Raleigh-Durham Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST)

Revolutionary socialist youth in the US South

March on Wall Street South

Posted by raleighfist on April 27, 2012

By Ben Carroll

From Sept. 1-6, poor and working people from across the world will march on the “Wall Street of the South” in Charlotte, N.C.

The Coalition to Protest at the Democratic National Convention held its national organizing conference April 14 in Charlotte to discuss action plans. Activists from throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Detroit, Atlanta, New York City and Philadelphia discussed and adopted action plans for the first week in September.

The coalition represents more than 60 organizations from across the country, including organized labor, peace and anti-war groups, students and youth, immigrant rights organizations, Occupy groups and more.

Reports and updates were heard from members of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee; Committee to Stop FBI Repression; Coalition to March on the RNC; Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO; the Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs; North Carolina Coalition Against Corporate Power; Occupy 4 Jobs Network; United 4 the Dream; Occupy groups throughout North Carolina and other states; and the Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement, among others.

Plans for actions take shape

The conference resolved to call a major March on Wall Street South demonstration on Sunday, Sept. 2. Charlotte is second only to New York City in the amount of finance capital concentrated in the city. It is home to the world headquarters of Bank of America and the eastern headquarters of Wells Fargo, two of the most notorious and hated institutions among the big banks because of the attacks they are making on our communities — with home foreclosures, student loan debt, funding the prison-industrial complex and more.

Other actions discussed and adopted for the week of Sept. 1-6 include a Southern Worker’s Assembly; a People’s Tribunal on the Banks; supporting Charlotte’s Labor Day march; and a Youth/Student “Education not Deportation” Festival. Occupy events and actions will also take place throughout the week.

Mayra Arteaga, an activist with the youth immigrant rights group United 4 the Dream, reported that “The conference went extremely well. There was a lot of support from other organizations to help us mobilize Latino/a youth and students to participate in the actions around the DNC, especially the ‘Education not Deportation’ festival, and to encourage us in our goals to get the word out about the need for education in this country.”

Organizers demand right to protest

The city of Charlotte still has not granted any protest permits despite the coalition’s efforts to secure permits for the past seven months. If the city does not grant them, the coalition will launch a major campaign to demand the city issue permits.

The coalition, along with leaders from organizations across the U.S., held a press conference at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on April 13 to announce plans to march during the DNC and to again demand permits. Elena Everett, co-chair of the Legal and Permits working group of the coalition, said, “The rights of the people to present their demands for economic, social and political justice to the delegates of a major electoral party must not be curtailed by excessive delay tactics.”

“We won’t tolerate any effort to stop us from exercising our constitutional rights to protest,” said Larry Holmes, with Occupy 4 Jobs in New York. “If they have to arrest 10,000 of us, if we have to fill the jails … we will be here.”

Reports from RNC organizing

A delegation from the Coalition to March on the RNC traveled from Florida to attend the conference and report on their organizing for protests during the Republican National Convention, to be held in Tampa from Aug. 27-30. Their coalition is also fighting the city of Tampa for permits to march on the opening day of the convention. The two coalitions are working closely together and building solidarity for demonstrations at the conventions of the two pro-war, pro-Wall-Street parties.

An organizer with the N.C. Coalition Against Corporate Power also gave an update on an upcoming major demonstration at Bank of America’s shareholders’ meeting on May 9 in Charlotte.

Next steps

Overall, the conference represented a big step forward in the work to build for demonstrations during the DNC and to sharpen the focus on the big banks and corporations that call Charlotte home.

Over the coming months, organizers with the coalition will be participating in many mobilizations across the country as well as conducting an organizing and outreach tour to help spread the word and engage a broader base around the Sept. 1-6 actions.

For more information and to find out how you can get involved, visit protestdnc.org, email info@protestdnc.org, or call 704-266-0362.

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Guns, racist terror and self-defense

Posted by raleighfist on April 24, 2012

By Caleb Maupin

In New York City, it is illegal to carry a firearm, whether a handgun or sporting rifle, without a permit. With this ban as an excuse, the New York City Police Department carries out a policy of “stop and frisk” that is aimed primarily at youth of color.

The police, for no legal reason, frequently stop Black and Latino/a youth and pat them down under the guise of hoping to find illicit weapons. The justifications given for these degrading “stop and frisks” are outrageous, such as “a suspicious bulge” or “furtive motions.” As a coalition of mostly young Black activists fighting this policy put it, the real reason is almost always nothing more than “walking while Black.”

Recently, Ramarley Graham was walking home in the Bronx. He was stopped by police, but rather than be searched, he escaped. In response, the police stalked him and fatally shot him in his apartment.

There is a group of “gun rights” activists who call themselves the Second Amendment Movement, referring to the part of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees the right of the people to bear arms. However, they are not involved in the struggle against “stop and frisk.” Nor can they be found among those who have been part of the heroic civil disobedience campaigns and protests aimed at this repressive policy.

