Fight Back! - News and Views from the People's Struggle http://www.fightbacknews.org/ 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. en Milwaukee VA workers fight union busting http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/17/milwaukee-va-workers-fight-union-busting <p>Milwaukee, WI - Fifty Veterans Affairs workers and supporters rallied outside the Zablocki VA hospital August 12 to protest union-busting, attacks on high-quality public veteran healthcare, and bad faith bargaining by the VA administration.</p> <p>The rally was organized by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 3 and supported by the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Veterans for Peace and elected leaders including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Moore and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin.</p> <p>AFGE members and representatives detailed shocking accounts of the extreme measures that the VA administration is taking to strip union rights. VA negotiators are intentionally obstructing contract negotiations with the union, trying to force an impasse after only ten days of bargaining. VA negotiators proposed scrapping 63% of the current contract, which would effectively gut many basic union rights.</p> <p>"We have to stand up and fight!" said AFGE district organizer Don Evans as he railed against the anti-union tactics of the VA and Trump administration. "You want to make America great? No more shutdowns, stop balancing the budget with our paychecks," continued Evans, "You want to make America great? Restore the integrity of the VA hospital and bargain in good faith!"</p> <p>Under the Trump administration, federal agencies including the Department of Veterans Affairs have essentially declared war on federal government workers and their unions. VA employees who are active in their union, enforcing the contract and defending workplace rights, are being singled out and targeted for discipline and harassment by management. The assault on union rights at the VA is part of a much larger effort by the Trump administration and employer-funded groups to weaken unions and disenfranchise working class people generally. </p> <p>Milwaukee VA workers say bargaining had been scheduled to continue until December, and they will not back down in the face of harassment and bad faith bargaining.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/17/milwaukee-va-workers-fight-union-busting#comments People's Struggles AFGE Donald Trump Public Sector Unions Veteran Affairs Young Workers Committee Labor U.S. Sat, 17 Aug 2019 18:21:14 +0000 Fight Back 7563 at http://www.fightbacknews.org The Hong Kong protests are an attack on socialism http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/17/hong-kong-protests-are-attack-socialism <p>There’s a tendency among progressives in the United States to support big crowds of people protesting in other countries. No doubt, the corporate media assists in this process by labelling certain movements ‘pro-democracy’ or ‘freedom fighters.’</p> <p>But not all protests or marches are progressive, even if they attract large crowds. The Tea Party movement in the U.S., for instance, brought out hundreds of thousands of angry small business owners and shrill middle-class professionals. They were far from spontaneous demonstrations, however; big business orchestrated this giant spectacle to advance its own class interests. Armed with racist demagoguery and free-market economics, the Tea Party helped elect a set of Republican governors that waged war on organized labor, slashed funding for public schools and rolled back health care benefits for working people.</p> <p>No doubt foreign journalists could - and some did - cover the Tea Party as a ‘pro-democracy’ movement based on their slogans and rhetoric, but only without asking, “Democracy for who? Freedom for who?” These words are meaningless divorced from context since they mean different things to different classes. Anytime we see protests like those in Hong Kong, we have to ask: What is their class character? Whose interests does this serve?</p> <p>When the corporate media heaps praise on protesters in countries like Venezuela or China while demonizing mass movements here in the U.S., something else is going on.</p> <p><strong>How to get away with murder</strong></p> <p>Let’s get this out of the way right at the start: The wave of protests that have gripped Hong Kong in the past few months has nothing to do with democracy, due process or the rule of law.</p> <p>The recent Hong Kong protests come in response to a proposed extradition treaty between Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan and Macau. In 2018, Chan Tong-kai, a Hong Kong college student, brutally murdered his 20-year-old pregnant girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, while vacationing in Taiwan. Poon’s distraught mother brought the case to investigators, who eventually arrested Chan on lesser charges after uncovering evidence of the murder.</p> <p>Hong Kong statutes prevent murderers like Chan from standing trial for crimes committed outside of the city - even if they took place in China. But since Hong Kong has no extradition treaty with either mainland China or Taiwan, they couldn’t turn him over to prosecutors in Taiwan to face justice. Heartbroken, the young woman’s family continued to press Hong Kong legislators for justice.</p> <p>They’re not alone. Although the Western corporate media can’t stop praising its ‘rule of law’ and ‘independent judiciary’, Hong Kong’s legal system is about as lawless as the wild-wild-west. Mafia-style triad gangs like 14K and Sun Yee On rule the streets. International drug cartels launder their profits through Hong Kong - an open secret confirmed by the release of the Panama Papers in 2016. Vida Laboratories, a major Hong Kong-based pharmaceutical company, recently came under pressure for supplying Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel with precursor materials for manufacturing methamphetamine.</p> <p>In the wake of this miscarriage of justice, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam proposed the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance. If passed, this would establish channels for case-by-case criminal extradition between the city, mainland China and Taiwan. Immediately, this proposal drew widespread outrage from Hong Kong’s elite, international financiers and the hotbed of marginal Chinese dissidents living in the special administrative region. Smaller protests in the late spring culminated with a demonstration on June 9 that drew roughly a million participants. As violence escalated at smaller protests in the days to come, Lam suspended the bill on June 15.</p> <p>But Lam’s concession did not quell the protests. On July 1, an opposition mob stormed the Hong Kong Legislative Council building - essentially their legislative chamber - and raised the old British colonial flag. Organizers from the Civil Human Rights Front, the umbrella opposition group leading most of the protests, called for a ‘general strike’ on August 5. The strike failed to materialize but ensuing riots caused enormous damage to public infrastructure and local businesses. More recently on August 13 and 14, protesters shut down Hong Kong International Airport - the eighth busiest airport in the world - grounding all flights to and from the city.</p> <p>You wouldn’t know it from U.S. media reports, but both Hong Kong police and the Chinese government have shown tremendous restraint. Hong Kong police have largely allowed the protests to continue, even as they seize government buildings and destroy infrastructure. In keeping with the long-standing ‘one country, two systems’ agreement, Beijing has voiced support for the city’s elected government but defers to local authorities to handle the situation.</p> <p><strong>Hong Kong’s long road back to China</strong></p> <p>Hong Kong is considered a ‘special administrative region’ within China, boasting the 35th largest economy in the world. With its low taxes, pliant legal system and relative absence of state regulations, it today serves as a major hub for international finance capital. But for hundreds of years, Hong Kong’s geographical position on China’s southern border made it one of the most trafficked ports in Asia.