Fight Back! - News and Views from the People's Struggle This newspaper exists to build the people's struggle! We provide coverage and analysis of some of the key battles facing working and low-income people. es Minneapolis protest against U.S. airstrikes in Syria <p>Minneapolis, MN - Well over 50 people attended an emergency protest in Minneapolis on Saturday, February 27, to speak out against the Biden administration bombing of targets in Syria two days earlier.</p> <p>The Minnesota Peace Action Coalition initiated the call for the protest, which was endorsed by other organizations including the Anti-War Committee, Climate Justice Committee, Veterans for Peace and Women Against Military Madness.</p> <p>Participants lined Cedar Avenue on the West Bank in Minneapolis with anti-war signs and banners. Most passersby showed support for the anti-war message. </p> <p>At a closing rally Meredith Aby of the Anti-War Committee said, “We are here to oppose the Biden administration's bombing strike on Syria. This is a blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty. It is an escalation against Iran - which is in direct violation of the campaign promises that he made. With this airstrike, Biden is continuing Trump's aggressive foreign policy against Syria and Iran, now cloaked in tones of supposed ‘reasonability.’”</p> <p>Kristin Dooley, director of Women Against Military Madness said, "For Biden, war trumps human needs. The people need funds to fight COVID, for jobs and housing, not more wars."</p> <p>Minneapolis area peace groups will be continuing to call actions against the endless series of U.S. wars.</p> <p>One member of MPAC, the group that initiated the protest said, "Biden has already indicated that the U.S. will not fully withdraw from Afghanistan by the deadline set in the agreement signed last year. Now the escalation of bombing targets in Syria and the endless wars are the wars of empire, not specific political figures. The process to end these wars will take a massive outpouring of anti-war sentiment."</p> Antiwar Movement Anti-War Committee Biden Minnesota Peace Action Coalition Syria Mon, 01 Mar 2021 14:58:36 +0000 Fight Back 8837 at Plans announced for large-scale protest at Chauvin trial <p>Minneapolis, MN – On February 25, a coalition of more than 20 community organizations held a press conference at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis to demand justice for George Floyd and to announce the intention to express their First Amendment right to protest on the opening day of the criminal trial of Derek Chauvin on March 8.</p> <p>Coalition member organizations stand united in calling for the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd and pressing that Chauvin receive the maximum penalty for his crime. The coalition also made demands for government agencies to remove barricades, fences, razor wire and the threat of deploying the National Guard, all of which are seen as means to keep the people away from the center of trial activity and to interfere with the people’s right to assemble and exercise free speech.</p> <p>The crowd responded passionately to the words of Toshira Garraway, of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, as she spoke of her 11 years as an activist since the murder of her fiancé by police. She said, “They, [the government] value their buildings and want to call out $35 million dollars to protect their buildings when human beings are losing their lives in the middle of the street in the middle of day.” She also declared, “They have stolen something from us that we can never get back.”</p> <p>Angela Rose from the Minneapolis NAACP reminded reporters and supporters about the core message from the people: “We are here to deliver justice because what we need to see is transformation. We are calling for change. The only way we are going to get justice is for our legislative system, our government, to recognize our humanity. This is human rights issue - the murder of Black people in America.”</p> <p>People chanted “This is what democracy looks like” and “No justice, no peace, prosecute the police” in between coalition spokespeople from Twin Cities Coalition Justice 4 Jamar, Communities United Against Police Brutality, CAIR-MN, Black Lives Matter Minnesota, Racial Justice Network, Native Lives Matter, Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, Minnesota Workers United, NAACP, Climate Justice Committee, the Anti-war Committee, and MIRAC. </p> <p>Speakers carried messages that called for justice for all stolen lives, the conviction of all killer cops, dropping the charges against Amina McCaskill and all the MN-646 protesters, community control of the police, and the passage of nine community-supported bills currently at the legislature that would take the first steps toward police accountability in Minnesota.</p> <p>The coalition plans to hold protests for all key stages of the trial. The Facebook event for the March 8 protest is at <a href="" title=""></a></p> African-American Derek Chauvin George Floyd Twin Cities Coalition Justice 4 Jamar Mon, 01 Mar 2021 14:13:45 +0000 Fight Back 8836 at Number of workers receiving unemployment aid stays high <p>San José, CA - The number of people receiving unemployment aid from federal and state governments remained very high in February. Most newspapers and media hailed the decline in the number of new applications for the regular state unemployment insurance and the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, for self-employed and gig workers for last week. However, the latest week reporting the number of people receiving aid for all programs - including UI, PUA, the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or PEUC, and the state Extended Benefits - showed an increase of 700,000. The national total is nine times what it was before the start of the recession a year ago.