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Conversation with Nnamdi Lummuba, Ujima Peoples’ Progress Party
by Black Alliance for Peace | Originally Published January 7, 2020 on The Black Alliance for Peace
Black Alliance for Peace – Baltimore Demand Public Officials Reject Trump Military “Surge” for Baltimore
JANUARY 7, 2020—Baltimore City is one of 7 cities, including Detroit, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Kansas City, Memphis and Milwaukee, selected for the Trump Administration’s “Operation Relentless Pursuit” which is intended to “surge” federal, state and local resources into cities where violent [horizontal] crime rates remain high.
“This newest version of the so-called war on crime must be seen for what it is – the latest incantation of the State’s relentless war on Baltimore’s Black working class and poor and should be categorically rejected by Baltimore’s public officials,” according to BAP organizer Vanessa Beck.
At the end of October, during the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago, President Trump announced, “In coming weeks, Attorney General Barr will announce a new crackdown on violent crime—which I think is so important—targeting gangs and drug traffickers in high crime cities and dangerous rural areas.”
In Detroit, right before the holidays, Attorney General Barr was joined by leaders of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and U.S. Marshals Service at a press conference to unveil what amounts to a new domestic military surge.
In an op-ed written in Detroit News, Barr says,
“Operation Relentless Pursuit will surge an unparalleled amount of federal backing to Detroit and the other most dangerous cities in the United States. It will build on the Justice Department’s successful Project Safe Neighborhoods, which encouraged community-based solutions to sew violent crime. It will also complement Project Guardian and DEEP (Disruption and Early Engagement Program), agency initiatives focused on reducing gun crime and preventing mass shootings.
With Operation Relentless Pursuit, local law enforcement will have access to state-of-the-art technology and our nation’s top federal agents, who will be tasked with investigating and taking down the most violent offenders and their criminal organizations. We’re matching our rhetoric with resources by committing significant manpower and up to $71 million in additional funding for our federal, state, and local partners.”
BAP-Baltimore demands that public officials reject this blood money.
BAP-Baltimore is clear when we say, “Police are used to enforce the status quo of white power and colonial control over the lives of Black, Brown, and other oppressed nations of people.” 4 of the 7 targeted cities have majority Black populations – Baltimore, 62.8%; Detroit, 79.12%; Cleveland, 50.41%; and Memphis, 63.9%. Increased militarization of police departments leads to increased numbers of civilians murdered by police, in addition to the everyday terror experienced by residents in occupied communities.
Baltimore, Detroit, Albuquerque, Cleveland, Kansas City, Memphis, and Milwaukee all participate in the Department of Defense (DoD) 1033 Program. Through the 1033 Program, military equipment gets transferred to civilian law enforcement agencies. Related is the “Deadly Exchange” program, which is a massive exchange between the U.S. and Israeli police and Israeli military where hyper-militarized policing techniques and technology are shared.
The Black Alliance for Peace – Baltimore says No Compromise, No Retreat when calling for the demilitarization of local police departments. There should be no confidence in any imperialist parties or state institutions to address the horizontal violence plaguing our communities. The behavior of police departments in this state and across the U.S. shows us the role of the police is to protect private property, sectors of the middle-class community, and the ruling-class interests. Police are called to colonized communities of ALL oppressed folks to carry out the standard imperialist orders, with every intent to do more harm on behalf of the state than actually serving any positive purpose.
BAP-Baltimore intends to resist this latest assault on the human rights of the Black and Brown poor and working class.
by Ujima People’s Progress Party
Recent corruption allegations against Nick and Marilyn Mosby, a prominent Black political couple in Baltimore City, have reignited discussions centered around the Black misleadership class, building Black political power and the eventual conflict with white establishment power. There are many lingering questions surrounding how best to create, advance, and support a genuine Black political movement that serves the interests of the majority of Black people.
As a Black-working class led party, we unapologetically support the struggle to develop independent Black political institutions capable of winning power to Black working and poor people, who make up the vast majority of our community. We exist as an institution to challenge the fallacies perpetrated by the U.S. capitalist ruling class about participation in the two-party political system.
We understand that the entire foundation of white capitalist power rests on a pedestal of stolen land, genocide and stolen Black labor to launch and maintain itself. We have no doubts that the white ruling class would attack any Black independent political machinery that emerges to struggle against and defeat a social system that exploits and oppresses Black, Brown and working people.
For many, these allegations by elements of the state and its racist implications drive a narrative that attempts to dominate all the space upon which the Black community must make a decision about choosing whether or not to support the state or members of the Black political elite.
As conscious, working-class organizers building Black working-class power, we know our fortunes do not lay with either of the sides in this growing investigation. We know that neither the Black political class nor the U.S. justice system represents revolutionary or progressive politics that will overturn an exploitative, racist, capitalist system and put power in the hands of Black and working-class people.
Black working-class people must be clear that it is not corruption that undermines the self-determination and equitable treatment of the Black community and working-class people but instead the broad daylight administration of policies, laws, and institutions that protect profits gained by exploiting Black labor, Black lives and resources.
Sixty-four years ago, Black sociologist and author E. Franklin Frazier wrote a book, The Black Bourgeoisie, that analyzed the African American middle class’s social and political behavior.
