The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Issue no. 1108 — June 29 - July 13, 2020

Editorial:
Behind All the Crises Is One Capitalist System

Jun 29, 2020

Trump’s America lurches from crisis to crisis.

The virus is still with us, as virulent as ever. The “hot spots” are new. Florida registers almost as many new cases as New York state once did. Hospital systems in Texas’s big cities seize up. But no part of the country is safe. California and Ohio, which both seemed to have controlled the virus, discovered they hadn’t.

Unemployment is still with us, still a scourge. Some people are called back. But others lose their jobs. Almost half of all working-age adults are without a job today. And the unemployment supplements are set to run out July 25, the same date when most benefits for millions of “non-traditional” workers will expire. July 25: the day reality will drive home the unemployment crisis.

Officially organized violence is still with us, still racist. That violence is racist on the part of individual cops, racist all through the institutional framework of the police. Faced with mounting demonstrations, mayors and police chiefs promised to “reform” the police. But even with the demonstrations shining a light on the situation, cops killed people in the same unrestrained way.

Trump may have contributed his petty bit to these crises. But the issues go far beyond a clown with strawberry-blond hair who is only a figurehead.

The multiple crises gripping this country are products of its economic system.

The capitalist system was born in slavery. It never made any attempt to provide restitution for the damage done to an enormous part of the human family, the millions of people stolen from Africa. It never even acknowledged the terrible destruction that the slave trade and three centuries of slavery wrought on people in this part of the world. Even after legally suppressing slavery, capitalism continued the particular oppression of the black population.

The capitalist system has always depended on the value extorted from labor to provide profit to the capitalist class—whether that labor be slave or “free.” What the capitalists have done to maximize their profit has led to economic crisis after economic crisis. Today their drive for profit is systematically driving down the standard of living of all of us who do the work society needs to survive.

What the capitalists have done to maximize profit has exacerbated all our problems, including right now with the spread of the coronavirus. The U.S. government never came up with enough resources to do the testing and tracing needed to isolate the disease. It didn’t find the money to provide medical personnel with needed protective equipment. It never provided the resources to pursue research into new viruses. Public money has instead been used for private interest, propping up the profit of the capitalist class.

Why do the police—an officially organized form of violence—even exist? Quite simply, they exist to make sure the capitalist class can continue to make profit, directly by extorting value from labor, indirectly by draining the public treasury. The justification for the police—that they deal with crime—is a cynical ploy. To deal with crime could only mean to root out its cause. But that cause is deeply imbedded in the poverty that capital’s pursuit of profit produces.

Every one of the basic problems we face trace back to these two factors: capitalism’s birth in slavery and its pursuit of profit.

The future we need cannot be built by trying to “reform” once again this old decrepit capitalist system.

Addressing our problems means tackling the system that has produced the problems—the capitalist system—ripping it out root and branch.

Tossing capitalism out is not enough. Something has to replace it. We need a system based on the collective possibilities of the population, and specifically on all of us who do the work today.

Working people—whether slave or “free”—have often shown the possibilities that exist when they bring themselves together to solve problems together, collectively. All of the real progress that has been made has rested on that capacity that resides in the laboring population.

The future can only be built by the people who carry out all the productive activity which society needs, the working population.

Pages 2-3

Chicago Police:
“Who Do You Protect, Who Do You Serve?”

Jun 29, 2020

After Chicago saw a surge in shootings as the weather warmed up, the city’s daily violence again took over the news. In response to protesters’ calls to “defund the police,” the mayor and the media all used this violence in different ways to defend the need for police.

After a three-year-old boy and a thirteen-year-old girl were among the twenty people killed over Father’s Day weekend, it was easy for reporters to find shocked residents to interview, demanding protection. And in this society, the police are the only answer we’re given to violence.

But the truth is, the police do not actually protect people in the poor neighborhoods where the violence is concentrated.

The Chicago police make an arrest in less than 40% of murder cases most years. And this number is much lower if the victim is from one of the black or Latino neighborhoods where murders are concentrated. Between the beginning of 2018 and July of 2019, the CPD made an arrest for 47% of murders when the victim was white. For Latino victims, that number was just 33%. For black victims, the CPD made an arrest in just 22% of murders! And given the CPD’s long history of forcing confessions and planting evidence, who can believe they’ve arrested the actual shooter even in these cases?

