All posts by Gerald Smith

Justice in Action – Cops, media & results

On January 1, 2009 Oscar Grant was murdered by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) cop Johannes Mehserle. The killing of Grant was captured on cell phone videos by other passengers on the train. It is important to note that the police attempted to collect all the cell phones that had recorded the incident, as “evidence.” In fact, it was a part of a failed attempt to cover-up the murder. We are lucky that not everyone was slavishly obedient to police demands of their personal property. The videos were posted on the Internet and broadcast on TV news making it crystal clear what had happened. The people were justifiably angry. This was not a time for the pacifist gibberish about loving your enemy.

Almost 1,000 folks came to the funeral for Grant in Hayward on January 7 and over 700 rallied at the Fruitvale BART station to demand “Justice for Oscar Grant”. Following the rally many of the demonstrators marched to downtown Oakland.

This was not the first time a BART cop has killed an unarmed citizen: Back in 1992 Jerrold Hall, an African American youth, was killed at the Hayward station by BART cop Fred Crabtree [who was white]. Hall was shot in the back in broad daylight. Crabtree got away scot-free. At 4 a.m. May 28, 2001 Bruce Seward, a car salesman, was shot and killed at the Hayward BART. This African American citizen was clearly going through a severe psychological crisis, as he was found naked when confronted and killed by BART cop David Bentancourt. One would think in a decent society “public servants” would be prohibited from killing mentally ill people for being mentally ill. Bentancourt walked.

Here is something you will never read in the “mainstream press”: the activities of those who were protesting the murder of Oscar Grant forced the authorities to arrest BART cop Johannes Mehserle on a fugitive warrant and charge him with murder. All the other BART police have walked.

The Role of the Corporate Media and the Police

After the January 7, 2009 rally, the corporate media went into full effect. They reported that over 300 businesses were destroyed and that hundreds went crazy in the streets. These reports were grossly exaggerated. The actual damage: about 40 store windows were smashed, a couple of dozen garbage cans thrown in the streets, and significant damage to a few vehicles. Hardly the end of human civilization. Nevertheless, the indiscriminate nature of some of the property destruction did not help our cause and made it easier for media to depict the demonstrators as psychos and sociopaths. Thus the people who oppose this wanton murder are turned into their opposite in the minds of people who know little of the struggle except what they see on the TV. When the “mainstream” media reports inaccurate information or outright lies they are not making a mistake. The role of the corporate media is to create and regenerate false-consciousness.

In regards to the police, media loyally promotes the necessary illusions that the police maintain law and order in the interests of all. “Serve and Protect” is the motto of police departments throughout the country. But who did the police “Serve and Protect” by murdering Oscar Grant? Certainly not the public.

To place this senseless murder in its proper social context it is useful to explain what kind of society we live in and how it operates. We live in a capitalist society. The big bosses, bankers and landlords constitute the ruling class in this society. As such they are a tiny minority of the population. Working people, the overwhelming majority of the population, own very little of consequence while the capitalists own the lions’ share of the national wealth. This is why the capitalists must maintain a repressive state apparatus, i.e. the army, police and prisons, to impose their will on society.

The role of the police, as a part of the state, is to “serve and protect” the capitalist class and their interests.

On December 6, 2008 in the district of Exarchia in Athens, Greece a 15 year old student, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, was murdered in cold blood — shot by a police officer. Spontaneous resistance, including a General Strike, exploded in Athens and Salonika, spreading to the rest of Greece. Compare this to demonstrations and unrest that have occurred here after the killing of Oscar Grant. Why the difference? The level of social awareness and solidarity, class consciousness, and regard for human life are obviously higher among the Greek working people. At this moment in history our Greek brothers and sisters are better organized that we are, which is reflected in their massive resistance. This, of course, is subject to change.

Everything the BART officials did revealed a desire to cover-up the killing of Oscar Grant. First they refused to release the cop’s name. they neglected to interrogate the officer. Then district attorney Tom Orloff refused to meet with Black clergy and politicians about the case. By every utterance and action made by these officials it appeared that business as usual was the order of the day, until the protesters made it clear that they would raise the social and economic cost of injustice.