This right-wing movement instead campaigns for capitalist politicians, rails against communism and now champions the racist killer George Zimmerman.

They and the rest of the gun lobby are sponsored by firearms manufacturers and the military-industrial complex. The aim of these forces is not to protect oppressed people from the repressive capitalist state, but to protect and reinforce the racists and vigilantes who terrorize oppressed people.

In addition, these groups whip up racist stereotypes and fear of crime in order to sell more of their products. They promote this vile racism, resulting in more senseless killings.

Does this mean that a ban on firearms would be a good thing? No! A ban on firearms would be a setback for the workers and oppressed peoples of the U.S.

Right to self-defense

Racist murderers like George Zimmerman and his racist ilk in the Ku Klux Klan and other neofascist vigilante groups will always be able to obtain weapons. Their allies in the police departments, the FBI and other organs of the state will enable them to wage terror against oppressed people, whatever laws exist.

A ban on firearms would also not disarm the racist murderers in the police departments throughout the country. The Pentagon brass, the greatest collection of armed, warmongering profiteers, would remain armed to the teeth.

Marxist-Leninists unapologetically defend the right of workers and oppressed people to defend themselves with any means available. Historically, there have been many occasions in the people’s struggle for justice where guns have been utilized.

When civil rights activists were being murdered in the South, the Monroe, N.C., chapter of the NAACP, under the leadership of Robert F. Williams and Mae Mallory, beat back KKK terror in the 1960s through armed self-defense of their community. The Black Panther Party shook up the racist establishment when its young members patrolled Oakland, Calif., monitoring the activities of the police while carrying shotguns and law books.

During the Depression, when Nazis from the Silver Legion of America mobilized to attack the Teamsters in Minneapolis, the union, led by communists, formed workers’ defense guards. This caused the fascists to back down.

For years coal miners had to arm themselves against the violence of company goons trying to break their union.

As long as class oppression and racist violence exist, workers and oppressed people will need to defend their just struggles, sometimes with weapons in hand. It is a right that must not be surrendered.

Posted in Economic Crisis, Education, Imperialism, Labor, Occupy Movement, Socialism, South, White Supremacy, Youth in Action | Leave a Comment »

No Justice, No Peace!

Posted by raleighfist on April 10, 2012

By Monica Moorehead

April 10 was declared “National Hoodie Day” and “An International Day for Justice” in honor of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African American who was lynched by a vigilante’s bullet in Sanford, Fla.

Thousands of people were expected to protest around the country on what marked the 44th day since George Zimmerman shot to death the unarmed Martin as he was coming home from a store. Zimmerman tried to justify the killing by claiming that Martin looked “suspicious” because he was wearing a hoodie.

The police said they decided not to arrest Zimmerman because he was protected by the “Stand Your Ground” law — a Florida law that upholds an act of self-defense as justification for maiming or even killing the so-called perpetrator without facing prosecution. The Sanford police have a notorious reputation for not arresting anyone accused of assaulting Black men.

On April 9, special prosecutor Angela Corey announced that a grand jury would not be convened to hear testimony on whether Zimmerman should be charged with killing Martin. She added that the investigation would continue. Whether or not Zimmerman will be charged with the killing of Martin is a source of both confusion and anger for the masses, who want to see justice served for Martin and his family.

The main question being asked is why it is taking so long for the Florida authorities to make a decision when all the evidence points to the fact that Martin died solely for “walking while Black” in a gated neighborhood. Some in the media are saying that even if Zimmerman is arrested, he will most likely not be charged with first-degree murder but with manslaughter. Only time will tell.

Resistance, voices of outrage grow

On the same day that Corey made her announcement, six young students — Black, Latino/a and white — locked arms and sat down in front of the Sanford Police Department headquarters, blocking the front entrance. These youth and their supporters sang traditional Civil Rights songs, updating the words to apply to justice for Trayvon. Their actions forced the police to shut down the station for several hours.

On the weekend of April 7-8, 40 college students marched from Daytona Beach to Sanford in support of Martin. Across the country on April 8, motorcyclists of all nationalities, genders and gender expressions mobilized for Trayvon Martin by driving in processions while wearing hoodies. Black motorcycle riders rode together in Durham, Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Charlotte, N.C., to demand justice for Trayvon. Recently in Anchorage, Alaska, the NAACP organized a rally for him during a snowstorm.

More than 300 protesters, mostly African Americans, marched to Dudley Square in Roxbury, a neighborhood in Boston, on April 6 to demand justice for Trayvon Martin. There were many youth as well as leaders from the most independent, activist ranks of the community. Speakers at the rally were Tony Van Der Meer, Rosa Parks Human Rights Day Committee founder and professor of Africana Studies at UMass, Boston; Bishop Filipe Teixeira Ofsjc, an immigrant rights leader from Brockton, Mass.; Boston City Councilor Charles Yancey; and Corey Yarborough, executive director of the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition of Boston.

