National Day of Action supports Mumia Abu-Jamal!


This article first appeared on Workers.org

April 10 was a National Day of Action for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Protests were held around the country to support this internationally known African-American journalist and political prisoner whose life is being endangered by medical neglect and abusive treatment by Pennsylvania prison authorities. Protesters have loudly insisted, “No execution by medical neglect for Mumia Abu-Jamal!” ever since his life-threatening health crisis came to light on March 30.

Mumia has been imprisoned for more than 33 years, 30 of them in solitary confinement on Pennsylvania’s death row. He was convicted and sentenced to death for killing a police officer in 1982, and has never wavered in proclaiming his innocence.

Over the years mass mobilizations with strong international support kept the state from executing him. Finally, the Supreme Court vacated his death sentence in 2011. By Jan. 27 the following year, Mumia was transferred to the general prison population at SCI Mahanoy prison in Frackville, Pa., where he remains imprisoned today.

After months of medical neglect, Mumia was hospitalized for diabetic shock on March 30. His blood sugar was dangerously high, and he had lost 80 pounds. As of April 1, he was back in the Mahanoy infirmary — the same medical facility where doctors had administered three blood tests prior to his hospitalization but never told Mumia he had diabetes. His condition fluctuates now.

Without international and national pressure, including protests, petitions, phone calls and emails, Mumia would not have gotten medical treatment.

Mumia’s numerous supporters have demanded that his family and allies be allowed to visit him. Despite being so ill and confined to a wheelchair, he must submit to outrageous procedures — being strip-searched before and after visits — when seeing relatives and supporters outside the infirmary. Visits are prohibited inside the medical unit.

Suzanne Ross, of the New York Free Mumia Coalition, visited with Mumia on April 13 and reports that he looked very thin and is weak, in pain and wheelchair-bound. He says he feels like he has post-traumatic stress disorder as he deals with the reality of prison officials’ deliberate neglect and mistreatment of his dire medical condition, endangering his life.

Mumia is receiving insulin and his diet seems to be improving. The prison food had been extremely unhealthy, especially for someone with diabetes. He insists that a better diet must be provided for all prisoners, particularly those with diabetes.

Mumia is documenting what happened to him in the infirmary, establishing a paper trail to get independent medical care and filing grievances within the prison system. His lawyers have filed a grievance with the state to enable him to consult and obtain a treatment plan by diabetic and other health specialists. They obtained his prison medical records but are still waiting for those from the hospital, and will be meeting with the Department of Corrections on April 14.

Keep the pressure on!

Mumia says he feels the love and solidarity expressed by the movement and is grateful for international support, including that of Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who wrote to the head of the Pennsylvania DOC. It is crucial that activists keep the pressure on Pennsylvania prison and government officials, as Mumia is still gravely ill.

Support must be extended to Marylin Zuniga, a teacher in Orange, N.J., whose job is at stake because her third-grade class sent get-well cards to Mumia. She was put on paid leave pending an “investigation.”  A campaign has been mounted to stop disciplinary action against this courageous educator.

A letter to the Orange Township Public Schools opposing Zuniga’s suspension recognizes that the New Jersey Board of Education is under pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police “and the bullying tactics it disseminates via biased news media. However, support for Ms. Zuniga is coming in [from] such distinguished authors and scholars as Robin D.G. Kelley (UCLA), Angela Y. Davis, Barbara Ransby (University of Illinois/Chicago), Joe R. Featin (Texas A&M), Vijay Prashad (Trinity College), James H. Cone and Cornel West (both of Union Theological Seminary).” (tinyurl.com/qyvhyv3)

Here is a roundup of news about some of the demonstrations for Mumia held in recent days.

Philadelphia

Fifty people gathered at Love Park in Center City on April 10 at a spirited speakout to demand that the Pennsylvania DOC stop its efforts to execute Mumia by medical neglect.

