We need your help: FIST is going to Cuba!

We were invited to Cuba to learn from FDIM, Cuba’s historic women’s organization. Help us get there!

Fourteen Young Activists Travel to Cuba, June 10-18

Taking leadership from the most oppressed, listening to the voices of those who struggle courageously for the liberation of all people – this is the foundation of our politics, building a society where human needs come before profits. When our nation-wide group of young activists was invited to study with and learn from Cuba’s historic women’s organization, the FDIM – Federación Democrática Internacional de Mujeres, or Women’s International Democratic Federation – we knew we had been given an opportunity of a lifetime to learn from the women of the Cuban revolution.

Despite facing the immense challenges of the US blockade and unrelenting attacks against its people, the small island nation of Cuba has benefited its own people as well as poor nations across the world with high quality healthcare and education. Cuban women have played a leading role in this revolutionary process. We, as young people from the US, have a lot to learn from them in order to bring their liberatory practices and fighting spirit back to our communities here in the United States. In the words of Raquelle, a Puerto Rican activist from Detroit in our delegation, “There is a common saying in the Spanish speaking world that Cuba and Puerto Rico are the two wings of the same bird – one free and the other shackled by the US. It would be an amazing opportunity to meet the Cuban Women’s International Democratic Federation to learn, build, and grow with them.”

About Us

We are a diverse group of young activists from across the United States who pour our lives into peoples’ struggles, from Black Lives Matter and the fight for living wages, to standing against foreclosures and the immigrant rights movement and more. We are dedicated revolutionaries, committed to making a better world for all people.

What is the money for?

The FDIM is hosting us, and offering a very cost-effective package for basic housing, food, and transportation while in Cuba. The largest expense is our airfare to Miami and then Cuba, plus the cost of educational visas. While we are covering the majority of the total airfare ourselves, we are committed to the principle that a person’s ability to pay is not an obstacle to participating in this exciting political opportunity. This is why we need your help!

Who’s going?

Raquelle ”

There is a saying that Cuba and Puerto Rico are the two wings of the same bird – one free and the other shackled by the US. It would be an amazing opportunity to meet the Cuban Women’s International Democratic Federation to learn, build, and grow with them.”

Lamont is an independent journalist based in Durham, North Carolina, and also a national organizer for People’s Power Assemblies.

Joe – “I’ve dedicated my life to fighting struggles in my community, from water shut offs in Detroit to labor struggles in Boston. I’m going to Cuba so I can apply the lessons of one of the world’s greatest revolutions to these struggles, and show my community a better world is possible.”

Danielle -” I am a Womens’ and Gender Studies / African Diaspora Studies graduate student. As a radical feminist and immigrant, I want to learn from the women of Cuba how we can fight colonialism and achieve self-determination for oppressed people.”

PLEASE SUPPORT US TODAY!

I Have Witnessed A Crime Against Humanity! – A Message from Caleb Maupin in the Port of Djibouti

Caleb Maupin beside the Iran Shahed aid ship.

Caleb Maupin beside the Iran Shahed aid ship.

From the Port of Djibouti in North Africa, it is with great sadness and burning outrage that I announce that the voyage of the Iran Shahed Rescue Ship has concluded. We will not reach our destination at the Port of Hodiedah in Yemen to deliver humanitarian aid.

The unsuccessful conclusion of our mission is the result of only one thing: US-backed Saudi Terrorism.

Yesterday, as it appeared our arrival was imminent, the Saudi forces bombed the port of Hodiedah. They didn’t just bomb the port once, or even twice. The Saudi forces bombed the port of Hodiedah a total of eight times in a single day!

The total number of innocent dock workers, sailors, longshoremen, and bystanders killed by these eight airstrikes is still being calculated.

Furthermore, the Yemeni revolutionaries arrested 15 people yesterday, who were part of a conspiracy to attack our vessel. The plan was to attack the Iran Shahed when we arrived, and kill everyone onboard, including me.

With its so many criminal threats and actions, the Saudi regime was sending a message to the crew of doctors, medical technicians, anesthesiologists, and other Red Crescent Society volunteers onboard the ship. The message was “If you try to help the hungry children of Yemen we will kill you.”

These actions, designed to terrorize and intimidate those seeking to deliver humanitarian aid, are a clear violation of international law. I can say, without any hesitation, that I have witnessed a crime against humanity.

In the context of the extreme Saudi threats, after lengthy negotiations which have been taking place around the clock in Tehran, it has been determined that the Red Crescent Society cannot complete this mission. The 2,500 tons of medical supplies, food, and water are being unloaded, and handed over to the World Food Program, who has agreed to distribute them on our behalf by June 5th.

