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
Jun 10, 2013
The Detroit Institute of Art’s collection, the Detroit Zoo’s animals, Belle Isle Park, any other park or piece of land owned by the city, the city’s water and sewerage departments, its public lighting department, its buildings, its vehicles–it’s all up for grabs as the Emergency Financial Dictator works to satisfy the city’s creditors. A painting by Brueghel or Van Gogh, sure! An elephant and some polar bears, why not? A park in the middle of the Detroit River, add it to the pile! Profitable, money-producing departments, by all means! And throw in a fire engine or two, while you’re at it! The financial vultures circle the city, looking to see what they can pluck and sell off.
Supposedly, the city owes 17 billion dollars, give or take a billion. Supposedly the creditors must be satisfied.
Look at who some of those creditors are–many of them the big banks, hedge funds and other financial sharks that hold billions of dollars in Detroit city bonds. Part of the responsibility for putting the city deep in debt is on their shoulders. Holding the threat of a bond downgrade over the city’s head in 2005, they pushed the city into exotic financial scams that cost the city three and four times the amount the city realized from the sale of its bonds. They created the equivalent of sub-prime mortgages, with hidden exploding fees–fees that in some cases were larger than the whole amount borrowed.
Why should they get a penny? They ran financial scams on the city, that is, on its population. By all rights, they owe the city money.
But there are some creditors who should be paid–all those people who worked for the city and its departments for decades, people with modest pensions, only enough to live on, if they keep their medical coverage.
The city owes them money too–for decades it has not put enough money aside to pay for those pensions. Just like it didn’t put enough money in to running its bus system, or its parks, or the street lights, or the rec centers, the emergency services.
The money that should have gone to make the city’s pension funds secure, instead went as subsidies, tax credits, outright gifts to some of the biggest corporations in the country–General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, among others–and to so-called “developers,” that is, speculators. The money that should have gone to keep more people working for the city so its services could function adequately, instead went to clearing land and putting in the infrastructure for stadiums, factories, office buildings, casinos–all for the benefit of private, profit-making interests.
Well, if the city still owes debts, then take back what was given to those private interests who have lived fat on the city’s money for years. Take General Motors headquarters and sell off that building. Why not? The city paid for it many times over in the various tax breaks it gave to GM. Take the Compuware Building, take the Detroit Medical Center given to a for-profit company for peanuts. Take Dan Gilbert’s 20 or so buildings. Grab the Illich family’s and the Ford family’s stadiums.
If something really needs to be sold, then sell off the holdings of those whose tax breaks and subsidies put the city in debt.
It’s an outrage that a vast city can be put up for sale in order to squeeze even more wealth out of a population already impoverished for the benefit of those profiteers.
Detroit’s situation may be more extreme, what’s happening may be further along. But Detroit doesn’t stand alone. Jefferson County, surrounding Birmingham Alabama, has just been pushed into bankruptcy because of exotic bank loans for its sewer system. In 2011, five cities in California and 25 other cities in the country were pushed into bankruptcy. In 2012, dozens more followed. Across the country, cities have been pushed deeper and deeper in debt–debt that has been used as the excuse to cut city services to the bone.
This is capitalism at is best, destroying the very places we live, along with the jobs and pensions we depend on. It’s a system whose time has come and gone. Burying it so it can’t ever be found is the only reasonable answer.
Jun 10, 2013
Kids in the Buena Vista School district near Saginaw, Michigan almost did not graduate because the State of Michigan held up their money. Teachers went three weeks without pay. In the end, the state released the money.
But guess who GOT help from the State of Michigan? A corporation in Buena Vista Township! The Michigan Economic Development Corporation just extended a multi-million dollar tax credit for Nexteer Automotive in Buena Vista. With this multi-billion dollar corporation paying next to no school taxes, no wonder Buena Vista school district is going broke!
