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2011: A year of fighting back against oppression and repression

Analysis by staff |
December 30, 2011
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It’s an old saying - oppression breeds resistance. In 2011, we saw that it’s still true. In 2011 there were massive new outbreaks of resistance around the world, from Egypt’s Tahrir Square to mass upsurges in Greece, Chile and Spain and to the Madison, Wisconsin capitol building and Occupy Wall Street in the U.S. In 2011 long-standing resistance struggles continued to push forward too, from Palestine to the Philippines to Nepal to Colombia.

Fight Back! is dedicated to reporting “news and views from the people’s struggle,” so we’ve had a lot to write about this year as the people’s fight back against oppression surged around the world.

And just as oppression breeds resistance, it’s also true that when people resist, the powers that be resort to repression against the people. In 2011 Fight Back! has had a lot to write about in the fight against repression too.

Here we’ll highlight Fight Back! coverage of several struggles that made a mark this year, along with links to other similar stories for those that want to dig deeper. As the New Year begins, we recommit ourselves to reporting from the front lines of the people’s struggle against oppression and repression.

11. Fight Back! in the spotlight

Fight Back! came into the national spotlight in March, as hated reactionary host Glenn Beck lashed out at Fight Back! and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression for about 15 minutes on his TV show. Our article Glenn Beck attacks Fight Back! News and Committee to Stop FBI Repression explains where Beck’s twisted coverage comes from and gives the link to his coverage.

10. Labor movement

The labor movement got a jolt in 2011 when Wisconsin’s legislators and Governor Walker went for the jugular by ramming through a bill destroying public sector unions in the state. In the broadest labor mobilization in years, union members and other workers poured into the streets and into an ongoing occupation of the Wisconsin state capitol to try to prevent them from voting on this law. Fight Back! was there reporting from the front lines, including on Feb. 26 when 150,000 workers surrounded the capitol in the biggest protest during the Wisconsin upsurge. On March 11, when the showdown came and protesters battled to hold off police and maintain control of the capitol to prevent legislators from coming in to vote away union rights, Jacob Flom’s photo essay captured the battle for labors future in the corridors of the Wisconsin capitol. Fight Back! was on the scene as labor activists from around the world came together in April in Greece for the 16th Congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). Read more about the labor movement here.

9. Student movement

As the movement in Wisconsin blossomed into a protracted occupation of the state capitol in early 2011, students were also at the forefront. In Milwaukee, 3000 students walked out in support of public workers, led by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) chapter at UW-Milwaukee. The student movement blossomed across Florida in the fall semester, with new student activist groups forming around the state and taking up and winning struggles. In the summer Fight Back! reported from the annual student march in El Salvador commemorating a massacre of students by the military in 1975. This year 2000 students marched through the streets of San Salvador with high spirits and militancy. And back in the U.S., students continued to oppose U.S. warmakers when they showed up on campuses. In that spirit, in March Milwaukee SDS members disrupted a CIA recruitment event. Read more about the student movement here.

8. Culture

On the serious side, Fight Back! covered an important historical cultural event in 2011 as Peoples artist Iwao Lewis Suzuki was recognized for his lifetime of art and activism in August. On a lighter note, Fight Back!’s article by Cooks for a Cause member Steff Yorek, How to Cook a Great Holiday Turkey was both popular and practical!

7. Poor peoples movement

The Fight Back! article that got the most views this year was an article about a bizarre and draconian Minnesota Republican proposal to attack people on welfare. The article Minnesota Republicans say: Poor people with money should be outlaws generated over 46,000 reads and dozens of comments. See more coverage of poor people’s movements here.

6. International

As in past years, Fight Back!’s international coverage was insightful and unique. Fight Back! was one of the few media outlets to cover the case of two Somali women humanitarian workers who were unjustly convicted onterrorismcharges in October. In June when Colombia’s ultra-right-wing former President Uribe showed up in Utah, Fight Back! reported on Utah students protest of Uribe, Colombia's death squad ex-president. When militant trade unionists from all over the world met in April, Fight Back! was one of the few U.S.-based media outlets to report on the 16th Congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU). One international story that did get a lot of coverage in the media was the nuclear disaster in Japan in the spring. But Fight Back!’s coverage stood out in that it brought an anti-capitalist perspective to this terrible disaster. See more international coverage here.

5. Immigrant rights movement

In 2011, the immigrant rights movement continued to mobilize around the country. Many of the fights were defensive. For example in Alabama, immigrants and supporters fought back against HB 56, the harshest anti-immigrant state law yet. In Georgia, 8 undocumented youth were arrested protesting as hundreds marched to protest Georgias outrageous education ban for undocumented students. This was part of the national movement of undocumented youth coming out as “undocumented and unafraid.” The most successful push nationally was against the ‘Secure Communities’ deportation program, which is responsible for record numbers of deportations and separation of families. After winning the battle in several states, activists pushed to expose the FBI’s role behind this nefarious program when they exposed internal FBI documents that laid bare the FBI's role behindSecure Communitiesimmigrant deportation program. And as in every year since 2006, immigrants led the push for massive International Workers Day marches on May 1. One of the biggest this year was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Fight Back! reported on the scene from the massive Milwaukee May Day march for immigrant and workers rights. See more immigrant rights coverage here.

