ILPS-USA 2016 Conference – Right to Resist, Right to Exist: Fight Police Terror, Racism, & Political Repression: PYO-STL Report Back

“Movements don’t ask. Movements demand! Justice isn’t something you can beg and borrow. Justice is something you have to TAKE. You don’t negotiate justice.”  -Frank Chapman

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ILPS Conference. Photo Credit: ILPS-USA

 

PYO-STL was honored to have been invited to send a delegate to Chicago, Illinois, to participate in the 2016 Conference of the International League of People’s Struggle, USA, with the slogan “Right to Resist, Right to Exist”. The conference marked the first anniversary of the police murder of LaQuan McDonald by Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot him 16 times as he walked away. Van Dyke was on the scene for only 30 seconds before he opened fire on McDonald. The International League of People’s Struggle is the largest and most widespread formation of anti-imperialist organizations on Earth today, all members striving and struggling to realize the unity, cooperation and coordination of anti-imperialist and democratic struggles around the world. Attending this conference offered us the opportunity to learn directly from comrades with decades of experience and practice in anti-imperialist and democratic struggle, learn about how strong mass organizations function through witnessing the strength and power of organizations led by Filipino comrades who have been making revolution and waging a powerful and millions strong anti-imperialist struggle for decades, and also learn from comrades in Chicago who have been taking an active role in mass movements and conducting powerful mass work for decades. We were also able to link up with, learn from, and enjoy the company of both old and new comrades from across the country, coming from places as diverse as Los Angeles, Chicago, Kansas City, the Bay Area, and New York City, belonging to a variety of organizations, ranging from the Filipino women’s mass organization Gabriela to Anakbayan to Students for Justice in Palestine to our own sister branch, Progressive Youth Organization, Kansas City. All of us were united in our burning desire to learn from and assume our role in building a strong, powerful, and sharp anti-imperialist movement in the United States, the belly of the beast.

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ILPS Conference, 2016. Photo Credit: Anakbayan Chicago.

 

The conference opened with a song performance from two Black women comrades, KOStar, expressing the anger and rage of the masses at the continued genocide against the Black oppressed nation in the United States, a message from Palestinian national liberation hero Leila Khaled, and a reading of an address from ILPS Coordinating Committee Chairperson Professor Jose Maria Sison, titled “The People Have the Right to Resist Monopoly Capitalist Exploitation, State Repression and Racism”. Professor Sison expressed solidarity with the masses of the United States who suffer under state repression and set the tone of the conference as one where we, serious revolutionaries and mass organizers, would exchange strategies and advice regarding, as we say, “how to get free”. There were then addresses from Frank Chapman, a veteran Black mass organizer who was railroaded into prison at the age of 19 for robbery and first degree murder, beaten and tortured by the police until he was forced to issue a false confession. He now organizes as educational director and field organizer with the Chicago Alliance against Racist and Political Repression. His address was extremely well received. He linked up the oppression that the masses across the world face and the ramifications both at home and abroad, and taught about the struggle of the masses of Chicago, led by the Chicago Alliance against Racist and Political Repression, for CPAC, or Civilian Police Accountability Council, which is a democratic, popular, and mass demand that would place handcuffs on police in the City of Chicago, and curb the notoriously crooked city executive’s control over the police, placing more power over the police in the hands of the community. The experience of the CAARPR and the CPAC struggle against the police is a good example of effective organization of the masses. Organizers that are integrated into and residing in neighborhoods impacted by police brutality go among the people, investigate their concerns, and organize, mobilize, and struggle around these demands. This struggle is of the masses of Chicago, for the masses of Chicago, by the masses of Chicago. Chapman also expressed gratitude for the Filipino mass organizations taking part in the National Democratic Movement for joining the struggle in the United States against racist police oppression in a big, systematic, wilful, and organized way. This shows the power of internationalism and the ultimate necessity of seeing the struggles of our worker, student, national minority and peasant comrades overseas or from different groups at home as our own, and joining with them in their victories, standing beside them in their struggles, and mourning their martyrs alongside them.

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Frank Chapman. Photo Credit: Anakbayan Chicago