This social stratum of the Black community has aspired to be the leading social force of the entire Black community, despite the community being overwhelmingly working-class and underemployed/unemployed.
The aforementioned Frazier, along with other proponents of class-based analyses, points out that even as the Black middle aspires to this leadership role, to fulfill its own personal and class agendas, it has also had to fight against oppression caused by American racism that has frustrated its attempts to consolidate economic and political power.
We share Frazier’s observation that the mass democratic objectives of ordinary working-class Black people can be obscured by the distorted ambitions of the Black middle class, especially where working people identify uncritically with their politics. The political under-education and miseducation of the general U.S. population has led ordinary Black people to, time and time again, vote overwhelmingly, for political misleaders who go on to viciously pursue reactionary economic, political, and military policies, which do not serve our interests.
Due largely to the influence of their better education, wealth, and connections, the Black middle class has been the dominant sector in the Black political establishment.
However, the Black middle-class’ allegiance to capitalism, and not Black liberation, has largely led the Black political leadership class to function as a comprador misleadership class over the Black majority of working peoples on behalf of the capitalist parties, and political machines they are members of.
Ajamu Baraka, former Green Party vice-presidential candidate, defined this type of Black political leadership in the following, “The Black misleadership class, liberal and centrist democrats, the forces grouped around Trump and even some radicals, have one essential thing in common, they all believe in the legitimacy of the U.S. state, the capitalist/imperialist system and are ready to fight to the last drop of your blood and mine to preserve this system”.
These types of political forces find their political homes in both camps of the American capitalist, duopoly political system as either Democrats or Republicans. Understanding American electoral politics, we know that as mass parties, the two major capitalist parties represent a wide range of economic, social and political interests that converge within each party structure.
These parties count millions of working-class and poor people in their political machinery, yet neither of these parties uphold a working-class agenda that will bring economic or social justice to its membership. Regardless of which sector backs or opposes them, protecting the national and local power of the capitalist ruling class is the undeniable role of the established political class.
As previously stated, it is true that the white ruling class attempts to control the Black community and the political class that emerges from it. This is an inescapable paradigm created when Black people choose to affiliate within the capitalist duopoly setup politically. Ascension in the duopoly almost always comes with associating with one or another powerful sector of the local/national capitalist class at the expense of working-class interests and institutions.
Rarely do members of the Black middle class enter the duopoly political arena with an independent base and machinery to win elections and influence in a capitalist party. As a social force, the Black middle class is not powerful enough to challenge the economic or political hegemony of the local white capitalist establishment. They need support from the numerically large Black working class to achieve their political goals. Typically, these goals serve their own class aspirations, but on some occasions, a form of “class suicide” is made when they support a working-class agenda.
We challenge summations that continue to confuse Black voting support for duopoly candidates as proof of an independent base. behind the candidate that can support a challenge to white capitalist power. Voting support for most Black political candidates results from using strong election campaign machines that leverage the established base of the duopoly party. Far from an independent base, it is, at best, a borrowed base that can be mobilized by contending forces inside the Democratic or Republican party for elections.
After elections are won, the borrowed bases are allowed to return to the clutches of the white capitalist establishment parties. They are never consolidated to take the fight to the entire capitalist establishment. History is clear, Black political power is not gained by winning elections, it is gained by expanding independent Black political institutions and bases around agendas not endorsed by the ruling elite.
Even within the duopoly, if the political will existed, this is not a far-fetched possibility to create independent Black political capacity. There was a time in Baltimore under William Adams’ leadership, an independent Black political machine controlled by the Black middle class emerged. It had influence on elections, economics and social life. Today in East New York, former Black Panther Party member and NY Assemblyman, Charles Baron has helped build a radical leftwing organization called Operation P.O.W.E.R. (People Organizing and Working for Empowerment and Respect), that is able to defeat mainstream Democratic party candidates in statewide, city council and borough elections.
The Black misleadership class winning elections may visually appear to represent a sea-change in power dynamics. reality, they rarely have a platform that seeks to defeat the capitalist ruling class and transfer power to the working-class masses.
The criticisms from Black working class formations of the political class can not be the same as the criticisms of supporters of the Black political class because these social forces are actively in contention with the White and Black established political class for influence of Black workers.
This issue with the Mosbys and elements of the capitalist establishment is not the fight for Black workers and poor people to jump in on. The critique of the Mosbys from Black working class forces cannot be rooted in or informed by what ruling class media produces to manipulate public opinion. Instead, our critiques must be firmly rooted in the concrete class antagonisms Black workers have with Black elected officials who either implement or gatekeep racist capitalist policies which continue to marginalize Black working-class people.
Lastly, while a detailed critique of how the leading Baltimore white capitalist institutions use their media, wealth, and influence to maintain the status quo is always necessary, the practical timing of discouraging equally important critiques of the role the Mosbys play, as it relates to Black working class people, functions as a defense of the Black misleadership political class.
Attempts to place a jacket on dissenting forces of the Mobsys and other Black duopoly officials is a pre-emptive maneuver to protect this misleadership class. Categorizing all such criticisms of duopoly Black political leaders as the product of white liberal influence, dependence on white nonprofit funding and being out touch with the Black working-class base is dishonest and undemocratic.
