This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 27 October 2014 contains three articles. They may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as they are credited.
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– Protests and marches in cities across the U.S.: “Stop police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation”
– Marches and clashes in France following death of environmental activist
– Egypt: Government again lashes out at “children of the revolution”
Protests and marches in cities across the U.S.:
“Stop police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation”
27 October 2014. A World to Win News Service. All across the U.S., October was a “Month of resistance to police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation”, a campaign initiated last April by Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and Cornel West, a prominent intellectual who considers himself a revolutionary Christian.
Although the 22 October Coalition has carried out similar protests since it was founded in 1996, this year’s plans and actions were propelled by spiralling anger at police murders, some 60 nationwide in one recent month alone. In early August, in Ferguson, Missouri, police stopped 18-year old African-American Michael Brown for walking in the street and shot him many times while he stood with his hands up. This murder turned the small suburb of Saint Louis into a cauldron of protest, with hundreds of defiant local youth, joined by supporters from around the country, confronting police night after night despite military-style repression.
These protests never died down, and during “Ferguson October”, in the middle of the month, thousands marched through the town to demand that the officer who killed Brown be indicted. Dix and West along with a group of clergy and others were arrested for civil disobedience when they “laid siege” to the Ferguson Police Station, resisting police attempts to drive them back and “putting their bodies on the line to say no more to police murders of Black youth,” as described in the RCP newspaper Revolution.
Other October actions ranged from prison-gate and courthouse steps protests, rallies on sites of previous police killings, mass speak-outs against the deportation of immigrants reaching record levels under Obama, co-ordinated supportive sermons in churches and synagogues, university symposiums and a campus occupation to a variety of cultural events. People demanding “Justice for Mike Brown – Justice for Mike Brown means justice for us all” unexpectedly stood up among the audience to sing a “Requiem for Mike Brown” just before a Saint Louis symphony orchestra concert of Brahms’ Requiem, winning respect and support from performers and many concert-goers of all ethnicities.
The central focus of this month was 22 October, when marches, rallies and other vigorous forms of protest were held in cites and towns in every region across the country. Secondary school and university students played a key role.
The National Stop Mass Incarceration Network reported, “From Tallahassee, Florida to Portland, Oregon; from Boston, Mass. to Tucson, Arizona… In Lexington, Albuquerque, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Chattanooga, streets and campuses across the country were alive with determined, militant protest on 22 October. Thousands of people in dozens of cities and towns manifested with determination, anger, creativity and deep conviction: mass incarceration, the criminalization of generation after generation of Black and Latino youth must stop! Black Lives Matter! Latino Lives Matter! All Lives Matter!”
The following is from the 27 October issue of Revolution (revcom.us):
Coast-to-coast, border to border, 22 October was a day of defiant struggle. In eighty cities, towns, and campuses, it was a day of diversity and creativity. A day of courage – going right up in the face of the forces of brutality, injustice, and repression. Youth locked down in the inner cities joined with clerics and academics. Parents of children murdered by police and families of prisoners stood shoulder to shoulder with activists for LGBT equality and supporters of the struggle for liberation of Palestine. Students from inner city high schools and universities walked out. All saying: Stop police brutality, repression, and the criminalization of a generation.
In his message to the actions across the U.S. that day, Carl Dix said, “[I]ntensified police murder is a concentration of an overall program of suppression that targets Black and Latino people. This program includes warehousing more than 2 million people in prison, subjecting 80,000 people in prison to the torture of long term solitary confinement, stepped up detention and deportation of our immigrant sisters and brothers, and criminalizing young people. All this amounts to a slow genocide that is breaking the bodies and crushing the spirits of tens of millions of Black and Latino people. These horrors are built into the very fabric of this system, and I’ll tell you, it’s going to take revolution nothing less to end them once and for all. And everyone who sees these horrors for what they are needs to act now — to join in building powerful resistance to these horrors, resistance that can beat them back and ultimately can stop them.”
A Black woman university student participating in one of the 22 October actions told an interviewer, “I came because of mass incarceration. Because police are killing people for literally nothing. And I am here because these are really all my people, no matter what the skin colour. And I am out here because I could easily be one of the people who is shot down for nothing. So I’m waiting for change. I’m waiting for revolution. This was impactful. It made a difference and when I go back to UC Berkeley, we’re going to bring this back here and try to figure out what we can do to make actual revolution, actual change. Link arms, let’s go. March. Push. I am so ready.”