Djibouti & US Imperialism

Here in Djibouti, I can clearly see what the people of Yemen and Iran have been fighting against for so long. Unlike in Tehran, here in Djibouti I see masses of desperate staving people. Impoverished Africans, who are desperate for a day of work, are lined up outside the port. They are joined by Yemeni refugees who fled the fighting, and crossed the water. The Yemeni refugees are living in tent cities.

There is a huge US military base here in Djibouti, and this small country of only 3 million people is well under the control of western neo-liberalism. This country was basically carved onto the maps of the world by imperialists. As the European plunderers divided up the African continent for themselves, they created this tiny country so that naval bases could be conveniently placed in a strategic location.

The imperialists falsely drew the borders of the African continent in the same way they divided the Arab peoples and the peoples of Latin America. The maps were drawn to serve the colonizers, and determine who got the right to rob and subjugate the people of each specific region.

The living conditions that I see here in Djibouti are horrific in comparison to Iran. Iran has broken the chains of imperialism, and is independently developing. In Iran, I saw very few people begging for work, and the few I did see are refugees from Afghanistan.

Since the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic has opened its doors to 3 million refugees, and most of them are steadily employed. Iran’s oil resources are in the hands of a government that comes out of a massive people’s revolution. The oil revenue has been utilized to create a vast apparatus of social programs.

One of the Red Crescent Society volunteers told me: “The Iranian government has a department to make sure that everyone in our country who wants to work, can work.” Iranian mothers are given a guaranteed stipend for each of their children. Education in Iranian Universities is absolutely free, and the Ministry of Health provides free medical care to everyone in the country.

Compared to the millions of enslaved guest workers in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, or the impoverished people throughout the African continent, even the poorest Iranians are very, very wealthy. By breaking from neo-liberalism, Iran has been able to guarantee all of its people a great deal of economic security.

The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution has loudly denounced the system of capitalism, and said that religious principles and compassion for those in need, should always be given priority over profits and finance.

“Standing With The Oppressed”

If the resistance forces are successful in their fight against the Saudi onslaught, Yemen will soon join Iran in becoming an independent country. The logo of the Ansarullah organization shows a hand holding a rifle to represent armed resistance. Perpendicular to the rifle on the Ansarullah logo is a shaft of wheat, said to represent “economic development.”

Its no secret that Yemen has vast, untapped oil resources. If the resistance forces are victorious, they can seize these resources, and start using them to build up Yemeni society. Yemen can then begin to do what the people of Venezuela have done, and transform their country with public control of natural resources.

The religious group that leads Ansarullah, the Zaidis, have a slogan. They say: “A True Imam is a Fighting Imam.”

They contrast their religious beliefs with those of the Whabbais who lead Saudi Arabia. The Saudi religious leaders say that Muslims must avoid rebellion and protest because it leads to instability and chaos. They stress obedience to the government and to authority figures.

The Zaidis, who lead Ansurrullah and are at the center of Yemen’s unfolding revolution, emphasize that a religious leader is not truly doing the work of God, unless he picks up a sword or a gun and “fights for the oppressed.”

As I prepare to return to Tehran I have become even more convinced of the need to overthrow the system of western monopoly capitalism. I am reinvigorated in my belief that there must be a global alliance of all forces who oppose imperialism. Whether they are Marxist-Leninists, Bolivarians, Anarchists, Shias, Sunnis, Christians, or Russian nationalists, all forces that oppose the continued domination of the planet by Wall Street bankers must firmly stand together.

The people of Yemen, like the forces of resistance in so many other parts of the world, have refused to surrender. As they face a horrendous onslaught with US made Saudi bombs, I hope that news of our peaceful, humanitarian mission has reached them. I hope they are aware that in their struggle against the Saudi King, the Wall Street bankers, and all the great forces of evil, they are not alone. There are millions of people across the planet who are on their side.

Imperialism is doomed, and all humanity shall soon be free!

Caleb Maupin beside the Iran Shahed aid ship.

The Saudi Attack on Yemen and the Global Migrant Crisis – Message from Caleb Maupin onboard the “Iran Shahed” Rescue Ship in the Gulf of Aden

I am onboard the “Iran Shahed”, the rescue ship sent by the Red
Crescent Society of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We are hoping to
bring aid to the people of Yemen who are enduring a horrendous attack
from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Just yesterday, we heard reports
that the Saudi regime is using “White Phosphorous” in civilian areas
in Yemen. “White Phosphorous” is a chemical weapon in the form of a
white powder that burns human flesh on contact.

