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. en 500 march on Chicago police headquarters demanding justice for Breonna Taylor <p>Chicago, IL - Many who arrived at 35th Street and Michigan Avenue on September 24 were visibly upset, given the failure of Kentucky’s attorney general to indict and prosecute the Louisville cops who murdered Breonna Taylor.</p> <p>A statement by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression declared that the decision “meant to serve notice on Black and brown people everywhere in the United States that they are not safe from police murderers, even in their own homes.”</p> <p>The voice of Tanya Watkins, an organizer with Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, was shaking as she took the mic. “The mayor said she supports our right to protest, but when we show up in the street, she blocks us off. That doesn’t look like support,” she said, gesturing toward the three city-owned salt trucks parked in front of police headquarters to keep protesters from the street in front of the building.</p> <p>Cassandra Greer-Lee also took the mic. Her husband, Nickolas Lee, died of COVID-19 while awaiting trial in Cook County Jail in April. Referring to the many cops present, Greer-Lee said, “You cannot move me. No matter how many ‘back the blue’ shirts you have, you will not intimidate me!”</p> <p>The protesters vowed to continue to struggle for justice for the many victims of police crimes, and to intensify their demand for an elected, civilian police accountability council (CPAC) to be enacted by the city council.</p> People's Struggles Police Brutality Breonna Taylor Police Brutality In-Justice System Fri, 25 Sep 2020 22:43:23 +0000 Fight Back 8549 at Thousands march for Breonna Taylor in NYC <p>New York, NY – On September 23, the Louisville, Kentucky court system passed down the decision that none of the three cops involved with the murder of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman and emergency medical technician, would be indicted for her killing. Rather, they charged one officer with wanton endangerment for his bullets potentially putting her neighbors in danger. </p> <p>The extreme miscarriage of justice prompted thousands to take the streets demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, the people of Louisville, and Black lives all over the country. There were two events announced in New York, both starting at 7 p.m., one in Manhattan and the other in Brooklyn. </p> <p>The crowd in Brooklyn began to gather early. Hundreds poured out of the Atlantic-Barclays train station with signs reading “Black lives matter” and the names of those murdered by the NYPD. The organizers of the rally gave rousing speeches about the law, justice and the worth of life of Black people in this country. </p> <p>There was a moment of silence where the speaker asked everyone to lie down for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time that it took Derek Chauvin to murder George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.</p> <p>The march started soon after, and the massive crowd left for Manhattan Bridge. The whole time, chants of “Black lives matter” and “Say her name” echoed throughout the streets.</p> People's Struggles Police Brutality Breonna Taylor Police Brutality In-Justice System Fri, 25 Sep 2020 22:18:29 +0000 Fight Back 8548 at Nurses and workers declare end to strike at UIC <p>Chicago, IL -The largest strike since the economic crisis hit came to an end at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), September 24. Last night and this morning, tentative agreements were announced for the 4000 members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 73, and the 1300 members of the Illinois Nurses Association (INA).</p> <p>The nurses struck for seven days starting Saturday, September 12. SEIU members started on Monday, September 14 and stayed on the picket lines for ten days.</p> <p>For both unions, safety for workers and patients was a priority, after four employees and one spouse died of COVID-19 because management failed to keep workers safe this spring. In all, 300 employees at UIC have contracted the virus. At least eight were on respirators and three suffered strokes.</p> <p>INA won staffing levels, a key demand for them, with the agreement by the employer to hire 160 more nurses. For Local 73, according to President Dian Palmer, the wage agreement has increases of 2%, 1%, 1.5% and 1.5% for the four years of the contract. In addition, hundreds of the lowest-paid workers will have wages increased to $15 per hour. Wages for newly-hired food service workers had been less than $11 per hour, and the starting wage for building service workers were less than $13 per hour. Some food service workers employed for ten years still did not earn $15.