While the Mobsys may be independent of Embry’s sector of the capitalist ruling class, the Mobsys themselves are loyal to the party machine functioning on behalf of the whole white capitalist ruling class. This criticism must always inform the Black working class about who represents their best chance for transformation and Black power.
Originally Published on The Black Alliance For Peace
Within large sectors of the U.S. left, including many elements of the Black left, there is widespread confusion related to the Ukraine “crisis.” Years of anti-Russia propaganda from the U.S. and its NATO allies, and the tendency to abstract the current Ukrainian situation from its historical and geo-strategic context, have created a climate of confusion. This climate has played into the hands of state propagandists and Democratic Party activists eager to use the Ukraine situation to deflect attention from Biden’s disastrous domestic agenda.
The situation with Ukraine did not just fall out of the sky in 2021. It has a long history.
For African peoples, the U.S./EU/NATO Axis of Domination represents the greatest threat to peace, human rights, and social justice on the planet today. It is absurd for any African to embrace the agenda of empire by giving credence or legitimacy to the crude mobilization of public opinion for conflict on behalf of NATO and the white supremacist, colonial/capitalist project.
Ukraine reflects the continuous right-wing nature of European and European American politics. In a 2018 article in The Nation, Stephen Cohen detailed the social and political impacts of the 2014 right-wing coup in Ukraine:
…storm troop-like assaults on gays, Jews, elderly ethnic Russians, and other “impure” citizens are widespread throughout Kiev-ruled Ukraine, along with torchlight marches reminiscent of those that eventually inflamed Germany in the late 1920s and 1930s. And that the police and official legal authorities do virtually nothing to prevent these neofascist acts or to prosecute them. On the contrary, Kiev has officially encouraged them by systematically rehabilitating and even memorializing Ukrainian collaborators with Nazi German extermination pogroms and their leaders during World War II, renaming streets in their honor, building monuments to them, rewriting history to glorify them, and more.
This is the nature of the government in Ukraine that the Biden Administration along with the corporate press, deranged Black people, and a confused left are supporting.
Below is an alternative set of facts and analyses related to the Ukraine crisis, a “crisis” deliberately generated to divert attention away from the Biden’s administration inability to provide capitalist stability.
AN ANTI-IMPERIALIST PERSPECTIVE
Back in power, Biden and the Democrats who have now reclaimed the mantle of the party of war, began to encourage Ukraine authorities to ignore the Minsk II agreement and to forcefully retake control of Donbas. Even more dangerously, the U.S. and some European powers began to indicate that Ukraine might be invited to become a member of NATO. If Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, this could allow a nuclear armed NATO to be positioned right on the borders of Russia. Russia is rightly concerned about this security risk at its border.
BLACK RADICAL POSITION ON UKRAINE
NATO is an illegitimate aggressive structure in the service of Western imperialism and does not deserve any support from African/Black and colonized people. Moreover, all social forces committed to peace should demand that NATO be dismantled. The Ukrainian crisis is yet another example of the delusional policies being pursued by U.S. rulers unable to accept the changed circumstances in the world today that limit their ability to impose their interests on peoples and nations without consequences.
As an African people involved in an existential battle in the U.S. against rightist forces, from the Trump/Republican supporters to the warmongering neoliberal Democrats, with both committed to global “Full Spectrum Dominance” (white power), it would be an affront to our history and people to enter this struggle on the side of empire and NATO.
Estonia and Latvia are NATO member states that border Russia. See the map.
U.S. propaganda is inflating the supposed 100,000 troops that Russia has on Ukraine’s border but doesn’t talk about the 3.5 million personnel that NATO has in Europe.
NATO AND AFRICA
In his 1966 book, Challenge of the Congo, Kwame Nkrumah writes:
“Foreign powers already have military bases in various, strategically important parts of our continent. There are in Africa at present, seventeen air bases owned and operated by individual members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). There are nine naval bases encircling the continent from the north coast of Africa right round the south coast to the east. There are foreign military missions, for example in Kenya, Morocco, Liberia, Libya, South Africa, Senegal and Ivory Coast. Furthermore, they possess three rocket sites, and an atomic testing range in North Africa. There are mines being exploited for the production of raw materials for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Some of these mines are situated in the Congo, Angola, South Africa, Mozambique and Rhodesia. In the context of of the imperialist plan to prevent Africa from achieving complete political and economic independence and an All-African Union Government, these foreign military bases present a serious threat to the African revolutionary struggle.” (p. xi)
Walter Rodney was even more explicit on how NATO moved into Africa as part of the efforts to shift colonial power from the traditional European powers to the new colonial hegemon—the United States of America.
Rodney accurately describes the early foundation of colonial Africa’s relationship with NATO which continues today when he said in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa:
“Adding to the regular bases in long established colonies, the imperialist powers were able to set up military installations in African territories which fell into their hands during the war. In this context, the USA was particularly important, because it was already the principal buttress of the capitalist defense system in the form of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Thus, after helping to recapture North Africa from the fascist, the United States was able to build major air-force bases in Morocco, and Libya. In Italian Eritrea, the Americans stepped in with modern radar stations; and Ethiopia conceded military bases.” (p. 198)
NATO & AFRICOM
AFRICOM is actually a direct product of NATO via EUCOM (US European command) because EUCOM is a component part of NATO and EUCOM originally included responsibility for 42 African states. In 2003 NATO started expanding; four years later the EUCOM commander proposed the creation of AFRICOM in 2007. James L. Jones Jr. explains how he came to make the proposal for AFRICOM from his position as commander of EUCOM as well as commander of operational forces of NATO here.
