Thursday, April 29, 2010

Democracy and Class Struggle Supports the following May Day Events and Rallies

Chesterfield May Day on Monday 3rd May

March assembles at Town hall, Chestefield on 3rd May rally at New Square at 12.00pm

Nottingham May Day

Mobilise for Nottingham May Day on May 1st.
The Nottingham May Day Rally on Saturday, 1st. May starts at 11.00 m

London Mobilisation for May Day

This Saturday May 1st we will be marching from 12pm from Clarkenwell green. Please join us in solidarity with your comrades - message from Fight Racisn Fight Imperialism

Internationalist Mayday !

From the Workers and Proletarian Uprising to the Proletarian Revolution !

The crisis of the imperialist system goes on with is impact on the
proletarians and the masses throughout the world. The imperialist
bourgeoisies in the world take advantage of the crisis to restructure the
capitalism on a world scale, to "improve" in the interest of their classes
for their profits.

For the oppressed people: hunger and poverty; for the proletarians in the
imperialist countries, increasing unemployment, cost of living, sackings,
closing factories, precariousness.

This also feeds the inter-imperialist contradictions for the control on the
world market and the strategic geo-political regions. This raises and pushes
the factors of the inter-imperialistic and reactionary wars in the world.

For the people in the world, imperialist wars of aggression, invasions,

For the proletarians, police State, modern fascism, racist laws, oppression
of youth and women.

The working class and oppressed peoples need more and more revolutionary
organizations to advance and strengthen itself and a revolutionary strategy
to overthrow the bourgeoisie (and all ruling classes) and seize the power.

Until the proletarian and oppressed will not be in power, it is an illusion
to think that its destiny can get better!

The workers struggles and more generally the struggles of the people -
against all aspects of imperialist 'globalization' as the privatizations of
the education, for the regularization of the migrants, against the police
repression, etc. - develop in opposition to this system that does not give
to the majority of the people any perspective but exploitation, oppression
and poverty. In France we could see several resolute struggles as well as in
other countries. In these workers' struggles, the base (affiliated to union
or not) is opposed to the officials unions' chiefs, which are reformist and

These struggles must be coordinated, generalized and raised in the framework
of a revolutionary perspective of overthrowing the reactionary governments
and bourgeois States for the proletarian seizure of the power.

This will not occur spontaneously. We must build in all countries the
revolutionary tools, the new party of the working class, the new type
communist party, the Maoist Communist Party, based on the revolutionary
Marxist-Leninist- Maoist theory and the summing up of the historic experience
of the communist movement !

Today the Maoist Communist Party has the goal to advance in its construction
in the fire of the class struggle, closely linked to the masses, for the
socialist or new democratic revolution, with the strategy of the people's
war reaching its peak with the seizure of power, in accordance with the
conditions of each country, to build a new society, without crisis,
exploitation, oppression, poverty, to advance to socialism, toward the class
less communist society.

To strengthen the Maoist Communist Parties, where they exist, and to build
them, where they do not, is the task of all the proletarians, all those are
struggling in the different fronts and want to give themselves the tools to
overthrow the system.

Support the people's war in India, support the revolution in Nepal!

The people's war in Peru experiences a new advance under the leadership of
the Communist Party of Peru and goes on in the Philippines, Turkey and,
particularly, in Asia.

In India, the people's war led by the Communist Party of India (Maoist)
progresses fighting back against the government ban and the massive military
offensive against the revolutionaries and the masses of India, the operation
called "Green Hunt". But the armed people effectively resist and gain an
even larger support throughout the country.

Our task is to practice proletarian internationalism, support this struggle
and make it known.

In Nepal the situation evolves more and more toward the clash between the
revolutionary camp, led by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist),
and the reactionary camp.

After a 10-years-long people's war and 4 years of peace process the country
is at the border of a new decisive clash. Who will lead the country, whether
the bourgeois or the people's camp, depends on who will win this conflict.
At the same time, there is the danger of a foreign intervention of the India
supported by US. We must support the revolution in Nepal because it opposes
the imperialism.

Long Live the Internationalist Mayday !

Long Live the Proletarian Internationalism !

Let's Strenghten the construction of Maoist Communist Parties !

Long Live the Unity of Struggle of the Proletarians and the Oppressed People
against Imperialism in Crisis !

For a New Unity of the International Communist Movement based on
Marxism-Leninism- Maoism !

Maoist Communist Party of France, Maoist Communist Party - Italy, Maoist
Communist Party - Turkey / North Kurdistan, Revolutionary Communist Party -
Canada, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Naxalbari.

Join the international contingent at 2 p.m. place de la République - Paris
under the banner : From workers' revolt to proletarian revolution !

The Launch of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Campaign in London on 28th April Brixton - London - Mobilise for 19th May protest at US Embassy - London

The Free Mumia Abu Jamal Campaign got of to a good start in London - Brixton with speeches from Radha D'Souza a Law lecturer and Steve Hedley of the RMT Trade Union and brother Omowale of the Pan Afrikan Society Community Forum.

Kate also spoke from Partisan Defence and Kath from Fight Racism Fight Imperialism.

The highlight of the evening was a phone call from Robert Bryan Mumia's Lawyer in the United States to the meeting to update us all the legal status of Mumia and the urgency of mounting a campaign to save his life in view of recent legal developments

Brother Tongogara of the George Jackson Socialist League called for a protest at the United States Embassy in London on the 19th May between 3- 7pm and all at the meeting agreed to mobilise the widest possible support for this US Embassy protest to demand freedom of Mumia Abu Jamal.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Now ! The Campaign to save Mumia has started

Racism is at the core of an unjust system – do not let an innocent man be executed

The PAN AFRIKAN VOICE and the Pan Afrikan Society Community Forum invites all Afrikan/Working Class and Progressive People to a campaigning public meeting to save the life of Mumia Abu-Jamal.


Date & Time: 7 PM – WEDNESDAY 28th APRIL 2010
(Third Right Street From Brixton Tube Station)

Organised by:

George Jackson Socialist League
Pan Afrikan Society Community Forum
Democracy and Class Struggle

Supported by

Fight Racism Fight Imperialism
World Peoples Resistance Movement (Britain)
Global Afrikan Congress
Co-ordination Committee of the Revolutionary Communists of Britain

Invited Speakers:

Colin Burgon MP
RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Worker)
Radha d’Souza – Law Lecturer
Fight Racism Fight Imperialism
Indian Workers Association GB
Partisans Defence Committee
Global Women’s Strike
Amnesty International
CAMPACC & others

All are welcome – Admission free – donations welcome

Mumia Abu-Jamal is in danger of execution as the Supreme Court on January 2010 threw out a ruling that had set aside the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal the former Black Panther and internationally known political prisoner. We demand that Mumia Abu-Jamal who is innocent of all charges be released unconditionally and immediately.

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been on Pennsylvania’s death row now approaching 30 years after being falsely accused of killing a policeman. Mumia Abu-Jamal was a radio journalist known as the “Voice of the Voiceless”

He exposed the racist and class oppression of the Afrikan and other oppressed working class. In 1985 he defended the Move family whose home had been bombed by a helicopter which killed 13 defenceless and innocent people including women and children.

Mumia Abu- Jamal’s case is symptomatic of the racism and class nature of the criminal justice system both in US and the UK.

The criminal justice system in the UK is similarly brutal and racist. The so called War on Terror is in fact a War of Terror allowing people to be held without cause and for the Afrikan and Muslim community to be targeted.

The US prison population is now 2.5 million. While in Britain it is 100,000 and rising. As of now the brutal prison system in US and the UK is disproportionately filled with young Afrikan men.

Robert Bryan lawyer for Mumia Abu-Jamal says people continue to use the false term “reinstating the death penalty” concerning Mumia. He has always been under a death sentence.

When there has been a victory, the prosecution has gone to a higher court, thereby suspending the effect. In 2008 the Court of Appeals ruled reversed the death judgement. The State petitioned the Supreme Court, so the reversal of the death penalty never took effect.

What is clear today is that Mumia Abu-Jamal is in imminent danger and the way has been cleared for his execution by the decision on January 19th 2010.

There are approximately 2.5 Million prisoners in the US gulag with thousands on death row approximately 50 % are Afrikans.

We the following organisations in Britain undertake to raise the profile of Mumia Abu-Jamal with publicity, demonstrations and meetings throughout 2010 and demand his unconditional release.

Organised by George Jackson Socialist League,Pan Afrikan Society Community Forum, Democracy and Classs Struggle supported by Fight Racism Fight Imperialism /RCG , Global Afrikan Congress, Co-ordination Committee of Revolutionary Communists of Britain

Join the campaign and build support in your Trade Union and workplace organisations.

Contact: Tongogara
E-mail:, free2mumia

Monday, April 26, 2010

Nepal Maoists announces indefinite general strike from May 2, 2010

The main opposition Unified CPN (Maoist) has announced indefinite nationwide general strike from May 2.

Organising a press conference in the capital on Monday, Maoist Chairman Prachanda aka Pushpa Kamal Dahal said that his party is organising the general strike for peace and constitution.

He also said that the party is announcing the general strike under compulsion as the government has clearly disregarded the Maoists' proposal to find a way out of the present crisis through consensus and cooperation.

Prachanda, however, said the party will be open for dialogue during the general strike to sort out the problems in a mutually amicable manner.

He also termed the remark made by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal - that the Maoist chairman can't be accepted as a prime minister - as a conspiracy against his party.

Prachanda said the Kathmandu-centric agitation programme the party is organising on May 1 will be peaceful, but warned that it could turn violent if the government intervenes in it.

The party is planning to bring in 400,000 Maoist cadres and supporters into the streets of Kathmandu to celebrate May 1.

Democracy and Class Struggle comment: what is not clear from the above story from Nepal News but clear in the Video above is that Prachanda says if no necessary agreements are made even until May 1st mass demonstration to guarantee the peace and constitution, our party has made a decision to call a nationwide political general strike from May 2nd 2010

‘782 mn Indians would be living on under $2 a day by 2015’

Washington: A whopping 782 million Indians will be living on less than two dollars a day by 2015, a joint report by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund said here on Friday.

The report titled 'Global monitoring report 2010: The MDGs after the crisis, however said the number of poor Indians living on less than two dollars would moderately decline to 686 million by 2020. But the report adds that by the turn of the next decade as many as 268 million Indians would be living on less than 1.25 dollars a day, while in 2015 the figure would be 295 million.

These figures, however, are almost double the revised number of the poor in the country which is pegged at around 400 million.

