Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Racists attack Jamar Clark protest in Minneapolis What will Trumka do?

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

This is a quick comment on last night’s events.

As I write it seems little is known about the shooters that fired in to a crowd of protesters in Minneapolis.  Apparently 5 people at the #4thPrecinctShutDown have been wounded.
From the limited information out there it appears the people were shot near the 4th precinct, not at the Justice4Jamar protest itself and the suspects are three white males. I have also read that they were wearing ski masks.

The protesters have been demanding the police release video of the shooting death of Jamar Clark.  Clark was shot November 15th as two cops were trying to arrest him. There are conflicting descriptions of the event between the police and witnesses which is nothing new in the ongoing war against young black males in the US.

I had to listen to the nauseating remark of a right wing American last weekend as he talked of keeping Syrian refugees out as they might want to take us all out.  It appears, as many people have already pointed out, that it is white terrorists, both organized groupings and individuals that we need to worry about. These are the most dangerous elements in US society not Syrians. The protesters, many of them part of the Black Lives Matter movement are determined not to be intimidated by these racists and will continue their demand and actions to find out what happened to Jamar Clark in police custody.White workers must join with them in their struggle for justice, it will strengthen all workers.

We will find out more as time goes on but I need to say this in advance. When Rodney King was caught being beaten by LA cops I introduced a resolution at my local AFL-CIO labor council calling on the council to organize a mass rally in Oakland against racism, police abuse and for jobs.
I worked in the streets and it was a tense time. By organizing a protest and/or rally along these lines, organized labor in the area would have been seen my many of the black youth, alienated not only from society but also from organized labor and the trade union movement, as an ally, as sympathetic to their plight.

Not only was my proposal buried with the help of the liberals, nothing of any consequence happened.  As they do in all aspects of social concern the heads of organized labor keep their mouths shut. If it doesn’t immediately affect their revenue stream in the form of union dues, they are silent. Anything that is not acceptable to their friends in the Democratic Party is sidelined.

The world is in crisis.  Here in the US housing, education, jobs health care and safety are all critical issues and the best the heads of a national organization with 12 million workers in it and huge cash and human resources can do is place these resources at the  disposal of Hillary Clinton and the Wall Street party to which she belongs and whose supporters she represents.
Trumka on Ferguson. That'll scare 'em Dick

The silence of the labor hierarchy in the wake of repeated killings and murders of black people, men and women by security forces on the one hand and white terrorist organizations on the other is nothing less than criminal. Not only do they refuse to defend the interests of their own members on the job, many of them people of color, they refuse to campaign for and build in a serious way, a movement against racism and police brutality. Racism is a divide and rule strategy of the 1% and the bosses, it hurts all workers in the last analysis. Where is the collective voice of the leaders of one of the potentially most powerful organizations in the country? Shame on them. Most workers wouldn't even know the names of the top union officials. Where is Richard Trumka, the AFL-CIO head? Pathetic is too nice a description of their role.

Instead of directing union members’ resources and energy on phone banking, precinct walking, TV ads and other efforts to get a Goldman Sachs fan club member in to the White House, a politician who once claimed the Egyptian dictator Mubarak was like family, the heads of organized labor should call an immediate press conference.

They should publicly condemn yesterdays attack by white terrorists on peaceful protesters in Minneapolis. They should publicly condemn the continuing murder of black people by security forces and the police and explain that all workers are harmed by racism.

They should announce that instead of wasting their members’ money on Hillary Clinton, a warmonger and politician of the 1%, they will use these resources to organize and mobilize for a huge “Poor People’s” march on Washington as a first step in building a nationwide movement against this offensive of capital.

The general theme of this mas protest and goal of it should be:
An end to racism, sexism and police brutality
End the special war against black people.
End all wars and occupations Jobs for all.
End mass incarceration
Increase spending on public services and public sector jobs
Fee health care on demand
Free education at all levels
Massive investment on social infrastructure and public transportation
Affordable housing for all

These are just a few of the issues that are necessary for people to begin to live what we might call a decent life in a civilized society.

I am anticipating that the heads of organized labor will say nothing controversial about this most recent bold racist attack; perhaps a whimper at best. If, with the resources at their command they do nothing, then they share the blame and the responsibility for the increased boldness of the racists. They too are responsible. 

Union members should pass resolutions at their union locals calling on the leadership of organized labor to take action, not the whimpish resolutions about the need for justice and fairness that even Jeb Bush could support and end up filed, but real action.

Lastly, not having much information we cannot rule out provocateurs as the state does not want racial unity. Racism is a very powerful tool for weakening the workers' movement.  The police and security forces, beefed up in the wake of the Occupy Movement, have been stung by the level of protests against police brutality. What we are seeing on YouTube and Facebook has been occurring all along, but with technology and social networking its become much harder to keep this behavior under wraps. Without the protests no cops would have been indicted for the murders that have been exposed so far.


Sean said...

Very good Richard. These union so called leaders are an absolute disgrace. they have to be ejected from their positions. As well as occupying and demonstrating at the offices and factories of the corporations and the political centers we need to consider occupying the trade union offices and demanding that the leaders stop holding the working class down. And i do not want to hear any more that police repression and racism and sexism are not the responsibility of the unions. Thinking workers in the unions must reach out to the rising protest movements, the rising protest movement must reach out to the union rank and file. The way to start this is to put the finger on the union bureaucracy and tell them to get out of the way. There are 320 union locals in my city Chicago, there are half a million union members affiliated to the Chicago Federation of Labor. What a potential force. But it is held paralyzed by the union bureaucrats with their big salaries and their cozy links with the capitalist Democratic Party. One of the reasons Chicago is the murder capital of the country is because the youth and especially the minority youth have no jobs and future and this is because of the system which is held in place partly be the pro capitalist policies of the union leaders. They must be removed. We must build an anti capitalist direct action nucleus in every union local and every workplace and build an alternative leadership. O'Torain.

Mike Benca said...

It's clearer than ever to me that a sustained movement against the 1% is being suppressed by the labor leaders. I'm not sure if it's total ineptness or intentional. The hits keep coming. The leaders intentionally compartmentalize every struggle. They package them up into their own little boxes. (example: UAW and Big Three, USW and US Steel, and most recently the Wisconsin Kohler workers. Without a constructive voice, the working class has and will continue to be sucked into the campaigns of the Donald Trumps. Comments from talking heads like that blathering wind bag Chris Mathews telling us that Trump is the voice of the guys that bring their lunch in a paper bag to work. You know because all "Blue Collar" workers must be slobbering racist idiots I presume.