As previously mentioned regarding NATO’s relationship with OAU states, the policy of NATO “partnering” with African states to achieve its goals has continued with the establishment of the AU. The AU has partnered with NATO/AFRICOM missions regarding “anti-piracy,” military training, operational support, etc. in Somalia, and spearheaded missions in Sudan & Gulf of Guinea.
The US/NATO role in the destruction of Libya in 2011 is important to highlight because it offers some important lessons. First, US imperialism and its western lackies do not accept any country that decides to be an independent force outside of its sphere of influence. Secondly, it also demonstrates how NATO can work hand in hand with other US/western dominated world structures like the UN. In 2011 the UN (resolution 1973) gave political authorization for a “no Fly zone” and blockade of Libya to reportedly “protect” the citizens which ultimately resulted the destruction of the country. It shows that although US-led NATO often uses the UN for political cover, it has no problem illegally overstepping its UN mandate to commit its crimes against humanity and achieve its regime change goals. Even a few countries that abstained from the UN vote like China said they did so not to offend the reactionary Arab league AND the African Union which approved of the resolution. This shows cooperation between NATO, UN the AU, and the Arab League.
The book The Illegal War on Libya edited by Cynthia McKinney, includes the chapter titled “NATO’s Libya War, A Nuremberg Level Crime” in which Stephen Ledman writes: “The US-led NATO war on Libya will be remembered as one of history’s greatest crimes, violating the letter and spirit of international law and America’s Constitution. The Nuremberg Tribunal’s Chief Justice Robert Jackson (a supreme court justice) called Nazi war crimes ‘the supreme international crime against peace.’ Here are his November 21, 1945 opening remarks:
The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.” Jackson called aggressive war “the greatest menace of our times.” International law defines crimes against peace as “planning, preparation, initiation, or waging of wars of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing.
All US post-WWII wars fall under this definition. Since then, America has waged direct and proxy premeditated, aggressive wars worldwide. It has killed millions in East and Central Asia, North and other parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, as well as in Central and South America.” (p. 79)
NATO’S EXPANSION VIA AFRICA
Some quotations from Horace Campbell’s book, Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya: Lessons for Africa in the Forging of African Unity, are instructive for understanding the expansion of NATO, its aggression toward Russia, and its role in Africa generally, and Libya particularly:
“The NATO operation [in Libya] exposed the reality that in the current depression there will be massive use of force by Western corporations to remain competitive. These corporate entities have decided to go beyond structural adjustment ‘reforms’ and have taken a military stand in Africa. There were also commentators who perceived the Libyan intervention as a proxy war with China. War and revolution in North Africa have opened a new period in the history of Africa.” (p. 30)
“Russia opposed the expansion of NATO, claiming that this was a military alliance to encircle Russia by extending its membership to include former members of the Warsaw Pact… NATO expanded under President Clinton to protect ‘globalized’ capital, and it was in this period of expansion that NATO jumped from twelve members to sixteen, then to nineteen, then to twenty-six by 2004 and to twenty-eight members by 2009. Despite vocal opposition from Russia, the discussion of expanding NATO now proceeded to the idea of Global NATO…” (p. 40)
“Africa remained outside the orbit of this globalized NATO because memories of the anti-apartheid struggles were too fresh in Africa, especially southern Africa. Soon after the end of apartheid, the government of the United States proposed an African Crisis Response initiative. Nelson Mandela was among the first to vigorously oppose this planned military force in Africa. For the next eight years, U.S. diplomatic efforts were geared toward ensnaring individual states into a military network dominated by the United States. Hiding behind the guise of humanitarian relief, in 2004 the United States announced the formation of the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program. The ostensive purpose of ACOTA was to train military trainers and equip African national militaries to conduct peace support operations. Less than four years later, the United States launched a new initiative, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). This new military force for Africa was rejected by even the most servile allies of the United States. There was only one country that, in public, promised basing privileges for AFRICOM. This was Liberia.” (pp. 40-41)
“Africans could see through the duplicity of the humanitarian imperialism of NATO in the genocide in Rwanda and the NATO operations in the Balkans. In 1994, the United States took the lead in opposing the United Nations intervention to stop the genocide in Rwanda. In 1999, NATO bombed Kosovo for over seventy-nine days as it gave itself a new mission to expand U.S. military power right up to Moscow’s doorstep.” (p. 43)
NATO CONTINUES TRAINING AFRICAN FORCES
The July 2018 NATO Summit has solidified the geopolitical climate for a NATO-led training mission to the DRC, aimed at the ‘protection of civilians’ through the development of the DRC security forces. See article “Crisis In The Congo: A New Role For NATO’s Southern Hub
This is related to the current role of AFRICOM in the DRC today. See article, ”Backed by AFRICOM, corporations plunder DR Congo for “climate-friendly” materials and blame China”
by Erica Caines | Originally Published Thursday – March 10, 2022 on Hood Communist
Over the last year, in response to right-wing reactionaries, Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been centered as the primary fight for Africans in the U.S. From state to state, legislation has been passed to ban books written by Africans that detail the U.S’ racial history. As such, the discussion on the education of African children has been put front and center while the reality of how African children are taught in U.S colonial schools is obfuscated.