Following up on Gov. Tom Wolf’s declaration of a moratorium on the state’s death penalty on Feb. 13, protesters marched to Wolf’s Philadelphia office at S. Broad and Walnut streets. After arriving outside the building, they remained in the street for more than an hour, taking over all lanes and effectively shutting down rush-hour traffic.

Speakers called on Wolf to stop prison officials from executing Mumia by denying him adequate medical treatment. Demonstrators included members of the MOVE organization, International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the International Action Center, and several young activists from the Coalition for Racial, Economic and Legal Justice.

New York City

Some 120 activists rallied outside the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building in Harlem during the evening rush hour on April 10. Speakers included Juanita Young, mother of Malcolm Ferguson, a Black youth slain by police. Betty Davis, long-time community organizer, stressed the need for improved medical care for Mumia and Harlem residents. Suzanne Ross invited protesters to an organizing meeting afterwards.

Lucy Pagoada, of Honduras Resistance USA, connected state repression against Mumia to U.S. militarism abroad, including sending troops to Honduras. Johnnie Stevens, of IAC, Orrie Lumumba, of MOVE, and Tsehai Hiwot, from the People’s Power Assembly, co-chaired.

The protest was called by a coalition of #Mumia Must Live, IAC, Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, New York Jericho Movement, New York Free Mumia Coalition and MOVE. Passersby enthusiastically took copies of Workers World newspaper, headlined “No medical execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal.”

Demonstrators marched across 125th Street to St. Mary’s Church, where they planned future activities backing Mumia. Co-chairs were Johanna Fernandez, of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, and Suzanne Ross. Delbert Africa, a MOVE political prisoner, called in from prison.

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Durham, N.C.

Supporters of Mumia took to the corners of Brightleaf Square during rush- hour traffic on April 10 to demand an end to the medical neglect and torture of Mumia. Chanting “Brick by brick, wall by wall, we’re gonna free Mumia Abu-Jamal,” they distributed literature and engaged in conversations with passersby, asking them to contact Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and prison officials. Keith Cook, Mumia’s brother, joined the action, which was sponsored by the Workers World Party Durham branch.

Detroit

Supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal marched in front of City Hall at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on April 10. They held placards and distributed more than 50 Workers World newspapers with the photograph of Mumia on the cover.

Milwaukee

A diverse array of Mumia supporters held a protest in the pouring rain on April 10 at the Federal Courthouse. Chaired by long-time community and anti-police-brutality activist Brian Verdin, the rally demanded freedom for Mumia, as well as family visits, release of his medical records and independent health care. The activists also demanded improved health care for all prisoners.

Speakers included Babette Grunow, of the Latin American Solidarity Committee; prisoner-rights attorney Gary Grass; and Minister Sean Muhammad of Milwaukee Mosque No. 3 of the Nation of Islam. Maria Hamilton, mother of a Black youth fatally shot by police, also participated. The protest was sponsored by the Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement. Members of the Coalition for Justice, Committee to Stop FBI Repression, Fight for $15, IAC, Progressive Students of Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Resists Cuts, Wisconsin Jobs Now, WWP and Youth Empowered in the Struggle attended.

The action was supported by other labor-community organizations such as Africans on the Move; #BlackLivesMatter; Ferguson Response Network; Rockford Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST); Occupy the Hood MKE; and the Young, Gifted and Black Coalition in Madison, Wis.

Houston

Supporters gathered outside the Mickey Leland Federal Building demanding Mumia’s right to be treated by his own specialists and calling for his freedom. The Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, which has always supported Mumia, called the protest on April 13.

Sister Krystal Muhammad told the crowd, “America is at war with African Americans.The lynchings, the attacks by cops from coast to coast — the racism never ended for us. A Black man, Otis James Byrd, was just lynched in rural Mississippi. The U.S. has a racist history of lynchings, but we will not let them lynch Mumia.”

National of Islam Minister Robert Muhammad stressed, “He has given his life for the struggle and we must now step up and get justice for Mumia.”  Recent college graduate Kamil Kahn, speaking for youth, stated, “Mumia is our hero and we must protect him from execution by medical neglect.”

