Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle

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Ferguson: Thug Illusion in a Media Revolution

[In the US in recent years, the prominence of the repressive arm of the state has grown to a larger scope than ever before.  The occupation of Black and Brown communities, migrant communities, of increasingly and permanently vulnerable communities of occasional and unstable work, of displaced and homeless communities, youth castaways from schools and jobs, from broken families and internally abusive communities, have all suffered from repeated rounds of criminalization, police violence and mass incarceration.  Such attacks have been endorsed, promoted and justified in daily hysterical media accounts, in political and religious and cultural campaigns for ever-enlarging police forces, for overt and covert racist profiling, for militarization of police, and for multiplying the surveillance and snitch networks.  Opposition to these measures has also grown, and protest movements have also become major targets for political suppression and for beatings, arrests, and killings by cops, all reaching epidemic levels.

Not only does this repression hit at the increasingly re-proletarianized sections of the so-called “middle class” but many from the most oppressed peoples have joined the new and recurrent protest movements, at great personal risk.  Those who have histories of arrests and imprisonment and participation in many illegal and semi-legal pursuits have along with other sectors become politicized and have joined together to change the system.  In a number of cities, gang members have pointedly and significantly stood together, in de facto truces with each other, to defend their communities from attack – a pattern rarely, if ever, reported.  If anything, the twisted reports which occur in the media, are always of the horrifying and frightening “thuggishness” of protest movements.  This is a central ingredient of the media assault on all militant protest movements which now terms such protests as “terrorist.” 

The following article from revolution-news.com, describes these features as they have been seen in Ferguson, Missouri, and in the protest movements that have grown nationwide in recent months.  A largely untold story, we appreciate the courage of revolution-news in bringing it to light.  —  Frontlines ed.]

2/16/2015, Revolution News

“The revolution won’t be televised ya’ll know that.
And if it does get televised they gonna make it look as bad as possible.” – Shoota

The nationwide protests after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson have brought much needed attention to issues of institutional racism, police brutality and the killing of unarmed black men across the US. The #BlackLivesMatter protests have also brought people together and created unity in black communities throughout the country.

Mainstream media (MSM) broadcast images from Ferguson of stores being looted and buildings up in flames. The images shown in MSM succeeded in creating a massive media spectacle. MSM combined with some elements in social media also managed to push false narratives into the public discourse regarding who exactly was in the Ferguson streets and what they were doing there. The narrative that “thugs” were causing destruction and mayhem in Ferguson was amplified in MSM in attempts to smear and discredit the #BlackLivesMatter protests. But who are these so-called “thugs” running amok in Missouri? Continue reading

What Would Malcolm X Think?

An Opinion column in the New York Times, February 21, 2015

By ILYASAH SHABAZZ

Malcolm X — Credit: Associated Press

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. — FIFTY years ago today my father, Malcolm X, was assassinated while speaking at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. I think about him every day, but even more in the last year, with the renewed spirit of civil rights activism after the tragic events in Ferguson, Mo., on Staten Island and in countless other parts of the country. What would he have to say about it?

People still look to Malcolm as a model for strident activism. They lament the lack of such a prominent, resonant voice in the modern dialogue about race. But they might not like some of the critical things he would have to say about the strategies of today’s activists.

Of course, my father would be heartened by the youth-led movement taking place across the nation, and abroad, in response to institutional brutality. And he would appreciate the protesters’ fervor and skillful use of social media to rapidly organize, galvanize and educate. In a sense, his ability to boil down hard truths into strong statements and catchy phrases presaged our era of hashtag activism. Continue reading

In the Belly of the Beast, too — Capitalism Sucks

[Once again, reality is a stunning refutation of the claims of the irresistable American Dream, ever-progressing, of US superiority over all others, greatness, a “gold mountain” for migrants running from poverty and oppression elsewhere.   Since most of the statistics cited here come from official sources, which routinely give all such stats a cosmetic “uplifting sheen”, the situation on all fronts is actually many times worse, as the re-proletarianization of the falling middle class becomes the main stream.  — Frontlines ed.]

Sobering New Evidence: at Least Half of Americans are Broke

 

“Happy Monday! S&P 500 now up 10% for year” CNN Money
“Third-quarter U.S. economic growth strongest in 11 years” Reuters
“The U.S. economy is on a tear” —Wall Street Journal

Half of our nation, by all reasonable estimates of human need, is in poverty. The jubilant headlines above speak for people whose view is distorted by growing financial wealth. The argument for a barely surviving half of America has been made before, but important new data is available to strengthen the case.
1. No Money for Unexpected Bills  A recent Bankrate poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans didn’t have savings available to cover a $500 repair bill or a $1,000 emergency room visit.  A related Pew survey concluded that over half of U.S. households have less than one month’s income in readily available savings, and that ALL their savings — including retirement funds — amounted to only about four months of income.  And young adults? A negative savings rate, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Before the recession their savings rate was a reasonably healthy 5 percent.
2. 40 Percent Collapse in Household Wealth  Over half of Americans have good reason to feel poor. Between 2007 and 2013 median wealth dropped a shocking 40 percent, leaving the poorest half with negative wealth (because of debt), and a full 60% of households owning, in total, about as much as the nation’s 94 richest individuals.  People of color fare the worst, with half of black households owning less than $11,000 in total wealth, and Hispanic households less than $14,000. The median net worth for white households is about $142,000.