The report says China reduced its poverty rate from 60 per cent to 16 per cent, as the absolute number of extremely poor fell from 683 million to 208 million between 1990 and 2005.

On the other hand, "India reduced the share of its population living in poverty from 51 per cent to 42 per cent, but because of population growth, the number of poor people actually rose from 436 million to 456 million (between 1990 and 2005)," it said.

With the pre-crisis surge of growth in the Sub-Saharan Africa nations, the proportion of Africans living on less than 1.25 dollars a day fell from 58 per cent in 1990 to 51 per cent in 2005, but the absolute number of the poor rose from 296 million to 388 million. Despite Africa's recent progress, the pace of economic growth is still not fast enough there to cut the 1990 poverty rate by half in 2015, it said.

The new analysis of maternal deaths in 181 countries found a significant decline globally, with the aggregate maternal deaths decreasing by over 35 per cent from about 526,300 in 1980 to 342,900 in 2008. More than half of all maternal deaths are concentrated in six countries-- India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Congo.

"All told, maternal deaths for every 1,00,000 live births decreased markedly from 422 in 1980 to 320 in 1990 and to 251 in 2008. The yearly rate of the decline in the global maternal mortality ratio since 1990 was 1.3 per cent (with an uncertainty range of 1.0-1.5)," it said.

With regard to poverty reduction, the report said, "the two large countries, China and India, are exceptions in the sense that, despite their starting points in income and poverty rates, poverty reduction has been rapid not just because of the high growth rates but also because the poverty gap and the average income distance from the poverty line have been relatively low."

(Zee News, 24th April)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Memorial for Chairman Mao and Other Martyrs - Luoyang City, Henan Province- anti-revisionist speech

A Memorial for Chairman Mao and Other Martyrs - Luoyang City, Henan Province
Posted by Utopia ( on April 14, 2010 people

The banner says: A Rally by Luoyang People to Pay Tribute to Chairman Mao and Other Martyrs

The Speech (translated into English) is as follows:

Chairman Mao worked hard his entire life to win the revolution and to establish a new China. Anyone who has a conscience will always be grateful to him. We can say with certainty that without Chairman Mao there could not have been a new China.

Chairman Mao often reminded us that we should always remember the revolutionary martyrs for the contributions they made, and we should understand why they sacrificed their lives to fight for the cause. Chairman Mao once asked us whether we remember the many martyrs who died in the revolution. He said that he thought about them often. He said they sacrificed their lives, because they wanted to build a new China - a new China where there would be no class exploitation or class repression, a new China where the people would become the master of the country. Those revolutionary martyrs wanted to build a new China where foreign and domestic reactionaries could no longer oppress our working people.

In 1974 Mao wrote a poem as a memorial to the martyrs for their accomplishments. He said the revolutionaries were very courageous, and that they dared to challenge the sun and the moon in order to change our destiny. Chairman Mao repeatedly reminded us that we must not betray the road our martyrs traveled, and we must not betray the high ideals these martyrs held. Chairman Mao said that so many people sacrificed their lives in order to build a prosperous China, so that Chinese people could enjoy better lives. They wanted to build a strong China that could stand proudly among the world's other peoples and nations. Many revolutionaries died on the battleground fighting against the enemies or were executed by the enemies. They died without any regrets but with smiles on their faces. They shouted with their last breath: "Long live the Communist Party! Long live Chairman Mao!".

Chairman Mao said even when he was still alive they [the revisionists] could not accept what he said. Our Chairman said that he was not thinking of himself but of our country and our people. He did his best he could to assure our country would not change colors and that socialism would prevail. He said that even when he was alive, they [the revisionists] were already doing what they wanted to do. If they could accomplish what they wanted, then the blood shed by our martyrs would be in vain and people would have to suffer all over again. Chairman Mao continued to say that he knew the Chinese people wanted socialism and how he worried the Chinese people would suffer if China should abandon socialism. Therefore, he relied on the masses and refused to retreat.

Why did Chairman Mao work so hard for us and worry so much about us? What were his worries? Wasn't he worried that our country might change colors and that the blood of our martyrs would be for nothing? Wasn't he worried that our country would revert to barbarism and slavery? What would our martyrs have thought, if they had known that the socialist values and morals of our society have been so totally corrupted, and that our peoples' lives again have fallen into such deep water? Isn't it true that all Mao's worries have become reality?

We gather here today not just to show our deep appreciation to Chairman Mao and our martyrs. We gather here to assert that our martyrs did not sacrifice their lives for nothing. If we still have our consciences we cannot forget what the Communist Party had struggled for. Today we have things to tell our Chairman and martyrs. We want to tell you with shame and regret that we lost what you left for us - the right to be the masters of our country and the beautiful future of socialism. It was our fault but now people have awakened. We know the revisionists have seized power. We, the proletariat are united with our determination and our fearless spirit. We are singing our battle song - the Internationale. We do not rely on any savior, nor do we rely on any gods or emperors. We rely only on ourselves. This is our last struggle and we are united for tomorrow's final victory. This country is our country and the people are our people. The battle drums have been sounded. We are marching forward to fight the reactionaries and to smash the bourgeoisie into pieces once for all. We want to make sure that the generations after us will not suffer again. We are going to once again hold up the flag of Mao Zedong Thought on this land. We will fight to restore true socialism.

Long Live the Great and Invincible Mao Zedong Thought!!

Long Live the Great Proletarian Class!!

(Translator note: This is not an exact translation word for word. The sound quality of the video was not good. Some words were lost. However, under the circumstances the translation has captured the important meaning of the speech, the expressions of the speaker and his choice of words and phrases.)Thanks to Mike of Serve the People for this:

India’s 2010-11 Budget: Where’s the Money Going by Kobad Ghandy ?

This article originally appeared in Economic and Political Weekly. Kobad Ghandy is a political prisoner in Kolkata and a member of the Political Bureu of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

by Kobad Ghandy

An analysis of the Union Budget 2010-11 must take account of the fact that while expenditure on infrastructure is geared primarily towards meeting the long-term development needs of the business community, social welfare expenditure merely serves the purpose of immediate political gains of the parties in power.

Over the last two years of world recession, additional aggregate demand as a result of the huge fiscal stimulus packages and the Sixth Pay Commission award has sustained India’s GDP growth. The former pumped in over Rs 2,00,000 crore in increased government expenditure each year, while the latter increased money in the hands of 15 lakh central government employees by Rs 20,000 crore. Such growth is unsustainable because the government cannot go on doing more of the same in view of the burgeoning fiscal deficit.

At a time when the world economy is in serious crisis, with external demand continuously shrinking, the Indian economy can only sustain the process of growth through the creation of a mass internal market for domestically produced goods and services. This is what any economic planning or budgetary exercise needs to address. But the present budget does not have this longterm vision; it reveals its call bias in the handing over of a whopping Rs 26,000 crore in direct tax concessions to the top 20 million of the population, those with an income of more than Rs 3 lakh per year.

As for the masses, the budget, in fact, reduces their purchasing power, thereby shrinking the demand for industrial products. It extracts a massive Rs 50,000 crore from them through an increase in indirect taxes. Over and above that, it does nothing to deal with the food inflation which has been hovering at 20% year-on-year. With more of their incomes spent on basic necessities, the masses will have less to purchase industrial products, thereby restricting demand further.

No doubt, the massive outlay on infrastructure will give a boost to the cement, iron and steel, and some other industries. With as much as 46% of the plan outlay – Rs 1.73 lakh crore – allocated for infrastructural development, the government will generate some demand. The direct tax concessions to the rich will not boost consumption as much as the Pay Commission award to government employees did last year. As a result, overall, the economy will continue to drift, with government infusion of funds compensating for the shrinkage of mass consumer demand.

Budget Blows

The rural areas, where the bulk of our population live, have got stepmotherly treatment in this budget. The rise in the price of diesel by Rs 2.55/litre will be a double blow. First, it will result in an extra burden of Rs 200 crore on farmers who consume 10 lakh kilo litres of diesel to run their tractors and for irrigation purposes. Second, it will increase the cost of transport of all goods to and from the villages.

The finance minister (FM) has reduced the subsidies on food, fuel and fertilisers by as much as 12% for 2010-11 over last year. The subsidy on the public distribution system (PDS) has dropped by Rs 2,500 crore in absolute terms and that on fertilisers by Rs 3,000 crore. If one factors in the 20% food inflation, the adverse effect of the decline in food subsidy is going to be substantial.

In addition, the provision for rural development is just 6.3% over that in 2009-10. The tax cuts for the upper classes are five times the amount of increase for rural development. And the hike on the much hyped National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) is a mere 2.5%. Again, in both cases, after taking account of inflation, it would entail an actual reduction in expenditure.

In yet another instance of acute shortsightedness, the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has announced that he intends to take the failed green revolution to five states in the east. When the green revolution has collapsed in Punjab and other such places due to the disparity between the prices of inputs and outputs, how is it to succeed in the five states if the same neoliberal policies are followed? Besides, he has allocated a measly Rs 400 crore to promote it. And with the production of pulses 37% below the targeted figure, a pathetic Rs 300 crore has been allocated for promoting pulses and oil seeds. Overall, the FM has cut the allocation for agriculture and allied activities by 2%.

In addition, non-plan expenditure on all social services is to decline by a massive 14% from Rs 35,146 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 29,483 crore for 2010-11.

What is scandalous is that the FM hardly takes any account of one of the worst droughts the country has faced in the last few decades. From all angles, there has been a total neglect of the rural economy, notwithstanding the spiralling suicides and drought. Compared to the pittance handed out to the poor and rural populace, look at the largesse to the corporate and urban elites.

Budget Bonanza

It is estimated that the union government lost a gigantic Rs 5.4 lakh crore – i e, 86% of the actual tax collections – in the year 2009-10 on account of various exemptions, rebates and concessions given to individuals and corporates. (This includes about Rs 38,000 crore on export-related subsidies and exemptions, what with the tax-free treatment of income from software exports of $48.7 billion.) While the rate of corporate tax is 33% of gross profits, big companies (with a turnover of Rs 500 crore or more) are paying an average of a mere 22% in tax. Besides, over and above all these huge concessions, the FM has reduced the surcharge paid by corporates by 2.5%.

Not surprisingly, the wealth of the superrich skyrocketed in the year 2009 with the number of billionaires nearly doubling, from 27 in 2008 to 52 in 2009. According to the Forbes magazine, the combined wealth of India’s 100 richest people in 2009 was $276 billion (Rs 12,70,000 crore) – almost a quarter of the country’s national income. Mukesh Ambani by far tops the list with a net worth of Rs 1.5 lakh crore. With union budgets such as this one, the gap between the super-rich and the poor is going to widen even further to the detriment of the economy as a whole.