Jun 10, 2013
According to the latest annual financial report from the trustees of Social Security, the Social Security retirement program is expected to take in 28 billion dollars more than it pays out. Its accumulated surpluses are now approaching three trillion dollars.
What makes this surplus possible ... in the middle of a real jobs depression? Four years after the official start of the economic recovery, there are still six million fewer jobs than there were before the recession started. And most of the new jobs that have been created have been low wage, temporary and part-time that pay next to nothing, the result of a real war carried out against the working class. All of that means that the taxes paid to fund Social Security have gone down.
Despite that, the Social Security surplus went up. One reason is that Social Security taxes are very high: 12.4 per cent of a worker’s wages from the very first dollar that a worker earns, all the way up to $113,700, or the maximum of what a skilled worker makes working a lot of overtime. (Formally, the worker and the employer each pay half of this tax. But in reality, the worker pays the entire tax, since the employer’s share is taken out of the worker’s compensation package and results in lower wages.)
At the same time, Social Security benefits are very, very low. The average monthly benefit in January 2013 was $1,264, or about $15,168 annually. That is less than the minimum wage for a full time worker, and it is barely above the official poverty level.
Of course, that’s the average. Because of the lousy job market, not to speak of the accumulated wear and tear from their jobs, most workers are forced to apply for Social Security at 62 and are therefore penalized with lower monthly benefits. Those who do not have steady work histories also get lower benefits. This is especially true for women, since they often have long spells of reduced employment while caring for young children, aging parents, or other relatives.
Moreover, further cuts in Social Security benefits are automatically being imposed. In 1983, Congress raised the normal retirement age in gradual steps, from 65 to 67, for workers born between 1938 and 1960. When the change is fully effective (for all workers born in 1960 or later), the average benefit at age 65 will be reduced by about 13 per cent. For a worker who retires at age 62, benefits will be 20 per cent lower. Other measures are cutting Social Security income as well, such as the six month delay in the cost of living increase and the taxation of the benefits of most retirees who continue to work.
The government has also been reducing Social Security cost of living adjustments by changing how it calculates the official rate of inflation. In the mid to late 1990s, the Clinton administration introduced a series of changes to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) that reduced the measured rate of annual inflation by more than half a percentage point every year. For a retired worker, this adds up to a five to a seven per cent cut in benefits after 10 years, and a 10 to 14 per cent cut after 20 years, etc.
And that’s just what the Clinton administration did. For more than three decades, presidential administrations have used statistical tricks to “reduce” the official rate of inflation ... and cut COLA increases. The Obama administration’s current proposal to link COLA to a new inflation index that would calculate inflation at a lower rate follows in those other presidential administrations’ footsteps.
The result is that Social Security does not provide “security” for retirees. And that’s an outrage in a country whose workers have produced so much wealth.
Jun 10, 2013
Both the Illinois Assembly and the Senate have voted for cuts to retired workers’ benefits. The bills differ in the way they cut pensions and retiree health, but whatever version passes would significantly worsen retirees’ income.
The politicians say that the pension funds for teachers, city and state workers are many tens of billions of dollars short of what’s needed to pay future pensions. Yes, the pension funds are underfunded–because the state legislature didn’t pay 28 billion dollars it was obligated to pay between 1996 and 2011. In effect, it borrowed from the fund to spend the money for other purposes.
While refusing to meet its pension obligations, the state gave big bucks to business. Each year there are 1.5 billion dollars in so-called corporate tax expenditures, that is, tax breaks for business. For example, the Commodities Mercantile Exchange, which runs trading and speculation in Chicago, had an 85 million dollar reduction in its taxes despite making a 951 million dollar profit. And the state allowed Caterpillar, with 900 million dollars in profits, to pay no corporate income tax.
There is no reason why any public workers’ pension or retiree health plan should be cut. Let the state get back from big business all the money it has taken from the pension funds.
But workers can’t pin their hopes on the Democrats to do that. After all, both houses of the Illinois legislature are controlled by Democrats, elected by the efforts of unions and many workers. They were the ones who engineered this attack.
