Airport protests set new level of solidarity

By Fred Goldstein, posted February 1, 2017

Jan. 30 — The wave of airport protests against Trump’s Muslim ban represents a new high-water mark in solidarity with Muslims in the U.S. These demonstrations are a political rebuff to the vicious Islamophobia stoked for a year and a half by Donald Trump, along with his Mexico bashing and many other reactionary themes.

In fact, Islamophobia has replaced anti-communism in the 21st century as the primary divisive, racist, divide-and-conquer strategy to foment war, intervention and police surveillance. Now the Islamophobes are being pushed back.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, and the World Trade Center bombings, Muslims and those in the movement who support them against ruling-class prejudice and persecution have been on the defensive. Solidarity activities have been relatively small and have been in the shadows.

But Donald Trump, Stephen Bannon, Gen. Michael Flynn and company, now hunkered down in the White House, changed all that by issuing a 90-day ban on people coming from six predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — and banning Syrian nationals and refugees indefinitely.

This reactionary White House circle apparently did not get the message from the 3.3 million people who demonstrated around the country on Jan. 21 at the Women’s March. That march was marked by a high degree of solidarity with Muslim women. Instead, Trump and his reactionary circle, which is moving sharply in an authoritarian direction, provoked a massive movement that was already in motion.

100 demonstrations in 42 states

As of this writing, 100 demonstrations in 42 states have been carried out or are planned. Tens of thousands have already gone to airports to protest. (

Television networks have carried the larger, more prominent ones in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and so forth.The movement has been powerful enough to force courts in four states to put stays on the deportation of immigrants caught up in the ban and its sudden application. Requests for injunctions have been granted in New York City, Seattle, Virginia and Massachusetts. The Massachusetts injunction goes further than the others, which block deportation but permit detention. Massachusetts is not allowing detention.

The original ban included all people with green cards. This amounts to a ban on hundreds of thousands of people around the world. In their rush to push the ban through, Trump and his National Strategy Adviser Steve Bannon, an ultra-right, Islamophobic, anti-Semite, informed U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration Services of the ban on the very afternoon it was promulgated. Only the massive struggle that erupted at airports the next day forced the head of Homeland Security, Gen. John Kelly, to rescind the green card ban.

In their fanaticism Trump, Bannon, Reince Priebus, Flynn and company showed no concern for all the students from the seven Islamic countries covered by the ban who were returning to continue their studies. They did not care about workers, scientists and technicians returning to their jobs. They showed utter contempt for people coming to be with their families. Even after several court injunctions were obtained, CBP officials refused to allow attorneys to see some detainees and turned away members of Congress who were attempting to find out the status of those detained.

This reflects the authoritarian stamp of the Trump inner circle.

Ideological and political step forward

The legal struggle to eradicate the ban altogether has a long way to go. It will take a great deal of political struggle in the streets, on the campuses and in the communities to push back the Trump administration. But the struggle has begun in a very inspiring way.

A new sense of solidarity has swept the movement, which got a sense of its power at the J21 Women’s March. That power has been transformed into solidarity and militant rejection of Islamophobia.

Anti-Muslim sentiment has been a fundamental ideological and political prop of the ruling class and much of the political establishment since Sept. 11.

By coming out en masse across the country, the airport demonstrators have put up determined resistance to the Trump refugee ban. But they have also struck an ideological and political blow against the Islamophobic poison of the ruling class. These demonstrations have laid the basis for future political steps forward.

Islamophobia has been used to build Homeland Security. It has been used to militarize the police in cities across the country. Above all, it has been used to promote the so-called “war on terror.”

Under the pretext of the “war on terror,” U.S. imperialism and the Pentagon have intervened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and lately in Yemen. The military-industrial complex — the makers of drones, smart bombs, military satellites, bombers, fighter planes, helicopters, tanks, munitions of every kind, military robots, etc. — have prospered producing arms for the “war on terror.”