</p> <p>Striking workers believe that management finally relented because workers raised the stakes in recent days. UPS drivers with Teamsters Local 705 had refused to cross picket lines, and on Wednesday, Iron Workers, Electricians and others refused to cross a picket line into a $200 million construction site for a new surgery center being built by the University of Illinois Hospital. With 40 construction workers idled, strikers believe they cost UIC $20,000 for the day. In addition, a striking building service worker named Jose Quintero, with experience in construction, said that nine yards of concrete costing over $1000 was ruined because they weren’t able to pour it.</p> <p>Local 73 President Palmer said, “When the university offered those they call ‘heroes’ zero raises for working during the pandemic, those workers said, ‘If we’re essential, then treat us like we’re essential.’ We also won shift differentials, bilingual pay, and raises for the DSCC workers.” DSCC is the Department of Special Care for Children, a state agency that come under UI Hospital management in the past decade. In two previous contract fights, Local 73 had demanded better wages for these underpaid workers, who are spread across the state in clinics.</p> <p>Workers around the country watched this strike closely, and this victory will give momentum to contract fights in the coming year.</p> People's Struggles SEIU Local 73 strike Strikes Labor Fri, 25 Sep 2020 22:04:35 +0000 Fight Back 8547 at Layoffs continue as economic crisis drags on <p>San José, CA - The latest weekly report on new applications for regular state unemployment insurance showed an unexpected increase in new claims. The Department of Labor, on Thursday, September 24, said that there were 870,000 people who filed for state unemployment benefits in the week ending September 19, up slightly from 866,000 the week before. However, most economists expected a sizable drop to 850,000.</p> <p>While the weekly reports are far below the weekly reports of late March and early April which topped 6 million, it is still above the highest number before the current recession and shows that the layoffs are continuing at a high rate.</p> <p>While the number of continuing claims, or people actually collecting state unemployment insurance, dropped by a 167,000 in the week ending September 12, much of this might be because more and more people being dropped for having run out the six months of unemployment insurance benefits. The surge in applications began six months ago, less one week, so we could see a dramatic drop in the numbers, not because they are finding jobs, but because they are being dropped from the program.</p> <p>Another sign that people are running out of aid is the continued rise in the Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or FPEUC, which adds an addition three months of benefits. The existing Extended Benefits program, which kicks in with a three-month extension in states with high unemployment rates, also has been growing. Combined, the two grew by about 164,000 in the week ending September 5, an increase of almost 10% from a week earlier.</p> <p>On factor weighing on the economy is the expiration of the $600 a week in additional unemployment insurance benefits in late July. Trump’s replacement program of $300 a week has already ended after only five weeks, although not everyone has been paid.</p> <p>With the onset of colder weather limiting outdoor businesses, and the continued spread of COVID-19, the environment is also turning against the job market.</p> People's Struggles Capitalism and Economy Layoffs Fri, 25 Sep 2020 19:27:31 +0000 Fight Back 8546 at Twin Cities march for Breonna Taylor shuts down major freeway <p>Minneapolis, MN - 1000 people rallied and marched to protest the announcement that no one would be charged for the murder of Breonna Taylor. Organized by Black Lives Matter Minnesota, Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar, Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro and others, the group rallied at the state capitol on September 23, and then marched about four miles, including taking over Interstate 94. Three protesters were arrested but released the later that night.</p> People's Struggles Police Brutality Anti-racism Breonna Taylor minneapolis Minnesota Twin Cities In-Justice System Fri, 25 Sep 2020 03:54:43 +0000 Fight Back 8545 at Minnesotans demand climate justice now! <p>St. Paul, MN - On September 22, activists from the newly formed Climate Justice Committee (CJC) hung banners over the side of the Snelling Avenue bridge and the pedestrian bridge that spans Interstate-94 connecting downtown Minneapolis with downtown Saint Paul. The banners read, “Capitalism kills the planet,” “The U.S. military: The #1 polluter,” “Push Biden left on climate change” and “2050 is too late, climate justice now.” The last slogan references Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s climate plan, which positions its goal as 100% clean energy by 2050.</p> <p>Alongside Biden’s climate plan, in August, a section of the Democratic National Convention’s platform that called for “eliminating tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuels” was struck from the final draft by the Democratic National Committee, illustrating the need to push Biden and the Democrats on the issue of climate change.