The Rev. Cortly “C. D.” Witherspoon, president of the Baltimore Southern Christian Leadership Conference and an organizer of the March 26 Baltimore protest of 10,000 for Trayvon Martin, proclaimed, “Thousands of people came out in the streets of Baltimore to express their outrage and anger. We are turning our attention to organizing our next steps. We, along with the Occupy 4 Jobs Network and the All Peoples Congress, have formed an umbrella committee, Justice 4 Trayvon Martin, Maryland LOC, which is calling for an emergency response if special prosecutor Angela Corey does not indict Zimmerman. If this happens, we have called on people to join us downtown, where we intend, by our sheer numbers and our dedication, to shut business as usual. We occupied City Hall and stopped the evening hearings on March 26; we can occupy Baltimore City’s downtown.”

Sharon Black, Baltimore All Peoples Congress organizer and representative of the local Occupy 4 Jobs, stated, “We have been inspired by the Dream Defenders and are planning a Trayvon Martin march to Washington, D.C., walking 41 miles to the Justice Department to join the Occupy and Mumia movement on April 24.”

The legendary retired basketball player Earvin “Magic” Johnson said on CNN on April 10 that many players in the National Basketball Association can relate to the Trayvon Martin case because they come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds. Johnson also called for the arrest of Zimmerman.

Demonstrations along with teach-ins, prayer vigils and civil disobedience have mushroomed around the country for the past three weeks once this case gained national attention on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. Million Hoodie Marches took place during the latter part of March in dozens of cities. International demonstrations have taken place in London, Paris, Australia, India and elsewhere.

Racist backlash & capitalism

The fact that the police have allowed Zimmerman to remain free has not only evoked an anti-racist response of outrage but has also emboldened racist reaction. The senseless murder of Trayvon Martin has helped to rip off the facade of a “post-racial” society that many believed the election of U.S. President Barack Obama signaled. Even Obama, who carries out the interests of Wall Street and the Pentagon, has received death threats from the ultra-racist right-wing since he has been in office. As the global capitalist economic crisis accelerates, notwithstanding some temporary ebbs and flows, so does racist repression.

Racist graffiti praising Zimmerman’s actions was spray painted on a wall of the Ohio State University building where the Black Student Union has its office. A racial slur against Martin was seen on a neon sign off a major interstate near Dearborn, Mich. When five graffiti artists created a mural in tribute to Martin in Elmswood Park, N.J., local officials forced them to remove it, claiming that the mural “promoted a gang mentality.”

An eighth-grade teacher of color, Brooke Harris, was fired at a non-unionized charter school last month in Pontiac, Mich., for promoting a fundraiser for Martin’s family, which grew out of classroom discussions with her students about the killing. Harris, a two-time Teacher of the Year recipient, stated that many of her students, a majority of whom are African-American, expressed that what happened to Trayvon could also happen to them. Her class was also planning to organize a “wear-a-hoodie day” in memory of Trayvon. The school administration charged that Harris’ actions were a “distraction” from the students’ academic studies. A petition demanding her reinstatement can be found at change.org.

The police killing of African-American U.S. Marine veteran Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. in White Plains, N.Y., this past Nov. 19; the random shootings of five Black people, resulting in three deaths, in Tulsa, Okla., by neo-Nazis on April 7; the police killing of Michael Lembhard in Newburgh, N.Y., on March 7; and now the Trayvon Martin killing are just recent examples of how Black lives in the capitalist U.S. are viewed as expendable, like trash. Both Chamberlain and Lembhard were shot multiple times by the police in their homes. In both instances, there were no arrests.

Vigilantes like Zimmerman and the Tulsa neo-Nazis are given the green light to carry out their extra-legal murderous assaults. Neo-Nazis were reported by ABC News to be roaming the streets of Sanford, threatening the Black community. The police as a deadly force are given carte blanche by pro-rich laws to unleash their legal terror on the masses, especially if they are Black and Brown. It is just a matter of time before the frustrated masses decide there is no other recourse but to rebel, when justice is denied them by the courts and the police.

No matter how the Trayvon Martin case or the other individual cases of heinous injustice play out, the masses are more and more waking up to the fact that this capitalist system not only denies them any real justice, but also cannot provide them quality jobs, education and other human needs. The killing of Trayvon Martin has helped to kick the door wide open for a burgeoning new movement. The key is to keep this door permanently open until a new society, based on providing equality and opportunities for all, arises out of the ashes of this rotten, capitalist system that relies on the doctrine of white supremacy and protecting the private property of the 1%.