Everyone there then phoned the heads of SCI Mahanoy prison and the Pennsylvania prison system. Kofi Taharka, National Black United Front president, said, “They won’t answer, but they know we are demanding that nothing happen to Mumia. The world is watching and we are taking care of Mumia.”

Joanne Gavin, a TDPAM founder, said, “We are going to have to kick things up a notch to make sure that Mumia is not lynched and is getting the treatment he needs from doctors he trusts.”

Los Angeles

People from various organizations gathered in the afternoon of April 10  at the Downtown Federal Building to demand immediate medical care for Mumia and his freedom.

Jefferson Azevedo, of the IAC and LA Workers Assembly, chaired and tied the state’s war against Mumia with U.S. wars abroad against working and poor people. He noted the importance of national demonstrations against this system of war and repression that targets leaders like Mumia. Griff, a young Black man, spontaneously joined the protest, thanking its organizers. He talked about his involvement in an American Civil Liberties Union study about police killings.

Muffy Sunday, co-founder of the former LA Coalition to Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal, along with the IAC, cited the importance of continuing the fight to save Mumia’s life and exposed capitalism’s anti-human nature. Dante Strobino, representing WWP, explained the root cause of police violence written about extensively by Mumia. Strobino was one of 400 activists arrested during LA protests following Michael Brown’s killing in Ferguson, Mo.

Endorsing and/or participating groups were Unión del Barrio, STOP LAPD Spying Coalition, BAYAN-USA, Black Lives Matter, Union of Progressive Iranians, UPWARD, National Lawyers Guild, Freedom Socialist Party, Revolutionary Communist Party, WWP, IAC and LA Workers Assembly.

Oakland, Calif.

Demanding “No execution by medical neglect,” some 75 protesters rallied at the Federal Building on April 10. Speakers included Jabari Shaw, a local Black activist recently targeted by an Oakland Police Department/Federal Marshal/FBI task force; and Hannibal Abdul-Shakur, formerly of the Trayvon 2, and an organizer of Afrika Town at the Qilombo recreation center. Also speaking were Jeremy Miller, of the Idriss Shelley Foundation; Jeff Mackler, of the Mobilization to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal; David Welsh, retired postal worker and labor activist; and Judy Greenspan, of WWP. The following day, another rally at the same location again drew a large crowd of protesters.

#MUMIAMUSTLIVE: Time to Reignite the Fight to Free Mumia!

FISTmumiaapril6 – Download the FIST Statement on Mumia 

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Revolutionary, journalist, and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal’s life is in danger. We answer; Who is Mumia? Why is his life in danger? How do we free Mumia?

Amongst the 2.5 million incarcerated in the US right now, one man, Mumia Abu-Jamal, has come to symbolize struggle against mass incarceration, racist police brutality, and the struggle for Black liberation. Unfortunately, most young people probably do not know who he is. We need to change this. 

Mumia, Revolutionary 

Mumia was born in a north Philadelphia housing project in 1954.  As a student at Benjamin Franklin High School, he led a walkout against racism in education and for renaming the school after Malcolm X. By the age of 15, he helped found the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense’s Philadelphia chapter. He immediately became the Minister of Information, responsible for writing flyers and creating popular media to build the party.

According to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.“The Black Panther Party, without question, represents the greatest threat to internal security of the country.” The Panthers militancy, discipline, and strong political base in the Black community impacted millions of Black people, and especially Mumia.

The Philadelphia Police and the US government viciously attacked the Panthers. J. Edgar Hoover promised that the organization would not last past 1969, yet it did survive for several more years, despite assassinations, spying, and constant disruptions and sabotage by the government.

All of the government repression didn’t stop Mumia from continuing to speak truth to power. Mumia criticized racist Mayor (and former Police Commissioner) Frank Rizzo for his attacks on MOVE, a collective of Black revolutionaries in West Philadelphia. In 1978, Rizzo urged police to attack MOVE, leading to a shoot-out.  Afterwards, the courts unjustly imprisoned nine members of MOVE.