The rate of civilian deaths in Yemen is particularly high. The Saudi
bombs have killed very few combatants. The overwhelming majority of
those who have been killed, over three thousand so far, have been
civilians.

Meanwhile, the United States is not just backing and arming Saudi
Arabia, but it has actively been refueling the Saudi bombers. The US
military is filling up the fuel tanks of the airplanes which are
conducting the bombing raids, targeting schools, hospitals and
civilian infrastructure.

If international law were fairly enforced, leaders of not just Saudi
Arabia but also the United States would face charges of war crimes for
these extremely immoral actions. So much blood is on their hands.

Yemen, a country that has not attack anyone, is having the most
expensive tools of destruction unleashed on it. Yemen is the poorest
country in the middle east, and it is being attacked by the US-backed
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the autocratic country with the fourth
largest military budget in the entire world.

Entering The Gulf of Aden

Our journey is progressing and our vessel has passed through the
Persian Gulf, and now entered the both famous and infamous Gulf of
Aden.

The Gulf of Aden is a small strip of ocean between the Arabian
Peninsula and the African continent. This small but vital area has
been mentioned in world news quite a few times in the past years,
mainly for two very common occurrences, piracy and migration.

Some of the impoverished African people have become pirates. As a
result of economic desperation, they have loaded onto small boats with
guns, and seized various cargo ships passing through this vital area.
They hold the boats for ransom, and usually, within a matter of hours
they receive a cash payout they can bring back to their starving
families in Africa.

Many more impoverished people from the African continent are not
becoming pirates, but simply fleeing the horrific economic conditions
they face in Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and elsewhere. They are
packing themselves on to ships, and attempting to cross the Gulf of
Aden so they can reach the Middle East and become guest workers. Many
of these boats are so overpacked with desperate hungry people that
they have sunk. Below the small strip of ocean that the 50 of us are
currently floating across aboard the Iran Shahed, are the corpses of
thousands and thousands of Africans.

This reality is particularly enraging when you realize that Africa is
a very wealthy continent. Africa has huge reserves of oil, natural
gas, and mineral resources. Africa was the home of vibrant
civilizations while European peoples were still living in caves.

Africa is rich, but the people of Africa are poor. Somalia has been
called the poorest country on earth. The Somali workers who answer our
telephone calls work in the lowest paying call centers on the planet.

Ethiopia once had a revolution and began to move toward taking control
of its economy and resources. But this revolution was smashed by the
efforts of western bankers and the CIA.

Sudan has been ripped apart, with South Sudan functioning almost as a
colony of the Israeli government.

Libya, which once had the highest life expectancy on the African
continent, has been destroyed with NATO bombs.

Oil workers in Nigeria labor long hours under horrific conditions to
extract their natural resources, so the owners of Shell Oil can make
profits from them.

The impoverishment of African people did not arise naturally. It is
the result of centuries of plunder by wealthy foreign corporations,
enforced with bombs, drones, cruise missiles, and every other inhuman
weapon you can imagine.

Africans do not enjoy the benefits of the vast resources of oil,
natural gas, minerals, and human labor that exist on their continent.
Africa remains poor so big bankers on Wall Street and London can be
rich.

A Global Migrant Crisis

When I think of the thousands and thousands of Somalis, Eritreans,
Ethiopians, and other Africans who have perished in the small strip of
ocean we are now propelling ourselves through, I am forced to think of
the US-Mexico border.

I had the opportunity to interview Gloria Rubac, an immigrant
solidarity activist from Texas, and she described a similar situation
there. She told of how almost every day a few corpses turn up. These
are people from Latin America, who have desperately attempted to get
to the United States, only to die of starvation, dehydration, heat, or
other horrors along the way. Hundreds are found dead each month.

When I flew to Iran, I transferred in Abu Dhabi, part of the United
Arab Emirates. As I researched about the United Arab Emirates, I read
that this Middle Eastern country has a population of 9.8 million
people, but less than 2 million are actually citizens.

The overwhelming majority of the population of UAE are guest workers,
most from Nepal and The Philippines. The conditions of the guest
workers in the UAE have been compared to “modern day slavery.” These
guest workers are not free to leave the country, form unions, or even
utter the slightest protest against their low pay or conditions.