Posted in Economic Crisis, Education, General, Imperialism, Labor, South, White Supremacy, Youth in Action | Leave a Comment »

Racism robs Black youth of their dreams

Posted by raleighfist on April 6, 2012

By Larry Hales

Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old Black youth killed by racist vigilante George Zimmerman, was robbed of any opportunities that the future may have held for him. His parents were robbed of their son, his younger stepbrother a guiding hand, his girlfriend, other family members and friends a person who brought them immense joy, laughter, heartache — all the gifts and frustrations that a loved one brings.

And that he was killed by a man who by his own admission chased him because he was Black and wearing a hoodie, yet still walks free because of some dubiously written law, makes the tragedy that much greater.

Many wonder how Zimmerman remains free when the facts of the case are so clear. Trayvon had no weapon and was significantly lighter than Zimmerman, outweighed by nearly 100 pounds.

Trayvon was the one being stalked and then chased in fear for his life. This was validated by the young woman on the other end of the telephone call with Trayvon as the young man fled.

It would seem that the specific provisions of the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law would contravene the decision of the Sanford Police Department to allow Zimmerman to walk free, citing his right to self-defense.

However, this is U.S. society, where the seeds of white supremacy were first planted, a country built on the most extreme forms of oppression and repression. Therefore a law may be written in general, but the atmosphere is poisoned by racism and national oppression. The Florida statute may state that the person using deadly force has to reasonably believe that his or her life is in danger, Zimmerman may have outweighed Trayvon, and Trayvon’s only weapons may have been a can of iced tea and a bag of Skittles, but apparently his Blackness was not only enough to draw suspicion but justified the use of deadly force.

The overwhelming evidence showing that a young Black man was executed by a vigilante and then again by a police force that is on record for covering up crimes, especially committed against people of color, begs the question — what is the value of a Black life?

Justice for Trayvon would mean that Zimmerman is arrested, tried and imprisoned; that the entire police department and the officers involved are fired and then tried for covering up the facts of this case; and that the SYG law, in a racist society like this one, is repealed. That would be merely the beginning.

Countless Trayvon Martins

What of Ramarley Graham, the young Black male shot in his bathroom in front of his grandmother and six-year-old brother in Bronx, N.Y., earlier this year?

What of Travis McNeal killed by Miami cops Feb. 11, 2011, when he and his cousin were stopped while driving, or of Decarlos Moore, Joel Lee Johnson and the four other unarmed Black men killed by Miami police last year?

What of 18-year-old Dane Scott Jr. shot in the back by police after a car chase in Del City, Okla., this year?

What about the many more unknown innocent Black men and women beaten, killed or humiliated by police all across the country, or the millions of Black women and men in jail, prison or on parole or probation? These are victims of the racist criminal justice system and of a society that cuts back on spending for schools and allows a greatly disproportionate number of people of color to be jobless, homeless and without hope of finding a well-paying job so they can care for themselves and their families.

The Black unemployment rate is still over 14 percent, and if that number alone isn’t enough to indicate how dire the situation is, a more accurate account reveals that only 56.6 percent of the Black population is employed. For Black youth the unemployment rate is over 40 percent, and the employment ratio is barely over 50 percent.

In his 1967 speech “Where Do We Go From Here,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “Of the good things in life, the Negro has approximately one half those of whites. Of the bad things of life, he has twice those of whites.”

That remains so, in housing especially, considering that a large number of people being foreclosed are people of color, with a high number Black. Adjustable rate mortgages were forced on them where the payments quadrupled after four or five years. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, 11 percent of Black homeowners lost their homes from 2007 to the present.

The Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness reports that Black families are seven times more likely to be homeless than whites and 38.8 percent of sheltered people in families are Black. A 2009 Regal Magazine article states that 49 percent of homeless people in total are Black.

Those who live in poverty or near poverty number are about 150 million. The official poverty threshold for a family of four is $24,343, and even a family with a household income of $49,000 struggles.

The average Black household income measured in 2011 was $32,000, a decline of 3.2 percent from the prior year.

Though the statistics appear stark enough, it is important to elucidate the reasons behind the conditions that Black people in the U.S. and all people of color really face.

What is the value of a Black life?

To repeat, what is the value of a Black life? All life is precious. But a system that places the profits of a few over the needs of the many turns the just mentioned mantra on its head. How can life be precious if the necessities of it are commodities to be sold for profit? How can life be precious if much of humanity is engaged in selling their labor to make wealth they will never see for a wage designed to ensure that the buyer of the labor gets their profit and becomes richer still?

It is people of color, Black, Latino/a, Indigenous, Arab and Asian who disproportionately live on the fringes, suffering from years of conquest, genocide, slavery, apartheid and racism — all symptoms of national oppression. Because of their conditions, they are the greatest impetus for change.

National oppression is a byproduct of the for-profit system, a weapon to keep working people and their families from seeing their commonness, to keep people fighting amongst one another over differences in culture, religion and other beliefs.

Trayvon Martin had his life to look forward to. He was just beginning to dream, to piece together what he wanted his adult self to be, but he was a victim of the racism that pervades U.S. society. He was no less than any other 17-year-old, and he may have gone on to do great things, become a leader or a scientist — one will never know.