In Ferguson, Missouri, a multinational crowd of hundreds marched on West Florissant avenue where Mike Brown was killed, and where protesters have been brutally attacked by police. Later that night they marched to the Ferguson police station (site of regular nightly protests for 11 weeks). A theme throughout the day was “Justice 4 Mike Brown / INDICT Now!” At night a giant “Wanted” poster was projected on a building across from the pig station: a picture of [police shooter] Darren Wilson with the words “Wanted for the murder of Mike Brown.” In the nearby town of Clayton, people marched right into the Saint Louis County police headquarters to protest the prosecutor’s blatant pro-police actions in the case.
In Seattle, Washington, 40 students from Garfield and other high schools marched to a police station after school to demand police stop targeting youth of colour. Later in the day some 100 people, including family members of people killed by police, immigrant rights supporters, and Jen Marlowe, co-author of the book I Am Troy Davis [an African-American executed for murder in 2011, even though evidence against him was shown to be false], marched and rallied in the pouring rain. The mixed crowd of high school and college students, including Seattle Pacific University’s Black Student Union, middle class and homeless people, political activists and revolutionaries as well as first-time protesters confronted police and blocked busy intersections during rush hour.
In New York City, 500-600 people rallied at Union Square, where one person after another with a relative murdered by police spoke out, including the sister of Eric Garner [recently choked to death on a street corner by the police who accused him of selling untaxed cigarettes]. Carl Dix declared his determination to march into Times Square, a symbol to the whole world, despite being denied a permit, and invited the crowd to join him. The diverse crowd – whites, Latinos, Black people, gay and straight, students including from Columbia, New York University, Fordham, and the New School, marched through the heart of Manhattan, right past police barricades into Times Square, taking over the “red stairs”overlooking the plaza.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, after 150 students rallied on campus, 60 University of California- Berkeley students marched to Oscar Grant Plaza [named after a Black youth shot dead while lying on the ground in handcuffs] in downtown Oakland. Students from at least nine high schools and eight other colleges took part, including 50 San Francisco high school students who walked out from school. Two dozen members of a local Unitarian Church, led by their pastor, also marched to join the action.
Students and clergy joined attorney John Burris, Jeralyn Blueford, whose son was murdered by Oakland police, Tef Poe and Tory Russell from Ferguson, and longtime revolutionary Joey Johnson at the rally. Then more than 650 (with more joining in) took off with whistles blowing and drums beating. At the Federal Building, there was a huge die-in and rousing speeches. Over 500 copies of Revolution newspaper were distributed along the march.
In Chicago, high school youth, joined some 500 others, including parents whose children were murdered by police, college students, prisoner rights groups, and clergy were honoured on the stage for an electric march through central Chicago. Last week high school students wondered if they’d get killed coming downtown to march, but on 2 October they picked up whistles and posters and made the base of the famous Picasso sculpture [in the city’s central square] their own.
In Los Angeles, over 400 people marched through the city centre, including family and friends of more than 12 people killed by police and students from campuses across the area. At times the sound of blowing whistles was deafening. The march went to the LA Criminal Court, the LA jail and LA police headquarters where Reverend Frank Wulf, pastor of the United University Church on the University of Southern California campus, along with a leader of the Revolution Club, co-led a powerful rally. Speakers included family members of people murdered by police, Today Show analyst and author Lisa Bloom, Jim Lafferty of the National Lawyers Guild, and Joe Veale from the LA chapter of the RCP.
Among many other places, reports of protests were also received from San Diego, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Salt Lake City, Utah; Kansas City, Missouri; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Greensboro, North Carolina; Greenville, South Carolina; Cleveland, Ohio; Lansing, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Dallas, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Rockford, Illinois.
This movement has called for people to wear orange on 30 October to make resistance resonate further throughout society and deliver a message to one and all that mass incarceration and all its consequences must be stopped, and that people are determined to stop it. “Be creative. Be bold. Be determined. Make a lot of noise, get a lot of attention!”
