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Fighting back in 2012: A look back

Review by staff |
December 31, 2012
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As 2012 comes to an end, we pause to look back at some of the most important Fight Back! stories of the past year. 2012 has been a year full of struggle - and Fight Back! News has been there on the front lines with on-the-spot reporting and timely analysis.

We look back to learn from the past and to get inspiration to continue and expand the struggle in 2013. If there are other articles you liked that aren’t listed here, leave a comment! (Also see 2010 and 2011 retrospectives).

Editorials

2012 was an election year in the U.S. In August, we put out a perspective on the upcoming elections: The 2012 presidential election: In the midst of economic hard times, hope is in the people’s struggles, change is in the streets. Fight Back! celebrated the defeat of reactionary constitutional amendments in Florida, where 8 right-wing constitutional amendments were defeated, and in Minnesota where voter restriction and anti-gay marriage amendments went down to surprising defeats. Our post-election editorial weighed in on the election results and what to expect next. Earlier in the primary election season, Fight Back’s editorial Ron Paul: No friend of the 99% weighed in on the Ron Paul phenomenon in the context of Paul’s efforts to influence the Occupy movement, leading to a lively debate with over 140 comments.

National Mobilizations

There were several national mobilizations in 2012. In July, a broad coalition of anti-war and other groups mobilized to confront NATO’s meeting in Chicago. After the protests, Chicago FRSO leader Joe Iosbaker wrote in Fight Back on lessons of the NATO protests. In September, as a hurricane menaced Tampa, Florida, over 1000 marched on the Republican National Convention. Then a week later in Charlotte, NC, protesters marched outside the Democratic National Convention protesting ‘Wall Street South’.

Labor Movement

The labor movement won a major battle in the fall when the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike, challenging Mayor Emmanuel and the national wave of right wing education ‘reform’. Fight Back’s coverage included a post-strike talk with a leader of the Chicago teacher strike. In North Carolina, the least unionized state in the country, workers at a large SITEL call center started organizing to form a union. Fight Back covered the SITEL workers and supporters standing up to union busting. In Milwaukee, a group of mostly immigrant workers at Palermos Pizza went on strike, and Fight Back has given ongoing coverage, such as in this article, No justice, No Pizza! Also in Milwaukee, immigrant and non-immigrant workers once again had a huge march on International Workers Day, and Fight Back was there to cover it: Milwaukee immigrants and workers march celebrates May Day. Workers at Chicago’s Republic Windows & Doors who carried out a successful factory occupation in 2008 had to take action again in February 2012 when workers occupied their Chicago factory. Around the country, conservative governors and state legislatures tried to pass anti-union ‘right to work’ (for less) laws, and everywhere they tried they met resistance. Fight Back has covered these struggles around the country, such as in Indiana: Indiana workers say “What’s disgusting? Indiana union busting!”.

The Economy

As the economy continued to flounder, Fight Back! gave coverage and analysis. Federal government on course for austerity in 2013 lays out the economic reality facing the country in the new year. The unequal effect of austerity was covered in Rise in unemployment rate means growing unemployment for African Americans and Latinos. People continued to build movements to fight back against the effects of the economic crisis. In Minnesota, the Welfare Rights Committee launched a campaign to “Raise the Welfare Grants”. In New Jersey, groups launched a drive for criminal prosecution of banks.

Fighting Back Against Repression

Fight Back! continues to be one of the most important sources on the growing political repression in the U.S. and the fight back against repression. Fight Back! gave an overall assessment in September of building the battle against repression.

In 2012 Fight Back! covered some important victories and many ongoing struggles against political repression. The biggest victory we covered in 2012 was Carlos Montes’s victory against repression. We also reported on a victory for an immigrant rights activist Joe Callahan who faced charges for ‘human smuggling’ for helping two Salvadoran immigrants trying to get asylum in Canada. Another important victory came at the very end of 2011, when long-time political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal was taken off death row, where he had been since 1981. The struggle continues to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. An important victory happened in Los Angeles, when charges were dropped against Alex Sanchez. Fight Back also covered the Puerto Rican people’s important victory against repression this year when they defeated two repressive constitutional amendments championed by conservative Gov. Fortuño.

The struggle to stop the repression against the Anti-War 23 continued through 2012. Early in the year the Chicago U.S. Attorney office confirmed ‘investigation is continuing’ against anti-war, international solidarity activists, so the Committee to Stop FBI Repression has continued to remain vigilant and organize to stop the repression against them.

Government repression against the Occupy Wall Street movement continued and deepened, so Fight Back! published an assessment of the repression against the movement. Occupy activists and many others continued to protest the NDAA and indefinite detention, such as a protest in Minneapolis at President Obama’s campaign headquarters. Fight Back gives some analysis when President Obama signed the NDAA, allowing for indefinite detention without trial.