But, what is sure, is that for any young person, especially an oppressed person, to be guaranteed to reach their full potential, the society that has created disproportionate suffering and hardship based on skin color must be thrown into the dustbin of history, and a new one must be born. Trayvon may have been the leader of such a struggle, but as it is, it will have to be waged in memory of him and all those young Black and other oppressed youth who were victimized until they were sent to an early grave.

Posted in Economic Crisis, Education, Imperialism, Labor, Occupy Movement, South, White Supremacy, Youth in Action | Leave a Comment »

Mental Health Workers Challenge Lawmakers

Posted by raleighfist on April 5, 2012

By Dante Strobino

Public mental health workers from across North Carolina, members of United Electrical Workers Local 150, the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union, with support from Rev. William Barber II, President of N.C. NAACP, and members of Occupy Raleigh converged on the state legislature on March 13 to deliver a message to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services.

Workers in UE 150 have been fighting for the state to pass House Bill 287 (SB 481), the Mental Health Workers Bill of Rights. However, even after months of written requests, State Rep. Nelson Dollar and Sen. Louis Pate denied front-line workers even five minutes to share their expertise and concerns.

Since the workers were not allowed to address the meeting, they went inside the committee room with one letter pinned to each worker’s shirt, spelling out “LISTEN TO WORKERS.” They stood before the committee in silence making their statement that the workers must have a voice to ensure standards for quality care.

The workers delivered packets of information and a letter about the poor working and service conditions that workers and patients currently face, including 1) continuously and outrageously high rates of worker injuries at Cherry Hospital; 2) the sudden release of several hundred agency-hired, privatized workers without immediate replacement with state workers at Central Regional Hospital, causing severe understaffing and forced overtime; and 3) the unfair discharge of 10 workers whom UE 150 helped reinstate over the last 18 months, along with six more cases still pending.

These cases have cost the state more than $2 million in back wages, legal fees and training, and have forced workers to bear a huge burden of upfront costs, including cashing out their retirement funds early.

To address the issues that face all workers in the Department of Health and Human Services, the Mental Health Workers Bill of Rights would give workers the right to adequate staffing levels, training, a fair grievance procedure, the right to a safe workplace and the right to refuse excessive overtime, among other rights.

UE 150 members around the state have collected more than 2,000 postcards (and plan to collect over 10,000 before the legislature opens in May) and many resolutions from churches calling for passage of the bill.

At a press conference called by UE 150, Kevin Yancey, a youth program assistant 2 at Murdoch Developmental Center in Butner, N.C., explained why they went to the legislature. “The more we would call the legislative members, the less we would hear from them. We’d hear from their staff that they’d ‘get back to us,’ but they’d never get back to us.”

Cuts cause workplace injuries

Occupational Safety and Health and injury logs at Cherry Hospital in Goldsboro, N.C., showed that workers had more than a 40 percent chance of getting a bad injury in 2010 and a 32 percent chance in 2011. Workers’ recent complaints there led to an investigation that is currently being conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These logs show a large increase in total days missed from work due to injuries at all state-operated facilities in the DHHS.

“There are a number of serious injuries at Cherry Hospital recently, bones have been broken, one staff was choked unconscious, and the severity of the injuries is horrible. That is part of the reason that I will be retiring early at age 62, after 21 years of service to the state. I want to be able to enjoy my retirement and not suffer from workplace injury,” stated Larsene Taylor, health-care technician at Cherry Hospital and Chair of UE 150 DHHS Council. “All the issues that workers spoke out about today are core elements of our Mental Health Workers Bill of Rights. Our voices must be heard!”

DHHS has cut 1,179 positions in state mental health facilities since the 2001 Mental Health Reform plan was implemented, which contributed further to already severely understaffed units. This includes 321 positions cut since June 2010.

“Several hundred agency-privatized workers were let go by Central Regional Hospital. However, they did not hire nearly enough state workers to replace them. Most units are understaffed by a handful of workers,” stated Bernell Terry, health-care technician at Central Regional Hospital, and UE 150 Chapter Vice President. “We were already understaffed before all the agency workers were let go. This has forced us to be severely understaffed.”

The lack of adequate resources and fair standards, as described in the Mental Health Workers Bill of Rights, is the true cause of the serious problems undermining the efforts by workers to provide quality care to mental health patients and patients with disabilities. The department and the media like to blame the workers.

The letter delivered by UE 150 members calls on the committee to do the following before the beginning of the May legislative session: 1) recommend passage of the Bill of Rights to the standing committees; 2) investigate the number of workers who have been unfairly fired, who quit or who have retired early over the last two years as a result of poor working conditions and a hostile work environment; and 3) send delegations of legislators to all state mental health facilities to hear directly from the workers, without interference by management, about the working conditions they face that make it too difficult to provide quality care.