As with many things, conversations on CRT are being led by reactions to the right-wing so many don’t have a clear understanding of what CRT is. As Dr. Charisse Burden Stelly has noted, “[CRT] just means everything and nothing. Like communism, like radicalism, like ANTIFA, critical race theory is just another boogey[man].” Although wildly depicted by people like Candace Owens as “ the new Jim Crow,” CRTs examination of race has origins in assessing white supremacy and the law.
While the history of who coined the term, “critical race theory” remains contested, according to Derrick Bell’s “Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory?” (1995), CRT is, “a body of legal scholarship, now about a decade old, a majority of whose members are both existentially people of color and ideologically committed to the struggle against racism, particularly as institutionalized in and by law.” This framework for legal analysis emerging from academic insurrectionist concepts put forth by liberal scholars like Bell, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado (among others ) in the 1980s, challenged core ideas that race is a social construct, and that racism is not just the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also structurally embedded in legal systems and policies.
Critical Race Theory, according to scholars like Prof. Gerald Horne, is the response to the Marxist formation of Critical Legal Studies. Horne says it is curious that the right assesses CRT as a branch of Marxism, “because the founders consciously and intentionally set out to create a way of looking at the law that would shield them from pro-communist charges, which I think is quite revealing because it helps us to realize that these anti-communist charges are more an attack on any kind of challenge to the status quo, which leads to the moral panic that’s now unfolding about critical race theory, the fact that supposedly it can’t be taught in K-12 education.”
The reaction from the right triggering a reaction from African parents disregards that CRT is, in fact, an academic framework and not anything taught in K-12 public education. The narratives supporting the idea that CRT is simply “discussing race” allowed for any discussion on race in school to be collapsed within that framework. So not only does legislation get pushed to protect “white feelings”, but more importantly, serve as a way to dismiss institutional criticism of white supremacy and the state promoting anti-intellectualism and rejection of primary sources in favor of a superficial race war. If African parents were to step back from the confusion of this reaction to reactionary discourse, they could be real about the constrictions on what their children are learning long before CRT came under attack. The use of Black History Month serves as an example of the warped ways African children are taught.
When mainstream media remembers that Africans in the US are parents too, and ask for their thoughts on the anti-CRT legislation, the underlying message is that African parents want the ability to have a say in what their children learn. However, being trapped into the reactionary discourse of anti-CRT, African parents are moved away from solutions like community control of schools. Community Control of Schools (CCOS) attempts to redefine the relationship that colonized parents have with school systems, pushing for decision-making power in the education of their children.
The anti-CRT discourse assists in burying histories of large-scale fights for CCOS which would serve as blueprints for how reactionary conversations about public education should be approached. More than a decade after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, the state of school integration was failing. The 1968 NYC Teachers Union standoff in Ocean- Hill Brownsville sought to change that. Establishing locally elected school boards, the colonized community came to a partial realization of self-determination. According to Dr Marilyn Gittell’s Chronicle of Conflict in 1969, “The school crisis in New York City made front page copy for every major newspaper in the country for over a month… Ocean Hill-Brownsville became a symbol for Black people. . .They identified strongly with what they perceived as an assertion of Black independence. Large segments of the white population, on the other hand, identified with the teachers. . . They resented the militancy of a Black community which dared to change long-established precedents. These polarized responses were themselves a reflection of a fundamental conflict in American urban communities elaborately explored in the Kerner Commission report.” Ironically, anti-CRT, for the right, has always been about the ability to control what their children learn yet Africans are moved away from the idea in favor of inclusionary rhetoric based on a falsified promise of equality that was sure to never include equity.
Supporting small-scale attempts (like Saturday schools, community schools, home-schooling and, even Liberation Through Reading) to control the education of our African children is one step to advance the clarity around the question of self-determination creating foundations and networks to build towards getting back to community control efforts. Solely rejecting anti-CRT will not advance the question of self-determination. Beyond debates, reacting to anti-CRT has not and can not change the material reality of the education African children receive within the colonial context of the US that is predicated on creating good patriots and obedient workers. That is something Africans, for the sake of our children, will have to organize to build.
The current crisis in international capitalism, at home and abroad, highlights the desperate attempt by the ruling class forces of imperialism and colonialism to hold on to power over the human and natural resources of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other working-class peoples. From NATO-inspired conflicts in Africa and Eastern Europe to the use of police and state agencies in oppressed working-class communities, the capitalist class is waging a relentless fight to maintain economic and political control.
The state of Maryland is in an election year in which the liberal capitalist Democratic party will attempt to convince working-class people to elect a centrist candidate to gain the governor’s seat and provide cover for economic policies of austerity and reaction to protect the interests of regional capitalist forces. The choices working people are given for governor do not serve our needs. Having to choose between a liberal or conservative representative of the capitalist class to oversee the more efficient exploitation of our labor and takeback of hard-fought for democratic rights is no choice.