As I read this information about Abu Dhabi during my five hour
layover, I noticed that the people sweeping the floors and collecting
the garbage in the airport did not look Middle Eastern. These were
people from Southeast Asia, who kept their heads low, not making eye
contact with anyone, keeping the airport clean for the crowd of
western tourists and wealthy Arabian aristocracy who were waiting for
their flights.

The people sweeping the floors in the airport were the very people I
was reading about on wikipedia. These were people from impoverished
countries who have fled to Abu Dhabi out of economic desperation, only
to find themselves trapped in a horrific situation that they cannot
escape.

Recently, western media was forced to report on the fact that
Ethiopian guest workers were rising up in Israel. The mostly Ethiopian
guest workers were inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” protests in
the United States, and heroically revolted against the vicious Israeli
cops.

European cities are also filled with peoples from Africa, Asia, and
the Middle East. There has been a rise of right-wing anti-immigrant
bigotry in Europe, with fascist and Anti-Islamic groups conducting
“Mosque invasions” and other provocations.

The global crisis of capitalism has caused a crisis of home
foreclosures, a low wage economy, and a rising police state in the US.
Around the world, in many of the countries that are already colonized
and oppressed, this crisis has created conditions of straight up
starvation and malnutrition. Capitalism has caused conditions in much
of the world to become so horrific, that people simply cannot continue
living there. They either must flee for their lives, or perish.

The working peoples of Honduras, Guatemala, Somalia, Ethiopia, The
Philippines and Bangladesh, among others, are all facing essentially
genocidal conditions. All across the world, millions of people are
dying as a result of a “man-made famine” created by capitalism on a
global scale.

The big corporations have advanced technology to astounding levels,
making production easier and cheaper than ever. The result has not
been a better life for the majority of the human race, but instead,
the current situation of mass death and impoverishment for so many. In
a system in which production is planned by private owners, efficiency
does not lead to prosperity.

Millions have been forced to become migrants and millions have died in
the process, because global capitalism controls most of the planet.
Big bankers run the world economy, and they have organized it, not to
provide a decent life for the people, but to make profits for
themselves.

Wall Street Fears “Another Iran”

So, what does this have to do with Yemen? US media commentators are
openly declaring what they are very afraid of in Yemen. They openly
try to justify the continuing Saudi atrocities, saying “Yemen could
become another Iran.”

The Iranian revolution of 1979 resulted in the western bankers being
driven out of the country. The Iranian government is not a puppet of
the western capitalists, but an independent one, devoted to developing
the Iranian economy and staying true to religious principles.
The Iranian government is opposed to the system of western neo-liberal
capitalism, and the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution openly
declares this. Unlike many of its neighbors, Iran is highly developed.

In the conversations I continue to have on this ship with Iranian Red
Crescent volunteers, they are shocked to learn that university
education in the United States is not free, and that people spend
decades in debt to pay for it. They are equally shocked to discover
that people in the US lose their homes or cars to pay medical bills.
Healthcare in the Islamic Republic of Iran is guaranteed to all
citizens by the Ministry of Health, as is university education for all
who are admitted.

Iran is a fortress of resistance to imperialism and Zionism. The
strength behind the Iranian government is a highly politicized group
of men called the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, who are
accountable only to the Supreme Leader. The Iranian government, which
was forged in one of the most popular revolutions in history, has
control over the country’s vast oil resources, and uses them for the
benefit of the population.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has made great sacrifices to strengthen
the Palestinian people and their resistance to Israel. Iran gave
critical support to the Provisional Irish Republican Army during the
1980s. In the capital of Tehran, there is even a street named in honor
of Irish revolutionary martyr Bobby Sands. The Black liberation
fighter Malcolm X is also held in high esteem by the Iranian people.

The Supreme Leader of Iran recently described the murder of Eric
Garner and Freddie Gray to a gathering of Iranian police, and told
them “Iran must not follow this example.”

It should be obvious why Wall Street would not want “another Iran” in
the Middle East.

Yemen is now in the process of doing what not just Iran, but Syria,
Cuba, Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Venezuela, China, and so many other countries
have already done. Yemen is desperately trying to break the chains of
foreign domination, and seize control of its destiny as a nation.

From “National Dialogue” to Revolution

The Ansarullah organization (also called the “Houthis”), the tribal
forces, and the Yemeni Army have formed a united front to beat back
the Saudi attack. Over 342,000 people have joined the popular
militias.

During my traveling, I have had the opportunity to speak with Tighe
Barry, who was in Yemen during the years when this revolution was in
its earliest stages. Tighe is a pacifist, and he does not share my
enthusiasm about the Yemeni uprising, however when asked about what he
observed there in the aftermath of the initial 2011 events, he said
“It reminded me of Occupy Wall Street.”