</p> <p>The activists’ goal was to put the demand for climate justice back on people’s agenda as they drove home from work. They received a chorus of honks of solidarity from the drivers on the freeway below.</p> <p>“We organized this bannering to bring focus to the importance of the climate change issue,” Kim DeFranco, an activist from the Climate Justice Committee said, “and to highlight the issue that the U.S. military is the biggest polluter in the world.”</p> <p>“We want to give people something to think about on their drive home, that all these things are interrelated - the water crisis in Flint, the lack of water in the Navajo nation, the murder of George Floyd - all these oppressions are interrelated, and these oppressed groups are being affected the worst by climate change and the pandemic, like they’re facing multiple pandemics,” said Greg Trentman.</p> <p>The Climate Justice Committee is a recently founded grassroots organization centered in the Twin Cities, for the purpose of advancing the demand for climate justice and bringing greater focus on the driving effects of U.S. militarism and imperialism on climate change.</p> <p>“We didn’t feel like climate justice was being addressed in the movement. There’s a lot of talk about carbon emissions and recycling, but not about the fact that climate change disproportionately affects communities of color and poor and working class folks,” said Misty Rowan, another Climate Justice Committee activist, “we want to make sure climate justice is part of the conversation.”</p> <p>The Climate Justice Committee meets weekly on Tuesday nights. To learn more about them and attend their actions follow them on Facebook at <a href="">@ClimateJusticeMN</a>.</p> People's Struggles Climate Justice Committee Environmental Justice Thu, 24 Sep 2020 03:57:51 +0000 Fight Back 8544 at Minneapolis calls for an end to aid to Israel, remembers Sabra and Shatila <p>Minneapolis, MN - On September 17, over 30 activists in Minneapolis bannered across Interstate 94 during rush hour to remember the Sabra and Shatila massacre and highlight the destructive role the U.S. plays in Lebanon. They waved Palestinian flags and dropped banners across eight lanes of traffic demanding an end to aid in Israel, demanding an end to apartheid, and expressing solidarity against state violence. The response from people passing by was overwhelmingly positive with a constant stream of honks from cars.</p> <p>From September 16 to 18, 1982, pro-Israel militiamen murdered more than 1000 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians living in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, Lebanon. The massacre was carried out at the orders of the invading Israeli army, which had surrounded and besieged the neighborhoods in the days leading up to the attacks.</p> <p>This action was especially important as different Arab governments seek to normalize relations with Israel, which has historically led to a rapid increase in violence from the Israeli government against Palestinians.</p> <p>Mariam El-Khatib from American Muslims for Palestine told the crowd, “Yes, we’re here to remember the Sabra and Shatila massacre that happened 38 years ago, but it is more than just about the Sabra and Shatila massacre, we’re here to remember that they were more than just the victims of Israeli aggression. They were the victims of the Nakba, the victims of the occupation, the wall and other attacks.” She continued, “This peace deal has been framed as something that benefits the Palestinians, but I’m not sure how they get to decide that when the Palestinians weren’t even at the table.”</p> <p>Sarah Martin from Women Against Military Madness spoke passionately against the so-called peace deal as well. “Of course, the accord has nothing to do with ending the brutal Israeli military occupation of Palestine, the horrific siege of Gaza, ending the apartheid state, or stopping the systemic expansion of illegal settlements and certainly not guaranteeing the right of return. It doesn’t even mention Israeli recent threat to annex 30% of the West Bank. Palestinians rightly see this pact as a stab in the back.”</p> <p>Wyatt Miller connected these events to the role the U.S. plays. He said, “The Anti-War Committee says end U.S. aid to Israel, and hands off Lebanon. This is especially important in 2020. Last month saw the ammonium nitrate explosion which destroyed the Beirut port. Trump has exploited this tragic accident by introducing sanctions against Lebanon. His administration claims the sanctions are ‘targeted’ but we know from Iraq, Iran, Venezuela and too many other countries that even ‘targeted’ U.S. sanctions are used to slowly ramp up suffering and deprivation on an entire population, as a form of brutal, coercive pressure.”</p> <p>The protest ended with chants of “Free, free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”</p> <p>The protest was organized by the MN Anti-War Committee and co-sponsored by American Muslims for Palestine MN and Women Against Military Madness.