Jun 10, 2013
The Obama administration has defended federal government snooping on phone calls and emails in the name of preventing terrorism. What the Obama administration has not explained is how extensive this spying is and what it all means.
THAT is better explained by a 40-year veteran of the National Security Agency (NSA), William Binney, who resigned in protest at the end of 2001. He has been speaking out about extensive monitoring of U.S. citizens.
When news broke about a massive domestic surveillance program that collected telephone records on Verizon customers, he stated on Democracy Now: “NSA has been doing all this stuff all along, and it’s been all the companies.”
In a 2012 article in Wired Magazine, Binney explained how the government uses computer programs to look at key words and phrases of phone calls and emails. He explained the government is gathering as much information as it can and storing everything it gathers.
This is data on the entire population, for your entire life.
Any person could end up targeted. The way automated computer systems work, texting about that dog who is “terrorizing” the neighborhood could be taken out of context and bring law enforcement to your door.
Wired also explained that NSA has a new complex in Bluffdale, Utah that will store data. USA Today says it is the largest database ever assembled in the world.
According to fellow NSA whistleblower, Thomas Drake: “The secret surveillance regime really has a hoarding complex....We’re faced with the reality that a government in secret.... is routinely analyzing what is supposed to be private information.”
William Binney added, holding his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”
Both Drake and Binney have been confronted by FBI agents with guns drawn, questioning them. Both understood the intent was to silence them, but still they speak out.
It couldn’t be more clear. The stance of the U.S. government is that no one is to know much of anything about what the government does, but the government must know everything about you.
Jun 10, 2013
Top U.S. journalists have pointed out that threatened prosecutions and spying on journalists are having a chilling effect on reporting about illegal acts committed by the U.S. government.
The Obama administration snooped into Associated Press phone records and recently threatened to prosecute Fox News reporter James Rosen for doing the job of a reporter. According to Slate Magazine, the U.S. government has never successfully prosecuted a reporter for disseminating leaked information.
The “leak” trial of Private Bradley Manning is another example. He faces life in prison for leaking the truth that the U.S. government was committing war crimes.
One former employee at the National Security Agency (NSA), Thomas Drake, leaked information about billions of dollars in government waste and law violations. He faced a life sentence until charges were dropped in 2011.
To date, the Obama administration has launched more leak prosecutions than any other presidential administration.
When freedom of speech comes under attack, it becomes harder to defend all other civil rights.
The chilling message being sent to journalists and to U.S. citizens is clear–the so-called public U.S. government intends to function in secret and in private and reporters are not allowed to report on it.
Jun 10, 2013
The fire that started at 6:00 a.m. on June 3rd in the Jilin Baoyuanfeng poultry processing plant, located on the outskirts of Dehui, about 500 miles northeast of Beijing, resulted in the deaths of at least 120 workers, mostly women. Dozens more were wounded, and more bodies are in all likelihood still buried under the rubble.
Of the plant’s 1,200 employees, it seems that 300 to 350 were on the premises during the 6:00 a.m. shift change. According to different local sources, an explosion due to the ammonia used in the cooling system, or even a short circuit, could have caused the factory to burst into flames. Although the building was new, it was dangerous, thanks to flammable insulation materials covering the dividing walls. These materials were used to maintain the temperature at the necessary level for the carving and packaging of the 67,000 tons of chicken delivered by the factory every year to 20 different cities.
The day after the fire, on June 4th, the friends and loved ones of the victims held an angry demonstration in Dehui. The participants accused the factory owners of flouting the minimum safety precautions and denounced the working conditions, notably the narrow halls used for movement through the building. Several witnesses accused the bosses of keeping most of the exits locked during the shifts, with the goal of preventing workers from going outside to get some fresh air. Only a small door seems to have been kept open, which, in the panic caused by the fire with the lights going out, caused the deaths of all those who remained caught in this trap. Only about one hundred workers were able to escape.