Mumia covered the Police’s brutal attack on MOVE from the people’s perspective, causing him to lose his broadcast job. Needing to support his family, Mumia took to driving a cab two nights a week.

On December 9, 1981, Mumia was driving in Center City Philadelphia, when he was shot and beaten by police. He was charged with the murder of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, while the real murderer escaped through the subway a block away. Despite lacking evidence or due process, innocent Mumia was sentenced to death by racist Judge Albert Sabo on July 3, 1982.

For the next thirty years, Mumia sat on death row, in torturous solitary confinement. Yet through the power of his own voice, he has continued to serve as “the voice of the voiceless,” publishing 7 books and recording reports “Live from Death Row” on Prison Radio. Mumia’s energy and life continue to inspire people fighting racism and police brutality across the world.

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FIST in Philly for Mumia action in 2007

The massive movement to free Mumia first saved his life in 1995, as hundreds of thousands poured out in the streets across the world for Mumia to stop his execution. Due to the ongoing strength of the movement, Mumia’s death sentence was ruled unconstitutional in 2011.  Yet he still sits in prison to this day, completely innocent.

Due to the incredible strain and poor conditions facing prisoners, Mumia’s health has been consistently in danger. On March 30,2015, Mumia was hospitalized due to health problems related to untreated diabetes. It is clear that the prison system, which failed to kill Mumia by execution, is now putting him on “slow death row” and attempting to kill him by medical neglect. The movement to free Mumia has escalated in response to this threat. The only way to guarantee Mumia’s health and well being is to free him from the brutal prison system.

The reason Mumia is still incarcerated is the corruption and racism of the Philadelphia police. These are same police who shot over 400 people between 2007-2013. As the fourth largest U.S. police department, with over 7,000 agents, they are an occupying army of the US’ poorest big city.

Black Lives Matter! Lets Free Mumia!

The fight to free Mumia is the fight against racism and oppression in Philadelphia and beyond. Mumia is a beacon of resistance to racism, capitalism, and so much more.

Today we must continue this struggle and popularize Mumia. The only way to free Mumia is by building a movement of millions of people in the streets.

Young people have the most reason to fight. The capitalist system has offered us no future. Occupy Wall St and Black Lives Matter have proved that young people today are feeling rebellious and ready to fight back.

Fight Imperialism, Stand Together (FIST) is a youth organization that has been supporting the fight for Mumia since we were founded in 2004. We will continue to fight, alongside all of the other tremendous activists in this movement and its great leaders.

For all of those who stand for freedom, justice, and liberation, Mumia Abu Jamal is our revolutionary hero. Let’s teach more young people about Mumia and let’s mobilize them to take action.

On April 10, there will be an international day of action demanding #MumiaMustLive, no execution by medical neglect! More actions is cities across the country will be continuing to demand the freedom and safety of Mumia and for all political prisoners.

Also, organizers on the ground are asking the following:

Call PA Dept of Corrections Superintendent Wetzel at 717-728-4109 and also Governor Wolf at 717-787-2500 to demand that the DOC meet with supporters, friends and family of Mumia to demand immediate health care for Mumia along with a healthy diet to counter his diabetes. Also demand that they free Mumia!

#MUMIAMUSTLIVE  #FREEMUMIA

Fight Imperialism – Stand Together (FIST)

“Why Fight the System? Building a March Against Capitalism” Sunday, April 12th

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Join Us For A Panel of Speakers from Youth Anti-Capitalist Organizations!

Sanjla Perumal – Students Without Borders, Queens College
Brent Lengel – Anarchist, Radio Host, Musician
Ramiro Funez – FIST, FNRP Honduras
Luis Nicho – Nuestro Ideal

Sunday, April 12th, 2pm.

Solidarity Center, 147 W. 24th Street, Second Floor, Manhattan.