Fire-Fighting or Concerted Planning?

The trouble with India’s budget and economic planning is that the funds allocated to social welfare are basically geared to the vote bank needs of the ruling parties. Instead of long-term capital development towards increasing the welfare of the people, sops are handed out on a yearly basis to garner votes. For example, the vast amounts spent on NREGS do not entail mobilising the unemployed population to achieve a central/ state objective in enhancing long-term capital projects like irrigation or watershed development or afforestation. Instead, the allocations are utilised in some futile local projects rife with corruption.

The money allocated for Muslims in this budget increased by 60% to Rs 2,500 crore and for dalits by 80% to Rs 4,500 crore. Dalits and Muslims, comprising 30% of the population, are, by and large, among the most oppressed, but the allocations do not really reach many of the deserving among them, serving merely as a sop to garner a vote bank.

Thus, while the expenditure on infrastructure is geared primarily to meet the long-term development needs of the business community, the social welfare expenditure is not oriented towards the ultimate extrication of the masses from poverty and misery. The social welfare allocations are more in the form of a dole for immediate political gains. Besides, even by the official count, only 10% of such allocations really reach the needy while the rest are swallowed up by intermediaries – officials and politicians.

The first step is to stop all the massive concessions to big business and garner these huge funds for rural development – particularly in the sphere of irrigation, watershed management, soil rejuvenation and afforestation. Here, the returns may not come in the form of rising stock exchange indices, skyrocketing profits to big business, etc, but will be evident in the long-term benefits to the masses and the country as a whole.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Down with Operation Green Hunt - Brazilian Peasants solidarity with Adivasi people

Brazilians peasants demonstration in Embassy of India in Brasilia, in disgust to Operation Green Hunt in India and solidarity with Advasi people, other nationalities and Indians peasants.

The demonstration occurred on April 19th, 2010 and was organized by LCP Liga dos Camponeses Pobres (Peasants Poor League) was also attended by representatives of following entities: CEBRASPO Centro Brasileiro de Solidariedade com os Povos (Brazilian Center of Solitarity to the People), Liga Operária (Workers League), ILPS Brasil (Internacional League of People Struggle), ABRAPO Associação Brasileira de Advogados do Povo (Lawyers People Brazilian Association), MEPR - Movimento Estudantil Popular Revolucionário (Popular Revolutionary Student Movement), MFP Movimento Feminino Popular (Womens Popular Movement) and FRDDP Frente Revolucionária de Defesa dos Direitos do Povo (Revolutionary Front for the Defense of Peoples Rights).

No Indian Miracle interview with Jayati Ghosh

Civil Society Groups Condemn Proposed Action against Arundhati Roy

Source : Outlook

The Director General of Police, Chhatisgarh is reported to be seriously examining whether writer Arundhati Roy should be prosecuted under the Chhatisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA) / Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for having written the article Walking With The Comrades, which was published by Outlook magazine recently.

The article is a journalistic account of what is happening on the other side of the battle lines in this War in Chhatisgarh which is also called Operation Green Hunt. It provides the readers with the story of what the Maoists are doing and thinking and how they are received and perceived by the villagers living in the areas where they operate. It is a detailed, sensitive and honest account of their history, their motivations, their thinking and their methods. Precisely because the account provides the perspective of the Maoists, it is a very valuable account, one that the people of the country need to hear. It is after all a phenomenon which has been described as the most serious security threat to the country. It is important for the people of the country to be as well informed as possible about the phenomenon of Maoism and how it has arisen so that a properly informed decision can be taken about how to deal with its challenges. In our view, the authorities on their own should have elicited inputs on the Maoist activity across the States, from as many diverse sources as possible and formulated its strategy to deal with the problem in a holistic and sensitive manner, essentially keeping the interests of the tribal central to such a strategy. Arundhati Roy’s inputs need to be viewed in this context.

Whether or not one agrees with the writer, a country which prides itself as a democracy must allow the free and honest expression of such views. Any attempt to stifle such expression of views on pain of prosecution would not only be violative of the freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution, it would seriously undermine the country’s claim that it is a robust working democracy.

Given its disquieting record of persecuting local journalists and activists for daring to stray from the official line, any attempt to book Arundhati Roy for her article would confirm the government’s determination to choke off dissenting voices, especially to prevent any independent information from coming out of this theatre of ‘War’

Signed by:

Admiral R.H. Tahiliani (Former Navy Chief and Chairman Transparency International)
Amit Bhaduri (Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Anoop Saraya (Professor, AIIMS)
Aruna Roy (Founder, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan and National Campaign for people’s right to Information)
Arvind Kejriwal (RTI Activist, Magsaysay awardee)
Badri Raina (Former Professor, Delhi University)
C. Rammanohar Reddy (Editor, Economic and Political weekly)
Colin Gonsalves (Director, Human Rights Law Network)
Dr. Banwari Lal Sharma (Convenor, Azadi Bachao Andolan)
Dr. K.S. Subramaniam (I.P.S., Former DGP)
Dr. Mira Shiva (Initiative for Health Equity and Society)
Dr. P.M. Bhargava (Biotechnologist, Founder Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad)
Dr. Walter Fernandes (Director, North East Social Research Centre)
Dunu Roy (Director, Hazard Centre)
E.A.S. Sarma (Former Secy. Government of India)
Harsh Mander (Director, Aman Biradiri)
Himanshu Thakkar (Director, Centre for Water Policy)
Jagdeep Chhokar (Former Prof. IIM Ahmedabad)
Javed Naqvi (Journalist)
Jean Dreze (Economist and Social Scientist)
Kamini Jaiswal (Lawyer)
Karan Thapar (Journalist)
Madhu Bhaduri (IFS, Former Ambassador of India to several countries)
Manoj Mitta (Journalist)
Nikhil De (MKSS and NCPRI)
Prashant Bhushan (Lawyer)
Prof. Yashpal (Scientist and Educationist & Former Chairman UCG)
Ravi Chopra (Director, People’s Science Institute, Dehradun)
S.R. Hiremath (Samaj Parivatan Samuday)
Shabnam Hashmi (Convenor, ANHAD)
Shankar Singh (Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan)
Teesta Setalvad (Citizens for Justice and Peace)
Trilochan Shastri (Professor, IIM Bangalore, and Convenor, Association for Democratic Reforms)
Vandana Shiva (Director Navdanya and Research Foundation for Science and Technology)
Vikram Lal (Director, Common Cause)
Yogendra Yadav (Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies)

Democracy and Elections in 21st Century by Nickglais

picture : Pericles speaking in Athens

Democracy and Class Struggle endorses the statement of the Co-ordination Committee of the Revolutionary Communists of Britain which exposes the fraudulent character of the Parliamentary Election Process in Britain in 2010..

We however believe that it is important to explain what Democrcay means at the beginning of the 21st Century has it has been mistakingly seen has synonmous with Elections.

We should remember that the idea of democracy in its first Athenian slave based incarnation was not about elections but principally about participation in the governance of the City State.

Selection by lottery was the standard means as it was regarded as the more democratic: elections would favour those who were rich, noble, eloquent and well-known, while allotment spread the work of administration throughout the whole citizen body, engaging them in the crucial democratic experience of, to use Aristotle's words, "ruling and being ruled in turn" (Politics 1317b28–30).

The allotment of an individual was based on citizenship rather than merit or any form of personal popularity which could be bought. Allotment therefore was seen as a means to prevent the corrupt purchase of votes and it gave citizens a unique form of political equality as all had an equal chance of obtaining government office within the limits of Greek slave Society.

Democracy ans Class Struggle suggest that the jury system which selects people to judge their peers could be extended to other spheres of social life to energise the new concept of mass democracy.The random selection by computer or other means of individuals for public service would be one such mechanism for developing mass democracy in the 21st Century.

We should learn from the past to give democracy in the 21st century real content to aid our principal task the overthrow of class based corporate power and the monooply finance capitalists which have subverted the limited democratic process in Britain and which dominates the politics of the three leading parties Conservative , Liberal or Labour.

The current capitalist political monopoly of the three leading parties ensures that no systemic solutions to capitalism's systemic problems in the economy or the environment are put onto the British political agenda.

Democracy and Class Struggle says Don't Vote - Organise and Fight Back against monoply finance capitalism in Britain and the World.

Read the following contributions on Democracy from Wilf Dixon and Harry

Wilf Dixon on Democracy and the Franchise and Parliament and Elections

Harry Powell on Real Democracy

Statement of the Co-ordination Committee of the Revolutionary Communists of Britain on the British General Election 2010

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal - London Meeting 28th April 2010

Racism is at the core of an unjust system – do not let an innocent man be executed

The PAN AFRIKAN VOICE and the Pan Afrikan Society Community Forum invites all Afrikan/Working Class and Progressive People to a campaigning public meeting to save the life of Mumia Abu-Jamal.


Date & Time: 7 PM – WEDNESDAY 28th APRIL 2010
(Third Right Street From Brixton Tube Station)

Organised by:

George Jackson Socialist League
Pan Afrikan Society Community Forum
Democracy and Class Struggle

Supported by

Fight Racism Fight Imperialism
World Peoples Resistance Movement (Britain)
Global Afrikan Congress
Co-ordination Committee of the Revolutionary Communists of Britain

Invited Speakers:

Colin Burgon MP
RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Worker)
Radha d’Souza – Law Lecturer
Fight Racism Fight Imperialism
Indian Workers Association GB
Partisans Defence Committee
Global Women’s Strike
Amnesty International
CAMPACC & others

All are welcome – Admission free – donations welcome

Mumia Abu-Jamal is in danger of execution as the Supreme Court on Tuesday January 2010 threw out a ruling that had set aside the death sentence of Mumia Abu-Jamal the former Black Panther and internationally known political prisoner. We demand that Mumia Abu-Jamal who is innocent of all charges be released unconditionally and immediately.

Mumia Abu-Jamal has been on Pennsylvania’s death row now approaching 30 years after being falsely accused of killing a policeman. Mumia Abu-Jamal was a radio journalist known as the “Voice of the Voiceless”

He exposed the racist and class oppression of the Afrikan and other oppressed working class. In 1985 he defended the Move family whose home had been bombed by a helicopter which killed 13 defenceless and innocent people including women and children.

Mumia Abu- Jamal’s case is symptomatic of the racism and class nature of the criminal justice system both in US and the UK.

The criminal justice system in the UK is similarly brutal and racist. The so called War on Terror is in fact a War of Terror allowing people to be held without cause and for the Afrikan and Muslim community to be targeted.

