PREDICTABLE DIVISIONS -6 MARCHES- SMALL TURNOUTS= NO IMPACT ON RIGHT WING JUDGES AND REPUBLICANS.
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“Baltimore officials have lifted a 10 p.m. curfew and National Guard troops have begun to withdraw as peaceful protests continue over the death of Freddie Gray. On Friday, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced a range of charges against the six officers involved in Gray’s arrest and transport, including murder and manslaughter. Gray’s family says his voice box was crushed and his spine was “80 percent severed at his neck.” Police said they arrested Gray for looking a lieutenant in the eye, then running away. We play excerpts from Mosby’s dramatic announcement, when she acknowledges protests calling for justice in the case and argues officers illegally arrested Gray without probable cause, then ignored his pleas for medical help. “To the youth of this city, I will seek justice on your behalf. This is a moment. This is your moment,” Mosby says. “Let’s ensure that we have peaceful and productive rallies that will develop structural and systemic changes for generations to come. You’re at the forefront of this cause. And as young people, our time is now.” From Democracy Now MAY 1
By Javier Rodriguez from Los Angeles 7 Mayo 2015
May 1st 2015 arrived in the midst of a national rebellion against the savage and racist police killings and brutality on African Americans and the people of Baltimore are not only protesting in the streets, they almost burned the city down. With the nation watching, the pressure on the State of Maryland escalated and in an unprecedented move, State Attorney General Marilyn Mosley, an African American and a dynamic speaker, filed charges of murder and manslaughter against the six Baltimore officers involved in the death of African American Freddy Gray. The legal move signals the cops may face sentences of up to 30 years if convicted. For African Americans and an awaiting nation, including the White House, unequivocally, this was a major victory. On a roll, on 5 de Mayo, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, also an African American, requested a federal investigation into her city’s police force from the Justice Department, now headed by Atty. General Mosley, another AA.
Additionally eclipsing the 6 May Day marches in LA was the Mayweather-Paquiao Fight of the century. The fantastic one week closing built an unmatched promotional hype that captured public opinion in the hundreds of millions worldwide, especially in the US and the Philippines. The diminutive size of the May Day mobilizations in LA were no match.
May Day also arrived in a period when the socio economic conditions in the US are of severe inequality, exacerbated by the most recent recession in which a miniscule rich class of billionaires ended up owning 90% plus, not just of America, but of the world’s wealth. This however, had been accumulating in conjunction with the consolidation of capitalist globalization. Their superb arrogant wealth now includes millions upon millions of real estate properties and businesses, mega corporations which control light and heavy industry, energy and oil, water, mining, forest and agriculture, animal and food industries, grocery distribution, hotel, restaurant, entertainment and tourism industries, high tech, the war, prison and immigration industries, communications, the media in all its commercial forms, banking, financial and loan corporations and of course they profit from billions in university student debts comparable to the indentured servitude of the past.
All this while the working and middle classes, the farm workers and small farmers, government employees, the white collar sector, the millions of university graduates and the small entrepreneurs, i.e. the 99% of the amassed population struggle for their own survival and the remaining 10% left by the global rulers. The incrementing poverty in all social levels is also associated, with the real loss of purchasing power from 1973 and before. This, while corporate America, the wealthiest of its class in the world, has radically increased production in the same period and amassed its fortune that has made today’s economic inequality a sinful and gigantic human aberration, astonishingly protected by the constitution under the right to private property clause. In the context of today’s capitalist globalization and the gross inequality it has bred, such is the American Dream for the 99%, which includes immigrants, Latinos, blacks and all the poorest.
Moreover, there is a perverse twist to questions of political power, of voting and mass incarceration. The establishment and its political servants began to design laws, with the hidden agenda, that has resulted in the imprisonment of millions of Blacks, Latinos, immigrants, poor whites and the undocumented. This has made for the onerous US record of holding 25% of all the prisoners in the planet and at the same time shackling millions more to the parole system and the courts. Of course 80% of these millions are African Americans followed by Latinos and immigrants. This also means that they, and here is the catch, this group cannot vote, draining political power for past, present and future decades, for what I consider the most intelligent voting bloc in the nation, African Americans and the fastest rising blocks of Latino and Asian voters.