While the police don’t protect people in the poor neighborhoods from violence, they sure act quickly to protect property in the rich ones! When a few windows were smashed in the extremely rich shopping area along Michigan Avenue, the police flooded the area and blocked off the entire downtown for days. All that—even though not one person was killed in the “violence.”

One of the most common chants in the current protest movement is aimed at the police: “Who Do You Protect? Who Do You Serve?” The answer is obvious. The police protect private property and the capitalist social order, and serve the ruling class that owns the lion’s share of that property.

This same capitalist social order that produces the poverty driving the violence and murders needs brutal police to keep it in place.

California:
PG&E Gets Away with Murder
—Again

Jun 29, 2020

Pacific Gas and Electric, or PG&E, the biggest utility company in California, pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the devastating Camp Fire in 2018, which killed 84 people and destroyed the whole town of Paradise in northern California. PG&E admitted that it had repeatedly failed to maintain the power line, which eventually broke from a nearly 100-year-old tower and started the fire.

PG&E was already on probation from a previous conviction for the gas pipe explosion in 2010 that killed eight people and burnt down a whole neighborhood in San Bruno, California.

In other words, PG&E admitted to being not only a mass murderer, but a repeat offender.

For that, the judge “sentenced” PG&E to a fine of $3.5 million—for a company that has reported to be worth $85 BILLION!

Not only that, but the courts and the state government of California are allowing PG&E, an admitted mass murderer, to get out of paying much of its debt by filing for bankruptcy. And, as an added bonus for the capitalist owners of PG&E, the California legislature passed a law last year, providing $21 billion in taxpayer money to PG&E and other utilities, to “help out” these super-rich companies with paying damages to the victims of the fires they keep starting.

Under capitalism, the justice system protects the profits of the capitalist class and its murderous companies, no matter what the cost is to the population in lives and hard-earned money.

Washington, D.C.:
What Hospital for Poor People?

Jun 29, 2020

Washington, D.C.’s city government plans to close the hospital it owns and replace it with a much smaller facility with fewer services. This is what happens in a society where health care is just another way to generate wealth and inequality.

Nurses say the new facility will be no more than a glorified emergency room: a level three trauma center with no neonatal intensive care unit, no geriatric center, no cancer clinic, and no diabetes program. It won’t even have half the number of beds the old hospital has. But the city will build it in a neighborhood that officials have long targeted for development. And after the city pays for construction, it will subsidize a private company to run the facility. The city also subsidized a series of scandalously greedy private operators to run the old hospital—or more accurately, to run it into the ground.

Big business will win all around with the city’s plans: construction companies, developers, and the private operator, which happens to be notorious for its hostility to unions. Everybody wins in this capitalist scheme, except working class people who need medical care.

COVID-19 Test:
A Bonanza for Companies

Jun 29, 2020

Companies are charging patients exorbitant prices for COVID-19 tests, according to the New York Times. A chain of emergency rooms in Texas and Oklahoma, for example, has regularly charged patients $500 to $990 for coronavirus tests. In some cases, bills for coronavirus tests are averaging $1,114. One company, Gibson Diagnostics, has regularly charged $2,315.

Many health care providers have settled on test prices of $50 to $200. Medicare initially paid $51.31 for coronavirus tests but bumped reimbursements up to $100 in mid-April. All these companies use the same diagnostic tools and techniques. So, none of them have any reason to charge above $50, the price initially negotiated with Medicare.

We are not currently directly paying these prices. But we will eventually bear the costs of these expensive tests in the form of higher insurance premiums or through taxes. This testing is another scheme set up by the companies to profit off of our health.

Nursing Homes Are Dumping Their Residents Like Trash

Jun 29, 2020

Nursing homes operated by for-profit companies are dumping their residents in order to replace them with more patients with COVID-19, since they can bring in at least $600 more a day to the nursing homes than other patients.

The patients they are dumping are among the most susceptible to the coronavirus. They are old, disabled, suffering from dementia, or recovering from serious illness or injury. And they are being dumped into homeless shelters, rundown motels and other unsafe facilities. In some cases, they are being left to fend for themselves on the streets. And very often, the nursing homes are doing this without notifying the residents’ families or any state officials supposedly responsible for regulating them.

Often, this dumping practice is practically a death sentence.