In the agro-industrial zone of Dehui, Jilin Baoyuanfeng is not the largest company. However, there like elsewhere, the bosses consider the workers’ safety as totally secondary, coming well after productivity. Notably, fire safety precautions are totally ignored in a great many Chinese factories, whether in terms of exits, safety equipment, or instructions given to the workforce. Most of the time, the bosses benefit from the voluntary blindness of corrupt local authorities in order to continue production with no regard to the health and the lives of their employees. The coal-mining sector is cited most often for the number of fatalities. However, the number of fires on construction sites and in agro-industrial factories is on the rise–according to the Chinese authorities themselves. In 2011, more than 125,000 workplace fires were recorded, leading to the deaths of more than 1,100 people.
The appetite for profit of the meat-processing capitalists has undoubtedly impacted the working conditions of the workers of Dehui.
Jun 10, 2013
The following article is translated from the June 7 issue of Lutte Ouvrière [Workers’ Struggle], from the journal of the revolutionary organization of the same name active in France.
Without a doubt, it was only the thousandth or the ten-thousandth time that the Turkish police had intervened against demonstrators, using their usual methods. Those who demonstrated against the proposed construction of a shopping mall in the same location as Gezi Park—next to Taksim Square and right in the heart of Istanbul—fell victim to ferocious police assaults on Thursday, May 30th and Friday, May 31st. Water cannons, tear gas, pepper spray, and savage beatings were supposed to have sent the demonstrators back home crippled by blows and to discourage anyone else from joining them. However, things did not turn out this way.
This time, the brutality of the police only increased the protestors’ anger and caused their numbers to grow. Many young people and workers from all the neighborhoods of this immense concentration of 15 million people came to swell the ranks of those opposed to cutting down the trees of Gezi Park. These huge, historic plane trees standing in the middle of Istanbul had offered a relaxing shade. They were supposed to be cut down to feed real estate speculation by friends of the prime minister.
The battle then raged on, resulting in more than a thousand injuries. But the violence of the police proved powerless in the face of the ever-growing number of demonstrators, who built barricades to protect themselves. This clash appeared to go well beyond the question of the venerable trees of Gezi Park. It was a protest against the methods of the government, its constant resort to repression, its disdain for the population, and the attempts by the Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan to impose his morality in order to please the reactionaries who support him.
On Saturday, June 1st, the government was forced to retreat. It ordered the police to withdraw from Taksim Square and the nearby streets. But an ever larger crowd occupied the square instead, shouting the slogan, “Government, resign!” Demonstrators descended into the streets of other neighborhoods of Istanbul, as well as those of the capital Ankara, an Aegean coastal city, and in many more cities, large and small.
As for Erdogan, he feigned indifference and declared that he would continue with his scheduled tour of North African countries. He used the typical excuse of politicians, claiming there were only a handful of demonstrators, manipulated by extremists and by “foreigners.” In fact, he found himself faced with determined masses who had gathered together all across the country. In the evening, the crowds grew even larger, with people coming from work to show their support for those in Taksim Square or other areas. Three union confederations called for a work stoppage on June 4th and 5th, and a general strike was under discussion.
The trees of Gezi Park are saved, at least for the moment, but now the problem of Erdogan’s government remains. His AKP party has won three elections in a row, taking advantage of Turkey’s economic growth. However, after a certain initial caution, the AKP now makes its Islamist and authoritarian approach more clear—attempting to restrict the public sale of alcohol, condemning abortion as murder, using brute force against all demonstrations, and increasing the number of arrests.
Added to all of this is the regime’s engagement in Syria. By supporting the Islamist opposition to Bashar al-Assad and provoking bombings in response like the one in Reyhanli in southeastern Turkey, Erdogan draws Turkey into the crisis more and more. Many reproach him for this. In any case, the rise of conservatism is shocking to an entire section of the Turkish public, which has had enough of the regime’s authoritarianism. This disgust is not limited to the partisans of the social democratic party CHP, a competitor of the AKP, which defends the secular political tradition and would like to take advantage of the current movement.