The workers in the union will be meeting to discuss the next steps to assure their voices are heard.

Posted in Economic Crisis, Gender System, General, Labor, South, White Supremacy | Leave a Comment »

NC Students Mobilize, Take Action

Posted by raleighfist on April 1, 2012

By Andy Koch

 

More than 300 students from across North Carolina stormed and occupied the University of North Carolina Board of Governors meeting Feb. 10, forcing the unelected, mostly ruling-class board members to exit out the back door of their own building. Moments before, the board had approved unprecedented tuition hikes, resulting in the students fighting back with the strongest resistance the state has seen in years.

The statewide student movement took another stride forward on March 24. Education activists with the NC Defend Education Coalition came together in Greensboro to plan their next move in the struggle against the attacks on public education engineered by the board and the state legislature — both of which are controlled by North Carolina’s capitalist ruling class.

The gathering was dedicated to the memory of Trayvon Martin, the murdered youth in Florida. Seventy education activists, students, community leaders and veteran freedom fighters came from across North Carolina. At the conclusion of the conference, attendees joined with more than 400 community members to march in the streets of Greensboro to demand justice for Trayvon Martin and an end to all the racist attacks on Black youth and all youth of color.

The meeting’s keynote speech was delivered by Waldemiro Velez Soto, a leader of the vibrant Puerto Rican student movement, which has waged two highly successful general strikes in recent years against privatization, rising tuition, police on campus, neoliberal reform of education, and assaults on the entire public sector.

“When they tried to attack our dreams of an education, we decided to get organized,” Velez Soto said. “We brought our own proposals and ideas of how the university should be run. Then they attacked, and we went on strike!”

The strikes shut down the entire University of Puerto Rico system and won a temporary hold on tuition hikes as well as amnesty for all strikers, who endured 320 arrests. In 2011, the movement in Puerto Rico forced the UPR president to resign, and today the struggle continues.

Uniting against the 1%

Participating in the conference were representatives of eight public universities, two community colleges and a high school. Representatives from several labor and community organizations also attended.

One student speaking on the opening discussion panel addressed the effects of these attacks on communities of color. “I’m from an HBCU [historically Black college or university], and they say when America gets a cold, Black America gets the flu,” said Grace Anderson of Winston-Salem State University. “I see it all around me. Our school struggles on a daily basis, so the tuition hikes and budget cuts are hitting us especially hard.”

Participants spent the day discussing their experiences in the struggle, sharing organizing skills, strategizing and making concrete plans for how to intensify the fight to defend public education.

“For me, the whole day was a great opportunity to share and learn,” explained Raul Arce, an activist in Fight Imperialism Stand Together (FIST), a socialist youth group. “I led a discussion to share what I know on the struggle for the DREAM Act by undocumented youth, and also got to attend a workshop on how to build student-worker solidarity.”

While the conference showed a rich diversity of issues, struggles and views, all attendees were unified and clear on who their common enemy is: the banks and corporations, the capitalists. “This economic crisis that they are trying to make us pay for wasn’t created by Latinos, Black folks or the workers of this country,” said Velez Soto. “It was created by the banks, politicians and managers of corporate interests.”

The conference ended with a general assembly-style discussion of the next steps of the NC Defend Education Coalition. Plans included all-out mobilizations confronting the legislature to fight tuition hikes and attacks on the public sector, as well as statewide actions against legislative attacks on university workers’ rights.

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March 24: NC Defend Education Coalition statewide organizing conference

Posted by raleighfist on March 13, 2012

The future is ours! A fight back and organizing conference of the NC Defend Education Coalition
With a keynote address from Waldemiro Vélez Soto, a leader of the student movement in Puerto Rico

Saturday, March 24 // 9am – 6pm
NC A&T University, Greensboro

On February 10, hundreds of students from across NC marched against tuition hikes and budget cuts.
On March 24, we’ll be gathering again to chart out the next steps for our movement.
The NC Defend Education Coalition will be hosting a statewide student organizing conference called “The Future is Ours!” at NC A&T University. Students, young people, and community activists from across the state will be getting together to strategize about how we can continue to build the movement for justice, for education, for workers’ rights, and against budget cuts and attacks on our communities. There will also be organizing and skills workshops, and opportunities to network with student organizers from across NC.
We will also be joined by Waldemiro Vélez Soto, a leader of the student movement in Puerto Rico, who will be delivering the keynote address of the conference. Students in Puerto Rico have been leading an incredible struggle for the past several years against tuition hikes, budget cuts, and privatization, and have led a series of successful strikes that have shut down the university system there.
For a full schedule of the conference, please visit our website.
You won’t want to miss this! Register today!

Tuition is skyrocketing.
Class sizes are getting larger.
Public education at all levels is being privatized and resegregated.
The banks are pushing us deeper into student loan debt.
The legislature wants to make more budget cuts to education and public services.
SB 575 is yet another attack on workers’ rights.
What are we going to do? Stand up. Fight back!