Undocumented and Unafraid; Majorie’s Story

by Marjorie F.
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I remember that when I arrived to the United States at the age of 7, my mom explained to me that we were considered “illegal” residents in this country. I didn’t quite understand what she meant but that word “illegal” sounded harsh and frightened me. She also warned me that I shouldn’t tell anyone that I came here “illegally” because that can run the risk of me being deported. That being said, it made me feel as though I had to walk around in fear, like a runaway prisoner, hiding from the police or from some invisible power.

As a child, my immigration status didn’t really affect me. However, as I became a teenager and wanted to get working papers to get a job and driver’s license, like my other classmates were doing, I could not because of my status. My friends would ask me “Marjorie, why don’t you get your license already?” Part of me felt ashamed because I knew why, but I had to give another reason such as “Eh, I don’t need a car right now.” I always felt that being an undocumented person was a like a stigma, something to feel embarrassed about. Fortunately, when DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) protection against deportation was released, I felt relief. I knew that now by obtaining a Social Security number more doors would be open to me and I could freely continue my education without the fear of being deported.

It is sad to say that although the United States is where I have constructed my life, like many other immigrants, we are still treated like criminals in many ways. For example, when I was accepted into several colleges, I found out that because I’m undocumented I’m not eligible for financial aid. This impacted me because that limited my college options because now I had to forget about the colleges that I would only be able to afford with the financial help. I saw this as a way of punishment to us undocumented students. It’s as if they don’t wish to grant us financial aid because we are not worth of receiving help to get an education. On top of that, us undocumented students have to pay out of state tuition which increases the tuition which ranges from having to pay $5,000 to $15,000 more. Only 12 states, California, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin, allow for undocumented students to pay in-state tuition. Even so, those states have a penalty for allowing it. This penalty gives the impression that these states, who are supporting immigrants, are doing something wrong by trying to help us. It is basically saying “Go ahead you can help them, but at a cost”. It upsets me to know that paying in-state tuition is considered a privilege towards undocumented students. There are many students across the country that have also faced these same obstacles.

Recently, on March 25th, a group of undocumented students in New York began a hunger strike because Governor Cuomo failed to include a proposal to make financial aid eligible for undocumented students in the state budget. These students said that they will not eat until the proposal was included in the budget. When I heard about this I admired those students because they are taking a stand and are willing to fight for their rights and I highly applaud them for this. This shows the determination within them for their education and the extent that they are willing to go through to overcome obstacles that are in the way of their goals. To me this should be praised because these are students who are strong, motivated and who aren’t sitting down letting others manipulate them.
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These are students who are not willing to conform, who are not afraid to speak up and with that kind they can have the capacity to move up in the world and to better the world in which we live in. But yet their worth is not seen as equal as those who are citizens. In fact, they are exactly the same like United State citizens, the only difference is a piece of paper that they are missing. They have dreams, which is why they are DREAMers, so let their dreams, turn into a reality. Just because we are not citizens of the United States does not make us any less than those who are. I learned in elementary school that the United States is the land of equal opportunity for all, or as our pledge of allegiance says and believes in “One nation under God indivisible, for liberty and justice for all.” However, its difficult of me to understand how a country that was built in the premise of migration and the work of immigrants from all over the world, all of a sudden seems to reject immigrants instead of accepting them as a integral part of US society.

Shut Down the Empire! – the need for a new anti-war movement

FIST marches in the streets of D.C. to demand and end to all U.S. wars and aggression.

FIST marches in the streets of D.C. to demand and end to all U.S. wars and aggression.

The following statement was written by FIST and distributed at Spring Rising, an anti-war demonstration in Washington DC in March 2015. 

Shut Down the Empire!

Since its founding, the United States has been in a constant state of war, targeting indigenous nations, neighboring countries, or independent states thousands of miles away in a fight for one thing: profit, the life-blood of the system of capitalism.