From solidarity to anti-imperialism

The solidarity shown with Muslims can cause many to question the ideological and material basis that led to the ban in the first place. It is supposedly to protect the U.S. against terrorist organizations like al-Qaida and the Islamic State group (IS). But the ban is part of a broader offensive against the oil-rich and geostrategic Muslim world of the Middle East and North Africa.

It is precisely the Pentagon and the CIA that are responsible for the rise of groups like al-Qaida and IS. Washington has bombed 11 Islamic countries in the last 25 years. The Pentagon has inflicted untold destruction, suffering and death upon countries from Afghanistan to Somalia. The CIA has destroyed all the progressive secular nationalist forces, all those openly anti-imperialist, all the socialist and communist forces in the Middle East.

But the imperialists have not stopped their plunder and their oppression. They have taken Iraq’s oil. They have destroyed Libya and taken its oil. They have financed a devastating war trying to topple the independent government of Syria. The region is strewn with millions of refugees escaping the destruction of drone warfare, F-16s, A-10 killing machines. The oil barons are searching and drilling for oil in the coastal areas of Islamic North Africa. U.S. troops are spread throughout the region.

Under such conditions, with all progressive and secular forces weakened if not destroyed, it is inevitable that the vacuum of resistance will be filled by reactionary forces. The IS group is a patriarchal, medieval, theocratic organization pledged to drive the Western powers from the Middle East — the powers that divided up the region in the first place.

Such forces are at the same time the enemy of both the masses and of imperialism. The “war on terror” has nothing to do with helping women or freeing society. It has to do with reasserting the dominance of imperialism over the oil-rich Middle East and Africa.

Along with fighting Trump and his ­reactionary anti-Muslim tirades, the movement should try to match its dynamic political resistance with a determination to get to the bottom of the problem. The movement must see the commonality of racism, misogyny, LGBTQ and all gender oppression, anti-immigrant poison and the struggle against the multinational working class as based in the same substance as Islamophobia.

At the root is imperialism, the profit system and the domination of the world by capitalist monopolies.

Goldstein is the author of ­“Capitalism at a Dead End” and “Low-Wage Capitalism,” both of which can be purchased from online booksellers.

(Houston airport photo: Gloria Rubac)

Charlotte uprising forces release of killer cop videos

By Fred Goldstein posted on October 5, 2016


The truly heroic forces of the Charlotte Uprising have carried out a great struggle to get justice for Keith Lamont Scott, who was murdered in cold blood by the cops on Sept. 20 while waiting in his car for his son to come home from school. Now they are also fighting for freedom for Rayquan Borum, who has been framed up for the police killing of Justin Carr during the rebellion. Eyewitnesses say that the rubber bullet that killed Carr was fired by the police. Only the police have rubber bullets.

In the course of the righteous rebellion, the Uprising has pushed back the cops and established an important precedent that the movement should study and try to follow. They have carried their rebellion to the commercial and financial centers of Charlotte, the Wall Street of the South.

For example, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke Energy, the real ruling class of North Carolina, were forced to tell their workers to stay home for several days.

Taking it to the ruling class

The commercial EpiCenter, which houses businesses, a major hotel, restaurants and bars, was invaded and business has fallen way off. There were major cancellations at large hotels. The Westin Hotel had three large groups cancel, losing several 4,000-room nights of business. The Aria Tuscan Grill restaurant had 300 reservations on a Friday night and none of them showed up.

According to the owner of the Aria Tuscan Grill and City Smoke, “I remember 9/11 vividly, and remember thinking that was the worst. This event is even bigger.” (Charlotte Observer, “Unrest ‘huge blow’ to uptown hospitality industry,” Sept. 28) There was also damage to Walmart, the Omni Hotel, the Hyatt, the Charlotte Convention Center and an office tower near the NASCAR Hall of Fame. There were boarded-up stores in both downtown and uptown.

Demonstrators blocked interstate highways I-77, I-85 and I-277, all of which are important access routes to the commercial districts. The police had to shut down I-277 for several hours.

The Carolina Panthers game on Sept. 25 was the most undersold game in two years. With tickets costing $120 each, much revenue was undoubtedly lost.