NC DEFEND EDUCATION COALITION
ncdefendeducation@gmail.com | ncdefendeducation.org | @NCDefendEdu

Posted in Counter-Recruitment, Economic Crisis, Education, Gender System, Imperialism, Labor, Occupy Movement, Socialism, South, White Supremacy, Youth in Action | Leave a Comment »

The Ides of Love: March against the proposed Amendment One // Thurs, March 15 @ 11am

Posted by raleighfist on March 13, 2012

The Ides of Love: March against proposed Amendment One
Thursday, March 15 @ 11am
Gather at the NCSU Bell Tower

On Thursday, March 15th, we will march from the N.C. State Bell Tower to the General Assembly Building AGAINST Amendment One! 

We want to show our State and our Nation that the people of North Carolina do not support amending our Constitution with this ban, and that we will virulently defend the right for a union to be recognized by the state. In the past, we have codified language that excluded both women and minority races; let us learn from our history and not repeat those same mistakes on May 8, 2012. The motto for the fine state of North Carolina has always rung with heraldic clarity: we are a state that lives according to principle and truth; to be rather than to seem. Sadly, the stable foundations of our state have been put to the test, and we stand in the face of those who would restrict base civil rights. We honor the primary statement of the original document of our governance with its assurance of equal rights for all, regardless of creed or orientation.

If you are against amending the North Carolina State Constitution with discrimination, come join us on March 15th, 2012. If you are proud to live in the state that launched civil rights to the forefront of our national discussion, join with us for the march. We believe that only through an expression of solidarity can we give a voice to the voiceless, to those the state would seek to exclude from the civil right of marriage.

“A vote on the same sex marriage amendment has nothing to do with your personal and religious opinion on same sex marriage but everything to do with whether or not you believe discrimination should be codified and legalized constitutionally. We should never seek to codify discrimination into the very heart and framework of our Constitution.”
-Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II

All faiths, all religions, all races, and all people are welcome.

For more information, and further updates on the day of action and change, please visit honestnc.org.


Posted in Counter-Recruitment, Economic Crisis, Education, Gender System, Labor, Occupy Movement, South, White Supremacy, Youth in Action | Leave a Comment »

Stop Tuition Hikes! Students Occupy UNC Board of Governors Meeting

Posted by raleighfist on February 26, 2012

 

By Ben Carroll — Chapel Hill, NC

More than 200 students from across North Carolina poured into the town of Chapel Hill on Feb. 10 for a spirited demonstration against huge tuition hikes. The North Carolina Defend Education Coalition organized it. The University of North Carolina Board of Governors, which oversees the 17-campus university system, met that day to vote on tuition hikes of more than 10 percent for most schools. After a march that clogged up rush-hour traffic, students brought the demonstration inside the main building’s lobby, drowning out board members with chants and twice interrupting the meeting with mic checks. Later, students took over the BOG’s meeting and convened a “People’s Board of Education.”

Students began gathering at 8 a.m. in the central part of UNC Chapel Hill’s campus. There, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, N.C. NAACP president, spoke to them as they prepared to march. The students aimed to connect the struggle against tuition hikes to the larger fight to stop the state from balancing the budget crisis on the backs of workers and students.

The march then set off for the BOG meeting, tying up traffic for more than 30 minutes as the demonstrators took over both of the eastbound lanes of the busy road. After they arrived at the main building, students packed the lobby. They went past the cops who tried to prevent them from entering the building while their chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, tuition hikes have got to go!” and “No cuts! No fees! Education must be free!” echoed through the halls.

Taken by the electrifying, militant spirit of the demonstrators, Rev. Barber addressed the rally in the lobby, in the “mic-check” style popularized by Occupy Wall Street. He said: “We are right to challenge these cuts by the General Assembly. We are the generation that refuses to accept going backwards. Let us be clear. This does not end here today. This is the beginning of a fresh, new, empowered student movement in North Carolina and in this nation.”

Throughout the rally, students kept up the thunderous chants and speeches. Both the demonstrators outside the doors and those mic checking inside the BOG’s meeting disrupted the board’s session several times.

Andrew Payne, a former N.C. State student body president and former Association of Student Governments president, was arrested after he left his seat inside the board’s meeting room and then tried to re-enter. Police threw him to the ground and dragged him across the floor before arresting him.

Students take over meeting, hold ‘People’s Board of Education’

In the lobby, student after student testified about the crippling impacts of student loan debt; the raising of tuition year after year while classes have been cut and professors laid off; the struggles of so many to afford school; and how the tuition hikes are part of the broader attack being waged on workers and students by the 1%.

“We’re not gonna turn our heads. We’re not gonna take this lying down. Education is a right!” Demonte Alford, a student at East Carolina University, told the crowd.