The US prison population is now 2.5 million. While in Britain it is 100,000 and rising. As of now the brutal prison system in US and the UK is disproportionately filled with young Afrikan men.

Robert Bryan lawyer for Mumia Abu-Jamal says people continue to use the false term “reinstating the death penalty” concerning Mumia. He has always been under a death sentence.

When there has been a victory, the prosecution has gone to a higher court, thereby suspending the effect. In 2008 the Court of Appeals ruled reversed the death judgement. The State petitioned the Supreme Court, so the reversal of the death penalty never took effect.

What is clear today is that Mumia Abu-Jamal is in imminent danger and the way has been cleared for his execution by the decision on January 19th 2010.

There are approximately 2.5 Million prisoners in the US gulag with thousands on death row approximately 50 % are Afrikans.

We the following organisations in Britain undertake to raise the profile of Mumia Abu-Jamal with publicity, demonstrations and meetings throughout 2010 and demand his unconditional release.

Organised by George Jackson Socialist League,Pan Afrikan Society Community Forum, Democracy and Classs Struggle supported by Fight Racism Fight Imperialism /RCG , Global Afrikan Congress, Co-ordination Committee of Revolutionary Communists of Britain

Join the campaign and build support in your Trade Union and workplace organisations.

Contact: Tongogara
E-mail:, free2mumia

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

British General Election - Don't Vote - Organise and Fight Back

British General Election - Don't Vote - Organise and Fight Back

The May 6th Election In Britain is a fraudulent exercise by the British monopoly finance capitalists to give the impression of political choice, but the reality is that there is no real choice because all parties are committed to the bourgeois Parliamentary system and there is no choice of real mass democracy for the working class people of Britain in this Election.

The Co-ordination Committee of the Revolutionary Communists of Britain calls on the people of Britain not to be herded into the polling booths to support the Parliamentary system of the monopoly finance capitalists but to abstain from voting and organise to fight to create new organs of mass democratic people's power. Resist the war of the monopoly finance capitalists against the real economy and working people of Britain.

British Parliamentary democracy has run its historical course and has been exposed has a sham with the bail out of the monopoly finance capitalists of the City of London at the expense of the people with Parliaments corrupt consent.

The members of the British Parliament have exposed themselves has corrupt opportunists whose loyalty is to their pocket and not to the people.They are has fake has their institution of Parliament.

It is now time in Britain to create new democratic structures has the old Parliamentary structure have been hollowed out of its democratic content by the corporate power of monopoly finance capitalism in Britain
The Co-ordination Committee of the Revolutionary Communists of Britain opposes the sham of Parliamentary Democracy with the mass democracy of the working people of Britain in action with demonstrations, occupations,strikes and whatever new forms of struggle the ingenuity of the working class people of Britain devises.

The working class people of Britain are deserting the Parliamentary system in their droves and we should not herd them back into the polling booths like the revisionists or trotskyists wish us to do.

We should seize the time to raise the question of real mass democracy and and call on the working people of Britain to organise and fight back for democracy - the idea of the mass democracy of the working people under socialism must be put back on the political agenda now that the Parliamentary system is expiring before our eyes.


Co-ordination Committee of the Revolutionary Communists of Britain

20th April 2010

Wilf Dixon on Democracy and the Franchise and Parliament and Elections

The following comments on Democracy and the Franchise and Elections and Parliament are from an article on Bourgeois and Proletarian Democracy written by Wilf Dixon in 2005

Democracy as a form of state rule.

The bourgeoisie have surrounded the word democracy with a halo as if it is the holiest of holy words. The social-democratic ‘tradition’ prevailing in Britain hardly ever subjects the meaning of the word to the scrutiny it needs. Although this may be changing since we hear it every day fall off the lips of George Bush and Tony Blair. But I don’t think this questioning is going very deep because the social-democrats satisfy themselves with merely describing Bush and Blair as hypocrites or inconsistent on this question. Which, of course, they are. However, what U.S. imperialism seems to have discovered is that it has enough wealth and power that it can in many situations at the present time promote individuals, buy a bandwagon of raz-ma-taz and build a movement for optimistic change which can persuade enough people to vote for whoever. This has worked particularly in Poland, Eastern Europe generally and parts of the old Soviet Union.

‘Democracy’ needs to be stripped of the humbug that surrounds the word. Before the emergence of classes and the consequent emergence of the state which comes into being as a product of the irreconcilable nature of class contradictions in class society, that is in order that the ruling class can hold down the subject class, there would undoubtedly have been contradictions among the people of the gens and tribes. Contradictions that may have lead to violence. Almost certainly between contending tribes. There would also have been discussion and consultation to handle disputes within the tribes and families of whatever form with the elders holding particular authority. Engels’ brilliant work on the ‘Origin of the family Private Property and the State’, needs to be read and re-read to get an adequate grasp of this subject. ‘Democracy’, is not “allowing people to have their say” as it is commonly understood to mean. Democracy is a form of state. The word emerged to describe a form of slave state in Greece and Rome. The franchise did not extend to the slaves. Nor would any thinking person reasonably expect slaves, who are merely the property of their owners, to have a vote. I make this point to paint a more vivid picture of ‘democracy’ being a class question. A class question which is obscured under the rule of the bourgeoisie which came to power waving the banner of general freedom and democracy. However, my knowledge of Greece and Rome is scanty and not a subject of detailed discussion here. But I have no doubt that there are people here who can speak in depth on this subject. Democracy is a class question and always has been. It can be nothing else.

Universal Suffrage.

It seems that there were democratic forms of the state in Rome and Greece based on the number of slaves owned. Serfdom and feudalism under which land ownership is the basis of wealth of the ruling class of feudal lords, replaced slavery and the land tillers were no longer owned directly by their masters. However, by virtue of his landlessness the serf and later the peasant was inextricably tied to his master having to work increasingly longer on his lord’s land as payment for living and tilling for himself on the Lords land. There was no vote or representative body for the peasants except in as much as they could petition their lord or even the King or his ministers against grievances. Certainly, they had no representatives in Parliaments that may be called by the King in order to raise money or taxes. Here I am not attempting a detailed study of life in the shires, which in some respects may have allowed more freedom to influence the decisions of local dignitaries. I don’t know. It is worth thinking about. However, it occurs to me that in the era of the rule of finance capital the mass of the population are more powerless today under conditions of fully consummated and decaying bourgeois rule than they have ever been. Powerlessness manifests in many forms. I recently read an article drawing attention to the fact that it is common for people in modern bourgeois Britain to be attacked and relieved of their possessions while people stand-by and say or do nothing.

Two aspects of powerlessness are suggested here. The attacked individual may on the one hand meekly give up his possessions having no trust that others would help him if he or she resisted. People nearby, on the other hand, reveal their own sense of powerlessness and fear in failing to intervene. I have the feeling that this kind of thing is a product of individualist atomised western bourgeois society which, of course, could not be tolerated in socialist society but it is also unlikely to have existed in medieval society except where the attacker was the local lord or one of his flunkies. It is common for individuals to be attacked in full view of others without anybody intervening. The proletariat is certainly alienated from the final product of its labour more so under capitalism than ever before or in former stages of development of human economic activity. But this alienation alone does not explain the very real sense of powerlessness that prevails in modern imperialist Britain.

However, I must not digress too much from the subject before us today. The distinguishing feature of the present day parliamentary democracies of the developed capitalist west is that suffrage has been extended to the whole adult population. Universal Suffrage is comparatively recent. In Britain even the Levellers and also the Diggers although I am not completely sure on the latter; who were the most revolutionary wing of Cromwell’s army, called for universal male suffrage. In Britain, women were ‘granted’ the vote in 1929. Before that, only women of certain property and independent means were ‘given’ the vote. The idea was that in order to have the right to vote, one had to have a stake in the system. The propertyless have always been despised and mistrusted. I would be interested to have a class breakdown of the near 40% of the population who didn’t vote at the last election.

So what do we say about universal suffrage? Does it change the character of elections in a bourgeois republic? In the sense that universal suffrage cannot change the nature of the state in a bourgeois republic, no. Parliaments elected by universal suffrage are acceptable to the ruling bourgeoisie. But in the sense that at certain times it is possible for the working class to utilise and gather strength through participation in parliamentary elections, it does. In State and Revolution, Lenin said that Engels regarded universal suffrage as a measure of the maturity of the proletariat. In an introduction to Marx’s Class Struggle in France, Engels speaks at length regarding the successes of participation in Parliament in Germany as against street fighting at a time when the proletariat couldn’t hope to match the weapons technology of the army and or when the loyalty of the troops to their commanders could be guaranteed. I’ll quote from pages 659 to 667 of my volume of selected works:-

“Thanks to the intelligent use which the German workers made of the universal suffrage introduced in 1866, the astonishing growth of the party is made plain to all the world by incontestable figures….Then came recognition of this advance by high authority in the shape of the Anti-Socialist Law…..
“…the German workers rendered a second great service to their cause in addition to the first, a service performed by their mere existence as the strongest, best disciplined and most rapidly growing Socialist Party, They supplied their comrades in all countries with a new weapon, and one of the sharpest, when they showed them how to make use of universal suffrage.

“With this successful utilisation of universal suffrage, however, an entirely new method of proletarian struggle came into operation, and this method quickly developed further. It was found that the state institutions, in which the rule of the bourgeoisie is organised, offer the working class still further opportunities to fight these very state institutions. The workers took part in elections to particular Diets, to municipal councils and to trades courts; they contested with the bourgeoisie every post in the occupation of which a sufficient part of the proletariat had a say. And so it happened that the bourgeoisie and the government came to be much more afraid of the legal than of the illegal action of the worker’ party, of the results of elections than of those of rebellion.
“For here, too, the conditions of the struggle had essentially changed. rebellion in the old style, street fighting with barricades which decided the issue everywhere up to 1848, was to a considerable extent obsolete.

It is important to remember that this introduction was written in 1894 and published in 1895. But there is also an interesting remark referring to France and Spain on page 659 which I will read now:-

‘There had long been universal suffrage in France, but it had fallen into disrepute through the misuse to which the Bonapartist government had put it. After the Commune there was no workers’ party to make use of it. It had also existed in Spain since the republic, but in Spain boycott of elections was ever the rule of all serious opposition parties. The experience of the Swiss with universal suffrage was also anything but encouraging for workers’ party. The revolutionary workers of the Latin countries had been wont to regard the suffrage as a snare, as an instrument of Government trickery.”