</p> People's Struggles Antiwar Movement Anti-War Committee Palestine Thu, 24 Sep 2020 03:54:14 +0000 Fight Back 8542 at Tallahassee rallies for community control of the police - CPAC now! <p>Tallahassee, FL - Community activists gathered in front of city hall September 19 for a protest calling for the formation of an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), and demanding that State Attorney Jack Campbell drop the charges against the #Tally19 - arrested for participating in a protest on September 5 to condemn a grand jury decision that condoned three recent police murders of civilians.</p> <p>Saturday’s action was organized locally by the Tallahassee Community Action Committee (TCAC) with the support of Tallahassee Dream Defenders, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, More Than A Name, and Florida Planned Parenthood PAC. The action aligned with a national day of protest initiated by the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) in response to escalating repression of protest in Tallahassee and elsewhere.</p> <p>Giant banners that read: “Black lives matter,” “Community control of police,” “CPAC now” and “Drop the charges” offered a visually striking backdrop for, and reflected the messaging of, speakers, chant leaders and singers at the midday action.</p> <p>This year Tallahassee has seen the appointment of killer cop Lawrence Revell to chief of police; the killing of three civilians by Tallahassee Police Department in the span of two months; subsequent grand jury decisions to hold none of those officers accountable; and brutality and repression put on full display by at least five local law enforcement agencies and used against protesters on September 5, and since.</p> <p>TCAC member Satya Stark-Bejnar said on Saturday, “We need CPAC and not a toothless review board. We need community control of the police because communities are people, and people deserve a meaningful say in how they are policed!”</p> <p>Speaking on the need for community control of the police, longtime community organizer and recent city commission candidate Trish Brown declared, “I’m tired of the police policing the police, because all it’s doing is killing us! I’m tired of my Black city officials and my Black religious leaders turning a blind eye to what’s going on in the Black community, which is constant racial profiling and now repression for protesting it!”</p> <p>Tesia Lisbon, an organizer with More Than a Name, called for “CPAC now!” and, citing the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., implored city officials, local clergy, and people watching at home to, “Come sit at the table, come hear what we have to say, because the few are fighting for the many.”</p> <p>Organizers and attendees drew encouragement from one another locally, and in the knowledge that people in dozens of cities were united in simultaneous protest against police aggression, even in the face of escalating political repression.</p> <p>Local media may have downplayed attacks by law enforcement against local BLM protests, but this local repression is gaining national attention. At a September 19 protest in Chicago, a huge crowd could be heard chanting in solidarity, “Tallahassee 19, drop all charges!”</p> <p><em>Ben Grant (he/him) is a Tallahassee, FL activist.</em></p> People's Struggles Police Brutality Tallahassee Community Action Committee Thu, 24 Sep 2020 03:50:32 +0000 Fight Back 8541 at Jacksonville demands People’s Budget, stands in solidarity with the Tally 19 <p>Jacksonville, FL – On September 19, over 120 people showed up outside city hall in downtown Jacksonville demanding a people’s budget and community control of the police. This action was in response to the call by the National Alliance Against Racist and Pollical Repression (NAARPR) national call to action. The Jacksonville Community Action Committee is an affiliate of NAARPR.</p> <p>Speakers from Jacksonville Community Action Committee, University of North Florida SDS, Take ‘Em Down Jax, Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, ACLU, Mount Sinai Baptist Church and other organizations participated. The demands have been consistent as thousands gathered in the streets over the summer and they are as follows:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">-- Community control of the police in the form of a Jacksonville Police Accountability Council (JPAC)</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">-- Abolish Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights (LEOBOR; Florida statute 112.532)</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">-- People’s Budget now (to reallocate half of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office budget; currently 40% of the city budget)</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">-- Drop the charges for the #Tally19 (Stop police repression)</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">-- Withdraw federal troops from our cities</p> <p>The crowd chanted in call and response, “What do we want? A people’s budget! When do we want it? Now!” and in reference to the Tallahassee 19, the crowd chanted, “Drop the charges!”