2016 was a radically transformative year for Saint Louis, the State of Missouri, the United States, and the world. Locally, we saw deepening of contradictions across the board. We saw the continued police war on the masses of working class people of this city, particularly Black people. In the depths of winter, the police and the city government continue to attack our houseless comrades, ordering the closing of the last remaining shelter in the Downtown area to satisfy gentrifiers, individuals who make vast sums of money and desire to whiten the area, opening and patronizing businesses that black people are harassed at, using apps like NextDoor to slander and harass the masses of working people, and summoning the police to kill, arrest, fine, and torment. Several times this year, the city Streets Department, under the watchful eye of the police who arrested everybody that attempted to intervene, seized and destroyed property belonging to houseless comrades in the area around the New Life Evangelistic Center which is struggling to remain open in the face of the order to close. The city doesn’t care where these comrades go, they can go to the Mississippi River and jump in for all Slay and the philistines running to take his place care. All that matters to these filthy pigs is that they disappear from the streets, to the white elites with money that control this city. Ferguson and North County remains as it was before 2014, plagued by an almost all white government that lives at the people’s expense, with an occupying police force, fining and taxing and killing like mad. East Saint Louis is still a city in ruins, left to rot by neoliberalism which snatched jobs away to exploit people in foreign countries. Monsanto and other companies that make dangerous chemicals still are located in extremely close vicinity to this area, belching toxic poison into the air that black children breathe. The fire at West Lake still burns, threatening to poison entire communities. The election of the fascist Trump, and the capture of the state government by Eric Greitens and his clique (replacing the Democrat Nixon’s group which filled our streets up with soldiers, ready to kill, in 2014) makes all of these contradictions much more deep, although a Clinton regime wouldn’t have been any better. Fascists roam our streets and our schools, leaving their disgusting propaganda and threatening the lives of our comrades. This makes the work of Progressive Youth Organization, STL, much more important, and means that we must sharpen, deepen, and expand our efforts to further build and protect a revolutionary mass base in Saint Louis and the surrounding area, to serve the people, and to build organized people’s dual power to wage protracted combat and capture terrain against and from organized pig power and reaction.
The overarching, major issue for the masses of working people in Saint Louis and Missouri, especially Black and Brown people, is the fact that the ruling system and the class it serves is, by design, oppressing and exploiting them. Democrats run this city, what have they done? Contrary to the pathetic and disgusting tailist screeds of our local Socialist Alternative revisionists and reformists, which, during the election season, first supported Bernie Sanders, even going so far as to lead a “March for Bernie”, then the Jill Stein campaign, pathetically and opportunistically tacking themselves on to every pseudo-left social democrat that came around while refusing to actually participate in mass work, because they can’t, or the worthless work of the local Communist Party, USA chapter, which wasted time registering people in working poor neighborhoods to vote, PYOSTL boycotted the elections, because we know that shit won’t change by electing one or another “new” candidate, “Superman” or no Superman. Change comes through our own hands, our own organization, and our own struggle. To engage with this system and its elections in any way, shape or form is to lead the masses down dead ends and channel their hankering for struggle and power into worthless and meaningless acts, a protest every month. Protests are fine, but we see them as shows of force and threats, things that upset the apple cart and make reactionaries feel uncomfortable in their gut, not things that you invite politicians and other representatives of the ruling class to. Whether they be students, workers, or unemployed, people suffer at the hands of the police that shoot and arrest them, the rest of the city and state governing apparatus that peel and pare us for every last dime, exploiting petit-bourgeois business owners that own the only stores in our hoods and charge outrageous prices for expired and inferior food, and slave-driving, parasitic bosses that suck their blood and bones. Particularly, in majority Black, working class areas of North County and North City, there are several areas that have been determined to be food deserts, where the masses of working people have to pay exorbitant prices to get basic foods and other items from small convenience stores. One of our members saw a two day expired loaf of white bread for sale in a Spanish Lake store for $4.
This is shameless, brazen, and unacceptable exploitation. To make things worse, the Trump era will herald a wave of cuts to already pathetically funded social services programs such as SNAP, SSI, and other things that many people rely on to survive. Furthermore, gentrification is beginning to sink its claws into several areas, particularly with the development of the imperialist NGA spy site in North Saint Louis (at the expense of several poor Black families). To this end, our primary and most pressing task for the New Year is to launch a weekly “Serve the People” program under the auspices of PYO, which, of course, will gather and distribute food, clothes, and other necessities, but we are not launching a mere charity program, to do so would make us no different than the Baptist churches that see our people suffering and continue to preach pie in the sky, or Food Not Bombs. The ultimate purpose of a Serve the People program is to help in the process of building a revolutionary dual power in a working class area, and put ourselves among the people, where we can easily listen to and gather their correct ideas and hear their stories of bitterness, accept criticism of our work from them, and develop and sharpen struggle in the area in an all around way, while also raising the political level of the people and having our own raised as well. This program will initially be launched in a working class neighborhood, because the working class is the revolutionary class, and we are working class partisans and revolutionaries. Furthermore, the students who are members in PYO must constantly be removed from their stuffy atmosphere of books and petit-bourgeois ideas/theories, and be amongst the people constantly to shake these ideas, tendencies, and traits. A day of social practice and work with the masses is worth more than 20 books. While the program will be carried out in one working class neighborhood initially, as we grow and develop our capabilities and abilities, we will expand and hopefully have a presence in several working class districts by this time next year. It is imperative that we begin collecting resources for this immediately, particularly durable food items, toiletries, and clothing. Please contact us if you are interested in offering space, have items to donate, or would like to volunteer for this weekly program. Our city calls for this important instrument of struggle and people’s power, showing that we do not need to rely on the pig system to feed and clothe our own people, and we intend to deliver. We also plan to launch a “Voice of the People – Saint Louis” YouTube program, a mass propaganda and journalism organ that will enable us to cover news of mass interest, highlight important issues and struggles that are taking place in our city, name and shame reactionary politicians, police, fascists, business owners, and bosses that abuse the people, collect mass perspectives, highlight our work, and present the revolutionary situation in Saint Louis and, especially, the work of PYO-STL for the review and criticism of comrades across the country and world. We encourage other mass organizations to consider beginning a similar program.