Engels is not saying that boycott is incorrect in the case of Spain, although in the context of his points regarding participation in parliament giving the opportunity for the working class to accumulate strength as in the case of Germany, he may be advising the Spanish or indeed the revolutionary workers of the Latin countries in general to learn from the German example. Be that as it may, the quote indicates to me that Engels regards intelligent boycott of elections as well as intelligent participation as both valid. Let us also note from here, though, that this period in which the German social-democrats utilised the Bundestag and came to be regarded as the leading Party of the 2nd International continued until the outbreak of the First World War. It was the period of peaceful development of the working class movement in the imperialist countries which had blunted its revolutionary will and fostered opportunism such that the majority of the Parties of the 2nd International supported their own imperialist bourgeoisie in a predatory imperialist war.

Parliament and Elections

As I pointed out earlier, Engels in an introduction to Marx’s Class Struggle in France speaks at length on the importance of utilising Parliament in order to assist the working class in gaining strength. He even says that at a time when confronting the bourgeoisie at the barricades brings defeat, it is preferable or that participation in Parliament has brought more success than erecting the barricades. So what is the point at issue here? The point at issue is the question what is to be gained from participation in parliamentary elections. By participation we are, of course, talking about putting up candidates. I am going to come back to this question because as it is an important practical one about which we cannot allow ourselves to be satisfied with the general view alone. A general view which seems to have reduced the question of participation in bourgeois elections and Parliaments to one of ‘it is a good thing’, therefore, we must do it. I blame opportunism and social-democratic prejudices for such shallowness. It is absolutely essential for communists, in imperialist Britain especially, where opportunism prevails in the workers’ and revolutionary workers’ organisations and legality and legalism prevails, to expose Parliament as an instrument of bourgeois class rule.
In ‘State and Revolution’, page 53 of the Chinese edition, under the heading ‘Abolition of Parliamentarism’, Lenin first quotes Marx writing of the Paris Commune:-

‘The Commune,’ Marx wrote, ‘was to be a working not a parliamentary, body, executive and legislative at the same time….’
‘….instead of deciding once in three or six years which member of the ruling class was to represent and repress (ver- und zertreten) the people in Parliament, universal suffrage was to serve the people, constituted in Communes, as individual suffrage serves every other employer in the search for the workers, foremen and bookkeepers for his business’.

Revisionism in Britain gave us the British Road to Socialism and the main argument against the so-called peaceful road to socialism centres around the nature of the state. And so it should. But what about the kind of democracy the proletariat itself needs in order to exercise its power. The commune, and of course later the soviet, must be executive and legislative at the same time. It must be a practical body and to be a practical body it must be close to the masses in the factories and workplaces. This is a new form of political power. In fact it is not political power in the sense we have come to know it. That is the bourgeois sense of being in or out of ‘office’

It is worth noting here that the adoption of the British Road to Socialism also meant the CPGB switching from factory to constituency organisation. The two forms of organisation quite starkly outline the difference between bourgeois and proletarian democracy.

The bourgeois Parliament is part of the state apparatus of a bourgeois democratic republic or monarchy. I will try and make some points on why the proletariat does not need a Parliament. I am of course talking about a proletariat that holds power. The main aspect of this is connected with some important questions of Marxism on the nature of the state.

The state came into being with the emergence of classes and class contradictions. As such it is not a neutral body but an organ of repression. What distinguishes the bourgeois democratic republic from the feudal or slave states is the existence of a parliament elected by universal adult suffrage with the power to legislate Government policy and create laws and statutes. As the argument goes, because the Parliament is elected, it therefore expresses the will of the majority or the popular will. Hence, Parliament is said to be not an expression of class rule but a prize which parties expressing the interests of the classes they represent should seek to win. Unfortunately, there are two things which prevent the bourgeois parliament from becoming the expression of the will of the oppressed masses. One is that the Parliament once elected, with the ruling party having the majority of seats, it is immovable until the next election and its members can be bought by the high salary that goes with being an M.P and the thousands of threads that tie the most freely elected Parliament to the economic power of the bourgeoisie. The other is that real power resides in the executive authority of the bureaucracy, civil service, police and standing army. Parliaments come and go, but this powerful body, handpicked for its loyalty to the existing social order, cannot be removed by the legislative assembly. Should a Party of the working class and oppressed masses gain power and begin to meddle with the sacred property rights of the ruling class never mind begin to dispossess them of their wealth and privileges, there is always the standing army to disperse the Parliament and murder the peoples’ leaders.

In the absence of such a standing army, Marx and Engels were prepared to consider the theoretical possibility of the proletariat winning a majority of Parliamentary seats and using this power to buy out, rest by degrees from the bourgeoisie their power and thus gain power for the proletariat. England apparently, was such a country in the mid nineteenth century. Be that as it may, there is no example in history where a class holding power has given up that power without a fierce and violent struggle. Marx and Engels admitted of this theoretical possibility but only a charlatan and a bourgeois trickster would attempt to make such a consideration the main plank of a Marxist understanding on the proletariat’s struggle for socialism.
Based on the experience of the Paris Commune Marx and Engels introduced one amendment to the Communist Manifesto:-

‘‘One thing especially was proved by the Commune, viz., that ‘the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes.’’ (quoted by Lenin page 43 of State and Revolution Chinese edition).
The point is not to lay hold of the ready made state machine of the bourgeoise,
But to smash it and replace it with the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat organised in communes or soviets. The bureaucratic state must be smashed. That is the power of the bourgeoisie in the military bureaucratic state apparatus of repression and coercion, replaced by the armed proletariat or a peoples’ militia. The right of the proletariat to bear arms in order to exercise its power as a class is the most important expression of peoples’ democracy. Lenin quoting, Marx at length, explains in detail, contrasting anarchism with Marxism on the question of the state, that the bureaucracy will not disappear immediately. However, the communes and later the soviets will be working bodies expressing the needs in production and life of the working masses and therefore not requiring the bureaucratic apparatus of repression of the bourgeois state machine. These communes will have their authority centralised through a national body made up of representatives of the communes with the commune having right of recall of its representatives and criticism of their activities. This is democracy and centralism in a new kind of proletarian state, which is not a state in the strictest sense. It is a state in transition expressing the power and will of the formerly oppressed masses. With the securing of that power, and the creation of a new society and new morality and relations between people in that nation and internationally, the state begins to whither away and the day will come as stated in the Communist Manifesto when the state is a thing of the past consigned to the museum of history along with other antiquities like the spinning wheel and the bronze axe

Opportunism and Parliamentarism

The Oxford dictionary definition of opportunism is the ‘adaptation of policy to circumstances regardless of principle’. I have always understand it to mean and preferred the more precise definition from a Marxist-Leninist perspective of it meaning the sacrifice of long term aims for short term gains. Opportunism can be expressed in terms of any ideology but with regard to the subject we are dealing with today, Marxist Leninists or even those who call themselves Marxists and are reluctant to also call themselves Leninists, pride themselves that their participation is revolutionary, while that of the reformist parties is not. It is not good enough to make such assumptions because opportunism is a slippery animal and all practical experience of participation in parliamentary election campaigns must be carefully assessed and summed up as to its successes and failings in furthering the long term interests of educating and organising the revolutionary proletariat.

Of course, we are not here to lecture the Labour Party on how to utilise Parliament. The New Labour Party signalled to the bourgeoisie that it is a fully consummated bourgeois party of the American ‘democrat’ type when it abandoned clause four. Its only fig leaf making it possible for some ‘left’ representatives of the working class to justify their membership of the Labour Party. Tony Blair has done the working class movement a favour by removing this fig leaf. By becoming the preferred ruling Party for the British ruling class, New Labour can be perceived as stronger. But it is in fact weaker and the fact that it is becoming increasingly exposed as a Party of imperialism makes it of less use to the British ruling class. The more intelligent representatives of British imperialism understand only too well the roll that reformism and illusions among the working class in its reformist representatives plays in bolstering the rule of the bourgeoisie.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Mumia Abu-Jamal: Enemy of the State by Mike Ely


This story of Mumia’s life was originally written in 2000, when Mike Ely was a writer for the Revolutionary Worker newspaper- thanks to Mike for this article..

“They don’t just want my death, they want my silence.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal [1]

From Panther to Voice of the Voiceless

On August 8, 1978, Mayor Frank Rizzo was in a combative mood at a special afternoon press conference in Philadelphia’s City Hall. Just hours before, Rizzo’s police had staged a massive raid on the home of the radical MOVE organization on Powelton Avenue. After attacking the house with intense gunfire, tear gas and a flood of water, police arrested the MOVE members and publicly beat Delbert Africa as he surrendered.

At City Hall, Rizzo was blunt with the press: he expected them to close ranks in support of police actions. Then, from the crowded pack of reporters, a young Black journalist spoke out in the resonant tones of a radio broadcaster. He raised pointed questions about the official police story Rizzo had just laid out.

Mayor Rizzo exploded in fury and spat out a thinly veiled threat: “They believe what you write, and what you say, and it’s got to stop. And one day–and I hope it’s in my career–that you’re going to have to be held responsible and accountable for what you do.” [2]

The journalist who challenged Rizzo that day was Mumia Abu-Jamal. He had spent a decade exposing the racism of Philadelphia’s police and legal system.

On December 9, 1981, three years after this press conference, at the age of 27, Mumia Abu-Jamal fell into the hands of the police. He was shot, almost killed by a police bullet, arrested, and repeatedly brutalized in custody. And then, in a trial borrowed from Kafka or Alice’s Wonderland, he was condemned to death for the shooting of policeman Daniel Faulkner.

Mumia Abu-Jamal has not spent a day in freedom since. He is now on Death Row–defying the sterile isolation of the SCI Greene prison: writing, speaking out, and opening the eyes of a new generation to the injustices of the system.

Prominent political figures in Pennsylvania’s political and legal establishment made their start in the machine of Philadelphia’s notorious Mayor Frank Rizzo. They built their careers on the suppression of radical forces within the city’s Black community. Among them are Ed Rendell, now governor of Pennsylvania and a prominent figure in the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, and Ron Castille who was elevated tothe Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The 1981 imprisonment of Mumia Abu-Jamal is a skeleton in their closet. And they have worked, at every turn, to keep their cover-ups intact and put him to death.[3]

The story of Mumia Abu-Jamal is the story of a young revolutionary journalist who dared to challenge the notorious brutality and corruption of Philadelphia’s power structure–and who was railroaded onto death row in a stark exercise of political persecution.

This is a story of profound injustice. And there is the danger of an ultimate injustice: the execution of this political prisoner. With Mumia’s case at a critical point in the legal appeal process, what people say and do about this case is a matter of life and death.

