PYO-STL Reportback/Summation of J20

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Down with settler-colonialism, capitalism and imperialism!

 

J20 (January 20th, Presidential Inauguration Day for the pigs and fascists of the world, Inauguration Day of Revolution for the people of the world) was marked by militant and advanced demonstrations in several major cities, including the belly of the beast itself, Washington DC. Trump’s inauguration crowd was dwarfed by protesters, of whom many were ready and prepared for deep and heavy struggle. Comrades embracing all sides of the left ideological spectrum, but mostly anarchists and communists, blockaded checkpoints, engaged in physical struggle with the police, and made traffic unmanageable. Several dozen comrades were mass arrested and charged with felony rioting, punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars. In Seattle, a comrade protesting the presence of the fascist Milo Yiannopoulos at a local university was shot in the stomach by a fascist, and we have reached out in solidarity to the IWW of which he was part, expressing our outrage and unity with them at this atrocious act of fascist violence. In Kansas City, comrades from PYO-KC and other revolutionary organizations led a successful, large mass demonstration on the steps of city hall. We stand with and support all comrades who have been arrested, attacked, or brutalized as a result of their daring to struggle.

 

It is the duty of mass organizations that take militant, revolutionary anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-police, anti-misogynist, anti-queerphobic, and anti-racist theory and practice as our guides to maintain a concise and correct political line, and practice the mass-line method of leadership. January 20th, 2017, in Saint Louis divided into two. On one hand, there were advanced actions and interventions, led by PYO-STL members, anarchists, and advanced segments of the masses. The first was a demonstration outside the Old Courthouse, chosen because of its significance and visibility. The Old Courthouse was where the landmark Scott v. Emerson case, in which an enslaved Black person named Dred Scott sued for his freedom, was brought in 1847. The initial plan was to burn a large American flag outside the Courthouse, however, we committed an error in that we did not adequately mobilize the broad masses for this demonstration, and this led to us being outnumbered by the police at least two to one, who saw fit to continue to try to intimidate and hound us by citing burning ordinances and threaten us with arrest. Non-men members of our bloc correctly pointed out the lack of legal support if we had went on with our plan to burn the flag anyways, and we did not do so. Saint Louis is a city where nonmen routinely turn up dead (murdered) in jails, particularly if they are known as political activists or democratic elements, and we agreed that we were not willing to put our comrades into the clutches of the pig-police to be disappeared. We did desecrate the symbol of white-supremacy, genocide, and capitalism-imperialism by stepping on it, and burned several smaller flags that comrades had brought along. This was met with support from working class people of all races who saw us and saw fit to join us for a brief time, and harsh opposition from petit bourgeois/bourgeois/backwards white people who were on their way to work in their high rise office buildings, to drink, or to lunch. Some stopped to attempt to threaten, fight with, or intimidate us, along with the police, but we stood our ground, prepared to defend ourselves and our comrades, and did not run away or hide from the pigs in or out of uniform. None of our contingent was arrested or harmed. As Trump was sworn in, we were rebelling. The second part of our J20 action took place at Saint Louis University, which many of our members attend or have attended in the past. There was a liberal “Love Trumps Hate” demonstration called by liberal organizers on the campus. We had a megaphone, and we still had our large flag, which we used to intervene and inject some struggling spirit into the lazy, take “selfies”, “see and be seen” atmosphere of college “activism”. An aldermanic candidate was invited, and put forth some pathetic “change by voting” line. We are not “activists”, we are militant mass organizers and revolutionaries. One of our members approached the clocktower, stood on the flag, and began criticizing the liberal nature of the demo, particularly the “love trumps hate” line. He also criticized the acceptance of American imperialism under the Obama regime. This was met with visceral rejection from many of the liberals in the audience, who could not handle such tough facts and objected to the desecration of the American flag. Many told him to shut up, and several older white women approached him and began attacking him with ridiculous slogans such as “love trumps hate”, mentioned the white womens’ rights movements of the 1900s which excluded black women, accused us of hijacking the protest, appealed to how many times they’d protested in Ferguson, and even were so bold as to shout “Black People Matter” at a black revolutionary. The comrade didn’t move, and treated this farcical display of white chauvinism with all the attention it demanded. A woman of Indonesian descent who, so she claimed, had “protested dictator Ho Chi Minh”, approached the comrade and demanded to speak. The comrade allowed her to do so, where she proceeded to praise America. Speaker after speaker used our megaphone to put forth their own incorrect views, we weren’t outraged or upset, however. We had changed the character of the demonstration, what was at first a display of defanged liberalism and weakness, sitting around holding signs and talking quietly to each other, became a mass space and an area where all were free to criticize, air their views, and discuss freely. Several people came up to us afterwards looking to discuss revolutionary theory and practice, and expressed interest in our organization and our work. Debate and struggle were encouraged, and we shut none down. At the end, we were once again prevented from burning the flag by the presence of at least 15 police officers who moved in and were ready to attack us, once again, and the liberals were ready to assist them. We did succeed in cutting up the flag with a pair of bandage shears that a comrade of ours had brought. Our most critical error that day was insufficient mobilization of the masses in popular neighborhoods for our demonstration, one that we have learned from and will rectify in practice for future mobilizations. Later that evening, there was another advanced demonstration downtown, led by individuals who had become politically active during the Ferguson uprising and local anarchists, whose willingness to sacrifice and lay down their bodies for struggle is commendable and admirable.