Today, the US military maintains a presence in more than 150 countries with around 1,000 bases dotting every corner of the earth. The total US spending on war is over $1 trillion per year. Meanwhile, the endless attack on oppressed people and workers within the United States has intensified. Militarized racist police forces occupy poor Black and Brown neighborhoods, while Wall St. capitalists plan the wholesale destruction of public education and services.

The world will never be free from wars and exploitation while capitalism exists. The only way to peace in the long run is to destroy capitalism and build socialism, a society where people’s needs, rather than profit, are the fundamental basis of the social order.

Yet in the meantime, we need a path towards revolution. The anti-war movement has a crucial role to play in this, but not at its current level. We ask: can we forge a movement that really connects the endless war drive to these crises within the US? How can we defeat this racist, neoliberal capitalism at home and abroad?

The Pentagon: Wall St.’s Killing Machine

The United States is at war in Syria against two main targets. The US is bombing Syria primarily to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. More publicly, the US claims to be fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Yet their ultimate goal is not to stop ISIS. In fact, they need groups like ISIS to justify endless war.The goal of the US military brass and ruling class is regime change in Syria.

US imperialism caused the conditions which led to the creation of ISIS. The US war on Iraq started in 1990 and continues to some degree today. This is the greatest crime so far of the 21st century, leading to the death of over 3.3 million Iraqis since 1990, including 1.7 million women and children. All of this loss of life was for one reason: oil and profit.

Libya, formerly one of the most prosperous African countries, has been dragged backwards as well by the US and NATO’s aggressive bombing campaign starting March 19, 2011. This unnecessary aggression has caused the death of over 50,000 Libyans and a drastic decline in the living standard of the Libyan people, while US and European oil companies have gained control of the country’s oil resources and banks.

Yet oppression breeds resistance. Air strikes, sanctions, and ongoing occupation have created massive resistance in each country, just like in past wars in Vietnam, Korea, and virtually everywhere else under the gun of US imperialism. The people of Iraq, Syria, and Libya have proven that they will never accept neocolonial domination.

This is certainly true of the people of Palestine, where for generations millions of people have resisted the genocidal colonial settler regime of Israel. For us, ending US wars in the Middle East must also mean that the US ends its $3 billion in military aid to Israel.

Meanwhile in Ukraine, the US has supported a pro-fascist coup government as part of its attempt to weaken the strength of capitalist Russia. The reason for this proxy war? Profits for energy companies and banks, while furthering US domination of Europe and Russia.

Venezuela has been a major target of recent CIA campaigns to overthrow democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro, a former bus driver turned leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. The campaign against the pro-socialist Bolivarian revolution is another chapter in Wall St.’s ugly history of violence against Latin America.

Again and again, no matter what the specific goals are — oil, regional control, land, resources — the role of the US military, CIA and contractors boils down to one thing: profit for US banks and corporations and the capitalist 1%.

Black and Brown Lives Matter – At home and Abroad

Now more than ever, we need an anti-war movement with a clear message, “No War on Black and Brown people, from Ferguson to Iraq!” The US military and its servants have never liberated anyone. Similarly, police violence in our own communities, based historically on repressing slaves and workers, serves only to maintain the oppression of people of color and poor people.

We want the people of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine and everywhere else to have genuine democracy and self-determination, without the interference of the US. We want the people of Ferguson, Detroit, Oakland, as well as indigenous nations and immigrants, all to have control over their communities and their lives, free from the profit motives of Wall St.

When we examine the US military industrial complex and police, we see that it is the very same state oppresses people both here and abroad. This government locks up over 2 million people in prisons and jails, which serve effectively as internment camps for the poorest people, victims of a race and class based war. This same US military industrial complex is the largest polluter in the entire world, threatening the existence of humanity.

Yet in Ferguson, in New York, in Wisconsin, and in cities across the US, the strongest movement against this racist empire have developed in the belly of the beast. The call, “Black Lives Matter,” is in staunch opposition to the racist history of the US, whose foundation and world dominance are based on the theft and persecution of Black lives and Black labor.