</p> <p>The big jump came with almost a million more people collecting the federal PEUC, which is for the jobless who run out of their regular unemployment benefits that only last six months. So even though the number of layoffs seems to be falling, there are more and more long-term unemployed who cannot find new jobs after more than half a year out of work.</p> <p>California is especially hard hit by the crisis in unemployment, with more than 4.25 million people collecting aid, making up about 22% of the total of almost 19 million receiving unemployment aid in the U.S. In contrast, California has only 12% of the country’s total population. </p> <p>Recent job gains with the slacking pandemic may reverse in the near future. The sharp decline in COVID-19 cases since early January has flattened out in the most recent week. While new infections are about 75% lower than the peak in January, they are still as high as the summer peak in infections. There are a number of new variants, some identified first in other countries, but others first found right here in the United States. They are much more contagious and are threatening to cause a fourth surge in infections. The danger of this is growing as state and local governments, under pressure from businesses, are rapidly reopening indoor activities that have a higher risk of infections.</p> <p>Optimism about the future of the U.S. economy has also been seen in the rising stock market which hit new record highs earlier this month. But over the last two days, the market has sunk the most since November.</p> Capitalismo y Economía Antiwar Movement Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Sun, 28 Feb 2021 18:58:18 +0000 Fight Back 8834 at Illinois: Falsely imprisoned Johnnie “Khalif” Veal paroled after 50 years <p>Springfield, IL - By an 8-5 vote, the Illinois Parole Board issued Johnnie “Khalif” Veal parole. Johnnie "Khalif" Veal has been falsely imprisoned since 1970. He is accused of killing a Chicago police officer, but he was convicted on no evidence.</p> <p>This morning's February 25 meeting was filled with reflections from the parole board members and testimony from Khalif's supporters. A dozen uniformed Chicago police officers filled the room and the area outside of the hearing, but Khalif's supporters and family remained undeterred. We knew that the evidence of the case, along with our current political context, meant Khalif had the best chance he's ever had for parole. Most importantly, we know his innocence.</p> <p>The parole hearing began at 9 a.m. with a member of the parole board reading the facts of the case. Two board members responded. The first mentioned the context of Cabrini Green and said that she believed the Chicago police coerced the witnesses that tied Khalif to the murder. The second board member pointed to Khalif’s age at the time of the conviction. Khalif was convicted at 17, and this board member said that is proof of his rehabilitation. Both also acknowledged the strong parole plan, and one said it was the strongest they had seen in years.</p> <p>Testimonies from both sides followed the discussion. Sara Garber, Khalif's lawyer, spoke about Khalif’s role in prison mentoring other incarcerated individuals and the respect he receives from his fellow inmates and Hill Corrections staff. She specifically mentioned a time when Khalif was asked to mentor a person with a mental disability who was about to be released. Khalif has used his time in prison to improve the lives of others and has had a lasting impact on many. Garber also spoke to Khalif’s remorse about his time in a gang. She ended by discussing another paroled inmate who had suddenly died. She was reminded of Khalif's case and the length of his incarceration. He has lost many close family members, including his daughter, who passed in 2019. We are currently in the middle of a pandemic, and COVID-19 is spreading in prison. "We cannot wait to do the right thing," stated Garber.</p> <p>Khalif's granddaughter, Peaches, spoke to the role that he has played in her life as a father figure. After the passing of the mother, Peaches said that Khalif is all that she has. She said, "my mother never got to take a walk in the park with her father and never got to hold his hand." She said she doesn't want to lose him and wants to be with him in a way her mother never could.</p> <p>The other side presented testimonies from two relatives of the victims. One of them said, "a civilized society will always stand behind law enforcement." The second, a niece of the victim, said that "some things are unforgivable." She said we must disregard the political aspects of this case and stick to the facts. A member of the parole board seconded the niece's comments and spoke about how painful it was for him to previously parole a person accused of murdering a Chicago police officer. I couldn't help but think about how, in our current political climate, supporting the police is in itself a political act. From packing the room with current Chicago police to the testimonies from the victim's families who thanked the Chicago Police Department multiple times, politics was clearly present.