For the 55 million US Latinos, this May Day came with not only Immigration Reform being held back by the country’s conservative political forces in the capitol since the approved Senate Bill of 2013. More relevant, the 5 Million Executive Action order signed by President Barack Obama last November, is also being held up by the Republicans in the Federal Courts. Additionally, at this point, it should be obvious to all the leaders, activists and immigrant advocates nationwide that the President, the Department of Justice and all the democratic forces on our side in DC need all the help possible coming from the streets of all the major cities in America. Why? To more effectively pressure the conservative Federal Appeals Court and brake the Republican political walls holding back the process and the path towards that coveted mountain top, to liberate the 12 million people still living in the shadows of America.
The Lessons of Selma and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s
The history of the Civil Rights movement of the sixties under the direction of Martin Luther King, along with the liberal, progressive and radical generation of civil rights leaders, dramatically left a rich historical legacy of strategies, tactics and victories which for generations has benefited many Americans. One of those lessons essentially taught us that mass street demonstrations are not isolated political events, but rather, they were and are part of a larger political agenda that motivates public opinion and activates allies of all branches of society, elected leaders in state and national capitols, including governors and most presidents, and points them in the same direction to help wrest the necessary victories. In the mind of visionary leaders, the street mobilizations, massive rallies, popular boycotts and strikes and civil disobedience which potentially congregate hundreds of thousands and millions –think the Immigrant Spring 2006 and the 1963 Civil Rights March- in the streets of selected targets and struggles, including revolutions and reform movements, are indisputably part of the arsenal of strategic organizational and political tools of the leadership to mount and galvanize the people, display unity, provide the basis for unified fronts, reach goals and to reiterate, “wrest the necessary social and political victories.”
The recent film Selma is an excellent progressive film that reveals the working, strategic, political mind and composition of the leadership in the struggle to democratize the nation from the vestiges of the Jim Crow Laws. In the opening scenes director Ava Duvernay moves back and forth between MLK receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Europe and little black girls chatting down the steps of a southern church. As King then gives his acceptance speech, the camera turns to a realistic bomb explosion, planted by white racists, where you see and feel the brutal savage murder of several of those children. Immediately, the next scene takes us to the Capitol and a conversation in the White House between President Lyndon Johnson and King. There, the latter appeals to Johnson for a federal law with enforcing teeth to once and for all decimate voting discrimination and segregation against millions of blacks in the South. The discussion turns heated but civil, and as the President rejects the movement’s proposal, King exits and on his way out tells Andrew Young and others who are waiting, “Selma it is.” The ending scenes highlight the victory of a brutal hard struggle with Johnson introducing the legislation to Congress and the final 50 mile march through Selma and Mississippi.
The unforgettable true story chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965 and clearly unfolds a strategy to empower blacks to have the equal right to vote and to end desegregation in the South by legislating real federal enforcement. More importantly, it also chronicles the path followed by this generation of leaders and their philosophy of “peaceful but militant resistance.” Additionally you see clearly their political and organizational knowledge and experience, their command of respect and ability to affect the political arena at play, their use of drama and images to insert the struggle and the utilization of the establishment reactionaries in their favor to display the violence of the government and police forces and affect the national conversation. You can also observe a glimpse of the internal divisions in the leadership meaning SCLC, SNICC and Coretta King opening the door for Malcolm X’s entry into Selma and electrify the moment. Unquestionably you also see the illegal government intrusion, spying, the planting of internal conflict and exerting official brutal violence, including murder, to destroy that social movement, which was a threat to established power. Most important is the active role of women leaders.
Immigrant Spring of 2006, Its Victories and Lessons
During the “Immigrant Spring of 2006,” the immigration reform movement lived a similar but yet un-chronicled story in the fight to defeat the infamous HR4437 Sensenbrenner Bill and wrest broad general reform from the government. In the first part, the leaders in Washington D.C. mobilized 20,000 people on March 8, with Chicago following and moving an estimated 150,000 on March 10th and that was impactful. By then though, Los Angeles, the bedrock of the immigration struggle, was already on the move and on March 2 called for a national demonstration for March 25. With a creative nov-veau and bold media strategy, the Los Angeles March 25 Coalition entered the Spanish language radio airwaves of the most popular Latino DJs of the time in the country, El Piolin and El Mandril. Beginning on March 15, through their national radio programs, we spoke to over ten million Latino and immigrant listeners, in four hour blocks, for several consecutive days. At the same time we motivated and organized the majority of the Latino DJs and then convened a press conference specifically for them to join and actively lend air support for the march. Incredibly, 17 of them attended the media event at City Hall -which I organized and conducted- and on Monday March 20, they called on Latinos nationwide to support the march and the M25Coalition. On that same afternoon and for the following five days, the DJs waged an unprecedented and intense publicity radio campaign. The momentum was so intense that on Friday March 24, tens of thousands of high students jumped the gun and walked out of their schools.