</p> <p>The British took note of this in the early 19th century as they brought opium into China with the aim of extending their empire. At the end of the First Opium War in 1842, Britain claimed Hong Kong as a colonial possession and a staging ground for further colonizing Asia. Britain held Hong Kong as a colony for 156 years - their rule only briefly interrupted by Imperial Japan during World War II. When the People’s Liberation Army marched on Beijing and proclaimed the People’s Republic of China in 1949, wealthy landowners and businessmen fled the mainland for two primary destinations: Taiwan and Hong Kong.</p> <p>When protesters in Hong Kong raised the old British colonial flag at protests, the Western media labeled them ‘pro-democracy.’ But there was nothing democratic about Hong Kong under British colonialism. Under its rule, the city grew into a major trading hub for the benefit of monopoly capital - and at the expense of the vast majority. As the cultural revolution raged in mainland China in 1967, the working class in Hong Kong rose up in revolt against the colonial system. Facing brutal repression and legal punishments like flogging, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions led a wave of strikes demanding basic labor protections and an end to their exploitation.</p> <p>Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s reform program marked a new chapter in relations between the People’s Republic and Hong Kong. The southern city became more economically integrated with the mainland throughout the 1980s, culminating in negotiations with Britain over the city’s future. Their once-mighty empire shattered beyond repair, Britain agreed to transferring sovereignty over Hong Kong back to China in 1997. In exchange, Deng put forward his now-famous formulation of ‘one country, two systems,’ which would allow Hong Kong to retain its British-based liberal constitutional system - the Basic Law - and capitalist economy for 50 years after the transfer. Under Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, China regained control of Hong Kong on January 1, 1997 and has stood by the ‘one country, two systems’ agreement to present day.</p> <p><strong>Understanding ‘one country, two systems’ as part of a strategy</strong></p> <p>To understand the issues fueling today’s protests in Hong Kong, we have to understand ‘one country, two systems.’ The Communist Party of China (CPC) adopted this formulation as a part of the strategy for further developing socialism in China, and fully grasping their motivations allows us to cut through bogus claims in the Western press.</p> <p>China’s revolution in 1949 put the working class, the peasants and ordinary people in power for the first time in their nation’s history. Deposed nationalist officials, big business owners and wealthy landlords saw the writing on the wall and fled the newborn People’s Republic. Some ended up in Hong Kong or Macau, the latter under Portuguese colonial control at the time, but the heaviest hitters from the old regime set up shop on the island of Taiwan. Declaring themselves the legitimate government of China, Taiwan won the military backing of the world imperialist powers, who refused to recognize the People’s Republic until well into the 1970s. While Taiwan today calls itself an independent country, the CPC still considers it part of China.</p> <p>The ‘one country, two systems’ approach to Hong Kong aimed at restoring the territorial integrity of China after centuries of colonialism and foreign plunder. This meant getting the British out of Hong Kong, removing Portuguese control of Macau and bringing Taiwan back into the fold. National defense played a role in this calculation too. The Western imperialist countries had just waged a savage war on Korea - occupying the south to this day - along with Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Bringing Hong Kong and Macau back under Chinese sovereignty would eliminate two major footholds for Western imperialism right at China’s southern doorstep.</p> <p>While ‘one country, two systems’ paved the way for regaining Hong Kong and Macau, it had another purpose for the People’s Republic: demonstrating a viable path for Taiwan to rejoin China. As the haven for counterrevolutionaries who fled the mainland after 1949, Taiwan was always going to be the hardest sell for Beijing. By following through on ‘one country, two systems’ in Hong Kong - relative non-interference in the political and economic affairs of the city - China hoped to win Taiwan’s confidence in rejoining the mainland.</p> <p>After China regained sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, the city has taken on additional significance to the People’s Republic. ‘One country, two systems’ allowed Hong Kong to continue operating a more or less free market, even while belonging to the larger, socialist People’s Republic of China. With some modifications, Hong Kong also operates a traditional liberal constitutional government and legal system based on British common law. For Western investors and financiers, these familiar and easily manipulated institutions made Hong Kong an attractive commercial base.</p> <p>The city became the primary gateway for foreign direct investment into mainland China. A major aspect of the 1978 reforms included an ‘opening up’ to the rest of the world, both diplomatically and economically. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and most of the socialist countries, the CPC keenly understood the risks of inviting foreign capital into their country and developed methods of limiting its power and independence. To that end, Hong Kong, as its own administrative region, serves as a buffer between international finance capital and the mainland.</p> <p>But it goes beyond attracting foreign investment. Hong Kong’s stock exchange has served as a staging ground for China to further internationalize the use of its currency, the Renminbi (RMB). In more recent years, this channel has helped facilitate China’s Belt &amp; Road initiative, a multi-trillion dollar global infrastructure project aimed at developing an alternative trade network to U.S.-dominated channels.</p> <p>China’s trade policies have caused controversy among socialist observers around the world for decades, but there’s no denying the staggering economic growth and social development achieved since 1949. Hong Kong played an important role in that process in the 21st century.</p> <p><strong>The class character of the Hong Kong protests</strong></p> <p>The Hong Kong protests are absolutely not driven by or in the interests of the working class, whether in Hong Kong or mainland China. For one, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU) has come out strongly against these protests. As one of the largest labor organization in the region, the Federation represents 410,000 workers in transportation, logistics, manufacturing, infrastructure, construction and other major industries. Many of their 251 affiliated unions have actively campaigned against the protesters' calls for a ‘general strike’.</p> <p>Nor have working-class neighborhoods in Hong Kong joined in the months of rioting and unrest. An NPR investigation published on August 14 looked at the North Point district, one of the city’s largest working-class neighborhoods, and interviewed construction worker Xiao Yongli. Along with his neighbors, many of whom are migrant workers, Xiao warned protesters against coming into their community.</p> <p>It’s not just the longer, more risky work commutes caused by the increasingly violent unrest. Hong Kong’s working class has nothing to gain from worse relations with mainland China, much less from ‘independence.’ They suffered greatly under British colonial rule - no minimum wage laws; no labor protections; barbaric legal punishments like flogging and more. As bad as conditions in capitalist Hong Kong are today, workers know that even the bare-boned safety net, annual wage hikes and abolition of heinous torture wouldn’t exist under colonial rule.