After the “Arab Spring” or “Islamic Awakening”, there were massive
gatherings to conduct dialogue among the people of Yemen about how to
move forward. With strict democratic procedures, different religious
and tribal groups began to debate and discuss how the country could
move forward. Almost everyone involved wanted an end to the domination
of foreign powers. They wanted Yemen to begin moving toward
independence and self-reliance.

The inspiring “national dialogue” that began in the aftermath of the
2011 uprising was ended. Certain forces, especially those representing
religious minorities, were once again locked out of the national
conversation. A sham election was staged, and Mansour Hadi, a puppet
of the Saudis was the only candidate allowed to participate.

With peaceful and democratic options eliminated, the Ansarullah
organization and the other forces who had participated in this broad,
massive upsurge chose to “pick up the gun.” The coalition the
Ansarullah organization formed during the 2011 “Arab Spring” waged an
armed struggle for freedom.

The military strategy the Ansarullah forces used was very similar to
those developed by Mao Zedong during the Chinese revolution. They
carved out liberated territories and base areas in the northern region
of the country. Gradually they built up their strength, recruiting and
training people in the countryside, before victoriously marching into
the capitol and seizing the government buildings in the early months
of 2015.

In response to the Ansarullah organization and its allies waging a
successful, “People’s War” style revolution, and putting the popular
committees in control of the government buildings, the Saudi regime
has unleashed their horrendous campaign of terror.

The Saudi attack has completely shifted the political situation in
Yemeni society. Forces who were hostile to Ansarullah and their
coalition before, have now joined with them in the face of the brutal
Saudi attack. The Popular Committees started by the Ansarullah
organization and their allies are now the primary political force of
power in the country, with almost everyone coming to their side.

The deposed President Mansour Hadi attempted to form his own “Free
Yemeni Army” but it completely flopped. He fled to Saudi Arabia for
protection, because the people of Yemen are now completely against
him.

Wall Street Keeping Yemen Impoverished

What has made Saudi Arabia and its Wall Street masters so desperate to
retake control of Yemen?

Yemen has vast, untapped oil resources. Wall Street and the Saudis
have up until now kept Yemen’s oil in the ground, not wanting to put
it up on the market, and make the price of their own oil decrease.

But an independent Yemen would not have to obey their orders. Yemen,
under the control of a popular coalition of anti-imperialists, could
become a huge oil exporting country. Yemen’s vast oil resources could
be used to build the country up into an independent economic power.

This popular revolution could transform Yemen into a country like
Venezuela or Iran, independently developing as a center of economic
and political resistance to western neo-liberal capitalism and
imperialism.

The Saudi bombs are falling in the hopes of preventing this from
occurring. The Wall Street bankers and imperialists want Yemen to
remain as it is, one of the most impoverished countries in the region.
They want Yemen’s oil to stay in the ground, and Yemen’s people to
remain starving and homeless.

Imperialism does NOT bring development. This is the greatest myth of
global economics, and it is widely believed, even by some leftists.
Imperialism does not develop the world, and build it up. Imperialism
beats down civilizations and economies, forcing people to be
impoverished so that Wall Street and London can stay on top.

Bangladesh was once called the “Golden Bengal” because its silk was so
prized by people all over the world. Today, Bangladeshis are burned
alive in factories, working for pennies an hour to make clothes for
Wal-Mart and the GAP.

Mexico was once the center of the Aztecs, who built huge pyramids and
made huge advancements in the field of mathematics and astronomy.
Today, Mexico is a mess of poverty and chaos, as drug cartels
exterminate people and so many live in extreme poverty.

The global capitalist economy of the 21st century is dependent upon
destruction. It can allow no competitors to emerge. It needs chaos,
instability, and poverty.

Yemen is in the process of breaking free from that system, and setting
out on a course of independence. The United States, Israel, Saudi
Arabia, ISIS, and Al-Queda are all united in trying to stop this
process, and keep Yemen as an impoverished colony of the big bankers.

This is what the fight in Yemen is really about.

My hope is that my new friends in the Red Crescent Society will be
able to deliver much needed medical supplies to the innocent victims
of this horrific war. We are all risking our lives on this ship, but
millions of people, not just in Iran and Yemen, but all over the
world, are praying for us.

Let The Hungry Children of Yemen Live!

This Illegal, Immoral Blockade Must End!

Don’t Block The Rescue Boat!