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Chris Hedges: Malcolm X Was Right About America

[Journalist Chris Hedges describes his personal views on the life and teachings of Malcolm X, whose life was stolen with his assassination 50 years ago. — Frontlines ed.]

Our refusal to face the truth about empire, our refusal to defy the multitudinous crimes and atrocities of empire, has brought about the nightmare Malcolm predicted.
By Chris Hedges  truthdig.com  February 1, 2015

Malcolm X about two weeks before he was murdered in 1965. AP/Victor Boynton

NEW YORK—Malcolm X, unlike Martin Luther King Jr., did not believe America had a conscience. For him there was no great tension between the lofty ideals of the nation—which he said were a sham—and the failure to deliver justice to blacks. He, perhaps better than King, understood the inner workings of empire. He had no hope that those who managed empire would ever get in touch with their better selves to build a country free of exploitation and injustice. He argued that from the arrival of the first slave ship to the appearance of our vast archipelago of prisons and our squalid, urban internal colonies where the poor are trapped and abused, the American empire was unrelentingly hostile to those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.” This, Malcolm knew, would not change until the empire was destroyed.


“It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck,” Malcolm said. “Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, then capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”

Continue reading

1964: Malcolm X on “The Ballot or the Bullet”

[In the last year of his life, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (popularly known as Malcolm X), left the Nation of Islam and organized the Organization of Afro-American Unity.  He launched a series of internationalist initiatives, including taking the denial of human rights of Blacks in the United States to international arenas (including the UN).  His life was a series of extraordinary pathbreaking steps for Blacks and for people in the Americas, Africa, and worldwide.  He spoke constantly, determined to open new initiatives and thinking for all who seek justice and freedom.  One April 12, 1964, he delivered the following speech, (The Ballot or the Bullet) detailing the contrary pathways toward justice and debating the prevailing views at that time. While sections promote a black capitalist solution, more compelling are his comments on the nature of the state and the illusory prospects of change within the system, or the necessity of struggling against it.  These comments continue to resound today, amid largely unchanged conditions.  Malcolm X was assassinated (less than a year after this speech was given) on February 21, 1965, at the age of 39. –  Frontlines ed.].

A 38-year-old man in a suit and tie smiles broadly. He wears glasses and has a microphone around his neckThe Ballot or the Bullet (April 12, 1964)

Mr. Moderator, Reverend Cleage, Brother Lomax, brothers and sisters, friends…and I see some enemies. In fact, I think we’d be fooling ourselves if we had an audience this large and didn’t realize that there were some enemies present.This afternoon we want to talk about the ballot or the bullet. The ballot or the bullet explains itself. But before we get into it, since this is the year of the ballot or the bullet, I would like to clarify some things that refer to me personally concerning my own personal position.

I’m still a Muslim. That is, my religion is still Islam. My religion is still Islam. I still credit Mr. Muhammad for what I know and what I am. He’s the one who opened my eyes. At present, I’m the Minister of the newly founded Muslim Mosque, Incorporated, which has its offices in the Theresa Hotel, right in the heart of Harlem that’s the black belt in New York city. And when we realize that Adam Clayton Powell is a Christian minister, he’s the…he heads Abyssinian Baptist Church, but at the same time, he’s more famous for his political struggle. And Dr. King is a Christian Minister, in Atlanta, Georgia, but he’s become more famous for being involved in the civil rights struggle. There’s another in New York, Reverend Galamison I don’t know if you’ve heard of him out here, he’s a Christian Minister from Brooklyn, but has become famous for his fight against a segregated school system in Brooklyn. Reverend Cleage, right here, is a Christian Minister, here in Detroit. He’s the head of the “Freedom Now Party”. All of these are Christian Ministers, but they don’t come to us as Christian Ministers. They come to us as fighters in some other category. I’m a Muslim minister the same as they are Christian Ministers, I’m a Muslim minister. And I don’t believe in fighting today in any one front, but on all fronts. In fact, I’m a Black Nationalist Freedom Fighter.

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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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From Brazil to Ferguson, Black Lives Matter

12/18/2014

Under the banner Ferguson is Here! #fergusonéaqui Thousands took the streets in Sao Paulo, Brazil in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests in the US.Foto: Midia NINJAToday’s event in Sao Paulo was to highlight the systemic police violence, the high rate of murders and the judicial injustices suffered when these crimes against black communities go unpunished.

In a report by the Brazilian Forum of Public Safety published on Nov. 9th 2014, Brazilian police killed 2,212 people in 2013.  Twice as many blacks as whites in Brazil were victims of police violence in 2009, according to a recent study by economist Daniel Cerqueira.

Another study by the University of Sao Carlos showed that even as blacks comprised 34 percent of the population of Sao Paulo, they numbered 58 percent of those killed by police.