Most media discussion of Mumia repeats the official version of events, as crafted by Philadelphia prosecutors and promoted by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). Mumia is described as a “convicted cop-killer” who was caught red-handed, sentenced with due process, given elaborate chance to appeal, and now faces a deserved execution. [4] Every part of this official story defies the facts.

A crucial argument in this official version is the claim Mumia could not have been a victim of political repression– that he was not seen as a significant threat to the system–when he was arrested in 1981.

But the life and work of Mumia Abu-Jamal in the years before 1981 tell a different story.

The City of Brotherly Love

During the great African American migrations of the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of Black people moved north from the Deep South to the sprawling industrial city of Philadelphia. They came looking for factory jobs and a new life. They found themselves locked into ghettos in this aging city’s most rundown districts. Whole parts of town were off limits. A Black person who dared go there, especially after dark, faced beatings and even murder from white gangs and the police.

Mumia Abu-Jamal was born in 1954 and grew up in the Black projects of North Philadelphia. By the time Wesley Cook (as Mumia was then called) was old enough to study the world around him, Black people in the U.S. were engaged in an historic confrontation with segregation and the brutality that enforced it. A restless wind blew into Philadelphia where Black people were a quarter of the city’s two million people.

Frank Rizzo, the racist police-mayor of Philadelphia

In August 1964, police tried to arrest a Black motorist and the crowd of onlookers militantly came to her defense. For three days, rebellion ruled in Philadelphia’s Black community. The Police Commissioner pulled the police back on the first night. His second in command, an ambitious cop named Frank Rizzo, denounced the Commissioner for cowardice. Rizzo insisted that cops should have been sent into the Black community with explicit permission to kill. [5]

The city authorities agreed, and Frank Rizzo was tapped to prepare the police for future unrest. He rapidly expanded the department’s “Civil Defense” political spying unit. He turned the small anti-robbery “Stake-out Squad” into a militarized sniper unit with 115 members. [6] Over and over, he sent his police to attack centers of activism and resistance.

In 1966, Rizzo led heavily armed raids on four offices in North Philadelphia associated with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1967, newly appointed as Police Commissioner, Rizzo personally ordered club-wielding cops to attack a peaceful demonstration of 3,500 Black high school students. Many were severely beaten. [7]

Taking a Stand

At the other pole of this polarized city, the teenager Wesley Cook threw himself into the movement with fearless enthusiasm. When segregationist Governor George Wallace brought his 1968 presidential campaign to Philadelphia, Mumia and his friends decided to protest at the rally in a whites-only area of South Philly. They stood in their seats there and raised clenched fists. They were spat on by the racist crowd and forced out by helmeted police.

Mumia writes: “We gathered at the bus station to get on the ‘C’ for North Philly. But before we could board, we were attacked by a group of white men. One of them had a lead and leather slapjack. Out armed and out numbered, we fought back, but four teens were no match for eight to ten grown men. I was grabbed by two of them, one kicking my skull while the other kicked me in the balls. Then I looked up and saw the two-toned, gold-trimmed pant leg of a Philly cop. Without thinking, and reacting from years of brainwashing, I yelled, ‘Help, police!’ The cop saw me on the ground being beaten to a pulp, marched over briskly–and kicked me in the face. I have been thankful to that faceless cop ever since, for he kicked me straight into the Black Panther Party.”[8]

In 1969, when Mumia joined the campaign to rename his school Malcolm X High, the FBI and the Philadelphia political police squad started keeping records on him, using informants and wiretaps. In the following years, their file would grow to over 800 pages.[9]

Minister of Information

Mumia in his teens, Black Panther Minister of Information

“That for me was a definite psychological hook, to see a group of young Black men fighting to defend themselves and their communities from police aggression. Knowing as I did precisely what police brutality was, I was sensitized, open, to hear their appeal. A group of young guys got together and we began writing out to California to get copies of the Panther paper, and rented a office in the heart of North Philadelphia…”

Mumia Abu-Jamal [10]

Fifteen-year-old Wesley Cook helped found the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party. His new adopted name, Mumia, soon appeared on articles in the Black Panther newspaper.

Impatient with cosmetic reforms, the Panthers demanded a revolutionary change in the conditions of Black people. They accused the police of acting as an “occupying army” in Black communities and advocated resistance to police attacks, including armed self-defense when necessary.

In 1969, Philadelphia police killed a mentally retarded Black youth. Rosemari Mealy, one of Mumia’s Panther comrades, remembers the impact of Mumia’s words,

“He spoke to the murdered youth’s family and began to write in a prolific manner of this and other wrongdoings of the Philadelphia police (having himself been a victim of their brutality). When flyers and posters appeared overnight in every Black neighborhood all over the city, Black folks responded to the Party’s agitation and organizing around the youth’s death…. His writings conveyed an interpretation of the daily reality of an entire community under siege and terrorized by a racist police force and a police chief who condoned their actions and openly advocated `white power.’”[11]

Years later, on Pennsylvania’s death row, Mumia wrote:

“I learned the craft quite well, except for one thing: I never learned how to kowtow to state power. I wrote and reported, not from the perspective of the privileged, not from the position of the established, but from the consciousness of oppression and from the awareness of resistance.” [12]

The FBI took note, and added Mumia’s name to the ADEX index of those persons to be rounded up and interned in a national emergency.

Mumia writes,

“At the risk of sounding obvious, the information that was put out by our office was less than glowing reports on the Philadelphia Police Department. In fact, they dealt with the real clear campaign of historical repression that had been happening against Black people and poor people in Philadelphia for years, and years, and years. I had been threatened as a Panther years ago. I had been arrested several times. Our offices had been raided. So I was not a non-entity–I was a known quantity even in my youth, in my teenage years.” [13]

In Philadelphia, police raided the three Panther offices a week before the local chapter was scheduled to host a national conference. They used a recent, unrelated killing of two cops as their pretext. Rizzo’s Stake-Out Unit lined Panthers up against a wall at gunpoint and forced them to strip naked in the street. The next day, this deliberate humiliation was replayed on the front pages of Philadelphia’s press.

Shortly afterward, 16-year-old Mumia gave an interview to the Philadelphia Inquirer in which he said:

“Black brothers and sisters and organizations which wouldn’t commit themselves before are relating to us. Black people are facing the reality that the Black Panther Party has been facing, political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” [14]

Twelve years later, during Mumia’s 1982 sentencing hearing, prosecutor Joseph McGill would offer this quote, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” to the jury–as evidence that Mumia had a motive and a premeditated intention to kill Daniel Faulkner in December 1981 and that Mumia therefore deserved the maximum penalty: execution. [14]

On the Air in Rizzo’s Philadelphia

“As I see it, other cities could use Rizzo’s ideas.”
President Richard Nixon [16]

“I brought my old skills to the new job, and learned some new skills while there. From the old job, I learned perspective; from the new job, I learned phrasing, brevity, clarity and formatting. From the old job came writing skills that captured the voice of the downtrodden, and from the new job came a knowledge of the power and potential of radio.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal [17]

“Mumia was, and is, a very sensitive, committed and thorough journalist. And his journalistic focus in large part was issues involving the inner city, involving the conflicts and tensions between those on the bottom of our society and those running it, and pretty much the daily affairs of the city.”

Linn Washington, veteran reporter and Temple University journalism professor [18]

In the early 1970s, the tide of the Black Liberation struggle receded. And yet, the social injustices of the U.S. remained unresolved. In Philadelphia a harsh counterrevolution reigned.

Frank Rizzo became Mayor in 1972, after a campaign of small “off the record” meetings where he called for “law and order” against “wild animals loose on the streets.” According to former mayor Richardson Dilworth, “Every slogan–all the off-the-record talks–they’re all based on one thing. Really, he says at all these off-the-record meetings, ‘I know how to keep the blacks in their place.’ “[19]

The power structure of Philadelphia embraced this program. It is no exaggeration to say that during the 1970s, Philadelphia was consolidated as a sordid police state.

In this hostile climate, Mumia was determined to continue his activism, even if the Black Panther Party had broken apart. Now 20 years old, Mumia became a reporter on the city’s radio stations, starting in 1974 with a community affairs talk show at Temple University’s WRTI-FM. For Mumia Abu-Jamal, radio journalism was to be a new “radical ministry of ideas, a ministry of information.”[20]

His skills as a writer, his trained resonant voice, and his deep ties to the people of the city soon brought him a series of offers from larger radio stations. He moved on to reporting the news on the Black radio stations WDAS and working as news director at WHAT-AM.

To make a living, Mumia later decided to cross over to top-40 radio, joining WPEN News. Mumia notes that this new job paid more for a weekend midnight-to-six skeleton shift than Black radio paid for a five-day work week. His new boss found the name Mumia Abu-Jamal “a bit too ethnic for our audience,” and insisted that Mumia adopt a new professional name. So, on the air, Mumia became “William Wellington Cole.” Even so, Mumia says, “I used my white voice, but kept my black soul.”[21]

With Mumia at the microphone, listeners got mind-opening reports about oppression and resistance in Philadelphia and around the world. He writes: “Through numerous contacts in the progressive and radical movements, it was possible to cover press conferences or demonstrations from a wide range of social change communities. These voices too would enrich the usually bland ‘from city hall today’ approach to my news coverage. This required a bottom-up, as opposed to a top-down, perspective on the news.”[22]

Mumia exposed the efforts to remove Black people from Whitman Park, one of the few integrated communities in South Philadelphia. His broadcasts reported on grassroots challenges to Rizzo’s grip on the city government and the local Democratic party machine. When Rizzo tried to change the city charter so he could run for a third term, Mumia reported on the opposition. [23] Mumia’s radio news included coverage of the liberation struggles in Palestine and southern Africa. [24] He interviewed Alex Haley and Puerto Rican independence fighters.

Mumia’s whole life had prepared him for the dangerous job of using the radio news to expose Philadelphia’s uncontrolled epidemic of police brutality. During Mumia’s years on the radio, fatal shootings by Philadelphia police increased by about 20 percent annually. Individual Philadelphia cops were thirty-seven times more likely than New York cops to shoot unarmed people who were running away from them. [25] Frame-ups were routine and often based on beaten confessions, planted evidence, coerced witnesses, and a complicit judiciary. As this came to light, in the stories of ordinary people and then increasingly in the reports of federal inquiries, Mumia wove the evidence into his radio news reports.

At the grassroots, Mumia started to be called “The Voice of the Voiceless.”

