anti-colonialism Frantz Fanon: “We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.”

The demonstrations last week coincided with the New York release of “Concerning Violence,” a film by the Swedish documentarian Goran Hugo Olsson that serves as a sort of introduction to Fanon’s ideas. To Mr. Olsson, who was in New York promoting the film last week and who took the opportunity to participate in several marches, the similarity between the protesters’ chant and Fanon’s text was not a coincidence, he told Op-Talk.

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