Police do 180 on videos

The protesters’ victory so far has been to force an adamant police chief and the mayor to release police videos of the shooting. The police initially refused to release them.

Police Chief Kerr Putney spoke the day after the killing. With Mayor Jennifer Roberts by his side, he firmly refused to release any videos on the grounds that they were part of an ongoing investigation.

Putney started litigating the case in public right away, declaring that Scott got out of his car with a gun and pointed it at the police.

The next day, as the rebellion grew, Putney said that even if the videos didn’t show Scott with a gun, the cops found a gun. Later they said they found an ankle holster. Of course “dropping a gun” is standard police operation when they want to cover up a killing or frame up someone. One video also shows the cops yelling at Scott, “Drop the gun.” But the police knew full well that the dash cam was on them and they acted out their lines accordingly.

A day later Putney said the cops would release the videos when there was a good reason to.

And finally, in the wake of the movement’s calls for his resignation, Putney totally reversed course on Sept. 24 and said he would release the videos.

So far the police have released partial videos; they are due to release much more video. This victory is going to put pressure on police departments across the country to release videos of police shootings. And it was done in a matter of days.

This is no small accomplishment. In Chicago the movement could not get the release of the video of Laquan McDonald’s murder for 14 months, and it was only released after a court order based on a lawsuit by a reporter.

Taking on state by pressuring ruling class

At the present time, the movement against racist police killings and brutality does not have the force to take on the state directly. The local police are militarized, as are the state police and the National Guard. The state can only be pushed back indirectly, by interfering with the sales and profits of the banks, big business, and medium and small businesses. Because the cops are, in the end, only the servants of business, it is the capitalist ruling class that can be forced to tell their servants to pull back.

Of course, the ruling class is secretly behind the new wave of repression being brought against the Uprising — including hundreds arrested, new warrants for organizers and the frame-ups of key people. It is quite expected that the ruling class will strike back with repression. But no matter what, the victory has already been accomplished and cannot be erased. And the repression must be fought, not just by the Charlotte movement, but also by people from the entire country in the struggle for Black lives.

Displaying extraordinary heroism and determination, the Uprising refused to be intimidated by a massive show of force. Hundreds of cops in riot gear, showering rubber bullets and tear gas, and wielding clubs, could not drive the demonstrators off the streets.

The Uprising defied a state of emergency declared by the governor and curfews by the local government. The activists came back, day after day, night after night. While they could not defeat the state outright, they also refused to be intimidated. They pushed up against the cops, the Guard and the state police. And they stayed in the streets.

This struggle has illuminated the relationship between the bosses and the cops. That alone is an accomplishment. Of course, there still has to be the indictment, the trial and the conviction of the cops involved. That is a much larger struggle. But the Uprising has shown the great potential of a truly grassroots rebellion.