Marches and clashes in France following death of environmental activist
27 October 2014. A World to Win News Service. The death of a young university student during a pro-environmental demonstration has led to angry demonstrations and confrontations with the authorities in almost ten cities in France.
Remi Fraisse was found dead in the early morning hours of 26 October after hundreds of gendarmes (national police) charged several thousand demonstrators at the site of a proposed dam across a small river valley in Sivens, in south-western France. Just before they charged out from behind the wire fencing where they had massed, the gendarmes fired a barrage of teargas and concussion grenades and rubber bullets at the protesters. An official autopsy the next day revealed that Fraisse died of an intense burn on the upper back due to an “explosion”, according to the newspaper Le Monde. The force of the explosion knocked him forward onto the ground, where a pool of blood could be seen the following day.
Ecology activists oppose the Sivens project because it would destroy forests and especially wetlands that are home to 94 protected species, to the benefit of a small number of capital-intensive farm operations. Several hundred police have been stationed on the site since the beginning of September. Proclaiming it a “zone a defendre” (“area to be defended”), protesters set up their hammocks in tree-tops and buried themselves in the forest to stop the advance of wood-clearing crews bearing chainsaws. As the trees steadily fell, some protesters went on hunger strike.
The afternoon after Fraisse’s death, about 500 people rallied in the nearby town of Gaillac. A large banner said, “In homage to Remi, killed for defending nature.” French flags were burned, and some youth clashed with police and rubbished banks and other business establishments.
On 27 October, actions took place in about ten French cities. In the south-western city of Albi, a march of several hundred people ended in a tear-gas attack. In Rennes, 200 gathered in front of a police station chanting, “The police are killers” and “We call for revolt.” In Rouen, hundreds cried, “The state kills, Remi died for his convictions, don’t forget, don’t forgive.” Other protests were held in Toulouse, Strasbourg, Chambery and Paris.
One of the biggest protests was in Nantes, where 600 marched, according to Le Monde. Nantes is near Notre Dame des Lands, a rural area where ecology activists, small farmers, youth identifying themselves as “anti-capitalist” and anarchists have been waging a long struggle against the construction of a new national airport with potentially grave environmental consequences. It was there that the “zone a defendre” occupation tactic was developed. Many observers are now connecting Sivens and Notre Dame des Landes as emblematic of resistance to the further devastation of the country’s woodlands and small farms for giant profit-driven, state-run infrastructure projects.
Some people called the massive presence of the gendarmes in Sivens a state provocation, since now the trees are all gone, the bulldozers have not yet been brought in and there is nothing for the forces of “order” to “protect” but the soil waiting to be levelled. The police attack was meant as a political message, activists argue, according to the reporterres.net website. An expert report is said to conclude that the dam project was ill-advised, but now it is too late to save the valley and construction might as well go ahead. While ministers in France’s governing Socialist Party criticize the youth for not respecting the law and legal channels, the authorities seem to have been in a big hurry to settle the issue “on the ground” – with construction equipment and the repressive apparatus – before the challenge to their legitimacy could spread.
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Egypt: Government again lashes out at “children of the revolution”
27 October 2014. A World to Win News Service. Activists who demonstrated against a law banning protests last June have themselves been sentenced to prison for breaking that law. The three-year terms, to be followed by fines and three years of police surveillance, shocked even other activists, which might have been the intended message. One of the 23 people sent to prison was a legal observer, not a participant in the June demonstration that targeted the continuing trial of another set of activists arrested last year for demonstrating against the same law.
One of those now convicted, Sanaa Seif, 20, is the sister of the well-known blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah whose name is widely associated with those who call themselves “the youth of the revolution”, the toppling of the U.S.-supported Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The day after this verdict, on 27 October Abel-Fattah, who along with Seif was released to attend their father’s funeral, was again taken into custody and sent back to prison, rejoining two dozen other co-defendants to await their trial, scheduled to resume in mid-November. This current trial is a retrial, after appealing an earlier judicial process in which they were sentenced to 15 years in prison.
That same day, a law was issued stipulating that schoolchildren and university students can be tried by military courts if they are accused of “sabotaging public facilities” (for instance, by holding a protest in or near a school) or impeding traffic (the Tahrir Square revolt that led to Mubarak’s downfall blocked one of the capital’s main thoroughfares).
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