 

The second aspect of the J-20 activity in Saint Louis was that led by the so-called “legal left”, represented by the Socialist Alternative organization, a Trotskyist organization with a presence mainly on college campuses here, particularly Washington University, Webster University, and UMSL (University of Missouri – Saint Louis). They had made a call for a “student walkout” and instructed people to gather at a certain location for a march. This organization claims to be “socialist” (intentional vagueness), doesn’t much care for conducting political education and raising political level, and is a sort of “catchall” group, generating large numbers for its demonstrations not by adherence to revolutionary line and revolutionary practice or by uniting with the demands of the broadest segments of the people, but by embracing the widest swath of liberals and social democrats, calling anyone who criticizes this watered down, milquetoast, “safe” strategy “sectarian”. It claims to be a cadre organization (led by people who have a commitment to revolutionary theory and practice), but functions as a mass organization for the intermediate. We didn’t attempt to intervene in their parade, but we’re familiar with their formula, gather two hundred or so people for what is essentially a parade around the Central West End or the Delmar Loop with liberal slogans such as “Not My President”, maybe a few Bernie Sanders signs and tired appeals to form a “mass party of labor” and for “democratic socialism” of Scandinavian type, free shit but no people’s power. No militancy, same tired legal-left formula, same results. Consistent misleading of the masses down reformist, electoral dead ends. SAlt, during the election, was pulled and tossed here and there, first endorsing Bernie Sanders, then tailing the Green Party and Jill Stein, while also boosting their shining star, City Council member Kshama Sawant of Seattle. Essentially, nothing radically different from what the legal-left has been doing all along. It’s boring, and the illusion of revolutionary struggle that they have entails electing some shiny candidate, claiming credit for others’ work, and trying to isolate actual revolutionaries as being “crazy Maoists” or “sectarians”, this is par for the course for organizations like SALT and the ISO, and we repudiate them. PYO-STL is not an explicitly Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organization, we have members who are Maoists and we admire and study MLM theory and make use of MLM practice to organize our communities, but we welcome members from all backgrounds, as long as they unite with the Principles of Unity laid out by our organization and accept our organization’s discipline. Our focus is on mass work and application of the mass line, which means going among the most oppressed segments of the population and working to help them solve their problems, using their ideas and desires to build actual people’s grassroots political power in the community, through mass organizations such as PYO-STL and Serve the People, STL. Elections and toothless marches behind police escorts can not help us.

 

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Farce.

 

January 21st marked the “Women’s March on Saint Louis”, along with Women’s Marches in other cities across the country that put over 4,000,000 people in the street. The people that marched were of course, of all backgrounds, but what struck us was the overall whiteness of the demonstration and its organizers. Particularly in Saint Louis, the organizers and those that supported the march showed an all too familiar willingness to silence voices of criticism and descent from Black and Brown women, this was unacceptable to us and we did not engage with this march after hearing that a black woman student was shouted down at an organizational meeting for daring to criticize the white organizers. The issues of trans people were swept under the rug and ignored wholesale in many instances, and our duty as a revolutionary mass organization is to listen to oppressed gender comrades and repudiate cissexist line and practice wholeheartedly. We also repudiate and criticize the fact that the organizers of the march were willing to work with and take marching orders from the police and treat them as friends, instead of enemies that kill, r*pe, and abuse black women every day in this country. When we see a movement, we must ask “for whom”, and it was obvious that this movement did not adequately center the needs and demands of oppressed nationality women, working class women, trans people, and sex workers. In short, it does not address and was not led by the most oppressed groups of women, and read more as a “reaction” instead of a revolutionary movement. While we acknowledge that this event may have politicized people and helped in the beginning of their transition to better politics, we couldn’t in all good conscience endorse it wholeheartedly as an organization. Political line is key, and we will not compromise our principles because something is large or a lot of people are involved in it.

 

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Comrades in NYC oppose Trump’s war on immigrants.

 

What are we to do now? There are repeated attacks on vulnerable communities ranging from oppressed nations people to oppressed gender people to working class people to Muslims and Jews. Our task as a revolutionary anti-capitalist mass organization is to continue to develop and deepen links within these communities to enable us to develop a fighting people’s movement in our city that can not only resist or get people out for a march, but build power and bases from which we can actually defend our communities. Our schools, our neighborhoods, our community centers must and will be no-go zones for fascists, police, and all who would seek to destroy us. We are building a United Front against Fascism and a Coalition to Defend Immigrants in Saint Louis, and call all organizations and groups from within our communities targeted by Trump to join us in this endeavor. As Trump sharpens his claws, we must as well. All out for a mass demonstration led by PYO-STL and STL-RC (Saint Louis Revolutionary Collective) on February 17, 2016 to oppose fascism, capitalism, imperialism and xenophobia!