Rockport Health Care Services is an example of a nursing home business that practices such patient dumping. Rockport manages more than 70 nursing homes in California. On March 31, while the COVID-19 cases were skyrocketing, a Rockport executive wrote in an email that they should begin “discharge planning immediately.” This was code for kicking out the least-lucrative residents in order to start receiving more profitable COVID-19 patients. “You are looking to replace the poorest, least profitable patients with the highest paying ones,” explained a previous chief executive of Rockport in 2018.

In capitalism, for the rich owners, the nursing homes are like any other type of business. They go after more profits without pity and impunity. And as in the case of nursing homes, dumping residents like trash shows we pay for their profit with our flesh and blood.

Noose Found in Bubba Wallace’s NASCAR Garage

Jun 29, 2020

Steve Phelps, president of NASCAR, discovered a noose at Talladega Speedway in the garage of Bubba Wallace, the most successful black NASCAR driver in history. The news came just weeks after Wallace successfully campaigned to get NASCAR to ban Confederate flags at its events.

Informed of the noose, Wallace spoke out, tweeting that the “despicable act leaves me incredibly saddened and serves as a painful reminder of how much further we have to go as a society and how persistent we must be in the fight against racism.”

The FBI conducted an investigation and declared that Wallace was not the target of a hate crime, because the noose had been in the garage since October 2019, before Wallace was assigned the garage. NASCAR then said the noose was used as a garage pull rope.

But when Speedway employees insisted on a deeper look, NASCAR checked every garage at all 29 of its tracks. They found only 11 pull-down ropes tied in a knot out of all of its 1,684 garages. And the one in Wallace’s garage was the only one tied in a noose.

The FBI hardly instills confidence as an arbiter of what is a racist hate crime, given its own racist history. Don’t forget the FBI’s COINTELPRO attacks on leaders of the black movement in the ‘60s.

And whether or not the noose was directly put there just ahead of Wallace’s arrival at the garage, as Wallace pointed out, “It’s still a noose,” a symbol that carries an obvious racist meaning in a country with a vast history of lynchings of black people.

Pages 4-5

Without a Massive and Determined Struggle, No Salvation for Workers!

Jun 29, 2020

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

In France the clatter from politicians is picking up again. The second round of municipal elections is coming. The government is angling for an environmentalist reputation. Cabinet ministers are being reshuffled. And President Emmanuel Macron is preparing his next big speech.

But the important thing is what happens in the workplaces. With layoffs and businesses closing, the bourgeoisie is destroying the living conditions of hundreds of thousands of workers.

The health catastrophe was only a pit stop for the bourgeoisie. Instead of the 67 billion dollars in dividends they expected, shareholders got 45 billion! Those who didn’t get a dividend were asked to wait a year. For a multimillionaire, it’s certainly not the end of the world!

Yes, there’s an economic crisis. But profits and huge fortunes have not disappeared. And the bourgeoisie has every reason to feel it has support. The government has deployed enormous resources for them: 17 billion dollars for aeronautics, 9 billion for auto, 20 billion for tourism, hotels, and catering. But that changes nothing. The bourgeoisie is imposing new sacrifices on workers, and planning to lay off thousands!

In sectors where profitability is compromised, they simply withdraw their capital and have the company go bankrupt. In sectors with fewer orders, they cut jobs. In sectors where the future is uncertain, they cut temporary workers and contractors. They look at workers as just another machine to plug in, unplug, and relocate at the whim of profit. It doesn’t matter to them that workers need jobs to be able to live!

The capitalist class will be merciless toward workers, even though the government stuffed the bosses full of billions and they are sitting on immense fortunes. To accumulate more profits in this period of crisis, they will exploit some workers more while laying off others. To ensure their own prosperity, they will impoverish the entire working population. After all, small business owners, craftspeople, and small farmers depend on the purchasing power of workers just as workers themselves do. The bosses declare war on everyone who can only survive by working.

If workers do not defend themselves to preserve their living conditions, millions more families will fall into precariousness and poverty.

What workers have to conserve is not capital, nor stock prices. They only have their jobs and their wages. This is what they have to save in this crisis. Far from political cinema and demagogic promises, the main thing is the ability of workers to respond to blows. There is no salvation for the workers, outside of a collective, determined struggle. This can be initiated with simple but unifying objectives.