</p> <p>Additionally, CPD has created this false narrative that Khalif was a violent person. The victim’s niece even alleged that Khalif had previously tortured someone and had committed multiple felonies before his arrest. This is not the first time that Khalif has been up for parole or appeals, and the police will always mobilize their officers in opposition. Many of these officers are young and are only motivated by this narrative that because Khalif grew up in Cabrini Green and joined a gang for survival, he must be a morally bad person who automatically committed the crime. Injustices experienced by Black and Latinx people are always dismissed as political, yet the Chicago Police Department’s political actions are acceptable and, in some cases, even honorable.</p> <p>A motion was put on the floor to deny Khalif's parole. The board voted 5-8 against the motion, and Khalif was granted parole. He will be coming home to his partner, grandchildren and group of friends and supporters who have been fighting for his release. Today is a major victory.</p> <p><em>Jazmine Salas is a co-chair of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and was present at the parole board hearing in Springfield.</em></p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression Johnnie Sistema de injusticia Sun, 28 Feb 2021 18:35:49 +0000 Fight Back 8833 at No More Endless War! Hands Off Syria! <p>Fight Back News Service is circulating the following February 25 statement from the Twin Cites based Anti-War Committee.</p> <p>On February 25, the Biden administration launched a bombing strike in Syria. The Anti-War Committee denounces this blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty, as well as the escalation against Iran it represents, with U.S. officials claiming the target was an Iraqi militia they called “Iran-backed”. With this airstrike, Biden is continuing Trump’s aggressive foreign policy against Syria and Iran, now cloaked in tones of supposed reasonability.</p> <p>The Pentagon claimed that bombing Syria “aims to de-escalate the overall situation in both eastern Syria and Iraq.” This is a ridiculous assertion. If the US were actually interested in de-escalation, it would pull U.S. troops and mercenary contractors out of the region (including out of eastern Syria, which has been under illegal US occupation since 2015). The U.S. has been the aggressor for decades in the Middle East through bombings, sanctions, coups, support of dictators, and military occupation.</p> <p>The inauguration of the Biden administration heralded a transition in how the U.S. rationalizes and advertises its foreign policies, not in how it carries them out. Trump justified military attacks under his administration with bluster, racism, and strongman antics. Biden justifies the same actions by claiming they promote human rights and peace. No matter the explanation, the outcome is the same: trillions of dollars wasted meting out death, destruction, starvation, deprivation, refugee crises, environmental disaster, and the suppression of self-determination.</p> <p>The Anti-War Committee continues to fight against these atrocities. We hope you will stand with us to continue the struggle against war and imperialism. This Saturday, noon at May Day Plaza (301 Cedar Ave, Minneapolis), we will protest against these air strikes and say HANDS OFF SYRIA, NO WAR ON IRAN, END SANCTIONS, and US OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST!</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Antiwar Movement Anti-War Committee Fri, 26 Feb 2021 15:38:40 +0000 Fight Back 8831 at FRSO condemns Biden’s military strike on Syria <p>Freedom Road Socialist Organization condemns in the strongest possible terms the February 25 attack launched by the Biden administration on Syria. There is nothing that can justify this cowardly move and it will be opposed by all who stand for peace with justice.</p> <p>President Biden has been telling the world “America is back.” We can now see exactly what he means. The empire of the dollar wants to control the land, labor and resources of others, and is more than willing to use military means to do so. </p> <p>The cold reality is that the U.S. is the aggressor in the Middle East, and Washington is trampling on the right of the people of the region to determine their own destiny. Iran, Syria, the Palestinian resistance and the progressive forces of Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon have built a powerful camp of resistance to imperialism and its Israeli allies. This move by the Biden administration indicates a sharpening of the contradictions and more conflict in the not so distant future.</p> <p>The people and government of Syria have a proud history of standing up against imperialism and Zionism. Western imperialism, with the help of the Israelis, did everything in their power to destroy the country. Syria beat them, and it seems that the Biden administration has a problem with that. </p> <p>In the months ahead progressive and anti-war forces have our work cut out for us. The U.S. needs to get all troops out of the Middle East. Every last one of them. Sanctions on Iran and Syria should be dropped. The U.S. needs to stop calling those who fight for freedom in Palestine, Iraq, Yemen and other countries ‘terrorists.’ </p> <p>End the attacks on Syria!<br /> U.S. out of the Middle East!<br /> End the sanctions on Iran and Syria!