(I ask my friends in the United States and elsewhere to please forward
and post this message as widely as possible. Send it to the press, put
it on social media, repost it anywhere you want. My internet access
onboard is very limited, so PLEASE help spread the word about our
humanitarian mission.)

URGENT! Call the White House!

The US and Saudi Arabia Must Not Attack a Civilian Relief Vessel! Let the Aid Ship Pass!
The US and Saudi Arabia are threatening to attack a humanitarian aid ship on the high seas! International observers, including US citizens, are aboard. This would be piracy and an act of war! Call the White House now at 202-456-1414 and 202-456-1111 and say: Let the aid ship pass!

The ship Rescue, chartered by the Red Crescent Society of Iran, is now approaching the coast of Yemen. It carries 2,500 tons of medicine and humanitarian aid for the thousands of Yemeni children, women and men wounded and hundreds of thousands displaced by Saudi bombing. It has international observers aboard. including IAC activist Caleb Maupin.

The Saudi bombing and blockade of Yemen is Washington’s war, The brutal, corrupt, oil-rich Saudi monarchy does nothing without a green light from the White House and the Pentagon!

US-made planes flown by US-trained pilots are raining US-made bombs and missiles on the impoverished land of Yemen. The Saudi military is violating the ceasefire signed on May 12. It is using white phosphorous bombs on civilians. It had blockaded the poorest country in the Middle East and is blocking food from reaching hungry children.

We remember that in 1988 the US missile cruiser Vicennes shot down Iran Air 655 over the Arabian Gulf, killing 290 civilians. We know that the Obama administration has been silent when Israeli naval commandos murdered and kidnapped unarmed people, including US citizens, on the high seas.

We must not let this happen again! Call the White House and demand that the president let the aid ship Rescue pass!

Revolutionary youth gather for national congress dedicated to fighting racism and imperialism

By Ramiro Fúnez and Sara Benjamin
Detroit

Delegates of FIST Congress. Photo by Kris Hamel

Delegates of FIST Congress. Photo by Kris Hamel

Young revolutionary activists from across the United States met in Detroit May 15-16 for the Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST) 2015 National Congress. Attendees addressed the issues of racism and imperialism inherent in today’s global capitalist system.

Along with establishing an organizational structure well-suited for tackling these issues, FIST members also initiated plans to participate in several upcoming actions. These include the People’s Tribunal on Police Terror and Structural Racism, to be held June 6 in Baltimore, working alongside the People’s Power Assemblies and the Black Lives Matter movement; contingents in the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Queer Pride marches around the country scheduled for June; and a March Against Capitalism in New York City later this summer to confront the financial institutions that relentlessly fund the prison-industrial and military-industrial complexes.

Members also discussed an upcoming FIST delegation to revolutionary Cuba to learn more about women’s liberation, community organizing and socialism.

In addition to the Detroit FIST activists who helped organize the Congress, FIST members from Rockford, Ill.; Chicago; Janesville, Wis.; and Milwaukee represented the Midwest. Representatives also attended from Durham, N.C.; Lexington, Ky.; Morgantown, W.Va.; Baltimore; Philadelphia; and New York City.

Congress organizers selected Detroit for the event because of its financial and political situation, marked by rising poverty, inequality and racism. Water shutoffs, home foreclosures, gentrification and the dictatorship of banking institutions over public services characterize the city’s crises.

Sara Benjamin, a FIST organizer based in Baltimore, drew parallels between the issues affecting Detroit and her home city. “Detroit looks a lot like Baltimore, divided among the haves and the have nots, the gentrified and the abandoned,” she said.

In any urban city plagued with capitalism and structural racism, where jobs are scarce, education is inadequate, and people feel hopeless, you will also find anger and rebellion. The April 19 murder of Freddie Carlos Grey Jr. by racist police, for example, ignited a firestorm of rebellion led by youth in Baltimore. They expressed how sick and tired they are of the endless police killings of Black women and men. The uprisings in Baltimore were similar to those led by youth in Ferguson, Mo., who took to the streets for weeks after Michael Brown, an unarmed Black 18-year-old, was shot and killed by police.

In these situations, courageous young people faced arrests, tear gas and police harassment. They also faced similar forms of class warfare like water shutoffs, lack of health care and homelessness. These struggles have inspired many to join the fight against oppression.

FIST organizers, recognizing the urgent need for a mass youth movement to fight all forms of oppression, invite all revolutionary and socialist youth to consider membership.

Solidarity With Robinson Family! All Out May 13! Jail Killer Cops!