 

LONG LIVE THE RESISTANCE! BUILD THE REVOLUTION! DARE TO STRUGGLE, DARE TO WIN!

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!

All out For Mass Demonstration Against The Police and in Solidarity With Milwaukee Uprising and Undocumented Workers and Students on August 20th!

All reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality, they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are powerful. – Mao Zedong

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What have the police and the system in Saint Louis learned over the past two years? In the country as a whole? Obviously and blatantly, nothing at all. The masses of Ferguson and the metropolitan area as a whole find themselves still in the fundamental conditions that drove the rebellion that began on August 9, 2014. The masses of black and brown working class youth still find themselves in the same conditions that sparked uprisings in Baltimore, and as we type this statement, in Milwaukee as well. Nothing has changed of importance, the police are fundamentally just as bold, bad, crooked, and bloodthirsty as they have always been, they continue to kill our sisters and our brothers and our people as we go about our day-to-day lives and activities. They won’t stop because we ask nicely. Our protest is not to ask nicely. It is a show of strength and mass anger. From Sandra Bland to Philando Castile to Alton Sterling to Sylville Smith to Vonderrit Myers to Korryn Gaines, shot while holding her weapon and her child, it continues and will continue until we seriously organize to stop it once and for all. The liberal nongovernment agencies and foundations and think-tanks and protest parties and electoral voodoo experiments can not save us, only we can. Electing a different alderman, governor, mayor, or President can not save us, Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein or any of the other “leftists” that are running for offices across the country can get there, and the structure and system and economic foundation that holds us in bondage and sends the police to arrest, maim, ticket, fine, and kill us will still be in place.

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The police do not just exist to oppress black people, although American police forces originated directly out of patrols that had as their first role the capture and punishment of runaway enslaved African people. The police serve to oppress and maintain an order of things that is against the entire working class, documented and undocumented, black, white, and brown. The police harass and brutalize our trans comrades, they have broken strikes with force, they have spied, disrupted, and helped derail and destroy working class and democratic movements all around the world since their beginning as organized bodies, and they grind down and crush in some way, shape or form those who hav. The state, which is controlled by a class, in our case, the rich, have armed forces and bodies that serve to protect the interests of the class for whose benefit the state is set up. These bodies are the police and military. Neither are to our advantage in any fashion, and only serve to oppress. Our undocumented comrades, whose native countries have been looted and destroyed by the United States for the benefit of the rich, come across hundreds of miles of treacherous desert to be exploited mercilessly, have taxes taken out of their pay for benefits such as Social Security, Medicaid, and other things that they are forbidden from using, and here in Missouri, DACA students have been singled out and have seen tuition rises and have been cast into even more precarious situations as a result of the reactionary and anti-people HB2003 law, which charges them out of state tuition rates to attend Missouri schools. This is a shameful and oppressive nightmare that we, along with our comrades PYO-KC and progressive forces in both cities have united against. The police at the state and federal levels oppress comrades by helping employers who take advantage of their immigration status to exploit them, deporting them, throwing them into miserable holes called prisons, or forcing them to live in limbo, never knowing when they’ll be separated from their families by armed force. This is a crime and an affront to all progressive and revolutionary minded people, and we in PYO-STL intend to unite in struggle with our comrades across the state to defend and expand our comrades’ rights to education, carry struggle to higher levels, and generate firmer bonds of solidarity.

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There can never be any change, at least not the type of change that we must have and that we shall have, unless we unite, organize, and struggle with the guiding and overarching knowledge that it is we, the masses of youth, workers, students, and other segments of people who simply can not continue to live in this way and demand a better future, that make history, and that history can only come about with the ultimate destruction of this system of capital imperialism that leaves so many of us dead in the streets and incarcerated and scarred for life. Our struggle is not for reform, it is not for the mayor’s office, it is not for a council seat or a presidency. It is not for simple lower tuition rates, better pay, or free printing. It is not to disarm the police or to put body cameras on them. It is not for more money for this and that program, or for more black and brown and non-male faces in high places. It is a struggle of one class against another, oppressed against oppressor, exploited against exploiter, in which one class or the other will ultimately be defeated. This mass demonstration against the police is not a mere exercise in walking and pithy sign holding, our demonstrations are not jointly planned with pigs and those that do this for pay. We do not protest for protest’s sake.  Our demonstrations are shows of strength and force and anger, and have meaning and purpose. The purpose of this demonstration is to continue to expose the contradictions between the police, the system that directs them, and the people. We will continue to organize against the pigs and the pig system, whether the head be Trump or Clinton. We are not scared, we dare to scale the heights, build for revolution and march forward knowing that our class will ultimately be victorious. Join PYO-STL and our comrades in the Greater Saint Louis Anti-Fascist Action Network and others as we dare to take the streets with the full knowledge that we will win!

 

Long Live the Memory of Philando Castile, Sandra Bland Korryn Gaines, Sylville Smith, Kajieme Powell, Mike Brown, Vonderrit Myers and countless other victims of police murder!

 

Solidarity with the Milwaukee Uprising!

 

Hands off our DACA and undocumented worker comrades!

 

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!
Progressive Youth Organization – Saint Louis