The spirit of internationalism was present all throughout our time in Chicago, with Palestinian, African-American, Indian, Latin American, and comrades from all across the world joining together in the spirit of righteous outrage and anger at our common enemy and determination to struggle against and build a firm and solid movement against the continued oppression and exploitation of our peoples at home and abroad. We also heard from a representative speaking on behalf of Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian freedom fighter and victim of political repression who was kidnapped, incarcerated, and subjected to merciless torture by agents of the fascist state that calls itself Israel. She came to the United States, only to face political repression and be threatened with revocation of her citizenship, prison time, and deportation to Jordan for supposedly lying on immigration documents. Odeh’s case is still being struggled out in court, and it is essential that we mobilize to not only defend the democratic rights of this veteran people’s fighter and hero, but also continue to participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that the Palestinian masses have demanded of us in the West and also continue the struggle against American support of Israel and oppression of those who organize in solidarity with the Palestinian people, on and off college campuses. We also received an address from Sarah Chambers of the Chicago Teachers’ Union, one of the most advanced, militant, integrated with the masses, and powerful unions in the country, and learned of their vicious and long struggle against the crooked Chicago mayor (and former Obama Chief of Staff) and “schoolyard bully” Rahm Emanuel and his administration. The CTU and others brought not only teachers, but black and brown parents and students into the struggle against the racist, neoliberal school system, organizing mobilizations against racist standardized tests and school closures. The struggle for CPAC, the struggle for Justice for Rasmea Odeh, and the struggle in the Chicago schools all have one thing in common: they are mass struggles, they are struggles not only for a petty interest of a certain few, or for trifling demands, these are direct confrontations and class struggles that involve thousands of people. In Saint Louis, the oppression is just as sharp, the struggle against racist administrators, cops, gentrifiers, and all that which would seek to destroy us requires just as much mass organization and leadership. We have a duty as revolutionary youth. Our duty, as laid out by our comrades at home and abroad, is to build the organized, militant and powerful movement against capital-imperialism, against police terror, against all that causes hunger, war, and want, right here in this city. These addresses were followed by a panel session in which all were welcome to ask questions directly to these veteran organizers, and the responses had the same tune: build struggle, oppose imperialism, always remain linked to the masses and orient to them to grow the anti-imperialist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, popular revolutionary mass movement in your city. Do not just mobilize, organize and build the mass movement, the mass organization, and raise political consciousness to prepare for higher forms of struggle. Do not just organize for reforms in a sporadic fashion, take every opportunity to point out and tie in these problems to the greater system of capitalism-imperialism that loots, kills and robs our comrades in the Philippines, Mexico, India, Nepal, and all over the world, and constantly struggle to practice working class internationalism of the oppressed and exploited. Following this, there was a second panel and addresses from Abayomi Azikiwe of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice, Lyn Meza of the ILPS International Coordinating Group, and Paul Quintos, ILPS Research Director, on the importance and methods of building a strong anti-imperialist solidarity movement in the United States.

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Mass organizations from across the country representing at CPAC mobilization. Photo credit: Bob Simpson

We then separated into breakout groups, where we struggled with the questions: “How can we link and raise our issues towards building anti-imperialist solidarity in the US?” and “What suggestions do you have for the ILPS CC in strengthening ILPS US?” On the first, our group agreed that we must develop forums and educational activities that are lively and mass based, build coalitions of mass based groups and organizations are necessary to involve the broadest segments of the masses in our campaigns at all levels, link our individual and local struggles to capitalism-imperialism in a palatable and tangible way, struggle to bridge the “generation gap”, and avoid heavy-handed, dogmatic, and inaccessible language in our dealings with the masses of our people. All of these must be used to truly organize the masses, not just appeal to those who are already activists, because we know that a small clique of activists can never hope to accomplish much. It is the masses that make history. The coalitions and campaigns in Chicago involve churches, community groups, student organizations, and other groups that are integral parts of the lives of the masses of people. On the second question, we agreed that ILPS must have materials in different languages and ensure that the materials are digestible by the broad masses of people. ILPS organizations must also work among and build struggle the masses of youth, not just students but all youth. Our group’s findings were then summed up and presented before the conference.

Our delegate volunteered for security duty at the 600 person strong community mobilization for CPAC later that evening. This provided more practical experience in our arsenal in regards to effectively planning and handling large demonstrations, mobilizations and protests, and preventing our comrades from being injured or arrested because of negligence or slipshod organizing/poor planning. We had what we had already known regarding the necessity of maintaining open lines of communication, maintaining contact, knowing the location of the nearest hospitals to the protest route, the location of police precincts, and assigning roles and duties to ensure the mobilization goes well to comrades who have experience or skills that would ensure that situations do not get out of hand and comrades have a strong as steel support network in place should anything happen. We also learned the importance of developing a strict protocol of discipline for organizers and security detail in regards to avoiding or de-escalating potentially dangerous situations.

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Mobilization for the anniversary of the murder of LaQuan McDonald. Photo Credit: Bob Simpson.

Chicago is a city of struggle, as is Saint Louis. Both cities have long and proud histories of liberation struggle, both cities have masses of disenfranchised, nationally oppressed, poor people who are, daily, driven deeper and deeper into poverty and new forms of hellish exploitation. Our involvement in the ILPS conference and our linking up with our comrades from across the country gifted us with several valuable practical experiences, lessons, and stories that have sharpened our ability to do our duty to the masses of the whole world, which is to build an organized, disciplined, and anti-imperialist mass movement here in the Saint Louis Metropolitan Area.

Long Live International Solidarity!