Black August of 1970: The Heroes of San Rafael

In the momentous political event that marked “Black August,” freedom fighter Jonathan Jackson, at the age of 17, burst into a San Rafael, Calif., courtroom, armed, to free his brother, George Jackson, along with Fleeta Drumgo and John Clutchette, on Aug. 7, 1970. The three “Soledad Brothers” were being tried and faced execution — despite a lack of evidence — for killing a white prison guard at Soledad prison following another guard’s murder of three African-American inmates.
George Jackson had been imprisoned for over 10 years for a $70 robbery and faced an indeterminate [read “life”] sentence. He was a leader of the Black Panther Party, vanguard organization of the Black Liberation Movement, founded in October 1966 in Oakland, Calif.
Jonathan Jackson was joined by San Quentin prisoners James McClain, Ruchell Cinque Magee* and William Christmas inside the courtroom where they took a judge, district attorney and three jurors hostage and demanded the Soledad Brothers’ immediate release.
As Jackson drove away, court police and San Quentin guards opened fire, killing him, McClain, Christmas and the judge. The rest survived, including Magee, who has been incarcerated for 53 years, currently the longest-held U.S.political prisoner.
Workers World republishes here the original article written — with some small edits suggested by the author — by Fred Goldstein, who was then a leader of Youth Against War and Fascism and a supporter of the Panthers, and is the author of the books, “Low Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End.” Workers World staff
By Fred Goldstein
Aiming to free his unjustly imprisoned brother George, Jonathan Jackson, 17, William Christmas, James McClain and Ruchell Magee take judge, prosecutor, three jurors as hostages to waiting van Aug. 7, 1970.
August 7, 1970, shall go down in history as the day of the heroes of San Rafael. On that day four courageous Black liberation fighters gave the world a truly awe-inspiring demonstration of revolutionary heroism and self-sacrifice in the struggle against the racist tyranny of U.S. imperialism. Their deed has already become an imperishable part of the revolutionary heritage of the Black Liberation struggle and of oppressed people everywhere.
Three of these heroes were prisoners of war — captives in the war of the master class against Black America. The fourth was a young revolutionary whose brother was being held prisoner in the concentration camp called San Quentin.
On August 7, 1970, they tore loose from the very jaws of the monster. In a blaze of glory, these prisoners of war broke the iron grip of the slave master, struck him a surprise blow and captured the enemy in his own lair. By a stroke of historic justice they were able to capture a judge, a prosecutor and a juror — representing the three elements of the capitalist frame-up system which has consigned an endless procession of helpless victims to perish, to die a slow, agonizing death in the dungeon-graveyards of iron and cement. Fate could not have planned a more fitting circumstance.
George Jackson, by unknown Palestinian artist, Palestine, 2015
Died for the people
“We are revolutionaries,” they proudly proclaimed. “We want the Soledad brothers free by 12:30.” Their deed was performed for the people and for history.
They showed the people that they were not afraid to die for liberation. They showed the people a black-robed tyrant torn from his throne and trembling in the hands of Black revolutionaries.
They proved before the people, the exploited and oppressed Black people everywhere, that the jailer can be taken prisoner; that the prosecutor of the people can be forced to reckon with the people’s justice; that the hangman can be made to beg for his life; that those who torture and torment the people, those who remorselessly show no mercy and turn a deaf ear to the cries of pain and suffering — that these brutes turned loose in society by the master class can be struck down by determined and revolutionary representatives of the people. This is what the heroes of San Rafael wanted the people to see. This is what the people saw. This is what they will remember.
In a flash of revolutionary daring, the heroes of San Rafael breached the fortress of the enemy where he thought he was impregnable — in the court. They assailed that onerous organ which has been held sacred and inviolable by ruling classes throughout history. Since the dawn of class society this institution has served the rich, the exploiters, as the arena of class discipline, where the poor are held to account for every act of rebellion, be it large or small, personal or political, against exploitation and class domination. In all areas of life there is no place where the master class has grown so accustomed to submission as in the courts.
Therein lies a great political, moral and psychological victory won for the Black Liberation struggle at San Rafael. Political because the example has been inscribed indelibly into the minds of thousands of as yet anonymous revolutionaries who cannot but be inspired by such a heroic exploit. This example alone has already prepared a future augmentation of the forces of liberation.
Morally, the people cannot but contrast the heroic self-sacrifice of the brothers with the bestiality of the ruling class which used overwhelming numbers to slaughter its own devoted servants rather than permit Black men to be free.
Psychologically, the slave masters have been terrified by the boldness and innovative tactical conception. The tension in the ruling class must increase tremendously as a result. No court is safe any more. Blind passivity and fatal acceptance by its victims can no longer be taken for granted by the enemy. Every prison has become a veritable cadre school of the oppressed. The courts will have to become armed camps. The bourgeoisie will have to show the people its teeth in every “hall of justice” across the country.
Rulers sacrificed own stooge
Only those who fail to see the power of the people’s revolutionary potential can see a defeat in San Rafael. True enough, they did not achieve their tactical objective. But this was unavoidable. Even the most seasoned revolutionary could not have predicted that the enemy would, without remorse, without a moment’s hesitation, slaughter its own judge, prosecutor and jurors. In this deed the pigs exceeded their previous record for brutality.
Who could have foretold the complete overthrow of all rational procedures of warfare? Who could have gauged that fear and rage would drive them to devour their own? These brave warriors were hardly naïve. On the contrary, having lived the caged existence of the dungeon, these fighters were on intimate terms with the system in its most brutal and sadistic aspects.
The tactic of San Rafael flows directly from the present stage of the struggle. The revolution, the war of liberation has sunk into the bones of the people. There is a universal desire to struggle. But the people have not yet created an army capable of dealing the enemy blow-for-blow on an equal basis, capable of smashing the power of the oppressor.
Under those conditions the people are forced to begin the struggle sporadically and against vastly superior forces. At these junctures, groups and individuals scale the heights of revolutionary heroism against the most overwhelming odds. Being unable to select the terrain of battle, being unable to commit large-scale forces to equalize the conditions of battle — in fact, being powerless to exercise control over any of the decisive elements which influence the military outcome of any major struggle, the people are nevertheless determined to fight and die for liberation. Therefore, they must begin the struggle under conditions handed to them by the class enemy — that is, under circumstances which must inevitably be unfavorable.
It is at such moments in history that the most fearless and determined representatives of the oppressed people come forward to do battle. They form the vanguard and their deeds become the inspiration and the foundation for future struggles and for ultimate victory.
Ruchell Magee, George and Jonathan Jackson, by Kiilu Nyasha
It is to such an illustrious category that James McClain, Jonathan Jackson, William Christmas and Ruchell Magee belong. Their courageous sacrifice deserves nothing less than the highest tribute. The only tribute worthy of their example is to build a revolutionary fighting force which shall not only equalize the battle but which shall carry out a relentless and implacable struggle for the revolutionary destruction of imperialism and the capitalist foundation on which it rests.
Epilogue: A year later on Aug. 21, San Quentin guards murdered author and revolutionary George Jackson. Enraged at his assassination and protesting racist “brutal, dehumanized” prison conditions, 1,200 inmates of New York’s Attica Correctional Facility rebelled on Sept. 9, 1971. Four days later, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller ordered 600 state and National Guard troops to storm the prison. Within 10 minutes, they fatally shot 29 prisoners and 10 guards. Surviving prisoners were ferociously beaten, many injured were left untreated.
Soledad Brothers Drumgo and Clutchette were acquitted by a San Francisco jury on March 27, 1972.
*Tlaxcala’s Note
Ruchell “Cinque” Magee (he adopted the middle name of Cinque, after the enslaved African who led the takeover of the slave ship Amistad, which eventually lead to the freedom of all the slaves on board)  is today the longest held political pr