Faced with the collapse of economic activity, it is necessary to distribute the work among all employees, whether they are permanent, temporary, or subcontracted. If economic activity slows, the pace of work must decrease, and work time must be reduced, while weekly wages are held the same by cutting into profits.

Faced with the employer’s strategy of setting different workers or different job sites against each other, or of overloading some with work while shutting down others, we must impose that each works less so all may work! Not one worker, whether permanent, temporary or contractual, should be dismissed from their job and deprived of their wage!

To reduce unemployment, massive job programs must be created. The COVID-19 epidemic highlighted the shortage of staff in hospitals. To keep them from being overwhelmed, it took thousands of volunteers! The need is just as obvious for caregivers for dependent people, for education, for early childhood, for transportation, and for the post office.

These thousands of jobs are not being created now, because the bourgeoisie opposes it—just as the bourgeoisie opposes all public spending which doesn’t benefit the bosses. But hospitals or nursing homes do not have to be financially profitable. They just have to provide all the care that everyone needs, rich or poor! So we have to fight to create these jobs. Jobs do not have to generate private profits. Their usefulness to the public is enough to justify them!

In opposition to the logic of profitability and high performance of the bourgeoisie, workers have to fight for their logic: jobs, wage increases and workers’ control over the actions of the big businesses, which take us from crisis to crisis!

The Federal Reserve’s Debt Bubble

Jun 29, 2020

Over the last three months, the U.S. Federal Reserve bought up three trillion dollars in corporate, mortgage and government debt, and it plans to buy up another four trillion dollars by the end of the year. That is so much money, it is almost twice as much as all the goods and services produced in a year by the German economy, which is the fourth largest economy in the world.

According to Fed officials, this unprecedented buying spree is supposed to support the U.S. economy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it certainly hasn’t prevented more than 40 million workers from losing their jobs, with many of them lining up at food banks and charities just to be able to stave off hunger. Nor has it kept tens of millions from losing their health insurance coverage in the middle of a pandemic.

But what the Federal Reserve did stave off was the collapse of the stock and bond markets, which did an enormous U-turn with the Fed announcement, with prices once again hitting near record levels despite the fact that the economy was sinking into a worse and worse crisis. Moreover, the Federal Reserve’s promise to intervene to prevent future collapses gave the green light to big companies, which were already highly in debt, to issue more than a trillion dollars in more debt. And this debt is not being used to produce and invest, but to pay out interest on their growing debt, as well as assure big dividends to the big capitalists.

No wonder the last three months have been a huge bonanza for the richest people in this country. According to a recent study by two Washington think tanks, in the last three months, 29 more people became billionaires, bringing the total to 643 across the country. And 12 billionaires on this growing list more than doubled their wealth. Meanwhile, the total wealth of these 643 billionaires has increased by 583 billion dollars, or 20%. That is twice as much as the federal government paid out in one-time checks to more than 150 million Americans.

But that payoff to the richest of the rich comes with a price. The enormous financial operations for the profit of a few are vacuuming up ever more wealth produced by the working class through higher interest payments on debt, more dividends and higher executive salaries.

This leaves less money for wages and benefits, less money for productive investment. The capitalists’ drive for ever greater profits and wealth is a dead weight on the economy, reducing consumption and worsening the underlying crisis.

By backstopping big losses of the capitalists and their companies, the Federal Reserve is only encouraging the capitalists to do this more. That means the growth of ever more debt and speculation, and ever greater financial bubbles.

This economic crisis didn’t just start with the pandemic. A year before the pandemic hit, much of the U.S. economy had already begun to slip into a recession. In order to prevent a stock market crash and a collapse in debt markets at that time, the Federal Reserve had already stepped in and started buying up corporate and government debt.

For over a year, when politicians like Trump, as well as much of the news media, were all bragging about this being the best economy ever, the Federal Reserve was already busy bailing out failing and debt-laden companies and banks by buying up hundreds of billions of dollars in debt. The pandemic merely accelerated and deepened the latest stage of the crisis that was already in progress.

This is nothing new. Economic crises have followed the same pattern for the last 40 years. The capitalist economy has stumbled and staggered from one crisis to the next, with the Federal Reserve playing a key role in engineering bailouts of the capitalist class in order to try to arrest the crisis, at least for a few years. But over time, the crises have gotten worse and the bailouts have gotten bigger.