</p> <p>In actuality, the protests in Hong Kong serve the interests of finance capital, both in the city itself and around the world. Hong Kong has the highest number of billionaires per capita of any city on earth. The Civil Human Rights Front, which leads the protests, is full of organizations financed and backed by the U.S. State Department and the National Endowment of Democracy (NED), along with local billionaires and bankers. Even the so-called left-dissident forces in the umbrella organization acknowledged this in a June 18 interview with <em>Jacobin</em> magazine.</p> <p>But while finance capital provides the real leadership, the bulk of the protest shock troops come from middle class students, academics and white-collar professionals. On August 12, the Chinese University School of Journalism and Communications released the results from a multi-month survey of 6600 protest participants at 12 demonstrations. More than half identified as “middle class,” and nearly 75% had some college education. Incidentally, the protests tend to skew male (54%) and younger, with almost 60% of protesters under the age of 30.</p> <p>There’s a pernicious idea peddled around the U.S. left that three roughly equal political factions are contending for leadership of the Hong Kong protests: a ‘left-wing,’ liberal democrats and far-right ‘localists.’ This is a gross distortion that even the ‘left dissidents’ themselves don’t believe. Activist Lam Chi Leung, for instance, openly acknowledges in the <em>Jacobin</em> interview that the far-right localist groups have the greatest influence over the movement. He adds too that the liberal democrats have fallen into line with them.</p> <p>That tracks with the actions and statements of Demosisto, the most vocal liberal organization active in the Civil Human Rights Front. The group has explicitly called for outside intervention by the U.S., Western Europe and Japan to ‘liberate’ Hong Kong - presumably along the lines of the ‘liberation’ of Iraq in 2003. Demosisto leader Joshua Wong met with Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with other diplomatic officials from the U.S., and openly praises the efforts of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to undermine Chinese sovereignty.</p> <p>More disturbing, the Civil Human Rights Front has increasingly picked up the far-right slogan, “Reclaim Hong Kong! Revolution in our time!” This comes directly from right-wing localist politicians, who popularized the slogan during their 2016 electoral campaign. They have made crystal clear what they mean by ‘reclaiming Hong Kong’ by deploying racist slurs against Han Chinese and openly pining for a return to British colonialism. When protesters stormed the Legislative Council on July 1 and hoisted the old British colonial flag over their legislature, they removed all doubt over who is really calling the shots.</p> <p>When the protesters claim support from ‘labor,’ they are referring to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU). Though similarly named, the HKCTU is much smaller than the Federation, representing roughly 160,000 workers and 61 affiliates. Unlike the Federation, the HKCTU mainly covers professionals, civil service employees, public officials and white-collar workers in finance. They joined the Civil Human Rights Front and participate in demonstrations, although their reach with their own rank and file appears tenuous. Despite frantic calls to support the August 5 general strike, the HKCTU reported mobilizing just 35,000 members (25%). Police reported even smaller numbers.</p> <p><strong>An attack on socialism</strong></p> <p>Hong Kong has extradition treaties with more than 20 foreign governments, including Britain and the United States. It maintains these treaties even while being a part of China. There’s no compelling reason why they shouldn’t have a framework for criminal extradition with the mainland of their own country.</p> <p>But there are many billionaires, executives and financiers who have their money stashed in Hong Kong who don’t see it that way. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption dragnet already has a lot of them on-tilt. With so many billionaires executed or dying from ‘unnatural causes’ every year in the People’s Republic of China, they rightly fear for their lives and wealth. It’s not a question of ‘sovereignty’ or ‘due process’ at all, but these abstract concepts - elastic enough to mean different things to different classes - allow them to draw together a mass base of middle-class supporters, who otherwise might not care to protect the ill-gotten gains of Hong Kong’s ultra-rich.</p> <p>Pure and simple, these protests are part of an attack on socialism. Although much of the U.S. left has written off China as a capitalist - or even imperialist - power, the monopoly capitalists have no such illusions. They may disagree on the timetable for war with China, but they all understand China’s socialist system as an existential threat to their power.</p> <p>Unlike Obama’s longer-term ‘pivot to Asia’, Trump has turned up the gas on anti-China aggression. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Chief Economic Advisor Peter Navarro and other anti-China hawks in the Trump administration see war with China as inevitable. This doesn’t mean they plan to declare war tomorrow or next year, but it signals a strategy of increased hostility towards the People’s Republic.</p> <p>Hong Kong isn’t just home to financial investment. The U.S. State Department and its non-profit appendage, the National Endowment of Democracy, have made substantial political investments in the city for decades. Their ability to fund so-called ‘civil society groups’ in mainland China is limited. But Hong Kong’s almost non-existent legal system and autonomy from Beijing has made it a safe haven for pro-West Chinese dissidents to operate. For the State Department, it’s a one-stop-shop for identifying, coordinating and funding Chinese dissidents.</p> <p>This includes self-described ‘left-wing dissidents.’ China Labor Watch, for instance, is a Hong Kong-based outfit popular in Western liberal publications that purports to document strikes and labor unrest in China. They are financed wholesale by the NED and its proxies for the purpose of overturning China’s socialist system, whatever the personal beliefs of individual members. When they aren’t publishing hit-pieces on Socialist China’s supposed mistreatment of workers, they broadcast anti-communist propaganda into China from Hong Kong, day and night. Ironically, the continued existence of these State Department stooges demonstrates Beijing’s abiding respect for the ‘one country, two systems’ approach.</p> <p>The State Department wants to see the civil unrest in Hong Kong spread across mainland China. In their best-case scenario, maybe the unrest topples the Communist Party or fractures enough of the country to weaken its power. In the worst-case scenario, at least it puts a thorn in Beijing’s side. To that end, they need more than just right-wing localists and Western-aligned liberals. The localists would just as soon see the Communist Party driven from power in China too, but that’s not their immediate concern. These <em>Gone with the Wind</em> reactionaries want a <em>de facto</em> return to British colonial rule, which is the practical application of the call for ‘reclaiming Hong Kong.’ Sure, their right-wing populism and xenophobia plays well with sections of the middle and upper-middle classes in Hong Kong, but its potential to spread to the mainland is dead-on-arrival.</p> <p>Even in a reactionary movement like this, liberals and the ‘dissident left’ nevertheless have a purpose. After all, the State Department doesn’t fund them ‘just because.’ Their role is not to lead on the ground - how could they, given the extreme right-wing interests behind the protests? - but rather to popularize the call to “spread the movement to the mainland.” Some of these well-educated middle-class dissidents call themselves socialists and preach solidarity - some may actually believe it too. They serve as friendlier faces for the Western corporate media to showcase, as opposed to the localist buffoons screaming racial slurs.