The capitalists will never give up anything unless they fear losing everything.

Free the San Francisco 8

In early morning raids on January 23 in California, New York and Florida, police arrested former Black Panther Party supporters on charges including murder and conspiracy in relation to the 1971 death of San Francisco police officer John Young. Those arrested were Richard Brown, Richard O’Neal, Francisco Torres, Ray Boudreaux, Henry Watson Jones and Harold Taylor. Two men already in jail — Herman Bell and Anthony Bottom — were also charged. The police are still seeking Ronald Bridgeforth who is additionally being charged with aggravated assault. After decades of harassment, grand jury investigations, indictments and murder, this racist frameup reveals the relentlessness of the state’s vendetta against the Black Panther Party. Justice loving people must demand: Drop all the charges now!

The San Francisco Chronicle’s front pages were filled with stories in which the brothers charged are smeared as “classic domestic terrorists” carrying out a campaign aimed at “assassinating law enforcement officers.” In fact, there was indeed a campaign of terror in the 1960s and ’70s: the government’s murderous COINTELPRO (FBI Counter-intelligence program) effort to destroy an entire generation of black and leftist militants, in which at least 38 Panthers were killed. In September 1968, FBI head J. Edgar Hoover called the Black Panthers “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” Commenting on today’s climate defined by the “war on terror,” Ray Boudreaux, one of those arrested in the roundup, told the LA times, “When I watched on TV the twin towers come down, deep in my heart I knew that someone will come by and visit me as soon as they can get it organized, and they did. Once upon a time, they called me a terrorist too. To expedite something in the system, they put the ‘terror’ tag on it, and it gets done.”

Prosecutors are now claiming new evidence and a secret government witness. Defense attorneys believe that the witness is Ruben Scott, whose “confession” following his arrest in 1973 was coerced through torture, as were those of two others. As Bill Goodman, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, “The case against these men was built on torture and serves to remind us that the U.S. government, which recently has engaged in such horrific forms of torture and abuse at places like Bagram, Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, has a history of torture and abuse in this country as well, particularly against African Americans.”

This nationwide roundup is part of the state’s campaign to paint those who stand up for black rights as “terrorists.” For over 30 years the police have tried to pin this murder on these men. Charges brought in 1975 against John Bowman (who just died) and Harold Taylor were obtained through torture by the New Orleans police after they were tracked to New Orleans by two San Francisco police inspectors. According to press accounts, their torture included being stripped naked and beaten with blunt objects, placing electric probes on their genitals and inserting an electric cattle prod in each man’s anus. The charges were dismissed because the prosecution had failed to tell the grand jury that the men’s confessions had been coerced. Thirty years later, prosecutors were still unsuccessful in obtaining indictments of any of these men despite convening California state and federal grand juries-first in 2003-2004, May and August of 2005.

The arrests of January 23 are but another instance where the government, having failed in earlier efforts, resorts to extraordinary repressive measures to ensure persecution of those it deems opponents. It is up to us to insure that the government fails in this frameup attempt. Again.

Drop the charges! Release the San Francisco 8 now!

For more information see Neutralize and Destroy: The Continuing Vendetta Against the Panthers itsabouttimebpp.Vendetta/Pt 1/pdf/SFBayView_Vendetta_Ag_E4C91.

STATEMENT OF PROTEST IN REGARDS TO THE UNREASONABLE BAIL IMPOSED BY THE SAN FRANCISCO COURT

By three former-Panthers: Larry P, Eddie W & Gerald S

The San Francisco 8 are already serving de facto prison terms because of their high bail, which they can’t pay. Reducing bail from five million to three million dollars is like stealing a body from a grave and claiming that it was not theft because the victim did not resist! It is utterly absurd, and it is an insult to all justice loving people. In this case we the people MUST resist this outrage! These men, who have been convicted of nothing in this matter, are already being punished by the very amount of their so-called bail, which is nothing more than a ransom, NOT bail.