No matter what threats the prime minister makes, there is no doubt that he is discredited by the demonstrations and upheaval that Turkey is going through. The movement can still develop farther. For many, it is not only the regime, its police, and its pretensions to moral order that are involved, but also its corruption, the sheer power of the bosses, and the exploitation and harshness of daily life, despite the economic prowess that Erdogan brags about. Not only can the working class participate in the movement—it can organize on its own basis, putting forward its own demands and affirming itself as a political force that wants to end this society based on exploitation.
Many of the workers and young people who have mobilized will not be satisfied with the vague prospect of political change at the head of the government. Such a movement teaches a much stronger lesson than any speech. Its participants were able to measure, in the streets of Istanbul and many other cities, their size and the strength of their feelings. They can also learn how to defeat not only the cops of Taksim Square, but also the bourgeoisie and its government.
Jun 10, 2013
The following is a press release from the web site of Lutte Ouvrière [Workers’ Struggle], by the revolutionary organization in France of the same name.
On June 5th in Paris, right-wing thugs beat to death the young left-wing militant Clément Méric. He was eighteen years old.
For several months, the far right has strutted about and become bolder using the pretext of demonstrations against gay marriage. Even though the National Front condemns this violence, this right-wing party shares the same ideas as the perpetrators. Their common objective is an anti-worker dictatorship, in which the Roma people and illegal immigrants, the union activists, the left and far-left militants, and homosexuals would all be hunted down and attacked. The right is entirely ready to come to an agreement with them.
Skinheads like those who assassinated this young militant are barbarians. For the moment, they are not used as shock troops against the workers’ movement. But it would be naïve not to prepare the most conscious workers and left-wing militants for the political struggles against the far right that the further development of the crisis could require.
In order to confront the rise of such a danger, there is nothing that can be hoped for from any “left” government, no matter what label they use. The government will be just as powerless when faced with the far right as it is now when faced with the policy of the bosses. Only the workers, when they are united and when they fight consciously and collectively in order to impose measures of survival, can represent a force that gives hope to the other impoverished parts of the population. Only such a force would be capable of sweeping away the danger of the far right. We must urgently work to reinforce these ideas in the working class and in other layers of the population.
Jun 10, 2013
The following are excerpts from an editorial that appeared in the newspaper of Lutte Ouvrière the week before the murder of a young activist by right-wing thugs.
The right took advantage of the end of the ban on gay marriage to organize nearly 40 demonstrations, including a massive one in Paris.
The lifting of the ban simply allows gay couples to have a family life the same as anybody else’s. But the right-wing chose to transform the debate over this issue into warfare.
The right-wing is cashing in on the fact that society has conservative people with reactionary prejudices. The majority of those who came out to demonstrate may have quietly shown their reactionary values, but that gave room for others to act far less peacefully. Some of those little reactionary groups may have attacked the police, but also they have attacked some gay people and some journalists.
All this may seem far from the problems of workers, but it concerns us because those on the marches against gay equal rights are the political and social enemies of the workers.
In fact, these little groups of right wingers might decide, after they attack gay people and left-wing journalists, to go after the Roma (gypsy) people or immigrant workers or union militants, and everyone else who doesn’t think like the extreme right. They can represent a danger for workers.
These demonstrations against gay marriage are over, but anti-worker, reactionary, nationalist and xenophobic ideas are not gone—they are daily thrown around by the right and extreme-right, who pretend to be opponents of the government.
Perhaps the pressure from the right will lead workers to take up the political issues, at the same time they must try to defend their jobs and their wages.
It’s a fight on the ground of class—workers must be conscious that their material and political interests are intimately connected. They must learn to distinguish who are their false friends and real enemies.
To fight for their interests, to fight against layoffs, to fight to keep their wages and to control working conditions in the plants and the banks, workers must attract and lead forward all those who today suffer from unemployment, tiny pensions, all kinds of misery. Only in this way can one say the people have spoken.