We Are Not Amused by Your Phony Debate, We Are Not Registered to Vote, We Will Not Participate in Your Murderous Spectacle!

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Today is October 9, 2016. Tomorrow marks the commemorative holiday of the pig Columbus’s expedition to the Americas, a voyage that spelled genocide or slavery for millions of the indigenous people of these lands, the eventual kidnap and forced slavery of millions of Black people from Africa, and the eventual setting up of the settler nightmare, the plague that calls itself “America”. Tonight, two of the phoniest, blood-soaked, criminal, hypocritical pieces of garbage in the country, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, will descend upon our city for yet another phony song and dance that calls itself a debate. Not just descend on our city, but visit the richest institution of higher learning in the city, Washington University, one that is for all intents and purposes closed to the masses of people. They will yell at each other, run their mouths, act like they hate each other, and then call each other up when they get on the plane to go to their next campaign stops and laugh and pat each other on the back. Trump and Clinton are class comrades, they attend each others weddings, their kids go to the same schools, they move in the same social circles. Trump is a loudmouthed, boastful, racist, fascist braggart, while Clinton is a sneaky war criminal and racist that represents a party that has governed this city for years and has done absolutely nothing whatsoever for the masses of poor black people here. Chief Sam Dotson is a Democrat, yet under him we find it against the law to provide material aid and assistance to the houseless, police brutality run amok, and his department playing a role in aiding and abetting gentrification. Now, it seems, he appears to be ready to run for mayor. He’ll fit right in with people like Slay and others. We don’t have time for it. We’re dying out here. No time to vote. No reason to do so. Whoever wins, there will be struggle. Remember, Ferguson, Baltimore, Milwaukee, and countless other cities went up in flames under the watch of our dear President Obama, who was seen by many in 2008 as the ultimate realization of all black people’s hopes and dreams and the end of racism. See what we have now? Where is our power? Where can we make a difference? In the streets, in the communities, not at the polls.

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Mexican comrades show what to do with ballots.

Voting has nothing to offer us. This is not our system, it never has been, it never will be until we hold power. The rich make the decisions, the working class takes them. Without power, all is illusion. Liberal activist groups posing as revolutionaries, groups such as Socialist Alternative and the so-called “Communist Party, USA”, by discarding and refusing a firm rooting in political theory and the lessons of the past, by refusing to orient towards the lowest and deepest groups of people, by abandoning class struggle and choosing instead to take an approach where they hop from demonstration to demonstration, hawking one meaningless third party candidate or “outsider” like Jill Stein or Bernie Sanders (who gave up the ghost to Clinton without the slightest struggle or delay) after another, registering people to vote, and bending over backwards, chasing meaningless reform after meaningless reform, are rightfully rejected by the masses of people who long for and desire revolution. They talk about Fred Hampton, they talk about the Black Panther Party, and then go right on and channel the righteous anger of the people right back into the system. They holler about a “party of the 99%”, while acting like the left wing of the Democrats. Is this the act of a comrade, or is this the act of an enemy? Who waters down their language, acting as if capitalism is not something that is literally killing us every single day? Call a spade a spade, call a duck a duck. It’s not “the billionaire class”, it’s the capitalists and the imperialists, not all of whom are billionaires. We don’t need a “political revolution” at the polls, where some savior comes down from heaven and delivers us to the Promised Land, we need a revolution like that which the Black Panther Party called for. The power is in our hands, we can solve our own problems, we can deliver ourselves, if we dare to organize, dare to  struggle and dare to win. It is the height of arrogance to call yourself a revolutionary and act as if the polls in an American election are a revolutionary center, and push people there to vote for your worthless candidate.

dontvoterevolt-sameshit

Flyers from comrades in Austin. Expect these to be going up on a telephone pole or streetlight near you very soon.

What is PYO-STL’s line on the elections? What is the revolutionary line on elections in general? Which candidate do we endorse? Jill Stein? Bernie or Bust? Mimi Soltysik? No. We have no rationale or reason to continue to feed and legitimize this election and this fake democracy for the rich and the exceptional. We are revolutionary working class youth, we are revolutionary students. We see the power in our hands, and in the hands of the masses. We don’t vote. Anyone that asks us to register will get an earful, especially if they call themselves a revolutionary. We boycott elections, and prepare to build something new, in the streets, in the hoods, among the people. This is a spectacle that we have no part of, we do not endorse the harassment of our Latino and Muslim comrades, we do not endorse the drone bombing of our comrades overseas, we do not support the system that incarcerates hundreds of thousands of our friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters every year. Fuck Clinton. Fuck Trump. Don’t vote. Don’t let yourself be shamed into voting. Do we want Trump to win? Black and brown working class people might as well have lived under Trump for 400 years, if we study history. We struggle regardless. We show out regardless. We make revolution regardless. DON’T VOTE! REVOLT!