</p> <p>This is right out of the State Department playbook, going back to the overthrow of socialist Poland in the 80s and before.</p> <p><strong>Socialist China and capitalist Hong Kong: Two systems compared</strong></p> <p>China’s explosive economic growth is difficult to exaggerate, averaging 9% every year since 1989. Critics on both the left and the right attribute this to the People’s Republic supposedly discarding socialism in favor of capitalism. But while China’s private sector and markets have grown, the country has not seen a recession since the founding of the Peoples Republic. Recessions resulting from overproduction and reckless speculation are endemic to capitalism. Most capitalist countries experience these crises every ten years or less, yet China has avoided this outcome.</p> <p>While the rest of the capitalist world grinds its working class into poverty, Chinese workers have seen their wages dramatically grow every year, averaging 8.2% increases annually between 2008-2017. In the last 30 years, China has lifted 700 million people out of poverty - the fastest and most dramatic reduction in the modern world. Last year, President Xi announced an initiative to completely end poverty in China by 2020, and with the poverty rate at 1.7% in 2018, they seem on track to meet that goal.</p> <p>At a certain point, all the talk about ‘capitalist restoration’ in China flies in the face of everything we know about capitalism. To say China is a socialist country doesn’t mean it’s perfect or without contradictions. It means that the working class holds state and economic power, which it exercises through its political party. Building socialism is a process, and the Communist Party of China has stressed since the 1970s that they are still in the earliest stages of constructing the new society. The most important industries remain under state ownership, along with the financial system and all real estate, which allows the state to centrally plan development and prioritize human need over profit. China’s private sector, while much larger than other socialist countries like Cuba, does not rule over the state, the economy or society.</p> <p>Hong Kong provides an interesting point of comparison, given the special administrative region operates a dramatically different system, both political and economic, then the mainland. Conditions in Hong Kong are generally bad for the working class. The People’s Republic has stood by its commitment to ‘one country, two systems’ and allowed Hong Kong to largely make its own decisions. Of course they offer support for the city government as the region’s legitimate authorities, but Hong Kong’s leaders aren’t ‘puppets of Beijing.’ They stand by an economic and political order at odds with the socialist system in mainland China, made clear in this fight over extradition. If China is a capitalist country, why does so much friction exist between the ‘two systems’ in ‘one country’?</p> <p>As China enters the final phase of completely ending poverty on the mainland, Hong Kong is setting new records for the most income inequality in the world. More than one in five Hong Kong residents - and about 45% of the elderly - live in poverty, while one in seven residents are millionaires. Hong Kong didn’t even set a minimum wage until 2000, and today it lags almost $3-per-hour behind a comparable mainland metropolis like Shanghai. 37% of workers in mainland China belong to a union versus just 23% in Hong Kong. The mainland also boasts a significantly higher labor force participation rate than Hong Kong - 69% compared to 61% in 2019 - a more accurate measure of unemployment than the official rates.</p> <p>The same pattern emerges in other economic areas important to workers, like out-of-pocket health care costs (37% in Hong Kong vs. 28% in the People’s Republic). Housing costs have risen in mainland cities like Beijing, but they don’t come close to the outrageous rent costs in Hong Kong. 70% of monthly income for Hong Kongers goes towards rent, versus 22% in Beijing.</p> <p>The two governments’ responses to rising housing costs is equally telling. After the 2018 party congress, the Chinese government has ramped up construction of affordable housing units, especially for families living in smaller cities and rural areas. “Houses are for living, not for speculation,” said President Xi in his address to the congress.</p> <p>But in Hong Kong’s free market system, more than 200,000 of the poorest residents live in ‘coffin homes’ - tiny, narrow, cage-like storage spaces with just enough room to lay down and sleep. The city has also seen homelessness rise by almost 20% for the past four years. The city government has recently made some moves towards addressing the issue, but Hong Kong’s low taxes and barebones social spending - both products of their capitalist system - don’t allow for the dramatic action necessary.</p> <p><strong>A word for socialists in the United States on Hong Kong</strong></p> <p>Socialism in China has delivered better outcomes to the vast majority of working people than capitalism ever could. The People’s Republic’s emergence as one of the two largest economic powers in the world poses an existential challenge to monopoly capitalism. Just as they waged a not-so-Cold War against the Soviet Union for more than 40 years, the rulers of the U.S. are positioning for a showdown with socialist China. To them, the Hong Kong protests are a way to gain greater leverage over Beijing.</p> <p>Trump’s public rhetoric on Hong Kong has seemed subdued, especially compared to his typical unhinged Twitter rants. The White House is full of anti-China war hawks, including Trump himself, but the U.S. economy is teetering on the edge of a recession. Whatever Trump’s original intent with the trade war, he overstepped his bounds with China. Trump badly needs the stock market to keep rip-roaring into November 2020 because his chances of re-election drop significantly if the economy slides into recession. His aggression has forced him to walk a fine line for now, even as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo publicly meets with Hong Kong protest leaders. Too much brazen support for the protests all but kills any chance of a near-term resolution of the trade war.</p> <p>While many liberals and progressives in the U.S. who back the Hong Kong protests do so from a place of genuine misunderstanding, others should know better. We’ve seen this movie already - whether in Libya, Ukraine, Syria, Nicaragua or most recently in Venezuela. The U.S. instigates and uses these mass protests to destabilize nations they want to dominate. Segments of the left twist themselves into knots trying to explain how protests dominated by right-wingers and monopoly capital are actually progressive, usually singling out one or two marginal ‘left-wing’ participants as evidence. For all their calls to support ‘the people’ or the ‘revolution’ in these situations, somehow it always ends with either the right-wing in power or utter chaos.</p> <p>As the growing socialist movement in the U.S. grapples with events like the Hong Kong protests, it’s important to remember we are part of a worldwide fight. Too many times, parts of the U.S. left gets roped into supporting our own ruling class’ agenda in the name of abstract ideals - democracy, rule of law, independence, due process, take your pick.</p> <p>Drill down to the material root of those buzzwords and it becomes a lot less tricky to see what side of the class war the Hong Kong protesters are on.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/17/hong-kong-protests-are-attack-socialism#comments People's Struggles Socialism Antiwar Movement Asia Asian Nationalities China China Donald Trump Hong Kong International Socialism Oppressed Nationalities U.S. Sat, 17 Aug 2019 16:42:20 +0000 Fight Back 7562 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Carnegie Library workers vote to Join United Steelworkers http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/16/carnegie-library-workers-vote-join-united-steelworkers <p>Pittsburgh, PA - Workers at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh voted overwhelmingly to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union, August 14, after launching their organizing campaign in June. They are seeking a collective bargaining agreement that would cover employees across 19 branches and the library support center. </p> <p>The United Library Workers began discussing unionization last summer in hopes of gaining a voice when it comes to making decisions that affect the library, the people they serve and their own working environment.