When the 911 attack occurred many saw it as a tragedy, but the ruling elite, both Democrats and Republicans saw it as an opportunity to undermine and liquidate all legal, democratic, and constitutional rights that they felt stood in the way of them holding absolute power.

There are counter-examples to this bastardized version of American post 911 “justice.” Bruce Wright, a New York City Judge, and author of “Black Robes, White Justice” found himself in conflict with New York’s “Finest” over his bail policy. The nickname “Turn’em Loose Bruce” was given to him by the police “union” when he released an accused police slasher on his own recognizance. Judge Wright pointed out that “bail is not intended to be punishment. Rather its function is to guarantee that an accused person will return to court to face the charges against him.”

Judge Wright was adamant that his imposition of low bail was both respect paid to the presumption of innocence and upholding the Eight Amendment, to the U.S. constitution, which states that “EXCESSIVE BAIL SHALL NOT BE REQUIRED.”

Precisely who is it today that constitutes the real danger to the Bill of Rights the court or the S.F. 8? To ask the question is to answer it. Exactly what does the Constitution and the Bill of Rights Guarantee? All Told. Nothing! We must never forget: The working class and the oppressed, of this country, have no rights that they are unable or unwilling to defend. Only the conscious and uncompromising intervention of all those who understand the true nature of this frame-up can free the San Francisco 8.

U.S. Bombing of Sudan

On August 20, 1998 the United States (US) government bombed Sudan and Afghanistan in “retaliation” for the US Embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya earlier this year. The U.S. government through the Headfixing Industry (corporate owned TV, radio, and their various news agencies) said that its use of cruise missiles to bomb Sudan was justified because the government of that country was using that facility to create nerve gas (VX). They also claimed that the location in Afghanistan that was bombed was a “terrorist training camp.”

Osama Bin Laden’s “Network”–

Made In The U.S.A.

While we don’t know who is responsible for the US Embassy bombings, we do know that the US government is responsible for helping to create the mujahedin (holy warriors) of Afghanistan. A few years ago this motley crew was hailed by the rulers of the US as so- called “freedom fighters” today they are hypocritically denounced as “terrorist” by the most powerful terrorists in the world, the US government and its military and intelligence agencies. Osama bin Laden’s “network”, for instance, was financed, trained, and armed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during Cold War II against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980′s. The “terrorist training camps” in Afghanistan were constructed by the US government. No wonder they knew exactly were to aim the missiles!

In one of the many demonstrations at which the spirit of protest and indignation erupted in Sudan, Pakistan, and the Near East a representative of Hamas (a Palestine based group) said: “America will reap the harvest of its aggression.” Crime Bill Clinton’s Cronies had the nerve to warn against an increase in indiscriminate terrorism against Americans. No shit Sherlock! The fact is, that by perpetrating a form of state terror qualitatively more murderous than any of its third world targets can generate, the US imperialists are inciting attacks against American

citizens abroad. The world is a lot less safe because of the US bombings. Vacation anyone?


U.S. Government Caught Lying…Again

On August 21, 1998 Crime Bill Clinton’s cronies claimed through every sector of the Headfixing Industry that they had “irrefutable evidence” that a “secret chemical weapons plant” that produced nerve gas had been bombed in Sudan. The government of Sudan claims that the facility made medicines and veterinary products.

Who should we believe? Let’s examine the facts. The US government claimed: * That the plant was a part of a highly secretive, tightly secured military-industrial complex in Sudan, and that the plant produced no commercial products.

One has to overcome a feeling of disgust to counter such base lies. FACT – The Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant located in Khartoum, Sudan was the pride of that country. Regular tours of international dignitaries where conducted showcasing this symbol of national progress. The plant produced such badly needed medicines as antibiotics, antimalarial and antidiarrheal drugs, intravenous fluids, and some anti-worm veterinary materials. The plant had a contract with the UN to supply these medicines to other countries.