Eventually, one of these crises will bring everything down with it, including the Federal Reserve, since it is the Federal Reserve itself that is holding much of this debt, and therefore the accumulation of all of the risks taken on by the capitalist class.

Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Card and the Interests of the Capitalist Class

Jun 29, 2020

On June 18, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration could not end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA gives temporary legal status to some undocumented immigrants brought here as young children. Immediately, Trump promised to renew his attack on these young people.

And just four days later, Trump claimed he was protecting “American” jobs by extending a freeze on some programs that issue work visas, especially to highly-skilled immigrants. Immediately, companies like Amazon and Apple objected, and it is unclear if this order will actually stand or for how long—though if it does, there will surely be lots of loopholes.

Trump is playing the same card he has always played, doubling down on his anti-immigrant bluster as he gears up his re-election campaign. To feed his anti-immigrant base, Trump’s brutality has been overt and on display since he launched his initial campaign.

But in fact, under Trump, like every president before him, the capitalist class has gotten the immigration policy it needs. Despite his threats, Trump has not carried out mass deportations of immigrant workers, and with fewer people overall arriving from Mexico, he has actually carried out fewer deportations than Obama did in his first term.

As unemployment rises and causes an increasing social problem, however, immigration policy could change sharply. The U.S. has carried out mass deportations before, especially when the demand for workers dried up. When the Great Depression hit, the U.S. deported more than a million people to Mexico. Hundreds of thousands of them were U.S. citizens.

Trump’s anti-immigrant propaganda has laid the political groundwork to justify another mass deportation if it should again be in the interests of the ruling class to do so—no matter who is the next president.

The capitalists have an interest in creating divisions, and in bringing in or expelling workers based on who they can exploit. But the working class has a different interest: to refuse to be divided, worker from worker.

There’s plenty of work to be done, and more than enough wealth to give every one a decent wage. We protect ourselves when we protect each other.

Brazil:
“The Most Violent Police in the World”

Jun 29, 2020

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

A 14-year-old boy was killed by the police recently at his home in a Rio de Janeiro slum; there were 70 bullet holes in the house.

This murder recalls the extreme and daily violence of this police force, in permanent war against the poor of the underprivileged districts of the country.

In 2019, almost 6,000 victims of police killings were identified in Brazil. This is, in proportion to its smaller population, five times more than in the United States. In 75% of the cases, the victims were black men, most often young and living in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Between 2015 and 2019, 25,000 Brazilians were killed by police in their own country.

In this country marked by the most extreme inequalities, very often the only way open to young people from the poorest neighborhoods is to join gangs or the police. The young people thus put on the front line are led to kill each other. In addition, year after year, nearly 150 police officers commit suicide.

Anti-poor violence is fueled by politicians, from the head of state, Bolsonaro, to the mayors of the largest cities. The mayor of Sao Paulo declared it openly: “The place of a bandit is not in the police station or in prison, but in the cemetery.”

Pages 6-7

Illusions in Elections Encourage Racist Violence

Jun 29, 2020

The following article was the editorial in SPARK workplace newsletters of June 22.

Trump opened his campaign for re-election in Tulsa Oklahoma, in the midst of celebrations by the black community of Juneteenth. That celebration commemorates the date when news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Galveston Texas, the last outpost of slavery in this country.

Tulsa also has a special page in the violent racist history of this country. Ninety-nine years ago, Tulsa was the site of one of the most vicious pogroms of black people ever carried out. White mobs rampaged through the main black business district of Tulsa, pulling out people, raping women and girls, killing those who didn’t manage to escape. At least 300 people lost their lives in one day. The business district was burnt down.

Was it simply an unthinking coincidence that Trump decided to open his campaign in Tulsa? Bad enough. But, no, as discussions among his advisers made clear, his campaign was fully aware, not only of the Juneteenth celebrations, but also of Tulsa’s bitter history.

It was quite simply a bitter provocation, an indication of what Trump intends his re-election campaign to be.

In the days leading up to his Tulsa rally, Trump flooded the internet with calls on his supporters to attack the anti-police demonstrations. Like this one: “STOP ANTIFA, Dangerous mobs are running through our streets DESTROYING OUR CITIES.”

