A youth’s view from Durham to Wall Street

Lamont Lilly, New York City, Oct. 8.
WW photo: Rachel Duell

By Lamont Lilly
Occupy Wall Street, N.Y.

The scene was a perfect storm of organized chaos. Here were the young and old, students and workers, immigrants and oppressed, all addressing the failures of capitalism’s current worldwide crisis, outlining the destructive forces of global banking systems and highlighting the lack of communal values in a place that loves to cry patriotism.

Right-wing, conservative press would have you to believe that the only “fanatics” there were Ivy League, white, college kids — the privileged and idle-minded, or simply a cadre of recent graduates who have yet to find jobs after completing master’s degrees. But that wasn’t true at all. The idea of occupying Wall Street may have begun as a young, white thing, but by the time we arrived on the evening of Oct.8, there were participants of all nations, all races and all ages — raising a range of pertinent issues.

There were Haitians from the Bronx who had marched across the George Washington Bridge earlier that day in a show of solidarity. There were domestic and sanitation workers from Queens. There were the unions and labor organizations from all over the country — working-class adults who currently live the effects of capitalism from the front lines; blue-collar folks whose wages have been decimated by the manipulation of global markets, international corporatism and “Third World” exploitation. For this one night, I was living what democracy really looks like: the common masses united in a single front. Continue reading

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Letter to the Occupy Wall Street Movement : Fight Racism, Sexism, LGBTQ oppression

These are hard times. There doesn’t appear to be any respite coming soon. The political atmosphere has shifted in response to the greatest economic calamity since the Great Depression. This crisis, because of how the changes in technology, communication and production have made the world smaller, is global in its impact.

Corporations and financial institutions on Wall Street have become profitable again. Their profits were made possible by the more than $16 trillion in tax money doled out to them by Washington and because they have shed millions of jobs, ripped up workers’ contracts, forced concessions down the workers’ throats and because they make those left with a job work harder and produce more in less time. Continue reading

Occupations take root across the country, attract growing support

By LeiLani Dowell , NYC FIST

Following the lead of Occupy Wall Street, occupations are growing in size and number across the country, with actions taking place in hundreds of cities. The following reports from Workers World correspondents give a flavor for some of those demonstrations.

Boston: More than 100 arrested

Philadelphia
WW photo: Joseph Piette

At 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 11, hundreds of state, transit, city and riot police tore into the second campsite of Occupy Boston, dragging and handcuffing participants and arresting 100 of them. The cops also stole tents and removed them from the site.

The previous day an estimated 10,000 union members, students, veterans, fami­lies, women and men of all ages had marched from the Boston Common to Dewey Square, and then to the North Wash­ington Bridge, to demand economic justice. Police stopped these protesters at the bridge, and one person was arrested. Later the demonstrators joined Occupy Boston, which expanded to fill the second site.

Rochester, N.Y.
Photo: Josie Clancy

At the General Assembly the evening before the arrests, Pat Scanlon of the Smedley Butler Brigade of Vets for Peace received a big ovation after offering words of encouragement and a brief history of the Vietnam War movement. The Brigade has been critically supportive of Occupy Boston. Continue reading

VIDEO: Food is a Right campaign, youth brigade in NYC

Food is a Right campaign, youth brigade in NYC

FIST launches in Detroit

By Derek Thacker
Detroit

Detroit FIST

The founding meeting of the new Detroit chapter of Fight Imperialism, Stand Together — FIST — was held on July 22.

Detroit has not had an active branch of the militant youth organization for about a year. But since late 2010, new youth have begun taking an interest in activism and have gravitated to work with the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice, the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions & Utility Shutoffs, and Workers World Party.

Some of these youth moved to form a new FIST branch in Detroit in order to combat the effects of imperialism at home and abroad. The attendance was excellent at the initial meeting and the discussions were meaningful. Introductions were conducted, and the revolutionary program of FIST was introduced and reviewed. Continue reading

Workers, community converge at Southern Human Rights conference

By Dante Strobino
Birmingham, Ala.

Under the theme “From Exclusion to Power,” hundreds of workers and community members gathered in Birmingham, Ala., from Dec. 10 to 12 for the eighth Bi-Annual Southern Human Rights Organizers Conference.

FIST photo: Dante Strobino

March on opening day of Southern Human Rights Organizers Conference, in Birmingham, Ala. Carrying lead banner are Daniel Castellanos; Pamela Brown, Community Voices Heard; and Araceli Herrera Castillo (left to right).

Jaribu Hill, conference founder and executive director of the Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights, opened up with a call for human rights and social justice activists from across the country “to retool and rethink, plan and build. In these critical times of unjust wars and economic decline, it is urgent that we forge unity based on common struggles and experiences.”

The gathering opened with a press conference — on International Human Rights Day — that highlighted the work of the Excluded Workers Congress and announced a new report that examines the plight of workers barred from labor protections and the right to organize.

The report said that in 1983, 20.1 percent of the U.S. workforce was unionized, whereas in 2009 that proportion was only 12.3 percent. In so-called right-to-work states, union density now averages 6 percent. (www.excludedworkerscongress.org)

Included in the press conference were the congress’s nine sectors, including domestic workers, farmworkers, taxi drivers, restaurant workers, day laborers, guest workers, workers from right-to-work states, workfare workers and formerly incarcerated workers. Continue reading

Michigan State University activists protest handling of rape charges

By Megan Spencer

East Lansing, Mich.

In late August a woman reported being sexually assaulted in a dorm room by two members of the Michigan State University Spartans men’s basketball team. Despite the survivor reporting the assault, a police report being filed, and the police recommending the pursuit of criminal sexual conduct charges against the assailants, Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III decided not to press charges.

Students protest during ‘Midnight<br>Madness’ at MSU’s Breslin Center.
Students protest during ‘Midnight
Madness’ at MSU’s Breslin Center.
Photo: Coalition Against Sexual Violence

Dunnings initially concluded there was not enough evidence to prosecute the crime, though he has since gone as far as to declare that force or coercion did not occur, and thus “no crime” was committed. (Michigan Messenger, Sept. 29)

In addition to facing no legal consequences, the assailants still reside in university housing, attend classes at MSU, and remain on the basketball team. The circumstances indicate these individuals have committed rape, yet they face no repercussions for their actions.

In response to this assault, the prosecutor’s inaction and unwillingness to deliver any justice, and the university’s silence on the matter, a multinational group of concerned students at MSU united to form the Coalition Against Sexual Violence. Continue reading