At the protest in Chicago against NATO this summer, police singled out 5 people for ridiculous and harsh charges. Fight Back! covered the case and demanded that the government drop the charges against the NATO 5. A grand jury in the Pacific Northwest started calling anarchists to testify against their movement and each other. Fight Back! covered the resistance to the grand jury in solidarity with NW Grand Jury Resisters. An important movement continued in Minnesota in 2012 to free CeCe McDonald. Fight Back gave ongoing coverage to the movement, including when Leslie Feinberg was jailed for solidarity with CeCe.

Some setbacks also happened this year, but these struggles continue too. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the Holy Land Five case. Two Somali women in Rochester, Minnesota were jailed for sending humanitarian aid to their homeland in an outrageous verdict. And in a shocking case, Facebook ‘likes’ were used as evidence of material support for terrorism.

African-American Struggle

The African-American struggle and the movement against police brutality surged in 2012. In March the murder of Trayvon Martin led to protests around the country as people demanded Justice for Trayvon Martin. Fight Back! covered protests in Florida, in Minneapolis, in Milwaukee, and elsewhere. In Anaheim, CA police killings sparked community protests. In Milwaukee, protesters demanded justice for Derek Williams. A People’s Tribunal was held on police brutality. The movement surged again in Florida in response to the murder of Jordan Davis. Black students in Tallahassee and the Tampa Dream Defenders protested to demand justice for Jordan Davis.

Student Movement

Nationally, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) kept building. At their national convention, SDS strategized for the year. Students in Florida protested throughout the year. The Dream Defenders took bold action several times, including when they challenged a presidential debate and 15 people were arrested. In Utah, the Revolutionary Students Union worked together with others to defend the cosmetology program at Salt Lake Community College from attacks and cuts. See more Fight Back coverage of the student movement here.

Immigrant Rights Under Attack

The immigrant rights movement continued fighting attacks in 2012. In June, the Supreme Court struck down most of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB1070. Meanwhile DREAMERS continued to fight to win, as their 10 year struggle moved forward. In March in Alabama, civil rights and labor groups joined to protest voter suppression and anti-immigrant laws. The immigrant rights struggle continued to be sharp in California: in East L.A. the community denounced car impounds, and demanded driver's licenses for all. In July in Anaheim police killings sparked community protests. Los Angeles County Sheriff Baca was told to break ties with ‘Secure Communities’ deportation program. This program was protested around the country, like in Minnesota when the Secure Communities deportation program was implemented there.

LGBTQ struggles

In the 2012 election there were several marriage equality victories. For example in Minnesota an anti-gay marriage amendment and a voter restriction amendment went down to surprising defeat. Also in Minnesota, the fight to free CeCe McDonald came to a conclusion in May when Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald accepted a plea agreement. In North Carolina, a strong struggle was waged to Say no to Amendment One. In Utah students fought against anti-gay discrimination.

International

In 2012 Fight Back continued with important international coverage. In November we demanded a stop to Israel’s war on Gaza, and covered the protests around the U.S., including this one in Minnesota. We also gave analysis when Palestine’s status was elevated at the UN, in a rebuff to Israel and the U.S. And in December Fight Back! covered Leila Khaled’s return to Gaza.

As the U.S. government continued war threats against Iran, Fight Back! gave voice to the anti-war movement, covering protests like one in Salt Lake City. When Iran’s President Ahmadinejad was in New York for a U.N. visit, Fight Back covered his meeting with U.S. U.S. anti-war and religious leaders.

In Latin America, we reported on the gains of socialism in Cuba, where child malnutrition has been eliminated, while in the U.S. nearly a quarter of children are hungry. We also reported on MORENA’s protests of election fraud in Mexico, and reported on Colombian Political Prisoner Lily Obando’s freedom from prison.

Remembrances

In 2012, Fight Back! recognized people who passed away that have made contributions to the struggle. In April, we shared the statement of Freedom Road Socialist Organization on the passing of Comrade Ernesto Bustillos, as well as a remembrance of Joel Olson: A life dedicated to uncompromising struggle. In December, we ran Felicia Montes’s remembrance of Jenni Rivera – La Chicana de la Banda.

Fight Back! at the Movies

In 2012 Fight Back reviewed the new James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Imperialist Service: Skyfall and the politics of 007 in 2012 and the new Batman movie, Blackshirts & Bats: Chris Nolan’s far right worldview in The Dark Knight Rises. The remake of the 1980s anti-communist movie Red Dawn was also reviewed, ‘First tragedy, then farce’: The scandalous imperialism of the Red Dawn remake.

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