“The 9.9 percent tuition hike on our campus will burden already struggling students with having to find ways to pay for school. For some students at Winston Salem State University, the road to college was impossible at some point so to finally make it to college and then be faced with not being able to afford a quality education is unacceptable,” said Grace Anderson, a WSSU student.

After the BOG voted to raise tuition, students stormed into their meeting and took over the room, shutting down the board’s press conference. As hundreds of students flooded the room, BOG members scurried out the back door. Only Dr. Franklin McCain, a member of the Greensboro 4 and veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, remained to support the students.

Students tossed the BOG members’ name tags on the floor, declared that a “People’s Board of Education” was now in session, and opened the floor for proposals. Resolutions were put forward calling for free education, undocumented students’ access to the university system, and full funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Others demanded an end to racism and war funding at the expense of human needs. A resounding call was made for students to take this fight back to their campuses and keep building the movement.

“Look at what we’ve done! This is how we start to get things done. However, when we leave here, we have to keep fighting!” said Jonathan Whitfield, a WSSU student

Unity, solidarity play important role

The N.C. Defend Education Coalition, a statewide coalition of student and youth organizations, helped to bring students from across the state. Some traveled as many as 300 miles to join the demonstration. Participants came from nearly each of the 17 schools that make up the UNC system. Many students mobilized to come from N.C. HBCU’s.

Anderson explained, “I came from Winston-Salem to the protest because I felt that the need of representation of students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities was great. Of all the schools in the UNC system, Winston Salem State University is one of the schools that will suffer the most from the tuition hikes. Those who came before us fought too hard for us to let the right to have an education be made unobtainable.”

Importantly, not only did the N.C. NAACP mobilize, but so did campus-based NAACP chapters. Students built conscious ties with worker organizations, including United Electrical Workers Local 150, the N.C. Public Service Workers Union, and the N.C. AFL-CIO. This was a crucial ingredient in exposing the systematic attacks being carried out by the 1%, and for building multinational and class solidarity.

The N.C. Defend Education Coalition is planning to hold a statewide gathering very soon to continue building on this tremendous mobilization.

The BOG, and similar institutions of the 1%, want us to believe that they are the ones who make history. But all over the world, the actions by workers and young people who are taking their destiny into their own hands — fighting back against the bankers and the states’ brutal austerity programs, and opening a struggle to get rid of the 1% once and for all — are showing that quite the opposite is true.

The revolutionary fervor that is engulfing the world was in the air during the Feb. 10 action. All those who participated have vowed to continue to fight, to organize and to carry this struggle forward.

Posted in Economic Crisis, Education, Gender System, Imperialism, Labor, Occupy Movement, Socialism, South, White Supremacy, Youth in Action | Leave a Comment »

Join NC HEAT Saturday & Picket at Art Pope’s Maxway Store in SE Raleigh!

Posted by raleighfist on February 15, 2012

JOIN NC HEAT’S CAMPAIGN TO CHALLENGE THE EVIL ART POPE EMPIRE AND SAVE OUR COMMUNITIES AND SCHOOLS!

 

HELP US RAISE AWARENESS IN SOUTHEAST RALEIGH ABOUT ART POPE!

 

PICKET AT MAXWAY – SATURDAY AT 12 NOON

1905 POOLE RD., RALEIGH, NC 27610

 

WHY PICKET AT MAXWAY – WHO IS ART POPE?

Art Pope, “the Knight of the Right” is the right-wing millionaire and the architect of the plan to re-segregate Wake County Public Schools. He is not only a villain to those who value public education. He is also a champion of decreased environmental regulation, coal fire plants, shutting down women, gender and ethnic studies increased privatization of the public sector, and is a voice of hate against immigrants.

His empire is broad — to the John Locke Foundation, a conservative and powerful think tank that pushes free market right-wing policies, to the John Pope Foundation, to Civitas, to being a co-director of the national Americans for Prosperity – one of the primary funders and engines of the Tea Party. Last election he poured over $2.2 million dollars into Republican campaigns, which led to their take over of both the NC Senate and the NC House of Representatives. Those he helped to elect are now pushing his poisonous agenda.

Our aim is to hit Pope where he can feel it – in his wallet. Therefore we are targeting the source of his family’s wealth – Variety Wholesalers, Inc. Variety Wholesales, Inc. owns many low-cost “dollar-type” stores across the southeast including Roses, Maxway, Super 10, Bargain Town, Bill’s Dollar Store, Value Mart, Treasure Mart, and Super Dollar.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU SATURDAY!

 

SINCERELY

NC HEAT (HEROES EMERGING AMONG TEENS)

 

NC HEAT is a multi-racial, multi-cultural youth-led civil rights organization dedicated to improving public education for ourselves and future generations.

You can get in touch with us at ActionForCommunity@gmail.com

Posted in Economic Crisis, Education, Gender System, Labor, South, White Supremacy, Youth in Action | Leave a Comment »

 
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