</p> <p>“I am so excited for us to start this next chapter and look forward to working toward a contract that we deserve,” said Isabelle Toomey, a children’s librarian at the Downtown and Business branch. “And I am proud of my fellow coworkers for coming together and utilizing our right to organize.”</p> <p>The Teamsters and SEIU currently represent the Carnegie Library’s drivers and environmental service workers. This new effort includes all 321 remaining eligible staff who will join a growing number of white-collar Steelworkers in Allegheny County.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/16/carnegie-library-workers-vote-join-united-steelworkers#comments People's Struggles Steelworkers Labor Sat, 17 Aug 2019 03:55:25 +0000 Fight Back 7561 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Israel bans Representatives Omar and Tlaib from entering Palestine http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/15/israel-bans-representatives-omar-and-tlaib-entering-palestine <p>Minneapolis, MN - U.S. Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) have joined the ranks of thousands of human rights activists and millions of diaspora Palestinians who have been denied entry to Palestine by the occupying Israeli regime.</p> <p>Reps. Omar and Tlaib had planned a congressional trip to the West Bank for next week, initially agreed to by the Israeli regime “out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America.” However, on August 15 Israel announced a reversal of its previous decision and banned the delegation’s entrance.</p> <p>The announcement came immediately after President Trump wrote on Twitter, “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel &amp; all Jewish people, &amp; there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!” [sic]</p> <p>Since the Knesset’s March 2017 passage of the Amendment No. 28 to the Entry Into Israel Law, the Israeli state has denied entry to supporters of the worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli occupation of Palestine. Millions of Palestinian refugees who fled Israeli invasion during the Nakba of 1948 and the Six-Day War of 1967, as well as their descendants, have been continually denied a right to return to their homeland by the Israeli regime. Both Omar and Tlaib had stated publicly their support for BDS. Representative Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, had planned to visit family members in the West Bank during the trip.</p> <p>Representative Omar released her own statement in response to Israel’s decision. “It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government,” she stated. “Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected members of Congress. Denying entry into Israel not only limits our ability to learn from Israelis, but also to enter the Palestinian territories.”<br /> Last week, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) led a trip of 72 members of Congress, 41 of whom were also Democrats, sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a branch of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). That delegation was allowed entry by Israel. Representative Tlaib’s delegation was organized as an alternative to the AIPAC trip, with a focus on meeting with human rights activists, including Hanan Ashrawi of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), as opposed to meeting with Israeli politicians.</p> <p>The announcement of Israel’s ban on Representatives Tlaib and Omar was met by criticism from U.S. presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.<br /> Jewish Voice for Peace released a statement connecting the ban to the treatment of Palestinians who try to return to their homeland, and to the BDS movement: “This morning’s announcement that Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar will be blocked from entry by Israel is consistent with their increasingly authoritarian policies toward Palestinians and all those who support Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). But for sitting Congresswomen to be prevented from entry is a new low that only serves to illustrate Israel’s racist and exclusionary practices. This is a situation all too familiar for Palestinians due to decades of exclusionary practices by Israel.”</p> <p>International solidarity activist Sarah Martin told Fight Back!, “Trump chanted at rallies that Representatives Omar and Tlaib should ‘go back home’ and now he’s pressuring Israel not to let them in. And Tlaib, like Palestinians throughout the diaspora, is being denied the right to return. So many Americans are critical of Trump but then look the other way when we raise the reality of Israeli apartheid. We need to use this as an opportunity to draw attention to the $3.2 billion the U.S. sends in aid to Israel.”</p> <p>Martin, a member of Women Against Military Madness, was denied entry into Israel in 2009 when she tried to participate in a human rights delegation to the West Bank. Martin met with Representative Omar on August 15, along with representatives from Arab arts organizations, religious groups and Palestinian solidarity groups in the Twin Cities to express solidarity.</p> <p>Meredith Aby-Keirstead, a member of the MN Anti-War Committee, was also at the meeting with Representative Omar. She told Fight Back!, “It is outrageous that Omar - who is also on the House Foreign Affairs Committee - and Tlaib have been banned from entering Israel. They have the responsibility to investigate how U.S. tax dollars are spent. We need to increase our demands that the U.S. cut off aid to Israel. It is obvious that they want to hide the conditions they have created for Palestinians.”</p> <p>A coalition of Minnesota Palestine solidarity and immigrant rights groups are planning to bring up the ban on Representatives Omar and Tlaib, along with Israel’s apartheid policies, at the Minnesota State Board of Investment meeting on August 22, where they will pressure the state of Minnesota to divest from Elbit Systems, an Israeli weapons technology company that profits from Israeli apartheid and has been contracted as part of the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/15/israel-bans-representatives-omar-and-tlaib-entering-palestine#comments Antiwar Movement Anti-War Committee Ilhan Omar Palestine Palestine Rashida Tlaib Fri, 16 Aug 2019 04:26:25 +0000 Fight Back 7560 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Stock market tanks http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/14/stock-market-tanks <p>San José, CA - On Wednesday, August 14, the U.S. stock market tanked, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 800 points, or 3%. The technology-heavy NASDAQ index also fell 3% and the S&amp;P 500 fell just shy of 3%. This is the third day in a row of major market moves: Down more than 450 points on Monday, up 375 points on Tuesday, and now down again.</p> <p>The Monday move came on because of growing recession fears, but the stock market bounced back on Tuesday, when Trump announced that he was postponing the 10% tariff on imports from China on more than half of the goods originally scheduled to be tariffed September 1. The postponement came on cell phone, computers, toys and other goods that make up more than 75% of U.S. imports that come from China, as well as baby supplies deemed necessary. However more than $100 billion in imports from China are still on track to face tariffs next month. These are mainly consumer goods, with women and girls clothing among the hardest hit.