Today, the Dane County District Attorney announced that there will be no charges against the Madison Police Officer Matt Kenny for the murder of Tony Robinson, an unarmed Black youth. FIST sees this as the continuation of justice denied to Black & Brown communities that face police terror and occupation. We stand in full solidarity with the Robinson Family and those who are fighting back against this injustice.

We urge all youth to attend the demonstrations tomorrow, on May 13, called by The Young, Gifted, and Black coalition in Madison and The Coalition For Justice in Milwaukee.

Info for these actions can be found here:

Black-OUT Wednesday (Madison):
https://www.facebook.com/events/883501941711044/

Solidarity March & Rally (Milwaukee):
https://www.facebook.com/events/496876980463866/

Black Lives Matter!
Jail Killer Cops!
We Need Jobs Not Police Terror!

– Rockford FIST, 5/12/15

5 Reasons To Make the Call to Support the Boston School Bus Drivers Union

By Scott Williams

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Most unions aspire to fight the bosses in order to win the most basic rights for workers, such as a livable wage, healthcare, safety, and time off from work. Yet some unions stand above others as champions of all of the needs of the working class including fighting the oppression of people of color, women, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities and more. The Boston School Bus Drivers Union, USW Local 8751, has long stood out as a steadfast fighter for all workers and oppressed people. Yet now they need your solidarity.

For many decades, the billionaires and the bosses have attempted to destroy the leadership of militant unions. It is crucial for progressive activists to build broad-based community and movement support for these unions which fight in the frontlines for justice. For the past several years, the Boston School Bus Drivers Union has been fighting imperialist multinational Veolia Corporation, one of the world’s preeminent privatizaters of the public sector. They have been without a contract for years. The four leaders of their union, including the recently elected President Andre Francois, Vice President Stevan Kirschbaum, Financial Secretary Steve Gillis, and longtime leader and former president Garry Murchison have been fired. The company even tried to bring up phony felony charges against the union’s founder, Stevan Kirschbaum (he was found not guilty).

Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh has the sole authority to settle all grievances. He can order the immediate reinstatement with full back pay for these fired drivers today! He can also settle with the union for a just contract immediately. We urge you to call Mayor Walsh immediately at 617-635-4500 to demand that he rehire the four leaders and settle the contract with the union.

After you make the call, please let us know you made the call at the Facebook event.

Why Make the Call to Support the Boston School Bus Drivers Union? Five Reasons

1. There is no union which is more militantly anti-racist: According to Workers World Party organizer Lamont Lilly, in his article on Truth-Out,

USW Local 8751 was founded in 1978 through the efforts of bus driver organizers who helped to desegregate Boston public schools. It was four years prior, in 1974, that busloads of defenseless children were attacked by racist vigilantes, armed mobs and the Ku Klux Klan in Boston’s Roxbury district. The school bus drivers who worked these “desegregation routes” were not only physically attacked in the streets; they were harassed on the job byschool administrators and parent-teacher organizations. The need for organized camaraderie was not merely a matter of employment – it was a matter of survival.” Continuing this long tradition, the union was one of the very first in the entire AFL-CIO to support recent Black Lives Matter protests, and its members continue to be at every Boston protest against racist police brutality.

2. They practice Solidarity, Forever: Not only has the union seen the struggle against racism to be a primary workers issue, but also the struggle for LBGTQ equality. According to the “LGBTQ Support Boston School Bus Drivers” petition,

The union had sexual orientation language in their contract over 30 years ago, before it became law in 1987 in Massachusetts. They elected an openly lesbian as president in 1977, provide the float every year for Stonewall Warriors in Boston Pride, support Transgender Day of Remembrance, have include domestic partner provisions in their contract for decades and much more! The union regularly invites HIV prevention educators to present crucial information to the entire rank and file about HIV.

3. They show what “Workers of the World Unite” means. According to FIST’s Joe Mchahwar, the union is crucial in the global struggle against the imperialist beast known as Veolia,

The drivers struggle hard, not only for themselves but for the global working class. They have a long history in the anti-war movement, calling for an end to the Israeli occupation and the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people… The union’s will to struggle has put it in a life-or-death situation with one of the Earth’s largest transnational corporations, Veolia. Veolia is a beast with a thousand heads, created by an imperial decree of Napoleon III in 1853 to supply water to the French public. Its very inception was a historic act of privatization! Today, Veolia makes more profits off of water than any other corporation. Veolia handles waste management, energy and transportation — traditionally public-sector industries. Veolia is a hired gun used to privatize and bust unions. In the apartheid state of Israel, Veolia runs segregated buses.