Jun 10, 2013
Students graduating from D.C. public high schools have many reasons to celebrate. And yes, they have every reason to want to cross the stage in their cap and gown.
But the schools are charging up to $400 to participate in graduation ceremonies!
Another sign of politicians’ and administrators’ absolute scorn for working class students and their families.
Jun 10, 2013
Many of Washington, D.C.’s growing numbers of speeding and red-light cameras sure make a lot of money. One speed camera on New York Avenue N.E. near the farmers market issued more than 150,000 tickets over two years, charging drivers more than 17 million dollars. Another speed camera at 22nd and K Streets N.W. issued more than 46,000 tickets in six months, bringing in more than seven million dollars. The average ticket is more than $100.
Just another tax on working people masquerading as “safety.”
Jun 10, 2013
Many workers had a three-day holiday over the Memorial Day weekend. It was good to have the time off. But gas averaged $4.24 a gallon in the Chicago area. That means it takes a lot of hours of work to pay for a short trip out of town over the holidays. We suffer from this so the giant oil companies can enjoy super profits.
Jun 10, 2013
Last month, the commission that runs the state-owned Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum agreed to lease the stadium to privately owned University of Southern California (USC).
This lease is a very lucrative deal for USC and a huge giveaway for the public. USC will control the stadium for 99 years without buying the property, and get nearly all of the Coliseum’s money- making assets, like naming and advertising rights, and ticket and concession receipts. But, if a catastrophe hits Los Angeles, like an earthquake damaging the stadium, taxpayers will foot the bill. In return, USC has only one promise: they will “renovate” the stadium, whatever that means.
Also, USC is seeking to control six potentially highly profitable state-owned parking lots next to the stadium, which now serve Los Angeles’ Exposition Park museums. This parking deal would drastically reduce attendance to the museums that educate the public, like the Science Center.
The private university USC is no different than any other corporation: these “free enterprises” are enriching their owners by grabbing public money.
Jun 10, 2013
A CSX train carrying chemicals collided with a garbage truck in a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland on Tuesday, May 28 at about 2 p.m. The truck driver was sent to the hospital as some rail cars caught fire. A loud explosion, heard for miles, rocked the Rosedale area following the crash.
This 45-car train, traveling from New York to Georgia, saw one third of the train derail from the tracks. One train car contained sodium chlorate, a hazardous material that can explode when exposed to fire. It can irritate the lungs, and when burning, the gas is toxic enough to harm human liver and kidneys. Another chemical being transported on the CSX train was terephthalic acid, which did explode. While it isn’t listed as hazardous, the safety information says long-term exposure can cause respiratory problems. Another rail car was empty, but had traces of fluoracetic acid, which is considered extremely toxic to humans. When it burns, it produces poisonous gases.
The economic system we live in is willing to risk the health of millions of people. In transportation, they look for the cheapest way to transport dangerous materials through cities. But we know that accidents will happen.
We need to change the system to protect ourselves and our future.
Jun 10, 2013
Saturday, June 22nd, Detroit will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Detroit Freedom Walk led by Dr. Martin Luther King in 1963.
It is estimated that more than 125,000 people marched in Detroit in 1963. It was, up to that point, the largest civil rights demonstration in U.S. history.
The year 1963 had already witnessed the massive mobilization of the black population of Birmingham, Alabama against the racism being imposed on them. These demonstrations continued for three months and culminated in Bull Connor being forced out as head of city government. King’s speech in Detroit in 1963 referenced protest movements in more than 60 other communities following the Birmingham events.
It was this militancy on the part of the black population that, in the 10 years to follow, pushed back racism and opened the possibility for real social change. By the time of King’s speech in Detroit, important sections of the black population had moved beyond King’s philosophy of non-violent protest and of working within the system. They embraced a much more radical demand for “justice now” and, as Malcolm X said, “by any means necessary.” King and government authorities feared that the freedom marches would result in a militant fight of the population that could not be contained within a “peaceful” framework. But for King, it was not possible to decline to participate and still retain leadership of the movement.