Trump’s campaign announced that a million people had put in for tickets to his rally—for a venue that seats only 18,000 people. If that had been true, it could have meant a disappointed mob out on the streets of Tulsa. It’s what the campaign expected. It set up to have Trump address the crowd inside the rally, and then go outside to whip up the much bigger one they expected outside. The second speech didn’t materialize. There was no overflow crowd. In fact, the rally itself was filled with row upon row of empty chairs.

The poor showing for his rally doesn’t mean Trump will change the axis of his campaign. What else can he campaign on? “Victory” over the virus? Not hardly, as infections are peaking up in areas that never had them. The economy? With 40 some million people still out of work, that’s a joke. No, Trump reverts to his usual racist rant: attacking the people who demonstrate against outrages like the death of George Floyd.

It’s understandable that many people might view the election in November as primarily a way to get rid of a hateful demagogue, who stokes racial animosities to serve his own electoral and personal interests. But in this election system we have, by default that means voting for the Democrat.

There is an enormous danger in that, believing that because Biden isn’t Trump, his election will change the course of the country.

Trump may have ranted about sending the National Guard into cities; Democratic mayors actually sent heavily armed police against demonstrators.

Trump may have presided over an economic collapse; Obama presided over seven years of “economic recovery,” in which working people had no share.

Trump may call on racist gangs to attack demonstrators. Does anyone believe that the Democrats will organize a defense against that?

The way to stop a racist demagogue like Trump is the only way that has ever worked—and that is to organize ourselves against the gangs, just as people in Tulsa did the night of his rally, just as how many people did throughout the South, finally shutting down the KKK.

The only thing that will change the course of the country is a continuation and expansion of the movement that has forced a reckoning with racist violence and the role of the cops. The biggest danger right now is that those who demonstrated let themselves be pulled into focusing on November, instead of expanding the movement.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry
—or Spread the COVID?

Jun 29, 2020

Recently restaurants reopened for dine-in service in Michigan. And while media coverage heralded this “opening” as a sign that people could leave behind their stir-crazy, stay-at-home blues, and could resume a certain sense of normalcy by going out to eat, a whole group of people thinks it’s anything but normal: restaurant workers.

As some of Michigan’s 350,000 laid off hospitality workers returned to work, some of them are speaking out and asking, why? Why go back to work while a third of the country is spiking? And especially in downtown and tourist areas, you don’t know who’s coming in and who you can be exposed to. It’s not safe.

Why go back to work when there’s no sports, no concerts, no traffic and 50% capacity? Where before, at some bar-restaurants, you could make $300 a day, and now it takes five days to make that? Why go back to work when you have the additional sanitization procedures with no additional compensation?

The restaurant workers who are speaking out today about the inherent problems of reopening are the ones who are recognizing that the world has changed. Business as usual—going for a drink and a meal, for example—should no longer be taken for granted as the normal thing to do. They also understand that they are the ones who are being put in a no-win situation: Do I quit and then not be able to draw unemployment? Or to make any kind of living? Or do I stay, and risk my health and the health of my family members?

One bartender said the pandemic has made it crystal clear who we value in our society.

He said, “I kinda feel like a guinea pig.” He’s right.

FCA Workers Stop Production in Metro Detroit

Jun 29, 2020

At three Fiat Chrysler Metro Detroit plants, workers stopped production in late June.

On Thursday, June 25, a worker was sent home on suspicion of having COVID-19 at the Fiat Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP) in Detroit. A work stoppage began soon after at the factory. A video posted to Twitter and WDIV Television on the following day, Friday, showed workers wearing face masks and standing together in solidarity—not working.

One week before this, on Thursday, June 18, word of a Warren Truck Assembly Plant (WTAP) worker testing positive for COVID-19 was spread—worker to worker—to protect the health and safety of coworkers.

Understanding there was a possible new case of COVID-19, on Friday, June 19th, about 245 workers on the afternoon shift at WTAP — feeling sick, tired and disrespected — called in. Similar numbers called in sick, tired and disrespected on Saturday, too!

Simultaneously, at a sister plant—Sterling Heights Assembly Plant (SHAP)—the call-outs for Friday, June 19th were 1,048 and for Saturday, June 20th were 1,306! The call-outs stopped most production at both factories.