It is in this environment that the Ujima People’s Progress Party organizing committee is planning to hold its 3rd state conference on Saturday, April 23, 2022.
We call all local, regional, and national/international anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-racist, and pro-workers-rights activists to participate in our hybrid meeting format to join with local organizers as we continue to build a statewide campaign to gain ballot access as Maryland’s first Black workers-led electoral party for social and economic justice as well as to forge statewide working-class coalitions to battle police brutality and corruption, build revolutionary mutual aid institutions, fighting for community control of housing/fighting gentrification and building unity between labor unions and community organizations.
Register to participate in the conference in-person or online using our event bright page.
Originally published reading on Forbes.com
Three years ago, Customs and Border Protection placed an order for self-flying aircraft that could launch on their own, rendezvous, locate and monitor multiple targets on the ground without any human intervention. In its reasoning for the order, CBP said the level of monitoring required to secure America’s long land borders from the sky was too cumbersome for people alone. To research and build the drones, CBP handed $500,000 to Mitre Corp., a trusted nonprofit Skunk Works that was already furnishing border police with prototype rapid DNA testing and smartwatch hacking technology.
Mitre’s unmanned aerial vehicles didn’t take off. They were “tested but not fielded operationally” as “the gap from simulation to reality turned out to be much larger than the research team originally envisioned,” a CBP spokesperson says.
But the setback didn’t end CBP’s sci-fi dreams. This year, America’s border police will test automated drones from Skydio, the Redwood City, Calif.-based startup that on Monday announced it had raised an additional $170 million in venture funding at a valuation of $1 billion. That brings the total raised for Skydio to $340 million. Investors include blue-chip VC shops like Andreessen Horowitz, AI chipmaker Nvidia and even Kevin Durant, the NBA star. It’s not clear just how fast its drones are selling. Dun & Bradstreet estimates its 2020 revenues were firmly sub-$5 million, a figure Skydio says is “significantly off-base.” What is clear is while the company isn’t pre-revenue, it’s still early days in terms of sales. The Army and Air Force spent $10 million on its drones in the last two years, but much of that revenue came in 2019. By Forbes’ calculation, based on documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and Skydio’s public announcements, more than 20 police agencies across the U.S. now have Skydios as part of their drone fleets, including major cities like Austin and Boston, though many got one for free as part of a company project to help out during the pandemic.
The company was founded in 2014 by ex-MIT and Google unmanned flight specialists with ambitions that go far beyond policing the borders. Gawky, dark-haired and stubble-cheeked, with the manner of a Star Trek ensign, 34-year-old Skydio cofounder and CEO Adam Bry believes his company will lead the world to a place where drones don’t need a pilot, whether they’re helping police, inspecting bridges or delivering goods. “We‘re solving a lot of the core problems that are needed to make drones trustworthy and able to fly themselves,” he says from his home, two blocks from Skydio headquarters just outside of San Francisco. “Autonomy—that core capability of giving a drone the skills of an expert pilot built in, in the software and the hardware—that’s really what we’re all about as a company.”
It claims to be shipping the most advanced AI-powered drone ever built: a quadcopter that costs as little as $1,000, which can latch on to targets and follow them, dodging all sorts of obstacles and capturing everything on high-quality video. Skydio claims that its software can even predict a target’s next move, be that target a pedestrian or a car.
The technology is futuristic, but not exactly brand-new. DJI, which claims yearly revenues above $2 billion, has been making drones with similar autonomous flying features since at least 2016. Some police who’ve used Skydio claim its drones are better at flying in tight, tactical situations—like inside buildings or through a forest—but DJI, which is valued north of $15 billion, has a significant market advantage. Analysts put its U.S. market share at between 70% and 80%, with no other manufacturer above 10% (worldwide numbers are similar).
Skydio’s real advantage might simply be that it is not Chinese. The company bills itself as an all-American alternative to DJI (even if it admits that some of its plastics and metals are made in China). Just before Christmas, the Trump Administration banned American companies exporting to DJI, citing its (and other companies’) alleged work supporting surveillance in China, where oppression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang has caused global outrage. This year’s National Defense Authorization Act may ban any federal agencies buying drones made in China, amidst fears DJI could be forced to send sensitive U.S. government or citizens’ data back to Beijing. Local police agencies are also concerned about the threat of Chinese spying—or at least the optics of buying Chinese surveillance drones.
Skydio is happy to play on such fears, routinely taking potshots at its Chinese competitor. After all, no American technology company has ever been hurt by pandering to persistent Sinophobia.
To remove the pilot from the plane wasn’t always Bry’s dream. Go back 20 years, when he was a precocious kid growing up in Denver, Colorado, his dreams were the exact opposite: to become one of the world’s best remote-controlled plane pilots. He got good, taking part and winning national aerobatic competitions. He saw then what small, remotely piloted aircraft could do. “There’s a really high degree of artistry that goes into this,” he says.