The urban rebellions, or “riots” as they have been called, began in 1963 in Birmingham and were followed by massive social explosions–from Harlem, Watts, Cleveland, Chicago–to Detroit and Newark in 1967 and almost every city in 1968, when King was assassinated. It was, finally, these urban rebellions that forced the bourgeoisie and their representatives to begin hiring black workers into the plants and workplaces previously segregated; these jobs enabled black people to afford housing in previously segregated areas.
In Detroit, for the first time, black workers were hired into decent paying jobs in auto and city and state government. The city was flooded with money for schools, for recreation centers and libraries and for social programs of all kinds.
But at the same time, while forced to address the immediate needs of the black population, those who ran the city were clearly already formulating a strategy to take down the city; to divest it of wealth and property, and to leave it impoverished. While the famous “white flight” was undoubtedly a problem, the withdrawal of finance capital and business that followed the rebellion was the work of those at the top of the economic heap. It was this that forced the real flight out of the city, and not just of white workers, but of the wider population. In the words of the head of the famous downtown Hudson’s department store, Joseph L. Hudson, on the fifth anniversary of the 1967 Detroit rebellion: “The black man has the feeling he is about to take power in the city. But he is going to be left with an empty bag.”
First, banking establishments withdrew to north of Eight Mile. Southfield, a “bedroom” community of Detroit, became the financial banking center while businesses and stores were closed in the city. Detroit was left with a vacant downtown in place of a vibrant inner city.
Today, the upper class is once again interested in Detroit–to make it their playground and to renovate what they want renovated. They blame the population and crooked politicians for the indebtedness of the city and propose to make us pay by giving up our schools and land, jobs and pensions.
Will they succeed in forcing us to pay for the next 30 or 50 years for the debt they and the banks imposed on us? Or will they see an upsurge of the population that takes us forward and beyond the groundwork laid by the Freedom March of 1963 and the rebellions that followed?
Jun 10, 2013
The trial of a Detroit cop, Joseph Weekley, in the death of a 7-year-old black girl named Aiyana Jones, is currently underway.
Though it is impossible to predict at this time what the outcome will be, Weekley happens to be the cop who fired the particular bullet that killed Aiyana and he is facing the lightest charges possible for her killing, involuntary manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm.
But he is hardly the only one responsible for Aiyana’s death. Aiyana was killed when police raided her grandmother’s home looking for a suspect in the killing of a man outside a nearby convenience store. The cops came with a cable TV crew in tow filming video for the cable TV reality cop show The First 48.
Everyone who made a series of decisions, all to create dramatic effect for the cameras, from Weekley’s police commanders to the show’s producers, are equally guilty in the girl’s death.
They chose to carry out the raid after midnight, when everyone would be home and asleep. They knew there could be children present, since they had been there before. They knew Aiyana’s grandmother, Mertilla Jones, had lived there a long time and has eight children and 22 grandchildren, who visit her often.
They decided the cops should toss a flash-bang grenade into the home, the sole purpose of which was to disorient those inside, creating the chaos that led to the shooting. The cops, dressed in full SWAT team regalia, even busted in the door, despite the fact the door was unlocked. The cops could be seen in the video footage mugging for the cameras. One of them was heard making a racist joke about the suspect.
All those in charge of this cop drama gone awry should be charged with the murder of Aiyana Jones.
Police brutality and shootings of black people happen all the time, and rarely get this much attention. If this killing seems more gross, it’s because it was a 7-year-old who was killed. When it’s someone older, the police have an easier time sweeping it under the rug.
It is why there is a feeling in the population of the city that this was one too many–precisely because it’s not an isolated incident. Those feelings could be the basis for a new social movement, which is the only way to force the police to stop their deadly racist practices.