During the COVID-19 outbreaks of March and April, workers at FCA facilities in Metro Detroit suffered the blows of 15 coworker deaths to COVID-19. Going through that horrendous experience has increased workers’ consciousness that there is a life-and-death necessity to rely on each other for health and safety.

An aspect of last week’s call-outs was the Juneteenth Holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had labored under slavery. The FCA company had put on a show for the media. They said they would stop the line for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to honor the George Floyd Movement.

But seeing the need for a real holiday to celebrate the movement, FCA workers at WTAP and SHAP created their own. A new holiday weekend honoring the George Floyd Movement was created by WTAP and SHAP workers staying home on June 19th and 20th!

Page 8

Rayshard Brooks:
Another Victim of Police Murder

Jun 29, 2020

More than two weeks into a widespread protest movement against police brutality and racism following the murder of George Floyd, an Atlanta cop shot and killed another black man, Rayshard Brooks.

A Wendy’s employee called 911 to report Brooks was passed out in his car in the restaurant’s drive-thru. One cop, Devin Brosnan, talked to Brooks and got him to pull over to a parking spot. A second cop, Garrett Rolfe, arrived and put Brooks through a series of sobriety tests. When Brooks failed a breathalyzer test, Rolfe decided to arrest Brooks. Brooks, 27 and a father of four who had spent two years in prison and had difficulty finding work, knew that an arrest would send him back to prison. He attempted to break free from the cops and flee.

In the scuffle, Brosnan attempted to taser Brooks, but Brooks took the taser, fired it once and ran. While he was fleeing Rolfe fired his own taser at Brooks, who fired Brosnan’s taser one more time at Rolfe from 18 feet away.

Rolfe then took out his gun and shot Brooks twice in the back. Surveillance video shows Rolfe kicking Brooks and Brosnan standing on him after he was shot. Only after two minutes did Rolfe attempt medical treatment on Brooks, who later died.

Why in the world does a black man falling asleep in a fast-food drive-thru have to end with him being shot to death?

There were plenty of ways the murder of Rayshard Brooks could have been avoided. The Wendy’s employee could have enlisted help in getting Brooks to move rather than calling the cops. The cops could have taken Brooks’ keys and offered to call someone to pick him up. When Brooks fled, the cops could simply have let him run and picked him up later. They had his car, knew his name, and had him on video.

When it comes to the black population, cops are conditioned to shoot first and ask questions later. From past experience, they know they can get away with murder, because the laws and the judicial system protect them.

This is yet another racist murder by the cops, and understandably spawned additional protests. Only now are cases like this being brought to light, largely because they’ve been caught on cellphone video. The two cops were finally charged in this case, but only after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation took it over.

Without the protest movement continuing in the streets, these cops would likely have been let off once again.

Bloody Tulsa 1921:
Historical Suppression

Jun 29, 2020

May 31st and June 1st of 2021 will mark the 100-year-anniversary of the massacre of 300 black people in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The attack was instigated by white supremacist organizations. Tulsa, at the time, was said to be home to 3,200 Ku Klux Klan members.

In 1921, when a 19-year-old black man was falsely accused of assaulting a white woman, a white lynch mob descended on the courthouse where he was being held. Dozens of black Tulsans organized an armed self-defense to protect the young man.

The official city leadership of Tulsa then deputized 100 right-wing white men and let them loose on the Greenwood neighborhood, or in other words, Black Tulsa. The white, heavily armed mob, now numbering about a thousand, looted, robbed and burned black homes and businesses for two days.

The Governor of Oklahoma then called out the National Guard, who, along with the white racist deputies and vigilantes, arrested 6000 Black Tulsans. Their “crime”? Trying to defend themselves!

The terrorism that the black population of Tulsa experienced was much like that carried out by death squads in poor countries today.

Witnesses reported that a black man was forced to his knees and beheaded by the white mob. Somehow, private airplanes were available and used to drop turpentine fire bombs on people and property, eventually burning all 40 city blocks of Black Tulsa to the ground. On the street, black folks were machine-gunned down.

The atrocities that happened in Tulsa in 1921 are part of the racist, violent foundation current police brutality is built on. It is a history that all should know and understand.

This history has long been suppressed and never reckoned with. Because of the Black Lives Matter movement, the significance of these historical events, long buried, are starting to be unearthed and talked about.

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