Bry went to MIT, earning a master’s degree in computer science and artificial intelligence, aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering. There he met fellow students and Skydio cofounders Abraham Bachrach and Matt Donahoe. While in college, Bry saw that art could be mastered by a computer. “I was really interested in building something that pushed beyond what the best pilots in the world would be capable of,” he says. In 2012, in a parking lot below MIT labs, they let an albatross-size plane fly itself, dodging pillars and avoiding any collisions in the tight confines of the space. Armed with radar systems used for self-driving cars, a camera, a powerful computer and some autonomy algorithms, it slalomed its way around the space and launched the trio’s entrepreneurial dreams.
After MIT, Bry and Bachrach got jobs at Google and set up Project Wing to work on delivery drones, testing some in Australia. Mainstream, large-scale delivery was a stretch: Drones powerful enough to carry packages are still too heavy, noisy and dangerous to work outside a lab environment. What self-flying drones could do without issue was follow and film users as they climbed mountains or ran through forests. They could help out police and search-and-rescue crews, too. And construction companies, oil businesses or any infrastructure provider could also use them to safely inspect difficult-to-reach structures like bridges or offshore rigs.
Skydio was born in 2014. Four years later, the first consumer drone appeared. Rave reviews followed, and all manner of influencers and film crews snapped them up. The private industry and government work came soon after—and not just in America. Lately, Japan has become a hot spot. “Japan is just an infrastructure paradise,” says Bry. “They’ve got bridges and cell towers and power infrastructure up the wazoo. Our drones are being used there every day for all kinds of interesting inspection tasks.”
Continue reading on Forbes.com
Originally published in truthout.org
On February 13, men being held in one of the solitary confinement wards at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola were discussing how to get out from under their miserably austere physical conditions. These included broken lights in their cells, no underwear, a single blanket and inadequate heating in record cold temperatures for northern Louisiana. The men also experienced brutal psychological conditions, including no time outside in the yard at all and only limited time out in the hall where they may or may not be lucky enough to make it into the shower in the 15 minutes allotted to them.
They’d been isolated, under-stimulated, living in semi-darkness. They were at the end of their emotional tether. They rejected the only available official route for individuals to resolve grievances within the Louisiana Department of Corrections (LADOC), the Administrative Remedy Procedure, because while officially it can take up to 90 days for a determination, practically it often takes much longer.
Some of the men had some success in the past in getting the prison administration’s attention by refusing meals and gesturing toward a hunger strike, getting positive results, often on the same day. Officially, a strike is acknowledged as such when nine consecutive meals are refused. By law, after the ninth refused meal, LADOC is compelled to notify the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, and must minister to the men with medical care and hear their grievances and demands.
The men were aware that LADOC solitary practices had been the subject of two major critical reports by the VERA Institute for Justice and the ACLU, both member organizations of the Louisiana Stop Solitary Coalition, and expected that their cries would not be ignored. Reaching consensus, they picked Wednesday, February 17, one day after Mardi Gras, as their start date for a hunger strike, when prison officials would likely be back on the job after the holiday break.
The strike was announced by the @angola_watchdog Twitter account, created by independent activist Michaela (Caeli) Higgins, a former public relations professional and New Orleans native now living in the San Francisco Bay area. Since COVID began, she’s been engaged in a regular correspondence with 15 different men incarcerated in Angola. When the strike was called, they reached out. Her friend, journalist John McDevitt, broke the story on Liberation, including her request for the public to contact the prison — a move that was echoed by the Stop Solitary Coalition in its press release.
“I really love and appreciate the call-in campaign, because it’s let Angola know we’re not standing alone,” said striker Frederick Ross in a message shared with Truthout. “All [prison officials] really respect is outside support and pressure.”
Ross has been locked in solitary confinement since last April and he expected to be transferred to a working cell block by November, which is the next step down on the way back to the general prison population. But he hasn’t had his disciplinary hearing yet, which means that all these months of waiting in segregation will not be credited to his disciplinary sentence when it’s handed down. It’s what’s referred to as “dead time” — another misery in his 50-year prison sentence.The cell he is now in has a leaking toilet and a constantly wet floor. He spends all day and night on the upper bunk, descending only when let out to shower.
The hunger strike started on February 17 with 15 participants; 12 days later, there were four remaining strikers — Ross, Percy Hawthorne, Donald Hensley and Theoshamond Norman. They’ve held out against various offers from a colonel (a rank that is second-in-command under the warden) because they suspected he was not representing the administration and that his offers were a trick. The offers included promises of immediate transfer out of segregation as well as punishments, including threats of being maced in their cells. Witnesses report that at the beginning of the action, guards were playing cat and mouse with food trays, putting them on the floor in front of the cell, waiting two minutes, and whisking them away, but without documenting the strikers’ refusal, as required by LADOC policy.
Twelve days in, people close to the strikers reported that no “unusual occurrence reports” had been completed. Basic Jail Guidelines III-007 requires “written procedures for significant unusual occurrences or institutional emergencies including but not limited to major disturbances such as riots, hostage situations, escapes, fires, deaths, serious illness or injury and assaults or other acts of violence.” Nor have the strikers been examined medically, which would follow as a consequence of filing the reports. In the physiology of hunger, at around the two-week mark, the human body goes through some rapid changes that can make standing difficult. Strikers can also suffer from severe dizziness, sluggishness, weakness, loss of coordination, low heart rate and chills. On the fifth day, strikers say they requested medical assessment, offering to pay for it themselves. It has not been forthcoming.