</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Antiwar Movement Internacional Joe Biden Medio Oriente Syria Syria Fri, 26 Feb 2021 15:03:51 +0000 Fight Back 8830 at Tallahassee rallies against HB1 <p>Tallahassee, FL - Around 50 people gathered at the Florida State Capitol building, February 20, to protest the ‘combating public disorder bill,’ otherwise known as HB1/SB484. Speakers from organizations all over Tallahassee expressed their dissent and demanded state senators and representatives oppose the bill. </p> <p>“The people are tired of marching while our cries go unheard. The people realize that in order to change the system, we must destroy the system,” said Mutaquee Akbar, president of the NAACP.</p> <p>Other speakers emphasized previous protests that would have been deemed criminal or illegal due to this bill. Speaker Oz Hernandez, the corresponding secretary for the Leon County Democrats, spoke of his first protest, which was a walkout for Trayvon Martin, a Black youth murdered by George Zimmerman in 2012. “Instead of pushing for equity, our politicians push for the limitation of our rights. House Bill 1 is not bringing anything new to the table that’s going to help the current situation,” said Hernandez.</p> <p>Others agreed that HB1/SB484 were especially offensive considering the high rate of unemployment, lack of healthcare and failing facilities of Florida. Trish Brown, outreach coordinator, talked about the bill’s hypocritical and unconstitutional stance, and stated, “We’re still fighting for our freedom. There’s so many issues we should be focusing on such as rent control, utilities, debt, CPAC and racial equality but yet our leaders focused on fast-tracking this bill.”</p> <p>After the speakers were done, individuals from the crowd had an opportunity to speak with. Many emphasized how during the house subcommittee for this bill on January 27, politicians gave the public only one minute to talk.</p> <p>The event was organized by the Tallahassee Community Action Committee. Organizers plan to meet at 400 S. Monroe Street (the Florida Historic Capitol Museum) on March 2 at 2 p.m. to launch a statewide protest against the bill.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Brutalidad Policial HB1/SB484 Political Repression Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) Sistema de injusticia Fri, 26 Feb 2021 03:17:42 +0000 Fight Back 8829 at Black prisoners don't matter to Leon County jails <p>Tallahassee, FL - You are just a worthless Black prisoner, and we don't care about you.</p> <p>That is the message that the white power structure in Leon County is sending to the prisoners in the Leon County jail. Your lives simply don't matter.</p> <p>If you die from COVID-19, good riddance. It will save the public the expense involved in taking care of you.</p> <p>Neither Tallahassee Mayor John Daily, County Commission Chair Rick Minor, County Administrator Vince Long, Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH) CEO Mark O'Bryant, the Leon County Health Department Director Claudia Blackburn, nor any lobbyist or member of the Leadership Tallahassee gang that run this town apparently give a damn about unvaccinated prisoners.</p> <p>CDC guidelines updated on February 16, 2021 clearly state that "jurisdictions are encouraged to vaccinate staff and incarcerated/detained persons of correctional or detention facilities at the same time because of their shared increased risk of disease."</p> <p>Note that prisoners maintaining social distance is impossible in the Leon County jail. </p> <p>None of the discussions on the Friday Covid-19 webinars moderated by lobbyist Gary Yordon and others are much more than tepid propaganda for TMH marketing. </p> <p>There is no discussion of thousands of doses going to private TMH physician partners who can then distribute the vaccine to their private patients with no effective monitoring in place.</p> <p>Only people fortunate to have health insurance and private doctors are eligible for this vaccine. That means that many Black, brown, and poor people are excluded from these doses of vaccines.</p> <p>All of the vaccine should go to public health departments, public clinics, or institutions open to the public, such as churches with no membership requirements.</p> <p>It certainly should not go to powerful, wealthy TMH board members such as Sally Bradshaw, who reportedly received the vaccine at age 55. It certainly should not go to TMH marketing people no questions asked.</p> <p>Getting the vaccine in Leon County depends to a large extent on who you know. That is why the vaccine has gone disproportionately to the white, the rich and the powerful. </p> <p>Blacks dying as a matter of public policy is nothing new to this town. Think of all the Blacks who died because city-owned TMH would not admit them to the hospital.</p> <p>Blacks dying because they have not received COVID testing or the vaccine is the continuation of a tradition that has existed in Tallahassee for decades.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo COVID-19 Sistema de injusticia Fri, 26 Feb 2021 03:05:43 +0000 Fight Back 8827 at #Tally19 stands with Ben Grant and against HB1 <p>Tallahassee, FL - On February 23, at the Leon County Clerk of Courts, the Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) held an outdoor press conference to amplify demands of the #Tally19 - activists arrested last September during and in the days following a Black Lives Matter protest to condemn a grand jury decision that let three Tallahassee killer cops walk free.