Mumia’s work as a reporter emerged as an issue when an article in Vanity Fair magazine suggested that Mumia played no visible role opposing police brutality in Philadelphia and therefore could not have faced political persecution in 1981. [26] That article, “The Famous and the Dead,” quotes William Marimow, a reporter who wrote a 1978 series on police misconduct for The Philadelphia Inquirer. “‘I was very attuned to everyone who wrote about Philadelphia police violence,’ says Marimow, now the managing editor of the Baltimore Sun. ‘This guy [meaning Mumia] didn’t register a blip on my radar screen.’”

This statement reveals less about Mumia than it does about the insulation and separations of a highly segregated U.S. city. Linn Washington, a veteran investigative reporter in Philadelphia who knew Mumia since 1974, responded to Marimow:

“His comment is reflective of that philosophical parlor game, ‘If a tree falls in the forest when no one’s around, is there sound?’ Well, of course there’s sound. Mumia covered police brutality. Marimow just didn’t hear it. At that time, this period of 76-77, Mumia won awards from community groups for his coverage of police brutalities. I know because I won one too, and was at the program with him.”

Linn continued, “People in the Black community and in the Hispanic community — those two communities that were being most directly impacted on a daily basis — were very familiar with Mumia’s coverage of police brutality, were very familiar with Mumia’s coverage of housing issues, housing policy issues, the discriminatory use of federal housing resources by the Rizzo administration.” [27]

Police Raid on Powelton Avenue

“When MOVE people said anything, if you looked in the Daily News or the Inquirer or the leading newspapers of the day, or the Bulletin or the Journal of those times, you would find that MOVE members said ‘a mouthful of rhetoric.’ That was always the pat phrase they would use when they were describing allegedly what MOVE people said. They wouldn’t quote what MOVE people said. And I thought that not only was it politically dangerous, but it was ‘journalistically inappropriate’ to do so. I mean, politicians live and die by rhetoric, however you can’t open up a newspaper without getting an exact quote of what a given politician, be he president, mayor, police chief, or judge, says every day. So it was important from a radical journalistic liberation perspective to hear what they had to say and to report what they said in their own words.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal [28]

“When them cops did crazy stuff, and Mumia was around, he wasn’t ‘a journalist’ walking with you. You knew you had somebody there with you — without it even being said.”

Pam Africa [29]

In Philadelphia in the mid-1970s, Mumia’s work brought him into contact with the MOVE organization. MOVE, a radical utopian largely-Black organization, was formed the year Rizzo took over City Hall. Its members lived together in communal homes as an extended family, adopting the common surname Africa, and wore their hair natural, in dreadlocks. In 1974, from their base in West Philadelphia’s Powelton Village, MOVE started speaking out at political forums and organizing community demonstrations against police brutality.

In 1974 two pregnant women from MOVE were man-handled by cops until they miscarried. MOVE’s demonstrations intensified. The police responded with a campaign of “arrest on sight.” Between 1974 and 1976, there were 400 arrests of MOVE members, resulting in bail and fines of more than half a million dollars. Life Africa, a three-week-old baby, was killed during one violent police attack. [30]

By March 1978, these confrontations came to a head when Philadelphia police clamped a siege on MOVE’s home on West Philadelphia’s Powelton Avenue. Police cut off water and electricity. They set up barricades to prevent food from entering.

Armed with his tape recorder, Mumia stepped into the middle of this mounting conflict. He later said that he gave voice to the members of the MOVE organization at a time when most Black reporters ignored them, and the mainstream press simply slandered them.

Mumia describes those days:

“While working a full shift on Saturday, I took my lunch break to jump on my ten-speed, pedaled up to the site of the continuing police-MOVE confrontation, and obtained some audio from MOVE member Chuckie Africa, raging at the armed presence of hundreds of cops arrayed for imminent attack on his home and family. As soon as I got back to the station, I cut several pieces of audio from our brief interview, and listeners to the station would hear not only the voices of then-mayor Frank Rizzo and ex-police commissioner James O’Neill, but also the angry voice of Chuck Africa, railing at the de facto occupation of his neighborhood by the armed forces of the state.” [30]

This confrontation became a rallying point for the Black community and progressive forces in Philadelphia. There were mass attempts, organized by Black ministers, to break the barricades. On April 4, thousands marched through Philadelphia to denounce the police blockade. The standoff even became an international embarrassment for the Carter administration which was trying to portray the United States as a force for human rights. [32]

Pressure built on the Philadelphia establishment, Mumia’s inclusion of “both sides” in his coverage was considered irresponsible and disloyal. Mumia writes, “Instead of rewarding me for my drive and initiative, I received a call from my rather irate boss, who berated me for my story selection…. When the mayor called a press conference to announce some new scheme, this wasn’t political grandstanding but news–real news. When people organized in staunch and principled resistance to state measures that wasn’t news.” [33]

Unimpressed, Mumia continued to include statements from MOVE members in his radio reports–while the whole situation was putting intense pressures on Philadelphia’s establishment. He writes:

“My bosses called me into the office and said, ‘Look, Jamal, you’ve got great pipes. I mean, Christ, we don’t know why you’re not at CBS by now. You do good work.’ ‘So what did you call me down for?’ ‘Well, we’re going to have to let you go because we don’t think you have the necessary commitment to the station.’” [34]

That was how “William Wellington Cole” left the air at WPEN.

Collective Punishment

By May 1978, the pressure of public protest caused the authorities to lift their siege on the Powelton Village house. For several months the struggle seemed to shift to the courts. Behind the scenes, George Fencl, head of Philadelphia’s red squad, the Civil Affairs unit, laid plans for an armed police raid. [35]

On August 8, city officials launched a predawn raid of 600 heavily armed police on the MOVE home. A police bulldozer tore down MOVE’s fence. A crane took out their windows. Police lobbed in gas grenades. Gunfire erupted and a withering police barrage raked the MOVE house. Water hoses pumped water in, forcing MOVE members from the basement where they had taken refuge. As television cameras rolled, four cops from Rizzo’s Stake-out Squad viciously beat MOVE member Delbert Africa–snapping his head back and forth with their kicks. [36]

Officer James Ramp died from a single gunshot, most likely from a police rifle. Linn Washington told the RW: “The police know who shot Officer Ramp. And they know it was one of their guys. I have had a source in the Police Department tell me this.” Still, as so often happened in Philadelphia, the death of a policeman was used to demand ruthless punishment of everyone arrested at the scene.

Within an hour after MOVE members had been taken away, police at the scene started to systematically destroy the place, and the evidence. Weapons taken from the MOVE house were cleaned up and put on display at the Rizzo press conference an hour later–destroying any forensic evidence. Two hours after the raid, demolition crews tore down the whole house– before homicide detectives, reporters, and (more important) MOVE’s attorneys could gather evidence. [37]

That afternoon, across town, Mayor Rizzo held his press conference. He was pumped up. When asked if this was the end of MOVE, Rizzo answered, “The only way we’re going to end them is–get that death penalty back in, put them in the electric chair and I’ll pull the switch.” [38]

Mumia Abu-Jamal spoke out from the crowd of journalists, sharply raising questions about the way police had destroyed evidence after the raid.

Rizzo was already on edge over the increasing coverage of police brutality spreading into the mainstream press. He could feel his long-standing support in the city’s media eroding and it bothered him. [39]

But to be publicly challenged in his own press conference by a Black journalist the same day a cop had just died in a raid–that made him livid. Rizzo’s answer to Mumia’s question was a now-famous threat: “They believe what you write, and what you say, and it’s got to stop. And one day–and I hope it’s in my career–that you’re going to have to be held responsible and accountable for what you do.”

In the mentality of the police and their mayor, there was little need for evidence when there was a dead cop on the ground. In their minds this was a dangerous challenge to their authority andsomebody had to pay. It is a mentality and a method that Mumia himself would face three years later, after he was found badly wounded near a dead cop.

In the aftermath of this raid, the 12 MOVE members were accused of the killing of Officer James Ramp. Ultimately, nine were put through a trial. On May 8, 1980, in a climate of press hysteria, nine MOVE members were convicted of killing James Ramp. Judge Malmed sentenced each one to 30 to 100 years. Mumia writes: “It is impossible to say what my feelings were at that time. Sitting in a courtroom, watching that kind of naked injustice, it rankled me to the core…. Sitting in the trial, in an official capacity of objective journalist, and seeing that the law really didn’t matter. That it didn’t matter if they were innocent or guilty. It didn’t matter what the law says your rights were.” [40]

Mumia publicly raised the central absurdity of the case. “Nine people can’t kill one man,” he pointed out. The whole affair was a case of collective punishment.

The day after the sentencing, Judge Malmed was defending that verdict on local talk radio. Mumia called in and succeeded in bluntly asking Malmed, “Who shot James Ramp?” Startled, the Judge admitted, “I have no idea.” In that one moment, Mumia publicly exposed the injustice of the trial and imprisonment of the MOVE 9.

A Person to Watch

Mumia continued his work in radio journalism. He broadcast for the classical music station WUH-FM. He did an occasional stint at his old station WDAS. In 1979, he got a full-time job at WHYY, the local public radio station in Philadelphia, and was part of the staff putting together 911, the local version of All Things Considered. As a reporter for Channel 12, WHYY-TV he interviewed Julius Erving as the 76ers fought for the NBA championship. [42]

In 1980, at the age of 26, Mumia was elected president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. The following year, he was named one of the city’s “People to Watch” by Philadelphia magazine. The article spoke of his “eloquent, often passionate and always insightful interviews.”

At the same time, Mumia found it increasingly difficult in Philadelphia’s polarized climate to work in the mainstream media and remain true to his mission as the “Voice of the Voiceless.” In his book, All Things Censored, Mumia describes how at WHYY he was assigned to the “police beat,” not the coverage of police brutality, but what he calls “positive puff pieces”–like interviewing the police commissioner, covering an alleged “cop hero,” and reporting on a city hall protest of several thousand cops. The police demo report was carried on National Public Radio nationally. But to Mumia, the whole thing smelled of “soft censorship” and racism. He was the only Black person at that station, other than the secretary and the staff in the mail room. Mumia writes, “Implicit within the assignment lay the assumption that I, as a reporter and as an urban African American, somehow needed teaching about the ‘real’ nature of police.” [42]

In 1981 Mumia left WHYY and found other ways to carry on his work. And he started driving a cab part-time to help support his family. It was a time when two major trials coincided in the courtrooms of Philadelphia. In July 1981 three of the cops who brutalized Delbert Africa were acquitted of any wrongdoing. In a nearby courtroom, MOVE founder John Africa successfully defended himself against federal charges.