</p> <p>While Trump tries to come off as a tough guy and hard negotiator, the fact of the matter is that he blinked in the face of Chinese resistance. Trump also admitted for the first time that U.S. consumers would be hit, whereas before he maintained that China was paying the tariffs. The postponement allows stores to stock up for their holiday sales without paying the tariffs.</p> <p>But despite the relief rally on Tuesday, on Wednesday things went from bad to worse. First came disappointing economic reports from China. Over the last ten years China has made a lot of progress in bringing down its overall trade surplus (selling more exports than it imports). By ramping up its imports, the Chinese economy has become ever more important to other countries’ economies, including for example, U.S. farm exports. While its economic growth is still awesome by any other large economy’s standards (still about 6% as compared to 2 to 3% in the United States and even less in Europe and Japan), any slowdown in Chinese economic growth will affect other countries.</p> <p>Then, as the world turned, there came a report out of Germany that their Gross Domestic Product (GDP, or the total production of final goods and services) actually contracted by a small amount in the second quarter of this year. Germany has the largest economy in Europe and is the fifth largest in the world. Germany is also the world’s third largest importer of goods and services, so like China, any slowdown will impact other countries.</p> <p>Then when financial markets opened in the United States, interest rates on the ten-year U.S. Treasury Bonds briefly fell below the interest rate on the two-year bond. This was another ‘inversion’ of the bond interest rate yield curve, where typically higher long term interest rates fall below shorter term ones, indicating the economy will be much worse in the future. It is seen as one of the strongest financial market warnings of a coming recession.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/14/stock-market-tanks#comments People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Asia China Donald Trump International stock crash stock market trade war U.S. Thu, 15 Aug 2019 01:17:11 +0000 Fight Back 7559 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Philippines: On the proposal to revive the Anti-Subversion Law http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/14/philippines-proposal-revive-anti-subversion-law <p><em>Fight Back News Service is circulating the following August 14 statement by Jose Maria Sison, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Chief Political Consultant. </em></p> <p>The proposal of General Ano, secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, is one more manifestation of the frenzied drive of the tyrannical Duterte regime to impose a thoroughgoing fascist dictatorship on the people in a vain attempt to end the armed revolutionary movement as well as the broad legal opposition through red-tagging, harassments, threats, abductions and murders.</p> <p>In line with the Duterte tyranny, the most vicious and bloodthirsty officials who love to kill people to solve problems are enamored of the long-discredited Anti-Subversion Law because it provides for the death penalty, for the prejudgment of people on the basis of guilt by association and for the arbitrary listing of people as “communists” for the purpose of extortions and mass slaughter.</p> <p>Contrary to the view of the chief suspect in the abduction and forced disappearance of the young activist Jonas Burgos, the revival of the Anti-Subversion Law will not eliminate the Communist Party of the Philippines and the people’s democratic revolution. It will only serve to further violate the national and democratic rights of the people and will thus incite the broad masses of the people to rise up.</p> <p>The fundamental cause of the armed revolution in the Philippines is neither the existence of the Communist Party in the Philippines nor the communist ideas of Marxism-Leninism but the exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people by imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism in a semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system now lorded over by the tyrant and plunderer Duterte.</p> <p>The revival of the Anti-Subversion Law can give further license to Duterte’s armed minions to violate human rights and can further embolden them to witch-hunt, harass, threaten and kill those that they arbitrarily list as “communists” among the critics of the regime and the people in general. Such law can result in bigger mass murders than those perpetrated under Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Kapanatagan.</p> <p>It must be recalled that the Anti-Subversion Law has long been discredited as an unjust and anti-democratic law by which anyone can be subjected to punishment on the basis of guilt by association, without the need to present evidence for the personal culpability of the accused for any crime.</p> <p>Such law has long been condemned as a poison to the freedom of thought, expression and assembly.</p> <p>Violations of democratic rights under the Anti-Subversion Law will drive more people to further oppose the regime and rise up in arms against it. Threatening to kill and actually killing people for their political ideas will compel them to act in a revolutionary way in order to get rid of the regime of terror that deprives them of the basic freedoms of thought, expression and assembly.</p> <p>In my personal experience, red-tagging or anti-communist witch-hunts under the Anti-Subversion Law of the past never deterred me from studying Marxism-Leninism and aspiring to become a communist. Whenever the great anti-imperialist and patriot Senator Claro Mayo Recto was castigated as a communist, I became even more inspired to study the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism and learn how to apply the theory on the concrete conditions of the Philippines.</p> <p>When I became a student activist in the University of the Philippines in the late 1950s, I was never afraid of the death penalty under the Anti-Subversion Law but on the contrary this anti-democratic law challenged me to organize Marxist-Leninist circles for the noble and patriotic purpose of reestablishing the Communist Party and continuing the democratic revolution started by Andres Bonifacio and frustrated by the war of aggression launched by US imperialism in 1899.</p> <p>When the anti-communist witch-hunt was carried out by the Committee on Anti-Filipino Activities from 1959 to 196i in order to suppress academic freedom with the use of the Anti-Subversion Law, we the students and teachers of the University of the Philippines stood up for academic freedom and all democratic rights. Ultimately, we organized the 5000 protesters that literally scuttled the anti-communist witch-hunt on March 15, 1961. A major part of the demonstrators flooded into the CAFA hearing hall and put a stop to the proceedings.</p> <p>The Anti-Subversion Law did not stop the rise of Filipino proletarian revolutionaries and their mass work. They succeeded in rebuilding the Communist Party and carrying out the people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war. Fidel V. Ramos repealed the Anti-Subversion Law in 1992 after recognizing the failure of this anti-democratic law to stop the growth and advance of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the revolutionary movement,</p> <p>In the concrete semicolonial and semifeudal conditions of the Philippines, the Filipino communists are of the view that neither socialism or communism is the current issue. Thus, they have excelled at leading the people’s democratic revolution, which strives to realize full national sovereignty, democracy, social justice, economic development through national industrialization and genuine land reform, a patriotic, scientific and mass culture and international solidarity and cooperation of peoples for peace and all-round progress.