</p> <p>A large banner behind the press conference podium read: “#Drop the charges #Tally<span style="white-space: pre-wrap; text-decoration-line: line-through;"><span style="font-size: small;">14</span></span><span style="font-size: x-small;"><span style="background-color: transparent; font-variant-numeric: normal; font-variant-east-asian: normal; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> </span></span>19,” reflecting that on September 5, militarized police arrested and charged 14 protest attendees, and in the days after, also arrested four protesters and issued a fill-in-the-blank warrant that still remains nameless. Two of the three Tallyers initially charged with felonies have since had their felonies reduced to misdemeanors. Some of the Tally19 accepted diversion offers requiring community service. Zero individuals among the Tally19 have had all their charges dropped outright, and Ben Grant still faces a felony charge.</p> <p>Guest speakers Reverend Lee Johnson, Miami-based Trey John of Dignity Power, and Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Mattlow, followed by several of the Tally19, including Ben Grant, took to the mic for two urgent goals: drop the felony charges along with all the September 5 charges and defeat HB1 and SB484, companion bills that would further criminalize nearly all public assemblies while giving a free pass to reactionaries for intentionally killing protesters with their vehicles.</p> <p>Speakers pointed out that activists in Florida already organize under threat of mass arrest; already experience criminal and political repression by law enforcement and the court system; and already suffer vehicle attacks by reactionary drivers who consistently enjoy total leniency from law enforcement. Speakers called out Tallahassee’s repeated leniency for drivers of vehicle attacks against Black lives matter marches, and simultaneous criminal and political repression against the Tally19 as specifically inconsistent and unjust, and more broadly as a foreboding test case for the rest of Florida.</p> <p>Trish Brown, press conference emcee, stated, “We are here to demand that State Attorney Jack Campbell and Assistant State Attorney Kathleen Bogenschutz drop the felony charges against Ben Grant, my friend, my community member, and fellow Tally19er. We need all charges to be dropped against all of the Tally19. And we need the community to stand against Governor Ron DeSantis’ anti-protest bills HB1 and SB484.” Brown is a founding member of TCAC, serves as TCAC’s outreach director, ran for city commission in 2020 on a community control of police platform, and was the first arrestee of the Tally19.</p> <p>In addition to hosting Tuesday’s press conference, TCAC also joined with other local organizations to call in to State Attorney Campbell and Assistant State Attorney Bogenschutz in a mass appeal to drop the felony charges against Ben Grant. A sample script published by TCAC for the call-in day reads:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">“On September 5th, community members gathered to protest the unjust grand jury decision which allowed the Tallahassee PD cops who murdered Mychael Johnson, Wilbon Woodard and Tony McDade to walk free. Heavily armed police, who outnumbered protestors 3-to-1, began to brutalize, detain and arrest protestors, with some of them ending up in the hospital. I am calling to demand that State Attorney Jack Campbell DROP ALL FELONY CHARGES against Ben Grant! Protesting injustice in Tallahassee should NOT be criminalized and should NOT be met with militarized brutality from the police!”</p> <p>Ben Grant is facing a felony charge of up to ten years and $10,000 in fines. His next pretrial is on February 25 and he goes to trial on March 1.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Brutalidad Policial HB1/SB484 Political Repression Tallahassee 19 Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) Sistema de injusticia Thu, 25 Feb 2021 03:45:09 +0000 Fight Back 8825 at Austinites rally for those abandoned to Winter Storm Uri <p>Austin, TX - On February 21, a crowd of around 50 people gathered in front of the Homeless Memorial Tree, a local landmark that bears dog tags with the names of 256 homeless people who died in Austin in 2020 alone. In the wake of Winter Storm Uri, community members gathered to participate in the Street Memorial ATX Arctic Week of Crisis, an event organized by Stop the Sweeps Austin, Human Kindness/House the Poor, and <em>The Challenger Street Newspaper</em>. They gathered to mourn the lives lost after unprecedented freezing temperatures wrecked the state, and to express outrage over the city’s inaction in providing any meaningful aid.</p> <p>Speakers decried the city's elected officials' lack of action in providing any significant assistance to those who needed it most. Several speeches highlighted how the responsibility instead fell upon individuals and community organizations who went out in dangerous conditions to help get people food and shelter.</p> <p>After these speeches from various community organizations and individuals, protesters took to the streets. They marched across the First Street Bridge, stopping in front of the mayor's apartment. Chants included "Stop the sweeps, stop the evictions!" and "Mourn the dead, fight for the living!" The march then stopped at City Hall, where more speeches were given, before heading back to the Homeless Memorial Tree.</p> Las Luchas del Pueblo Winter Storm Uri Thu, 25 Feb 2021 03:26:33 +0000 Fight Back 8824 at