by George Ciccariello-Maher, OAKLAND
As the trial of former transit cop Johannes Mehserle for the murder of Oscar Grant rushes at breakneck speed toward its conclusion, spurred by the insistence of Judge Robert Perry and political imperative, ominous clouds of injustice begin to crowd the political horizon in anticipation of a verdict, which could come as soon as this week. But while it is this injustice that we should most fear, too many are focusing their fear and the fear of others on the possibility of a repeat of last year’s street rebellions should Mehserle be acquitted or convicted of a lesser charge.
What this view neglects is one basic fact, indeed the most basic fact regarding the Oakland rebellions: that it was only as a result of those rebellions of January 2009 and the fear that they might be repeated that Mehserle was even arrested and put on trial in the first place. Those rebellions were, in fact, the basic precondition for this limited form of “justice” to even be possible. Possible, yes, but far from guaranteed. And yet those who opposed the rebellions from the very beginning, denouncing them with delusions of “outside agitators” as irrational and desperate outbursts--in short, as “riots”--are busily trotting out the same discredited lines as always.
RAIDER NATION COLLECTIVE, Oakland and Los Angeles
“Peace after revolution”
We were not surprised to hear of a recent meeting between the Oakland state apparatus (Mayor Ron Dellums and the Oakland Police Department) and representatives of the local nonprofit industrial complex. Nor were we surprised when the nonprofits emerged from that meeting with directives from the Mayor and the Police on how best to prevent and preemptively condemn civil rebellion in the case of the acquittal of Johannes Mehserle for the murder of Oscar Grant, or Mehserle’s conviction on a lesser charge. Why were we not surprised? Quite simply because what we are witnessing is a virtual repeat of last year’s controversy surrounding the short-lived Coalition Against Police Executions (CAPE), one which shows that the lessons of 2009 have fallen upon deaf ears.
A shorter version of this article was published in response to the Heller vs. Washington D.C. decision outlawing the city's handgun ban in 2008. In light of the Supreme Court decision overturning Chicago's handgun ban, we though we would rerun this article in its entirety.
For more on the Chicago decision:
Gun Rights are Civil Rights
by Kristian Williams and Peter Little
"One of the quickest ways for an Afro-American to lose some of his white friends is to advocate self-defense against white racist savages. . . . Our belief in this principle has cost us some of our phoney white friends, however, we have also gained some true ones."
-Robert F. Williams, writing in The Crusader, 1960
Conventional wisdom identifies gun control as a "liberal" agenda and gun rights as "conservative." In practice, history demonstrates a telling unity between the two "opposing" camps on gun control policy. The current debates reflect historic and
contemporary struggles over race, class, and the politics of violence and power in society as a whole.
MANSLAUGHTER IS NOT ENOUGH! IT’S MURDER OR NOTHING!
The most likely outcome of the trial of Johannes Mehserle, the BART cop who murdered Oscar Grant on the morning of January 1st 2009, is a manslaughter conviction. Why is this likely? Because convicting Mehserle of manslaughter is the best way for the state to protect itself by sacrificing one of its own. To the police, manslaughter simply means: be careful when you kill. To the people, manslaughter means: you got a conviction, what more do you want? Or in other words: don’t riot, don’t rebel, no public outcry necessary.
On the other hand, a murder conviction would not be tolerated by the police and their unions, and even the most opportunistic of political leaders see a murder conviction as tying their hands in the future: they need the police, and police need to be able to kill.
by Noel Ignatiev
The World View of C.L.R. James
by Noel Ignatiev
Cyril Lionel Robert James was born in Trinidad in 1901 to a middle-class black family. He grew up playing cricket (which he credited with bringing him into contact with the common folk of the island). He also reported on cricket, and wrote a novel, several short stories, and a biography of Captain Cipriani, a Trinidadian labor leader and advocate of self-government. In 1932, James moved to England, where he covered cricket for the Manchester Guardian and became heavily involved in Marxist politics.
He wrote a history of the San Domingo revolution and a play based on that history, in which he and Paul Robeson appeared on the London stage. He wrote a history of the Communist International, The History of Negro Revolt, and translated into English Boris Souvarine’s biography of Stalin. Together with his childhood friend, George Padmore, James founded the International African Service Bureau, which became a center for the struggle for the independence of Africa, helping to develop Jomo Kenyatta, Kwame Nkrumah, and others. He also spent time with coal miners in Wales (among whom he reported he felt no consciousness of race).
By Katie Fahrenbruch
I am not ashamed of Arizona.
I’m angry and disgusted by Russell Pearce, Sheriff Joe and Jan Brewer (to name a few), I’m filled with rage when I think about SB 1070 and the cowards who supported it, and I’m utterly devastated every time I hear another family has been torn apart—but I’m not ashamed, because this not all that Arizona is.
I am a lifelong resident of this beautiful state. I was born here, I was raised here, and I have become myself here among the heat, and the mountains, and the never ending sprawl. As I prepare to leave this place—my home for 24 years, my family and all those I hold close to my heart—I have begun to really think about what Arizona is and what it means to me, and I can confidently say that it doesn’t mean politicians, it doesn’t mean white supremacist laws, and it doesn’t mean broken families.
What follows is a report on the demo of the 5th of May and the one that followed the day after and some general thoughts on the critical situation the movement in Greece is at the time being.
Although in a period of acute fiscal terrorism escalating day after day with constant threats of an imminent state bankruptcy and “sacrifices to be made”, the proletariat’s response on the eve of the voting of the new austerity measures in Greek parliament was impressive.
By Joel Olson
In the struggle over the notorious anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, anti-working class law SB 1070, a person might be tempted to see this as a conflict that plays out among the elites of Arizona politics: legislators, governors, sheriffs, newspaper editors, judges, lawyers, and nonprofits. This view would be understandable, but wrong. The real battle is at the grassroots.
By: Traci for the Southern Strategy Committee
The Centrality of the South
The Southern Strategy committee of Bring the Ruckus has consistently maintained that the South is the key to building a revolutionary movement in the United States. Three years after our organization committed to a Southern Strategy, we still defend the strategic nature of the South in our organizing within BtR. This document is an attempt to advance that argument even further by opening up new areas of discussion, and reevaluating strategic work in the region.
By Erinn Carter and Traci Harris
In the early morning hours of New Year's Day 2009, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) Police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot Oscar Grant in the back as he lay face down on the ground in front of a train car filled with people. He died several hours later. Uprisings in Oakland – including the killing of four cops by 26-year-old Lovelle Mixon - led the Alameda County District Attorney’s office to argue that while an impartial jury couldn't be found in Oakland, one can be found in Los Angeles.
When Mehserle goes on trial this May, Los Angeles will once again be the central location for a fight involving police brutality against communities of color.
The circumstances surrounding the Oscar Grant murder trial have produced a sense of déjà vu: police are charged with using extreme violence against a person of color and once again these violent acts were recorded and broadcast for the entire country to watch.