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/14/philippines-proposal-revive-anti-subversion-law#comments People's Struggles Anti-fascism Asia Asian Nationalities International Jose Maria Sison Philippines Philippines Political Repression Rodrigo Duterte In-Justice System Oppressed Nationalities Wed, 14 Aug 2019 22:32:20 +0000 Fight Back 7558 at http://www.fightbacknews.org U.S. stock market keeps dropping http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/13/us-stock-market-keeps-dropping <p>San José, CA - U.S. stocks fell again on Monday, August 12 as growing recession worries were added to ongoing concern about the direction of Trump’s trade war with China. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell almost 400 points, or 1.5%, while the broader markets fell by smaller percentages of about 1.2%. </p> <p>Bank of America raised the risk of recession in the next year to one in three, while U.S. bond interest rates continued to fall. The ten-year U.S. Treasury Bond interest rate fell again to about 1.5%. Lower bond interest rates show that investors expect economic growth to slow at best, and the economy to fall into recession at worst. The so-called ‘inverted yield curve,’ where long-term interest rates on bonds fall below shorter-term interest rates continue to flash a warning of a coming recession.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/13/us-stock-market-keeps-dropping#comments People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Asia China Donald Trump International stock crash stocks trade war U.S. Tue, 13 Aug 2019 21:12:11 +0000 Fight Back 7557 at http://www.fightbacknews.org On the 3-month anniversary of his death, community rallies for #Justice4Jalen http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/13/3-month-anniversary-his-death-community-rallies-justice4jalen <p>Jacksonville, FL - On August 2, the Jacksonville Community Action Committee (JCAC) and the family of Jalen Mays held a vigil to remember his life on the three-month anniversary of his death. At the vigil, the protesters chanted, “Justice for Jalen.”</p> <p>The family has been calling for accountability and transparency since his death on the morning of May 2, at Orange Park Medical Center. His death occurred a day after being detained after what is believed to be a violent arrest by Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officers S.R Maddox and M.J Reddish. Those two officers had previously been placed on administrative leave according to JSO but are now back on active duty.</p> <p>Just weeks ago controversy emerged as the disciplinary records for one of the officers involved was deleted by the JSO. They call it an administrative error. </p> <p>According to media reports Mays was possibly hogtied, and required placement in the intensive care unit at Orange Park Medical Center. His family says his body had bruises, welts and other effects consistent with trauma.</p> <p>The JCAC is supporting Jalen’s family’s demands for an independent autopsy as well as the release of convenience store video footage from the arrest and body camera footage from the officers involved. The family is demanding that more funding in the Jacksonville upcoming budget to be allocated to mental health in the city and not towards additional JSO funding.</p> <p>"When someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, they should not be responded to by police. It needs to be responded to as a medical issue," María García of the Jacksonville Community Action Committee said at the vigil.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/13/3-month-anniversary-his-death-community-rallies-justice4jalen#comments People's Struggles Police Brutality African-American Anti-racism Jacksonville Community Action Committee (JCAC) Jalen Mays M.J Reddish. S.R Maddox In-Justice System Oppressed Nationalities Tue, 13 Aug 2019 13:29:00 +0000 Fight Back 7556 at http://www.fightbacknews.org U.S. starts blockade of Venezuela http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/12/us-starts-blockade-venezuela <p>Chicago, IL - On August 6, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton attended a gathering of representatives from the right-wing governments of Latin America. There, he announced the next stage in the U.S. campaign to defeat the Bolivarian Revolution: A total blockade of Venezuela. All U.S. citizens are banned from doing business with "the Maduro regime," and any company - U.S. or international - that does business with the Venezuelan government will be subject to fines, asset seizures and sanctions. While the announcement did not include the immediate deployment of the U.S. Navy to enforce the blockade, Bolton hinted that the option remained on the table if foreign companies and governments did not comply. </p> <p>A blockade is war by another name; it is a modern-day siege with the singular goal of starving a nation into submission. The U.S. government uses its hegemony to threaten any business or government that does business with the targeted nation, to risk its isolation in a global economy run on U.S. terms. If you run an agribusiness willing to sell food for the Venezuelan food subsidy program - you will be sanctioned. If you run a shipping company willing to transport Venezuelan oil to be traded around the world - you will be sanctioned. If you are a government that receives Venezuelan oil in exchange for social services - you will be sanctioned. In one fell swoop, the United States has committed itself to preventing any Venezuelan exports from leaving its shores, and from it receiving imported goods from anywhere around of the globe. Already, the U.S. military has prevented a ship carrying thousands of tons of soy products from reaching Venezuela.</p> <p>The decision is a historic one. It ends all economic relations between the United States and Venezuela. Up until a few years ago, the U.S. was Venezuela's main trading partner. For decades, the Venezuelan government had sold heavy crude to ExxonMobil and other U.S. firms, and with the U.S. dollars it received from these sales it bought U.S. agricultural and consumer goods to meet domestic demand. Ending this dependency was a key goal of Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian movement when they came to power in 1999, and the process of building economic sovereignty has been underway since then. </p> <p>For 20 years, the U.S. has resisted this struggle for national independence. It backed a coup d’état in 2002 to try to install a pro-U.S. dictatorship, and firmly supported a bourgeois opposition that worked tirelessly to take back power and return Venezuela to the imperialist fold. After Chávez's death and Nicolás Maduro was elected president, the U.S. and its bourgeois lackeys began an economic war to try to break the masses from their revolutionary movement. But the coup failed, the opposition proved incompetent at winning elections, and the masses have endured the economic war without wavering in their revolutionary commitment. By declaring a blockade, the Trump administration is admitting that all their efforts to defeat the Bolivarian Revolution have failed. Nothing done so far has worked - so now starvation will be tried.</p> <p>While the blockade directly targets Venezuela, it also sends a signal to other nations that refuse to fall in line behind the United States: namely, China and Russia. Both nations stepped in to fill the void left by the United States as the imperialist power gradually withdrew its historic relations with Venezuela. After the U.S. ended all military support for Venezuela during Hugo Chávez's administration, the Russian government stepped in. And as the U.S. began to withdraw its economic ties with Venezuela - a process begun in 2015 with a series of sanctions put in place by Obama - the Chinese government filled the void. Today, China is Venezuela's largest creditor and is providing crucial support for the nation's productive development. There should be no doubt that both nations will continue their support for the Venezuelan people - a sign of U.S. imperialism in decline, and of the determination of the world's peoples to defend their sovereignty.