</p> <p>This was the last opportunity to demonstrate opposition to the mayor’s proposed pro-police budget before the finance committee takes a vote. The People’s Budget would effectively re-invest and re-allocate funds that currently bloat the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office budget, which currently sits at $481,594,597 and in the wake of summer uprisings, Sheriff Mike Williams is requesting a $6.1 million increase.</p> <p>The People’s Budget also calls for People’s Legislation that would direct city officials to make a carve-out in the city’s charter to create a civilian police accountability council; a proposal for a union neutrality ordinance for contractors that gets city contracts to allow their workers the ability to unionize without workplace repression; calls to decriminalize marijuana; greater access to city contracts for small Black businesses and vendors; rent controls to combat gentrification in historically Black neighborhoods like Springfield, and the creation of an Urban Core Development Authority which would direct public and private investment to address community blight and poverty in Jacksonville’s Black neighborhoods.</p> <p>The JCAC called on city council to reject any budget that doesn’t fund communities yet increases the police budget.</p> <p>Sara Mahmoud, an organizer with the Jacksonville Community Action Committee, addressed the crowd at Saturday’s rally, “After months of ongoing and historic protests, we are pressing upon the city council to say no to the city budget, and reject stealing taxpayer dollars in order to continue funding crooked killer cops in Jacksonville.”</p> <p>To follow work with the JCAC, visit: <a href=""></a></p> People's Struggles Police Brutality Jacksonville Community Action Committee Thu, 24 Sep 2020 03:45:12 +0000 Fight Back 8539 at UIC strikers turn away UPS deliveries <p>Chicago, IL - On day nine of the strike by 4000 members of the Service Employee International Union Local 73, September 22, picket lines were dispersed to multiple locations across the medical center campus. Workers gathered by the dock entrances of the hospital, the Outpatient Care Center, the College of Medicine Research Building, the dean’s office of the College of Medicine, the College of Dentistry, and the Clinical Science Building.</p> <p>In an act of trade union solidarity, UPS workers who are members of Teamsters Local 705 refused to cross the picket lines. As a result, numerous deliveries were halted, doubtlessly causing panic among management in the respective labs, clinics and academic departments. As each brown package car truck turned around and drove away, the strikers cheered and chanted, “What do we want? A contract! When do we want it? Now! And If we don’t get it? Shut it down!” The strikers were elated that they were able to strike such blows against the employer.</p> <p>Referring to the mood on the picket lines, occupational therapist Cathleen Jensen, a vice president of Local 73, said, “Striking workers are very defiant; they feel confident that they are winning. Some are applying for the hardship funds, donated by other unions and community supporters, because obviously people have financial concerns.”</p> <p>In the first week of the strike, strikers had concentrated on displays of unity among service, clerical, technical and professional employees with marches around campus and rallies in front of the hospital, the heart of the strike. Also, the Illinois Nurses Association had struck for seven days, returning to work on Saturday without a contract agreement. With bargaining failing to produce significant results, the Local 73 strikers have escalated tactics.</p> <p><strong>Respect us, protect us, pay us!</strong></p> <p>In conversations on the picket lines, many workers repeated similar messages about the aim of the strike: their concerns for universal PPE (personal protective equipment, such as face masks), fair pay, an end to outsourcing good union jobs, and the bottom line of dignity and respect. Many picket signs read, “Racism is a public health crisis,” which is a challenge to the language of a pledge by health centers in Chicago that the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System signed. Most of the strikers are Black and Latino, and most of the nurses are also oppressed nationality, mainly Filipino. The nurses and workers who died from COVID-19 at the hospital were also Black, Filipino and Latino.</p> <p>In the afternoon, 20 strikers joined the Reverend Jesse Jackson and other faith leaders in a ceremony at the office of Governor J.B. Pritzker, where they laid flowers in front of his door to honor the 200,000 victims of COVID-19. The workers were there to press the governor to intervene in the strike. The governor appoints the board of trustees, the bosses of UIC management.</p> <p>Vice President Jensen spoke about reverberations throughout the labor movement in response to this strike. “When we win, it will give other workers courage. We know that the nurses at Rush Medical Center are watching us to see what happens. A lot of workers in healthcare are discontented.”</p> chicago SEIU SEIU Strike Service Employee International Union Local 73 solidarity Strikes Teamsters UPS Labor Wed, 23 Sep 2020 02:52:34 +0000 Fight Back 8537 at