4. 90% Workers of Color, Immigrants: This union is one of the few places where workers of color and immigrants are at the highest pay and benefits in their entire field.

Check out this talk from Larry Holmes, the first secretary of Workers World Party on the importance of this fact and the recent struggle to drop frame up charges against Stevan Kirschbaum, one of the founding members of the union.

5. The are fighting on the front line against capitalist austerity, cuts in education. While it may be framed as a union matter, ultimately affects the education of Boston’s students, the communities in Boston and their right to an equal, quality education. Here from the fired leaders on what they are fighting for:

Please make the call today to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (617-635-4500) to demand that he rehire the leaders and settle with the union for a just contract immediately! Let us know that you made the call here.

Check out the latest news bulletin from Team Solidarity, the voice of the Boston School Bus Drivers Union.

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For more information of the fight to rehire the militant leaders of Boston School Bus Drivers Union, check out their website.

Baltimore Needs Our Help – Amnesty for Jailed Youth

An Emergency Appeal from the Baltimore People’s Power Assembly

Demand Justice for Freddie Grey – Indict, Convict & Jail Killer Police!

AMNESTY FOR ALL JAILED YOUTH – END THE POLICE STATE!

Over 300 people have been arrested in Baltimore since April 25.  The first arrests took place after the Saturday protests that spilled into the night both in downtown Baltimore and at the Western District Police Station.  Police donned riot gear and charged into young protesters both downtown and in West Baltimore.  In the neighborhood where Freddie Grey was murdered police chased youth, formed police phalanxes that swept streets and clubbed people.

Following the funeral of Freddie Grey, youth again poured into the streets.  Last night hundreds more were arrested.

We have yet to find out the extent of the charges that many of these youth are being held on.  Legal support is being organized, and slowly youth are being released.  At this moment, the majority remain in jail.

SOLIDARITY WITH THE ARRESTED YOUTH IS CRITICAL

It is most important that we stand in solidarity with these young people and that we demand amnesty and their release from jail.

The anger, pent-up frustration, and rage that many people across this country have witnessed on their television screens is based on decades of racist abuse and neglect in communities all across Baltimore.

It is about police terror.  It is also about unemployment and low wages, decaying housing and lack of services.  Just two weeks ago, prior to Freddie Grey’s murder, the city announced water shut-offs to 25,000 households.

The Baltimore People’s Power Assembly, which has been organizing against police terror for many years, has heard first-hand accounts from youths as young as 12 years old that have been handcuffed and driven around in police cruisers, terrorized and then released.  Women have spoken to us about sexual assaults by police.  Beatings and shake downs are common.

Freddie Grey is not the first victim of police murder in this mostly Black city.  His name is added to a long list of victims:  Tyrone West, Darin Hutchins, Anthony Anderson, George King, Maurice Johnson and many others.

We cannot allow the city, police or media to divide us.  We cannot equate property damage with the loss of human life.  Freddie Grey cannot be brought back to his family or friends; a window can be repaired.

OUTSIDE AGITATORS, A DIVERSION

The Baltimore People’s Power Assembly, whose organizers have lived in this city for decades, welcome all those who want to come to Baltimore in solidarity with the people.  We understand that police terror and structural racism is a national problem and that it is not confined just to our city.

The Baltimore Police Department and Mayor have used the “outside agitator” card to distract attention from the real issue of indicting, convicting and jailing the six police who killed Freddie Grey.  If the Mayor is indeed worried about “outsiders” then get the cops out of the community, the majority who do not live in the city and who constitute a virtual occupation army.  We say tell Governor Hogan to withdraw the State Police who he has deployed.

Please call Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake at 410-396-4900, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts at 410-396-2020 and State’s Attorney Scott D. Schellenberger at 410-887-6600 to demand:

— Justice for Freddie Grey – indict, convict, and jail killer police.

— In this crucial hour, we demand full amnesty for all arrestees, their release from jail, and an end to police repression and arrests.

For those who would like to contribute to the struggle for justice, we have set up two pay pal accounts:

One for general protest expenses which include flyers, posters, banners, food, water and other supplies:  click

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=66U3G8YMX57ZQ

And a special legal defense fund:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=XS2B8GYQWHV2A

2011 Charles St.  Baltimore 21218   443-221-3775

*Please note that the Baltimore Peoples Assembly is using the spelling “Grey” in respect for Freddie Carlos Grey, who spelled his name with an “e” and the many friends and family in the community who have confirmed this.