At a recent forum Dick Becker, a representative of the International Action Center who visited Sudan right after the bombing, said that the plant was such a “secret” that there were signs in the streets directing people to its location!

The Sudanese government came to the UN to request an independent investigation of the bombed site of the plant in Khartoum, to prove that the factory’s only function was making medicine and veterinary supplies. The US blocked the request, and the Security Council shelved the discussion.

Ex-President Jimmy Carter, hardly an opponent of imperialist aggression, has called for a UN inquiry into the US raid on Sudan. He said,”If the Sudanese are guilty, they should be condemned both for lying and for contributing to terrorist activities,..Otherwise, we should admit our error and make amends to those who suffered loss or injury.”(NYT, 9/18/98) * That Osama bin Laden had heavily invested in the plant, making him a part owner.

FACT – Salih Idris is the sole owner of the plant. US intelligence officials then tried to say he is a front man for bin Laden. “But his lawyer says Idris, an adviser to Saudi Arabia’s largest bank, has never met bin Laden.”(NYT, 9/21/98). Even the Wall Street Journal on August 24, 1998 ran a story headlined “Sudan Plant’s Apparent Owner Has No Extremist Ties”.

* That they bombed a facility that produced a key ingredient for a deadly nerve gas, called VX. The U.S. government insisted that the chemical, ethyl methylphosphonothionate or EMPTA , found in a soil sampling outside the plant could only mean that the plant was making the nerve gas agent VX. And that there were no known commercial uses for EMPTA.

FACT – Real-world chemical experts provided a counterpoised explanation.”Several chemical-weapons experts outside the government say the single soil sample, if it was not carefully preserved and quickly tested, could have misidentified the key ingredient. They said EMPTA is chemically similar to several commercially available pesticides and herbicides, including the well-known commercially available weedkiller called Round-Up.”(NYT, 8/29/98) Raid is a popular pesticide, Round-Up a common herbicide. Raid! Round-Up! Looks like we better get rid of the Roach sprays and weedkillers before the local Swat Teams pay us a visit. As the days went on, every claim made by Crime Bill Clinton’s crew collapsed under the scrutiny of the physical evidence. It seems that if they were talking, they were lying.

“Senior administration officials concede that they made inaccurate statements about the plant on Aug. 20 and did a poor job of publicly stating their case against the factory.

“`We were not accurate’, a senior administration official said. `That was a mistake’”(NYT, 9/21/98) Mistake indeed. This bombing was a calculated display of terror in the service of imperialist domination. Nor was it the first time that lies and deception were used to cover-up their barbarity. From the Phoenix mass assassination program during the Vietnam War to the murderous campaigns carried out by the CIA’s Nicaraguan Contra’s and Cuban gusanos the US ruling class has always tried to use professional liars and charlatans to cover their tracks and conceal their crimes against humanity.

Remember the bombing of what was called by the US military a “biological weapons facility” in Baghdad–which turned out to be a baby formula factory–during the US-led onslaught against Iraq in 1991? Military force cannot transform lies into truth anymore than it can transform manure into gold.

But the US capitalists cannot rule by force alone. It is imperative that false consciousness be constantly nurtured and reinforced. This is the primary function of the Headfixing Industry.

U.S. Imperialism –The World’s Biggest Terrorist

We must reject Crime Bill Clinton’s “War Against International Terrorism” because, not least of all, this “war” is in part a diversion to undercut the development of the class struggle. In fact, the main “front” of this “war” is right here in the US. In takes the form of attacks on civil liberties (been to an airport lately?) and the rights of immigrants. The US rulers’ “anti- terrorist” hysteria is a particular threat Arab-Americans and Muslims in general, who have been the victims of arson attacks, death threats and FBI harassment especially since the war with Iraq.

What ever happens next in Afghanistan or anywhere else this “war” at home will last for years to come. It is a “war” we can’t afford to lose.