</p> <p>This weekend, hundreds of thousands marched through the streets of Caracas in defiance of the imperialist blockade. The Venezuelan masses stand organized and mobilized, ready to defend the sovereignty they have won through hard struggle. "U.S. imperialism and its allies have tried to destroy the Bolivarian Revolution for 20 years, and again and again they have crashed against the granite wall of our unity and our conscience as a people fighting for freedom," said Eduardo Piñate, the executive secretary of the United Socialist Party (PSUV), in an essay about the blockade. "Despite the damage they have caused us with the economic war, the blockade and all other forms of war done against us, we resist and advance because we are stronger than them."</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/12/us-starts-blockade-venezuela#comments Antiwar Movement Bolivarian Revolution John Bolton United Socialist Party (PSUV) us blockade 2019 Venezuela Mon, 12 Aug 2019 13:40:16 +0000 Fight Back 7555 at http://www.fightbacknews.org Police crimes protesters storm MN governor’s office http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/10/police-crimes-protesters-storm-mn-governor-s-office <p>St. Paul, MN - Activists and relatives of victims of police killings held a press conference in front of the state capitol, August 8. They marched into the capitol chanting, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” and seized the governor’s office, chanting, giving speeches and demanding the governor follow through on his broken promise to meet with community members about police violence and take action.</p> <p>Governor Tim Walz had previously scheduled meetings with members of Racial Justice Network (RJN) and Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), but then he bowed out of the meetings, sending aides who stated the governor would not meet with community members.</p> <p>Members of the groups explained that the aides said that the governor would not call for reopening the case of Jamar Clark because “there is no new evidence.” Activists called this response a lie and pointed out community investigators have found pages of false and misleading information in the BCA [Bureau of Criminal Apprehension] report on Clark’s murder. The recent trial of Minneapolis officer Mohamud Noor for killing Justine Damond documented many examples of incompetence and cover-up by the Minneapolis police and the BCA in investigation of police shootings.</p> <p>The governor’s only action on police killings has been to form a commission. According to activists, no member of the commission except one member of the ACLU has been active in investigating, researching or responding to police violence. Locations and times of meetings are being kept hidden from the public, and community members and family local members of police killings are not being invited to speak on the panel. The secret location of the first meeting turned out to be a small room in the capitol - expressly limiting access to the community. The co-chair of the commission, Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, previously oversaw a notoriously murderous era of the Saint Paul police department, then moved to the state senate, where he co-authored a bill crippling the Minneapolis police civilian review authority. These facts led activists and community members to call the commission a sham.</p> <p>Governor Walz was aware the protesters were coming. He had the state patrol send emails described as “intimidating” to organizers, and he sent aides out to intercept and discourage protesters at the beginning of the event. Then he again cowered away from meeting with activists and did not provide an aide authorized to discuss the community’s concerns.</p> <p>At the press conference, Sam Martinez from Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J) stated, “The governor could get involved if he wants to. He says he has no power, but that’s not true.”</p> <p>Todd Schuman, from Justice for Justine Damond Ruszczyk, stated that Justine’s trial demonstrated to the public “the corruption and the incompetence of the Minneapolis police department and the BCA as well. There were so many incidents of mishandling of evidence and failures to follow through on investigations that it honestly is a miracle that a conviction was secured. Given that the BCA is responsible for all the police shooting investigations in the state, one has to imagine that these kinds of failures have been endemic to the system.”</p> <p>Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis branch of the NAACP said, “We scream to the state of Minnesota ‘Black lives matter,’ because the state of Minnesota continues to show and tell us that Black lives do not matter. We know that we have some of the worst racial disparities in the nation, and we know that will never get better as long as we continue to justify the killing of unarmed Black men and women.” She added, “This is not just a civil rights issue. This is a human rights issue, and it is time to stand up. Silence equals consent.”</p> <p>In the governor’s office, the group chanted “Black lives matter” and “Where’s Governor Walz?”</p> <p>Nekima Levy Armstrong from RJN said, “Enough is enough. We have a message for you, Governor Walz. We will continue to disrupt the status quo. We will show up at your meetings. We came here nicely, asking for a meeting with you. You knew that we would be here, and instead of facing the people - people of all hues and all backgrounds - coming in solidarity, you chose to run. We are expecting a governor who will stand up for the rights of the people.” She went on, “It should not be the case, that the only person in the state of Minnesota to get any semblance of justice when being killed by an officer is an affluent white woman.” The only conviction in the history of Minnesota for a police officer killing a civilian was against a Black Somali officer, Mohamed Noor, who killed a white woman, Justine Damond.</p> <p>Michelle Gross from CUAPB documented the evidence for reopening the case against Jamar Clark’s killers and described how police investigators ignored the testimony of almost 20 witnesses, took away civilian video footage from witnesses at gunpoint, and misrepresented the incident leading to Jamar’s murder as a domestic violence incident. She closed by telling the absent governor, “Your next three years can be easy, or they can be hard. We can make them hard.”</p> <p>Dinni and Sumaya Aden, the siblings of Isak Aden - a young Somali man who died after being shot by seven police officers last month - spoke about the disrespect and the lack of cooperation family members of victims are treated with. Sumaya Aden explained that two of the officers who killed her brother had killed before, “One of them killed somebody in 2015, while he was laying on his stomach, in front of his mom and his wife in his mom’s backyard. Shot him in the back. And he just moved from Duluth to Eagan.” They also described how the officers that killed their brother are already back on the job after only three days of administrative leave.</p> <p>Monique Collars Doty, of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar and other organizations and the aunt of Marcus Golden, who was killed by shots in the back from the Saint Paul police, said, “We have to continue to force the system’s hand to give us the justice we need,” and explained how all of the information needed to charge Jamar Clark’s killers is documented and readily available on the internet.</p> <p>Other speakers included representatives from Women’s March Minnesota and Native Lives Matter. Representatives of The Anti-war Committee, Blue Lies Matter, and the director of the <em>Justice Forgotten</em> documentary about Jamar Clark’s murder, were also present.</p> <p>Although police officers lingered outside the governor’s office, the event ended without a police incident. The protesters marched out chanting and promised to continue to disrupt the governor’s schedule until he takes real action against police violence.</p> http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/10/police-crimes-protesters-storm-mn-governor-s-office#comments People's Struggles Police Brutality African-American Anti-racism Communities United Against Police Brutality Governor Walz Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar (TCC4J) In-Justice System Oppressed Nationalities Sat, 10 Aug 2019 17:21:16 +0000 Fight Back 7554 at http://www.fightbacknews.org