Once these cases ended, the city authorities again increased the pressure on MOVE. Pam Africa remembers,

“In 1981, from November to December, under Mayor Greene’s administration, the decision was made to wipe out MOVE–on the streets and in the prisons. We faced lots of beatings and trials. And Mumia was right there. Everything that happened, he was getting it into print–real fast– even though there was a news blackout, and even though he had lost his radio job and was a freelance journalist.” [43]

It is during those days that Mumia suddenly found himself in the hands of the police.

In Their Hands

Under arrest
“I think, when you are involved in the game of politics, that you have friends and you have enemies. Survival of the fittest.”

Mayor Frank Rizzo discussing his approach to radical forces [44]

“They are trying to kill me.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal to his sister the day he was shot [45]

“It is nightmarish that my brother and I should be in this foul predicament, particularly since my main accuser, the police, were my attackers as well. My true crime seems to have been my survival of their assaults, but we were the victims that night.”

Mumia Abu-Jamal, two months after his arrest [46]

The events of December 9, 1981 started as a typical police stop for “driving while Black.” Just before 4 a.m., Mumia’s younger brother Billy Cook was driving his Volkswagen Beetle in a seedy part of Philadelphia’s Center City–when he was pulled over on Locust Street by Officer Daniel Faulkner.

The official record claims that the reason for this stop was a crooked license plate and a broken bumper. But before Daniel Faulkner even climbed out of his patrol car, he had decided to arrest Billy Cook and called for a police wagon to take Cook away. Faulkner quickly had Billy Cook out of the driver’s seat, spread-eagled across his car and was beating him in the head with a weighted police flashlight. [47]

Mumia was driving his cab that night and came upon this scene. Moments later, when police backup arrived, Mumia was on the ground, shot in the chest. Faulkner was dead from two gunshot wounds and Billy Cook was standing against a wall bleeding. Anyone else involved in the incident had fled.

A cop was dead and from that moment on–true to the methods, mentality and traditions of the police–Mumia was responsible and deserved to die, no matter what the evidence (or lack of evidence) might actually say.

Mumia was already near death. The police bullet had entered his lung, passed through his abdomen, his liver and come to rest near his spinal cord. What the cops did that night in central Philadelphia was try to finish the job. Mumia said in his 1994 interview with the Revolutionary Worker,

“According to a witness that testified at the trial, I arrived at the hospital, maybe two or three blocks from the scene, about 40 to 45 minutes afterward. So not only was I beaten at the scene, and beaten in the paddy wagon, they were driving me around the city of Philadelphia waiting for me to die.”

At the hospital, the police dumped him on the lobby floor and kicked him as he lay with his arms handcuffed behind his back.

Mumia woke up after surgery with his belly ripped from top to bottom, large staples clamping the wound shut and tubes in his nose. Mumia recalls, “What I felt was a pronounced real strong pressure, kind of swelling me up. I felt swollen, full. This was my first sensation of consciousness coming out of the operation. Despite the real sense of tiredness and fatigue, I forced myself to open my eyes. And I saw a policeman just standing over me, looking down in my face. About 35ish, brown-blond hair, mustache. I didn’t understand what was happening at first. I saw him looking down at me smiling a cold, grim, deadly smile.

“Then, after what seemed like minutes but might have just been 15 or 20 seconds, he moved out of my range of vision and I felt a sense of relief as if a balloon had deflated in my abdomen. And he did this two, three, four times. Perhaps more. And even though I was handcuffed on this hospital bed, I was able to swerve my neck around and look and see that he was stepping on a urine bag, a clear plastic receptacle for urine, forcing that urine back up a plastic tubing and into my bladder. He was trying to burst my bladder, while I was laying in a hospital just a half-hour or so after I had gotten out of surgery. Here I was, tied down, handcuffed in a hospital bed, in a hospital. Not in a prison hospital, but in a civilian community hospital, with a Philadelphia policeman with an Uzi submachine gun trying to kill me early that morning.

“He continued and I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t say anything because I had an esophagus tube stuck down my throat, I had tubes up my nose and other body orifices. All I could do was look at him. And he smiled, and he did it and he did it and he did it. I just laid back and watched.” [48]

Later, at Mumia’s trial, the prosecution would claim that Mumia confessed in the hospital that he killed Faulkner. The record tells a different story: Officer Wakshul, the policeman guarding Mumia through all these, events wrote in his notes, “the negro male made no comment.” [49]

Mumia’s sister Lydia Wallace tells of the horror of learning that one brother was in the police station, and the other under police guard at the hospital. When she rushed to Mumia’s side, she did not at first recognize him–he was so beaten, swollen and covered with dried blood. She remembers that when he briefly regained consciousness he whispered to her that he was innocent. [50]

The Making of a Railroad

The first cops to arrive at the scene were Robert Shoemaker and James Forbes–members of the notorious Stakeout Unit. The highest ranking member to arrive on that scene was Inspector Alfonse Gordano, himself a former Stakeout commander. [51] This is the same Stakeout unit created by Rizzo to target Black radicals. It had been involved in all the confrontations and court cases with the Black Panthers and MOVE. Mumia had been a participant for a decade, on the other side, in those same events.

A police report later that night shows that Civil Affairs inspector Fencl was quickly called into this investigation. Fencl was the same police official who gave the order to strip Black Panthers in the street in 1970, who planned the raid on MOVE’s Powelton home and who headed the political police unit that had spied on Mumia since he was 15. [52]

Finding a Black man in dreadlocks lying wounded near a dead cop would have been enough for the police to bend every rule to have Mumia put to death. But it is hard to imagine that the police did not know who was in their hands that night in December 1981.

Certainly the whole city knew by the next day. Every newspaper in Philly ran the death of officer Faulkner on page one, and every newspaper drew links to Mumia’s political activities and beliefs. The Philadelphia Inquirer headline read, “The Suspect–Jamal: An eloquent activist not afraid to raise his voice.” The article called Mumia a “gadfly among journalists and easily recognizable because of his dreadlock hairstyle, revolutionary politics, and deep baritone voice.”

In the months that followed Mumia’s arrest, the machinery of Philadelphia’s notorious Homicide Squad went into motion–and systematically manufactured a case against Mumia Abu-Jamal. Evidence was suppressed. False evidence was created. Witnesses were coerced. And a notorious hanging judge was rolled out to ram this railroad through the trial process.

Mumia had been the dogged opponent of a brutal power structure for 12 intense and explosive years. He had exposed their crimes, upheld their victims, given voice to their accusers. Now he was in their hands–a political prisoner headed for death row.

1 “Revolutionary on Death Row: The Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” Revolutionary Worker #1003, April 25, 1999. All RW articles cited here are available at

2 Kissinger, C. Clark, “A Myth Repeated: A Reply to Vanity Fair and the F.O.P.–The Real Myth in the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal,” Revolutionary Worker #1015, July 25, 1999, also footage in Death Row Notebook, video by Lamar Williams and Chris Bratton

3 Kissinger, C. Clark, “Philly’s Killer Elite,”

4 See for example “Hollywood’s Unlikely Hero,” on ABC’s 20/20, Dec. 9, 1998.

5 Hamilton, Fred, Rizzo–From Cop to Mayor of Philadelphia, Viking Press, New York, 1973, p. 67

6 Hamilton, p. 73-75

7 Hamilton, p. 79

8 Abu-Jamal, Mumia, All Things Censored, Seven Stories Press, 2000, p. 104

9 “Revolutionary on Death Row: The Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal”

10 Abu-Jamal, Mumia, interview with C. Clark Kissing-er, Revolutionary Worker #784 and 785, Dec. 1994; see

11 Mealy, Rosemari, testimony at People’s International Tribunal for Justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal, December 6, 1997, Philadelphia; cited in “Philly Cops: A History of Brutality in Blue, Part 1,” Revolutionary Worker#1013, July 4, 1999

12 All Things Censored, p. 106

13 Abu-Jamal, Mumia, interview with C. Clark Kissinger

14 Abu-Jamal, Mumia, Interview with Acel Moore, Philadelphia Inquirer, 1970

15 Weinglass, Leonard, Race for Justice — Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Fight Against the Death Penalty, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine 1995, p.115-117; also Mumia’s 1983 sentencing hearing transcripts:

16 Daughen, Joseph R. and Binzen, Peter, The Cop Who Would Be King–The Honorable Frank Rizzo, Little, Brown and Company, 1977, p. 140

17 All Things Censored, p. 106

18 Washington, Linn, unpublished interview with Mike Ely, September 2000

19 Harry, Margot, ”Attention, MOVE! This is America!”, Banner Press, 1987, p. 96

20 Abu-Jamal, Mumia, interview with C. Clark Kissinger

21 All Things Censored, p. 106

22 All Things Censored, p. 107

23 Washington, interview with Mike Ely

24 All Things Censored, p. 107

25 Skolnick, Jerome H. and Fyfe, James J., Above the Law, cited in “Philly Cops: A History of Brutality in Blue–Part 2: Enforcers of Injustice,” Revolutionary Worker #1016, Aug. 1, 1999

26 Bissinger, Buzz, “The Famous and the Dead,” Vanity Fair, August 1999, p. 73. Also, for ways used by those demanding Mumia’s execution, see:

27 Washington, interview with Mike Ely

28 Abu-Jamal, Mumia, interview with C. Clark Kissinger

29 RW interview with Pam Africa , “Ona Move! To Free Mumia,” Revolutionary Worker, Issue 855 , May 5, 1996

30 Harry, p. 96

31 All Things Censored, p. 107

32 25 Years on the Move, pamphlet, May 1996

33 All Things Censored, p. 108

34 Abu-Jamal, Mumia, interview with C. Clark Kissinger

35 Paolantonio, S.A., Frank Rizzo–The Last Big Man in Big City America, Camino Books, Philadelphia, 1993, p. 224

36 Harry, p. 100, also footage shown in Death Row Notebook

37 Washington, interview with Mike Ely

38 Harry, p. 101

39 Paolantonio, p. 218-222

40 Abu-Jamal, Mumia, prison interview with Chris Bratton, Death Row Notebook

41 All Things Censored, p. 110-111; also Washington interview

42 All Things Censored, p. 111-112

43 Africa, Pam, interview with Revolutionary Worker

44 Death Row Notebooks

45 Death Row Notebooks

46 “Revolutionary on Death Row: The Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal”

47 Weinglass, p. 24-26

48 Abu-Jamal, Mumia, interview with C. Clark Kissinger

49 Weinglass, p. 50

50 Death Row Notebooks

51 Records of Mumia’s trial, June 19, 1982, p. 116

52 Paolantonio