Guantanamo in Chicago: Imperialist war and police torture

By Fred Goldstein posted on May 19, 2015

Torture in Chicago photo

It is no coincidence that both Zuley and Burge learned torture in the service of U.S. imperialism, in Vietnam and Guantanamo. Torture is a feature of imperialist war against colonial resistance.

In 1990, Lathierial Boyd, 24, was asked by police to come to a facility in Chicago to help them investigate a murder. Boyd was confused, but, as he had been at his sister’s house on the other side of town the night of the murder watching a basketball game, he was not worried. He had a real estate business and was doing well.

He went to the infamous police facility called Homan Square not knowing that an untold number of people, mostly Black and Latino/a, had been “disappeared” into that building. He met Detective Richard Zuley and soon was shackled to a wall and the floor. Zuley went through Boyd’s nice apartment. Finding nothing, Zuley returned and told Boyd, “No n_____er should live like this.”(Guardian, Feb. 19)

Prison profiteers drive detention of immigrants

By Fred Goldstein, published April 22, 2015

The U.S. prison system is more and more becoming a profit center for big private corporations. The detention of undocumented immigrants fleeing persecution has become a special source of “profit from misery.”

A new study from “Grassroots Leadership” documents how the largest private prison corporations in the country, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, have spent millions of dollars lobbying the Department of Homeland Security committee in the Senate for harsh immigrant detention laws. Together, they run 90 percent of the DHS detention centers.