4. US/NATO invasion of Libya

In 2011, the U.S. and NATO invaded to overthrow the sovereign government of Libya. The anti-war movement in the U.S. sprung into motion to stop U.S. intervention. Fight Back! provided crucial analysis about the war against Libya and why it was necessary to oppose intervention. For example Fight Back! covered an important panel in Milwaukee featuring speakers from SDS, FRSO, and the Nation of Islam analyzing the war against Libya. And while the capitalist media reported lie after lie about Libya, Fight Back! provided facts about the reality of the U.S./NATO bombings, for example analyzing the war on Libya as U.S. air strikes and cruise missile attacks began. See more Libya coverage here.

3. Crisis of capitalism

Fight Back! continued to provide sharp and clear analysis of the crisis of capitalism. As the Occupy movement popularized the struggle of the 99% against the 1%, Fight Back! published two articles breaking down in Marxist terms who are the one percent? and who are the 99%. See more analysis of capitalism and the economy here.

2. Occupy Wall Street

In 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement spread like wildfire around the U.S. One of the key flashpoints was on Oct. 1 in New York City, when the Police Department trapped and arrested 700 Occupy protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge. In response to this outrageous repression, new Occupy encampments sprouted up in hundreds of cities around the country.  This Fight Back! photo essay captures the spirit of the Oct. 1 march in New York. Another huge day for the Occupy movement was on Nov. 2 in Oakland, California, when the Occupy movement called for a general strike. They mobilized tens of thousands of people and shut down the port for the day. Fight Back's photo essay from Oakland's day of action Nov. 2 tells the story. See more Fight Back! coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement around the country here.

1. Resistance to FBI repression

Fight Back!’s most extensive coverage in 2011 was of the ongoing struggle to stop FBI repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists. On Sept. 24, 2010 several activists’ homes were raided by the FBI in Chicago and Minneapolis and 23 activists were called before a grand jury investigating “material support for terrorism” charges. They all refused to testify, and so far nobody has been indicted or jailed. The movement to defend the anti-war and solidarity activists is a high priority for Fight Back!. On May 18, Fight Back! reported on the Unveiling of secret documents the FBI accidentally left behind at one of the activistshomes they raided last September. The documents gave their operational plans and a series of McCarthyistic questions they planned to ask people about their relationship to Freedom Road Socialist Organization and other groups. A day later, the number of targeted activists grew to 24 and Fight Back! reported on a new raid related to the September 2010 raids, when the FBI and LA Sheriff deputies FBI and Los Angeles County Sheriff raided the home of veteran Chicano activist Carlos Montes. We then reported on the immediate protests by supporters of Carlos Montes denouncing the FBI/Sheriff's raid, and demanding that all charges be dropped.

Fight Back! gave political analysis of the FBI raids, their context, and the struggle ahead as the one year anniversary of the 2010 raids came. First was a statement on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks: September 11 ten years later: Pretext for war and repression. Then was a statement calling for people to stand against repression, drop the charges against Carlos Montes and prepare for more challenges ahead. Finally there was a statement from the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, One year since the September 24 FBI raids and Grand Jury subpoenas.

The movement to stop FBI repression against anti-war and international solidarity activists is a grassroots movement. One highlight of the grassroots protests was a protest in Chicago where activists directly confronted U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald on his grand jury witch hunt. But in 2011 the movement’s influence reached from the streets into the halls of the U.S. Congress as around a dozen members of Congress issued statements against the FBI repression. One of the sharpest of those statements was Rep. Kucinichs letter to Attorney General Holder in July challenging FBI repression of anti-war and solidarity activists. As the laws of repression have worsened, Fight Back! reported on it to our readers, such as when the FBI relaxed rules for their domestic spying operations in their 2011 handbook.

And finally Fight Back! made the connections between the current FBI repression of anti-war activists and the thousands of other people, mostly Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians, who have been targeted by the FBI since 9/11. Fight Back! reported from a conference in Atlanta in May that brought together people fighting back against many cases of such repression, the Law as a weapon of warpeoples assembly. And in November, Fight Back! reported on the successful and inspiring national conference of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. At that conference a renewed commitment was made to fight the repression against Carlos Montes as his trial nears, to stop any indictments or jailing of the 24 anti-war anti-war activists and to build a united front against all such cases of government repression. The coverage of the movement to stop FBI repression will continue to be a large focus for Fight Back! in the coming year. See more coverage of the struggle against FBI repression here.

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