At this time, the forces opposing US imperialism’s drive for world conquest are weakest inside the US. While the people of Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and Libya suffer, our movement against war has dwindled. Yet the conditions for resistance continue, and have become increasingly more desperate.

Its time for an awakened, more unified anti-war movement to rise to the occasion, to reach out to workers, people of color, youth, LGBTQ people and every sector of society with clear ideas for moving the struggle forward. It is time for more action, more organizing, and more educating on the role of US military and police in defending the profits of the billionaires. Our path towards overthrowing capitalism and building a socialist world depends on our ability to connect and build a massive anti-imperialist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist movement in the belly of the beast.

Lets get to work! End All US wars Now!

Leslie Feinberg: Transgender Warrior & Communist Revolutionary

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Feinberg at a queer anti-war forum in 2004.

Note: While Leslie at one time expressed a preference for ze/hir pronouns, this changed later in life. Her obituary, drafted jointly by Leslie and her partner Minne Bruce Pratt while at Leslie’s bedside, uses the pronouns she and her. We respect the choice of these pronouns in this article.

Leslie Feinberg, known around the world as a pioneer of trans liberation and author of “Stone Butch Blues,” died in November 2014. Her final words, “Hasten the revolution! Remember me as a revolutionary communist!” revealed a side of her life that fewer knew about, but which was no less integral to the person Leslie was.

In theory and practice, Feinberg embodied the idea of intersectionality before it really entered political discourse, making explicit the connections between LGBTQ oppression, racism, zionism, and capitalism.

Stone Butch Blues, Feinberg’s most famous work, is a tale of the life of a trans person before the trans movement, but it is also a story of the bone-deep pain that working class people face in the fight to survive. Her practical activism was more frequently anti-racist in character than anything else, from defending the Palestinian right of self-determination and return in 1968 in Buffalo, NY, to standing against racist segregation in Boston in 1974, and organizing to stop the Klan in Atlanta in 1988. For more than 40 years, she organized with Workers World Party, a revolutionary socialist party organization.

At a time when Pride Parades are becoming more and more corporate, when the media constantly allow rich, white, gay men to speak for all people oppressed for their gender or sexuality, when racist, apartheid Israel is “pink-washed” into a gay and lesbian paradise (just not for Palestinian LGBTQ people), Leslie’s theoretical contributions to the LGBTQ movement and to Marxism are more needed than ever.

In 1993, Feinberg gave voice to an emerging movement with the book “Trans Liberation,” offering the first Marxist historical analysis of the concept of trans identities. She showed with historical examples that trans people were not some new phenomenon, but rather that a multitude of genders and sexualities have existed throughout all human societies. Trans is not unnatural: what is unnatural is its oppression and repression, a relatively recent phenomenon. Drawing on Friedrich Engel’s “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State” and Workers World Party member Bob McCubbin’s work “The Roots of Lesbian and Gay Oppression,” Leslie showed the deep connections between class society, heterosexism, and trans oppression.

In later years, Leslie wrote an extensive series of articles entitled “Lavender & Red” which explored the links between socialism LGBTQ history. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the struggle of working-class LGBTQ people, and is full of rich historical lessons for our movements. The series can be found at this web address: workers.org/lavender-red.

Particularly inspiring was her 2012 defense of CeCe McDonald, a Black transwoman jailed for defending herself against racist violence. As the multiple tick-borne illnesses which would eventually take her life entered into advanced stages, Feinberg was increasingly confined to home or medical institutions. However, even in this weakened state, she took a stand for McDonald, and was arrested while protesting her incarceration.

While her death represents a great loss for the communist and LGBTQ movements, we in FIST plan to carry on the struggles that Leslie dedicated her life to. FIST will be studying Feinberg’s writings, learning from her activism, and most importantly, dedicating ourselves to the fight against imperialism, racism, and LGBTQ oppression.

¡Leslie Feinberg Presente!