After only 23 days of an intense organizing campaign, on Saturday March 25, 1.7 million people marched in Los Angeles plus hundreds of thousands more in 75 other cities nationally and there from the podium, in unison with the people in the rally, the call was made for the May 1st Great American Boycott. Though on that day most of the TV networks with a helicopter view had publicly quantified the march at 1 to 2 million people, LA’s Ch. 22 went further and hired a professional firm to analyze and digitally count the gigantic crowd through video film and photos taken by air and this is how we arrived at the1.7 million figure, which we consider an American record. Two days after, on March 27, an estimated 250,000 students struck again and boycotted their high schools in several of the Southwestern states.
Altogether, it was an unparalleled show of dramatic street force by Latinos. On that same week, the House of Representatives killed the Sensenbrenner Bill.
The hot Immigrant Spring continued and the next round for the nation’s mass movement was April 10, sponsored by the moderate We Are America Coalition organized by labor, former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Cardinal Roger Mahoney and NGOs to divide the movement and to stop the national boycott, successfully held a national demonstration with at least 1.5 million people in over two hundred cities marching. Then on April 15, the MC25 students and youth leaders once more called for youth to take the streets and once again tens of thousands marched in LA and many other cities.
The momentum continued building incessantly and on the Monday morning of May 1st, from Los Angeles to New York, millions boycotted work, students closed their schools, small and large businesses closed and joined the call and others refused to buy for 24 hours. The boycott affected or shutdown to a standstill about 20 industries nationally. The nanny trains were emptied and so did public transportation, taxi drivers, truck drivers closed the ports, agriculture, the garment industry, construction, gardening, restaurants, etc. Additionally, the boycott emptied the streets in approximately 200 cities and many states of the nation. In support, Latino legislators in the Senate and the Assembly closed the California State Legislature and the Capitol. In LA, the cited internal political division continued with the other side actually calling on the people to not strike and only march, but fortunately both coalitions mobilized an estimated 1.5 million people with two mega marches. Trust me when I say this, the masses of the people at that wonderful moment cared less about the internal but public conflict. After the downtown M25C march attended by hundreds of thousands, about half of our people walked to the Wilshire District in the near Westside and joined the late afternoon event where Los Tigres Del Norte opened the program. In all we made the Latino immigrant “A Day Without an Immigrant,” a reality.
I believe on May 7, the first legislative response came to the fore with the Martinez-Hagel Immigration Reform Senate Bill. This was the second major response to the mass movement of the Immigrant Spring of 2006. A better proposal was introduced in 2007, the bi partisan Grand Bargain Immigration Reform Senate Bill but failed.
There has been other momentous and historical events protagonized by the grass roots forces, such as the 2010 fightback against the extreme right and the Arizona SB 1070 Law. The Victory of the 2012 Presidential Executive Action that has benefited close to 700,000 immigrant youth, the 2013 approved Senate Immigration Bill but stopped by the House Republicans and last November’s Obama’s Executive Action, geared to take 5 million immigrants out of the shadows, but regrettably also held up by 26 reactionary Republican governors and right wing federal judges in the courts, and the outcome is uncertain.
Once again this May Day 2015, the LA leaders failed to stage a unified mass mega march in the tens or hundreds of thousands to dramatically impact the national political scene.
*Javier Rodriguez is a blogger and a media and political strategist. A long time social activist, he is co-founder of the Millions of Voices Coalition in LA that on Sept. 22, 2013 organized one of the largest marches with thousands of people in Downtown LA for Immigration Reform; He was also the initiator and directed the making of the 1.7 million historical immigration march in Los Angeles on March 25, 2006, as well as the May 1st 2006 Great American Boycott;
Back in 1982-86, he directed the mass street mobilizations in LA that led up to the Amnesty Law IRCA of 1986; a journalist, he traveled for 5 ½ months throughout Mexico in 2012, observing and writing about the country’s political process, the aftermath of a highly questioned presidential election, visited several war zones and his family, as well as the State of Tabasco at the border with Guatemala, where the Central American migrants catch the train they call “La Bestia-The Beast.” Between 1987 and 1996, his son Jesus, his nephew Jaramillo and his brother Jesus all fell victim to neighborhood violence in the area. His blog is Larayueladejavier.wordpress.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.