The reactionary pig Missouri legislature recently passed legislation which has an extremely ominous impact for Black and Brown youth in the Saint Louis area. Under this legislation, “fights” at school can now bear criminal charges, specifically, Class E felony charges. To quote a Saint Louis Post Dispatch article:
“Starting Jan. 1, third-degree assault and some cases of harassment will become class E felonies. Harassment will be a felony, rather than a misdemeanor, if the victim suffers “emotional distress” from an act committed with that purpose. The state considers harassment to be a form of school bullying, and harassment is among the offenses school districts are technically required to report to local law enforcement.
Also under the new law, a person who “knowingly causes physical injury to another person” will have committed the felony of third-degree assault.
At least two area school districts, Hazelwood and Ferguson-Florissant, have already interpreted that definition to mean that any student, no matter their age, who gets in a fight can be charged with a felony.”
As we all know, the goal of this system is to introduce as many black and brown youth to the criminal justice system as possible, ruining chances for college and employment, and forcing them to become criminals or work exploitative and dangerous jobs to maintain themselves, effectively throwing them into a revolving door. These efforts stepped up after the revolt in Ferguson. Essentially, the government is trying to punish us for daring to rebel. We refuse to go to prison and jail, and we will fight like hell to ensure that this reactionary legislation is fought lock, stock and barrel. To this end, we will begin efforts to expand our organization into high schools and middle schools, building up an apparatus and conducting educational sessions and studies with high school students to teach them about great revolutionaries and revolutionary movements, build solidarity among working class students from different national origins and backgrounds, and, most importantly, build power in the secondary schools, especially in North Saint Louis City and North Saint Louis County, to develop all around and deep struggle among the city’s youth. The schools must be liberated, snatched from under the noses of the reactionaries, and become trenches of combat. With the VICC (voluntary interdistrict busing program, begun in the early 1980s) ending, effectively, in 2024, this is extremely important work, because students that formerly would have been bused will begin to be concentrated in their own, working class neighborhoods and beginning this organizing in the secondary schools now will solidify and ensure a solid apparatus for struggle in these communities by that time. Any student, teacher, or parent that would like to help facilitate a PYO study group and possibly help develop a branch at a local school, please email us or leave us a Facebook message.
Fascists have been emboldened by the victory of Donald Trump, who has courted them, and welcomed them into his White House. Alt-right is an insufficient cover for what they really are, Hitlerites and pogromists who would arrest and kill every single one of us who do not conform to their wicked way of thought, share their ethnic background, or fit into their mold. Already, we have seen a spike in hate crimes since his election. Trump continues to slander and attack our Latinx and Muslim comrades, on top of state level attempts to deny them access to universities (HB2003, see the Partnership for the Advancement of Immigrant Students Facebook Page to gain knowledge on the efforts of comrades in KC on this issue and the threat that immigrant students face). We seek to develop a similar apparatus to help protect immigrant students here in STL, and welcome any organization interested in forming a coalition with us on this to contact us. We ourselves have a fascist problem in our city, several have slithered out of their holes to paper the city with “Identity Evropa” flyers and antagonize a black student at Webster University with hundreds of racist flyers dumped outside of his dorm room. Obviously, there simply is not enough room for both the people and the pigs without badges in this city, and our third major task for 2017 is to expand the struggle against fascism. The fascists feel comfortable around university campuses, most of the flyers we have seen and removed have appeared around these areas. To this end, we will begin an anonymous reporting system for hate crimes and anti-people incidents, businesses, and institutions, and develop a network to ensure rapid response to these incidents, mass mobilization, and material, physical and emotional support for targeted individuals or families. Also, we would like to point out, the state of Missouri has some of the laxest firearms laws in the United States. Lawful owners of firearms can conceal and carry them anywhere in the state, although local jurisdictions can still institute restrictions (no carry without permit), and stand your ground restrictions now do not require people to back away from a threat in public if there is a fear of bodily harm. To quote an article in the Columbia Missourian:
“Missouri became the latest state to allow residents to carry a concealed weapon without a permit when lawmakers supported the change Wednesday.
Starting Jan. 1, gun owners will be able to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. The remaining provisions in the bill, including the expansion of “stand your ground,” will take effect in 30 days.”
Instead of being afraid like liberals, we welcome this change, are taking advantage of it, and encourage other people of non-white origin, from minority religions, queer people, or who otherwise are threatened with death in this Empire to exercise their right to own and train with a firearm, and take steps to secure their meetings, demonstrations, and events from fascist attack. Guns are not primary, and we are not a “gun club”, but there is no making revolution while dead, and anybody with the capability to do so should arm themselves without hesitation or delay. Anyone who is interested in joining or assisting in our antifascist work and joining a Saint Louis Coalition Against Fascism, please contact us.
2017 is the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, when the workers and peasants of what was soon to become the Russian Revolution dared to storm the gates and overthrow the degenerate and bankrupt government, delivering us the first socialist state. In their memory, and in the memory of all who have advanced our course towards a better and more just world, we will build for revolution in a real way in our city in 2017.
DARE TO STRUGGLE, DARE TO WIN!
DEEPEN AND EXPAND PEOPLE’S POWER IN SAINT LOUIS!