The hunger strikers are also facing reprisals.
Ross was moved to another section of the prison called Camp C on February 23. His loved ones told Truthout that the cell he is now in has a leaking toilet and a constantly wet floor. He spends all day and night on the upper bunk, descending only when let out to shower. Though he’s past the point of having bowel movements, if he has to urinate, he perches on the bottom bunk, turns sideways and aims at the toilet.
After being moved, he was not allowed to use the wall phone to make collect calls. When his loved ones called the prison on February 28 to inquire why they hadn’t been hearing from him, they were told that he’d been written up for a violation and his phone privileges were suspended. When asked what violation, they were told it was participating in the hunger strike; after complaints by family members and supporters, his phone access was restored.Those who didn’t act fast enough were “sprayed down” with mace, a form of collective punishment in an enclosed cell block.
On February 27, a report from a man who had come off the strike reached Truthout. He said that security approached strikers’ cells at 11:30 the previous night when they were sleeping, and repeated an ominous request: “Come to the bars, come to the bars, come to the bars.” Those who didn’t act fast enough were “sprayed down” with mace, a form of collective punishment in an enclosed cell block.
The strikers contend that LADOC is violating its own policies. In current practice, when people are removed from the general population for infractions, they’re placed first in administrative segregation, and after the disciplinary hearing, in disciplinary segregation, which is exactly the same thing in terms of conditions and punishments. The length of their punishment is dictated by the agency’s internal “disciplinary sanctions matrix,” a document shrouded in secrecy and unavailable to the public, including journalists and prisoner advocates.
In his piece in The Lens, journalist Nicholas Chrastil reported that while the number of strikers was under dispute by LADOC, the agency did not deny the validity of the strikers’ fundamental grievance. But also, Chrastil noted, “The Department of Corrections declined to provide a copy of its disciplinary policy to The Lens.”
Kiana Calloway is an organizer with Voice of the Experienced (VOTE), a grassroots organization in New Orleans founded by formerly incarcerated people working against the prison-industrial complex and toward a “future of mass liberation for all.” Calloway says that even the advocates who were asked by LADOC for input in rewriting the disciplinary policy have been working with limited information.
“We had a meeting with LADOC right before COVID,” Calloway told Truthout. “We were in the process of actually helping them rewrite that matrix, but we never got to see the matrix they had already in position.”….
Continue this article on truthout.org.
Originally published in WTOP
Civil rights groups are calling for immediate changes within the Prince George’s County Police Department a day after a judge made public the findings of an independent investigation into officers’ claims of racism and retaliation in the department.
As their faces flashed across a Zoom call grid, community activists, leaders and family members who were part of the effort to get the report’s findings made public took turns describing why they are joining together again to make demands of the department.
The expert report by Michael Graham — a former senior officer for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department — was written in connection with a lawsuit against the department by the Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association and others. It was ordered unredacted earlier this month by a federal judge in Maryland.
“The group demands that the department become more transparent and accountable by posting and making viewable online to the public, in real time, trial board hearings of officer misconduct.”
One demand, said Nikki Owens: “Clean house and install a new admin for the Prince George’s County Police Department, removing everyone at the top, including acting Chief Hector Velez; Cmdr. Kathleen Mills, former head of the internal affairs; and Prince George’s Chief Administrative Officer for Public Safety Mark McGaw.”
Owens, whose cousin William Green was killed by county officer Michael Owen last year, praised the minority officers who reported racism and retaliation within the department that led to the independent Graham report.
The groups’ other demands include involving the community in the process to select the next chief; terminating officers who have perjured themselves and cannot testify in court; and holding the department accountable for spending taxpayer dollars to attempt to “hide full details of the Graham expert witness report from the public and for spending millions of taxpayer dollars to defend police misconduct,” the group said in a statement.
It also wants to empower the Prince George’s Citizen Complaint Oversight Panel to impose discipline and have the panel comprise members chosen by — and representative of — the county’s districts.
Finally, the group demands that the department become more transparent and accountable by posting and making viewable online to the public, in real time, trial board hearings of officer misconduct.
“The unsealed Graham report confirms what we knew. The report shows that our police department cannot continue to operate with its current leadership. We join to demand that PGPD clean house and install a new group of leaders,” said Ashanti Martinez of CASA.
Prince George’s County police did not return a request to comment about the group’s demands, which they want to see addressed immediately.
“Systemic racism is rampant in our entire judicial system,” Owens said. “They were abused and mistreated, and no one listened. No one listened to them. I want the public to know that there are police officers who are out there trying to take a stand, and we need to stand with them.”
Originally published in US News
The media is under reporting the level of organization of the recent far-right insurrection this past Tuesday. Coordinated around the country similar actions were organized at state capitals and some were entered like the Capitol.
The crisis in the white ruling class is creating a dangerous situation for the Black community that we cannot ignore! The state will not tell you this, the Democratic and Republican parties can not tell you this…organized oppression MUST be met by organized resistance.
Organization is key! Its not good enough to have a great idea, good credit, good marketing or well placed contacts. There is no solution for Black, working and poor people as a group that does not begin with organization and developing power to defend our economic, political and physical interests.
Originally published in US News